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  1. #1
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    Default discussion forums as a campfire circle

    I've participated in forums for a long time now...started with research to buy a popup camper trailer years ago. Since then I've found it a great way to socialize with folks with a similar interest & I've made thousands of posts on several different forums over a wide range of topic areas. I always try at least to be reasonable, polite, helpful

    Anyway, I've always had a tendency to think of threads as campfire discussions...
    logging in is like pulling up a chair to a campfire....there's a conversation happening. You chime in or you just sit and listen.
    maybe starting a thread is like lighting a campfire and starting a conversation...and seeing if anyone wants to pull up a chair.

    conversations will naturally drift and that's ok. Sometimes a question might be directed to a specific person or group, but others will respond...sometimes bringing helpful perspective that would have otherwise never even been thought about.... or sometimes it might just bring humor or interest. Sometimes it's derailing, but that's ok.

    Sometimes the fire that is lit is small...made with just a few twigs...and the question or comment seeding the discussion won't result in much...not many folks will want to pull up a chair. A specific question such as how much does a Black Diamond item number BD11221100001251 trekking pole weigh? There really is only one answer...or maybe two.... book weight and actual...and so one or two responses and the conversation is dead. It either drifts, or the few folks that pulled up a chair will pickup and move to a different fire pit...and the fire goes out.

    Other times barn burner bonfires are lit....

    The only real issues I see are the occasional off color or downright rude person that'll ruin the party...or when the topic drifts so far into some unrelated but very good topic that it really should be a new thread (so that folks will understand by the title what it is about).


    I find it very curious when some folks on these discussion forum web sites look at these things in a very different way. Like the OP "owns" the discussion. "Don't sit at my campfire unless you have owned ____."...or, "don't bother opening your mouth unless you have actually done ____."
    It's a very rigid perspective..... question asked, answer given, close the thread..... comment made, a few responses given, that's it I'm not interested in what anyone else has to say on the matter, close the thread.....

    That's all ok I guess, and it fits well when the question is very basic and specific such as what is the actual volume of a certain model backpack....but otherwise it' just a different paradigm than my own.... one I don't find very constructive, happy or welcoming.

    How do you look at it?

  2. #2
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    If it's in the "Straight Forward" forum, it's an "OP owned" campfire, and responses should be on point relating directly to the topic subject matter and the original post. And then there's the "Female Forum", which is most often best avoided by men folk - but not always. Gear for sale isn't the place to tell a seller his used tent is overpriced or offer opinions on it. There's the UL forum where sometimes someone posts about say a certain pack and a flaming marshmallow fight breaks out over what is and isn't UL. Yeah, some people don't get all that. But otherwise, common sense should be a guide to what's appropriate thread drift and what isn't.

    Thread drift brings up subjects, things, and opinions you might not otherwise hear. It's also closer to the dynamic of the way real conversations work. Yeah, it can dilute a topic, but you can also learn. And it keeps it from getting boring as most every possible topic could probably be searched for and answered in old forum posts. Sometimes people have thin skin, sometimes people are too blunt, some people don't appreciate sarcasm, etc., but usually even if feelings get hurt temporarily we pass around a bottle and make-up. WB is pretty active and "social". It would be a pretty dull place without thread drift.

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    What a great explanation!

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    If it's in the "Straight Forward" forum, it's an "OP owned" campfire, and responses should be on point relating directly to the topic subject matter and the original post. And then there's the "Female Forum", which is most often best avoided by men folk - but not always. Gear for sale isn't the place to tell a seller his used tent is overpriced or offer opinions on it. There's the UL forum where sometimes someone posts about say a certain pack and a flaming marshmallow fight breaks out over what is and isn't UL. Yeah, some people don't get all that. But otherwise, common sense should be a guide to what's appropriate thread drift and what isn't.

    Thread drift brings up subjects, things, and opinions you might not otherwise hear. It's also closer to the dynamic of the way real conversations work. Yeah, it can dilute a topic, but you can also learn. And it keeps it from getting boring as most every possible topic could probably be searched for and answered in old forum posts. Sometimes people have thin skin, sometimes people are too blunt, some people don't appreciate sarcasm, etc., but usually even if feelings get hurt temporarily we pass around a bottle and make-up. WB is pretty active and "social". It would be a pretty dull place without thread drift.
    totally agree with this. Well put.
    humor is the gadfly on the corpse of tragedy

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    Quote Originally Posted by blw2 View Post
    I've participated in forums for a long time now...started with research to buy a popup camper trailer years ago. Since then I've found it a great way to socialize with folks with a similar interest & I've made thousands of posts on several different forums over a wide range of topic areas. I always try at least to be reasonable, polite, helpful

    Anyway, I've always had a tendency to think of threads as campfire discussions...
    logging in is like pulling up a chair to a campfire....there's a conversation happening. You chime in or you just sit and listen.
    maybe starting a thread is like lighting a campfire and starting a conversation...and seeing if anyone wants to pull up a chair.

    conversations will naturally drift and that's ok. Sometimes a question might be directed to a specific person or group, but others will respond...sometimes bringing helpful perspective that would have otherwise never even been thought about.... or sometimes it might just bring humor or interest. Sometimes it's derailing, but that's ok.

    Sometimes the fire that is lit is small...made with just a few twigs...and the question or comment seeding the discussion won't result in much...not many folks will want to pull up a chair. A specific question such as how much does a Black Diamond item number BD11221100001251 trekking pole weigh? There really is only one answer...or maybe two.... book weight and actual...and so one or two responses and the conversation is dead. It either drifts, or the few folks that pulled up a chair will pickup and move to a different fire pit...and the fire goes out.

    Other times barn burner bonfires are lit....

    The only real issues I see are the occasional off color or downright rude person that'll ruin the party...or when the topic drifts so far into some unrelated but very good topic that it really should be a new thread (so that folks will understand by the title what it is about).


    I find it very curious when some folks on these discussion forum web sites look at these things in a very different way. Like the OP "owns" the discussion. "Don't sit at my campfire unless you have owned ____."...or, "don't bother opening your mouth unless you have actually done ____."
    It's a very rigid perspective..... question asked, answer given, close the thread..... comment made, a few responses given, that's it I'm not interested in what anyone else has to say on the matter, close the thread.....

    That's all ok I guess, and it fits well when the question is very basic and specific such as what is the actual volume of a certain model backpack....but otherwise it' just a different paradigm than my own.... one I don't find very constructive, happy or welcoming.

    How do you look at it?
    very well put. an appealing perspective.
    humor is the gadfly on the corpse of tragedy

  6. #6

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    It's a campground with a set of rules that participants are asked to follow, not a single campfire. Members can wander through the campground and warm themselves at the campsites provided they follow the rules established for the various sections of the campground. Whiteblaze was established in 2003. We've had campground rules, aka a user agreement, in place for about a dozen years and for just over ten years while I have been an admin we have strongly stressed compliance with our campground rules. You might long for the wilderness, but the wilderness on the internet can be a really ugly place. The campsites here are no charge but please read and follow the campground rules. Please enjoy your stay and your campground hosts thank you.
    "Sleepy alligator in the noonday sun
    Sleepin by the river just like he usually done
    Call for his whisky
    He can call for his tea
    Call all he wanta but he can't call me..."
    Robert Hunter & Ron McKernan

    Whiteblaze.net User Agreement.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    If it's in the "Straight Forward" forum, it's an "OP owned" campfire, and responses should be on point relating directly to the topic subject matter and the original post. And then there's the "Female Forum", which is most often best avoided by men folk - but not always. Gear for sale isn't the place to tell a seller his used tent is overpriced or offer opinions on it. There's the UL forum where sometimes someone posts about say a certain pack and a flaming marshmallow fight breaks out over what is and isn't UL. Yeah, some people don't get all that. But otherwise, common sense should be a guide to what's appropriate thread drift and what isn't.

    Thread drift brings up subjects, things, and opinions you might not otherwise hear. It's also closer to the dynamic of the way real conversations work. Yeah, it can dilute a topic, but you can also learn. And it keeps it from getting boring as most every possible topic could probably be searched for and answered in old forum posts. Sometimes people have thin skin, sometimes people are too blunt, some people don't appreciate sarcasm, etc., but usually even if feelings get hurt temporarily we pass around a bottle and make-up. WB is pretty active and "social". It would be a pretty dull place without thread drift.
    I don't know about that...seems to me you're contradicting yourself in a way....
    you wrote, "Gear for sale isn't the place to tell a seller his used tent is overpriced or offer opinions on it. "
    I say why not?...as long as it's polite, constructive, etc...

    then you wrote
    "Yeah, it can dilute a topic, but you can also learn. And it keeps it from getting boring as most every possible topic could probably be searched for and answered in old forum posts. "

    Replying about gear for sale may help a seller to set a better price to get some movement, or comments might help potential buyers better understand why the thing might not be a fit for them... or might be just the thing they need!

    And that last bit cements it in my thinking. Might as well just archive the whole forum if folks aren't allowed to chime in....since it's all been said before! Even this thread no doubt. Personally though, I think there is obvious benefit to re-asking or re-hashing topics.....slightly different contexts are given, for sale threads are bumped back to the top, different personalities can chime in from differing perspectives, etc....

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alligator View Post
    It's a campground with a set of rules that participants are asked to follow, not a single campfire. Members can wander through the campground and warm themselves at the campsites provided they follow the rules established for the various sections of the campground. Whiteblaze was established in 2003. We've had campground rules, aka a user agreement, in place for about a dozen years and for just over ten years while I have been an admin we have strongly stressed compliance with our campground rules. You might long for the wilderness, but the wilderness on the internet can be a really ugly place. The campsites here are no charge but please read and follow the campground rules. Please enjoy your stay and your campground hosts thank you.

    Your campground thing fits right into what I was writing.... notice if you will, I wrote about multiple fires. A campground with a bunch of different sites, each with it's own fire ring. A person lights a fire...and can be nice and friendly inviting to others to come by and sit a spell.... or they can turn their back to passers by, and ....let's just say be not nice.

    ...and yeah, campgrounds have rangers there to keep the drunks and criminals in check...bouncing folks for rude and lascivious conduct, foul language, abuse, etc.... so no, you're wrong in that regard I personally do not "long for the wilderness"...

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by blw2 View Post
    I don't know about that...seems to me you're contradicting yourself in a way....
    you wrote, "Gear for sale isn't the place to tell a seller his used tent is overpriced or offer opinions on it. "
    I say why not?...as long as it's polite, constructive, etc...

    then you wrote
    "Yeah, it can dilute a topic, but you can also learn. And it keeps it from getting boring as most every possible topic could probably be searched for and answered in old forum posts. "

    Replying about gear for sale may help a seller to set a better price to get some movement, or comments might help potential buyers better understand why the thing might not be a fit for them... or might be just the thing they need!

    And that last bit cements it in my thinking. Might as well just archive the whole forum if folks aren't allowed to chime in....since it's all been said before! Even this thread no doubt. Personally though, I think there is obvious benefit to re-asking or re-hashing topics.....slightly different contexts are given, for sale threads are bumped back to the top, different personalities can chime in from differing perspectives, etc....
    My intent was not to be contradictory. Perhaps some clarification: I've seen people post gear for sale at a certain price and have seen replies from people who are not bargaining with the seller, but rather just commenting. With comments such as "there's one on ebay cheaper", or "I can buy a new one for only $50 more." If you don't have interest in buying the item yourself it's pretty rude to post comments regarding an item's asking price. And yes, this overall topic in regards to thread drift has come up before, multiple times. If you will note, I stated "Yeah, it [thread drift] can dilute a topic, but you can also learn. And it keeps it from getting boring as most every possible topic could probably be searched for and answered in old forum posts. " The context is important. There wouldn't be many threads if all people did was search archived ones. If I thought that people should simply search the archives without posting new threads or commenting in ongoing ones, I would have stated so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 4eyedbuzzard View Post
    My intent was not to be contradictory. Perhaps some clarification: I've seen people post gear for sale at a certain price and have seen replies from people who are not bargaining with the seller, but rather just commenting. With comments such as "there's one on ebay cheaper", or "I can buy a new one for only $50 more." If you don't have interest in buying the item yourself it's pretty rude to post comments regarding an item's asking price. And yes, this overall topic in regards to thread drift has come up before, multiple times. If you will note, I stated "Yeah, it [thread drift] can dilute a topic, but you can also learn. And it keeps it from getting boring as most every possible topic could probably be searched for and answered in old forum posts. " The context is important. There wouldn't be many threads if all people did was search archived ones. If I thought that people should simply search the archives without posting new threads or commenting in ongoing ones, I would have stated so.

    Yes, no, and maybe.

    A lot of posts, while seeming irrelevant, are btt. Back To Top......it keeps the op post on top instead if getting lost on following pages with "old" posts no one looks at. Many forums explicitly prevent the OP from bumping their own post, and will remove it if they do. Many times it is a favor to the op, whether they realize it or not.

    On top of that, buyers appreciate knowing they are paying too much, or someone pointing out deficiencies, scams Ive even seen sellers told they could get more $ on ebay, and they promptly did .

    Where did concept come from that a free community for sale forum should only allow sellers to fleece buyers, and others should stay out and watch it happen! Yeah it seems crass, andareally should happen thru pms usually, but it works well, for all except someone who wants more than they should get for an item. Then they are free to go elsewhere and screw strangers, not forum members
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 03-30-2019 at 15:37.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Yes, no, and maybe.

    A lot of posts, while seeming irrelevant, are btt. Back To Top......it keeps the op post on top instead if getting lost on following pages with "old" posts no one looks at. Many forums explicitly prevent the OP from bumping their own post, and will remove it if they do. Many times it is a favor to the op, whether they realize it or not.

    On top of that, buyers appreciate knowing they are paying too much, or someone pointing out deficiencies, scams Ive even seen sellers told they could get more $ on ebay, and they promptly did .

    Where did concept come from that a free community for sale forum should only allow sellers to fleece buyers, and others should stay out and watch it happen! Yeah it seems crass, andareally should happen thru pms usually, but it works well, for all except someone who wants more than they should get for an item. Then they are free to go elsewhere and screw strangers, not forum members
    I think almost all buyers of used gear know the value (to them) of the used gear they are buying. That's why they're buying used and not new. Value is subjective. While I might not think that paying $225 to 250 for a used tent that retails for $300 new is a very good deal, that $50 to $75 savings might be important to the buyer's budget, or maybe the tent is out of stock and they need it right now. I'd add that sellers are also members, and as you noted, PM's are generally the preferred method. FWIW, I think probably 75% of the stuff in the gear for sale forum is overpriced, but I don't go out of my way to comment on it. When it lingers and doesn't sell, sellers get the message.

  12. #12

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    The best thing about a campfire is that at any time you can just get up and say:”Good night everyone, I’m hitting the hammock”


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    Quote Originally Posted by T.S.Kobzol View Post
    The best thing about a campfire is that at any time you can just get up and say:”Good night everyone, I’m hitting the hammock” Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Then after you hit the hammock, make your way back to your tent and call it a night.

    Furlough
    "Too often I would hear men boast of the miles covered that day, rarely of what they had seen." Louis L’Amour

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    Quote Originally Posted by blw2 View Post
    How do you look at it?
    I get your gist, but most of us prefer campfires to online forums, particularly overly-moderated ones like this one (though such moderation may be a good thing). There's less anonymity around a campfire, even when hiding behind a trail-name or a huge Al-Qaeda-like beard, and thereby less likelihood (and acceptance) of bad behavior.

    Online social sites are not social. Those who develop their social skills online speak for, and of, themselves...

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    This is not a campfire or campfires or campground. It is nameless faceless "1's" and "0's" social media largely centered around opinion based non factual feeling based comments and moderation. Much gets lost in atempting communication here compared to in person campfires and CG's hence the reason for some misinterpretation of comment intents.

    Communication is 55-60% physiology. There's no physiology here.

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    blw2, it sounds like you and I are similar in that we prefer a more conversational experience and interaction on social media. It’s why I have a hard time getting into FB...it’s too one-sided and narcissistic. WB is also sometimes difficult for me in that people mostly don’t “converse”; allowing one to become engaged in a conversation with others and letting it run its course, wherever it may go...even with thread drift.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blw2 View Post
    How do you look at it?
    Quote Originally Posted by Uriah View Post
    I get your gist, but most of us prefer campfires to online forums, particularly overly-moderated ones like this one (though such moderation may be a good thing). There's less anonymity around a campfire, even when hiding behind a trail-name or a huge Al-Qaeda-like beard, and thereby less likelihood (and acceptance) of bad behavior.

    Online social sites are not social. Those who develop their social skills online speak for, and of, themselves...
    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    This is not a campfire or campfires or campground. It is nameless faceless "1's" and "0's" social media largely centered around opinion based non factual feeling based comments and moderation. Much gets lost in atempting communication here compared to in person campfires and CG's hence the reason for some misinterpretation of comment intents.

    Communication is 55-60% physiology. There's no physiology here.
    Quote Originally Posted by Traffic Jam View Post
    blw2, it sounds like you and I are similar in that we prefer a more conversational experience and interaction on social media. It’s why I have a hard time getting into FB...it’s too one-sided and narcissistic. WB is also sometimes difficult for me in that people mostly don’t “converse”; allowing one to become engaged in a conversation with others and letting it run its course, wherever it may go...even with thread drift.
    I'd agree that it's easier to communicate feeling/emotion conversationally - and rather difficult to show such inflection and nuance in the written word. In contrast, the written word is often more precise, better thought out, and tempered, hence it's use in most things involving precise thoughts, business, money, etc.. In online writing, as there is no real-time dynamic between the writer and reader, there is often misunderstanding. In my experience, it most often it has to do with a reader taking the writer's thoughts out of context, or the reader taking objective critiques - which are sometimes exactly what they requested - as personal attacks. Sometimes that is the writer's fault as well. And sometimes neither party reads nor writes their entries well enough to avoid misunderstanding. Sometimes, we all fall short. From a writer's perspective, it's difficult to write for a generic audience, plus there's no real-time feedback. There's a wide range of vocabulary, comprehension, life experience, etc., to consider as well.

    I think we're still in the learning stages of how to write/communicate electronically while better mimicking personal conversation, hence the rise of emojis, avatars, and other tools to try to bridge the personification and inflection gaps. These are still our baby steps. But there is obviously a place for both the written and spoken word. One will never replace the other. They have their advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, we communicate with a greater audience at the speed of light across oceans, hear thoughts and opinions we might otherwise never know, and it's pretty rare for even the worst online arguments to wind up in a fistfight or worse. Anonymity is definitely a shield in this latter sense. Unfortunately, that anonymity also encourages behavior that the same person would likely avoid IRL.

    O brave new world...

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    Video conferencing, personal vid phs are already here. Soon to publicly arrive will be detailed full body holographic communication along with widespread autonomous cars aka Sci fi movies.

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    Soon you'll be able to "plug in" to gain a full sensory representation of thru hiking the AT in 1 hr or less aka Edward G Robinson's self euthanasia scene escorted by Dr Dick Van Patten in SOYLENT GREEN.

    "See. Do you see it. That's what it was like" he says to Charlton Heston.

    Anyway, thead drift can be engaging.

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