Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes --David Bowie
I wanted to take a few moments and discuss some changes that will be applied to the BBS this evening.
The TL;DR version:
In the hope that we can be a single, awesome Boing Boing community:
- We will be closing down the "Regulars" private posting areas
- The existing public lounge topic will become "The Lounge" for all
- A dedicated moderation topic will be created to discuss moderation issues that everyone can view
- The existing "TL3 Gauntlet" will be going away - being a "Regular" will now be a badge/title (amongst others!) you can earn
- Existing lounge topics will not be made public.
Boing Boing has had a storied history with comments: small, bespoke solutions, "comment software", none at all for a time.. and now, Discourse. The goal had been the same throughout - create a place where happy Mutants could comment on the stories posted. But with Discourse, we had an opportunity to take that a step further, and create a community that could exist around those stories, as well.
Unfortunately, we goofed.
Despite being a site promoting equality, we inadvertently created a two-tier community - those who managed (sometimes without realizing it) to get through a somewhat arbitrary list of requirements were granted access to the "Regular" areas, where some of the most invigorating conversations were being held. But others could not see these discussions.
Worse, we made the poor choice of having moderation conversations mostly in that category, leaving the vast majority of users out of this conversation. This issue became especially prominent this week when I realized I was having mod conversations twice. I couldn't link between them (as those on the "outside" couldn't see the linked posts).
We're going to fix this. Starting tonight, we're going to allow users to begin to "expire" from "Regular" status. I'm not entirely sure how long this process will take (no more than a week maximum, however), at which point all users will be on the same, level playing field.
I will also be creating a "Moderation" meta-topic that can be used to discuss moderation issues, that anyone can see. (This, of course, doesn't preclude creating dedicated topics if one chooses, but the main topic will remain and be monitored by the Moderation team, with the goal of providing more transparency around the decisions we make.
These changes do not mean that we don't appreciate our long-term or particularly active community members! I've decided to take a more active role in the BBS, and advocate for the community, precisely because I respect and admire the community that has grown here, and we fully intend to create badges for old-timers, active members, and otherwise celebrate the diverse group we find within our community - many with titles you'll be able to select between. (I also think this should include community nominations as well, and I'll discuss that further at a later date.)
This does mean that we believe everyone should have an equal opportunity to participate in all discussions, and those discussions - especially administrative discussions - shouldn't be had away from the majority of our members.
Obviously, one of the reasons these discussions happened away from "non-Regulars" was the concern that trolls and other folk that do not share Boing Boing's view of equality might derail otherwise wonderful conversations. That's where you come in! If you see something that you think violates the community guidelines, please, flag it! The moderation team is committed to ensuring the level of discourse here by responding quickly to issues as they are raised.
This is a difficult time for independent publishers like Boing Boing, and even more difficult time to find well-run communities that surround them. Running a community like this requires resources and dedication that are difficult for smaller publishers to justify. But, I believe the BBS is worth the effort, and for that reason, I am taking a larger, more official role in fostering this community, as one community, brought together by our shared interest in Boing Boing, and in our goal for a place where we can discuss topics of interest in a moderated atmosphere of mutual respect and civility.