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Thread starters delete irrelevant answers, take II
Thread poster: Samuel Murray

Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:00
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
Aug 16, 2007

Edited: The original idea didn't fly with anyone. So I replied further down with an adjusted suggestion which I hope will be more popular:

http://www.proz.com/post/644959#644959

==
Original post:
==

Problem:

Many translators like to have their little say when it comes to posting in the forums, and some of them tend to go off-topic very quickly. It also happens that a person may post a question in the forums, but within two or three replies the topic of the thread has derailed into something else. Sometimes it aint that bad, and only one or two people seem to stray from the topic, but sometimes the thread can lose its value because people start to reply to those two strayers, in effect hijacking the thread.

Solution:

Give thread starters the ability to delete answers if they feel the answer is not relevant to their original question, or if they feel the answer might cause a derailment of the topic.

Of course, this should be carefully implemented.

* The ability to delete posts should be limited to, say, 24 hours after the post was posted.
* Make this a value-added feature, only available to paid members.
* When deleting a post, the user should indicate a reason, which will be mailed to the poster of that post.
* It should be permitted (not against forum rules) for the deleted post's poster to post his deleted post as a new topic, if he wants to.

Alternative solution:

When a thread starter deletes a post, it isn't deleted, but simply hidden from view. The post content is replaced by a note "The initiator of this thread, XYZ, has deemed this post to be irrelevant to his original query, and has hidden it. Click here to read it." and there is a link that any forum reader can click if they want to read the post (perhaps in a little popup window, or inline even).

In the alernative system, the thread starter should still write a reason for deleting/hiding the post, but the reason will be visible to everyone that choose to read it (or... perhaps not, perhaps a mail will be sent to the poster, as above).

So, anyone who reads the thread will not see the deleted posts by default, but they will see which posts have been deleted, and they will be able to read them if they choose to do so, and they could even quote from it if they choose.



[Edited at 2007-08-16 21:25]


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Enrique Cavalitto
Local time: 14:00
SITE STAFF
They should contact a moderator Aug 16, 2007

Hi Samuel,

The thread starter should contact the relevant forum moderator.

Departing from the posted topic to the point of derailing or disturbing the original debate is not in line with site rule http://www.proz.com/siterules/forum/4#4

Regards,
Enrique


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:00
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I realise this, but... Aug 16, 2007

Enrique wrote:
The thread starter should contact the relevant forum moderator.

Departing from the posted topic to the point of derailing or disturbing the original debate is not in line with site rule http://www.proz.com/siterules/forum/4#4


I realise this, but this is often not implemented, and in the time it takes for a moderator to squash a post, other people may have replied to that post.

And sometimes a thread starter has a very specific query, and some of the answers are vaguely related to it, but threatens to subtly steer the conversation in a different direction.

Take for example how many questions about any money matter very quickly turn into a complaints session about low rates. Or, a question by an agency about a difficult situation quickly turns into a blaming session about how wrong the agency was in the first place. Or, someone posts a question about a CAT tool and very soon everyone pipes up to say just how good *their* CAT program is.

A moderator may feel that these things are still "on-topic" even though the thread starter (and many other readers) are frustrated because the thread has lost its potential value so soon.


[Edited at 2007-08-16 20:03]


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Andy Watkinson
Spain
Local time: 19:00
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
Problem:Answer Aug 16, 2007

Hi,

Problem:
Someone goes off-topic.

Solution:
Censorship?
----------------------------------------------------------

I believe ProZ moderators and staff already have inordinate powers to hide/remove posts.

And you would like to extend this to anyone with $100? (or thereabouts)

Fine. I start a thread - and can then hide/remove/delete (what does it matter?) posts by anyone who disagrees with me by using some questionably spurious argument?

Erm... no thanks. That way madness lies.

Andy

[Edited at 2007-08-16 20:13]


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:00
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
The alternative Aug 16, 2007

Andy Watkinson wrote:
Fine. I start a thread - and can then hide/remove/delete (what does it matter?) posts by anyone who disagrees with me by using some questionably spurious argument?


So what if you (the thread starter) can hide posts of people who disagree with you? The only result is that it'll give your ego a false boost because some people reading that thread many months from now might get a nice impression about you (if they read the whole thread, sans hidden sections).

But you do have a point, therefore allow me to suggest a solution...

Some forum posts are not queries, but rather discussions about various things. In cases of discussions, hiding posts may not be the ideal thing to be able to do.

So here's a solution to that: Thread starters should be able to indicate, when they post an initial post, whether the thread is meant as a query or a discussion. If a query, they are granted the ability to hide posts.

People who respond to the thread get warned on the editing page that the thread is a query, and that the originator can hide posts. This would (a) cause them to think twice about posting off-topic things and (b) give them the freedom to choose not to write the long response they originally had in mind.


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:00
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Just a bad idea Aug 16, 2007

A very bad idea, Samuel,

I can't think of advantage this would bring.

Hope this isn't a query,
Gerard


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:00
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Just a feeling of helplessness, I guess Aug 16, 2007

Gerard de Noord wrote:
I can't think of advantage this would bring.


Well, perhaps the only advantage would be to reduce the feelings of helplessness of thread starters when they see their threads hijacked... and there's nothing they can do about it, because, you know, freedom of speech.


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Henry Dotterer
Local time: 13:00
SITE FOUNDER
We have experimented with "focus" threads Aug 16, 2007

Hi Samuel,

I think I know what you are thinking.

For your information, we have experimented in the past with "focus" threads, where a poster might specify a tighter structure for the thread (and people could choose to participate or not, as you suggest.) This might be appropriate for certain types of postings, for example when an asker wants to know how to resolve a certain error code, and wants to head off postings such as "you should not be using that software in the first place"... which could lead, for example, to a full-blown discussion on which software is best.

I think something like this might be particularly useful when someone needs help and is not looking so much for discussion.

If there were any support for this we could try it.


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Samuel Murray  Identity Verified
Netherlands
Local time: 19:00
Member (2006)
English to Afrikaans
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
New suggestion Aug 16, 2007

Samuel Murray wrote:
Give thread starters the ability to hide answers if they feel the answer is not relevant to their original question, or if they feel the answer might cause a derailment of the topic.


It seems that the idea is getting some hefty opposition, and I think I know why... it gives the thread starter sole right to decide about whether a post should be deleted/hidden. So here's a new suggestion: make it a decision by mutual agreement (i.e. consent of the poster is required).

In a way, the new suggestion is similar to what I've suggested here: http://www.proz.com/topic/81434

I still believe the distinction query x discussion is potentially useful, though.

New suggestion:

A thread starter should be able to click a link on any response to send notice to that poster that he believes the post to be off-topic and that it should be hidden/deleted. A little pink box appears at the bottom of that post that is visible to everyone, stating "The initiator of this thread, XYZ, believes this post to be off-topic." The person who posted the post, can see additional text in the pink box, namely, "To delete your post, click here. To hide your post, click here."

In addition, the poster gets an e-mail from the thread starter to notify him of this, and the e-mail contains a note from the thread starter about why he believes the post shouldn't be there.

If the poster selects "delete your post", the post is deleted in its entirety. If he selects "hide your post", the contents of the post is hidden, and the pink box remains, and the post can be viewed by anyone who clicks a link on the box.

If the poster doesn't want to do anything, the original notice remains (it is fairly neutral already).

This solution assumes that thread hijackers do so without ill intent, and are often willing to remove or hide posts if thread starters object to it. This has, in fact, happened to me in the past, when thread starters had e-mailed me, and I consequently removed my post when I realised that it was not constructive.


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José Henrique Lamensdorf  Identity Verified
Brazil
Local time: 14:00
English to Portuguese
+ ...
This one should be a winner! Aug 16, 2007

Samuel Murray wrote:
When a thread starter deletes a post, it isn't deleted, but simply hidden from view. The post content is replaced by a note "The initiator of this thread, XYZ, has deemed this post to be irrelevant to his original query, and has hidden it. Click here to read it." and there is a link that any forum reader can click if they want to read the post (perhaps in a little popup window, or inline even).


One may assume that the thread starter has a reason to get as many relevant inputs as possible. Some prospective responders might lack the patience to browse more than two pages of replies.

So there would be no harm in letting the thread starter collapse any messages s/he considers off-topic or whatever... to a link!

Suppose Samuel Murray (the starter of this thread) decided that this message was not relevant. He (and nobody else, other than moderators, but for other reasons) could click on a button to collapse it to a link. After this has been done, any visitor to this thread would just see that there is message titled This one should be a winner by J. H. Lamensdorf - but the text is hidden. If they want to read it, it's just one more click to reveal. No explanations required, no hurt feelings, just less lines to scroll for those who want to stay on-topic.


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Anne Goff  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 10:00
French to English
+ ...
Pros and Cons Aug 16, 2007

I can see why this has ruffled so many feathers, but I don't really see it as an issue of free speech since any poster is welcome to start his or her own thread.

I have seen threads devolve into arguments or debates between two posters ( I believe you've been guilty of this Samuel ) and I have seen threads wander far from their original purpose. The difficulty is that while this does distract from the point, it also has benefits. Some of the best posts are off-topic.

To me the concern is not if this is a violation of free speech, but rather if it would be abused by thread starters or if it would intimidate posters into silence.

Are forum posts for the original poster, or are they for the community?


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Uldis Liepkalns  Identity Verified
Latvia
Local time: 20:00
Member (2003)
English to Latvian
+ ...
It answers it, I think :) Aug 16, 2007

Uldis

Anne Goff wrote:
Are forum posts for the original poster, or are they for the community?


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Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:00
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Freedom of speech is a great good Aug 16, 2007

Samuel Murray wrote:

Gerard de Noord wrote:
I can't think of any advantage this would bring.


Well, perhaps the only advantage would be to reduce the feelings of helplessness of thread starters when they see their threads hijacked... and there's nothing they can do about it, because, you know, freedom of speech.


At this very moment the hottest discussion on ProZ is "Do you think Proz should add Trados certification as translators search criteria?" (http://www.proz.com/topic/81280). Pablo Bouvier opened a can of worms and I've appreciated reading all contributions until now, also those about ProZ and Trados in general and about their respective policies and strategies. Pablo might be frustrated about the lack of 'search criteria' in the answers. But imagine the feeling of helplessness of members who make every effort to answer within the guidelines of ProZ and would be 'turned off' by the Original Poster.

Regards,
Gerard


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:00
German to English
+ ...
Nope Aug 16, 2007

Samuel Murray wrote:

It seems that the idea is getting some hefty opposition, and I think I know why...


I don't think you do, Samuel.

In the real world, there are conventions for telling people that what they are saying is inappropriate; that that isn't what you asked, or were discussing; that they are dominating "your" conversation; that they have been rabbiting on about their favourite subject for a little too long now. These conventions fall broadly under the heading of "manners".

The technical facilities for doing that, either publicly or privately, already exist here.

What you are failing to understand is that many people expect the rules of human interaction still to apply in an online venue such as this one, and are offended when they are ignored. What you are effectively suggesting is that someone should be able to ask colleagues for help, advice, or opinion, but then be able to tell them to shut up in what would normally be considered quite blunt terms - by deleting or hiding their contributions, for example. In fact, your suggestions amount to pulling the phone plug out of its socket when someone who responded to *your* request for help, advice or opinion has managed to get off the original subject.

In the real world, that isn't done, at least not between mature adults. Other techniques are used to resolve such situations.

The rift between the conventions for human interaction on ProZ and those in the real world continues to widen. There are two fallacies driving this trend. One is the belief that interaction between colleagues can be reduced to the mere delivery and reception of a commercial resource, without consideration for who is contributing what and in return for what, perhaps in the naive belief that this will make the resource more attractive to perceived potential buyers. The other is that conventions for human behaviour, even the most basic manners, can be replaced by links, clicks and pink boxes.

An online discussion with colleagues is not the same as booking a Ryanair flight over the 'net. Visiting this site can be a very alienating experience.

Marc


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 13:00
Spanish to English
+ ...
"Ownership" of a thread? Aug 17, 2007

The premise seems to be that the discussion is somehow "owned" by the person who starts the thread.

If you post an answer that the originator finds uninteresting, it may still interest me or some other reader. I don't see what possible purpose this sort of censorship would serve.

A useful alternative might be a way for users to hide uninteresting posts in their own view of the thread, so they don't personally see them, while still leaving them visible to the rest of us.

[Edited at 2007-08-17 04:44]


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