I have been using this site for a little over 2 years (I think!) and I have to say that the quality of the posts has degraded rapidly over that time.
When I first started using the site, you didn't see the same question posted 5 times to the site (OK, there was less people, less topics and therefore less chance for repetition.)
Also, you didn't see vitually every thread reduced to a slanging match between people who not only can't agree to disagree, but who behave like children in their comments to each other.
I would very much like to see two big changes in TSS.
1) Moderate conversations. If you started a thread, then you should have the ability to moderate it. You should _not_ be able to delete other peoples post (free speech is the goal, fud is the inevitable risk of said goal.) However, you should be able to mark that post as "off my originally posted topic." Everyone should be able to revise their own posts (so long as no one has replied to them. To let them edit after reply would be to potentially remove the content someone refers to in their reply.) The threads should be filterable by those browsing so as to either sort the off topic posts to the bottom, or to ommit them altogether. When posting a message, you should be given a drop down of topics on which the thread could comment (E.g. EJB, J2EE, Web services etc.) It should be a little more granular than the current forums in the discussions thread, but not too granular or it gets too cumbersome for people. Lastly. Content could be moderated by a rating system similar to AOL's warning level, or ebays feedback system, with an iconic representation of someones community rating. We should then be allowed to filter our searches based on people's rating. There are certain people who are just here to be inflamatory and I'd love to be able to filter them out!
2) Searching. The biggest problem with discussions these days (apart from the issue I mention above) is repetition. Newbies ask the same question. Not because there's anything wrong with them asking (we are after all, here to help each other, and we were all newbies at this at one time) but because the search engine simply isn't good enough to let them find their answer. If the topic list (see (1) above) in the new post screen were to show a list of posts on that topic, or the search screens were to be more powerful (not just text based) then perhaps people would find the answer to their problem without repeating posts.
Of course, this is all just my 2c worth. But over the years I've built a few portals and used an awful lot of them, so I think my comments make sense.
Just a thought!
You have got some good points.
The problem with moderated conversations, is that if the author goes away, no messages get seen. This can result in little content being added to the thread. We could also do something like "these guys are 'trusted' and hence can always post", and users that the community recognizes will not need moderation (those who participate a lot).
We will be upgrading the search engine side of things soon. We know that it is lacking, and are making moves in that area.
Thanks for your feedback.
I take your point re moderation. I think the community rating process works better. Ala ebay, or the warnings settings in AOL. If someone bugs someone, they can ding him or her (just the once.) If enough people are bugged by this persons posts then they will get lots of dings. If all users are able to filter postings out from people with enough negative dings against them to be deemed "noise" then they can view the forums without the dross.
PS. Congrats - Nearly 1/4 million users!
Hi Tony -
I definately like the community rating idea. We are also going to be adding a lot of personalization features. It would be nice to be able have settings like:
- I don't want to hear anything about .NET
- I want to see point release information
- I don't want to see any messages from Bob, Harry, or John
- I am really interested in seeing messages from Dave, and Wilf
Thanks for being part of the community, please post any other feature ideas that you think of!
We definitly need a better search engine. Thanks for reminding us about that. We're considering integrating google or our own home grown with Lucene.
TSS can continue a complete 'free speech' route, bit if so it will lose some parts of the technical audience (including me). That may be the best economic option for TSS (moderation takes work), or TSS may have strong philosophical views in favor of such. But after 2.5 years of reading and contributing I'm now finding that TSS discussions are becoming less worth-while for me.
Consider the example below from the current XP thread:
Posted By: Leonard Ellison
You are getting very emotional whenever someone disses you. This indicates to me that you are a useless bum who does not know how to program...
Posted By: Leonard Ellison on January 29, 2003 @ 01:40 PM
Waaaaaa.... That's right, I am the best programmer out there and I don't need to hold hands with anybody. I don't waste my employer's time requesting this hippie love fest with XP.
You're such a baby Ryan.
Total information content of these quotes: "I'm being obnoxious to Ryan."
I'm a technical reader interested in technical issues. I'm very busy. The above quotes are noise. They waste my time. Worse, it's noise that causes people to reply with more noise, creating an unpleasant spiral that either leads me to abandon the thread or wastes more of my time wading through the muck to find the few gems of information.
That's precisely what I was fed up with when I posted my original comment.
You are absolutely right. Threads invetiably devolve into one of the following fights:
1) .NET versus Java.
2) Microsoft versus Sun (Similar to the above but not the same.)
3) IDE wars.
4) App server wars.
5) Architecture and design wars. Apparently a growing number of posters believe their solution to a problem is not simply "the best one" but is in fact "the only one."
I may have missed some, but that's the trend I've seen.
I, like you, spend a lot less time on this site these days. I simply don't have the time to wade through this kind of thing.
In case anyone feels like flaming me for the above, let me be clear. I am happy to participate and read _any_ reasoned discussion on the topics above. But the emphasis is on _reasoned._ The current tendancy for people to become personally abusive or just downright arrogant about their opinion is what I don't like. The other point is this. If you want to have a .NET versus Java discussion, do it on a thread dedicated to that topic. Don't turn some other thread into that discussion when it wasn't meant to be.
OK, I'm done venting now. It's nice to see someone else shares my views. :)
I have seen myself participating lesser and lesser in these forums over last few years cause many a times they are either a technological bickering or a helpdesk for veri veri trivial questions. It's like "I would have referred the book but since i am at the comp let me post this question here!!!" attitude.
One of the reasons this has happened is because these forums have become pretty mediocre in that anybody can post any question, talk anything, on this forum..As a result one may have to search for a really thought provoking technical question which is unlikely to happen and obviously u lose all the technical audience.
I don't think disallowing certain posts (within reason, of course) is the way to go. I'd prefer to see TSS remain open minded and allow freedom of speech. I would be far less motivated to participate if it didn't.
However, I do think a community rating system for authors or posts can be a very useful tool. When the community is big enogth (and the TSS community is) you will rarely have to read a crappy post before many others have read it and rated it.
and then see if you think more than 33% of the posts are actually ALL of intelligent, well argued, related to the topic and polite.
In a couple of them, people are going for straight profanity (which is not, and should not be, acceptable.)
I feel myself sorely tempted to post to these threads telling people to grow up, but then I would be off topic as well, so I post it here instead where it is actually related to the thread topic! :)
Guys, you need to deal with this soon, or the site will collapse. Like we have all said to clients. If you have a great system, it doesn't matter a row of beans, if the data contained therein is garbage.
Please don't let that happen to TSS!
Thanks for your comments guys. We'll do a better job on moderation.
A simple addition to posting: a checkbox indicating wheter or not the post is on topic.
And when viewing, give each kind a different color.
I was trying to read the "call for j2ee stories" thread, but it spoiled with crap. It would be great if i just could read about j2ee stories, and skip the rest, in a simply way, but without breaking the freedom of speech.
This would be good, but the people who tend to write those kinds of posts wouldn't check the checkbox.
We have plans for a scoring system. Then the community will be able to help itself out.
Still, i sometimes can't resist to post something off-topic, (like simply saying thanks), or basically a reaction that doesn't add value to the thread, but we're humans talking to each other, and that's ok.
I think it would be a valuable addition to highlight relevant posts and gray the chatting that can be skipped by readers looking for data on the topic.
No one will rate a "thank you" below zero? There's no point in rating some posts.
If your not convinced about a checkbox, what about interpreting <chat>blablabla</chat> in posts, and render it gray?
I understand where you are coming from. Maybe we need both.
We want to give the community the 'power' to choose what is good and what is bad.
The rating system doesn't have to be 0 to 5, it could also have meaningful flags like "SPAM", "OFF TOPIC", "RUDE", "TOP QUALITY". Then, we could use different colours to indicate what the messages are, or other means.
When you post a "thank you" reply, you could even flag it as "OFF TOPIC" (or some other flag) yourself.
I think we should be rating people (the posters) more than we should be rating individual messages. That makes it easier to rate things.
I do see the new link "mark as noisy" which I like. :) Good start. :)