Are The Blogs Here Ruining The Forums?

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I was just wondering how many use the blog section either to post or respond there? I consider the blog section here to be somewhat of a no-man's land. I suspect they were seen as something that could attract people to the site. But I see a downside.

20+ years ago I was pretty active in Usenet... a pre-web system of forums. It was designed to have a logical layout making it easy for topics to be found... such as us.politics.elections.2000 and the place new forums were proposed and debated was another forum called Config. Debated there was whether the new forum proposal fit into the logical hierarchical naming convention and whether it was duplicative of existing forums? Would the new forum pull users from an existing forum that was already struggling? The idea was to make it easy to find a topic one was interested in... and be able to meet others interested in the topic all to facilitate efficient discussion. The WWW destroyed much of that efficiency. Anyone could set up forums anywhere... and it didn't matter of there were 300 identical forums at 300 different sites.

The blog section here reminds me of what the WWW did to Usenet... it pulls people out of the forums. So instead of a reader finding a forum that revolves around a topic... the new "forum" revolves around a person and the topic is secondary. I suspect that's why we don't see Thom's posts in the forums anymore... and who knows if he even reads the posts or responses to his blog. And sure... Thom deserves his own space... after all it his his site.

The blogs just don't pull great topics and people from the topical forums the mechanism there is unlike the forums where active topics get bumped to the top. Blog topics no matter how active get bumped down when a new article is added and the community archive feature is hardly the easiest to use.

The blog section reminds me of a forum I often posted to. It was for a NPR daily radio show and the comment section was set up for every show... which meant in a few days, people would move on to the new shows. The old forum topics would languish. Unlike a forum where older topics are still easy to find... those blog posts are so difficult to find... I wonder what's the point. All this is to suggest I think the blog section should be reconsidered. And why should the blog section get preferential posting options such as for images and embeds?

Just my 2c.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Comments

From what I understand about software ,which is very little, some of the problem may lie there.

Programs can be made to allow replies/comments w/in a time limit, say only every 12 hrs or24 hrs, which would eliminate some of the obsessive trolling .

mlk

michellekovalik's picture
michellekovalik
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Oct. 15, 2013 2:25 pm
Quote michellekovalik:

From what I understand about software ,which is very little, some of the problem may lie there.

Programs can be made to allow replies/comments w/in a time limit, say only every 12 hrs or24 hrs, which would eliminate some of the obsessive trolling .

The issue, or question here isn't about trolling... it's whether the personal blogs here at the site pull topics and traffic away from the forums... and also make discussions on topics more difficult to find.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

LOL, All Thom hartman.com wants is eyes on a page that contains advertisements. Traffic is traffic regardless of the page.

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stwo
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote ulTRAX:

I was just wondering how many use the blog section either to post or respond there? I consider the blog section here to be somewhat of a no-man's land. I suspect they were seen as something that could attract people to the site. But I see a downside.

.....etc

Just my 2c.

Good question but...

Nobody who's participating on these message boards is in a position to answer that question. The administrators are the ones who can "see" and measure the activity. Will they drop by and discuss it here? When pigs can fly.. that's my suspicion given what I've been seeing transpire on the board over the years.

Do you see any serious activity coming from management on the board? Occasionally Sue will bother to post something.

The question I've asked some time ago is more like: Does Thom and his staff really care about these message boards and what takes place on them?

My own humble opinion now is no, not really.

If I was the administrator of a message board of this nature, and it was part of a larger site design, and I saw the message board is troll-prone and problematic to manage for the larger message of the host who's public persona draws people to a site, I might decide the best way to get rid of the problematic message board which still has loyal Thom participants is to stifle it. How would I do that? Oh, say, by making it difficult to post any really useful show and tell form of messaging that includes embedded images and other very useful picture clues to give words some sort of context. Guess what? What really happened to the ability to do that about five years ago? I remember Nigel telling me I could do that sort of thing in a blog if I wanted to. I haven't, I have my own blogs out there floating in inertia somewhere. I'm not much of a draw like Thom is, so I don't get much traffic.

Another strategy, I would maybe make writing and then editing a nightmare as well. Make learning to use the software the way most normal interactive sites have it set up a graduate degree kind of endeavor.

Then, just to really frustrate concerned participants, I might remove any interactive potential between management and the participants. For instance:

What's the point of flagging a post as offensive if you can't explain what exactly the offense might be? I can remember when I could explain why a poster's post was offensive to me, and the result was I irritated management to the point where they banned me. So now I don't waste my time with that.

Who are the moderators? What role if any do they play? The last two I knew about were polycarp and drc2.

In other words, just let message board die a natural death because it's living interactive parts are dying off. That's what I see taking place.

Personally, I see the message board as an area that Thom himself lost interest in when he moved out of his home in Vermont many years ago. The whole thing began to transform. The community I found in 2004, the friends I made as a result... all gone.

When I found this board in 2004 it was a lively community and Thom was an active participant. We knew who the moderators were. We were all somewhat reflective of the participatory democracy that Thom likes to talk about. But I suspect Thom still sees private property and business as separate from the public domain. Is this site public domain? No.

At first, many years ago, he generously or perhaps naively encouraged us to be democratic participants in this extension of what was his Vermont "home" here on the internet. I can detail how that changed, how the management philosophy seemed to change, and how the core of the community, including the moderators, split from the management in the process. I could but I won't give my two cents about why that's happened. Maybe it's just the inevitable story of capitalism and democracy clashing as an infernal, dialectic paradox that simply destroys any serious community making processes.

Thom's business is to be a political talk show host. Underneath it all is the need to stay in business and make money. Community is not completely unimportant but not primary when private property is involved. Community inevitably becomes depersonalized and turned into statistics. Yes. Advertising is part of that. I've got it turned off on this site, but not everyone knows how to do that.

I have no clue what management here at Thom's is thinking. Perhaps they were thinking this: Blogs could, in fact, be reorganized to become a new kind of message board draw for Thom's site. Perhaps they could even be a solution to the endless task of trying to control the clever paid correspondents and other less professional trolls who try to spin Thom's messages for the purpose of other interests as we know propagandists always do. Thom's well aware of it. He wrote about it: Cracking the Code. We once had an active forum on that book when it first came out.

As a former site administrator, I know from experience that trying to keep tabs on these competing interests and their insidious undermining tactics is a major concern. I also know it's like swatting flies in a barnyard filled with manure. You have to go to Monsanto for a cure, which may also kill everything else in the process.

I know of several sites, one in Europe with a cousin site here in the U.S. that run on the blog concept... and run well. Check this out:

European Tribune and its American cousin Booman Tribune.

They call their notion of blogs "diaries" where people start conversations with thoughtful mini diary like essays from which will follow discussions if anyone's interested. I notice that Moderators kill trolls quicker than you can say "shit!"

I'd be surprised if the webmaster, Nigel Peacock, who has been Thom's friend and site designer since he started the message board, is not aware of these types of interactive web site designs. Perhaps that's in his big picture web design that's been evolving and unfolding for years. He's now just waiting for it to come about.

I don't get the feeling they give much thought to what we think about the message board. We are more like statistics than personal friends. When you have too many friends it's very difficult to show each one personal concern. Thom's the draw, he needs numbers to stay in DC. This is his private board. It's part of a business called Mythical Intelligence, Inc.

My two cents...

.ren's picture
.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am
Quote .ren:

The question I've asked some time ago is more like: Does Thom and his staff really care about these message boards and what takes place on them?

My own humble opinion now is no, not really.

I agree. I've noticed that Thom on occasion cites something from the chat room, he never seems to quote anything from his forums. I started a thread on this last Dec...

http://www.thomhartmann.com/forum/2014/12/why-does-thom-cite-du-posts-an...

And he did it again today... citing something from DU.

With the new blog section Thom no longer even has to visit the forums to post as he used to.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Sorry to have indulged myself with that long post, but I don't know any other way to provide context in this environment. I didn't need to write nearly as much years ago when I knew most everyone on the board, and we had a lot of tacit understanding going between us when we posted. If you share tacit understanding with a group of people, the trolls are much easier to laugh at and ignore. Jokes on them actually work. You can get them really upset and then they become subject to banning. Kill the community-based tacit understanding and the trolls tend to rule.

I think what you are noticing and pointing out illustrates what I was trying to say about this being Thom's personal business site and as such his business success becomes the priority. Perhaps the message board just doesn't serve his needs.

For the more literary-inclined the blogs may give them the option of actually playing around with more complex ideas using words. Maybe that structure is better for that than a message board environment. It's not just forgiveable to indulge yourself, you are supposed to present your opinion in some sort of intelligently described fashion with your blog. I've been reprimanded by many posters for doing that on the message board over the years. Some people consider a sentence with more than five words a run on, and a paragraph with more than three sentences too big.

The blog section isn't exactly new for some people, I suspect. Here's the first blog post after Nigel brought this version of Thom's site on line back in early 2010: Webmaster's Blog

Here's a March 2010 blog from Nigel that informs us how much investment went into making this the site we now find it to be, for better or worse. I happen to be in disagreement with those who find it "better": Preparing the site.

My disagreement is certainly utterly irrelevant. I need to keep in mind Thom and his corporate staff's investment when I vainly hope for some change that better suits my idiosyncratic needs.

Fundamentally we are dealing with institutional momentum. Momentum is harder and harder to change as these formal human creations grow, Form and flexibility are ever at odds. That's a basic fundamental of institutions. If that weren't true we could probably quickly admit we are destroying the planet and abandon all the institutions responsible and shift to something sustainable.

Mythical Intelligence, Inc., is, I remind myself, an institution, and Thom's business has grown. It's a lot like trying to change the machinery of military spending that's planned by various congressional budget committees and instituted into bills that are budgeted for spending over the next 20 years. Then we complain because the new President who campaigned promising hope of shrinking the military industrial complex "finds" after taking the oath that he is as trapped as we are by our own institutional momentum and doesn't do anything (as if anyone gets to that point in their political career wouldn't know these things).

I can see what's going on here is way out of our hands as participants. I don't know what that means completely, but I have realigned my thinking about how I post as a result. And I am a lot less frustrated, though probably not nearly as satisfied as I'd like to be. I do believe It may be worth talking about just so we can come to grips with what's going on for our own sense of closure, or whatever.

.ren's picture
.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

The community I found in 2004, the friends I made as a result... all gone.

Not all, well maybe all but 1.

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douglaslee
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Sorry doug, a bit of an overstatement... you're still here, after all, as am I. Each of us a bit like Ishi, I suppose.

To be clear, I was thinking community as a whole and the underlying tacit understanding that goes with community we'd discussed on another thread recently. Remember when Thom, too, was a part of it? We all talked to each other at least some of the time, though talking past has always happened as well.

When something immeasurable but real vanishes, the accuracy, the reality of the memory itself is called into question. In some way I felt that's the cultural destruction ulTRAX is asking about... because I don't know how to answer his question with measurable "facts." Do you?

.ren's picture
.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am
Quote .ren:When something immeasurable but real vanishes, the accuracy, the reality of the memory itself is called into question. In some way I felt that's the cultural destruction ulTRAX is asking about... because I don't know how to answer his question with measurable "facts." Do you?

One possible semi-objective measure of forum usage... not "community" which seems more subjective, is to use the sorting function for thread views. As one sorts through new and old posts... are there more of the older posts that have more views than newer one?

There are some built in biases using this method. Older posts have been around longer and have had more time to be read... and, the closer threads are to the first few pages, the more likely they are to be found. So if a 2 year old thread is responded to... it's back in the limelight. None the less it might show whether the forums got more traffic before the blogs were started.

ulTRAX's picture
ulTRAX
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm
Quote ulTRAX:

None the less it might show whether the forums got more traffic before the blogs were started.

All the message board posts and all the blog posts go back to the same starting point in 2010. That's when the administration activated this board. Old board stats are not available to us anymore as far as I can tell. So I don't see how we can measure traffic before the blogs started.

You can look at the "community archive" found under "currently chatting" and see the history of blogs posted per month, per year going back to 2010. I just quickly skimmed them and I see that blog posting geared up into the 190-200 range by April 2010. Seems to average in the 200 range, just skimming. I noticed October 2011 had the highest number of blogs posted from 2010 to now. I don't see any evidence of an increasing crescendo of blog posts from 2010 to now. I don't see any publicly displayed measurement of blog views and replies, as there are of these message board post views and replies. Without a lot of blog by blog reply counting, it would be difficult to make some of those comparisons, impossible to make others.

I may have misconstued the topic by trying to bring out the cultural change issue. Also, it doesn't appear that's what interested you to raise this question. So I'll just leave that part alone for now.

.ren's picture
.ren
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Apr. 1, 2010 7:50 am

Having followed this thread since you came in .ren I think that yes, yuz guys are kinda talking passed each other while at the same time agreeing that the site needs improvement in some way.

Hello hello Mods. Is anyone listening?

There's more than just a couple of us out here that have a bit of an interest in the how this site is both constructed and moderated.

rs allen
Joined:
Mar. 15, 2012 5:55 pm

One of the bloggers here has started a Facebook group, using Thom's brand name. I don't know if he had authorization from Thom to use Thom's name, but I would think Thom might wonder how such a closed Facebook group, one attracting thousands of participants who might otherwise be posting here (1769 members there so far), serves the interests of this forum. I personally think it undermines this site, as many of its members used to be active participants here. But, if you prefer a closely policed, dissent-averse, politeness-enforced place to express yourself, yet without the freedom to post links, etc., then that would be the place to go. It won't be my choice, though. It's one thing to moderate against actively cruel, personal attacks; I'm all for that. But it's quite another to police against all dissent and/or criticism of sacred cows.

Zenzoe
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Here is a question a little off topic. It might be specific to me due to not having my settings right. There is a notification icon next to the login/username - Is it only for blogger to blogger messages? Or, Is it suppose to notify when your forum or blog post are replied too? Because, I've never been notified when someone responds to my comments. I lose track of my post sometimes, and don't respond for the obvious reason.

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RichardofJeffer...
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Jun. 23, 2011 11:31 am

There are people who know that they wrote a blog. Either they don't have time or don't have any interest in responding to what others say about their blog postings.

The range of issues that is discussed on talk radio is rather narrow. If there is a need to draw a parallel, or to try and explain how one trend or problem relates to another, then I can see where someone might want to expand a topic. Another approach, however, would be to post seperate blogs or bulletin board bulletins on different topics. There are some standard topics, themes, and complaints, such as the military-industrial complex, brought up by Thom on the show, and brought up by progressives, not only on this Web site, but elsewhere, that sometimes get to be rather repititious and monotonous. A lot of the people here keep up on the news to the limited extent that they have the time to do so, and to the limited extent that current events-related information is reported in the media. To talk about news stories ad nauseam sometimes gets to be a bit much, especially when there are not any new insights that are being put forward beyond what is readily available or has already been said.

Sometimes, things can become overly philosophical and thus both abtract and removed from everyday reality as well rather didactic. Most of the participants here including myself are not professional teachers or communications workers whose job it is to keep it interesting and to try and hold the audience's attention.

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Robindell
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Jul. 31, 2007 4:01 pm

Will Racism Backfire on Trump...Or not?

Thom plus logo Trump's son Eric said on Fox News that he's loving the Democrats being upset about Trump's racist language. He argued that it's playing right into their hands.
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