What is this thread about?; Or, this thread is about how to title your threads

34 posts / 0 new
Last post
Catchfire Catchfire's picture
What is this thread about?; Or, this thread is about how to title your threads

So, I've been seeing waaaaay more of these "catch-all" threads than we used to have: NDP, Palestine, Thomas Mulcair, one for each federal party, China, etc.

There's nothing wrong with these threads, of course, and folk tend to like them, but I just want to encourage babblers when they start threads to think about the headline as the thing that will bring people to the discussion. "China #2" doesn't do much, whereas "Diplomatic resolution sought in South China Sea standoff" is pretty good, even if it takes its headline from a NYT article. Even better is: "China: Did I taw a coup d'etat?" because it is original, clever and clear about the topic under discussion.

It's not every day you get to pretend you're the headline editor for a major news organization (like rabble.ca!). So make 'em count!

This has been a public service announcement.

NorthReport

The purpose of the catch-all thread title is to help in not having a proliferation of threads.

Don't we end up getting too many threads started with that very narrow approach which seems to be a much bigger issue for the folks that post here?

bagkitty bagkitty's picture

Since threads no longer seem to be closed on the grounds they have grown too large to be manageable, I think very generalized titles are the way to go. The more vague the headline/title/topic the fewer recriminations about any individual poster being off-topic.  I am tempted to start a new thread. "Everything".

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Thread proliferation happens when people post the same topic or same question, not (usually) different approaches to the same question. For example, the four recent threads on Liberal bias in HuffPo. Not the (even more) threads about HuffPo in general.

It's not that catch-all threads don't have their place, but they don't tend to always encourage good discussion because they are so formless.

Unionist

I fully agree. I don't even look at most of these generic threads, and I'm sure I'm missing important discussions - which, moreover, tend to get aborted instead of focused as they sometimes deserve because some other part of the catchall comes up.

On the other hand, some threads look deceptively specific:

[url=http://rabble.ca/babble/canadian-politics/latest-polling-thread-5-july-2... polling thread - 5 july, 2012[/url]

... until you realize they have attracted 1,461 posts to date.

A thread called "Thomas Mulcair" is particularly silly. I wonder if 1/4 of the posts relate to Mulcair, as opposed to the NDP generally, or the Senate scandal, or (as many posts in recent days) the Green Party...

Not closing threads is one thing. Not opening new ones was never the intent.

 

quizzical

uh......in the "huff po" threads (took me research to even know what the huff po was) there was a complaint about exploiting bloggers and others for  their on line paper.

trying to make threads here with "news worthy titles" isn't the same thing?

i think discussions here are pretty high level in most cases at least to me and i don't doubt rabble is exploting travellers to babble and the blogs to get traffic  and funds to operate too....

why can't people just do whatever???????

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

quizzical wrote:
i think discussions here are pretty high level in most cases at least to me and i don't doubt rabble is exploting travellers to babble and the blogs to get traffic and funds to operate too....

That is so far away from my motivations here I don't even know where to start with this insinuation. But I think you overestimate how much babble does to drive site traffic or funding.

NorthReport

With all due respect this is not a newsroom.

Because the search engine process seems to leave a lot to be desired, the quickest way for myself at least, to find things is in what has been labelled a catch-all thread. 

6079_Smith_W

Oh good..... then there's no problem if I title my next five threads "Hey Look at This!!", just because there's no way anyone is going to tell me what to do.

I don't know about a secret scheme to generate hits and revenue, but I can think of a couple of other things moderators' advice can be counted on generating.

 

 

Caissa

Like Unionist, I tend to stay away from the generic threads.  almost 2 000 posts on Mulcair is more than I can stomach.

quizzical

Catchfire wrote:
quizzical wrote:
i think discussions here are pretty high level in most cases at least to me and i don't doubt rabble is exploting travellers to babble and the blogs to get traffic and funds to operate too....
That is so far away from my motivations here I don't even know where to start with this insinuation. But I think you overestimate how much babble does to drive site traffic or funding.

ah...it wasn't meant as an insinuation or even a critical observation. just an observation of how  websites get advertisers or web sites are valued and how it's through traffic to the site.

over estimination? why would rabble continue babble and pay mods if it didn't generate traffic for the whole web site? and the same for having the blogs. it's pure business.

it's just seemed weird your asking for specific topic titles.  a bunch of threads were just closed for "repetition" even though all titled differently and were about different things though in a broad sense could've gone in a general thread like was suggested when thread was closed. it's kinda mixed messaging i think.

 

Unionist

quizzical wrote:
why would rabble continue babble and pay mods if it didn't generate traffic for the whole web site? and the same for having the blogs. it's pure business.

Quote:
rabble.ca is a registered not-for-profit organization. We rely on the support of individual and organization donors and our sustaining partners. If you would like to support independent journalism you can here.

Please give. Every little bit counts.

 

Unionist

NorthReport wrote:

Bingo!

Catchfire, on most things you make sense, but maybe you need a vacation here, or at least some time in the penalty box.

Take your personal attacks somewhere else, far away. What the hell do you think you're doing? Catchfire stole your wallet? He assaulted you? Just fucking apologize.

 

NorthReport

Bingo!

Catchfire, on most things you make sense, but maybe you need a vacation here, or at least some time in the penalty box.

A good example is the Quebec section where we have a thread about one poll instead of a polling thread. 

There is a lack of consistency here.

quizzical wrote:

Catchfire wrote:
quizzical wrote:
i think discussions here are pretty high level in most cases at least to me and i don't doubt rabble is exploting travellers to babble and the blogs to get traffic and funds to operate too....
That is so far away from my motivations here I don't even know where to start with this insinuation. But I think you overestimate how much babble does to drive site traffic or funding.

ah...it wasn't meant as an insinuation or even a critical observation. just an observation of how  websites get advertisers or web sites are valued and how it's through traffic to the site.

over estimination? why would rabble continue babble and pay mods if it didn't generate traffic for the whole web site? and the same for having the blogs. it's pure business.

it's just seemed weird your asking for specific topic titles.  a bunch of threads were just closed for "repetition" even though all titled differently and were about different things though in a broad sense could've gone in a general thread like was suggested when thread was closed. it's kinda mixed messaging i think.

 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

I think bagkitty's suggestion for the "everything" thread title pretty much illustrates why avoiding catch-all titles does not contradict our policy against redundant threads.

Specificity is desirable. It's that simple. It's why we have a series of threads called "Bless us now with your fierce tears" instead of "Obits" and countless others. But the NDP #18-type threads are boring. 

And I didn't come up with this out of thin air, incidentally. Every discussion board I can think of has a policy of having specific, interesting thread titles -- and that topics like "Obama" or "Can you believe THIS??!!" are not helpful or conducive to discussion. In fact, even this board, once upon a time, ensured such a policy. But idle hands have given the devil his due, or whatever. At any rate, no one is taking your toys away. This was merely a suggestion.

Oh, and quizzical, babble is kept on because those in charge feel it's a valuable service, because it is important to the history of the website, and because its moderators continuously advocate on its behalf. Advertisement accounts for an extremely slender margin of our overall revenue, and babble is nowhere near close to the most new views. As Unionist points out, most of rabble's funding comes from sustaining partners, with the next biggest chunk coming from members who donate monthly.

mark_alfred

The problem with overly descriptive thread titles is that they risk being biased toward a particular opinion of an event, whereas more generalized threads can encourage a greater diversity of opinion and can evolve naturally without people fighting over the title of the thread. 

NorthReport

Agreed.

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

No. That is not how babble works. We do not have general threads. We have specific threads to discuss specific issues. Catchall threads do not invite discussion -- only for people already there. We might as well have a thead called "politics."

That is how babble has always been, and it's how it will continue.

DaveW

NorthReport wrote:

A good example is the Quebec section where we have a thread about one poll instead of a polling thread. 

There is a lack of consistency here.

DaveW wrote:

As the one who started both threads, let me say, a poll back on Labour Day had ceased to be news or a worthy basis for a discussion at New Year's. Period.

And with the Babble way of displaying posts by oldest first, you have to start going through 10 pages to get to the most recent post, so I think: let's start fresh.

Otherwise, you have some gigantic bulky set of posts covering years and years. What is the point?

mark_alfred

Regarding how Babble has always been, over the years I've seen plenty of specific threads closed and redirected to a more general thread with the phrase, "already being discussed here." 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

No, those have been duplicate threads. Not moving from specific to more general ones. I'm sorry you don't like it, mark, but this trend toward more and more catchall threads has got to stop. It hurts discussion and discourages newcomers.

sherpa-finn

Catchfire wrote: ... this trend toward more and more catchall threads has got to stop. It hurts discussion and discourages newcomers.

Thats an interesting hypothesis ... just wondering - does Babble actually do any 'market' or 'member' research to see what works and what doesn't in terms of assessing effectiveness.  I am not trying to be critical, just wondering if there is any capacity / interest to do such research. Are there "best practices" shared between similar online discussion boards. Or is it pretty much seat-of-the-pants sorts of assessments by the mods.

Unionist

I've supported Catchfire's plea in the past and I do so again.

Threads like "Thomas Mulcair" (2000 posts? really? and how many are about Thomas Mulcair??) and "Liberal Party of Canada" are ridiculous as discussion forums. We ended up almost discussing today's Trudeau Senate gambit in both threads - because really, anything will fit there.

Another ridiculous kind (IMHO) is "Why the NDP is right to want to abolish the Senate". Gimme a break. How about "Senate abolition", or, if we think it's an important enough topic on its own, "NDP position on Senate abolition"? Today's gambit obviously didn't fit into the only active thread we have about the Senate, because of it's silly title.

I was about to open a thread just dealing with Trudeau's new move and how it unfolds, how others react, etc., when I was happy to see that CF did.

I'm starting to miss the pre-upgrade days. Threads were mercilessly closed after an arbitrary 100 posts - but then, if the specific issue was still hot, someone would open part 2. The only real improvement that was needed was for the mod to automatically open the next part and link to it in the final post, just to make life easier.

There will never be perfection in thread-naming. But we can do better than the "catchall" which, as CF correctly notes, is a brand-new phenomenon.

 

onlinediscountanvils

sherpa-finn wrote:
does Babble actually do any 'market' or 'member' research to see what works and what doesn't in terms of assessing effectiveness.

I recall there being at least two rabble surveys during my time here.

Caissa

I always fought against closing at 100 because I thought it was an arbitrary number that often cut off discussion just as it was starting. I am certainly not a fan of threads that go on for thousands of posts. Maybe threads should be closed at some number like 250 or 500. I know thw longer the thread the less likely I am to contibute to it.

jas

mark_alfred wrote:

The problem with overly descriptive thread titles is that they risk being biased toward a particular opinion of an event, whereas more generalized threads can encourage a greater diversity of opinion and can evolve naturally without people fighting over the title of the thread. 

NorthReport wrote:

Agreed.

Really?

Site C: Let's get on with it and build it!

That said, I support the mandate for specific thread titles. I too will not bother opening threads with boring, generic titles. That said again, right before 9/11 debate was curtailed here, we were discontinued from using specific thread titles in favour of catch-all, generic titles, and finally a catch-all, generic thread, such as the one we have now.

 

onlinediscountanvils

Slumberjack

Catchfire wrote:
Catchall threads do not invite discussion -- only for people already there. We might as well have a thead called "politics."

Exhibit A:  My long suffering Anarchy 101 thread.

Webgear

SJ, I enjoy your Anarchy 101 thread. 

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Because Timebandit and I agree on everything, I changed the title to that thread. No offence.

Timebandit

"Death watch" threads?  Seriously?  I thought the "don't underestimate..." nonsense was bad enough.  Melodramatic and just...  Ick.  Especially in regard to refugee crises.

Timebandit

Thanks, Catchfire.  Especially given the news these past two days.

Kiss

Pondering

I also thanked Catchfire for changing the thread title.  Everyone is so upset over this one little 3 year old boy because of the adorable pictures of him but he is far from the first young child to die trying to escape Syria. Just this time there were pictures.

I saw a picture of a man who shoved his wife and child onto the ground to prevent police in Hungary from dragging them off. The baby in his wife's arms is probably under 3 months old. As I watched that I was coaxing a 1 month old premie in my arms to stay awake and drink more formula out of a sterilized bottle. I can't imagine being thrown to the ground with him in my arms, trying to escape police. In another shot of the refugees crowding onto a train they hope will carry them to Germany, a toddler was passed through a window to get him on the train that looked packed solid, standing room only.

In another shot of children being rescued on a beach they are wearing water wings and cheap "life" jackets made like beach balls. Yet even that paltry protection would have been priceless to the man who just lost his two boys and wife. 

Boats going down with people trapped within, people found dead packed in trucks like sardines.

The title may have been too ghoulish so I don't mind at all that it was changed, (I requested the change from migrant to refugee) but it was also accurate. This is quite literally a death watch. Dead people are washing up on shores. Every day I see shots of body bags being loaded or unloaded.

Timebandit

Pondering, we get that it's more than just one child. Horrible scenes all over the news, and I'm sure it's just scratching the surface. It was the tongue in cheek way the term seemed to be used - intentional or not, even grim humour doesn't have a place in that discussion. So disrespectful.