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Official 'epidode threads' for the ROP board?


Aug 18, 12:55pm

Post #1 of 8 (473 views)
Official 'epidode threads' for the ROP board? Can't Post

I want to draw attention to a discussion *here* http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=993904#993904 about how to manage the Rings of Power Board once the TV show starts to air, and the ROP board becomes very busy.

One episode of the show will be released each week (with a two released in the first week). This has suggested the idea of having an official discussion for each episode.

More general or more specialised conversations would of course sit alongside the official discussion of the episode. As would any other conversation whatever that users want to post, provided these are within the Terms of Service and Scope of the ROP board.

So the idea of an official discssion for each episode should not stop anyone doing the things they are doing already.
It would merely make it easier to find the general conversation.

This format has been used successfully to manage discussion of other TV shows (that has been discussed in the thread to which I have linked).

It is not clear whether this system (if adopted) would best be managed by a group of ROP-board users (somewhat like a Reading Room readthrough) or whether it is best handled as an administrative matter, by the Admins.

Either way, I wanted to make sure this idea had reached the attention of the Admins.

That's because, if some system like this is to be put in place, it must be ready in less than two weeks (when the first episodes are released).


The advantages of an official episode discussion thread would be:

1) Provides an obvious starting place each week, and a home for readers or posters who do not have time to read or comment upon everything;

2) Reduces the frustrating problems of duplication between similar threads - an issue that makes for more work and less pleasure for readers, posters and admins alike;

3) Allows specialised or partisan topics to be discussed, but without them detrimentally dominating the board.

I think that an official thread for discusson of each episode would achieve these aims. Perhaps there is a better way of doing the same things, in which case I shall enthusuastically support the better option.

I think that benefit (1) requires no further explanation.

The problem of duplication (2) has been well-explained here:

One thread per episode would be perfect with break-away threads to chase any side topics that come up as a result. I don't want to show up to TORn and have to track 10 threads all about the same thing. It's bad enough now we have like five threads on hair and beards.

Archestratie, http://newboards.theonering.net/...i?post=993933#993933

I would like now to explain what I mean by "(3) Allows specialised or partisan topics to be discussed, but without them detrimentally dominating the board."

At points in the past the Rings of Power Board has become dominated by angry, hyper-partisan, or ad-hominen discussions. This is not just a matter of my own opinion - admins have had to edit, lock or shut down several discussions on the board, and there have been complaints about user behaviour and appeals for less antisocial behaviour (which, perhaps predictably have only led to angry denials and further arguments).

These highly-charged exchanges either suck in other posters, or drive them away.
It then becomes difficult to discuss anything else, just as it is impractical to have a pleasant, quiet conversation in a cafe or bar in which some people are grabbing lapels and shouting in each-others faces.

Such venues end up exclusively with a clientelle that is looking for a fight, or at least willing to tollerate aggression as a normal experience.

For this point it does not matter what angry arguments or hyper-partisan positions are about on these boards; or what motivates users to take behave like that; or even who is right. The clear evidence is that angry polemics written for whatever motive create equal and opposite angry polemics, and things escalate from there. The point is that it has a chilling effect on other discussions and on the board in general.

An official thread can reduce this problem as follows:

The official thread can begin with a statement of the Board's values - the relevant one here being that discussion is open to all points of view (and that threfore posters must be willing to tollerate respectful disagreement). This alerts newcomers to how people are supposed to behave, whether everyone manages to behave or not.

The official thread can also have some suitable and neutral title: probably just identifying it as the thread for general discussion of Series 1, Episode n [title] . In this way the most easily found general discussion will not be one with some 'hot take', provocative or partisan title. Such titles steer the discussion into antagonistic channels - there have been many examples on the ROP board already.

A side benefit will be to prevent the general discussion being lost amid good-natured but highly-specialised discussions that are incomprehensible or uninteresting to most visitors.

I think it is probable that tempers will be lost sometimes within the official thread. But then it merely creates subthreads that the wise will avoid. It is difficult to 'hijack' an entire thread if it contains a lot of other discussion.

This idea does not touch upon matters of free seech, or who gets to decide when behaviour has become unacceptable. The Admins decide when someone is behaving unacceptably, and public intervention by them is a last resort. As is banning of particular subjects or users. I am not proposing any change in those policies.

Therefore, nothing in this suggestion of official threads need cause anyone to worry that they will be censored.

Conversely, nothing in this suggestion should lead anyone to expect that the points of view they most deplore will be censored.
The effect should only be that extreme or minority points of view and specialised interests do not get undue prominence,. They will not appear to be the primary concern or consensus view of us all.

And, even if this does not seem to you to be a problem, let me remind you that this is only one of the three advantages I think the system has.


I have already said that I have not yet become all that interested in the TV show. Someone might therefore wonder why I am interested in how the ROP board works.

One possibility is that I am a nice person who wants to help Smile . And I might yet discover that I enjoy the TV show and wish to become an enthusiastic user of the ROP board.

Also, while the Amazon TV show may not interest us all, we do all have an interest in how the Rings of Power Board conducts discussion. This is because of the potential of the TV show to attract new Tolkien fans to us.

It is entirely clear that these boards have persisted so long and successfuly because of people attracted intially by the latest movie or other new venture.
This means that other boards can hope for a boost if people brought to ROP by search engine queries about the TV show conclude that we are on the whole fun, interesting and reasonably welcoming. Those people may go on to contribute positively to other boards.

This also means that a negative impression given by ROP damages all boards. Or, it might adversely change the make-up of these forums' clientelle, as I've suggested above. And that could change the nature of the discussions it is possible to have on all boards.

I recommend the idea of official weekly threads as a way of managing ROP discussion, or that some better method is used to achieve the same goals.

"there is the internet truth that good comments encourage other good comments, and bad comments encourage other bad comments"

David Allen Green QC


Aug 18, 4:45pm

Post #2 of 8 (439 views)
Very much agreed [In reply to] Can't Post

I want to introduce the questions around a spoiler policy for the boards as the episodes start to air.

There are questions around when to 1) discuss spoilers for pre-aired content and 2) spoilers for recently-aired content.

My opinion is that any spoilers should only be posted in a thread with a designated header explaining that spoilers are allowed, as is the norm for a lot of message boards.

The need will obviously dissipate as episodes are released, but there are leaks, and users might want to still have conversations without being spoiled by leaks of episodes that haven't aired yet.

Just my 2 cents on an adjacent point to this topic.

Forum Admin / Moderator

Aug 18, 6:12pm

Post #3 of 8 (434 views)
Sounds like a good idea to me. [In reply to] Can't Post

A few things:

1. When a thread reaches a certain point (between 200 and 300 posts), admins have to lock it or the board can become inaccessible. What we could do is look to break off sub-threads so that they become their own stand-alone discussions and the original post can continue, but we might have to lock a thread and restart that discussion with a fresh stand-alone post.

2. Yes, we'll be keeping a good eye on the discussion boards to ensure the discussions stick to our Terms of Service - although we'd prefer it if our services weren't needed.

3. Have you thought about asking for no spoilers in the subject lines? It would be a nice gesture for those who can't watch the show straight away but I'm not sure how necessary it would be.

Celebrimbor: "Pretty rings..."
Dwarves: "Pretty rings..."
Men: "Pretty rings..."
Sauron: "Mine's better."

"Ah, how ironic, the addictive qualities of Sauronís master weapon led to its own destruction. Which just goes to show, kids - if you want two small and noble souls to succeed on a mission of dire importance... send an evil-minded beggar with them too." - Gandalf's Diaries, final par, by Ufthak.

Fantasy novel - The Arcanist's Tattoo

My LOTR fan-fiction

(This post was edited by Ataahua on Aug 18, 6:52pm)

Forum Admin / Moderator

Aug 18, 6:25pm

Post #4 of 8 (432 views)
Good idea [In reply to] Can't Post

Although I'd say don't overthink it - it could work just like the chapter discussions have on the book forums. Get a person to agree to start the thread each week, make sure it's labelled as spoilery, and then it will go where it will, and the admins will keep an eye on things to make sure the thread doesn't get out of hand. That's it, really.

Storm clouds

(This post was edited by Eledhwen on Aug 18, 6:25pm)

Forum Admin / Moderator

Aug 19, 1:48am

Post #5 of 8 (419 views)
I think that could work [In reply to] Can't Post

and I am sure a lot of people would welcome "leading" an episode discussion.


Sep 2, 2:51pm

Post #6 of 8 (355 views)
If you pinned this post... [In reply to] Can't Post

if you pinned this post, that would be the effect I had in mind.

"I am not made for querulous pests." Frodo 'Spooner' Baggins.


Sep 2, 3:50pm

Post #7 of 8 (353 views)
Pinning posts [In reply to] Can't Post

There's a problem with pinning threads: once they're pinned the replies are hidden and you have to open the original post to see them. The effect is that many people don't notice it's there and start more threads, so it's better for people to see it if it's not pinned.

That said, break-off threads are bound to happen, and that's okay too.


Sep 2, 4:24pm

Post #8 of 8 (345 views)
thanks // [In reply to] Can't Post


"I am not made for querulous pests." Frodo 'Spooner' Baggins.


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