Page 1 of 2 is hopelessly lost into the noise.

Posted: Tue May 12, 2015 8:31 pm
by Frank Sanns
The mission of has been twofold. To provide a resource for those wanting to do fusion and to provide a place of collaboration to do fusion research.

In the early days it was heavily a place to collaborate to do fusion research. Today it has become a place for the same trivial questions to be asked again, and again and again and again. If I hear the question if a neon sign transformer can be used for fusion or if a mechanical pump can get down to 5 microns again, I think I shall dissolve into the aether.

We started a New User Chat area for the trivial questions but it still is not taking the trivial questions. Nearly all of the first page(s) of the forums are populated with questions that could be answered by reading the FAQ. I think we are coming to a point where decisions need to made about the future of collaborative technology here. It is great that the new people are coming on board but from what I can see there is ZERO development going on with any of the fusion technology or related technology.

This saddens me as we had been moving the technology at a great pace for many years. That all is history now save for the few that do occasionally post a result. Unfortunately, with all of the trivial question noise, the good stuff misses many eyes that are hungry to see it.

I am temped to get rid of the New User Chat Area and put up an Advanced Technical Results area but that defeats the purpose of the current forum structure.

Let me know your thoughts and we will see if we can streamline the structure so both objectives of the forum can be met.

Re: is hopelessly lost into the noise.

Posted: Tue May 12, 2015 11:40 pm
by Rich Feldman
Many recent threads about basic technical stuff simply went to the wrong boards.
Fusor Construction, Vacuum Technology, etc. , instead of New User Chat Area.
How can we encourage newcomers to see, understand, and observe the stated conventions?
Put yourself in the shoes of someone who has just discovered this forum and taken the time to register.

Here's a "technical" method that might be feasible and might have some benefit, without too much collateral annoyance.

The New Topic dialog has a Submit button near the bottom.
In any forum except Introductions and New User Chat Area, if a member has fewer than 5 or 10 posts, that Submit button could lead to an extra dialog box -- an "Are You Sure?" prompt. There would have an obviously small amount of text to read, a big No button, and a small or hard to find Yes button. The message would be words to the effect of: "I understand that most basic technical questions are already answered in FAQs. Unanswered basic questions belong in New User Chat Area, which this is not."

In any forum except Introductions, if a member has fewer than 1 posts, New Topic > Submit > AreYouSure could have a different message. "My login name is my real name, and I have written about myself in the Introductions forum."

Or maybe we just have to keep adjusting our noise filters. People coming to collaborate and advance the art will earn name recognition quickly.

Re: is hopelessly lost into the noise.

Posted: Tue May 12, 2015 11:52 pm
by JakeJHecla
While I realize I'm not necessarily in the core group, I've spent a fair amount of time lurking, and I feel I have some insight into the problem. First, the reason we have so many "will this ___ work" posts is because has a highly abnormal forum structure. 99% of the forums out there are designed as discussion boards allowing people to get quick answers. This rapidly leads to dilution of quality posts, but also provides a responsive, engaging environment that keeps people around. Don't get me wrong, I think the way is set up is a great strategy to make sure that discussion is razor-focused, but the newbs will always mess it up without adding a "confirmation of rules" step to registration (like a quiz). We can't get rid of this without heavy moderation. As a solution, I think we should point these folks over to the "fusor builders" facebook page where feedback is much faster, and there is no danger of diluting valuable data.

Beyond that, we also face a deficit of posts from the former .net powerusers such as Carl Willis and Jon R (and many, many others). We've also failed to cultivate new ones. Part of this may be that these users have moved on to other adventures, but I also believe culture has a hand in it. While Richard et. al. have done an fairly good job promoting civility, there are a few users that seem to go unchecked. Just off the top of my head, I can think of at least two frequent posters that are aggressive, inflexible and often downright hostile. They will start an argument over the tiniest technicality, then drag it out even when proven wrong. This needs to stop, regardless of the poster's status. Note that I am NOT saying we should lower our standards of scientific rigor, but that we should instead enforce a general standard of behavior.

Further, has a pseudoscience problem. If you take a look at our introduction section, you'd think this place is populated by fringey, alt-green-energy loons rather than people interested in plasma science and radiation physics. As part of developing a new introductory NukeE class (in which students might work with a fusor-like device), I showed a professor His initial reaction was that he wouldn't trust anything on the site judging by the "recent posts" section, as was replete with introductions from pseudoscientists. I had to spend an hour proving otherwise. To maintain any semblance of credibility, I think it is vital that we ruthlessly enforce scientific standards, and use the delete button frequently. For example, take a look at the recent introduction post by someone claiming to have a fusion energy solution without any data or even a plausible mechanism. That post should have lasted all of five minutes before getting deleted (and maybe earning the user a swat with the banhammer). While I realize this sounds cruel, something absolutely has to be done to preserve this place against the hordes of cold-fusion-quantum-woo cranks that fill the recesses of the internet.

Re: is hopelessly lost into the noise.

Posted: Wed May 13, 2015 12:14 am
by Frank Sanns
Good points gentlemen.

When we migrated the site a few years back, I was pretty heavy handed with the deletions and warnings. I lighten up because we were trying to tolerate the new people. As both of you have said, it has gone too far the other way.

There is a way to make people have multiple posts before being able to post outside of specific forums. I will have to find that configuration setting.

I have seen some people trying to post more technical thing but it gets wished off into the oblivion within the noise. We need to figure this one out. There is just too much going on this site to let it get diluted anymore.

Re: is hopelessly lost into the noise.

Posted: Wed May 13, 2015 2:46 am
by Bob Reite
I would agree with limiting new users to posting in the "Please Introduce Yourself" and the "New User Chat Area".

Re: is hopelessly lost into the noise.

Posted: Wed May 13, 2015 3:50 am
by Richard Hull
We, typically, have gone through these periods over our many years here. However, Frank is correct in that the number of serious completions are down and any kind of interesting research or bold initiatives are not just flat, but not extant. For my part, I just keep pluggin' and trying to help as best I can. Sometimes I respond to multi-asked questions and sometimes I just don't bother anymore.

I am not a solutions person related to herding people about. Nor am I a control freak. I consider such efforts right up there with herding cats and the classic fool's errand.

I have only seen one or two loon posts recently which is about normal among the population you might expect landing here.

I do get the feeling that this is morphing into a landing zone for the unknowledgable DIY crowd doomed to failure and bringing little or nothing to the table beyond ridiculous questions and a half life of interest up there with the half life of Ba137m. Thank goodness for exponential decay of both radioactives and the attention spans of the non-hackers.

The number of successful DIYs who have done fusion and absolutely nothing else is probably in the range of 2 or 3. Recently, one winner was exhorted by an older member here to explore certain possibilities related to his project, resulting in no response. Ya' just can't herd DIY'ers that never gave a rip about researching or expanding on a theme.

We get whatever comes through the door, much like the public schools of today. We must expect the bulk to be failures with a few disruptives thrown in the mix and one or two occassional loons who escaped from "special class" or got off the short bus here by mistake. The number of inspired is right up there with the loons......Outliers on both sides of that old bell curve.

For my view...........This too shall pass.

As I have noted before, We will probably never catch the fire of the early days, ever again. Our mission is to assist the true amateur scientist and hopefully release a "lucky donkey" into the future world of science. That would be a big win for us.

Many of the old posters are off chasing other rainbows. Some of those rainbows involve just working to put bread on the table....Hopefully with the dreams of amateur science or future real professional science locked forever in their psyche.

Richard Hull

Re: is hopelessly lost into the noise.

Posted: Thu May 14, 2015 3:04 am
by Frank Sanns
Made some changes to the site. Added another forum of advanced collaboration only. I do not know how well it will work but let's give it a go. We can always transfer posts to a more appropriate forum if we choose in a month or two if it does not work out.

I also made some changes for the new users. The first thing you will see is the color yellow for all new registrants. Until they make at least 5 posts (may be upped to 10), they will remain yellow. After that they will become normal registered users. By that time we should know what they are about before they enter the main stream.

Re: is hopelessly lost into the noise.

Posted: Thu May 14, 2015 5:11 am
by Andrew Robinson
As I was catching up to speed on this thread, I started highlighting things I wanted to quote or make points on, but there were just too many great points made above. I think all the points I personally wanted to make could be summed up as follows... I really think we should revisit the discussion that took place here: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=10000

I really thought we were making some great progress and several of us were willing to put in some serious effort to try to make some changes that address a lot of these problems, and then the discussion just completely fell out.

In addition, It may be time for the admins to elect some new mods. Perhaps there should be procedure in place for moderation. An election, or certain post # requirement, etc. I think some of the older mods and admins just are not around any more. As Jake already mentioned, I rarely see Carl on anymore, nor Paul. Richard seems to be the only person separating the wheat from the chaff and I'm sure Richard doesn't want to spend his entire retirement babysitting the forum. Especially as it continues to grow. It may soon be too much to manage.

Just my 2ยข

Re: is hopelessly lost into the noise.

Posted: Thu May 14, 2015 5:20 am
by Andrew Robinson
I don't mean to nit pick. I love the new color coding idea for users, however, any chance of making it something other than that bright yellow? Maybe an orange or blue or purple. It's actually fairly difficult to read. At least on the monitor I am sitting at currently.

Re: is hopelessly lost into the noise.

Posted: Thu May 14, 2015 1:56 pm
by Frank Sanns
Moderators and Administrators were chosen to carry on the original mission of the site owner, Paul Schatzkin. Paul had a meeting at the HEAS a few years back and that is when the current structure was decided. Up to that time, Richard Hull was THE site moderator. His expertise and good judgement kept things in great running order. He has held this role since day one and continues to be the primary moderator today.

People like Carl, Jon, Tyler, and me keeping the site running and moderate too. We all coordinate amongst each other on important matters and open it up to the other members during HEAS meetings. I picked up running the forum discussion meeting at the HEAS in the last few years but did not have one last year because everybody felt that things were running well. Each year, I solicit input from all forum members just before the HEAS so we can talk about it while we are together. I am certainly happy to put your request to revisit the moderators on the agenda. The meeting is open to all that want to attend even though we sometimes have a short private meeting after to make a game plan amongst us.

The color that I chose for the new users was originally just pure yellow and was hard to see. Sometime yesterday I changed it over to a more brownish web safe yellow. You might try to clear your browser cache and try again. I could not see the original color well but can see this one fine. Others, feel free to chime in here.