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Forum organization

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Over the course of 15 or some years, this board has evolved in ways that present organizational challenges when searching, finding, and/or preserving content. For example:

1) Thread labeling practices have evolved and expectations with them about duplicating thread topics.

2) The film section was divided between "Film Criticism" for a while and other film topics. There is a subforum for film "lists" but that has been used inconsistently so that many posts about lists (i.e. what are some films about "x") are in the "Film" forum. 

3) Users have come and gone, at times deleting individual messages and/or emptying entire threads. This has created some empty threads or threads that are simply unintelligible because of gaps in the conversation and/or broken links. 

I am slowly working my way around to thoughts about how and when to update or weed forums. Part of that is straightforward even if it will be a long(er) project that could easily be stalled or ongoing:

If I find a thread or content that I think should be deleted, I will move it to Short Term Parking. That will give users a set time--I'm thinking 30 days--to review the thread and make any notes or rationales for why it should be kept. If we decide to keep it, no problem. I can just move it back to the forum. If you find threads you think ought to be deleted because they are incoherent (due to gaps in the record or obsolete), feel free to flag them for moderators so that we can review. I am not talking here about threads I/we simply don't like, but rather threads that are no longer discernible in their meaning.

Reorganizing is a slightly trickier problem. Andrew recently mentioned to me that the underlying goal should be preserving "coherence" in conversations/threads and that makes simply merging some threads more problematic. To cite just one example:

--Here's a thread announcing the trailer for Lost in Translation, titled BILL MURRAY FANS REJOICE.

--Here's a thread discussing Lost in Translation.

--Here's a thread with an inquiry about whether or not the Lost in Translation DVD is worth buying. 

In later years, these would all just simply be in a Lost in Translation thread, and thread labeling would be standardized. I could/can certainly use moderator power to merge all those threads into one, making searching easier, but would that be a net benefit? These three threads are fairly distinct in time, but such a practice could end up interjecting random comments in-between threads. But leaving them separate also means we have multiple threads on the same film which, as the archive grows, leads to a lot more of those inquiries along the lines of, "Does anyone remember where/when we talked about....?"

I am open to comments or suggestions regarding this process.


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My personal inclination is to follow the tired cliché of 'if it ain't terribly broke, don't fix it.'  Historically, in large measure thanks to Peter's 'ahems,' I think a decent job has been done of merging duplicate threads.  My bias would be towards continuing this moving forward, with less energy on remedying past redundancies that slipped under the radar. 

On reviewing the organization of the board, its forums, and topics, it still looks pretty sound and sane to me.  Ken, I like the fact that you're deleting ancient Short Term Parking topics, in order to make it adhere to its original purpose, but I'm not seeing anything else that seems to warrant significant change.

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