Why is the SDMB membership declining, and what's the best way to add younger members?

I’ve often thought that rate-limiting an individual would be a good way to deal with troublesome posters for cases when the banhammer would be overkill. If someone was being problematic, the mods could limit them X posts per day. It would reign them in and they’d have to really think about what they wanted to use their post quota on. But that’s more for the board as a whole. It’s trickier when thinking about a rate policy for people in the thread. Sometimes it’s a spirited discussion and the back-and-forth is not really a problem.

Who would tolerate discussions that are against their morals, ie. immoral? This is the crux of the issue.

the most Byzantine and authoritarian moderation policy that I have encountered.

This is a criticism of the SDMB moderation policy rather than the Discourse platform. A recent discussion about whether men’s nipples are offensive comes to mind.

It was really important to some of the debaters that the moderation policy be consistent above all. If we are going to ban female nipples (and male appreciation thereof), then we should also ban male nipples (and female appreciation thereof). The opposite view was that male nipples have not, traditionally, been a problem in our culture. Consistency, in this case, would be a step in the wrong direction unless we carve out all kinds of special rules. Before you know it the rules have epicycles and the epicycles have epicycles. Better, IMO, to just have moderators who know how to use their judgment. The whole thing reminds me of the Monty Python scene.

Now, before I begin the lesson, will those of you who are playing in the match this afternoon move your clothes down onto the lower peg immediately after lunch, before you write your letter home, if you’re not getting your hair cut, unless you’ve got a younger brother who is going out this weekend as the guest of another boy, in which case, collect his note before lunch, put it in your letter after you’ve had your hair cut, and make sure he moves your clothes down onto the lower peg for you.

That covers Byzantine. Authoritarian is a different problem entirely.

The moderators are, IMO, very quick with the official warnings as well as too quick with the bans. The community that I run is almost as opinionated and vocal as this one but we warn maybe one person per month and ban about one person a year. Sometimes we whisper to someone that they are going too far and they say “Oh, thanks! I didn’t realise.” If you issue a public warning, the situation immediately escalates because someone has been publicly shamed and wants to argue back. Again, the remedy is for moderators to have good judgment and to use discretion.

The troublesome posters generally get large numbers of responses. Also, ‘troublesome’ on this board often just means ‘not one of us enlightened ones’. So a new poster comes here, posts a thought, gets piled on, then finds out they can only respond to a fraction of the people tearing them a new one. I’m not sure that’s an improvement that will attract new users.

What about someone posting 6 times in a row to start a new topic? Surely, that’s not desirable in terms of fostering discussion.

The Journey (pictures, long af) - Politics & Elections - Straight Dope Message Board

There’s slightly different rules when you are the topic owner. We already prevent too many sequential replies by the same person, unless you are the topic owner.

@kevlaw one key difference between this community and the one you’re referencing – I think there’s a lot of built-in empathy when it comes to medical condition communities.

I encountered this for the first time in the Rails forum on Discourse a little while ago. I found it a little bit disturbing, actually. I don’t think it solves the problem I’m describing anyway.

I’ll paraphrase:

  1. Optimistic newbie starts a thread with an interesting new angle on gun control.
  2. Within three posts, Old Timer A says “You liberals just want to ban guns” (the same as he said in the last gun control discussion and the one before that).
  3. Old Timer B says * “You conservatives just don’t care about black people” (the same as he said in the last gun control discussion and the one before that).
  4. Before you know it the interesting new angle is just Old Timer A and Old Timer B repeating the same lines they have rehearsed a thousand times before.
  5. Everybody else just shuts up and goes down the pub.

I don’t know what the solution is to this problem. Maybe if you participated in one gun control debate, you have to sit the next one out.

** This argument is for illustrative purposes only. It’s not an actual argument that people have had.*

I started a conversation last year about whether a culture of safety (like the aviation and healthcare industries use) could help prevent accidental shootings by the police.

Within 4 posts, someone claimed, ignoring the OP entirely, that if law enforcement officers can’t draw their guns, they can’t do their job (the same as he has argued a thousand times before). Of course, then everyone has to argue with that person and the well-rehearsed dance resumes. This particular thread managed to get back on topic but, usually, they don’t.

I Iike this.

In my experience it is often new posters who start a novel and interesting-sounding new topic, but they get caught out by not knowing the rules, or dumped on by existing posters for breaking board etiquette, and the topic dies. I feel like the mods could try harder to get threads like this back on track (or onto the track), rather than simply closing them.

Until they start talking about COVID vaccines or Trump or Obamacare! OMG!

Religion is a big problem too as in, your religion is the wrong one. You should be following mine.

The moderation team here has long told us that individuals don’t “own” threads/topics. Is this an official change, then?

Just fyi, CH. D’Anconia and I have been going around it for a few years now and he’s just dragging you into our shit. He’s only complaining because I am the OP.

Edit: stupid VTT. Though I do like ‘Dancing Onion’.

Slow mode would require them to have that argument in slow motion, e.g. each poster is limited to 1 reply per time interval in that topic, say an hour. And a lot of other people could get words in edgewise, whereas without slow mode they’d be buried in a stream of 4-5 other rapid replies.

I think the forced wait between posts would significantly reduce the satisfaction of completing the same old argument?

Perhaps someone else needs to point that out in the topic, to gently remind folks that they are repeating themselves ad nauseam? I can’t think of anything the software could do to help with the “bring out the same old arguments we’ve had a thousand times before” problem.

I’m reviewing all my old notes on this. One thing I saw Discord do recently is a plain 10 minute delay after joining – as in, you can’t post anything for 10 minutes, there’s a countdown timer, no specific requirements, just… wait for the timer to expire and you can type into the chat. This isn’t chat, of course, but the simplicity and effectiveness of the technique appealed to me.

On longer topics I like the idea of requiring new users (or heck, maybe even all users) to have read a certain amount of the topic before they can submit a reply.

I was thinking it would be more a tool that the mods could use as an alternative for banning. If a poster is at the stage where the mods are considering banning, rate-limiting would be a way to put boundaries on the poster to see if they will clean up their act. It would not be something that the general population would be able to enforce on a new poster just because they didn’t conform appropriately.

I very much do not. That kind of passive aggressive policy - if intentional - would discourage me from posting here. It creates a systemic bias against members who hold controversial opinions: present a controversial opinion, and you are expected to defend it. With disproportionally more posts than any one individual on the mainstream side.

If mods want to tell me to take a chill pill that’s fine because I trust and respect their personal judgement. I do not trust or respect automatic sanctions based merely on the number of posts made.


I’m not a fan of automatic sanctions but this sounds good to me:

Also, what @codinghorror describes is not a sanction as such. If you are posting in a thread so frequently that a 60-second pause is intolerable, maybe you are already posting too much.

The mods discourage folks from “junior-modding” so it would have to be mods doing the reminding. But then we’d get more of the over-modding that I complained about before. Or maybe the rule against junior-modding should be reconsidered?

Personally, I don’t see how expressing an observation along the lines of

“We’ve seen this show before, a few hundred times… how about we mix it up this time?”

… why would that be a problem? Everyone who cares should have a stake in the overall health of the community, that’s not “junior modding”, it’s called giving a damn.

I dislike the “Omnibus Threads” for that reason. They do serve one useful function - they sort all the people who want to talk endlessly about certain topics, from certain perspectives, into threads that I can easily avoid. :stuck_out_tongue:

Might there be a slight difference between Discourse’s definition of “junior modding” and he SDMB definition of “junior modding”?

No, it isn’t. codinghorror is not SDMB staff but our gracious host. Policy comes from our Admin Ed Zotti or maybe from SDMB mods.