The atmosphere of the forum...

Questions and comments
Freedom_2018
Posts: 385
Joined: Sat Dec 18, 2010 12:10 am

Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by Freedom_2018 » Wed Mar 20, 2019 4:07 pm

One other suggestion to do with the structural layout of the forum which could alleviate some of these problems (BTW I am surprised for all the damn self declared NT rationals out here, how little focus is on a structural solution versus a he said, she said, please don't go type of approach WTF :-)

Instead of engineering and fixing people and human nature why don't we fix some structural stuff and see if that works.

How about increasing the number of forum sub-headings ..like in the MMM forums (I know I know it is a dirty word around here but hear me out)...for example I have been EREd over 6 years so I don't care so much about reading 'on the way to ere posts' so on say the MMM forum I occasionally check to see any interesting in the Investor or PostFIRE section or if I need some laughs, go to Wall of Shame stuff.

Looks like we do have a fair number of forum subheadings (I checked as I was typing this)..so why can't people just go into the category they want and not go into categories they don't want.

Could it be that the problem is too few active people (like I said in my first post on this thread topic)??? Lurkers don't count in impacting the culture of the forum but are quietly reading and smiling or cringing as the active folks post...only to surface occasionally into a 'safe space'.

prognastat
Posts: 1000
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Location: Texas
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by prognastat » Wed Mar 20, 2019 4:17 pm

m741 made a topic kind of related to a more structural solution:
viewtopic.php?f=4&t=10514&p=185402&hilit=filter#p185402

I didn't use it because I do like seeing everything, but it's still a clever way to remove the categories of topics you aren't interested in. Chances are it wouldn't be hard to write one that hides those unwanted categories from the homepage too.

Also there is a Chrome extension called tampermonkey that should work the same as greasemonkey.

From my understand as far as server side code changes JLF doesn't want to have to write and maintain custom code.

EDIT:
Added to m741's script to make it more comprehensive in it's blocking of unwanted categories:

Code: Select all

// ==UserScript==
// @name         ERE Filter
// @version      1.1
// @description  Filters unwanted categories from the ERE forums
// @author       m741, Prognastat
// @match        https://forum.earlyretirementextreme.com/search.php?search_id=unreadposts
// @match        https://forum.earlyretirementextreme.com/index.php
// @match        https://forum.earlyretirementextreme.com/search.php?search_id=newposts
// @match        https://forum.earlyretirementextreme.com/search.php?search_id=unanswered
// @match        https://forum.earlyretirementextreme.com/search.php?search_id=active_topics
// ==/UserScript==

const filteredForums = [
// 'Introduce yourself',
// 'ERE Journals',
// 'ERE Community',
// 'Money Questions',
// 'Skills & Tools Questions',
// 'Lifestyle Questions',
// 'Health Questions',
// 'Work & Education',
// 'Housing Questions',
// 'Transportation Questions',
// 'Friends & Family Questions',
// 'Inspiration',
// 'Politics, and other eternal disagreements',
// 'Resources & Recommended Reading',
// 'ERE Book/Blog/Forum',
// 'Miscellaneous',
// 'Administrative',
];
for (const element of document.getElementsByClassName('row')) {
  for (const forum of filteredForums) {
    if (element.innerHTML.indexOf(forum) >= 0) {
      element.parentNode.removeChild(element);
    }
  }
}

bigato
Posts: 2126
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:43 pm

Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by bigato » Wed Mar 20, 2019 4:54 pm

Regarding the structure, the Discourse forum software actually has a very nice solution to this. The user can configure it so as to see only the threads he is reading/participating, and the new threads are only shown once; if you are not interested in the topic, you just dismiss them and you'll never see them surface again. Unless off course you want to see them and in this case there is a place where you see every thread just like the "active topics" here in phpbb. I use another forum at my job which runs on Discourse, and it has a shitload of traffic, a lot more than us, and yet takes me very little time to check on it every day.

Now on the other side, Discourse may be more usable from the user point of view but I hate with gusto how its infrastructure is more complex, slow (thus more expensive) and prone to headaches. I definitely would not volunteer to do the work on a possible migration, nor support the idea. But maybe phpbb will catch up on usability at some point? Or if there is sufficient interest, we could pay people to improve the official phpbb. I don't volunteer to program php, but I would send some money if enough people are interested.

Another thing that annoys me to no end is that you have to click on the topic *AND THEN* click "first unread post". Why on earth doesn't it just show you the first unread post by default when you click the topic? Discourse also does this right. This one looks like it would be an easy change to phpbb, maybe it is even already on the development pipeline and coming to us at some point. Or we could make it happen. Again, I'm not programming php but I'd pay some money for this.

User avatar
Bankai
Posts: 560
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2014 5:28 am

Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by Bankai » Wed Mar 20, 2019 5:02 pm

bigato wrote:
Wed Mar 20, 2019 4:54 pm

Another thing that annoys me to no end is that you have to click on the topic *AND THEN* click "first unread post". Why on earth doesn't it just show you the first unread post by default when you click the topic?
I just click the red bit on the left from the topic title and it brings first unread post for that topic, so just 1 click.

bigato
Posts: 2126
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:43 pm

Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by bigato » Wed Mar 20, 2019 5:26 pm

Damn, thanks, I had no idea hahahaha

7Wannabe5
Posts: 5110
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 9:03 am

Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Wed Mar 20, 2019 5:29 pm

We could start a thread where we read and discuss "ERE" line by line, like a bible study group.

I have led or belonged to many real world book groups, and it is ALWAYS the case that it is difficult to keep the conversation on the book (which maybe half the members actually finished reading) and off of gossip, strange tangents, or "what's for snacks?" That's why there are lists of useful questions provided with Recommended for Book Group books. Opening the book at random to get us started:

1) What is contingency goal-setting?
2) How does Liebig's Law of the minimum relate to contingency goal-setting?
3) Why is problem solving simplified if problems are kept "small, slow, and diversified?"
4) How have you applied what you learned from the Contingency Goal-Setting section of "ERE" to your own life-style design?

Edited to add: Lightbulb moment! I vote that anybody who hasn't actually read the book by midnight this Sunday be kicked off the forum, but It's okay if you have to put yellow sticky notes on the pages you didn't understand. That's what study and discussion groups are for.

prognastat
Posts: 1000
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Location: Texas
Contact:

Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by prognastat » Wed Mar 20, 2019 5:47 pm

EDIT
Doesn't work right, was testing with the wrong string.

Alright one more update on the tampermonkey/greasemonkey script.

The following will remove the unwanted categories from just about everywhere and anything your search on the ERE forums you simply remove the // from in front of the unwanted categories:

Code: Select all

// ==UserScript==
// @name         ERE Filter
// @namespace    http://tampermonkey.net/
// @version      2.0
// @description  Filters unwanted categories from the ERE forums
// @author       Prognastat, m741
// @match        https://forum.earlyretirementextreme.com/search.php?search_id=unreadposts
// @match        https://forum.earlyretirementextreme.com/index.php
// @match        https://forum.earlyretirementextreme.com/search.php?search_id=newposts
// @match        https://forum.earlyretirementextreme.com/search.php?search_id=unanswered
// @match        https://forum.earlyretirementextreme.com/search.php?search_id=active_topics
// @match        https://forum.earlyretirementextreme.com/search.php?keywords=*
// ==/UserScript==

const filteredForums = [
// 'Introduce yourself',
// 'ERE Journals',
// 'ERE Community',
// 'Money Questions',
// 'Skills & Tools Questions',
// 'Lifestyle Questions',
// 'Health Questions',
// 'Work & Education',
// 'Housing Questions',
// 'Transportation Questions',
// 'Friends & Family Questions',
// 'Inspiration',
// 'Politics, and other eternal disagreements',
// 'Resources & Recommended Reading',
// 'ERE Book/Blog/Forum',
// 'Miscellaneous',
// 'Administrative',
];
if (window.location.href.indexOf("https://forum.earlyretirementextreme.com/search.php?keywords=") == -1) {
    for (const element of document.getElementsByClassName('row')) {
        for (const forum of filteredForums) {
            if (element.innerHTML.indexOf(forum) >= 0) {
                element.parentNode.removeChild(element);
            }
        }
    }
} else {
    for (const element of document.getElementsByClassName('search')) {
        for (const forum of filteredForums) {
            if (element.innerHTML.indexOf(forum) !== -1) {
                element.parentNode.removeChild(element);
            }
        }
    }
}

User avatar
jennypenny
Posts: 6264
Joined: Sun Jul 03, 2011 2:20 pm
Location: Stepford USA

Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by jennypenny » Wed Mar 20, 2019 7:20 pm

Why does there need to be a system or code in place? Can't you just skip what you don't want to read? I usually skip the threads on things like bikes, job hunting, polyamory, etc, because they don't pertain to me. It's not that big a deal. I skip over news articles I'm not interested in when I read the paper and news websites, too. Doesn't everyone? I'm not sure why this is even a thing?


@Fish -- Don't leave. This forum specializes in overanalyzing everything. You fit right in. :)

Mister Imperceptible
Posts: 946
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:18 pm

Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Wed Mar 20, 2019 8:07 pm

Yeah, no one sitting at the freaks table is asking anyone to leave the cafeteria. We are just emphasizing the right to fling peas everywhere because divergence is intregral to the advance of civilization and the evolution of mankind, or something.

Tyler9000
Posts: 1568
Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2012 11:45 pm
Location: Austin, TX

Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by Tyler9000 » Wed Mar 20, 2019 8:13 pm

I'm apparently more similar to JP, as the idea of only reading certain categories doesn't even occur to me. It's always "Active Topics" that shows me everything. I read what looks interesting and skip anything that doesn't strike my fancy, and I find lots of interesting things that way that I'd never think to look for. In the spirit of Jacob's call to be the example you want to see in the world, I think we'd all benefit from focusing less on filtering out what you don't want and more on posting the quality content that you do want.

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C40
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Location: PNW
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by C40 » Wed Mar 20, 2019 8:29 pm

Mister Imperceptible wrote:
Wed Mar 20, 2019 8:07 pm
Yeah, no one sitting at the freaks table is asking anyone to leave the cafeteria. We are just emphasizing the right to fling peas everywhere because divergence is intregral to the advance of civilization and the evolution of mankind, or something.
One of the problems with the internet and forums: people can fling peas all day long on anyone and everyone, and there is no possibility/option for someone who got hit with one too many to walk over and smash the pea flinger in the head with a lunch tray.

Augustus
Posts: 892
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2016 10:15 am

Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by Augustus » Wed Mar 20, 2019 8:41 pm

jennypenny wrote:
Wed Mar 20, 2019 7:20 pm
Why does there need to be a system or code in place? Can't you just skip what you don't want to read? I usually skip the threads on things like bikes, job hunting, polyamory, etc, because they don't pertain to me. It's not that big a deal. I skip over news articles I'm not interested in when I read the paper and news websites, too. Doesn't everyone? I'm not sure why this is even a thing?
+1

It's your brain, you control it. I've always felt that a properly trained mind could sit in a sea of chaos and be perfectly serene because it picks what it focuses on, and it focuses on the things that should be focused on only.

To quote the dalai lama "They have taken everything from us, shall we let them take our minds as well?"

Mister Imperceptible
Posts: 946
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:18 pm

Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by Mister Imperceptible » Wed Mar 20, 2019 8:47 pm

Usually it would not have too much of an effect considering many pea flingers already had their heads smashed repeatedly in childhood and are now just demonstrating that the human spirit is irrepressible.

But I do feel bad in a way for those who never had their heads smashed and now feel the delicate rain of peas to be an unbearable onslaught.

m741
Posts: 1162
Joined: Tue Jan 18, 2011 3:31 am
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by m741 » Wed Mar 20, 2019 9:20 pm

I wrote the script because I get nothing out of the political topics (that's the subforum I filter out). It's not why I'm here and I want to read more ERE-focused content. In general I get too much exposure to politics in my day-to-day life as it is, so I'd rather not repeatedly see the politics threads which seem to clog the board (given the nature of politics, they're always at the top of the forum since they often go into 5+ pages of responses). It's a waste of time and energy for me.

Go ahead and manually ignore whatever posts you want; I'll use my script.

---

In general I'm happy with the moderation of the forum, though related or not I feel that the composition has changed and people tend to seem more combative and just... angrier than I remember 7-8 years ago. When I joined, it felt to me like everyone was stumbling onto this amazing new world with so much to learn. I see people with this attitude pass through occasionally still, but my impression is that they don't last as long as they used to. Maybe I'm misremembering or just have a mental bias. It could be that the pool of forum regulars has depleted the core ERE-related topics. I do know that at one point I would have enjoyed meeting *all* of the forum regulars in person... and that's no longer the case for me.

---

For a smart take on moderation and perception of online communities, I'd point to this Slate Star Codex post. I really respect the author as a critical thinker, and I think it provides a lot of insight into what can go wrong with online discussions.

suomalainen
Posts: 730
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 12:49 pm

Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by suomalainen » Wed Mar 20, 2019 10:59 pm

I'll venture a few reactions even though I deleted my first post on this thread a few days ago.

1) Kudos to @jacob. The ability to be and think "above the fray" is just...incredible. THAT is the unique skill that makes this forum what it is. I hope others can see that too.

2) I find it interesting to see what biases people bring to this forum and how it could divide them into opposing groups such as purists vs free-for-allers or jokesters vs anti-jokesters or whatever. The question I have to all of it is: why? Why do you want some control over this thing that isn't yours and it's done very well by itself without your "help" thankyouverymuch. So, I go back to #1 - you initially came (and stayed) because of #1. If you don't like the direction or feel of the forum any more, you have two options: 1) leave or 2) try to influence it with the content, quality and quantity of your posts (or your silence). The option you don't have is to control other people's posting habits. You sure as shit aren't going to convince @jacob to change his mind. Guaranteed he's thought about this waaaaaaayyyy more than you and he's comfortable with his decision of how to keep his own house.

3) @jace has rubbed me the wrong way, sure (@jace PM me and I'll teach you how to rub me the right way), but so have a lot of other people and I'm CERTAIN I've rubbed people the wrong way. That's life. Adults can ignore shit they don't like or they can push back and/or try to influence it. Or they can leave in a huff.

4) I didn't know this forum had a mission statement or a point or whatever. That's what a blog with an ex ante mission statement is. A forum's "mission" is more an ex post emergent quality of group dynamics - it's formed as it goes; it's fluid. Why try to shoehorn the latter into the former when it is impossible? They are two different things.

5) And in any event, even if the forum DID have a mission statement, it doesn't stop a schmuck like me from joining and ruining the party (much to the chagrin of the controllers pointed out in #2). Personally, I find the personal finance stuff very boring. Work, save, frugality, yada yada yada. As I think @fish once said, he thought about starting his own blog once but realized it was a crowded space already and he would have nothing new or unique to add. I MUCH prefer the tangents and the unique thoughts and the jokes and the personal life details be they successes or failures in or out of the finance realm. THAT to me is fascinating. This forum is a great messy ball of humanity - would be a shame to sterilize it.

6) Which brings me to the final point - this forum already has a bunch of lunch tables. Some people eat primarily in the journal section and even there, some prefer the "journey to my number" journals and others prefer the "what wild adventure is this cat going on this month" journals. Others like the politics or the (there are other sections, right?), you know, the ____ section. You pick your poison every time you click on a link. If you find yourself always getting offended or pissed off in one section, just change the channel, man. It ain't hard. Life's too short to always be choosing a higher blood pressure.

7) All that said - I will offer one opinion along the "what I would moderate if I were the ERE god" lines -- I'm super tired of the gender wars, the "white-knight" bashing. But, you know, some people have some shit they need to work through and since I'm not in control, I will simply do my part to try to influence/push back discussions when that kind of bullshit arises and I feel up for a fight. Otherwise, I'll just ignore it. For those of you who always want to equate silence with X, it just isn't so. You don't get to put words into someone's mouth when it suits your purposes.

prognastat
Posts: 1000
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Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by prognastat » Wed Mar 20, 2019 11:19 pm

Also though I don't use the script to filter the forum myself, I don't even tend to use the home page at all instead living on the unread posts page, but if improving the script helps some people filter stuff they don't like out of their information feed and keeps them around rather than leaving I don't think it's wasted time/effort.

Jason
Posts: 2273
Joined: Mon Jan 30, 2017 8:37 am

Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by Jason » Thu Mar 21, 2019 5:54 am

suomalainen wrote:
Wed Mar 20, 2019 10:59 pm
(@jace PM me and I'll teach you how to rub me the right way)
God, I'd thought you'd never ask.

SavingWithBabies
Posts: 542
Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2015 2:50 pm
Location: Midwest, USA

Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by SavingWithBabies » Thu Mar 21, 2019 9:39 am

I like this forum and typically I don't post as much outside of my journal. I found @Fish's "debacle" post to be a net negative as we've already discussed in this thread. Perhaps this will help explain why: at work, you and the rest of the team see someone screw something up but there is no feedback loop until days later, the boss talks in ambiguous terms about some issue that is almost impossible to relate to this prior screwup (but is in fact the direct cause) -- the person who screwed up is one of those least likely to figure this out and "for the good of the company" a new arbitrary rule is put in place going forward to "address the issue once and for all." I hate that. It doesn't work. That isn't exactly what your thread was about but it was that same kind of thing to me. Then I thought about it some more and decided it was just your opinion and maybe you didn't mean whatever I read into it so meh. Move on. In general, I enjoy your posts @Fish and hope you stay. I just wanted to relate one reaction so it might help you (as others have provided feedback) in calibrating where it lies on your sucks-o-meter (in terms of "leaving the forum" at the top and "posting this again" or whatever is good).

To go back to the overall topic of the atmosphere of the forum, the only thing I've taken a bit personal is the griping about tech salaries and soft software developers. I get it. I think the compensation is ridiculous. But if someone offers me that kind of money, I'll take it. I share all the numbers because it is so far out there that... I think people should know it's going on? I'm not sure. I don't share them to boast. I know that most of the griping is aimed at the people living on a budget of say $50,000/year or $60,000/year or whatever figure we've decided here makes them a "them" versus an "us". I feel like I'm on the cusp of being a "them" here however within the last 3-6 months, I've decided to try to figure out how to get closer to the "us" budget and we're making progress. And I think that is really important. But I've also noticed that posters here seem to post more about numbers if they are clearly an "us" and then they leave it more ambiguous if perhaps they are outside the norms. Maybe this is all down to EXTREME and perhaps it's part of the core value of this forum so I don't know if anything should be changed except perhaps realizing that "them" not being here is against diversity. One doesn't want to be overwhelmed but at the same time, those outside the norms can contribute differing views that challenge the norms and are healthy. I have chalked this up to taking it too personal and decided to ignore it but others (who might want to depart the MMM-set and go more EXTREME) might get turned away.

bigato
Posts: 2126
Joined: Sat Mar 05, 2011 12:43 pm

Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by bigato » Thu Mar 21, 2019 12:45 pm

jp, the way i'd like to browse the forums is:
- i want to see every new thread once and decide from its title if i want to look further;
- if i decide i don't, i also don't want to ever see it in my face again;
- if i am interested in the thread, i want a way to know every time there's a new post in it.

The reason i would like it to work this way is the same as m741, i like efficiency and don't want to waste time nor want to get irritated. Except that I don't want to filter by forum theme, i'd like to look into every thread title once and decide myself. I don't keep on inviting people I find irritating or boring to hang out and talk in real life, so I don't see why I wouldn't filter it here if possible.

I just hope this is not eternal september all over again.

Seppia
Posts: 1080
Joined: Tue Aug 30, 2016 9:34 am
Location: Italy

Re: The atmosphere of the forum...

Post by Seppia » Thu Mar 21, 2019 1:00 pm

@bigato
Assuming you will respond to a thread that interests you, you can use the “your posts” view mode.
Not exactly what you need but fairly close.
This is why on some forums you sometimes find one line replies such as “posting to follow”.

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