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DonRocks

A New Forum - Any Thoughts?

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There is so much raw intellect on this website that isn't limited to the world of cuisine. A couple of days ago, a member wrote me and asked, "why not have a forum that has nothing to do with food?"

The obvious answer is that my expertise will be limited, and my ability to moderate will necessarily be compromised based on that limitation.

But wouldn't it be nice if we could discuss various art forms? Film? Literature? Music? Art? Theater? I'd really rather stay away from the divisive issues of politics and religion even though I'm certain we could come up with some rousing discussions there, too. The total number of posts in these types of forums might be small, but boy I would LOVE to be able to have intellectually stimulating discussion about the arts and humanities, even science to a lesser degree. Right now, for example, I'm reading To Kill A Mockingbird for the very first time (believe it or not), and even though it's not a terribly deep book, it's a really terrific read and I'd love to see what other folks have to say about it.

So what do you all think? Another members-only forum to discuss such things? If we do this, I'd like to wait awhile because there may be some other changes coming down the pike also, and the other changes would need to come first. But in principle, I love the idea. And gosh, wouldn't you love to see intellectual giants like Landrum cut loose on subjects such as these?

Your thoughts?

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I may be in the minority, but I am completely satisfied with this forum (maybe sadly, my life revolves too much around food), other ancillary interests (gardening, knives) are covered, only my fiber related activities aren't discussed, but that's ok, I have other places for that. I read a lot, & listen to lots of music, but don't discuss them, just enjoy...

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Perhaps a sub-forum with a link-thru from this board, so the people participating there are folks who have already undergone the screening process for joining here? That will reduce the amount of trolls to contend with.

Maybe call it "Through the Looking Glass" or "Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here."

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Perhaps a sub-forum with a link-thru from this board, so the people participating there are folks who have already undergone the screening process for joining here? That will reduce the amount of trolls to contend with.

Maybe call it "Through the Looking Glass" or "Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here."

Yes, I would limit participation to long-time members, sort of like what I do with the Professionals and Businesses forum (although I'd have the forum readable for everyone).

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I participate in other forums for other interests. Just like I don't need a food board on my movie form, not sure I really need a movie board on my food forum.

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I believe you'd do well to have a 'catch all' place for non-food discussion. No politics, no profanity - otherwise, any civil discourse allowed. People don't have to go there if the don't wish...but it would be a simple answer for people to continue to discuss, for instance, why Reston Town Center succeeds but the Rockville Mall failed.

I'd only suggest that you limit it to one board - trying to carve it up more will just be policing for policing's sake.

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You could make 2 new forums, as far as I am concerned.

Miscellaneous -- Non Political

Politics & Religion

I frequent a jazz discussion board that successfully has these two forums. In Miscellaneous -- Non Political we discuss sports, movies, TV shows, literature, food, etc.. I know I could go to separate boards dedicated to each of these topics, but that misses the point. I would still have no idea what my jazz loving friends (or in this case my food loving friends) think of these topics!

Chances are you and I don't go the same discussion boards and even if we did we would have different user names.

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I remember that Chowhound has a "Not About Food" sub-forum in their make-up. I checked it out a few times and there was some good stuff to be found in there, funny, informative, a bit insane at times, but good.

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You could make 2 new forums, as far as I am concerned.

Miscellaneous -- Non Political

Politics & Religion

This makes sense to me too. My experience with other boards is that politics and religion, politics especially, simply turns into a ranting fest with no apparent limit to people's ability to type rants. It tends to overwhelm general discussion if it isn't segregated.

OTOH, having such a place may just invite some DR members to become split - combatants if you will. Even though segregated from the rest of the discussion, is there anything gained here by having such a political/religion forum? And how much is lost? I don't socialize with you folks (nothing personal) but right now, presumably some of you share a table or picnic cloth. What if some of the members here began ranting about politics? Would the gatherings be any better? I'm guessing probably not...at all.

So I think I'd just make it one non-food forum, with the following rules:

- No politics, no religion. While those topics can be tactfully discussed by some, they are too easily abused by many. So let's just not go there - at least, not here.

- Respect. No ad hominem attacks, no profanity, no name calling. Differing opinions are welcome so long as they are presented with civility.

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I know I could go to separate boards dedicated to each of these topics, but that misses the point. I would still have no idea what my jazz loving friends (or in this case my food loving friends) think of these topics!

Chances are you and I don't go the same discussion boards and even if we did we would have different user names.

Precisely! What I love about this idea is that it extends and deepens the community formed here. There will probably always be some narrow discussion forum elsewhere on the web that goes deeper on any topic someone might post about in a donrockwell.com "Other Topics" forum, but it will never foster a discussion among the people you've come to know and like from this community.

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Precisely! What I love about this idea is that it extends and deepens the community formed here.

Exactly!

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I may be in the minority, but I am completely satisfied with this forum <snip>

I participate in other forums for other interests. Just like I don't need a food board on my movie form, not sure I really need a movie board on my food forum.

The above two views were my initial reaction to this but then decided to hold off and ponder/read a bit before posting here.

I believe you'd do well to have a 'catch all' place for non-food discussion. No politics, no profanity - otherwise, any civil discourse allowed. People don't have to go there if the don't wish...but it would be a simple answer for people to continue to discuss, for instance, why Reston Town Center succeeds but the Rockville Mall failed.

I'd only suggest that you limit it to one board - trying to carve it up more will just be policing for policing's sake.

But then the above makes sense too--especially the highlighted (my bold) part. As for whether some of the dicier non-food topics might drive some division or combativeness, I guess that's possible and thus a concern. On that though, and thinking of the very few other online forums I even monitor, strong consistent moderation is what keeps any web forum civil, useful and valuable. It's never simply about offering a forum or channel. It's about how it's managed that drives success or failure.

Which leads me finally to my now-formed view: I'm not opposed to it. Probably wouldn't participate much in it. Would worry that Don's already running at 400% percent and doing yet another forum could drive him over the edge when people start fuming and flaming. Maybe also makes some sense to determine and work to achieve whatever goals with this forum before even considering another forum?

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I'm not opposed to it, but it would definitely require constant moderation and IMO would be detrimental to the community if politics and religion were allowed topics of discussion. I would not participate in a new forum if those were permitted topics.

ETA if you want to talk music, or find out other interests you could friend on Facebook, follow on Twitter, read a blog, or join Google+ There are literally dozens of ways to connect these days. I like this place for its focus.

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Good points about a Politics and Religion board being contentious! On the jazz board I visit I usually stay away from the Politics and Religion forum anyway unless the topic is copyright or the public domain. Even there before too long I am usually called a communist by the record company executives who advocate for perpetual copyright.

I still think political topics could be discussed much better HERE than on the Washington Post, for example, where the comment sections are just about unreadable. But then again maybe just a single Miscellaneous -- Non-Political forum wouldn't clutter up the place or involve too much work for moderators.

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Good points about a Politics and Religion board being contentious! On the jazz board I visit I usually stay away from the Politics and Religion forum anyway unless the topic is copyright or the public domain. Even there before too long I am usually called a communist by the record company executives who advocate for perpetual copyright.

I still think political topics could be discussed much better HERE than on the Washington Post, for example, where the comment sections are just about unreadable. But then again maybe just a single Miscellaneous -- Non-Political forum wouldn't clutter up the place or involve too much work for moderators.

I can pretty tell you right now that I don't want politics or religion discussed here. We are all brothers and sisters here despite our differences, and all politics and religion will do is make us enemies. The arts and humanities are something, like cuisine, that we can all share a mutual love of.

Right now, I'm leaning against this in the short term, but if I can get some help or capital, then sure, why not. I'd really like the Professionals and Businesses forum to be used as a proving ground for something like this, but there isn't quite as much participation there as I'd like (probably because I made the posting requirements there so strict) - nevertheless, that is one of our most useful forums - *every* recommendation there is something that I'd use (and have, in several instances). I love that forum, and wish that people would post there more.

What do you think about beginning a positive-only hotel subforum in the Intrepid Traveler forum? People don't need to know about bad places to stay, but want to know about good places to stay - at least I do. Fining a hotel online these days is about as much fun as going to the dentist.

I really, really want a Washington, DC hotel forum for our city's visitors, but local DC residents just don't know that much about the hotels here. Heck, maybe I'll start one anyway and see what happens.

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I would really like a forum about travel. Where to stay, what to see, etc. in additon to just where to eat. Maybe we can jsut expand the travel section to include such discussions. Right now I feel like if I'm not talking about food in the travel section, I'm going off topic.

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I would really like a forum about travel. Where to stay, what to see, etc. in additon to just where to eat. Maybe we can jsut expand the travel section to include such discussions. Right now I feel like if I'm not talking about food in the travel section, I'm going off topic.

Yes, this is kind of what I'm thinking, too. It would be really nice to get hotel recommendations as well as restaurant recommendations. It's a natural extension of what this site is all about. What I also really want is for this website to become Ground Zero for DC hotel recommendations - that could also be a way to generate some revenue (although I'm not sure how) without compromising our inherent quality. (If anyone has any ideas about this particular aspect, please contact me privately - I'm all ears.)

I had NO idea that The Intrepid Traveler would become the popular forum that it has - I sort of did it just to respect the wishes of several members who requested it, but it has turned out to be a very useful resource. I think hotels would be equally useful as restaurants, especially since they cost so darned much money.

The problem is, subforums here simply do not get the same level of traffic as forums with direct links from the main page. Perhaps we can have one Intrepid Traveler forum for restaurants, and a second one for hotels? If we make "hotels" a subforum of restaurants, it will just get buried, and it will rarely be used.

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The problem is, subforums here simply do not get the same level of traffic as forums with direct links from the main page. Perhaps we can have one Intrepid Traveler forum for restaurants, and a second one for hotels? If we make "hotels" a subforum of restaurants, it will just get buried, and it will rarely be used.

I think a hotel subforum could work. The Intrepid Traveler forum title is still generic enough (it doesn't specify "Restaurants"). All you need to do would be to change the subtitle from "Dining in other cities" to "Dining and Lodging in other cities". Personally, the main page of the website is starting to get a little cluttered so I wonder how adding more forums would impact the look of the website.

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I think a hotel subforum could work. The Intrepid Traveler forum title is still generic enough (it doesn't specify "Restaurants"). All you need to do would be to change the subtitle from "Dining in other cities" to "Dining and Lodging in other cities". Personally, the main page of the website is starting to get a little cluttered so I wonder how adding more forums would impact the look of the website.

I agree about the clutter, but Craigslist is a good model for clutter that works.

I don't think I want to co-mingle restaurants and hotels in the same thread ... or do I?

For example, would Chicago now include restaurants and hotels? Or should there be a Chicago-Restaurants and a Chicago-Hotels thread? Or, perhaps, something else?

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I agree about the clutter, but Craigslist is a good model for clutter that works.

I don't think I want to co-mingle restaurants and hotels in the same thread ... or do I?

For example, would Chicago now include restaurants and hotels? Or should there be a Chicago-Restaurants and a Chicago-Hotels thread? Or, perhaps, something else?

I think of the way Shopping and Cooking is set up: they're commingled in the same forum and it's intuitively clear whether they're shopping- or cooking-related. Now that there are tags, it could be made explicit for each thread in the particular travel forum whether it's dining or lodging, if that's a problem. Another relevant point is that many or most hotels have restaurants. I'm not sure where I'm going with that point, but that would need to be accounted for organizationally ;) .

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ETA if you want to talk music, or find out other interests you could friend on Facebook, follow on Twitter, read a blog, or join Google+ There are literally dozens of ways to connect these days. I like this place for its focus.

This strikes me as another very important point I didn't think of when I posted yesterday. Beyond the few Heather lists, there is meetup, a zillion yahoo groups/listervs and even small startup companies doing this like BigTent.com. DR.com rocks because it is smartly and actively managed (by Don most of all but also the other moderators/volunteers and, to some degree, the members) AND because it offers something different. That's Heather's focus point but I'd sharpen it. Yes, DR has the food/restaurant focus. But it also is valuable because the expertise, knowledge and character of the community here is different/better than any other food/restaurant forum (IMHO). None of that would be true ranging farther afield from the core.

On hotels, I find TripAdvisor more valuable than Yelp. Good number of generally better quality reviews (along with the ratings) covering most of the world. A new hotel forum here (shouldn't be mixed with restaurants IMO) could cover the DC area better than TripAdvisor (and others) but one other thing to consider. I don't know the data but my sense is that the existing dr.com active community (registered, regular posters) is mostly based here. With some obvious exceptions, hotel information for DC would mostly appeal to people who don't live here (again, I know not in all cases) so maybe that's a different community altogether in terms of who'd be posting if it attracted traffic.

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I *would* co-mingle hotel, restaurant, and what-to-do posts in the same thread for Intrepid Traveler. If I'm going to Chicago, and want advice, why would I want to visit 3 different threads?

FWIW, when traveling, whether business or pleasure, this is the first place I check. In fact, while I'm always the first resource for DC-area-dining that friends check when they want advice, they've started to come to me for other cities as well, and I can frequently provide advice *even if I haven't been there recently* because of this site. Awesome.

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Right now, I'm leaning against this in the short term, but if I can get some help or capital, then sure, why not.

Maybe because if you got more help and capital you could do some things with the main website you've been wanting to do? Technology/mobile, content organization, very limited marketing (the recent stickers discussion as example), etc.

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