Five years of BBS 📅


I like BBS a lot, mostly because of the things that I don’t notice, but which I know a lot of work has gone into:

  1. It works well technically – real-time notifications, reliable formatting, good mobile support; sometimes unfinished posts even sync between devices, which is neat, if not quite reliable enough to revolutionise my use of BBS while pooping.
  2. I rarely see spam, and I know that takes work
  3. Comments are more or less a flat list – sites that auto-hide or rearrange posts are enraging, worthless garbage, and while it seems like more work to accomplish that kind of dumb nonsense, Discourse actually has a lot of small details that make the flat list approach workable with busy threads. Like, auto-linking replies and mentions, progressive loading, the scroll bar thingy etc.

I have some basic philosophical disagreements with aspects of how Discourse works (echoing my much stronger disagreements with how Stack Exchange works), but that rarely matters on BBS because most of the time, it shows every post, in order, the way its author wrote it. I could write a pamphlet on why it’s not a good thing to delete whole branches of conversation, but I doubt anyone cares what I think, and it doesn’t happen much anyway.

Fritter, but yes, that’s one of the things I have misgivings about. Many of the most blood-pressure-spiking interactions involve someone skimming a thoughtful post, misrepresenting it as full-throated support for The Other Side, and then reciting the orthodox position for a round of high fives. A game that rewards scanning lots of posts, enthusiastically marking which ones are correct, will favor people who operate this way.

That’s me agreeing that reading is (what?) fundamental. It’s just, I’m not convinced that timing a person’s scroll through a thread tells you how much they’re reading. In some cases you may be measuring how hard they’re scanning for opportunities for facile point-scoring.

Though, again, I don’t say this is a big problem with Discourse/BBS, because high-scoring users don’t really have special privileges. As long as scores don’t matter, problems with the scoring system don’t matter either.


Thank you, Jeff, Sam, and the rest of the crew. Discourse is amazing software. The community-building ethos is inspiring. Thank you for your continued work.



Not accurate. Read the actual trust level requirements.

It is fair to note that maybe Discourse didn’t provide proper guidance around the meta-moderation purpose of the lounge areas – that is discuss desired behaviors, not specific people.

I dunno, I’ve seen some pretty big PM username lists floating out around out there in the ether. Is that better or worse than a TL3 lounge? There’s also diasporas where sites fragment into additional instances, with a change in ownership as some users permanently leave for the greener pastures of the new world, while sometimes maintaining shadow accounts in the old world to monitor it. Is that better or worse than a TL3 lounge?

The odds of it happening here are … not good … but I’ve always felt that at least one active moderator should come from the community itself, as a sort of volunteer pseudo-elected position. That philosophy of communities owning their own collective destiny will continue to be reflected in the design of Discourse, however.

Reading through the topic again, some suggestions (again beyond user ignore which is already on the roadmap, and acts as a shadow flag):

  • allow people to self-indicate “on hold” for their accounts so they can go on hiatus without losing TL3 etc, also side benefit people know they may not get a reply, etc.

  • adding copy to indicate “something else” covers “bad faith”

Bad faith is tricky. I totally get it, and I support it, but you see why Twitter and Facebook resort to positively orwellian phrases like Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior to describe it.


As others have said, this is one of the few boards I still actively engage in because it works, it isn’t ugly, it’s moderately moderated (as opposed to immoderated), and the community are mostly interesting.

If I had a wish it would be for more interesting font controls. However, I know that I shouldn’t have them because I’d go overboard and annoy people typographically.

Carry on!


Fair enough. None-the-less it let through a small number of users who were still able to persist here for a long time despite being considered trolls by a large number of Regulars (including those who set up the Lounges devoted to discussing the particularly sneaky behaviour of said alleged trolls that allowed them to persist).

I wouldn’t put that guidance responsibility on the devs, especially since your design philosophy and rules system, strong as it is, manages to favour a lot of flexibility and freedom for those running instances.

As I recall the mods here made it clear they’d take a lighter touch on the TL3 Lounges; it didn’t work out and eliminating them was the decision they came to.

That’s not for me to answer but for those who control the various instances of Discourse or whatever other platforms are running in the various greener pastures. Their joints, their rules.*

What I will say is that, after the brief period of tumult and bad feelings and lost users (caused by the abruptness of the removal than the removal itself), BB BBS hasn’t suffered much by management’s discontinuation of the TL3 Lounges. The user-created topics in the non-boing categories visible to all(?) seem to be doing most of the same job as most of the old Lounges. I suppose if people want to discuss more private or personally sensitive issues that used to be done in the Lounges they can now do so in the PMs.

As I said above, personally I’m not averse to the member-created TL3 Lounges coming back here, as long as they have an optional invite-only feature which would solve or at least mitigate the problem we saw last time around.

[* enhanced by a system that, among other smart features, would degrade the TLs of monitoring shadow accounts you mention as a matter of course]

Absolutely agree. I think @orenwolf came into his current position that way, which is why he’s so good at it. It’s a great idea for the devs to build in features that encourage those running instances to choose their mods that way.

It’s absolutely tricky. Due to the scale of BB BBS and the maturity level of its existing community compared to Twitter and FB, though, I do think a 1-2 month re-labeling of “Something Else” to “Bad Faith” accompanied by a policy announcement by the mods would be a worthwhile experiment. Whether it would translate over to other instances is another matter but I believe we’re the willing guinea pigs in your mad science lab.


I’m curious—who do you picture doing the inviting? (I’m thinking if it wasn’t done on straight system metrics, there could be some pretty arbitrary personality-driven issues with invite-only. Or maybe I’m just not clear on what you’re suggesting.)


I’d assume the TL3 member who was authorised by the system metrics to create the TL3 Lounge thread would do the inviting. The invitation feature would be an add-on to the existing TL3 Lounge-creation functionality that used to be turned on.

It would probably be best that only other TL3 members could be invited, but that’s a decision for the devs and perhaps the mods, assuming the latter decides to turn them back on at all.


If you’re talking about invitations per thread, that sounds to me just like a group PM, which exists already—?


Pretty much. But it could probably be implemented if management decided to bring back the Regulars Lounge functionality, too. Not much difference except for thread creation being a TL3 privilege in the latter case.


What is this “thread” you speak of? There are only topics here, my friends :wink:


Or do it somewhere else.


Also because he’s :canada: Canadian and they are required by law to be nice to everyone. It’s in their constitution and everything.


Well, on the other hand the brigading was open, so it couldn’t be denied.

I seem to remember that I did, and said so.

But “lounges” still exist, in the current system, only they are user created. You just private message omeone, then invite others to the PM thread.


If you don’t want people dunking on your stupid ass-posts, don’t make stupid ass-posts.

I’m not going to get into the weeds on what does or does not constitute ass-posts. I think that line is very obvious, even if dolts like @popobawa pretended ignorance.

This board constitues a community of - mostly - members who are level-headed, progressive, and done with bullshit. Harmful ideas will be called out, regardless of tone (see: popo).

There are many, quite valuable, highly active members, who regularly provide insightful posts. That their voiceferus independent defense of this board exists is beyond dispute. It is rather telling that you ascribe it to a shadowy cabal conspiring to dogpile, rather than active members who come across and respond to a stupid ass-post.

Again: do not make stupid ass-posts if you do not want members to dunk on it.

Congratulations on derailing this thread.


That’s one of the awesome things about Discourse. I always preferred threaded discussions before, but also wanted a sequential version. The way Discourse handles it you kind of get the best of both worlds. The way the quote/multiquote and uplinking/downlinking work really help. If the sequentialness throws you off, you can easily find your way in both directions. I love that.

You know too much! You have spoken of that which must not be spoken of! I’m just kidding. :laughing: You know more of it than I do. In a twist of irony I achieved the level of access to be able to get to the lounge just after it was deactivated and the schism occurred. So I don’t even know what went on there. I just saw it as a bunch of the people I liked to talk to left and went Elsewhere.

I think that’s a social problem more than technical one. Of course you’re going to have some highly-active regulars among the less-active people and the new people. And making the regulars into elites with special status is creating a class divide. But something like that will probably happen anyway. People get invested, get to know each other, get personal. Whether it’s big PM lists or a secondary venue. The bigger question is how to actually solve whatever problems arise out of that in a civil way.

People are inventive. Maybe there are ways to address it with technology. But without something like the psychohistory from the Foundation series, we may be limited to social rather than technological solutions at the moment.


As I recall I only had TL3 for less than 6 months before the Lounges were shut down but I didn’t see any brigading going on in them (if I did I would have flagged it). I did see a lot of complaining about users who managed to stay around while continually arguing in bad faith or who constantly posted disrespectful or aggressively stupid comments or who tried to derail. No demands for co-ordinated harrassment or pile-ons in the non-TL3 topics, though.

That’s how it was supposed to work, since there was no prohibition in the Lounges on criticism of the behaviour of other users and the consistent behaviour of some of them. I do recall people like yourself in the Lounges debating whether criticism was due or whether a new user was really a troll or perhaps misunderstood, which was actually a positive function of those Lounge topics.

The problems only occurred when a handful of people who were consistently criticised got TL3 access themselves. The ones who constantly argued in bad faith understandably got butthurt and turned their bad-faith behaviour on the Lounges themselves by discussing it in non-TL3 topics, claiming behaviours (e.g. brigading) and favouritism that didn’t exist.

Moving back on-topic, my main point here is that an invitation-only option would have forestalled that issue and that if the Lounges are ever brought back that might be a useful feature to add. Other than that there’s no point re-hashing the subject of the Lounges here. Perhaps, per @codinghorror’s request, you can suggest other useful features for Discourse as a whole or give feedback on what really works well for you.


@tinoesroho, @gracchus, if you guys choose to deny that private conversation threads about other users exist today, I can’t force you to face reality. Maybe you don’t get invited to them.

If you choose to deny the existence of the Hey Rube thread, and similar explicit brigading back in the Lounge days, again I can’t force you to face reality. A potemkin village awaits you!

Of the two people (not counting me) that I remember were being actively discussed when they gained Regular status, one has since been expelled, the other still contributes. but both were quite magnanimous and civil towards their detractors, as I recall.

This seems insightful to me. I’ve been invited to secondary venues as well! I don’t know if there’s a technical solution; so maybe bringing it out into the open is best.

I am usually one of the people advocating civility and charitable interpretation of pthers’ speech. Usually.

If you don’t want to talk about it, then don’t.

@codinghorror, if you feel my posts are inappropriate to the thread, I will delete, just say the word.


I am not denying that. Quite to the contrary, I acknowledged @codinghorror’s contention above that PM threads topics* could work in that way if the site’s management allowed it. From a technical viewpoint, the parent functionality of all Discourse topics seems to be shared whether they’re public, TL3, or private – various additional features (like invitations or access) are just turned on or off.

[* I’m trying!]

I shared my own experience about the Hey Rube thread and the other Kvetching one (there may have been more but I remember those two). Their existence was not the equivalent of brigading any more than the complaints in them were.

I don’t like brigading and would have used the flagging system to stop it. The flags were available in the TL3 Lounge topics and despite moderating with a lighter hand there I’m sure the mods would not have tolerated that.

The fact that one of those two people was expelled should tell you something about his or her behaviour. As for all of them, what I saw during that incident was a lot of bad-faith grousing and a lot of false accusations hurled at both the Regulars and the mods and management. “Magnanimous and civil”, at least in the sincere sense, are not terms I’d have used to describe them. I recall that one of them (perhaps not one of the three you’re talking about) was known for being particularly oily and insincere in general, using false politeness to disguise his bad-faith contentions. He was also permabanned.

He’s saying you’re derailing because you’re not discussing what currently works on the site or what new features or fixes could be added to improve it. Again, please stay on-topic with this thread instead of continuing this long-expired debate. [ETA: I’ve just requested that the sub-topic be forked starting with your initial comment in this thread. UPDATE: request denied for sensible reason]


when i see the word “brigading” in the context of a forum or comments section what i think of is a unified and concerted denunciation and/or downvoting of a commenter or point of view. what i recall of the lounge “hey rube” thread was a lot of discussion along the lines of “is this person trolling?” and “how many fallacies can one person cram into one post?” and “is there any way this person could possibly make an argument that was more in bad faith than this one?” there wasn’t any direction or guidance being given to things like “let’s see if we can flag this into oblivion just for spite” but more discussion along the lines of “you should see the response i just wrote to that person’s hideously trolling posts” and “wow, i wonder how long it’s going to take falcor to eat that one?”

in other words, your description of the discussion in the old lounge of other days is inaccurate. instead of the cesspit you seem to be trying to describe it as, it was a place where heavy readers of this forum could let their hair down and talk about the state of argument on the site.


Fair enough; but I think it was both.

When I say brigading, in the context of the BBS, I mean people working together, either with or without explicit group coordination, to enforce differential standards of discourse by gaming the software and moderators.

So for example whataboutism and personal attacks might not get flagged depending on who’s doing it. The mods don’t read everything, and some people love a pile-on, so it’s gameable.

If there’s a better word than brigading I’d be happy to learn it…

Out of respect for those who feel I’m derailing (rather than honestly discussing Five Years of BBS) I’ll refrain from further comment until Jeff weighs in on whether this is appropriate for his thread.