Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Community Reformat

There is much talk by such luminaries as Clinton and Vincent and apparently Matt Snyder's blog which I haven't found yet, and the talk revolves around reformating the means of discussion about gaming.

There's repeated dissatisfaction with the pleblian forum software, of answering the same questions over and over, dealing with the same misunderstandings, and people not paying proper respect to things that other people have already agreed on. All this gives rise to suggestions that either limit who can contribute or to assign some sort of vote-based quality standard. I'd just like to chime in briefly to say that the latter sounds great, and the former alternately chills and disgusts me.

I am all about a community-enforced quality standard that rates posters for expertise and credibility. That sort of thing already happens informally: Clinton, Ron, Vincent, Ralph, and a few others say something and people listen; folks like me say something and people give me half and ear and wait for me to publish. That's fine; that's community norms and standards being expressed and enforced and it is, on the whole, a good thing.

Creating a sandbox where the luminaries pontificate at each other and everybody watches as a mute audience or a short-comment peanut gallery, however, does not foster a community, it fosters an elite, and it fosters a fan base. Nobody, and I mean nobody, needs that shit. I'm pretty certain that the luminaries who would make the theoretical cut have strong enough self-images that they do not require the ego-stroke -- these guys are better than that. And us great unwashed masses don't need pedagogues -- we're better than that, too.

Chris Lehrich has proposed something of a middle-of-the-road approach similar to an academic journal, where anyone can submit but there is a strong editorial team that determine what gets in and what doesn't. While I think that'd be nifty, I also think the human time commitment for reviewing, discussing, and approving articles before releasing them for public discussion is a bit unweildy and in the end unnecessary. Quality ratings by user votes could fulfill a similar (though not identical) function for a greatly reduced overhead commitment.

I don't have the technical skills to set such a beast up, but I'd be a very willing participant if it ever did see the light of day.


At 11:08 AM, Blogger Bradley "Brand" Robins said...

I've actually been thinking that a Wiki with a strong oversight and management group (not dissimilar to Wikipedia) would be a good thing.

However, I haven't actually done any work on the structure of the beast other than daydreamy "wouldn't that be nice"s.

At 11:44 AM, Blogger Bankuei said...

Hey, here's something else worth thinking about.

I don't think we should have single cabal of the chosen, but I think everyone participating ought to have the right to filter.

At 11:46 AM, Blogger Nathan P. said...

Ditto Brand. I would love to see some kind of self-selecting-but-democratic-and-open format for group discussion, but I have neither the technical skill nor the free time, at the moment, to contribute to building it. And thats sad for me, but I eagerly await seeing what, if anything, develops.

At 11:50 AM, Blogger Bradley "Brand" Robins said...



Oh God Yes.

Now I'll slyly note you can do that with a Wiki, if you set it up right, and then stop before you filter me.

At 12:00 PM, Blogger Bankuei said...

Well Brand, you know, it's that time you called me a "PyroDarwinianRat-EatingNemedianFemiNazi" that I just can't let go of. =P

But yeah, whatever tech will do the job, I'm down for it. Otherwise, I'll stick with the blog.

At 12:18 PM, Blogger Joshua BishopRoby said...

Wiki is nice because it builds up that body of information, the sort of stuff that gets referenced "go read this thread" at the Forge, which would be appropriate.

I'm not sure how you'd implement Actual Play or Game Development content, however, and I will at least agree with Ron that AP is a powerful, powerful tool that should be at or near the center of any such endeavor.

I'm also partial to something that incorporates RSS aggregators, just so the blogsphere gets wrapped in somehow, as well.

At 12:21 PM, Blogger Joshua BishopRoby said...

Chris, yes, I'd love to be able to filter, although if I had my druthers I'd rather it was a spectrum of credibility rather than a binary on/off. Cause every once in a while the crazies say something useful. In situations where I've seen similar technology implemented, there gets to be a problem when User A has User B ignored, but User C responds to them and User A can't follow the discussion that sounds interesting.

Also, the ability to split topics into separate threads can help to mitigate the impact of threadcrappers.

At 2:01 PM, Blogger Victor Gijsbers said...

I'm not sure if Wiki is a good medium for discussion. Anyone has experience with that?

I still have to take a look at the Vanilla software that Andy put online (link is somewhere in Vincent's blog).

I'd like to participate in whatever project gets off the ground, especially if it has a somewhat democratic power-structure.

At 2:03 PM, Blogger Elliot Wilen said...

I think the existing blogosphere approach already works fairly well, as Joshua says, with informal referrals leading readers from blog to blog (which they can then collect in their feed aggregator), and each blogger able to restrict comments from people they don't want to hear from. It does make it somewhat harder for new voices to be heard but that may not be a bad thing; it doesn't make it impossible for them to be heard.

If some sort of scoring system is implemented similar to Slashdot, the devil is in the details. The simplest approach of (effectively) giving everyone a vote on what everyone sees is likely to encourage a single mainstream and, on controversial issues, suppression of minority viewpoints. If that isn't what you want, then each reader should be able to select his or her own moderators. For example, when the system is deciding what to show you, a given person's vote could be weighted higher for you if you've either put them in a trusted list or if you've generally given their postings positive ratings. And of course your own past votes on the poster in question (the one whose article is being filtered) would weigh highest.

At 2:08 PM, Blogger Joshua BishopRoby said...

I'm highly inclined to agree with you, Eliot. The only thing that blogs do not have is the one-stop shop, and as strong a sense of community that comes with it.

At 2:49 PM, Blogger Joshua BishopRoby said...

Wow, Eliot posted this link elsewhere, and it's awesome: Group as User: Flaming and the Design of Social Software

At 3:29 PM, Blogger Joshua BishopRoby said...

Also interesting: how Slashdot moderates. Chris, what about this? You could set your threshold up so you didn't see the crazies. You wouldn't determine who the crazies were, however.

At 4:24 PM, Blogger Bankuei said...

Slashdot's methods work really well for their massive community. Randomized mods for our small community probably wouldn't work as well.

As far as personal "rooms" and mod'ing, it avoids the whole karma issue and any belief that there is some kind of elitism behind the system- everyone gets a room, and everyone is king (or queen) within that space.

A common space would probably work well with a karma system though.

At 5:33 PM, Blogger Bradley "Brand" Robins said...


You're right about Wikis, they don't do the open convesation and the AP as well.

Perhaps a bundled approach? Moderated wikis for core documents, and fora, rooms, and user groups for AP and discussion?

I think that if you can build a strong enough "group house" image on a sight you could succesfully merge multiple types of software for different purpouses. The Forge already does this in part, but the articles section is weaker than a wiki would be (the articles are good, but there is no group colaberation or real-time updating), and the forums... well, we've been over that.

At 6:00 PM, Blogger Mo said...


Did you mean you haven't found Matt Snyder's blog? If not, it's Heads or Tails.


At 6:21 PM, Blogger Elliot Wilen said...

I'm sure I yoinked that link from someone else in the vast post-Theory brouhaha, just can't remember who.

Anyway, note that I'm arguing against the vanilla Slashdot model, and more towards something like a dynamic GeekBuddy model (term borrowed from BoardGameGeek).

At 7:36 PM, Blogger Joshua BishopRoby said...

Thanks, Mo.

See, here's my thing about Wiki: it's for the compilation of established knowledge. We're not talking about established knowledge, we are establishing the knowledge. I don't think Wiki is a very good solution for that purpose.

Clinton's being bullied into coding something custom, and will be around to develop it, which I think is the best option available. Yay, Clinton!

At 9:16 PM, Blogger Mo said...


Yeah, I get it. I understand I'm arguing a different line, I just think that getting an encyclopedia of thought that everyone can agree on and that has been written collectively (rather than by some lone Cthuloid Madman) will help drain the fat off the bacon.

It will facilitate new minds to the conversation which will allow for greater innovation and diversity. It will put people on a (more) equal playing field and take a step toward making sure whatever conversation you're opening isn't going to close down in five years because of divisiveness, nitpicking and incoherency.


Post a Comment

<< Home