The tone of the forum

Astronomically-related chat

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Post by maurice »

Hi Deimos. I fully accept the usefullnes of quote but it should be used spareringly otherwise it can look like, I said, you said, I said, you said, which even if you are discusing sugar plum fairies can look like a fight to the death!
Thanks Neale.
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Post by joe »

It's curious that you interprate some quoting as hostility or agressiveness, Maurice. I've never thought about it that way although, now that you mention it, I can see why it might appear that way. However, it's only a tool to put a comment in context. Done properly it makes for an easy, well organised discussion.

Personally, I get a bit annoyed when people quote a long post when only one sentence is relevant. Or quoting a long passage with a large image immediately below the post they're quoting! :)
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Re: The tone of the forum

Post by Deimos »

nealeh wrote:Perhaps, on a constructive note, now might be the time to implement a suggestion someone made a long time ago that there should be a 'chat about anything you like' board. Like general but without the stipulation that it be astronomically related.
I appreciate that this comes up periodically and thus I think it may appeal to some (and even like TV programs, if it does not interest you don't watch it). I can see problems with a "anything" area (particularly once it starts on politics) but I can see an "Non-Astronomical Science" area being of interest. I suspect it would not cause too many issues/arguments and many interested in Astronomy might also have a broader interest in science.

I'm pretty neutral on it but if people were thinking about a more open discussion area then I can see justifications for a broader scientific discussion area. It would probably become self editing (e.g. when I start threads on the comparative morphology of canopy bromeliads in Costa Rican tropical rainforests - the thread might not become a hotbed of subversive arguments; to the point where I might think twice about a sequel having prompted no responses).

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Post by mike a feist »

Some time ago, when this was suggested before, I mentioned that when I had mediated this site, the tedium of having to read all the postings when they were just astronomical became mind-bending and I hardly wanted to open it up at all....................if I had to read a huge chunk of people's thoughts on football, politics, religion and a million other things.....I would have gone mad! Have a thought for who would check it all. As it it it is reasonably easy to fit in lots of scientific and nature "While I was out last evening trying out my new binoculars on the Moon , I saw a ............." (add your own). maf
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Post by The Bat »

Without wanting to sound antisocial :wink:, I come here because I want to chat astronomy. I joined this forum because, unlike many others, it seemed less cluttered and I found it much easier to navigate because of that.

I don't really see the point in having off topic areas. I see them on other unrelated message boards that I subscribe to but I never visit them and I never post in them. I have plenty of friends to discuss everything else with; I come here because my friends, by and large, don't share my interest in astronomy. And I can fully understand Mike's point that the mods wouldn't want to trawl through everyone else's ramblings.

I know that if an off topic area were set up, I am under no obligation to use it. But when people subscribe here, they are doing so with the knowledge that an off topic area doesn't exist, and if they are happy to join knowing that, then in my opinion, it is not what they are coming here for. If they really had a burning desire for one, there are plenty of other forums offering the facility.

Just my two pence worth.

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Post by Paul Sutherland »

I agree with Rachel. There are plenty of other places where people can discuss non-astronomical subjects. To do so here would impose more work on the moderators and would consume more of the bandwidth that the SPA has to pay for.

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Post by Deimos »

Although a clarified the new forum area thought, I am neutral but I find the negative comments interesting.

Firstly, when the threads prompting this one were active, many were saying "If it does not interest you then don't watch" (similar to "if it does not interest you don't read"). so a general science area would hardly clutter as those only wanting astronomy can limit themselves to those threads (problem solved).

I would disagree with some other posts in that I find the most interesting forums (fora ?) are those that are active and lively rather than a very limited small group chatting. The limited small groups quickly become cliques and just chat to re-enforce their existing thoughts. Personally I prefer new and different ideas to discuss and challenge my (often wrong) ideas. A general science area might help attract a bit more activity with some new faces/ideas. But that is my opinion as to what makes an interesting forum and I accept that others might like private chats.

With regard to moderation, I do not know the SPA's policy but most forums do not expect moderators to read every post for the purpose of moderating but instead rely on a "Report" type system (and most use a PM to a moderator rather than needing a special "Report" button. Forums I have moderated before actually find that system quite a lot quicker at sorting out problem posts (normally Spam links to porn and pharmacy sites) as it does not need to wait until a moderator has time to visit, read, etc. - but that is down to SPA policy.

I would assume that the SPA has an unlimited bandwidth hosting contract (loads of such hosting contracts available and very cheap/reliable as well).

Anyway, I'm neutral on the new forum area but do find the "against" arguments interesting given what people have previously posted about "what you consume is your choice". Likely it would enhance the forum in many respects and interesting how the negatives are "I don't want it ..." without much consideration as to others (me, me, me, me - story of our society these days).

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Post by M54 »

Rachel, would agree with you that wanting to chat astronomy is good.
The heading at the top of General says:
Talk with fellow astronomers about anything under the stars - as long as it is astronomical.

Have you looked at the topics in General? :?
Bet that 20-25% are non-astro. :shock:
ebooks-kindle. A little know double star perhaps? :lol:

A lot soon drift off topic also. :cry:
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Post by Paul Sutherland »

You've noticed that moderators apply the light touch. That's good. :-)

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Post by brian livesey »

I agree with Paul, this is a great forum. If some threads are locked or removed altogether, so be it. We learn to strike a balance from this.
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Post by Vega »

To be fair, I see nothing wrong with the structure, moderation or goings on of the SPA forum. Without causing an inter-forum war.. I am a regular poster on a few other (bigger) astro forums alongside this one and they too adopt similar very successful methods. All sucessful forums have an off-topic section of some description. Also, quotes are an essential tool of any forum.

All forums have heated debates, its inevitable and a healthy way of discussing and thought provoking in any given topic. As long as things dont get personal or offensive, its fine in my book.

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Post by Andrew INT »

I think that communicating in text will always lead to occasional misinterpretation. I don’t often use quotes mainly because I forget how to do it sometimes, but usually because it can sometimes look a little too defensive; a method of justifying your difference of opinion. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but if it is applied to a rather mundane, almost irrelevant difference of opinion then its simple argument for arguments sake.

Everything can be misinterpreted – either unintentionally or deliberately. Is a smiley face welcoming or a sarcastic grin? :lol:

I think our moderators do an excellent job. A few years back I stated in a post that I had left my car lights on at work and subsequently had a flat battery. I was pretty surprised to receive a few additional posts from one contributor (who I had never before communicated with), having a pretty vitriolic dig at me for doing something so stupid. Their last comment was removed within minutes of it being published. So, well done!

With regards to an “open” chat area; I’m also a member of the SGL forum who have a general chat area. At first I thought “what a great idea”. Now though to be honest- I have neither contributed to it not read very much from it. That said, it is used by others.

I think the SPA site remains clean and crisp, if a little sparse of members at times.

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