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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » What's happened to Hatrack! (Page 1)

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Author Topic: What's happened to Hatrack!
The Rabbit
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I don't know what's happened to hatrack but this used to be a place where people could express differences of opinion in a friendly atmosphere.

There was a time when calling people liars and bitches or accusing them of 'killing people for sport'would not have been tolerated except perhaps as joke.

I've noticed that many of the calmer more rational voices have left or reduced their participation dramatically and those left behind are becoming increasingly shrill (including mine).

Sadly, that is what this community has become. Its not fun being here anymore.

Pity.

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Achilles
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Join Us!
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katharina
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Lisa and King of Men are what happened.
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Jamio
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Orson Scott Card has probably been asking himself that question for several years now.
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FlyingCow
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I feel your pain, Rabbit. Achilles is correct in that a lot of posters have gone to sakeriver over the years - I flirted with it myself, and still might. Mainly I avoid most of the hostile threads, because they're petty and not worth the time. But I do miss many of the folks that have left.

There have been a couple of mass exoduses (e.g. the Leto debacle) but mainly it's been a quiet bleed over, I think.

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Tresopax
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I've found that the only person whose level of civility you can control is yourself. Getting angry at anyone else doesn't usually help.
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Strider
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THAT COMMENT MAKES ME SO ANGRY TRES!!!!!!!
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Achilles
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quote:
Originally posted by FlyingCow:
I feel your pain, Rabbit. Achilles is correct in that a lot of posters have gone to sakeriver over the years - I flirted with it myself, and still might. Mainly I avoid most of the hostile threads, because they're petty and not worth the time. But I do miss many of the folks that have left.

There have been a couple of mass exoduses (e.g. the Leto debacle) but mainly it's been a quiet bleed over, I think.

And I keep wondering why you aren't there. [No No]
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Xaposert
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I agree with Strider! [Mad]
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Armoth
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It would hurt me greatly if people couldn't find ways to get along in an online forum. What I love about this place (and I'm relatively new) is that people who are from all different backgrounds can share their ideas.

Attitude, abrasiveness - that stinks. I agree. But doesn't it irk you more to have to leave to find another community centered around people you like better?

I hope you can appreciate that I, someone you disagree with, is making the effort to acknowledge your feelings. I also hope you will not throw out the baby with the bathwater based on one or two people.

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Herblay
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It seems that there are a lot of children trying to flesh out their Locke or Demosthenes resumes. Nearly all of the threads are becoming downright hostile. And if someone disagrees with you, they start swearing, making fun of your education, or stating that you don't have the right to an opinion because you haven't been here long enough.

Jeeze, I've been here since around 2001. People used to have witty, civil discussions.

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kmbboots
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I found Hatrack approximately this hostile when I first started posting here. It was only hostile to liberals - particularly non-Mormon liberals, though.
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Christine
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I know I haven't been around as long as others, but it doesn't seem much different to me. This is a site where people debate controversial issues and that is bound to create controversy.
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Kwea
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I didn't like Sake, and didn't find it to me any more civil. there are fewer "in your face" rude types there, perhaps, but there was even more ganging up on people than I usually find here. I didn't find it a very nice place, although some of my favorite people post there.

It's a click, far more so than Hatrack has ever been. At least that's how it seemed to me.


And I don't think you can blame all of this on 2 posters....nor do I find the only rude thing here are the people swearing.

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Armoth
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I take all that back. Sakeriver has an American Idol thread. See y'all!
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FlyingCow
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Armoth, it's not as difficult to find another community as you think. Sakeriver is essentially the Hatrack River ex-patriot forum - I've lurked from time to time, and participated way back during the first big exodus, but I still haven't packed up my things to go.

But it's not because it would be a chore.

And it wouldn't be because of one or two people. One or two people are easy to avoid - a tone-shift for the entire board is not.

I've seen cycles come and go, and unfortunately each "down" cycle erodes away more posters I enjoy and identify with. The tide will at some point sweep me away, too, but not yet.

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BelladonnaOrchid
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I have tried to register for Sakeriver before, but it keeps telling me I entered the wrong answer for the security question. [Frown]
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ElJay
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The forum software has changed recently, so you should try again. Otherwise, Mike can fix that for you. [Smile]
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Achilles
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Alas, the arial bovine is correct. There will be another cycle to change all this. I'm really sorry Kwea found Sakeriver cliquey.

Still, I hang out there much more than anywhere else.

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FlyingCow
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quote:
Alas, the arial bovine is correct.
I've been eating better, so I might just be the Arial Narrow bovine at this point - some even consider me the Arial Bold bovine... [Razz]
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Achilles
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[Monkeys]
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Strider
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
I found Hatrack approximately this hostile when I first started posting here. It was only hostile to liberals - particularly non-Mormon liberals, though.

I've thought about this before and find it amusing. I remember when liberal viewpoints were jumped on more readily. It does seem like that's flip flopped over the years.
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katharina
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I think that's a direct result of King of Men. No better way to drive out a certain kind of people than to pollute everything thread with how stupid they are.

The lack of diversity is not because of an idealogical change, but because a metric ton of people have been driven away. That's nothing to be proud of.

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kmbboots
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I am not observing a lack of diversity. I am saying it is more diverse.
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katharina
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Only if you define diverse as bending liberal and Mormon voices much more absent or hushed.
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scifibum
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couple of thoughts -

- I USUALLY don't see people getting treated badly who have given the impression of being thoughtful and arguing in good faith. Most of the bad behavior that I notice is in a feedback loop.

- The exceptions to the above are usually about religion. This might be an opportunity for a bit more moderation (meaning moderator action). We have rules against proselytizing on this site, perhaps those rules should be interpreted to be against criticism of each other's religous beliefs. I'm honestly torn here, because I find those discussions among the most interesting and personally useful, but perhaps the rude behavior outweighs the benefit I (we) derive from those discussions. (And at any rate, I don't get much value from rude criticism of others' beliefs.)

- I don't flag posts. I'm sure most of us are similarly reluctant to try to invoke moderator action. Is this a good thing? I have no idea how much flagging does happen...perhaps it's a ton and the moderators don't find most of the complaints actionable. Or maybe the mods don't see the bad behavior. Not sure.

- Maybe we need to call for civility when someone we agree with is being rude. I don't do this often...I'm not a model citizen in the first place so I hesitate to cast stones, but perhaps that shouldn't stop me from clearing my throat when somebody seems to have crossed the line and then some.

---

- It's hard to figure out how to modify the behavior of others; I should probably focus on being polite and pleasant to converse with. Being interesting would be good too, but that seems hard.

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kmbboots
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As opposed to being almost all Mormon and other people being told they weren't welcome because they weren't Mormon? Yeah, this is more diverse.
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scifibum
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I haven't noticed any lack of LDS member activity or their point of view. Do LDS members really feel hushed? Perhaps that demographic is more heavily represented among Hatrack members than I realized and people are just being quiet about it? I'd have to guess at least ten to twenty percent of frequent posters are openly LDS...I hadn't imagined OSC's total readership is any more LDS than that.
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katharina
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Told they weren't welcome because they weren't Mormon? Total fantasy. Never happened.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
I'm really sorry Kwea found Sakeriver cliquey.
I'm not. The reason Sake often feels "better" than Hatrack is directly related to its cliquishness.

quote:
I think that's a direct result of King of Men.
No. In fact, I believe that anyone who says this sort of thing doesn't understand forum dynamics. It's no one poster; it's no batch of posters. It has very little to do with individual members at all.
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Jhai
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quote:
Originally posted by The Rabbit:
I don't know what's happened to hatrack but this used to be a place where people could express differences of opinion in a friendly atmosphere.

There was a time when calling people liars and bitches or accusing them of 'killing people for sport' would not have been tolerated except perhaps as joke.


(my italics)
quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
Lisa and King of Men are what happened.

Heh.
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katharina
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If you deny the effect of calling a certain group of people completely stupid on a regular basis, then you don't understand people.
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saxon75
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quote:
Originally posted by BelladonnaOrchid:
I have tried to register for Sakeriver before, but it keeps telling me I entered the wrong answer for the security question. [Frown]

Are you able to find the movies the questions are asking about on IMDb? If so, try copying and pasting the actor's name directly, and leave off any extra spaces at the end. Spelling and punctuation do count, but capitalization doesn't.

For example, one of the challenge questions is "Who played Lt. Sean Lambert in the 2002 TV movie Interceptor Force 2?" As you can see from that movie's IMDb page, the actor's name was Olivier Gruner. So "Olivier Gruner" or "olivier gruner" or "oLiViER GRUNer" should all work.

Give it a couple more tries. If you still can't get it to work, just send me an email at the address in my profile here and I'll set up an account for you with a temporary password.

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Samprimary
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Here, wanna hear some forum influx theory?

1. A forum's natural state is one of slow decline. Posters atrophy. Regular posters fall into lurking, or vanish from the site. This happens over the course of years. It is a gradual process. It is usually motivated by environmental changes ("I don't feel like I fit in at X anymore") or life changes ("I got a job."). Forums have need of replenishment to maintain activity.

2. Replenishment comes in the form of the forum's 'hook' that turns non-posters into posters. How do users find the site and decide to become posters? What common interests do they share? A forum becomes a demographic representative of the demographics that leech in through this hook. Active posting populations on the site will often transform over the years to mirror changes in the hook.

3. When large changes have occurred in a forum's overall demeanor over time, one usually ought to look at the hook. What has changed in it? In the case of Hatrack's changes, one need only look at which of those changes have been precipitated by changes in Orson Scott Card's demeanor and his notoriety. What kind of curious onlookers would OSC and his site bring in today as opposed to ten years ago?

4. Over the course of the years, the level of moderation in a highly political community, or any community which caters to a sub-population of people who are very zealous about their views, will determine the way in which the population will evolve. It tends to follow a pattern of Shrillness By Default. In any typical hatrack-like community undergoing potential change in tone, you will have a percentage of posters who prefer to (or will fall to) arguing in a 'shrill' fashion. You will also have people who prefer a chill, non-hostile community.

If you do not specifically curtail the 'shrill,' it will win every time.

If you look back at Hatrack when it was less 'hostile,' (I lurked during this point, mostly) you'll see the chill posters posting in droves, and the could-go-either-way posters matching the chill tone. You will always have posters which disrupt this, however. If for whatever reason the site's moderation can not or does not opt to properly curtail the influence of arguers that fall into two general categories.

— a 'Vehement' strongly believes in something to the point that it slowly overrides their cool if anyone disagrees with them. If a soft-spoken or generally pleasant poster consistently disagrees with them, even politely, it will drive the Vehement into progressively more capricious and dismissive argumentation. Result: after a certain point, the Vehement controls the tone of debate. People looking to avoid hostility (the chill posters, pleasant dudes, etc) leech out into the "oh, I generally avoid those discussions" category, and only those looking to pick a fight or invest in a fight will brawl with the Vehement, as the outcome is guaranteed (a fight).

— A 'Ferrous Cranus' (or a 'Slag') absolutely refuses to alter their stance on anything and they typically seem too dumb or too irrational to. They are not ever actually engaging in a dialogue. They have one consistent view and they will constantly 'correct' others and, in turn, avoid any self-correction and defy even the most patient and well-intentioned poster's attempts to provoke critical thought and remain obliquely incapable of understanding even the most well-worded corrections of their obvious mistakes.

— A subgroup of the Slag is the Radioactive Slag, whose default positions are typically ones that are blatantly offensive to the nominal population of the board, so they are constantly provoking ire and responses that are always, ultimately, fruitless.

These folks have the power to transform the argumentative environ of any board to themselves. It will always happen the same way, if they are allowed. It is a well observed phenomenon.

In the case of Hatrack, critical mass was achieved when, on top of other brewing problems (OSC's polemic had changed the forum's poster replenishment draw), there came a season of radioactive slags. Bean Counter and Reshpecobiggle stand out. They helped drive the forum into a much more acrimonious tone as they wear down people's patience and cede ground to an environment of provocative and dismissive argumentation.

Strange as it may seem, elsewhere I have long worked as the primary peacekeeper. I have to nip duders like these in the bud. it's the most important role of a forum's moderation team past preventing the manufacture of drama.

This forum is not moderated in a way which prevents this change from happening. It does not make good use of temps, probation, subject bans, and the regretful but necessary culling of toxic posters who refuse to change their ways. Bean Counter was allowed to post for a long, long time. When he finally got the axe after multiple unnecessary warnings, he came back under an obvious alt and ... was allowed to post again. And he counts only as an extreme example. People half as bad as him have to be curtailed (e.g., "resh, if you want to keep posting here, you need to stay out of abortion debates from now on; you've proven that you're not able to handle them in a respectful way").

In addition, the 'thread lock' system is too much of a clusterbomb. It gives a problem poster the capacity to nuke an entire discussion. It does not extract them from the process and allow the chill posters to continue in a discussion with the problem element controlled. it simply puts everything on hold until the problem poster can go mong up the next thread on that subject.

A forum's moderation team might simply be saying 'we wish for our users to have the freedom to argue that way if they wish.' This is their choice. As long as they understand what that choice is going to result in over time in a sufficiently aged community, they are welcome to make it, but they shouldn't be surprised when a few months of fallout occur from argumentation that frustrates a community at large and tilts the forum's tone to one that is increasingly hostile.

That's my take on it, anyway. Hatrack is having legacy-level problems. This stuff creeps up over the years. I have actually watched it eventually capsize whole other communities.

The Hatracks of the internet actually create the phenomenon of 'refugee' forums, which are absurdly common.

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scifibum
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Heck, I'm a chronic outsider. I always feel on the outside of any clique I can identify, even within my immediate family. But I got a warm welcome at Sakeriver, and it's not very hard to participate over there...there's a lot of specific history and memes that I probably don't fully get, but nobody seems to be holding that against me. (They do seem to have a habit of getting together IRL which would be hard for me in various ways but I'm happy to have a place to post a pic of my kid and have people go "cute" even if I still feel on the periphery of the circle.)
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TomDavidson
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quote:
If you deny the effect of calling a certain group of people completely stupid on a regular basis, then you don't understand people.
It doesn't matter, though. It's not just KoM doing it; it's not just Lisa doing it. If you think you don't do it, you're not self-aware enough. People insult each other all the time, in lots of ways, and there were plenty of acerbic jerks before the current batch of acerbic jerks showed up.

The difference in dynamic is larger than that. I think Sam, who appears to have had my experiences with various forums, has a pretty good handle on it.

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FlyingCow
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It's swung back and forth - though I have noticed more vocal Mormons and Jews over the years.

I also have noticed that bitingly satirical wit has often been replaced by scathing invective - mainly because many of those who valued wit over invective have moved on.

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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
Told they weren't welcome because they weren't Mormon? Total fantasy. Never happened.

Several times. Probably in 1997 or early 1998. Do you understand the effect of calling people liars?
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Achilles
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Interesting ideas, Samprimary.
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MightyCow
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quote:
Originally posted by katharina:
If you deny the effect of calling a certain group of people completely stupid on a regular basis, then you don't understand people.

Let me parse that: "If you don't agree with me, then you're stupid."

How hard are you trying to be ironic? Seriously, are there mirrors in your house?

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Samprimary
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Aha, I see the thread is well on its way to being a case study of the macro.

*puffs on bubble pipe*

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Jay
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Interesting thread....
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Jhai
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Well, at least I got a bit of forum influx theory first.

(Seriously, Sam, pretty interesting stuff - do you have any resources on the topic you could point me to?)

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FlyingCow
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Interesting analysis, Samprimary.

The biggest "bomb" that I remember on the forum was when Leto/GrenME was finally, ultimately banned from hatrack. There was a huge divide over the issue, with people who disagreed with the banning, people who agreed with it, and people who were just so fed up with the argument over it that they left.

We lost a lot of really great posters, and most went to sakeriver.

We had always been a "self-policing" forum with the "cool heads" calmly and rationally overwhelming the hot heads until they either fell in line or left. All of a sudden, half the cool heads had disappeared. And the hot heads started to gain more footing.

Add to that OSC's "War Watch" starting to color the tone of the board, along with the posters it brought along, and there was a more significant shift away from calm, rational, witty banter and debate.

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Strider
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I definitely miss many of the regulars who went over to sakeriver and never returned(as well as others who stopped posting for various other reasons). Hatrack is certainly a different place without their voices. I also miss Leto. We had hung out a few times when he was still on the east coast, and he's a great guy, just very vocal about his opinions. His real life persona was much more gentle and laid back.

[ June 12, 2009, 04:05 PM: Message edited by: Strider ]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
We had always been a "self-policing" forum with the "cool heads" calmly and rationally overwhelming the hot heads until they either fell in line or left.
It is impossible to overstate the importance of a frequently active moderator in this endeavor. The reason the whole "Leto" flap mattered is that it helped to break the bond between the forum regulars and the mods. In particular, it made the mods of the time dread dropping by, and it made some of the regulars doubt their impartial wisdom.

No public forum can survive that.

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Samprimary
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quote:
(Seriously, Sam, pretty interesting stuff - do you have any resources on the topic you could point me to?)
It's all collected experiences. I don't know what in the way of resources I could point you to. I have to pretty much generate it all myself and present it for consumption and revision if I want to create these resources. I do have something floating around somewhere from a while back which talks about how a lot of forums default to claiming the text of the board architecture's Terms of Service in the signup process is "the forum's rules" and why this is always a bad idea (it does not create clear standards of posting, and it does not present a 'moderative intent') and it is never true in practice. That might be somewhat pertinent to Hatrack if I could find it.

quote:
We had always been a "self-policing" forum with the "cool heads" calmly and rationally overwhelming the hot heads until they either fell in line or left. All of a sudden, half the cool heads had disappeared. And the hot heads started to gain more footing.
A process of cyclical homogenization. This is why Shrill by Default happens. :<
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Blayne Bradley
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For those of you who mentally include me with Lisa and King of Men, I would like to state as a disclaimer that I am also regularly post in Sakeriver. So there's no running away from me ever, I'm like a Stalker with no police department [Big Grin]
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Philosofickle
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I can't really say much as far as the over all mood of hatrack goes. However I was a very active member of the forum under a different name before I left on my two year mission for the Mormon church. When I got back I couldn't remember the old password to my name and came up with this one. I'ts taken me almost my entire time under this name to rack up the number of posts that I would generate in one or two months before. I've wondered if it was me that changed, or the boards. I've come to think that it's probably both. But I do feel like Hatrack was a little bit more accepting back in the day.
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saxon75
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By the way, Matt, I'm still maintaining the archives of your Segreda game. Just thought you might like to know. [Smile]
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