Help, I'm drowning

Discussion in 'Site and Forum Feedback' started by ClimbingTheLog, Jun 11, 2004.

  1. macrumors 6502a

    May 21, 2003
    I was originally going to call this thread, "Should MacRumors Use SlashCode?," but I hate when people immediately suggest solutions to me, so here's the problem:

    I can't effectively keep up with 600+ post threads. I think this is a problem with the vBulletin interface, but I'm posting this in case people have suggestions.

    When threads get really long it's almost not worth going into them because it takes so long to catch up on what's been said already, and it's quite hard to follow conversations in a non-nested form. I know, some people just don't read all the posts but this just makes the forum get full of noise and repeated questions.

    I've tried the threaded mode, but it's quite slow to use when I'm not on my high-speed connection and the tiny little thread window is quite frustrating. Besides, you still have to click through 20 pages of posts in a large thread. On a Slash site, you're not going to get to a second page of posts until you have at least that many posts.

    I think the root cause of these symptoms is the lack of moderation. If I was reading an entire thread on a Slash site without threading and without scoring it might be about as bad, but noone would do that, for a good reason. The inferior threadding interface in vBulletin is certainly a problem, but the lack of moderation just makes it worse. I certainly see some posts here that I'd rather not see at all, and I trust the collective judgement of most of the readership here to insulate me from them. Together we can improve the signal to noise ratio.

    Another problem I have is that there doesn't seem to be a way to get e-mail notifications just on responses to my posts. I'm sorry, but I only have so much time in the day - I'd love to continue more conversations but I'm sure I miss some responses to my posts because I just don't have the time to always go back and keep re-reading every thread in case someone has responded. In fact, I would argue this keeps some of the best talent around here away, at least proportionally. I hate to generalize, but the average after-school highschooler has more time to participate in MacRumors than those in the industry (who might have relevant information) and low-content posts can be deleterious to the succinctness of a thread, further exacerbating the problem.

    I don't think these 'features' of vBulletin actually increase ad revenue as compared with a site layed out more like a Slash site - there are more pages to load at the top level of a thread, but by being flat instead of nested you're only going to get 20 page views on a big thread - often in nested layouts you get a page-view per comment, if the moderation is deep enough. Besides that, increased participation/membership equals increased page views.

    Anyhow, maybe I'm just missing the boat and this is all possible on MacRumors today. Please add your comments.
  2. macrumors 6502

    Jun 25, 2003
    One problem with scoring is that while it attempts to reinforce good behavior, it can cause its own problems. Slashdot is full of people trying to be +5 funny "I for one welcome our blah blah overlords", +5 informative "here is a link to the original text", etc.

    On the other hand, I agree the 600+ post threads are tough to read, especially since much of it is dreck. I find avatars useful. If they have them, they have been around long enough that I usually have my own "moderation" of them. iGav is +5 funny, Phil of Mac was -1 flamebait, so it is easier to ignore some and read others.
  3. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 21, 2003
    I agree, it's imperfect. On the other hand it's better than nothing. The nice thing is you can re-weight the scores for funny to -5 if you want to.

    The SlashCode way to deal with this is to use the friends and foes list, letting the computer automatically show you the messages you'd like to read (or ignore) with score modifiers.
  4. Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    The only threads I really have a problem with are the response threads to the major apple announcements. There are about 150-200 posts already by the time I get to it (i.e. like two hours after it was posted ;)), and unless I want to know something specific (might skim or search the thread) I just ignore it.
  5. macrumors regular


    I saw the title and all I could think was "Swim damn you SWIM!!!!" I really need to calm down :rolleyes:
  6. macrumors 68040

    Powerbook G5

    Jun 23, 2003
    St Augustine, FL
    I just thought of that new anti-drug commercial where the girl stares into the lake while her friend drowns. It's like the frikken Children of the Corn.
  7. macrumors regular


    I'm in the UK and haven't seen that, but I keep seeing a web advert which asks.. If youre friend was drowning what would you do? As much as I click on let them drown, it simply forwards me to an anti drugs site.... obviously I wouldn't let my friend drown really! :eek:
  8. Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    The forums do have moderators, but they are there to weed out totally off-topic posts and enforce the rules of conduct, not to limit the range of comments.

    Suppose Apple announces the 4GHz G5 eMac tomorrow and there are 1000 posts in response. I can undertstand that you might not want to read all of them, but what exactly are you looking for? If you want specs or a review, there are other sites where you can find that. Here, you get reactions from Mac enthusiasts, which of course will vary all over the map.
  9. macrumors 6502a

    Jan 20, 2002
    Washington DC USA
    I actually like the way everything is :) Sometimes I feel like there is content overload when finding threads but once I am inside I enjoy reading all 6 pages and sometimes posting.
  10. Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    Dunno if you were talking to me or the original poster. I should say I don't really have a problem with anything at all -- I just meant that if anything those threads tend to bulk out quickly and I don't *bother* with them.

    I think y'all do a very nice job. :)

    Now the 12" iBook vs. PB threads...well, but there's only so much any one human can do. ;)
  11. Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    I was talking to you and to ClimbingTheLog, since I thought you were both complaining about having to wade through lots of posts. But I now understand that you don't bother when threads get too big. Very sensible!
  12. macrumors P6


    Mar 20, 2004
    "Between the Hedges"
    I am much more of a reader than a poster, but I have found that usually when a thread gets that long, one of 2 things has happened...

    1) The thread has lost its original intent and has gotten severely off track. I click on the number or the last page to see if the comments are still relevant to the thread before I start wading through it or...

    2) Posters are just "piling on" without adding anything to the conversation, just agreeing with so and so, or repeating something that has already been said

    However, I would hate to see any policy or change that weeded people out. Not all of us can be extremely witty, or technically savvy to the point of answering all of the questions. Some of us just want to hang out and contribute from time to time. We like the sense of belonging to something bigger than ourselves. Just because we don't have an avatar doesn't mean our opinions aren't important ;)

    Personally, I learn something every time I read through the posts, and thats why I participate (usually silently). I have been around for a long time reading and only recently started to post anything, and then it was because I had a real problem with my Mac.
  13. macrumors 68030


    Dec 27, 2002
    Alameda, CA
    My general rule of thumb is that any thread that's over 200 posts has almost always degenerated into a 'Mac vs. PC' fight, or an 'I know more about (water cooling, physics, front-side-bus, audiophile specs, etc.) than you do' fight, or a 'Macs suck for playing games' fight.

    After post 200, I'll only skim the rest of the thread if I'm really bored. Sure there have been a few exceptions, but I don't feel like I've ever missed any valuable information basically sticking to this rule.
  14. macrumors 6502a

    Jan 25, 2004
    you forgot the vt super computer was bul vs it wasnt fight
    as evident by a certain thread
  15. thread starter macrumors 6502a

    May 21, 2003
    I want to be able to follow conversations within a certain thread, and ignore others. The current threading UI makes this really hard.

    I also want to be able to participate in a thread and get e-mails if somebody responds to me so I can come back and respond to them. Currently, I must read the entire bulk of new messages in the thread on the off chance there is a reply to one of my messages.
  16. macrumors 6502a


    Apr 26, 2003
    Seattle, WA USA
    Sometimes I wish certain topics would just be forbidden, and I'm not talking about politics, I just think some of the Apple related ones have been rehashed so many times it would be nice to move on. For example:

    Apple 2+ button mouse:
    Everyone and their uncle has seen the pros and cons of this one, and regardless it doesn't appear that its going to change.

    Apple PDA/Tablet/Phone
    This one has been done to death, we all know you'd love one but until things really change alot give it a rest

    Headless iMac/smaller PowerMac
    Again, we all know some people want it alot, you've said it, so give it a rest allready

    iTunes abroad
    Thankfully it looks like this one can be put to rest

    New Displays
    They are coming, we don't know when or how they will look but they will happen, so unless someone has some relavent info repeat after me "PATIENCE"

    And by far the most annoying :
    PowerBook G5
    For technical or marketing or whatever reasons it ain't going to happen this year. You can want one all you want but its not going to happen this year. Please LET IT GO.

    You get rid of those type ofposts and you'd cut the signal to noise ratio by a significant amount.
  17. arn
    macrumors god


    Staff Member

    Apr 9, 2001

    thanks for the comments... and they certainly are reasonable. for various reasons, vBulletin isn't setup the same way Slashcode is...

    Obviously, vBulletin wasn't intended to be a slashcode replacement... but the way this site grew, it sort of ended up that way.

    Moving MacRumors over to slashcode isn't an easy task, and as a result, can't realistically be done. The vbulletin format isn't meant to increase ad/page views... and isn't a top priority in terms of adjusting the format of the site.

    I was hoping the new vbulletin features would make things easier... such as threading... but I personally don't use them myself either as it's hard to follow. I think ideally is if vBulletin incorporates more of a slash-code like moderation feature... but I don't think that's likely.

    I think some people actually enjoy reading through everyone's comments/reactions on major news items...

    anyone else have thoughts?

  18. macrumors 65816


    May 12, 2002
    England, Great Britain (Airstrip One)
    I think a G5 liquid cooled Powerbook is still a really good bet.

    he he

    seriously, I enjoy reading more than posting, and people getting mad at over cooked subjects is one of my favourite reads.

    on a technical point, I was wondering if all posts could have a top right hand button to collapse the post. The thread could load with only the first expanded and then a reader could open and close their way through the thread.

    not sure how useful of usable that would be, just a thought.

  19. Administrator

    Doctor Q

    Staff Member

    Sep 19, 2002
    Human nature will never let news threads be strictly technical, perfectly accurate, or free of the influence of all of our personality quirks. We could cut off threads at a certain maximum size, in effect resetting the thread on topic with some kind of followup thread, but I don't see that that would help much. Cutting them off after a certain amount of time wouldn't help either, since they are by definition less interesting as time goes on anyway.

    We want people to stick to the thread topic, particularly in news threads, but relevance is in the eye of the beholder.

    Everyone has their pet peeves about the topics that seemingly have to be rehashed every few months. Personally, I don't mind the relentless one-button mouse discussions, but the "you should pay/not pay for music" ones wear out my patience. That's just me.

    So, other than put the word Tuesday on the profanity list, a good suggestion for this perceived problem doesn't occur to me.
  20. jsw
    Moderator emeritus


    Mar 16, 2004
    Andover, MA
    I enjoy the verbosity. It still seems to be pretty easy to identify the "useful" threads, as they are almost always the newest ones (as has been pointed out). However, on slow days at work, and when bored, I personally enjoy some of the off-topic migrations. I don't really come here to learn anything (although I often do learn). I come here to relax and feel a sense of community, and it would seem almost too rigid if everyone tried to stay on-topic. Really, for most of the thread topics, you'd run out of "original" material after a dozen posts or so, if that.

    I don't really even see the Mac-vs-PC, G5 PowerBook, etc. posts, except when I am well and truly so bored that even they present something to look at. So those posts don't bother me.

    It would be nice, as has been said, to be notifed when you've been quoted in someone's post. However, overall, I'm pretty happy with the setup as-is.
  21. macrumors 604


    Jul 4, 2001
    1 Block away from NYC.
    I suggest a 'what this page meant' type summary submitted by a person who wants to do it, like me, but this would take user support behind it as well as a revamped vBulletin... Things like the 'Drunk thread' or the 'we need to invade zimbabwe' are impossible threads for people to jump into and other stuff 'hey that was posted on page #3!'

    There is no short term solution to this problem.
  22. macrumors 65816


    Jun 10, 2003
    I for one totally lose track of where people have responded to me, and unless I'm actively involved in a discussion of a particular issue, I generally don't follow up on who might have responded to me. Usually when I post, I've said what I came to say. That does detract from any attempt at conversation, and it's probably bad forum behavior, but as has been pointed out, who besides after-schoolers with amounts of time on their hands that they'll never have again is actually able to keep up with this whole thing?

    I don't mind this, though. And I don't like threaded or scored forums that allow ignoring people's posts, because in every such forum I've ever read, I inevitably have to go back and poke through the side conversations/low-scored posts for a comment that a main thread/high-scored post has referred back to.

    For my time, it's easier having the whole mess presented in all its linear glory and being able to skim what I may not want to read in depth, than to have it buried where I have to go dig for it.

    As to signal-to-noise ratio in general: one of the side effects of building a true community is that members become social with each other, and therefore go off the "official" topics more often. That may not attract someone who just wants to get in, get the relevant points, and get out; but it's the sign of a healthy community.

    For better or for worse, I like these forums the way they are, even if it means that I won't have the time to invest to participate as fully as I probably ought to in the conversations to which I contribute.

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