When the board started the Chicago forums, I had suggested instead that they have a “local” forum, where people can sign up to a region-based group and only members of that group see the forum listed on the main page. The thread asking about British Dopers reminded me of this again. While it might not help with targeted advertising, it still seems like something which would be useful to have, if it is technically possible.
If there was a Washington state forum that I could sign up for, I’d feel more inclined to ask local questions and I’d be more aware of local get-togethers, politics, etc. And, for instance, I would probably be interested in what’s going on in other regions like the UK or the EU, or Asia, so I’d be interested in seeing forums dedicated to those topics while not even seeing the areas for places I have no interest in.
As regards moderation, people would still be able to report posts, and I suspect that would be sufficient even if it wouldn’t allow as hands on a method of moderation as when there is a smaller number of forums to patrol.
It’s a great idea, but as you say, the technical issues seem unmanageable at the moment. We’re talking MANY forums: one for each US state, each Canadian provinces, and then every country where we have posters? And would California be split into LA and SF? Would the Scotland be separate from England? Would London be separate yet? Etc etc. So, it’s been in the we-need-to-think-about pile. It would need to be organized in a way that’s different from our current forum organization (people won’t want to scroll through 100 forums to figure out where to go.) And we’d be setting up some forums for two or three posters.
At the moment, it works pretty well to just add to the thread title: Posters in Walla Walla: Where can I find a Thai restaurant?
I’m the one who started the UK thread, and, no, I wouldn’t like to see a forum for UK users - mainly for the reasons Dex gave: a huge numbers of forums populated with very few users. The way boards like this work best is by having a very large user base. Dilution isn’t good.
I know that there is a set of private forums for the moderators. I don’t see these at all because I’m not a member of the “moderator” group. Assuming that you can create groups that members can freely join or leave, then I assume that you can create forums which are only visible to people who have joined those groups. If there were a hundred regional groups, you still wouldn’t see any at all unless you had joined a region, and then you would only see the forums for that region.
I would probably propose giving each state its own group/forum, then add Europe, Asia, Central/South America, and Africa/Middle East for 54 total groups. Regions which are unpopular will simply go unused. That doesn’t really hurt anything. Point in fact, none of it hurts anything since like I said you won’t even see these forums unless you sign up for them. The definition of a new forum probably only takes up a few hundred bytes. Given the gigabytes of information that the SDMB contains, this really doesn’t affect anything.
Yes, there are hidden mod forums, and anyone with the title “Moderator” or “Administrator” can see those forums. However (here’s the key point): the permissions to view and participate in those forums is done one-by-one, mod at a time, by hand, when a new mod joins the group.
The process you suggest, Sage Rat, is ultimately impractical: it’s too labor intensive. The process of giving each poster permission to view and participate in their chosen forums* would have to be done BY HAND, one at a time, for each individual.
*Some posters would want to join two or more forums (for instance, if I lived in New Jersey, I might want to also be in the NY forum because I work in NYC.)
And, by the way, the idea of 54 forums is very US-centric. Why give each state a forum, and not each country/province? If I lived in London, I might not really care about a “Europe” forum any more than someone who lived in St Louis would be interested in a “Western U.S.” forum. Clumping the world by continent is very US-centric.
I’m fairly sure that you’re wrong, or that you’re referring only to “private groups”, which is a different animal than “public groups” which users can register themselves into, if the feature is enabled.
From what I am aware, the board’s population is something like 90% American. I’d suspect that we have a hundred times more people from New Mexico than we do from all of Africa. I was merely reflecting that reality. While it doesn’t particularly hurt to have empty forums, there isn’t any point in creating ones that you know will be empty. If you wanted to get scientific about it, you could look up what states/countries everyone’s IPs are coming from and split things into smaller or larger groups based on actual statistics. For instance, you might join states together that have few users, while keeping separate states with a large enough user base alone.