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.

riccard0's picture

virtually anybody who designs type -or even starts dabbling in it- already knows about Typophile

Even if it were true, how many of them are participating?

_null's picture

@riccard0 with all due...this isn't twitter or facebook...and neither should it be. More than often I've found the information contained in the posts more than enlightening for the subject in hand. Participation was neither warranted or required...ego filling omitted.

For me, this is more about cementing this information into something for prosperity and use. It's my opinion that the community comes alive when a subject is in hand...just look at the debates on printers, opentype and web fonts. Heated, passionate and informative.

hrant's picture

Karl: Organizing friendly social events by using Typophile as a "geolocator"* is a great idea - I've engaged in that kind of thing myself, although perhaps not enough. It's just that Typophile itself can't be conducive to cultural progress (to me its highest calling) if the social angle becomes too pronounced.

* http://typophile.com/forum/14

taking your laptop onto the street to work on a font until the battery died

That was such strange fun. Eben Sorkin and I first did that during the LA TypeCon and were joined by a few more people (including a conference attendee by the name of Claire who initiated a great analog component) at the New Orleans TypeCon. LA: http://www.typecon.com/archives/69 and http://www.flickr.com/photos/stewf/4911947563 NO: http://www.typecon.com/archives/400 and http://www.typecon.com/archives/860

Riccardo: I agree that more active participation would be great, but broader exposure of Typophile would probably simply dilute any discussions we do have, since it would draw in people who aren't really dedicated to type (because dedicated people already know about it).

hhp

riccard0's picture

My remarks about exposure and participation weren’t about making Typophile the new Facebook.
They were meant to be a reminder that in order for any community* to survive (and hopefully thrive) there need to be a critical mass (however small) of people involved, and thus a certain rate of new people “replacing” those that became less present.
As for diluting (http://typophile.com/node/95976#comment-520672), the advantage of exposure would be to remind the people that already know about Typophile that it’s a good place to hang around. And with enough interested people (and some fair moderation), the specificity of the matters discussed would filter off the excessive noise.

* or resource.

JamesM's picture

> a certain rate of new people “replacing”
> those that became less present

In the 2 years or so that I've been here, I've never had the feeling that Typophile was welcoming to newcomers.

When new people introduce themselves, there's rarely much of a response. When students post a "what's this font" or "help me with my homework" post, they are viewed by some as a nuisance to be gotten rid of, rather than as potential members.

Karl Stange's picture

In the 2 years or so that I've been here, I've never had the feeling that Typophile was welcoming to newcomers.

When new people introduce themselves, there's rarely much of a response. When students post a "what's this font" or "help me with my homework" post, they are viewed by some as a nuisance to be gotten rid of, rather than as potential members.

In my experience Typophile has treated new people with the same respect granted others, in that when a serious question is posed or discussion started, detailed and helpful responses are forthcoming. I have very limited experience with other web forums but I do not know what people expect from merely introducing themselves; if you walk into a room of a strangers, many of them professionals and all with a common interest, they will likely welcome you but if you have nothing to contribute and no questions, what more should you hope for?

As for font ID requests, there is a well established section of the forum to deal with those.

In my fairly limited experience in the wider font community, most people working in the industry have had to learn everything from the ground up, learning and often innovating new technologies as they go. This is knowledge that people are generally willing to share but only when it comes to people that are interested in pushing their own understanding further. When people come on here asking for the benefit of knowledge that everyone else has worked hard to acquire, without appreciating how to get there or why, I am not surprised that responses are limited.

Karl Stange's picture

Organizing friendly social events by using Typophile as a "geolocator"* is a great idea - I've engaged in that kind of thing myself, although perhaps not enough. It's just that Typophile itself can't be conducive to cultural progress (to me its highest calling) if the social angle becomes too pronounced.

After posting that I was having a drink in one of my favourite bars in London and stumbled across a comics group in the back room, mainly writers and artists, but soon discovered that Rian Hughes was there as well. I didn't get a chance to talk to him but being surrounded by that energy and enthusiasm was great. I agree, as far as Typophile goes, it is positive to mention what is happening here but it shouldn't be the focus and really I suppose that is what the various type conventions are for.

_null's picture

Karl your a fellow london native?
How many more of us are there? I like type...and I like beer. Type and Beer sounds like a good shin dig.

oldnick's picture

How about appointing/anointing/promoting/paying some editors? The range and depth of erudition available on this site is both amazing and humbling. OTOH, the petty squabbles (a.k.a. pissing contests) which occasionally arise distract from the overall effort.

Perhaps a separate site—fully catalogued and indexed, with searchable abstracts, would better serve the entire typographic community. Reserve this place for the sausage-making: we're all grown-ups here, aren't we?

Forget the social angle: let's set up a network of mentors who can teach the clueless pups. I am certain that colleges and universities would love to have access to a local type guru from time to time.

Karl Stange's picture

Karl your a fellow london native?

I am indeed. I don't want to de-rail this thread but happy to arrange meeting for beer and type discussion. I will look at setting up something along the lines of what hrant has already done but for London, in the Special Interest Groups.

Nick, those are fine ideas. While getting anyone paid for their time through the site is probably unlikely, the idea of more specific mentorship for those willing (and not already doing so) would no doubt appeal to a number of people here. This site probably represents the single greatest technical typographic resource on the web, fully indexed and searchable it would be a formidable resource and when it was indexed by Google that is pretty much what it was.

oldnick's picture

Karl—

Agreed that this site is an incredible resource, but…

1. The rancor among some members does a disservice to the community as a whole, which is why I suggested a separate, edited, abstracted and comprehensively indexed "other" site; and

2. The search engine sucks, period.

Karl Stange's picture

Yes, it is unfortunate when threads get bogged down with personal disagreements. I suppose that is always a danger though. Trying to imagine a physical manifestation of the sight makes me think of a low-lit basement bar, lots of whisky being drunk and plenty of, "let's take it outside" conclusions to conversations. That said, when I have actually met people who contribute here in person it has always been incredibly civilised!

2. The search engine sucks, period.

Is there a straightforward way of fixing the site search functionality or would that require a mammoth effort and re-indexing everything? Sorry, just re-read Christopher's opening post.

JamesM's picture

> I do not know what people expect from
> merely introducing themselves

Karl, I guess my comment was aimed more at the moderators. In forums where I've been a moderator, we always tried to make newcomers feel welcome.

Years ago I made my first post at a different forum. I accidentally violated forum etiquette and was blasted by a long-time member. I was so embarrassed that I decided never to post again, but then a forum moderator posted a friendly welcome and invited me to continue participating, so I did, and eventually I became a moderator.

Newcomers often feel awkward, don't know what to say, and often make mistakes. A little friendly encouragement and guidance can sometimes help them through that initial rough period and lead to them becoming good members of the group.

hrant's picture

I agree, and I for can/will do better in that respect.

hhp

scannerlicker's picture

OK, I just read the whole thread.

But before getting my opinion out, I must pose a question: Why was the design changed?

riccard0's picture

Why was the design changed?

http://typophile.com/node/91007

hrant's picture

Why was the design changed?

Two bad apples.

hhp

Karl Stange's picture

Newcomers often feel awkward, don't know what to say, and often make mistakes. A little friendly encouragement and guidance can sometimes help them through that initial rough period and lead to them becoming good members of the group.

I agree that making newcomers welcome is the best approach and one likely to encourage contribution and involvement, I suppose I am focusing on those posts where people are simply declaring their presence when this has always felt like a very hands on forum where the best approach is to jump in.

I know that I have made mistakes myself but have always just moved on while trying to understand where I went wrong, but I suppose silence and a lack of encouragement can be intimidating.

Chris Dean's picture

Still wondering if we have any progress to report. We appear to be going off topic. Not to say that not/welcoming newcomers isn’t important, it just wasn’t the purpose of this thread.

This is a great example of when, if I had administrative permission, I would relocate this portion of the discussion to keep the thread on task.

5star's picture

Ya 4 sure eh, meanwhile ... the spammers are living well in the Blogs forum.

n.

JamesM's picture

> Not to say that not/welcoming newcomers isn’t important,
> it just wasn’t the purpose of this thread.

Your initial post which started this thread contained 9 points, and 2 of them concerned newcomers.

In #2 you said "Today’s newbs are lacking... Just stop doing [their homework]..." (The majority of these students are newcomers.)

In #7 you said "Moderators: if they were a more active presence, I believe this would help new users feel more comfortable..."

kentlew's picture

Still wondering if we have any progress to report.

Christopher — I guess you still haven’t figured it out: What we have here is a tenement with an absentee landlord. Been that way for years now.

You may have a better chance of getting any response (but only just maybe) if you try contacting the Jared directly:

http://typophile.com/user/3/contact
or
typophile@punchcut.com

But good luck with that even.

Jared Benson's picture

Thanks, Kent. Yes- Shoot me a message. I try to reply to everything I see.

If you don't get an immediate response, don't read into it. I probably just haven't gotten to it yet, but will.

hrant's picture

Jared, please at least fix the search as soon as possible, even if it means letting in more spam. The solution to the king's headache is not to decapitate him.

hhp

Renaissance Man's picture

Random thoughts:

I'm not sure if there was more money available that things would change. Convince me otherwise.

Every iteration of Typophile, no matter how "improved," hobbled or disabled something that was well liked and fully functional. How long do you expect loyal and long-time users to put up with that?

I used to subscribe to a newsletter about English language usage, but the price was high. Even worse, the articles were so damned "correct" they were boring and uninteresting. So I never renewed. I do subscribe to a computer newsletter (Windows Secrets), which has a free section and a paid section. I subscribe to the paid section, and users determine how much to contribute. I used to go to the NY Times daily. Now I only go there as a result of a search, or a link from another site.

Should Typophile remain free? A "first 10 posts" free model would not prevent one-time annoyances or do-my-homework posts. How about read free and contribute what you will to post for a year (with a $X [$2-5?] minimum, and with "membership badges" for those who contribute over a certain amount.) I was recently directed to a site that said something like "You have to be registered to read this article. Registration is free." It annoyed the crap out of me. Since I already had the answer I wanted, reading the article was for my own information and pleasure, and the site was one I wouldn't come back to, I declined to register. Others may have higher or lower annoyance levels.

Would someone please explain (or point me to an explanation) of just what the relationship is between Punchcut and Typophile?

What makes Typophile so wonderful are the people on it; what makes it so bad is the dysfunction of the web design. Based on the website, I'd never use Punchcut for anything.

As for Search, what about using Google Toolbar with the "Search this site" function?

Pissing contests and rancor come with the territory. Really obnoxious or serial offenders should be warned, and barred if persistent.

Since it's impossible for a moderator to read every single post (to find inappropriate/offensive material), how about a "Report" link on the bottom of posts?

"We don't need people like that," "get rid of the freeloaders," are attitudes that will kill Typophile.

Require all posts to be previewed; that will reduce the need to edit.

hrant's picture

Steve, good stuff.

The thing is, charging money would in effect get rid of "people like that".

hhp

Jared Benson's picture

@Hrant: Search: I asked Google to re-index over a week ago. There's a bigger problem on our side where the engine is not indexing the forum content. I'm trying to figure out why.

@RenMan: Typophile runs pretty much independently from Punchcut. Punchcut pays the bills and ensures that Typophile is always here for the community to enjoy. We work on it whenever we can, but look to the collective Typophile community to help shape and define what Typophile is, visually and culturally. It's been that way since Day 1 and I expect it always will be.

Acknowledged, the site needs lots of work. I couldn't agree more.

Typophile was created to share knowledge in a welcoming, sharing atmosphere. We were all students once, so we could stand to be much more tolerant of new members of our community.

And remember, every family reunion has the crazy aunt or uncle. While they might be quirky or annoying, we love them and accept them nonetheless.

I expect we'd explore every other fund-raising option before charging users for access.

apankrat's picture

With regards to editing posts - allow unlimited editing, but keep a public archive of all past versions. It lets you change your mind, but it also makes you think twice before saying anything.

scannerlicker's picture

OK, here's my 2 cents:

- Charging for the website is ridiculous. I would prefer to have ads or to give a donation in order for the thing to go on. Segregating knowledge: no way. I believe that this is a forum, not a club. And if Punchcut is supporting this website, here I go: THANK YOU, PUNCHCUT!

- About the newcomers and topics that are not-so-relevant, maybe a restructuring of the different forums could help. As Jared told, we were once students as well. And we also asked "dumb" questions, that might have seemed obvious, but we needed to ask in order to learn. How about a sub-forum dedicated to newbies?

- About the homepage, the former one was way better. If the problem is flash, do it in HTML. Done. Solved.

- And the overall design (the current one) is confusing. Very confusing. Jared, if you need a helping hand, please ping me.

Guys, if you're still around this forum, that's because you had good experiences here. I found lots of good stuff here, personally. Got helped. Helped some. Isn't this something worth preserving and improving?

Cheers!

daverowland's picture

Is it only me who can no longer edit my first posts? Would be good to get this fixed.

riccard0's picture

No, Dave, you're not alone: http://typophile.com/node/96238

Bendy's picture

Judging by the number of type ID requests appearing in the Solved section, I'd recommend not having the "Solved Sans, Serif, Script/Handwriting" etc more prominent than the "Type ID Board" section. I made that mistake recently and I thought I knew the site.

R.'s picture

I agree. It should be a cheap and easy first step to hide the names of all boards listed below the type ID board. Put them in a menu that’s closed by default. Maybe the guidelines could be excluded, but nobody reads them anyway, so I think it would be best to keep this one entry visible: ‘Type ID Board’. Or at least get everything below ‘Solved IDs’ (i.e. categories like ‘Sans Serif’ that seem to mislead so many people) out of sight. The type ID board might not be the most relevant part of the forum, but it’s the most popular one and all the miscategorised postings suck.

Florian Hardwig's picture

Bendy, R.:

When the subfora with categories for solved IDs were introduced, our input was requested: http://www.typophile.com/node/65232
I spoke out against it, and everybody else did so, too: unnecessary, not helpful, overcomplicating and slowing down things, etc. Nevertheless, this new ‘feature’ was not removed.

The topic came up again later: http://typophile.com/node/71918
Again, I said: “let’s get rid off the ‘Solved IDs’ fora.”
Nothing has happened, no reaction whatsoever.

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. — JamesM

This is exactly what has happened in my case. I used to administrate the Type ID Board for quite a while, on a daily base. Occasionally, I could help Kent out a little with the spam squashing. Recently, I am lacking both time and motivation to continue to do so.

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. — Kent

I will do the same. Yes, maybe I should have announced this first, before quitting the admin work. Well, I had hoped that things would improve over time, and that I would be on hiatus only. (And theoretically, there are at least 2 more Type ID admins.) But since search engines stopped indexing Typophile, my admin work has become even more tedious and, to some extent, technically impossible – think of linking to similar threads, looking up existing information, etc. My impression is that the amount of time and effort is totally disproportionate to the benefit for the ID requesters and the fellow IDers.
I am not a masochist.

eliason's picture

Kent and Florian, thanks for the many many hours you've put into keeping the site clean and usable in past years.

hrant's picture

I thanked Kent earlier, so: thank you Florian! And in case you're ever tempted to feel bad: you've already done more than most.

hhp

Bendy's picture

Yes. Thanks are due to you both for your efforts. It's a massive shame Punchcut are alienating the admins and users this way.

5star's picture

Today while out over at the grocery store I happen to notice cans of Spam ... I thought to myself ... f*ck who's moderating this aisle aways.

I reported the Spam at check-out :)

n.

Syndicate content Syndicate content