Optional field to define scope? March 13, 2002 12:44 AM   Subscribe

Shortform: Maybe an added optional field could be made, which would allow the instigator of a given MeFi FPP to better define their intent of the thread's topic scope? Something that can later be referred to when arguments over topic drift do arise? [more]

posted by ZachsMind to Feature Requests at 12:44 AM (17 comments total)

Longform: I'm gonna throw this against the wall and see if it sticks. Not expecting it will, but what the heck.

The FPP is supposed to inherently define the scope of that thread's topic. This is always open to interpretation and disagreements of interpretation tend to lead to arguments that upset a thread.

Many (including myself) are not enemies of topic drift. Personally I happen to like it. Even so, if we wish to more specifically define the scope of each FPP, maybe an added optional field could be made, which would allow the instigator of each thread to better define their intent of the thread's topic scope. Something that can later be referred to when arguments over drift do arise?

Yay? Nay? Other suggestions on the same vein? Would it help? Make things worse? How so? blah blah blah. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 12:46 AM on March 13, 2002

What the hell are you talking about?
posted by pracowity at 2:24 AM on March 13, 2002

Hrm. Sounds a bit like pre-emptive moderating/gameshow hosting to me. I say not gonna happen.
I personally sort of understand the idea and even like it a bit, but I don't think I agree with implementing it. Topic drift itself isn't necessarily a bad thing. It's just the way conversations work, and sometimes it's as much the fault of the poster for making a vague FPP. If you want to propose a "topic," then make a basic lead-in comment within it, or make a first comment yourself to start things. Otherwise, the purpose is to throw a link out and say, "Hey look at this," and see what people have to say about it. It'd be nice to say that X was what you meant, but it carries absolutely no authority. Plus, conversations don't drift on their own. It's the collective will of the group that moves it. If they were intent on discussing Point A, then they wouldn't move from it until they were done. So pointing to your idea of what you expected puts you back in that moderator role that everybody loves so much.

What I hate, and it's something I see as a different but related issue, is threads that never really even get around to the topic in the first place. Take, for example, almost any post that involves Flash. They almost invariably end up with nothing but people bitching about how Flash sucks and, "What a crappy site design." Art posts, unless they involve the Great Masters all to often devolve to people questioning whether it's art. A bit after the fact, folks. Call it whatever you want, but discuss the work. See also: just about any thread involving Microsoft, Kottke, or Miguel.

My suggestion is what I've seen tends to be the consensus when things like this get brought up: Better thought-out/composed posts, not more form fields/regulations/work for Matt/work for the database.
posted by Su at 2:45 AM on March 13, 2002

When have you had a conversation that stared out on one subject and stayed on that one topic? Ebb and flow are natural with most of the items on MeFi. There are two sides, plus 360 degrees of edge to every topic, which can and will overlap into something else.

A caveat on Flash sites is a nice gesture for those of us on "slow dial-ups". We could check some of the comments before deciding if the link might be worth the wait. Just had to throw that in!
posted by bjgeiger at 3:40 AM on March 13, 2002

i was reading until i heard that useless acronym.
posted by jcterminal at 4:37 AM on March 13, 2002

I don't understand. why couldn't somebody just define the 'intended scope' of the thread in the text of their front page post? why create an additional field?
posted by jnthnjng at 7:36 AM on March 13, 2002

If a post is vague and people get confused, I think the best course of action is to be clearer when you write the next one, if you are interested in neat and tidy discussions. Some people revel in not stating their position and are purposely vague just to watch the fur fly in the discussion. I don't have a preference for one over the other. Sometimes topic drift sucks, especially when it is an interesting original topic, sometimes the topic drift is more insightful than the original theme.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:09 AM on March 13, 2002

What jcterminal said. Please, please, let us deprecate "FPP"/
posted by gleuschk at 9:14 AM on March 13, 2002

posted by Danelope at 9:18 AM on March 13, 2002

The boss doesn't like it, first off.
posted by darukaru at 9:41 AM on March 13, 2002

Secondly, it causes the voice in your head to make this noise:

posted by iceberg273 at 9:47 AM on March 13, 2002

...sorry, I just needed a break from the whole Miguel thing for a minute.................thanks
posted by anathema at 9:48 AM on March 13, 2002

Anathema: You're joking, right? That was your bizarre interpretation of sarcasm, taking a break from one thread by posting an unnecessary, off-topic(actually topic-devoid) comment in another thread, which just happens to be about topic drift.

As for Matt's comment: I agree with the last bit. Sometimes the discussions get a lot better when they've swayed off to the side a bit, and/or people start putting up alternate links.
posted by Su at 10:25 AM on March 13, 2002

su--yes. Sorry if my bizarre interpretation bothered you. My comments are generally right on topic but I thought this was an interesting opportunity to stray.
posted by anathema at 10:41 AM on March 13, 2002

jnthnjng: "why couldn't somebody just define the 'intended scope' of the thread in the text of their front page post? why create an additional field?"

Well my point was that's not always what happens.

Perhaps the answer isn't in creating an additional field but instead better educating people on how to use the field that's already there? Perhaps somewhere, a more detailed description of what a good Front Page Post should have would be more helpful; either directly on the contribute/post_good.mefi page or more prominently in the guidelines page. Right now on the guidelines page, the description of what makes a bad post is longer than what makes a good post. Not that these descriptions have to be identical in length, but in my experience it's always better to describe what to do rather than what not to do.

When a parent tells a young child "no," the child's response is often "why?" Parents seem to have better response from their children by replacing the "no" with something the kid can do without getting in trouble. Similar direction could be beneficial here.

Perhaps we're mutually agreed that a good Front Page Post should not be vague, but oftentimes it is vague, or otherwise open to interpretation. And again I reiterate I personally prefer this. I like it when a given MeFi thread is varied and goes in a variety of directions. I think topic drift is not a bad thing but an integral part of online community communications. However, it seems to frustrate others, and I just suggested this as an attempt to find a solution.

As for Front Page Post aka FPP being a bad thing... =P I like the acronym. =)
posted by ZachsMind at 1:42 PM on March 13, 2002

As for Front Page Post [...] being a bad thing...

Why not just stick to thread? More transparent.
posted by walrus at 7:14 AM on March 14, 2002

Yeah, right. Nobody catches me saying FPP or MeFi these days. That's sooo last month. It's posts, comments threads and MetaFilter for the man and woman of today. MeTa is still acceptable but I give it two more weeks, before MetaTalk becomes à la page. As for MetaFilterians and Mefites they're now beyond the cringe-pale. It's members now or, better still, users.

Now what we really need is a "find and replace" feature so that all our embarrassing uses of acronyms can be substituted by the proper now terms. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 1:03 PM on March 14, 2002

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