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Virtual cliques on Cyburbia

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
18,699
Points
69
As bulletin boards become more established, virtual cliques will often emerge. Cyburbia is no exception.

Let's talk about the dynamics of a virtual community such as Cyburbia. How can we make people feel more welcome, yet not limit the natural formation of friendships or circles of friends? Does being "welcoming" and "inclusive" mean that we can't tell another user that we're frustrated by their posts, or that we disagree with them? How can we improve the Cyburbia Forum experience for newbies?
 

Repo Man

Cyburbian
Messages
2,549
Points
25
How about a newbie mixer or ice cream social :)

I think that the best way to make people feel welcome is to respond to their posts, even if it is a topic that we may not be interested in or a topic that maybe we had already covered. I could tell that some of the newer users would come up with FAC threads only to be met with the "we have already been here before" replies. I think this discourages new users from posting for a fear of being told that we already covered it. It kind of makes them feel like the more established users don't want them around.

Also, when a new user asks for some assistance, others should really try and help them with any info they have.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
18,699
Points
69
General advice for newbies. Many of these are copied shamelessly from threads on the Straight Dope Message Board.

1) Try to make sure your grammar, punctuation, and spelling is correct. vBulletin code should be properly formatted. You have a few hours to edit your posts after you make them.

2) It's considered good form to bold a person's name when you use it.

3) Try not to call the mods Nazis.

4) Think quality over quantity.

5) Don't be a jerk.

6) If you stare too long at your computer screen, look away for a minute or two. Get up and stretch every now and again.

7) punctuation and capitalization are important if you don't ever use them you will drive people crazy no one will bother to even read you posts to try and figure out what you are trying to say because a dense uncapitalized post is just too intimidating and usually people who dont bother to use punctuation or capitalization dont bother to say anything interesting either it is a good idea to break your posts up into paragraphs because it make them more readable you may even want to put topical headers before paragraphs in a very long post

8) Long, pointless quotes of other posts are also annoying. Just quote the part that is relevant to the comment you want to make.

9) Learn the different forums, and what's appropriate material for each one. The mods find it irritating to constantly move or merge threads because someone didn't pay enough attention to post a message in the right place.

10) Use short paragraphs and shorter sentences. This is not the printed word. Streams of text hurt. That does not mean you should write at a third grade level.

11) Like §h¡†, cliques happen. The board is a microcosm of real life. We make friends. We like those friends. We talk to those friends. We reminisce with those friends. We are also highly open to making new friends. Don't be offended if something goes over your head; you wouldn't do so in real life, would you? Give it time and you'll be the one making inside jokes and going to AleFests.

12) Don't start a new thread for everything you say. if it's a topic that's already been covered recently, in the past few weeks or so, respond in that thread.

13) Expect to be called upon unfounded "facts" in a post. Understand that extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof. If you aren't entirely sure of everything that you might have included in a post, qualify it. If you post an opinion and not fact, make that clear.

14) Cyburbia users hold a variety of political and personal beliefs. Users are left-of-Berkeley hippies and paleo-conservatives, queer eyes and straight guys (and girls), fundamentalist Christians and evangelical athiests. Users can also be politically incorrect from time to time. Well-reasoned and rational debate is always welcome. Playing the victim card or being a member of the offenderati may be looked upon with contempt.

15) You're in good company. There are a lot of great people here.

This list will be amended over the next few hours.
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,904
Points
25
I don't know Dan, It seems that most newbies seem to get into the flow of things around here pretty easily. And those who don't, even after being "scolded" a few times tend to be the annoying and/or out-and-out intolerable types that most of us wouldn't want to be around in our everyday real lives anyway.

In cyber space, just like real life, you have to get to know people and, as a relative newbie, I found Cyburbia to be very welcoming. In fact the Cyburbia boards are much more civil and "enlightened" than most online discussion where trolling and flaming are all that ever goes on. That is the why Cyburbia is the only online group I belong to (well, other than AIP on invasion day).

EDIT: Sorry for breaking the long sentence rule.:)
 

donk

Cyburbian
Messages
6,970
Points
30
For the most part we are inviting, the only person I can think that we have put off recently, who did not deserve it, is Jessie J. In the course of a week she had 4 or 5 "done that befores". Unfortunately, I think it put her off, even though she was fitting in. Hopefully it is just her employer keeping her away.


I'll work harder on my spelling (teh especially).
 

Jeff

Cyburbian
Messages
4,161
Points
27
.....yeah what he said. In short....newbies....don't be a dick, and we'll like you. But if you are some ignorant a$$hole don't expect to be liked.

There are ways to have a difference of opinion and ways not to. I can speak for most around here, when I say that we love to politely argue and debate with one another. Step out of line, or come across like you think you are God, and the virtual "clique" will be all over your shiznit.

Oh, and newbie guys....this isn't a dating service.
 

NHPlanner

A shadow of my former self
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
9,945
Points
40
From a moderator perspective:

I have always found Cyburbia to be a welcoming place, and I hope that I've come across as a pleasant and welcoming person.

On the other hand, as a Mod, I am given the responsibility to edit, merge, delete, etc., threads and posts that are not in line with the FAQ and posting guidelines. At times, I'm sure that makes me come off as somewhat of a jerk. I don't mean to, but it happens.

I'm only speaking for myself, but I'm pretty sure that the mods would love to hear constructive feedback on how we handle some of the situations that come up the most (ie. duplicate posts, hitting the new thread instead of the reply button, the "we've been there before" threads, etc.).
 

giff57

Corn Burning Fool
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
5,443
Points
34
Here's what I'll add.

Most of us are practicing planners. We have very thick calluses on our butts from being chewed on for so long. So when you screw up you are going to hear about it. Don't take it personally. Make an effort to fit in and it will be fine.
 

Seabishop

Cyburbian
Messages
3,838
Points
25
Maybe added to the list could be something about "hometown defensiveness." We're all intrested in cities and the built environment here and we shouldn't have to walk on egg shells about a place's characteristics. For example, if I say "Omaha has no activity downtown and boring architecture" (I don't know if it does) I shouldn't be met with "What are you an idiot? You don't know what you're talking about because . . . ." It happens all the time on another urban discussion forum. Of course, a civilized debate about it would be welcome. Its just a matter of being civil like anything else.
 

Tom R

Cyburbian
Messages
2,274
Points
25
iowa

giff57 said:
Here's what I'll add.

Most of us are practicing planners. We have very thick calluses on our butts from being chewed on for so long. So when you screw up you are going to hear about it. Don't take it personally. Make an effort to fit in and it will be fine.
OT: Giff, are you REALLY in Holstein Iowa? I was in the army with a guy from there.
 

giff57

Corn Burning Fool
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
5,443
Points
34
Re: iowa

Tom R said:
OT: Giff, are you REALLY in Holstein Iowa? I was in the army with a guy from there.
Yes I am. Really.
 

biscuit

Cyburbian
Messages
3,904
Points
25
Cliques? What cliques?

"No one at [Cyburbia] is going to let you play their reindeer games."

 

SW MI Planner

Cyburbian
Messages
3,194
Points
26
In short....newbies....don't be a dick, and we'll like you. But if you are some ignorant a$$hole don't expect to be liked.
Yah, but on the other hand, there are times when people that have been around here longer act like the a$$hole to undeserving newbies. Sometimes (especially if your new) you can't always tell if someone is seriously being an ass, or just being sarcastic.
 

Miles Ignatius

Cyburbian
Messages
368
Points
12
A Newbie Perspective

Just my 2 cents...I came aboard a few months ago and was made to feel welcome after going through the Cyburbia "10-Step Program for X-Lurkers"........

Seriously, unless there's some feedback to the contrary, I think the community is doing quite well in making new folks feel "at home."

My only regret is not making the Pub Crawl @ The Falling Rock in my backyard, no less....
 
Messages
5,352
Points
31
I think some newbies (and maybe seasoned bulletin board users) have unrealistic expectations about the type of information that they will get from these forums. Some will post a question and expect immediate results or validation of what they believe, but when they don't get what they that, they strike out by claiming users are unfriendly, nazis, etc.
 

Wannaplan?

Bounty Hunter
Messages
3,212
Points
29
Dan said:
As bulletin boards become more established, virtual cliques will often emerge. Cyburbia is no exception.
What took ya so long to figger this one out?!
 

Chet

Cyburbian Emeritus
Messages
10,623
Points
34
SW MI Planner said:
Yah, but on the other hand, there are times when people that have been around here longer act like the a$$hole to undeserving newbies.
SW its not just the newbies. You're all a-holes to me.




(yes that was sarcasm)
 

Dan

Dear Leader
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
18,699
Points
69
I'm going to bump this, since this thread happened.

What else can we do to make new users feel more welcome?
 

el Guapo

Capitalist
Messages
5,995
Points
31
Welcome to everyone. I'd like to point out that there are so many people that post in the introduce yourself thread that, while I wish I (as a moderator) could give everyone a personalized welcome to Cyburbia, there is no way I have time to write a personal note to all. I don't know of anyone that has gotten a welcome, or birthday wish out to everyone of our members. Maybe I've overlooked someone, but its hard to greet everyone as they should be greeted. If I have some slack time I try to pop off a welcome message. And like any planner, your work and family load sometimes precludes vigorous participation at all levels of these forums.

Additionally, I don't base my reply on anything you say in your message. I'd extend a hearty welcome to William Jefferson Clinton himself on his first post here at Cyburbia. Good taste requires that I wait until his second post before chiding him about the dot.com bust. ;)

So to all new Cyburbians, welcome. Just be aware that we are chock full of personalities like any free society. We have our "street people" that will wonder up to you unsolicited and cuss at you while asking for some polite conversation. It’s kinda like Virtual Turret’s (what is the correct spelling of this word?) Syndrome. Just dont step in the puddle of urine forming at their feet and you'll be fine.
 
Messages
7,649
Points
29
Dan said:
I'm going to bump this, since this thread happened.

What else can we do to make new users feel more welcome?
I think what went wrong with the thread in question is that folks kind of 'forgot' that the point of that forum is to Welcome people. If the person is of the right temperament and it is done right, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with engaging in a little bit of debate. But I, personally, wrote a paragraph or two about my views on education in the thread in question -- then deleted it all and wrote a short welcome note without posting my views. People just coming here need to be treated kind of like 'seedlings' and given a little shelter from the full force of such debates -- especially in the Introduce Yourself area.

That forum should have slightly different rules from the rest of Cyburbia. Tread lightly if you are going to "argue" with someone in their intro thread. And, this won't be PC, but if they are young, take that into account. There was a fair amount of "arguing" with me when I signed on but I did a LOT to bring that on myself: my very first post was on a controversial topic where I roundly disagreed with the majority view. I knew I was "asking for it". But I have experience as a moderator and I am older and a military wife, yadda yadda. As a friend of mine notes (who sometimes throws me to the wolves for a good cause, lol), I can take a little bit of abuse. But, generally speaking, people should be made to feel like "one of the crowd" before any in-joke/ribbing type stuff happens. It is percieved very differently by an outsider who doesn't know the personalities and such around here than by the "regulars" -- especially an outsider who hasn't been lurking a long time.

It is mostly a matter of "you only get one chance to make a first impression". When I was a moderator (in a different forum), I noted that people who got a warm welcome tended to jump right in, feel at home, and were resilient when controversy did occur. People who did not get a warm welcome tended to never be heard from again. I didn't know enough of the technical end and I wasn't there long enough to track statistics concerning if they just lurked or if they tended to sign off. I also noted that folks I said "Hi" to tended to jump on in, even if they swore they normally were the shy lurker type. I did my best to answer questions, engage them in meaningful conversation, help them get oriented. Basically, I did what 15 years as a military wife active in the Family Support Group system had trained me to do when someone shows up at the unit and has No Clue how to find their way around or what to do and feels overwhelmed. :-D It is something that WORKS -- the army knows what it is doing.

Arguing overly much with someone on your own home turf when they are new puts them at a disadvantage and can be experienced as quite hostile and threatening, even if you aren't doing anything different than what you would do in the rest of Cyburbia. There are ways to engage someone and state your disagreement and not make it feel too personal. A lot of folks have no clue how to do that. If you have no clue how to do so, then discretion is probably the greater part of valor: when in doubt, just say "Hi, welcome aboard." and other Warm-Fuzzy stuff. Argue with them NEXT week, when they are less likely to take it as "God, everyone here HATES me and I never did anything to any of them!!! Sheesh!!!" (And if Kyle is reading this and thinking "God what a hypocritical BLEEP", my apologies. I tried to give useful feedback. There was no desire to "fight" with you.)

Just my 2 cents.

EDIT: And I reiterate: If it isn't being done yet, newcomers should get an e-mail which contains and/or directs them to forum policies, etc -- the stuff that would be likely to help them get oriented and feel like they know their way around, both technically and culturally. And then everyone needs to assume they never read it, because most people won't. A long intro probably is worse than a short one. It probably should be a short welcome letter with a brief description about the structure of Cyburbia (you know, so they know that "forum help and issues" is NOT the place to post your question asking for "help" on planning issues 8-! -- something I have seen more than once (come to think of it, that is common enough that "forum help and issues" might benefit from a name change)) and with links to some of the more useful threads on how to do stuff (like post pictures) and forum culture and history, with a brief description of each link and why they ought to go there (in one or two sentences).

el Guapo said:
Virtual Turret’s (what is the correct spelling of this word?) Syndrome.
Tourette's Syndrome (I think!)
 
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vaughan

Cyburbian
Messages
335
Points
11
You know, I might as well throw in my opinion here as well, though this thread has already been discussed quite a bit.. maybe folks will find it interesting.

I'm a relative newcomer myself. I say "relative" because, like plenty of folks probably do, I lurked on the boards for months before actually becoming a member and beginning to post. Funny thing is, I lurked long enough to begin to feel like I was part of the community. For example, I've known for months that budgie likes heavy metal, that michelle was sick for a while, and that El Guapo tends to enjoy organizations such as the NRA.

When I finally started to post (and this still counts to a degree now) I didn't feel like a total newcomer who was learning everyone's name for the first time. It felt more like I was just a member of the crowd. Depending on the question I asked, I already had a good idea who would be answering me.

Its funny that way, but because I lurked for a while, I sometimes have to remind myself that since I don't post that often, other folks in the cyburbia community really don't know me or my moods or my tastes at all. This might not be every (or most) of the newcomer's sentiments on the subject, but I wouldn't doubt that more than a few are in the same situation because there are definitely plenty people shown in the "active user" box at the bottom of the main forum menu that don't post often at all.

So that's the viewpoint of another newcomer. Some of you that post more regularly on this or other boards might already be aware what I've expressed, but since this is the one and only board that I ever participate in, its a relatively new and different experience to be part of a community of people that don't know me personally at all.
 
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