Five years of BBS 📅


AKA forming a community.

I saw no evidence of this in the Lounges.

Those are individual decisions but what I’ve seen in my time on BBS has been even-handed flagging. One other good thing I recall about the Lounges was that when it came to personal attacks people would try to calm each-other down and suggest toning things down in the boing topics.

As I said: “forming a community”. The mods provide certain broad standards conduct, the authors set the tone, a regular group of BBS users is attracted forms and starts discussing the behaviour of bad and stupid actors. This happens on every well-managed discussion forum on the Internet (FB and Twitter and YT comments obviously not). This one happens to be particularly well-moderated and have a system that supports the mods particularly well.

If bad actors and useful idiots and the like come into that community then, yes, one way or another they’re going to be talked about and complained about. As @navarro explained, that’s not brigading.

@orenwolf feels it’s ok, which is good enough for me.


As long as we’re off-topic here for a bit, and talking about community as opposed to the Discourse system itself, I want to recommend reading this blog post that I happened to see recently.

It’s maybe a bit wordy and a little slow to get going, but I thought it was worth the read. It gave me a lot of insight into the bbs! Especially into the sort of things we’re discussing here in the last several posts.

[edited because it appears that we’re acceptably on topic after all :slight_smile: )


Thanks for asking.

This was definitely a significant event in the timeline of the BBS. Without rehashing the mother of all discussions, we removed the lounge for two reasons:

  1. we didn’t believe a two-tier community (even if anyone could join if they behaved and worked hard enough) was appropriate for Boing Boing without a lot more messaging around the reasoning and purpose, and
  2. regardless of what the intention of the lounge flag topics was from a dev perspective, they were essentially BB-endorsed locations that very often deviated from discussions about general topics surrounding posting or positions, and instead veered into discussions about specific users. That was also something we didn’t want to endorse.

Folks are going to talk about folks. That’s fine, we cannot police the internet (nor do we want to!). But it’s a very different thing when we actually create and endorse the spaces where this takes place. People carry out discussions in PMs all the time (it’s why we have PMs) - sometimes in large groups, sometimes 1:1. Discourse has this as a feature, right on the flag page. It’s intentional (because really, folks could just move to email or slack or elsewhere to do that anyway). We intervene in those as well, if they are flagged. But there’s a large difference between those spaces, and spaces we are expressly endorsing.


And mind you we can flag posts all day long but ‘The Regulars’ have never had the final say and stuff stays up after our mods decide there isn’t an issue. Also we would probably earn ourselves a time out if we flagged enough to annoy the mods with stupid work.


What thread? There are only topics here. I see no “thread”.

I’m not a moderator here, to be clear, I’m only looking for specific technical product feedback on features. So unless your replies are about technical product features, then they probably don’t belong here in this… topic.


The thing i couldn’t understand then or now is why you deemed it a good idea to begin with if this is how you feel about it. I could understand if this place had been taken over by new management as it were and it didn’t fit with the owner’s ethos but it wasn’t. Forgive me for saying this but it seems somewhat naive to be at this stage in the internet’s growth and to not foresee that people would take the opportunity to use the lounge to talk about troublesome users or discuss things beyond the topics.


Thank you for the clarification.

I misunderstood this request, I see.

Apologies to all.

@orenwolf, thank you for directly addressing the issues I mentioned, your openness is always appreciated.


We are trying to use a community driven discussion group package to run a heavily moderated comments section of a blog/news site. The mistake starts right there. Those things are not very compatible.

We did not ever feel any of the tiering or community moderation features were a good idea. We wanted zero of them before the system even went live. We were told we had to use the software in certain ways. We were after all “Beta Test customers” of this community moderated forum package. I think that by the time we figured out, internal to Boing Boing, how far away from what we thought we were getting we were – it was a few days before launch.

Boing Boing messed up and should have understood that to properly use Discourse we needed to engage the community moderation stuff. We never wanted those features and should not have thought of Discourse as a Disqus replacement. Our very big fail.

At times, when we wanted to make changes, changes the community was pushing for at that, we were told not to make them – because they ran counter to the intent of the software.

Unsolicited expertise was somewhat forced upon us about how to manage “a community” and “our community” that was clearly not helpful and showed a lack of understanding and perhaps a lack of willingness to understand this wasn’t a community managed forum and was never going to be one.

Thank the FSM we never opened the Pandora’s box of community moderation.

We did, however, end-up with a community of around 120 users demanding around 400% of the time and effort currently invested in managing the BBS. We could not afford it.

User-to-User antagonism also has nothing to do with comments on our blog posts. Moderating arguments between commenters about non-comment related things is a bad use of time. Fewer wonderful things are shared when we are doing that.

After several increasing years of struggle with a situation we did not want or enjoy, we are happier for having made changes that give us a BBS we like.

Activity here did not fail. Apparently the active users did not notice that activity-tier disappearing, and its lack didn’t slow down discussion of blog posts on Boing Boing.

Unsurprisingly, we were told those changes would never work and everything would be destroyed.

Here we are celebrating another year of a successful BBS! Things are working really well.


Your comments are illuminating and appreciated!

The community has changed noticeably since the implementation of Discourse, but this may have more to do with changes of content and focus than with software. I don’t presume to know if this is beneficial to BoingBoing’s operators or intentions.


I am able to sometimes log into BBS from my Flight computer. During those times, I have thus far been unable to use my login, as that form of interaction is heavily discouraged.

But I do indeed sometimes graze very slowly on my iPod Touch 3rd generation. I heartily endorse all of your services at Boing Boing, & I hope I can continue to interact with BBS in particular over the coming years.


Here’s a question—just out of curiosity! but a serious question—why do you want people to discuss the blog posts here? I mean, plenty of sites don’t allow comments. Why do you particularly want commenting on Boing Boing’s posts? In other words, what do you see as the benefit(s) of having a comment section, if I may ask?


Speaking only for me… I would probably just skim through the site via rss if there were no comments. And the BBS adds a reason for me to not only appreciate the insights of the other denizens with new topics to ponder provided by @jlw and others but to also get the occasional DM from some editors about awesome Russian Sci-Fi books when the original topic has closed, as well as some silliness in user generated topics. While now I click out to the main site from here I do read the full articles as opposed to just skimming over stuff which I did for years via RSS feed.
In short the BBS made my eyeballs stay on the site longer and I think the comments are much better for it as well.


Just out of curiosity, since Jason mentioned they didn’t want to open Pandora’s box in the first place and have community moderators: @codinghorror, I’ve been an active contributor on Fairphone’s Discount instance since they started. They have build a great community, and their moderation seemed to be working really well as far as I could tell.

Of course their scope and the subjects are different than BB’s.

But I still wonder: has community moderation been a problem for many other Discourse communities? Or is it working out in most cases? I brought up community moderation above, and I didn’t know the editors felt that way. I’m not questioning their decision, mind. But I’m really curious if people are as bad as I often forget they are (and if Fairphone users are indeed a very special community, of course).


Thanks for the insight. I didn’t expect this.
Consider my faith in humanity … being slightly higher than yesterday.


Sadly the pissing match about who derails threads better took the reply to your post out as well.