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Scope-of-board discussions

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Gengulphus
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Scope-of-board discussions

#214392

Postby Gengulphus » April 11th, 2019, 1:21 pm

The current rules about scope-of-board discussions basically say that they're permitted on the Biscuit Bar and possibly (depending on board-specific rules) on the board itself. These don't seem very satisfactory to me, partly because the board-specific rules often aren't very clear, but also because both of the possibilities it allows have problems. If they're allowed on the board itself as well as the Biscuit Bar, scope-of-board discussions are liable to interfere with discussion of threads' actual topics - something which if it happens too much will cause some users to give up on the board as having too low a signal-to-noise ratio (*). If they're only allowed on the Biscuit Bar, users who subscribe to the board to keep track of what's going on with regard to its topic are liable to fail to see that a discussion about a matter they've got a stake in is taking place at all. (That problem can be dealt with by crossposting, but it is rather more work for the poster and people don't seem to do it very often...)

Anyway, it's struck me that the main problems with allowing such discussions on the board itself occur when the scope-of-board discussion interrupts an existing thread about another issue, which leads me to suggest an alternative rule that I think would work better. It is basically just a strengthening of the general rule that posts should be on-topic for their board and thread:

"Discussions about a board's scope are permitted on the Biscuit Bar and on the board itself, but are only on-topic on the board itself if they are posted in a thread whose subject says that it is about the board's scope. For the avoidance of doubt, if a board has board-specific guidance about what is on-topic for the board, any discussion of or dispute with what that guidance says is discussion of the board's scope."

So that would mean that it was OK to post e.g. a thought that the HYP Practical board's guidance should be loosened to allow more investment trusts or tightened to require more of pyad's original HYP strategy on the HYP Practical board - but only in a new thread or in an existing thread that is specifically about the board's scope, and not as a reply interrupting whatever random thread happened to trigger the thought. And just to be clear, although the most obvious examples of this causing problems are on HYP Practical, I'm suggesting this as a site-wide rule - I think it would work for any board, would help to avoid similar future issues with other boards, and remembering one rule for all boards is easier for users than one rule for some boards and another for the others.

(*) Not a hypothetical concern - I gave up on the HYP Practical board for that reason around the start of last December. And at the time, I wasn't at all sure it wasn't going to end up as a permanent departure - it turned out not to be, but it was about a month before I read it again and longer before I started posting again. And I've quite often found myself wondering since whether it was really a good idea to return, typically when a number of posters have found themselves unable to accept that it's the board guidance that says what the scope of the board is, not their own view of what it should be, pyad's view of what a HYP is or anything else...

Gengulphus

MDW1954
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Re: Scope-of-board discussions

#214406

Postby MDW1954 » April 11th, 2019, 2:22 pm

Gengulphus,

I guess this is prompted by yesterday's Tesco results thread.

If so, my posts on that thread were prompted by specific poster complaints, and I chose to reply "in-thread" so as to clarify seeming misconceptions.

I accept that they reduced the signal-to-noise ratio, and for that I apologise.

The whole purpose of the Company News board is to improve the signal-to-noise ratio of the HYP Practical board.

MDW1954

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Re: Scope-of-board discussions

#214407

Postby PinkDalek » April 11th, 2019, 2:28 pm

Gengulphus wrote:"Discussions about a board's scope are permitted on the Biscuit Bar and on the board itself, but are only on-topic on the board itself if they are posted in a thread whose subject says that it is about the board's scope. For the avoidance of doubt, if a board has board-specific guidance about what is on-topic for the board, any discussion of or dispute with what that guidance says is discussion of the board's scope."


Excellent idea and, fwiiw, I fully support that wording (although many will continue to claim they don't/haven't recently read the Guidance you reference and/or don't even know on which board they are posting).

I think that means, if adopted, the present * and *for the avoidance of doubt, no scope discussion is permitted on HYP-Practical. That may only be discussed on the Biscuit Bar here current rules about scope-of-board discussions would be removed.

Lootman
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Re: Scope-of-board discussions

#214420

Postby Lootman » April 11th, 2019, 3:26 pm

MDW1954 wrote:If so, my posts on that thread were prompted by specific poster complaints, and I chose to reply "in-thread" so as to clarify seeming misconceptions.

I am just one vote but I tend to think that issues should be dealt with in the place and at the time of the alleged problem.

So personally I have no problem dealing with it in the tangential way that you did. But then again I have no difficulty ignoring posts that don't interest me, and apparently not everyone here shares that cognitive skill :D

MDW1954
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Re: Scope-of-board discussions

#214423

Postby MDW1954 » April 11th, 2019, 3:42 pm

Lootman wrote:
MDW1954 wrote:If so, my posts on that thread were prompted by specific poster complaints, and I chose to reply "in-thread" so as to clarify seeming misconceptions.


I am just one vote but I tend to think that issues should be dealt with in the place and at the time of the alleged problem.

So personally I have no problem dealing with it in the tangential way that you did. But then again I have no difficulty ignoring posts that don't interest me, and apparently not everyone here shares that cognitive skill :D


Yes, immediacy has its advantages. And what Gengulphus perhaps misses is that simply deleting those posts may have given rise to more complaints about over-strict moderation, posts being moved, etc etc.

However, his signal-to-noise analogy is a good one.

MDW1954

Gengulphus
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Re: Scope-of-board discussions

#214560

Postby Gengulphus » April 12th, 2019, 9:17 am

MDW1954 wrote:I guess this is prompted by yesterday's Tesco results thread.

It and another thread did act as reminders, yes, but actually the thought was prompted by a PM exchange last weekend. I decided then to sleep on the idea before posting about it - I find that often reveals flaws in or possible improvements to an idea - and ended up sleeping on it several times, until I was reminded of it yesterday...

MDW1954 wrote:If so, my posts on that thread were prompted by specific poster complaints, and I chose to reply "in-thread" so as to clarify seeming misconceptions.

Understood, and if people accepted that when a moderator chooses to explain themselves in a thread, it's not giving carte blanche to ignore the normal rule about not discussing moderation other than by PM (or on Room 101 if that fails), it wouldn't be a problem - like just about any other off-topic aside that remains just an aside. But it appears that not enough people accept that, so it runs a significant risk of ending up being a significant disruption to the thread, and that's more of a problem.

But something I would suggest is that in-thread guidance and explanations aren't a good idea. It's not just that they disrupt the thread's original discussion, but also that they don't get the message across all that effectively. E.g. in the case of the Tesco results thread, it's desirable that the principle you stated ("To reiterate, for everyone's benefit: minor pieces of company news should go on the Company News board, HYP-relevant news (which full year results and dividend announcements obviously are) is very welcome on this board.") should be understood by everyone who uses the HYP Practical board - not just those who are interested in Tesco.

Or indeed to what happened from viewtopic.php?f=15&t=16868&start=120#p214301 onwards (which is the other thread I referred to above) which is in the 7th page of a long thread - quite far enough in that it's reasonably likely that a good number of HYP Practical readers had lost interest. That also illustrates another of the problems with in-thread explanations and guidance, which is that it tends to miss some points: it mentions the "don't nitpick or rules-lawyer" aspect, but not the "don't discuss moderation or the scope of the board" aspect. And even your comment about HYP-relevant news could IMHO use some qualification like "directly HYP-relevant news" - I've seen people put forward arguments in the past (quite possibly on TMF) that just about any news about a company could affect its future profits and thus its dividends, thus making the news HYP-relevant.

So a better method IMHO would be to put the guidance into separate rules/guidance posts, displayed prominently at the top of the board. Then as far as possible put effort that's available for explanations into making those posts clear (to normal standards, not rules-lawyer standards!), confine in-thread explanations to links to the guidance and strongly discourage any ensuing in-thread discussion of that explanation. That way, there's less excuse for board users to have missed the guidance, and if they encounter a question of what the guidance is in a few months' time, it's far easier and more reliable for them to check a guidance post (which will hopefully have been kept up-to-date) than to locate or use their memory of a moderator comment made months before in a thread whose subject could be anything and that is very unlikely to have been kept up-to-date!

Gengulphus

MDW1954
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Re: Scope-of-board discussions

#214621

Postby MDW1954 » April 12th, 2019, 12:09 pm

Gengulphus wrote:So a better method IMHO would be to put the guidance into separate rules/guidance posts, displayed prominently at the top of the board.


This is what is going to happen. I am writing a draft; moderators will discuss it; then it will be actioned.

MDW1954

Itsallaguess
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Re: Scope-of-board discussions

#214768

Postby Itsallaguess » April 13th, 2019, 5:51 am

Moderator Message:
I've trimmed some posts on this topic to enable the discussion to hopefully get back to concentrating on the specific area raised in the OP, which is regarding a suggested improvement to the scope-of-board discussions guidelines.

Unfortunately, some of the trimmed off-topic posts had already been replied to (including a contribution by me, which probably wasn't at all helpful in this regard, but I did think it was a pertinent point that was worth making, in case it might help future considerations in the area being discussed in my post....), so I've had to carry out a fairly high number of post-deletions to enable the topic to resemble a more OP-orientated thread.

I've PM'd anyone who's posts I've removed, with an explanation as to why this has happened, and I hope the posters can appreciate that the discussion had diverted quite far away from the original subject being helpfully raised by Gengulphus.

Can we please avoid getting into tangential meta-discussions on this thread, and concentrate instead on the specific set of improvements that Gengulphus has suggested in his opening post? Any further off-topic side-discussions are likely to be removed with no further PM's, given this request.

Thanks for your help - Itsallaguess

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Re: Scope-of-board discussions

#214773

Postby Lootman » April 13th, 2019, 8:06 am

MDW1954 wrote:
Gengulphus wrote:So a better method IMHO would be to put the guidance into separate rules/guidance posts, displayed prominently at the top of the board.

This is what is going to happen. I am writing a draft; moderators will discuss it; then it will be actioned.

Actually that part of the original idea I think is fine. It's useful to have "pinned" posts that contain useful FYIs and FAQs, at least for those who are newer to the site and don't know what the old hands here know without reading them.

My concern was more about Lemons having to start new topics when what they really want to do is merely address a post in an existing topic. Such a change is really a trade-off. It rewards those who prefer more topics with a narrower remit. But punishes those who prefer the immediacy of simply replying to a post rather than starting a new topic for anything even vaguely tangential or parenthetical. As Itsallaguess pointed out yesterday, some Lemons are averse to starting new topics but will happily contribute to existing ones, and we hopefully do not want to lose their input, interrupt the natural flow of a dialogue or impede spontaneity.

And like all trade-offs, it would help to know that the class of winners is larger than the class of losers before making such a change.

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Re: Scope-of-board discussions

#214780

Postby Itsallaguess » April 13th, 2019, 9:17 am

Lootman wrote:
My concern was more about Lemons having to start new topics when what they really want to do is merely address a post in an existing topic. Such a change is really a trade-off. It rewards those who prefer more topics with a narrower remit, but punishes those who prefer the immediacy of simply replying to a post rather than starting a new topic for anything even vaguely tangential or parenthetical. As Itsallaguess pointed out yesterday, some Lemons are averse to starting new topics but will happily contribute to existing ones, and we hopefully do not want to lose their input, interrupt the natural flow of a dialogue or impede spontaneity.


Going from what you've said above Lootman, it's not entirely clear if you've understood the original suggestion being discussed here. [my bold above...]

It's got nothing at all to do with stopping 'vaguely tangential or parenthetical' discussions going on within a thread, where those tangential discussions might be related to the topic already being discussed - it's to do with trying to stem the flow of 'totally tangential' discussions contaminating good, interesting threads, where those 'totally tangential' discussions specifically start to discuss the scope of any given board.

I think it's a very good suggestion, and I think it might act as a valuable filter to these types of discussions being raised in the first instance, where the level of effort subsequently required to raise discussions around board-scope is raised enough, by the requirement of a new thread to carry out that discussion, that it might act as a deterrent in the first instance, which I think can only be seen as a 'good thing'...

The additional benefit, of course, would be to help maintain thread-topics to hopefully stay within the remit of the intended subject much more often, especially on boards with tighter guidance, with the clear allowance that tangential discussions can go on within any such threads, so long as they stay within the guidelines of any given board.

I really don't see any downside to be honest. I fully accept that you see a potential downside in the fact that people might be required to deliver a level of effort over and above that which is currently required, in the form of potentially having to start a new thread, but again, that 'new thread' level of effort is only required if it's important to the poster that they discuss a particular 'board-scope' subject, as it's only that subject that actually requires a new thread - the original discussion, as varied as it still might be, can still carry on in the original thread.

The difference between you seeing that as a potential downside to this suggestion is something I mentioned earlier, in that I think that's actually an additional, hidden benefit, because I would see that as potentially lowering any given signal-to-noise ratio for any given board, with the view that only really important issues (in terms of a poster believing such a board-scope issue needs discussing, and hence requires a new thread to do that on..) might then be posted on a given board, and those that might not be seen as important enough to justify the extra work required to start a new thread will clearly then not have one started...

Cheers,

Itsallaguess

Gengulphus
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Re: Scope-of-board discussions

#214790

Postby Gengulphus » April 13th, 2019, 10:16 am

Lootman wrote:My concern was more about Lemons having to start new topics when what they really want to do is merely address a post in an existing topic. Such a change is really a trade-off. It rewards those who prefer more topics with a narrower remit. But punishes those who prefer the immediacy of simply replying to a post rather than starting a new topic for anything even vaguely tangential or parenthetical. As Itsallaguess pointed out yesterday, some Lemons are averse to starting new topics but will happily contribute to existing ones, and we hopefully do not want to lose their input, interrupt the natural flow of a dialogue or impede spontaneity.

And like all trade-offs, it would help to know that the class of winners is larger than the class of losers before making such a change.

Agreed - but when identifying the classes of winners and losers from a proposed change, it helps to know what the proposed change actually is, i.e. all three of what it is proposing changing, what the existing situation is and what it is proposing changing it to. In this case, I am proposing changing the rules about scope-of-board discussions (not "anything even vaguely tangential or parenthetical"), the proposed change is to change them to the rule I stated in my OP, and the existing rules are linked to in my OP - for convenience, I'll quote them here:

Discussion on the scope of an individual board

  • If you have a sensible question or suggestion about the scope of an individual board, then you can open a discussion about it on the board in question (provided the board-specific rules allow for such discussion*) or you can post about it in the Biscuit Bar.
  • Discussing it on the individual board will allow you to discuss it amongst fellow users of that board and is a good way of trying to achieve a consensus. However, if the discussion is becoming a distraction from the board's day to day use, then a Moderator may move the discussion to the Biscuit Bar. If the discussion becomes impolite or off-topic it will be locked by a moderator.
  • *for the avoidance of doubt, no scope discussion is permitted on HYP-Practical. That may only be discussed on the Biscuit Bar

I.e. the existing situation is that there are already rules about scope-of-board discussions, that say that they should be taken to the Biscuit Bar in a couple of situations - on some boards (including but not necessarily limited to HYP Practical), or if they're a distraction from the thread they're in. My suggestion is only about replacing them with similar rules that are more uniform across the site - a bit more relaxed on some boards, a bit stricter on others. So my suggestion makes no difference to whether such rules exist, just to exactly what they are. I had nothing to do with the introduction of such rules, which AFAIAA was in my OP's link, so I'm not going to try to defend it - nor do I have any problems with it, so I'm not going to join you in questioning it either. But such questioning is about that introduction, which happened last September, and should be directed at it.

I should possibly add that I don't expect my suggested new rule to be moderated any more heavily than the existing rules. If anyone wants me to elaborate on that, sorry, I won't: it's as close to the prohibition on general discussion of moderation as I care to go.

Gengulphus


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