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» The Ornery American Forum » General Comments » The Ornery American: Size and Multiplicity of Viewpoints

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Author Topic: The Ornery American: Size and Multiplicity of Viewpoints
FiredrakeRAGE
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The Ornery American is a niche forum. We cover many topics - almost any imaginable topic. The forum rules are lax, and the people are, for the most part, polite. This forum is relatively hard to find - it is rarely found by people that are not avid fans of Orson Scott Card. While Card's books tend to appeal to those with many different points of view, both political and social, the small number of posting members on Ornery limits the amount of valid discourse.

I like both the lax moderation of this forum as well as most of the people on it. I would like to preserve that, but increase the number of vocal members on this forum. To this end, I put forward a proposal: every member should invite someone else to take a look at the forum.

There are two possible problems associated with this. The first problem is size - perhaps some of you like this forum to be small. I personally believe that it is the type of people that join, rather than the number of people that join that will set the tone for a forum. The second problem is anonymity. If a member invites someone they know to join this forum, that member will know who they are in another context. That could lead to problems from one 'reality' reflecting into the other. To this problem, my response would be simple. Inviting someone else is something I propose - as a suggested choice, not a command. Also, I would advise being cautious with regard to the people you invite. Those of you who are considering inviting the Boss should probably reconsider.

I would like to know what you all think. Would more members allow more viewpoints, or would it fatally alter the signal:noise ratio?

--Firedrake

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Everard
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"I like both the lax moderation of this forum as well as most of the people on it. I would like to preserve that, but increase the number of vocal members on this forum."

"I would like to know what you all think. Would more members allow more viewpoints, or would it fatally alter the signal:noise ratio?"

Everytime we get an influx of people due to OSC mentioning this site somewhere, we spend about a month beating the signal to noise ration back to something reasonable, and many times we end up with new posters who think this site is a place they can crap like any other site on the web, and they don't leave until they get banned. I generally think that the small size of the posting community helps protect the strengths of ornery.

Of course, having weird viewpoints, I also hate having to explain distinctions every time new people show up. Witness my recent exchange with daruma. I think a LOT of us here have odd viewpoints that we've hashed out so many times, that we don't want to do it again every other day.

I think ornery thives with fewer then 100 active posters, but thats just my opinion.

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cperry
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"the small number of posting members on Ornery limits the amount of valid discourse"

Do you really think this is true? What do you think is missing? I don't frequent other forums (fora?), so I don't know what else is available or if they offer a better quality of discourse.

I do kind of like getting to "know" the posters here and wonder if having lots more people involved would make it that much more difficult to get a sense of the posters.

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WarrsawPact
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Oh boy, do I remember influxes of members.

Occasinoally, I find someone who is willing to be reasonable and polite when they're arguing something, and has a minimum of knowledge about some subject. I'll invite them to the forum, tell them it's a nice relatively well-balanced place where we discuss just about everything (politics and related subjects more than others).

I'm all for these kinds of invitations.

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Zyne
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I've invited a few people who I thought might be interested. This place can appear a bit clique-ish, the rapid-fire daytime posting that happens on hot topics can be tough to keep up with, and people who stick around tend to have or develop sophisticated/complicated/odd positions. Ornery isn't for everyone, so I don't invite everyone.

I like to think I'm anonymous here and elsewhere; "Zyne" says things that "I" can't say. The folks I've mentioned Ornery to have tended to be people I know from some other place on the net, rather than from real life (at least not from real life initially), and thought well enough of to risk that they have new information about me that is readily available.

Maybe we ought to compile a Newbie FAQ with information on and links to the major debate topics.

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kelcimer
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quote:
"the small number of posting members on Ornery limits the amount of valid discourse"
You will see posters who will lurk for long periods until a topic of their interest comes up and then they will post. That we have a small number of posting members doesn't mean that we are not getting enough views just that most of them don't feel like posting for whatever reasons. When we get a hot topic like when SSM cropped up earlier this year EVERYONE comes out of the woodwork with somethign to say. {Do you remember that? The boards lit up for TWO FULL WEEKS about SSM before it settled down. For the record I stood that one out.}

For my part I have directed a few people to these forums but none have picked it up. [shrugs]

I'd like to echo Ev and Warrsaw about the signal to noise thing with large batches of newcomers. We haven't had one in a while but it seemed it was every couple of months last year. T'was a pain in the ass.

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WarrsawPact
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Zyne's Newbie FAQ sounds like a good idea, but I'm trying to think of exactly what level of work should be put into it.

As for things "WarrsawPact" says that "I" don't...
well, that just isn't the case with me. I say some pretty outrageous things in my daily life, including my abortion position, and I am very vocal about being a determinist.
That is, if I'm talking about politics with someone.

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Paladine
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Well, this forum has the dubious pleasure of my company because JoshuaD (a friend of mine from HS and afterwards) invited me to take a look, and I've shown a few people since then. Zyne's idea sounds superlative to me (and you won't hear me say that often on other threads [Wink] )
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OrneryMod
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During normal weeks, we tend to average 10-15 new registered members. Most of those will make no posts. A few will post for a day or two and then stop. We will have the occasional person who will stay around for a while.

The big influx of new members that happens when one of OSC articles is posted or linked to in either a paper or a more widely read forum, such as Opinion Journal, is both a good thing and a bad one. I like almost anything that gets the site more exposure, as it can bring in people with fresh ideas and view points. It also has the drawback of bringing out the loonies. I am willing to deal with the loonies in order to get the fresh blood.

OrneryMod

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SC Carver
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As a newbie, I have never been involved in any forums. I started reading here off and on for a couple of months before I decided to join and contribute. I find the polite, usually intelligent, discussion very interesting. Even though I don't agree with many of the opinions here I find most of them are well thought out and the discussions productive. I would be all for getting more points of view as long didn’t change the feel of the place.
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Kent
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I've been registered for years now and I think that most people that post have more time on their hands than the average person. I have probably posted more in the last two months than anytime in the last 3 years, but that is mainly due to the topics covered as well as the time I have to watch the threads go by. Inviting more people will probably just increase the occassional readership, not necessarily postings. I know I could use more evangelicals on the site, if nothing more than to watch the atheists (with a small "a", right?) make enemies.
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Enfield303
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I found Ornery through one of those Opinion Journal pieces. I have not been posting as much as I would like to, but since we are approacing the slow months in the car business, I probably will be putting my $2 worth(ain't inflatition a bitch?) in on a fairly regular basis. I really like the fact that this a rather polite forum where everyone's view can be heard.
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TomDavidson
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"I know I could use more evangelicals on the site, if nothing more than to watch the atheists (with a small "a", right?) make enemies."

I'm not sure I understand this. Are you suggesting that evangelicals need more enemies, and like to seek them among atheists?

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Kent
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Let me take that back. I'm saying that I enjoy the sparks that are generated by both sides and right now I'd like more evangelicals, as I think the atheists have more representation in their postings.
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aupton15
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Huh? I think you might be equating anyone who opposes evangelicals with atheism. That's not entirely accurate (or if you prefer, it is entirely inaccurate). There are lots of in between positions as well, and I think the balance in that regard is pretty good. Start any religious thread here and you will surely have an evangelical, atheist, and many other representatives present. A pretty nice balance really.
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OrneryMod
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I think if you want to discuss the religious make up of Ornery, that might call for another thread.

OrneryMod

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The Drake
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As a relative newcomer, I'd say that inviting people with whom you've had thoughtful political and philosophical discussions - either virtually or in real life - is a good thing. This is the only such group that I post to because:

People cite sources when available, and are generally polite to one another. The pace of the discussions is just right for me, I can reasonably read or skim previous posts in a thread. Also, I like that it is possible to do a search for previous postings on a topic.

The Senate has better debates than the House, because it is smaller and has longer terms. The same is true for Ornery, in my opinion.

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Daruma28
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quote:
"Zyne" says things that "I" can't say.
Oh hell yeah Z. I've learned the hard way to just simply avoid debating politics and religion with friends and family. Ornery is perfect for getting the outlet of saying your piece without disrupting personal relationships in the physical world.

I've been posting on messageboards since 1999 - started out on a few NFL Football sites. I only found Ornery because I read Seventh Son, and I was curious about OSC, so I googled him and found this here forum.

Having been involved in several differnt forums arguing politics, I think quality definitely is more important than quantity when it comes to posters...and I think Ornery is superior to most other forums I've participated in. I no longer discuss politics at the football forums I frequent -- Although I do think some of you that don't care about the NFL or sports in general would be surprised at the high level of interest in politics and religion that can be found amongst NFL fans.

But in terms of serious discourse, I think what makes this place so enjoyable to me is that most members of Ornery are people that READ. Books, news, fiction, non-fiction. Lovers of literature and the written word. No matter your political, ideological or religous persuasion, if you post here, chances are you are a lover of literature.

To me, it's all about how well people express themselves, and people that are avid readers - as I would venture to guess most regulars here - are usually much better debate colleagues than your typical person that barely reads literature and news from day to day. That to me is the distinction Ornery has from a lot of other forums out there.

Finally, I think in terms of keeping people interested in posting here regularly, it is the conflict of ideas that is the real draw to continual participation - and OMs wide leeway with regards to censorship is one of the best administration jobs of a message board I've ever encountered.

IMHO, Ornery doesn't need to "improve" traffic. It's fine the way it is...but that's just my opinion. [Smile]

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JLMyers
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The more the merrier. I have tried to get several people to come join, but so far none have.

quote:
and they don't leave until they get banned.
Ev,

I disagree, I think the actual number of people that have been banned is very small.

KE

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hywer
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I think the literary argument has a lot of merit. I'm a long-time lurker who didn't actually register until I had a little more time than usual (if only that was still the case!) it was the quality of argument on this forum that finally got me. In reading (a lot), I've found that most of the posts we have here are well-thought out and well written -- or at least the ones that get attention beyond the first "stop ranting!" comments are. It makes it so much easier to actually understand all these disparate points of view because we can read them, and there's supporting evidence

As for inviting people... sure! If they don't like it, they'll eventually get out. It seems (to me) like Ornery and OM have a kind of automatic weed-out. Those who can't keep up in argument don't get too much attention, and they leave to where they can make splashes easier. So, I think we can count on the continued quality, as long as we want it bad enough to keep our attention on the good stuff.

[ December 20, 2004, 03:48 PM: Message edited by: hywer ]

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