The One Ring Forums: Tolkien Topics: Reading Room:
What's next for the Reading Room?



Elizabeth
Half-elven


Nov 10 2012, 7:09am


Views: 2315
What's next for the Reading Room?

We're wrapping up an excellent discussion of The Hobbit, just in time for the movie!

Before this discussion, we had discussed doing a detailed discussion of Unfinished Tales. Do you want to do that next?

I don't believe we'll be able to start a new discussion till January (we usually take a break for the holidays). We could start UT then, or something else (suggestions welcome!), or take a more extended break.

Please post your thoughts here!






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'


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Nov 10 2012, 5:49pm


Views: 1178
Arda Reconstructed!

Just kidding. Tongue Although it would boost my sales.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


mandel
Rivendell


Nov 10 2012, 8:55pm


Views: 1182
I'd love to...

...do the Unfinished Tales. Some Tolkien criticism seems like it would be fun as well: e.g. Shippey's "The Road to Middle-Earth" (I'm not familiar with Arda Reconstructed - yet!)


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Nov 11 2012, 2:49am


Views: 1181
It would be a good excuse to read it finally

But I must confess that I find the lack of participation in the Reading Room perplexing. I've mostly been a reader here so I'm the last person who should comment on the posting habits of others. I'm just wondering if there's something we need to talk about, to clear the air perhaps, in order for the Reading Room to get back to a place of robust discussions.

We went through a bit of a readjustment on the LOTR board when SCOD participation fell off. After discerning the expectations readers and posters alike had for that series, we were able to tweak it. Not only did the series revive but the board is more active in general.

That aside, starting a new series in January makes sense to me. Also I support the choice of Arda Reconstructed but I wonder if one has to have read the Silmarillion first?

Smile


(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Nov 11 2012, 2:51am)


titanium_hobbit
Rohan


Nov 11 2012, 5:59am


Views: 1102
I wonder

After seeing the participation in the LOTR read through, I was very excited about a Hobbit read through- I was bit a disappointed, and contributed (or not, really) to the lack of participation. My excuse is that I began a demanding course of study, but perhaps also there aren't as many hobbit fans as there are LOTR fans?


Hobbit firster, Book firster.


Have you explored all of TORN's forums?


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Nov 11 2012, 7:25am


Views: 1137
Participation in the Reading Room...

...is hard to evaluate. As you say, "I've mostly been a reader here..." and there are a lot like you. Most of the recent Hobbit threads have 2-4 responses, but there are several hundred views!

It would certainly be nice if more people responded, but that doesn't mean the discussion is being ignored or irrelevant. Many of us have busy lives, and can't always find the time to respond even to very interesting questions or challenging discussions, but they are still worthwhile.

As for Arda Reconstructed, I have this book and love it, but it's really a commentary on how CT assembled the Sil from the many disparate versions of the stories that Tolkien wrote over the years, not an assembled narrative. It's a valuable resource document, but most valuable as a companion to the Sil.






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'


DanielLB
Immortal


Nov 11 2012, 10:17am


Views: 1095
I'm in the same boat as SirDennisC

I read all the threads and posts in the Reading Room. And I enjoy it. But I rarely (if at all) contribute to the discussions. Mainly because someone has said what I want to say, but a lot more eloquently (and are also more thorough in their analysis). The second reason being that I feel like I don't know enough to contribute, compared to some other posters.

Discussing Hobbit spoilers and speculation is a lot different from discussing the books. I don't normally have a book handy to re-read passages, and it's been a while since I've read any of the books.

I am grateful for all the work that goes into making these discussions though. Like I said, I do enjoy them, even if I do just lurk.

As for getting more people to contribute - I'm not sure what to suggest. Perhaps the format needs to be changed? Threads in which people just ask a question about the books always get more responses than the discussion threads. Perhaps being more general might help? Perhaps others feel like they can't contribute anything? I don't know - I'm just thinking out loud.

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Demosthenes
Sr. Staff


Nov 11 2012, 11:02am


Views: 1145
suggestion...


In Reply To
But I must confess that I find the lack of participation in the Reading Room perplexing.


If it would be helpful, I'm happy to regularly (on perhaps a weekly or fortnightly basis) publicise upcoming RR discussions.

I've been wanting to put more scholarly Tolkien on our front page for quite a while now, and I think this would be one way to share our deep collective Tolkien knowledge with other readers of all levels ... and perhaps draw some of them into the discussion as well.

Happy to discuss/throw round ideas to give you guys more profile.

From my own point of view, I would dearly love to participate, but it's hard to find the time between operating chat, posting front page and having a real life to do much more than dip into the boards now and then.

But there are smart cookies here, and I enjoy when I do get a chance to read the discussions.

TheOneRing.net Senior Staff
IRC Admin and Hall of Fire moderator


DanielLB
Immortal


Nov 11 2012, 1:17pm


Views: 1106
A suggestion to get general chit chat in the RR

Like all the other discussions, people put themselves forward to lead a discussion. Instead of it being an analysis, people just post about their favourite chapter, sentence or paragraph, and invite people to talk about it? That might lead to some general chat, rather than an in depth discussion?

I'd certainy put my name forward for that.

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Malveth
Rivendell

Nov 11 2012, 2:03pm


Views: 1100
Well...

There's "The Fall of Arthur".

Have you guys done:

Roverandom
Father Christmas Letters
Sigurd & Gudrun?

And there's all 12 Vols. of The History of Middle Earth!


Voronwë_the_Faithful
Valinor

Nov 11 2012, 2:14pm


Views: 1062
Personally, I love the idea of doing "The Fall of Arthur"

It would likely be the first time that a Reading Room discussion occurred in real time, so to speak, discussing a book when it was first published. That is one that I would certainly attempt to participate in. But I'm not sure how many others would.

(The rest of this post isn't specifically in response to Malveth's post)

I was joking about Arda Reconstructed, in case that wasn't clear. As Elizabeth pointed out, it isn't really the type of book that would be amenable to the type of group discussions that have taken place here. Although of course I would love to hear any and all opinions about it from anyone who has checked it out!

As for Reading Room participation, there have been several discussions about that in the time I have been around here. I think part of the lower participation rate is simply the fact that the discussions have been done before. There have been several Hobbit discussions, and several LotR discussions. Of course, there are always new people to come in and make new observations, but I've noticed that a lot of the old stalwarts have largely fallen by the wayside.

'But very bright were the stars upon the margin of the world, when at times the clouds about the West were drawn aside.'

The Hall of Fire


Malveth
Rivendell

Nov 11 2012, 2:27pm


Views: 1064
What's kept me out...

...is I'm never in sync with the RR. I'm always into something else and too busy to re-read specific chapters when the discussions are happening. TFOA would be timed perfectly, I could jump in with everyone else. That would be exciting.


(This post was edited by Malveth on Nov 11 2012, 2:27pm)


DanielLB
Immortal


Nov 11 2012, 2:56pm


Views: 1120
I like this idea too

But again, apart from 2-3 people, not many people are going to contribute. I'm busy reading academic stuff to read this as well, but I would definitely be interested in the future.

Smile

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Tweezers of Thu
Rivendell


Nov 11 2012, 8:29pm


Views: 1108
An honest appraisal


In Reply To
But I must confess that I find the lack of participation in the Reading Room perplexing. I've mostly been a reader here so I'm the last person who should comment on the posting habits of others. I'm just wondering if there's something we need to talk about, to clear the air perhaps, in order for the Reading Room to get back to a place of robust discussions.


Likewise, I'm right there among the last who has any right to comment on the posting rate in the Reading Room (RR), given that I am more often inclined to quietly read the discussions rather than participate. But I'll offer my personal take on this.

Frequently, when a poster new to the RR poses a question, a veteran Reading Roomer provides a link to the effect of "We have discussed this before." Such links can be enlightening and quite interesting to peruse, but sometimes this type of response can be chilling. That is, the original poster may have the impression of "Well, we've discussed already, so let's not reiterate the subject." That, I am certain, is not the intention of providing said links, but some folks (particularly new blood in the RR), may perceive it this way.

As pointed out, analyses of the text are often quite thorough here. Presumably, some participants may know Tolkien minutiae so well that they needn't flip through pages and pages of text and have the gift of being able to quote or paraphrase accurately right off the top of their head. Others, like myself, may have a number of volumes at their disposal, so when they have that glimmering of "Hmmm, I think I recall this tidbit, but I had better verify it before I open my yap," they scour the texts. The latter approach is time-consuming, and thus, a fully engaged discussion with proper references can wind up becoming a significant time sink. At least in my case (please to note that I signed on in May 2008 and have a whopping 214 posts), that gives me pause and makes me more inclined to lazily read than actively participate.

Also, there's the aspect of the subjective versus the objective. Literary analyses strike me as being considerably more subjective than the objective analyses that make up my day-to-day way of thinking. Such subjectivity is fine, even freeing, but it does mean that each and every one of us reads Tolkien through the lenses of our experience, just as we perceive any form of art. Not that there's anything wrong with disagreements over interpretation, but occasionally (occasionally, mind you), I can't help but think "This ain't rocket science, folks!" By that I mean our interpretations of art are not easily quantifiable, so one probably shouldn't be too dogmatic when it comes to interpretation of Tolkien's legendarium, and sometimes, I do get a whiff of dogmatism in the RR.

Speaking for myself, although I love Tolkien's legendarium, I do not lionize the author. I wonder if that is a minority viewpoint here. Also, I have a tendency toward irreverence and might be more inclined to engage when, for example, Morthoron holds forth.
Wink

So, it's with massive self-consciousness from all the caveats above that I'll say a discussion of Unfinished Tales is an excellent suggestion, even if I just read such a discussion like the nasty parasitic lurker that I am.



A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. ~~ Henry David Thoreau




(This post was edited by Tweezers of Thu on Nov 11 2012, 8:32pm)


Morthoron
Gondor


Nov 12 2012, 3:13am


Views: 1065
10 Ways To Get More Posters into the Reading Room...

10) We can spam the other sub-forums with male growth enhancement ads.

9) We can offer Orlando Bloom Pirates of the Caribbean posters.

8) We can offer posters of Orlando Bloom as Legolas in The Hobbit shield-surfing down Smaug's back.

7) We can just offer Orlando Bloom.

6) We change the name of the "Reading Room" to "Movies - Hobbit".

5) We can change the name of the "Reading Room" to "Movies - Silmarillion" and pretend that Christopher Tolkien is keen on the idea, and is partnering with Saul Zaentz.

4) We place a huge banner at the top of the page that states "DO NOT POST HERE!" Naturally, people will post.

3) In any case, we don't mention the word "reading" whatsoever, as that has a pejorative connotation in this modern era of acronymal Internet postings, Twitter and texting.

2) In regards to eschewing the word that we cannot say, we instead infuse the forum with intermittent flashing lights, short random sequences of violence, explodey things, brief flashes of nudity, dangling string and gold fish swimming in a bowl. We may not capture youthful posters, but we just might catch the attention of their cats!

1) We can make an app for iPhones.

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



SirDennisC
Half-elven


Nov 12 2012, 4:34am


Views: 1105
Heh, not sure Orlando is the carrot he once was

Just some rambling thoughts --

What I see here is that people put a great deal of effort into crafting excellent lead posts only to be met with very few replies. (Which seems a shame, and I feel bad for efforts that fall flat as such.) Again, I'm as guilty as the next person for lack of participation.

In my defence many of the threads seem to require readers to draw on a store of knowledge that I simply do not possess. On the other hand, when it appears that observations about a text are welcome, that do not require support of say Tolkien's letters or The Tale of Beren and Lúthien for instance, I'm more than happy to make such (subjective) observations. But I've noticed a lack of willingness to engage with such original content -- that is to say content not based on the existing Tolkien scholarship.

A model that seems to work well on discussion boards is one in which people share ideas with each other and evaluate each other's ideas. I hardly think any of us are the sort to be interested in one way communication, otherwise we would deposit our writings elsewhere.

tbc


(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Nov 12 2012, 4:40am)


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Nov 12 2012, 7:16am


Views: 1075
Some great ideas, some not so much.

10) We can spam the other sub-forums with male growth enhancement ads.

Might excite all the female Tornsibs. We're a majority, you know.

9) We can offer Orlando Bloom Pirates of the Caribbean posters.

Nah, Pirates is so over.

8) We can offer posters of Orlando Bloom as Legolas in The Hobbit shield-surfing down Smaug's back.

Been there, seen that.

7) We can just offer Orlando Bloom.

Now you're talking!

6) We change the name of the "Reading Room" to "Movies - Hobbit".

It's been done.

5) We can change the name of the "Reading Room" to "Movies - Silmarillion" and pretend that Christopher Tolkien is keen on the idea, and is partnering with Saul Zaentz.

Hmmm, might work, but Voronwë_the_Faithful might explain why that's not possible and spoil it all.

4) We place a huge banner at the top of the page that states "DO NOT POST HERE!" Naturally, people will post.

They'll certainly read, at the very least!

3) In any case, we don't mention the word "reading" whatsoever, as that has a pejorative connotation in this modern era of acronymal Internet postings, Twitter and texting.

Or even relax our disdain of text-speak spelling!

2) In regards to eschewing the word that we cannot say, we instead infuse the forum with intermittent flashing lights, short random sequences of violence, explodey things, brief flashes of nudity, dangling string and gold fish swimming in a bowl. We may not capture youthful posters, but we just might catch the attention of their cats!

I have it on good authority that cats love Tolkien.

1) We can make an app for iPhones.

Ding ding ding ding, we have a winnah!






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'


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Nov 12 2012, 7:21am


Views: 1028
Some chapter discussions work that way.

That is, the leader just posts quotes or moments from the chapter and invites discussion.

It's true, sometimes the questions that aren't related to the chapter discussion generate long, fun, threads. And such posts are always welcome! No need to schedule them!






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'


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Nov 12 2012, 7:40am


Views: 1054
As a serial offender, I feel called to respond!

Frequently, when a poster new to the RR poses a question, a veteran Reading Roomer provides a link to the effect of "We have discussed this before." Such links can be enlightening and quite interesting to peruse, but sometimes this type of response can be chilling. That is, the original poster may have the impression of "Well, we've discussed already, so let's not reiterate the subject." That, I am certain, is not the intention of providing said links, but some folks (particularly new blood in the RR), may perceive it this way.


I'm not a "first ager", I've been here only since 2003. But I've enjoyed all but one of the LotR discussions, several passes through Sil, The Hobbit, Letters, and other works. It's always fun, though like many of you, I don't have as much time here as I'd like due to pressures of RL.

But I do remember (and have links to) some really brilliant responses to recurrent Tolkien questions. What's the proper response when one comes up again? Is it really a bad thing to post them, or should we just leave those brilliant insights buried? To me, it's a tribute to TORnsibs of the past to keep their insights alive. And some of these brilliant responses generated lengthy threads of discussion that are (to me) fascinating to follow. Mightn't newbies enjoy them? I certainly hope so!

On the Hobbit Movie board, folks do get a little tired of recurrent questions or "discoveries" that have been discovered many times before. We had this issue with the LotR movies, and never found a really satisfactory solution.

The reaction here is a little different, I think. Yes, balrog wings have been debated before, but they remain an unsolved problem... we may share insights from the past, but new ones may be equally interesting! One of the joys of Tolkien is that many things are not fully explained, but left open for interpretation, and we can interpret them for a long time without exhausting the topic!






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'


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Nov 12 2012, 7:53am


Views: 1033
That's is a good thing to keep in mine for next spring!

Sigurd and Gudrun: We thought of discussing it when it first came out, but no momentum really developed.

Father Christmas Letters: We discussed those Christmas 2009 (but I won't post links for fear of intimidating someone Wink We can certainly do it again, but if we want to do it this Christmas we need to get busy organizing!

AFAIK Roverandom is uncharted territory!






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'


DanielLB
Immortal


Nov 12 2012, 8:54am


Views: 1081
Would it be more effective if it wasn't so structured?

The threads run from chapter to chapter, which would be the most normal way to discuss a book. But would it make a difference if one week we were discussing a quote in The Silmarillion, and the next a completely different topic from the ROTK?

I'm just throwing ideas out there. I don't mean to criticise the discussions that currently take place. Smile

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Tweezers of Thu
Rivendell


Nov 12 2012, 12:22pm


Views: 1072
[Captain Picard] Engage! [/Captain Picard]


In Reply To
10) We can spam the other sub-forums with male growth enhancement ads.


That's a splendid notion! Lots of choices of drugs to advertise, too: silmarillifil, avarafil, mirrormerifil, vardafil, udûnafil...

[If Bored of the Rings (or The Silmarillion equivalent) were written today, surely the actual name of a phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitor could be used for a character.]


In Reply To
8) We can offer posters of Orlando Bloom as Legolas in The Hobbit shield-surfing down Smaug's back.


Posters, shmosters. I want a life-sized cardboard standup of the above to place by my cubicle. I'm sure it would be a hit amongst my orc-scribe cronies. Plus, I could hide behind it in our newfangled open space set-up.


In Reply To
6) We change the name of the "Reading Room" to "Movies - Hobbit".


A sorting hat to bin those who enter might be useful, i.e., Serious Tolkien Scholar, Giddy Tolkien Scholar, Book Firster Who Likes the Movies, Book Firster Who Goes Into Anaphylactic Shock When the Name of Peter Jackson is Uttered (have epi pen handy), et cetera...


In Reply To
5) We can change the name of the "Reading Room" to "Movies - Silmarillion" and pretend that Christopher Tolkien is keen on the idea, and is partnering with Saul Zaentz.


Is it wrong of me to indulge in a heretical fantasy in which C. Tolkien exacts his revenge on Peter Jackson by doing this very thing?


In Reply To
1) We can make an app for iPhones.


Brilliant!

And thanks, Morth! Smile



A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. ~~ Henry David Thoreau




Tweezers of Thu
Rivendell


Nov 12 2012, 12:48pm


Views: 1024
Shadows of the past


In Reply To
But I do remember (and have links to) some really brilliant responses to recurrent Tolkien questions. What's the proper response when one comes up again? Is it really a bad thing to post them, or should we just leave those brilliant insights buried? To me, it's a tribute to TORnsibs of the past to keep their insights alive. And some of these brilliant responses generated lengthy threads of discussion that are (to me) fascinating to follow. Mightn't newbies enjoy them? I certainly hope so!


Oh, I absolutely agree! I didn't intend to imply that these links should be avoided, and in fact, there are real gems from the way back machine and not so way back machine of TORn, if you'll forgive the mechanical analogies from my mind of metal and wheels. Wink

For example, in the recent thread Goldberry and similar historic examples (very interesting thread, btw; I hadn't thought about The Adventures of Tom Bombadil for eons), squire recently brought up a discussion from 2007 that addressed another read-between-the-lines interpretation. It was fascinating to read the varying takes on that bit in The Lay of Leithian, and yes, there were brilliant responses therein, e.g. the poetic form of aubade.


In Reply To
On the Hobbit Movie board, folks do get a little tired of recurrent questions or "discoveries" that have been discovered many times before. We had this issue with the LotR movies, and never found a really satisfactory solution.


I definitely see the issues from The Hobbit and LOTR movie forums. I'm thinking that with regard to the RR, that when a "we have discussed this previously" link is provided, framing it up so that said link might engender new discussion is something to keep in mind. Generally, I think folks here do that (see example from the Goldberry thread). Personally, I am not at all put off by "we have discussed this before" posts, but it is possible that a newbie might be if the post with the link doesn't contain text that invites the newbie to further participate.


In Reply To
One of the joys of Tolkien is that many things are not fully explained, but left open for interpretation, and we can interpret them for a long time without exhausting the topic!


As Obelix would say, Zigackly! I'm just throwing this possibility out here in the interest of ways to fan the flames of lively discussion.



A lake is the landscape's most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth's eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature. ~~ Henry David Thoreau




Ethel Duath
Half-elven


Nov 13 2012, 5:04am


Views: 1053
This is exactly the problem for me--not Orlando! But this:

"On the other hand, when it appears that observations about a text are welcome, that do not require support of say Tolkien's letters or The Tale of Beren and L�thien for instance, I'm more than happy to make such (subjective) observations. But I've noticed a lack of willingness to engage with such original content -- that is to say content not based on the existing Tolkien scholarship.

A model that seems to work well on discussion boards is one in which people share ideas with each other and evaluate each other's ideas. I hardly think any of us are the sort to be interested in one way communication, otherwise we would deposit our writings elsewhere."

As a former lurker, I loved visiting the RR because of the wide range of discussions, and types of people involved in them. I couldn't wait to join in. But right around the time I joined, several people were apparently already in the process of leaving, for various reasons. I noticed that posts of a less scholarly variety began to receive few if any responses or discussion. I have always felt that opinions by "amateurs" (in the best sense of the word) can often be as insightful or interesting as those of serious scholars and researchers. Not all the time certainly. But I think any thoughtful post should be worthy of some kind of relatively polite response. People are very seldom rude here. It's just the deafening silence that is very discouraging.

I really think that part of the problem is the small number of people who post. A wider variety of people posting and discussing would make a wider variety of new and departed people feel more welcome. It's pretty much a conundrum, and I'm not sure what the solution is (although it's definitely not Orlando!Smile).
I think a few of the suggestions made here might help to draw in folks, especially some new ones who haven't had the chance yet to feel intimidated or ignored.

Just some thoughts.



(This post was edited by Ethel Duath on Nov 13 2012, 5:06am)


malickfan
Gondor

Nov 13 2012, 12:36pm


Views: 1037
Why not Character profiles/ discussion?

i.e. Discussion and Exploration of Tertiary or 'Minor' characters in the Lengendarium-it would provoke alot of debate and be A useful reference point (I've lost track of the Tom Bombdail Posts).

Many Moons Ago I posted a long essay about Cirdan the Shipwright (recently updated and cited in my signiature...hint..hint) and I had planned on doing follow Ups on Dain Ironfoot and Elrond but never got around to it.

I haven't been a member of the forum for that long so I'm not sure if this has been done before...anyway just a thought.

Smile

‘As they came to the gates Cirdan the Shipwright came forth to greet them. Very tall he was, and his beard was long, and we was grey and old, save that his eyes were keen as stars; and he looked at them and bowed, and said ‘All is now ready.’

Perhaps the most fascinating Individual in Middle Earth



CuriousG
Half-elven


Nov 14 2012, 8:15pm


Views: 945
Old posts and new

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?


Morthoron
Gondor


Nov 15 2012, 2:19am


Views: 1010
Very true...


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.



Rolfina
Rivendell

Nov 15 2012, 9:19am


Views: 1007
A technical issue that might be relevant as well

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?


Elizabeth
Half-elven


Nov 15 2012, 7:37pm


Views: 1230
The best place to discuss this issue is the Feedback Forum.

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'


Finwe
Lorien


Nov 17 2012, 4:52am


Views: 887
Excellent Discussion

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.


imin
Valinor


Nov 17 2012, 9:41am


Views: 1038
I think this is the way to go

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.


batik
Tol Eressea


Nov 23 2012, 7:49pm


Views: 837
thoughts here -->

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.


elostirion74
Rohan

Nov 26 2012, 5:55pm


Views: 1679
Unfinished Tales

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? It´s 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.