Transparency - changes to the BBS

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.

The details:

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.

Thank you.


Did anyone else have the urge to flag this?


I was just coming here to ask why every post I comment in suddenly switches to tracking, even if I already have it set to normal.


Well, let’s just say I ain’t thrilled.

It sounds like a punishment, to be frank; but I guess that’s better than just killing the entire community off outright.


While it was kinda fun having the s3kr3t club of the lounge, I am okay with it going away/becoming public.


This really couldn’t be more disappointing to me. There is only so much I’m willing to share in a publicly accessed forum (even if it’s all anonymous). The regular only lounge was a place I could share a little more of myself and ask fellow mutants for personal advice knowing those who would see it and respond were people dedicated to the community. With that gone, a huge part of why I am here goes with it. I respect the decision however


so will this even out the flagging weight between member/regular?


I’m very much against this. The #lounge was a place for dedicated members of the community to have discussion knowing that it was somewhat shielded from the world at large. It was a place where we could have more honest, personal discussion without fear of easy discovery.

Now that’s all going away and I think the community is far worse off for it.


Yes - I’m working with @codinghorror to make sure this all works from a mod perspective.


I don’t want to talk to everyone, or have everyone have access to everything I’ve ever written here.


Aww… “I’m a Regular” is how I introduce myself in real life.

######How people tend to react to that:


We can still create direct message threads with groups of us. That is probably the best way to deal with that. The Lounge was getting a bit crowded anyway.


Can you elaborate on what “closing down” means? Locking, expunging, opening to all?


At least we can all see what’s happening…


Lock it down if you must, but please, please don’t open it to all. Lots of us have posted things in threads there were rather not be public knowledge.


Do you want more cliquish back-channel communication taking place through PMs?

Because that’s how you get etc.

Seriously, though, the amount of time invested in this community is a good indication that people aren’t just here to troll, that they’re more or less trustworthy. It’s a place where people can say things privately that they don’t want to be on the public record on the Internet for anyone to see. We’ve had troll-free discussions on Judaism, Mormonism, relationships, avatars, handles, sexism, meetups, etiquette, parenting… Discussions that might never have happened if they were indexed and searchable on the public Internet.

The Lounge is one of the best parts of this community, because there’s a base level of trust there that is higher than the level of trust where any schmo could come in and read what you’re writing.

I’ve already seen one discussion disappear into back channels, which is more cliquish and community-separating than a Lounge is, because they wanted the discussion to be among those who were “trustworthy.” If that becomes the only option to bring things up in a trusted environment, then I can only see it as having a negative impact on the community.

Count me #DisappointedInBoingBoing.


That won’t happen. we won’t be making existing lounge topics public.


absolutey not going to open it to all.


This ^^^^^^. Everything he said. I’ll get over it but … my days of sharing personal experiences and asking for advice here are over. And that’s sad to me because the bad of regulars here has – maybe unbeknownst to them – been a huge help to me in many ways. And with that gone the number of reasons to be part of this community took a huge hit. Huge.


I agree with you about the lounge! But here’s the thing, BBS was supposed to be a place where mutants could come and have these discussions safe in the knowledge that “we” (the mods) would protect them from bigotry and inequality. If we can’t do that without hiding those same discussions, then the BBS has failed.