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

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.

Also, I gather that Discourse is designed to facilitate “community moderation”. I rather like the idea, honestly. But it’s not the style of the SDMB, which has rules against that.

codinghorror was talking about how the software treats thread starters differently than responders. Apparently, thread starters can post multiple posts in a row to start a thread. A responder wouldn’t be allowed to do that without a timeout at some point. So while it’s not a policy, there is a difference in how the software works whether you’re the thread starter or not.

Thanks for the clarification.

Hmm, sounds good.

And yeah. Sometimes the first thing that happens in a thread is a thread ban or a warning. Why not try a gentle request? And I know some Mods do this with notes and that is great, but others start with the nukes.

Do you guys allow personal insults?

I frankly think the whole style of moderation of these forums is antiquated and usually poorly done. This isn’t because of any real defect with the moderating staff, but because the whole premise of how the forums are moderated aren’t good. It’s almost like it was schemed up in the 90s to emulate the role of a moderator in a formal debate. In reality few message boards or communication systems I’m familiar with moderate content this way, and I think for good reason. Most popular subreddits for example the moderators don’t “wade in” with warnings and admonishments, then escalate to suspensions and engage in rules lawyering debates about their decisions in a separate forum. A typical subreddit, offending posts are simply deleted without comment. Posters that post such posts frequently are banned. It isn’t any more complicated than that.

I think the way the mods here “wade” into the muck contributes a lot to the board’s maladministration and the general poor tone of a lot of threads. Since mod admonishment is done in public, a lot of people are jockeying to get other people in trouble with mods and gloat in the results in real time. More modern moderation that just doesn’t happen, there aren’t venues to cry about your offending posts being removed, and there are usually a narrow set of clear rules that can frequently be regulated by an automod. Subjective rules, moderators debating about their moderating decisions, public moderation, allowing offending posts to remain present etc I think all contribute to a form of discussion many people don’t like. Posting on these boards frequently feels like being in magistrate court, which most people don’t find fun.

I’m 100% split on your post, both agreeing strongly and disagreeing strongly.

Yes, but when someone is banned from a subreddit, there’s thousands more that people can post on. Since alternate accounts are allowed, there’s not even any stigma attached to creating a new sock. You can just stop posting in that subreddit and continue on without missing a beat. At the SDMB, if you’re banned, you lose the whole community. The kind of cavalier modding that happens at one subreddit wouldn’t be appreciated by me, at any rate.

I do agree with this. This sort of court drama that happens decreases posting activity as well as decreases more member participation. To extend your analogy, no one wants to be the accused, so they don’t start too many threads. They sit in the courtroom watching and commenting. Starting too many threads or participating too much can get you into the accused seat, so people who are jockeying to get others in trouble don’t do much of that, which decreases post activity and leads to posters not showing up due to both inactivity and not wanting to be the next target.

We do not.

One tool that we have in our arsenal…a mod can put someone “back on moderation” for bad behaviour. The offender can still post, but their posts have to be approved until further notice.

Again, this is posed privately and quietly and no one else knows when another member is on moderation.

Honestly, I feel this is the best way to handle troublemakers (at least on here). It lets the mods directly control what is posted to keep worthless and/or hurtful posts from being posted while letting the offender get a second chance if they shape up.

I agree completely. Given how long the boards have been around and how entrenched some of the personalities are, I think posters being able to say “FFS give it a rest” without getting slapped for Junior Modding (a concept I have literally never encountered on any other messageboard I’ve ever participated in, incidentally).

Agree. Since Reddit seems to be the standard to meet/beat, maybe SDMB needs to ‘advertise’ on Reddit to direct traffic here. Much as I enjoy Reddit’s terrific roundup of politics, for example, after reading the comments, I routinely switch to SDMB for the adult pov . Posts on SDMB are a lot less likely to devolve into a string of puns, and a lot more likely to offer informed, well-written views. I think this would appeal to a lot of people, if only they knew about SDMB.

Instead of Like/Dislike, I’d prefer Agree/Disagree options. And agreement, or lack thereof, wouldn’t change the position of the post in the thread. This keeps the discussion (which is the best feature of SDMB) in order, and gives users a way to participate in the discussion without having to comment themselves.

Yes, indeed, I have seen this occur.

Reddit isn’t the only example of a successful social media site. I participte on StackExchange, and it’s pretty heavily modded. And moderators do participate in discussiins about their decisions.

The problem here is that a ban gets you completely excommunicated from a community you may have been involved with for decades. That’s something that should not be done lightly. If we instead changed the system to allow more micro-banning from individual threads and fora, it could be done with fewer deliberations and explanations. If someone steps out of line in a thread, just ban them from the thread, If they consistently pollute a forum, ban them from that forum for six months.

There’s no reason why a person who cannot be civil in political debates should be banned from talking about their favorite TV show in another forum. Complete banning from the entire site should be reserved for spammers, trolls and the like.

Completely agree, and I may have mentioned it upthread. The permabanning might have made sense in 2003, but we have lost a LOT of good posters who went off the rails temporarily, many times due to external pressures which had nothing to do with this website, and the fact is this:

There just isn’t a vast market for people who want to create long-form written content for free anymore, and a website which requests those people join and contribute should do better to nurture them.

I’m sorry to wade into this long running discussion to post what might have been already beaten to death (is so, please ignore and mock me accordingly), but this shower thought popped into my head today and now seems relevant.

Cecil should probably be running a YouTube series (and/or TikTok/SnapChat/Instagram for bite sized truthbombs) in which the question of the day is answered with the appropriate level of snark. YouTubers are the new blogger and it’s a fantastic platform for discovering new stuff. Setting aside the discussion about skill and time required to do this well, it would be an absolutely fantastic way to attract a new set of acolytes.

I mention this because I think the difficult fact is, a message board (or a blog) simply cannot grow by itself. There’s no channel out there that can be used to increase the number of users here in any organic way, certainly not one that would cater to the kinds of people who founded this community. It’s a hopeless endeavor. Our only chance is for Cecil’s “columns” to real wide appeal again, and that’s just not happening either in print or in blog form. Those mediums are effectively dead.

The Dope has problems, but fixing them is just nibbling at the margins.

The suspension mechanism in Discourse is designed to encourage forgiveness and offers common time intervals along with the suspension – a week, a month, 2 months, 6 months, etc. (But wouldn’t people who really wanted to come back, be able to come back with a different email address?)

I dunno. In my experience, people who can’t be civil with the tough topics … “when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”

It’s been mentioned, but perhaps the most straightforward way to grow is the most obvious one – share interesting discussions via the share link under each post!

That’d be neat, and it would be cool if @Cecil_Adams created some interesting topics every now and then to cultivate fun, irreverent discussions. Right now Cecil’s created… three topics.

I’ve been shouted down for mentioning this before but we, the current users can do this ourselves. Just pop into FB and post ‘this topic requires more nuanced and reasoned discussion than can be had here. Join me @ for a higher quality chat!’. See what happens.

Urgh we don’t want Facebook people here

(only half joking)

I will say I had never opened the Trolls R Us thread until it was mentioned as a low point here yesterday, and when I see posts like this:

I frankly just don’t understand what value that thread, or threads like it, and the sort of posts it generates, are adding to the forum. To be frank I’m not even sure that r/The_Donald, before reddit shut it down, would allow such invective and deranged ranting targeting individual posters. That just isn’t a healthy sign for a community. If I had never been on these boards before and stumbled into a thread like that, I’d surely not have ever registered here, like that’s as bad as stuff found on 4Chan or etc. It also just literally advances nothing positive at all for the SDMB.

I think a lot of the interminable pit threads that are thousands of posts of people just spewing hate filled rants about one thing or another are not only bad for the board, I think they’re likely not great psychologically for the people participating in them. I don’t think participation in community like that is a healthy or good thing, and having seen the bile in some of them for the first time I frankly feel a lot more strongly that the pit needs seriously reformed or removed.

I agree with all of this. I also believe that The Pit has the opposite of the effect claimed for it. Rather than acting as an outlet for people who feel the need to share their hate and anger, it makes it seem normal to want to share it. It’s not normal and it spills over into other forums.