Typophile to do:

Chris Dean's picture

Recently I’ve notices a bit of discussion about the demise of Typophile &c. and I’ve detected a bit of a pattern: Rather than propose solutions, people seem to be bitching, moaning, arguing, leaving, and even deleting content. This thread is an attempt to help move things in a positive and productive direction:

1. Deleting posts does render a thread somewhat useless, and will certainly cripple us. Obviously, the result is a terms of service agreement. Anyone have any lawyer friends?

2. Today’s newbs are lacking. Agree, but why? One reason IMO, because we’re “well known suckers” for doing their homework. Just stop doing it and help them help themselves. You’re stunting their growth and pissing in your own pool.

3. Search engine: find a coder.

4. Banner: find a no-Flash solution (and a coder)

5. Site re-design: Finish it. I will help. Just email me.

6. Content: Work on the Wiki. I can help. Just email me.

7. Moderators: if the were a more active presence, I believe this would help new users feel more comfortable participating lest they step into the middle of a cat-fight. This does of course raise the point of being mindful of of over-moderating, and deterring participation, but that doesn’t mean we can’t attempt to find a solution.

8. A “read more” link on long posts to avoid long scrolls.

9. Automatic turning of email addresses into links that launch an unwanted, and often unused, email client. This was considered poor practice 20 years ago.

Please feel free to add more. An to those with the power to make any of these changes, my supervisor has a rule of sorts: “If it takes less than 2 minutes, do it now.” Many little changes can add up.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Instate time limit for editing posts. Doesn't have to be as short as other sites. A month sounds good.

Lessen the amount of different forums. Honestly I wish it was only one, though I know others will shout this down.

5star's picture

I'm up for #7 ...just email me.

n.

Chris Dean's picture

“To do” volunteers: I’ll be editing this list — and possibly the first one — to help keep things to the point, and hopefully expedite taking action.

7: Volunteers for moderating
Christopher Deantypographer@gmail.com
Neil Caldwell

5star's picture

C, that's an amazing email addy! I can be reached: neil at graphicdeclaration dot com.

n.

Chris Dean's picture

A tough one. Time limit will raise what I suspect to be an endless debate of “how long?” ending up in a standoff of “never” and “forever.”

Personally, I think being able to edit any post is sketchy, as it pretty much screws the validity of the following responses. My vote would be for no editing, save for a 30 second “whoops” window. If you want to edit a comment, then simply make another post and the responses still hold true.

Thoughts?

Chris Dean's picture

And if there is a moderator in the room, perhaps you can help us by ranking this list in terms of ease of implementation?

riccard0's picture

Some random considerations:

  1. Time-limited editing of posts was already implemented (albeit it could be circumvent if one knew how) until the last “temp” iteration. However understandably this was applied to “comments”, not to thread-starting posts.
    This happened before: features lost because of a “system upgrade”. Once were “smart” quotes, then “featured font” headings, and so on. Which brings me to the second point.
  2. This site is built on Drupal. Drupal is hard.
    Drupal is the typical example of something built to be everything to everyone, ending up being not enough for anyone.
    So, you use plug-ins to add features. Then you upgrade Drupal and plug-ins stop working. Goodbye features.
  3. Same problem with moderators. Forum moderators need specific, limited permissions. Probably this kind of privilegies management is built-in in forum software. Not so in Drupal. I know for sure that one reason there aren’t more moderators it’s because of this problem.
  4. About the “read more link on long posts to avoid long scrolls”, please don’t. There is a (still*) working feature which is that if you click the “new” link (instead of the “title-of-thread” link) you will be sent to the first unread post on the thread.
  5. I already have expressed, more than once, that the first, life-threatening issue which need to be addressed is the disappearance from search engines. The rest is secondary.

* Except for threads with files attached to the initial post.

daverowland's picture

There has been a marked decline in participation in the Critique forum since the temp site went live. I think this is due to the layout of the front page. The Type ID forum should be at the bottom and unexpanded (if it's there at all - which has been covered quite comprehensively in other threads). I think reinstating the 'hot topics' bit that used to be on the Flash front page would be a good idea.

Bendy's picture

The 'new' link doesn't usually work for me on Win9/Firefox; it just takes me to the top of the thread.

riccard0's picture

For me, in Firefox/Win XP (and any other combination I tried on XP or OS X) anchors like the “new“ or specific comments links behave as outlined by Kent here: http://typophile.com/node/91007?page=5#comment-504719

hrant's picture

Charge a minimal amount for type IDs and/or make it easy to avoid ID threads.

hhp

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Charge a minimal amount for type IDs
I second this. It would get rid of the freeloaders and earn some money for the site. Not sure how it could be policed however. You could set up a system for them to go through, but how would you keep them from just posting elsewhere on the site?

hrant's picture

You mean posting an ID request outside of the ID forum to avoid a charge? Riccardo has been extremely diligent about telling people to move their requests to the proper forum, so I'm hoping he could also remove offending threads.

hhp

aluminum's picture

"This site is built on Drupal"

That actually explains a lot. ;)

phillipgessert's picture

If there were a mobile version someday, I'd sure stare at my phone a whole lot more.

riccard0's picture

Riccardo has been extremely diligent about telling people to move their requests to the proper forum, so I'm hoping he could also remove offending threads.

About removing threads, that would be possible only if I were an actual moderator, which isn’t the case.
I’m just a regular user (albeit a diligent one ;-) and what I say doesn’t come from any inside knowledge, but merely from reading threads, observation, personal experience, and brief and occasional exchanges with actual moderators.

Moreover, I’m against (at least in the present situation) the idea of charging for type IDs. It would cost less killing the “service” altogether.
But I’m all for clearly distinguish it from the rest of the site.

Joshua Langman's picture

I don't know anything about web programming, but I will gladly donate my time as a moderator, or in any other way I can be useful. When I teach typography workshops, I always direct students to this site, in an attempt to keep some new blood coming in.

Joshua Langman's picture

Oh, one more idea —

What about a forum for typography, as opposed to type design? That may be what the "design" forum is supposed to be, but that's always been ambiguous. I would like to see more graphic designers and typographers on here, in addition to the type designers.

What about a letterpress forum?

cuttlefish's picture

@Joshua: There are "Logos/ Corporate ID design" and "Typography/ Composition" topics within the Critique forum, but yes, something less ambiguous to distinguish "type design" from "design using type" discussions in the upper section would be helpful.

cuttlefish's picture

A thing I've noticed is the "Last Reply" indicator does not ascend the hierarchy of nested forums. For example, when I post this reply, the time stamp will show for the correct time in General Discussions, but when viewed at the Forums level, it will show 12 Aug 2012 — 4:13pm as the time of the Last Post in General Discussions. This gives the impression of lengthy inactivity, and should not be considered correct behavior.

edit: It doesn't even do THAT. It shows the most resent topic creation date, which is still wrong. It should show the time of the most recent reply instead.

Jared Benson's picture

Thanks Christopher. There's no shortage of things to do. It's the need for volunteers that pose a challenge. I'll contact you privately to follow-up.

joeclark's picture

There is already a two-year-old list of bugs I filed, said list being ridiculed by everyone without ever fixing the bugs.

hrant's picture

There is already a two-year-old list of bugs I filed, said list being ridiculed by everyone without ever fixing the bugs.

Did you read Jared's post?

BTW why would your list be implemented if everybody ridiculed it?But I doubt that everybody ridiculed your list - I for one remember that a lot of it made sense.

hhp

kentlew's picture

If I may be so bold: it seems to me less a lack of volunteers (many people have expressed interest and willingness over the years) and more the lack of a suitable system for deploying volunteers — how to manage access to any and all comers (some system of vetting & restricting, for Punchcut to feel comfortable), how to manage any volunteer work in a reasonable fashion (whether it be code-directed improvements or behavior-directed moderation), etc.

These are not simple challenges. I hope that Jared, et al., can find a way to successfully transition from a closed system to a more open one, if they so choose.

Chris Dean's picture

Idea: a version of /tracker that filters ID requests. At any given time about 80% of /tracker is "name that font" which makes finding any other content difficult.

Idea: allow users to pick their own name. Possibly for a fee.

http://www.typophile.com/readthetype

Idea: Allow users to select a font they wish their name to appear in when you go to their profile page. A tall order, but I’d drop a few dollars to see my name in Univers.

5star's picture

If this domain were my dot com (or if I was to manage it) I'd monetize this place. Not to the max but just enough to earn 'click revenue' ... and then you wouldn't have to worry because it would create enough revenue to at least toss some money at website development.

A friend of mine specializes in dot com development, I'll pick his brain to see what we could do.

I think Typophile has oodles of awesomeness yet to be discovered....

n.

Chris Dean's picture

I think charging anything would most certainly kill the place once and for all. For a (not all that important) service such as "name that font" there are far too many free alternatives. This is simply the easiest for a lazy student. Charge a penny for it, and they will look somewhere else. What’s even more likely would be someone else starts a type forum and steals the traffic.

And even if we put a payment system into place, that’s not going to fix any of the afore mentioned problems.

Idea: @all Typophiles — Please stop signing posts. We know your wrote it. Your name is right there at the top by your profile. All it does is create a longer scroll.

hrant's picture

Too many people who post type ID requests never use Typophile for anything else. We don't need people like that - in fact they might be part of the problem. Nevermind that type IDs are a great piracy tool.

Signatures: It's the least of our problems. Mine, think of as a little foible, a personal tradition. Like a minor annoying habit of a college dorm room-mate. :-)

hhp

5star's picture

I gots an idea.

I don't know if it possible tho I'm not a webhead (but I wish I was).

Moderators could be assigned to the various sub-forums. Each sub-forum would have a unique/different password, that way no one moderator would be able to take down the entire site. For instance, I'll moderate the Blogs forum and nuke posts like the spam one that's on top right now.

n.

JamesM's picture

> that way no one moderator would be able to take down the entire site

Why would a moderator take down the site? Are you talking about malicious activity, or an accidental deletion of files?

5star's picture

Thanks JamesM, I meant accidental deletion of files/folders. I know first hand from moderating a chess forum (talk about your raging egos!), that it takes a team of mods to keep on top of spammers and malicious posts.

n.

riccard0's picture

Theoretically, there is a team of mods: http://typophile.com/moderators

kentlew's picture

Unfortunately, as you’re probably well aware Riccardo, that list is sorely out of date. Most of those folks stop by Typophile now only once every couple of weeks, it seems. Some haven’t been here in months. And Dan and Stephen (who have visited recently) have only partial privileges, which may not include spam moderation.

As far as I know, I’m the only person who regularly checks for spam: daily — at least once in the morning, sometimes more depending upon my day.

You won’t see my name on that Moderator list because when I volunteered I specifically told Jared I wasn’t interested or willing to be a moderator (i.e., an arbiter of behavior). And I didn’t want anyone contacting me with their problems.

I volunteered to be a Janitor and clean up spam, double-posts, etc., because at the time Typophile was having a major spam problem (and you thought it was bad now) and the only folks able to do anything about it all lived in the same time zone (Pacific, UTC -8). I live in Eastern, UTC -4, and Florian came on to pick up some of the slack in Berlin, UTC +1.

But in the past year or so, it looks like things have dropped back to only one time zone. So, depending upon when the spam gets posted, it may stay visible for up to 24 hours.

As it so happens, I’ve recently informed Jared and Joe that I will step down from my janitorial duties as of next weekend, Sept 1. It has become too much of a time suck and I wish to apply myself in other directions right now.

I don’t know if Jared has made any other arrangements yet. I certainly hope he does. I’ve put forward some suggestions. As I said before, I’m sure there will be no lack of volunteers. But it’s a matter of who the Punchcut guys wish to entrust and how they want to manage that. At the end of the day, it’s their site.

hrant's picture

Kent, thanks for all your efforts. I do hope we'll still see you around though!

hhp

JamesM's picture

> Some haven’t been here in months

Based on my experience as a moderator in other forums, it's common for someone to volunteer with the best of intentions but then gradually drift away due to lack of time or other reasons.

It helps if you can clearly define the responsibilities of each moderator, and have one moderator in a supervisory position who makes sure things get done and who can pick a replacement moderator if an existing one drifts away.

Responsibilities need to be simple and realistic, considering that it's a volunteer position.

kentlew's picture

Thanks, Hrant. I expect I’ll still come around and participate in the few threads that interest me. It’s the daily responsibility/expectation (real or self-imagined) that I need to move out from under.

James — Yes, in a word: management. And for that, one ultimately has to look to the top, Punchcut. It all must flow from there.

Chris Dean's picture

Soo, this thread was started as a result of a previous Typophile thread, “A thankyou to Typophile” which speaks of our downfall.

This thread is a response and call to action. Essentially, now try to follow me here, instead of talking about problems, lets try to actually solve them.

There’s a bunch of ideas in here.

@ANYONE with ANY authority, has any action been taken, or are we still thinking about why things suck and complaining about them? Do we even plan on taking action? Should one of us simply build a new Typophile to replace this one?

Given the obvious and repeated nature of the problems here, new blood simply putting Typophile off the map wouldn’t be that hard. All the big-guns barely even talk, and by my count, 80% of the traffic here is font ID’s and homework help. Very little substance. Following tweets is more fruitful at this point.

I’d love to make Typophile 2.0 but I don’t know how to code. Any volunteers who’s care to help me?

Reach me at typographer@gmail.com

chrisburton's picture

What about public funding to hire a well experienced small studio team using Kickstarter for a new Wordpress based Typophile site?

_null's picture

For what it's worth, this place for me is somewhere I can come to get a ages worth of collective knowledge from some of the best in the field.
We all operate in a niche environment and the geographical distances involved are vast - I'd gladly pay a maintenance fee to continue that access.

I agree with Christophers comments regarding the current state of affairs...and twitter has indeed usurped typohile as my place to gain access to current trends or hot topics. I think typophiles correct place is within the critique, build, and discussions arenas - it requires a system capable of supporting those actions. - I don't believe wordpress is the solution either.
I also think PunchCut have done an amazing job to put the foundations in place for this community...I kind of feel us bitching and whining is a bit of a liberty / piss take.

Bezier Abuser's picture

I second the kickstarter project, I can really see it going well!

riccard0's picture

I myself spent more than a thought about the viability of a Kickstarter funding in order to reignite Typophile. It would be beneficial from a technical perspective: make it works as a platform (which means the forum, but also typographic education, Type Battles, and, yes, Type ID too). One could also hope it would sparkle some publicity, raising a wider interest in Typophile.
But, apart from the difficulty of defining the scope of a Kickstarter project (and the reward tiers for backers, etc.), I think that, even if successful, in the long run it will not be a real solution.
As I see it, the main problem with Typophile (and any website for that matter), lies in maintenance. This means long term commitment and daily overseeing. And that’s not something one can really fund.

Bendy's picture

>As I see it, the main problem with Typophile (and any website for that matter), lies in maintenance. This means long term commitment and daily overseeing. And that’s not something one can really fund.

I thought the Typophile 'membership' badges were supposed to fund maintenance and improvement. Perhaps they could be made more useful if non-badge people were limited in some way, for example in their maximum number of posts.

_null's picture

@Bendy Is that what the badges are for? I never knew that...feel bad now!

@riccardo0 agree with all your points, only I saw Typophile as more of a resource, rather than something which needed wider awareness (aside from educational purposes). Type battles, ID or any of that stuff have other services which do those things, and arguably better.
I guess I see it as a resource worth paying for - which again, should remove the major amount of maintenance? Which, as far as I'm aware is mainly spam/erroneous postings/rogue users - surely a subscription model would go some way to removing? Or maybe invite/probation? I do realise I sound like a despot at this point...
Also, KickStarter would imply there is some profit to be made/shared...I can't believe that is a viable proposition. Although it's an excellent method to garner funding, I'm sure there are other ways.

eliason's picture

I thought the Typophile 'membership' badges were supposed to fund maintenance and improvement.

Problem is, the badges program wasn't really maintained. :-(

riccard0's picture

I saw Typophile as more of a resource, rather than something which needed wider awareness

Apart the present unreachability of said resource, if no one adds to it, it would become useful as the 1911’s Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition.

_null's picture

@riccard0 Bwahahaha, that's funny, true, and kinda sad at the same time.

chrisburton's picture

Hmm. What if Typophile created some sort of Pro-like subscription with an annual cost to be a member that has access to specific areas. Something like Type Directors Club, of course not as expensive.

I think Kickstarter is a great idea. Not just for revamping the site but also exposure. The rewards don't always have to be a physical product (special thank you on the site, free pro subscription, special access, etc). However, I honestly don't think T-shirts with the Typophile logo would be such a bad idea as one those rewards. Even a certificate for becoming a member. I don't know, just throwing out ideas.

What about ad revenue using a service like BuySellAds.com?

Surely there are people here who would be willing to do maintenance?

In saying all this, I have doubt that paying for help (ID) will only hurt the site rather than be beneficial. Others come here because of the knowledgeable resource.

hrant's picture

Typophile is a sort of altruistic place, but if making a bit of extra money is the only way to get Punchcut's head back in the game, so be it. BTW, I don't think there's a lack of exposure; virtually anybody who designs type -or even starts dabbling in it- already knows about Typophile, and I personally don't want to see an invasion of broader graphic design.

I'm probably repeating myself here and there, but here are some things I'd propose:
- Don't panic.
- Get the search working, or at least let Google back in.
- If Google is given access again, figure out the spam situation.
- Charge some sort of membership fee for heavy use.
- Charge a nominal "barrier" amount for type ID requests.
- Don't try to please everybody, certainly not pricks who don't even like the Internet and/or an open exchange of expertise/opinion to begin with. This is not a cocktail party.

hhp

_null's picture

@hrant very much my feelings on the subject. I'd rather see this place become more specialised, not broader in purpose.

Question...Where has this feeling of 'more exposure' come from? Pretty much any search to do with typographic build or design brings you here (or used to).

edit: the world really doesn't need more tees affiliated to some obscure meme. Even a worthy one such as this.

Karl Stange's picture

This is not a cocktail party.

No, but I have often thought that 2600 style meetings in the real world would be good fun with the Typophile crowd. Mustering a sufficient number of people in the same geographic location on a regular basis could be a little more difficult though...

Hrant, I remember seeing a video or some photos of you from one of the type conventions a few years ago taking your laptop onto the street to work on a font until the battery died, which is what made me think of it originally.

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