|Signal To Noise Ratio|
I've been a member since the site started. I haven't been a regular visitor for some time now. When I think about why that is, I come up with the following reason:
Too much noise.
This problem is not unique to this forum. It happens on many forums. It happens in the the blogsphere echo-chamber. There is simply too much talking by those with nothing worth listening to, and not enough time to weed through it. So I pay subscription fees to other sites that editorialize and analyze.
There are some great people here. Find a way to isolate them and raise them above the herd.
My two cents....
Do you think you should vote for people or posts? In other words, a vote button to give "reputation" to individuals, "likes" to posts, or both? I think the effect would be a bit different depending on which of the three options one went with.
I think the Fedora community's "Karma" system for packages could work for our purposes here.
Several good systems have arisen for floating the more useful comments to the top (helpful, relevant, etc.). The biggest issue is that you have to read through sometimes hundreds of posts to get at the nuggets of gold that make the site great.
While I hate the UI of Slashdot, the idea that threads are allowed to splinter is a more natural approach to the problem. news.ycombinator.com has a nice interface that seems to encourage useful and immediate feedback.
The "bump" strategy of getting a post noticed is terrible -- maybe people should be able to spend a little "karma" points to get more attention on questions that are more important?
I do think there's an old guard here, many the forum mods, and while responses are often useful, there is a bit of a superior attitude at times. I wish people could be more civil, but then again, having been a CompuServe SYSOP for several forums, and done a lot of USENET, we're more evolved ... but need to take the next step. People should need to earn karma, for sure, but maybe it's earned in a specific area of expertise -- I am a ninja at Apache rewrite rules, so when people respond to a well-written questions like I am a newby, I bristle.
But if I am just learning PHP, for example or no nothing about Bing, I expect to be treated like a newb. Maybe one should self-categorize your degree of knowledge. In either case, respect is important -- snarky, dismissive responses from anyone (even a mod) should result in loss of status; good, well written, thoughtful questions, or revealing topics or answers should be rewarded.
Another thought: when a post is a question, it should result in an answer, eventually, if possible. Votes by readers as to which the best answer are work well. I am forgetting the site that does this so well at the moment. Not a fancy Q&A site, just a direct question, people respond, best answer gets voted to the top, and we're all happy.
But above all, WebmasterWorld continues to be a great place to find answers to a broad array of questions on many topics. We're all used to how BBS/Forum stuff works, and you shouldn't throw the baby out with the bathwater.
Giving "points for pleasant posting" defeats the information... not stated correctly, but close to where I want to go: The info can be found on this site via external search or the internal site search. The Library attached to the top of each forum has the "bible" and all of that has ALREADY been "voted" on via "recommend".
Touchy feelie "let's make it fair" whatever correctness is sought will not change a thing, and will only obfuscate a system that already finds, and elevates, valued content.
Personality massage is best served on social networks... and there are quite a few of those out there! (But try getting a straight webmaster centric question answered there!)
I agree that status, points and feel-good are not what WebmasterWorld is about, maybe it should be more like a simple "This post was helpful" button, not even necessarily doing anything than providing one additional way to help scan some of the longer threads for non-fluff responses.
It's about helping identify signal from noise. Not sure of the mechanism, but definitely sure it's a problem here (and most other similar places)
Senior members can do this... sorry for confusion. At bottom of threads there's a "recommend" function... and that makes more sense... newbies (no disrespect to any newbies!) need to show their time and effort with the community before being given a tool to ... work the material.
I run a number of forums on the web. The ones that give me the worst headaches are the ones that have all the "bells and whistles" and "votes" "Like" and other (and avatars and uploads...)
Those are the ones I have to work the proverbial a off to keep it spam free, or malware free, or even on topic. The ones where I keep it tight and on topic are the ones that survive, have value, and have large memberships who return year after year.
That, my opinion, is where and how community is built, trusted, and treasured. Webmasterworld has that right now.