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Unread 10-21-2003, 07:53 PM
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Post A purposal to all posters: an organized structure for discussion

Ever since the first time I see huge threads consist of 100+ posts, I thought to myself "uh oh, this is going no where." You can see the perfect example of them in the General forum right now, in the thread about FIRST's new qualification for CE. It gets to the point where it takes at least 2 hours to read the whole thread.

Anyway, basically I observed the following type of posts in long threads:

A. Regarding the issue at hand:
1. Questions due to confusion of the issue or lack of attention in the details of the issue.
2. Answers replying to the questions.
3. Negative comments about how the person doesn't like the issue.
4. Positive comments about how the person like the issue.
5. Replies to the negative comments approving or suggesting alternative view points.
6. Replies to the positive comments approving or suggesting alternative view points.
7. Suggestions of change or speculation of different scenarios.

B. Regarding the discussion:
1. Negative comments about how others should not post a certain way.
2. Positive comments about how others should post.
3. Replies approving/rejecting them.


The topics in A are ALL good reasons to make a post. Even though some think too much criticism is unhealthy, I would like to argue that the posters has a right express their frustration and disagreement on the issue at hand, as long as they don't force their opinions on others. It is important to understand exactly what are the negatives in things like FIRST's new CE qualification rules.

But that's not saying everyone should do just that. In my opinion, the better reason to post is A7 (suggestions of change), and A5&6 (replies to others comments) because we are getting something out of the discussion.

The topics in B, however, are some what repetitive and gets old after a while. And even though some have great advices, generally those advices are ineffective or disappeared in the mass of posts.


So, here is my proposal to ALL CD posters.

Let's organize the discussion into something that's easy to follow, and easy for readers to look up comments they want to see without having to go through the entire thread. Here is a structure off the top of my head:

Main Topic-> Issue 1, Issue 2, Issue 3, ...etc.

1. Clarification of the topic.
2. Positive comments regarding the topic with evidence.
3. Negative comments regarding the topic with evidence.
4. Suggestions to improve things.
5. Alternative speculations.

On the very top we have the Main Topic, when someone decided an issue is worth discussing over and started a thread. Then the people can choose to divide the main topic if it is complicated. Once the specific issues are pointed out, we then divide the discussion for each issue into 5 threads as suggested above. It is ok to agree or disagree in each of those threads, but each post should have the same purpose of the thread, whether it be clarifying confusion, or understanding the Cons of the issue, etc.

That way, Jason's giant post in the CE qualification thread would be divided into the appropriate area, and each point will be understood easily when the reader is only focusing their attention in one issue or a part of the issue.

Of course, not all 5 area would be needed every time, and the topic could be really simple. But the structure will work for all cases, regardless whether you use all of its components or not.

I believe in the long run, it is necessary for all of us to follow some sort of structure when they start discussion, to avoid having more 100+ posts threads where people are responding to others randomly. I would really like to set something in place to show new members how they should post, and the fun of having a constructive discussion. (A destructive discussion would be a thread with posts talking about different topics randomly with no clear direction, resulting in lots of emotional responds that's unreasonable and harmful to others.)

I urge Chief Delphi and all CD forum readers/posters take a look at this suggestion, and give some feed back to this proposal. To start an example, I would like all of you to to divide the feed backs into:

1. Clarification of the proposal.
2. Positive comments.
3. Negative comments.
4. Suggestions to improve the suggestion.
5. Alternative speculations.

:-)
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Unread 10-21-2003, 08:38 PM
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Sounds confusing...but I like the idea anyway.

Any time a topic gets over 100 posts on any message board (especially this one, where the posts tend to be very verbose), the topic becomes very difficult to follow unless you've been there since it started.

Ken's idea is definitely worth a shot. It may be too late to start with the topic on qualification, but we should try it the next time we've got a potentially big topic.

[edit] Looking at Ken's post again, I'd move 1a and 1b to another thread, and eliminate B entirely. We don't need comments telling others that they're stupid. Flaming isn't part of gracious professionalism. [/edit]

At the very least, we should try to create two seperate topics: one for general discussion (mainly comments), and one for questions about the subject of the topic.

One question for Brandon: would all of these extra topics bog down the CD server?

Last edited by IMDWalrus : 10-21-2003 at 08:41 PM.
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Unread 10-21-2003, 09:32 PM
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1. You basically want to make it easier to get to the information people want to read as well as make it easier to follow lengthy topics, right?

2. It has some promising aspects. I would then be able to keep up with this thread about the new CE qualifications. Even though I've been with it from the beginning, I can't keep up with it even though I'm on here several times a day. If I could quickly pick out the stuff I wanted, I could handle it better.

3. This could also prove to be too confusing. For my post, everyone will have to refer to your list of 5 categories. This will take some organization to work and even then it may be too cumbersome and confusing for the greater good.

4. I would suggest putting the theory to practice in some fashion as soon as possible after the basic bugs are worked out. Like Andy B. said - you can theorize all you want, but the sooner you build it the better off you're gonna be (that's not exact).

5. An alternative may be to somehow moderate important threads. When something comes up like this CE information, maybe it would make sense to reserve the opening to a small group of selected moderators (maybe not according to the current term, but you get the idea) and then have them keep a close eye on what's going on. It may be too much power to allow them to totally screen every post before it gets posted, but maybe they could be able to pull things off a thread or ban someone from it. I realize that moderators do some of this now, but I'm suggesting something more like an assigned moderator for a thread. This has downsides too - it would take a lot of time off someone's hands to moderate a large thread.
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Unread 10-21-2003, 09:55 PM
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Won't the new style options in vb3 solve this problem?

Threads, and individual topics will become better organized (as they are posted). Things will flow nicer with little/no effort from the moderators.
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Unread 10-21-2003, 10:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by JVN
Won't the new style options in vb3 solve this problem?

Threads, and individual topics will become better organized (as they are posted). Things will flow nicer with little/no effort from the moderators.
It have the potential to do it, if people choose to do it. Otherwise it can be just as messy if not messier.
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Unread 10-21-2003, 10:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by JVN
Won't the new style options in vb3 solve this problem?

Threads, and individual topics will become better organized (as they are posted). Things will flow nicer with little/no effort from the moderators.
Thats what I was gonna say..

I do have to say that all the 'B' type posts that Ken mentioned are probably better suited for a private message. I've seen it happen alot by new users and by the veterans. If you see a problem in a thread whether it be with the way a user posted, etc, report to a moderator or send them a private message. There's no need to bring it up publically, and bring the thread further off topic.

anyway......soon..
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Unread 10-21-2003, 11:37 PM
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A forum is a place for the public expression and exchange of ideas, thoughts and comments

somewhere between a causal conversation, and a formal 'white paper'

you cant expect people to follow a format in a place like this, anymore than you would expect people talking at a bus stop to follow a ridgid set of rules for talking about the weather.

you make it sound like having a 100 posts in a thread is a bad idea?! thats what the forum is HERE for - so people can talk about things, maybe get something off their chest

a little venting on a forum might help someone get over their anger or frustration, and stop them from doing something else, like quitting the program.

communicating with one another is part of what makes us human - if we had to put our ideas into a fixed format before posting them, this forum would be dead within a month.
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Unread 10-21-2003, 11:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by Brandon Martus
Thats what I was gonna say..

anyway......soon..
I guess what I am really suggesting is a mindset for the posters. I agree with the coming vb3 thread style, it will be easier to organize discussions. However, that doesn't mean the threads will be automatically organized because the software is updated.

Posters have to understand that they have a responsibility to keep their discussions in such a way that others can follow it. As it is right now, just in the example of the CE qualification thread, there are about 3000 words per page on average, and an average reading speed of about 250 words per minute, it will take about 120 minutes finish reading the entire thread, about 2 hours.

Now, imagine FIRST wants to see the reaction of the new rules, and come into the forum. It will take them 2 hours just to finish reading the entire thread. And even then, a lot of the time is spent reading the B category posts or unnecessary comments because someone didn't read in details. I am guessing the ones who keep up with the entire thread are the ones participating in them, and not any random readers who prefer to read rather than post, and doing that in their free time in periods of 15 to 30 mins during the day.

The CD forum is important for its participant, yes, but it is also important to lots of readers out there who don't post regularly. To be an effective place to share ideas, information, and thoughts, the messages need to be concise, as Andy Baker suggested. But I am also suggesting the entire thread itself needs to be clear and concise too. That's why I suggested a structure to it.

Take a look at an attempt I did to organize the information from the discussion about National Qualification 2 years ago:

http://www.chiefdelphi.com/forums/sh...=&threadid=699

It was probably a waste of time doing such thing, but I felt a need to do it because the threads discussing the new qualification process became very large and confusing, making it very hard to keep track of what's said and what wasn't, not entirely unlike this year's thread.

Just a suggestion of course :-). But I feel the need to do it.
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Unread 10-21-2003, 11:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by KenWittlief
you make it sound like having a 100 posts in a thread is a bad idea?! thats what the forum is HERE for - so people can talk about things, maybe get something off their chest

a little venting on a forum might help someone get over their anger or frustration, and stop them from doing something else, like quitting the program.

communicating with one another is part of what makes us human - if we had to put our ideas into a fixed format before posting them, this forum would be dead within a month.
Nope :-). I am suggesting the 100 posts in a thread can be better organized so everyone can follow it easier, and have a clearer understanding of what's said.

I am totally for the venting that people make when they feel frustrated or angry about some rules FIRST made. A lot of times people can be too critical of those venting, saying "the rules are made, deal with it." All of us understand that FIRST are ran by people, and because of that, the decisions made won't be perfect from time to time. It is the valuable input from the people who voice their opinion in this forum that make FIRST better every year.

I value this forum a lot, that is why I would like to see it getting better and better every year, not unlike those who want to see FIRST better and better every year. :-)

I do understand what you are saying about making the forum less alive if everything is in a fixed format. That is exactly why I ask for feed backs.

However, consider this:

Wouldn't it be nice to have a "clarification" section under the CE qualification thread so people can ask questions in there, and not cut off the flow of discussion in the main thread? Wouldn't it be nice to have individual section for Pros and Cons so people can focus in one thing at a time, and understand that voicing concerns of Con's is just a healthy as recognizing the Pro's?

Also, consider this:

At FIRST's team forums, as well as any other group discussion aiming to understand and learn something, isn't it unusual if the discussion is free for all with random comments here and there about different things? I believe what usually happens is there is an agenda clearly showing what topic will be discussed at what time. I also believe that a lot of people attempt to organize themselves so FIRST gets to hear their frustrations as well as compliments, so the discussion will not turn into a deadlock of different sides arguing with each other.

Another example:

Say you are designing a part for your robot. When reviewing a paticular component, you want to organize the review into looking at the Pro's and Con's of the design, and then look into each of them to see why the Pro's are good, and why the Con's are bad and how to fix them. Again, you do so in an organized manner instead of everyone shouting comments at the same time.

I've violated the rules of keeping posts concise, so I will end it here. Please consider what I said. I would really appeciate any more feed backs base on the discussion happening in this thread so far.
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