CG Forums Future - How can we help it?

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Re: CG Forums Future - How can we help it?

Post by RobboAKAscooby »

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:Honestly, I don't think we need more forums. Two summers ago (right? or was it last summer?) we had to close one down (Off-Topic) because of the low traffic. Adding more specific forums isn't going to be an improvement.
Agreed
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Re: CG Forums Future - How can we help it?

Post by Laemkral »

You wanted oldbie feedback? Here's mine.

More forums is bad. We barely have the content to fill GD, so no diversifying until we have the numbers of oh say....Penny Arcade or Least I Could Do.

Update the forums code. Captcha helps keep out bots, though human spammers can get through but have less potential for messing with things. We need up to date software. If that means changing the forums off phpBB, I won't cry very much. It'll probably be a pain in the ass to conduct the move, but that's probably the suck that we need to go through to get it done.

More people with power to get rid of troublesome individual spammers without relying upon McDuff, and especially without having to pray you (Kisai) or Kelly will come by. I will happily do the job and scrounge for troublemakers. I have a relative abundance of free time again (unless I get this aide job) and have constant access to the forums courtesy of my "attached-at-the-hip" iPad. Eventually I will have to surrender my duties as I progress in my career, but for now I can help out.

Eliminate the sub-forums. If the comic is so popular it needs its own forums, the owner can do it their damn self. Those are valuable posters and contributors who can be part of the community. Plus it'll help with that issue thingy you mentioned with the code. Which needs to be updated.

Pester the shit out of someone at Keenspot to get some f'ing support for us or to cut us loose. Seriously, where do they stand on CG? I'd like a semi-official stance from someone adjacent to the power, at a minimum. Whether they want to admit it or not, as the business owners Keenspot has a responsibility to this website to try and make it the best they can. If their answer is "CG doesn't generate enough revenue (or doesn't even generate revenue) for us to worry about it," my response is "Then you've clearly got a shitty business model and should have someone competent look into that".

There's no damn ownership when it comes to CG, so no one feels motivated to get involved. You eliminate the sub-forums, keep the code up to date, put in some new admins to keep the streets clean, and you make Keenspot pay attention to CG once in awhile and you can create a climate where the attitude is "this is your place, people give a shit, and it only gets better the more you contribute". Will you see a new Renaissance and an explosion of members? No, but you'll halt the downward spiral and enable people to reverse the trend.

Apologies if this sounds really angry.
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Re: CG Forums Future - How can we help it?

Post by VeryCuddlyCornpone »

Laemkral wrote: Apologies if this sounds really angry.
I liked it, and agree with it.
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Re: CG Forums Future - How can we help it?

Post by spoonyliger »

Laemkral wrote:Pester the shit out of someone at Keenspot to get some f'ing support for us or to cut us loose. Seriously, where do they stand on CG? I'd like a semi-official stance from someone adjacent to the power, at a minimum. Whether they want to admit it or not, as the business owners Keenspot has a responsibility to this website to try and make it the best they can. If their answer is "CG doesn't generate enough revenue (or doesn't even generate revenue) for us to worry about it," my response is "Then you've clearly got a shitty business model and should have someone competent look into that".
Guess we have a winner as to whom we'll be pestering for the next week or so.
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Re: CG Forums Future - How can we help it?

Post by Labasaur »

Terotrous wrote:You might also consider something like limiting new accounts to one post every 6 hours or so until they reach some fairly low threshold, like 5 posts or something, coupled with the above very few spam accounts would ever survive long enough to have full posting privledges.
This sounds like a good idea, and Laem had a lot of good points too...
Laemkral wrote:Apologies if this sounds really angry.
.
VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:I'm not particularly adept at code, but I could help out on the forum front at least, if you need me.
I'd also be happy to do anything I can to help. Just tell me what you need done =] I know a little bit of HTML, but learning more isn't a problem.
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Re: CG Forums Future - How can we help it?

Post by Terotrous »

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:Two summers ago (right? or was it last summer?) we had to close one down (Off-Topic) because of the low traffic. Adding more specific forums isn't going to be an improvement
I was against it at the time and I still don't believe it helped. Off-Topic was one of the few forums that actually got traffic.

Though I do agree that adding new forums probably won't help much.
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Re: CG Forums Future - How can we help it?

Post by Kisai »

spoonyliger wrote:
Laemkral wrote:Pester the shit out of someone at Keenspot to get some f'ing support for us or to cut us loose. Seriously, where do they stand on CG? I'd like a semi-official stance from someone adjacent to the power, at a minimum. Whether they want to admit it or not, as the business owners Keenspot has a responsibility to this website to try and make it the best they can. If their answer is "CG doesn't generate enough revenue (or doesn't even generate revenue) for us to worry about it," my response is "Then you've clearly got a shitty business model and should have someone competent look into that".
Guess we have a winner as to whom we'll be pestering for the next week or so.
I'd appreciate if you don't try to publicly embarrass keenspot, because they could just as easily shut down or sell CG to people who don't have the community's interests at heart. Ever see the outcry when popular sites get new management?

CG makes zero money. How much do you figure it costs to host it?

I'll give you a hint:
https://www.projectwonderful.com/adsear ... 0&submit=1

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Re: CG Forums Future - How can we help it?

Post by spoonyliger »

Well then!
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Re: CG Forums Future - How can we help it?

Post by Laemkral »

Kisai wrote:
spoonyliger wrote:
Laemkral wrote:Pester the shit out of someone at Keenspot to get some f'ing support for us or to cut us loose. Seriously, where do they stand on CG? I'd like a semi-official stance from someone adjacent to the power, at a minimum. Whether they want to admit it or not, as the business owners Keenspot has a responsibility to this website to try and make it the best they can. If their answer is "CG doesn't generate enough revenue (or doesn't even generate revenue) for us to worry about it," my response is "Then you've clearly got a shitty business model and should have someone competent look into that".
Guess we have a winner as to whom we'll be pestering for the next week or so.
I'd appreciate if you don't try to publicly embarrass keenspot, because they could just as easily shut down or sell CG to people who don't have the community's interests at heart. Ever see the outcry when popular sites get new management?

CG makes zero money. How much do you figure it costs to host it?

I'll give you a hint:
https://www.projectwonderful.com/adsear ... 0&submit=1
Kisai, if Keenspot shuts down CG, it would be a loss to us all in the short term but most of us would find other ways to keep in touch. I foresee there would be a great migration to Facebook, Google+, the IRC, or any other of the ways available to us. They lose CG, we move elsewhere.

If they sell us off to someone else, then the new management can't do anything to make things worse because as it stands now Keenspot doesn't do a damn thing for us that I can see. Sell us to someone who doesn't have the community's interest at heart? THEY don't have our interests at heart, so I fail to see any difference other than who we'd bitch to to make things better.

I already said this in my previous post, Keenspot is showing no concern for this website or its membership. Blaming the lack of care on no or negative revenue being generated is a lousy excuse because they can't expect to get something for nothing. Having a lousy business model, particularly one they don't invest any time or effort for proper management into, is not my problem. It reminds me of poor leadership, that they aren't willing to live up to their responsibilities as owners of CG.

This situation we're in right now? Comic Genesis is a slum, and Keenspot is the slum lord that does as little as possible to acknowledge we exist but is still content to take whatever little revenue we may generate.
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Re: CG Forums Future - How can we help it?

Post by McDuffies »

I may repeat some of what other people said, but here it is:

Updating the code is always a good thing. I'm suspecting that newer code could have some new systems against spam, I mean we can't be the only forum that's having that kind of problem. It is possible that with new code that problem would solve itself, although maybe not.

Terotrous suggested a few good ideas how spammers could be stopped, I'll add a few more: potentially, a poster should have to make his first post in introduction thread. Or potentially, posters would be banned or reported to the admin if they use some keywords in their first post. I think if a poster starts talking about "cialis" right away, he's most certainly a spammer.

Modifying a code is not an option, ok. Perhaps existing code (or updated version) offers a possibility to use one of these ideas, so we keep brainstorming until something implementable occurs to us. Also is captcha upon registering going to help?
Remember, we don't need something that would clear all the spams. We need something that would bring it to reasonable amount of spam.

Like I said earlier, since I've been given partial admin powers earlier this year, I never visit forums without having to prune several users and ban several IPs. Since I scroll through forums sometimes even three times a day, I think that adds up to unreasonable amont of spam.

Giving more people admin powers is something that would help me personally, as it is now, visiting forums is first and foremost a chore and any joy is sucked out of it. Of course it would also help in times when I'm away from internet for a while, or you know, during my nighttime. So I'm all for that.
(Also moderators for forums outside of Comic Genesis Central. For instance, I can prune a user who is spamming "Cartoonist's Choice Awards" but I can't ban his IP because I can't check IPs in that forum group.)

Pruning users that have zero posts and haven't posted anything since, say, last year is something that I figure would help weed those stealth spammers that don't actually post anything.

Now, I think that there's really one thing that would helf with forum problems in long term, and I hope you Kisai won't understand this the wrong way, but I think that a forum needs a full time admin who would be available at most times. I understand that your personal life as well as Kelly's life have moved away from this forum the same way how most of lives of people who posted back then moved away, and that's perfectly fine.
I do think that a forum needs a new admin whose life is more attached to the forum, that is the one who would be accesible and on hands. I mean - we might solve the issues with spammers, only to run into a new wave of smarter spammers in two years. Right now I feel a bit crappy even saying that code needs updating, since that requires free work by someone who probably has better things she/he would do in her/his free time. And yeah, many things around forum and site need some sorting out or polishing (for instance many people reported that pogs and chans aren't updated, and if pogs are few years old and advertising comics of which many aren't even updating anymore, they what's their point?), and again it should be done by someone who wouldn't consider it a burden, someone with a lot of enthusiasm (not that I have any suggestion of who that might be).

Certainly 'Spot crew would find someone like that easier if they're ready to pay him some, I reckon even if CG isn't making money it still has some role in 'Spot's business plan, because they probably have some reason for still keeping 'Space up other than being nice people. I mean, if CG forum is worth something, it's worth keeping it alive, and as it is it's slowly dying, last batch of regulars was attracted by remains of the group from when forum was very active, right now there isn't anyone who would attract a new group, noone to respond in Help forum, etc. So maybe it's not making money, but if it's worth something in any other way, if it's worth existing, then it's worth of 'Spot investing something in it, having it whipped up to shape.

Which brings me to the matter, did anyone actually contacted Crosby about any of this? I feel that, if we have different interests from him, perhaps having this discussion with him would bring us to some solution that works for both sides, and having this discussion without him is kinda pointless since any long term solution would have to require his approval anyways. I mean, talking about things that concern him and guessing what he would say won't get us far. (Attacking him preemptively won't either.)

Forum member named RDKS expressed some interest in volunteering to work on the forum here and elsewhere. Just FYI.

Now, one thing I've already said, but I'll repeat it (probably every time this topic comes up again): Forums are out. Social networks are in. In order to keep CG community up to date, you have to branch it out to Facebook and Twitter and wherever else kids hang out these days. This is, in my opinion, something members of community should do if they want CG to live into the next era. Starting a war with another community is a good old fun, but it's not helpful in regards of long-term traffic. Those who really want CG to re-live old glory* should do a bit of unpaid work on maintaining CG's official FB and Twitter (and whereelse) channels and connecting it to forums and site itself. Preferably people good in online marketing.
Mastermind wrote:would it help if a mod who deletes a post copied the username to a "to ban" list and sent it to Kisai every once in a while? (I don't know how many posts McDuffies deletes daily, maybe that's too much effort)
I'm already doing something like that, I'm pruning every account that spams (this means deleting account and all it's posts) and banning the IP account posted from.

*It's funny that I'm refering to those times as glory days, since in those days we did nothing but bitch about how nobody appreciated us enough.

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Re: CG Forums Future - How can we help it?

Post by Terotrous »

McDuffies wrote:Now, one thing I've already said, but I'll repeat it (probably every time this topic comes up again): Forums are out. Social networks are in. In order to keep CG community up to date, you have to branch it out to Facebook and Twitter and wherever else kids hang out these days. This is, in my opinion, something members of community should do if they want CG to live into the next era. Starting a war with another community is a good old fun, but it's not helpful in regards of long-term traffic. Those who really want CG to re-live old glory* should do a bit of unpaid work on maintaining CG's official FB and Twitter (and whereelse) channels and connecting it to forums and site itself. Preferably people good in online marketing.
I don't really buy that it's just the fact that we're a forum that's hurting traffic. There are a lot of forums that are a lot more popular than this one. I think a lot of it is just that comics aren't as popular as they once were.

But on the Twitter / Social media front, how would you recommend that CG should use Twitter? Clearly just posting status updates about forum maintenance or whatever isn't going to bring new people in. Would you try to use it to highlight comics or something like that? It seems like something that might have some value, but I'm not sure how to integrate it with what we do here.

Perhaps there needs to be a topic about this.
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Re: CG Forums Future - How can we help it?

Post by McDuffies »

Terotrous wrote: I don't really buy that it's just the fact that we're a forum that's hurting traffic. There are a lot of forums that are a lot more popular than this one. I think a lot of it is just that comics aren't as popular as they once were.
Possibly, but that's not something we can change.
But on the Twitter / Social media front, how would you recommend that CG should use Twitter? Clearly just posting status updates about forum maintenance or whatever isn't going to bring new people in. Would you try to use it to highlight comics or something like that? It seems like something that might have some value, but I'm not sure how to integrate it with what we do here.

Perhaps there needs to be a topic about this.
Well, I dunno a thing about how twitter operates, seeing as I don't use it. I don't really know what are it's capabilities regarding linking, putting up images and all. But it's ubiquituous and I figure that there must be a way to use that.

For FB, I'd imagine, in ideal case, a group that is active and had good integration with forum. Remember in times when chat was active, themes from forum were being always brought up in chat, and forum was getting a lot of traffic from chat from people who visited a topic that they wouldn't know about if they haven't heard of it in chat. Also, people in forum had some kind of idea of what kind of stuff was going on in chat due to dedicated thread. That's a kind of integration that I think would be helpful.
For starters I figure that there'd need to be a few volunteers who'd be posting various kinds of news from CG on that group. These might include, for instance, news about CG, plugs to CG comics of a choice, interesting or more important threads in forum, or they could just be starting various comic-related topics. But also, there could be general news from webcomic world, from Keenspot, links to various related sites (webcomic lists or review sites for instance) and so on. We could also put mirrors to our usual activities like CG Miss/Mr up there (posting all entries into a gallery up there) or start some specific actions to attract people (like making a CG compilation book specially for FB).

Facebook is actually great for promotion. Forum sits there and waits for users to come. Facebook campaign actually comes to users, pretty much sticks itself under their noses - if you have, say one update every day, this update is read by all members whether they want it or not. Facebook allows uploading of pictures, therefore comics. People sould update sketches pretty much like in Doodles thread, or previews to their new comics like in Pitching. Most impostantly, you get to befriend every other comic collective that has presence on Facebook and reach to many, many other people interested in webcomics.

I know this is pretty lot of work that I wouldn't force on someone, but I see there's a lot of people who are enthusiastic about helping CG, and social networking seem like a way that would bring results.

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Re: CG Forums Future - How can we help it?

Post by Kisai »

McDuffies wrote:I may repeat some of what other people said, but here it is:

Updating the code is always a good thing. I'm suspecting that newer code could have some new systems against spam, I mean we can't be the only forum that's having that kind of problem. It is possible that with new code that problem would solve itself, although maybe not.
I'll point it out now, but all spammers have to do is use IPv6, which would entail me blocking all IPv6 traffic to get around IP bans. And yes some of the ip's that were purged came from ipv6. I can't do a purge on 0post count's since that would nuke all the non-community CG siteadmin linkage.


Terotrous suggested a few good ideas how spammers could be stopped, I'll add a few more: potentially, a poster should have to make his first post in introduction thread. Or potentially, posters would be banned or reported to the admin if they use some keywords in their first post. I think if a poster starts talking about "cialis" right away, he's most certainly a spammer.
This is a super-naive way of trying to address the problem. You can ban the keywords so the spam is less effective, but ultimately the only way to actually prevent spam is to kill the forum with admin approval. That is what is the same intent.
Modifying a code is not an option, ok. Perhaps existing code (or updated version) offers a possibility to use one of these ideas, so we keep brainstorming until something implementable occurs to us. Also is captcha upon registering going to help?
Remember, we don't need something that would clear all the spams. We need something that would bring it to reasonable amount of spam.
We're not running an ancient version, just one version back. They UPDATED it like a week after I updated the last time. The problem is any 'MOD's (we don't have any anymore) are completely broken with every update, and most MOD's don't work on any version other than the version they were designed against. PHPBB needs to actually integrate more tricks into the code. But you know what I could just as easily fix this a different way, but people will be horribly confused, not just bots.
Like I said earlier, since I've been given partial admin powers earlier this year, I never visit forums without having to prune several users and ban several IPs. Since I scroll through forums sometimes even three times a day, I think that adds up to unreasonable amont of spam.
Remember the old president of CG poll's (that got obviously ballot stuffed?)

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Re: CG Forums Future - How can we help it?

Post by McDuffies »

Kisai wrote: This is a super-naive way of trying to address the problem. You can ban the keywords so the spam is less effective, but ultimately the only way to actually prevent spam is to kill the forum with admin approval. That is what is the same intent.
If we have to clean up spam every few days, that's still better than having to clean it up every couple of hours. There's new spam literally minutes after I leave the forum. Manually cleaning it barely qualifies as a solution.
How did we deal with spam before?
But you know what I could just as easily fix this a different way, but people will be horribly confused, not just bots.
How?
Remember the old president of CG poll's (that got obviously ballot stuffed?)
Sure, but wasn't that a prank made by some regular?

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Re: CG Forums Future - How can we help it?

Post by Kisai »

McDuffies wrote:
Kisai wrote: This is a super-naive way of trying to address the problem. You can ban the keywords so the spam is less effective, but ultimately the only way to actually prevent spam is to kill the forum with admin approval. That is what is the same intent.
If we have to clean up spam every few days, that's still better than having to clean it up every couple of hours. There's new spam literally minutes after I leave the forum. Manually cleaning it barely qualifies as a solution.
How did we deal with spam before?
We didn't, the bots got more sophisticated.
But you know what I could just as easily fix this a different way, but people will be horribly confused, not just bots.
How?
I modify the password field so that it's always broken, and then change the CG header to "correct it", thus breaking every bot that can't process javascript.
Remember the old president of CG poll's (that got obviously ballot stuffed?)
Sure, but wasn't that a prank made by some regular?
That's the problem with the poll system. It only tracks user id to option, it doesn't check ip's.

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Re: CG Forums Future - How can we help it?

Post by Mastermind »

If the best way to fight spam is more mods then what's the problem? People are worried they'd have to spend lots of time deleting stuff? Why not make a McDuffies sidekick squad of 2-3 more mods that would at least take a portion of work off his paws.

I don't use twitter either but I imagine we could post daily recommendations of interesting updates. And not just from CG because that would lead to repetitive plugs of the same comics which would annoy people. We could also point to hot discussions here "Spiderman marries the Thing?! http:/forums.comicgenesis.com/viewtopic etc"

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Re: CG Forums Future - How can we help it?

Post by McDuffies »

Kisai wrote: I modify the password field so that it's always broken, and then change the CG header to "correct it", thus breaking every bot that can't process javascript.
What does a user have to do to get past that protection?
If the best way to fight spam is more mods then what's the problem? People are worried they'd have to spend lots of time deleting stuff? Why not make a McDuffies sidekick squad of 2-3 more mods that would at least take a portion of work off his paws.
Actually more admins. There are mods, but they can't delete or ban a user. They can only delete particular posts, which is time-consuming and doesn't do much, as the spam account just keeps posting. Admins can get rid of a spammer in a few clicks, but they can also do more damage (like, I guess, accidentally erasing a real poster). But if I can do it, it can't be that hard.
I don't use twitter either but I imagine we could post daily recommendations of interesting updates. And not just from CG because that would lead to repetitive plugs of the same comics which would annoy people. We could also point to hot discussions here "Spiderman marries the Thing?! http:/forums.comicgenesis.com/viewtopic etc"
Yeah, something like that. News from CG (not just from forums, entire site) would be most important, but news from elsewhere in webcomics would make the thing complete and more interesting to others. A thread would be nice, where people could come to announce news about their comic, which would then be carried to twitter.

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Re: CG Forums Future - How can we help it?

Post by spoonyliger »

Though I don't have anything good to say so far, I like where this thread is going.
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Re: CG Forums Future - How can we help it?

Post by robotthepirate »

Twittering, I don't use it but we could have a thread where we say when we're updating and someone could post links to keep people informed on that day. We could maybe write mini reviews of each others site to use as a "artist spotlight on:". But as I don't use it I'm not sure.

I like forums. They have a community aspect that social networking doesn't get.
Social networking works on everyone being connected by the 6 degrees of separation rule, which can be useful for advertising if you can make waves that big but often you just get lost in the crowd. Forums just say "Here we will collect people of a similar ilk" and everyone talks to everyone.

Give me a couple of years to prove my commitment to the forum and you'll have yourself a willing mod/admin volunteer, as it is no one would back me for any forum powers (including myself) because I haven't been here long enough.

-Also - Another forum I'm active on for an author stopped people posting links until they'd posted 15 posts. Which might give a few bots some problems. I'm sure that would involve changing code like you said you didn't want to.
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Re: CG Forums Future - How can we help it?

Post by McDuffies »

Man sometimes those spams really make me giggle. Here's one from Get-Togethers:
Can i post many advertising text and links here? For free? Many links...
But if i can't - simply drop this posting and i delete your site from our database. Internet must be clean, right?
Thanks.

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