The future of the forum

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froodish

Social climber
Portland, Oregon
Jan 22, 2013 - 09:57pm PT
As online communities grow, the conventions that used to keep them in check break down. It's inevitable. Happened on usenet and countless forums. When that happens, the need for moderation (admin, user or both) of some kind increases. The sites that handle growth well usually employ a reputation system of some kind that leads to increased site privileges. I think the stack exchange sites have done a particularly good job of designing their rep system, along with a liberal sprinkling of gamification.

I think the S/N ratio of the Supertopo forum would improve tremendously with a user rep system of some kind along with peer voting of posts/threads. Designing and implementing that is a non-trivial task though.

Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky (co-founders of Stack Exchange have both written extensively about online communities, here's one from Jeff:

http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2012/12/the-organism-will-do-what-it-damn-well-pleases.html
The user formerly known as stzzo

climber
Sneaking up behind you
Jan 22, 2013 - 10:10pm PT
The First Amendment rules at any campfire, which this is.

Nope. Any land owner can kick you off their land if they don't like what you say.
climbski2

Mountain climber
Anchorage AK, Reno NV
Jan 22, 2013 - 10:12pm PT
FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT...

Oooooo ..someone got thrown in the campfire..

Ok boys, knock it off now.. Here's a beer, on second thought why don't you go sleep it off.

This has been happening for millenia in real life.

happens here too.
TMJesse

Mountain climber
Olympia, WA
Jan 22, 2013 - 10:28pm PT
The First Amendment rules at any campfire, which this is.

Sorry Former for not being more specific. I wasn't thinking of private property camp fires, I was thinking of a C4 fire. I'm unfamiliar with private KOA rules, etc. Please bring us up to speed on 1st amendment speech restrictions for KOA, etc. CM seems to follow the C4 rule. Am I off base here? ST has been pretty much like a public place (Thx CM). Do you want that to change? I hope not.
philo

Trad climber
Is that light the end of the tunnel or a train?
Jan 22, 2013 - 10:36pm PT
On a positive note in the forum future I will be running side bar ads for my new business.
Burkha, Habit and Shroud r Us.
Free Glock 9mm semis for the first 100 customers.
And I promise nary a boob in sight.
photo not found
Missing photo ID#285595
photo not found
Missing photo ID#280401
k-man

Gym climber
SCruz
Jan 22, 2013 - 10:36pm PT
Please, no Off-Topic tab! That would be the death-Nell to this forum.


I think the S/N ratio of the Supertopo forum would improve tremendously with a user rep system of some kind along with peer voting of posts/threads. Designing and implementing that is a non-trivial task though.


Last time this came up, the idea was floated for some sort of Thumbs Up / Down voting for favorable threads. That would be boss--then we could have a tab for Highest Ranked threads.


My bet, the BOOBs thread would survive at the top for a long time...
Ropeboy

Trad climber
Fresno CA
Jan 22, 2013 - 10:50pm PT
Nuke the stuff Chris. I'm tired of all the rants and bickering about non climbing subjects.
The user formerly known as stzzo

climber
Sneaking up behind you
Jan 22, 2013 - 10:59pm PT
Sorry Former for not being more specific. I wasn't thinking of private property camp fires, I was thinking of a C4 fire. I'm unfamiliar with private KOA rules, etc. Please bring us up to speed on 1st amendment speech restrictions for KOA, etc. CM seems to follow the C4 rule. Am I off base here? ST has been pretty much like a public place (Thx CM). Do you want that to change? I hope not.

CM doesn't follow the C4 rule. There are limits. CM's public intention (from 2005) to delete whatever he deems is offensive and ban users who violate his rules.

for a few weeks i am going to relatively little except delete the really offensive stuff...


... we will just ban them. we don't have time to weed out the threads, so we will just be deleting the users.


3) all along the way, I'll be using the whack amole technique that other have suggested and seems to be relative effective. so that it is not a surprise to people, read the next part carefully: I do not have time to warn people to stop breaking the forum rules. every once in a while ill give warnings, but for the most part i won't. i like to spend my time climbing, not being a forum cop.

...If you find posts to the forum that are objectionable, please email us to let us know. Although we can't control the content posted to the forum, we will make an effort to delete objectionable or offensive posts as we become aware of them.

I don't care so much if ST changes; I welcome the site owner to do whatever he wants with his website. If it does, I'll go find something else to entertain myself.
TMJesse

Mountain climber
Olympia, WA
Jan 22, 2013 - 11:09pm PT
CM doesn't follow the C4 rule.

Yeah, but close enough. I think we agree. Keep as-is.
froodish

Social climber
Portland, Oregon
Jan 23, 2013 - 02:18am PT
Last time this came up, the idea was floated for some sort of Thumbs Up / Down voting for favorable threads. That would be boss--then we could have a tab for Highest Ranked threads.

I would advocate for something more sophisticated, but, yes, that's what I'm talking about. Harness the collective opinion of the community and you'll increase the S/N ratio. I don't know if any of you have spent any time in any of the Stack Overflow venues, (and this forum is not a perfect fit for that mold as it is more chaotic by nature) but it's quite effective.

I noticed a couple of years ago that most of my technical leaning google inquiries were answered by one of the Stack Exchange sites. That prodded me to join and find out how they were getting such a consistently high S/N ratio. I have to say, the system they designed and continually evolve is impressive.

I think a similar system for the supertopo forum would increase the quality of the material significantly.
Captain...or Skully

climber
Jan 23, 2013 - 02:32am PT
Chris don't follow much. That guy leads. If you know him, you know his style. I rather admire his mostly hands off approach. I can dig it.
madbolter1

Big Wall climber
Denver, CO
Jan 23, 2013 - 05:06am PT
At present, thread "popularity" operates as a pretty "free market economy." Active threads percolate to the top, while less active threads are displaced.

There are three primary issues here, I believe, that are keeping strictly climbing-related threads from not percolating better. The first is pretty self-evident upon reflection. The second is theoretical and bears some investigation. The third derives from self-reflection, yet I believe that it is virtually self-evident upon reflection of thread activity.

1) Most climbing threads provide "benefits" without active response. Read and enjoy the thread (especially the pictures), and you're done. Your "engagement" does not depend upon posting (and thereby adding upward motility to the thread). By contrast, people "engaging" with the off-topic threads, such as political, "benefit" BY discussing; hence the "engagement" IS active posting rather than merely passive reading. There are many motivations here, but they are almost irrelevant, as addressing this problem doesn't depend upon motivation.

2) It could be that the many/most active off-topic posters are non-climbers (I mean people that rarely, if ever, climb or have climbed). Such people would garner little "benefit" from more-active climbing-related threads, so would (could) not participate in them by posting.

3) Young, active climbers will necessarily hold climbing as a higher percentage of their life interest than will aging, less-active or inactive climbers. Climbing used to consume probably 70% of my waking thoughts and many of my dream-states. Today it is probably more like 10%. I do still climb, and I'm an active lurker in many climbing threads. Yet, I also find myself much more interested in economic, scientific, religious, and political issues than I did when I was a "young anarchist" just climbing. Yet, as I said upthread, I still find value in threads on these "off" topics of interest that are discussed by climbers. So, as I said upthread, I still see these "off-topics" as really on-topic BECAUSE they are prosecuted by climbers on a climbing forum.

I realize that (2) and (3) could well be in conflict, which I will address momentarily.

Since it is posting rather than merely reading that causes threads to percolate higher, either of the mentioned points would naturally cause non-climbing-related threads to "rule" the low-numbered pages of threads.

Put any two together, and the effect is dramatic and at least what we actually see. There could well be other causative factors here, but these points alone can explain thread-popularity as we presently see it.

Solutions?

1) A simple change would be to rank threads by some reads/writes metric rather than by writes alone. This one change would give actual climbers a stronger influence on making climbing threads percolate up, and that by doing nothing more than what it is claimed we climbers want: to READ the climbing threads!

2) It should not be hard to ensure that posting privileges be granted to only climbers (past or present). There is some "monitoring" overhead in screening applicants to grant posting privileges to only those that actually DO have climbing history (present awesomeness need not be necessary, as long as present aging folk were once active climbers). However, that level of "monitoring" would be a small fraction of the effort required to actively "tweak" thread activity itself. Thus, the proportion of climbers posting might (should) dramatically increase, which on any ranking metric should cause climbing threads to percolate higher.

3) This one is much harder to address, as it could well be that, even with (1) and (2) in place, "off-topic" threads will still percolate higher than some would find optimal. About the only approach I can think of that is programmatically feasible would be to monitor reads/writes of logged-in users and warn then remove posting privileges from users that don't "engage" in "climbing-related" threads "enough." But (3) is troublesome because most reads are done without logging in, and how the ratios would be set would necessarily "filter out" people that clearly should be "in," while still letting "the wrong element" post "off topic" more than they should.

(2) and (3) are in apparent conflict, as I would find less value in "off topic" threads that I found out WERE largely percolated upward by non-climbers; yet, at present, I presume that such is not the case. I instead presume that these topics are percolated upward by climbers with an increasing interest in these topics as a total percentage of their life-interests. Certainly, implementing something like my (2) suggestion would better ensure that climbers dominate posting, which would make my (3) observation less problematical (in at least my mind).

In short, (1) and (2) can be pretty easily addressed, which would just "naturally" ensure that this remains both an open-topic and substantially climber-driven forum. However, the fact of (3) STILL may well have the proportion of climbing-related to non-climbing-related threads non-optimal by some perspectives.

However, merely implementing "solutions" to (1) and (2) will at least ensure that (3) has its "proper free market" effect on thread popularity, and that with less real-time "monitoring" effort, while maintaining the basic look/feel that HAS made the taco stand "the road more traveled."
Delhi Dog

climber
Good Question...
Jan 23, 2013 - 08:28am PT
Whoa.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Jan 23, 2013 - 08:50am PT
Just how many pounds of flesh do yall 'dues-paying members' (haha) expect?

Supertopo.com is in business since 1999-11-10 which means that it was registered 1 decade 3 years 2 months ago and is registered with GODADDY.COM, LLC. supertopo.com is ranked #179,748 in the world according to Alexa.com traffic rank and gets around 23,965 daily pageviews from 4,793 unique visitors. It appears that this website has no pages indexed by Google and 26 by Bing. supertopo.com has Google PageRank 5 of 10, which is highest possible rank for small businesses and blogs. Website's IP address is 216.218.209.18 which means that server is located in California, Fremont, United States. It appears that this website has no backlinks in Google and around 722 indexed by Alexa. supertopo.com generates around $ 60.00 USD in daily ads revenue and its estimated value is $ 36,000.00 USD. Since no malware was detected and recently reported by users, supertopo.com is rated as SAFE to visit. Information about this website was last updated 1 month ago.

Sixty bucks a day, eh? Now THAT is a rip roaring internet business. Woo hee boy howdy, looks like cmac is building his retirement fund right there, for you know, when the guide book business falters.

For 60 bucks a day (1.2 pennies per unique visitor) I bet the dude will pay to have this whole facade rewritten, to cede to the demands of these dues paying members, so that they may enjoy a better web experience (without buying anything)

Some of you are pretty funny with your future of the forum crap. Pretty full O yerselves too. Your daily visit to the taco is worth 1.2 penny. Spend it wisely!

I want it MY WAY.

ITS MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY!

(don't forget the toll)

DMT
Matt

Trad climber
it's all turtles, all the way dooowwwwwnn!!!!!
Jan 23, 2013 - 07:28pm PT
at the end of the day, i would seriously just hope every one of you has enough other (i.e. more important) sh#t in your life that whatever happens with the forum is not that big a deal!



(read: WTF, who really cares? move on already)
froodish

Social climber
Portland, Oregon
Jan 23, 2013 - 07:58pm PT
2) It should not be hard to ensure that posting privileges be granted to only climbers (past or present). There is some "monitoring" overhead in screening applicants to grant posting privileges to only those that actually DO have climbing history (present awesomeness need not be necessary, as long as present aging folk were once active climbers). However, that level of "monitoring" would be a small fraction of the effort required to actively "tweak" thread activity itself.

The problem with that is it doesn't scale. If you're going to implement a rep system, you need to rely upon the members to provide the rep. Users gain rep (and potentially privies) when they provide content that the community finds valuable and participate in ways that benefit the forum.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Jan 23, 2013 - 08:01pm PT
Users gain rep (and potentially privies) when they provide content that the community finds valuable and participate in ways that benefit the forum.

A paycheck would work far better.

DMT
WTF

climber
Jan 23, 2013 - 08:02pm PT
WTF, who really cares? move on already)

No one cares! Moving along now thanks.
froodish

Social climber
Portland, Oregon
Jan 23, 2013 - 08:07pm PT
A paycheck would work far better.

Actually, research and results say otherwise. For instance, look at participation in open source software projects. Look at the quality and effort users put into Stack Overflow answers. Or closer to home, look at the efforts of guidebook authors and first ascensionists. Community recognition is a powerful motivator.
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
And every fool knows, a dog needs a home, and...
Jan 23, 2013 - 08:09pm PT
Ok I can accept community acceptance/approval as a powerful motivator.

But the guidebook piece isn't a good example in my case... a paycheck would definitely make a difference. How about a thousand bucks a route? I'd divulge the f*#k out of my patch, hahahahahahaha. Community apprecation? Not so much... ;-)

Cheers
DMT
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