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Jim's Lab Notes
— Site News, Baseball Talk, and a Bunch of Other Stuff

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Call for Help

My father always told me to never be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Well, we need your help.

Due to a number of factors, it’s been a while since we’ve undertaken any major site changes. Although the site seems to satisfy a still-growing number of visitors, there are a number of feature changes/additions we believe would improve things. That’s where you come in. We need your help improving the site.

What do you want?

From past experience, we’ve learned it’s better to garner as much feedback before implementing changes, rather than thrusting them upon you without warning. With that in mind, and since we’re just beginning the process, we’d like to solicit ideas for ways to improve the site.

What types of features would you like added? How can we improve the way things are configured here? What types of new content would you like to see? How can things be better organized? Would you like to see social network functionality (like some Facebook-type stuff) integrated into our design? Would you like a dedicated section for more off-topic material? Would you like blogs for every team? Again, what do you want?

Alpha/Beta testers needed

We’ve already begun tinkering with some ideas for improvement. Since we’re also sure you’ll be able to suggest nice ways we can improve the site, we’ll need more feedback when your ideas move into tangible features. We’ll also need people to try the stuff out to make sure it works properly. With that in mind, we’re looking for volunteer testers. If you are interested, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Team Blogs

Dan has been pushing the creation of enhanced team-oriented blogs for some time. We already have a few volunteer editors on board and we’re looking for more. So, again, if you are interested .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Baseball Newsstand

We’re considering moving the Old-School Newsstand back to its own domain, BaseballNewsstand.com, and expanding the links and content. We’re looking for ideas about the structure of the updated design and suggestions for links and RSS feeds that should be included. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Primer Blog

We’re considering moving the main blog onto its own domain and bringing back the BaseballPrimer.com domain. We believe by moving the blog over to its own domain, it will be easier to spotlight the best daily links. Plus, over the years many people have written to say they miss the old site name. We recognize the attachment, and hope you’ll welcome the return. What do you think?

Contribute a Few Dollars

We’ve appreciated your contributions in the past. With these tight financial times, we’d appreciate your assistance more than ever. We’ve always been dedicated to freely providing all of our content. With the depressed ad market and every-growing traffic, doing so has gotten harder and harder. What would we like you to contribute? Anything you could give us would be greatly appreciated and will help keep the site up-and-running.

Whether you can help out in these areas or just have time to post an occasional link or comment, we thank you for being part of our community and for helping to make this such a fun place for us to hang out.

 

Jim Furtado Posted: May 27, 2009 at 06:24 PM | 542 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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Reader Comments and Retorts

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   101. Howie Menckel Posted: May 28, 2009 at 01:59 AM (#3196671)
Ironic, that's 10 minutes of my life I won't ever get back with the site just logging me off for no reason, then not recognizing the very password it just sent me, on the first 3 tries.

I'll add (hopefully yet) another sigh to the cloying "aren't I clever, I change my handle every day" precious crowd.

I don't even pay much attention to the names of those who keep the same name (just as well, to me; if there's a minor difference of opinion, you don't even remember that the next day you're saluting the same guy on another thread).

Otherwise it's a great site, endless thanks for hosting our Hall of Merit all these years......
   102. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:09 AM (#3196698)
I also support the banning. I realize the Internet is a wild wild west of freedom of speech (as it should be) but when it comes to individual sites, posters are basically guests in someone else's home. If a bar had a regular that was picking fights with other regulars to the point that customers were being driven away, that person would be banned from entering the place again. This isn't really any different.

If people want to be d-bags, then they can start a D-Bag Think Factory and be d-bags to their heart's content all the live-long day.
   103. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:11 AM (#3196703)
I will state that before folks had to register it could be legitimately amusing to read comments under various names.

One of the all-time heartiest chuckles for me was the poster who listed himself/herself as Mike Piazza with the post "mmmmmmm....manservant"

Guess you had to be there.

But it was d*mn funny.

Childish....................but funny
   104. HowardMegdal Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:13 AM (#3196706)
On the issues already raised:

1. I seldom find my way into politics threads. That said, something I love about this site is you can be reading a thread based on one subject that quickly migrates into another. If it heads into a direction I don't care about, I leave the thread. There are opinions expressed that seem crazy to me, and many that make me think of topics in a new way. I think it is a mistake to try and choke off such discussion in general. I can understand why some are banned, though I'd err on the side of not doing so. I know how to scroll past the people I want to ignore- I don't use the ignore function.

2. I think eliminating Game Chatters is criminal, unless elimination could help provide another, better service on the site. Otherwise, why not have the ability to discuss a game? To check in on a game periodically based upon responses (when I worked in a place that didn't allow me to watch/listen, this was a tremendous service!) More to the point, I like heading there when it is 1:30 in the morning and I might otherwise think I am crazy for watching a Rangers/A's game in the 12th inning. I just don't see the downside- is it really that hard to scroll down to the game you want?

3. I love that the site has a HUGE variety of sources. College papers, foreign papers translated, etc. The oddest start can provide terrific conversations. And it is stuff I just wouldn't find on my own.

4. I really like Hot Topics, as something I find interesting is how active a particular discussion is.

5. I think it is reasonable to expect that BTF will have more topics looking down on writers than appreciating them. All I can tell you, from my perspective, is I like engaging with the BTF community on my work. I think it makes me a better writer. I also think reading everyone provides a far better window into what the thought process is generally, and I think that is useful to the community as a whole.

This is about the best site there is. I don't understand the massive negativity, but this may be about people in general. Whatever you do with it, I can't imagine I will object. I will ask you not to turn it into Facebook, but I'm pretty sure, legally, you can't do that anyway.
   105. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:16 AM (#3196717)
You'd need a gimmick. Primate who gets the most noms gets to have Repoz work him into an obscure intro.

"Primeys...this time, they count!"


Is this you, Jeff?
   106. zonk Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:19 AM (#3196727)
I will state that before folks had to register it could be legitimately amusing to read comments under various names.

One of the all-time heartiest chuckles for me was the poster who listed himself/herself as Mike Piazza with the post "mmmmmmm....manservant"

Guess you had to be there.

But it was d*mn funny.

Childish....................but funny


Agree there. On a whole, I guess I'd have to admit that registration has made primer better, but there were still moments that rank among the internet's funniest in the pre-reg days.

I guess it all goes back to whether you find the quirks of BTF endearing or annoying.

Whatever changes come, my vote/input/whatever is that the freewheeling nature of BTF be pruned only very carefully.
   107. GGC don't think it can get longer than a novella Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:25 AM (#3196742)
I could go for more tina.
   108. Gamingboy Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:30 AM (#3196759)
Does anybody want my "jokes" to be more Repoz-like and obscure?
   109. Dock Ellis on Acid Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:42 AM (#3196786)
Nah, Gamingboy, a lot of us already have inferiority complexes with Repoz's references as is.
   110. Dr Love Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:48 AM (#3196796)
something I love about this site is you can be reading a thread based on one subject that quickly migrates into another. If it heads into a direction I don't care about, I leave the thread. There are opinions expressed that seem crazy to me, and many that make me think of topics in a new way. I think it is a mistake to try and choke off such discussion in general.


I don't think anyone is advocating that. I agree, threads that go a whole bunch of places are fine. It's the blatant attempts at getting the far right and the far left here going at each other that is in question. There was a thread last week that started about something legit to baseball that spiraled into a discussion of Sarah Palin. That's fine, that's the way it goes. But when a politics article is posted as a baseball article, that's annoying. This isn't a politics site. Yes, no one is forcing anyone to read them, but that doesn't mean it doesn't detract from the site.

I think eliminating Game Chatters is criminal, unless elimination could help provide another, better service on the site. Otherwise, why not have the ability to discuss a game?


No one is suggesting eliminating Game Chatters. My suggestion was to lump the chatters that get little to no traffic into one meta-chatter, where it may get more chatter going with crossover appeal. There are entire series that get no posts, so what is to encourage someone to post in them knowing there isn't anyone reading them? Putting them together you might get some more posts, because there will be people there.
   111. HowardMegdal Posted: May 28, 2009 at 03:07 AM (#3196815)
I think it is a mistake to try and choke off such discussion in general.

I don't think anyone is advocating that.


If people are advocating the elimination of politics topics (and some are in this thread), they are advocating that. Segmenting such discussions also chokes off the ability to let freewheeling discussions evolve.

There are entire series that get no posts, so what is to encourage someone to post in them knowing there isn't anyone reading them? Putting them together you might get some more posts, because there will be people there.

This sounds a lot like the logical inverse to "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded." In the individual game chatter, you don't need to identify the game or situation you are chatting about- how much useless energy will be spent doing that alone?
   112. zonk Posted: May 28, 2009 at 03:07 AM (#3196816)
I don't think anyone is advocating that. I agree, threads that go a whole bunch of places are fine. It's the blatant attempts at getting the far right and the far left here going at each other that is in question. There was a thread last week that started about something legit to baseball that spiraled into a discussion of Sarah Palin. That's fine, that's the way it goes. But when a politics article is posted as a baseball article, that's annoying. This isn't a politics site. Yes, no one is forcing anyone to read them, but that doesn't mean it doesn't detract from the site.


Well, in fairness -- that thread in question was a "Zelasko to star in Dodger's 'baseball for women'" or something. It took a good 80 posts to get to Palin - I mean, there's really only 40 or so really good snarks to be had at Zelasko's expense before it's inevitably going to go elsewhere... and FWIW, there were several pages in that thread that I think were reasonable discussions between ideological opposites.... but don't want to go off-topic/meta.

Anyway on the chatters...

I think a generic gameday chatter would be a good idea. I've generally just stayed in Cubs chatters, but especially when I'm flipping between multiple games (which is fairly often), a general chatter would be great.


It would also resolve the annual "where's the all-star chatter" issue. Last year's ad hoc chatter as a hot-topic was a great, great chatter -- you had a lot of regulars from various team chatters in the same place.

EDIT: But now, since I've worn out the term - you'll have to find a new name for them.
   113. Srul Itza Posted: May 28, 2009 at 03:12 AM (#3196823)
I think we should bring kevin back. Civility and logic are grossly overrated. This IS the internet, after all.

With respect to Game Chatters -- maybe they could be devolved to the primates, like article submissions. Mets, Red Sox and Cubs should be automatic, and if anyone else wants a chatter, they can propose one.
   114. Dr Love Posted: May 28, 2009 at 03:31 AM (#3196850)
Well, in fairness -- that thread in question was a "Zelasko to star in Dodger's 'baseball for women'" or something. It took a good 80 posts to get to Palin - I mean, there's really only 40 or so really good snarks to be had at Zelasko's expense before it's inevitably going to go elsewhere...


And I have zero problem with that. It's stuff like "Topps produces Sarah Palin baseball card" that I'm talking about. You know where that thread is going on post 1. No, I don't have to read it. But I don't have to like it either.

If people are advocating the elimination of politics topics (and some are in this thread), they are advocating that.


I meant that I don't think anyone was advocating eliminating politics from threads that go on tangents.

This sounds a lot like the logical inverse to "Nobody goes there anymore, it's too crowded." In the individual game chatter, you don't need to identify the game or situation you are chatting about- how much useless energy will be spent doing that alone?


Then don't post in them. There's already nobody posting in most of the chatters anyway (11 games today with 0 posts), so you wouldn't be affecting anything.
   115. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 28, 2009 at 04:52 AM (#3196903)
All I want is a godd*mn Repoz translator. Since I am loathe to invest in heroin I need some other means of understanding what everyone else is raving about regarding his introductions.

Harvey, the beauty of Repoz is that first he forces you to wonder what the hell his references are all about, and then if you have an ounce of curiosity you google the names and you learn something new. And if by chance you know what he means without the google then you give yourself a gold star. IMO he's the best thing about this entire site. I look forward to his Zippy-like non sequiturs the way I used to look forward to those phony "bus plunge in India" fillers that some sneaky night editor used to plant in the New York Times.

As to the compliments above that is very kind of said posters.

Add mine to the list, in spite of what I'm about to say below.

What about a "rate the poster" function? I know this feature exists at other sites. You go to some portion of the site and rate a poster's contributions. And after "x" level is reached that poster has some degree of branding so that others know this poster contains some appeal.

This could be done for both good and bad feedback. And instead of observation or anecodotal the site admins would have a metric to use as reference when a poster was becoming a bit of a pain.


Nix, nix. The last thing we need to indulge in is a Primate popularity contest, which would inevitably turn into a form of BTF political correctness. There are more than enough American Idol imitators as it is.
   116. Craig in MN Posted: May 28, 2009 at 04:52 AM (#3196904)
I think more original content is the best possible change. It doesn't even necessarily have to be lots of new people writing for the site, but it has to be content on a regular basis. Maybe a daily post or two with some highlighted interesting information that doesn't necessarily warrant it's own thread. Interesting notes...which pitcher pitched complete games, hitters with great nights, relievers who blew a big lead, managers making strange decisions, players who are in weird slumps, etc. That could turn into just another fantasy player thread or just more general info, but if you do it regularly, I think it would attract a following either way. Maybe a daily post on injuries...compile a brief list and let users add more notes and commentary and speculation and worrying, etc. You could also do a daily post with the last nights results and give people a chance to comment on them. That could gain a following as well....I could look at last nights results anywhere, but that plus 30 comments from users here could be a more interesting way for me to consume that. A lot of these things could be mostly scripted, if you had access to the stats.

Hardball Times does something like this, and does it well, but it just posts the info and a little commentary from one person. BBTF's users comments added to that would add another way to see the info and get more than one viewpoint on what happened. That key is to get regular content on the site and get something there to get the discussion rolling so the community as a whole can add to the discussion. These might not be the best examples of ways to do that...but if you could get maybe 3 daily threads throughout the day that people would expect and would get a following, it would dramatically improve the site. And it would maybe give people something to focus on instead of the supreme court. And maybe it would get fans interested in what's going on with other teams to the extent that they might visit a chatter for them. The Dugout can be like that from time to time, but not regularly enough to make it a real must-see destination.
   117. Cris E Posted: May 28, 2009 at 05:31 AM (#3196926)
Names
Everyone should have a fixed name that can't be changed and a display name that can be diddled freely. Either both are displayed or the "real" name can be shown with a mouseover or a click or something. But it brings back the Piazza fun with a link for responsibility/respectability. (And if Jack Keefe wants to stay anon he can keep his separate account.)

Game Chatters
Automatically create a general chatter for each day and automate the Suggest/Create process so that as soon as anyone requests the DET-COL chatter it gets conjured up imediately. You don't have the clutter of a bunch of empties but as soon as anyone in the big room wants to head over to a separate thread it can happen easily.

Off Topic Threads
Blatantly non-baseball crap that Repoz dredges up should just go to a Lounge-like place or default out of the Hot Topics. But stuff that gets off-topic on its own should be left to grow where planted. Maybe allow realtime tagging of threads as Wandering and let users choose if those get auto-ignored.

Banning
You need to have a big stick even if it's only used on occasion. Things have been managed pretty well over the years so I'd leave this as is.

Other stuff
I like the Last 5 Threads I Posted To feature. I wish we could have a longer Hot Topics list. Ignore Thread is a good idea. Search is currently bad and the old Primer content is all but hidden. We don't do original content around here very well because many of the regulars who do create do so at other sites. I miss the old domain but not a ton. Maybe make an arrangement with THT to be their comment facility instead of Ball Hype. Primeys were fun and we should maintain a list of the best threads even if we don't get to the point of awarding individuals again.
   118. villageidiom Posted: May 28, 2009 at 05:36 AM (#3196927)
I think that if people (Andy) change (Andy) their (Andy) screen name (Andy), they (Andy) should be required to keep their (Andy) original s(A)c(n)r(d)e(y)en name (Andy) in parentheses (Andy).
In each user's account profile they can maintain their screen name history. It would be nice if people kept up with this.

I do, but I've never changed my handle to anything that didn't include my handle from the Neyer days.
   119. villageidiom Posted: May 28, 2009 at 05:39 AM (#3196929)
I think more original content is the best possible change. It doesn't even necessarily have to be lots of new people writing for the site, but it has to be content on a regular basis. Maybe a daily post or two with some highlighted interesting information that doesn't necessarily warrant it's own thread. Interesting notes...which pitcher pitched complete games, hitters with great nights, relievers who blew a big lead, managers making strange decisions, players who are in weird slumps, etc.
You're hired.
   120. crickets Posted: May 28, 2009 at 05:44 AM (#3196933)
For example yesterday alone: TOR/BAL (0), DET/KC (2), LAD/COL (0), ATL/SF (11), FLA/PHI (6), TB/CLE (0), CHW/LAA (0), SD/ARI (0), SEA/OAK (0), HOU/CIN (0), NYY/TEX (1) had a total of 20 posts.

chirp chirp chirp
   121. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: May 28, 2009 at 05:51 AM (#3196936)
That said, something I love about this site is you can be reading a thread based on one subject that quickly migrates into another.

This has been a favorite of mine, too. I would be sad if there suddenly grew to be some kind of on-topic police like there is at TelevisionWithoutPity, where you can be harassed if you dare to bring up a subject from a page ago. One of the best dicussions I ever had on this forum was a Chatter for Game 1 of the 2007 WS that morphed into a poetry discussion -- replete with poetry snark, natch -- when the game got out of hand. I showed up the next day armed with Merwin, Auden and Yeats and instead was treated to a real ballgame.
   122. villainx Posted: May 28, 2009 at 05:58 AM (#3196938)
perhaps even adjusting your own hotlist for it - is a great idea.


Bookmark?

I think if you really want to limit runaway hijack threads, comment count or days limits. Things will get knocked out quick enough.

And of course, the powers that be can keep or mark as "elevated limit" or "open limit" whatever is particularly salient.

I really like the hijack threads about music or WW1 or whatever, but if you join in after 500+ comments, you ain't gonna go back, and at that point, it is name calling/meta territory.

Oh, maybe along the hot topic sidebar, the first 10 or so words (or 30 characters) of the last comment? I think that's not particularly unusual at other website.
   123. villainx Posted: May 28, 2009 at 06:20 AM (#3196948)
Hmm, regarding the game chatters, why not, you know, have an actual chat room, instead of a forum masquerading as a chat. You could have a nice little loungey style catch-all room, and if enough people congregate there, who want to chat about a specific game they can go off and create their own little room.


Ain't that part of what help kill the game chatter in the first place?

And BTF was one of the first, I think, with a lively and fervant, and diverse, chatter population. Something kinda revolutionary, but whatever fame or cash money could have been gain from this, the powers that be, partly because of the crush of traffic, decide to cut off the running legs on this aspect of the site.

No one is suggesting eliminating Game Chatters. My suggestion was to lump the chatters that get little to no traffic into one meta-chatter, where it may get more chatter going with crossover appeal. There are entire series that get no posts, so what is to encourage someone to post in them knowing there isn't anyone reading them? Putting them together you might get some more posts, because there will be people there.

Why lump it together, if any chatter has any steam, and people want to participate, game chatter has it's own separate hot topic, so it's easy to jump in and see what's the talk about.

Are the game chatter that much of a headache to pop up each day, and or costly to maintain? You can have a shorter storage period for those chatters, especially nixing them a little quicker if a chatter thread gots no comments at all.

I don't really care, though the change proposing adding a step to submit chatter request will only go toward getting rid of the chatterer holdouts still going strong today. I use it mainly to catch up on chatterers reaction to interesting plays or interesting players, like a text base tivo but with my friends reaction recorded too.
   124. Baldrick Posted: May 28, 2009 at 07:07 AM (#3196955)
1. Bring back battlefob
2. Post a Giambi/Mabrey thread at least once every six months
3. Original content is always great but honestly that's not what drives this place. Primer is the best community on the interwebs. Original content is more likely to foment on-topic, good comments which is always great. But making content-production the driving goal doesn't seem like the way to go.
4. Honestly, there's not much need for major change. I like that, on the whole, this is basically the same place I've been stopping by for coming up on a decade. It really would be nice to see threads I've recently posted in, though.
   125. UCCF Posted: May 28, 2009 at 07:23 AM (#3196960)
Hmm, regarding the game chatters, why not, you know, have an actual chat room, instead of a forum masquerading as a chat. You could have a nice little loungey style catch-all room, and if enough people congregate there, who want to chat about a specific game they can go off and create their own little room.

Ain't that part of what help kill the game chatter in the first place?


I believe it was. I can remember a time when the chatters were a huge part of this site. It was not unusual for the Cub chatter on an afternoon game to reach 200+ posts, and in September 2004 (during the collapse) I think some of the threads were 500+ posts. It wasn't just Cubs/Yanks/Boston either - there was a decent turnout for a lot of different teams. If you had Extra Innings and wanted to talk about whatever game you were watching, there was usually someone else willing to accommodate you. I was working then and wouldn't dream of listening to a game on the radio without having Chatter on in the background.

Then BTF tried the chat rooms, which no one liked, and that was that. God, those things were awful. The real chatters returned, but they never recovered. Too bad, because they were a lot of fun and really added to the game experience.

----------

As for the rest, I'll second (or whatever number we're on) the request to stop posting obviously off-topic threads with only a tenuous link to baseball. It's either pointless flame baiting or a nefarious plot to drive up ad revenues by increasing page views/posts. Whichever it is, cut it out.

Or I suppose take that off-topic #### to the forums with the Lounge (which, if I'm not mistaken, was sent to the forums because it was off-topic and sucking up too many resources. Apparently threads where one poster tells another that he should die and burn in hell for his views on drunk driving are acceptable for a "baseball" website aimed at "thinking fans" and intelligent discourse, but the Lounge isn't. Never quite got an explanation for that little dichotomy.)
   126. Baldrick Posted: May 28, 2009 at 07:59 AM (#3196964)
As for the rest, I'll second (or whatever number we're on) the request to stop posting obviously off-topic threads with only a tenuous link to baseball. It's either pointless flame baiting or a nefarious plot to drive up ad revenues by increasing page views/posts. Whichever it is, cut it out.

So, if it produces ad revenue for the site, happens in a thread that you don't have to read, and brings apparent enjoyment to the people who DO want to post in it...what exactly is your problem with it?

I can understand if the administrators don't like the bandwidth/storage/etc. problems created by huge threads. But if that's not the issue I really have a hard time figuring out how threads that you can so easily skip over can be such a burden to folks here.
   127. Phil Coorey is a T-Shirt Salesman Posted: May 28, 2009 at 09:09 AM (#3196972)
This is about the best site there is. I don't understand the massive negativity,


Agree - I send some stuff from this website to my friends and they just love it.

Look the site gets off topic but so does everyone in life - the NBA thread for example has just been absolutely amazing. Why get shitty about it?
   128. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 28, 2009 at 10:42 AM (#3196980)
I think that if people (Andy) change (Andy) their (Andy) screen name (Andy), they (Andy) should be required to keep their (Andy) original s(A)c(n)r(d)e(y)en name (Andy) in parentheses (Andy).


In each user's account profile they can maintain their screen name history. It would be nice if people kept up with this.

I never noticed that you could do this, but now with the help of a possibly imperfect memory I've done that for the three or four people who seem to care about such trivia.

-----------------------------------------

I can understand if the administrators don't like the bandwidth/storage/etc. problems created by huge threads. But if that's not the issue I really have a hard time figuring out how threads that you can so easily skip over can be such a burden to folks here.

It's the same impulse that led people to howl for Kevin's banning rather than just take the 1.5 seconds it would have taken to put him on "ignore." Such sensitive souls we have here.

------------------------------------------

This is about the best site there is. I don't understand the massive negativity,

Well, Jim did ask for suggestions, but OTOH if he didn't change a thing it'd still be the best site of its type around.
   129. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: May 28, 2009 at 11:50 AM (#3196998)
obviously off-topic threads with only a tenuous link to baseball


One of my favorite things about this site. I'll even admit that I've learned a bit about politics and miscellania from some of these threads. For that reason, bannings should be reserved for only the most egregious offenders (and from what I saw Kevin didn't rise to that level, though he certainly pushed it).

I don't have any major complaints or suggestions, though to echo prior comments it would be nice if searching for comments by user name was easier and if there was a way to mandate putting your original screen name in parentheses.

I never noticed that you could do this, but now with the help of a possibly imperfect memory I've done that for the three or four people who seem to care about such trivia.

[goes to Andy's profile]

... David Nieporent (now, with proof that Kevin lost China)

Now that is funny.
   130. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 28, 2009 at 11:54 AM (#3197002)
It's the same impulse that led people to howl for Kevin's banning rather than just take the 1.5 seconds it would have taken to put him on "ignore." Such sensitive souls we have here.


The problem with putting someone on "ignore" is that any thread that person posts in becomes difficult to follow if there is even the slightest bit of back and forth.
   131. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 28, 2009 at 12:30 PM (#3197018)
It's the same impulse that led people to howl for Kevin's banning rather than just take the 1.5 seconds it would have taken to put him on "ignore." Such sensitive souls we have here.

The problem with putting someone on "ignore" is that any thread that person posts in becomes difficult to follow if there is even the slightest bit of back and forth.


I can see the problem with this, but I guess that I should say that my whole problem with banning Kevin was that it seemed highly selective. Kevin was without question a flame artist supreme at times, but 9 times out of 10 he had plenty of company, and often he wasn't the one who started the flaming. I still think that the best way to deal with people you don't like is to pass over their comments and not let them get into your head.
   132. fra paolo Posted: May 28, 2009 at 12:41 PM (#3197025)
We don't do original content around here very well because many of the regulars who do create do so at other sites.

This is one of the biggest differences between BTF and Primer, and it's partly because so many more outlets are available for people to post stuff. Primer used to do original content well. Then the new content dried up, gradually, over time. The next generation of new content providers turned up on the Internet and found places like The Hardball Times that would take their material. But the difference between The Hardball Times and here is that at BTF the commenting has been integral from the start, not a BallHype add-on someyears later. So something has been lost, even though we wound up with two good sites instead of one.

Or I suppose take that off-topic [stuff] to the forums with the Lounge (which, if I'm not mistaken, was sent to the forums because it was off-topic and sucking up too many resources. Apparently threads where one poster tells another that he should die and burn in hell for his views on drunk driving are acceptable for a "baseball" website aimed at "thinking fans" and intelligent discourse, but the Lounge isn't. Never quite got an explanation for that little dichotomy.

Also, thinking back to those bygone days before registration, off-topic threads were a consistent problem, weren't they? Anyone who started a non-baseball hijack was told to 'take it to the Lounge', usually unsuccessfully. The Dugout was created because people in the Lounge weren't talking about baseball. The forums were an attempt to steer non-baseball stuff 'off the island'. It seems to me there's been a consistent pattern on the part of the proprietors to tone it down, but a reluctance to be effective about it or a lack of workable solution to the problem.

It appears the general sentiment around here is that the digressions are a good thing. (They were part of the charm of the original Ballantine-era Baseball Abstract, which probably in turn encouraged Don Malcolm's cinematic and poltical riffs which in the end were far less popular.) But I'm not finding as much variety in them as I used to. Maybe I'm just not finding the right threads. And maybe that's the solution. Some kind of Digression tag - 'US politics', 'movies', 'Gregorian chant'.

But if this site introduced a ban on certain types of digressions, I wouldn't be heartbroken.
   133. fra paolo Posted: May 28, 2009 at 12:50 PM (#3197028)
my whole problem with banning Kevin was that it seemed highly selective

According to my memory, I didn't see much of kevin, to be honest. I had a run-in with him in the HoM pages once, but that was about Munson v Fisk. I never put him on ignore. He just rarely crossed my path. I never really saw the fuss about him.

But having banned him, I do agree with Andy - it does seem selective, like his digressions and flaming particularly got under the skin of the VIPs. It's past time he was either unbanned (which I gather is unlikely) or that a clear and unequivocal statement of what one has to do to get banned is issued, and a few more bannings of people who fall foul of those regulations pour encourager les autres.
   134. zonk Posted: May 28, 2009 at 12:55 PM (#3197032)
This is about the best site there is. I don't understand the massive negativity,

Well, Jim did ask for suggestions, but OTOH if he didn't change a thing it'd still be the best site of its type around.


Just wanna echo that -- I think there are some good ideas, the only one I would truly like to see pursued is the ignore thread ability -- but when you get down to it, I just don't see a lot that needs to be done.

There are some regular posters whom I wouldn't mind seeing have regular gigs - if it's internally authored postings people want, I'd much prefer to see some sort of open voting offering up a spot to regular here rather than imports or what not.
   135. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 28, 2009 at 01:01 PM (#3197037)
But if this site introduced a ban on certain types of digressions, I wouldn't be heartbroken.

The problem is that one person's digression is another person's interest. Some people hate political threads, and some people find discussions of contemporary rock music or fantasy movies about as interesting as an afternoon of picking out furniture. But some people actually like that kind of stuff. We're all different.

And it comes back to this: If you don't like a thread, don't read it. Read a book instead, or get outside and poison your neighbor's dog, or anything to take your mind off the horrors of a BTF thread gone awry. Not every thread is going to interest everyone, nor should it, and the more you come to understand this, the more peace of mind you'll have.
   136. Gamingboy Posted: May 28, 2009 at 01:04 PM (#3197040)
Another thing, not so much a complaint as in a quirk of the system: When somebody submits a topic but it isn't approved until later, the topic shows up ordered as if it had immediately gone up when submitted. So let's say I submitted a news story on Matt Wieters at 1:00 PM, at 1:01 PM it'd look like this:

Zambrano (12:50)
Boras (12:48)
Strasburg (12:40)


Then let's say that at 4:00 PM it was approved, the topic list would look like this:

Yankees (3:58)
Steroids (3:48)
Red Sox (3:20)
Pitch Counts (2:20)
Manny (2:00)
A-Rod (1:09)
Wieters (1:00) >>>> It'd show up here at 4:00
Zambrano (12:50)
Boras (12:48)
Strasburg (12:40)

Just kind of weird.....
   137. fra paolo Posted: May 28, 2009 at 01:16 PM (#3197048)
The problem is that one person's digression is another person's interest.

Of course. But we all know what sort of digressions generate annoyance on a regular basis. And if those were deemed off-limits around here, I suspect the overall BTF experience would be improved. Looking at the names of participants, most Primates aren't really interested in those topics and, as you suggest, avoid those threads. Most of the less contentious topics, like 'chesterfield or sofa?' don't take off with anything like the same regularity, which is why they remain fun.

If I were Jim, I'd take a look at how many distinct participants take part in certain digressions. If the same people keep appearing over and over, from thread to thread, then bandwidth is being used up to cater to a small minority of users just in order to keep up the pretence of 'diversity'. Maybe we'd get on-topic service improvements elsewhere, if he didn't have to provide a service to the controversialists. I don't know enough about the technology/logistics to do anything more than ask the question.
   138. RJ in TO Posted: May 28, 2009 at 01:27 PM (#3197059)
Of course. But we all know what sort of digressions generate annoyance on a regular basis.


Any thread with "Bunning" in the title.
   139. fra paolo Posted: May 28, 2009 at 01:29 PM (#3197063)
Oh, how about a couple more suggestions -

Why should the onus be on us to avoid certain digressions, or to put people on ignore? Another option would be to compel digressors to tag their posts if they are touching on certain subjects. Then we could have a list of 'digressions we don't want to read about', and those posts would be marked 'ignored comment'.

Alternatively, from pitchers and catchers reporting to the last game of the World Series could be deemed off-limits for 'politics-and-religion' threads. We mostly need those threads during Hot Stove time anyway.

We could make special dispensations for other sports' playoffs that occur during baseball season. AFAICT, the NBA playoffs thread works perfectly. I've not much interest in basketball, and I don't go there.
   140. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 28, 2009 at 01:32 PM (#3197067)
The problem is that one person's digression is another person's interest.

Of course. But we all know what sort of digressions generate annoyance on a regular basis. And if those were deemed off-limits around here, I suspect the overall BTF experience would be improved. Looking at the names of participants, most Primates aren't really interested in those topics and, as you suggest, avoid those threads. Most of the less contentious topics, like 'chesterfield or sofa?' don't take off with anything like the same regularity, which is why they remain fun.


But "annoyance" to whom? And to how many people? And is "freedom from annoyance" that central to the BTF experience? Do we really need more nannyism here? Do we need to be shielded from your opinions on American foreign policy because they might annoy Rich Rifkin?

Again, one person's "annoyance" is another person's interest. And in some cases, one person's annoyance is another person's job description: See Repoz with his endless posting of strawmen links to comments by Bob Feller and Murray Chass. (Not that there's anything wrong with that---and as I said above, Repoz is the best thing about this site---but if I lacked the discipline to ignore 90% of those strawman threads, I'd find them the most pointless and "annoying" feature of BTF. And if I were in a banning mood, which I'm not, I'd restrict those links to about one a month.)
   141. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 28, 2009 at 01:35 PM (#3197072)
Why should the onus be on us to avoid certain digressions, or to put people on ignore?

And why should your mother not put your clothes on for you? Isn't that what mothers are for?
   142. fra paolo Posted: May 28, 2009 at 01:48 PM (#3197086)
And why should your mother not put your clothes on for you? Isn't that what mothers are for?

Well, there's a productive comment. I think if you want to come to a baseball site and post your partisan political agenda, you're the one who ought to assume the responsibility of alerting those of us who come to a baseball site that we might not want to read about it.

And to how many people

We don't know. That's why my suggestion was predicated on somebody taking a look at who is using some of these threads.

See Repoz with his endless posting of strawmen links to comments by Bob Feller and Murray Chass.

I've got no problems with Repoz controlling that urge. But, you see, I'm reading comments by people who don't like certain aspects of the site, and wondering if BTF could attract more baseball fans by making it easier for them to ignore me prattling on about American foreign policy.
   143. villageidiom Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:02 PM (#3197098)
There are two issues, as I see it, with the off-baseball threads:

1. They take up space on the limited-space Hot Topics bar. We've had times recently when we had two political threads and an NBA thread taking up prime space there. If you came here to talk baseball, and there are topics not of interest to you, so be it. But it's constantly disappointing to come here to see a Hot Topics bar completely filled with a combo of non-baseball stuff and Old Columnist Piñatas. Someone coming here to have an intelligent discussion about baseball should not have to work hard to find a proper opportunity. One could see this as a problem with the content of the more-active threads, or as a problem with the desires of the people coming here; but I see it as a problem with the front page in general, and the Hot Topics bar specifically.

2. Some of the longer threads do have fun, interesting tangents. In order to know that, though, one must actually enter the thread and start reading. Those who suggest something along the lines of, "If you don't like the Sarah Palin discussion, don't read it," might be forgetting that there was an actual, interesting, on-topic discussion on the (de)merits of marketing baseball to women in general and by the Zelasko dumb-down method in particular going on in that thread. At some point it changed to a Palin thread, which made the other conversation difficult to sustain by discouraging people from reading the thread. It's not evident from the links to the thread that it had turned political, and within the thread it's not evident which comments to read and which to skip until they've already been read. The other option, I suppose, is to put the usual participants on ignore... which I'm very tempted to do despite their other worthwhile posts.
   144. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:04 PM (#3197100)
I think if you want to come to a baseball site and post your partisan political agenda, you're the one who ought to assume the responsibility of alerting those of us who come to a baseball site that we might not want to read about it.

Fine, but exactly how would that work in practice? Instead of "fra paolo" as your screen name, should you be compelled to change it to "fra paolo, fighting the Zionist entity since 1948"? Whatever the "solution," it's going to require a technical fix that's far more complicated (not to mention subject to abuse) than just using one's discretionary powers of observation. I mean it's not as if your handle is "fra paolo---if you don't read my posts, I'll kill this dog."
   145. RJ in TO Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:09 PM (#3197107)
Also, I would just like to cast a vote against a post (or member) rating system, since it'll likely just degenerate into a simple popularity contest and drive a lot of potential contributors away.
   146. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:12 PM (#3197111)
More team blogs: A good idea.

Game chatter: Make the link to game chatter visible from the main page - it's easy to forget about otherwise... keep threads for each game.

I like how threads change topics - a lot of interesting (baseball related or not) stuff gets discussed that way that otherwise wouldn't be. I would not like it if they were moved/redirected to the lounge, etc...

Primeys were fun.

Fix the search. Seriously.

For that matter, it seems like a lot of old content (that is, threads) has disappeared. Anyway it can be made searchable?

More topic choices (per 56) is a good idea.

In addition to a hot topics listing in the sidebar (good) - it would be nice to have a link to a hot topics page, that has the most recent postings in the last 'x' of threads to draw comment. (It would give people an easy, if imperfect, check as to which threads have gone off course and how.) Not sure how that would work, of course. (Oh, looks like someone else mentioned a variant of this as well.)

Name changes: I agree with Ray/67 that you should keep your original name in parentheses, but feel that's more of an etiquette thing, rather than something we should mandate.

I agree with Jim/102 when he said "I think you should avoid adding any more features that will make the site cost more to maintain or cause more potential for breakdowns."

Rate the poster is a terrible idea.

More original content would be good though - truthfully - there's nothing stopping that from happening now, right? People - write something, send it here! (Pot, meet kettle.)

Dugout: I want one every day - we can make it a must see place for a sizable chunk of the viewership.
   147. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:18 PM (#3197116)
Don't make a single change until you fix the site. Get yourself to 99.99% uptime before you start getting cute with anything. The site is already fantastic, but there's simply no need for a nightly server reboot, or random outages throughout the week, or entire 12 hour blocks where nothing is up. That's unacceptable service that you are getting from your hosting provider, and you should fix that long before you start messing with CSS or new domains or anything like that.
   148. RJ in TO Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:20 PM (#3197120)
Fix the search. Seriously.


I'm starting to get the feeling that I'm the only one who has been able to successfully use the search function.
   149. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:25 PM (#3197128)
There are two issues, as I see it, with the off-baseball threads:

1. They take up space on the limited-space Hot Topics bar. We've had times recently when we had two political threads and an NBA thread taking up prime space there. If you came here to talk baseball, and there are topics not of interest to you, so be it. But it's constantly disappointing to come here to see a Hot Topics bar completely filled with a combo of non-baseball stuff and Old Columnist Piñatas. Someone coming here to have an intelligent discussion about baseball should not have to work hard to find a proper opportunity. One could see this as a problem with the content of the more-active threads, or as a problem with the desires of the people coming here; but I see it as a problem with the front page in general, and the Hot Topics bar specifically.


That's a pertinent point, and perhaps it could be addressed by giving people a means of deleting threads (political or otherwise) that they're not interested in, which would bump up into view those threads that were previously below the dew line. But that would still leave you with the second problem which you raise below:

2. Some of the longer threads do have fun, interesting tangents. In order to know that, though, one must actually enter the thread and start reading. Those who suggest something along the lines of, "If you don't like the Sarah Palin discussion, don't read it," might be forgetting that there was an actual, interesting, on-topic discussion on the (de)merits of marketing baseball to women in general and by the Zelasko dumb-down method in particular going on in that thread. At some point it changed to a Palin thread, which made the other conversation difficult to sustain by discouraging people from reading the thread. It's not evident from the links to the thread that it had turned political, and within the thread it's not evident which comments to read and which to skip until they've already been read. The other option, I suppose, is to put the usual participants on ignore... which I'm very tempted to do despite their other worthwhile posts.

I'll admit that there are a fair number of threads like this that begin by being interesting, but then drive me away. But in practice, how can that be addressed by the site administrators?

Here's what I mean: You say that the Zelasko thread was effectively hijacked by the Palin wars, and I can sympathize with that sentiment. But then from other perspectives there are threads that get hijacked by ten page tangents on rock music or action movies, which is equally off-topic to baseball and every bit as "annoying" to those of us who don't make it a usual practice of advertising their annoyances as worthy of some sort of intervention.

And then there are the baseball discussions that get dragged down by personal attacks on various ballplayers. And the baseball discussions that get bogged down in technical points that are a distinct minority interest. And the baseball discussions that devolve into personal attacks on other Primates.

And even more to the point, and more common, are threads that get taken over by the kudzu of BTF, which is endless and repetitive unoriginal snark. Which brings us back to the dubious value of all those Bob Feller links.

ALL of these things detract from the overall BTF experience, at least to a certain number of people---who, depending on whom we're talking about, may be annoyed by some of them but relish the others.

But given the wide variety of "problems," how does Jim avoid throwing out the proverbial baby with the bath water?

And that's a question to which I honestly don't see any answer that wouldn't wind up "annoying" more people than it pleases.
   150. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:30 PM (#3197135)
One other (very minor) thing: Have the "Last" link in the Hot Topics point to the actual last post rather than the top of the last page in the thread.
   151. Jack Keefe Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:32 PM (#3197136)
Well Al the question is what could make Primer better and the results are in and every 1 says More Jack Keefe. I try my best Al but I am only 1 man and I half to be ready 162 times a year at Ozzie Guillen's Peck and Gall to pitch for the Chi. Sox. I can only poast when I have Wireless Axis and 1/2 of the hotels we Sox stay in claim that all you half to do is turn the TV Set to Inner Net and type away on the handy Key Board but I get confused and last nite here in the O.C. I tried to get Baseball Think Factory Dot Com but some how all I could look at was Nymphets in Nylon but that is another story Al. Also a pro ball player works hard some think the life is all Shooting Beefer and engaging in Badinage with Joe Buck but we have to run Winds Prints and stretch in the out field for an hour or 2 afterwords and it is not easy to post intelligent remarks from the deep right center field grass unless you have a Plaque Berry and who can afford that on what the Sox pay me Al.
   152. Andere Richtingen Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:34 PM (#3197140)
My thoughts:

1. I declare political threads no longer to be a problem. This is the case when there is one meandering, 600 post political thread that garners all of the posts. For the last year or so, that has generally been the case. Every so often, there is a proliferation of politics threads (or proliferation of single-topic baseball threads when there is some dirty hot baseball news) but that is easy enough to fix. The "one big thread" problem used to be an issue when it affected site performance overall, but that is no longer the case.

2. Forums. Right now, Forums are pretty much an off-topic venue, and they succeed in their original purpose of Firewalling the Lounge, which has turned out to be a good thing. I think you need to do one of two things: 1) Rebuild and simply the Forums so that they work best for that purpose, without pretending that they are somehow integrated with the mainsite (i.e., get rid of the 78 or so Forum sections that no one ever uses), or 2) make BTF more Forums-oriented overall. I actually prefer the latter. There are a LOT of sites that follow that model with success.

3. Team blogs would be great, but it takes committed talent. The Cubs blog had a good start, fell into disuse, was semi-resurrected by a few of us, and is now is pretty much Moses' blog (which is great and represents a new resurgence). Essentially, we have a group of readers who want it but rarely do we have someone who will actually do the work consistently. Those of us who revived it did so with the hopes that new blood would come along and run with it. I don't know what the solution to this is.

And God yes, fix the search. I think the search not working is symptomatic of the overall byzantine structure of the site.
   153. Fly should without a doubt be number !!!!! Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:35 PM (#3197144)
Oh, and fix your cookies. I had to re-log-in to labs.bbtf.org just to comment here. Either ditch it, or redirect it, or something, but that's not acceptable. If I go to baseballthinkfactory.org, I am not logged in, but if I go to www.baseballthinkfactory.org, I am logged in. There is so much piddly technical crap to take care of on this site before you start up with actual site changes, and I hope that's where things start. Search, Cookies, and Uptime should be, by far, the big 3 things.
   154. Dr Love Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:36 PM (#3197150)
But given the wide variety of "problems," how does Jim avoid throwing out the proverbial baby with the bath water?

And that's a question to which I honestly don't see any answer that wouldn't wind up "annoying" more people than it pleases.


A solution's already been presented: allow users to set threads with certain tags as "ignored" and allow the powers that be to tag a thread retroactively.
   155. Ace of Kevin Bass Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:40 PM (#3197160)
I agree with the posters who say that increasing the number of Hot Topics on the sidebar would stimulate discussion in more baseball-related threads while allowing those of us who enjoy the off-topic stuff to enjoy the off-topic stuff. Personally, since I read Primer/BTF to amuse myself at work, I'm just looking for long and interesting threads, whether baseball-related or not. Putting thirty Hot Topics on the sidebar, for example, would produce a greater number of long threads, and would give me more to read.
   156. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:49 PM (#3197178)
But given the wide variety of "problems," how does Jim avoid throwing out the proverbial baby with the bath water?

And that's a question to which I honestly don't see any answer that wouldn't wind up "annoying" more people than it pleases.


A solution's already been presented: allow users to set threads with certain tags as "ignored" and allow the powers that be to tag a thread retroactively.


Of course I wouldn't object to that, and in fact I suggested "giving people a means of deleting threads (political or otherwise) that they're not interested in, which would bump up into view those threads that were previously below the dew line."

But the important distinction is between giving people optional tools which they can use or not use as they see fit, to alter their own site experience, and having that discretionary power put into the hands of the site administrators, who could then change the site experience for everyone---whether they asked for it or not. The first option empowers the individual primate, but the second option introduces an unnecessary and childish bit of nannyism that I would hope we would instinctively reject.
   157. villageidiom Posted: May 28, 2009 at 02:59 PM (#3197188)
But given the wide variety of "problems," how does Jim avoid throwing out the proverbial baby with the bath water?
I'm not suggesting it's his problem to solve. People said they don't like the political threads; you said to ignore them; I was just pointing out that it's not always that simple. And you seem to agree.

Maybe if people are taking things off-topic they should cross-post to a forum and move the discussion there. Then, of course, I'd want a forum "Hot Topics" as well, so those who would want to participate in such a discussion can find out that it's happening. (And the Sotamayor thread makes this challenging, as it's hard to say what "on topic" actually is.)
   158. Old Matt Posted: May 28, 2009 at 03:01 PM (#3197194)
- after login, return to the page that you came from

I second that.

Can't really complain about anything else. Earlier, people were talking about combining chatters. Eh, just leave it the way it is. It might be some clutter, but can't you ignore that? And I remember plenty of instances when a no-hitter or something extraordinary was going on in a "small market" game and the chatter was flooded.
   159. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 28, 2009 at 03:08 PM (#3197203)
Just out of curiosity, why did there used to be dozens to hundreds of posts on nearly every Game Chatter thread, whereas now there are usually none to a handful? Is it just a case of a temporary fad, or what? Whatever the reason, it seems like an awfully big drop in interest.
   160. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: May 28, 2009 at 03:08 PM (#3197205)
I would like to read more Repoz stream of consciousness riffs on Mike Burke, and I would like Backlasher to admit that he's Roger Maynard

cordially, as always...
   161. RJ in TO Posted: May 28, 2009 at 03:13 PM (#3197210)
Just out of curiosity, why did there used to be dozens to hundreds of posts on nearly every Game Chatter thread, whereas now there are usually none to a handful? Is it just a case of a temporary fad, or what? Whatever the reason, it seems like an awfully big drop in interest.


I believe it was a matter of a lot of people choosing to do their game chattering on dedicated fan sites, like SOSH, or Battersbox.ca. Game chatter isn't something which typically includes a whole bunch of detailed analysis, so it's something which is better suited to being among a group of less sabr-oriented fans.
   162. Dr Love Posted: May 28, 2009 at 03:14 PM (#3197212)
But the important distinction is between giving people optional tools which they can use or not use as they see fit, to alter their own site experience, and having that discretionary power put into the hands of the site administrators, who could then change the site experience for everyone---whether they asked for it or not. The first option empowers the individual primate, but the second option introduces an unnecessary and childish bit of nannyism that I would hope we would instinctively reject.


I agree with you.
   163. fra paolo Posted: May 28, 2009 at 03:19 PM (#3197215)
fra paolo, fighting the Zionist entity since 1948

I think if you are going to suggest what my political views are, you ought to come right out and say what's on your mind. And please provide proof. But perhaps not in this thread. And perhaps not on BTF. Why take over a thread for a little self-indulgent repartee?

I'm afraid my prep-school debating skills haven't been honed by years of practice as your have, and perhaps your idea of a funny remark isn't the same as mine. This was quite a reasonable conversation until you decided to make with the jokes.

from other perspectives there are threads that get hijacked by ten page tangents on rock music or action movies, which is equally off-topic to baseball and every bit as "annoying" to those of us who don't make it a usual practice of advertising their annoyances as worthy of some sort of intervention.

Yes, but. The issue here, to my mind, is the apparent fine line Jim is trying to tread in order to keep this site both on-topic but occasionally entertainingly digressive. If you review the pattern over the years, I don't think he wanted threads hijacked by political wars or other topics that people show a certain amount of restraint over raising. 'Take it to the Lounge' was the cry of days past.

A while back we had a system of 'designated political thread'. I thought that worked reasonably well, although IIRC it was somewhat controversial. In fact, another solution might be to allow the administrators to tag a thread 'the current politics thread', and then it doesn't appear in Hot Topics, so those who care to participate can follow it through their bookmarks. As for any technological issues about posts, I don't know if it's possible or not. I regard this thread as a brainstorming session.

Primeys were fun.

Yes, they were. I'm not sure why they died.

I'm starting to get the feeling that I'm the only one who has been able to successfully use the search function.


I've been successful navigating around the archive, but I'm not sure that's the same thing.
   164. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 28, 2009 at 03:22 PM (#3197217)
Just out of curiosity, why did there used to be dozens to hundreds of posts on nearly every Game Chatter thread, whereas now there are usually none to a handful? Is it just a case of a temporary fad, or what? Whatever the reason, it seems like an awfully big drop in interest.

I believe it was a matter of a lot of people choosing to do their game chattering on dedicated fan sites, like SOSH, or Battersbox.ca. Game chatter isn't something which typically includes a whole bunch of detailed analysis, so it's something which is better suited to being among a group of less sabr-oriented fans.


Thanks, Ryan, and the lazy-assssed side of me wonders if if might not be a bad idea to link to those sites directly from our centralized Game Chatter page, rather than having to wander elsewhere to locate those fan sites. Seems like a logical thought.
   165. fra paolo Posted: May 28, 2009 at 03:23 PM (#3197220)
I believe it was a matter of a lot of people choosing to do their game chattering on dedicated fan sites

Someone said something earlier about the Chatters being moved to the Forums or something, and they basically died over there. But, then, in 2005 there was a dedicated Nationals game-chat forum run by Yuda (?) which drew most of the crowd that might have participated here, apparently.
   166. Repoz Posted: May 28, 2009 at 03:26 PM (#3197224)
Would anyone mind a tribute banner/list to those Primates that have passed on?
   167. Dag Nabbit: secretary of the World Banana Forum Posted: May 28, 2009 at 03:28 PM (#3197227)
I think you should you should stop kidnapping people, holding them at gunpoint, and forcing them to read off-topic threads. Looking at the resposnes here, that practice has clearly caused a backlash.

Aside from that, my only thought is that the archiving system should be improved.
   168. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2009 at 03:31 PM (#3197231)
Would anyone mind a tribute banner/list to those Primates that have passed on?


I'd really like that, though I hope it's not a long list.

As for other suggestions, I think a longer Hot Topics list would address a lot of concerns.
   169. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 28, 2009 at 03:31 PM (#3197232)
fra paolo, fighting the Zionist entity since 1948

I think if you are going to suggest what my political views are, you ought to come right out and say what's on your mind. And please provide proof. But perhaps not in this thread. And perhaps not on BTF. Why take over a thread for a little self-indulgent repartee?

I'm afraid my prep-school debating skills haven't been honed by years of practice as your have, and perhaps your idea of a funny remark isn't the same as mine. This was quite a reasonable conversation until you decided to make with the jokes.


fra paolo, I've read your numerous political posts with great interest and in many cases agreement. And my point wasn't directed at those views, but with the idea that you, or anyone else, should have a proactive responsibility to warn lurkers about where they might be coming from.

As for the rest of your points, I've addressed them already. We obviously disagree on the relative responsibilities of the "offenders," the "offended," and the site administrators, in terms of how to avoid "annoyances." And that's fine with me, since disagreement is (cliche alert) part of the human condition.
   170. HowardMegdal Posted: May 28, 2009 at 03:34 PM (#3197236)
Would anyone mind a tribute banner/list to those Primates that have passed on?

Would this refer to those who had died, or those who had been banned?
   171. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 28, 2009 at 03:35 PM (#3197238)
Would anyone mind a tribute banner/list to those Primates that have passed on?


I'd really like that, though I hope it's not a long list.


I think you should you should stop kidnapping people, holding them at gunpoint, and forcing them to read off-topic threads.

I just had a nice seance with John, and he assured me that this wasn't the cause of his demise.
   172. RJ in TO Posted: May 28, 2009 at 03:36 PM (#3197240)
Would anyone mind a tribute banner/list to those Primates that have passed on?

I'd definitely support this, with the hope that it'll never get any longer than it would be now.
   173. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: May 28, 2009 at 03:37 PM (#3197241)
I hate this kind of a suggestion so I apologize in advance but...the main page is awfully cluttered. I don't really have a good suggestion to fix it though and I don't think less on the main page would be an improvement but...well, like I said, crappy suggestion but throwing it out there.
   174. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: May 28, 2009 at 03:39 PM (#3197244)
Would anyone mind a tribute banner/list to those Primates that have passed on?


I'd definitely support this, with the hope that it'll never get any longer than it would be now.

I've already begun the networking connections between BTF and Big Pharma, and enlisted Mr. Boras as Jim's agent. There's gold in them thar rants.
   175. Backlasher Posted: May 28, 2009 at 04:09 PM (#3197271)
But if this site introduced a ban on certain types of digressions, I wouldn't be heartbroken.

If the diversion is "politics" then I understand it. The problem is when it would get enforced for liberalism but not liberterianism.

If I were Jim, I'd take a look at how many distinct participants take part in certain digressions.

Like Liberterianism.

Maybe we'd get on-topic service improvements elsewhere, if he didn't have to provide a service to the controversialists

So ban anyone that:

Doesn't think Morgan is an idiot
Doesn't think Beane is a genius
Doesn't think the pitchers have no control on balls in play


They take up space on the limited-space Hot Topics bar. We've had times recently when we had two political threads and an NBA thread taking up prime space there. If you came here to talk baseball, and there are topics not of interest to you, so be it. But it's constantly disappointing to come here to see a Hot Topics bar completely filled with a combo of non-baseball stuff and Old Columnist Piñatas.

I don't understand this. They are on the Hot Topics bar because the definition of a hot topic is one that people are posting about. If you want to follow certain threads, you already have the ability to bookmark them. Then you have user discretion about what to follow. If you want to look at possibly interesting new threads, you can go straight to the newsstand.

The only way you are going to preserve the "Hot Topics" bar to only have "on topic" conversation is to have a very strict definition of what is "on topic" (and to some that seems to be "here's his WARP", "here's his Zips" and exclude such things as explanations of labor law as it applies to the topic at hand), and some policing mechanism to go in and start making these determinations about threads.
   176. RJ in TO Posted: May 28, 2009 at 04:14 PM (#3197273)
I'd suggest banning all lawyers, but I think that might leave us with about 5 remaining posters.
   177. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 28, 2009 at 04:23 PM (#3197283)
Being a believer in metrics I am supprised that a site seemingly devoted to the same cause is averse to having its content held to a similar standard.

So Amazon can have folks rate books and TripAdvisor can rate hotels but content is off limits?

I don't recall those sites hurting for interest as a result.

Not looking for a scrap on the topic nor defending the suggestion. I just find it legitimately confusing.
   178. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: May 28, 2009 at 04:23 PM (#3197285)
Would anyone mind a tribute banner/list to those Primates that have passed on?
As long as you have an easy mechanism for us to let you know when to put us on the list

I would like Backlasher to admit that he's Roger Maynard
I appreciate a BL bashing as much as the next guy :) but this is really going too far

I like the idea of being able to personally tag a Topic as Ignore
   179. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 28, 2009 at 04:31 PM (#3197300)
I also find the "Ignore" feature puzzling.

Who goes to a site to share knowledge only to ignore some of that input?

Sure, some posters have differing styles/perspectives. But you never know where the next good idea might happen.

And it's the provocative mind that typically generates the interesting thought.
   180. Shock Posted: May 28, 2009 at 04:33 PM (#3197302)
Harveys, the problem is such a system gets abused, and causes fights.

It's a good idea, if you can trust that it's used properly and respectfully. But you can't.

Just like weapons are a good idea, but shouldn't be given to children (or chimps!)
   181. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: May 28, 2009 at 04:40 PM (#3197308)
Ignore: If it cause less fights that up the noise/signal ratio, I'm for it, regardless of whether or not I'd use it.
I believe I'm only ignoring one poster myself, a provocateur who virtually never comments on baseball. (I periodically un-ignore him, sigh, then ignore him again.)

Being a believer in metrics I am supprised that a site seemingly devoted to the same cause is averse to having its content held to a similar standard.

I think of it as a parallel to the notion that observation can change the nature of the thing you're observing + risk aversion (site is "working", why risk breaking it?).
   182. RJ in TO Posted: May 28, 2009 at 04:40 PM (#3197309)
I also find the "Ignore" feature puzzling.

Who goes to a site to share knowledge only to ignore some of that input?


Personally, I've never used an ignore function on any site, but could see why some may choose to.

On virtually any site, there are certain individuals who are not there to actively participate in any conversation, but only to cause trouble - I'm not talking those who choose to disagree with orthodoxy (which is a prefectly reasonable thing to do), but those whose only contribution is insults, mockery, and generally pissing on anything and everything, no matter the time, place, or topic.

For the most part, this site has been good at ensuring individuals like that are quickly shown the door. In the interim, however, a lot of people find it nice to have a way to block them out.

If you're looking for examples of individuals like that, you should wander over to the FARK politics tab - there are plenty of examples there, who exist solely for the purpose of trolling, taunting, and other wasteful and destructive behaviors.
   183. jmurph Posted: May 28, 2009 at 04:47 PM (#3197318)
a provocateur who virtually never comments on baseball.


To me this is the one problem with the political threads- the most active posters in those conversations virtually never show up in the baseball threads and, even then, only in the steroids threads.

Also, one thing I'd fix- where the heck is Shooty? I usually like reading his posts and haven't noticed him in a while. Name change?
   184. Backlasher Posted: May 28, 2009 at 04:53 PM (#3197329)
So Amazon ...

First, they do have abuse in their content. There is a whole industry for putting in false praise, false criticism to try to direct interest for ulterior purposes. Remember, even sitehero Rob Neyer would use pseudonyms to bash books on Amazon, and those books/authors could be in competition with Neyer.

Second, and far more important, you should check out that Slashdot, because that is what you get. An increasingly complex rating system that constantly is updated and never perfected.

You would get somebody post "Joe Morgan is an idiot" and that would immediately be +5 Insightful, and someone else stating, "I think pitchers can influence balls in play" and it would be -2 trolling.

Even without quantifying, you already have people that try to label content as "trolls" and get people to mass ignore or mass ridicule people and opinions that differ from their opinion.

Who goes to a site to share knowledge only to ignore some of that input?

You hit on the problem. Not everyone comes to the site to "share knowledge" As some have admitted, they come to "read the analysis", and they want anything that they consider to not be analysis to be banned, ignorficated, etc.

You also have people that come just to be able to insult media members or GMs to feed their own ego about how smart they think they are. If anything threatens that perception, they want it to be banned and ignorficated.

I've come around on the ignorfication. I think its great if they ignore posters, ignore threads, ignore being ignored, ignore news, and ignore anything that doesn't fit their worldview. If they aren't able to ignore all on their own, then give them some technical assistance so they can slap on their headphones and ignorirate the whole world. Particularly when the alternative seems to be that people are going to ban ideas, people and content to otherwise appease them.
   185. BDC Posted: May 28, 2009 at 04:55 PM (#3197334)
I have only used "Ignore" once on BTF, and that only temporarily, when someone made an extremely rude comment (to someone else, not to me). (It's not someone in this thread, and it wasn't Kevin – I never had a problem with Kevin, who would occasionally call me a moron, whereupon I would say "lighten up, Kevin" and he always did: though I can see that he was impossible for several others here to deal with at all.)

But I digress, which is one of the things I like about Primer. Anyway, I have gotten so used to the navigation and quirks of the present site that I don't have much of a need for improvements – except, as some have pointed out, in the Search function, which is useless.

I would like to be able see a log of all posts by a given poster. That would be interesting in a TMI sort of way :)

It would also be nice if Live Preview correlated better with what actually appeared once one hit "Post." Especially in terms of formatting charts and tables, which it seems to me has gotten harder to do legibly here over the years.
   186. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2009 at 04:57 PM (#3197338)
Also, one thing I'd fix- where the heck is Shooty? I usually like reading his posts and haven't noticed him in a while. Name change?


I don't think so. He's vowed to always keep Shooty somewhere in his handle.

Having said that, if the system could automatically put a person's original handle (and other variants) on his profile page, I think that would suffice. If I suddenly see a new name posting frequently, for instance the recent spate of posts by Jeff Ffrancwr, I'll click on the name to see if it's just a new name for a familiar poster (in that case, Crispix did put his old handle on the screenname history page).
   187. villainx Posted: May 28, 2009 at 04:57 PM (#3197339)
Just out of curiosity, why did there used to be dozens to hundreds of posts on nearly every Game Chatter thread, whereas now there are usually none to a handful? Is it just a case of a temporary fad, or what? Whatever the reason, it seems like an awfully big drop in interest.


I believe it was a matter of a lot of people choosing to do their game chattering on dedicated fan sites, like SOSH, or Battersbox.ca. Game chatter isn't something which typically includes a whole bunch of detailed analysis, so it's something which is better suited to being among a group of less sabr-oriented fans.

Thanks, Ryan, and the lazy-assssed side of me wonders if if might not be a bad idea to link to those sites directly from our centralized Game Chatter page, rather than having to wander elsewhere to locate those fan sites. Seems like a logical thought.

The power that be killed the game chatters because it was bandwidth heavy and probably a pain to maintain at that time. I really think BTF could have cornered the game chatter market because it was really before the dedicated fan sites caught on in a big way. As an extension of the Lounge (which powers that be tried to kill too), it really foster a sense of community because unlike dedicated fan sites, there were decent numbers of fans from each team interacting with fans of the opposing teams. And because the game chatters were sited here, the fan IQ and sabr friendliness were higher. The reason most chatterers stopped or moved on to dedicated was because the powers that be either wanted to isolate it, or couldn't figure out how to fix the problem after isolating it, in which case, the regulars had no choice but to get there chatter fix somewhere else.

2. Forums.


Forums don't work. It's a little ironic, where the most baseball related discussion (Game Chatter) and manageable off topic discussions (Lounge) were both stunted to allow a free hand for hijack off topic monsters (not that it didn't happen anyway). But the Lounge for all it's non baseball talk, had the good sense to be easily marked as such, and basically shut down and restart each day.

I just want to also reiterate that the off topic threads are negatives in the sense that for folks coming to talk about baseball, and most of the main entries linked are about baseball, that the hijacks ruin the reason folks visit here. Basically what was said in [145]. It sucks to have on point or relatively on point baseball talk suffocated by the hijacks, but I guess I'm fine with it. I go to the dugout a little more these days. And for the record, I'm fine with the hijack off topic stuff.

Though I wonder how much people really care about having the last word in an argument that a comment count or days cutoff per thread would be that terrible. It works for the lounge, and big arguments brew up there too, but mostly people move on as a new lounge gets posted.
   188. Obama Bomaye Posted: May 28, 2009 at 04:58 PM (#3197340)
So ban anyone that:

Doesn't think Morgan is an idiot
Doesn't think Beane is a genius
Doesn't think the pitchers have no control on balls in play


Huh. I coulda sworn it was 2009 now.
   189. Backlasher Posted: May 28, 2009 at 04:58 PM (#3197341)
To me this is the one problem with the political threads- the most active posters in those conversations virtually never show up in the baseball threads and, even then, only in the steroids threads.

Why is that a problem. You seem to be able to easily identify the posters, you can easily ignore them. Does their very existence bother you? Do you feel they somehow demean your own reputation?
   190. Der-K: Hipster doofus Posted: May 28, 2009 at 04:59 PM (#3197343)
I've had great luck with Live Preview and don't have problems with tables anymore.

I'll say it - Phenomenal Smith is my ignored guy. I don't even remember what he believes, he'd just annoy the heck out of me.

Shooty's been around, as Shooty - right?

the most active posters in those conversations virtually never show up in the baseball threads

Am I the only person who disagrees with this?
   191. RJ in TO Posted: May 28, 2009 at 05:04 PM (#3197349)
Am I the only person who disagrees with this?


I do, to a certain degree. I will admit, however, that there are certain participants in the political threads whose other postings are heavily tied to a very limited thread subset (mostly, as noted, to steroid threads).

Of course, that doesn't bother me, since everyone is going to have a different set of baseball-related threads which interest them. For some, that field of interest falls heavily into the category of steroids.
   192. Backlasher Posted: May 28, 2009 at 05:05 PM (#3197351)
Am I the only person who disagrees with this?


I strongly disagree with it. Andy is in many Yankees threads. Nieporent is in whatever Orioles threads may exist and virtually anythread that really deals with legal and business issues. Kevin was in every Red Sox thread, etc.
   193. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 28, 2009 at 05:05 PM (#3197352)
But having banned him, I do agree with Andy - it does seem selective, like his digressions and flaming particularly got under the skin of the VIPs. It's past time he was either unbanned (which I gather is unlikely) or that a clear and unequivocal statement of what one has to do to get banned is issued, and a few more bannings of people who fall foul of those regulations pour encourager les autres.


I don't know the specifics of why Kevin was banned, so I can't evaluate that decision. But I had a brief email exchange with him a few months ago, during the period in which he was transitioning from a BTF suspension to a self-imposed exile, and, judging from that exchange, he's not likely to come back even if his ban is lifted.
   194. Shock Posted: May 28, 2009 at 05:06 PM (#3197354)
Remember, even sitehero Rob Neyer would use pseudonyms to bash books on Amazon, and those books/authors could be in competition with Neyer.


Not that it's particularly relevant, but I don't really think this is a good example. Neyer wasn't posting "false praise," his review of the book was legitimate, or seemed so. He read a book that he disliked and chose to comment on it, that is what the review system is for...

Now, I'm not saying that what you talk about doesn't occur, I'm positive it does, but I don't think using Neyer is a very good example of it.

I also don't think you give enough people credit when it comes to the ignore feature. I do not ignore people that I disagree with. I do not ignore you, or Andy, whom I've disagreed with on several things. I ignore the people who frequently make posts that just are simply not worth reading, not because of their point of view, but because they are rogue comments that do not contribute to the discussion in any way. I'm not going to read them anyway, but "ignore" saves me the time of having to scroll past them ;-)

I guess I cannot speak for everyone, but I suspect that most people do the same. I would also venture a guess that few regulars have more than 2 people on ignore (I have one...)
   195. Backlasher Posted: May 28, 2009 at 05:10 PM (#3197357)
I will admit, however, that there are certain participants in the political threads whose other postings are heavily tied to a very limited thread subset (mostly, as noted, to steroid threads).

I also don't think that is true. Their number of posts are high relative to those subjects, but that is because those subjects are "Hot Topics"

If you turn back the clock 6 years, you probably would have the same perception about "Pete Rose" threads, either here or in usenet.

Moreover, as you mentioned, there are some people that are going to post the same tripe about pitch counts, Bert Blyleven, or Billy Grabinass.
   196. Allan H. "Bud" Selig Posted: May 28, 2009 at 05:12 PM (#3197361)
I don't see how Jim could be expected to know that Kevin was a problem. It took me about ten years to find out that people were using steroids in baseball.
   197. zonk Posted: May 28, 2009 at 05:14 PM (#3197365)
I think you should you should stop kidnapping people, holding them at gunpoint, and forcing them to read off-topic threads. Looking at the resposnes here, that practice has clearly caused a backlash.


Primey :-)

To me, the easiest solution is the 'ignore thread' idea multiple people have suggested. While I'm an admitted off topic participant, perhaps weaving it into preferences so you could auto-filter certain tags (PEDs/Steroids would be immediately put on ignore for me) would be the best solution.

On Harveys' poster rating idea... Sites where I've seen this work best usually include some sort of system that 'rates the raters'... I.e., my 'bad comment' rating isn't worth what someone else's 'bad comment' is worth because of my post count, length of time posting, rating from other posters, etc. This is usually how flame wars and vendettas get avoided -- people that try to engage in such stuff generally don't have much ratings muscle.

I don't personally see much need for such a feature, but if one were to be implemented, I definitely think there would need to be some sort of mechanism to ensure the troublemakers don't abuse it.
   198. SoSH U at work Posted: May 28, 2009 at 05:14 PM (#3197366)
I don't know the specifics of why Kevin was banned, so I can't evaluate that decision. But I had a brief email exchange with him a few months ago, during the period in which he was transitioning from a BTF suspension to a self-imposed exile, and, judging from that exchange, he's not likely to come back even if his ban is lifted.


If Kevin does come back, I hope the administrators don't allow a thread to become nothing more than "This is why Kevin sucks" posts for 12 hours, then reban him when he's finally had enough and responds.
   199. Shock Posted: May 28, 2009 at 05:16 PM (#3197371)
So ban anyone that:

Doesn't think Morgan is an idiot
Doesn't think Beane is a genius
Doesn't think the pitchers have no control on balls in play

Huh. I coulda sworn it was 2009 now.


Every time we have this discussion (and it's been about a dozen times now), people say this. And every time it is a complete strawman. Nobody is saying that. Nobody came close to saying that. Nobody wants that. And nobody even believes the third one anymore. Stop attacking ghosts.
   200. RJ in TO Posted: May 28, 2009 at 05:16 PM (#3197372)
If Kevin does come back, I hope the administrators don't allow a thread to become nothing more than "This is why Kevin sucks" posts for 12 hours, then reban him when he's finally had enough and responds.


I fully agree with this. It definitely wasn't one of the high points in BTF history.
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