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It has occurred to me that part of the growing issues with users writing comments as reviews, running blogs like a forum thread and threads like a blog lies in a couple of areas.
First, some users haven't a clue what they're doing to begin with. People see a spot to type anything from well articulated thoughts and response to mindless drivel and questions fit for retarded monkeys. They can't be stripped of their 'right' to post things if it's not completely offensive or nefarious, so the mindlessness is something we'll have to deal with for a time. We could bank on the fact that a majority of users will learn and clean up their style or acts, but... it's not something anyone should honestly expect since there's no repercussions other than social flaming and low level chastising as the 'worst' thing that really happens.
Second, we can't really blame the users for the blathering free-for-all in the text boxes because there's no distinction other than title as to what goes where. The UI for Blogs, Reviews, and Threads are identical. Nothing is in place to get a user to really delineate between what should go here and what should go there. Sometimes thread posts and reviews aren't much different than a blog post, but a blog post isn't really similar to a thread or a review.
Blog more or less are things that don't really require discussion or input from the audience - they're an extended set of statements or observations to give the audience something to think about. Threads however are generally a discussion in which an idea is proposed, a question asked, or some kind of feedback requested about a particular topic. Usually that feedback is something close ended or brief. Reviews.... well... they're definitely not comment strings or places to go to get pissy with someone who said that game someone just bought was a waste or to summarize how cool the graphics are.
To help separate the three, I think that it would be a good idea to remove certain features in the advanced editing and limit post length in certain areas.
As an example, responses to a thread should have a character limit of 150 characters before editing abilities are removed - it'll keep people to the point (Twitter uses that philosophy). Anyone with something substantial to contribute will have to think about doing so succinctly or suffer with having to retype after deleting the thread or simply letting an ill formed thought float around making them look foolish. Mods should be the only one to delete thread posts since threads aren't really 'content' in the context of blogs or reviews and therefore not really 'intellectual property' of the author. Also, changing font face and most other format options should be greyed out when in 'thread' mode. With blogs this is a different story.
Authors of blogs should be able to delete responses that have nothing to do with the blog or that are trolling. A blog author can already make, edit and delete their blog so in effect they can delete responses but only if they delete their work as well. This should take some of the pressure off of site mods and afford them time to do their job instead of patrolling for trolls. If blog authors abuse the privilege, then so be it. They'll make themselves known as authors who have maturity issues and won't have popular blogs just as users who get comments deleted will be known for being overly inflammatory and be rather unwelcome in certain areas by the community. Again, it would be a result of their own behaviors.
Reviews should have a form to be filled out and then submitted. This would establish a user review format covering all the parts that make a review. The reviews would then be uniform, give the audience a flow of information that is easy to absorb and remove the problem with 'comments as reviews'. Perhaps even a sub-grade system where the reviewer can give a score in each of the areas that the staff bases a review with the final score being the average of all scores. And, if that wasn't enough - just port over the 5 star rating system already in place to let reviewers indicate which categories were most important to least important in their judgement. This would provide a better idea of what factored into the review without complicating or diluting the process or goal. If the reviews were to automatically post on the users blog as well - then the comment ability in a review can be taken away because the site patrons can just do that in the authors blog thus reducing the immature banter that sometimes floods an otherwise well formed review.
CAUTION: Shawn's blog increases the risk of intelligence.
Whoa, that's going way overboard. A 150 character limit in forum posts? That's insane. Plus that would effect group forums as well, and how would we tell elaborate site suggestions (like the one you just posted) without posting over 10 times in a row?
That's the biggest flaw with putting a character restriction on posts, all it will do is encourage double, triple, quadruple, maybe even as high as deca-posting. If there was a character limit, even I a veteran and generally rule abiding member of the forums would rebel and start double or triple posting to get my entire point across in a thread. All this idea would do is piss off the forum community as a whole.
I will agree that blog authors should be able to filter out trolling/flaming comments, or at the very least be able to easily report such comments to the moderators. I was incredibly hesitant to post my last blog post for fear of receiving a slew of negative comments that didn't add anything meaningful to the discussion.
Also, I think that blogs are a good avenue to have meaningful discussions about a given topic, especially ones that would get lost in an existing thread or would be labeled as a duplicate thread if it was posted by itself. If I was going to put my last blog post into a thread, it would have to go into the console war thread. There, it would've easily been lost by other posts that didn't pertain to my thoughts, not to mention that thread's not exactly lush with constructive criticism. My goal with my last blog post was to not just to share my viewpoint, but to also see what other people thought about it as well, and to that end it turned out to be far more successful than I could have ever imagined.
Now with reviews, the best thing that could be done is to have users submit their review for, well review. The mods wouldn't have to read very far into a review to find out if it's a legitimate review or a "ZOMG this gaem iz teh best I'm gonna buy it, everyone should buy it" or "this gaem sux cuz it's on ps3 and not 360" or any other kind of similar review.
Ok, then 150 words. If someone can't figure out how to say something rational and to the point in 150 characters, then there's a bigger issue than simple pedantic play. Besides, after 150 characters or words all that happens is that they're not able to edit. If they don't proof-read and edit themselves prior to hitting 'post' then they look foolish and thus that's their problem. They'll either learn to edit and be on topic or they'll be forced into obscurity by their peers.
dbull620:That's the biggest flaw with putting a character restriction on posts, all it will do is encourage double, triple, quadruple, maybe even as high as deca-posting. If there was a character limit, even I a veteran and generally rule abiding member of the forums would rebel and start double or triple posting to get my entire point across in a thread. All this idea would do is piss off the forum community as a whole.
Yeah, for a short period and then things would regulate. Any change is going to have a ripple effect and it may be widespread, but another way to handle that is time limit the number of responses per thread - say.... a user can't post more than once every 5 minutes per thread. They may go to another thread and post immediately, but they can't post again in that same thread for 5 minutes - problem solved. Most people who would rebel wouldn't be patient enough to wait 5 min to double post and if they were then there's a pretty good chance that someone will have posted between their current and previous posts. Let 'em get mad... the point is to foster maturity and if they can't handle it... then it's time to grow up.
If you want to see a site that uses this successfully - twitter does it, are people pissed? no. Some sites already disallow quick posting or implement a time delay between posts - do people get mad? no. If that were done on here, and people did get mad or acted immaturely, then the reason to give in should b e non-existent. The site can mature and be taken seriously if nothing is done about immature actions or fails to implement measures because some teenie boppers might pee on the floor out of spite. When a site does that - immature posts and behaviors envelop the site and the people who work hard and contribute leave - then what? then you get MySpace, Facebook, and Digg. Sure they're all popular and make money (which is the point to some degree), but do you think that people go to Digg to data mine? no. People go to Technorati, Slashdot.org, Mashable - places that have mature posts by mature people. People go to IGn or GameSpot to get game information -despite crappy format and archaic link drive. Why? because the data is mature and to the point. Users get what they need and leave. On the other hand GI is 'for users by users' in the latest iteration, but it seriously needs reworking - and I wonder if a closed beta should have been carried out longer because the influx of users outweighs the control levels and function updates.
Still... I guess I don't have to be here or say anything about any of this - and if I didn't want the site to be better I wouldn't. I'd just walk away, middle fingers up, into the sunset. I can post reviews of games and observations on any number of popular sites when I want... GI is just another outlet I choose to be a part of.
dbull620:Also, I think that blogs are a good avenue to have meaningful discussions about a given topic, especially ones that would get lost in an existing thread or would be labeled as a duplicate thread if it was posted by itself. If I was going to put my last blog post into a thread, it would have to go into the console war thread. There, it would've easily been lost by other posts that didn't pertain to my thoughts, not to mention that thread's not exactly lush with constructive criticism. My goal with my last blog post was to not just to share my viewpoint, but to also see what other people thought about it as well, and to that end it turned out to be far more successful than I could have ever imagined.
Sure, but that's not the 'point' of a blog. Blogs usually contain info and the author chooses whether or not they want to be engaged or engaging. Perhaps adding the option to 'allow comments' as a form of user control may help let the author determine if the blog is one for discussion or not. Threads however are built FOR discussion. That's where a majority of discussion should go - it's more accessable to the mass than specific user blogs, and... threads are usually very meta.
In the case of your last blog about console wars, you didn't write it in a fashion that really fosters discussion - it's more of an observation that people might comment on or give attaboys for, which is fine, but it's a blog format anyway, not a thread format - you didn't ask questions. The main thing though is that with a blog the user has the option to engage or not and thus should be granted total moderation control of their blogs (as opposed to threads where users can only delete them one they are made)
As for duplicate threads - why not then have 'tags' be a required field. the system can then filter the thread tags and threads that contain a large number of similar tags will be flagged as duplicate and a warning will be issued on screen telling the user that if the thread is in fact a dupe - it'll be deleted. For that - it means that all thread posts will need a drop down from "report"... for things like "inflammatory" or "Duplicate"... then threads with the oldest date would be considered ''original" where as a thread with the same topic would be "duplicate" and subject to deletion by mods.
Threads that contain the same tags (on all but the thread with the oldest date) will have boxed list of other threads containing the same tags or that the system suspects are similar enough to be 'duplicate' - this way people trying to drive traffic through contrived means suffer actually driving traffic to the original thread instead of their own (of course that doesn't stop people from duplicating their own threads, but users would see through that easily enough)
dbull620:Now with reviews, the best thing that could be done is to have users submit their review for, well review.
I respectfully disagree. Mainly because all this will do is increase the workload of the staff and mods, delay the time in having worthwhile user reviews posted, and instigate a general feeling of bias between the staff and the community when reviews don't get posted. I prefer a methodology that lets stupid people expose themselves so that no one other than the stupid people can be blamed for their own actions. I still think that a form to fill out as a review is best because it removes the need for someone else to review it and people filling it out will have greater direction or look like bigger fools if they don't follow the format. I'm not someone who believes in saving people from themselves completely - I believe in giving them tools to succeed along with rope to hang themselves should they choose to act a fool, and I believe a form and format does this. Live by the sword and die by the sword.
The problem with this is that Edit is a help feature, not a perk. It would be hypocritical to request people edit their posts but then in some cases tell them they're not allowed to.
Newcomers already get shunned anyway when they don't post correctly. Their posts and threads get ignored, and eventually they learn that the best way to get involved with the community is to follow the rules, use proper grammar, etc.