How do we encourage more new community topics on BBS?

If the goal of the BBS is to stimulate conversations, not just replace the comments on BoingBoing, then it’s not working. The firehose of BoingBoing posts is completely overwhelming the BBS, making it difficult to start a thread on anything else.

Perhaps the default should not be to create a thread for each post in the forum. What if the default link at the bottom of each post was something like “Respond to this post in the BBS,” which, when clicked, started a new thread? That way, the readers would decide whether a particular post was worth a conversation, or not.


Statistically that just means … every BB post would have a BBS topic, because given the read volume someone is going to click the Magic Button that creates the topic.

You could make it so that the topic was invisible on BBS only until it had its first reply, I suppose – but how do you make it selectively visible to just those that want to reply to it? Perhaps only those people who follow the reply link from the BB article are direct linked to the topic and can see it? That’s still a lot of people who will see a blank topic, even if regular BBS forum browsers don’t see the topic until it has 1 reply. Even worse, BBS regulars wouldn’t be able to reply at all unless they went through BB to get to the topic.

Bit of chicken and egg there…

I was thinking that the first reply would start the topic, and subsequent clicks from the blog would wind up at that topic. FWIW, I think that’s how Vanilla Forums does it if you integrate it into WordPress. There’s no thread until someone replies. (I’m not necessarily suggesting Vanilla ought to be the model; it’s just something I’m familiar with when it comes to blog-forum relations.)

I actually don’t think you’d get a thread for every topic. Forcing someone to create a topic is a bigger “ask” than just replying. Plus, I suspect you’ve got a fair number of people who are going to the BBS separately from the blog. I know I do. I’m still reading BB via RSS, like I always have, which means I rarely comment. But now that the BBS is up, I’m very interested in the community.

What you describe is impossible. How can anyone reply if there is no topic to reply to? See my previous post above yours. All we can do is hide it depending on the context (visible if you visit from the Special Link, but not visible to anyone else), but this makes BBS users second class.

Maybe I’m not describing what I mean well.

Currently, I can click “reply as a new topic” on any post in the BBS, which automatically creates a new topic with the post you clicked from already quoted and linked back to the post I came from. You can do the similar things with mailto: links on the web.

Couldn’t you do something similar with a link from a post on BB, automatically filling in the subject and adding content to the post, including a link back to it?

Or get fancy, and automatically add content above the first “reply” when someone starts a thread.

What about race conditions?

Certain contentious BB posts may motivate a dozen people to begin the “first” reply and create the topic. Each person types at different rates of speed. How do those get posted – who is on first? How can they be aware of each other? How do we merge them together?

My invisible-except-through-direct-link approach makes much more sense IMO. But it does make BBS users slightly second class citizens, unless they know to visit new topics they want to reply to through the BB links on the BB homepage.

I don’t go to BB any more. No point in going there instead of BBS. This would break my use-case completely.

Let me back up. My complaint is that non-BB-post threads are all but drowned out in the BBS.

If nobody else thinks this is a problem, then I guess I’ll just take my complaint and go home.

If others agree it is a problem (from the likes on my first post in this tangent, at least a couple do), I’m sure there are other ways to solve it. You could offer an easy way to filter posts on the main BBS page (maybe just a “show/hide BB” button), or show BB posts in the main feed only once they reach a certain number of favorites or replies.

I’m sure there are other possibilities.

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Well, there aren’t enough of them. It’s not that they are being drowned out so much as they don’t exist.

So one way to fix that is to make less BB topics exist, as you said, suppress some of the BB topics that don’t get enough interest to garner even a single reply.

But another way to balance this is to make more community topics. That is, to encourage folks to create more arbitrary topics that they feel would be interesting to the BB audience. I’ve done my part, I created a new awesome topic yesterday – have you?

Be the change, and all that…!

Well, yes, but maybe everyone is tired of PRISM by now.

Yeah, I’d say the problem there is that it’s a topic that is covered… uh… extensively… by BB proper already.

What may work better is more opinion topics like “what’s the best…” or “what’s the easiest…” or “share your favorite…” that solicit sharing on more personal, offbeat recommendations.

One trick that may help:

Add a “submissions” category here and point at it.

I don’t think anyone pointed this out yet, but maybe if we let people set the default page we see when we go to the front page as one of the following header choices:


When I go to categories, I see the site organized in a manner that would encourage me to participate in conversations in the various categories more frequently.

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Right. There’s an odd effect whereby the overwhelming number of editor-created conversations means that the nascent user-created threads get buried so fast they fail to thrive.

It’s partly a UI thing that might be solved with a different index style. (e.g. the landing page for BBS becomes somehow like rather than “raw latest”)

But I like this idea of the thread only appearing after it has one reply a lot, too.

This sounds like a really simple way to do it: zero-reply auto created threads get a CSS class, and those are display:hidden in the CSS stylesheet just on the “latest” index. But they will be displayed in the categories page, of course.

Another thought is that “latest from the blog” could be a separate tab entirely (so the nav would be “LATEST - LATEST FROM THE BLOG - NEW - UNREAD”) . I dig this idea, except for the fact that it makes everything slightly more complicated. There’s already some conceptual redundancy between “latest” and “new” that itself needs resolving.


BBS for submissions is a fantastic idea, one that I’m a huge fan of, but it would have to integrate with the mail-based system we already have. There are formidable technical obstacles to this proposition, under the hood, and we’ve already learned our lesson trying to create parallel submission systems to it without upgrading it first. So it’ll have to be upgraded first :slight_smile:

in response to Sam and [quote=“beschizza, post:15, topic:3673”]
There are formidable technical obstacles to this proposition, under the hood, and we’ve already learned our lesson trying to create parallel submission systems to it without upgrading it first. So it’ll have to be upgraded first :slight_smile:
wisdom. the submission form is redundant now.
I support these posts.