Friday, July 29, 2011

Criteria for Forum Ranking, Ratings & Reviews (Part I - The WoT version)


To be or not to be is no longer the question.  The question now is, "what should the criteria be for ranking, rating, reviewing and summarizing virtual world forums?"

I'm thinking of how Forbes and USA News and World Report and the like state their criteria when they report on businesses or colleges and universities.  What would our criteria be?

The first one that pops to my mind is whether or not it is an adult (18+) forum and then from there whether it is G, PG, PG-13, R, X, XXX (with apologies to my international audience for using an American rating system.)  Most people already know I'm prone to rank forums by the atmosphere - coffee klatch, bar, bistro, hooligan pub, etc.

This is from a post I made in gotVirtual on July 16, 2011 about gotVirtual.
Basement bar. The kind you enter because someone gave you the inside info. Go down the back alley, down the back stairs. Big dude everybody calls "Mars" will look through a small window in the door and eyeball you before grunting something about a password. Speak. Shut up. Stand there. Wait. Door will open. Walk in. Smoky, boozy, craps game going on, Texas Hold 'Em. People checking you out without really looking at you. Simple, utilitarian. Everything you need. Nothing you don't. Money is where it should be and nowhere it shouldn't. Grab a drink, pick a spot and ante up. Don't ask too many questions. Play the game or get played. Something like that.
ETA: Almost forgot the bistro upstairs.
This is from a post I made in gotVirtual on April 16, 2011 about gotVirtual and RLetc.
It was definitely intended to be a "kinder, gentler" place and friendly to advertisers and it was and is. It's definitely more bistro than bar. The main parallel between RLetc and gV is that they are both ostensibly virtual world forums.
I tend to refer people to RLetc.com when they say they do not enjoy forum flame wars, fights, dramas and trolls and just want a nice place to talk about Second Life and other virtual worlds like STO and WoW.  I refer people who want to go the opposite direction to gV.  I refer people into politics, gardening and recipes to SC MKII.  I refer people who want SL information and a big crowd or one-stop shop to SLUniverse or SL official.  And so forth.

Can't have a discussion about forums with Pep involved without talking about the Community Standards and moderation of those stated standards.  (I do realize moderation is a common topic for others as well, and reasonably so.)

Size and traffic would be obvious ones to me as well.  Number of members, posts, etc.  How long the site has been up.  Most popular sections, topics and threads.  Maybe registration process and ease of entry into the community.  How much the virtual world is actually discussed.  Here's a brain dump based on my own thoughts and the comments I have seen others make.

❏  Categories (general vs. specific, SC MKII vs. the SL Artists forum, for example)
❏  Age restriction
❏  Content restrictions
❏  Size
❏  Traffic
❏  Age
❏  Community Standards
❏  Moderation
❏  Banned members
❏  Virtual world content
❏  Most popular sections or topics
❏  Most popular threads
❏  Recent activity
❏  Registration process
❏  Ease of entry into the community / welcome
❏  Community culture
❏  Civility
❏  Layout, visual appeal
❏  Options (blogs, albums, etc.)
❏  Ease of use
❏  Forum navigation
❏  Tips, tricks, troubleshooting and things you should know
❏  Admins & Mods
❏  Trolls
❏  Local "celebrities" and well-known players
❏  Usefulness in terms of helpful answers or pure fun
❏  Best ofs
❏  Inworld presence (Forum Cartel, RLetc Bay, etc.)
❏  Youtube videos or channels
❏  What differentiates the forum, if anything.
❏  And then general comments.

Then the question might be, "which forums should be included in the review?"

Live
◆  Second Life Official Forums:  http://community.secondlife.com/t5/Forums/ct-p/Forums
◆  Utherverse Official Forums:  http://forums.utherverse.com/
◆  Blue Mars Developer Forum:  http://create.bluemars.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=177
◆  Inworldz Official Forum:  http://inworldz.com/forums/
◆  Star Trek Online (STO) Official Forum:  http://forums.startrekonline.com/
◆  3DChat Official Forum:  http://forum.3dchat.com/?content=9
◆  gotvirtual.net:  http://gotvirtual.net
◆  ProfilesLive.com:  http://www.profileslive.com
◆  RLetc.com:  http://www.rletc.com
◆  Second Citizen MKII:  http://www.secondcitizen.net
◆  SL Offworld:  http://z15.invisionfree.com/SL_Offworld_Forum/index.php
◆  SLUniverse:  http://www.sluniverse.com
◆  Second Life Unleashed:  http://www.slunleashed.com  (Owner declared it dead, but the link is still live.)
◆  The Gorean Forums:  http://goreanforums.net/
◆  SL Flying for Second Life Aviators:  http://www.slflying.net/forum/
◆  Second Life Music Community Forum:  http://slmc.myfastforum.org/
◆  Second Life Art & Artist Network:  http://slartistnetwork.proboards.com/index.cgi
◆  me2oh:  http://me2oh.com/forum
◆  Wasted Life:  http://www.wastedlife.com.ar/
◆  Kirstens Viewer Forum:  http://www.kirstensviewer.com/Forum/
◆  Kokua & Imprudence Forums:  http://forums.kokuaviewer.org/
◆  Phoenix Forum:  http://s15.zetaboards.com/Phoenix_Viewer/index/
◆  KingGoon:  http://www.kinggoon.net/Forum/


Dead or Dying
✟  Virtual World Universe:  http://virtualworlduniverse.com
✟  ItsaVirtualLife:  http://itsavirtuallife.com
✟  Second Life Forum:  http://secondlifeforum.com/
✟  SLforum:  http://www.slforum.com/forum/
✟  The Sexy Guild:  http://forums.thesexyguild.com

I have noticed there are a couple of defunct site names and links that now point to gotVirtual.net.

And yes, I'm focusing on forums that are primarily English-language based as the list gets a lot longer if you include all languages.

I'm throwing it all up there in one big pile, so don't be put off by the size.  We could choose five criteria and ten forums or some other kind of culling.  You get the pic, right?

This is from a post I made in gotVirtual on April 18, 2011, comparing some of the forums:

gotVirtual.net
Online now: 25 (members: 13, guests: 12)
Discussions:1,185 Messages:53,369 Members:198
Most-viewed thread: Standing invitation for SCMK-II and SLU People who have an axe to grind..... 30k+
Forum software by XenForo™ ©2011 XenForo Ltd

ProfilesLives.com
937 of 1739 Members have made 23975 posts in 10 forums, with the last post on 04/15/2011 12:23:07 AM
There are currently 2851 topics
Most-viewed thread: Word Association 230k+
Powered by Snitz Forums 2000 Version 3.4.05

RLetc.com
There are currently 74 users online. 11 members and 63 guests
Most users ever online was 580, 01-26-2011 at 03:03 PM.
Total members that have visited the forum in the last 24 hours: 37
The most members online over 24 hours was 158, 08-14-2010 at 12:29 PM.
Threads 3,167 Posts 95,294 Members 858 Blogs 35 Entries 449
Most-viewed thread: A flurry of activity in rlc forums 45k+ Penis Pics (NSFW) 45k+ & Word Association (Last Word) Game 40k+
Copyright ©2007 - 2011 RLetc.com - Real Life et Cetera - Real Life Adventures in Cyberspace - vBulletin

Second Citizen.net (SC MKII)
Currently Active Users: 105 (19 members and 86 guests)
Most users ever online was 617, 02-15-2011 at 07:55 AM.
Threads: 12,789, Posts: 351,759, Members: 2,274, Active Members: 176
Most-viewed thread: [NSFW] - Child Avatars... Is there a Real Problem With Them? - [NSFW] 65k+ & Nobody Cares 50k+
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7

SL Offworld Forum (SLO)
1 guests, 0 members, 1 anonymous members
2 user(s) active in the past 15 minutes
Our members have made a total of 7,153 posts
We have 122 registered members
Most users ever online was 31 on Feb 23 2011, 10:00 AM
Most-viewed thread: The Daily 7k+
Powered by Invision Power Board v1.3 Final © 2003 IPS, Inc.

SLUniverse (SLU)
Currently Active Users: 418 (103 members and 315 guests)
Most users ever online was 1,725, 09-05-2010 at 09:13 AM.
Total members that have visited the forum in the last 24 hours: 544
Total members that have posted on the forum in the last 24 hours: 227
Threads: 54,266, Posts: 1,219,700, Members: 15,239
Blogs: 237, Entries: 1,170, Last 24 Hours: 1
Most-viewed thread: Show Your Style 370k+
Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.2

SLUnleashed.com
Total posts 54 | Total topics 10 | Total members 36
In total there is 1 user online :: 0 registered, 0 hidden and 1 guest
Most users ever online was 8 on Wed Oct 27, 2010 6:35 pm
Most-viewed thread: The Case of The Disappearing Threads 220
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group

Virtual World Universe
Currently Active Users: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
Most users ever online was 104, 01-31-2011 at 10:56 AM.
Threads: 11,718, Posts: 12,057, Members: 770, Active Members: 2
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.7.4

WastedLife.com
In total there are 16 users Online :: 0 Members and 16 Guests
Total Users: 13 Total Messages: 30 | Total Subjects: 8 Total Sections: 1 | Total Categories: 4 Today Open: 0 | Yesterday Open: 0 Today Total Answer: 0 | Yesterday Total Answer: 0
Most-viewed thread: Vogue Barbosa 448
Powered by Kunena


And this is a snapshot (1 & 2) of my observations as of March 18, 2011 (subject to change, natch).

It has so much to do with sensibility, perspective and purpose.
Some people approach a forum like it's a nice bistro where you can discuss all manner of topics like art, fashion and news in a reasonable and courteous manner in calm and quiet tones.
Some people approach a forum like it's a rowdy bar or pub where people play the dozens, fling each other crap, get into bar fights, scrap a little and then ogle someone hot and sing loud and vulgar songs.
Someone from the bistro might stroll into the bar and hear vulgar language and fighting words and be appalled and dismayed. They might see it as toxic and negative. Someone from the bar might wander over to the bistro and find it boring and staid. Both environments might totally bring the other person down.
Some people don't "get" the rowdy bar scene, some people do "get" it and find it distasteful and some people love that shit, roll up their sleeves and wade right on in.
The problem occurs when the bistro crowd and the bar crowd occupy the same space.
This forum is more like the rowdy bar, but we have bistro posters and bistro lurkers, so yeah, it's going to look pretty toxic. I've referred a number of people to gV. There was one person who definitely found this place to be like a festering, toxic grudgefest filled with loons who couldn't let anything go. There was another person who stopped just short of yelling "woohooo" and diving in cannonball-style into the pool.
I asked Dale earlier if she'd seen the movie Gran Turino and the scenes between Clint Eastwood and the barber in particular. I've posted pics of Statler and Waldorf representing two members of this site (and others). Both those references involve two men who are the best of friends... insulting each other. Some people find that strange, some people find it negative and some people see fun, connection and loyalty.
That said, not every boisterous relationship or exchange is underpinned by friendship and fun. Some of the exchanges in here are, just pure and simple, toxic bullshit. Some people are willing to step around the trash, some people want to clean it up and some want to avoid it altogether. And some people are freaking obsessed with rolling around in it.
Different strokes for different folks. Different forums too. I see RLetc.com and SLU being for the bistro crowd. SLO seems to want to be a bistro. SC MKII, in my opinion, wants to position itself as a bar, but is really a bistro. gV and the Utherverse (RLC) forums are bars. Hooligan bars. So if your friend is a bistro patron, he or she would not be comfortable in this bar. I refer the bistro crowd to RLetc.com and SLU and I refer the bar crowd to SC MKII, gV and RLC. Others may choose to do differently, of course.
That's my take anyway.
If you want to see what toxicity on a forum looks like, take a little tour around the Wasteland of the Utherverse (RLC) forum. It's pure Jerry Springer on steroids in there. Almost makes gV look like, well, like a bistro with a bar. It's funny to me too, because of all the talk about the official Second Life forums (and occasional mention of the Sony forums) around the SL-based third-party forums. Most people seem to realize that a corporate product site has to be a little more conservative than a third-party or fan forum site. We get looser the further out we are, right? Well the Utherverse (RLC) forum is the official product forum. Most of the posters of the official Second Life forum would clutch their pearls and faint dead away in the Utherverse (RLC) forum. Those that decry, or even those that supposedly engage in, bad behavior on gV,SC MKII and SLU would likely blanch over there. I suppose it's worth pointing out that the Utherverse (RLC stands for Red Light Center) is a virtual world with a primary purpose of adult entertainment, so that colors things a bit. There's not a big team of educators or corporate suits likely to wander into the forum. You might be interested to know that the Utherverse has clear designs on being more "Second Life like" and branching out from the adult entertainment industry like a porn actress who wants to start doing mainstream movies.

I did take a look to see if there was a site that review the forums and I found this:  http://www.best-reviewer.com/best-review-top-5-second-life-forum-websites.htm.  I'm not satisfied.  I think there is room for a more in-depth review.  Besides, it looks more like a cheery, superficial advertisement than anything else.
"One of the favourite past times for many Second Life residents is writing about their Second Life experiences. There are many blogs relating to Second Life and a number of forums where people interact, share ideas, help each other, discuss pressing Second Life issues, as well as troll, flame and argue! Here is a short list of the most well known and well used Second Life related forums."

Orfeu was kind enough to give me a screen capture of the blue-barbed wire problem, by the way, so I hope I was able to fix it for this blog post by getting rid of the embedded titles.

23 comments:

  1. Jeezus H. Fucking Christ Lee! You must work for the IRS, as a lawyer?

    I bow to your wall o text! You have, I think, surpassed any wall o text I may have ever produced.

    (wink wink nudge nudge all in good fun but with a truth in there!)

    :)

    :::simple is good, simple is good, simple is good... :::

    ReplyDelete
  2. I know there are other pretenders to the throne out there, but I believe I am the reigning queen of walls of text.

    Varusa called me a "Tsunami Damburst" and gave me pics and stuff.

    Stephie just calls me "WoT."

    I welcome a wall o' challenge.

    ReplyDelete
  3. And no. Never worked for the IRS or as a lawyer. I'd nudge you to make another guess (I originally mistyped that as 'guest' in yet another Freudian slip), but there are readers here who already know what I do and have done. The little spoilers. ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Yes, simple is good. So are lolanimals. ;-)

    http://leeherevw.blogspot.com/2011/07/antidote-to-wall-otext.html

    ReplyDelete
  5. Ah, well, I'm not into the forums so I didn't know of your propensities for prolix!

    I remember short posts about music...

    :::simple is good, simple is good, simple is good... ::: (trying to weave that into your synapses for a review/rating system!)

    (review the damn things in a paragraph or two then a few simple ratings!)(oops, not qualified to offer specific advice) (oops, never stopped me before)

    I dunno, I could give Carole a run for her WoT money so...perhaps...there could be a chance of heel nipping at the master

    ReplyDelete
  6. That could be our next blog post. Noms and votes for homecoming wall o'text forum queen.

    LeeHere Absent, Carole Franizzi, Scylla Rhiadra, Cale Vinson, Seicher Rae, Just Jordan JJ SCIF Princess...

    ReplyDelete
  7. I do short posts too. I'm quite multi-functional.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I had a few recent WoT posts on my blog, my birthday tends to make me contemplative. No cut and paste just pure old profuse and palaverous prose by the tippy tapping of digits to keyboard.

    :)

    ReplyDelete
  9. Charlemagne Allen may get a nom for her "MALAYSIA STRONG" post in the "Confidential" section of the SC MKII Cornfield.

    http://www.secondcitizen.net/Forum/showthread.php?t=14366

    Suddenly I feel like we're doing the form version of the Emmy Awards. Ya know, where performers get awards for the entire season or for a one-off guest shot. But what would we call it? Surely not the "Femmys".

    I wonder if I should nip back to my compost heap and let them know we're talking about them again.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Seicher Rae is dead and gone, and yes, there is a subtle difference between RL ~L typing and posting under SR. No, I can't really tell you the difference but it is there. So any contest with SR would have to be posthumous.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Most award shows do honor the dead at some point.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Heh...Femmys might work. I'm not familiar with everyone you listed but the ones I know are all female (theoretically). How surprising. (I think I just did a straight line for Pep to do a woman-remark-thang.)

    Scylla for sure could post some gawd awful long posts! I think Carole *routinely* beat her out though. (Oh, is that woman on woman violence? Oh dear. Slightly on point though... < evil grin>)

    ReplyDelete
  13. In response to your question at the end of your post: yes, you have corrected the 'barbed wire' look. Well done!

    ReplyDelete
  14. @ Venus: Yay! Thank you. Thanks for both the feedback alerting me to it and the feedback letting me know I'd fixed it for this post.

    ReplyDelete
  15. They are all female, or at least present as female on the internet. We need some male noms. I know the little bastards are out there.

    Btw, I was told I had a masculine or male-head-driven posting style back in the Utherverse.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Ah, shoot, when I'm channeling my inner engineer during discussions I'm often accused of being one of them thar men types who have a female avi.

    That's cuz to talk like a gurl you have to giggle a lot and use lots of emoticons. (I can and have done that too.)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Just to let you know I am here and reading.

    Pep (doesn't do WoT.)

    ReplyDelete
  18. Oh dear. We've done it now.

    Ima and Reasonable Doubt appear to be post(ur)ing for a WoT nom.

    http://slconfidential.blogspot.com/2011/07/extra-forum-confidential-under-fire-for.html

    ReplyDelete
  19. I was searching just like this type of article. That's exactly like my expectation. I can't just believe this actually. topless waiters

    ReplyDelete
  20. Spammers can be so charmingly supportive sometimes.

    ReplyDelete

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