Suggestion: move Type ID Board to top of Forum Menu

bartd's picture

Sorry if this topic has been discussed to death before.

Typophile.com has a Type ID Board, which, I suppose, was designed to be the place to post Type ID Questions. Spam aside, that's largely what goes on there. There's also a General Discussion Forum and a Design Forum, where Type ID Questions appear rather frequently too. You can't blame the posters for that: the former Forum says 'Anything goes', and the latter deals with 'A to Z, and everything in between'. Still, to some – at least to me – Type ID Questions feel misplaced outside the Type ID Board.

So how about moving the Type ID Board to the topmost place in the Forum Menu? That might be just the way – and an easy way too, I'd figure – to have most Type ID Questions ending up in the Forum they really belong.

Best,
Bart

oldnick's picture

I second the motion, although I disagree on one point. You can blame posters who ask for IDs in the General Discussion forum because, evidently, they have the attention span of gnats…

hrant's picture

To me the ID section is a necessary evil (at least on a relatively laissez-faire forum such as this) because otherwise all ID requests would end up in General Discussion... So putting it at the top seems to make sense. However from watching the ID section intently for the past few weeks I can attest that: it's so busy that it makes the rest of Typophile look secondary; there are often quite shady font recommendations, which we are not even allowed to confront...

So I ask, what's worse: being mildly annoyed at seeing a misplaced ID request (and the ensuing awkward silence) which however a moderator -or other kind soul- can certainly help out with; or having IDs -and especially shady answers to them- take over Typophile (even more)?

Here's my own "solution chain": if we can enforce a ban on ID requests across the board, let's do it. If we can't or don't want to: enforce higher ethical standards in the ID section* and/or annex it so that: people who have a high regard for type designer rights don't have to watch; and people looking don't think Typophile is for bottom-feeders.

* Or at least allow people to have ethical discussions there.

To be fair, most people who use the ID section do have proper respect for type design. But those who don't sadly have free rein of the place.

hhp

Luma Vine's picture

Better descriptions of the sections would certainly be nice, even if they are not completely effective in solving the OPs problem. Communicating clearly what each section is for seems like the minimum expectation if you want people to follow that order.

JamesM's picture

Moving it to the top seems like a good idea to me.

And I wonder if "Type ID Board" is the clearest title, especially to posters who speak English as a 2nd language. Would "What's This Font?" or some other title be clearer?

bartd's picture

@ hrant

So I ask, what's worse: being mildly annoyed at seeing a misplaced ID request (and the ensuing awkward silence) which however a moderator -or other kind soul- can certainly help out with; or having IDs -and especially shady answers to them- take over Typophile (even more)?

Do you think by moving the ID Board to the top position we would let Typophile being taken over by ID questions? I don't get that – rather the contrary. We could expect the ID Board to become even more crowded, but as I see it, having all ID questions ending up there would prevent the rest of Typophile to be taken over.

Here's my own "solution chain": if we can enforce a ban on ID requests across the board, let's do it.

Drastic times call for drastic measures?

If we can't or don't want to: enforce higher ethical standards in the ID section* and/or annex it

Enforcing higher ethical standards just does not sound right to me.

* Or at least allow people to have ethical discussions there.

Sounds better – this could in fact well be realized in a Type ID Board in top position of the Forum Menu. Hardcore ID-ers, however, might start complaining about ethical discussions polluting their board, suggesting the introduction of an Ethics forum to be placed in top...

Bart

hrant's picture

Hardcore ID-ers, however, might start complaining about ethical discussions polluting their board

You, sir, are prescient. :-)
Over the past 2-3 months I've been injecting ethical considerations into the ID section; there are only ~3 people there who mind, but they can get quite vocal about not letting ethics cramp their addic... uh, lifestyle. One of them is a covert pirate, one of them is a "your type IP is my type IP" (AKA "plagiarism is actually just inspiration") sort of guy, the other one is just a retired troublemaker. The rest are mostly decent folk though; some of them have actually adjusted their approach, I hope because they realize that Typophile's existence is tied into the creation of the things they so enjoy IDing.

hhp

hrant's picture

Speak of the devil - here's an example of what I'm talking about...
http://typophile.com/node/101526

Am I the only who thinks this [sort of thing] is actionable?

hhp

phrostbyte64's picture

Sure. Put it on top. I've not been lucky enough to get a good ID in my last four times out. Sucks to be me, I guess. I found alternate solutions in the end. The question is, what do the moderators think.

etahchen's picture

some people request a BUNCH of type IDs, what is this used for? work?

hrant's picture

There are other worrisome signs, for example that very few people who frequent the ID section spend any time at all anywhere else on Typophile, and that many people who ask for IDs never look at anything else even in the ID section, much less try to help anybody else ID a font; sometimes they don't even check back on how their own threads are developing -for example if somebody points out a case of plagiarism- once they have the ID. This is nothing short of parasitic.

Typophile's image has long been hurt by font IDs, and the belief that IDs are a way to introduce new people to the world of type is simply not borne out by what's happening on the ground. Overall I believe the ID section harms type design.

hhp

phrostbyte64's picture

I can't speak for anyone else but my requests have all been for work. By the time I bug folks here, I've already exhausted all of the other reliable resources I know of on the web. I am not looking for pirated fonts. And, I think I've only made five or six requests since I started here.

I must admit, needing a font id does stimulate me to come back to the forum more frequently until I get too busy again.

hrant's picture

James, the fact that you're engaging in this discussion makes you nothing like the 99% of people who use the ID section.

hhp

phrostbyte64's picture

Hrant, that dawned on me about twenty minutes after I finished my post. What can I say, I'm slow.

I stopped offering advice on the Id board because it didn't seem like many people were checking back, so what was the point. I supposed that is narrow minded of me.

hrant's picture

They're probably checking back, but sadly not saying "thank you" fits with the... lifestyle of some people there.

hhp

JamesM's picture

> They're probably checking back,
> but sadly not saying "thank you

Unfortunately that's common at many forums.

I used to help moderate another group and what drove me crazy was when people said "I don't have time to check back for replies, please email them to [address]". I'd delete the address and tell them that if they couldn't bother to check back then don't post questions.

I think etiquette in general is in decline. I remember many years ago when one of my professors invited a well-known designer from New York to speak. That guy was a class act. Flew in from New York, arrived on time, suit and tie, a well-organized presentation that was obviously customized especially for us, friendly and polite to everyone, and the next day he FedEx'd a handwritten thank you letter to the professor. Unfortunately I can't recall the guy's name, but to this day I remember his style and manners.

hrant's picture

Like check out the evolving action in this thread:
http://typophile.com/node/101637
Please complain to Jared or Chris Dean so we can put an end to this sort of thing.

hhp

hrant's picture

To me John Hudson is Typophile's most valuable member (and yes, I am counting myself :-). Please see what he has to say about font IDs here:
http://typophile.com/node/101666#comment-548258

hhp

Thomas Phinney's picture

Dang, here I go agreeing with Hrant again. ;)

Absolutely. John is among the most helpful people, and most prolific posters on Typophile. On top of that, he is far and away the most knowledgeable of the regular posters on Typophile. Overall: no question.

Theunis de Jong's picture

From Clive Thompson's 2009 Wired article on "Trolling":

The world's top discussion moderators have developed successful tools for keeping online miscreants from disrupting conversation. All are rooted in one psychological insight: If you simply ban trolls—kicking them off your board—you nurture their curdled sense of being an oppressed truth-speaker. Instead, the moderators rely on making the comments less prominent.

Patient Zero here is Slashdot, the tech site that pioneered one elegant way to police trolls: crowdsourcing. Slashdot has an automated system that randomly picks a handful of readers and gives them, for a day or so, the power to describe others' comments with terms like "funny" or "off topic." Those descriptions are translated into a score from -1 to 5. Readers can set their filters so they see only comments with high ratings—and trollery effectively vanishes.

Would such a system technically be possible on Typophile?
The article specifically discusses 'trolling'; for convenience I'm including 'Use The Type ID Forum!' in that as well.

Thomas Phinney's picture

BTW, I do really like the original proposal.

That, and rename it "Font ID forum" because "Type ID" is not as obvious to some folks.

J. Tillman's picture

Thomas Phinney, I would suggest going even further with renaming. Call it the "What Font Is This?" forum. (The term "ID" is not particularly clear to all cultures.")

J. Tillman's picture

Thomas Phinney, I would suggest going even further with renaming. Call it the "What Font Is This?" forum. (The term "ID" is not particularly clear to all cultures.")

Thomas Phinney's picture

Makes sense to me.

quadibloc's picture

I think that moving the type ID board higher would do little to reduce the frequency of font ID requests in the general discussion boards.

After all, people would still figure that only a few kind souls would bother to look at font ID requests, while posting in general discussion gives them a chance of getting everyone's attention.

Now, if you could make it appear that this was just a type ID board, and hide the other discussion boards inside the type ID board in such a way that only people knowlegeable about type could find them... but, of course, that's not possible without seriously compromising the function of this discussion forum.

hrant's picture

Ax (or offload) the ID section. End of problem.

Anybody who thinks that many people who start by using the ID board end up also using the rest of Typophile has been paying more attention to his fantasies than to reality. There is practically zero interaction. Ergo: the ratio of good/harm is also near zero.

hhp

bartd's picture

@John: Do you think people deliberately post their ID questions in another forum than the ID Board? That doesn't sound likely to me. If you have an ID question and you see there's a dedicated ID board, why not go there?
I can think of two probable reasons why ID questions end up in other forums: either the title Type ID Board is confusing, or the ID-forum is being overlooked altogether. Moving the ID Board to the top position of the forum menu would be an attempt to fix the latter problem. Renaming the ID Board, like others proposed, might solve the former.
Why not try both? Seems we already have some supporters of that idea.

@Hrant:

Ax (or offload) the ID section. End of problem.

Are we addressing the same issue? I started this thread because it bothers me to find so many ID requests outside the ID Board (not only in the General Discussion Forum or the Design Forum, but also in the Critique Section). How would 'axing' the ID Section solve that problem?
I think any type discussion board will always attract type ID questions – just like every city will attract tourists. Some people don't like tourists in their city. They will be happy if tourism is regulated, if the main sights are clearly signposted, so the tourists will easily find them. These paces will be crowded, but if you don't want to encounter tourists, you can just choose not to go there. Works better than enforcing bans, in my opinion.

JamesM's picture

Instead of speculating if it will help or not, why not do a test?

Move the Type ID board to the top and give it a better name like "What Font is This?", leave it that way a couple of months, and see if it helps.

hrant's picture

Making the ID section more prominent would make the whole of Typophile look more like a type ID service, harming non-ID activity.

it bothers me to find so many ID requests outside the ID Board

To me -and many others- occasional misplaced ID requests are a lesser problem than having too many ID requests (in the right place). One big reason is there's no easy mechanism for a user to shun the ID section.

Typophile should not harm itself to be useful to people who would never consider being useful to Typophile. In fact it's worse than not being useful in return: IDing too often comes from and leads to piracy and the promotion of plagiarism. Even if we're wise enough not to crusade against those, it harms Typophile's image -hence future value to type design- to play along.

To be fair, in the past few weeks things have gotten much better in the ID section, in terms of ethics. But it remains that the drawbacks of having an ID section outweigh the benefits, in my opinion. Based on my observations I have to conclude that the experiment (getting casual users to truly appreciate type via the ID "gateway") might have been worth a shot, but sadly it failed.

Tourists aren't evil, but -due to the nature of most tourism- too many can very much ruin a city. I remember when I went to Moscow and Novosibirsk a few years ago: the latter is where I felt like I was in Russia.

hhp

5star's picture

Mods should simply be able to move the posts over into the type id forum.

phrostbyte64's picture

The only way this board can get away from Type Id's is for the mods to constantly delete the posts as they come in. Getting rid of the Type Id Board will only spread the problem around the other boards to a worse degree. It is best to try and contain and control them.

quadibloc's picture

@bartd:
If you have an ID question and you see there's a dedicated ID board, why not go there?

Well, the "why not" consists of a couple of reasonable assumptions.

One is that people only visit the ID board if they're actively interested in helping others with type ID questions, since to do so requires an effort.

The other is that many people who could help ID the font in question don't have this active interest, but might passively respond to an ID question placed before them if they knew the answer.

If type ID questions could be charged for, like advertising, then at least putting type IDs in our face would help support the forum.

hrant's picture

Indeed, charging $1 per ID (or maybe for one month of using Typophile) would filter out those who never intend to buy a font.

hhp

hrant's picture

Just some quick stats for the curious:
Over the past ~2 days about 100 threads saw activity. About 80% were type-ID threads. Since the beginning of Typophile about 35% of threads have been type-IDs.

If the ID crowd is to continue to have free rein here, there should be a way for a user to block IDs from sight, to make it easier to find actual content.

hhp

hrant's picture

BTW lest anybody think that Typophile is worse off than most, note that on TypeDrawers there have been 6 threads seeing activity... in the past 8 days.

In fact ever since I've been active on Twitter (a week now) my time and inclination to participate on Typophile has gone down... The problem for the type world is that Twitter is inherently anti–serious-discourse.

hhp

russellm's picture

With application of some some pretty easy to use filters I have reduced the amount of spam that makes it to my email inbox to zero. I seems to me - admittedly no expert in the field - that the same technology could be applied here so that certain words and phrases will automatically bump font ID inquiries over to the right forum.

JamesM's picture

We've been discussing this for months. I wish Jared (or whoever will make the call) would just decide whether to move the board or not, rather than have this discussion go on endlessly.

Jared Benson's picture

I don't plan to move the board up; I think to do so would completely tilt the emphasis of what Typophile is about. However, I'm looking at other ways to encourage posters to put their identification requests in their proper place without burdening everyone.

hrant's picture

Thank you, Jared.

hhp

Theunis de Jong's picture

All topics are welcome—except font ID requests.

This assumes Type IDers read past the very first line. Can't you put this on top? ;-)

hrant's picture

Probably too little, too late (and I know we used to have something sort of like this once) but: Ever since I've been using Twitter (about two weeks now) I'm seeing my theory that getting a "font talk fix" is enough for most people being confirmed; in fact I myself now have a lesser urge to post to Typophile. Would it be stupid (and/or too costly) to set up something like Twitter on Typophile?

hhp

JamesM's picture

Thanks Jared, it's not the decision I was hoping for but I'm glad to see a decision made. I hope you're able to come up with effective alternatives.

hrant's picture

Jared, PLEASE figure out a way for people who want to ignore the ID stuff to be able to do so easily.

hhp

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