The (temporary?) disappearance of current Blog posts from the home page leaves the Forum as the only place that members can post an item that goes automatically into public view. It is often hard to say what the difference between a blog post and a forum discussion is or ought to be. Now that one is subject to editorial selection for the home page and the other is not, I have been paying more attention than usual to the issue.

In the last few days I have told two authors of forum discussions, one publicly and one privately, that they were really blog posts. But maybe this is just a personal view. The point of this discussion is to solicit views from the members about what you want the Forum to be for.

If we go to All Discussons, we find two posts featured by the Admins: the current seminar and the logo competition. So the Forum is used by the Admins to invite wide participation from members and is featured to ensure continuing prominence. The First Year Report generated no discussion, but was posted here for general visibility. There are other announcements by the Admins, including an ad for a fellowship that should probably have been posted in Services and Offers, a facility that was created recently, but has been used only once.

The rest were posted by individual members and they include the launch of a debate, a general post moved from a Group for greater visibility, the World Cup, the OAC's birthday, requests for information (unaswered) and so on. Some way back we come across a member's attempt to stimulate discussion about the OAC home page.

So what do members think? Is it worth trying to define what is suitable for the forum and what for a blog post? Or is this another example of the Admins (in this case mostly me) trying to draw bureaucratic lines in the sand that shouldn't be contemplated?


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By "broad" interest, I believe we are referring to topics that will appeal to people across multiple geographic areas and subdisciplines of anthropology.

Topics of discussion that are narrow in scope and deal with the details of a single issue are more appropriately housed within specific Groups.

If, for example, I wanted to begin a discussion of the different construction techniques present in the Pueblo III period of the American Southwest, it would be more appropriate to start that discussion in an Archaeology group, rather than placing it in the main OAC forum.

The current forum topic of "Euangellion" is a specific example. It is a highly focused discussion regarding interpretation of a a single word and its use within Christian scripture, and probably belongs in the discussion section of the "Anthropology of Religion" group.

Does anyone else have their own perspective on defining "broad anthropological interest"?

Paul

Alice C. Linsley said:
Perhaps it would be helpful to define what you mean by "broad anthropological interest" since at OAC there is just about every conceivable area of interest represented.
Nathan Dobson said:
There is no escaping the fact that the home page is the OAC's face and that new or occasional users make snap judgements about the site based on what they see there. The front page has to be edited in order that the OAC's face is an open and welcoming one. We want to get new people interested in joining, make occasional users want to come back for more, and help regular users make the most of what's available.

I agree with Fran that forum posts should be "pointed discussion and debate on topics of broad anthropological interest, whereas Blogs are for more informal inquiries, thoughts and reflections."

I'd like to add that I think most "wondering out loud" should be done on the pages of the groups. I think it's fair to say that not everyone wants to hear about it. If you manage to build a discussion in the group then you'll be given space on the homepage. If your discussion falls flat on its face then you're among friends.
I agree with what you are suggesting. This makes good sense. Susan, who posted that topic - Euangellion - is very new to OAC. She is also very bright and well informed in her area. We don't want to discourage bright minds! That's why I asked if we might clarify this for new people.

Best wishes,
Alice

Paul Wren said:
By "broad" interest, I believe we are referring to topics that will appeal to people across multiple geographic areas and subdisciplines of anthropology.

Topics of discussion that are narrow in scope and deal with the details of a single issue are more appropriately housed within specific Groups.

If, for example, I wanted to begin a discussion of the different construction techniques present in the Pueblo III period of the American Southwest, it would be more appropriate to start that discussion in an Archaeology group, rather than placing it in the main OAC forum.

The current forum topic of "Euangellion" is a specific example. It is a highly focused discussion regarding interpretation of a a single word and its use within Christian scripture, and probably belongs in the discussion section of the "Anthropology of Religion" group.

Does anyone else have their own perspective on defining "broad anthropological interest"?

Paul

Alice C. Linsley said:
Perhaps it would be helpful to define what you mean by "broad anthropological interest" since at OAC there is just about every conceivable area of interest represented.
Nathan Dobson said:
There is no escaping the fact that the home page is the OAC's face and that new or occasional users make snap judgements about the site based on what they see there. The front page has to be edited in order that the OAC's face is an open and welcoming one. We want to get new people interested in joining, make occasional users want to come back for more, and help regular users make the most of what's available.

I agree with Fran that forum posts should be "pointed discussion and debate on topics of broad anthropological interest, whereas Blogs are for more informal inquiries, thoughts and reflections."

I'd like to add that I think most "wondering out loud" should be done on the pages of the groups. I think it's fair to say that not everyone wants to hear about it. If you manage to build a discussion in the group then you'll be given space on the homepage. If your discussion falls flat on its face then you're among friends.
Alice C. Linsley said:
I agree with what you are suggesting. This makes good sense. Susan, who posted that topic - Euangellion - is very new to OAC. She is also very bright and well informed in her area. We don't want to discourage bright minds! That's why I asked if we might clarify this for new people.
Best wishes, Alice
So does this mean your topic about Climate Change should be in an "Anthropology of Climate" group instead of in the main forum? Maybe even on a Blog instead? I don't see that as a broad interest topic. It seems to be highly specialised and also highly speculative. I'm not saying you haven't put it in the right spot as it isn't my judgement call to make, I'm just saying what one person think is a "broad interests" another person think is highly specialised.

I'm not sure Susan's topic shouldn't be in the main part, I think the issue with that topic is that it isn't just a religion topic but also a linguistic one, and possibly a history one as well but unfortunately it has focused squarely on religion.

Maybe the admin team are able to move discussions to what they feel are appropriate categories. I'm an admin on a new Australian site, not a Ning site though, and I think that I have that ability.
That's Keith Hart's call, of course. Climate change affects everyone and can destabilize governments. I'd say that's fairly broad.

I could post a proof of 2 + 2 = 4 and you'd regard that as "speculative", Michael.

Michael Findlay said:
Alice C. Linsley said:
I agree with what you are suggesting. This makes good sense. Susan, who posted that topic - Euangellion - is very new to OAC. She is also very bright and well informed in her area. We don't want to discourage bright minds! That's why I asked if we might clarify this for new people.
Best wishes, Alice
So does this mean your topic about Climate Change should be in an "Anthropology of Climate" group instead of in the main forum? Maybe even on a Blog instead? I don't see that as a broad interest topic. It seems to be highly specialised and also highly speculative. I'm not saying you haven't put it in the right spot as it isn't my judgement call to make, I'm just saying what one person think is a "broad interests" another person think is highly specialised.

I'm not sure Susan's topic shouldn't be in the main part, I think the issue with that topic is that it isn't just a religion topic but also a linguistic one, and possibly a history one as well but unfortunately it has focused squarely on religion.

Maybe the admin team are able to move discussions to what they feel are appropriate categories. I'm an admin on a new Australian site, not a Ning site though, and I think that I have that ability.
Alice C. Linsley said:
That's Keith Hart's call, of course. Climate change affects everyone and can destabilize governments. I'd say that's fairly broad.
I could post a proof of 2 + 2 = 4 and you'd regard that as "speculative", Michael.
If you posted verifiable proof then it wouldn't be speculative would it? I hate to say it but I think you may just have a problem with me asking you simple questions.

I could say alot more about the other point you made just then but let's not turn this thread into a my theory is the best and only theory discussion.
Michael Findlay said:
Maybe the admin team are able to move discussions to what they feel are appropriate categories. I'm an admin on a new Australian site, not a Ning site though, and I think that I have that ability.

As admins, we're able to move Forum posts between forum subcategories, but we can't move them from the Forum to Blogs or Groups. The main forum is called "Welcome to the new OAC Forum". The only other active subcategory is "Offers" (see the tab at the top of the page). If a job offer or scholarship notice appears in the Forum, I wouldn't hesitate to move it to Offers. If a discussion on the anthropology of religion appears in the Forum, though, we can't move it to a group, which is what makes the question of what belongs in the Forum a pressing one.

The other alternative would be to divide the main forum into a series of subcategories. I'm not thrilled with this idea, mainly because that's what groups are for. In practical terms, organizational problems would still arise and it would take up more space on the homepage while making the individual discussions less visible. It's better for site visitors to see the latest forum posts without clicking through.

Alice C. Linsley said:
That's Keith Hart's call, of course.

Part of the reason for discussions like this one is to keep members involved in the decision-making and site moderation that affects us all equally, rather than relying on Keith's judgment after the fact.
Sorry Francine, apart from being a general user I didn't know how Ning works.
Francine Barone said:
Alice C. Linsley said:
That's Keith Hart's call, of course.

Part of the reason for discussions like this one is to keep members involved in the decision-making and site moderation that affects us all equally, rather than relying on Keith's judgment after the fact.
This will probably cause a stir. Having done a bit of searching around, I can say the mentioned thread is actually a blog post, it is on another blog site. This would indicate to me that we as individuals should take this responsibility on our own and not rely on others who are busy to sort it out for us.
The Admins team is a consensual collective. This can mean slow decision-making, but it does inhibit autocracy. We are, however, free to express our individual opinions here and elsewhere on the site.
I really do not understand why people are posting discussions in the forum when they are clearly specific subjects that should be dealt with in the group section of the website.

I have been through every post (166) in the discussion forum and put them into one of three groups. The first are those that I think should be in the group section of the website, the second are those of "broad anthropological interest" that should be in the forum, and the third are offers that should be in the offers section of the website.

It is not a perfect list by any means and some are certainly negotiable but the vast majority that I've listed under "groups" are very obviously group discussions.

You can see the list here.
As Nathan noted on the main page, we have recently adopted a set of easy-to-follow rules that explain where to post site-wide content and where to post focused content. Please refer to this section of the website if you are unsure.
I just read this section of the website and found it very clear. Thanks for the direction.

Paul Wren said:
As Nathan noted on the main page, we have recently adopted a set of easy-to-follow rules that explain where to post site-wide content and where to post focused content. Please refer to this section of the website if you are unsure.
Alice C. Linsley said:
I just read this section of the website and found it very clear. Thanks for the direction.

Thanks for your acknowledgment, Alice. We can all thank Paul for his brilliant work.

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