View Full Version : A rambling suggestion

November 22, 2001, 01:01 PM
I don't belong to many "online communities", but there is something I've noticed which seems bound to occur once a community has matured (or grown) a bit.

I'm sure there must be some photography geeks out there, in fact I know there are. photo.net is a photographer's web site which has been around in varying forms since 1994. I've been a member there since early '98 or thereabouts. Within the last few years membership has soared tremendously. Posting volume increased exponentially. Signal to noise ratio through the roof, correlating with a swing in favor of equipment discussions over technique discussions.

Yarn goes something like -
Beginning photographers talk about their cameras.
Experienced photographers talk about their tripods.
Master photographers talk about light.

You'd have difficulty convincing me this doesn't apply to any topic involving tools. Fishing, shooting, woodworking, golf, flying, or many others.

TFL seems to be paralleling this to some extent. I have only been watching TFL for 18 months or so, and a member for perhaps half of that. In reading through the archives I notice this progression. There is far more talk about equipment than there is about using the equipment. Talk about gadgets rather than practice and skill. Rehashed discussions (holy wars) over brand loyalty, wound researchers, and non-firearms political issues ( frequently just tenuously related to our guns) - which is all getting archived. Every bit of it.

A big user of space is the "what about gun x" type of thing. "I don't know what 1191 to buy". "The fruit of Gaston's or Browning's loins?". I'm not belittling these inquiries, just questioning whether or not we need the same question archived in 57 varieties.

I'm tossing out two ideas here. One is more practical than the other. Both would require significant moderator intervention.

For the equipment junkies - allow user submitted reviews in article format. I don't mean a conversational paragraph, but rather a properly written review. Edited and approved by some poor moderator. This could help cut down on the equipment questions and, equally important, if placed in static html files could be indexed by various search engines and help bring in outside traffic. I believe "magnet content" is the hip phrase.

For the archiving signal to noise ratio - place a flag on each thread so that a moderator can mark it not to be archived. If someone is having trouble figuring out for the 72nd time how to use the search function, that's great. We can help him. But does it really need to be archived? The threads that get locked due to inappropriate content probably don't do anyone any good cluttering up the database. There's a lot of stuff that can probably skip being archived without anyone missing it, while cutting down on the clutter and "keyword pollution" in the database. Sometimes it is difficult to find useful things searching through all the cruft out there.

If I'm off base about TFL's raison d'etre, let me know and I'm sure I can come up with other ideas to make people's lives harder :D

Rich Lucibella
November 22, 2001, 07:15 PM
You're right (and I agree somewhat)...but only in the context of our personal TFL experience. Equipment discussions are a right of passage. You and I may have already been thru our Glock vs 1911 debates (here or on the range). But we've certainly done so.

While certain equipment discussions may be less than interesting to us, those who are interested have as much vested in TFL as we. Often such discussions have been played out in the archives....but not for the Member that joined last week. They want to go on record regarding their own opinion...and they have the right.

Our "noise" is another man's "signal" and vice versa. The growth of TFL means only that we need to be more selective in our surfing.

Not certain if I've responded directly. In any case, we can't really ask the Staff to commit to tasks which they can't possibly accomplish with consistency.