Public, Or Invite Only? (Redux)

edited March 2012 in Announcements
James_Puckett
108.6.225.223

For now Typeboard is invite only. This was done to keep the whole thing from blowing up until I am sure that people are interested, that spam can be controlled, and that the system works. And of course I will need moderators.

My long term plan is to open up to the public once things are well tested. If people really want to have an invite-only system that can also be done, although that seems like something most people don’t want. 

To invite people, click on your user name in the far right of the menu at the top of the screen. Click on “My Invitations” in the left hand menu and a pop-up will allow you to send an invite. Right now members are limited to inviting five users per month, this is to keep growth slow and make sure that a host of spambots cannot descend upon us.

davelab6 March 9
187.136.121.179
'My long term plan is to open up to the public once things are well tested' - great :D

JMontalbano
74.66.67.44
Historically there have been a number of personalities who, through their incessant nature, have rendered useless previous discussion forums. If this thing goes public how do you manage those destructive personalities?

James_Puckett
108.6.225.223
If this thing goes public how do you manage those destructive personalities?

They will be banned from posting entirely. Destructive types are fairly uncommon; I can only think of four egregious offenders in the six years that I have used Typophile, all of whom were treated with kid gloves. For this reason TypeBoard already has rules in place blocking users named “Hrant Papazian” and “Richard Fink”. 

stewf
98.248.212.30
The more difficult question: how do you define a destructive personality?

stewf
98.248.212.30
BTW, I believe that posts credited with a full name (rather than user name) is a requirement for a professional forum. I don't even see an option for it here.

nickster
174.117.5.119
Public, real names, and no “destructive personalities”.
Destructive personality = ad hominem remarks.

Caveat quaestor: how do you ensure that advice is “professional”?

JMontalbano
74.66.67.44
I agree with full names. And no option for changing a username in midstream! Ha!
 
kentlew
67.142.162.24

JMontalbano: you funny!

James_Puckett
108.6.225.223
BTW, I believe that posts credited with a full name (rather than user name) is a requirement for a professional forum. I don't even see an option for it here.

Good point. I will look into implementing full names.

The more difficult question: how do you define a destructive personality?

Nick’s point about ad hominem remarks is an excellent definition. Additionally I would include users who habitually argue with experts despite having little or no expertise and people who are just plain crazy. It is probably also important to consider what users actually give back to the community. David Berlow and John Hudson habitually hijack threads into long-winded sparring matches. But those arguments often contain nuggets of wisdom.
 

Comments

  • stewf
    98.248.212.30
    Those are reasonable (if highly subjective) standards, but you need someone who can interpret, judge, and diligently enforce them. As long as you're ok with that responsibility (or assigning willing moderators who are) then go for it. Just warning you that it's not an easy task.

    nina 5:06AM Edit Delete Flag
    92.107.189.58
    «But those arguments often contain nuggets of wisdom»

    According to what? Your own subjective perception. And there you go. 
    I do agree with this sentence; but see, according to my perspective so do Hrant's posts. (I agree he's been a bit out of control lately; but I have to think maybe all it takes is some talking to (off the forum, and by people he respects – yes, I can address it to him if you like).) There are people in this very thread who I've personally often perceived to be just as abrasive, and no more constructive in their arguments on Typophile than the person they like to criticize so much.

    Running away from a great forum (great in terms of content, and 
    knowledge, and wisdom, and participants; not so much in terms of 
    implementation, but at least to me the former weighs much more heavily) 
    and recklessly abandoning eleven years of content creation to found a 
    new group – with the 'nice' social-cleansing side effect that the people
    previously found hard to handle should a priori and by principle not be
    allowed in – is low, and just saddening.

    The type scene contains a great variety of people, some more extroverted and some more introverted, some more passionate and some more rational, some more shy and some more loud. But we're all human, and we all love type to some degree, and we're all contributing in some way or another to this scene. And it is my strong belief the scene is too small to start splintering it up into different factions and platforms. Sure, everyone picks the peers they most like to hang out and/or work with, but trying to exclude single people from a community because we don't know how to handle them is really, really bad form.

    So if you're going to have your own little walled garden that just caters to your own individual standards, and if those standards extend to a priori excluding at least one person whom I personally consider not only a friend but also, in my case, a mentor that I have learned much from (even if yes we've had fights and no it wasn't always fun), then know you're also losing other people. Like me, for one. 


    (Edit: I don't know what's up with that odd word-wrap up there – it wasn't supposed to be a Hrantism.)

    nina
    92.107.189.58
    TL;DR version of my above post: 

    Just make type; not war.


  • JMontalbano 9:10AM
    74.66.67.44
    I would invite anyone to join this group. So long as there was a mechanism to control out-of-control behavior.

    But I also think that limiting the membership could be a good thing in that it would bolster a type of conversation that might not be comfortably held in public.

    Nina, it appears you are new to this type business game. Welcome to it. But you have to realize that some of us have been at this a very long time, and certain "irritants" have been "in our shoes" for well over 12 years. At some point a sane person will take their shoe off and expel the irritant. Just natural.

    nina 11:31AM
    85.5.228.18
    Yes, it's easy to perceive oneself as the victim. It'd still be more fruitful and constructive to look beyond that interpretation. How does a fragmentation of platforms actually help? I don't think it does. How does excluding intensely participating figures help the community? I honestly think it hurts it.

    For the record, I've been on Typophile about five and a half years now, actively posting for about three and a half, so not entirely new. Not that it matters all that much; honestly, seniority in itself does not impress me much, and I certainly don't think it should give anyone a right to act pettily. The type scene might be a happier place if we'd all just go draw type – and cut each other some slack if we have different ideas about communication.

    mostafa 11:53
    173.195.10.41
    "Just make type; not war."
    +1
  • This is what I could recover from my blowing up the general forum. Sorry about that.
  • Nina,

    You may not be interested in seniority, but posting and following threads is not exactly the same as being in the type business. 

    Many of us who have been active on Typophile, and the Typo-L and Type Design mailing lists before Typophile have been making type for years. We all have looked forward to discussing our industry and design field with our colleagues. 

    Most of the time it has worked out. 

    But The Typo-L list and the Type Design list have all been rendered useless by the relentless insanity of one individual, Mr Papazian. In the same way that Typophile is now in danger of being rendered useless by that same individual. And frankly the only individual who has ever struck me as playing the victim in all of these forums over the last 12 or 15 years is Mr Papazian.
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,128
    Being an upstanding member of the type design profession is also no guarantee for good behavior on discussion groups. I recall John Downer being banned from the Type Design list.
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,128
    I really think moderation is the key. Typophile would be much better if it had that, as would the old mailing lists.
  • Kent LewKent Lew Posts: 882
    edited March 2012

    > I really think moderation is the key. Typophile would be much better if it had that, as would the old mailing lists.

    I can’t disagree with this. But, as Stephen observed before (I didn’t scan the reconstructed comments to see if this survived), this is easier said than done.

    Having been a moderator for large groups before (not online forums, granted, but real-live groups and communities), I can say that it is a challenging and thankless task, and I suffered severe burnout at one point.

    It was as a result of this previous experience that, when volunteering to help with Typophile’s spam problem a couple years ago, I made it explicitly clear that I would not act as a moderator. This is why I continue to characterize the role I play there as “janitor” or “custodian.” I just clean up the hallways. I have no interest in personally trying to manage, police, or adjudicate people’s behavior.

    I offer this observation as a personal caution. Moderation may indeed be the key to maintaining a more civilized forum; but you will want to create an adequate structure to support those who elect to be moderators.

    And be mindful, it can also be a slippery slope from public order to police state.

  • I do think this can be made a self policing system. If there is a way of individual members of the group to offer their opinion as to the quality of a given thread or set of responses, the whole thing can be made to work. Now granted, someone could get a bug up their ass and consistently vote down a contributor but one would hope this sort of action would be clear to the rest of the group.
  • Mark,

    John certainly has the ability to be a royal pain in the ass, and it doesn't surprise me that his banishment from the list could have occurred.
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,128
    edited March 2012
    Yeah, the job everyone wants done, but nobody wants to do it.

    Does anybody have an idea how well voting works? I've seen discussion forums (like reddit) that have a feature like this.The Apple Discussion forum works this way, too.
  • I've been thinking about this and maybe it is not such a big deal.

    Any post on a thread has the ability to be voted by the group as Helpful/Interesting or Not Helpful/Meaningless. Three or Five or whatever number is decided number of Not Helpful votes would prevent that poster from continuing to contribute to that thread. SInce most of the bickering historically is on a thread by thread basis, this would keep everyone on line. A Helpful vote could counter a Not Helpful vote so there would really need to be a consensus as to the quality of the contributions.
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,128
    They had something like this on Typophile for a little while, but it disappeared. Maybe when they did the big reboot around 2005?
  • I don't remember that at all.
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,128
    I remember getting voted up on a couple of posts. It was very short-lived. I think they were just experimenting behind the scenes. Back when it was being actively developed.
  • «You may not be interested in seniority, but posting and following
    threads is not exactly the same as being in the type business.»


    That seems like a mighty circular argument. «You may not care about seniority, but I'm more senior»? :-)
    Sorry, but I'm not impressionable by stuff like that. I'm impressionable by sense.

    John Boardley's mute feature idea or the up-/downvoting sound reasonable to me; but I think it should be individual: so that if I can hide/down-vote someone, then I personally don't see his posts, but it's not that  no one sees his posts or he can't post anymore. We don't want a lynch mob, we want an optimal reading/discussing environment, right? At least that's what I'd hope and expect.

    I maintain that we should be grown-up enough to accommodate people with different communicative styles, just as we can accommodate people with different approaches to drawing type. And if you're more senior, that shouldn't be an excuse to be acting less grown-up, should it?
  • For the record, I think the edit feature is broken. I had a better version of that comment but can't get it to post.

    I was going to add the following:

    Of course you can decide that my opinion doesn't matter to you, but I know for a fact I'm not alone in this corner of the room (and not alone with Hrant, either).

    BTW, I still think that these good ideas re. moderation, voting, muting, etc. should happen on Typophile, not on a new forum. If Punchcut doesn't have the resources, do you think they would object to outside help? You, James & James, seem to have a lot of time and energy. Why not work with them, and on the basis of what we already have?
  • Actually, I have very little time. 

    This Typeboard thing just popped up on a weekend when I had a few moments. I'd be happy to help, but I don't think I have the requisite programming skills to help PunchCut revive anything. James Puckett was an experienced IT guy before he got into this Type design craziness, I'm sure he has the skills to get this TypeBoard thing up and running. 

    Me, I have two Type Design classes I'm teaching this semester, and a whole lot of letters to draw.
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,128
    Before James P. blew up the earlier discussion threads, didn't somebody say that Punchcut didn't want to let anyone else take it over?

    I'm just thinking how many times there've been big threads on Typophile with complaints and suggested improvements, and yet very little changes. The addition of support for the "code" tag is the only recent change I can recall. People have been complaining about the unnecessary use of Flash on the site for as long as I can remember.

    If it would be possible to fix Typophile, that would be great. It just doesn't seem very likely, given its history. I don't know if building something new is the answer, but this is already better in many ways (faster, draft saving, mobile support).
  • But The Typo-L list and the Type Design list have all been rendered useless by the relentless insanity of one individual, Mr Papazian.

    In addition, Hrant is why I left the ATypI list.
    Nina mentioned John Boardley’s mute feature suggestion. It’s a good idea, and I will look into it. It would work well with people like Uli Steele. My concern is that in the case of a Hrant, he could just keep arguing with different people, leading to a bunch of people muting each other just to keep threads going, and the community falling apart. I realize that banning some users will drive away people who are willing to deal with those users, but I think that not banning them will drive away many more. It also gets to be a problem for the forum mods and administrators—one Typophile user had real mental problems and it eventually evolved into off-list harassment of mods and Punchcut employees. I think an early ban would have been better.

    I like James Montalbano’s suggestion about helpful/unhelpful voting. There is a voting system for Vanilla that I need to research.

    For the record, I think the edit feature is broken. I had a better version of that comment but can't get it to post.

    I believe that you are correct. I have had some weird problems with drafts and previews. I need to do more research into the tech Vanilla is running. Vanilla hosts other forums that work much better. It may be that the default plugin installs are bleeding edge versions that we don’t really need to mess with. This is why the site is invite-only for now.

    Before James P. blew up the earlier discussion threads, didn't somebody say that Punchcut didn't want to let anyone else take it over?

    That is my understanding of the situation. It is the driving reason for starting Typeboard. I am honestly afraid that at some point the server will get hacked or the hard disks will crash and Punchcut may just be too busy to deal with it. 
  • In addition, rebuilding typophile seems like it would be a very time-consuming effort (going through old threads, fixing all the broken links, working on someone-Else's code...).

    Regarding disruptive users, what if there were a system in which different "levels" of punishment were in place. The first offense would yield a cap on the number of daily posts, the second would be a banning for a specified duration, leading to an eventual permanent ban.
  • Regarding disruptive users, what if there were a system in which different "levels" of punishment were in place.

    There will be. My goal is not to just start slapping everyone with the banhammer when they get annoying. The key word is habitual.
  • ugh. tried posting a comment, it failed. basically, i'm liking the off topic/insightful/disagree/agree/like buttons.
  • Tiffany WardleTiffany Wardle Posts: 238
    edited April 2012
    The biggest difficulty I've found as a moderator — although presently I am not very active — is knowing when and how to moderate. The threads where people are getting personal frustrate me the most. Am I supposed to act like a mom? And what about when people email me with requests to delete entire threads? It has been mentioned many times that people shouldn't post what they don't want made public and yet the continue to do so. I think Jared trusts me to make the right choices, but some people are so sensitive to a single comment disappearing that it makes me very hesitant to moderate.

    Certainly if you do have moderators there needs to be a thread that all members are forced to read when they join telling them what to do and not to do.

    Also, I really like the buttons. Something that should keep all the one word responses from happening.
  • @Typegirl

    Can you fill out your profile so we all know who you really are?

    Thanks.
  • Nick ShinnNick Shinn Posts: 1,420
    Typegirl, your brand is slipping!
  • @jmontalbano and @nickster eek! I will take care of that.
  • My two cents...

    I agree with @Typegirl that moderation is not an easy job. I'd go even further and make people read the rules and click "I agree", not just a sticky with rules. If the buttons can take care of a few problems and put less strain on moderators, that'd be nice. Why not have moderators taking turns so they can rest every now and then?

    How about a + and - system...

    When you get a certain amount of (+) on a comment (being "agree", "like", "insightful", etc.) that specific comment could be highlighted and marked as "featured". Maybe the highlight could even have different shades according to the amount of (+) assigned. This way, people who crave fame have the possibility of getting it by posting sensible things and not just flooding all the threads with useless remarks and people who are just scanning a thread could get the best information quickly.

    If a comment gets too many (-), it would get hidden and it would mention if it is off topic or offensive. People could click to show it if needed to make sense of the conversation or it could eventually be removed by a moderator.

    Based on a history of (+) or (-), a member could be assigned a number of stars and eventually be considered for moderation. Comments could be treated individually (not everyone makes sense everyday!) and results could be averaged per user for newcomers to get an idea on the person.

    Buttons are nice as a first line of defence but I think moderation is unavoidable in the end for all the exceptional or repetitive cases. Members agree to rules and someone trusted has to take decisions and apply the rules, whoever the offender is (newbie, senior, celebs... rules should apply to everyone). I feel it's best to leave subscription open, all forums need new blood eventually and people can learn a lot from just being able to read the threads.

    Some context on my last experience of Typophile : I'm not a heavy poster, I tend to sit back and read and keep to asking only my toughest questions. I'm not a Hrant hater either, I always felt like I had the choice to listen to his opinion or not, like everyone else's. Last time I posted on Typophile, I submitted a type education project for critique, thinking it would be nice to be more in touch with other type educators. An established member proceeded to get me personally and publicly flamed for posting it, saying I was trying to get others to do my work. Somehow, his remark even ended up on Typophile's twitter feed for the world to see. A few members told me to report the incident. After doing so, I never got any replies from moderators and everything is still there with my real name which can probably be googled by my students or employers. This really killed Typophile for me.

    I'm glad it's up for all the great information it contains, I also think it's great to be able to get a real critique somewhere from people who are competent and have fresh eyes on a project. But I think respect should be valued above anything else, even the greatest masters were beginners at some point and benefit of the doubt should be given if someone is not abusing help on the forum.
  • RalfRalf Posts: 170
    Yes, moderation is the key to any successful internet forum. And it not just only needs to be exist, it needs to be fast and consistent as well.
    If I check my Typophile postings and got 50 spam posts to threads which I took part in, the site becomes useless. If the moderators only get active after 2 people have gotten in a fight over 2 two days, than getting in that fight is already too late.

    It's all about clear rules. You don't need people to force to read the rules, they just need to be there. For Typografie.info we collected a list of all things that can cause trouble and described which action would cause which punishment. Whenever someone behaves badly, we just link to the list and he knows what to expect for each action: getting a first/second warning, being not able to post for certain period of time, having deleted certain parts or entire posts and so on.
    This makes a very big difference! If you mess with people’s posts or accounts without such clear rules, they will go nuts and behave even more badly. But if you give them a warning and they still deliberately brake the rules, then its their own fault. (And you don't feel so bad for being the bad guy.)

    But »being people’s mom« in an internet board is just necessary. A few people can ruin a board for hundreds or thousands of users. Someone needs to be in charge and act quickly and consistent for the »health« of the community. And that’s where Typophile failed in the last years.


  • James PuckettJames Puckett Posts: 1,638
    When you get a certain amount of (+) on a comment (being "agree", "like", "insightful", etc.) that specific comment could be highlighted and marked as "featured".
    It’s already in place. But Typedrawers doesn’t get enough posts for it to matter much.
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