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Default Topics do not need to stay on topic

May 3rd, 2022, 14:37
I think people need to relax here about topics remaining on topic.
Unless the original poster specifically asks for it, I think it's OK for topics to go onto full on tangents.

It's a discussion forum. The whole point is for it to have discussions. Yes, they can start in one place and end up somewhere else, that's how real life discussions happen too.

When I have people over for dinner, I don't tell them we can only discuss one topic and if they stray from it they have to leave my house.

It's not like people can't post about the original topic of they want to.


So my two cents is this:
1) if a topic is created by someone for a specific purpose and explicitly asks for it to remain on topic, then moderate it in that way.

2) in all other cases, let the discussions flow naturally.

Obviously within the TOS.

Will make life easier for everyone including the mods.
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May 3rd, 2022, 14:55
In case you have not noticed, many threads stray. Which is fine, if the original topic has ended, or as long as it does not hinder the original discussion.

But moderator's warnings, for reasons you do not have to agree with, need to be heeded.
If you do wish to continue despite a particular warning to stay on-topic, you are free to start a different thread.
If you have something to say to a moderator, before or after the warning, try a PM.
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May 3rd, 2022, 15:14
Creating a new topic sometimes breaks the flow.

In my analogy, it's like telling people that we'll discuss it next time they come over or after dinner. At that point the discussion will be about something else.

I have nothing against what you've done, I am trying to raise a point which would make things much easier.

Why is one thread allowed to go off topic and the other isn't?

I feel like my suggestion makes sense. Does it not?
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May 3rd, 2022, 15:49
Isn't most of that very subjective? Sometimes it's interesting to branch out in a tangent, sometimes it's frustrating when it's nothing like the first post because it makes it hard to get any coherent discussion. But then maybe that's because others are not so much interested in pursuing it at that time.

I like your idea of a "please keep OT here" @Pladio, though I'm not sure if it'd work in this context. I'm happy to try if that's adopted.

I must admit I'm also confused sometimes about some threads / posts / people / subjects being allowed to go completely off topic, and others not. But there's no mathematical measurement either, so nothing is perfect I suppose, certainly not in human communication.

Obviously P&R is given more slack since the topics are prone to tangents and rarely RPG-related. And this Off-topic forum of course.

Yes I confirm… tip from the top, if a mod says "back OT", don't even as much as apologize or you'll get sanctioned, as I learned the hard way. Which is partly why this is now so confusing to me to understand what we can and what we can't do. I suppose it's the one very strict rule because it's necessary at that time, and the rest is more or less relaxed, and up to common sense within reason and ToS.
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May 3rd, 2022, 15:54
Well, I know for a fact that the method has worked in the past, as. I have used it and I believe so has @lackblogger if I am not mistaken.

Obviously they sometimes go off topic but then it makes sense for the mod to tell people to get back on topic.
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May 3rd, 2022, 16:30
Originally Posted by Pladio View Post
Creating a new topic sometimes breaks the flow.
Yes, I agree, to an extent.
The flow consists of many people replying after one another in a short amount of time.
If you are creating a new topic and are busy copying and pasting many of those replies, because you expect it will all be deleted soon, you'll miss new replies, because of the turbulency, and you will have to start again copying pasting.

Once a new thread is created the flow may continue elsewhere of course. Or not, because the momentum is gone.
Originally Posted by Pladio View Post
In my analogy, it's like telling people that we'll discuss it next time they come over or after dinner. At that point the discussion will be about something else.

I have nothing against what you've done, I am trying to raise a point which would make things much easier.

Why is one thread allowed to go off topic and the other isn't?
Most of the times the reason a moderator stepped in are explained or are self explanatory imo. One does not have to agree with the reason to step in, of course. But alas, moderator's decisions are not taken after consulting regular members (yes, some decisions are taken after deliberations between moderators/admin).

I understand it is frustrating when you are reading or engaging in a discussion that raises good questions/answers, though not about the original topic.
Vivid discussions are usually the ones that I find myself most interesting, regardless of my own take.

I think recent and past events have shown that problems arise when a moderator is busy elsewhere or sound a sleep, making it impossible for her/him to act fast and remove any post that is not in line with the tos or moderator's words.
Then a new discussion might begin in that thread, a new flow might start, which may be quite interesting to read or participate in indeed, if it were not for. . . That elephant.

I am and have always been quite rigid and clear in this aspect: everyone knows what s/he is getting into after my warning.

A pity? Yes, sometimes. But if we start allowing moderators warnings to be ignored, then what's the point of giving them in the first place?
Mind you, no moderator likes stepping in, no moderator likes deleting posts, no moderator likes giving red cards. Apart from getting hostility, via PM or in threads, it is a lot of hassle.

Originally Posted by Pladio View Post
I feel like my suggestion makes sense. Does it not?
Sure, you are perhaps looking for a change in the TOS:
Off-topic

In general a contribution to a discussion should add something to that discussion and keep the discussion going and on-topic, not stop it or divert it.
But again, imo threads are allowed to go off-topic.
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Last edited by Eye; May 3rd, 2022 at 17:24. Reason: Mentioned admin being part of deliberations
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May 3rd, 2022, 16:34
Originally Posted by Pladio View Post
Well, I know for a fact that the method has worked in the past, as. I have used it and I believe so has @lackblogger if I am not mistaken.

Obviously they sometimes go off topic but then it makes sense for the mod to tell people to get back on topic.
Yes. It was you and lackblogger. It was Jaz and I who made sure everybody followed your request.
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May 3rd, 2022, 18:03
I certainly have no issues with topics straying a bit, as that can lead to healthy and interesting discussions. I have noticed, however, that sometimes the conversations can degrade into insults, similar to what I heard on the playground many decades ago, and that is something I've no interest in at all. And as always, my default is to trust those in charge on this site, which to date hasn't let me down.
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May 3rd, 2022, 18:58
I like free flowing posts and also think the moderation should not be too rigid or trying to smother or discourage open discussion.

There is no harm in letting folks meander, as long as it doesn't get too heavy and go into, say, for example, politics. (I agree that most politics issues should be confined to the proper forum)

I agree with Pladio on this topic.
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May 3rd, 2022, 19:10
I think there should be a middle ground. Imo, it's fine if a discussion goes off topic for a few posts, but if we suddenly have an entire page worth or more then it should probably be split off into a separate thread.

It should be more strict for stickied threads though. If a thread is stickied, it's obviously for a specific topic.
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May 3rd, 2022, 19:24
In the old Larian forums, my nickname soon became "Offtopic", or simply "off".
The reason was simple : My only internet access was through a public room at the university.
I would download & safe the discussions there as HTML files on my disquette, carry it home, read it, write a reply to that, and then, on the next day, upload that reply into the discussion thread in that public university room.
And, of course, the discussion hat already diven elsewhere …
So, I was constantly "off-topic", and that became my trade mark.
Hence my nickname there : "Off". ("Alrik 'Off' Fassbauer")
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May 3rd, 2022, 21:37
The problem I have is not with a thread going off topic, but with something happening that requires a moderator intervention (often insults, or something else against the TOS) and then some people feel that they should comment on that action or continue about something after a warning was given to stop doing it by a moderator. Then those posts get deleted and there are posts with quotes in them, of the deleted posts, which will also get deleted. As a result the moderator most likely makes the comment to stick to the subject.

I would think it is not that difficult, but for some people it is. It is no fun to have to micromanage threads on this forum, because some people have difficulty to follow moderator decisions. I don't know why, maybe they feel their opinion is so very important that they have to share it.
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May 3rd, 2022, 21:46
This is one of the few threads where everybody stays completely on topic.
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May 3rd, 2022, 21:56
I guess the difficulty lies in trying to second guess which post we write is the one that will be the one that gets moderator attention.

From a poster's perspective:

See a conversation happening -> think about the topic -> see more posts -> decide to write something.

But, meanwhile, in the background someone else is:

See a conversation happening -> is distraught that people are in disagreement -> feels they need to do something -> decides to interrupt the conversation.

And the poster might just get bad timing, they might have posted right before the decision to interrupt had been made. Or their post might have been the trigger to interrupt. Or they were having a different conversation that just got caught up in the offending conversation. And it's difficult to know what posting rules then apply as the poster often has no idea which aspect of which posts are causing the hullabaloo.

And once the mod hammer has struck, as you say, there's this impending doom of not being able to even discuss why it all happened, which will be the only thing people are interested in after it happens. And you get threads like this.

Nobody wants to beat-up on the mods who are doing a primarily thankless task, but at the same time nobody likes having the phone hung up on them either
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May 3rd, 2022, 22:10
I've been moderating for quite some time and it is my experience that public discussions about moderating actions lead to nothing. People don't change their opinion and at the end everybody is more or less frustrated, even more than before that discussion, including the moderator.
For that reason not discussing moderation actions in public is even mentioned in the TOS.
To stay in the analogy, that phone isn't picked up and the ringing is just stopped.

In the case of bad timing, it is just what it is. A post made on a subject part of a moderator warning. Even if that poster did not see the warning, it is really weird to leave that post be, in clear conflict of that warning.
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May 3rd, 2022, 22:22
Indeed, and oftentimes it's quite obvious why moderation occurred. You know, the classics of spam, unwarranted personal attacks, drunken posters posting literal drivel, outrageous racism, sexism, and all the isms, political obsession, amateur dramatics et al.

But sometimes it just looks like a conversation. And it's those times where this kind of stuff happens. When there hasn't been an obvious break of the norm. You're right, nothing can come of it, because hierarchy's demand a closing of ranks at times of controversy, it's the same in every circle of life.

But this whole off-topic thing? That's always going to be subjective, surely. Perhaps it's worth a discussion on the policy itself? Get some greater clarity somehow?
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May 4th, 2022, 00:01
Originally Posted by Myrthos View Post
The problem I have is not with a thread going off topic, but with something happening that requires a moderator intervention (often insults, or something else against the TOS) and then some people feel that they should comment on that action or continue about something after a warning was given to stop doing it by a moderator. Then those posts get deleted and there are posts with quotes in them, of the deleted posts, which will also get deleted. As a result the moderator most likely makes the comment to stick to the subject.

I would think it is not that difficult, but for some people it is. It is no fun to have to micromanage threads on this forum, because some people have difficulty to follow moderator decisions. I don't know why, maybe they feel their opinion is so very important that they have to share it.
Originally Posted by lackblogger View Post
Indeed, and oftentimes it's quite obvious why moderation occurred. You know, the classics of spam, unwarranted personal attacks, drunken posters posting literal drivel, outrageous racism, sexism, and all the isms, political obsession, amateur dramatics et al.

But sometimes it just looks like a conversation. And it's those times where this kind of stuff happens. When there hasn't been an obvious break of the norm. You're right, nothing can come of it, because hierarchy's demand a closing of ranks at times of controversy, it's the same in every circle of life.

But this whole off-topic thing? That's always going to be subjective, surely. Perhaps it's worth a discussion on the policy itself? Get some greater clarity somehow?
I think that's where I'm getting at.
I think it's clear that when a moderator makes a decision that it should stick.
I completely agree with @Eye on that point.

What I don't agree or even fully understand is when off-topic is OK and when off-topic is not OK ?

That's where my suggestion is coming from.

I am not talking about insults, sexism, racism and such. Just going on tangents.
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May 4th, 2022, 00:18
But is there a stealthy sickness lurking here beneath the scenes?

Why do so many people hit a moment of crisis that they don't fully understand and want to delete their account? Why are there so many guests but so few new members want to join in?

I'm not convinced that all is well.

Allow me to get philosophical, for a moment. Good cannot exist without bad. To be universally appealing, like planet Earth, you have to be open to everyone's opinion and allow it to speak for itself. All real users, who take the time to write any real comment, are, in their own way, valuable. The only thing that mods should actually be doing is deleting spam from bots or dangerous links to computer viruses or something.

Planet Earth is just a bunch of rocks and trees and dirt. It's wild and dangerous. But look what humans have done with it! People have thrived under those conditions. Nature can be evil. Just look at a lion picking off a the most easy target. A young or weak Gazelle. Eating it alive. It's horrible. Yet, we understand this is nature and try to protect it. We worry when populations of predators become endangered and try to preserve this horror.

But here we are, sheltered from nature on a forum about video games.

But, SirJames, what if someone insults another person!? Who cares?! If user A insults user B then B can just ignore them. If B WANTS to engage in a "bad" exchange of insults that's unfortunate but still organic and valid in its own way. In the end it will resolve itself within minutes without intervention.

But, SirJames, what if someone goes off-topic!? Who cares?! If user A goes off-topic with user B then B can just ignore them. If B WANTS to engage in a "good" exchange of off-topic discussion then it's fortunate and organic and valid in its own way. In the end it will resolve itself within minutes without intervention.

So, what is bad? What is good? There are no facts; only interpretations.

At the end of the day, whatever happens here, no one is going to be eaten alive by a lion. Exposed to off-topic posts, insulted with mere words by some RPG nerd on the internet. It's not that critical. We'll be fine.

Let's not forget, the members here, according to the polls, are all over 30. I don't think any adult actually needs a forum-nanny sticking their nose in like an annoying parent and telling them how to behave. We're all aware that behaving poorly reflects poorly on ourselves in the eyes of other users and that is its own punishment.

In other areas of life, going above and beyond the call of duty is a prized quality. Commitment, enthusiasm, taking the initiative; all good qualities. Definitely employee-of-the-month material. But, as far as mods go, I'd much rather have an army of Corwins who are helpful when you PM them but never edit/delete/move members posts than a nanny doing more than is necessary. But, you know, it's not as bad as being eaten by a lion. I guess we'll be fine.

I'll leave you with a quote from Futurama that I think is relevant.

Being God isn't easy. If you do too much people come to rely on you. If you don't do enough people lose faith in you. You have to use a light touch. If you do things right people won't be sure you've done anything at all.
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May 4th, 2022, 00:34
Hey!

A meta-thread! Cool!
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May 4th, 2022, 01:29
Originally Posted by Pladio View Post
I think people need to relax here about topics remaining on topic.
Unless the original poster specifically asks for it, I think it's OK for topics to go onto full on tangents.

It's a discussion forum. The whole point is for it to have discussions. Yes, they can start in one place and end up somewhere else, that's how real life discussions happen too.

When I have people over for dinner, I don't tell them we can only discuss one topic and if they stray from it they have to leave my house.

It's not like people can't post about the original topic of they want to.


So my two cents is this:
1) if a topic is created by someone for a specific purpose and explicitly asks for it to remain on topic, then moderate it in that way.

2) in all other cases, let the discussions flow naturally.

Obviously within the TOS.

Will make life easier for everyone including the mods.
100% agree. The notion that a forum with as light traffic as this one needs posts to stay on topic (unless requested by the OP obviously) is kind of laughable. Makes no sense to delete what little discussion there is. Last night some people were discussing game sales vs game quality, and related issues, and pretty much the entire conversation (or enough of it to make the rest appear incoherent) got deleted, because it wasn't on the topic of the thread. The topic in question being "Tales of Arise sold 2M copies". As if anyone actually cares to engage in an in-depth discussion of how Tales of Arise sold 2M copies, and would be annoyed by unrelated posts in their thread

I'd be very surprised if more than maybe 1 or 2 people around here actually care how many copies a game called Tales of Arise sold. So if the newspost isn't intended to just foster discussion, then I don't know what it's for.
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