"Recommended Posts" (was: "Best of the Forums") - NEWBIES PLEASE RESPOND

edited June 2008 in Forum News and Issues
One thing I've been interested in doing is making the forums as they are more accessible to newbies and non-regulars. To date, I've mostly been carrying this out by making obscure references to long-forgotten threads and by writing posts that are too long to read. (As Mitch would say, "~".)

So I'd like to propose something -- on a regular basis, say, every week or two, we come up with a few recommended posts or threads. I vaguely envision "best short post," "best longer post," "best new thread", "best ongoing thread", with hopefully a couple nominations in each. (ETA: three08 points out below that "best" is an uncomfortable judgment. Perhaps instead of voting, just nomination?) Then people who can't follow everything can at least look at what's going on in those threads -- they'll miss things, perforce, but they'll get a taste of what's going on.

(Is this part of a master plan to lure JoCo back into the forums? Mmmmmperhaps.)

I don't know that the categories I suggest are the greatest, I just offer them as suggestions. (I wouldn't mind seeing a "funny" category, for example.) I'd appreciate suggestions.

This is the tip of the iceberg as far as ideas go -- mtgordon has suggested that we do a weekly writeup on forum happenings. (I'd assume not too long, just a quick summary. Shorter than most posts I make.) I would love to see that happen, particularly if someone besides me would write it. (I'd be glad to do it occasionally. I'm just not in a position to take on any more commitments of that nature singlehandedly. And of course people who don't want to write can still help compile and suggest things to include.)

Questions for you:
Is the "Best of the Forums" idea a good one?
Have you any more categories in mind, or any reason to oppose any of my off-the-cuff suggestions?
How often should this appear?
Any suggested rules or anything for "Best of the Forums"?
Would you nominate threads and/or posts?
Would you vote on threads and/or posts?
Would you be willing to help suggest things to include in a weekly forum update?
How often would you be willing to write a (badly estimated) 200-400 word forum update? (As in, can I get you to agree to one week out of four, or one in ten, or one in twelve, or one in twenty, that I don't have to do it myself?)
(Anything else you have to say on either subject is welcome.)


  • my willingness to help out with that is hampered by my tendency to only read posts that catch my interest. when it's my turn i'd be up for skimming the rest of the threads enough to get a gisted version, but i'd miss inside jokes and probably couldn't select a best specific post.

    also, the idea of voting on specific posts for which is best is something i'd be leery of (seems a little competitive and i could see feelings getting hurt), and in any case you can only put one poll per thread, right?
  • Hey now, don't make fun of my tildas! Somewhere in my brain, I "learned" that it was a way to indicate inflection at the end of a sentence, like I'm kind of implying sarcasm or humorous questioning. I don't even know where I first picked it up, and it's such an inbred habit at this point that on another board, when I tried to make a "fake" person as part of a joke, I got caught because without even thinking about it, I ended a post with a tilda and everyone immediately knew it was me.

    Besides, everyone knows everything I say is brilliant. I don't want to dominate the "best of"~

    (See, an appropriate place to end a sentence with a tilda!)
  • It's spelled "tilde"~
  • Hey, not making fun -- just saying it was the kind of circumstance where I'd use a tilde if it wasn't so much "your" thing.

    Good point on "best", three08 -- maybe skip the voting and just make it nominations. Thoughts?
  • Maybe on your side of the ocean it is, Lex~

    (Yes, I know it is on this side too. I just wanted another example of when to use it "properly".)
  • This sounds like a good idea in theory. Not sur eif it would work to well in practice or not. Couple of questions:
    Where would it be kept?
    How would it be organised?
    How do we define best? Out of context some of the greatest posts sound quite bad.

    If someone who could effectively write a gist (not me I over write and suddenly it is as long as the original just in different words) it would be good.An obvious rule, but it has to be said, no self nominating.

    On regularity it is hard to say some weeks are busy some are not. Maybe you should have a flexible benchmark.

    To answer my own question to an extent, would this appear on the wiki or the forum. On the wiki it can be neatly organised and have sub headings for gimmicky things as Word Association highlights of the week, or such like. On the forum it could just get lost in a very long thread and be hard to find in between all the comments about it. Though on the wiki forum people could be unaware of its existence. Arguments both ways. It could be good for example to catch up after you get home from an internet free week or some such.
  • Excellent question, Ben -- I was imagining a sticky thread on the forums, with a new thread started every week (similar to the way suuuupaadave does his Lesson-a-Week threads). That's mostly, as you point out, because forum people (particularly non-regulars, the target audience) might not know to look in the wiki for these things. I could be persuaded otherwise.

    If it's just nominations, no vote-off (which I'm fine with, and seems to make sense), do we require someone to second the nomination? (And I agree, no self-nominating.)

    I do like the idea of having rough categories (so that clever one-liners aren't getting lumped in with substantive posts).
  • i guess you would un-sticky a thread once the new one goes up? otherwise we'd end up with several pages of stickies in short order. i mean one thread might not be too unmanageable. heck you could create one thread that people would post in and when they do you can update the first post to contain just the most recent iteration.
  • Yeah, only one sticky at a time. Both ways you suggest (de-stickying old threads or updating a single thread) seem reasonable; I'm not sure if one's better than the other for archival purposes, but that's fairly minimal work. (I lean towards multiple threads because it keeps each thread short, which hopefully makes it easier to use too.)
  • I also lean toward multiple threads, because when the first post of a thread is edited/updated you don't tend to notice, especially if the thread is over a page long.
  • It would be helpful to hear from some of the newer forum members about this idea, since it's for their benefit.
  • edited June 2008
    Their benefit? Bah, I thought it was so I bathe in the adoration of having clever posts!
  • That's an adequate motivation for regulars, isn't it? Who says it can't be both? ;)
  • well my theory with the update the first post thing was that since it'd primarily be new people reading this post, it'd be the first one they saw. suppose having separate threads makes it easier to find for the old hands and also easier to search out the one for a specific week, lest the need should arise.
  • Here's a rough proposal for the format:

    Thread title:
    Recommended Reading, week of (previous Monday through Sunday)
    (the thread would be posted Monday morning -- eh, Eastern time, I guess, because that's what I'm JoCo's in, we agreed for JoCopedia, and stickied)

    First comment:
    Here are recommended posts for the previous week. Suggest posts for this week below.

    Short posts:
    from Thread title, by Commenter.
    from Thread title, by Commenter.

    Longer posts:
    from Thread title, by Commenter.
    One representative sentence from this post.
    New threads:
    Thread title, started by Commenter.
    Description of the thread.

    Ongoing threads:
    Thread title, started by Commenter.
    One-sentence summary of what's interesting.
    Second comment:
    I'd like to nominate this particular post in such-and-such category.

    Third comment:
    Second that nomination.


    Plausible? You tell me.
  • Oh dang. Okay, I read the beginning of this earlier and typed up a nice comment and everything and then my computer decided to be dumb and eat it, and I haven't had time to come back and say what I was going to.

    This is possibly a product of my always liking everything to be concise and contained and organized and such, but what I was thinking of was like, say there's one thread that's stickied and locked, right? And each week a member (it can rotate or whatever) writes up a summary of the exciting events that've happened, and sends it to Bry, who adds it as a response to the (locked) thread. Because what we DON'T want happening is the bestof/recommended thread also turning into something of a confused discussion.

    But, I mean, I don't know.

    I mean I guess that format's fine, I don't really understand this whole recommending deal though. Is it just in case the first part was omitting things?
  • BryBry
    edited June 2008
    The way I structured it, which may not be the way we ought to structure it, the first post consists of posts recommended from the previous week, and the subsequent posts would be the nominations for the current week, to be published the following week. Thus, for, say, the month of Squiddle, the post for Monday, Squiddle 8, would have the recommendations from Squiddle 1-7, and nominations for the week of Squiddle 8-15 would follow. For a more tangible analogy, in each of his Lesson-a-Week threads, suuuupaadave puts a poll up for the following week's lesson.

    Mostly this was to avoid having to use two threads - one empty, locked thread containing the past week's summary, and another for the incoming nominations for the current week. It does seem unnecessarily complicated, though.
  • It's Squiddle already? Man, the calendar just flies by.
  • That comes just before Thermidor. right?
  • Not in leap years.
  • I would really appreciate it, Bry. I've been busy with work the last few weeks and haven't bee around very much.
    Most of the posts in this forum are really well thought out and very intersting to read, I wish I had more time to devote to this place. So, I think that Bry's suggestion might help foster more rapid inclusion of newbies into the forum.
  • so...we seem to have two extremes; well thought out and too long to read or not thought out at all and not worth reading.
  • Yes, but it's nice. I don't have time to read all of the long posts in a lot of the threads, and the fun threads allow me to contribute at least in a small way.
  • I'm sorry, but I have no opinion on this. I don't know if I would find it useful, or if new forum members would. And I don't think that I would have time to contribute. :-(
  • No, that makes sense, Colleen. While I don't envision it taking a great deal of effort, it's effort still wasted if no one's going to benefit. Poll time!
  • something like this?

    Introduce Yourself Summary
    This last month, June 2008, we were introduced to:
    LilMarauder, rhobbynneq, Headrickinator, DeeRo, Jutze, and Invid.
    The conversation also touched on the number of forum members with Psych degrees. Turns out there’s a lot of them which is good because we need help.
  • Turns out there’s a lot of them which is good because we need help.
    Some more than others...
  • You know what would make it easy for everyone to nominate posts? Have a page on the wiki for it. Of course, newcomers wouldn't look at the wiki, so then we'd have the sticky thread(s) on the forum with the nominated posts/extracts. If we write the nominations on the wiki in html then they could simply be checked for consistency/duplicates/etc (if other wiki editors haven't already done that) then cut and pasted into a post on the designated day of the week.

    Otherwise, I think it would end up being too much trouble for one person each week to either read all the posts or all the nominations, and it would quickly tail off. Especially since copying from a nomination thread to a recommendation thread would be rather laborious using the forum, as there's no way to view the source of someone else's post to copy formatting and links, as far as I'm aware.
  • Well it is possible to view the source of the post by looking at the source of the page and the pasts are clearly contained in ti. However, it is much easier to view the source in the wiki. Would the formatting cross over though. I am not sure to what extent Mediawiki language and HTML cross over and would look right in both instances.
  • Another way to view the source of someone else's post to copy formatting and links is to be empowered to edit anybody's posts, which one can achieve by being forum admin. ;)

    I like the wiki idea, though.
  • Hello again. I check these forums every day or so. I don't always have a comment... I am quite new to forums, this being the first thing I've ever had enough interest in to follow. I am trying to understand certain terms from the context of their use. Like thread. But, for example, what is wiki? Then you have your sticky thread...Mediawiki language and HTML... I enjoy the chat nonetheless. Bear or bare with me..I feel like I know you already. I'll be here, reading and learning. Thanks.
  • BryBry
    edited July 2008
    Someday we'll have a glossary, DeeRo. I'm obtuse enough that I don't even realize that things I say can cause so much confusion, so I'm glad you ask. :)

    A "thread" (also called "discussion") is a chain of posts (also called "comments").

    A "wiki" is -- well, there are several kinds of wikis out there, but the most important characteristic they share is that they're a collection of pages where anyone can edit the text. The most famous example is Wikipedia. When we talk about "the wiki" around here, we normally mean JoCopedia, the Jonathan Coulton "encyclopedia" that anyone can edit. MediaWiki is the software that's used by JoCopedia, and MediaWiki formatting is how to format text on JoCopedia (for instance, to make text italicized on the wiki, you put a pair of single-quotes on each side, ''like this''). HTML is all over the place on the Internet, and you'll forgive me if I can't figure out how to explain it, except to say that HTML is used to format comments on the forums and it's not exactly the same as MediaWiki language. Google will tell you more than I can about all of these.

    A "sticky thread" is one that's "stuck" to the top of a forum -- for instance, new forum members ought to be able to find the "Forum Code of Conduct / FAQ Thread" easily, so it's a "sticky thread" that will stay on the first page.
  • Um. Newbie, here, responding.

    A summary would be good. I haven't been following the posts much this past week or two, since it was just taking up too much of my time. It is hard to wade through all the inside jokes, asides, and references to previous posts (which then need to be read). I think for a newbie, lurking is what we do best. We need time to get the sense of the forum, the culture of it.

    This is the only forum I frequent regularly, so I don't really have a way to compare it. For a way to get JoCo info, the forum is great, and those sorts of posts would be my favorite to read a summary of (like the "What do you want to know" thread and the "Favorite JoCo moments" thread) Many many many of the other threads either go by too fast for me to follow or add to, or get too esoteric too fast. Which is fine, but I'm not sure that summary of those threads would be very helpful to me (us?) as by the time someone has compiled and posted the summary, the thread will be on another tangent, and any comments that newbies or part-time posters could add would be stale.

    my two cents, for what they're worth (not much these days....)
  • Many many many of the other threads either go by too fast for me to follow or add to, or get too esoteric too fast.
    As someone who frequently gets esoteric, I most often make a conscious effort to link explanations for things that might otherwise be obscure. It's the opposite of summarizing, but it's the best I can do under such circumstances.
  • I don't want to "fight back" about the commentary, because it is dead on, but as someoone who has and is on a LOT of other message boards over the years, let me say: the issues are hardly unique here. Any back and forth of the written word is going to get self referential and esoteric. That's why message boards create these FAQs and Summaries. If there is a way to combat it, the denizens of the internet haven't found it yet.
  • BryBry
    edited July 2008
    I'm really spreading myself thin to try and start this this week of all weeks, but I'm seeing a majority of people would find this useful and a lot of people would contribute [also, I had to make sure it got started a week where I had something good to post ;) ]. Let's try using the wiki, following this page. Please feel free to ask questions if you have trouble and Lex or Mitch or someone will answer them. Sorry I'm too drained to make this make more sense.
  • Bumpety-bump! I didn't really grok that this was underway. Let's do some nominating, folks! :-)
  • edited July 2008
    I think that once pictures/youtube links are posted of concerts that they should receive an automatic nomination.

    G2G! JoCo Prep in teh haus!

    EDIT: I had an idea!
    Oh, there may be a place where the community can gather their skillsets that we could use to help JoCo out, say I'm doing a DVD of a live show (which will happen this weekend!) and I need a fun music video to include, I look at a list and see that Spiff does WoW videos (ok, I already knew that... but it's an example people!) I can then contact Spiff through the forums and get what I need/want to include into the DVD that would then be mailed to JoCo for his records, press stuff etc.
    That way we can get involved in the popularity and marketing, and as long as we have our names attached to what we do, we could become superstarz like (but not coming near to) Dr Coulton's brilliance. Everyone wins!
  • how do we handle the jinx/bry interview in the recommendations? i feel like that's something every fan will want to read/hear, eventually, so i'd be inclined to include it in every week, but they might not get posted to every week. maybe there should be a section for dead threads? although that's probably inviting trouble.
  • I'd say just keep them as stickys, at the top of the forum. Maybe consolidate the whole thing into one sticky instead of five seperate ones...
  • @308: I'm trying to nominate those now. (Seems I got bumped by your wiki edits! ;-p) I'm posting my nomination under "new threads" for this week, 'cause, y'know, they're new this week. :-)
  • oh dear. i ruined everything.
  • edited July 2008
    I don't think so, but if you did, I'm sure it was in the nicest way. :-)
  • Hey, JoCofans -- Here is the place to nominate (or second) forum posts that you really liked this week. Help make Bry's Active Forums dream a reality.
  • BryBry
    edited July 2008
    Thanks, guys. :)

    Three08: I was thinking perhaps a "Start Here" section recurring every week -- threads like Introduce Yourself, the Favorite Songs List, Favorite Moments, How did you discover JoCo?, etc. that are a good place to jump in. I'm unduly flattered that you think the interview I was partially responsible for deserves a slot too -- thank you. I'd be glad to take nominations for the recurring section too, I guess I should say.

    LilMarauder: That's a great idea! And of course I'm always in favor of anything that involves forum-wide collaboration. Will you start a thread to discuss it, and maybe we can all figure out something that makes sense?
  • Must be BUMPED!!!

    ATM, I'm kind of hesitant to click the "edit button on the wiki" having never done it before and fearing the worst screw up un-imaginable...

    Bry: Thanks for liking the idea! I created the new discussion (my first since joining!)... where's my cake??? lol!
  • BryBry
    edited July 2008
    Any mistaken edit can be undone very simply -- I mean, short of some kind of server / software problem, which you couldn't cause even if you tried. :) It's something like two clicks to revert to a previous version of a page. We need a big sign on the wiki saying something like, "All screw-ups recoverable-from!"

    ETA: You weren't supposed to say anything about the cake! Now everyone's gonna want one.
  • edited July 2008
    hey where's my cake I like cake. Can it be chocolate? (It best be both delicious and moist)

    On a more on topic note. I think we need somewhere to discuss the nominations and persuade people why they should and shouldn't be nominated. I would take it to the wiki discussion page but I fear no wiki newbees would find it and I don't want to exclude people. I just think it might be useful to see people's thought processes when deciding on whether to support or not.
  • edited July 2008
    I support BenS's nomination. The more discussion (especially during the first go-round) the better.
  • I like the idea of discussion too, Ben. What about comments directly on the page? I.e. "Nominated -- Bry. I really liked these photos and I think others will too."
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