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Thread: [Rant] FAC vs. Planning and Built Environment Forums

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    [Rant] FAC vs. Planning and Built Environment Forums

    I am just slightly ticked off this morning when I saw that the lolcatz thread has 24 responses already in 3 days. We are a planners forum but a ridiculous thread already has more responses than just about every thread in the subforums of Planning and the Built Environment.

    There are individuals including myself who are actually looking for real substantial input of zoning, planning, and transportation issues nationwide and yet these threads grow slowly, little input is given from other members here who I feel are glued to the FAC.

    The FAC has it's place but I urge all of you to venture out and use your experience, education, and expertise to help other planners. I personally try to help those individuals in the Land Use & Zoning, Design, Place, Space, and Make no Small Plans subforums. Maybe you can help aspiring students, or you are a GIS master.

    All I'm asking is that we have at least a balance of serious discussions to offset the fluff that sometimes lands in the FAC.

    Thank you,
    Tide

    [/Rant]
    @GigCityPlanner

  2. #2
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Tide, you've got a valid rant. The ratio of off-topic to on-topic posts is s something I've complained a lot about before, too, but have been at a loss for solutions. I certainly don't want to see people stop posting in the FAC, but I (and the mods) would like to see more activity in the on-topic subforums too. I asked vBulletin hackers for a mod that would allow the display of a second post count for messages made in selected forums. No luck there, though. "Post of the Day" status usually gives on-topic posts a bit of a boost, and activity in new subforums (Environment, IT and especially Career Advice) is making the ratio a little more balanced.

    Historically, the Forums were plodding along until 2001, when the FAC was added. Message board "experts" also agree that off-topic discussion areas are a must-have for a successful forum. Without the FAC, there would be far fewer on-topic posts. Many on the mod team concede that the FAC is a "necessary evil" - it's the glue that keeps Cyburbia together as an online community rather than just a place where people post planning questions. I'll also say that without the FAC, few of us would have met in the real world; we'd all have a few less friends.

    The one thing I'd like to see is more threads leading with case studies, best practices or ideas -- along the lines of "hey, I tried this, and it worked" or "I think I've got an idea for retrofitting older suburban strip commercial districts", as well as the usual threads that lead with questions.

    As for myself not posting enough in the PBE subforums? Guilty.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian biscuit's avatar
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    Ah, the perennial "Cyburbia Identity Crisis" thread! Like geese in the spring and a bad rash, this issue comes back again and again. I for one don't see why Cyburbia has to be either a social site or a serious planning issues only kind of website. For me it's a place where I can give and get great professional info, and socialize with people who share a common profession and/or interest. Was the lolcatz thread silly fluff? Yes, it certainly was. Was the lolcatz thread a greatly needed laugh after six hours of revising use classification table? That's an emphatic yes.

    This is not a slight to Tide or anyone else who reads this thread, but one of my major struggles with the planning profession is well, planners. We, as a group, seem to be an overly serious and prickly lot that has a hard enough time relaxing, much less enjoying a bit of levity. Sometimes it can feel like I'm working with a bunch of engineers . Maybe it's the hyper-critical nature of the profession coupled with the political stress, but I see myself becoming "that guy", the blueshirt planner, and I don't like it one bit.

    So I say enjoy Cyburbia for the nice balance of things that it is.


  4. #4
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Well, put bizkit.

    I feel the same way as you.
    Last edited by mendelman; 10 Aug 2007 at 1:21 PM.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    I have been struggling with this topic myself. Part of my issue is planning is a limited scope. We can only post a “What does your code say” type threads so many times before the answers become expected.

    Additionally, with the day to day meaningless tasks being drilled into our skulls every day, 8 to 12 hours a day, 5 to 7 days a week, there is a need for planners to communicate on a non-planning level.

    I know that I have a notable list of Threads that I will be posting in the next three weeks in PABE.
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

  6. #6
    Cyburbian CJC's avatar
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    I'll add a bit to this, since I haven't been here for that long.

    Most of us are only going to be able (or want to) offer advise, opinions, best practices, etc on a certain percentage of planning-related topics posted, say 5 to 50% depending upon the person. Originally, I was probably around the 5% range. Assuming that level, I would only need to check the site once or twice a week to keep up. However, in part because of the FAC, I check the site at least once a day, and now I probably decide to post on 15% of the planning-related topics.

    The fact that something else besides planning chatter draws and keeps people helps increase the amount of planning chatter that does go on, IMO.

  7. #7
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I don't come to this forum looking for the smoking gun that will solve all my planning problems. Although I've started a few threads which asked a question, they are very few. I can't say that cyburbia has every helped me solve a planning issue that I'm facing. To be honest, I don't see this site as a very good resource for the nuts and bolts planning issues. Questions to those answers are so often based on local or state planning laws, that it all gets so confusing. This isn't a knock on cyburbia, just my own personal experience.

    What I enjoy most about the site is some of the more theoretical discussions that take place, concerning the nature of sprawl, dependence on foreign oil, the effect of the built environment on public health, etc.

    I don't have a problem with the FAC. I would imagine that most other forums on the internet experience similar posting discrepancies between their more formal and informal subforums. And as M'skis mentioned, I need a break from my everyday plannning life. That's why I go to FAC.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Thank you all who read my post on Friday and responded. I tend to agree that the FAC is necessary and I too take pleasure at some of the threads. But, I believe we are not balanced here. There are so many members that I see ONLY post on the FAC and do not add anything substantive elsewhere.

    All I'm asking is for a conscious effort by all cyburbians to share your knowledge and experiences with everyone when available, it's the only way we learn and grow from each other.

    Good Monday Morning,

    Tide
    @GigCityPlanner

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Jeff's avatar
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    Anymore, i feel most of the threads in the FAC are made up simply for the sake of making something up. Most of them have little value or purpose, IMO.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Plus JNA's avatar
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    I will point a finger at myself -
    52 of 100 threads started where in the FAC.
    or is that nearly balanced participation ?
    Oddball
    Why don't you knock it off with them negative waves?
    Why don't you dig how beautiful it is out here?
    Why don't you say something righteous and hopeful for a change?
    From Kelly's Heroes (1970)


    Are you sure you're not hurt ?
    No. Just some parts wake up faster than others.
    Broke parts take a little longer, though.
    From Electric Horseman (1979)

  11. #11
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Where do you guys find all these stats?

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Jeff View post
    Anymore, i feel most of the threads in the FAC are made up simply for the sake of making something up.
    It's not limited to the FAC.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  13. #13
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake View post
    It's not limited to the FAC.
    Examples please?
    @GigCityPlanner

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    Examples please?
    RJ could be referring to spammers, but I have a feeling he's not.
    "A witty woman is a treasure, a witty beauty is a power!"

  15. #15
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Maybe RJ meant that the Career questions are often repeats of things posted before -

    I know the new urbanism threads often get tiresome but really, to me anyway - but that's the point, really, we all come here to find out certain things, lurk on other things, ignore some threads that irritate us and hang in FAC when we feel like it - I think it's really okay

  16. #16
    I came here to learn. Since I aren't not no planner, I don't have a lot to share most of the time, unless you all talk about the one or two things I may actually be knowledgeable about. But I figured it's kinda better to say something than to run silent, run deep, and seem rude and impersonal. Hence my participation in FAC.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Ahhh....

    Don't look at me....I'm just here for the free fantasy football..... oh and the fact that there is such a wide choice of emoticon's to choose from.....
    .
    .
    .
    .
    I found this site and jumped in because I was turning into a blue shirt task master........

    I don't think a site dedicated entirely to social interaction between planners would work.....just as I don't think I'd spend much time on a national site dedicated to 100% blue shirt task master issues.... I wouldn't mind having an active state site to deal with very specific blue shirt questions related to day to day work....

    Now, I'd like to remind everyone to visit my last thread on slipper socks, and check out my hot legs!
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  18. #18
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by The One View post
    I wouldn't mind having an active state site to deal with very specific blue shirt questions related to day to day work....
    OT FWIW:

    massachusetts has a list-serv through the APA state chapter where planners can post Mass. related questions. you could work on setting that up for AZ in your spare time.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  19. #19
    Super Moderator luckless pedestrian's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol View post
    OT FWIW:

    massachusetts has a list-serv through the APA state chapter where planners can post Mass. related questions. you could work on setting that up for AZ in your spare time.
    I have seen that list-serve, that is one serious group, wow, scary even!

  20. #20
    Cyburbian The One's avatar
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    Yup....

    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol View post
    OT FWIW:

    massachusetts has a list-serv through the APA state chapter where planners can post Mass. related questions. you could work on setting that up for AZ in your spare time.
    I've visited the AzAPA forum site......doesn't get much use at all.......
    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."
    John Kenneth Galbraith

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Tide View post
    Examples please?
    I'm not about to do that for fear of somebody thinking it's a personal attack. You know how sensitive people are here and I don't want to alienate folks.
    It's kinda like identifying the difference between art and porn; I know it when I see it.
    Sure, I'm probably guilty, too.
    Browse and you'll come to your own conclusions.

    Quote Originally posted by Planderella View post
    RJ could be referring to spammers, but I have a feeling he's not.
    You're a wise woman.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  22. #22
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    IMO the most significant contribution to the planning profession of cyburbia is the ability of planners to interact and have fun and that most often occurs in the FAC

    As I'm sure we all know, planning is a very regionally specific creature in most cases. That makes it difficult to get the sort of input that anyone might hope to have in forum like this.

  23. #23
    Cyburbian boiker's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    I have been struggling with this topic myself. Part of my issue is planning is a limited scope. We can only post a “What does your code say” type threads so many times before the answers become expected.

    Additionally, with the day to day meaningless tasks being drilled into our skulls every day, 8 to 12 hours a day, 5 to 7 days a week, there is a need for planners to communicate on a non-planning level.

    I know that I have a notable list of Threads that I will be posting in the next three weeks in PABE.
    A "hey i've got an idea" will this work thread does require a bit more work too. I'm a planner and I work with pics. I would want some kind of picture/site plan/ etc to go along with the post to help me provide not just off the shelf comments, but context appropriate comments.

    I do have a project coming in. I'll see what kind of post I can put together.

    I did post a developemnt guide post. Kinda talked a bit about how things went and then posted a link to the finished product. They're tough to do.
    Dude, I'm cheesing so hard right now.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian
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    Look at the Views column as well as the Replies one

    When thinking of the value of the discussion groups, it might help us get a better picture of the true balance if we counted not only the contributions (replies) but also the views.

    Perhaps there are many who are in fact finding the forum very useful. I have been involved only for less than 3 months. I find it fascinating and I certainly look at far more discussions than I contribute too.

    If I don't want to look at the FAC, I don't have to. If I'm feeling brain-dead on a Friday (or any other day for than mater) then maybe I can only contribute less serious stuff. The fun helps both to get a glimpse at these planners as PEOPLE, (even spot relationships among them), and get a hint at how I might need to phrase a serious argument if I know they're involved.

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Sometimes I feel like posting something serious to a serious question, but then stop myself because I wonder why the person can't find that information on their own, or it seems like they are just not trying hard enough. I don't know, maybe this "job path" just isn't for me because I honestly find myself less and less interested in it. Maybe I need to get into politics where the actual decisions get made, or maybe its time for a complete overhaul.

    I heard cat herding is making a come back.....
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

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