New to Typophile? Accounts are free, and easy to set up.
We’ve been dancing around this topic for months. Typophile functions all right most of the time. This is not a ringing endorsement, nor is it a reason not to fix what doesn’t work. Typophile is a Web forum about typography. It has to succeed as a Web forum first and foremost. It isn’t.
The fact that you don’t even notice when Typophile fails does not mean your own inability to notice the obvious should prevail. If you think Typophile is running just fine, then you won’t mind, or even notice, if we improve things. If you don’t know enough to recognize what Typophile is doing wrong, you shouldn’t expect to get your way.
We’re all experts here
We’re all experts on typography here – save for the many spammers and their close cousins, students who show up out of nowhere and expect us to write their homework assignments for them. Except for those groups, we all know a great deal about typography. We might be polite about it, but we wouldn’t sit around and let ignorant outsiders tell us that everything should just be typeset in Arial (and Times “New Roman”) because who can tell the difference?
We can. We have expertise.
Some of us have expertise in online discussion fora. In my case, circa 11 years’ worth. At least one of my colleagues on this site also knows how things should really be run. I’m not going to pretend I don’t know more than most of you about this topic. I’m not going to pretend to be humble about it, either. If you accept typographic expertise on Typophile then you have to accept online expertise on Typophile.
First among equals in Web fora is MetaFilter, which just celebrated its tenth anniversary. I’m user 250 (user 100,000 was just allocated) and I’ve been there since year one. MetaFilter has learned a few things about what works and what doesn’t. Often they’ve learned things the hard way. But that’s over and done with. A great many techniques of forum moderation and cultivation are now settled facts, not just a difference of opinion.
Hence a lot of the complaints I’ll be making would be resolved if Typophile ran more like MetaFilter. (Great artists steal.) This is not the time to defensively claim that Typophile isn’t like MetaFilter (in all important respects it is) or that what works at MeFi won’t work here (it will). You don’t really mean that and you don’t have enough knowledge or evidence to back it up. I do.
I find the defensiveness and evasiveness of Typophile apologists and its shadowy so-called “moderators” particularly enraging. Typophile needs fixing in important ways. To repeat an earlier point, if you can’t tell the difference between Typophile as we currently know it and a properly functioning Typophile, you don’t have enough expertise to help. “I like things just the way they are” isn’t a viable argument. (“I don’t like your tone” also isn’t.)
I will be posting a separate bug about the complete inadequacy of Typophile admins (as they are properly called), but the fact they sit there and stammer out justifications for their own failings when one somehow manages to contact them is, again, a bug, not a feature.
Typophile needs improvement. It starts today.