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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Off-Topics, Politics, and the Redesign

FYI, in the redesign I will restrict off-topic political discussions to a new politics off-topic blog that I am setting up for the purpose. By default, members will not see these discussions in their Hot Topics until they opt-in to see them. In the interim I will restrict off-topic political discussions to a dedicated monthly thread (similar to the football, basketball, and soccer threads), which will be tagged as “politics”, marked as “OT:Politics” in the title, and which will include a disclaimer about the nature and tone of the discussion. I will also begin closing the off-topic political discussions in other threads.

In the redesign I also will be moving the sports-related off-topic threads to their own dedicated area. Like the off-topic political threads these threads will only appear in Hot Topics when members opt-in to see them. When this change takes place members will be able to submit news links to basketball, football, soccer, and golf (whichever sports that generate interest) articles, which will appear in their appropriate off-topic micro.

So, in the redesign people who wish to discuss these topics will be able to do so easily while people who wish to ignore such topics will be able to do so easily as well.


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Jim Furtado Posted: May 30, 2012 at 12:44 PM | 1369 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 30, 2012 at 01:56 PM (#4143119)
thank you

   2. TomH Posted: May 30, 2012 at 04:43 PM (#4143349)
Haaaaa le lu jah
Haaaaa le lu jah
Ha le-ey luu jaaah
   3. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 30, 2012 at 04:46 PM (#4143352)
Most of the politics threads develop out of baseball threads. Discussion of Curt Schilling's game company turned into a discussion of student loans, for instance. Will these threads be re-tagged after the hijack? Or just pre-emptively closed? Who will have this re-tagging or closing power?
   4. Guapo Posted: May 30, 2012 at 04:49 PM (#4143354)
Or: Ozzie Guillen expresses his admiration of Fidel Castro and is suspended. On-topic, or off-topic?
   5. smileyy Posted: May 30, 2012 at 04:52 PM (#4143359)
By default, members will not see these discussions in their Hot Topics until they opt-in to see them.


Am I going to stay logged in long enough for those opt-in settings to be useful to me?
   6. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 30, 2012 at 05:03 PM (#4143366)
My fear, generally, with the new BBTF is related to this.

The strength of BBTF is the conversations. Creating more and more divisions and separated "areas" seems to risk separating people and thus stalling conversations before they start.

I want Sox Therapy to be a place where anyone who wants to discuss the Red Sox can do so, and we get a good number of non-Sox fans there when interesting things are going down with the team. It seems to me that one of the risks of having special administrators of these micro-bbtf areas is that we haven't agreed on norms of administration - if someone sees their area as a new Sons of Sam Horn or Athletics Nation or Replacement-Level Yankees Weblog or (shudder) Halo's Heaven, they could make any discussion of tagged material difficult for people who aren't fans of the team.

If the Red Sox trade Will Middlebrooks for Zack Greinke, that should be big general baseball news that everyone discusses, not something that either Red Sox fans or Brewers fans control. What are the protections in place, other than the hope that current BBTF norms are maintained on the new site, such that general baseball discussions continue as they are?
   7. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: May 30, 2012 at 05:22 PM (#4143376)
This is and remains the textbook, quintessential, paradigmatic solution in search of a problem.
   8. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: May 30, 2012 at 05:46 PM (#4143389)
There are off topic threads?
   9. smileyy Posted: May 30, 2012 at 05:50 PM (#4143391)

This is and remains the textbook, quintessential, paradigmatic solution in search of a problem.


Well, its also Jim's itch to scratch. I don't think it bugs a lot of people, but it does bug Jim, and, well...it's his site.
   10. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 30, 2012 at 05:56 PM (#4143396)
Jim, will the dedicated blog for politics threads have the same interface/format/design that the mainland threads do? I can't stand the interface of the forums/lounge.

That having been said, I think there's a major factor that you're overlooking here: most political threads develop naturally from a baseball-related story. It's not like people are posting Rich Lowry or Paul Krugman op-eds for comment. So I don't know how you really shut down political discussions without making the site just completely unworkable for discussions. Yes, there is the occasional thread posting that is sure to go to politics, but that is most often not the case.

And many baseball-related stories _do_ relate integrally to politics -- so much so, in fact, that it is silly to have any discussion while ignoring the elephant in the room. It's not just an accident that threads turn political.
   11. The Id of SugarBear Blanks Posted: May 30, 2012 at 06:00 PM (#4143400)
Absent some technical issues with servers and the like, there's simply no need to Balkanize the site in this fashion. None, zero, zip, nada. (Not to mention that baseball is the sport of wordsmiths and intellectuals precisely because of the breathing space it provides to contemplate other disciplines.)

"Politics" threads grow organically from baseball-related stories and topics. There won't be any interest in a "Hey, let's talk politics!!" kiddie's table thread.
   12. CrosbyBird Posted: May 30, 2012 at 06:01 PM (#4143402)
What happens if a thread organically moves in an off-topic direction? If I'm reading you correctly, there's two different ("until update" and "post-update") answers.

until update: thread is closed for going off-topic (perhaps with a note like "if you want to continue the discussion, here's the link to the off-topic thread")
post-update: thread is tagged and moved when it goes off-topic, and those with the "allow off-topic" tag selected will barely be able to tell the difference

Is this correct?


   13. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: May 30, 2012 at 06:03 PM (#4143405)
The concept of "on topic" is itself a false category.
   14. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 30, 2012 at 06:06 PM (#4143410)
And many baseball-related stories _do_ relate integrally to politics -- so much so, in fact, that it is silly to have any discussion while ignoring the elephant in the room.
This is an important point. Politics and baseball are not absolutely separate realms, and in fact one of the reasons I love baseball (and sport in general) is the way it intersects with politics, history, literature, economics, and so forth. Baseball is a lesser thing, and baseball discussion is a lesser thing, when politics (or anything else) are "off-topic".

I get that when a thread turns into another exposition of why libertarianism is great or dumb, it is not about baseball any longer, but I fear that policing this border strictly will have worse consequences than leaving it mostly open.

My larger concern, to reiterate, is that cordoning people off from each other is counter-indicated for growing a good social network.
   15. McCoy Posted: May 30, 2012 at 06:15 PM (#4143417)
There will never be another Calcaterra link on the main site ever again.
   16. Benji Gil Gamesh Rises Posted: May 30, 2012 at 06:20 PM (#4143422)
I'm not more than a drive-by participant in political threads, but I'm curious if Crosbybird's "post update" interpretation is correct. I hope it is -- while I am with those who don't see the necessity, it is Jim's site to manage, and that would seem to be the least destructive to the freewheeling discourse that is as much of a reason why I spend time on BBTF as the baseball content/discussion.

Also, is it only politics that is going to get that treatment, as seems implied? What happens when a baseball thread turns into a lengthy discussion of music or books or movies?
   17. puck Posted: May 30, 2012 at 06:28 PM (#4143426)
The first two posters are happy about the development. Presumably there are others (I know people have complained about off-topic threads taking up spaces in the hot topics list), so it doesn't seem that this is all Jim's idea.
   18. Jim Furtado Posted: May 30, 2012 at 07:11 PM (#4143461)
Some of the moderation issues will be worked out during the beta. That's why I'm getting moderators involved now. I'm open to ideas and am looking for the most flexible system possible. Having said that, I'm not looking to shut down all off-topic discussions. It's one of the charms of the site. What I am looking to end is the long, ongoing, completely unrelated (mostly) political threads.

Regarding the thought that "there's simply no need to Balkanize the site in this fashion" and "the textbook, quintessential, paradigmatic solution in search of a problem"... it's like my neighbor (who hasn't checked the weather report) making fun of me for taking an umbrella to work on a sunny morning after I just watched a weather report with a thunderstorm adversary for later in the morning.

Matt, thanks for chiming in. It's funny how you talk about Sox Therapy being inclusive. From what I see it's one of the most exclusive parts of the site. Other than seeing a thread pop up on Hot Topics, there is a small section on the front page where a link can appear and the blog. People have to search for Sox Therapy.

With the redesign Sox Therapy can either remain set up as it is (using sox_therapy as the micro name) or be combined with other Red Sox content (using red_sox). If the former choice is made, the moderators will be able to police their micro as they wish. If it's the later (and all 30 primary team blogs will work this way), the moderators will have to follow sitewide moderation guidelines. Additionally, within the new set-up people will be able to create competitive micros if they don't like the way the red_sox and/or sox_therapy micros are run. In any case, since users will be able to subscribe to whichever micros they are interested in seeing in their customized homepage, a person looking for Red Sox content will simply have to visit the micros and click to subscribe and they will find the content when they next visit their customized homepage.

   19. Jim Furtado Posted: May 30, 2012 at 07:16 PM (#4143463)
Jim, will the dedicated blog for politics threads have the same interface/format/design that the mainland threads do? I can't stand the interface of the forums/lounge.
The off=topic areas will have the same interface/format/design. The areas will also be subscribable, so they will show up on the customized homepage.
   20. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 30, 2012 at 07:33 PM (#4143477)
I posed this question in another thread, and I'll repeat it.

Why can't we simply be empowered to delete ANY thread we don't want to follow, regardless of topic? If I get bored by some hyper-statistical thread, or by a thread that gets "hijacked" into a discussion of video games, why should it NOT remain on the sidebar of someone who wants it there? And if others among us wanted to keep the Ricketts thread on their sidebars, why should that concern anyone else, as long as those who object to that thread are given the power to remove it from their own view? If that isn't a win-win setup, I'd like to know a better one.

The bottom line seems pretty simple to me. We should be allowed to maintain threads we like on our own Hot Topics sidebar, and allowed to delete threads that we don't wish to view. WHO LOSES UNDER SUCH A SCENARIO? NOBODY.

And what is gained by denying others the ability to maintain a "hijacked" thread on their own sidebar? If there's an answer to this question that reflects anything beyond the personal preference of Jim, I've yet to see it.

---------------------------------------------------

The first two posters are happy about the development. Presumably there are others (I know people have complained about off-topic threads taking up spaces in the hot topics list), so it doesn't seem that this is all Jim's idea.

First, the listing of Hot Topics threads is purely market driven. No thread gets "crowded out" if there's sufficient current interest in it. Few threads get bumped in less than two hours, and in the morning some still remain from the night before.

Second, what's so hard about having (say) 15 Hot Topics threads listed as they are now, and if a Primate chooses to delete one of them, then the 16th one in turn pops up to replace it? Again, why on Earth should anyone but Miss Grundy object to that?

---------------------------------------------------

Some of the moderation issues will be worked out during the beta. That's why I'm getting moderators involved now. I'm open to ideas and am looking for the most flexible system possible. Having said that, I'm not looking to shut down all off-topic discussions. It's one of the charms of the site. What I am looking to end is the long, ongoing, completely unrelated (mostly) political threads.

Repeat: What is there about my above proposal that you find objectionable? Under it, not a single person would be obliged to view a single thread on his sidebar that he doesn't want to see there. What's the downside to that? Joey can zap all the political threads he wants. I can zap the statistics duels (not that I will), and everyone should be happy except the congenital censors.
   21. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: May 30, 2012 at 07:40 PM (#4143485)
Matt, thanks for chiming in. It's funny how you talk about Sox Therapy being inclusive. From what I see it's one of the most exclusive parts of the site. Other than seeing a thread pop up on Hot Topics, there is a small section on the front page where a link can appear and the blog. People have to search for Sox Therapy.
Yes, certainly. I think my citation of ST was off point. It would be really bad if all team-specific content were as cordoned-off as Sox Therapy is, and it also be bad if team-specific areas were fan-exclusive in a way that ST isn't, at least compared to things like SoSH, RLYW and AN. The former is a much more pressing concern of mine than the latter.

I'd rather that it be impossible for general baseball newsblog content not be subject to ownership by team-specific moderators. That seems like a potentially large problem with no possible upside.
   22. Srul Itza Posted: May 30, 2012 at 07:54 PM (#4143492)
The Big Tent nature of BBTF is a feature, not a bug. I may not regularly look for Sox Therapy or Hall of Merit threads, but if they pop up on hot topics, and I see something interesting -- particularly if there is a large number of comments -- I may drop in. I would hate to have that ability to functionally "browse" the entire site taken away.

As regards the other sports -- the great charm of the NBA thread is that there is only one NBA thread. Just about all basketball commentary is in one place, and the thread evolves seamlessly from topic to topic, based on the interests of the posters and current events. If someone wants to share an interesting article, they just link to it in a post. The thread has apparently become well know enough that it was linked to at Basketball Prospectus. Creating some kind of mini Basketball Think Factory would greatly detract from its charm.
   23. tshipman Posted: May 30, 2012 at 08:02 PM (#4143497)
What I am looking to end is the long, ongoing, completely unrelated (mostly) political threads.


If you're really just looking to end those, you should just start having threads auto-close and have to be reviewed for extension. Anything over 200 posts is either political, pop culture or related to other sports.

I don't see the need to change the site architecture to discourage political discussion.

(I disagree with this approach, and I think you're ignoring many of the strengths of the site. But of course, if you're doing it for advertising related reasons, I can't say that I blame you.)
   24. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: May 30, 2012 at 08:06 PM (#4143501)
As regards the other sports -- the great charm of the NBA thread is that there is only one NBA thread. Just about all basketball commentary is in one place, and the thread evolves seamlessly from topic to topic, based on the interests of the posters and current events. If someone wants to share an interesting article, they just link to it in a post. The thread has apparently become well know enough that it was linked to at Basketball Prospectus. Creating some kind of mini Basketball Think Factory would greatly detract from its charm.
Just wanted to chime in to point out that while the above may apply to the NBA, it doesn't work as well when applied to politics. The NBA is a distinct subject; while there might be a handful of baseball-related threads that are also related to basketball (say, a discussion of TV ratings, or stadium construction, or two sport players), the vast majority of the time a baseball thread will never turn into a basketball thread without a pure hijack. So it's easy to cordon off basketball into a single NBA thread. But politics are different; most political threads evolve from baseball threads. For people who want to discuss last night's presidential debate, having a single politics thread may make sense. But discussing Curt Schilling's company's financial woes, or Clemens' legal troubles, or the like, can't easily be shoehorned into a single politics thread. And shutting down one of those threads just because they've taken a political turn, and pointing people to a general catchall politics thread, will really disrupt the flow of discussion.
   25. UCCF Posted: May 30, 2012 at 08:44 PM (#4143550)
There won't be any interest in a "Hey, let's talk politics!!" kiddie's table thread.

Until the first post is made. After that, I have little doubt that the discussion will be able to sustain itself. This is an election year, after all.

   26. zonk Posted: May 30, 2012 at 08:51 PM (#4143560)
But politics are different; most political threads evolve from baseball threads. For people who want to discuss last night's presidential debate, having a single politics thread may make sense. But discussing Curt Schilling's company's financial woes, or Clemens' legal troubles, or the like, can't easily be shoehorned into a single politics thread. And shutting down one of those threads just because they've taken a political turn, and pointing people to a general catchall politics thread, will really disrupt the flow of discussion.


I think it's fair to say that some threads are destined for political turns - Schilling's certainly, Clemens maybe (and isn't politics at least better than a steroid thread?)... Any Luke Scott said something thread... Rollins campaigns with Obama/TLR appears with Beck...

Would it be possible to just move threads? I agree with David here - some good conversations will just snuffed out. Once the threads evolve (devolve?) into multi-paragraph dueling case studies, I think the participants would gladly follow them elsewhere. Then, the usefulness of the conversation becomes the polithread mini-moderators problem.

I know you don't want to go all Scoop or slashdot, but maybe a quick 'click to vote it off the mainland' would allow such threads to go their own way, but out of the way, once some critical mass of dislikes gets accumulated.
   27. Jim Furtado Posted: May 30, 2012 at 09:02 PM (#4143589)
David, political discussion *related* to the subject of a thread isn't a problem. What's a problem is when a conversation devolves from there into something completely unrelated and then goes on and on and on and get nasty. If people want to debate the state of the current presidential election I will want that discussion in its own off-topic political thread, so people can choose to see it in Hot Topics or not.

For example, if a thread like "Albert Pujols Pulls the Lever for Obama" gets posted, the ensuing conversation, as it pertains to that topic, is fine. Even if it's slightly tangential, it's not really an issue. It's when, after 400 comments, the topic becomes something about abortion (or whatever) that I don't see a reason to keep a thread open. This isn't an unreasonable request.

tshipman, the architecture isn't being changed because of the off-topic political threads. Instead, the new system will allow me to better serve the desires of site members. Those who like off-topic stuff will be able to see it; those who don't won't be able to see it.

One of the biggest reasons for this change is to handle a larger volume of topic-specific content. I'd like to see a more links submitted for particular subjects. Right now, if I submit 10 Red Sox articles people complain. With the new setup the best of those links will show up on the home page but all of them will show up on the Red Sox page.

Andy, I tested such a mechanism . It's too much of a resource hog right now. Additionally, it makes it more difficult for people to completely hide off-topic threads. With the new system people will make one selection in their member profile if they want to add off-topic stuff. Otherwise, they won't have to do anything. In your case, you make the selection and you get the status quo.

Andy,
   28. UCCF Posted: May 30, 2012 at 09:15 PM (#4143604)
For example, if a thread like "Albert Pujols Pulls the Lever for Obama" gets posted, the ensuing conversation, as it pertains to that topic, is fine. Even if it's slightly tangential, it's not really an issue. It's when, after 400 comments, the topic becomes something about abortion (or whatever) that I don't see a reason to keep a thread open. This isn't an unreasonable request.

I guess my question would be - what's "slightly tangential"? I understand if the discussion is about Pujols voting for Obama, that's the topic of the article. If the discussion turns to who the various BBTF posters would vote for (and why, of course - endless posts why Obama/Romney are great/Satan, etc.), is that still on-topic enough to keep the thread open? Particularly when there's already a dedicated politics thread where that discussion could take place?



   29. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 30, 2012 at 09:21 PM (#4143612)
folks can try to pretty stuff up all they want but the players in teh political threads never change, their views don't change, frankly i think they cut and paste entire passages from other threads as a means of spitting out the same points time after time after time after time.

and before anyone posts the stupidly childish "you don't have to read the thread" i don't participate in a thread once its gone to crazy town.

any means of keeping that small sect of noodniks housed in their own enclave is fine with me.

edit: i vigorously defend free thought. and in almost any scenario i would be stating let them speak. but these crackpots are just screeching for screechings sake. can't put a bullet in them so go ahead and stick'em in a box somewhere and let them relish in the echo of their own voices
   30. tshipman Posted: May 30, 2012 at 09:22 PM (#4143614)
tshipman, the architecture isn't being changed because of the off-topic political threads. Instead, the new system will allow me to better serve the desires of site members. Those who like off-topic stuff will be able to see it; those who don't won't be able to see it.


I see. I guess we're all at a disadvantage because we aren't seeing all the emails you get from people. I realize that I almost certainly don't have the full picture, but I think that the OT threads are a positive to the site (and it's image). Maybe politics should be an exception, but the NBA/Soccer threads are distinct positives to the site, and have received (at least for the NBA thread) positive mentions in other publications.

I would respectfully continue to encourage you to leave the other sports OT threads open to lurkers and new members. It improves the caliber of discussion, and anyone who is annoyed by their appearance needs to only take one brief step to fix the issue.
   31. base ball chick Posted: May 30, 2012 at 09:22 PM (#4143615)
jim

let me see if i understand this correctly - in order to see everything that is posted to this site, i have to go to my member page and make sure that i subscribe to every single possible topic. are you going to make a list somewhere of every single topic so we can see threads?

am i going to have to keep an open tab to every single thread in order to continue to see it if it leaves the main page? if not how would i be able to click on it again?

if i do not log in, exactly what will be seen if i just go to the btf.org/newsstand webpage?
   32. villageidiom Posted: May 30, 2012 at 09:23 PM (#4143617)
The bottom line seems pretty simple to me. We should be allowed to maintain threads we like on our own Hot Topics sidebar, and allowed to delete threads that we don't wish to view. WHO LOSES UNDER SUCH A SCENARIO?
Well, you, but obviously you don't see that.

You can already bookmark threads. Bookmarked threads appear above the Hot Topics sidebar, so if you want to maintain threads you like on your own Hot Topics sidebar it seems you can do the equivalent already.

If you delete threads you don't wish to view, and those threads eventually gain steam and become something you would wish to view, you'd miss out because you'd deleted it before it got interesting. If you want to label that as not losing out, that's fine, but we disagree. You really didn't miss anything in the first 110 minutes of the Death of Derek Jeter thread, but by deleting it at that point you would have missed out on one of the best threads ever.
   33. Jim Furtado Posted: May 30, 2012 at 09:25 PM (#4143620)
I'd rather that it be impossible for general baseball newsblog content not be subject to ownership by team-specific moderators. That seems like a potentially large problem with no possible upside.

Right now, on a daily basis, between 10 and 20 articles make it to Primer. What usually dictates the total is how much I am posting (Repoz is thankfully very consistent) or how much other people are submitting. It's also currently the case that people have to wait until either Repoz or I approve submitted links. In both cases it's not particularly manageable. With the redesign, people deemed "Trusted Primates" will be able to post directly into the system. Their posts will be directly available on the New page of the homepage and al the applicable micros. Members will be able to vote them up, save them to their Hot Topics, and start commenting on them. The moderators of the primary micro will be able to change the status to "Open" which will make the entry appear on the specific micro. At the same time, the site's admins (Repoz and I) will be able to add the entry to the homepage or change the status to "Open" which will trigger its display on all the micros.

So, ultimately, what appears on the homepage will still be controlled the same way it has always been with the added benefit of having content go live much sooner (when Repoz and I aren't available to make it live) while also involving more people to help us pick out the best content.
   34. fra paolo Posted: May 30, 2012 at 09:28 PM (#4143628)
The politics people are being unduly alarmist. Based on what I have seen of the beta, you'll have a better experience because it will be less likely that people like me will whine about how you are taking over the site.

As far as the real baseball fan (as opposed to team or league fanboys) goes, it will be up to the moderators to use the tagging system efficiently, but from what I've seen it seems improbable that you'll miss out a thread that is of general interest because the wrong kind of moderator posted it.

There will almost certainly be some issues that will need to be worked through by the moderators, but a little patience and goodwill ought to sort them out.
   35. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 30, 2012 at 09:33 PM (#4143641)
jim

can you install an electric buzzer attached to repoz that can be activated by a toggle so when he posts a topic only vaguely tied to baseball but guaranteed to set off a firestorm i can hit the toggle like say 500 times?

send me the bill on the programming costs
   36. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 30, 2012 at 09:34 PM (#4143644)
oh, and i won't insist the electric charge be attached directly to his anus.
   37. tshipman Posted: May 30, 2012 at 09:41 PM (#4143663)
So, ultimately, what appears on the homepage will still be controlled the same way it has always been with the added benefit of having content go live much sooner (when Repoz and I aren't available to make it live) while also involving more people to help us pick out the best content.


This explanation seems really confusing to me. Does the site have enough users to make this work? It seems like a reddit/digg style set-up, where upvoted submissions become more easily and readily viewable.

That system works on those sites because they were designed to have really large userbases. That had never seemed to me to be the intent for this site.

We don't really need more than 10-20 articles a day to post about, imo, and the conversations are almost always better than the articles.
   38. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 30, 2012 at 09:49 PM (#4143681)
Andy, I tested such a mechanism . It's too much of a resource hog right now. Additionally, it makes it more difficult for people to completely hide off-topic threads. With the new system people will make one selection in their member profile if they want to add off-topic stuff. Otherwise, they won't have to do anything. In your case, you make the selection and you get the status quo.

Jim, I appreciate that you're trying to explain things to us technopeasants, but I still have no real idea why simply giving us an opt-out for threads we don't want to see should be that big a problem. IMO its virtue is in its simplicity. There'd be no need for you to do anything once the option has been created, as nobody would be forced either to view threads they don't like, or have to worry about threads they do like being moved or shut down. I don't see why political "hijackings" should be treated any differently than food hijackings or video game hijackings, but maybe you're saying that they won't be---it's hard for me to know for sure from what you've written.

Also, if all you mean by "resource hog" is that such a program would take up too much of your available bandwidth compared to what you're planning to put in place, just say so and I'll understand.

--------------------------------------------------

The bottom line seems pretty simple to me. We should be allowed to maintain threads we like on our own Hot Topics sidebar, and allowed to delete threads that we don't wish to view. WHO LOSES UNDER SUCH A SCENARIO?

Well, you, but obviously you don't see that.

You can already bookmark threads. Bookmarked threads appear above the Hot Topics sidebar, so if you want to maintain threads you like on your own Hot Topics sidebar it seems you can do the equivalent already.

If you delete threads you don't wish to view, and those threads eventually gain steam and become something you would wish to view, you'd miss out because you'd deleted it before it got interesting. If you want to label that as not losing out, that's fine, but we disagree. You really didn't miss anything in the first 110 minutes of the Death of Derek Jeter thread, but by deleting it at that point you would have missed out on one of the best threads ever.


That's a good point, but wouldn't it only affect those who pull the trigger too quickly? I wouldn't plan on deleting OT threads myself, for the very reason you mention, so I wouldn't be affected.
   39. Morty Causa Posted: May 30, 2012 at 09:50 PM (#4143685)
Please! This is supposed to be a happy occasion. Let's not bicker and argue over who killed who.

   40. JLAC is engulfed in a harmless burst of flame Posted: May 30, 2012 at 09:54 PM (#4143693)
There won't be any interest in a "Hey, let's talk politics!!" kiddie's table thread.

Until the first post is made. After that, I have little doubt that the discussion will be able to sustain itself. This is an election year, after all.


Yeah, the idea that the usual suspects will somehow voluntarily restrain themselves when there's a thread there just begging to ring with the sound of their voice is probably a non-starter. They'll find each other.

Anyway, the problem with the "off-topic" nonsense isn't the topics. It's the people. And it always has been. But good luck to you all, I wouldn't want to see anyone's personal enjoyment of the site unduly impaired.

But discussing Curt Schilling's company's financial woes, or Clemens' legal troubles, or the like, can't easily be shoehorned into a single politics thread.


Outside of the fevered imaginations of the usual suspects, those topics have little if anything to do with politics.
   41. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 30, 2012 at 09:59 PM (#4143711)
jlac

hey, stop stepping on my lines

you wanna piece of the cracking on the nimrods action
you get in line
   42. JLAC is engulfed in a harmless burst of flame Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:03 PM (#4143728)
Harvey I am going back to the Lounge and I'll let you indulge your electrode fetish in peace.
   43. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:04 PM (#4143729)
jlac

just yanking your chain
   44. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:04 PM (#4143732)
I guess my question would be - what's "slightly tangential"?


Pretty much everything I post.

Outside of the fevered imaginations of the usual suspects, those topics have little if anything to do with politics.


Everything is political. Hell, this thread is political, albeit in a smaller bore sort of way.
   45. Jim Furtado Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:04 PM (#4143734)
tshipman, the goal for this site has always been to find the most interesting content. In the early days of the internet it was fairly easy. Now, there is so much content it's difficult to find it all. It is my hope that more great content will get added on a daily basis. It is also my hope that our user base expands to help us do that. So, if you are a Red Sox fan I hope you can find all the interesting Red Sox links on the site. Same thing if you are a Devil Rays fan. Etc.

As for your point about Reddit, the setup isn't dependent on the number of users. If things stay the way they currently are, about the same number of links will get posted to the front page. If, as I expect, more links get submitted, the front page links will get better. At the same time, more good links will be available for each of the individual teams as well.

So, regardless, you will be happy. At the same time, people who come to the site for other reasons will be happier. Win. Win.
   46. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:05 PM (#4143735)
Maybe jlac and harv should just get a room and get it over with. (smile)
   47. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:06 PM (#4143739)
David, political discussion *related* to the subject of a thread isn't a problem. What's a problem is when a conversation devolves from there into something completely unrelated and then goes on and on and on and get nasty.


Jim, in order to discuss the specific ("related") issue, it very quickly becomes necessary to discuss the abstract issues.

---

That having been said, I do note that rec.sport.baseball threads in the 90s (and those of the other team-specific usenet sites of that era) rarely if ever got political. (Or, at least, if they were, I wasn't reading them.) Every thread was about baseball. I'm not sure why that was; my guess is that in that time period there were so many people coming in with noise like "He's a great player because of his batting average/wins/RBIs!" that many of the threads focused on why it was flawed to evaluate players using those things. But the people here generally use evaluation methods within a much narrower band and so there isn't _that_ wide a gulf in how people are evaluating players and so threads are not as long or get sidetracked...

Still, nobody knew what anyone's politics were from r.s.bb discussions, as far as I can tell. After I came to this site it was interesting to learn what the politics of some of the cross-over posters were, such as to learn that, say, Tom Nawrocki is a committed liberal. Things like that didn't come through on r.s.bb, to my knowledge.
   48. Rickey! trades in sheep and threats Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:11 PM (#4143748)
RSBB was mostly baseball specific. You couldn't spit in the team specific groups and not hit an OT thread.
   49. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:12 PM (#4143750)
For example, if a thread like "Albert Pujols Pulls the Lever for Obama" gets posted, the ensuing conversation, as it pertains to that topic, is fine. Even if it's slightly tangential, it's not really an issue. It's when, after 400 comments, the topic becomes something about abortion (or whatever) that I don't see a reason to keep a thread open. This isn't an unreasonable request.

I guess my question would be - what's "slightly tangential"? I understand if the discussion is about Pujols voting for Obama, that's the topic of the article. If the discussion turns to who the various BBTF posters would vote for (and why, of course - endless posts why Obama/Romney are great/Satan, etc.), is that still on-topic enough to keep the thread open? Particularly when there's already a dedicated politics thread where that discussion could take place?


Yeah, the idea that such a thread would stay on a discussion about Pujols voting for Obama for more than 8 posts is pure fantasy.
   50. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:22 PM (#4143764)
Until the first post is made. After that, I have little doubt that the discussion will be able to sustain itself. This is an election year, after all.

Yeah, the idea that the usual suspects will somehow voluntarily restrain themselves when there's a thread there just begging to ring with the sound of their voice is probably a non-starter. They'll find each other.


If this were so clearly true, the political threads that Jim/Dan sent to the forums would have continued to thrive there without missing a beat. But instead, the threads fizzled and died a quick death.

It's kind of funny that we political posters are deemed the black sheep of BBTF; we generate tons of posts for the site.

Jim is going to end up with a very different site. Whether it's better or worse (or becomes a ghost town after the changes set in) remains to be seen. It'll be better for some, worse for others. How much better or worse overall is the question. I tend to think it's a risk to monkey with a thriving site for no good reason, but, well, it's Jim's site.
   51. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:27 PM (#4143766)
I'd greatly prefer opt-out, myself. Come for the baseball, stay for the other stuff...
   52. zonk Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:32 PM (#4143769)

It's kind of funny that we political posters are deemed the black sheep of BBTF; we generate tons of posts for the site.


If my conservative ninny fellow poliposters weren't so wrong about labor organizing, we'd unionize!
   53. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:38 PM (#4143776)
I'd greatly prefer opt-out, myself. Come for the baseball, stay for the other stuff...

I would too, but I trust Jim when he says that he can't do it. Andy, my assumption of "resource hog" is not bandwidth, but computer processing power. It would significantly slow things down if every time Hot Topics was displayed, it had to be cross-referenced with my list of opt-outs. Especially when the list of opt-outs grows and grows since you're never likely to delete an opt-out (because you never see the thread).

I do have a concern over these micro-tags or whatever they're called. We have tags on the site right now and they're used partially for their intended purpose and partially for humor. I don't know if they're searchable now, but I'd bet if you searched on "obituaries" you'd get about 10 threads on players who have died and 1,500 threads on players like Moyer, Livan, etc.

I'm leery of this change, myself. I will probably end up subscribing to everything so that I don't miss anything. And just putting up with the Hot Topics mess. Maybe if the basketball and soccer threads really are self-contained I'll not subscribe to those.
   54. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:39 PM (#4143777)
I hate the political threads but I will say I'm wary of what I'm reading here. I think the ability to subscribe to certain topics I'm interested in should allow me to find those items I'm interested in and dodge those I'm not.

I guess I just dont understand why "don't read wht you don't like" doesn't work for people. As a general rule I simply avoid threads over 100 posts because at best it's just repetitive and at worst it's ugly. Rarely do I find such a thread maintains interest. Same goes for the off topic threads. I don't care bout the NBA and while I know we have a long standing thread I just don't read it, no skin off my nose if others want to waste their time on basketball.

Having said that if this redesign makes Jim and Repoz life easier I'm all for it. This is a pretty great corner of the intertubes and I'm glad it exists. If this makes things smoother for people who maintain it in their free time for no pay I'm cool with it.
   55. Harold can be a fun sponge Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:42 PM (#4143780)
It's kind of funny that we political posters are deemed the black sheep of BBTF; we generate tons of posts for the site.

Two things:

* there is a huge unstated assumption there that generating posts is a goal in an of itself. Call it the Bernal Diaz argument.
* you have no idea how many posters you've driven away from the site with the political threads (and steroids threads, and all the other stupid mindless threads). Let's not pretend it's zero.
   56. Jim Furtado Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:43 PM (#4143782)
Ray, the value of the posts in the political threads is more than questionable. There is a value in having off-topic discussions in that it can help foster a sense of community. Of course, that's assuming a cordial discussion. Otherwise, there is only value to the people actively participating in the thread.

(FYI, there is no financial value to the threads. I know many of the people who participate think otherwise but they are wrong.)
   57. tshipman Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:45 PM (#4143785)
I would too, but I trust Jim when he says that he can't do it.


Huh? If you can do opt-in, you can do opt-out. I think The Jim has expressed a preference for opt-in (as have other posters and possibly advertisers).

If in vs. out is a technical restriction, then obviously, I understand, but it's my impression that The Jim thinks that opt-in is the way to go. See here:

So, regardless, you will be happy. At the same time, people who come to the site for other reasons will be happier. Win. Win.


I don't want to belabor the point, as Jim has obviously thought about it and made up his mind. I think that random curiosity drives a lot of new commentators, and I'd hate to miss out on new people's opinions because they didn't know about a section of the site. But, them's the breaks.
   58. The Kentucky Gentleman, Mark Edward Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:46 PM (#4143787)
From reading about the rumored changes to the site, I'm kinda worried about BTF turning into something like SBNation's collection of team-specific sites. What I mean is, it seems like Primer will have pages specifically dedicated to White Sox talk, Cardinals' talk, politics' talk, etc. So White Sox talk would be restricted to the White Sox page, and Cards' talk would be restricted to the Cards' page, et cetera and never the twain shall meet. I like the idea of a Red Sox fan posting about the White Sox; it's one of my favorite parts of this site, getting perspective from fans of other teams. I think, with team-specific pages, these types of conversations will be hampered.

Also, as a fan of a not-so-popular BTF team (White Sox), I really can't see a Sox page generating enough interest to support 5 or 6 articles per day. Team-specific sites like White Sox Interactive & South Side already cover this niche & I think it'll be difficult getting that kind of audience here.
   59. The Yankee Clapper Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:48 PM (#4143788)
Although I've posted in some of the political threads, I think Harveys is quite accurate in noting that they frequently end up with the same relatively small group of Primates making fairly predictable arguments, and it seems in many cases, rehashing old arguments, interspersed with considerable name-calling and insults. It's not surprising to hear that many people who come to a website devoted to baseball for the thinking fan aren't interested in these spats. I don't blame Furtado for trying to limit these threads although I'm not sure how successful this effort will be.
   60. rr Posted: May 30, 2012 at 10:49 PM (#4143789)
The Schilling thread at the moment is a (civil) discussion of college tuition/loans/higher education issues. Is that the kind of thing that is to be avoided/frowned upon?

But discussing Curt Schilling's company's financial woes, or Clemens' legal troubles, or the like, can't easily be shoehorned into a single politics thread.


I guess I am not really clear on:

1. What exactly is meant by "politics."
2. Whether the issue is what people talk about or how they talk about it.
3. How much this is just about certain posters.

As to #1, I think the better term is "worldview threads" and how those go mostly depend on how polarizing the topic is. For example, there was a long, heated discussion about the 51-year prison sentence that was given to the guy who (well past the legal alcohol limit with a record of DUIs) plowed his car into the car that was carrying Nick Adenhart. Was that a "political" thread? Apparently so, I would assume.

As to #2, looking at the situation with Schilling (and Mr. Furtado himself posted one Schilling link), other than the fact that Schilling played baseball, the story has nothing to do with baseball. In addition, Schilling himself is polarizing, as are the issues of government spending/"corporate welfare" and the current issues in the US and global economy. So, while a couple of those threads became video game discussions, it was pretty obvious, given the history of BTF, that the discussions would to some extent get both ideological and testy. OTOH, people still complain about the PED threads, and those are clearly a key baseball issue.

As to #3, there is some hostility towards the posters (maybe 15-20 people, with 5-7 hardcores) who talk about politics specifically on a very frequent basis. Is this actually a site-level issue?

Obviously, Mr. Furtado can do as he wishes, and I will keep coming to the site regardless, as I have never really seen the point of complaining too much (although I have complained some) about a site that is:

a) Great
b) Free

But I am a little hazy on what is going on here.
   61. Lassus Posted: May 30, 2012 at 11:01 PM (#4143793)
If this were so clearly true, the political threads that Jim/Dan sent to the forums would have continued to thrive there without missing a beat. But instead, the threads fizzled and died a quick death.

Agree.


Jim is going to end up with a very different site.

Absolutely agree. I do wonder if he's ready for that.
   62. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 30, 2012 at 11:16 PM (#4143802)
OTOH, people still complain about the PED threads, and those are clearly a key baseball issue.


Right. People will complain about anything. Why they don't simply ignore the threads they don't wish to read - as I do with the silly basketball threads - is a mystery.

But I am a little hazy on what is going on here.


It's not clear to me either what is going on here.
   63. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: May 30, 2012 at 11:23 PM (#4143807)
If you can do opt-in, you can do opt-out.

I don't know anything about Expression Engine or the customizations that Jim uses. But while the ability to do opt-out exists, Jim said that it's a resource issue. I can make assumptions on how the data is stored in the databases, and having a thousand people each with 5 or so bookmarks is probably very different from having a thousand people each with 150 opt-outs. And many people WILL have hundreds of opt-outs. I see a basketball thread, I opt out. That opt out setting is probably written to a database record. I'm never going to remove it because 2 seconds later it's out of my memory. I never see it on hot topics so I don't know when it goes away, so I never delete my opt out. I can see the queries taking a long time to return.

And also, note that you have a separate bookmarks section. Hot Topics is not filtered by your bookmarks.

Anyway, bookmark vs. delete under the current structure is one thing. Opt-in vs. opt-out by topic is another, and that's what Jim has said he is doing. Opt-in vs. delete thread are apples and oranges.
   64. Jim Furtado Posted: May 30, 2012 at 11:26 PM (#4143809)
Those of you who participate in political thread and who are acting like there is going to be a big change to what you see on the site are overreacting. With the changes you will not only be able to discuss this stuff ad nauseum, but you'll be able to do it without getting shut down as much as you do now. At the same time the people who don't give a rats ass about these types of discussions, and want to avoid them, will be able to easily do it.

As for the site being different...I sure hope so. I hope the site has more voices, more visitors, and more and better content. I want more quality Red Sox links and commentary. I want more and better sabermetrics links and commentary. I want more and better links and commentary for every team and topic. I also want to better highlight the opinions and thoughts of our smartest members and spotlight the funniest of our topics. Simply, I want more and better *baseball* content.
   65. CrosbyBird Posted: May 30, 2012 at 11:33 PM (#4143816)
I'm getting the impression that there an "opt-in to all" button that we'll be able to press. If that functionality exists, then I think after a brief adjustment, the site will be practically identical for the major players in the political discussions.

Am I off-base in suspecting that the problem is less "people talk about politics" and more "some people tend to engage in antisocial behavior when discussing politics, and defining/policing that behavior is a nightmare"?
   66. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 30, 2012 at 11:33 PM (#4143817)
Those of you who participate in political and are acting like there is going to be a big change to what you see on the site are overreacting.


Well, you're certainly doing a lot of loud announcing of a small change :-)

At the same time the people who don't give a rats ass about these types of discussions and want to avoid them will be able to easily do it.


People already can easily do it.

And do do it.
   67. villageidiom Posted: May 30, 2012 at 11:48 PM (#4143837)
That's a good point, but wouldn't it only affect those who pull the trigger too quickly?
Yes. Since you were advocating for a trigger, I'd assumed you were planning to use it. If I was mistaken, I suppose we can go back to waiting for others who actually want that functionality to second your proposal.
It's kind of funny that we political posters are deemed the black sheep of BBTF; we generate tons of posts for the site.
That you generate tons of political posts on this site - not "for" this site - is a bug, not a feature.
If this were so clearly true, the political threads that Jim/Dan sent to the forums would have continued to thrive there without missing a beat. But instead, the threads fizzled and died a quick death.
That these discussions are so important to you that you provide tons of posts, but cease to do so when one extra click is added to the process, suggests the problem is with you, not the site structure. Jim hasn't been telling you to take your discussion off the site, just move it to somewhere more appropriate on the site - leaving the Hot Topics bar, and the googleable part of the site, less encumbered by off-topic heated political discussion. You and others instead choose to cease having the discussion. Why anyone thinks this is Jim's problem to solve, I don't know; yet it appears he is trying to solve it, as well as the problem for other users who wish the Hot Topics bar to be less cluttered by off-topic threads.

Also, I seem to recall Jim once having mentioned something along the lines of Harold's second point in #55.
So White Sox talk would be restricted to the White Sox page, and Cards' talk would be restricted to the Cards' page, et cetera and never the twain shall meet.
There will still be a main page, and a Hot Topics sidebar.
   68. Bernal Diaz has an angel on his shoulder Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:05 AM (#4143846)
The only posts I generate for this site are my own. I would be horrified to think that anyone comes here to see what I am up to. I suck.
   69. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:09 AM (#4143847)
That these discussions are so important to you that you provide tons of posts, but cease to do so when one extra click is added to the process, suggests the problem is with you, not the site structure.


No. It's not "one extra click" at all. It's a different (and much worse) interface, on a different part of the site, with no "hot topics" connection.

Hence my first question of the thread, in post 10.

Why anyone thinks this is Jim's problem to solve, I don't know


As I said, most political threads start as baseball-related threads. But Repoz also posts threads -- such as the Luke Scott ones -- that Jim cannot sanely hope will not turn into political threads. Why post those kinds of threads, if political discussions are bad for the site? (I don't have the answer. As I said, it's not clear to me what's going on here.)
   70. SM Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:09 AM (#4143848)
I only lurk here, but this seems like a really bad idea to me. Hot Topics is the heart of the site, and having threads not appear on there will kill them.

I'll also say that I was struck by Jim's comments about better links - I for one don't care at all about the links themselves. I click on the link of maybe 5% of the threads I read. It's the discussions that I read this for. If the links are twice as interesting but there are only half as many comments, that's a significant downgrade in my opinion.
   71. Srul Itza At Home Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:10 AM (#4143849)
Everybody is talking about the off-topic political threads, which can turn nasty, but among my favorites are the off topic pop culture (movies, music, TV) and history (military and otherwise) threads. These threads almost never become personal; are great fun to participate in; and are sometimes enlightening.

What happens to those threads?
   72. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:15 AM (#4143850)
I only lurk here, but this seems like a really bad idea to me. Hot Topics is the heart of the site, and having threads not appear on there will kill them.

I'll also say that I was struck by Jim's comments about better links - I for one don't care at all about the links themselves. I click on the link of maybe 5% of the threads I read. It's the discussions that I read this for. If the links are twice as interesting but there are only half as many comments, that's a significant downgrade in my opinion.


Agreed on both counts.
   73. Bernal Diaz has an angel on his shoulder Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:16 AM (#4143851)
Will there be an easier way to refresh the mainsite on the iPhone? In the lounge it is simple. Here it blows.
   74. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:17 AM (#4143852)
Andy, my assumption of "resource hog" is not bandwidth, but computer processing power. It would significantly slow things down if every time Hot Topics was displayed, it had to be cross-referenced with my list of opt-outs. Especially when the list of opt-outs grows and grows since you're never likely to delete an opt-out (because you never see the thread).

If that's really the case, Greg, then I can see where Jim is coming from. I don't pretend to know anything about the technical issues involved.

----------------------------------------------

Those of you who participate in political thread and who are acting like there is going to be a big change to what you see on the site are overreacting. With the changes you will not only be able to discuss this stuff ad nauseum, but you'll be able to do it without getting shut down as much as you do now. At the same time the people who don't give a rats ass about these types of discussions, and want to avoid them, will be able to easily do it.

Of course as Ray and others have pointed out, they can easily avoid these threads now. Apparently that takes too much effort.

----------------------------------------------

I'm getting the impression that there an "opt-in to all" button that we'll be able to press. If that functionality exists, then I think after a brief adjustment, the site will be practically identical for the major players in the political discussions.

Part of the problem is that some of us are so completely unschooled in computer jargon that it's hard for us sometimes to understand exactly what these changes are going to mean in practice. I hope that all the surprises will be pleasant ones.

Am I off-base in suspecting that the problem is less "people talk about politics" and more "some people tend to engage in antisocial behavior when discussing politics, and defining/policing that behavior is a nightmare"?

I probably take part in as many political discussions as anyone, and sure, in some threads that sort of behavior will flare up. I find that it usually emanates from a tiny number of posters who hit and run, but who fortunately leave after one or two comments. And even with classic flame wars like that of David and Sam, I get the strong feeling that they're just woofing each other like pro wrestlers before their match begins.

----------------------------------------------

If this were so clearly true, the political threads that Jim/Dan sent to the forums would have continued to thrive there without missing a beat. But instead, the threads fizzled and died a quick death.


That these discussions are so important to you [Ray] that you provide tons of posts, but cease to do so when one extra click is added to the process, suggests the problem is with you, not the site structure. Jim hasn't been telling you to take your discussion off the site, just move it to somewhere more appropriate on the site - leaving the Hot Topics bar, and the googleable part of the site, less encumbered by off-topic heated political discussion. You and others instead choose to cease having the discussion. Why anyone thinks this is Jim's problem to solve, I don't know; yet it appears he is trying to solve it, as well as the problem for other users who wish the Hot Topics bar to be less cluttered by off-topic threads.

Just out of curiosity, do you think that other "hijackings" by off-topics such as food, music, religion and video games (just to name a few out of many) should be subject to the same restrictions as the political ones? Or do you think it's only politics that should be singled out for isolation?

P.S. That's not a rhetorical question. I have no idea what you might say.

----------------------------------------------

Everybody is talking about the off-topic political threads, which can turn nasty, but among my favorites are the off topic pop culture (movies, music, TV) and history (military and otherwise) threads. These threads almost never become personal; are great fun to participate in; and are sometimes enlightening.

What happens to those threads?


Pre-emptive coke to Srul. And it should be noted that the great majority of political threads rarely get "personal" in any real sense of the word. I've seen and been told about many friendly personal interactions between and among these so-called "personal" blood feuders, which makes it hard for me to take these "nasty" exchanges too much to heart. The nastiest comments I've seen in political threads all seem to come from the hit-and-run artists who never contribute anything of substance to any discussion.
   75. McCoy Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:18 AM (#4143853)
I don't have a dog in this but what in the world do you think is going to be talked about in these baseball threads once the changes are made?

This isn't 2001 anymore guys. As someone else mentioned above you all accept sabermetrics or at least don't disagree with it to such a degree that you'll feel the need to fight over it in thread after thread. So what is left to talk about? "Kemp is BEAST-MODE!!", "Dusty Sucks!!" "Count da RINGZZZ".

I mean that will happen but it can't drive content day in day out. This is supposed to be the "thinking man's" baseball site and gets billed as such throughout the internet. Well, part of the cost one must pay to get that kind of site is stuff like "off-topic" content.
   76. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:21 AM (#4143856)
I only lurk here, but this seems like a really bad idea to me. Hot Topics is the heart of the site, and having threads not appear on there will kill them.

I'll also say that I was struck by Jim's comments about better links - I for one don't care at all about the links themselves. I click on the link of maybe 5% of the threads I read. It's the discussions that I read this for. If the links are twice as interesting but there are only half as many comments, that's a significant downgrade in my opinion.


I think that if everyone actually read the links (no, not the Murray Chass pinata posts, but the real ones), the quality of the discussions would rise considerably. I realize I'm in a minority when I say this.

But I do agree that the discussions are what make this site special. You have to be patient and able to pick the wheat from the chaff, but if you can do that you're often rewarded.
   77. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:23 AM (#4143859)
I don't have a dog in this but what in the world do you think is going to be talked about in these baseball threads once the changes are made?

This isn't 2001 anymore guys. As someone else mentioned above you all accept sabermetrics or at least don't disagree with it to such a degree that you'll feel the need to fight over it in thread after thread. So what is left to talk about? "Kemp is BEAST-MODE!!", "Dusty Sucks!!" "Count da RINGZZZ".

I mean that will happen but it can't drive content day in day out. This is supposed to be the "thinking man's" baseball site and gets billed as such throughout the internet. Well, part of the cost one must pay to get that kind of site is stuff like "off-topic" content.


In the words of the immortal Steve Treder: Well said.
   78. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:25 AM (#4143861)
I had interpreted it as 'opt out' (of a topic) v. 'delete' (viewing of a thread).
Anyway, if an 'opt in to all' button is available, that helps considerably.

Prefer the current model to what's proposed, but It's Jim's site and, as robin notes, it's both great and free...
   79. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:26 AM (#4143862)
And even with classic flame wars like that of David and Sam, I get the strong feeling that they're just woofing each other like pro wrestlers before their match begins.


Exactly. That's what people who don't post in the threads don't understand. I don't call people names or make ad hominems, but most of the "attacks and insults" in the political threads are just people who know each other having fun with each other. It's like... a community.

And why are "attacks and insults" bad for political threads, but totally cool when people, say, mock someone for thinking that Ichiro isn't a Hall of Famer? Somehow, those threads manage to go on for many posts.

   80. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:34 AM (#4143865)
I've seen and been told about many friendly personal interactions between and among these so-called "personal" blood feuders, which makes it hard for me to take these "nasty" exchanges too much to heart.


Yep.
   81. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:41 AM (#4143869)
I don't have a dog in this but what in the world do you think is going to be talked about in these baseball threads once the changes are made?

This isn't 2001 anymore guys. As someone else mentioned above you all accept sabermetrics or at least don't disagree with it to such a degree that you'll feel the need to fight over it in thread after thread. So what is left to talk about? "Kemp is BEAST-MODE!!", "Dusty Sucks!!" "Count da RINGZZZ".

I mean that will happen but it can't drive content day in day out. This is supposed to be the "thinking man's" baseball site and gets billed as such throughout the internet. Well, part of the cost one must pay to get that kind of site is stuff like "off-topic" content.


And yep. The primary driver of the site seems to be the discussions and the community aspect, not the links.
   82. Morty Causa Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:47 AM (#4143871)
Political discussions always get passionate, especially the longer they go. It's the nature of adversarial exchanges. If you don't want that to happen, then ban them entirely and see your website wither away or transmogrify into something else. The history of political discussion almost everywhere (here certainly) should convince anyone that political discussions always skirt a pistols at dawn moment. Pretending otherwise after so much has been presented to the contrary is almost the definition of someone out of touch with reality. Moreover, as has been said, most of that is just gorilla dust-tossing and posturing. Which in itself is both edifying and entertaining.
   83. tshipman Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:48 AM (#4143872)
And yep. The primary driver of the site seems to be the discussions and the community aspect, not the links.


This might sound myopic, but are there even 20 articles about baseball really worth reading in a given day?

I subscribe to Fangraphs and The Book Blog via my RSS reader. Fangraphs posts maybe 10 articles a day, and they're lucky if one is interesting. Tango is more like a commentator, but occasionally one of those is really interesting. I don't read Hardball times every day (because they truncate articles for RSS), but I rarely see things there that really gobsmack me.

The last article about baseball that I can recall that really changed the way I thought about things was Mike Fast's piece on catcher framing (and subsequent follow-up). The rest of it is mostly day-to-day churn.
   84. CrosbyBird Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:51 AM (#4143876)
And why are "attacks and insults" bad for political threads, but totally cool when people, say, mock someone for thinking that Ichiro isn't a Hall of Famer? Somehow, those threads manage to go on for many posts.

I think the nasty posts are always bad (in the sense that they drive away some good discussion and in the sense that new users are likely to find them intimidating). That isn't to say that, as an end user, I'd do anything about it other than community self-policing, but I can see why other people might be less tolerant.
   85. McCoy Posted: May 31, 2012 at 12:54 AM (#4143879)
This might sound myopic, but are there even 20 articles about baseball really worth reading in a given day?

Nope, and probably not even 20 in a week.

And on a different note I would like to add that I think it is incredibly destructive to a site billing itself as a site for the thinking fan to have threads automatically time out after a certain amount of time. If you want research then it has to be open ended. Plain and simple.
   86. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 31, 2012 at 01:04 AM (#4143884)
This might sound myopic, but are there even 20 articles about baseball really worth reading in a given day?

I subscribe to Fangraphs and The Book Blog via my RSS reader. Fangraphs posts maybe 10 articles a day, and they're lucky if one is interesting. Tango is more like a commentator, but occasionally one of those is really interesting. I don't read Hardball times every day (because they truncate articles for RSS), but I rarely see things there that really gobsmack me.


I think one thing Jim is overlooking is that baseball fans in general, and BBTF readers in particular, are so much more knowledgeable about baseball in the year 2012 that there really are few "articles about baseball" that are truly worth reading to these people. In the past, we could look to, say, Rob Neyer's pieces as one of the relatively few pieces out there, at least in the mainstream, that were enlightening. Now, there are a million people doing Rob Neyer, and most people here could do it if they wanted to.

That's why the discussions here are the site's true value, IMO. I would much rather read something that, say, Ron Johnson writes in a random thread than read 99% of the articles linked to here. That's what interests me about the site. And if those discussions are now going to be less accessed by people, that's a huge problem, even if I am able to maintain complete access myself.

The "better articles" Jim is hoping to link to from the site are a unicorn.
   87. PerroX Posted: May 31, 2012 at 01:43 AM (#4143899)
Bring out the gimp.
   88. Jim Furtado Posted: May 31, 2012 at 06:46 AM (#4143925)
I have a busy day planned today so I will have to respond with more info later. I will say that some of you have only a small understanding of what drives traffic and pays for this site. Farrrrrrr more people come to the site to lurk and click on links than come to the site to comment. That doesn't mean that I don't value the people that comment here. I appreciate their time and participation very much. It just means I need to do my best to continue to provide the best site to better satisfy the needs of *all* the site's visitors.

To be clear...for the people who regularly participate in the political threads the experience here *will be improved* not worsened. After selecting your Hot Topic preference, you won't notice a difference.

Ray, sorry but you don't have any idea what you are talking about. There are a lot of interesting articles on the web that don't get posted here. This is especially true if someone is looking for topic-specific links. Getting more good topic-specific links entered into the system will certainly raise the bar on the front page.

Regarding the ability to see "all the topics", by default the front page will show links from all topics. Your customized homepage will display the topics/micros you subscribe to. Additionally, by subscribing the links to your favorite micros will prominently be displayed at the top of the page.
   89. Jose Is The Most Absurd Thing on the Site Posted: May 31, 2012 at 07:20 AM (#4143933)
I think there are plenty of good articles on a daily basis. Yesterday for example there were a couple of good articles on WEEI.com about what the Red Sox should do with Dustin Pedroia's absence and why Daniel Bard's start the other night was encouraging. Boston.com had an interesting little piece on tryouts for the new PA guy at Fenway.

That's just one team and two sources. The articles were not particularly earth shattering but I think they would have had interest to Red Sox fans and the first two would have had some interest to general baseball fans. I didn't submit them because I didn't think they had enough global interest to warrant a posting but with the new team specific BBTF I might have. I imagine every team in baseball has 3-4 articles a day that probably are of interest to its fans and most direct competitors but not to the baseball world at large.

Will there be an easier way to refresh the mainsite on the iPhone? In the lounge it is simple. Here it blows.


I have no problems with the refresh on the iPhone (or iPad).
   90. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 31, 2012 at 08:00 AM (#4143946)
Ray, sorry but you don't have any idea what you are talking about. There are a lot of interesting articles on the web that don't get posted here. This is especially true if someone is looking for topic-specific links. Getting more good topic-specific links entered into the system will certainly raise the bar on the front page.

I've been agreeing with Ray on pretty much everything he's been saying on this thread, but here I think Jim's right.

OTOH there's also this: I haven't found any correlation at all between the quality of the links and the quality of the discussions. I noticed this almost immediately when I first started visiting Clutch Hits, and it hasn't improved over time.

In the best of both worlds, we'd have more good links, and more people would take part in discussing them. But I wouldn't necessarily count on it. To the extent that the anti-political comments have a point, I think that the problem isn't with political discussions per se, it's that too many people are simply unwilling to consider new information on the fly, and when that new information conflicts with their worldview, they flail out against it rather than try to deal with it. It's bad enough when that new information is coming from another Primate, but at least he can press the issue and sometimes succeed. But when the source of that new information is coming from a third party, it often simply becomes nothing but a pinata.

And I repeat: You see this problem every bit as much in non-political threads as you do in political threads, and I don't this these pending changes really address it.
   91. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 31, 2012 at 08:34 AM (#4143960)
To be clear...for the people who regularly participate in the political threads the experience here *will be improved* not worsened. After selecting your Hot Topic preference, you won't notice a difference.


Is this really true, though, for any thread? It might at first glance look the same to me after selecting the preference, but fewer people will be accessing/commenting, since they now have to actively unlock the doors to get in there. Or maybe I have this wrong. But I don't see how you can roll out sweeping changes and then say the site will look the same if people who make a certain selection want it to. Isn't the whole point of the site redesign to make significant changes?
   92. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 31, 2012 at 08:38 AM (#4143963)
the people griping are the people who know that the audience both regular and causual for their constant bleating is about to be diminished.

boo f*cking hoo

this site needs fresh blood and a bunch of hysterical 40 year olds mucking up the place with their nonsense keeps that from happening.
   93. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 31, 2012 at 08:43 AM (#4143965)
i will offer the caveat that if matt is providing feedback that should be taken seriously

the rest? scr&w'em
   94. McCoy Posted: May 31, 2012 at 08:44 AM (#4143966)
Yeah, it's only those 40 years olds that are mucking it up.
   95. Rants Mulliniks Posted: May 31, 2012 at 08:45 AM (#4143967)
I first came to BBTF because it was for the "thinking fan" - the comments on ESPN and other mainstream sites are really just drivel and do not provide anything that you wouldn't get by transcribing the conversations of 10 year olds at MLB game on a school trip. The uniting interest here is baseball - not politics, the environment, science or religion, so I find the off-topic discussions to be very valuable because you are guaranteed to hear the opinions of (mostly) intelligent people with varying viewpoints.

I guess since I have no role in the operation of the site I'll accept whatever Jim decides, but I too would rather see an opt-out than an opt-in.
   96. just plain joe Posted: May 31, 2012 at 08:58 AM (#4143972)
As has been noted several times above it's Jim's site and he can run it how he wants. BBTF is advertised as being for the thinking fan, someone who should have the capability of clicking onto a particular thread, or not. Apparently that is not the case and we are going to have some of our thinking done for us in the future. I would have a much easier time accepting that the changes would be for the better if I still didn't have to log in every time I wanted to make a post.
   97. Joey B. Posted: May 31, 2012 at 09:02 AM (#4143974)
When I asked about this a couple of months ago, one of the know-it-alls here told me it wasn't going to happen. Well I guess he was wrong, and thank goodness.

Haaaaa le lu jah. Haaaaa le lu jah. Ha le-ey luu jaaah.

Quoted for truth.

The people griping are the people who know that the audience both regular and causual for their constant bleating is about to be diminished. Boo f*cking hoo. This site needs fresh blood and a bunch of hysterical 40 year olds mucking up the place with their nonsense keeps that from happening.

Quoted for more truth. Who knows how many actual baseball fans who could have been solid contributors have been driven from the site over the last several years by the endless barrage of garbage, about 90% of which is generated by a fairly small cadre of monomaniacs.
   98. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: May 31, 2012 at 09:06 AM (#4143977)
plain joe

what chat forum doesn't require a log in of some kind? some use facebook, some use captcha, some use their own approach

with the spam out there it's a must or seems to be

what site that is not an informal blog does not have log in of some kind?

   99. McCoy Posted: May 31, 2012 at 09:07 AM (#4143979)
I will say that if what drives traffic and pays for this site are the lurkers that click on links and not comment then I don't really know why there is a need to change what actually drives comments. It would seem to me to be two separate issues concerning two different audiences. It would also seem to me that it is possible to create a system that gets more links put up onto the page without having to do anything about what people comment on.

Secondly, there seems to a concern about what appears on the side-bar and I'm not really understanding why the side bar can't simply be lengthened.
   100. Ray (RDP) Posted: May 31, 2012 at 09:19 AM (#4143987)
Ray, sorry but you don't have any idea what you are talking about. There are a lot of interesting articles on the web that don't get posted here. This is especially true if someone is looking for topic-specific links. Getting more good topic-specific links entered into the system will certainly raise the bar on the front page.

I've been agreeing with Ray on pretty much everything he's been saying on this thread, but here I think Jim's right.


I think the links provide a nice global view of what is going on in MLB on a given day.

I guess the important question here is, why are the lurkers lurking? Are they lurking primarily to see those links, or primarily to see the discussions? My guess would be the latter.

--------

the people griping are the people who know that the audience both regular and causual for their constant bleating is about to be diminished.

boo f*cking hoo


Harveys, this doesn't make any sense. In any discussion, people post to participate in the discussion with those who are participating in the discussion -- not with lurkers who aren't participating. And if the audience is about to go down, that means that there are lurkers who were reading because they were interested. If they're not interested, why are they reading? It's a solution in search of a problem.

----

Quoted for more truth. Who knows how many actual baseball fans who could have been solid contributors have been driven from the site over the last several years by the endless barrage of garbage, about 90% of which is generated by a fairly small cadre of monomaniacs.


Yes, who knows? But the real question is not how many people have been driven away by the current setup, but is whether that number is more or less than the number of people who will be driven away by the future setup.

Mind you I think change can be good. If it's an overall improvement and is addressing actual problems.
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