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Yet again, are we beating a dead horse? 
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Post Re: Yet again, are we beating a dead horse?
I think I get there was no "enforcement" but there is too fine a line between that and creating a culture for it to matter; if anything creating a culture is even harder when you have an open door policy and you're basically recruiting/advertising in the same places where the trouble has been.

Anyway, it's a minor point in the grand scheme.

Another structural idea, borrowing in a way from story-games' "sink" feature, would be to list threads in a way that gives as much or more weight to the number of views or the diversity of posters as to
the most recent post. Goal: take away the reward for getting into dogfights.


Wed Dec 28, 2011 10:08 am
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Post Re: Yet again, are we beating a dead horse?
So much to respond to...but I wanted to let folks have a say before I commented....

Thengel wrote:
So, I am not sure why Jim seems to ticked off but he seems pretty fed up with this place.

It is this place to an extent - but as you mention, it's as much internet fora in general. More on that in a moment...

Thengel wrote:
I will put forward my theory. Jim and I just do not have a passion for fors for the sake of fora. I could care less if this was "my" forum. I am not looking for a way to fight something or stand for something or be the big fish in an increasingly shrinking pond. My goals, and I know that few believe it, in starting this place was simply to have a place we could have discussions about games or whatever without the vitriol you see at larger sites. It was a small dream, a simple dream, but I thought one that had a shot. I think I was wrong now that I have seen it in action. If folks don't get that vitriol in there and get fired up or someone does not "own" a fora and make it theirs, you end up with stagnation, disinterest.

As I said, you've got the right of it..to some extent it is gaming fora in general. But some of it specific to this place falls right into line with what the inestimable ewilen points out.

Thengel wrote:
So, in all honesty, I am offering up the keys (and it seems like Jim has already) to anyone who would like to make a go of it. No strings attached (short of usual legal ones). Want to make a d20 site, go for it. Want your own mouthpiece, rock on. I obviously do not know what folks want and maybe clash or David can come up with something. I am certainly willing to help. If installing new software sounds like the way let me know or if you need help on the admin or even posting (although I believe I have shown i am not so great at that) I will do what I can.

Yes, I have. Not that I want to walk away (which giving up the keys seems to imply). It is more of an issue of removing myself as a possible hurdle to success. I'm the one who people seemed to have a problem with in the infamous DCC thread. I was, quite honestly, surprised at the reaction that got. It made me rethink my participation in any official way - especially when combined with earlier discussions about how much influence I should have in the direction of the podcast. That's not sour grapes - that is self reflection and awareness. If I'm the common element in a series of events that seem to be a detriment to the place, why should I take the place down?

Thengel wrote:
So, again, I feel like folks want a change of leadership and either are reluctant to say something or disinterested. I can't do anything about the latter but hopefully, we can make a difference about the former.

I think some folks would like a change in some of the "leadership". I think you should stay. I regret pushing you to rename the place and include me. It was probably a mistake of pride.

ewilen wrote:
About the schizophrenic attitude: even though there haven't been the waves of bannings found on RPGnet, and really in spite of Jim's remarkable demeanor as a mod, determined dance-at-the-limit-of-politeness trolling has (in this case at least) won out as a sort of asymmetric warfare. Long before Jim burned out, I know that others lost interest for pretty much this reason.

This is why I love Elliot..."remarkable demeanor" is such a great term. I honestly took a long time deciding if it was a good or bad thing... :D In the end, it matters not. It is simply true that I, one of the main proponents of a culture of open but polite discourse, grew tired of trying to be polite when others were essentially posting in bad faith - the asymmetric warfare to which elliot refers.

Consonant Dude wrote:
I vaguely remember some discussions at the Haven as to whether it was too sanitized and Jim asking whether more controversial posts and topics would help generate discussions.

I'd be pretty surprised if I argued for pushing controversial posts or intended vitriol just for the sake of those things and the intent of driving traffic. That it happened is a different thing. But I even dislike fluffing for the sake of fluffing.

All of which makes me bad at this...

Thengel wrote:
Well, Elliot, I am not sure that is a cause for the state of the Haven. I am not saying I have a definitive "Answer" but merely my guesses. I suspect that the social system you outline would improve quality, but I do not believe Jim or I scared anyone off. For that matter, I doubt anyone did. I will say that some may use that kind of thing as an excuse but what really is going on is just disinterest or...perhaps a better way to put it is an interest in a different site. Heck, Jim, shortly after we (or possibly before) we started up the Haven started posting over at CM. Well, I can't blame him as it has a larger community, some of which he has met IRL. Walker has Roludo, CD seems to have sworn off the internet, Clash has tried but I think even he has found it kind of lonely.

Well, don't be too sure. I know that after my blow-up, at least one or two folks specifically stated they were going to leave. Now as to whether that was an excuse, you'd have to ask them and trust in their answer. However, I think part of your point stands. In some cases people happened upon other places that better filled their purposes. I understand. I did start posting at Circus Maximus right around the time we started here (actually, we started here in Mar of 2009 and I joined CM in August of 2009 after meeting a bunch of the folks at GenCon).

But, to be honest, I don't post much gaming stuff at CM (or now Ashes of Rome, the subsequent site started when CM was threatened to close by the owner - but that's another lovely internet fora story). I see that as much more of a social site that focuses around gaming. Partially that is because it was built as a sister to ENWorld - so all the gaming stuff took place over at EW while the folks at CM (and AoR) do the more social side of things of which we are all guilty at various times because it is part and parcel of being in social groups.

Ironically, what I hoped to do was have a mostly social site there with some gaming, while getting my major gaming fix here with a side of social – because this was going to be a gaming site first. Only, nobody here seems to have much in common with me as a gamer - the point that became clear in that DCC thread - or post too much about gaming. And when you remove the social component…well…I think that makes it even harder. Because while I do have a few folks who are grognards like me over at CM/AoR, there are tons of people with whom I have little in common with from a gaming perspective.

So I’m thinking that the social side of this site actual needs to be built up more. But I am an obstacle to that growth because of bad blood. So I just figured that I’ll recede to the background and use The Haven for gaming but not be in any way an influence on the culture other than what I can do the same as any other poster. This will allow others to push the social side in a way that they want – including possibly some of Elliot’s ideas – and recapture the strength it can from that perspective. Which, in my mind, will only feed the gaming side that I want…if that makes any sense…
Consonant Dude wrote:
I think the mistake was thinking "very casual moderation, welcoming for all RPGs" was enough of a feature in and of itself. I like the general nature of the forum. But you can do that and still have features. Hooks, if you prefer.

To be clear, there are actually a few things intertwined here. More directly, the term “general nature” is really two things to be discussed. One “general nature” is the idea that any RPG can be discussed here. I think that’s great and we’ve had some really wide ranging stuff here – some of it less welcoming than others, but still better than most on that count. But there’s also the “general nature” of the forum with respect to its structure and auxiliary content – I think what you’re referring to when you talk about “Hooks”.
Consonant Dude wrote:
For instance, RPG.net is much more than a forum. It's got reviews, a database of RPGs, columns. Now, these things necessitate time and human resources the Haven does not have but there may be other things along those lines.

I've long thought the Haven should have reached out to small publishers. One way to do that would be to offer them their own company sub-forum, which they would moderate themselves. A lot of publishers are not that tech savvy and might take this offer. Courting posters is a good thing to do but courting companies helps as well. You win the company, you may win some of its fans.

I'm pretty sure there's a bunch of small things that were not tried, simply because nobody thought about it.

Agreed. But I would add the possibilities that we’ve discussed before about reorganization and such. This is also what I meant about the other side of “general nature”.


ewilen wrote:
I agree, that's a good idea.

Bill, I'm not entirely sure I got my point across to you re: moderation. My point may be wrong but I want it to be understood. And that is: enforcing the form of politeness without enforcing actual politeness is basically what Rpgnet tries to do, and I think that is something like what happened here. Though Rpgnet does it through bannings and here it's through trying to create a vibe, the fact is if it's easier to be a dick while pretending not to be than it is to call someone out on being a dick, then the system fails. And the Internet has developed and perfected tried and true methods of innocent-looking dickery that take advantage of the public nature of forums--e.g., while its possible to "just walk away" from an obvious loon in a 1-1 interaction, the temptation to respond is too strong in public. Somebody is going to feed the trolls, and then we are off to the races. Again:Shirky covers it.

I forget if it was Shirky but I think a very simple structural experiment might be to add a button that lets you nominate a post for a weekly "best of theRPGHaven". I'd let everyone make unlimited nominations. A post's "score" would be permanently visible, and a page would also list all the current week's nominees in order. At the end of the week nomination would end and then some method (voting, moderator selection) would be used to choose among the top 10 to be permanently enshrined. Obviously a post would only be eligible for the week in which it was posted.

Note this might encourage creative posting of gaming materials, well-thought-out play reports, as well as the usual banter.

FWIW, I like all of this.

Thengel wrote:
Eliot- ah, I see what you are saying now. Well, my only counter point would be that I do not think you understand what I (I won't speak for Jim) was trying for. That is my fault though. You use terms like enforce and make comparisons to RPG.net and that is unfortunate because it says that somewhere you got the impression that I was somehow pulling the strings or banning or intimidating people into decent behavior. My goal was to create a haven, away from the standard bullshit that I saw on other forums. In someways I think it worked. I was not trying to do it by enforcing a vibe but by creating a culture. You do not go to a coffee shop for a bag of cement. I was trying to make the Haven be the place you go for reasoned discussion not vitriol.

I think Elliot's point is that in order to get "away from the standard bullshit" our tools, as we apparently saw and implemented them, were to ban folks or to try to preach about the....well....anti-bull-shit.

You can't control the vitriol unless you bring out the ban-hammer. We've tried very hard not to do that...to the point that I backtracked on it myself. So then what? Because, as Elliot points out through Shirky, it's going to happen...it's coming...

So if we want to take the perspective of promoting it rather than enforcing it we have to:
1) understand it is going to happen despite our best efforts (even within ourselves!), and
2) actually provide tools to attempting to...I don't know...socially promote good behavior, and possibly...
3) determine a way to create a "sin tax" on bad behavior?

OK...I'm talked out for the moment...

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Wed Dec 28, 2011 11:28 am
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Post Re: Yet again, are we beating a dead horse?
Jim Skach wrote:
Yes, I have. Not that I want to walk away (which giving up the keys seems to imply). It is more of an issue of removing myself as a possible hurdle to success. I'm the one who people seemed to have a problem with in the infamous DCC thread. I was, quite honestly, surprised at the reaction that got.


I obviously had a problem with the DCC thread but I'm one person. I don't know that "people" at large had a problem with it.

But I did not see that as an administrator issue. I did not at any point in that flame fest feel like you were threatening me through your title.

I think it would be a mistake to think an administrator (be it you, Bill, Clash or anyone else) should be treated differently from a poster. What you posted in the DCC thread, any member is allowed to say that. That's something we had all agreed upon when this forum was created.

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Wed Dec 28, 2011 3:09 pm
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Post Re: Yet again, are we beating a dead horse?
Jim Skach wrote:
You can't control the vitriol unless you bring out the ban-hammer. We've tried very hard not to do that...to the point that I backtracked on it myself. So then what? Because, as Elliot points out through Shirky, it's going to happen...it's coming...

So if we want to take the perspective of promoting it rather than enforcing it we have to:
1) understand it is going to happen despite our best efforts (even within ourselves!), and
2) actually provide tools to attempting to...I don't know...socially promote good behavior, and possibly...
3) determine a way to create a "sin tax" on bad behavior?

OK...I'm talked out for the moment...


This is the way I think we ought to deal with this. Well thought out, Jim!

-clash

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Wed Dec 28, 2011 4:21 pm
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Post Re: Yet again, are we beating a dead horse?
It sounds intriguing but how would that be implemented concretely? Any ideas?

Meanwhile, I'm gonna start a thread in the RPG section :P

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Wed Dec 28, 2011 6:45 pm
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Post Re: Yet again, are we beating a dead horse?
I'm not claiming to have a perfect approach on the first pass, but here are some ideas:

As a perfectly neutral approach, develop an algorithm that requires you to wait a certain time between posts to the same thread. Maybe something like "it takes N 'points' to make a post, and points accrue faster the longer it's been since your most recent post", but don't accrue at all until you make your first post. (Note, points are per-thread.)

A more biased approach, use the nomination system I suggested.

Still more biased (with possible downsides, so be wary of any negative feedback system): let people give thumbs-down to posts. In order to make a post to a thread, you have to "pay off" the thumbs-downs that you've received using points accrued on a time basis (flat rate this time). Probably not a good idea, but throwing it out to show what could be done.

See also some ideas in http://cdn.oreilly.com/radar/r1/10-03.pdf The implementation of the bozo filter at The Well seems pretty harsh but might work. Again, see how slashdot's rating & karma system works.

This (from the PDF) is interesting:

Quote:
“Authors vary significantly in their patterns of contribution and interaction,” Smith says. “NetScan makes these patterns visible so that users can make inferences about which patterns seem useful and which do not.” For example, systematic observation has shown that an author who posts 20 replies to 20 different threads is more likely to be providing useful information than someone who initiates one or two threads but never replies, or someone who posts 20 replies within a single thread.

Valuable threads can often be identified by their structure: Who made the initial posting, how many replies it received, how many different authors were involved, the length of time between the first and final post, the number of child messages for each possible parent message, and so on, all provide clues. Using behavior to define the probable value of content allows NetScan to steer clear of subjective judgments. “I don’t have to say someone is a flamer; I can just say they have a low thread-to-post ratio,” Smith says.


This suggests another variation: members acquire points in their global pool (not per-thread) at a flat rate (to some maximum). If you want to post to a thread, it'll cost you n^2 points for your nth post to that thread.


Wed Dec 28, 2011 11:07 pm
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Post Re: Yet again, are we beating a dead horse?
I think I understand what you are getting at. It might just be because I'm used to a no-frills forum but some of this stuff seems drastic. In fact, it's different enough that it might warrant a complete re-branding of the place. This may or may not be a good thing.

To tell you the truth, I'm not sure this was ever a problem here. For some reason, the Haven had some momentum in 2009 but it never really really found its groove.

Maybe reputation tools would be helpful but... the user base is really tiny right now. It's lacking content to keep people coming. And the less people, the less one is tempted to even start a topic. So a vicious circle.

So maybe incentives to be part of the community could work. For instance, what if our individual profiles could be fleshed out more? For instance, if we could list our favorite games. Whether we are looking for a game to play right now, even online. Which games I would like to sell or trade.

And I don't know if that's technically possible but what if the software compiled that?

So for instance, I could make a search to find every member who has listed All Flesh Must Be Eaten in their favorite list.
Or if I could search which members are currently interested in joining an online game.
Or I could search who is looking to game by city.
Or find out if someone is selling CHILL or some OOP game I am looking for.
What if I could search to find who is my closest match? Like, who has a list of favorite games that is closest to mine?

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Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:54 am
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Post Re: Yet again, are we beating a dead horse?
I hadn't noticed any vitriol to speak of on the site.

The DCC thread seemed like a normal thread where one person/group liked a game, another person/group didn't and some people asked questions about it.

What could anyone have done differently in that thread to make it better, other than change their opinion?

Nothing, seems a pretty normal thread.

Well, except I did kind of think using a gendered insult like "pussy" was over the line. Honestly it's not welcoming to women to hear what sounds like just a guy's club/locker room. "Wimp" would have done just as well to get across what you were trying to get across. "Risk-averse" would have been less fun but maybe more productive.

Anyway, that was like forever ago, everyone else forgot about it.


Sun Jan 01, 2012 12:31 am
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Post Re: Yet again, are we beating a dead horse?
You lot, get out there and advertise. I will supply content.

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Sat Jan 14, 2012 2:23 pm
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Post Re: Yet again, are we beating a dead horse?
flyingmice wrote:
I will do all that I can, Bill. I know nothing about administering a forum, so your continued presence - at least until I can learn the ropes - would be a godsend.

-clash

I will offer my temporary services as technician and admin while I am still figuring out how to get the Citadel off the ground.

Speaking of, if you folks are really looking to further narrow the focus around here (and I can't say whether that is a good or bad idea) to recent editions of games, I will happily take the overflow of Vintage Games discussions over at the Citadel. :)

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