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What's next for the Reading Room?
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Nov 14 2012, 8:15pm

Post #26 of 33 (956 views)
Old posts and new [In reply to] Can't Post

I've been here almost 3 years now. To chime in as someone neither new or old:

1. I agree that posting links to old discussions has a chilling effect; it does for me. And it's about perception. Maybe it's all about the placement of the link, seriously. If someone responds to you with an initial, "yeah, we discussed that before," you feel shut down. But when they respond in the present, then put the link to old posts at the end of their message, it seems an optional reference, not a silencer. As I say, that's just my perception, but I don't think I'm alone.

2. Busy lives in real life: that's me, and all of us, I'm sure. Would love to have been here for all the of The Hobbit chapters, but to write up a response to a chapter discussion, it can take me up to 60 minutes to consult the books, think it through, and revise what I've written. Just don't always have the time and energy for that.

3. Yes, it's disappointing to lead a chapter discussion and only get 2 replies. No one is being shunned or ignored when they post, so I didn't take it personally when I lead a few chapters in the last LOTR discussion, but you do feel like you've started a conversation in a room full of people (a reading room, even) and awkwardly, no one replies. It's not the same as writing an informational blog--you really want to engage people actively.

Regarding chapter discussions of other Tolkien books, I recall people saying that past discussions were most robust about LOTR, and least active about The Silmarillion. The Hobbit seems to fit between those two bodies in popularity, so I'm guessing that Roverandom or any other book wouldn't attract many responses. I'm not trying to discourage the idea at all, just more of an alert that discussion leaders might not get much satisfaction from the participation level.

It seems that topical/thematic posts receive more responses than chapter discussions, or posts on very specific details. Maybe we focus on those instead to encourage participation?


Nov 15 2012, 2:19am

Post #27 of 33 (1023 views)
Very true... [In reply to] Can't Post

In Reply To
1. I agree that posting links to old discussions has a chilling effect; it does for me. And it's about perception. Maybe it's all about the placement of the link, seriously. If someone responds to you with an initial, "yeah, we discussed that before," you feel shut down. But when they respond in the present, then put the link to old posts at the end of their message, it seems an optional reference, not a silencer. As I say, that's just my perception, but I don't think I'm alone.

I would agree with you and others who have posted the same sentiment. I would add that, based on Tolkien topics I have discussed over the last few decades on the Internet, there is very little that has not been discussed on one forum or another, particularly in regards to the text of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.

Even chapters discussions on various books have been repeated here. Or maybe that was on another forum. Oh well, I recall the same discussions somewhere. But that doesn't mean the material is not fresh and new to someone. You got to start somewhere, and all's well as ends better and what not. We are not all old curmudgeonly Gaffers. Mad

Please visit my blog...The Dark Elf File...a slighty skewed journal of music and literary comment, fan-fiction and interminable essays.


Nov 15 2012, 9:19am

Post #28 of 33 (1020 views)
A technical issue that might be relevant as well [In reply to] Can't Post

Or maybe I am just stupid and haven't found a way to do this yet, but the one thing I am not happy with in this forum is that I cannot find a way to display threads by "last updated". It seems like as soon as a topic disappears from page one, it is doomed to die, it will never come into focus again. All other forums I know display the threads not by order of when they were created, but when they were last updated. This means that locked or futile threads disappear fairly quickly, and the interesting ones automatically stay on top. In this specific case it would also mean that when someone brings up a topic that has been discussed before, they can add their thoughts directly to that thread, where it belongs anyways, and with that will automatically bring the topic back to front, with the chance of reviving the discussion.
Is there a reason why threads aren't sorted like that on this board? Or if there is a way to do that sort of sorting, might you please let me know how?


Nov 15 2012, 7:37pm

Post #29 of 33 (1242 views)
The best place to discuss this issue is the Feedback Forum. [In reply to] Can't Post

That's how you communicate with the "Powers That Be" on TORn. There's no doubt that this board works differently from others in this regard, and they hear from a lot of folks about this issue. Their feeling is that when a topic drops off the visible page and starts afresh this keeps the conversation fresh, but they can express themselves better than I can interpret for them.

I frequent several other boards where a fresh post to a thread bumps it up to the top, and I like that. Frankly, when threads reach a certain length no one reads the old posts anyway. So whether they're lower down on one long thread or on another page (as here) really doesn't matter in practical terms.

It also matters whether you view a forum in threaded mode or not. This board is really optimized for operating in threaded mode (also unlike many other boards). That way you can see a whole conversation at a glance (the subject lines) and go to the sub-threads that interest you. Particularly on fast-moving forums like Hobbit Movie, I have time to read only a few of the posts. Seeing the forum in threaded mode helps me focus on the topics that most interest me.

Yes, it's different, but in interesting ways that have their advantages.

Join us NOW in the Reading Room for detailed discussions of The Hobbit, July 9-Nov. 18!

Elizabeth is the TORnsib formerly known as 'erather'


Nov 17 2012, 4:52am

Post #30 of 33 (901 views)
Excellent Discussion [In reply to] Can't Post

I am the textbook definition of a lurker on these boards. Pretty much the only boards I visit consistenly is the Reading Room because I can learn so much. I don't post often because I simply don't possess the knowledge that many others do. I would enjoy leading a chapter discussion, but it read more like a Middle Earth For Dummies discussion. ;). Personally, this is the only message board I belong to, so I'm not always aware of the proper netiquette and don't want to unintentionally offend anyone.

Also, most of the topics I've started in the Reading Room haven't been popular. Whether that's because the topics have been beaten to death already, uninteresting, or a combo I'm not sure. Most likely, its bad timing, as most people here are understandably more likely to spend time in the Hobbit movie thread. There are only so many hours in a day.

Finally, as a newbie, I'll share my thoughts on the posting old links discussion. I agree with CuriousG that the manner in which the poster responds with the links is the determining factor. I love reading the old discussions when I have time, so appreciate when the links are provided. That said, when a post is met with a "This topic has been discussed many times before, check out these links" type response, it comes off in a less than friendly manner. I doubt it is intended to be read that way, but its very much a "Read these and then you can sit at the big kids table" tone. When someone gives a 1-2 sentence reply to the topic at hand, then provides links to old discussions, it is much friendlier and inviting.

As three great Jewels they were in form. But not until the End, when Fëanor shall return who perished ere the Sun was made, and sits now in the Halls of Awaiting and comes no more among his kin; not until the Sun passes and the Moon falls, shall it be known of what substance they were made. Like the crystal of diamonds it appeared, and yet was more strong than adamant, so that no violence could mar it or break it within the Kingdom of Arda.


Nov 17 2012, 9:41am

Post #31 of 33 (1050 views)
I think this is the way to go [In reply to] Can't Post

Make it less formal and just let things happen. I feel like i couldnt ask a question here related to the books unless it is some essay on that particular point.

Other Tolkien forums are essentially giant reading rooms as they dont discuss the films much at all yet the traffic and participation there is greater. Maybe people get hobbit movie news here and go there for more book related talks i dont know.

I feel the talks about the books here are more talks about the language used or taking it from a literary stand point. Although i enjoy reading these i dont feel i have much if anything to contribute. I do however like discussing the books in other ways an age old classic example would be do balrogs have wings? People can go as in depth as they want or simply reply with a yes or no. Or have a general discussion on the rings of power etc

I guess what i am trying to say is more random topics that people want to post on things - doesnt have to be anything major but would still educate others who perhaps havent read all of tolkiens works.

Tol Eressea

Nov 23 2012, 7:49pm

Post #32 of 33 (850 views)
thoughts here --> [In reply to] Can't Post

My hat's off to all contributors of TORn's Reading Room.
It's quite nice to continue to see posts from folks who were "regulars" when I first came on board in 2008 and it's been encouraging to see new(er) folks' posts over the years.
I clearly remember thinking "Oh! There's a Reading Room!" when I first joined. And not too much time passed before I worked up the courage to post a reply (about 600 of them!) to RR discussions. I say "courage" because my Tolkien knowledge seemed tiny compared to some of the posts I read! To be honest, that level of knowledge was a little daunting--BUT I truly feel my own appreciation for and scope of understanding of Tolkien's works increased greatly by taking part (in some form or fashion) in the RR discussions.
I made a decision to AVOID the current Hobbit discussion since the film will be released soon (in less than a month now!) --with the thought being my "comparison" radar will not go off too much while watching.
As for future discussions, I would like to see a discussion of Tales from the Perilous Realm at some point. I have no idea as to what the structure of such a discussion would look like but I do find those stories charming.
And with the anticipated increase in fandom -- I do agree with the thought of drawing attention to the RR via TORn's (new!) home page.


Nov 26 2012, 5:55pm

Post #33 of 33 (1691 views)
Unfinished Tales [In reply to] Can't Post

Unfinished Tales seems like a good idea; it has a fine variety of different kinds of texts. But perhaps the discussion of the book itself could be structured differently, with an option for discussion leaders to make more thematic discussions instead of discussing the texts chronologically? Itīs just a tentative idea based on a vague notion that thematic discussions seems to generate more responses in general and because it would be fun to see a different type of book discussion.

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