Contemplative Meta: Musings On The Community Of MGoBlog

Submitted by LSAClassOf2000 on December 17th, 2012 at 8:22 AM

“MUSINGS ON THE COMMUNITY OF MGoBlog"

Several threads and occurrences in the last several months here started to get me thinking about just how advanced a cyber-community MGoBlog actually is ,and this seemed even semi-appropriate with the holidays now upon us to reflect a little bit on what we collectively bring to this place.

Some may disagree, but to me, this place has both preserved its initial intent as being a premiere source for information and discussion of Michigan athletics, but it seems as if it has evolved into something far more than that. It is a combination of various items, I believe, ranging from the general parameters of the site to things as simple (or complex, depending on your view) as the sort of people we generally are as fans of the University of Michigan.

It is a virtual space, but a well-developed one. Our usernames are associated with particular styles of commentary, certain opinions and even specialty content. Whether it is karma or the soon-to-be returned voting system, our perceived credibility is judged on a daily basis. Indeed, being one of the most visible Michigan fan sites if not the most visible, the system of feedback is vital to maintaining the quality of the site and its content by showing newcomers to the community what the shared expectations tend to be.

 Sometimes, we miss the mark, sometimes we hit upon something humorous or insightful, but in watching comments attain ratings, you gain visibility into community norms, some of which Brian laid out in the beginning, but many of which have developed above and beyond the basic tenets of the site. Some of them are humorous, but some are not  - Muppets, for example, after a big victory are humorous and deserved, but someone posting a link to one of Bleacher Report’s slide shows is not.

It is a moderated space, so in a sense, it is a governed one, both through site moderation and the community at large. As if you were speaking at work, you don’t necessarily have the right to say whatever without consequence, and this alone strengthens the sense of community around here. We do an excellent job of looking out for one another, but this is a group also unafraid to let people know in some fashion when lines (both external and internal to the blog) have been crossed, either deliberately or by definition as in the odd Kate Upton GIF. To safeguard against this, we can see posts and threads labeled as “NSFW”, for example, or indeed, when things get ugly, threads or posts are locked and/or deleted. People may quibble about the amount of moderation, but it is undeniable that without it, this would not be a close-knit group.

We’ve donated to and even taken on the causes of other site members, some of which include former players at Michigan, which I think is one of the most apparent pieces of evidence that ours is a fairly advanced community as cyber-cultures go. We’re also a connected group with some influence on affairs in the physical world and group with diverse areas of expertise, so when we aren’t talking plays and strategy, we sometimes find ourselves helping people in this community accomplish real world things or resolve real world issues. To me, that is evidence that we collectively care about each other’s well-being, so there are shared values that have arisen from this thing called MGoBlog.

The core element, of course, is our devotion to University Of Michigan athletics as well as to the school itself. Whether we are alums or not, students there or not, it is the one institution which has, above others, made the deepest impression on all of us. The Wolverines are that team (whether it is football, basketball, hockey and so on through the varsity sports) to which we feel the deepest connection. Deep enough, as a matter of fact, that many of us digest almost every single bit of minutia, as evidenced by threads on travel itineraries for the team and posts obviously made while in line at the Spring Auction. From this center, through the years, a viable community – albeit virtual – has sprung, in my opinion.

Indeed, all this is why I come here, not just to be part of a group that shares my obsession with sports and the University Of Michigan, but to be part of the community that has developed around it.

Comments

Wisconsin Wolverine

December 17th, 2012 at 9:18 AM ^

Hear hear.  This is one of the very few places on the internet that I return to multiple times per day.  It's just part of my routine.  I don't feel like I often have anything particularly special to contribute, but I like you guys.

MikeCohodes

December 17th, 2012 at 9:44 AM ^

I had been a reader of MGoBlog since before the Horror, but never got involved in the message board community until the start of this football season, for reasons that are beyond me at this point (mostly not wanting to deal with internet morons, which thankfully there don't seem to be too many here, and those that are here get quickly booted) .  I hugely regret not getting involved on the boards sooner, as it has been a lot of fun talking with people on here and on Twitter about all sorts of things, not just Michigan sports.  For the most part, people here were very helpful in showing me the ropes of the community so I didn't do anything stupid that would warrant a vacation to Bolivia, and I liked that there were members of the community willing to reach out to me with helpful advice so I could be a better poster.  So I'd like to say thanks to the community for making me feel welcome and valued as a contributor.

One META suggestion that I have for the board in general is perhaps a second section of the forums, one not on the main page to keep the main page clean, but that can be devoted to strictly OT stuff.  I notice when creating a new forum topic that it asks what board the post will go on, and MGoBoard is the only choice.  Perhaps we can have an OT board for discussing other stuff, like movies, tv shows, music, politics (thought that one might be a really bad idea considering what happens every time hunting gets mentioned around here) and more, that will allow for year round OT topics, which will help make life easier on the mods because if someone puts a way OT post on the main board, they can just shunt it over to the OT board instead.  I just think that it'd be cool for the community to have a space to talk about OT stuff because I feel that I've already developed friendships with a number of MGoUsers in just a few short months, friends that I'd enjoy talking about non-Michigan stuff with also.

lbpeley

December 17th, 2012 at 10:06 AM ^

with that OT board is it would lead directly to what Brian is trying to avoid: an RCMB-like atmosphere.

Not to mention a politics thread would quickly devolve into a nuclear meltdown and would almost certainly carry over to the main board. Pretty soon posters will be labeled by their political leanings and the auto downvotes would commence. I, being not perfect, already have a couple posters I almost immediately discount because of previous ramblings and rants on certain subjects.

Besides the old voting system there's few things I can think of that would improve the layout and structure of this site.

MikeCohodes

December 17th, 2012 at 10:16 AM ^

on politics, that would be something to probably still avoid.  but pop culture stuff would be fun to talk about on that board.  It'd be the perfect place to talk about tv shows on a week-in week out basis, or who is seeing what movie that weekend, etc, and by hiding it off of the main page it still keeps the majority of the focus on the main page for casual visitors to the site.  I think that could work and still avoid the RCMB atmosphere as long as we still keep politics, religion, and the like still on the no-no list.

WolverBean

December 17th, 2012 at 1:08 PM ^

I think any conversation about creating an OT board must squarely face a question that I don't think has ever been explicitly addressed by Brian et al: what, exactly, is and is not appropriate content for the premier site for discussion of Michigan athletics?

I understand that a site like this builds its own community, and that certain posters begin to feel "close" to other posters in some cyber-friendship sense. I understand also that much of the demographic of this blog's readership shares interests in other topics besides just Michigan sports (e.g. I bet a larger proportion of MGoReaders saw "The Dark Knight Returns" than folks in the population at large). However, I would argue that if you want to discuss movies, good beer recipes, or (God forbid) politics, there are far better venues on the internet than MGoBlog for those discussions. With rare exceptions, it seems to me that the threads people would post on an OT board are threads that probably shouldn't be posted to MGoBlog in the first place. Now if Brian, Seth, etc disagree with me, I'll happily shut up, stay off their OT board, and be happy about it. But it seems to me that part of MGoBlog's strength is its focus on delivering one particular type of high quality content. I have my doubts that it can retain that level of quality while venturing into topics unrelated to Michigan sports. And a low quality OT board will in turn reflect poorly on the larger blog.

TL;DR: don't turn MGoBlog into Reddit.

lbpeley

December 17th, 2012 at 1:57 PM ^

more in depth response I would have liked to have posted earlier but lacked the time and word skill. 

I love some OT posts. The really good ones are rife with GIFs and 'shop jobs and all manner of hilarity. I think those make this site even better. Even the ones I don't bother to click on, like your average drinking thread (too busy drinking - no time for posting!) or any post that might come up about Tool or The Dark Knight or soccer  I think add to the site. I fully realize there are many here who love Tool and The Dark Knight and soccer.

It's the fine line of the infrequency of such OT posts that I think works so well. Like you said, if this place turned into Reddit it'd definitely be a clusterfuck and really kill the buzz.

MikeCohodes

December 17th, 2012 at 2:47 PM ^

was that I know there are other places on the web I can go for other communities on other topics, but I like this community better.  I used to participate in the forums on imdb.com for talking about movies and tv but their forums were poorly moderated and so full of trolls that I checked out on that years ago.  Thats probably why I waited so long to join the forums here, I just was afraid that the board would be full of trolls and idiots.  Since I have learned that this is not the case, I guess I just was wondering if it'd be possible to have the type of conversations I used to have there with a community I respect here.

GoWings2008

December 21st, 2012 at 10:51 AM ^

I would tend to agree and compare the usage of such topics such as The Dark Knight, or a tv show or a movie (I deeply appreciated the Eddie Izzard references I saw in the Nick Sheridan post, by the way) to an episode of Family Guy.  There's a general theme to the show, but the cutaways and outside references are there to enhance the humor or to make a point.  We all do it, mostly...me probably more than most.  I provide plenty of humor and tv/movies is my main source of background.  I've discovered gif and meme usage lately, too, but try to keep it to the topic at hand.  I'm not always successful, but I'm happy that my humor is for the most part appreciated. 

I really enjoy the MGoCommunity and appreciate having been accepted even though I'm not a UM grad.  I'm a long time UM football fan since I was as young as 5 when my dad, a grad and former fraternity brother of Don Canham, took me to games as early as I can remember.  I feel welcome and not judged because of the background of my fandom...this is why I return most days to read, laugh and appreciate the depth of information provided for all our benefit.

My worst fears were realized this season when my alma mater, Air Force, played the favorite team of my youth.  It was difficult to choose which team I'd support, but even when I took the side of the place I shed blood, sweat and tears, I was still accepted and appreciated.  The moment after the game ended, I was a thankful UM fan that the Wolverines came away with the win. 

Thanks to all of you and to Brian for the vision this site was created for and continues to this day. 

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

December 17th, 2012 at 11:41 AM ^

I agree re: politics, but the thing that makes an RCMB-like atmosphere is the constituency of the RCMB.  If the OT board were as well self-policed as the regular board I wouldn't see a problem.  One thing I've always enjoyed about the MGoCommunity is that it really is a grown-up place.  We don't have to be told to keep the language down (I can say fuck all I want, look: fuck fuck fuck fuckity fuck fuck) and yet the privilege is not abused, except for, like, just now.  In general we're not tolerant of posts that resemble YouTube comments.  People who kan't spel and type l1ke there txting sum1 get told to buzz off until they put half an ounce of effort into a post.  I like this.  Would an OT board probably be a full-blown haven for cat pictures?  Probably.  But I like to think the MGoCommunity knows the difference between letting your inner 12-year-old out on a leash, and actually being a 12-year-old.

Seth

December 17th, 2012 at 1:02 PM ^

We hope...

What it's not going to be is exactly like the old way. New Drupal means new apps and stuff, and the goal is still to provide a system of accurate moderation, not accumulate prestige.

What I'm sensing though is that what people really want with the up/down votes is a prestige sort of thing. The problem is, as much as the "community" of regular posters seems like big thing, it's only a really small % of our readership. We get about 280,000 people on here per month, and less than 100 will post often enough to start accruing some sort of prestige rating. With those kinds of numbers, rather than slowing down the whole site to have functionality for a few, maybe we can have some sort of points-based nominating system to be bumped up to a power user status that can edit the wikis and help moderate the boards and have a symbol on their account when they post. And then a wiki page of regular posters with, i dunno, 25 word descriptions of who they are.

What I'm saying is we're looking at lots of different ideas. And this is going to be more Brian's choice than mine.

MaizeAndBlueWahoo

December 17th, 2012 at 2:17 PM ^

What I'm sensing though is that what people really want with the up/down votes is a prestige sort of thing.

What people really want with the up/down votes is to be able to get and give better feedback.  Is a post rated "4" because 10 people liked it and 5 people hated it?  Or is it rated "4" because 3 people liked it?  (Assuming it started at "1".)  Also, people feel like giving really, really stupid posts a -1 is the equivalent of giving a shoplifter and a bank robber the same jail sentence.  It's been said very often by many different people that we liked being able to negbang fools out of their posting privileges without waiting for a mod.

StephenRKass

December 17th, 2012 at 2:36 PM ^

Seth, I'm not sure it is the "prestige" thing for many readers. After all, those who want can post and post and post and double post and build up their prestige quickly enough. More than that, it is about the ability of regular mgousers to join in the board public censure and rebuke of those who become offensive in their posts. I think this ability to "neg" is just as important as the "posbang."

bluebyyou

December 17th, 2012 at 5:02 PM ^

I, for one, don't like the up and down voting....never have. I think it provides a chilling effect which can lead to people being afraid to express their thoughts.  I participate in enough other forums where disagreements are registered through comments, and the wisdom of your remark is accepted or rejected based upon the logic of another poster's rebuttal or affirmation of your post.  

Point collecting also has a tendency to generate scads of worthless two word responsed to pad your numbers because we are a competitive set of bloggers, at least some of us.  

 

ChopBlock

December 17th, 2012 at 6:20 PM ^

Fair points, but consider this: some things aren't even worth responding to (trolling for example). When you have a system that allows you to neg, you both shoot down the trolls without feeding them. Since ignoring trolls is something that hasn't ever been done (not even once) in the history of the internet, this is the next best thing.

turtleboy

December 19th, 2012 at 1:28 PM ^

While the user moderation is one of the keys to the blogs success it also has some drawbacks. The downvoting is a little out of control in that it takes away from having an open discussion. I often have to upvote entire threads just so I can read them. Negging seems more popular than upvoting as a trend and leaves blog threads as more of a popularity contest than a discussion forum. Eliminating someone's p.o.v. is the default response now, as opposed to discussing, and even discourages users with simple questions, or different points of view, whether right or wrong, and only shows what's the most popular. While immaturity, and flame wars don't have a place at mgoblog, so does opinion and participation lately.

M-Wolverine

December 19th, 2012 at 2:05 PM ^

Up at the top of the comments is a "viewing threshold" where you can set it to show all posts down to even -1.  Then everything that's posted no matter how it has been voted is visible. No extra work voting things up and you get to read everything. 

Really, the only problem is it should probably be the default setting.

Don

December 20th, 2012 at 8:28 AM ^

Negging ought to cost points, and the cost should be graduated according to numbers of negs given out in a 24-hr period. The juvenile idiots who reflexively neg innocous comments simply because they disagree, or automatically neg certain commenters regardless of comment, should have to pay an increasingly stiff price for doing so. Past a certain point, board privileges should be suspended for those who continue to abuse the system.

SirJack II

December 17th, 2012 at 12:42 PM ^

What are the best board rivalries? Only a couple come to mind, and I'm likely leaving out some good ones. I'm also not sure if these are the best matchups.

Section 1 vs. M-Wolverine (or 3/4 of the board at any given time)

Chitownblue vs. ???

His Dudeness vs. Magnus

 

Owl

December 17th, 2012 at 1:39 PM ^

What happened to that one poster that absolutely HATED you and trolled you regularly? Those theads got really personal really quickly. Can't remember the name off the top of my head right now, but I suspect you remember who I'm talking about.

BiSB

December 17th, 2012 at 11:30 PM ^

BiSB vs. the Trolls

Trolls to the left of me. Trolls to the right of me. Trolls to the front of me. Volley'd and Flamewar'd. Mine not to reason why. Mine but to cave and neg.

I do feel like the trolls got the better of me, but not in the sense that they overpowered me. It was like a crappy video game level where wave after wave of zombie charges you until you get sick of it. It sapped all of the enjoyment out of this board, which made the whole point of being a mod (i.e. maintaining the environment that I enjoyed) moo.

I may have given the impression that I was leaving because the board sucked, which was not the case. I bailed because the vocal minority had become so goddamn annoying that I couldn't stand to deal with them anymore. Now I can just ignore them and engage the rest of you who provide insight and cat memes.