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Scurra
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The problem with a catch-all forum called "off-topic", is that it will, by its very nature, attract lots of off-topic chatter :-)
I realise that this sounds paradoxical, but the current thread about the hurricane strikes me as something that needs to be caught before it develops into a shouting match. The initial post was exactly the sort of thing that "off-topic" exists for. xantheman's post isn't. Fortunately, we've had very little of that really (frankly, we can generate enough bad feelings just arguing about copyright and grammar!) but I do think that some sort of additional notice may need to be attached to the "off-topic" forum, simply to alert people to the fact that postings that are deliberately raising specific non-game related issues are very likely to be deleted.

My suggestion for a rewording:

This forum is for discussion issues not directly related to games in general. However, this is not a political blog site - postings that would be better directed to a news or opinion site are likely to be removed.

Zzzzz
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I agree and as much as I dont want to censor, I think we (mods) need to be a little better at catching these bashing/rants before it get *bad*. I know nothing happened, but it could get bad. Maybe we need some standard post message that the mods can submit to the post in question in an attempt to reduce any potential issues. If changing the description helps, I am in support of the change.

Though we might want to consider a standard post like:

"Dear so and so,

While the moderators at BGDF do not wish to censor personal opinions, we request that you do not post messages to the forum about personal/political/religous/etc content since it is not the purpose of the BGDF forums. We also request that other members resist the urge to respond to such topics, as to help keep the BGDF forums friendly and non-offensive to all members.

Thank you,
BGDF mods"

jwarrend
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I thought Xan's post was pretty innocuous. (I think it's bunk, but I didn't think there was anything wrong with it). However, I do think that if he, or someone else, tried to take shots at elected officials, past or present, that would have bothered me more.

I don't mind a repackaging of the OT forum. But to me, the bigger problem isn't with the content, but with bad manners. Everyone knows someone who loudly voices their opinion on some subject as if they expect that everyone in the room necessarily agrees with them. These people are no fun to be around, and there are always going to be people like that in a diverse community like this.

In that sense, I don't think it's necessary to make subjects like religion or politics or whatever taboo, so much as bad manners. However, I recognize that most ill-mannered folks display their bad manners when talking about such subjects, and that banning the subjects altogether will solve many of the problems, and furthermore, that banning bad manners is basically impossible. But at the same time, we're real people living in a real world, and there's a lot more to our lives than gaming, and if we're seeking to become a true "community", it's inevitable that off-topic discussions would take place. And besides, how many discussions do we really need to have about how the newest member should copyright his game?

I guess I advocate restraint in moderation, and to treat each situation on a case by case basis. Besides, flamewars are fun to participate in and even more fun to watch!

However, during the "Brahmulus" incident, it was requested that a set of guidelines be drafted as to "forbidden" behaviors. If that hasn't been done yet, that's probably a must for the near future. Some candidate behaviors should include:

-- Threatening someone directly or indirectly

-- Ethnic, religious, etc slurs

-- Verbally abusing another member (eg, "What do you know, your designs all suck!"

-- Gratuitous use of profanity

Obviously, this list isn't complete, and not all of these are at the same level of severity, or would be handled in the same way.

Maybe we even made something like this at that time, but I can't remember now...

-J

FastLearner
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beyond general subject matter (no politics, no religion), I don't think we should be too specific about what's not ok. We don't, imo, want to get into an agrument with someone about whether post x was ok or not based on the list.

If nothing else, I'd like to see it presented as something like, "It's as simple as this: think of the BGDF as the moderators' home... if we decide the discussion is inappopriate, it is inappropriate."

Or something like that.

I don't want to see flamewars of any kind here because they drive people away. Maintaining the health of our community is absolutely essential, and while I enjoy participating in political and religious debate, for example, I do it on sites where people discuss those very things. There's nothing in boardgaming, imo, that ever requires a flamwar.

Even if I'm a prick to Lee sometimes.

;)

-- Matthew

Scurra
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FastLearner wrote:
while I enjoy participating in political and religious debate, for example, I do it on sites where people discuss those very things.
As do I, which is why I specifically suggested it in my wording. I agree that in most cases there hasn't been much strife, but it's better to head it off early than appear heavy-handed later.
(fwiw I slightly disagree with you, in that I think that there are things that should provoke flamewars even in boardgaming, but that so far debates haven't got truly out of hand :-)

sedjtroll
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I think I'm in the camp with Jeff: We shouldn't HAVE to ban any topics specifically, but doing so might just make it easier on everyone. As for 'ban', I think maybe a stance more like "we don't talk about that here" rather than "you CAN'T talk about that here" is in order. I suppose that's the same thing rellay, but the presentation seems somehow more reasonable to me.

- Seth

jwarrend
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I guess my main concern is that this not become a site like spielfrieks, which, in my opinion, is heavily over-moderated, and that has had the unfortunate side effect that whenever someone doesn't like the way a discussion is going, they whine for the moderators to step in.

The need for moderation is more present there because it's a newsgroup, so lots of off-topic posts are problematic because they fill the users' inboxes. With a forum site like ours, a discussion that veers off topic isn't really that much of a problem. So I think the biggest concern is really incivility more than off topic discussion.

In that sense, I agree with Matthew that we just reserve our right to flex our muscle without specifying every possible situation in which we might do so. And, I urge us to use restraint. A polite discussion about politics or religion that has only tangential relevance to gaming doesn't automatically need to be shut down.

-J

Scurra
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jwarrend wrote:
A polite discussion about politics or religion that has only tangential relevance to gaming doesn't automatically need to be shut down.
Hey, I don't have an issue with this (indeed, it would be tricky to discuss your Disciples game *without* at least mentioning some of the thematic implications ;-), but there's a fine line between a polite discussion and provocation, although frequently the participants aren't always aware of it - and I plead guilty to that myself!

FastLearner
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On a related topic (already tangentially discussed, I think), I would like to be more active in managing thread drift. When the topic starts to shift, it's best to make a new thread for it. That way searching and browsing through the forums will actually be useful.

I wonder if we'll have the ability in the new forums to slide certain posts of into a new thread. I don't see a way to do it here, but I've seen it on some sites, and it's great. A mod can just say "take this one, and this one, and these three, and move them to a new thread called X." Along with a mod note explaining what happened.

Helps a lot for later reference, imo.

sedjtroll
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FastLearner wrote:
I wonder if we'll have the ability in the new forums to slide certain posts of into a new thread. I don't see a way to do it here, but I've seen it on some sites, and it's great. A mod can just say "take this one, and this one, and these three, and move them to a new thread called X." Along with a mod note explaining what happened.

Helps a lot for later reference, imo.
I agree. I think you can move a post on this forum to another one... I seem to remember that. Not sure offhand though.

- Seth

sedjtroll
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Jeff, for someone who preaches manners, your reply to that guy's honeymoon post was pretty curt. Has he been a problem before? I didn't recognize his nick, I think he's got like 20some posts.

I do agree his post should be in the Off Topic subforum, but if this is his first offense (especially as a newer member), maybe a "please" or something? Your message seems to send a certain vibe to all newer members (and older ones!). I'd hate to scare people away.

- Seth

jwarrend
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I was indeed annoyed by the guy's post; as I've mentioned in the past, I don't like it when people mislabel their posts because it makes the forums very difficult to search. I'm thinking here of posts like "Help with a new idea" or "What should I do next?", where the title is useless. But this guy's post was annoying in the opposite direction -- it was a Trojan horse.

I felt a little bit bad to be so abrupt given that the guy just got married, until I saw his post in the "Looking for a game designer" thread which he tried to derail into a discussion of Braveheart quotes.

Bottom line, I don't think the guy is a "problem", he's just a guy with an annoying sense of humor. If you think I came down too hard on him I can edit the thread and issue an apology, but the basic sentiment of my post stands -- don't do stuff like that.

-Jeff

sedjtroll
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jwarrend wrote:
Bottom line, I don't think the guy is a "problem", he's just a guy with an annoying sense of humor. If you think I came down too hard on him I can edit the thread and issue an apology, but the basic sentiment of my post stands -- don't do stuff like that.

To be clear, I agree with that sentiment.

If it were me, I'd probably edit the post. I wouldn't be upset if you didn't though. Like I said, my biggest concern isn't for that guy, but all the other people who may have read that post and thought "whoa, I better not post and piss this guy off!"

- Seth

sedjtroll
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I saw the edited reply. I think it sounds great! Much more polite, and I think it gets the message across.

Well done.

- Seth

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