Town Pub

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admin
Site Admin
Posts: 2549
Joined: 20 Sep 2004 21:49

Town Pub

Post by admin » 19 Jan 2016 17:19

Dear All,

As I'm sure you're aware, some of our regular posters have been discussing returning the pub to it's previous, non members-only state. This would allow the pub to serve - among other things - as a space for non-Sydenham related discussions. It would also have the effect of allowing Google (other search engines are available) to turn over that particular rock and start recording what resides beneath.

There aren't particularly strong views up here in the wonderfully appointed, Admin ivory tower. So this thread is intended to take the temperature of the members. What do you think? What do you see as the pros and cons?

Pinky promise that once a suitable number of cases have been made and preferences have been cast a decision either way will be made.

Admin

JRobinson
Posts: 1102
Joined: 5 Jan 2010 12:40
Location: De Frene Rd

Re: Town Pub

Post by JRobinson » 19 Jan 2016 18:04

I think all of it should be open to be viewable by non members.

It's not like we have anything to hide.

There's no reason, in my opinion, why there should be a members only section, that you have to be registered and logged in to see. This forum is small enough as it is without putting sections of it locked up out of the reach of those searching for it.

chrisj1948
Posts: 505
Joined: 15 Jul 2008 15:12
Location: Sydenham

Re: Town Pub

Post by chrisj1948 » 19 Jan 2016 19:01

I say that things should be left as they are. If you look at the topics in the Pub the majority of them have absolutely nothing to do with Sydenham, and could equally well take place on any other Internet discussion board, even though those who use it tend to live in Sydenham. It is service provided by the Sydenham Forum which is unrelated to the other objectives of the board.

Members only? You cannot post anywhere if you are not a member of the Forum, so the restriction only operates on casual viewing. The opinions expressed are such that it can be a tedious place to hang out for many, and are not really representative of the postings in the rest of the Forum. No great loss to hide it away until you have joined, but I would not throw a wobbly if it were restored to open viewing. It is not a major issue.

Regards
Chris

Pally
Posts: 1461
Joined: 2 Aug 2014 05:38
Location: Sydenham

Re: Town Pub

Post by Pally » 19 Jan 2016 22:41

The Sydenham forum was set up originally for "all things Sydenham!" However in any community the opportunity to debate on wider issues which may or may not directly affect Sydenham, actually helps to build the Community in my view. I think the Pub should be open to all viewers ....but at the same time I think that posters should:

1. Not make personalised remarks
2. Respond to posters who are not part of the "regular" gang , rather than a tendency to ignore their comments
3. Think carefully about the negative impact on the forum of styles of posting that create an unpleasant feel.

In the end, people stop visiting a pub if the atmosphere is dreadful, even if the beer is good! Same applies in a virtual pub!

This issue is the responsibility of the posters on the forum!

Pally
Posts: 1461
Joined: 2 Aug 2014 05:38
Location: Sydenham

Re: Town Pub

Post by Pally » 20 Jan 2016 04:38

rod taylor wrote:My feeling is that the pub is not as informative and entertaining and diverting as it used to be, and although it has always been niche, I have noticed a drop off recently - you can set your watch by it -Eagle posts something he's channelled from the right wing press, HB tells him he's being idiotic, Nigel does his Muslim thing, Pally and Rachael post sensible, well-judged content and Robin is becoming increasingly sarcastic. That's about it .
That pub summary made me smile Rod but you should have included yourself in the list, .... Rod chucks in a useful link that may or may not be read and gets frustrated by the subsequent replies....maybe?

I agree the Hall is the Community asset but I think the Pub could be one too. You are right, opening it up again may not solve the problem but its worth a try. I'm wondering if anyone bar the Pub regulars will comment...do they care...and non members cant see it so don't know what they're missing!

Rachael
Posts: 2438
Joined: 23 Jan 2010 13:42
Location: Sydenham / Forest Hill Intersection

Re: Town Pub

Post by Rachael » 20 Jan 2016 07:43

I often sit on my hands rather than respond to things in the Pub because I know it's a pointless task, like trying to wrestle with a blancmange, as my mother used to say.

The recent discussion about women-only sessions in the pool was a good one - it was an actual conversation which made people (including me) think about their positions on the subject. More of that would be nice. More of the same and I won't be contributing often.

While we're talking about the pub and other sections, I do think we could do with streamlining things. Does the kids' section get much traffic? Is it mostly a notice board? I wonder if we could have a better Notices section (that is not hidden at the bottom of the board) with subdivisions: Offered, Wanted, Family, etc, with the list of recommended traders pinned to the top.

As mentioned before, the Cafe has become the default place for 'pleasant' discussion, and I think it's fine to have non-Sydenham stuff there. All Sydenham specific stuff can go in the Town Hall. The Pub can be reserved for politics of any flavour. I'm neutral on whether it stays locked or not.

Robin Orton
Posts: 3240
Joined: 9 Sep 2008 07:30
Location: London SE26

Re: Town Pub

Post by Robin Orton » 20 Jan 2016 10:14

I believe the decision to restrict access to the pub was taken by the previous Admin because she felt that casual visitors were so horrified by what they read there that they concluded that STF as a whole was not for them. Pub users, including me, grumbled at the time, in my case because I didn't want access to my incisive, perceptive and witty contributions to be denied to a wider audience. But if the general tone of the discussion in the pub is still, in the view of the current Admins, seriously off-putting for others, I wouldn't argue against maintaining the status quo.

Whether we should have a Town Pub at all is, as has been suggested, arguable. It has been claimed that there are other online forums available for the sort of general discussion that goes on in the pub (for example?). Like Pally and Rod however, I personally like the idea of a comparatively small locally-based general discussion forum, whose contributors, at any rate in theory, can come from a wide ranges of backgrounds and with whom one is able to form a friendly on-line relationship.

I think what Rachael says about the Town Café as the default place for 'pleasant' discussion is an attractive idea. But, if that is what is decided, I believe, as I said in the now-closed earlier thread, that it needs to be made explicit in the way the role of the Café is described in the Board Index.

michael
Posts: 1273
Joined: 26 Sep 2006 12:56
Location: Forest Hill

Re: Town Pub

Post by michael » 23 Jan 2016 14:08

rod taylor wrote:The only stumbling block would be if someone were to join who started a great proportion of the threads, and tended to use antagonistic and tabloid language to provoke a reaction.
I'm sure you don't always do it deliberately.

michael
Posts: 1273
Joined: 26 Sep 2006 12:56
Location: Forest Hill

Re: Town Pub

Post by michael » 23 Jan 2016 16:09

I'm not sure I want to support such a business any more than I would purchase a copy of the daily mail. As things stand it appears the pub is the forum's dirty little secret where trolls are hidden for fear of what the outside world would think of Sydenham if they saw. Or am I missing some virtue in this virtual bar brawl?

Robin Orton
Posts: 3240
Joined: 9 Sep 2008 07:30
Location: London SE26

Re: Town Pub

Post by Robin Orton » 23 Jan 2016 16:19

The sadness is that there have in the past been some quite edifying and illuminating discussions in the Pub which would be a credit to Sydenham if anyone were allowed to read them. The recent one between Rod and Michael about the non-proliferation treaty and Israel was a good example.

chrisj1948
Posts: 505
Joined: 15 Jul 2008 15:12
Location: Sydenham

Re: Town Pub

Post by chrisj1948 » 23 Jan 2016 18:41

Robin Orton wrote:The sadness is that there have in the past been some quite edifying and illuminating discussions in the Pub which would be a credit to Sydenham if anyone were allowed to read them. The recent one between Rod and Michael about the non-proliferation treaty and Israel was a good example.
There may be the occasional kitten found alive in the ruins, but the general standard can be a bit depressing. I visit the Sydenham Forum primarily for local information and news. A general discussion is only of interest to me if it is particularly informative, witty. or well expressed. I have found as time goes on that I skip increasingly much in the Pub. I ask myself whether, if it was made into a closed user group, I would apply for membership. I think the answer is probably 'No'.

Regards
Chris

chrisj1948
Posts: 505
Joined: 15 Jul 2008 15:12
Location: Sydenham

Re: Town Pub

Post by chrisj1948 » 24 Jan 2016 10:44

rod taylor wrote:Can you be more specific about what you don't like now, and what you think has changed for the worst over the years?
I do not think that things have changed for the worse. What I find discouraging is the sameness of the discussions. Put it down to age-related ennui.

Regards
Chris

Robin Orton
Posts: 3240
Joined: 9 Sep 2008 07:30
Location: London SE26

Re: Town Pub

Post by Robin Orton » 24 Jan 2016 17:01

I think that one of the difficulties we are all having in discussing this is that the previous Admin was rather vague in the reason she gave for restricting access to the Pub in the first place.
I did this because [the Town Pub/Town Benefit Office] seem to be degenerating into repetitive and circuitous arguments between a small number of members. I have no desire to restrict this but I have been made aware these debates are discouragement for people who know of the forum to actually join and partake
On the face of it, this sounds like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut. I suspect however that if one dug down a bit one might unearth some rather more specific issues which the previous Admin was concerned about.

1. The Pub was dominated by long and boring postings on topics few regular visitors were interested in. (I remember it once being described as 'the Tim and Robin show.' I certainly, and Tim possibly, have taken that to heart.)

2. It was dominated by lefty liberals or, alternatively, by bigoted right wingers, who ganged up on their opponents and refused to give them a fair hearing

3. It was felt that some posts could be interpreted as racist

4. The tone often got heated and people resorted to what sometimes sounded like personal abuse, including the sort of terms where we have to use *ster*sks. In my view this was often merely laddish 'banter' or willy-waving, but I would guess that many people, particularly perhaps women, find it threatening and offensive. I myself have been accused of 'sarcasm', which I think is a bit unfair, but there you are.

5. Taking 3 and 4 together, the tone of the Pub was not very inclusive.

6. Some posters wanted to stick to the accepted conventions of rational argument (such as being prepared to answer one's opponents' points, expressing dissent in graduated terms, etc), others didn't.

7. Some posters - Eagle comes to mind - may have raised topics in a deliberately provocative way in order to antagonize other users. Deliberate wind-ups, in other words - I would not want to use the term troll. This is of course the easiest of all the problems to deal with. Just totally ignore postings of this sort. If everyone does this, the posts will soon stop.

I conclude that unless we know exactly what the Admins' reasons are for maintaining the current position, it is difficult to express a view as to whether or how they might be reversed or modified. I suspect that the previous Admin may be continuing to contribute to the forum under an assumed name - perhaps she could make a useful input to the discussion?

admin
Site Admin
Posts: 2549
Joined: 20 Sep 2004 21:49

Re: Town Pub

Post by admin » 24 Jan 2016 18:59

Robin - I think you've set out very clearly the reasons for The Pub being behind a wall. From the evidence of this thread, views on the matter are fairly mixed. I certainly don't get the impression that we're approaching our very own David Hasselhoff moment.

So, The Pub stays where it is. But I have tweaked the description of the Town Cafe to permit friendly, non-Sydenham related chat.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread.

Admin.

michael
Posts: 1273
Joined: 26 Sep 2006 12:56
Location: Forest Hill

Re: Town Pub

Post by michael » 24 Jan 2016 23:17

rod taylor wrote:Personally I think the new policy has contributed to the pub's decline. It's a pity.
Cause or symptom?
I think the quality of discussion was already in serious decline (trolling, abuse, cliquey personal arguments crossing from one thread to another). The policy was a result of the problems. The continued decline was inevitable with or without the 'wall' boarding up of yet another Sydenham pub. A number of regulars didn't want to step inside this boarded up pub, while others revel in their new found freedom to bar brawls. Any sober man/woman entering the establishment would either be appalled at the views of the regulars, but not surprisingly all the regulars think that everybody agrees with them.

Personally I suspect that almost all the interesting conversations to be had on forums has disappeared. Facebook means that we have positive reinforcement for our own views from our like-minded friends, Twitter encourages us to be rude to people we know nothing about, and the bottom-half of the internet encourages us* to make outrageous statements in the comfort of anonymity.
* And when I say 'us', I really mean people who believe they are always right, and that other people actually have an interest in their half-baked views. And I guess I have to include myself in that, otherwise why would I bother writing this nonsense, that will be ignored by all. Afterall, I'm really just procrastinating when I should be writing the minutes of another worthwhile meeting where we try to actually achieve something useful.

Rachael
Posts: 2438
Joined: 23 Jan 2010 13:42
Location: Sydenham / Forest Hill Intersection

Re: Town Pub

Post by Rachael » 25 Jan 2016 07:10

I would tend to agree with Michael. What are the stats on who posts in the Pub pre and post the lock-in?

There have indeed been some interesting conversations recently that I have tried to contribute to, but most carry on pingponging between a few regulars as if I've said nothing. Maybe I'm just not being scintillating enough.

michael
Posts: 1273
Joined: 26 Sep 2006 12:56
Location: Forest Hill

Re: Town Pub

Post by michael » 25 Jan 2016 07:32

Rachael wrote:, but most carry on pingponging between a few regulars as if I've said nothing. Maybe I'm just not being scintillating enough.
please don't blame yourself. it says more about those unable to engage with views that don't come out of their own mouths, or those they are there to troll. that is always the frustration of contributing to a forum full of trolls and individuals with agendas that they will bring into every discussion.

Pally
Posts: 1461
Joined: 2 Aug 2014 05:38
Location: Sydenham

Re: Town Pub

Post by Pally » 25 Jan 2016 14:10

Rachael wrote:I would tend to agree with Michael. What are the stats on who posts in the Pub pre and post the lock-in?

There have indeed been some interesting conversations recently that I have tried to contribute to, but most carry on pingponging between a few regulars as if I've said nothing. Maybe I'm just not being scintillating enough.
I feel exactly the same Rachael ....! :(

Maria
Posts: 374
Joined: 3 Nov 2010 14:34
Location: Sydenham

Re: Town Pub

Post by Maria » 25 Jan 2016 14:35

And I also totally agree with Michael: as you see, you were neither wasting your time nor are you now being ignored.

When recently many of our neighbours held our local annual new year celebration the Forum came up on the conversation. Except from me, the consensus was that it was a total waste of time where negative, aggressive, hostile, and/or provocative opinions are not so much discussed as thrown at each other - and that they no longer want to be "any part of it"; but yesterday when I posted something about the list of traders businesses etc in the Town Café I promised myself that was the last time I actively contributed - so perhaps I am no longer an exception after all.

I shall continue reading the great Town Hall, and gaining hugely from recommendations in the Town Café, though: such a fantastic local resource, thank you!

chrisj1948
Posts: 505
Joined: 15 Jul 2008 15:12
Location: Sydenham

Re: Town Pub

Post by chrisj1948 » 25 Jan 2016 15:59

Maria wrote:..., the consensus was that it was a total waste of time where negative, aggressive, hostile, and/or provocative opinions are not so much discussed as thrown at each other - and that they no longer want to be "any part of it"...
You have reminded me that, in the time before Big Bad Wolf was banished, the subject of the Sydenham Forum came up amongst a group involved with the Sydenham Arts Festival. I was astonished at the vehemence with which all others said they no longer visited it because of the standard of debate was so unpleasant. I begin to suspect that the old Admin was being libertarian by merely isolating the Pub from unregistered view rather than closing it down completely.

Regards
Chris

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