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Discussion Starter #1
There have been suggestions about modifying or eliminating the Off-Topic section of the BB. The moderators have been discussing this and would appreciate input from any interested BB members.

I see four possibilities for actions we can take regarding the OFF-Topic section.

1) do nothing - leave it as it is
2) eliminate it
3) change it to only allow discussion of car related (but non-Alfa) subjects
4) make it an unmoderated zone

Option 1 means the moderators will have to continue moderating as needed. Truth is this should not be so onerous but in fact it often is. When controversial subjects come up emotions (& thus replies) can get heated.

Option 2 takes that problem off our hands but leaves no place for non-Alfa discussions.

The problem with option 3 is threefold - who decides what is allowed, it leaves no place for non-Alfa discussions and it'll still need moderating.

Option 4 takes the problem off the moderators hands but it will require that members self-moderate.

We're interested to hear about other possibilities before we do anything. Please voice your opinions/suggestions so we can make this place meet the needs of the members.
 

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self moderation as an experiment

Try self-moderation as an experiment. It could thrive--or it could self-destruct. Lets see what happens. Most likely entertaining either way
 

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I see no value, but only trouble as demonstrated, in an Off-Topic area. There are other BBs for political, religious, etc, topics. If it's not Alfa related, let it go somewhere else.
 

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Given those options....eliminate.
 

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I wouldn't miss it at all. I think it is irrelevant to the BB. Often, if I want to discuss something else with someone, I just PM them, or mention it in the posting as a minor extension of something they said, as the area they live in, the local roads, the food, etc. but, it is usually in connection with the general subject at hand. It's difficult at times, but I do try to not wander too far, try to maintain the thread of the original context.

As well, other people just PM me if they want some information, chat, or relate information. I never think about the "off topic" column as a means of talking with someone about something nonAlfa. To me, that's what the PM is all about. The "off topic" category is just asking for trouble, as has been proven. Is the BB trying to be too enveloping for subjects?
 

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I vote for #1 with less moderation. Yes, there are other forms, but Alfa people have other interests and new to have a place on this form to discuss, argue, vent. I think it will help to keep the off topic subjects form coming up in the other sections and keep them more on topic with less moderator involvement.
 

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Seeking Input re: The Off Topic Section

With the options given, I would say leave it as it is. I'm afraid making the Off Topic area totally unmoderated might at some point bring legal trouble for the owners of the bb, depending on what is posted and how out of hand it might become.

A few "bad apples" should not ruin the Off Topic section for all participants of the bb. Some of the longest running and fun threads would be eliminated: no more recipe exchanges, jokes, global warming, changing the subject, numbered picture, etc. There is a wealth of knowledge gained from bb participants outside of their Alfa expertise plus you actually get to know some of the bbers in a way that otherwise you wouldn't through the Off Topic posts.

I agree with a previous poster that for those that are unhappy if it is eliminated that you will probably see it creep into other threads, which will put the moderators in the same position of banning and deleting posts from Alfa related threads, so you could in fact, have a bigger mess than you currently have.
 

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So you want to eliminate it because a couple members couldn't behave?!? There can be value added threads for OT things that don't necessarily fall in the other sections such as automotive lifts, tool suggestions, garage construction, other automotive makes, etc.

Obviously threads like guns, religion, and politics will be hot-button issues and are not necessary here. I visit several other automotive forums that simply don't allow those types of threads and there is rarely an issue. I vote for option 3 and just keep threads automotive related.
 

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It has been noted that many of us discovered much about each other through the "off-topic" threads. That is/was a huge positive, and through my nearly eight years of participation on the bb I have enjoyed the bantering about the kinds of music, food preparation, pictures of pets, and LOTS of other insight to the participants. Much of this has translated to a feeling that we "know" each other from miles away and allowed a feeling of friendship preceding face-to-face meetings. I would give a couple of examples - Larry's shared Alfa pies, evening music jams in the convention parking lots, and there are probably a LOT more.

I would very much dislike these discussions to disappear, as newer members of our community would miss out entirely on these opportunities. (I didn't intend to use so many 'disses' in that last sentence.) ;)

I would favor a warning that threads in the "off-topic" arena are un-moderated, have limited monitoring, or that more freedom of expression is allowed to enable participation without total elimination.

Thanks for asking....and thanks for listening...

P.S. - I would hazard a guess that elimination of the "off-topic" forum will encourage more "off-topic" posting in the "Alfa" topics - just a guess, but I'm just sayin'....
 

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My first choice would be to make it unmoderated. The problem is people could choose to post porn or other questionable material and the moderators would have to get involved. If it takes too much work to keep the off topic section above board, it should be dropped. This is a free forum with volunteer moderators, so I'm more concerned about ensuring the AlfaBB can be sustainable. If there is a solution with minimal moderation - great - but we can't let the off topic content affect adversely affect the core mission of the AlfaBB.

Regards,
Lawrence
 

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I would suggest option one with bright and shinny lines not to be crossed.
Too loose a definition of boundaries opens up all of the discussion about degree and intent.
Either you did or didn't and make the rules stick.
 

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The problem isn’t the off topic forum it’s the almost pathological compulsion some folks have to insert politics into any thread. This happens all over the web. Here it seems to be driven by 2 right leaning BB posters who seem hellbent on testing the limits and patience of mods and other posters. I think we all know who they are. Just mention the words “smog test” or “emissions” or “California” and they’ll pop right up.

It’s easy enough to put them on ignore. Or refuse to engage. There’s no need to deprive everyone else of an otherwise fun and friendly part of this board. Eliminating an entire section is just letting the terrorists win. Don't do it.

I’d like to see it stay, as is.
 

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On another thread I listed the posting rules for another car BB. They have an off topic thread and another sub-thread of that for politics and controversy. These and other threads are only open to paying members who have something to loose for acting out.
The system works very well. People can voice their views and no one seems to go ballistic. And those who don't want to see conflict stay away.
 

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I like option 5. What - there's no option 5? Well, there should be.

Here's my suggestion:

Allow the Off-Topic section to remain. That includes (despite my pro-gun control stance) the gun collector thread. Many of us have interests outside the Alfa Romeo world that we don't mind sharing with other Alfisti. Hot topics that are polarizing, such as politics (this includes gun control, not gun collecting) and religion, are strictly off limits.

However, the subject should stay on topic and not get political. Any confrontational posts will not be responded to, only reported to the moderators, who will then notify the offending poster and delete the post.

Even something as mundane as bicycling can find itself attacked by persons adamant that bicyclists do not belong on the road. Rather than arguing with the offending poster, the moderators are informed and the post is removed.

Yes, this may be more work for the moderators. But it would only be on a few threads, and I feel would only be for a short time before AlfaBB users find they can't be confrontational on these threads.

I guess this would be the "no poking the bear" option.
Thoughts?
 

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I think eliminating the off topic area will increase the moderator's work load and they'll constantly be policing all the threads for well intentioned or otherwise errant posts.

I like what Gordy said about them. It has been my experience over 30 or so years messing with these cars that Alfisti are a very social people. Eliminating the social area would be a mistake. I like posting my kitchen experiments, like the breakfast casserole with the Alfa logo on it. Is that off topic? Is it on topic? I don't know. Let's face it, y'all don't either. Someone would thank me for it. Someone would report it to the moderators as off topic.

Off topic area should be like I posted on another thread "Fun and Games... ALMOST anything goes." That said, I don't see how you can let it go unmoderated. Some people just need limits to test, I guess. But doesn't require wholesale thread locking, deleting, and member banning to control that. It didn't before the change. Nothing about the change affected the way any of use or access the BB. Except now with the new owners we do have the mobile app available (ahem, that I suggested, just sayin).

Leave 'em as is. Some of those threads are near institutions like the music thread, the changing subjects thread, the I just bought a... thread. Love that stuff. And it adds positively to my AlfaBB experience. I just avoid the threads that go sour or pissey. They don't bother me at all.
 

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The AlfaBB is a car forum devoted to Alfas.

I don't care about your politics or anything else of that nature.

I do not feel it is or should be a social network - lots of those out there - join Facebook if that is what you are looking for.

Maybe someone should start a AlfaBB Facebook thing or whatever you call it.

Gun discussions, How to make Alfa pies and cakes - maybe some Italian food - how often should you stir your spaghetti sauce and at what temperature should you cook it at.

My vote is for number 3.
 

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Hi Eric,

Part of being a great manager is getting input from your team. Thanks for taking this step.

I really get peed-off over political views. I do not care what your political view is and I'm not here to listen to you. I want to read about fixes to problems and some humorous anecdotes.

When I started on the BB 5 years ago it was fun and everyone was kind. Starting about two years back I noticed more cynical and cliques developments on the BB. I've also noticed some members getting disrespectful and it's a turn-off. Are we getting to be a bunch of cantankerous old men?

Maybe off topic should be the fun section, like the thread "Wife vs. Alfa" and all the funny posts you all added, I've never laughed so hard. Maybe we could have monthly contests of craziest fix, funniest story, or worst breakdown.

Best of luck on finding an improvement.
 

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Keep it I say, and keep it moderated otherwise as Cheryl says sooner or later you'll end up with someone getting all cantankerous and sending the lawyers in.

Just make the "rules" clear in so far as what is acceptable and what is not, then quietly and quickly deal with posts outside the bounds. That should make your job easier and less stressful.
 

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My suggestion doesn't fit any of the options provided but is closest to #1. I would propose the following solution (which contains elements of all 4 choices given, and I would choose #1 only if the following cannot be implemented):
  • Technically speaking, "Off-Topic Talk" is already a sub-forum. Inside that sub-forum, I would create sub-sub-forum called "Talks about general politics, government, taxation, controlled substances & ATF" and leave it largely unmoderated but with a locked sticky thread that puts restrictions on what goes and what doesn't. This means there would be 2 sets of rules: One that applies to the site as a whole, its forums and sub-forums, and one that applies to a specific sub-sub-forum only. The rules for "special interest" type sub-sub-forums could either further restrict or relax global rules (introduce refinements and/or exceptions for which higher-level rules do not apply).

    For example, I would suggest that "Gun Collecting" is discussed in the higher level Off-Topic forum and "Gun Control" is discussed in the sub-sub-forum, because I would categorize the technical side of "Gun Collecting" as being informative and of general interest and the politics relating to "Gun Control" as a special interest.

    However, I would make one exception to the topics rule and have that addressed in the sub-title of the sub-sub-forum, whose description could be something like "Anything about general politics, government, taxation, controlled substances, Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms, except politics and regulation relating to vehicles". Since this is a car forum, I think car-related topics are of general interest rather than special interest and should be discussed at the higher level under the rules that apply there.

  • I'm not sure (and can no longer check since I'm no longer a Super Mod) if the granularity of assigning moderator rights is such that a separate group of moderators could be created for just this sub-sub-forum, which, in essence, would allow self-moderation. These moderators could edit/delete posts and lock/unlock threads at the sub-sub-forum level only, including the sticky thread mentioned above. Higher-level moderators could move threads to the special interest level, but moderators at the special interest level cannot move threads to a higher level.

    Any creation or derailing of threads by injecting political discussions outside of the sub-sub-forum would have to be addressed (controlled) by the moderators having rights at the higher levels, and repeated offenses would lead to suspension or permanent banning.

    The tricky part about this proposition is whether or not the sub-sub-forum moderators should be allowed (and/or can be technically restricted) to suspend and/or ban users.

  • The same principles and mechanisms could be applied to other topics (like religion) and other areas of the BB. For example, the "Picture Room" could be restructured to address issues of contention in the "Women & Alfas" thread. Threads with family pictures could be at the general interest level, while raunchier (and probably offending) stuff, if permitted at all, could be at the special interest level.
This proposal would allow us all to have the innocent fun we had at the Off-Topic level (leaving the rules for this area unchanged), and it may give those who wish to participate in a special interest forum the freedom they seek.

Coming back to the discussion about presence or absence of an Off-Topic area, my sentiments are that it absolutely has to be there. I would not want to live without it. Again, if the options presented were the only ones, I would choose #1 -- but only if something like my proposal cannot be implemented.
 
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