Hypothetical: what if a topic took over a forum?

This is delicate, because I don’t want any Christians feeling targeted and upset at me, but I am curious about something. In Cafe Society, a “Bible Study” project has been launched. It started about a week and a half ago, where every week a new thread is created to discuss one or two chapters of the Bible. There are two threads already on the front page and of course any of them can be bumped at any time with new input, opinions, observations.

I can imagine a scenario where, at some poiont down the line when there are a lot more of them*, every Bible Study thread is repeatedly bumped so that the whole front page of the forum is clogged with these threads.

Some random thoughts:

  1. Yes, I realize that if I don’t like/am not interested in whatever’s being discussed, I shouldn’t open/read the thread(s), which is fine. It’s what I do now. It’s what I do with every thread of that sort, refrain from barging into a topic I’m not interested in, and complain about it, unless it’s a poll where everyone is asked for their opinion. Even then I usually keep my mouth shut.

  2. I realize that other threads about ongoing topics, such as, say, a television show like Breaking Bad or Glee or whatever, don’t take over the forum, but I think that’s because once they air, and people discuss them a bit, they then fall off the front page. It’s fairly unusual for one topic to be the subject of multiple threads and if it does happen, it’s usually fleeting. Some might get revived every now and then but again, it doesn’t happen that often, and as in 1) I can easily skip over them.

  3. I’m not saying it’s not a worthy topic. While I am, full disclosure, an atheist, I’m interested in history. I have been thinking about reading the threads even though I wouldn’t be interested in the religious aspects. The history and everyday lives of real people, the politics, architecture, food, geography and other aspects of the time and place being discussed would be fascinating (at least, once they get to the New Testament). I probably wouldn’t be able to contribute myself, but I’d be interested in reading posts from people who have studied that era from an archaeological, anthropological and sociological perspective, just as I would if the topic were medieval armor or Jane Austin. I’m continually impressed at Doper knowledge about various times and places.

  4. I’m not saying the threads should be closed. That’s not up to me and I would never demand it. It’s not my business.

  5. I’m not saying that the threads should be moved either. Since they’re about a book, and it’s not supposed to be about witnessing, Cafe Society is where the threads belong.

  6. I’m not implying that people interested in the Bible would be more likely to deliberately bump older threads to overwhelm the forum. However, it would only take one or two newly registered pranksters a few minutes posting quick followups, to make every thread on the front page of Cafe Society a “Bible Study” thread.

I’m just curious as to what the policy response would be IF that were to happen.

  • I’d also like to remind folks that there are 78 Books in the King James Bible, with a total of 1,189 Chapters. At one chapter a week, this ongoing project would last around 22 years. Even combining chapters, as the first thread in the project did, that’s still over 10 years. That gives pranksters plenty of chances to regularly bump all the threads.

I’m a “new posts” guy so while I’ve seen them, it takes a lot of something to really overtake my front page though a while back all the gun threads got pretty close. My guess is that after a little while it’ll run it’s course and they’ll sort of tucker out, just as most anything else like that would.
If it really doesn’t, if in few months there’s always still 7 or 8 of them on the front page of CS, then my suggestion would be one of the following:
1)Ignore it. That is, let the bible study people do as they wish. It’s not fair to moderate them differently then you would moderate something else, provided they’re opening new threads at about the same rate as other things in that forum (say, no more then one or maybe two new threads per week). Even with a TV show that has a new thread each week, old threads still get bumped, though this is slightly different in that if an old thread gets bumped, it’s not as likely to fall right back down. (But if someone started opening 4 Breaking Bad threads each week, a mod would probably step in).

2)If it really over runs the CS forum, they can combine to one thread and self moderate as they see fit. Say, every week they move on to the next chapter. We have plenty of TV shows and threads about other topics that are thousands of posts long. It works, especially if you have a core group of 20 or so posters.

3)This probably isn’t going to happen, but I’m putting it out there anyways. Each week start a thread and ask a CS mod to lock the previous one so it drops down. If it really gains a good following and starts to pick up some steam, someone could create a index thread so it’s easy to find the old ones. New threads could be started if someone has a question about an [del]old[/del] previous topic.

FTR, I don’t participate in these threads and I haven’t read them so this advice is just the same general advice I’d give to any kind of serial thread.

If it becomes a problem, they’ll create a new forum for it. That’s how Elections got started, when political threads began to overwhelm the other fora.

Of course, there will be months, if not years, of wailing and gnashing of teeth and arguing first. If we’re lucky, it will happen behind the curtain in the mod loop, and then all the rest of the wailing and gnashing of teeth and arguing can happen in The Pit after the change is made.

If it becomes a problem, we’ll deal with it.

It seems unlikely to become a problem. There are often brief periods when a particular topic will burgeon in Cafe Society – I’m reminded of when the last Harry Potter book came out, when we had eight or ten threads going at once. Ditto when each LOTR movie came out.

It will also happen pretty regularly with a type of OP, where an interesting debate or question spurs a slew of variants (what’s your favorite X, what’s your least favorite X, what’s an example of an X in a different genre).

I guess it’s theoretically possible that there would be nothing but Bible discussion threads on the first page – but since that page no longer cuts off at 50 but is as long as it needs to be to cover your preferred time frame [the default is two days], this would require that no one else participate in any discussion whatsoever except Bible topics, which seems unlikely in the extreme.

In the meantime, I’ll just offer the usual advice: If you don’t care for the topic of a thread, don’t read it.

twickster, Cafe Society moderator

Thank you for your responses twickster, WhyNot and JoeyP. No one mentioned a possible board software solution, being able to hide threads we don’t want to see, so I guess that’s right out? I’d like that option now, let alone then.

I’ve asked about that option before (there were certain threads whose titles were disturbing to me) and apparently that is a feature of VB but either it’s not available on this update, or not activated.

I want to know what twickster’s embarrassing homonym error was! :stuck_out_tongue:

It is possible, but like you said, it’s not turned on (or not on this update) but I know Giraffe has it activated. You might be able to nose around on the internet and see if there’s a FireFox add on that can do it. It really wouldn’t surprise me if that was available. There was an add on a while back that would disappear a specific user and I thought it could do the same to a thread, but the add on broke a few builds back and they never fixed it.

It would be nice if they turned it on, then people would really have nothing to complain about when threads pop up that they simply don’t want to see. Too many threads about rape/guns/GoT/God/Christmas…Just hide them. It’s even better then the standard ‘don’t open them’ response.

Hiding posts you don’t want to see if not an option in this version of vB. Sorry.

Just don’t click on them. There’s so many varied interests on this board there’s bound to be something for most everybody; conversely, there’s always going to be something you have no interest in whatsoever. So don’t waste your time with stuff you’re not going to appreciate/enjoy.

For me, at least, I was referring to thread titles that would crop that would really bother me, not about individual posts. Unfortunately, there is no way to “not click” to not see a thread title.

One clear example was the thread on the Nazi Human Skin lampshade story. As my parents were in concentration camps and most of my family from that generation died there, seeing that title just would kick me in the gut and it was always a shock.

It wasn’t a huge deal and I asked once when it came up in a relevant thread and got an answer and it ended there. But it’s not about "not clicking"on a thread, but the actual title itself.

Aw come on TubaDiva, admit it. You didn’t even read my OP did you? That’s ok though. I got my answer. This thread can be closed.

Hairy Potter?

78? The version I use, being LDS, has 66 books (as do Protestant editions in general), while versions that include the Apocrypha clock in at 80 books. See this Wikipedia article.

I have a friend that goes by that nick name. He’s old and hairy and throws pots (as in pottery) so they call him The Old Hairy Potter.

I had that happen once; I was on a forum which was discussing various bleeding-edge psychologies and theories. Then 9-11 happened, and overnight it morphed into a politics forum, with almost everybody refraining from discussing the issues it formerly had (and I left after a couple more weeks).

Am I the only one that finds it funny that too many bible study threads could be a problem on a message board that is oft accused of being anti-Christian?

He’s not the only ceramicist who goes by that moniker. I know of at least two more.

Aside: Just to note that the Bible discussion threads are based on LITERARY and HISTORICAL analysis, and do not reflect what is typically called “bible study” (which would go in Great Debates rather than Cafe Society.) It is (so far) neither Christian nor anti-Christian, but academic.

However, I do understand that the point was hypothetical. And it’s already been noted: some topics just flare up and seem to take over for a short while. If that becomes regular, we split off a new forum, like Games and Elections. We’ve had plenty of weekly threads about a particular topic (TV series come to mind.) No generalizations, we’ll just see how it goes and make decisions if/when needed.

That was a typo - she meant to say “honeymoon”.


This board, though it did end up have a lot of discussion of 9/11 (of course), never reached the point when 9/11 topics completely dominated the forums.