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Piecing together the Starlin Castro thread deletion
Posted: 20 February 2012 12:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 106 ]
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Jolly Old St. Neck Wound, Moral Idiot - 20 February 2012 11:42 AM

My underlying fear here is that even as the founder and mastermind of this site, you sometimes don’t quite realize what makes it work so well and so distinctly on a community level.  That’s a harsh thing to say, and I hope I’m wrong, but take it as a sincere comment, and not a snarky one.

Well, it’s certainly a self-interested one.

It seemed to me that the Off-Topic solution emerging was one where certain threads were designated as OT, and people could avoid them. We recently got a slightly longer Hot Topics, and that makes the Designated Thread solution work a bit better. Once you’ve got Politics NFL, College Football, Basketball, Soccer, occasionally Hockey out the way, plus the odd serendipitous discussion of Old Movies, Pavement or Comic Books… well, that leaves a space or two for actual baseball content.

I don’t actually mind if there’s one or two digressions in Hot Topics. The problem is that BBTF is increasingly in danger of becoming OTTF when one looks at Hot Topics sometimes. Obviously, the site was designed so people can chat away in the Forums, but there’s no point flogging that dead horse anymore.

And I’ll repeat once again:  If political discussions per se are the problem, a POV I strongly dispute, the most efficient way to abort most of these threads would be to speak to the person on your own staff who instigates the great majority of them.  Beyond that, the best way to deal with incivility is to encourage the use of the ignore button, rather than either deleting or ghettoizing discussions of any type, not just the political ones.

I’m with Andy on this. Repoz does the site no favours pressing some of his Hot Buttons. Also, ‘ignore’ works a treat. The possibility of being able to ignore threads or topics might be even better. But I don’t think political discussions per se are the problem. The problem is when the heat generated by a political discussion in one thread carries over into another. It’s when Repoz plays around with this spillover potential that things start getting out of hand. It’s a question of the solution. If people don’t behave, the one option was to ban the thing causing the bad behaviour. I used to be in that camp, but I think people are behaving better. Let’s have the status quo while we wait for some kind of personalized home page/Hot Topics, which is what I understand is coming

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The gloom of the world is but a shadow; behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.

Posted: 20 February 2012 12:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 107 ]
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Chicago Joe - 20 February 2012 02:50 AM

Now, I don’t participate regularly enough in political threads to register on Dan’s axis of whatever, but I do find it strange that all of Dan’s named bete noires are on the liberal end of things.  And to call them uncivil is right out, as far as I’m concerned.  Passionate, sure.

Funny, that, huh?

The political and off-topic threads are the real lifeblood of this place.  There’s only so much baseball news and only so much you can say about it.  I’ve learned plenty of stuff from the other side of the aisle during the political discussions.  It would be a real shame if that interplay were cut off because of a lack of moderator SELF-control.

And herein is the real elephant in the room.

BBTF is a social network in two parts.  The primary part, the so-called “Mainland,” discusses baseball, and basketball, and soccer, and tennis, and golf, and music, and beer, and politics, in a series of randomly rotating threads populated by link contributors such as Repoz.

The secondary part, the “island” of the Forums, discusses baseball, and basketball, and soccer, and tennis, and golf, and music, and beer, and politics, and Dag’s list of #### that happened “this day in history,” and Perros’ love life, and the various employment opportunities of certain users (or lack thereof) and what Dial is having to drink tonight, in a series of grab-bag threads populated by “lounge creators” such as AJM, Dag Nabbit, etc, et al.

To complain that the “Mainland” is having “off-topic” discussions about politics, especially during the off-season when what passes for a “hot stove league” has already come and gone and the kabuki of Spring Training is just getting started, is to complain that the site has been successful at all.  Anyone who has any idea about what makes social networks *work* will tell you that off-topic debate is the life-blood of such forums.  It’s the off-topic freeforalls where posters cease to be empty names on a screen and begin to be people.

And let’s be honest, if we’re going to have this accounting.  Dan closes threads when *he* gets involved and then inevitably gets pissed off by someone who doesn’t abide by his libertarian dogma.  To suggest otherwise is simply to ignore the facts of the world.

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The frost on the ground prob’ly envies the frost in the trees.

Posted: 20 February 2012 12:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 108 ]
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Dan Szymborski - 20 February 2012 09:08 AM

Temper is a temperamental thing.

Without naming names or the exact specifics, a few days ago, in a heated discussion, someone posted a statement that I took, and still take, as an implied personal threat, one that would have personal consequences for me.

In general, when an admin or moderator get into a personal dispute with someone on the site, something that inevitably happens when controversial topics are involved and big personalities disagree, the policy is to get a neutral admin to look at the situation and be a calmer, third-party voice.

In this particular case, I let my temper get the better of me. While I still feel that my reaction was justified, the actions I took were not.  As an administrator, my responsibility is to follow our policies, close the thread to new comments, and get Jim as a second opinion.  I did not do that - I lost my temper and sent the thread to Valhalla in a fit of pique.  Then, after seeing the negative, hostile reaction of a few people who I had previously been arguing with, I continued the pissing contest into another thread, ignoring the appeals of my kinder angels.

I will not apologize for my feelings or my opinions, but I do apologize for my actions. Posters, the vast majority of whom have no desire to get into flamewars, have to know that policies will be enacted fairly and objectively.  To those people, who simply want to talk about baseball in a pleasant environment, I humbly ask for your forgiveness. I am committed to learn from this mistake and will do better in the future.

That’s cool.  It happens.  I retract that little barb at the end of my last post.

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The frost on the ground prob’ly envies the frost in the trees.

Posted: 20 February 2012 12:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 109 ]
Chicago Joe - 20 February 2012 12:02 PM

I post in baseball threads all the time and lay off of many or most political threads

This has to be a typo. ;)

Hey, it’s true, although it may depend on what your definition of “many or most” is. (smile) And as they say, it takes two to tango.
And without getting into names, I’ll bet that my ratio of baseball to political comments is a lot higher than that of many other Primates, especially in non-election years.

 

Posted: 20 February 2012 12:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 110 ]
Chicago Joe - 20 February 2012 12:02 PM

There’s hours of labor there; hours of time which have been stolen at the point of a mouse, as it were.

This point cannot be repeated enough.  Posting is labor*—it’s fun labor, and it’s voluntary labor, but it’s still labor.  It generates traffic (and therefore, I assume, revenue) for the site.  What posters who do that labor ask for in return is that their labor be respected enough that it’s not capriciously discarded by the site’s moderators. 

* This is not a political point, it’s an objective one—anyone serious about understanding the digital economy knows the “producer/consumer” split was obliterated with the emergence of the internet, if not a couple of decades before.  If posters stop doing this labor, BTF’s value would sink like a stone, and because its traffic would all but cease.

Posted: 20 February 2012 12:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 111 ]
Jim Furtado - 20 February 2012 11:07 AM

Although some may complain about the topic being “ghettoized” by being in the Forum, this is a more appropriate place for the discussion.

My comment came from the fact that every other time there has been a deleted thread, there’s been no place to discuss what got the thread deleted, and no willingness to discuss the circumstances of the deletion (you saw that with Dan’s reaction here—“who are you to even ask, you’re not entitled to an explanation”).  So those conversations, which I appreciate you creating the space for here, never happened in any serious way, or if they did, they happened on a sort of ad-hoc basis, either in threads where those posters congregated after the fact or in private e-mails. 

Thank you for setting up this space and taking the issue seriously.

 

Posted: 20 February 2012 12:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 112 ]

I will not apologize for my feelings or my opinions, but I do apologize for my actions. Posters, the vast majority of whom have no desire to get into flamewars, have to know that policies will be enacted fairly and objectively.  To those people, who simply want to talk about baseball in a pleasant environment, I humbly ask for your forgiveness. I am committed to learn from this mistake and will do better in the future.

How about apologizing to all the people you felt like insulting in this thread?  That’d be a nice step.  I notice that you only seem to be apologizing to people who weren’t present.


To Mr. Furtado:

It is my firm belief that you should keep the threads as they are now, and just tag the political threads so that they appear as such in hot topics.  If possible, you could allow an opt-out to let users not see political threads in Hot Topics. 

The general nature of the political threads is to go long, which makes them generally unfit for the forum architecture.  The forums seem to work fine for some things, but they are not conducive to carrying on multi-layered conversations.  Among other limitations, you can only see the last 10 posts when you are posting.

I greatly appreciate the work that you do on the site, but I think that the idea of pushing things to the forums is a mistake, given the limits in the forum architecture.

Posted: 20 February 2012 12:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 113 ]
Administrator

Andy, with the upcoming changes, the site will be a big enough place for people who enjoy the off-topic stuff or hate it. If people want to see off-topic stuff they can choose to see it; if they don’t, it won’t clutter up their pages.

I am sorry to be the one to break this to you, Andy, but you have a very narrow perspective on how the site is used by people. Although I appreciate your views because you are an articulate guy who speaks for a particular type of user on the site, I shouldn’t design the site based solely on your viewpoint. If I did, we would have a much, much smaller audience, which wouldn’t benefit anyone. Since I’m trying to redesign the site to better the experience for *all* the visitors, it’s important that I take a broader view to better balance the needs of everyone.

Case in point, you have your ratios backwards regarding baseball-only vs. political threads. First, the majority of people come to the site to read the linked news. They go to the front page and/or the blog, click on a few links, and hardly ever go to other pages. Second, most people only lurk and don’t actively post in very many threads. Third, it is a very small subset of posters who participate in the political threads. I know this because I have access to all this type of data. 

Now, this doesn’t mean I am not listening to and valuing your opinion because I agree that one of the things that makes this place distinct is the quality of the people of our community. (Many writers and members have told me they often stop by the site to read the opinions of some of the most knowledgeable baseball fans around.) That’s why one of my primary focuses with the upgrade is creating tools and views of our content to help people not only find links to the news they are interested in, but to also create tools and views to help people find the most interesting discussions that flow from the posting of the best news links. It’s also why I’m trying to improve community-centered aspects of the site by making it easier for people to express their opinions and find other baseball fans who share their interests.

Regarding editorial decisions made on what gets linked…just because something doesn’t have comments doesn’t mean it doesn’t interest a log of visitors. For every thread that generates a hundred comments there are a bunch of other threads with zero (or very few comments) that have 100-1000 clickthrus on the linked article.

Again, this place will be big enough to cater to the needs of *all* the types of users. The baseball stuff will be most prominent and will be what casual users will see the most of. For those interested in becoming a member of the site and then taking a few moments to check off a few buttons to select some preference options, the site will be a place better crafted to each particular users desires.

Posted: 20 February 2012 01:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 114 ]
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tshipman - 20 February 2012 12:46 PM

To Mr. Furtado:

It is my firm belief that you should keep the threads as they are now, and just tag the political threads so that they appear as such in hot topics.  If possible, you could allow an opt-out to let users not see political threads in Hot Topics. 

The general nature of the political threads is to go long, which makes them generally unfit for the forum architecture.  The forums seem to work fine for some things, but they are not conducive to carrying on multi-layered conversations.  Among other limitations, you can only see the last 10 posts when you are posting.

I greatly appreciate the work that you do on the site, but I think that the idea of pushing things to the forums is a mistake, given the limits in the forum architecture.

The new system will allow people to not only post baseball news but basketball, football, and politics as well. Although only baseball will display on the front page, there will be links to the other subjects pages. If a member wants to customize the site content more to his liking he will be able to subscribe to the content he would like to see and will be able to view that content on his own personalized version of the front page. Members will also be able to choose from three different default Hot Topics. One will only be baseball only. The other will include the other sports. The third will be all sports and politics. Additionally, Bookmarks will be better blended into the design and with a simple click on a tab you’ll be able to see your own personalized Hot Topics.

As for moving off-topic conversations to the Forums…that was a temporary solution that fit the site as it was/is set up. In the new set up, there will be a mechanism for people to flag discussions as off-topic. Once a certain threshold is hit, it will be flagged for editorial notice. If the editors are too busy, a post will automatically be flagged as off-topic once it hits a much higher threshold. If you choose to see off-topic stuff, you won’t see a change in your Hot Topics. If you don’t, the thread will disappear from your Hot Topics.

(BTW, my father was Mr. Furtado. I’m just Jim or Jimmy.)

Posted: 20 February 2012 01:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 115 ]

Case in point, you have your ratios backwards regarding baseball-only vs. political threads. First, the majority of people come to the site to read the linked news. They go to the front page and/or the blog, click on a few links, and hardly ever go to other pages. Second, most people only lurk and don’t actively post in very many threads. Third, it is a very small subset of posters who participate in the political threads. I know this because I have access to all this type of data.

I’m not surprised about this.  This is one of the few sites that I read on the internet where I’m an active poster.  In fact, even here, I started off as exactly the first type of person you describe.  I would expect that controversial 7000+ post threads are not nearly as good for drawing people to the site as fifty non-controversial threads with fewer than ten posts.

Posted: 20 February 2012 01:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 116 ]
Administrator

As much as I’d like to re-open the thread, it was deleted and not closed. Since I migrated the server yesterday, I only have yesterday’s backup and the backup from last month, both which don’t contain the thread. I wish I could return the thread but it just isn’t possible.

Posted: 20 February 2012 01:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 117 ]

As for moving off-topic conversations to the Forums…that was a temporary solution that fit the site as it was/is set up. In the new set up, there will be a mechanism for people to flag discussions as off-topic. Once a certain threshold is hit, it will be flagged for editorial notice. If the editors are too busy, a post will automatically be flagged as off-topic once it hits a much higher threshold. If you choose to see off-topic stuff, you won’t see a change in your Hot Topics. If you don’t, the thread will disappear from your Hot Topics.

Wow, that’s even more exciting than my suggestion on the feature request board.  That sounds like a really fantastic solution; all I have to do is click “see off-topic threads” and the site behaves exactly as I would want.

Is there any chance that the Lounge (and perhaps one big Game Chatter thread for each day) will make its way back to the mainland?

 

Posted: 20 February 2012 01:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 118 ]
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CrosbyBird - 20 February 2012 01:25 PM

As for moving off-topic conversations to the Forums…that was a temporary solution that fit the site as it was/is set up. In the new set up, there will be a mechanism for people to flag discussions as off-topic. Once a certain threshold is hit, it will be flagged for editorial notice. If the editors are too busy, a post will automatically be flagged as off-topic once it hits a much higher threshold. If you choose to see off-topic stuff, you won’t see a change in your Hot Topics. If you don’t, the thread will disappear from your Hot Topics.

Wow, that’s even more exciting than my suggestion on the feature request board.  That sounds like a really fantastic solution; all I have to do is click “see off-topic threads” and the site behaves exactly as I would want.

Is there any chance that the Lounge (and perhaps one big Game Chatter thread for each day) will make its way back to the mainland?

If the Lounge migrates back to the Mainland, it will cease to be the Lounge.

Posted: 20 February 2012 01:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 119 ]
Jim Furtado - 20 February 2012 12:48 PM

Andy, with the upcoming changes, the site will be a big enough place for people who enjoy the off-topic stuff or hate it. If people want to see off-topic stuff they can choose to see it; if they don’t, it won’t clutter up their pages.

If that means what I think it does, that sounds like an ideal solution, as long as the power to exclude subjects from the Hot Topics column lies with the individual Primate / lurker, and not with the site managers.

I am sorry to be the one to break this to you, Andy, but you have a very narrow perspective on how the site is used by people. Although I appreciate your views because you are an articulate guy who speaks for a particular type of user on the site, I shouldn’t design the site based solely on your viewpoint. If I did, we would have a much, much smaller audience, which wouldn’t benefit anyone. Since I’m trying to redesign the site to better the experience for *all* the visitors, it’s important that I take a broader view to better balance the needs of everyone.

My viewpoint is that people come to BTF for a wide variety of reasons, and if you start taking “off-topic” threads and ghettoizing them (which it doesn’t now seem that you’re proposing, thank God) you might not like the spinoff that affects your overall totals.  Many of us come to BTF for the discussions but open many of the other articles, and by narrowing the range of the discussions, you’re decreasing the incentive for many people to visit the site in the first place.

Case in point, you have your ratios backwards regarding baseball-only vs. political threads. First, the majority of people come to the site to read the linked news. They go to the front page and/or the blog, click on a few links, and hardly ever go to other pages. Second, most people only lurk and don’t actively post in very many threads. Third, it is a very small subset of posters who participate in the political threads. I know this because I have access to all this type of data.

I’ve never said that political topics make up a majority of anything, either page views or comments.  It’s clear that there’s a hard core of about a dozen or so people who post in many political threads and a larger but still not that big a group of others who participate in them on a less frequent basis.  The question is how many lurkers also view them.

Now, this doesn’t mean I am not listening to and valuing your opinion because I agree that one of the things that makes this place distinct is the quality of the people of our community. (Many writers and members have told me they often stop by the site to read the opinions of some of the most knowledgeable baseball fans around.) That’s why one of my primary focuses with the upgrade is creating tools and views of our content to help people not only find links to the news they are interested in, but to also create tools and views to help people find the most interesting discussions that flow from the posting of the best news links. It’s also why I’m trying to improve community-centered aspects of the site by making it easier for people to express their opinions and find other baseball fans who share their interests.

My bottom line on this is simple:  To the extent that you make it easier for people to view topics and threads that they want to view, or exclude the topics and threads that they (not you or Dan) want to avoid, it’s great.  To the extent that you ever attempt to make it harder for people to view any topic in the “Hot Topics” column, IMO you’re making a very serious mistake.  The Forums are fine for internal topics like this, but not for threads like the one that just got deleted.

Regarding editorial decisions made on what gets linked…just because something doesn’t have comments doesn’t mean it doesn’t interest a log of visitors. For every thread that generates a hundred comments there are a bunch of other threads with zero (or very few comments) that have 100-1000 clickthrus on the linked article.

Again, I have no problem with anything Repoz posts.  AFAIC the more articles he posts the better.

Again, this place will be big enough to cater to the needs of *all* the types of users. The baseball stuff will be most prominent and will be what casual users will see the most of. For those interested in becoming a member of the site and then taking a few moments to check off a few buttons to select some preference options, the site will be a place better crafted to each particular users desires.

That’s fine, if all it means is that we can all choose the sort of topics we want to view or exclude on our personalized Hot Topics column.  We’ll all be looking to see how this actually plays out once all the changes are in place, and hopefully you won’t have a New Coke situation on your hands.

Posted: 20 February 2012 01:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 120 ]

If the Lounge migrates back to the Mainland, it will cease to be the Lounge.

Interesting.  I’m curious as to why you feel that way.

I used to love the Lounge and the only reason I’m not still following it is because I can’t stand the inefficiency of the forum interface for long discussions.

   
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