The BK Forums User Guide and FAQ

TomTom
edited February 2015 in The T LOunge
Darlings, in less than 48 hours after its unveiling, over 600 Kittens registered for the BK forums and posted 44 new topics with 700 responses. We'd call that a SUCCESS! 

But of course, any new site unveiling is going to be met with confusion, requests and even complaints. We'll try to address some of the ones that have come up so far and explain a few of the functions here. First, the forum software we chose is Vanilla, because of its ease of use, streamlined design, and commitment to promoting as much discussion as possible. Because of that commitment, there are some choices and functions you may need to get used to. Second, if you've registered and didn't get a confirmation email, CHECK YOUR SPAM FOLDER.

Now, let's address a few things that have come up already:


* When you choose the "Discussions" view or you're in an individual forum, you can now see who originated a thread, how many new responses have been posted in that thread since you last stopped by, and who the latest respondent is. 

* Users now have up to a day after posting to edit a comment. We're not too keen on unlimited editing because it can easily be abused when arguments pop up, in a "I never said that" kind of way or when someone goes back into a debate later and edits in some sort of insult or inflammatory comment that the moderator won't notice. 

* No nested or threaded comments.  As we've said, Vanilla is designed to promote as much discussion as possible and the thinking behind the lack of nested comments is that they tend to limit conversation, rather than promote it. A threaded discussion with nested comments will inevitably, if it goes on long, turn into a long thread with a bunch of side conversations, many of them wildly off topic. A non-threaded discussion tends to stay on point. If anyone in that discussion wants to start some side conversation, or if one starts developing naturally, that's the point at which you say "Hey, this is turning into an interesting topic. I started a new thread where we can talk about it." In other words, non-nested comments allow for and encourage the posting of new threads and topics. A T Lounge post on the Tom and Lorenzo site will get roughly 500 comments in about 3 days. In less than two, this site has spawned 700 comments and 44 separate discussions - and the fact that comments don't nest is at least partially responsible for that. In addition, a nested thread can quite easily encourage "last-word-ism" in a debate, forcing it to go on much longer than it has to, because someone will inevitably need to have that last, final, nested comment.


*Regarding requests for up-voting and other functions: Please understand that we're in early days and have to find a balance between what the users want and what this site can support. If we load up on bells and whistles now, in the first week, we may run into a TON of problems weeks or months down the road, when there are (theoretically) thousands of users and posts on the site. If  you want to tell someone you like what they said, instead of reaching for a button, why not post a short comment telling them so? Upvoting actively discourages discussion because agreement is relegated to pushing a button instead of engaging. Be patient on this one.

Regarding requests for additional forum categories: As we said in our intro post on the T Lo site, we'll put up a forum for just about any (non-political) topic, so long as there's an active community large enough to support it. The way to demonstrate that is to start a thread on that topic, in the nearest appropriate forum. In other words, if you want a Project Runway forum, start a Project Runway thread in the TV & Film forum and encourage people to post on it or get new users to come here and sign up for it. When the thread gets active enough, and enough users have requested a dedicated forum, we'll open one up for y'all.


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Comments

  • TomTom
    edited February 2015
    Okay, with various issues addressed and out of the way, let's get down to using this thing.

    How do I start a discussion? By clicking on the giant "New Discussion" button, silly. Just type in the title, type in the text, and choose the forum you're posting in on the "Category" drop-down menu at the top left above "Discussion Title."

    How do I respond to someone? That's easy. You can either put an @ in front of their name, with no spaces, e.g.: "@SuperKitten, you're so right about that!"  Or you can click on the "Quote" button in their post and quote them directly. If that person has managed their notifications properly (see next question), they will either get a pop-up window or an email letting them know that you have responded to them. 

    What are notifications and do I need to pay attention to them? If you want to keep track of conversations you're participating in or conversations you're interested in following, the way you manage your notifications is crucial. Do this:
    1. Click on your profile, then click on the "Edit Profile" button on the upper right. 
    2) Click on "Notification Preferences" in the left menu. 
    3) Click on or off your preferences, whether you want email notifications or pop-ups, or even both. Pop-ups are great because they're instantaneous, while you're on the site. Email is good for keeping track of convos and replies when you're off the site. 

    Any time someone posts in a thread you've started or posted in, or replies directly to you by using the @, you will get a notification letting you know. You can also bookmark a thread by clicking on the little star to the right of the title. You will get notifications any time that thread is updated.

    What the hell is my "Activity" page? The best way to describe it is this: It's pretty much your forum "social media" page. Treat it like you would a Facebook page and post pictures or status updates about yourself. Users can comment under each update. This would be a fabulous place for you to promote your own blog or site as well. 

    Can I upload pictures to my posts? Unfortunately, no. Your pics have to be uploaded on another site and have its own url (or address) that you can copy. If, say, you want to insert a picture that you have on your Facebook page, right click on it and copy the address. Then click on the little "picture" icon in the menu above each new comment draft and insert the url. 

    What do we do about trolls and spammers? Darlings, we can't implore you enough to do the following: 
    1) Click on the "Flag" button on the to the right of the date-stamp on the post and fill in your reasons why you think this comment is out of bounds.
    2) IGNORE THEM AND WALK AWAY. Seriously. We'll take care of it. It's a lot easier to delete one spammer or troll post than it is to delete their posts - and the 500 subsequent comments of people yelling at them.

    And that's about it for now. Post any new questions or suggestions below. We'll be updating this post as new information becomes available. 
  • edited February 2015
    See, this is the point at which I would usually just upvote you ;)

    Thanks for all your hard work, fellas!
  • Regarding uploading pictures, if you want an easy way to upload images for linking (because I think Facebook might have implemented some protections against embedding images elsewhere given some problems I've had trying to use images linked from there), I recommend starting a basic Tumblr account which is free to use to upload images. There are lots of services for uploading images online though, so I'm sure my fellow bitter kittens will figure it out easily anyway. 

    Once again, thank you TLo for this lovely forum! 
  • edited February 2015
    Thanks for the clarifications!
  • Thanks so much! :) 
  • Thanks @Tom

    I'm not missing nested comments too much as I haven't spent a lot of time using forums that have it, other than disqus or similar comments threading. 

    Re the upvoting - I find it's just out of sheer habit (surprising how quickly one gets used to these things) from the likes of facebook and disqus - personally I don't think it's needed, just an oddity when you go to do it from habit and can't.

    @gabyripples I was able to link to facebook pictures, but I did it by copying the image url rather than the page the image was on which was what I'd tried the first time. I wondered about security settings, but it doesn't seem to be too fussy, strangely. Otherwise tumblr, photobucket, flickr and others will do it too. 
  • Thank you for the explanations! :)
  • Thanks so much for all the information and explanations. And thank you for creating this wonderful site!
  • edited February 2015
    Thanks for the new digs, T & Lo! What a fabulous place to hang out. My only quibble is the fact that I'm unable to post comments with my tablet or phone (both Android). The on-device keyboard never pops up.  Hate to be a PIA, but Vanilla doesn't seem to be mobile friendly...at least not Android. Works find on the pc, which I rarely use.

    Thanks! Hope to be jumping in soon.

    ETA problem solved.  @KittenMittons had a great tip....just tap the "white page with red arrows" icon and Presto! Works like a charm
  • tlbtlb
    edited February 2015
    First and most importantly to me, personally, THANK YOU!!! for expanding the time limit on editing posts!

    I don't know why this is so important to me but, it is. I do understand that it can be fraught with spammer issues which creates more work for you guys but if my experience on your original site is anything to go by, the BK's are a sophisticated lot and will take any spam post in stride, flagging them as necessary.  Really and truly, I don't think there should be any time limit on editing one's own posts.

    Thank you also for this lovely little FAQ as it's quite helpful and...for adding the Search function...


    >>TLO: and the thinking behind the lack of nested comments is that they tend to limit conversation, rather than promote it.

    As a long time user/member/participant in different fora and as a forum sysop, I have to strongly disagree with the idea that nesting limits conversation.

    If, by "conversation" it's meant a meaningful discussion between forum members where "meaningful" encompasses the wide diversity of people making contact with each other, interacting with each other, teaching, learning, laughing and generally being engaged. Of course, "conversation" can also be blather of a sort that is quick and meaningless with no real interest in forming any sort of real contact with others.

    In my experience, particularly in the weekend TLounge, we BK's have experienced for the most part, the more meaningful side of the equation and I for one, am bereft at the thought that that might be lost here because I think that nesting encourages the more meaningful side of conversation--real communication.


    >>TLO: A threaded discussion with nested comments will inevitably, if it goes on long, turn into a long thread with a bunch of side conversations, many of them wildly off topic

    Yes...that is indeed a valid issue. More sophisticated forum software (vBulletin is an example as we use it on the forum where I sysop), has tools that allow sysops to split off thread-drift posts to create new on-thread-but-different-topic threads. My guess is that Vanilla does not offer those sorts of tools and/or it's more work than you have time to for which is perfectly valid.

    That said, I do believe, again, that the BK's have demonstrated that they are a rather sophisticated group of users and could certainly deal with the vagaries of nested thread drift.


    Lastly...I've not had a chance to wander the forum yet today so I don't know if this has been addressed--I didn't see a mention of it in the FAQ.

    Please allow users to delete their own posts! While I don't feel quite as strongly about this as I feel about being able to edit my posts, I do think it's important for each user to be able to delete their own posts so I ask you, sirs, most humbly, to turn on this feature if it's available.

    A last thank you for now displaying the originator of each thread...'-}}


  • Thank you!!!  I confess relearning forum-ese was beginning to be daunting!
  • I'm so excited!! I haven't been able to post at TLo for weeks because of work (this is Raspberry2012, I'll just stick to my Twitter handle here!) so I just found out about this! Love you, Uncles, thank you!
  • Thank you for the thorough explanation, Tom and thanks to you and Lorenzo both for all you've done putting this fantastic forum together for us happy Bitter Kittens!

    I do agree with @tlb about the threading adding to the discussions, but I'm willing to forgo that and give this new way a try.  But as a shy newbie, upvoting was my way into eventually writing and it's a time saver. Already, though, this forum probably has encouraged me to write my 2 cents, since I can't upvote (we can always get our fill of upvoting on the mothership site!).  

  • Thanks for the quick answers to many of our complaints and requests! I do think we'll adjust. The main value of upvoting, to me, is that it reduces responses that are nothing but "THIS" or some other expression of whole-hearted agreement, which can clutter up a thread/discussion page. Then again, it also becomes a popularity contest, which may not be healthy for discussion either.
  • Thanks for the guided tour & hand holding! We'll get there.
  • @lundibleu I'm not too fussed about the nested comments either - Goodreads doesn't have it and I haven't missed it, and it actually irritates me on facebook. If it were a general chitchat thread I can see it would be a problem but with fairly focussed threads I don't think it will be.


  • Thanks for the explanations x
  • This was really helpful. Thanks for all your hard work!
  • I, for one, prefer it when people can't delete their own posts. If someone downthread responds to a previous comment and then the previous one disappears, things get confusing rather quickly.

    I think the BKs are clever enough that they can post thoughtfully and be sure of what they are saying before they hit "Post Comment."
  • @tlb I'm curious why anyone would need to edit their post more than a month later, though. If there was a typo or something that escaped notice for that long, and then someone pointed it out, wouldn't a simple "oh, I didn't mean that, I mean this" clear it up?

    Personally I do see TLo's point about people who would rather pretend they never said such a thing and might delete the entire contents of a post, and it would create a lot of confusion when you're trying to read the thread. It's happened often enough on TLo's main site.
  • Thanks for the forum! So I see that you say there is no way to quote without copy and pasting and maybe since you said that the "quote" button was added. I don't know if it is just me, I'm on a windows 8.1 laptop, but the quote button covers part of the text of posts by users. I love that the quote button is there and of course since it only covers up a few words it isn't the end of the world, just though I'd point it out in case it isn't just me.
  • skftex said:
    Thanks for the forum! So I see that you say there is no way to quote without copy and pasting and maybe since you said that the "quote" button was added. I don't know if it is just me, I'm on a windows 8.1 laptop, but the quote button covers part of the text of posts by users. I love that the quote button is there and of course since it only covers up a few words it isn't the end of the world, just though I'd point it out in case it isn't just me.
    Should be fixed now :) Try refreshing.

    -Z
  • Gentlemen,

    Many thanks for the forum. I am a Luddite, but your tips (and some BK help) have made me successful! Re threads, what I will miss is the times in the lounge that a kitten is having a hard time and others have been able to offer support, good thoughts and advice. We have become a group of caring friends. That said, we will adjust and carry on!

    I am grateful to you both for creating a home for the BK community.

    Love, Shibori Girl
  • tlbtlb
    edited February 2015
    LauraRenee said: @tlb I'm curious why anyone would need to edit their post more than a month later, though.

    Initially, one could only edit one's post for 1 hour which I, personally, found very restrictive. The time limit has been changed to 1 month which is, I think, more workable for me.

    Personally, I don't think there should be any restriction on how long one is allowed to edit one's own posts. The words in my posts are mine and I should be able to modify, delete or otherwise change them whenever I think it might be necessary. Is it something I do often? No. Do I want to have control over my own posts? Yes.

    Hope that helps to clarify things...


    PS: Thank you T and Lo for the quote function!
  • admin said:
     
    Should be fixed now :) Try refreshing.

    -Z
    Thank you yes it is!
  • edited February 2015
    @LauraRenee, I can see how upvotes could be viewed as contributing to a popularity contest type atmosphere, but I actually like it because it also identifies some of the funnier or well-stated posts. And I also like to just upvote to "agree," particularly if I don't have anything else to add to the conversation.

    But, it's a new system, and there's a bit of a learning curve, so it'll just take some getting used to. Regardless, I'm just thrilled that the forum is here (Thank you, Tom and Lorenzo!!), and I know we'll all find our rhythm soon enough.
  • tlb said:
    Personally, I don't think there should be any restriction on how long one is allowed to edit one's own posts. The words in my posts are mine and I should be able to modify, delete or otherwise change them whenever I think it might be necessary. 
    If ONLY it worked like that with speaking in RL. :))) Or with emails you can't recall.

    PhDKnitter -- yes, you listed the reasons I like upvoting, too. It's a bit silly to respond to someone just to tell them how much you agree with them or how funny you found their comment, without having anything new to add.

    @Shirbori_Girl -- I know what you mean, but I hope that using the notification system (like I just did with your username...hopefully you got the notification) will let us communicate with each other when we want to commiserate. But yeah, it won't be organized quite so well. And I'm afraid there'll be a lot of errors with mistyped usernames -- it takes more effort to double-check or copy/paste the username.


  • I'm enjoying waking up every morning and seeing little tweaks to the mechanics that have happened while I've been sleeping!
  • foodycatAlicia, I feel the same way! It's like revisiting the Secret Garden. Something new in bloom each day.
  • There's a thing under "edit profile" called "quote settings" that says <i>How many levels deep should we start folding up quote trees?</i>

    What does that mean in English?
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