my annual post about non-climbing threads


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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Original Post - Dec 14, 2007 - 12:52pm PT
Non-climbing threads on the SuperTopo Forum are fine. If you could only talk about climbing here without slightly going off topic the SuperTopo forum would not be the place it is. However, off topic threads and political ones in particular have a problem: they get a small group of people riled up to post a lot real fast. By comparison, a really good trip report is enjoyed by more people but doesnt necessarily get as many comments. The result is the cool climbing trip reports often get bumped down by non-climbing threads... which is a bummer. The number one mission of this web site is to create a great resource for climbers about climbing.

How to address this issue? some people say put all the off topic stuff in another forum. we have thought a lot about that. however we always seem to come back to this: one of the reasons the supertopo forum is cool is because its all in once place. other forums are so split up you have to surf around from forum to forum. there is something cool that arises when everything is in one forum. There is also the giant issue of actually sorting through posts and making sure they are in the right place.

There is a balance. Hopefully most people will focus on providing info related to climbing on the forum and just occasionally post about non-climbing stuff. If a person's only interest is in non-climbing topics, I think everyone would appreciate it if that person found a suitable forum out there more appropriate for their interest. There is a online forum for EVERYTHING.

Since anyone can post as many times as they want, there is the ability for a person or group to steer the entire forum to reading what they want by bumping their topics to the top. If a person or group chooses to do that, the forum is no longer as free and open a place because they are taking disproportionate control of what the rest of the forum sees listed on the top. We hope people will not abuse this power and for the most part people don't.

So I will make my annual request to the forum: please err on the side of replying too often with a thoughtful/witty response to a climbing thread you find really informative, funny, etc. And, please err on the side of resisting one liner replies, personal banter, attacks etc to the non-climbing threads.

Thanks to everyone who is making this site a better climbing resource.

Mighty Hiker

Social climber
Vancouver, B.C.
Dec 14, 2007 - 12:56pm PT
Thank you, Chris!

(Unnecessary but symbolic bump - it was second from the top.)
goatboy smellz

Dec 14, 2007 - 01:00pm PT
Your a good one Chris, thanks for keeping it together.

Big Wall climber
arlington, va
Dec 14, 2007 - 01:02pm PT
Thanks Chris,
There's plenty of politics on TV these days.

Trad climber
Denver, CO
Dec 14, 2007 - 01:07pm PT
Thanks for having us and sometimes putting up with our
shenanigans. Much appreciated.
Doug Robinson

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
Dec 14, 2007 - 01:13pm PT
Thank you, thank you, gentle Chris Mac.

I'm a relative newcomer. Posting six months, after lurking for a couple of years. Probably pretty typical.

This forum has changed my life. I mean the daily way I live, cycling by here to have a look, often several times a day. I mean connecting with so many folks I haven't talked with in decades. Really menaingful, stimulating idea-churning, campfire talk. I've quoted exciting stuff you guys have said here in articles I've written. Last night I read aloud Jello's amazing Pumori story to my household after dinner.

I've wondered about the politics and the slander taking up bandwidth here, and often enough I've simply taken my beer and walked over to the other side of the campfire where there was still climbing talk. Chris' suggestion that we cool the flaming and the way-OT stuff just a bit is about as reasonable and as mild a request from our benefactor as I can imagine.

Thanks again, Chris. You are, to use your own word, Cool!


Big Wall climber
A cube at my soul sucking job in Oregon
Dec 14, 2007 - 01:15pm PT
Thanks Chris!

The Taco Stand really has maintained it's "virtual campfire" feel, which is just a lost concept on most other forums.

A split forum for climbing/non-climbing would indeed degrade the Taco Stand experience. I guess it would be nice if posters were able to add a flag for climbing/non-climbing. On those days you just can't take another Ron Paul thread you could weed out all the topics marked non-climbing, while still keeping the default appearance of the Taco Stand as the default.

Big Wall climber
Reno NV
Dec 14, 2007 - 01:22pm PT
I couldn't agree more, Chris.
Thanks for allowing us to play here.
I think I'll post a TR now.


Trad climber
Santa Clara, Ca.
Dec 14, 2007 - 01:24pm PT
I agree with Moof. People here should just label their off topic threads as such...(OT). Seems to have worked well so far.

Dec 14, 2007 - 01:25pm PT
Chris said: "There is a online forum for EVERYTHING."

That's what this place is. "Everything"

Other places are too narrow, this place is wide open.

Chris, you are a lucky dude to have all these psychos here unbeknown to your own sense.

This place most likely has the highest number of lurkers of any site. They are your hidden audience.

People come here to see the daily train wreaks for themselves, and shake their heads in disbelief and then go about their lives thinking how they can better themselves.

There's a subtle world along that influences our external.

And there's much more .........


Trad climber
Lee, NH
Dec 14, 2007 - 01:38pm PT
Chris' remarks are gentle and well-taken.

He explains clearly what the problem is with high-volume and off-topic posting. It's that this process quickly drives most climbing content off the first (and second, and third) pages, so interesting discussions die out before they should.

This problem can't be solved, as people keep suggesting, simply by ignoring posts or posters we don't like, or by labeling OT posts as "OT."

It's a structural problem with SuperTopo, which sometimes reminds me of a library in which all books are lined up on one long bookshelf, extending through many buildings -- and where any person at any time can move any book to the front of the line. SupterTopo has many good threads and some stellar ones, but it's not hard for a few people to drag it off in their own directions.

I hope Chris' appeal will get heard, and we all (self included) think about how to help.

Trad climber
New York, NY
Dec 14, 2007 - 01:44pm PT
I'm certainly guilty of adding grist to the mill when it comes to heated, non-climbing discussion. The blow-up last week, and particularly my own participation, helped me to see what SO many have been complaining about for a long time.

The majority simply doesn't want to read bs threads. All day, all the time. It's like watching a wonderful documentary in television that's been blown to bits by commercial interruptions every few minutes.

I have pledged to myself, and now publicly, to change my behavior and resist dramatic posts that only serve to incite. I've realized nobody really gets anything but irritated by them. The person they are addressed to doesn't hear my message, and therefore, they aren't helpful.

It's not the average off-topic thread that I am referring to. It's the ones where I go off on diatribes. Honestly - I don't think I am ready to "stop" when it comes to general discourse, though if I heard feedback of "Please, Happie - STOP!" from the people here I respect, I think I'd find a way.

I'll do my best, though no doubt I'll stumble on occasion.

Happy Holidays to Chris, and thanks again for the forum and your way of managing it.


Trad climber
the south
Dec 14, 2007 - 02:27pm PT















Then, everyone could have the Taco exactly the way they want it.

What's so bad about that?

One more thing, I used to routinely bump all the climbing stuff I could find to the front page.

IT NEVER STAYED THERE, because people DON'T want it to.

Desolation Basin, Calif.
Dec 14, 2007 - 02:33pm PT
...the daily train wrecks...

Nice turn of phrase, Werner! Ain't it the truth.

Big Wall climber
arlington, va
Dec 14, 2007 - 02:56pm PT

You can't get excited without photos?
In the old days we had a technique to overcome this, maybe you've heard of it.......imagination?
All the best, here's to climbing threads and climbers that keep me sane.

Trad climber
the south
Dec 14, 2007 - 03:23pm PT
That's why an IGNORE POSTER and an IGNORE thread button would be better wes.

Nobody would have to police anything, or move posts to the right place.

If you didn't like Clash of Civilization, PART 1,258,321 threads, for instance, you'd never see em again.

Trad climber
So. Cal.
Dec 14, 2007 - 03:44pm PT
How 'bout having more than 30 topics on the front page? The way it is now, a topic drops off the page in a couple hours.

Some forums have 100 topics on their front pages.

The TR's and the pics and tales from back in the day are my favorite threads, but by the time I see most of them someone has already posted what I would have posted; "Cool TR!"

Trad climber
the south
Dec 14, 2007 - 03:55pm PT
That's a great point chaz.

ST grew so much in the last two years that the front page doesn't hold the good topics like it used to when fewer people were posting.

The back in the day stories and trip reports are a good reason to have an INDEX, so that you could find em without someone having to make a post to get em visible again.
The user formerly known as stzzo

Trad climber
Sneaking up behind you.
Dec 14, 2007 - 04:03pm PT
Ditto to all the others about certain feature enhancements.

But I want to point out: The belief that these changes will detract from the supertopo experience seems to be based on an assumption that the changes have to be seen by everyone.

This assumption is FALSE. The changes can be done in a way such that people who "like it the way it is" can keep it this way for themselves.

Any format changes, separate categories, ignore button, etc can be completely invisible to people who don't want to see them - it's simply a matter of adding a couple of options that individuals can set in their profiles.

Trad climber
the south
Dec 14, 2007 - 04:13pm PT
Anyone who thinks they can control the direction a thread will take once it's been posted is a damned fool.
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