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Author Topic: A change I've seen in the forum  (Read 7713 times)
wraith808
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« on: March 15, 2012, 10:19:43 AM »

...and not necessarily a good one, in my experience/opinion, is the constant derailing (or dovetailing) on topics, especially in the living room area.  I've found myself doing the same.  It seems that no matter what's posted in the topic, the discussion degenerates into a general discussion of/commenting on anything that comes to mind.  It makes notifications of topics less than useful- I'm interested in the subject, not tangential conversations and posting of links to only peripherally related articles.  It makes this less a place that things can be discussed in a fruitful and rewarding way (IMO) and more of a schizophrenic melange of ideas on some bizarre stream of consciousness.  If some of these discussions took place in real life, I'd either be confused or walk away.  And it seems that more and more people that used to contribute are doing so... I'm not sure if that's the reason, or something else.

Anyone else notice this/have a problem with this?  And if so, is there anything we can do to make this less prevalent?
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rgdot
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« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2012, 10:24:00 AM »

I can confidently claim that this is the case in many forums and message boards and DC is actually not a 'good' example of what you are saying. It is just something that has happened to the internet as a very broad community.
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Stephen66515
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« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2012, 10:31:03 AM »

Did anybody watch the game last night?

lol j/k

Yeah I have seen this change, and have actually ignored some of my own topics due to this (Replies have turned into conversation I have no interest in and are not really part of what was being said)

Ill admit, I have been known to derail a topic or two myself, but 90% of the time, thats because I am trying to diffuse a heated flame war, with some light-hearted comedy.
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Carol Haynes
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« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2012, 10:48:44 AM »

"Mea cupla" also - sorry I have a butterfly brain! I also like arguing too much.

Birthday resolution - chill out a bit!

Anyone fancy a beer or two?
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mouser
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« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2012, 10:51:59 AM »

I think I agree with you, and I think it just means that we all have to remember that even as we become comfortable with each other enough to engage in casual discussions within topics -- the forum is also meant to be a repository of information for other people to find and read.

As such, a real attempt should be made to give threads useful topics, and to stay on topic.

There is always the irc chat channel for when people just want to hang out and talk about nonsense smiley  Thmbsup
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Stephen66515
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« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2012, 10:53:32 AM »

"Mea cupla" also - sorry I have a butterfly brain! I also like arguing too much.

Birthday resolution - chill out a bit!

Anyone fancy a beer or two?

Wish I still drank alcohol...lmao

But yeah, I think, as a whole, we need to get DC back on track...to do which, we have to all remember what DC is about (Everyone is already in-the-know about this)

The beauty of it is; is that we ALL know we have done wrong here, which means we can get back to smooth sailing without much problem.  Should certainly help lowering the amount of "useless stuff" that gets posted, causing strange and obscure Google Keywords for DC lol

I think I agree with you, and I think it just means that we all have to remember that even as we become comfortable with each other enough to engage in casual discussions within topics -- the forum is also meant to be a repository of information for other people to find and read.

As such, a real attempt should be made to give threads useful topics, and to stay on topic.

There is always the irc chat channel for when people just want to hang out and talk about nonsense smiley  Thmbsup

May I propose an off-topic section on the forum, for those who don't live on IRC, so we can split off these topics that get derailed, and still be able to continue the conversation, in a more constructive manner, in a section designed to handle this.
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« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2012, 11:47:12 AM »

I'll agree and admit to going off topic on more than a few occasions. But I don't see it as a problem per se in an area like the living room. I was always under the impression that forum areas such as that were pretty much intended as "anything goes" boards, whereas things like "general software discussion" et al were expected to be more focused and narrow.

Free ranging discussion is also (in my experience) the way people actually do talk about things - including serious topics - as may be witnessed by the popularity of the Living Room compared to the other boards.  So going off on a related theme or digressing is not at all the same thing as "talking nonsense." And, as was pointed out earlier, sometimes some horseplay or diggression defuses a tense situation and allows a discussion to resume on a less emotional level.

For a focused treatment of a topic - and one intended for posterity - I think a wiki would be a much better venue than a forum. But others may see it differently.
 smiley
 
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« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2012, 12:04:01 PM »

I think that this has always been the case in Living Room, though perhaps I am wrong. I don't believe I have seen this in the other sub-forums. However if it is bothering other members - as it certainly seem
s to be - then maybe I'm just not seeing it.

Thanks!

Jim

(Posting from an Android again, but this time using the Dolphin browser! )
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wraith808
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« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2012, 12:21:24 PM »

I'll agree and admit to going off topic on more than a few occasions. But I don't see it as a problem per se in an area like the living room. I was always under the impression that forum areas such as that were pretty much intended as "anything goes" boards, whereas things like "general software discussion" et al were expected to be more focused and narrow.

Free ranging discussion is also (in my experience) the way people actually do talk about things - including serious topics - as may be witnessed by the popularity of the Living Room compared to the other boards.  So going off on a related theme or digressing is not at all the same thing as "talking nonsense." And, as was pointed out earlier, sometimes some horseplay or diggression defuses a tense situation and allows a discussion to resume on a less emotional level.

For a focused treatment of a topic - and one intended for posterity - I think a wiki would be a much better venue than a forum. But others may see it differently.
 smiley
 

I do agree that free ranging discussion is the way that people talk about things - to a point.  However, when totally new discussions start at random in a topic about a different discussion, it just seems strange IMO.  I have a problem with that in RL at times (because my mind goes faster than my mouth, thus I'm a few steps ahead of the conversation and forget to connect things), and other people look at me strangely because of this as they have a hard time following the change in conversation.

This is the kind of thing that I've been seeing as of late, though it could just be me...
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40hz
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« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2012, 01:08:37 PM »

However, when totally new discussions start at random in a topic about a different discussion, it just seems strange IMO.

I'm not sure I've seen that. Or at least not as much as you seem to be seeing. Got some recent examples you can point me to?  huh
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wraith808
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« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2012, 02:09:56 PM »

I didn't really want to call anyone/anything out... Think of this more as a PSA and the chance for a discussion. smiley
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TaoPhoenix
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« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2012, 03:21:45 PM »

Let's suppose for a moment that we separate the situation between Living Room and the other boards. Very roughly I don't recall as much chaos on the other boards either.

Let's look a the forum title and description:
"Living Room
General discussions and topics that don't fit in other sections"

That's pretty open ended. It we are deciding we want a bit more structure even in the Living Room ("No Religious Immolation In Fire in the Living Room?!"), then I think three more boards would fix it.
News - for all the SOPA type stuff discussions.
Humor - probably the most common type of derailment
Offbeat or even the "DC Chapter of the Longest Thread Ever".
Your choice of one more if I missed something.
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db90h
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« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2012, 03:30:15 PM »

Welcome to the Internet. Nothing stays on topic. Intelligent people get 'flamed' by anonymous cowards. The attention seekers and spammers publish links to 'one-up' whatever... Sometimes people do this intentionally to promote a brand or service, other times it's just random stuff -- and normal human nature. One 'trick' is to set up comedy clubs to draw 'followers'. Thus, on any topic, these people post a funny link, ha ha ha.

In physical conversations, I often find the conversation gets completely derailed too.
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mouser
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« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2012, 03:42:46 PM »

From my standpoint, the problem is not in having topics that are about something trivial -- it's when a topic that starts out about something that might be of interest to others veers off into personal conversations that aren't on topic.

As TaoPhoenix says, the living room has a very wide open scope -- I just think that discussions should try to stay on topic, and be conducted with an eye towards their permanent existence on the site as a knowledge repository.
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wraith808
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« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2012, 04:28:02 PM »

As TaoPhoenix says, the living room has a very wide open scope -- I just think that discussions should try to stay on topic, and be conducted with an eye towards their permanent existence on the site as a knowledge repository.

This.  It's not the topics that I refer to, but the focus in the topic.  That's the reason for the bit about the notifications- If I wanted to be notified about replies to this topic, but came here after being notified and saw a post about SOPA... that's not really part of the topic.
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40hz
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« Reply #15 on: March 15, 2012, 06:03:00 PM »

I just think that discussions should try to stay on topic, and be conducted with an eye towards their permanent existence on the site as a knowledge repository.

I agree with staying on topic as much as possible. But I sort of disagree with the "for posterity" concept.

Informal discussions are (to me) exactly that. Informal discussions. IMO if something is really worth preserving for posterity (as opposed to "Until the next version of Windows comes out.") it really should be written up as a white paper of some sort (if it's static) - or relegated to a wiki if it's more of a 'living' document topic.

There are differences of opinion on this, but I've found tightening up on open forum areas has a bad tendency to reduce peoples willingness to think out loud and share what they're thinking. The minute people start thinking too much about posterity, a lot of the openness and willingness to explore ideas goes out the door. People start drafting formal comments, watching their words, and looking over their shoulders. From there it's only a short hop to posturing and making speeches.

I see open forum topic areas as brainstorming sessions. And first rule of  those is: don't disrupt the flow. Most of the really interesting insights I've seen in the forum came out of people ranging off and around the topic fairly widely before it re-coalesced into something larger than what it originally started out as. I'd hate to see that go away.

But that's me. Grin Cool
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Stephen66515
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« Reply #16 on: March 15, 2012, 06:08:38 PM »

I just think that discussions should try to stay on topic, and be conducted with an eye towards their permanent existence on the site as a knowledge repository.

I agree with staying on topic as much as possible. But I sort of disagree with the "for posterity" concept.

Informal discussions are (to me) exactly that. Informal discussions. IMO if something is really worth preserving for posterity (as opposed to "Until the next version of Windows comes out.") it really should be written up as a white paper of some sort (if it's static) - or relegated to a wiki if it's more of a 'living' document topic.

There are differences of opinion on this, but I've found tightening up on open forum areas has a bad tendency to reduce peoples willingness to think out loud and share what they're thinking. The minute people start thinking too much about posterity, a lot of the openness and willingness to explore ideas goes out the door. People start drafting formal comments, watching their words, and looking over their shoulders. From there it's only a short hop to posturing and making speeches.

I see open forum topic areas as brainstorming sessions. And first rule of  those is: don't disrupt the flow. Most of the really interesting insights I've seen in the forum came out of people ranging off and around the topic fairly widely before it re-coalesced into something larger than what it originally started out as. I'd hate to see that go away.

But that's me. Grin Cool

Just me, or anybody else think that a wiki on DC would be goddamn awesome?...
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40hz
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« Reply #17 on: March 15, 2012, 06:15:14 PM »

Just me, or anybody else think that a wiki on DC would be goddamn awesome?...

I seem to recall it's been proposed a few times.... smiley
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Stephen66515
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« Reply #18 on: March 15, 2012, 06:20:42 PM »

Just me, or anybody else think that a wiki on DC would be goddamn awesome?...

I seem to recall it's been proposed a few times.... smiley

Not just me then xD
* Stephen66515 feels like hes slightly derailing this topic  embarassed
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« Reply #19 on: March 15, 2012, 06:22:37 PM »

^ lol


As someone who is often fairly off-topic, and who at other times complains about other people going off-topic - I kind of think it's just up to people to say if they think things are going to far off course for each particular thread.
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Tom
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« Reply #20 on: March 15, 2012, 06:37:09 PM »

As someone who is often fairly off-topic, and who at other times complains about other people going off-topic -

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines. - Ralph Waldo Emerson


Do I contradict myself?
Very well, then, I contradict myself;
(I am largeā€”I contain multitudes.)

                                                  - Walt Whitman

I kind of think it's just up to people to say if they think things are going to far off course for each particular thread.

Works for me. Thmbsup

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« Reply #21 on: March 15, 2012, 06:52:56 PM »

The way in which topics sometimes get derailed or post end up "off-topic" is in part, as far as I can see, a natural part of how different people understand/approach/perceive different topics.

That will inevitably force some topic drift as Joe sees X as it relates to Y, but John sees X as unrelated to Y, but Z is related, etc.

In discussions where basic principles, like censorship, are core, these kinds of drifts will be more natural as people try to express fundamental beliefs (metaphysical beliefs). This can cause a thread to very quickly drift into irrelevance for many people very quickly as the distance between ideas can be very great.

Those discussions that are more focused, e.g. a particular piece of file renaming software, are less likely to suffer from that broad drift, though they do tend to drift based on feature sets and related issues, which may or may not be useful to the discussion.

I don't really have much of a problem with drifting topics - it doesn't particularly bother me. I suppose that I just expect it.


Then there's Stephen... tongue Grin


(jk - Couldn't resist that one~! Grin )


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TaoPhoenix
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« Reply #22 on: March 15, 2012, 07:45:52 PM »

I was saying earlier that a couple of the threads might properly be announced as more freeform, so it's the "outlet" for keeping most of the others on track.

I think that the "Living Room" doubles almost too much duty, so that we're seeing a clash of function. For the software discussions, I certainly can see if 4 people want to thrash about whether Windows 8 is the AntiChrist or just foolish, and then 3 more take one unfortunate phrase to descend into Monty Python skits, that would be irritating.

But some threads in some category have to be more free wheeling by overall decree, so if it's a Living Room / OffBeat/ Humor / etc post you reverse it and go there PRECISELY because anything short of total flamebait goes. I am a strong proponent of the "Intuitive Anti-Reasoning" theory seen in some of the cool detective shows like Psych, Monk, etc, that beautiful things can suddenly emerge out of an elliptical chain of anti-reasoning that cannot be duplicated in any formally structured way.

(Really - A trick I used to use to pretend to be an AI bot on old school chat rooms morphed into a game changing timesaver at work. And y'all wouldn't believe the Rube Goldbergs I've chained out of yours and other apps. Anyone else try Transdesk - Screen Captor - Stickies - Paint.Net - and Adobe Acrobat Pro to make ebooks?)

Any of those individual components "makes no sense" because you don't know that you want an Ebook Creator - it's all Pure Research until the last hour when it clicks.
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« Reply #23 on: March 15, 2012, 11:42:40 PM »

Hm-m-m ...
Don't think I've seen that to any significant degree in the software areas.  Mayhap in the Living Room, but that's what I would expect.  While there's been variance in the software discussions, almost every time I've seen it, it has been to the good, i.e., expanding a discourse to cover a wider area that might not otherwise have been considered.

Then, again, I am myopic  embarassed tongue.

[And slow, apparently ... 12 new responses were added while I was typing this ... but, after review, it still stands  undecided.]
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« Reply #24 on: March 16, 2012, 02:34:52 AM »

Well I have ready solution for controlling the 'off topic' messages.

Give a link 'Off topic' at bottom of each message, beside 'Report to moderator', which will notify the moderator, who will check and make the message 'yellowish' or something, so that everyone knows it from the rest. Just like inserted ads in search results.

Then ones who do not like it will skip it or give it a glance. It will also make the poster of the message to be more on the topic next time.

Regards,

Anand
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