Healthy forum?

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Healthy forum?

I have been saddened to note the seeming demise of the BBC Music magazine forum.  Logging on to it, this one, and the Linn forum (and sometimes a few others) is part of my early morning, post-walk routine.

It made me wonder how healthy this forum is.  Unlike the Linn forum, we get no idea of how many people view the site and individual threads, and the range of contributors seems to have narrowed recently. 

I also wonder if the kind of debate  that generates the most replies here might also be putting off others.  A question for the moderators I suppose.  How popular is this forum?  Do the more contentious issues raised and debated increase or decrease viewing figures?

I like the cut and thrust of passionate debate myself, but I don't want to drive away those for whom the forum might provide other functions.  

Trying to stimulate more interest on the BBC Music magazine forum ended up with two or three of us talking to each other.  I would be horrified if I thought the same was beginning to happen here.

What do other, including moderators, think?

Vic.

 

 

RE: Healthy forum?

I sympathise with your point of view, Vic.

It can become tedious when a few people get a 'stranglehold' over a forum, and I use that term deliberately because they often develop territorial and/or cliquey habits which discourages wider discussion. You get to know in advance what contributor x will say, how they will say it, and why this will aggravate contributor y.

I think the problem here is that people feel too strongly about music not to disagree, but that there can't really be definitive 'answers' to debating points, only expressions of subjective taste (even when that takes the form of people stating that they're in command of objective truths!). Unless there's a sense of perspective about it discussion is bound to degenerate into bad-tempered argument.

It doesn't help that the forum is (inescapably) electronic, which gives itself to misinterpretation about nuance and tone. How many times, even with friends we personally know, have we regretted sending a text or email which we afterwards think might be, or was, misinterpreted?

Personally I wish the forum was driven by enthusiasms. I think music is too important not to disagree about, but the setting of a forum is just too flawed for debate to be conducted in a way that feels worth the effort. Others I know will disagree - and continue to disagree volubly with each other on the forum!

My other thought about the way a few people can come to dominate forums is that simply not enough people seem willing or able to post topics. That leaves the field to a small group. I'm not sure what the answer to this is, or even whether there is one. People don't seem to be very interested in discussing, say, new releases, or items of interest from TV: where, for instance, is enthusiasm about John Bridcut's excellent documentary on Rostropovich from BBC4 on Friday night (still on iPlayer if of any interest)?

John

RE: Healthy forum?

I’ve asked myself the same question many times. Let me jump in by trying to link to some of the points raised above as well as throwing out some thoughts at random.

Over the year or so I’ve been posting this forum has been occasionally quite active, sometimes moribund. Right now I’d say it seems to be reasonably healthy. We’re always going to be a slightly rarified group. Classical music enthusiasts, in general, are a bit thin on the ground and within the group itself we splinter easily. Pick almost any thread and you’ll find people passionate about a composer, period or type of music, and others wondering what all the fuss is about. So it’s difficult to attract a large group of participants to any discussion. This is never going to be Red and White Kop – the only other forum I visit regularly, with about two trillion posters per day and heated debates on everything and nothing.

So given that we’re never going to get a deluge of posters on here, is the forum as healthy as it could/should be? My own belief is that a healthy forum should strike a fine balance between complete freedom of expression and moderation. While I enjoyed the early days of internet forums, when anarchy reigned, there has to be some governance. Open discussion on the internet has spawned the cyber warrior, the poster ready to throw vitriol in all directions from behind the safety of his/her keyboard. I can only recall one such on this forum, so we’ve been lucky. At the same time I feel the moderators have lightened their touch a little, and that’s welcome. Too much censorship results in sterile, humourless debate. I’d personally relax the reins still more, with one golden rule in place: let’s limit attacks to the points a person is making, not the person him/herself. Difficult in moments of frustration, but a good rule nevertheless. At the same time there’s nothing wrong with the odd jibe or joke. Most of us appear to know where the dividing line is.

Willingness to post topics. Posting a topic to which nobody responds is discouraging. No sense brooding about it but you do begin to wonder if you’re on the wrong forum. For reasons best known to themselves some people only jump into a discussion if a mod. blesses it with his presence. I was grateful to James for kick-starting at least some discussion on the Don Carlos thread recently. Perhaps mods should do this more often.

It would be interesting to know how the number of forum viewers stacks up against forum posters. I know these stats are tracked because I’ve seen them elsewhere. A small number of viewers would suggest one kind of problem, a high number of viewers in relation to posters a different kind.

Discussion of new releases/recent programmes. Can’t understand why this doesn’t happen more often. As for the Rostropovich documentary, I don’t know what proportion of posters live in the UK but it’s the same issue as with concerts. Don’t forget we’ve got an international group here and as much as I’d have liked to tune into BBC4 (I hate watching stuff on my computer) on this occasion or go to the Proms, I’m stymied. Still, there are so many interesting new releases every month, many of them worldwide, and I’d welcome comments from people who’ve sampled them. In particular lack of interest in, or at least comment on, the flood of opera dvd releases from opera houses around the world is perplexing.

Enough from me, I’d like to hear from others on any of this.

RE: Healthy forum?

I don't think the BBC forum has quite died - 2 people posted on it in the last couple of days. However, few people have posted recently - it does seem to have lost the will to live. It never even got acrimonious just swamped with spam.

The problem with the BBC forum seemed to be that posters never quite made it to relating to each other. With this forum there is a little more energy and bouncing, although more often acrimonious than friendly.

Best wishes,

P

RE: Healthy forum?

phlogiston wrote:

I don't think the BBC forum has quite died - 2 people posted on it in the last couple of days.

Yes, sorry to be the source of misinformation.  I was unable to link to it for a week but have now made a new connection and notice it is still with us. I cannot understand why it is not more popular, given the output of serious music from the Beeb - and especially with the demise of the Radio 3 forum.

 

 

No reply from the powers that be here on viewing figures or trends, I note.  Maybe it's thought of as sensitive commercial information for some reason. 

I asked purely to ascertain the relative effect of the more contentious exchanges: do they attract or deter?  It's a simple and harmless enough question I would have thought.  Oh well.

Vic.

RE: Healthy forum?

I'm rather ashamed to say that it is some years since I bought the BBC Music Magazine and cannot remember whether I've ever been aware of the existence of the related forum.

Having had a brief dip into it, I intend correcting both omissions. It seems to  lack the type of ad hominem invective and occasional politicaly motivated spleen which, although emanating from very few individuals, nonetheless discolours the Gramophone forum from time to time. It looks as though it deals with a wide variety of musical subject matter. 

Thank you, Vic and others.

JKH

JKH

RE: Healthy forum?

 

An interesting post Vic and an issue which I fear does need to be addressed.

Tagalie is absolutely right in stating that arguments should be kept to the issues involved and not aimed at persons. I have even sent that one in before to the magazine by e-mail and asked for it to be added to the house rules. Alas I did not receive a response.Perhaps the team feel that it does not need to be added.

Isn't is a curious but sadly true fact of life that in many situations frustration with argument quickly translates into frustration with the person making the argument! I think we all know that one, it's a kind of unfortunately but logical rule of spoken discourse I suppose. How many times does 'you're talking rubbish' degenerate into personals such as ' you fat something or other'!

I used to joke in the staff room (like you Vic I have left a career of 25 years - had enough - and opened my own small business) that some pupil had just called me a 'fat adjective derogatory noun' (the noun usually questioning my supposed illegitimate birth) and that I could take the obscene 2nd descriptor and the slur on my birth, but alas, fat was going too far and I would have to report it!

I would have thought that as many people on this seem to be reasonably educated that we should remember our seminar days and how respect for someone else's opinion is needed.

So here are a few obvious reminders:

there is a difference between contending an argument and being contentious

there is a difference between arguing (in the intellectual sense of argument) and being argumentative

there is a difference between expressing an opinion and being opinionated

Cheers all

Mark (Partsong)

PS Occasionally we get a hijacker on the forum - another fact of life! I don't know what to do about that one!

Fraz Jo - disapntd. Bn ringin this grl al week. No ansr...looks lke she changed her mnd. O well...Ldwg...

RE: Healthy forum?

If the forum is shrinking , then the fact that some posts never see the light of day could be the reason.

My last two posts have been blocked by the moderators, I assume. The first of these mentioned the words 'anti-semitism' in relation to a 19th century composer [guess who], but neither post was in any other way controversial. I suppose this has happened because of my tirade concerning the "Symphony" TV series. However, I have to say that if I have been barred from the site, it does seem a shame, as my views are genuinely held and I do recognise that others have an equally valid viewpoint.

I shall be interested to see whether or not this post - on a different thread - appears on the site.

RE: Healthy forum?

It looks as if the forum has vanished from the BBCMM website now. Too bad, but it never really gathered life.

P

RE: Healthy forum?

The BBC forum died mainly because its moderators failed to take action against adverstisers etc etc who tried to use it and simply put genuine posters off.  Having said that, there's a fine line bwteen inaction and overzealous moderation.

RE: Healthy forum?

Vic, you've prompted me to jump in as a participant. I've actually been visiting these forums for more than a year now, sometimes as often as 3-4 times a day. I've learned a lot from the participants. My hesitation in joining in has nothing to do with the tenor of the debates, which actually seem rather tame compared to many of the political blogs I frequent. It's just that most of the contributors here have far, far greater knowledge than I have. I'm not intimidated; I have just never felt that I have had anything significant to add.

Having said all that, I'm beginning to think that I owe it to the community to jump in and participate on occasion. The last thing I'd want is for this forum to wane. So, if the experts here don't mind a classical "newbie" piping in from time to time, I'm "all in."

Lance

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