Putting aside your beliefs in order to attract more visitors?

Discussion in 'Members & Staff' started by Puddleduck, Aug 16, 2006.

  1. Puddleduck

    Puddleduck Participant

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    *takes off lurker hat* Hello everyone. I have kind of an odd question to ask, which I stumbled upon whilst building up my new board, so bear with me with me whilst I try to get my head round it and explain it to you :rolleyes:

    Okay. So, if there was something (legal) which you could do/cover on your forum which you personally disagree with, but which you knew would bring in more visitors, would you do it?

    My own issue is that I'm starting a Harry Potter board, with a nice little niche in the fandom I think we could fit into, and one of the things I'm going for is to keep it open minded. However, I know that there are a good amount of people who support actor 'ships - as in, supporting a relationship (real or imagined) between the teenage actors. This is not something I'm comfortable with. I don't feel it's fair on the kids to have to people breathing down their necks, writing fanfiction about them, intruding on their personal lives and so on. And it kind of creeps me the hell out, too. I'm fairly unsquickable, but that just... okay, I'm getting off topic, here. But anyway, that's my problem. I know that it would do more to keep my board friendly and welcoming to more fans, and I know that it would bring in more visitors, but my issues with the concept still stand.

    Anyway, I didn't start this thread to just ramble about myself, so any opinions would be appreciated ^-^



    Argh, I feel this may be in the wrong place.
     
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  2. shellspeare

    shellspeare Uninteresting

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    Personally if you feel that strongly against something i wouldn't encourage it on a community you intend to manage.

    I had a similar issue when starting up my latest project. It is a fansite and alot of the tabloid news puts the artist in a derogatory light.

    I monitored members activity in this particular news forum and found it was popular, but used to 'slate' the tabloids instead of 'believing' the gossip so i built on this, separated the news forums to distinguish the good from the bad. Now i feel comfortable adding this content i didnt like.

    I realise the issues differ but perhaps you could add a fan fiction area but lay some ground rules from the start, stating your feelings regarding the relationship issues.
     
  3. Brian Turner

    Brian Turner Professional SEO

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    It's not so much a case of beliefs as convictions.

    Beliefs? Push them aside to accomodate your members. I run an interfaith forum with an incredible range of faiths in the membership, precisely because I allow others to share their own faith, rather than force my own on them.

    But convictions? Here you're dealing with moral issues - what are you comfortable with - and to be honest it seems that ships are going to be a normal part of your market. The underlying concern, I think, is how much impact this will actually have, though. You say you don't want any of this impacting on the lives of the actors, but do you really think that Daniel Radcliffe is going to post on your site and feel offended by ship fiction? Is there really going to be anything more outrageous than on other Potter sites?

    I guess it's the case of deciding on your limits, and how to server your communities interests. Ultimately, I guess you could say the place of a forum admin is to serve - but there's nothing holding any admin to serve causes or behaviours they don't support.

    Have a chew on it all and work out what you really want from your forum, and channel the community on these lines as best you can.

    2c.
     
  4. 64North

    64North geospatially inclined

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    I will assume that you run your forum as a hobby, and not to make a living.
    As such I would say that if you are not comfortable with a certain topic, or certain range of topics, then don't encourage or support them.

    Remember, the whole point is that you too have fun with what you are doing, and if that means to not go down that actor repaltionship road, then so be it.
    If that in turn means less members, then again, so be it. In the end your forum may not work out, but at least you didn't dread looking at daily to see content you would rather not have had on it.
     
  5. Travey

    Travey Participant

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    If you are starting a new forum about Harry Potter, and you aren't going to allow people to talk about certain aspects of it. Do you really think they are going to stick around. Personally i think moderating such a topic is forum suicide, especially for a brand new forum.

    Why would people bother staying on your forum when there are tens of other harry potter forums they could talk about this topic about without being moderated.
     
  6. tsheridan

    tsheridan Participant

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    Maybe you can do somrthing similar to what I did: I created a password-protected forum for gossip and venting because I felt that stuff wrecked the community spirit I wanted, but I know that people love that stuff and often log on just to read it. I put the password right in the intro to the forum so people would not have to admit that they were interested in such nonsense by writing to ask for the password, *wink*, and I also warned that they entered at their own risk, so, please don’t complain about the contents.

    I also mentioned that the contents of that forum may be edited at the sole discretion of the admin.

    I see that the spiders get a “no permission” message when they try to access that forum, and I’m glad because frankly I would not want the contents of that forum included in a search engine. :whew:
     
  7. Puddleduck

    Puddleduck Participant

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    Damn, I just wrote a long response to this, and then my connection died. I can't believe the one time I decide not to use notepad to type it up I get this. Anyway, let's see if I have the heart to paraphrase what I just said.

    First, thanks for all your insightful advice. I've read it several times over this past few days whilst trying to work out how I'm going to do this, but I never felt I'd resolved it enough to post. I'll just reply to the bits I want to clarify, though.

    That's a fair point. I think, though, the more important issue (far more important than my personal views, I think) for us is that we're not sure how legal some of the stuff that goes on is. Whilst I want to allow creativity and a comfortable atmosphere, should I allow fanfiction for 'ships which have, in the past, written fanfiction which puts the teenagers into attempted rape scenarios? It's not something I agree with, and I'm not sure it's something (should, by some strange twist of fate, this project work out) lawyers/media would like if they saw it. And my board would be associated with it. I know this is neurotic, but that is not a situation I ever want to deal with, and so I'd rather look paranoid than risk getting anywhere near that.

    I think I know of three other mainstream (-ish) forums which allow this, and the threads relating to it spiral into the hundreds because the posters tend to set up camp there until they have to move on (usually due to board downtime or arguments). It's not something which is entirely accepted by the general fandom, because whilst RP is quite common, the age aspect of it does cause problems. So I would not say it's a matter of that, although maybe I'm being overly optimistic.

    But anyway, having discussed it also with my staff, we've come to a decision to leave it (with no rules forbidding it) until it comes up, and then put it up for discussion. Dangerous, maybe, but at least we'll be allowing them the freedom that I really want to give.

    Once again, thanks for all your advice. And I can't believe I just managed to type all that out again.
     
  8. PalePhoenix

    PalePhoenix Prince of Dorkness

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    When someone creates a painting or a work of literature, he or she loses a degree of control over it the moment it is displayed or published.

    Though you may have principles that disdain slashfic and stalking, the only way to outright forbid or discourage these things is to establish community or forum-specific guidelines that detail what you would prefer not to see on your board. That said, people confronted with more hinderances than permissions may be disinclined to participate...even if they never had any real intention of doing some of the things you dislike.

    Several known principles of social influence suggest that if you forbid a thing outright, you inadvertently make it more appealing. Granted, this may only be to the contrary and asocial few who would demand to pen "Hairy Palmer and the Swordswallower's Bone" (and may I interject that if I have to see one more thread about "Daniel Radcliffe nude in Equus" I am going to hurl), it's usually better in the long run to keep some kind of distance between your moral strictures and the day-to-day operations of the forum. That is, if you appear too heavy-handed, you may drive people off elsewhere.

    Who knows. That might be something you want. You have to weigh the benefits of alienating people against your own concepts of right and wrong...and that's something we all do, not just on a forum. When you're running a community, you must necessarily give latitude to other perspectives and beliefs than yours. These can enrich your own life, and your members' experiences, but there is a difference between "alternative" and "disruptive." When the former becomes the latter, it's time for rules, PMs, and bannings.

    In any case, threads and topics have their own "lives." People may choose to express their creativity in any number of ways, but few appreciate that once it's out there, it's not theirs to decide how other people perceive it anymore. I've had this done with my poetry, my sculpture, and my fiction, so it didn't surprise me in the slightest when I'd begin a thread and find, fifteen posts later, that it had turned into something well outside my expectations.
     
  9. winampman

    winampman Enthusiast

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    Even worse for me... my forum members want a porn forum, but I just can't bring myself to allow it. Actually, before I became admin we had a pretty big porn forum. It started out as an unmoderated forum that eventually evolved into a porn forum. It was getting tons of traffic. More than some of our main forums. After I became admin, I simply deleted it because I didn't like it. Traffic dropped a lot after that... but I don't regret it. Our loyal members stayed with us, and the porn freaks left (there were a lot).

    Today we just have a forum for posting pictures of hot girls... but no porn is allowed. But a lot of members still want a porn forum... some of my competitors (bigger than my forum) have porn forums and I know that traffic would definitely increase if I made one... but I just can't do it. :( To me, porn is just a sad thing...
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2006
  10. Lightning

    Lightning Adherent

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    If something is against your beliefs or of dubious legality, never give in and allow it at your forum. I'll explain how with an example from my forum.

    Every few months at my forum a few things come to my attention. Since I run a water gun forum with special focus on building water guns, a semi-common request is for guides on flamethrowers. I know for a fact that we'd get a lot more visitors if we allowed flamethrower discussion. We delete every thread with those requests quickly and quietly - we don't want to give people ideas. I'm starting to actually get tired at the regularity and similarity between these posts. A lot of them start off with "I saw this video at X and you people should have a section on it!" where X is the hot website of the moment (right now it's YouTube).

    Flamethrowers simply are illegal in many places and are extremely dangerous. The average Super Soaker will make a neat display, but you're putting yourself in a lot of danger. Not only can you hurt yourself, others, or other's property with flamethrowers, but the flame can travel back into the gun and blow up a pressure chamber. That's why Super Soakers should never be used for flamethrowers! Most water guns that can take chemicals in the pressure chamber (not the CPS ones) are powered by compressed air, which is flammable. I'm quite sure that military-grade ones have design changes to prevent the backflow problem.

    And for three years the policy of swift, quiete removal has worked. I know for a fact that if I put up a big note saying "Hey, we don't allow flamethrower discussion!" there would be serious problems. So we move swiftly in the background to remove the requests. It doesn't give them ideas.

    Admittedly, I would know a thing or two about flamethrower construction and often I'll give tips when an email is sent to me. I'll admit that I've never tried flamethrowers out, but I know that you don't want a flammable gas (compressed air) powering your gun (rather you would want something like CO2 or nitrogen), you don't want to allow backflow, and you need to make the nozzle small and from metal. I only give those tips to those who skip the forum suspecting that we clean it out and go right to emailing me. I figure they're already set to make a flamethrower so the best I could do is advise them against it and tell them what to avoid if they decide to do. To anyone reading this: don't make flamethrowers!

    People will do something that you tell them not to do... it's human nature really. A few days ago I wanted to make this post, but I also didn't want to give anyone ideas, but now I figure the example is good for others not experiencing this problem.

    Other things we deem less dangerous we have put notes up about. Some people want to power water guns by Dry ice and we put an FAQ up about that. That is still dangerous, but it has prevented a lot of the problems we would have.

    So basically, the best thing to do is to not allow what you don't want and don't mention it. Don't give your current forum members ideas.

    Now, I'm not saying that you should have secret rules, rather, you should address these concerns in your rules in a roundabout way, again to prevent giving your membership bad ideas. In our TOS and rules, we prevent anything "dangerous" and who's evaluation counts is ours.
     
  11. PalePhoenix

    PalePhoenix Prince of Dorkness

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    Ack. That's awful. And pretty obvious why it's "bad."

    Things that present an obvious risk to amateurs, children, or complete idiots are clearly not to be advocated or entertained at a venue where people could cause immediate and irreparable harm to themselves and others. However, I do not entirely see how these perilous playthings equate with ideas and the debate of same. There will always be people who go and do stupid things with ideas ('Al Qaeda' and 'the Crusades' come to mind), but there is necessarily a difference between discussion and tacitly encouraging implementation.

    If, f'rinstance, you post an article saying WHY SuperSoaker Flamethrowers are incredibly dangerous, then this is ostensibly in the public interest and welfare. You have no control over who does what with the information, and to worry about that minority too much would be to deny the rest a valid warning. In the case of this thread's author, it is an ideological or philosophical matter; i.e., abstractions and his or her personal feelings about them.

    I prefer a more "organic" approach to some of our controversial topics. Either they catch on, and many people chime in with their perspectives, or they wither away to the bottom of the forum because no one wants to touch them. The only true crime of ideas is in not sharing them at all. If you concern yourself with who might be harmed, then you might miss the ones who could benefit.
     
  12. ATLFalcons55

    ATLFalcons55 Aspirant

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    How could you make a living running a forum? How could you makes hundreds or even thousand's a month running a Forum? I really can't see that possible. Do you have any knowledge of it being done first hand or know someone who has? That would be great thanks.
     
  13. Protoguy

    Protoguy Enthusiast

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    It's your site. If you don't like the topics, don't allow it. Simple.

    If it's a case of you desparately wanting more money, then maybe relax the restriction.

    Personally I can't stand slash or yaoi. I was at an anime convention with my daughter and there was all this fic about Full Metal Alchemist - the two main characters are like 10 and 14 and brothers and people were writing about them gettin together. Seriously f-ed up and I would never allow that sort of thing on my site.
     
  14. Lightning

    Lightning Adherent

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    Very good idea. That should also cut down on the emails I get on the subject, which I am getting annoyed at. It seems that right now, people are coming to me with the idea, so putting up a warning shouldn't give anyone ideas. Should be defendable if it goes that way as well - I'd only be suggesting against flamethrowers.
     
  15. PalePhoenix

    PalePhoenix Prince of Dorkness

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    Well, as has already been discussed, you don't have to make it a how-to. Just be specific as to what the consequences are, and that they can get out of hand a lot faster than most would think. The same goes for any volatile topic, really. You put something out there, and there's no being sure what someone will make of it...but there's also no expecting that whatever comes will always be the worst.

    Stupid people will do stupid things. Trying to control their behavior is not the same as giving them the information to make their own choices and wishing them well. I may be cynical, but I'm not always a pessimist. ;)
     
  16. wizard1974uk

    wizard1974uk Tazmanian Gremlin

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    There are a few people who make a living out of running forums, just do a search on sitepoint for example, people selling their sites for quite a tidy sum with lots of traffic.
     
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