10 votes

Should we limit meta-discussion in non-~tildes posts as we near public visibility?

I've seen a number of topics that have had unrelated comments regarding Tildes as a whole and the direction in which we'd like to steer it toward. While I realize much of these sidebar conversations have been occurring naturally and very frequently in well-nested comments, I wonder if it isn't going to become distracting to some going forward.

On one hand, I have enjoyed passively gaining insight into the vision of Tildes. On the other, I can see how we might want to start setting examples on the type of organization and behavior we'd want from users as the site grows. If new users who are joining after Tildes goes public see a regular occurrence of off-topic conversation, they might fall into bad habits and it may take root and grow.

What are your thoughts? Maybe start creating new topics in ~tildes and tag users along with quotes from outside threads so that there's still a reference point to start discussion from?

40 comments

  1. [4]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. [2]
      hungariantoast Link Parent
      Wiki, FAQs, the little Link button for generating permalinks to comments, and browser bookmarks should hold us over for awhile as far as organizing meta discussion across the site goes.

      Wiki, FAQs, the little Link button for generating permalinks to comments, and browser bookmarks should hold us over for awhile as far as organizing meta discussion across the site goes.

      6 votes
      1. cfabbro Link Parent
        There are also built in bookmarks on Tildes now too, for comments and topics. I definitely need to get in the habit of using them more often as well.

        There are also built in bookmarks on Tildes now too, for comments and topics. I definitely need to get in the habit of using them more often as well.

        6 votes
    2. esrever Link Parent
      I didn't mean to imply enforcing such a policy with militancy. Just that perhaps we should try to be more mindful for the sake of organization if nothing else. It's a lot easier to reference...

      I didn't mean to imply enforcing such a policy with militancy. Just that perhaps we should try to be more mindful for the sake of organization if nothing else. It's a lot easier to reference things when they're all in one place rather than scattered about (potentially in topics which otherwise participatory commenters are disinterested in).

      3 votes
  2. [3]
    Amarok Link
    I think we could make an effort to focus it more in ~tildes, just for the sanity of everyone who isn't interested in the meta aspects, and because there's a lot of meta around here. Often this...

    I think we could make an effort to focus it more in ~tildes, just for the sanity of everyone who isn't interested in the meta aspects, and because there's a lot of meta around here. Often this starts as an answer to a question in another group's thread, and giving the answer is fine, though it'd be more productive to link people back to the relevant threads from the past about that topic that are already in ~tildes. Trouble is we haven't really got a handy nexus of links for that yet, stuff is still hard to find.

    What we can definitely do is when something interesting pops up in another place on tildes that starts to go to meta-land, make a conscious effort to post about it in ~tildes instead, with the link back to whatever spawned the discussion elsewhere as a reference. At least that way it'll all be in ~tildes, and people who don't want to be bothered by meta discussion can avoid it by unsubscribing from there.

    Note that ~tildes.official is only for the official announcements and official discussions which is why it's separate. People can stay subscribed to that group, and they'll see any really important discussions about imminent changes or new features that are on the dev's radar. Everyone on Tildes who ever wants to give feedback on the real site development as it happens (as opposed to pie in the sky stuff that isn't happening yet) should remain subbed there.

    9 votes
    1. [2]
      frickindeal Link Parent
      This topic, your comment and a few of my own tonight make me realize, I'm extremely guilty of peppering otherwise-unrelated comment sections with meta discussion about the site's design and...

      This topic, your comment and a few of my own tonight make me realize, I'm extremely guilty of peppering otherwise-unrelated comment sections with meta discussion about the site's design and functionality. I'll make a conscious effort to change that from now on.

      7 votes
      1. Amarok Link Parent
        So will I, as one of the worst offenders. :D

        So will I, as one of the worst offenders. :D

        3 votes
  3. [26]
    Deimos Link
    Well, in theory I think it would be great to try to limit meta-discussion in random topics. However, in practice I think it's going to be pretty much impossible, unless I get extremely aggressive...

    Well, in theory I think it would be great to try to limit meta-discussion in random topics. However, in practice I think it's going to be pretty much impossible, unless I get extremely aggressive with removing all meta discussion and force everyone to take it to ~tildes. That's going to be frustrating in its own way for people too though, since everything would always have to be discussed somewhat out-of-context.

    If it looks like an issue, we could probably also consider some other options. For example, I could add a Meta comment label and by default hide comments labeled with it from logged-out users (and maybe even new/lurker logged-in ones?). That would be confusing in different ways too though.

    6 votes
    1. [2]
      Tau_Zero Link Parent
      I agree that enforcement is pretty much impossible, and believe that simple encouragement is ineffective. Adding the ability to tag posts as "meta" seems like a good first step, and while it can...

      I agree that enforcement is pretty much impossible, and believe that simple encouragement is ineffective. Adding the ability to tag posts as "meta" seems like a good first step, and while it can cut down the visual noise in the main non-meta topic, it doesn't address the other issues of discoverability, future reference, etc. What if, once a comment is flagged as meta, someone with appropriate capabilities (tied to trust-mod system), can forked the thread to a new linked ~tildes topic for continued.

      The forking process would allow the forking user to specify the new ~tildes meta topic title, tags, and maybe intro post-body. The forked comment thread would be removed from the original non-meta topic and replaced with a single-line link (similar style to a collapsed comment) to the new ~tildes topic with informative text like "Forked discussion of {new topic title}". The New thread would automatically add a link back to the original "Forked from {original topic title}" to the post body, and perhaps the parent comment if the forked thread wasn't top-level (though that effectively prevents the user from deleting the comment, so maybe not). The forked comments would appear as comments on the new ~tildes topic.

      Forking lets us move the discussion to the proper channel, remove the derailment/clutter from the original topic, and preserve context with links in both directions. I could see forking being extremely useful as a general-purpose tool for splitting out good-but-irrelevant-to-main-topic discussion.

      5 votes
      1. Amarok Link Parent
        Now that's an interesting idea. We've talked about merging threads (which will happen someday) and we can already move threads. We haven't talked about having the ability to pull a comment chain...

        Now that's an interesting idea. We've talked about merging threads (which will happen someday) and we can already move threads. We haven't talked about having the ability to pull a comment chain out of an existing thread and send it somewhere else as a new topic. That should automatically leave a link where the chain existed so people can follow it to the new thread, so that the context isn't lost. Seems like a tool for the 'editor' class of moderator along with moving, merging, and changing titles/links.

        I do remember that phpBB had some extensions that would allow for splitting threads like this, I had that installed on an old Everquest forum I once moderated and we did find cause to use it occasionally.

        3 votes
    2. [23]
      cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
      I think having meta tagged comments auto-collapse, similar to noise tagged ones, might be the best option... but perhaps without cutting off so much of the message and/or some other minor visual...

      I think having meta tagged comments auto-collapse, similar to noise tagged ones, might be the best option... but perhaps without cutting off so much of the message and/or some other minor visual distinction so it doesn't feel quite as punishing as noise?

      I make a fair few meta comments and always feel guilty doing so because I know how much space they take up in the comment sections when lots of people start replying back and forth on them. Auto-collapse would definitely solve that issue while also still allowing people interested in the meta to manually expand it.

      3 votes
      1. [22]
        hungariantoast Link Parent
        Maybe change the preview text on the collapsed comment to be a different color? That way its distinguishable, but in a minor way, and only when collapsed. I don't know, that's just the first idea...

        Maybe change the preview text on the collapsed comment to be a different color? That way its distinguishable, but in a minor way, and only when collapsed.

        I don't know, that's just the first idea that popped into my head.

        Also, just saying, the ability to label our own comments would be very handy for this reason.

        3 votes
        1. [21]
          cfabbro Link Parent
          Yeah I definitely agree there. I think it should be limited to just offtopic, joke and meta though. There is no reason to allow people to apply malice or exemplary to their own comments and...

          the ability to label our own comments would be very handy for this reason.

          Yeah I definitely agree there. I think it should be limited to just offtopic, joke and meta though. There is no reason to allow people to apply malice or exemplary to their own comments and allowing them to apply noise to their own comments might just encourage more noise comments... which isn't a good thing.

          6 votes
          1. [5]
            hungariantoast Link Parent
            Agreed. My only concern is that it would encourage people to make those kinds of comments more often. Has this been discussed before? This is the kind of thing that needs its own suggestion topic...

            Agreed. My only concern is that it would encourage people to make those kinds of comments more often.

            Has this been discussed before? This is the kind of thing that needs its own suggestion topic...

            6 votes
            1. [3]
              Deimos Link Parent
              Even the post about off-topic meta discussions ended up with off-topic meta discussion!

              This is the kind of thing that needs its own suggestion topic...

              Even the post about off-topic meta discussions ended up with off-topic meta discussion!

              7 votes
              1. Amarok Link Parent
                New forums love nothing more than talking about themselves. That trend is as old as the internet and Tildes is no exception. In fact Tildes might be one of the most meta-yappy ones that has yet...

                New forums love nothing more than talking about themselves. That trend is as old as the internet and Tildes is no exception. In fact Tildes might be one of the most meta-yappy ones that has yet existed. One of the goals here is to figure out functional online governance systems, after all, so it's baked right in from the start. :P

                7 votes
            2. cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
              I think I edited my comment as you were replying (sorry bad habit) mentioning the same concern. And yeah it has been discussed before... though I can't remember where exactly. Probably somewhere...

              I think I edited my comment as you were replying (sorry bad habit) mentioning the same concern. And yeah it has been discussed before... though I can't remember where exactly. Probably somewhere in the old ~tildes.official topics back when comment "tags" were being abused and had to be disabled, or maybe when they were reenabled in their new "label" incarnation.

              Daily Tildes discussion - comment tags, and how they feel to use
              Daily Tildes discussion - what do we need to change to make comment tags reasonable to re-enable?
              Comment tags have been re-enabled to experiment with, input wanted on plans
              Many updates to The Feature Formerly Known as Comment Tagging

              edit: I can't find the old one announcing when they were disabled. :/ Found and added some more comment label related topics though.

              3 votes
          2. [15]
            esrever Link Parent
            I'm on board with this. It keeps interesting conversation as the focus, but solves in a small way the "No Fun Allowed" aspect of things. I'd like to make the rare quip if it makes sense and is...

            I'm on board with this. It keeps interesting conversation as the focus, but solves in a small way the "No Fun Allowed" aspect of things. I'd like to make the rare quip if it makes sense and is relevant. Placing a joke label on it right out of the gate would make me feel more at ease, knowing it would be de-prioritized in relevance out of the gate.

            If someone realizes they mistakenly went off on a tangent, it's nice to be able to quickly self-police by applying an off-topic label.

            3 votes
            1. [14]
              Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
              But, that's just giving permission for people to post off-topic crap.

              Placing a joke label on it right out of the gate would make me feel more at ease, knowing it would be de-prioritized in relevance out of the gate.

              But, that's just giving permission for people to post off-topic crap.

              1. [12]
                cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
                People already have permission to post offtopic comments and jokes... it's not forbidden and the reason for that is that not everything offtopic or a joke is "crap". Without any levity this place...

                People already have permission to post offtopic comments and jokes... it's not forbidden and the reason for that is that not everything offtopic or a joke is "crap". Without any levity this place would be dry as kindling and just as volatile as a result. Humour is a good defuser of tension, a good way to deflect anger, etc. And if a joke or offtopic comment truly is crap and adds nothing to the discussion, that's what "noise" is for.

                6 votes
                1. [11]
                  Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
                  In a subreddit I used to moderate, we used the following guideline to moderate joke comments: "Including humour as part of an otherwise serious in-depth contribution is fine. Writing a comment...

                  In a subreddit I used to moderate, we used the following guideline to moderate joke comments: "Including humour as part of an otherwise serious in-depth contribution is fine. Writing a comment whose sole purpose is to deliver a punchline is not fine." (or words to that effect)

                  That's my opinion. We can have fun, but we shouldn't post comments just for teh lulz.

                  4 votes
                  1. [10]
                    cfabbro Link Parent
                    Top level comments and in certain specific groups (e.g. ~science/~humanities), sure, I can largely agree with that. In replies and in most other groups? Not so much, IMO.

                    Top level comments and in certain specific groups (e.g. ~science/~humanities), sure, I can largely agree with that. In replies and in most other groups? Not so much, IMO.

                    1 vote
                    1. [9]
                      Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
                      I'm sorry, but all I see here is "Yes, let's have Reddit-like pun threads." :(

                      I'm sorry, but all I see here is "Yes, let's have Reddit-like pun threads." :(

                      1 vote
                      1. [8]
                        cfabbro Link Parent
                        I like puns and there is nothing inherently wrong with them. Some can even be incredibly creative and well crafted. You're also forgetting that the "joke" tag reduces visibility. So even if there...

                        I like puns and there is nothing inherently wrong with them. Some can even be incredibly creative and well crafted. You're also forgetting that the "joke" tag reduces visibility. So even if there is reddit style pun threads here occasionally, they shouldn't be able to compete with more substantial comments. And if they do... you tweak the amount that joke tags reduce visibility.

                        p.s. Is not this a "purely for the lulz" exchange? And yet I see nothing wrong with it. It was funny and fun. :)

                        1 vote
                        1. [7]
                          Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
                          ... which takes us back to where we started this conversation. If we allow people to label their own comments as jokes, they'll feel more inclined to post joke comments, because they know they can...

                          You're also forgetting that the "joke" tag reduces visibility.

                          ... which takes us back to where we started this conversation. If we allow people to label their own comments as jokes, they'll feel more inclined to post joke comments, because they know they can hide them. It's indirectly encouraging that sort of behaviour.

                          p.s. Is not this a "purely for the lulz" exchange?

                          Considering that ~tildes is a meta group, I don't feel quite so constrained here. However, I wouldn't do something like that on a post in another group, where people are discussing actual articles and news and stuff like that. It's unnecessary clutter.

                          2 votes
                          1. [6]
                            cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
                            And? If they can't compete with the substantial comments, and people even help by immediately self-tagging, then what does it matter? Quality of discussion is still maintained. So basically what...

                            If we allow people to label their own comments as jokes, they'll feel more inclined to post joke comments

                            And? If they can't compete with the substantial comments, and people even help by immediately self-tagging, then what does it matter? Quality of discussion is still maintained.

                            Considering that ~tildes is a meta group, I don't feel quite so constrained here.

                            So basically what you're saying is that in some groups jokes are perfectly acceptable in replies? Hmmm, that sounds familiar. ;)

                            I guess the only thing we really disagree on is where to draw that line. For me it's ~science and ~humanities. For you it's all but ~tildes? What about ~anime, ~creative, ~life, ~music, ~movies, ~talk and ~tv.... no joking in them?

                            2 votes
                            1. [5]
                              Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
                              Not if more and more people jump on the bandwagon (monkey see, monkey do). Eventually we'll see threads populated with stubs of collapsed comments cluttering up the view. Not no joking, just no...

                              Quality of discussion is still maintained.

                              Not if more and more people jump on the bandwagon (monkey see, monkey do). Eventually we'll see threads populated with stubs of collapsed comments cluttering up the view.

                              no joking in them?

                              Not no joking, just no comments which exist solely for the purpose of joking. A humorous aside within a comment is fine, but I'd hate to see comment after comment just making jokes.

                              1 vote
                              1. [4]
                                cfabbro Link Parent
                                Jump on the bandwagon of making comments that will inevitably have almost no visibility compared to the more substantial comments? I doubt that very much. Are people jumping on the bandwagon of...

                                Jump on the bandwagon of making comments that will inevitably have almost no visibility compared to the more substantial comments? I doubt that very much. Are people jumping on the bandwagon of making noise comments? Lack of visibility is a pretty good negative feedback system, especially at scale.

                                just no comments which exist solely for the purpose of joking.

                                But... your comment in ~tildes was solely for the purpose of joking. Why do you see that as acceptable in ~tildes but not ~talk, ~life or ~creative? Why not in ~anime, ~movies or ~tv?

                                1 vote
                                1. [3]
                                  Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
                                  Like I said, ~tildes is the meta group. It's the "behind the scenes" group. It's not one of the main groups where people post topics and discuss content. It's where we discuss Tildes, and our...

                                  Why do you see that as acceptable in ~tildes but not ~talk, ~life or ~creative? Why not in ~anime, ~movies or ~tv?

                                  Like I said, ~tildes is the meta group. It's the "behind the scenes" group. It's not one of the main groups where people post topics and discuss content. It's where we discuss Tildes, and our behaviour here. It's different. To me, it feels kind of, sort of, like the private mods-only subreddits that some subreddits have, where the moderators can let their hair down and not have to be so bloody serious all the time. ~tildes is the private hang-out room for Tildes, as opposed to the public front space. Out there, I have to be serious and proper and contribute to the high-quality discussion that is one of Tildes' goals - but I don't feel like I have to be on my best behaviour back here behind the curtain.

                                  1 vote
                                  1. [2]
                                    cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
                                    People aren't allowed to "let their hair down" in ~talk? Sorry, but that makes absolutely no sense to me. If anything, IMO ~tildes is the place for more serious discussion because it's where...

                                    People aren't allowed to "let their hair down" in ~talk? Sorry, but that makes absolutely no sense to me. If anything, IMO ~tildes is the place for more serious discussion because it's where Deimos gets his feedback and ideas from and the more offtopic, jokes and noise in there the harder that is for him. Whereas places like ~talk, ~life, ~creative, ~music, ~anime, ~movies, ~tv are primarily for users here getting to know one another and sharing their interests in entertainment with each other... which joking around plays a fundamental part of.

                                    2 votes
              2. esrever Link Parent
                I made my comment before I saw the edit from @cfabbro and the ensuing conversation that came from it which lead me to reevaluate my thoughts a bit. I do see where it may be seen as an invitation...

                I made my comment before I saw the edit from @cfabbro and the ensuing conversation that came from it which lead me to reevaluate my thoughts a bit.

                I do see where it may be seen as an invitation to go against the spirit of discussion. I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with that, because I myself was initially thinking of very seldom usage. That said, I think that this is a scenario where allowing for even rare usage is asking for abuse by the masses, or at least allowing that possibility.

                One way I think it might be remedied is to have limits to their use similar to how exemplary is laid out in the docs right now (I realize that this has since been elaborated on by Deimos).

                Users can only label a comment as Exemplary once every 8 hours

                3 votes
  4. cfabbro Link
    Heh, serendipitous timing. I don't necessarily think there should be any hard rule or restriction about where you can discuss meta topics, since sometimes they are not important enough discussions...

    Heh, serendipitous timing.

    I don't necessarily think there should be any hard rule or restriction about where you can discuss meta topics, since sometimes they are not important enough discussions to really warrant their own ~tildes topic... but I definitely agree that more of an effort should be made and will myself be trying to get more in the habit of making ~tildes topics instead of constantly derailing other threads (which I find myself doing a lot). :P

    I think another reason that trying to keep the majority of the meta discussion here is also simply for ease of finding the conversation again later. Way too many times now I have been asked something and remember a conversation that was had about it, but have been completely unable to locate it later because it did not take place in ~tildes (or if it did, in another unrelated topic here).

    5 votes
  5. [5]
    hungariantoast Link
    The problem I foresee with this is that, if we encourage users to post a new topic to ~tildes every time they have a question, rather than just asking a user directly, we clutter up that group...

    The problem I foresee with this is that, if we encourage users to post a new topic to ~tildes every time they have a question, rather than just asking a user directly, we clutter up that group rather than a few isolated comment threads.

    A subgroup of ~tildes dedicated to basic, beginner questions is probably going to be a necessity going forward, even if we don't "crack down" on meta discussion in comment sections. Something similar to /r/linux4noobs or /r/linuxquestions.

    This is also an excellent use case for a wiki and a FAQ, something I think we are going to need going forward (and is already being worked on, as several meta-discussion comments have indicated).

    Aside from that, we can always label comments as needed, and meta comments are most certainly off topic.

    I've been here just about as long as anyone else and I still ask questions about the site in the comment section when I see fit. Personally, I don't see much of a problem, especially if the comments are getting labeled appropriately and generating constructive (although off topic) discussion.

    5 votes
    1. [2]
      cfabbro (edited ) Link Parent
      Yeah, ~tildes.help, an official wiki, a more comprehensive docs.tildes (which I already took a crack at writing but still needs some reworking). All of these things are going to be necessary...

      Yeah, ~tildes.help, an official wiki, a more comprehensive docs.tildes (which I already took a crack at writing but still needs some reworking). All of these things are going to be necessary eventually.

      And I think we should also strive to try and do all these things better than reddit, if we can. To which end I also have some ideas; E.g. Allow "merging" repeat question topics in ~tildes.help and have that action trigger a bump to the old answer, so constantly having to reanswer old questions doesn't burn the helpers out.

      4 votes
      1. Algernon_Asimov Link Parent
        The Stack Overflow/Exchange method! :)

        E.g. Allow "merging" repeat question topics in ~tildes.help and have that action trigger a bump to the old answer

        The Stack Overflow/Exchange method! :)

        3 votes
    2. [2]
      esrever Link Parent
      N.B. - I'm posting the following mainly for the ability of others to reference. I believe that there's some headway being made in this regard by @Amarok and @Algernon_Asimov. There's an unofficial...

      A subgroup of ~tildes dedicated to basic, beginner questions is probably going to be necessity going forward, even if we don't "crack down" on meta discussion in comment sections. Something similar to /r/linux4noobs or /r/linuxquestions.

      This is also an excellent use case for a wiki and a FAQ, something I think we are going to need going forward (and is already being worked on, as several meta-discussion comments have indicated).

      N.B. - I'm posting the following mainly for the ability of others to reference.


      I believe that there's some headway being made in this regard by @Amarok and @Algernon_Asimov.

      There's an unofficial wiki at present, maintained by @deing.

      1. Amarok Link Parent
        Yeah, this scattered-meta problem has become annoying. Time to thump it into submission. We've got 8 months of brain droppings to collect, categorize, and organize. Having all of it in one wiki...

        Yeah, this scattered-meta problem has become annoying. Time to thump it into submission. We've got 8 months of brain droppings to collect, categorize, and organize. Having all of it in one wiki page will help everyone immensely.

        Right now that'll be the unofficial tildes wiki here: https://unofficial-tildes-wiki.gitlab.io/tildes/introduction.html

        Someday when we have an integrated wiki we can move it all over into the ~tildes group's wiki pages.

        4 votes
  6. [2]
    alyaza Link
    probably. now that there are a bunch of new people, there are a couple of meta things that i think are worth discussing in longer form anyways, ranging from the pretty unimportant (like whether or...

    probably. now that there are a bunch of new people, there are a couple of meta things that i think are worth discussing in longer form anyways, ranging from the pretty unimportant (like whether or not tildes should revisit the idea of having an actual singular user demonym instead of a bunch of them) to fairly significant (like what steps we should take to incorporate more than just tech, compsci, and game people, since those three topics currently still make up most of the activity and will probably continue to until tildes stops relying predominantly on reddit for its user pipeline)

    3 votes
    1. cfabbro Link Parent
      Never!!! Multiple demonyms for life! It's so much funnier that way. ;) ... that and official demonyms for users of a website have always seemed incredibly pretentious to me.

      like whether or not tildes should revisit the idea of having an actual singular user demonym instead of a bunch of them

      Never!!! Multiple demonyms for life! It's so much funnier that way. ;) ... that and official demonyms for users of a website have always seemed incredibly pretentious to me.

      4 votes