I have today received an e-mail via the Straight Dope Administrators. In it, I am questioned as to my points of view about the SDMB. As my e-mail address is that of my employer, you will understand that I am reluctant to distribute it. However, the author of that e-mail suggests
Out of courtesy, I would rather like to respond to the e-mail. Furthermore since the questions are about this board, it seems like a reasonable idea to reply in that public forum.
The e-mail arrived without comment from the administrators, so I am assuming that they have no problem with this. They may however simply not have read that far down the e-mail. In particular, if any mod feels that this discussion is inappropriate to place here then understand that I would empathise with a wish to close the thread!
I will not mention the e-mailers name. If he or she wishes to make him/herself known then I am sure he or she will do so.
So, on with the questions.
A simple one this. I have in the past chatted a lot on IRC and have dabbled with special interest boards (e.g. football), but I have never been actively involved in a generic message board like this. SDMB is the only MB that I read and it is by far and away the most intellectually satisfying one that I have come across.
Interestingly you mention three members whose posts I generally quite enjoy and are most likely to prompt me to a response, even though I often don’t agree with their views.
You do have an interesting underlying point about lazy use of quoting (small soundbites out of context in particular) on the MB in general. However, I think that you will find this the case wherever you go on the Internet – some people are just better than others at language and argument construction. It doesn’t mean that the harder to read posts are not worth reading and certainly going elsewhere will not eliminate the problem - members of the new board will be just as bad if not worse.
Endless repetition of views is also worth a moment’s thought. If those views are repeated ad nauseum in one thread, then that becomes tedious. However each thread exists in isolation – one cannot assume that one’s views will be known in that thread just because they have been stated elsewhere. It is understandable, maybe even necessary, that views get repeated from thread to thread.
If there is a problem in discussion on these boards, as with on other boards, it is in the nothing posts. Some classic genres are[ul][li]”me too”. ‘Nuff said.[/li][li]”ROFL. That was the funniest thing ever, man”. Nothing wrong with a pep up and truly witty posts are always worth saluting (although not everybody need pile in with the congratulations, surely?). These become annoying however when they interrupt the flow of an otherwise fine debate and essentially amount to a hijack.[/li][li]”PosterX, I love you, I want to screw your brains out” – otherwise known as flirting. If you want to indulge in this meaningless crap endlessly in MPSIMS then knock yourselves out. Just don’t interrupt a fierce debate on Republican Marijuana Smokers for Buddha in order to do it.[/ul]The thing is – it isn’t my position to tell others what they should post and how they should post it. They have to find their own MB feet. I’ve been chatting on various guises of the internet for about 10 years now – I’ve done the flirting thing, I’ve done the best friends thing, I’ve done the Meets and the chat. All good fun but I’m a bit bored with it now and the lures of IRL are a little too strong for me. I just want to use the MB for what is, in my opinion, its best attribute – debate with intellectually strong individuals from all viewpoints of life. However to many others this is all still relatively new and exciting. Furthermore to still more people, they haven’t got bored with it all - and I don’t have the right to tell them that they are wrong. I bring this up because I think that it is relevant to your third point:[/li][quote]
3- Do you think Straightdope needs a “term limitation” to overactive members, say anyone with over 500 posts during the past 6 months. How about just cutting off their input after 100 posts per month, or limiting the number of words per post. After reaching a limit, Straightdope can send a message, telling these egocentrics that they are saturating the post, monopolizing the interaction, and exceeding the limitation of their participation by babbling on a tangent. Honestly, these guys are mental equivalent of those flashers (in their old raincoats) with an uncontrollable urge to flash the same old dick over and over again.
You generally find that those with really huge post counts per month are those posting fluff in MPSIMS and IMHO. I don’t read those forums (in fact I’m glad there is somewhere for the flirters and post-padders to go out of my way) and so they don’t bother me. Prolific posters in GD are normally those with the most talent at keeping a debate moving, so the last thing I’d like to see happen is for them to be limited. What is more, although they might be prolific by GD standards, their post counts tend to pale next to the MPSIMS regulars. The pit is the pit and you know what you get if you venture there (actually some of the best debates seem to happen there, even if it is a bit anarchic). GQ seems a bit more of a mess, but it isn’t a place for opinion anyway.
I must admit that the idea of a limit of posts per month had crossed my mind as a good idea before, but then I changed my mind, for the reasons given above. Who am I to say that someone shouldn’t be allowed to post just because they’ve already posted 500 times that month?
Taking your message as a whole rather than in parts, the feeling is that there are those on the SDMB that rather monopolize conversation. Worse, discussions often become about them rather than the issues (as an example, can Stoid turn up at a liberal-issues discussion without all and sundry piling into the fray , focusing on her and not the OP?) This can definitely leave those of us who post less regularly feeling that we are unknown, unloved and irrelevant to the discussion.
From that angle, I will put out a request that regs don’t completely ignore those with few posts just because they don’t know the poster. I don’t expect that the request will be particularly heeded however for two reasons:[list=1][li]since time is limited it is natural to respond to those you know a good discussion will result from[/li][li]Regular posters generally develop the knack of phrasing their posts in a way to encourage discussion. Occasional posters unfortunately often don’t have that knack.[/list=1]In summary, I guess that at the end of the day we could all try a little harder to avoid trying to hog the limelight. It’s not an attractive characteristic IRL and it doesn’t become so here.[/li]
I hope that answers your questions and possibly stimulates something for discussion.