I recall someone asking for a Maker category when BBS was new, which I support. maybe a Bananas category for silly pictures of memes or an ongoing cat thread or other juvenilia. perhaps something for other non-maker projects we are doing: music, films, academic papers, or volunteer work?
That happens too with threaded discussions, it just happens in a many-headed hydra way where the same things are rehashed in 5 different locations that you may not see…
Which is kind of my “sweeping it under the rug” feeling in general with threads. Speaking of rehashing everything over and over, not that I want that to spawn another threaded vs flat discussion… I prefer problems out in the open, in a common location where everyone can see and discuss 'em.
Like we’re doing right now!
Over time I am becoming a big believer in the “say your piece and let others talk” strategy, but remember that what we show now is a reminder to pause and let others speak when you post a lot, it is not mandatory. However… I have noticed that some, uh, axe-grindy new users can be problematic and we just instituted a setting that limits new users from replying too much to the same topic. You can read the rationale for that here, and I highly recommend that you do if you have any interest at all in the topic:
BBS users are reasonably good at flagging spam (and thank you for this, keep flagging evil spam for great justice) but yeah, flagging digressions and monopolization is basically not happening at all. There’s a pretty good overall BBS culture now, but a culture of flagging mean-spirited stuff… that seems much harder to achieve.
One thing that I have found works well is for moderators to actually post “hey guys, stay on topic” or “remember, keep it civil (link to faq)” as @Falcor has done. Posts magically disappearing doesn’t necessarily teach the community, but moderators taking a brief, friendly (and I cannot emphasize enough the friendly bit) public stand does.
So I think more moderation is definitely in order – specifically, more of the latter type to complement the former.
It does seem to me that there are more “click bait” type posts that don’t seem to be relevant to what is traditionally posted on BB. I think occasionally posters also use language that is going to get the ire up for a portion of the audience. And the moderation is allowing for more diversity in the discussion of topics. IMHO previous moderation lead to too much group think.
No aspersions on any of the current mods, but Antinous used to keep a stiff boot heel on assholery in any incarnation. I used to get my posts blasted all the time, stuff I thought was pretty low on the objectionable scale. I honestly think he skewed the discussions to a kinder, gentler composition. This is not necessarily synonymous with better. Just a different feel when you walk in the door.
I find myself moving away because now the discussion has been moved to the BBS. Instead of reading the article, then moving down the page to see what people have to say about it, and put my own two cents in if I want to, now I have to change pages/windows/tabs, and hunt down the relevant discussion. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
If I want a blurb & a link, I can go to any number of sites, since most of the sites I’m interested in all cover things similar to Boingboing, if not the same content. And in that way, Boingboing has gone from being the best blog on the Internet, to just another face in the crowd (cloud).
Yes, there was something lost when inline commentary was replaced with a “system of participation”. But now the system of participation allowed such things as Badass Space Dragon to happen, when before it wouldn’t have been possible. So, good with bad, I think. Although I totally feel ya on your last brilliant sentence… “just another face in the cloud.” Well played, doggo.
Okay, so I have a few solid suggestions:
Put a permalink to the boingboing,net article being discussed somewhere other than the very tippy top of the discussion page. For extremely long discussions, scrolling up is a gigantic pain (especially because comments are dynamically loaded). People are dissuaded from checking the context of the original article and staying on topic. There should be a permalink in the header that follows you down the page.
More categories. Right now it’s BoingBoing, Meta, and everything else. It’s not really a BBS. If it’s just some more convoluted dedicated comment system, why the hell separate it from the posts anyway? If that’s what it’s supposed to be, then comments should just be integrated into the post pages. The extra step makes no sense.
More stabbiness. I yearn for the days of disemvowelment. There’s a broken windows element to this: if people see really crappy comments left standing, then the quality of their comment is going to suffer because the standards seem lower. Enforce civility. I’m not saying that people shouldn’t insult each other, but we should hold an insult to the standard of “clever and entertaining.”
Buy me a pony. Except not really, I don’t want to muck anything. Send me money to buy myself something of equivalent niceness to a pony. (Hey it’s worth a shot.)
Right on, Abe. I like all your suggestions except #4. Why would you want a damn pony? If you’re in the request business, then ask for a UNICORN.
I’d amend this list to say #4: put the ENTIRE discussion back on the main thread on the blog. Because of #3 - more stabbiness and disemvowellment, less assholery will be appearing, and therefore will not be off-putting on the main blog item. My understanding was that this was a major driving factor for going to the BBS. But I think there could be a happy medium, where we get back what was lost but don’t have to give up the BBS.
Having the full brunt of the content and comments all there in your face was a Wonderful Thing, in itself. Now, when you want to comment, you have to go to the bbs, and then the content isn’t there - to get back to it you have to click and click and click to find the original. I think the solution should be a blend of the blog & BBS, making sure the full commentary lands back on the front page not just a digest of the “best”. ALL of it. To get that quality, blast the crap and limit the number of posts generally.
Personally, I think a global max of 5 posts for ANY one item is plenty. I see very little value in posting more than 5 times or having a 5-time back-and-forth with anyone. Most of the time anything longer than 4 replies has already turned into a pissing match, and I don’t even read 'em. I don’t think you’d be losing anything by cutting back on the number of long back-and-forths between 1 or 2 people. Sure, they’ll object because they want to go on ad nauseum, but really, nobody else reads that shit and it’s useless.
Let’s say you post a hot topic and 100 people read it. My guess is that of those 100 people, you’ll get less than 5 of them doing a back-and forth. Of the remaining 100, you’ll have, I’m guessing, 5 more people, MAXIMUM who will read all of the back and forth clear to the end. You’ll have another 20 people who make a separate, substantive comment. That leaves 70 people who don’t give a flying f*rq about MOST of the comments. You’ll have to run your own numbers, but this is my guesstimate based on feel. Summary: allowing runaway back-and-forths does not benefit the site.
While allowing SOME back-and-forth does.
I’m just going to jump in here to offer the public service announcement that I offer anytime anybody talks about wanting a pony.
Fact: Ponies are assholes. My grandpa had a couple of ponies when I was growing up and they were bitter, hateful creatures that transferred their frustration at being so short and cute into loathing for everything else in the world … especially little girls. You do not want a pony. And you definitely don’t want something with the equivalent niceness of a pony.
I disagree with the comment limit idea. That just breeds ninjas, posters who jump in, post once (usually inanely) and jump out, never to be seen again.
They make a nice lasagna, though.
your Point #3, times a gazillion
Just pointing out that you can click or tap the topic title and it will always take you to the top of the discussion in one go.
I find myself reluctant to flag anything except spam. It makes me feel like I’m being a tattletale or a snitch. I’m much more inclined to look for a snarky picture or an animated gif that points out someone’s assholery.
Maybe it would be useful to have a “flag discussion for moderation” option? That way people would not have to single out a particular comment/person, but could direct attention to the entire discussion.
Maybe. We could add it as a button at the bottom of the topic, but
- you’d have to be at the bottom to see it
- only trust level 1 users can flag (e.g. no new users are trusted to flag yet)
- I am not convinced the same overall reluctance to flag posts wouldn’t exist in flagging discussions
It is a good idea though because it divorces the person from the flag, which I agree, is the right way to look at this. Let me think about it some more.
I’ve been a moderator on other systems. There’s nothing “snitch” about saying “hey, moderators, we could use a judgement call here if you haven’t already looked at it.” If it’s over the line, they want to know about it and should know about it. If it isn’t, no harm done except possibly wasting the moderator’s time.
But first the moderators need to set a clear baseline for what they want to be informed of. Otherwise they risk either being saturated with cases they don’t need to know about, or not hearing about the ones they do need to know about.
I don’t think we’ve established the norm yet. Or at least, if we have, it isn’t one I consider desirable. Until that’s done, relying on volunteers to do the reviewing for you is NOT going to work; the very folks who would be best at it will be most cautious about not flagging idiots they disagree with to avoid risk of suppressing the disagreement rather than the idiot.
That’s right, and I also think this community is one that is extra-extra-careful to let each mutant, of whatever type, have their say.
In other words, this is a community that is IMHO particularly sensitive to not wanting to trample on the rights of others to speak. That is a good thing! But we also need to acknowledge that there is a line between mean-spiritedness and freedom to express yourself. And unless we delineate the position of that line, and actively work to enforce that line, together, as a community, not by making the moderators shoulder all the work – because they can’t – it will continue to blur.
Also as for the official statement on “the norm”, it is here:
And that is referred to a bunch of places, and also in a pop-up TL;DR summary with link as you begin typing your first post as a new user…
If that needs to be made more clear, perhaps another topic should be started (feel free to “reply as new topic”) to host ideas on what those changes would be.
Flagging should be seen as a pleasure.