An update on this sub-forum, off-topic posts (and a brief update on QQ reorganization)

QuadraphonicQuad

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steelydave

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If you're looking for any of the long-running purely off-topic posts dating back to the beginning of 2018 (like the NFL Tailgate thread, the BBQ/Asado thread, the Pets and Wine threads, and so on) they've been moved to the Music Matters (Non Surround) forum.

A more detailed explanation:

From its inception in 2002, QQ has always been a surround music-focused site - we've never had an off-topic section, and we've never allowed posts about politics or religion (as per Jon's Golden Rules) but starting in the late 2010s the enforcement of posting rules here got increasingly lax as the site saw (in relative terms) an influx of new users, many of whom posted prolifically, and the moderators simply got overwhelmed with the amount of new content.

As a result, many of the forums got cluttered with posts that belonged elsewhere, or didn't belong at all, and none more so than this one, which had in excess of 4000 threads (there are now 641) when I first started tidying it. I think there are something in the neighborhood of 50 other forums on QQ, and it's no exaggeration so say that I moved multiple posts from this forum into every single one, from eBay links to quad and modern hardware discussion to threads about specific surround releases, there was some of everything in here.

As a result of this forum basically being a free-for-all with no clearly delineated purpose beyond its title, it also resulted in the creation of quite a large number of purely off-topic posts (the ones referenced at the beginning of this message) which was totally understandable given the circumstances. How can people be expected to know what is (and isn't) ok to post if there isn't either a list of rules, or deletion and/or moderation of offending posts and threads?

Once I'd moved all the "on topic" (ie surround or music-related) threads from this forum to their proper homes elsewhere on QQ, what I was left with was two categories of posts: threads that belong here (Moderator/site announcements, questions about how to use the forum, and feedback from users) and all of these off-topic posts. The question was, what to do with the off-topic posts? The moderation team are all in agreement that we don't want to establish an off-topic/general chat forum, because aside from the considerable extra work it would generate, discussions that derivate away from music invariably end up descending into acrimony, as a number of locked threads in this forum (probably most recently the thread asking if people had been vaccinated or not) can attest to. With the celebration of our 20th anniversary this year, QQ is certainly one of the oldest music discussion forums on the internet - we predate YouTube, Reddit every social media site by several years, and we've even outlasted some of them (hello, MySpace!) - and I think we've done that in part by having a sense of who we are, and that is (in simple terms) the largest repository of surround music information and discussion on the internet.

Having said that, we recognize that people have put a lot of time into the various off-topic threads, so it felt unfair to simply purge them, especially since it was never communicated to anyone that they were breaking any (unwritten) rules by posting in them. So, the compromise solution we came up with is this: Existing off-topic posts created prior to today will be allowed to stay (and have been moved from this forum to the Music Matters (Non Surround) forum) but going forward, we won't be allowing any more purely off-topic posts. I know moving these posts to Music Matters (Non Surround) is an imperfect solution, but I think it's the best one available given the constraints.

With the recent "Surround Renaissance" between hirez quad reissues, 5.1 box sets and Atmos streaming, we feel that renewing our commitment to being a surround-first experience is the right thing to do, not only for the workload of our moderation staff (who are all volunteers) but also for the continued health and longevity of this site. There are an enormous number of other sites across the internet (both broad and niche) that will allow you to discuss any topic under the sun, but none of them offer what we do, which is a userbase with an unparalleled level of knowledge and passion when it comes to surround music. We feel like we've succeeded here both in quality and longevity not because we're like other sites, but because we're different from them, and we don't want to lose that.

Having said all that, I don't think this change is going to impact most people's day-to-day experience on QQ in a major way. Since Jon handed over the site to the new ownership and the recruitment of new moderators, there have been very few of these off-topic threads started, and there's still plenty of latitude for socializing in places like the "What Are You Listening To?" threads and elsewhere. We don't plan to moderate any differently than we have been other than the change regarding off-topic threads.


So just to put this in a nutshell in case you're not interested in the philisophical justification:
  • New off-topic threads are not allowed - if it doesn't fit in one of the 50+ existing forums (or Music Matters (Non-Surround) at the very least) it might not belong here at all. If you're unsure, ask a moderator.
  • Existing off-topic threads dating back to January 2018 have been moved to the Music Matters (Non Surround) forum.
  • This forum (QQ Site Announcements, Feedback and Forum Help) is only for announcements from staff and ownership regarding the site, and feedback and questions regarding the site from users. Please don't use it as a "general chat" type of forum.

...and lastly, a brief update on the forum streamlining and reorganization I've been working on the background the last six months or so: it's about 85% done. I'm not sure if it's even been noticeable (at least I haven't had any complaints or questions about missing posts or forums) but I've been able to eliminate nearly a dozen redundant or little-used forums, moved thousands of posts, and renamed (or tweaked the naming) of many of the existing forums so that their purpose is more clear. I have 3 or 4 more forums to "clean" and then possibly a reshuffling of the sections so that the more active ones appear closer to the top of the forum index, and then I'm pretty much finished, but I'll post a more detailed explanation of all the changes once I get to that point.
 

~dave~~wave~

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Thanks steelydave and all our volunteer mods for the countless unpaid hours you put in for the love of music.

As you're aware, the Hoffman forum "closes" inactive threads, they're "not open to further replies."
Can be re-opened by a mod on request.

No idea if that's practical here, just occurs to me as I process this intriguing announcement.
 

JonUrban

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Thanks to Dave and the other moderators, for keeping 'my old forum' up and running smoothly. It is in fact almost 20 years since I moved us from EZBoard to a real domain anchored forum and it's been a very long ride.

Part of the problem Dave has had is that I was too easy on both members and requests. If someone PM'd me with a request, I usually just did it. This resulted in many new forum sections that did not really deserve to exist.

I really did not want to have a Stereo SACD forum, and held out for quite some time but was eventually convinced by a former mod here to create it. I felt that QQ was not format based, but surround based, and just because a stereo program was available on a format that could also do surround, it didn't justify having a QQ section. But alas, I relented, and there it is. My thinking was that if you have a stereo SACD section, then why not a Gold Disc section, and an Audiophile LP section, etc. That's really SHF territory in my book.

Anyway, the same applies to forum sections I created for stuff like 'Sound Bars' that are thankfully long gone. I forget the member who wanted a 'Sound Bar' section, but again, I went ahead and did it.

So, anyway, good job by the new crew. I am very glad that the transition from 'one guy' to 'corporation' went so smoothly and that's mostly because of Angie (QuadSound) and the moderator staff here at the forum. They deserve a toast at least, and I don't mean a piece of bread! :)
 

weekendtoy

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Why not just have an Off Topic forum or something. You could place it at the very end so it doesn't take precedense before anything.

I'm not complaining or anything but just asking.
 

doppelbock

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Why not just have an Off Topic forum or something. You could place it at the very end so it doesn't take precedense before anything.

I'm not complaining or anything but just asking.
Exactly. There's a point here that seems to have been missed with this re-org - many of these so-called "off topic" threads are a part of this community, they bridge together interests outside of what the scope of the forums intent may be, show that multi-channel music isn't all we may have in common. I think that eliminating our other common interests is a mistake, and that having a place for some "fun" posts shouldn't be out of bounds.
 

kfbkfb

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There's always Usenet - completely separate from web based forums like QQ and unmoderated (and many Usenet Newsgroups are mostly empty now and could be used for QQ member off topic posts).

Here's one that could be used by QQ members for off topic posts:

Anyway, just an idea, your same QQ member name could be used w/Usenet too.


Kirk Bayne
 

steelydave

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Just to clear a few things up: we haven't deleted any of the old off-topic threads, nor are we preventing people from posting in them, I've simply moved everything out of this forum that didn't belong here to its correct place if it was a music-related post, and then the remaining (purely) off-topic posts were moved to Music Matters (Non Surround).

We're not eliminating anything - community and camaraderie are an integral part of this forum, and we're not trying to legislate the fun out of this place, we're simply trying to re-focus it slightly on what it is at its heart, a music forum. Between the latitude afforded by Music Matters (Non Surround), not to mention the various 'What are you listening to?' threads (which are very lightly moderated), and others, including long-running threads devoted to both Films and TV shows there are plenty of places where you can socialize and talk about things other than specifically surround music.

The truth is that this is hardly a clamp-down at all - of QQ's 20-year existence, the vast majority of these purely off-topic threads came from a period from between roughly 2016 and 2020, when some older mods like Brian Moura left, and others were waylaid with real-life problems that didn't allow them to be as attentive as they had been. This three-year window doesn't represent a direction for QQ, it represents a lack of one, which was also characterized by a sluggishness in adding new necessary forums, which we've done also, including the expansion of the Media Players & Ripping forum, and the addition of the Streaming and Downloads forum. I've also noticed a lot more old threads being bumped in the last year or so, which leads me to believe that the improved level of organization in the forums that's resulted from the tidy-up (as well as the improved search engine in the newer versions of the forum software) is paying off in making QQ more useful and usable as a resource. I understand that maybe it feels like something is being taken away, but the way I look at it something is being gained - threads (old and new) that may have languished in "walled gardens" in the pre-cleanup forum as a result of poor organization and too many sub-forums are now being seen, appreciated, and interacted with.

Since 2020 we've been quietly tidying things up in the background, and at the same time we worked out a kind of informal "staff schedule" so all the existing mods knew what their roles were and what was expected of them, and added two new mods. As a result of the greater attention to detail, there's been a drastic decrease in new threads that are entirely off-topic - both because people now have a better understanding of where content goes, but also because we've been proactively policing it. I don't have specific numbers to hand, but I'd be surprised if there were even a dozen new off-topic threads from 2022 and maybe two dozen at the most from the year before, so we're not cutting down something that was flourishing, we're just turning off a tap that was barely dripping at this point anyway. I honestly think if I had just done this work and not said anything, and then we'd enacted the new "no off topic threads" policy silently, almost no one would've noticed, but we're trying to operate with as much transparency here as possible, in the name of the community spirit that you were talking about.

I appreciate the sentiment about creating a forum for off-topic posts, but it's just opening an absolute Pandora's box of problems, but between users and also for the moderators that would have to deal with it. Even with the site music-focused as it is now, we still have to deal with multiple problems and reports of problems on a daily basis - most of these are mundane things, minor complaints, technical issues or posts that don't belong in threads for content reasons, but we also, on a regular basis, have to deal with some of the worst tendencies of humanity. Racism, sexism, misogyny, hate speech, people trying to push political agendas in entirely inappropriate places, people who hate (or love) one of the 5 most recent US Presidents and can't keep it to themselves, and even some pretty severe cases of bullying, all by people who are more than old enough to know better. We keep this stuff entirely off the forum because the actions of a small percentage of misanthropes doesn't reflect the entirety of the userbase as a whole. It's nice to think that there's more we have in common than music, but look no further than the front page of any newspaper today and you'll see that divisions about everything run rampant today and both sides of every issue seem hell-bent on stoking these divisions to further whatever goals they have. Does anyone want to find out that a friend here or favourite poster has a rally unsavoury opinion about a hot-button topic that has deep meaning to them? Start an off-topic forum and believe me in a year, you'll find out.

Keeping this forum music-based also makes moderating things easier, and more clear-cut - moderating an off-topic forum would mean a never-ending series of judgement calls about what's appropriate and what isn't, and every conflict would mean one side that wasn't happy. The other moderators and I had a long discussion about this over the last year and we're all in agreement that we don't want an off-topic forum for this site (for reasons previously explained), and on a personal level none of us wants the work that would come along with it given how much of a commitment QQ already is for all of us. As I said previously, there are many other sites out there much better equipped to deal with "general chat," from Facebook and Reddit to tumblr, discord, twitch and beyond so I'm inclined to leave that to them.
 
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