The Forum as Blog

This is to ask members to comment on a recurring phenomenon where a forum member begins to make many threads that are more about what is happening in their life, or about their hobby (elaborate cake decoration comes to mind) than about MS. A few times that has happened in the general Chat area, where an existing thread may be hijacked. As far as I can tell this has not happened recently in Chat. At other times we have posters who, though also shoppers, mostly tell their life stories and ask for supportive comments in the other forum areas.

I really do not know quite what to make of this. What think all of you about this use of the forum?

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.

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I think it's great. We don't have to read and we don't have to comment if we're not interested. I'm happy to lend support to shoppers and others in the business any way I can.

What we're talking about is controlling content. Yes, of course that could be done. I'd hate to see it happen. The toggle switch is a useful feature. It doesn't take long to figure out who we want to read and who we don't want to read.

Mary Davis Nowell. Based close to Fort Worth. Shopping Interstate 20 east and west, Interstate 35 north and south.
My first thought with any type of post that doesn't naturally fit into the forum is to ask myself how I could modify the forum to make it fit. For example, if enough people wanted to have their own thread that functioned as a 'personal shopper blog', I would want to find a way to make it happen, without disrupting the rest of the forum, and maybe even finding a way of tying it in to the rest of the forum nicely. Please don't be afraid of asking me to make changes to the forum in that way. I can't guarantee that I will, but if there are compelling reasons, then it I will probably want to.
My thoughts are, General Chat is just that - almost anything goes. I know what you mean about the other areas though. If someone starts a thread that is irrelevant to MSing in any other of the forum, the mods can easily move it to the General Chat area. As to hijacked threads that get so off-topic? Some of them get off topic after the original question has been answered and there is nothing left to say. At that point, perhaps the thread could be closed to comments? Other than that, just toggling is the only answer I see besides judicial reading. I skip a LOT.

There are two types of people in this world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.
I must admit that I come here for the mystery shopping so I don't really like the posts where a member goes on about the drama in their personal lives. Once I see that's what it is I click off it.
I can appreciate that JP. For me, however, I enjoy some of those. They just need to be in the right place, I think - like General Chat. For example, there were a few threads for a while about traveling/homeless MSing. I'm sure it was uninteresting to a lot of people, but it was very relevant for me since my husband and I have a goal to do just that in 4 years. We plan to purchase a motor home and travel the US living on my pension and supplementing with MSing across the US. Those posts are very educational for me and maybe one or two others. So how do we please everyone? I guess by doing what we have been doing. Keeping separate forum areas and directing people to them. Members can just skip what they don't want to read.

Maybe the best way to handle it is not to censor those posts completely, but repeat offenders could be gently reminded in PM by a mod that they need to start a new thread in the proper place for their comment.

There are two types of people in this world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.
On most forums, general chat is "anything goes". In my opinion, the best boards are the ones that allow "off topic" posts. Talking about other things makes it more of a community and also brings more daily traffic.

Former mystery shopper, current merchandiser.
The need to connect with others is part of the human condition.

What brings us here and what keeps us here need not be exactly the same thing.

I'd guess most people came here to learn about mystery shopping, and could very well have left after learning, but stayed because they became a part of the community, made friends, and built connections with people who understand them. Taking that away and reducing it to a no-nonsense, business-only environment could drive away a lot of members and deter new ones.

As far as the homeless & MSing thing... This site could be her only measure of stability in a sea of instability. Why take that away?

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Plan the work. Work the plan.
BBird0701 Wrote:

>
> As far as the homeless & MSing thing... This site
> could be her only measure of stability in a sea of
> instability. Why take that away?

BBird, I think it's about controlling the content and controlling the kind of people welcome to post. Apparently being a mystery shopper and wanting to share doesn't necessarily qualify one to participate unsupervised. I was ignorant of the practice that discourages posting personal information about what I'm doing or what I think about things. I didn't know every post was supposed to be about hammering in the nails but now I do. Well, live and learn. Too bad I don't care.

Mary Davis Nowell. Based close to Fort Worth. Shopping Interstate 20 east and west, Interstate 35 north and south.
It appears that my OP has been misinterpreted by some. I was simply asking members to comment on the phenonenon and their views on it. I was NOT proposing to ban all posts/posters that write about anything but the shopping experience! Jacob asked that this space be used to explore ideas about various aspects of the forum and its content. I was simply trying to respond to that request.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
I have found that moderation is receptive to moving posts to the corrrect forum. While some conversation should be directed elsewhere, and may increase the workload for our mods, so be it. I think of General Chat as a welcome free-for-all. Not interested? No need to toggle, just avoid Chat. As an example, the cake decorator rubbed some members the wrong way, and resulted in hurt feelings and the departure of member(s). That member certainly meant no harm. If s(he) posted in the wrong thread, it could have been moved, if moderation had been requested.

Regarding the OP, I would say that there is a correct forum for "blogs". It's up to us, and moderation, where they belong. General Chat is a place for discussing anything other than mystery shopping.
In conversation with members, we have created an environment of sharing, and community. As such, members agree/disagree/share, on or off topic. Maybe we should suggest a blog forum, or maybe a post should be moved to Chat. I don't think we should discourage participation.
I would really love to see a "hide post" button (or something like it) to hide a post that is off-topic. It would allow more control than the toggle button because that hides all posts of a user. There are threads that I follow because of useful information I may want to refer to later, and hiding some of the non-essential posts would help me find the info faster.

Kim
That's not a bad idea, Kimmiemae.

There are two types of people in this world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.
Jacob,
Now we have a member who is including a link to her MS blog. What is the policy about this going to be? I did not see any ads there.....yet.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
I don't see any harm in the link. I might even give it a read-through if I find the time.

There are two types of people in this world: Those who can extrapolate from incomplete data.
When something goes "off topic" I just stop reading if I am not interested, makes it very easy. If there is a poster who offends me I toggle them, also very easy. That said I have not really had to toggle anyone - I just stop reading their posts. I enjoy the stories of "life on the road" and other adventures of mystery shopping. If I have a specific question it is pretty easy to find with a little research on the forum. Live and let live!
I don't think there is a harm with a member linking to their blog in their URL, as long as the blog is on topic and not spammy.
jonk, My Frugal Miser, has his blog link as a sig line and it's been there for quite awhile. It really is an interesting blog encompassing much more than just mystery shopping.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
Speaking of sig lines... (I'll get back on topic in a moment) ... I would really like to see those limited to five lines plus a separator line, and it would be wonderful if the system could add the separator line automatically. Some people's siggies take up more room than any of the posts they ever make and the ones without a separator make me go "huh?" until I realize it's not part of their post and I've seen it a hundred times by now. Some are full of extra lines that make the siggie big without adding content, adding to the number of "scrolls" we have to do to go down a page.

Back on topic ... There are two different issues. One, an off-topic post. For instance, I just got some chickens last night and by morning one of them had disappeared. I have posted about that in my two social groups, but it really has no place here except in General Chat. So something of the nature of "a funny thing happened on the way to the forum today" doesn't belong in the two main mystery shopping forums or the merchandising forum. But it might make for an amusing anecdote in General Chat. (The chicken did reappear a few hours later.)

The other issue is the hijacked thread, where in responding to an ordinary MS post, someone comments or jokes about something, and others comment on and joke about that post, and the topic drifts totally off-topic for several posts. I think this should be tolerated since it was a spontaneous departure, but if it goes on for more than 10 or 15 posts, it should be reined in. People open a thread because of its subject line. It's mildly annoying to open a thread that says, "Is anyone having trouble getting paid by DeadbeatsRus?" to find that this thread was started three years ago, the subject drifted to a conversation about sewing machines, it died two years ago and has just been revived by a newbie posting, "Boy I sure loved my mother's old Singer." So I would support the idea of locking down a thread that has been answered and then drifted. If someone else wants to post about a payment problem with DeadbeatsRus, they can start a new thread. Whatever was going on three years ago is not going to be the cause of whatever problem they are having now.


But as for evolving a new concept ... consider a forum called "Member blogs" where each member can start one thread that is titled, e.g., "D "speakes" about life on the farm" where I could post amusing chicken anecdotes and if someone wanted they could "follow" my thread from a bookmark to see if I posted what the sheep did to make me laugh last week. Or, if people have a personal blog elsewhere on the web, they could post a link to it, and people could follow the blog directly there. So that might be a fun community thing to do that wouldn't have to be about mystery shopping.

Several of us are writers; we might gain readers that way, or even people to help critique chapters.

Some might be crafters who could share quilt patterns with each other.

Some might want to swap recipes on their blogs.

Our lives aren't all about mystery shopping; those who want to share with others could do so this way.

I don't know how many shoppers would have time to keep up a blog, but the option could be provided if there was enough interest. I don't really think there have been enough off-topic posts in the wrong place to be too concerned about it at this point. (However I don't read every thread, so maybe there are more than I have noticed??)

Time to build a bigger bridge.
Dspeakes! Lots of great ideas! Some of them more work than others. I just put on my to-do list to close threads after a certain period of time. I'd also like to limit the signatures as well. I'm not quite sure the best way to do it, but I'm going to look into it.
JacobJ Wrote:
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> Dspeakes! Lots of great ideas! Some of them more
> work than others. I just put on my to-do list to
> close threads after a certain period of time. I'd
> also like to limit the signatures as well. I'm not
> quite sure the best way to do it, but I'm going to
> look into it.


This is the first time I have come across this section. Thanks Jacob and good luck in all your efforts.

Limiting the signatures would be much appreciated as I found in some cases, they just create clutter. I come to the Forum not only to learn more about mshopping and other shoppers' experiences but also to have interactions with fellow shoppers. I feel that is what a community is about and I consider the Forum a community.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 12/26/2014 03:29AM by risinghorizon.
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