07-20-12, 11:38 PM #1
The reason for the decline in forum membership - anyone?
Years ago when I first came to sciforums, if I remember correctly, it had a reasonably genuine membership of over 70,000 members. Today it records under 31,000 members.
There appeared at the time and for many years a progressive, dynamic and sometimes outrageous collections of discussions going on where the only rule was that people respect the right of others to express an opinion, ask questions and get egg on their faces with out any harm being done to the fundamental esteem of the member or other members.
This OPEN and respectful forum philosophy under the Guidance of key moderators at the time lead to a vital and vigourous and yet repectful debate and discussion.
An example of which was the incredible tolerance the board had to one poster Macm who persisted in his complaints against AE SRT for almost 4 years until the time of his death not so lmany years ago.
Today however there appears to have been a shift in forum policy where by certain individual posters appear to have taken it upon themselves to censor the board into silence. Whether they are acting as an organised collective or individually is unable to be thoroughly determined but the end result IMO has been the serious decline in openness, and critical debate that had been occuring therefore leading to a significant drop in persons wishing to participate.
care to discuss?
07-21-12, 12:04 AM #2
can you filter members out by inactivity?
do a year then two
i'd guess active members to be in the hundreds within that time range
07-21-12, 12:06 AM #3
07-21-12, 01:42 PM #4
If you want your musings to be allowed in the main physics/maths forum then you're going to have to meet a necessary basic minimal standard. One such standard is the ability to accept correction on things you know full well you're not very familiar with. Other standards include providing clear and logical justification of claims when asked and to avoid misrepresenting mainstream physics or mathematics or the people doing it. Personally I dislike pseudo-science trying to masquerade as science. If someone opens with "This is all made up nonsense and it's just random musings I had but I don't know any science or maths but perhaps someone will see some kind of interesting thing here" then I'd be inclined to be less blunt but when someone wants to be taken seriously but fails to meet any kind of standard for intellectual honesty and demonstrates wilful ignorance of the matter they make assertions about then saying "You're demonstrably wrong and woefully misinformed for these reasons...." might be blunt, it might knock a bit off your delusions of mediocrity and it might cause denial via thoughts like "Oh he's just jealous of all this science I'm doing!! He just doesn't know science!" but demonstrably false assertions are still false.
I've got no issues with people being bad at science or unfamiliar with science provided they're sufficiently self aware to know it. Threads about tentative concepts in science or even things like "Can someone explain to me why you can't view quantum particles as....?" have a place in the main physics/maths forum, because if the person asking the question is genuinely interested and has some conceptual block then we're here to help. If it's so they can peddle their pet theory then it gets kicked to pseudo or AT. I'm all for discussions about wacky concepts in science, even science fiction, or suggestions for how to interpret some experiment but it's provided the 'discussion' doesn't take the form of someone asserting their few person webpages on how Einstein got wrong will destroy the great relativity conspiracy
07-21-12, 03:02 PM #5
To answer your question about declining forum membership from a general perspective, Quantum Quack, I observe that the membership at other forums I attend is also down from their historical highs.
There is a seasonal flow of forum activity and as most membership of forums that I participate on seems to be from the northern hemisphere, we are presently in the busy vacation, BBQ and outdoor season for most of these folks.
Another thought occurs and that is that the novelty of such interaction is beginning to wear off for many. We are a species that is ever in search of the new, and even new forums are not sufficient to retain our interest for long because we encounter similar stereotypes at each forum.The same or similar topics, being debated and discussed by different yet similar persons, and after awhile, it all starts to become far too familiar.
There are those who are committed to their theories and the search, so while membership may be smaller, I do not doubt that the discussions are of equal caliber with perhaps just a little less entertainment and drama.
07-21-12, 08:40 PM #6
As a valued,long term and active member of sciforums.com, do you agree there has been a significant decline here in participation over the years?
and if so why do you think this is happening to the extent that appears to be greater than the general trend?
or "Is there evidence of a greater decline than you would normally predict based on the net generally?
The use of pesudo science or fringe boards is actually a necessity these days on the net as many posters simply wish to discuss subjects in an informal way, prior to getting too serious.
In one forum we had a similar A "no public" access Cess Pool board that allowed moderators to enter into negotiations with the poster to determine the appropriateness or relevance or compatability of the post and posting history. The post only was moved to the cesspool in most cases which allowed the thread to continue [ abeit with notification that a challenging post had been moved for adjudication]
This led to a happier forum due to the democratic and empowering nature of the policies.
The policy being that every member and post is of value and is valued until realised other wise. Banning a member became a very rare event.
BTW I personally have no problem with your approach to science as this is your right and domain however IMO repeatedly elucidating your position in the pseudo science section does you nor the posters any justice what so ever except kill discussion.
Last edited by Quantum Quack; 07-21-12 at 10:58 PM.
07-21-12, 08:51 PM #7
Your point though is as I am also experiencing with the variety of forums I participate in. The sheer number of forums available has increased significantly during this period [2003 to 2012] and maybe this could be the main reason for the declining numbers [ beyond seasonal fluctuations]
In other words my complaint mentioned in the OP may indeed be an over sentimentally distorted one and I can accept that if true.
It is just that when you contact [survey] ex members who were of signifciant intellectual and humanist calibre and who took great delight in guiding and informing other posters as asked for, there appears to be a common answer as to why they departed [especially in philosophy]. Maybe I am just missing their contributions.
*I have managed a few forums myself in the past and have a certain [although far from comprehensive] amount of experience from an admin and moderator perspective.
No doubt there are many contributing factors at work.
07-21-12, 09:34 PM #8
07-21-12, 10:03 PM #9
07-21-12, 10:21 PM #10
07-21-12, 10:37 PM #11
07-21-12, 10:46 PM #12
Times have really changed.
Like it was said there are more forums.
But in my limited experience. I can't hardly find any. Honest. An the few I visited, one being member NMSquirrels forum. Is always "neat" but I feel I "contribute" better at one place an I am aware of these members. I think I stumbled on this place by doing a yahoo search, searching OTC "vitamins". Of all things. An this place may be hard to find for some. Maybe that's another reason membership has declined. IMO asking JamesR may help answer a couple of your questions.
07-21-12, 10:55 PM #13
I have seen a drastic drop-off in that time. Why? I'm not really sure.
But, I must say, we have our fair share of trolls, and that may have contributed.
But, all in all, I like it here. I do frequent several other forums, and am a mod at a couple... But, I do like this place.
There's no place like home... LOL
07-21-12, 11:34 PM #14
I came from ToeQuest, but it dwindled away to about only three continuous posters ever saying about 'God', 'consciousness is all', and yoga as the way, plus even combining those, somehow, and getting mad about anything contrary. And that was a science site. As of now, there might only be one post a day, sometimes. I know Scheherazade from there and she was not like those others mentioned, but very great. Quantum_Wave is also from there.
I tried 'TheScienceForums' or whatever it is called but that had many insulters, mostly against each other, and in science, no less, but I met KilljoyKlown there and told him about SciForums, and now he has many and varied threads here that everyone likes.
'Hypography', which might not be quite the right name, doesn't move all that quickly.
People can be pests anywhere, but here there is a minimum (singular). I only ever reported but one person.
07-22-12, 12:33 AM #15
07-22-12, 01:48 AM #16
07-22-12, 02:06 AM #17
07-22-12, 02:07 AM #18
I only returned to the site recently after a period of inactivity of nearly 3 years (I've been a member since 2003), and the first thing that stuck me was how quiet the place was. The philosophy and pseudoscience forums always seemed to be the busiest subfora on the site, but that is no longer the case.
As to why that is, I have no idea. There are a lot of quality posters from my last stint who are no longer active--and quite a few more trolls who seem to have disappeared from the ranks, too. I've seen some pretty outrageous misbehavior by a couple of moderators since I've been back; perhaps that has something to do with it.
07-22-12, 07:42 AM #19
Complete guesses about sciforums.
Your own estimates are welcome.
1. It consists 90% of people from the Northern Hemisphere.
2. 60% of posters are people at school or college.
3. Some prolific posters have stopped posting so much.
SAM used to provide half the posts.
Sometimes I suspect her of providing my posts too.
Hopefully, most young people, and other people, have better things to do with their summers than post here.
It will pick up in the Autumn.
07-22-12, 02:29 PM #20
Perhaps the reason for the decline is the appalling crank to science ratio here.
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