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Old 04-18-2019, 10:14 AM   #1
statler
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Forum Evolution: Rules, Governance & Funding

A forum to discuss a framework for how a new forum would be run, including such topics as Administration and Moderation, Rules and Enforcement and Funding Mechanisms.
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Old 04-23-2019, 11:08 AM   #2
FK4
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Re: Forum Move: Rules, Governance & Funding

Someone had posted the option of having a 'dislike' button and removing posts that reach a certain threshold. While I totally support a thoughtful discussion on decorum (and whatever happens, there should be some mechanisms in place for dealing with disrespectful posts), I also think we need to be mindful of not creating a chilling effect on free speech. A lot of posts that may be borderline are also posts that disagree with the general party line of most people on archboston, and it's important to keep a place for all viewpoints on here, no matter how troglodytic they may seem. Obviously, for egregious examples of raw rudeness, that's another matter.
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Old 04-23-2019, 11:47 AM   #3
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Re: Forum Move: Rules, Governance & Funding

^ Agreed

To repeat myself:
...it's not the best form to type something in an online forum that would get you punched in the face if you said it to someone on a street corner.

Common sense guidelines are probably best, loosely-defined conventions that we can all agree on. Of course, this suggestion could inspire an argument about the definition of "common sense."
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Old 04-23-2019, 12:08 PM   #4
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Re: Forum Move: Rules, Governance & Funding

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Originally Posted by FK4 View Post
Someone had posted the option of having a 'dislike' button and removing posts that reach a certain threshold. While I totally support a thoughtful discussion on decorum (and whatever happens, there should be some mechanisms in place for dealing with disrespectful posts), I also think we need to be mindful of not creating a chilling effect on free speech. A lot of posts that may be borderline are also posts that disagree with the general party line of most people on archboston, and it's important to keep a place for all viewpoints on here, no matter how troglodytic they may seem. Obviously, for egregious examples of raw rudeness, that's another matter.
So with like and dislike button we're basically proposing what Reddit has.

Personally I like the aspect of a like button, but I think removing posts should be left to a report button.
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Old 04-23-2019, 01:04 PM   #5
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Re: Forum Move: Rules, Governance & Funding

What reddit does is hide a post that goes below a certain number of points. You can still view it by clicking it. I fear that on this particular website with particular posters, there may be some targeting that results from this.
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Old 04-23-2019, 01:43 PM   #6
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Re: Forum Move: Rules, Governance & Funding

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What reddit does is hide a post that goes below a certain number of points. You can still view it by clicking it.
Hiding a post rather than deleting it seems like a reasonable approach. Our threads get clogged with BS all the time and it would be nice if the constant distraction posters could be quieted without being silenced. Down-votes/Dislikes allow for a certain level of community policing. I say this knowing that I'm no angel. I'm guilty of going off topic or getting my undies in a bunch too. It would be good to have a subtle way for people to anonymously tell someone they are out of line.

And of course there needs to be an "inappropriate/report" flag, just as we have now.
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Old 04-23-2019, 02:33 PM   #7
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Re: Forum Move: Rules, Governance & Funding

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Originally Posted by stefalarchitect View Post
What reddit does is hide a post that goes below a certain number of points. You can still view it by clicking it. I fear that on this particular website with particular posters, there may be some targeting that results from this.
Spot on, we need to be very careful to prevent targeting.

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Hiding a post rather than deleting it seems like a reasonable approach. Our threads get clogged with BS all the time and it would be nice if the constant distraction posters could be quieted without being silenced. Down-votes/Dislikes allow for a certain level of community policing. I say this knowing that I'm no angel. I'm guilty of going off topic or getting my undies in a bunch too. It would be good to have a subtle way for people to anonymously tell someone they are out of line.
I'm drawn to agreeing, despite myself - since this makes me feel very worried about the implications - whether you're removing posts or just hiding them, you're still silencing certain people. There's posters I wouldn't mind seeing post less, and I'm sure I'm not alone. But it really raises important challenges to inclusivity if we start creating strict rules about what's OK to post about and where. I like BB's suggestion about keeping things loosely defined... which of course is hard to do, but I firmly believe that a major problem within contemporary public discourse as well as policy is an overreliance on sterile, general, so-called objective, and utterly inflexible rules that ignore the human being, the individual, the importance of subjective experience... and block any attempts to be flexible and understanding of true diversity of thought and behavior. A good example is the various times a thread will go off-topic - in most cases, I think it's better to let it happen, and let the crowd, eventually, shame the offenders back in line rather than just nipping off the discourse as it unfolds by silencing the offenders. I'd rather things be messy, but real. If we suppress too much, this place will lose a lot of color. My 25 cents, anyway.


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And of course there needs to be an "inappropriate/report" flag, just as we have now.
Agree - but I would suggest that these be reviewed by moderators, to prevent abusive flagging.
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Old 04-23-2019, 03:31 PM   #8
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Re: Forum Move: Rules, Governance & Funding

I doubt there's enough posted here per day to exceed the capacities of a team of one or two moderators reviewing each report of abuse. As to the content... don't want to be RR.net.
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Old 04-23-2019, 04:50 PM   #9
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Re: Forum Move: Rules, Governance & Funding

Likes only, no dislikes. This isn't Reddit.
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Old 04-24-2019, 12:56 PM   #10
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Re: Forum Move: Rules, Governance & Funding

Quote:
Originally Posted by datadyne007 View Post
Likes only, no dislikes. This isn't Reddit.
Agreed.

I think that implementing a like/dislike button, hide via Reddit creates unintended consequences. It is heavily dependent on who is reading the particular post and then voting on it as well as the popularity of thread itself.

Ideologues generally automatically disagree with anything that does not fit their ideology regardless of the facts or history. When you combine that with users who will forget the underlying purpose of the like/dislike, you end up with false censorship.

While many people rail about the tangents that threads sometimes take, there is a simple reason why it happens, and that being that all development has some political and societal implications associated with it, and of course, some more than others. I think it is all intertwined and the discussions have merit. On the other hand, I do sympathize with those who are here simply for architectural or construction purposes and do not care for that type of discussion.

Category buttons may work, giving the individual reader the ability to see just view certain types of posts e.g. plans, drawings, photos, news, commentary, general commentary, etc.
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Old 04-25-2019, 06:43 AM   #11
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Re: Forum Move: Rules, Governance & Funding

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Originally Posted by Equilibria View Post
I doubt there's enough posted here per day to exceed the capacities of a team of one or two moderators reviewing each report of abuse. As to the content... don't want to be RR.net.
I see a comment like this from time to time and I feel compelled to ask: Why they hate for RR.net?

I'm a fairly frequent lurker over there and generally speaking, whenever I click on a thread that I'm interested in and read the coversation, I feel like I've come away better and more informed for the effort. Frankly, as much as I love this forum, I can't always say the same for archBoston.
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Old 04-25-2019, 07:02 AM   #12
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Re: Forum Move: Rules, Governance & Funding

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Originally Posted by jdrinboston View Post
I see a comment like this from time to time and I feel compelled to ask: Why they hate for RR.net?

I'm a fairly frequent lurker over there and generally speaking, whenever I click on a thread that I'm interested in and read the coversation, I feel like I've come away better and more informed for the effort. Frankly, as much as I love this forum, I can't always say the same for archBoston.
Reading F-Line's posts certainly makes me more informed.
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Old 04-25-2019, 07:12 AM   #13
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Re: Forum Move: Rules, Governance & Funding

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Originally Posted by jdrinboston View Post
I see a comment like this from time to time and I feel compelled to ask: Why they hate for RR.net?

I'm a fairly frequent lurker over there and generally speaking, whenever I click on a thread that I'm interested in and read the coversation, I feel like I've come away better and more informed for the effort. Frankly, as much as I love this forum, I can't always say the same for archBoston.
It's not what you see over there, it's what you don't see. There's nothing wrong with heavily moderating to keep threads from going off on tangents but banning people based on the use of a single term or argument that the mod personally dislikes... that's not good.
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Old 04-25-2019, 09:19 AM   #14
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Re: Forum Move: Rules, Governance & Funding

Quote:
Originally Posted by jdrinboston View Post
I see a comment like this from time to time and I feel compelled to ask: Why they hate for RR.net?

I'm a fairly frequent lurker over there and generally speaking, whenever I click on a thread that I'm interested in and read the coversation, I feel like I've come away better and more informed for the effort. Frankly, as much as I love this forum, I can't always say the same for archBoston.
In my opinion, RR.net is not as bad as it once was, but essentially they crack down hard on any topic wander. Most of the people who complain about it (myself included) prefer to let the conversation be a bit more organic. They used to lock threads almost immediately if there were one or two slightly off topic posts and also frequently banned offenders. In my opinion, such heavy handed moderation drives away posters, so what you have over there now, despite the topical focus, is often a less active discussion of rail issues than we get here, despite it not even being the main purpose of archboston.
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Old 04-25-2019, 10:26 AM   #15
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Re: Forum Move: Rules, Governance & Funding

Speaking only for myself, I find our off-topic meanderings of great value, as entertainment, as mind-broadening information, and as a humanizing force. The (perceived) anonymity of the virtual world can benefit from the sharing of lived experience -- there's real flesh and blood behind our screen names and avatars. A cognitive researcher would likely have a lot to say about the different ways our brains have been rewired by the cumulative but non-linear learning that everyone has become exposed to on the web.

I'm sensitive to the concerns that some have voiced about "targeting" of certain posters with "outsider ideas" if we were to adopt a Reddit-like model. Clearly, not everyone measures decorum with the same yardstick. I actually spent an hour yesterday evening perusing private messages about decorum, including an interesting discussion I had Shirley Kressel (who had been the victim of an unfortunate ad hominem post by one particular individual). I've lost my patience with quite a few people over the years; I always try to be better...
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Old 04-25-2019, 07:58 PM   #16
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Re: Forum Move: Rules, Governance & Funding

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It's not what you see over there, it's what you don't see. There's nothing wrong with heavily moderating to keep threads from going off on tangents but banning people based on the use of a single term or argument that the mod personally dislikes... that's not good.
It's also now quite literally killing their site traffic. Whole subforums are ghost towns because the heavy-handed moderation and purges have driven once-prolific contributors away, and some threads are so heavily redacted from obsessive mod quote-trimming that the discussions are barely intelligible. While the RR-pension-as-get-out-of-jail-free-card mentality lets some insider posters verbally abuse others clear off the forums and scream/swear threads they don't like to a screeching halt. And then the post reporting option is used to punish those who dare spit on the foul-mouthed deity who used to drive the train.

Today the Amtrak subforum pretty much outslugs the rest of the site combined on clicks and posting activity. It also has 4 moderators and 2 admins more or less balancing each other's biases out, so tends to be the most consistent reading experience there. The next-most active subs: the Pan Am Railways and various New England shortline forums...which are pretty small discussion drivers in the grand scheme of things. But those forums are holding onto their traffic levels no doubt because MEC407, who moderates pretty much everything New England-but-not-T, is just about the most human-like mod over there. Keeps an even keel and lets folks have some leash when it's worthwhile, doesn't take Internet arguments toooooo seriously and can even defuse tension with some humor, doesn't let the employees terrorize the outsiders like on other forums, and keeps a pretty consistent face year-to-year. Nothing magical, you just know exactly what you're going to get when wandering into any of those topics because he's moderated exactly the same way for 12+ years and usually he's right in the middle of the discussion contributing instead of seeing it as a fiefdom to lord over.

They've hemorrhaged their site views everywhere else. And it's mainly for the total lack of consistency. Get attacked by a mod with anger issues in one subforum for asking a n00b question. Comment on a news article and get attacked by His Majesty the Pensioneer in another sub with foul language that violates the site ToS...but get a vaguely threatening PM from the Assistant Admin. if you use the reporting button on it. Go visit another thread you've been following then notice it reads nonsensically vs. the last visit...oh, another post-deletey spree. Wonder if that one was because somebody got pissy with someone else or if they failed to correctly use the word "motorman" vs. "operator" and made monocles explode amongst those with edit privileges. Read passive-aggressive mod notes where anal-retentive quote trimming starts becoming a commentary on other aspects of grammar. And on and on and on.

I certainly have no love lost for the site after my shadowban last year, but there's still some resources and tips you can only get from folks posting there...so I still occasionally read. But it's jarring that on all of the non-Amtrak topics I follow I can catch up on 6 weeks' worth of posting all in the time my burrito is cooking in the kitchen. It's dying. And this isn't 2007 anymore where messageboards are still king of online discussion media, so it won't be like the last time the moderation police state swung too far and they managed to pull back and lighten things up to find their footing again.

When they had their footing people would still gripe about the moderation being excessive, but the response was always "But you knew that ahead of time." And that was correct...you DID know you were getting tight moderation, but if you were willing to work within that you'd have a productive place to talk. That's not the case...all consistency in moderation went out the door. Many, many of the little psychos furtively wandering around behind the scenes are pushing their own agendas. Stuff that used to be okay (*cough*...QUOTE button!) now weren't, without explanation. Seemingly friendly first responses from a mod or the spread-thin head Admin, would end up being followed by vaguely threatening PM's from other furtive characters behind the scenes. The collapse of consistency heralded the collapse of page views.



I wouldn't consider myself a big "Let's have more meetings about meetings" kind of person, so I've been quiet to-date on the Nü aB threads. I don't really have any preference for moderation...I regged here in the first place wanting a respite from RR.net being gagged-from-within during a troubled era on that board. And I've done a year in lurk-only mode on aB when the trolls and shitposters were at their threadbombing nadir here, and concentrated my online activity there wanting more structure. I can live in either moderation universe. Confoundingly, I somehow even managed to last 13 years in that police-state universe when by all logic I should've been lined up against the wall by 2006 at the latest. Whatever gets chosen: just...be...consistent. If not overthinking the moderation means it'll be more consistent in-practice...go for that. If calling a United Nations meeting to draft a moderation constitution is what allows it to be more consistent in-practice...do that. But knowing what you're getting day-in/day-out is key.

Nü aB's going to have to stabilize its presence on an Internet that's way more fragmented than when Classic aB was started. Message boards aren't king anymore; social media is. But they do offer a more robust platform for the type of discussion we want, so it'll have its built-in audience. The only thing that's going to scare that audience away is if the moderation is still contemplating its own navel well past the launch. Traffic likes a sure thing. You only need to look to what's befallen that other board in the last 2+ years to see how apt today's Internet is to vote with its feet on a volatile forum-going experience.
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Old 04-29-2019, 08:19 PM   #17
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Re: Forum Move: Rules, Governance & Funding

It seems to me we're too quick to ban people. I dunno.
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Old 04-30-2019, 09:01 AM   #18
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Re: Forum Move: Rules, Governance & Funding

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It seems to me we're too quick to ban people. I dunno.
We've banned one user in, like, 5 years.
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Old 04-30-2019, 09:18 AM   #19
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Re: Forum Move: Rules, Governance & Funding

For the record, since Briv started the forum in 2006 we have banned 3 active users, 1 sock puppet account, 1 SEO bot account and 6 spammers from 1800+ members who have signed up.



BTW, I have tied up with some IRL stuff lately. Bad timing I know, but I have still been reading the forum and hopefully I'll have some time soon. I think the next step will be key and I don't want to rush it.
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Old 04-30-2019, 09:52 AM   #20
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Re: Forum Move: Rules, Governance & Funding

John, it's certainly something to be mindful of as the plans to relocate evolve. Between aB and its two antecedents, I've either lurked or posted for about 20 years. I can only recall a handful of posters being banned. I sense that our moderators take "the nuclear option" pretty seriously.

I think most folks would agree, we're living through an era of heightened sensitivity. I'm not sure my world view has radically changed as a result, but the way that I express it certainly has. As applied to aB, politics and the sociology and economics behind them are interesting to many of us, and these loose concepts are on-topic for the broad discussion of architecture, urbanism, and real estate. If we all agree to behave like we're in a bar together, having a drink and a chat, maybe we won't need stone tablets full of dos & don'ts.
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