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Concerns
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Author Topic: Concerns  (Read 15988 times)
Manufacturing Dissent
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« on: April 06, 2008, 06:33:06 EDT »

Over the past few months, this forum has seen a lot of people leaving due to a variety of reasons.  I think that it is something that needs to be addressed, because lately I've been asking myself why I've been staying, and the only reason I can come up with is that this is where I met my fiance.
There are a few concerns that I think have been causing the problems, and I think if they could be resolved of at least reduced, perhaps some people might come back or end up staying longer.

Thread drift- I'm going to start with the big one.  This has gone from a peculiarity of the forum to an outright disaster.  There is no limit to the number of topics a person can start, and no wait period for new members to start a thread, so there really isn't an excuse for going so off topic.  The moment it went to epidemic in my mind was the time, I don't recall in what thread it started, the members started being critisised for saying "let's get back on topic".  Lately I don't even go into threads past the second page, because I know it will have nothing to do with the original topic of discussion.

Lack of respect- There have been a lot of attacks on various members for their views on a variety of subjects, and that is a problem, but the bigger problem is lack of respect for the moderators.  Whether we like it or not, whether we agree or not, this is a moderated forum.  Having an off topic arguement go on for two pages after a mod had called a stop to it (http://www.ireadthis.org/index.php?topic=3611.75) is not respecting the mods.  We may not agree with their actions at times, but that is something to be discussed in private messages with respect due to their position on the forum.  They are volunteers and not paid to take abuse, and even if they were that would be no reason not to act with respect.

Warnings and bannings- While the mods and admins have been called out on it, for the most part there have been a lot less people banned than would be called for by the rules.  The fact that the rules are out of sight and out of mind (I had to be shown be a mod where they are, third sticky in Announcements) does not help this situation.  While some, such as double posts, can be let slide if it's not a habitual problem, sometimes the occasional warning might keep things in perspective.  Warnings that quickly expire are also useless, as the recipient need only behave long enough for their record to be purged.


Those are the three biggest problems I can see.  Maybe something can be done about them, maybe not.  I really hope that something can be done.  When I joined the forum things were vibrant with many active members and I had a lot of fun.  Now... honestly when I come here it's a bit of nostalgia.  I would love to see things go back to the way they were, and I'm not going to walk away without trying to do my part.  On the other hand, if the degeneration does seem inevitable, then I will say goodbye.  A lost cause is a stress I don't need in my life.
For those of you who want to weigh in on the subject, this thread is here.  Suggest how to make things better, say you're happy with things as they are, let's start here to try and get this forum back on track to where it was not so long ago.
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"If it had not been for the discontent of a few fellows who had not been satisfied with their conditions, you would still be living in caves. Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.

Progress is born of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation."
     -Eugene Debs (1855- 1926)
Vicious Reasoning
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« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2008, 07:55:58 EDT »

I think one of the root causes of degeneration is the loss of the forum's anchor: the I Drew This comic, which is essentially dead now. Fewer new members will be flowing in, not to mention the loss of discussion material represented by the loss of the comic. Frankly what remains of IRT, the blog, has lost all appeal to me now, and isn't a big enough attraction to keep a community such as this vigorous. (A loss of new members flowing in, loss of discussion material, etc.) Thread drift has become our biggest source of debate...

Without the anchor, this community is defined solely by the members in it, and it's survival will be determined by the interactions between members. If people find others annoying, they have no reason to stay. I've thought about leaving myself, since I find some members... loud idealogues who seem to be able to turn discussions into long squabbles that turn out to be over little more than semantics...

I don't even think I've contributed anything worthwhile to this community.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2008, 07:59:23 EDT by Vicious Reasoning » Logged
Manufacturing Dissent
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« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2008, 08:09:31 EDT »

The loss of the comic is the point that I trace things starting downhill to as well.
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"If it had not been for the discontent of a few fellows who had not been satisfied with their conditions, you would still be living in caves. Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.

Progress is born of agitation. It is agitation or stagnation."
     -Eugene Debs (1855- 1926)
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« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2008, 12:04:33 EDT »

As i've already brought up with you and will bring up here again, I really do agree with you here. The thread drift has gotten really obnoxious, I know that I don't have any desire to make replies or anything because half the time, by the time i decide to find something to comment on, my post would be out of place due to the drift. Before it was kind of interesting, but now it's just really irritating. Isn't there some possibility that you could just pick up the conversation in a new topic instead?

Also, I agree the loss of the strip has sent us in a downhill spiral. I wonder if maybe we could find some sort of replacement for it, and if not then figure out some way to make the forum stand on its' own. I've been to forums before that started as fan forums for some webcomic or flash artist, and turned into its' own forum when the new cartoons weren't being made anymore. I think we can do that here, if we actually put forth some effort to make a difference. Otherwise the place is just going to fall apart until it's completely dead, and i'm sure a lot of us don't want that.
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« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2008, 16:52:04 EDT »

The comic is a strong way to get people to the website and a strong way to begin discussion.  I agree that the loss of the comic hurts the forum.  Unfortanatly it is unlikely that DCS will start doing it again on a regular basis just to make people on here happy. 

I think the best way to keep a forum functioning is to get new posters.  The more posters you have the more topics and hopefully interesting posts you get.  Mentioning the website with links in other forums is a good way to try to get new people.  You just have to make sure it isn't spamming.
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« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2008, 19:17:19 EDT »

I think the best course of action is to first address the three problems that MD outlined. All members here, including me, will need to make a conscious effort to be more courteous to others and keep threads on track. The mods should figure out a better system for dealing with inappropriate postings and how to ban members. In the case of Chemical Garden, it appeared to me that the banning occurred suddenly and without warning. (Unless there was private messaging between CG and mods prior to the banhammer being dropped.) In any case, if such bannings are neccessary, the mods should at least post clear reasons for the decision publicly asap, both to avoid confusion over what is considered a bannable offense and to prevent any members from leaving in protest over what may be a misunderstanding. (We lost at least one member as a result of the CG banning.) Perhaps mods should also carry out any non-banning related reprimands publicly, to set an example for what is considered polite discussion. Recently, the mods have deleted some ad hominem attacks and left warnings in the offending posts. This leaves everyone except the guilty party unsure of what was considered offensive. Instead, the inappropriate text in the post should be highlighed, and marked as ad hominem by the mods, along with a warning to the offending party. Text should only be deleted if it is truly obscene. Hopefully this can have a regulating effect on emotions stirred and addled in the intense political discussions that often occur here.

Lastly, I think we do need to make an effort to add another focus to this community to keep it alive. The blog is alright, I suppose, but it really just amounts to this forum having three supermembers who start discussions on one of the boards here. I'm working on brainstorming ideas at the moment... Anyone have any ideas?
« Last Edit: April 06, 2008, 19:19:39 EDT by Vicious Reasoning » Logged
rogue-kun
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« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2008, 19:35:51 EDT »

Vicious Reasoning, simple.. No

Your suggestions are self defeating of the goals of the moderation. If you wish a person to change their behavior, you do not make a public spectacle of them.

removed ad hominem are removed because they provoke others to respond in kind just marking them as bad does nothing to defuses the provocation

Also the only posts the are edited are the ones that have something worth saving in the thread, otherwise they are moved to "the drop this" folder.

This is not to say not open to rule clarification etc. but I am against doing at the expensive of a member.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2008, 20:42:16 EDT by rogue-kun » Logged


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« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2008, 20:31:03 EDT »

I think the only real way to combat the thread drift at this point is the forcible splitting of threads by moderators until everyone starts getting the idea. This means more work for the moderators.

I'm neither for nor against the idea, just pointing out one particular consequence.

To lack of respect: I'll agree that it's not like it should be. I'd also like to put forward that the near complete lack of moderation can lead to some of us forgetting that there are moderators. I'd like to have seen that thread locked at the point of first warning, to be honest. I don't think that the moderators are quite heavy-handed enough in some cases.

This is not to say that I'm saying that you're crap. Moderating's a series of tough calls that can get you hated by your community, or can see your community slide into troll-heaven. Or both.

Warnings: I got warned quite a few times on the way in, mainly because I get stupid when presented with a religious debate that ends up being a shouting match. I don't think I would have stuck around if I had have been publicly warned for the first incident. Or the second, for that matter; they were pretty close together. On the other hand, there was a feeling of shift stuff behind the scenes with Chemical, until it was all explained. I think that bannings should be discussed in a thread that can only be posted to by mods. The results of that should be made public when a decision is made. Maybe. Then again, I've been known to talk through my hat before... Tongue

Ex-members: I don't think we're getting Naman back, nor Felix. To be honest, with the way he went out, I'm not sure I want Naman back. Others I haven't met have probably forgotten about the whole thing by now.

I do agree with VR, though. We need a new focus.
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And if i catch you comin' back my way
I'm gonna serve it to you
And that ain't what you want to hear
But that's what I'll do
-- "Seven Nation Army", The White Stripes

So what you're telling me is that LTV's fudge factor means more than it's independent variable?
Yes...
FireyTiger
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« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2008, 00:02:47 EDT »

I think the only real way to combat the thread drift at this point is the forcible splitting of threads by moderators until everyone starts getting the idea. This means more work for the moderators.

I'm neither for nor against the idea, just pointing out one particular consequence.

To lack of respect: I'll agree that it's not like it should be. I'd also like to put forward that the near complete lack of moderation can lead to some of us forgetting that there are moderators. I'd like to have seen that thread locked at the point of first warning, to be honest. I don't think that the moderators are quite heavy-handed enough in some cases.

I honestly wouldn't mind the extra work. I seriously agree with you that we really don't do much here. I've actually been told before that unless absolutely necessary, I should at least give an initial warning before locking a post or else we'll get a shitstorm. Which is true, I was messaged by a couple of members in protest of the topic being locked, even AFTER the initial warning (one of which lacked the proper respect due to a moderator of a forum). It's kind of to the point that we're damned if we do, damned if we don't because of the lack of respect around here.
I understand that we do make mistakes, and that people get mad about it, and want to give us their opinion. But just for the record, posting it in a public forum and starting an angry mob (the chemical garden thing) or writing nasty PMs to us is NOT the way to get our attention. If anything we're just going to ignore it, because who wants to be chastized or given ultimatums just for doing their job? (Also, this post is not directed towards anyone in particular in THIS thread, just the people involved in the situations listed)

Also, I strongly believe that this place is in need of clear, specific rules. I'm trying at the moment to get some implemented, hopefully it goes somewhere. The fact that sometimes, even the mods aren't really sure what constitutes a breach of rules or not is... frightening.
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« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2008, 00:43:20 EDT »

On that score, I'd rather be damned for doing. At least it's easy to explain.

On the rules thing, I find the best way of getting something like that done is writing them up yourself and then throwing it open to contributions later. Trying to design rules by committee is horrible.
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And if i catch you comin' back my way
I'm gonna serve it to you
And that ain't what you want to hear
But that's what I'll do
-- "Seven Nation Army", The White Stripes

So what you're telling me is that LTV's fudge factor means more than it's independent variable?
Yes...
FireyTiger
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« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2008, 01:01:22 EDT »

That's what I did. Wink I'm still waiting for responses though.
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Medivh
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« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2008, 01:05:59 EDT »

Ah. In this case, I think Sam Starfall has the right idea:

« Last Edit: April 07, 2008, 01:10:35 EDT by Medivh » Logged

And if i catch you comin' back my way
I'm gonna serve it to you
And that ain't what you want to hear
But that's what I'll do
-- "Seven Nation Army", The White Stripes

So what you're telling me is that LTV's fudge factor means more than it's independent variable?
Yes...
Current
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« Reply #12 on: April 07, 2008, 04:19:28 EDT »

Well, I had no idea people found the thread drift so irritating, I've got used to it now.  I contribute to that and I will stop.
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FireyTiger
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« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2008, 04:57:07 EDT »

lol Medivh, I wish I could do that. But i'm not an admin, and I don't own this forum, so I can't just go and say "okay, these are the new rules now, hope you like them!" without getting the okay first. Like i said, i'm trying to get some responses to it, so we'll see.

Also, Current, don't worry too much, you're not the only one who's just gotten used to it. Most people seem to think it's funny, which originally it was, but now it is kind of irritating. three or four topics' worth of conversation can be all jumbled inside of one single topic, which turns into a mess. It might turn out to be better this way, that way we can sort through the topics we want to talk about and the ones we don't.
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I'm sorry, you still seem to think your opinion is relevant.  Please re-examine the earlier posts and try again.
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« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2008, 07:45:41 EDT »

Well, it's arrogant to do it retroactively. But the initial posting being something in the order of "comments will be closed in 30 days, at which point, I'll be working with Felix to get everyone used to the new rules" would suffice.

Of course, you need Felix's permission to do that, as you allude to. I don't think he'd mind, to be honest.
Logged

And if i catch you comin' back my way
I'm gonna serve it to you
And that ain't what you want to hear
But that's what I'll do
-- "Seven Nation Army", The White Stripes

So what you're telling me is that LTV's fudge factor means more than it's independent variable?
Yes...
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