Secondly, here is a post that we had in our feedback forum as it applies to a few things, but with the lurker system a central theme. I'd like to hear your comments on this.
I didn't edit it at all, I'm not the type to tip toe around stuff.
First, a little history lesson. SoSH was originally a small subset of users who migrated from the Dickie Thon Fan Club. It grew slowly over time and received huge bumps when BSG and Schilling stopped by for visits (as well as numerous media mentions which provided bumps along the road). It was typically during these media bumps that we had the biggest problems with letting new users in. Lots of crap got through and, in the case of Schilling, stuff that he was saying (and we liked that we were being held in confidence) was being reported outside of the confines of this site. Whatever... all along the way the only thing that has been consistent is our evolving membership policies.
I want to talk about the lurker system and, in short, one thing has been nagging at our minds for some time. While we have gotten a lot of good posters out of the lurker system, one recent astute observation that I heard was that a lot of our top posters would have never made it through the lurker system in the first place.
Our current system has a few problems:
- The Lurker System: It rewards folks who REALLY want to get in, but desire and skill are two different things (although it's obvious we've gotten some of our best posters through the Sandbox)
- The Lurker System: It rewards folks with Red Sox skills, but let's face it, we're not just a Red Sox site, we're a community of folks with common interests who like to bullshit on the internet but at the same time hold ourselves to a high standard. If you want to snap one-liners back and forth there are plenty of places to do that on the internet: we're not for everyone.
- The Lurker System: It heavily incents those with higher post counts. Frankly it's near-to-impossible to pick someone out after 3 posts, but those 3 posts could be very thoughtful and done to further conversation. I htink we can all agree what we don't want to let in are people with 1 good post and 100 posts of noise.
- SoSH: We do have users atrophy over time. Shit happens. It's generally good replacing those users for the health of the site.
- SoSH: In a closed system we all tend to fall for groupthink and incest over time (Weebs, don't get excited). Being challenged, even by someone perhaps a tad myopic, is healthy and ultimately fun. I mean it's wonderful and all trashing Lugo on the main board but some of the most interesting threads on the main board is when someone defends him. (ed: this was written before we thankfully got rid of that vile piece of shit)
- The Lurker System: Let's face it, the system is somewhat insulting. I doubt many of our best users would have gotten through on the lurker system. It's a pain, it's confusing and ultimately I think it's long-past served it's purpose.
The downsides of being more liberal with our acceptance policy:
- Members will have to learn to be more patient with new users. This doesn't mean we're going to have to lower our standards, but there may be a stupid question or two at first.
- While we're letting in new users in a new way, it doesn't mean the floodgates are opening. I think it will result in more members, but that doesn't mean we should let in everyone.... I think of this as more of the process changing, the end result of having quality members will be the same. I just think the current process hamstrings that effort.
- We're also not sure what to do about memberships. The server can handle the new users, we are in the black but that the same time it's nice to build up a nest egg and also ask people to kind of pay their own way. This is probably the area where we have no clue what to do.
We brought on some additional mods, which will make moderating these new users easier. Nobody is a schmuck, we realize the occasional masqueraded troll or Imgran will slip through. If nothing else we'll let them call us eggs and send them on their merry way.
Again, we're not proposing letting in the masses, we are more looking for comments on how to better select new users. For example, one suggestion that is on the table is to have an introduction forum, so we can check out who is applying and let them in or not let them in. I personally like this suggestion in that it will stop 99% of the trolls, allow us to find good users easier and streamline the system. The downsides are the acceptance policy but I have a feeling that we'll be able to tell quickly if someone is a dumbass or looking for trouble. And speaking for myself, I think that most folks realize that we won't be gunshy getting rid of people to retain the integrity of the board. The "Sandbox" under this scenario would likely need to evolve, or devolve if you will.
This is not a proposal to "open up the floodgates... check out any other site... especially Sox site and you'll see how our selection process makes all of our lives here more enjoyable