Missed opportunity - regional forum groupings

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Malcolm Malcolm's picture
Missed opportunity - regional forum groupings

Over the past several months, many babblers have referred to the ridiculous organization of the far and wide section, where the regional groupings of provinces make no logical sense.

 

Several alternatives have been proposed, including separate sections for each province / territory or regional groupings that have some basis in Canadian political discourse (ie, Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, North and either West or Prairies and BC).

 

But instead, the rabble renewal left us with the old and illogical groupings.

 

Missed opportunity, I'd say.

Michelle

Hey Malcolm, nothing is written in stone.  :)  I've changed the forum names and added new ones.  I hope people are okay with the names - I can change them if people like something else better.

What I don't like about this software, however, is that the forum name and thread name is actually in the URL.  So, if you change the forum name or thread title, I wonder if that means the URL changes too? 

Michelle

Oh good, it seems the URL stays the same for the old threads - I guess it's just the new ones that will have the new forum title in them.  Excellent!

I just went to see which recent threads I could move into the new prairies forum (I'm assuming we want to include Manitoba and Saskatchewan in that forum, right?).  But unfortunately, I can't edit or move threads that were created in the old babble.

I'm going to see if there's a tech fix for that, but in the meantime, I guess we'll have to continue those threads where they are, and start new ones in the new, appropriate forums. 

pogge

Try it and find out.

Caissa

My regional split of Canada would be: Atlantic Provinces, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies, BC and the North.

 I must have missed it but I can't find the Toronto forum. 8^)) After all, I was born there.

Unionist

Caissa wrote:

 I must have missed it but I can't find the Toronto forum. 8^)) After all, I was born there.

Can I post to the Prairies as my birth forum and Québec as my adoption forum? :)

Caissa

I would think so Unionist  since I get to post to the Toronto forum by birth and atlantic Canada by heritage and adoption.

 

oh, the joys of identity politics. 8^))

Boom Boom Boom Boom's picture

What? No 'Ottawa' forum??? After all, it is our Capital City, and, ahem, I was born there! Surprised

Caissa

Yes, ottawa should get a By-line.Cool

Michelle

I feel like if we give any one province its own forum, that might cause resentment.  But I don't want to create 13 forums and give each province and territory a separate forum.

I was thinking that perhaps people would consider BC and Alberta to be "the west", the territories to be "the north", Manitoba and Saskatchewan to be "the prairies", Ontario and Quebec to be "central Canada", and the Maritimes plus Newfoundland and Labrador to be "Atlantic provinces".

Please don't forget, these groupings are supposed to be for ease of searching and organization, not a political statement about whether any province has its own distinct culture or whatever.  So, for instance, I know that Ontario and Quebec don't have much in common (well, except that we both think we're the centre of the universe, of course), but it's easier to keep them lumped together since the vast majority of threads in that forum are about Ontario and Quebec already, and it's easy to find them there, and we are kind of a geographical "region" of Canada.

I don't think there should be hard and fast rules about where people post stuff.  So, for instance, if someone way up in the far reaches of Northern Ontario (or, say, the North Shore of Quebec Wink) wanted to post stuff about their area in the northern territories section, then why not?  Or, if someone from northwestern Ontario feels like they have more in common with the prairies than "central Canada" then they can post a thread about their area there.  Why not?

As for a Toronto forum - don't tempt me!  Mwa ha ha!  Of course, then there would be the eternal debate: "What counts as Toronto"?  Which, of course, we won't get into now.

(tiptoeing away...)

Seriously though - if there are better names for the forums though, or I've somehow been insensitive in the naming, please let me know.  I was simply in a rush this morning to do it before leaving for work and wanted to get it done. :) 

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Well then Michelle, I will repeat what Caissa has said:

"My regional split of Canada would be: Atlantic Provinces, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies, BC and the North."

I think this is the five-fold breakdown that most of us who have been raising the question have suggested. Of course I would have listed them running west to east rather than east to west... Laughing

________________________________________

Whom the hive does not cherish it eats.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

The purpose of having regional forum sections, it seems to me, is to distribute the threads so that (a) they are easier to find after they have ceased to be active and (b) they are balanced in numbers more or less evenly (so that one section will not have 50 new threads a week while another has only one or two), which also makes it easier to find a particular thread, active or otherwise.

So if one section - say, Central Canada - ends up having 90% of the "regional" threads, then we lose most of the benefit of having regional sections in the first place. In that case it would make sense to have separate sections for Ontario and Quebec, or even subdivide further.

The vast majority of the thread topics are not "about" the Prairies or Central Canada or the Atlantic Provinces, etc. anyway; they are almost always about a local or provincial issue within a single province. So the regional groupings are not based on "interest" groupings, but simply accidents of geography. A local story about Regina is, in most cases, going to be just as interesting to someone in Toronto as someone in Winnipeg. And sadly, stories about anything to do with Quebec are of little interest to anyone in Ontario or for that matter the rest of Canada.

So let's get over the idea that there is any "natural" way of grouping the threads, and dump the streotypical thinking about other provinces. Why should New Brunswick "naturally" be lumped in with Newfoundland but BC should not "naturally" be lumped in with Yukon or Alberta? Why do Ontario and Quebec "naturally" go together? 

Michelle

Well, the idea is also because different regions have different issues that they might share across provinces.  So if, say, there was a thread on western alienation, that might well go in the western provinces forum, as opposed to a "BC" forum or "Alberta" forum

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

But as I said in the third paragraph, the vast majority of the threads are not about "regional issues" like western alienation, but about local or provincial issues. The only reason we have to have regional groupings is because there are too many provinces and territories to have separate forum sections for each.

Besides, there's no reason in principle why an "Alberta" forum section wouldn't be able to have a thread about western alienation, anyway. It's not as if there are Chinese walls around the sections preventing other babblers from posting in them, if they are interested.

Michelle

That's true.  Okay, I'll think on it.  I just don't want to cause resentment (i.e. how come those self-centred Ontarians get their own forum while all of us in THIS region are lumped together?), nor do I want to have the page scroll on forever because I've made 13 forums in order to give each province and territory one of their own.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Michelle wrote:
I just don't want to cause resentment (i.e. how come those self-centred Ontarians get their own forum while all of us in THIS region are lumped together?)
The obvious answer may well be that those self-centred Ontarians make up almost half the population of the country and almost half the population of babblers, and they account for almost half of the threads that are primarily of local or provincial interest. I don't know, I haven't done the math.

But basing it on the math should not cause resentment.

Wilf Day

Michelle wrote:

Ontario and Quebec to be "central Canada" . . .

 

I know that Ontario and Quebec don't have much in common (well, except that we both think we're the centre of the universe, of course), but it's easier to keep them lumped together since the vast majority of threads in that forum are about Ontario and Quebec already, and it's easy to find them there, and we are kind of a geographical "region" of Canada.

(Ahem) Quebec is a nation (ahem).

Furthermore, let's look at the five regions by the number of MPs they will have when BC, Alberta and Ontario get their increase (using Harper's formula):

BC: 43

The Prairies: 61

Ontario: 116

Quebec: 75

Atlantic provinces: 32

Northern territories: 3

Nicely balanced, eh?

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Thanks for doing the revision, Michelle.

 

I think the only apparent confusion is about the western and prairies thing.  Seems to me the simplest solution would be to call the one forum BC/AB and the other ManSask.  But I'd be fine with lumping us all together as the west too.  Whatever works.

 

But these groupings make infinitely more sense than lumping poor Maniitoba in with Evil Ontario.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Michelle, I really think the forum you've labelled as Western Provinces would be better off renamed BC. There's already a forum for the praries.

I believe that the decision of how to organize the regional forums is an inherently political decision, despite your insitance that the forum groupings arn't done on a political basis. Politically, "The West" is a term that the bourgeois media uses to falsely imply that the spokespeople of the political right in Alberta somehow speak for all Canadians west of the Manitoba-Ontario border. As such, I find it a highly offensive term in any kind of a political context.

Other considerations are that the majority of the threads in the old BC, Alberta, and Saskatchewan forum were on BC issues, and also that BC has a distinct geography from the prarie provinces. Not to mention that I've heard the Term "The West" used in certain context where it refers to the prarie provinces, without BC. For instance, the "History of the Canadian West" course at UBC covers only the history of the prarie provinces, and leaves BC history to be covered in the "BC History" course.

I recognize that Alberta doesn't have much in common politically with Manitoba and Saskatchewan, but we don't get many threads about issues each of those provinces.  Plus, the term "The Praries" doesn't have the same offensive political connotations that "The West" does.

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

Good God, people, we're not redrawing maps here or forming political alliances. It's a frikkin' discussion forum, where everybody is free to read and post in every forum, regardless of which province they happen to live in, where no province or region has any privileges or advantages that others don't have.

Why there should be any noses out of joint because of the titles of the forum sections is beyond my comprehension, unless it's just because people like to obsess and take offence over meaningless and trivial things, when there are so many other matters of consequence that we should be discussing.

Get a life, people!

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Bravo Left Turn. You hit the nail on the head by pointing out that in the old breakdown (BC,AB,SK) the majority of the threads in the forum were on BC issues -- almost to the point of completely overwhelming threads regarding the other areas. Since sometimes one wants a quick view of threads of "local interest" having the distinct "Prairie" forum containing "AB,SK,MB" is a distinct improvement (not that the threads about Vancouver municipal politics aren't interesting, there are just so damn many of them Wink). It may be pigeon-holing, but it is pigeon-holing that makes the site easier to navigate and reduces the chances of missing a thread that might be of interest.

Bravo again for pointing out the confusion the designation "The West" causes -- it is analogous to the confusion the distinction between "The Maritimes" and "The Atlantic Provinces" causes. 

I think M. Spector was right in the first paragraph of his post (#11)  where he stated

"The purpose of having regional forum sections, it seems to me, is to distribute the threads so that (a) they are easier to find after they
have ceased to be active and (b) they are balanced in numbers more or
less evenly (so that one section will not have 50 new threads a week
while another has only one or two), which also makes it easier to find
a particular thread, active or otherwise."

I think, though, he should defer to those who are actually in the regions being written about when people from those regions point out that the designations (titles) are unclear and create confusion. 

M. Spector M. Spector's picture

I'm all in favour of clear and unconfusing section titles.

But that's not the issue I was addressing, and it's not what the topic post in the thread is about.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

How about we settle on taking statements about regional designations in a way that their seriousness is judged in direct proportion to their proximity? That sounds real fair to me. In the meantime I will continue to applaud Left Turn's insights about "The West".

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Three options:

 

1. One section called "The West"

2. Two sections called "BC" and "Prairies"

3. Two sections called "BC/AB" and "ManSask"

 

All things being equal, my choices in order are #2, #1, #3

 That said, it seems to have naturally involved into #1, with a vestigal "Prairies" section with no threads in it.

melovesproles

Yeah, I think 2, 3, 1 would be my choice just because I hate the way the term the 'West' gets used to suggest our politics are homogenous. That said I also don't mind having the prairie threads in with BC as I might not read them as often otherwise, but I could see how it might be annoying the other way around. Having a 'The West' section and a 'Prairies' section is confusing though, Malcolm's suggestions all make more sense.

jas

Caissa wrote:

My regional split of Canada would be: Atlantic Provinces, Quebec, Ontario, the Prairies, BC and the North.

I second this, but I would put Quebec and Ontario together (which
worked fine in the old forum, the only difference being that Manitoba
is now not lumped in with them) and make it "BC & Yukon", "Prairies and
The North".

Erik Redburn

Test

Erik Redburn

Good, it worked. 

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

So, it has naturally evolved that all of the threads regarding BC, AB, SK and MB have ended up in the "western provinces" folder, while the vestigal "the prairies" folder has only one thread about why it exists.

 

In light of this natural evolution, I think Michelle can kill the "the prairies" folder and all us belligerant folk from west of Lake of the Woods can camp out together.

jas

<><>I don't think the changes have been made yet. I hope not, because Ontario and Quebec are not "Central Canada" by any measure I can think of - except population perhaps. Or centre of political power? That's arguable. Anyway I don't think Babble wants to use the centre vs. margins model for categorizing the topics of its participants. 

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

"Central Canada" is a reference to the fact that these provinces are the geographical / jurisdictional middle.  It is not a reference to the frequent narcissistic delusions of residents of those provinces.

jas

Southern Ontario and Quebec are nowhere near the geographic middle.
Quebec shares part of its geography with the Maritimes. How is that
"central" Canada?

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Four provinces east of them.

 

Four provinces west of them.

 

Sounds pretty central to me.

jas

Yes, if looking at a map challenges you.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

Michelle, what do you think of my suggestion upthread to give BC a seperate forum from the prairie provinces?

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

I'm quite proficient at map reading.

 

There are four provinces east of Quebec.  There are four provinces west of Ontario.  Thus, everyone in te universe (except jas) is familiar with the term "Central Canada" to refer collectively to Ontario and Quebec.

jas

Everyone in the universe is familar with the term and many people in
the universe understand that it's outdated and Eastern-centric, as much
of our Canadian history has been. Everyone in the universe also
understands that one's geographic position in the country has nothing
to do, and never has,
with the number of provinces, or the number of cities, or the number of
Tim Hortons stores to the east, west, north or south of you.

If we want neutral, objective, regional categories
they should be based on geography and shared regional history and way
of life.  And I think Malcolm knows this, too.

jas

And I agree with Left Turn, but suggest putting BC with Yukon, Prairies with NWT and Nunavut.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

jas wrote:
Southern Ontario and Quebec are nowhere near the geographic middle.
Quebec shares part of its geography with the Maritimes. How is that
"central" Canada?

Which would be totally valid if we were talking about changing where the capital was located... I think Churchill MB would be the most "central" candidate -- and tourists could watch the polar bears when Parliament was not in session.... but as to how to divide the forums... not so much

al-Qa'bong

Left Turn wrote:

I recognize that Alberta doesn't have much in common politically with Manitoba and Saskatchewan, but we don't get many threads about issues each of those provinces.  Plus, the term "The Praries" doesn't have the same offensive political connotations that "The West" does.

 

Are you serious? Who in Saskatchewan would be offended by being said to live in "The West?"

 

Damn, we define The West!

George Victor

Damn, we define The West!

-----------------------------------------------------------

 

And in me dad's day, to have "gone West" was to have disappeared, or to have broken down.  All of which reflected the powerful appeal of "The West" whenever things tanked in the East. (or should the E of Esst only be lower case in proper diminutive status?Smile)

jas

bagkitty wrote:

.... but as to how to divide the forums... not so much

Why? What's the attachment to "central"? Why
even have a forum confusingly named "Central Canada", which might
suggest that posts about Manitoba should go in there, when you can have
a forum called "Ontario and Quebec"? Like I said, BCers don't call
Ontario "central" Canada. Nor do Manitobans that I know of. Who does?
Maybe only Ontario-ians. 

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

I don't have an issue with separate Ontario and Quebec fora.  In fact, given the preponderance of posts, it probably makes sense.

 

I merely find the whinge about the label "central Canada" to be utterly juvenile.

 

The three territories should not be split up and appended to the southern regions.  They have more in common with each other than with the respective regions south of them.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Jas... think of the phrase "our Central Canadian overlords", then think of Manitoba... notice, they are different things. I think everyone in the periphery is quite aware who the Central Canadian overlords really are.Innocent

jas

bagkitty wrote:
Jas... think of the phrase "our Central Canadian overlords", then think of Manitoba... 

What? Manitobans can't be overlords? Hey, they moved the mint here, they can move the centre of power. Tongue out

jas

Malcolm wrote:

The three territories should not be split up and appended to the
southern regions. They have more in common with each other than with
the respective regions south of them.

Not sure. I think maybe Yukon and BC have more
in common than Yukon and Nunavut. But only Yukoners would be able to
say. In the interests of humility, it might be better also to have all
provinces share a forum with at least one other. Also, in the interests
of keeping the forums somewhat balanced in terms of traffic, combining
the prairies with the North would help boost the numbers mutually.
Also, if the mid-continent trade corridor gets established, it will be
in one of the prairie provinces. That will be a further geographic,
economic and political pathway linking the prairies with the north.

Michelle

I don't think any configuration is going to make everyone happy, unless each province and territory gets a forum of its own.  And that's not going to happen because that means there are going to be a bunch of dead forums scrolling down the front page.

I'm pretty sure that if I do separate forums for BC, Alberta, Ontario and Quebec, this is going to cause nothing but griping in rabble reactions from newbies and others for centuries to come...we're already self-centred enough. ;)

So, I'm going to leave it as is for now, and I'll let babblers decide for themselves which forum they think their threads should go into (so, should Alberta threads go in "western provinces" or "prairies"?  You decide!).  Same with threads about northern Ontario or northern BC or whatever - do they belong in the Northern forum?  You decide. :)

jas

Michelle, the only griping I hear is from me and Malcolm. With logical
categorization, (perhaps based on how time zones are categorized across
Canada?) you're not going to have griping. If you don't want to take my
suggestions, that's fine. But others here had valid suggestions as
well. I think you know, as well, the headache this could cause for
people looking for specific threads, retroactively or currently, about
Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta. This is the one area I can agree
with Malcolm on: leaving it as it is is not correcting the old problem.

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

I am trying to recall anyone suggesting that Alberta have its own regional forum and can't think of any. I know there has been some good natured banter as to who is going to be stuck with us...

I think there has been something approaching a consensus along the lines of 5 groupings: Atlantic (PEI, NFLD&LB, NS, NB) Quebec, Ontario, Prairies, B.C.  and the Territories.

If their is any "debate", it is only on two points. 1) Should the Territories be in the B.C. forum or the Prairies (and I am beginning to think the practical argument is tending more towards lumping them together with the Prairies... again so that their threads are not swamped by the very active Wet Coast posters) and 2) If Ontario and Quebec should have separate forums (I haven't noticed a lot of posts from Quebec members complaining about being swamped by the Ontario behemoth, but nor have I seen many posts challenging Wilf Day's observation that Quebec, after all, is a nation).

 

jas

Just resurrecting this issue (as, apparently, I have nothing better to do this evening). Despite the quibble about "central Canada" it seems almost unanimous, of the posters in this thread, anyway, that a minor change or two to the regional groupings is desired. It seems unanimous that there's no need for a regional grouping called "central Canada" nor one called "western provinces". It seems in fact, as bagkitty pointed out, that everyone here is in close agreement except for whether to group Ontario and Quebec together, and whether to group the North with the Prairies or with BC. I would add that there may be a temptation to just go with whatever currently named fora right now have the most posts, but that would just perpetuate the confusion and irritation over the long term.  The reason they have the most posts now is because they're broadly defined and vague. And threads about Manitoba are currently in three separate fora. Everyone here has agreed that clearly defined regional fora are preferable to unclear and subjectively defined fora, and everyone in this thread has provided reasonable suggestions based on firsthand experiences of living in those regions. 

Are there any other suggestions, or can we move to implement? Michelle, are you in agreement? It seems that if a change is to be made, earlier might be better than later, so fewer threads have to be transferred over. 

al-Qa'bong

I think the Central Standard Time Zone should have its own forum.

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