How to change?

Andy R

Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
Site Team
Jan 31, 2007
Dallas, Tx
In light of the current situation I would like to invite all members to post their thoughts on what is being done wrong at and what needs to be done to make things right.

Please outline each issue and offer a solution. We can then review them and come up with ways to change to address the needs of the community properly.

Thanks in advance for your input.

Here are some issues which I am aware of and how they were addressed:

Issue: I had edited the title of a single thread that had a misspelled word. I did this to benefit the search results. It was brought to my attention the misspelling was done on purpose and that members did not want the title of their posts changed.
Solution: From now on we will not edit any thread titles unless the thread starter PMs a mod and asks them to change it.

Issue: I closed a poll on the time limit for editing posts. This was considered censorship by some members.
Solution: The poll was re-opened and we will not close polls moving forward.
I can't speak for others, but I think there is a broader issue here. Specifically, changes made to these boards have been done in a unilateral manner with little or no buy-in from posters or even a warning. Case in point, it was a big surprise to me (and I gather to others) when the software conversion was doen. Would it have been so hard to post a note a few days or a week in advance warning us and suggesting we save any PMs we wanted to keep?

I would also suggest that you get wise to allowing the groundlings to voice some dissent without immediately squashing it. You'll likely get fewer open revolts if you give the people their bread and circuses. Since some of us are quite skilled at flinging our own poop at handy targets, you'd have to be a bit stoic to let it go, but you'd get more forbearance from me (and I suspect others) if moderation of dissent was not handled as Dick Cheney would do it.
Yes, no shooting people in the face.

It might also be worthwhile to point out that Andy may not have had the experience of dealing with a bunch of people quite like we are. It may be quite intimidating and hard to adapt to.

Sounds like he's coping as best he can and trying to open the lines of communication. Perhaps helping him continue on that path will produce a pleasing result.

I've done my part by putting a larger pancake on the bunny.
Issue: board management makes decisions and takes actions that seem capricious or purely self-serving.
Solution: talk with us.

Starting this thread is a good step in that direction and I appreciate it.

We can be really rude at times, and I wish we were less so, but in this kind of community you'll get all kinds.

You'll never please all of us, but by keeping us informed, and letting us express our opinions, you'll at least cut down on the grief you get.

Andy, creating this thread is an improvement in itself. Congratulations.

Issue: Increasing the edit window time from 15 min to 360 min is an improvement, but still far from what members want. We all know your concerns, but you need to know ours too.
Solution: The poll result tells you what people want. The discussions in that poll and in the "Repeal" thread tell you the reasons.
I just wanted to thank those who have posted feedback so far, please keep it coming.

In response, I would like to formally appologize for my lack of communication about the software upgrade. With out going into the excuses why, I will post any anticipated downtime or major changes in advance next time to give everyone proper time to be prepared. I will also present the reasons for the changes (which I had done to the mod team) so you can understand why certain actions are being take so you can provide your feedback and buy into the logic for the changes. This is smart group of people and getting to bounce ideas off of you is an asset I need to take advantage of.

Also, I will not be (nor will the mods) be attempting to suppress your opinions. As I stated earlier in another thread, I was wrong to close that poll. Lesson learned.

The polls are in fact insightful and will be used as an aid in determining the proper ways to configure our community. It will still be up to the moderation team to discuss the pluses and minuses along with the poll results to determine the best settings but the poll results will be a big factor.

Once again, I apologize for closing the poll and moving a thread earlier this week. My emotions got the best of me.
Andy, I know there are times when you must delete posts or edit posts. Pornography, for example. And there are no doubt times when you must ban users. If you haven't already done so, I'd recommend you develop written guidelines for admins and mods that describe out the situations in which they should take action, and the specific action to be taken. And publish these guidelines. That would help everyone -- admins, mods and posters -- manage and understand the environment we all meet in.

And you know us -- we'd be more than happy to comment on drafts of the guidelines. :)

Andy, asking this question is exactly the way to go.

Brewer and Coach's feedback is exactly how I feel. Give we posters an opportunity to comment on issues or plans before implementing them. Let us be members of your team. Yes you may get some push back and not all use the manners our parents taught us all the time, but that is no different than what happens at a public entity Counsel meeting. Just sort through it before going forward.
I agree with most of the comments so far.

in general i think this bunch will go with the flow, or take the slap on the hand if we get out of hand, but once decisions are made without notice or some feedback - you get calamity...poop flinging, pancake bunnies and revolt...

if you haven't noticed - everything gets noticed - so editing things w/out notice, etc. causes suspicion and conspiracy theories to form.

i've found in general people are willing to follow leadership, as long as leadership communicates and behaves in as transparent a manner as possible...
Issue: Many posters are NOT following the prescribed "Issue--proposed solution" format.
Proposed solution: Off with their heads!:)

Issue: The new software is still not as user friendly as what we had.
Proposed solution: Keep making the incremental improvements you've been working on. The new "portal" showing the last 20 posts is a welcome move in the right direction.

: Significant changes are implemented without seeking user feedback.
Proposed solution: Yes, starting this thread is good. The posters here don't "own" the board, and Andy can do anything he darn well wants to. But, letting us at least feel like we are having an impact is bound to decrease grumbling and increase compliance. And, it turns out, there are some really smart folks here with applicable experience. They MIGHT just have worthwhile ideas for consideration. And they'll give their ideas for free. Such a deal.

Issue: We've lost the services of some superb moderators in the last 72 hours.
Proposed solution: Recruit some new ones. (Ha!) In the meantime, maybe a request for some self-restraint on the part of posters? We know that once the rocks start flying on Iraq, Bill Clinton/HRC, Socialized Health Care, etc that things go downhill fast.
Andy, I can't use that issue/solution format. Okay, what I mean is that's not welcoming/inviting in the way my mind works. (Not an engineer, never stepped inside a megacorp.)

I was sensing there was too much changing too fast with dory stepping down, with a style and objective very different from his, which was totally laid back.

Then I got to thinking today dory would leave this in good hands. And c'mon, it's just a discussion board on the 'net.

Thanks for asking about how to change. I think all the suggestions were good. I'd say go slow, and often just stand still. Respond if people contact you, but let a lot of stuff roll off if no one does.

Just my two cents.

I will just post my regular plea - give me an RSS feed that includes responses, not just new posts.
Personally, I have no complaints about the management of this board to date.

I always remember that this is a free service and I have been very happy with it for many years.

To date, I have not run afoul of the moderators myself, and it appears to me that they have used restraint in many cases. Spam and raw pornography (remember the oriental stuff?) has been quickly dealt with. I do not recall seeing anything I would consider a personal attack here. Either people have refrained or the moderators have been quick to act. Anyone who posts here should understand that they are subject to having the air let out of their balloon, however. A thick skin is advisable.

There seem to be more technical problems than arbitrary and capricious actions by moderators. Sometimes a coincidence is just a coincidence.

A case could be made that the forum has drifted away from the original theme. I still find it enormously useful, though. Many subject areas have been added since the beginning, which is fine if you can afford the storage and the increased moderator overhead. Some people might lose interest in the board if some of the areas were eliminated, though.
I also have no particular complaints, and just want to thank Dory, Nords, others that have helped and also give a quick thumbs up to Andy on trying to improve where it can be done.

One thing I will say is that all boards generate a culture of their own, and it might be good to consider what it is now, and what the goal is, and then understand how to drive for what you are after. I visit REHP, M*, Bogleheads, raddr-pages, and here, and each is different, so maybe a "Mission Statement" or "Goal" in the faq would serve as a touchstone now that there seems to be a shifting around of some previously long standing institutions.
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