Does BoingBoing still boing, or just thud?

Sez you.
(sorry, had to)

Yeah, sez me. Wanna make sumpin’ of it? (Yeah, I know. Gets back to my perennial point about trying to keep discussion (which is about understanding) from turning into debate (which is about winning the argument.) I do want to understand where folks are coming from, but once it is clear that we understand and still disagree we need a way to close it off rather than saying the same things endlessly in different words and hoping that some phrasing will convince the others.


Oh, don’t I know it. We all love it, though (secretly). Also, UR RONG BECAUSE REASONS!!!
(furthermore: Invisible Hand)

That is very odd, because for a long time I read literally every single post in every single topic on BBS across all the devices I own: iOS, Android, Windows – and I always resumed reading at the last post I read in each topic. It is something we are fanatical about.

That is always the ideal, but these are busy folks with a lot on their plate. It would be nice if someone was tasked with monitoring topics for corrections and errata and had the power to edit BB articles on behalf of the author.

New people have the least invested in the community and sometimes do a strafing run on a topic that winds them up with no intent whatsoever to hang around and become a part of the community. So the damage they do is of no consequence to them, and why would it be? They don’t live there, or even nearby.

This is a great description of the problem, and I think “replying too much” is the underlying cause.

If you can’t get your point across sufficiently in 3 or 4 replies, does adding 5 more improve the discussion for everyone? Even worse if these responses rapidly follow each other, or reflexively come after every other person responds to you, like knee-jerk replies.

I moved a post to a new topic: BBS has difficulty tracking my last read post?

At one point my favorite – though admittedly officious and annoying – moderation tool was:

Is anyone still undecided?
OF THOSE UNDECIDED, does anyone feel further discussion will be helpful to them?
If not, move to close debate. We’re repeating ourselves.

Vote to close. Interesting, we of course did that on Stack Exchange for very different reasons – but I am not sure the people who need to vote would be looking at the topic at the time the vote is called, when everyone who isn’t those same 3 dudes yelling at each other in the topic have long since given up looking at the topic.

And those 3 dudes yelling at each other, probably won’t vote to close, and certainly can’t reach whatever voting threshold there is.

That was in a system where discussions were sorted by larger areas of discussion rather than single topics, internally threaded but with everything visible as flat-chronological if you wanted to see it that way… so people tended to stay subscribed and just move onto different topics, and it was a bit easier to get consensus that something being driven into the ground was burning bandwidth better used for other things.

The community differed in other ways too, which tended to make most folks less antagonistic than has become common here.

Lesson: don’t be one of those 3 dudes endlessly yelling at each other in the topic.

Which can be enforced by the software (hey, that’s too many replies recently / all time / in this topic) or by the moderators (posting in the topic: how about we all chillax a bit before I have to put people in timeout).

I really truly believe if you can’t make your point adequately in 3-4 replies in the topic, you kinda suck at discussion. Or else you’re just here to grind your axe (win the “debate”) and have the last word, rather than an actual discussion.

In general, I agree.

Topic drift (and the fact that we can’t/don’t easily subpartition the multiple topics spawned by a given “seed” item – you know what I’d say here, so I won’t) makes that somewhat more complicated.

As does trying to distinguish between yelling and productive/creative/insightful/thoughtful/enlightening production. Sometimes you really do have a small group which has deeper insights and is carrying a larger share of the conversation and that isn’t a bad thing.

Automatically detecting situations that might need review certainly sounds doable. Automatically enforcing… I think you’re going to run into some undesired side-effects until you have ways to override it the other way. “Hold for review” rather than pure lockout, perhaps. But that does require activist reviewers willing to spend some time making it work.

Or, as with Stack Overflow, come up with some sort of reputation system where folks who have proven they can behave themselves and are relatively trustworthy contributors are given progressively more slack. (Not to be confused with Slack.)

(Now there’s a concept: Slack Overflow.)

There’s an interesting related proposal here:

TL;DR I generally like it but I have some concerns:

I think it’s a huge ask to require the community deal with every new user creating “invisible” posts that other community members have to somehow like or otherwise support before they can be visible at all. Huge, huge ask, because if they aren’t actively “liking” or somehow vetting these posts, you will have no new users. It’s kind of like never ending, ongoing work… your users must commit to constant “like”-ing of new user posts, not just occasionally flagging things that are out of bounds.

I explained more in the topic, and there is good related discussion, if you are interested.

edit: and this already exists here, in the form of trust levels 0-2. New users are sandboxed in many significant ways, one of the most recently added (and important) I explained above. We have yet to implement 3 and beyond.

I didn’t say all new people are blameless and never do wrong, I said everybody always blames the n00bs.

I have often seen communities (virtual and meatspace) take action to limit the ability of newcomers to voice their concerns or otherwise join fully in the activities of the community. When such actions succeed, it generally sounds a death knell to the vigor of the larger group… if that bell hasn’t already tolled… so I’m usually opposed.

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That makes no sense. Extreme example to make a point: any wannabe heart surgeon should be allowed to operate the day he shows up at the hospital? Otherwise we potentially damage the long term vitality of the heart surgery community, right?

I agree that online discussion is hardly rocket surgery, but giving a damn about the community you’re about to interact with, and taking a bit of time to understand their norms and guidelines and culture, is something that can and should be reasonably expected of any newcomer.

I find that newcomers who “need” to post 25 replies the first hour they show up on the forum (or even 5 on the same topic, in a row) are not the kind of newcomers you want to welcome into your community with open arms.

So… yeah.

(On the other hand, a lot of people suck at online multiplayer typing game design. That’s true. Their rules often do more damage than good. )

That’s hardly an applicable analogy. Surgeons can make whatever community they like as pertains to surgery. Within their own field–people who have already mastered surgery and are using that skill well and ethically–they’d be well advised not to impose additional restrictions. But it’s understood they had to pass the basics, the mediums, and even the extremely difficults and have obtained that mastery.

Unless BBS is an exclusive club catering to people employed in life-or-death scenarios, Medievalist has a very relevant point.

Every additional hurdle you put up on the front end will keep an increasing percentage out. I’d agree with you on the basic idea that there are some people we’d like to cut off at the front door and say “nope, don’t need your contribution” for. Beyond a certain point, though, and we’re keeping new potential out of the community.

We certainly don’t (intentionally anyway) put an overwhelming bar on elementary education on the merits that the wrong sort of people might one day end up slipping into a surgeon qualification one day.

So we pick a bar somewhere between the two. For my money, I’d put it closer to say 9th grade. But whatever that bar is, if it’s too high, some of the people you’d kill to have here just won’t bother. If you’re anywhere near that level, you guarantee the community will eventually die due to attrition.

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I’ve almost completely stopped reading BBS on my Android phone, because there’s no ‘in reply to’ button and the conversation becomes almost impossible to follow after a certain point.

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This is why you need activist admins rather than (or in addition to) automation.

Newbies often don’t know enough to know how much they don’t know, especially if they have experience in other online discussions, especially if their experience is limited to a small number of other discussions which run in a more aggressive mode. They need to be given a bit of space to learn what is and isn’t appropriate.

So I agree that we want to catch patterns that look like a problem and educate the users. But I disagree that “the first hour” is a sufficient test – the real question is whether they are capable of correcting their behavior after they’ve been told what they’re doing wrong.

If they can’t correct it after having been told what the issue is and why it’s considered a problem, then I don’t much mind losing them.

On the other hand, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere, sometimes the newcomer is an expert and we WANT those 25 replies in the same topic. There has to be a human in the loop to make a judgement call about whether the pattern violation is justified or not, or you’re going to lose people you will really regret losing.

If running a good BBS was easy, there would be more good BBS’s and this one might not have felt a need to start.


That’s where I’m at on this too. Generally. But discussions come in all flavors and makes this really hard to quantify. Earlier I suggested a 5 post max on a thread, and one of ya shot me down fairly gracefully, but point taken.

Sometimes a thread is a lot of short responses. Sometimes a thread is a few discussions that are paragraphs in nature. Sometimes you have a few people breaking off and going back and forth and ignoring the rest. I mean, a 5-or-so max is about right, but it isn’t ALWAYS right. And I’d be annoyed if I couldn’t say my last goofy quip because I’d already hit my limit.

Question about flagging … right now I see a post that seems sort of relevant to the discussion, but then it includes a link that is clearly not relevant. So, do I go ahead and flag it for spam?

If it’s only “sort of”, it’s probably search-optimization spam. Or malware spam. Either way, yes, flag it and let the admins make the judgement call.

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