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Old 10-28-2008, 03:22 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Nords View Post
A better question might be "Why would he bother to come back"



He's doing fine and making better use of his time.

I'm more concerned about the direction the board is taking than I am about its most prolific member.
Nords. What is the directional problem?

Are you referring to the large number of political posts and bantering in the soapbox? If so, I think much of that will die down after the election.
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Old 10-28-2008, 10:11 AM   #22
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Nords. What is the directional problem?

Are you referring to the large number of political posts and bantering in the soapbox? If so, I think much of that will die down after the election.
He's got the soapbox on ignore, so it can't be that. And some large number of people on ignore also. I'm kinda wondering how he can know what direction the board *is* taking?

-ERD50
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Old 10-28-2008, 10:26 AM   #23
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I hope bunny comes back soon. I could use his sense of humor these days. Regarding Nords comment about the direction of the board, I don't really see it myself. Most of us are really worried about the economy and need to bounce things off other folks now more than ever. I have also noticed many of those who were frequenting the soapbox aren't spending much time there these days - myself included.
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Old 10-28-2008, 10:32 AM   #24
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I have also noticed many of those who were frequenting the soapbox aren't spending much time there these days - myself included.
I resemble that remark.........
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Old 10-28-2008, 10:40 AM   #25
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He's got the soapbox on ignore, so it can't be that. And some large number of people on ignore also. I'm kinda wondering how he can know what direction the board *is* taking?

-ERD50
and I thought that "ignorance is bliss"...
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Old 10-28-2008, 11:21 AM   #26
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Nords. What is the directional problem?
I've mentioned this to Andy and a couple of the moderators before. It's not a moderation issue-- they're doing the best they can with the cards they've been dealt.

The root cause of the problems is that the board is getting swamped by search-engine optimization. This quiet little neighborhood bar has been turned into a mosh pit.

Here's a concrete example. Last month I added a new FAQ archive entry for veterans because we've had several new active-duty members complaining about being retired early. (In the military, that's a bad thing caused by medical problems or disability injuries.) This is the first time in over four years of membership that this has happened. It turns out that E-R.org is one of Google's top search results for the phrase "military early retirement". The problem is self-imposed.

[rant] (This part can be skipped. Scroll down to the bottom for the conclusion.)

Here's some more opinions. It seems to me that moderator turnover has been a bit high over the last six months. Perhaps it's a phase but I wonder if it could be the workload of daily posting volume, hundreds of users online at once, and the extensive discussions about whether to moderate a poster or just to ban. That was one of my (many) moderator issues and it's hard to see how it could be improving.

The board's software and servers are struggling to keep up with the traffic and the ads. A couple years ago I could snap through a few pages of posts, but now my connection has to wrangle with Google's adservers before grudgingly coughing up a page. It's actually easier/faster to spawn off a couple dozen windows (on a WinXP PC!) that it is to sequentially click through threads. I've learned to compose/edit offline instead of on the website. Yeah, it's being managed better and it's getting faster-- but it's nowhere near what it used to be. We're victims of the herds of eyeballs being driven here by SEO and held hostage to adservers.

The crowds have diluted the user experience and driven up the frustration level. I've grown to rely on E-R.org as a huge reference resource, a powerful decision-making tool, and a great community. I couldn't imagine a day without everyone's support, but lately the signal:noise ratio has dropped so low that it renders everything tremendously more difficult. I even have a separate invitation-only military social group helping with ER topics because I don't want to have to deal with all the trolls & personality conflicts that I'd get on a public part of the board.

Speaking of crowds, a few years ago it used to be hard to find over a dozen veterans here. Today my social group invitation list had over 90 on it.

Other dissatisfiers are growing. Even with one of the board's bigger "Ignore Poster" lists, the constant sniping & pecking is wearying. Judging form my "New Posts" summary, at least 25% of the threads are on my "Ignore Soapbox" or "Ignore threads by ignored poster" list, but the remaining relentless reciprocated diatribes tend to make my responses more grumpy than helpful. I rarely see a new question about ER, let alone a thoughtful discussion generating new insight-- and in fact I've been spending way too much time organizing the ER info we already have. Maybe it takes a huge crowd of newbies a while to find the FAQ archive.

I've realized that I've been slowly rebuilding my own infrastructure. While E-R.org has its drama and issues, Raddr's board (Raddr's Early Retirement and Financial Strategy Board :: Index) has been quietly plugging along for years without ads, spam, or banning. (Note that many of Raddr's regulars used to be long-time E-R.org regulars.) It's fast, too! Away from discussion boards, I've tapped into other social networks around my island. Other posters (like the Kaderlis, Bob Clyatt, SamClem, & Tomcat98) are regular e-mail correspondents and we rarely convene over an E-R.org thread anymore. I'm starting to ponder questions that I don't want to ask on E-R.org, so now I use other discussion boards for questions that asked here would invite too much trolling.

I'm learning to learn to live without E-R.org. I no longer feel like a proud member or have any customer loyalty. When I've shared feedback in the past I've felt that too much of the response has been "reassure & ignore". I'm tired of swapping PMs & e-mails with other long-time members who've felt mistreated.

E-R.org is strolling down a trail that's littered with injured or dead ER discussion boards. For example, a couple years ago Morningstar's Vanguard Diehards suffered for months from overwhelming traffic and ineffective moderation, an ideal environment for infections like H0cus. Several abrupt software changes disrupted everyone's routine. Ads bogged down the board's speed and the search feature didn't work well. Then over a third of the membership decamped to start up the Bogleheads board. Morningstar finally started paying attention to the problems, but things didn't need to get as bad as they got and VD has never recovered.

For you real old-timers, the advertising revenue of Motley Fool's ER board got so bad that they started charging for access. Most of their membership promptly moved to RetireEarlyHomePages and Dory started E-R.org. REHP also developed moderator issues (mostly around H0cus again) and today Greaney's ER discussion board is a ghost town. Same growth & troll issues with ES' NFB ER board.

[/rant] [Conclusions & recommendations.]

Meanwhile Raddr's board keeps on chugging. He's never tolerated trolls or conducted "experiments" on his users. He's not there to make a profit-- he contributes research and he's actually an ER himself. The software hasn't been updated in years (that's a good thing). There's no advertising or search-engine optimization. He doesn't even accept financial contributions. While he could fall short of the paragon of virtue that I'm ascribing to his board, it's a straightforward example of what E-R.org used to be and could still become. Everything that could be fixed here is already working at Raddr's board. However that's fundamentally at odds with a revenue model built on SEO.

I thought Raddr's board was an anomaly until I found a similar board in my neighborhood. It's run by a tech geek with vBulletin software, all the features we have here, and a similar crowd of moderators. It's fast and reliable despite a Mainland server. The difference is that it doesn't advertise or practice SEO. The admin is driven by a true sense of community-- the kind involving park potlucks, holiday get-togethers, and photos of ourselves-- not advertising revenue.

I'm not leaving E-R.org but, like many of the long-time members, I'll be spending a greater part of my day elsewhere. And now that I've found hassle-free replacements for what I used to get from E-R.org, it's hard to care what happens to it. I've devoted a lot of time and effort here, but it's hard to see how more could pay off. If I do decide to say goodbye, it won't be through a revolving door-- it'll be final. I don't particularly care to get to that point but some of you have seen me do it with other boards.

Returning E-R.org to "the way it used to be" would probably cost a lot of eyeballs and advertising revenue, even without a recession. However I feel obligated to offer the following suggestions, even if it's only to salve my own conscience:

One change that could be made right now, IMO without impacting overall socialknowledge.com traffic, would be to split off the Soapbox into its own separate forum. Get it off E-R.org and give it a separate URL. Find a way to automatically include membership to everyone on E-R.org (or just tell people to take it there!) and maybe the vocal minority raising a ruckus here could be encouraged to go to the Soapbox. In my opinion it'd be like getting Howard Stern off the public airwaves and giving him his own little pornpen on satellite radio. He does his thing with less visibility, different revenue, fewer public restrictions, and all his hardcore fans where no one else has to deal with him. You know it could be the Web's premiere political & current events discussion board. It'd make moderator life a lot easier around here.

Another change would be more visible moderation. I think more publicity of the moderator process is a good thing--announcing who's been banned, who's been temporarily silenced, and who's at the top of the "Ignore Poster" lists. Too many posters have been confused about what's appropriate or what policies are in effect. Too many other posters seem to be getting away with too much until they suddenly disappear.

Finally, special posters get special privileges. Long-time contributors, where the consensus is that they've proven their worth, shouldn't be subjected to admonitions or infractions or troll ankle-biting, constant revisions to signatures & avatars, or other annoyances. We're not a bunch of newbies still learning how to behave in public. We're not turning into whackos or abusing our special powers. Us old-timers remember how we used to link to an Amazon donation page for Bob's book, how we used to link to the Kaderli's website, and how we used to be linked here by REHP and other websites. If you want us to hang around, make us welcome. If we're not made to feel welcome, we can take a hint. We can help, or we can let the newbies fumble around figuring it out for themselves-- like ERs were doing here a decade ago.

I don't know what led The Fashion Spot to leave, but I doubt that they were generating E-R.org's revenue. However if E-R.org is cut loose someday, I hope someone of Raddr's philosophy takes over the board before it's too late.
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Old 10-28-2008, 12:27 PM   #27
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Yet another well thought out post Nords ! Bravo

Things don't ever stay the same, or as they say, There is no future in the past. What you have described just sounds like the norm for a forums progression.

The changes to the forum seem to be good ideas. You have my blessing to implement them.

I for one have learned a number of interesting and relevant things on this forum and appreciate it being here. It would be a shame if it fell apart.
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Old 10-28-2008, 02:08 PM   #28
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Nords, I gotta admit, you hit on a lot of issues I've noticed myself. I suppose us newer folks are more tolerant of things they way they are NOW because that's all we know.

I think this forum will continue to thrive because you can literally ask anything on here and get intelligent feedback.........
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Old 10-28-2008, 02:59 PM   #29
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Finally, special posters get special privileges. Long-time contributors, where the consensus is that they've proven their worth, shouldn't be subjected to admonitions or infractions or troll ankle-biting, constant revisions to signatures & avatars, or other annoyances. We're not a bunch of newbies still learning how to behave in public. We're not turning into whackos or abusing our special powers. Us old-timers remember how we used to link to an Amazon donation page for Bob's book, how we used to link to the Kaderli's website, and how we used to be linked here by REHP and other websites. If you want us to hang around, make us welcome. If we're not made to feel welcome, we can take a hint. We can help, or we can let the newbies fumble around figuring it out for themselves-- like ERs were doing here a decade ago.
Your opinions should bear more weight? Is that right?

Doesn't seem right to me. It dislocates the rest of the users...I think the board has lost some of its relevance since the market melt down. People’s opinions and thoughts have changed and the gang mentality has dissolved.

You are probably right though, about the relevancy of the ER board. I have noticed a distinct change in the bravado over the last few months. Fear has gathered on the horizon….lives are being challenged. We the people has become I the individual…the group think mentality is dissolving…the herd mentality is evaporating.

I think we are in a new age, a new beginning…..ER as it stands today is becoming obsolete as a method of living….If the market doesn’t recover it will be the end of an era. Those who have enjoyed its sweet libations can revel in a past life that may not become an option for several more years, maybe even decades.
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Old 10-28-2008, 03:28 PM   #30
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Nords,

I know you have had issues with the site being sold to me a couple years ago, you did not agree the software conversion and have expressed various times your issues with the site being supported by advertisements. There is not much I can say to change these facts. There were ads on the site before I acquired it, I simply moved the placement of them. The site already ranked well in the search engines and the mod team worked harder back then dealing with various personalities then we do now.

We have continued to evolve based on feedback from the community. The Soapbox is an example of a change that was made to lower the "signal to noise" ratio in the other forums. Since many of these posts were filling up the other forums we created The Soapbox so that members could ignore them, it might not be perfect but it is better then leaving things as they were. Although members have mixed emotions about the value of political and headline news discussions here on an ER forum I think we can all agree politics and current events play a big role in many of the decisions faced when planning and enjoying ER.

As you know I started my first forum back in 2002 and it has also had growing pains. As many forums grow they become burdens for the owners and I have adopted/acquired various forums over the years. My philosophy has always been to work with the members and spread the load of moderation over a big enough team so it does not seem like w*rk. Most forums could not exist if it were not for the volunteer moderators and administrators, E-R.org is no exception. The team here is nothing short of amazing and has done an excellent job managing our community.

I know that seeing a site that was once a small tight knit community grow in size, opinions, and rule changes (like no more signatures) might alienate some members. Unfortunately the fluid nature of the community causes us to change as issues present themselves. We have worked hard to accommodate our members who have a diverse set of opinions.

As you mentioned there are other options on the internet that are provided by their host without ads. Unfortunately at some point when the community gets big enough the host often cannot continue to run the community on that same business model. As I have stated in the past I will look into a solution to allow members who had made a significant contribution to our community the ability to turn off the ads. I have actually been working on this and need to finish a few odds and ends. I think it is a fair trade in exchange for their contributions to our site.

There is enough negativity in the air these days with political bashing, the economic crisis, global warming, wars and terror that I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the Mod and Admin team for helping keep the peace on our community. I'd also like to thank our members who contribute to the discussions here and provide knowledge and entertainment and make this a fun place to hang out!

Regards,

Andy
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Old 10-28-2008, 07:39 PM   #31
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What ads? I haven't seen an ad ever since I installed an ad blocker months ago.

I put the Soapbox on ignore and that doesn't bother me either now.

The only thing that has become an issue is the number of good posts. I just can't read them all in one sitting since there are so many of them.

As I mentioned in another post a few days ago, one solution is to allow us to mark each thread as read by having a checkbox next to it (there is room for this in the blue column to the left of each thread) or have the ability to mark each page as read instead of being forced to mark only the entire forum as read.

Other than that change I think the forum works well right now as is.
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Old 10-28-2008, 07:44 PM   #32
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As I mentioned in another post a few days ago, one solution is to allow us to mark each thread as read by having a checkbox next to it (there is room for this in the blue column to the left of each thread) or have the ability to mark each page as read instead of being forced to mark only the entire forum as read.
I read your request in the other thread and will see if I can find (or develop) something to do this. No ETA at the moment but it has been accounted for in our feature request system.
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Old 10-28-2008, 10:27 PM   #33
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I suppose its rude to leave without saying goodbye, and worse to leave people speculating on the reasons.

We do things because we enjoy them, because not doing them feels bad, or because we receive some sort of measured or perceived benefit or value from the activity.

After some consideration, I decided I wasnt getting the right value for my time spent. For both good and bad reasons.

Frankly I dont care who owns the board or what advertisements they put on it. I dont see the ads anyhow. I do like a board thats run informally by someone with a great deal of passion for the core topic rather than an interest in making money. Do note that I'm not saying thats not what we're getting here. I dont really know Andy at all or what his motivations are. I'm glad Dory made a bunch of money selling a pile of 1's and 0's and i'm glad he moved on to spending time with the things most important to him.

Its not because of the soapbox or the political trolls that spend 90+% of their time hanging out there. But the bad attitude that the posters and moderators take away from there poisons the rest of the board and I dont like that one bit. Although I have to say it was interesting to stick my nose into the soapbox and discover that a half a dozen people that I thought were rational human beings are actually raving loons. We can easily talk about politics as they relate to finance and early retirement without wading into the partisan bullshit. Its easy to moderate too: if you post stuff thats got no benefit other than to make ~49% of the people who read it upset, it'll be deleted. If you do it twice, you'll be deleted.

I think we spend too much moderator bandwidth on things that dont matter much when a few simple and direct actions would solve 95% of the problems. Just get rid of the people who provide a poor signal to noise ratio. If half of what someone says is bullshit, if they're obviously a borderline nutjob, or if they arent here to contribute anything of significance to the core topics of early retirement and financial independence, then the garbage chute is right over there. I love the idea of a good egalitarian democracy but it doesnt work. This too is not rocket science. I'm pretty sure anyone who has been around for the last year or so can name a dozen or two people who are far more trouble than they're worth. Even easier, everyone has already voted. Just take the 'top 20 most ignored' list and scratch off the couple of people who contribute strongly but are sometimes annoying in the process and ban the rest. Rinse and repeat periodically.

Oh and I hate the haters. People who lay claim that the board has a 'herd' or 'gang' that is anti-this and pro-that, or some other sort of borg collective in operation. It hurts the community and it belies the thousands of hours of time we've spent as a group analyzing and discussing a lot of topics to the extent that we were able to form good opinions about them. Those efforts have been well established in the FAQ sections of the board for everyone to benefit from. But to suggest that dozens of people who think, spend, invest, vote and feel differently from each other regularly get together to inhibit good discussions and ideas is frankly small minded and insulting to all of us.

I hate the people who only say things to make other people feel bad. I hate them almost as much as they must hate themselves if thats the best value they can get for their time spent.

Wrong as these things are from my point of view, they're small potatoes. Its simply that I have some really important things to do with my life and my time spent here takes away from those. You see, I lack a volume control in almost everything...its all done with on/off switches and the throttles are welded open. To do what I've done here over the last 5 years, I have to give up on doing other things that I'd enjoy more and would be better for me.

So I wish you all good luck with your various endeavors and may I say that I've most appreciated the humor, friendships, valuable learnings and our shared adventures into the realm of well funded unemployment. For what its worth, I think investing is going to start getting a lot more fun pretty soon.

I'd like to say that I'll be back some day, or that I'll look in once in a while or some other happy thing, but I wont. I cant. I'm turning this switch off and ripping it out of the dashboard. Besides, if I ever came back, Nords would be able to make fun of me for doing the old "say you're leaving and then dont actually leave" thing. And we cant have any of that. Besides, I'm not a drama queen.

I leave you all with the only way to make bacon look better, and thats by putting it close to lips and lipstick.
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Old 10-28-2008, 11:15 PM   #34
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Your opinions should bear more weight? Is that right?

Doesn't seem right to me. It dislocates the rest of the users...
I didn't read that in what he said.

Quote:
I think the board has lost some of its relevance since the market melt down. People’s opinions and thoughts have changed and the gang mentality has dissolved.
Quote:

You are probably right though, about the relevancy of the ER board. I have noticed a distinct change in the bravado over the last few months. Fear has gathered on the horizon….lives are being challenged. We the people has become I the individual…the group think mentality is dissolving…the herd mentality is evaporating.

I think we are in a new age, a new beginning…..ER as it stands today is becoming obsolete as a method of living….If the market doesn’t recover it will be the end of an era. Those who have enjoyed its sweet libations can revel in a past life that may not become an option for several more years, maybe even decades.
I disagree. In the first place, if the market doesn't recover it will be the end of an empire, and I suspect the internet will be one of the first casualties. But I don't think it will happen.

I don't see where ER is becoming obsolete. The current crisis may winnow out some who cut it too close, and will probably scare many others off.

In the long run, this crisis may be the solution that Nords is looking for. People will latch onto some other plan, and only those truly interested in FIRE will remain. Might turn out to be a good thing.

Farewell, CFB. You are one of my heroes.
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Old 10-28-2008, 11:21 PM   #35
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Best of luck Bunny. Personally, I don't have a problem with the board. Yes there are a lot of rude comments made from time to time, but most all boards I participate on has some of this. I mainly see this in the soapbox section here and rarely visit as a result. But on the whole, things run pretty well to me. But I use the forum as a filler of my time, when I'm not playing golf or involved in some kind of project. It's fun for the most part and I have learned a lot.

But I respect your decision. There may come a point when we all get tired of the board and feel it's time to move on. Only time will tell.
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Old 10-29-2008, 12:06 AM   #36
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CFB, we'll miss you. You were always a lot of fun, and we will miss your pancake humor, photoshop expertise, new avatars, threadjacking skills, and sense of irreverance when things got a bit tense. You were one of the good guys on the Fire Forum.
WS

PS Can I have your screen name? If I became CFB, people would only think you had developed rabies, not that you had checked out completely. Seriously, all the best to you and your family. And if you do decide to return, screw the freelance psychoanalysts who profess to analyze your motives. I hope to be be the first to welcome you back.
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Old 10-29-2008, 12:51 AM   #37
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Sorry to see you go bunny. I'll miss you ! But you gotta do what you gotta do...


I am a bit puzzled about the old timers' disenchantment with the board... Obviously, I haven't been around long enough to be able to compare today's board with yesterday's. But I like this forum very much. I value the advice from the old timers. I come here to learn from them and share my experience with other newbies. I stay away from the soap box and any controversial subjects that are unrelated to FIRE and that are bound to raise my blood pressure. Topics of conversations tend to be rehashed but unless you want to turn this board into a stagnant FIRE encyclopedia, it's a necessary evil to keep the forum, i.e. "a meeting place for the discussion of questions of public interest", alive IMO. The human aspect of the conversation interests me and that it would be a shame to lose that. While most basic investment principles remain fairly constant year after year, people's psychology changes and that's what shakes things up. Many of the old timers seem to have the fortitude to stick with their plans and tend to sometimes dehumanize the investment process IMO (e.g. "hurry up and just stand there", which I love by the way). Intellectually I know they have it right, but we are people with emotions, not robots and while snippets like "stay the course" become religion in good times, they do little to calm our nerves when things take a dive. That's when revisiting old principles becomes beneficial for many of us. I am particularly fond of Unclemick's posts because they always seem to bring me back to the true and proven basics that tend to get lost in a panic.

I have noticed a bit more antagonism on this board lately. But I also understand that right now a bunch of people are grumpy, angry and scared (housing and stock market tanking, uncertainty about the future, the economy slowing down, unemployment picking up, ER plans being postponed, highly polarized presidential election, etc...). So I have been giving people a bit more slack when they go off (as long as they remain respectful of others) or when they drown in pessimism and apocalyptic predictions. We should help each others go through this difficult time.
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Old 10-29-2008, 01:45 AM   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FIREdreamer View Post
I stay away from the soap box and any controversial subjects that are unrelated to FIRE and that are bound to raise my blood pressure. Topics of conversations tend to be rehashed but unless you want to turn this board into a stagnant FIRE encyclopedia, it's a necessary evil to keep the forum, i.e. "a meeting place for the discussion of questions of public interest", alive IMO. The human aspect of the conversation interests me and that it would be a shame to lose that. While most basic investment principles remain fairly constant year after year, people's psychology changes and that's what shakes things up. . So I have been giving people a bit more slack when they go off (as long as they remain respectful of others) or when they drown in pessimism and apocalyptic predictions. We should help each others go through this difficult time.
Kudos for your post. I share many of your feelings and thoughts, as highlighted above.

As an engineer with a strong math background, only as I get older and additionally have the luxury of escaping the rat race that I slowly understand the humanity aspect of many problems we face in life. There are machine problems we never could understand. And humans are not machines.
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Bye Bye Bunny...
Old 10-29-2008, 07:15 AM   #39
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Bye Bye Bunny...

I will miss you CFB... you provided me with much knowledge on many subjects... answered many questions, plus you are very entertaining.

I wish the board was more like when I joined in 2005... it seems to have gone downhill since Dory and some of the original posters left.

I was able to ER in 2005 after lurking here for a year.

Thanks,

Gonzo
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Old 10-29-2008, 07:51 AM   #40
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Bunny, thanks for all your advice, particularly when my cat was so ill. This place just won't be the same without you. You will be missed and I wish you and your family all the best.
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