Bbs = BS; Quality of discussion plummets

Daneel speaks the truth.

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Almost certainly not. I think the amount of people who read comments are <<5 % of the readership. We’re a rounding error.

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Realistically, more like 10-45 percent.

Related and also excellent with similar data findings:

Ironically I now find the discussion in this topic is of rather high quality. :no_good:

(Not at all implying that is because of the software, but rather, because the BB community is of generally high quality relative to almost everywhere else on the Internet.)

It’s hard to follow as conversation / discussion; unthreaded is rough!
One strategy I loved with busy (60+ comments) conversations on topics I wasn’t particularly passionate about was to sort by Likes/popularity and if a thread wasn’t of interest I could quickly scroll til another active (well liked) thread started. It was easy to do, just scroll until the post was at the far left, check the ‘like’ count and read. When the likes dropped to ~4 I’d call it quits.
This here conversation is really hard to follow re: who’s responding to whom, etc.
(This “Welcome” panel is still showing… Do I have to ‘see our FAQ’ to make it stop ‘appearing’?

I also wonder at the lack of input from cowicide, for an instance of the ‘constant regulars’ who seem to have abandoned us… I miss them :frowning:


Click the title of the topic (to scroll to the top – from the topic list, you can directly enter a topic at the top by clicking the first post date), then click “Best Of” under the topic summary. This will filter the topic to just the good stuff, about 10% of the total post count. It’s at the beginning of the topic so people just entering can find the, er, “welcome center”, if you will.

@cowicide is very much around… type “cowicide” into the search box, or see his posting history here. 163 posts so far.

Weird. My go-to places on the internet are websites with solid communities with interesting comments, and a good percentage of the time, I tend to skip down to the comments before (if ever) reading the actual article.

For me, that used to be BB and the AVclub, but I must admit the change here has meant I tend to click over to the main site, then go, “oh wait, no comments” and then go back to the Avclub. On rareish occasions I’ll stop in here to see if anything interesting is happened, but it’s much, much less frequent. I used to be pretty active in a bunch of different forums, so it’s not so much the format that drives me away, at least not by itself. Although a lot of credit must be given to how much I detest laggy, shiny pages with pop ups and infinite scrolling sets ups like this one. Give me a plain old forum any day.


Because there is something at stake, there’s engagement, and it’s sticky. The initial BBS discussion had (has) a lot of regret and mourning, valid, but sometimes tough to read. This one started with an engaging precept, and seems to be distilling thought and intent.

I’ve been wondering - broadly touted as a cultural phenomenon, does BB actually understand how deep that really went over the last couple of years? Clearly the editorial policy was accurate, stoking debate and engaging discussions that were consequential (I, for instance, am now a member of the EFF because of BB). But does everyone grasp just how deep the good conversations went, how developed they became - so that BB becomes an extraordinary (in the truest sense of the word) forum?

It’s a zine, sure, but BB achieved on a more massive scale something cultural well beyond the current paradigm of publishing. Let alone being well read, it was becoming profoundly influential. It remains profoundly interesting - but knowing for instance that Hapoy Mutants rather than disengaged passers-by come to BBS, I’m less prone to substantiating weighty posts with backup links and responsive, targeted conversation.


Regarding the effort it takes to follow a discussion with this format:

Looked in on the ‘Call center employee’ comments…
I read a reply that’s interesting; the comment being replied to is 17 comments prior.
The 32 comments are full of replies mixed with … it’s really hard to consider what we have now as conversation / discussion.
Let’s gather in a room, form 2 circles facing opposite directions, one within the other. We start slowly walking, speaking to the person we face, hearing what they have to say, and reply to the person behind them; as the other replies to what I had to say to the person behind me. I’m supposed to gain from such an experiment?
And what’s with this ‘Guidance panel’ : This panel will only appear for your first 2 posts.


That circles analogy is very funny and apt. The format holds plenty of promise, but there’s an essence of disconnection.

When phone chat lines came to prominence in the UK, I tested one to see what it was all about. You spoke, then your phrase would be recorded and played back at seemingly random intervals, mixed with other phrase chunks. It was bewildering, beguilingly kept you on the line at premium rate, obviously had some sexy voices chucked in the mix whispering promises of interest and phone numbers, meetings and more.

I never did it again, I understood all I needed to know. bbs is not that, but the rapidly gained sense of disconnection in a supposedly ordered world of sentient beings conversing made a strong impression on me.

I’m kind of slowly building up to some kind of eloquent view of how I feel about this all. I’d like to get it out, it’s just … slightly blocked, as the BB experience has been so heady.

Flat comment systems, by design, are less friendly to tangents, if you have 3 groups having 3 different conversations, the “Correct” :tm: thing to do is to untangle the conversation and split it into multiple topics.

In general I feel we should be a little bit more trigger happy with “reply as new topic” button here as a community.

Also it is fairly critical you pull in a touch of context when replying to a post early in the stream either by using the quote trick (I used here) or a very short recap.

Yes, threaded systems are much more friendly to a conversation that is being pulled in 100 directions, however when a conversation is being pulled in 100 directions it becomes nearly impossible to track how it is evolving. Figuring out what you read and what you did not is a virtually impossible task.

I totally understand where this is coming from, the community has been trained on a threaded system for the last few years. Treating a flat comment system as though it is purely threaded can lead to some very surreal looking conversation.

Huh. I’ve occasionally worried about “post information scarcity”–a term I learned in bb comments. The notion is that subcultures used to form around shared, hard-to-find information, and that the internet’s instant availability dilutes that.

Art forms via limitations, small groups of people who agree about things most people don’t know about. If you think about Elvis, the Beatles, or anything that had a wide influence–that influence used to be brought about, in some way, by limitations in distribution. To put it another way–Muddy Waters was discovered and recorded in prison by Alan Lomax, and went on to global fame. Would it be possible for a single person with a tape recorder to document another single person, with global repercussions, today? Or would their voice be lost?

In any event, I’ve worried the same thing about things like bb. Used to be, ordering a zine was a kind of revolutionary act. My dad talks about getting issues of ‘The Realist’ in his Nebraska mailbox, and feeling like he was some kind of underground criminal. I had the same experience with factsheet 5, and that is where bb’s roots are as well. How fast are you? How dense? (incidentally repro t-shirts of the same are available here)

If it IS the case that only 5% of people who come to bb read the comments–I’M GLAD. It means that bb does still represent some kind of authentic subculture, and indeed that such subcultures still exist post-information-scarcity.

What troubles me is this notion that bb has forgotten its own identity, and has come to believe it is writing for the 90% of people who surf through for amusing products. That (based solely on the Beschizza comments linked here) it may have put the cart in front of the horse.

Good luck with that. Non-BB posts (this one aside) attract almost no attention and rapidly sink without trace.

I’d say these days that everything is becoming a sub-culture. So much is available, so diverse, that you can swim happily in whatever fractal pool you’re drawn to. Compare with pop stars (I don’t like them, but it’s easy) - I suspect we’re never going to see another Michael Jackson captivating the world, because there are so many platforms (that are, relatively speaking, so easy to create) for charismatic individuals to come out on, that an MTV will never again have the same enormous influence.

Which sucks for entertainment / media firms. Their investors, stakeholders and shareholders will be whipping them for returns, and they’ll frenziedly try and respond, but to no avail.

BB aggregated not just via editorial posts, but in conversations underneath, by drawing in wolves in sheeps clothing like me. Brought up in counter-culture, I had no outlet till BB. Then unable to restrain myself, I came on strong!

Well - one person kindly responded to my post about new and interesting bands. Came out with a blinder as well - JJ Rosa, totally under my radar.

I’d say we should make a bit more effort - but maybe we need a profile setting out “what tickles my fancy” so that when related posts go up, we are alerted, and go and sniff around.

I don’t think that’s entirely true – BB editors are probably more comfortable posting about contentious topics than the community is at this point – but we could do a better job of escalating the community topics, too. Since they are not exactly linked from the BB homepage.

Some other ideas, is for BB to semi regularly highlight interesting forum content in some way, or even have a minor contest promoting the best new community topics, etc.