Poll

Should the forum be limited to the discussion of local issues only?

Yes
11 (40.7%)
No
16 (59.3%)

Total Members Voted: 26

Voting closed: March 09, 2013, 05:17:41 am

Author Topic: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum  (Read 5648 times)

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Offline Editor

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Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« on: March 04, 2013, 05:15:25 am »
Yesterday, in response to an off topic post made by me (and since removed), Dezza made a suggestion.

David.

Seriously, a dialogue involves a conversation between two or more people, not a statement of fact.

I seriously question the need to comment on much of what occurs in the national media on a local Forum.

Since the decision to open this Forum up to 'larger' issues  has resulted in many of the responses becoming diatribes and bigoted responses that lack knowledge or thoughtful analysis, or end up as irrelevant viciousness, why do you feel it important for the Forum to continue commenting on national issues.

Before anyone decides to shout me down, which seems to be the habit that this Forum has taken, I would be grateful for rational and reasoned response or debate.


I think Dezza is right. What I posted was just my reaction to a national story. It was more of a statement rather than a discussion. And it was not a local issue. This forum was set up to discuss local issues. The off topic section was added in 2002 to let local residents post about national and international issues that concerned them, but it has tended to take over of late and several people have contacted me concerned that the forum is losing its local touch.

So I am adding a poll (at the top of this thread) to try to find out whether the majority would like the forum to be limited to discussing local issues only.  Please add your vote. It is a time-limited poll and will close on Friday.

David
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Offline Greybeard

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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #1 on: March 04, 2013, 07:47:23 am »
Occasionally I have put something there when I feel a wider issue may have local relevance or when I'm unsure which of the categories to choose, assuming David will move it if I've got it wrong.
 

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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #2 on: March 04, 2013, 08:04:15 am »
Occasionally I have put something there when I feel a wider issue may have local relevance or when I'm unsure which of the categories to choose, assuming David will move it if I've got it wrong.

Hi Greybeard, the suggest is to limit the forum to the discussion of local issues only. So in the future, anything not local would be removed rather than being moved.

David
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Offline ADM

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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #3 on: March 04, 2013, 09:20:51 am »
Think of all the rich learning opportunities we would have missed if we hadn't discussed off topic issues - religion, Hillsborough, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh, Immigration policy etc.

If people don't want to engage or hear about this stuff, don't go into the 'off topic' section.  It's very simple.
 

Offline epiphany

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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #4 on: March 04, 2013, 10:05:07 am »
The question is what is local? It is an extremely grey area. Is trekbat posting about Hatfield local? or indeed the proposed incinerator or topics such as the recent thread on smacking which is both a national issue but also something that may or may not be happening in our own homes?
Or perhaps Government policy that may impact locally or indeed global warming which affects us all.
Personally I agree with ADM and feel this forum would be a poorer place without off topic issues.
What I do find objectionable is the hi-jacking of a thread by some posters who have their own agenda.
 

Offline epiphany

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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2013, 10:22:34 am »
Yesterday, in response to an off topic post made by me (and since removed), Dezza made a suggestion.

David.

Seriously, a dialogue involves a conversation between two or more people, not a statement of fact.

I seriously question the need to comment on much of what occurs in the national media on a local Forum.

Since the decision to open this Forum up to 'larger' issues  has resulted in many of the responses becoming diatribes and bigoted responses that lack knowledge or thoughtful analysis, or end up as irrelevant viciousness, why do you feel it important for the Forum to continue commenting on national issues.

Before anyone decides to shout me down, which seems to be the habit that this Forum has taken, I would be grateful for rational and reasoned response or debate.


I think Dezza is right. What I posted was just my reaction to a national story. It was more of a statement rather than a discussion. And it was not a local issue. This forum was set up to discuss local issues. The off topic section was added in 2002 to let local residents post about national and international issues that concerned them, but it has tended to take over of late and several people have contacted me concerned that the forum is losing its local touch.

So I am adding a poll (at the top of this thread) to try to find out whether the majority would like the forum to be limited to discussing local issues only.  Please add your vote. It is a time-limited poll and will close on Friday.

David

David I disagree - surely you posted what you call a statement purely to provoke discussion?

Dezza, restricting the forum to local issues will not prevent diatribes and bigoted responses
lacking knowledge or thoughtful analysis, they will just be local diatribes!
 

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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #6 on: March 04, 2013, 10:37:37 am »
David I disagree - surely you posted what you call a statement purely to provoke discussion?

Hi Epiphany,  I posted about the catholic cardinal, his admission regarding sexual misconduct, and the attempts to cover it up and keep the person making the claims hold back. I did so because I noticed it was generating hundreds of interesting comments on BBC News Online and thought it worth finding out what local people think.

However Dezza made some good points in his post, and, after sleeping on it, I thought it worth removing and making an effort to find out what forum users feel about discussing off topic issues on the site. 

I have been discussing this issue with the moderators because so many off topic threads seem to degenerate, and it takes a lot of time to monitor these threads to ensure they don't go too far in terms of the site's guidelines on racism, offensive language, trolling and flaming.

I know from the emails I have received that such posts are putting some people off posting in the forum or even visiting, which is a pity.

What is helpful is to have comments from forum users in this thread, as well as the votes, so that we can try to figure out the right policy.

David


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Offline mannyd

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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #7 on: March 04, 2013, 11:21:03 am »
Hi David

I think maybe the number of these threads needs to be moderated - but a blanket ban isn't right - I think it's just a case of ignore what you don't want to be involved with! Whilst it is a local site, we don't all go down the pub and just talk about what's happened within a 1 mile radius, do we? (Not even us mums at the school gates do that!!)
 

Offline Angel

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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #8 on: March 04, 2013, 11:32:07 am »
we don't all go down the pub and just talk about what's happened within a 1 mile radius

Some other forums I've been on give their Off-topic Section the name of a fictional pub - eg:  on Martin Lewis's it's called The Moneysaving Arms.  I think it's good to discuss other things and like mannyd said, you can ignore things that you don't want to be involved with.
 

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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2013, 11:44:51 am »
I think maybe the number of these threads needs to be moderated - but a blanket ban isn't right - I think it's just a case of ignore what you don't want to be involved with!

Hi Mannyd, thanks for that. Moderating is an issue. We have a handful of volunteer moderators who do their best but are all working flat out on other things. It's a real challenge to keep on top of some threads. Perhaps we need more moderators. 
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Offline Mermaid

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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2013, 03:36:48 pm »
I think maybe the number of these threads needs to be moderated - but a blanket ban isn't right - I think it's just a case of ignore what you don't want to be involved with!

Hi Mannyd, thanks for that. Moderating is an issue. We have a handful of volunteer moderators who do their best but are all working flat out on other things. It's a real challenge to keep on top of some threads. Perhaps we need more moderators.

To answer MannyD - ALL the threads are moderated, without exception.  I know that forum members have the option not to follow a particular thread, but amongst my acquaintances at least, stopping reading each thread as it turns into a rant, leaves hardly anything to follow at all.

To answer Dave, we already have at least 8 moderators plus James and yourself. It's not a matter of numbers of moderators, it is a matter of the small number of contributors who constantly 'hi-jack' the threads.
 

Offline Dezza

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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #11 on: March 04, 2013, 06:24:51 pm »
David.
It was neither my intention to suggest limiting the forum to local issues or to question the validity of an off-topic section.
As Greybeard points out: ‘wider issues may have local relevance’, and I do believe that these issues deserve fair and open debate within our community; especially so if they impact directly on local life. 
Personally I don’t want a ‘blanket ban’ on non-local issues, I was requesting your thoughts on the matter, but I am tired and depressed by the negativity, judgemental views and intolerance of some of the Forum’s members as evidenced in many of the Forum’s topics. And I do feel that by concentrating on issues relevant to ‘local’ life it may make it easier to keep the debate ‘on track’, so to speak.
I make one apology to you, and that is for not taking the trouble to thank you and the team of Moderators for your exemplary work in keeping this Forum up and running.
 

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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #12 on: March 04, 2013, 06:33:37 pm »
Hi Dezza, thanks for that. And thanks too for raising the issue. I think it's worth discussing, and I am learning a lot from reading the comments on this thread. A few have pointed out that it can be hard to figure out what is off topic and what is not. I think that is true. Judging by the votes so far the majority seem to feel that an off topic section has value. I am being won over to that opinion.

David
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Offline epiphany

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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #13 on: March 04, 2013, 06:41:13 pm »




To answer Dave, we already have at least 8 moderators plus James and yourself. It's not a matter of numbers of moderators, it is a matter of the small number of contributors who constantly 'hi-jack' the threads.

As a suggestion, how about a bit less moderation from the moderators and a bit more adjudication.
It is generally the same posters who require moderation, usually in the form of having a post removed  because of racism, offensive language, trolling and flaming even though everybody
will have read the forum agreement.
However. just removing the post does not prevent the same person from repeat 'offending'.
Why not adopt a three strikes and your out policy (or similar)?
This would result ultimately in less need for moderation and hopefully might enticesome lapsed
posters back.
 

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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #14 on: March 04, 2013, 06:55:32 pm »
As a suggestion, how about a bit less moderation from the moderators and a bit more adjudication. It is generally the same posters who require moderation, usually in the form of having a post removed  because of racism, offensive language, trolling and flaming even though everybody will have read the forum agreement. However. just removing the post does not prevent the same person from repeat 'offending'. Why not adopt a three strikes and your out policy (or similar)? This would result ultimately in less need for moderation and hopefully might entice some lapsed posters back.

Hi Epiphany, 

We have been forced to do that a few times in the past, but try to use it in extreme cases only where people continue to break the forum guidelines. It is something the moderators discuss in the admin section of the forum.  So it is available for dealing with repeat offenders.

David
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Offline green

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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #15 on: March 05, 2013, 03:22:11 am »
Sometimes I worry there are comments which don't strictly break forum guidelines as they stand but do offend the spirit of the forum and the guidelines that exist to make it a civil and welcoming place.

I would be inclined to make sure the rules let moderators draw a sharper distinction between constructive, engaging and high quality contributions which fairly criticise a state of affairs/policy/belief AND persistent poorly substantiated propaganda which doesn't add value to the debate, particularly when this is done to advance a view about groups of people that would not be acceptable to express outright.
 

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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #16 on: March 05, 2013, 09:09:45 am »
Interesting to see how close the poll is for whether we should have an off topic section or not. The poll is open until Friday. It's at the top of this thread. Each forum member is allowed one vote.

http://www.brookmans.com/forum/index.php/topic,4086.msg32142.html#msg32142
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Offline chicken legs

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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #17 on: March 05, 2013, 09:31:57 am »
I would be inclined to make sure the rules let moderators draw a sharper distinction between constructive, engaging and high quality contributions which fairly criticise a state of affairs/policy/belief AND persistent poorly substantiated propaganda which doesn't add value to the debate, particularly when this is done to advance a view about groups of people that would not be acceptable to express outright.
I agree that the moderators could be more strict, and with the suggestion of "three strikes and you're out".  After all, it is just a very few consistent offenders who are likely to cause the loss of some interesting debates.

Note: Edited to fix broken quote box.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2013, 09:33:31 am by David Brewer »
 

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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #18 on: March 05, 2013, 09:36:40 am »
I agree that the moderators could be more strict, and with the suggestion of "three strikes and you're out".  After all, it is just a very few consistent offenders who are likely to cause the loss of some interesting debates.

Fair point, but then the moderators are subjected to the usual diatribe about censorship and curtailing freedom of expression.

 ::)

But I agree with you.
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Offline chicken legs

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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #19 on: March 05, 2013, 09:44:08 am »

Fair point, but then the moderators are subjected to the usual diatribe about censorship and curtailing freedom of expression.

 ::)

But I agree with you.

If such diatribes were deemed offences, in theory the moderators would only have to take three diatribes from each offender and they would be out. Alternatively, could there be a poll on the lines of "Do you wish this person to be banned from the Forum?"  :icon_jokercolor:
 

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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #20 on: March 05, 2013, 04:44:00 pm »
I have just had to delete two posts from this thread because the incorrect use of the quote box meant that the contribution made no sense.

Here is a thread reminding people how to use quotes in posts.

http://www.brookmans.com/forum/index.php/topic,1606.msg13372.html#msg13372
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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #21 on: March 08, 2013, 03:27:53 pm »
I see the voting in the poll regarding the off topic section currently shows 13 people in favour of keeping it and 11 not.  The poll has less than 24 hours to run. You can access it by scrolling to the top of this thread or clicking here.

http://www.brookmans.com/forum/index.php/topic,4086.msg32142.html#msg32142
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Offline sasquartch

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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #22 on: March 08, 2013, 04:07:14 pm »
The fact that 666 people have read this thread as of now, and only 24 people have voted probably indicates the majority of site users don't care
 

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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #23 on: March 08, 2013, 04:39:43 pm »
The fact that 666 people have read this thread as of now, and only 24 people have voted probably indicates the majority of site users don't care

It might mean that the majority are either not registered or prefer to just read. Either way it's interesting to read what those who do take the trouble to take part in the poll think and to see how the votes add up.
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Re: Suggestion to remove the 'off topic' section of the forum
« Reply #25 on: March 09, 2013, 07:58:06 am »
The off topic poll closed this morning.  The question was: Should the forum be limited to the discussion of local issues only? The response was:
  • Yes - 11 votes (40.7%)
  • No - 16 votes  (59.3%)
As the poll closed 763 people had viewed the thread and 11 had commented.
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