Author Topic: Should this site allow off-topic discussions (ie: not necessarily about local issues)  (Read 3080 times)

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Offline Editor

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A year ago the moderators of this forum reviewed whether to continue with the ban on off-topic issues. We decided to continue to archive the off-topic section, but to be open to review the policy on a regular basis.

Over the past year I've had a couple of approaches from local residents wanting to raise everyday topics such as, for example, sharing/seeking advice on when to plant/prune etc. Such a topic could be categorised as being of local interest, however, under current rules it would not be allowed. So maybe the off-topic ban is limiting interesting and valuable debate? My view is that such topics would be fine.

The problem with allowing off-topic posts is that it could open the flood-gates for all sorts of opinions and rants not obviously relevant to those using a forum covering local issues and interests. That is why it was closed the last time; it was taking too much of the moderator's time monitoring some posts. However, we are always happy to review - hence this new poll.

So please, if you don't mind, take a moment to check the three options in the poll at the top of this thread so that we can get a better idea of what the majority of forum users (or at least those who take the time to vote) think.

David
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Offline trekbat

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As a non-BP resident I think it only appropriate that I abstain from the vote as this is primarily a local site (and for that reason - not because I am not interested / can't be bothered to vote).
 

Offline Aqila

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Hi David

Sadly I think if we open up to off-topic subjects it will only be minutes before a small number of the community start again on political and sensitive issues.

I think though there are a few more local topics we could have.  You mention gardening.  Given the challenging soil we have here (stones, clay and more stones) and the tendency to a local/micro-climate (has anyone noticed it can be thick fog in the middle of the village and clear only a few yards outside!!), it would be really useful to have a Local Gardening thread.  I for one have spent a fortune over the years on new plants that failed to make it past the first season, and would realy like to exchange ideas on what does and doesn't work here.  It would also be nice for the more green-fingered among us to share photographs of some of their successes - individual plants/trees, borders or whole gardens!
 
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Sadly I think if we open up to off-topic subjects it will only be minutes before a small number of the community start again on political and sensitive issues. I think though there are a few more local topics we could have.  You mention gardening.  ...  It would also be nice for the more green-fingered among us to share photographs of some of their successes - individual plants/trees, borders or whole gardens!

Hi Aquila,

Yes, that is the sort of approach I have had. Perhaps the solution is for me to create a new category where gardening tips could be included? I'd have to work on the wording, but it could be something like...

Lifestyle, tips, tricks, problems and solutions - a place where local residents can post about general issues that interest/concern them

I have a feeling that if we do open the off-topic again, some will want to post about regional, national and global issues, such as Brexit and Trump. The challenge for the moderators is ensuring the debate doesn't become offensive.

David
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Offline BrookyP

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I found the off topic section mirrored the experience of reading social media. Maybe its best left on those platforms. A lifehacks or similar section as suggested though is always useful. There will be less moderating needed too for the sites unpaid moderators. BP
 
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So, 12 forum members have voted. If you haven't please take a minute to check one of the options in the poll at the top of this thread. It would be good to get a few more vote before the poll closes
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Offline Ann Walby

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I understand why the off topic section could become a nuisance.    So I would vote, no, don't reinstate.  However as you say, interesting questions/information could be missed.  Could it be a solution to widen the topic category headings on the forum, perhaps as they arise or as could be selected by the members - Gardening for example.
 
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Offline LMS

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I would certainly value a gardening topic thread as discussions could be with  local gardeners and therefore more pertinent to our particular soil/ local climate conditions. Just the other day I thought I would post a question on here about caring for my quince tree, unaware that, at present, I'm not able to do this.
 
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Offline Ann Walby

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so how can the topics be widened to include subjects that the members would find helpful?
 

Offline Ann Walby

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It would seem beneficial to include more subjects on the forum as members are missing out on useful and/or interesting information.   This would get round the problem of not re-instating the off topic section for which there seems good reasons.     1. Gardens and household.........are there others which members would like to see.   If political rants were deemed unsuitable when there was an off topic section, could it be considered that there could be a local politics forum subject  where people could have the opportunity to rant without spilling over into other forum topics. 
 

Offline trekbat

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there could be a local politics forum subject  where people could have the opportunity to rant without spilling over into other forum topics.


It might also be a good idea to include some guidance on where the borderline between rant and complaint lies.
 

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so how can the topics be widened to include subjects that the members would find helpful?

Hi Ann,

I would just have to create a new forum category, as was suggested earlier in the thread. Something like:

Lifestyle, tips, tricks, problems and solutions - a place where local residents can post about general issues that interest/concern them

I think such a category could be fairly broad.

David
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Offline Mermaid

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If political rants were deemed unsuitable when there was an off topic section, could it be considered that there could be a local politics forum subject  where people could have the opportunity to rant without spilling over into other forum topics. 

Sadly, this doesn't get round the problem of the moderators having to read every post and moderate for defamation, racism etc. Luckily, those who wish to post anything of a political nature can head direct to Grant Shapps' website and rant/debate to their hearts' content.
 

Offline Mermaid

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I would certainly like to see gardening tips/discussions on here, and local events. What I don't want to see is national or international politics, religion or immigration - all of which have caused trouble in the past.
 
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Thanks to everyone who has taken time to vote in the poll. It closes on Tuesday night. Below is the result at the time of writing. To reach the poll, scroll to the top of the page.
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Offline trekbat

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Unfortunately for you, I should imagine, that trawling through everyone's post is part and parcel of a moderator's / webmaster's role. In that you have my sympathies and appreciation for your - and the others' - efforts. In my opinion, this is one of the best sites in terms of policing / allowing a civilised discourse.


It is extremely unlikely that you will be able to completely divorce a local general site from politics - and this board isn't as apolitical as some may think.


IF memory serves me correctly, the New Barnfield incinerator thread was the most visited and attracted the most number of posts (the usual 'success' criteria). The initial location decision was part commercial, part political. The campaign against it had political elements (and indeed many key votes were split along party political lines).


More recently, the Local Plan and Garden Waste also have political ramifications and origins (while the latter may well also have incinerator ones).


BP site users are also likely to be impacted by other events that are not necessarily strictly local to BP. For example:


- the high ropes fiasco led to a 30k fine with 52.5k in court costs for Council taxpayers (add their legal costs, return on capital employed for the months it was closed, and depreciation...and the total is much higher).


- Air pollution in Hatfield continues to deteriorate with more building planned - including on former council garage sites, which increases the amount of onstreet parking, which reduces traffic space, which slows it down and increases pollution - and that's before the new residents are added to the equation. And the pollution is unlikely to remain solely confined to Hatfield.


So like it, loathe it, or remain supreme indifferent to politics but you can't escape it.


---------


On a somewhat more cheery a note, the following sites may be of use to budding / keen gardeners:


http://www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/


https://www.rhs.org.uk/advice
 

Offline Editor

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A reminder that the poll on whether the off-topic section should be reactivated closes at just after 9pm tonight, so if you are a forum member and have yet to cast your vote, now is the time to do so. A screen grab of the poll as of 18:50 tonight is attached below. David
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