But an “I don’t know” post might give someone pressed with time who does know the answer a reason to skip over the post because they think it’s already been answered…
Yes, not thought of that!
Ah, sorry, a-jay. I have no experience of iPads or other iThingies, but I did follow your question with interest awaiting the answer. I thought I had “Liked” the post so that I would be alerted of any replies and stir up further responses. Sorry, I’ve just checked, and I had failed to click.
Of course with all of this we have to remember that the internet and everything connected with it is still in it’s infancy/‘wild west days’ We’re still writing the rules and, just as the printing press had chronic growing pains many hundred years ago, so we still are with everything digital. Who knows, maybe there will be a kind of ‘Geneva convention’ of online etiquette in a decade, but for now we’re all still feeling our way a bit.
I don’t know anything about the old style forum so can’t comment on that, but I enjoy the current forum to the extent that its the only forum I visit, life’s too busy with people in real life, so maybe it’s testament to the SSiW forum that I feel that if I met any of you in the street I’d be happy to have a gossip as if you lived down the road!
There are plenty of places out there for people to vent their spleen, and the anonymity of those places is the very thing that allows so many to really, really vent. (and who forget the maxim, type, read, read through again then post)
SSiW is ultimately about the learning of a language, the interest in language and a meeting place for people with an interest in language. (more power to your elbow and all that!) so I hope that any changes, if changes are felt to be needed, are minor.
This is the only forum I belong to. The fact that I am still an enthusiastic participant (with breaks) after more than seven years shows that I feel at home here. However, my expectations of the forum are probably not typical, ( I’m not sure, in fact, if there is a typical expectation ) so forgive me if I offer only my personal view of why I find this forum welcoming. I do recognise the limited value of this personal perspective.
I feel at home here bacause I can have a laugh, I can share my love of Welsh and other languages, I can learn and offer support, and I can keep up to date with the resources on offer. I also value the security of a well-monitored and constructively regulated community and the real friendships I have made here.
Where I feel estranged is when I am confronted with politics, religion, rudeness or just plain tedium. I am and have been politically active but don’t feel this is where I want to exchange my political views (and I know I am not typical here). I also hold strong views on all the above contentious issues but I like to exchange these views only face to face (when facial expressions and body language tell me when to stop or when to continue)
So what would help people like me (if there are any)? Actually, I liked the Friend/Foe facility in the old forum software in which you could personally block people that you found offensive or tedious but who others might find perfectly acceptable. The word “foe” isn’t exactly friendly, I know, but it might be a solution that works for some. The moderation of the forum could be devolved to individual members - including grumpy old reggubs like me.
One I have heard is “Search before you tweet” as an updated version of look before you leap. Mainly relating to people putting stuff on Twitter or “retweeting” without first checking it’s accuracy.
There have been two occasions when I decided that I was not going to bother with the forum any more. On both occasions the atmosphere has been changed quickly by the suspensions. This would lead me to think that the tone of the forum has changed.
However, before concluding that there has been a change in behaviour on the forum it would be helpful to see some numbers, such as:
how many SSiW subscribers there are now compared with, say, two years ago
how many (or what proportion) of them contributed regularly, possibly at least once a month?, then and how many do so now.
If the number of people contributing to the forum is relatively small it only needs a few people to influence the tone of a debate. It could be that on the whole there hasn’t been a change in attitude and that any difference in the ‘feel’ is attributable just to a change of scale.
No, that’s really interesting, actually. What do you feel are the downsides to what you feel is the current ‘too niceness’?
Otherwise - in a hurry to get Angharad to ballet - but this thread is already jam-packed full of gold-dust. Thank you everyone from the bottom of my heart for all these brilliant contributions. I think some hugely important stuff is going to come out of this…
Just adding to ‘nice’ discussion, I would like to explain that when I started SSIW I was really unwell. Learning Welsh was part of my therapy. I would not have joined if it had not been overtly ‘safe’ and ‘nice’.
I have only started using social media in the last two years. My Facebook page has to be a sea of positive stuff, I block all political stuff and hide anything unpleasant.
“Where I feel estranged is when I am confronted with politics, religion, rudeness or just plain tedium. I am and have been politically active but don’t feel this is where I want to exchange my political views (and I know I am not typical here). I also hold strong views on all the above contentious issues but I like to exchange these views only face to face (when facial expressions and body language tell me when to stop or when to continue)”
I would definitely agree with @hewrop s comment pasted above.
Partly software, perhaps Aran, but I think more than that, it’s the conscious decision that you and others took, at the start of using this (then) new software, to make the forum as unstructured as possible (compared to the old old one - I say old old because I think there was one in between), which used to be highly structured.
I can remember having (sometimes a bit heated) disagreements with you and those others at the time. While I haven’t basically changed my view (that structure is needed, no matter how good the search mechanism is, and how well posts/threads are “tagged”), I have been pleasantly surprised that the result hasn’t been quite as disastrous as I’d feared.
But by the same token, it seems that you have also found that you sometimes miss things that you regret missing. I’m not sure if more “structure” would be the answer to that, but it might be.
But anyway, I say it’s not software, because I’m a member of another Discourse-based forum, which has chosen to have a lot more structure than this one, and that seems to work quite well in its own way.
I’m also a member of a more traditional style forum (older software) which is about as highly structured as the original (well the 1st one I remember) SSiW forum, and that also seems to work quite well in its own way. So either structured or relatively unstructured forums can work, it seems, but maybe a meeting somewhere in the middle might be good.
As a beginner one of the best things about the forum for building my welsh has been the what’s outside thread – tiny little bits of Welsh that have built up over time reinforcing the SSIW lessons. Sometimes because of life/work I don’t have the time to commit to a whole lesson but would like something short and sweet maybe like a Welsh idiom or proverb of the week thread?. I realise this is asking for something extra from people who I already feel hugely indebted to but it may lead to interesting discussions about where proverbs or idioms come from and how they may be similar across different countries.
one of the best things about the forum for building my welsh has been the what’s outside thread
Agreed. This is a real treasure, thanks largely to @ramblingjohn
Ah, yes. The friend or foe option is/was? available on another forum that I’m a member of. It has a similar look and feel to this one. I remember them explaining that “foe” was perhaps a strong word for someone, whose posts you didn’t want to have direct contact with and vice versa.
When I originally joined the forum, I assumed that it would just be a support forum for questions about the Welsh language. I was almost surprised at the amount of personal support and conversation going on, often between people who haven’t spoken in ‘real life’. (Of course a large number of them had, I later discovered, with local meet ups and Skype - but many people, especially new members, don’t know who knows who in real life.)
I have to say with all the nostalgia about the old forum, when I joined it 3 ½ years ago I didn’t feel any particular invitation to what seemed like rather a closed club. I was fascinated by it and posted the odd question, but mostly lurked for a very long time.
I have found it fascinating how different people express themselves and the kind of things that sometimes end up being shared. I can see that it could be quite an attractive environment if you were feeling a little isolated or frustrated in ‘real life’. But as the comments we read in the forum are only the tip of the iceberg, and anyone may reply to any aspect, we never really get the full picture. Misunderstandings can so easily arise just from something like jumping into a thread half way through, as we saw recently.
(I’ve often Skyped with someone for the first time and thought ‘Aha, so that’s who they are!’ - as no doubt they were about me too!)
Personally I’ve had quite a tough few years, with mega stress about my husband’s job, various health issues, and trying to do the best by the children. Learning Welsh has been an amazing release and anchor for me personally during that time. I sometimes think I may not have engaged with it quite so intensely if I’d been feeling happier and more balanced in other respects. And I think there are some others around here who could echo that. Not always the best state of mind for considered forum communication.
Instinctively I’ve always been extremely wary about getting too drawn into forum life on a personal level. I’ve enjoyed the discussions very much, but would feel uneasy about posting anything too personal or not directly relevant to language learning. (Although it’s amazing how much can be!) (Wonder if I’ll regret this…)
Of course it’s absolutely essential to have a forum to support the course - and particularly to support early stage members and facilitate Skype partnerships and meet ups. And it’s something really special that Aran and the others are so present and manage to engage with absolutely everyone who joins.
Then there has to be something in it for the more established members to hang around and welcome new members and help them out. (Although that happens automatically to a large extent - I had lots of questions answered here while I was doing the lessons, so it was very satisfying when I reached the level of being able to answer other people’s questions and give back a little bit.)
The forum is the life blood of the learning community, but it’s also a constantly evolving beast in itself. An open web forum will always be messy and risky to an extent. We can have guidelines, but considering the range of people active here, and probably the range of reasons for hanging around here, it’s not something you can ever be in control of.
I wonder if what I’m trying to say is that maybe I have never been completely sure of the exact brief and purpose of the forum, beyond ‘being nice’. I wonder if that could be formulated in more detail, if we are going to have guidelines at all?
Yikes, I have been rambling, sorry! Hope it’s of some interest…
I have lurked on many forums related to hobbies and such, but this is the only one I’ve ever posted on. This is definitely because of the safe and friendly feel of the forum. If I hadn’t felt comfortable enough to post early on in my learning, I’m sure I wouldn’t be a Welsh speaker now. I don’t live in Wales, I don’t know anyone who speaks Welsh, and without the ability to ask questions on the forum, I would not have continued learning. The forum as a learning support system has been really important for me. It’s also become my Welsh community, too, the only one I have. So from my own perspective, making sure this is a friendly and welcoming place is really important - how many potential Welsh speakers wouldn’t actually learn the language without it?
Because people were very kind and encouraging to me when I was starting out (and still are!), I think one of the things that makes this community “wonderful and welcoming” is that people continue to do the same. I’m happy to make sure new people get a Croeso message if I happen to be one of the first to see their post, and I try to answer questions when I can, because I am grateful to the people who did that for me. Many others do the same, and I think we all need to be aware that this is important. I think it’s hard to downplay the importance of feeling welcomed and included into a new community.
I wasn’t here when the old forum was in use, but I have gone there, particularly to read the posts in the “Asking Questions” threads. As I’ve gone through the lessons, I’ve found answers to many of my questions there. (I use the search function on this forum, but it doesn’t feel quite as useful, somehow.) I like the way that was set up, and while it seems that a conscious choice was made not to be that structured on this forum, I wonder if that part of the previous set-up is more beginner-friendly. A person could see that others have questions. too, and they might be more likely to feel like it’s okay to ask their own questions. And it’s a bit separate from all the other discussions that might seem overwhelming to a beginnner. Well, mostly - we all know how threads can wander off into other territory
@netmouse’s post resonated with me - she expressed many of the same things I might have . I think the purpose of the forum is primarily a place for people to share their learning and love of the Welsh language. It’s natural that some people have other more personal discussions, and that’s fine, as long it is respectful, doesn’t take over the forum, and is moderated the way it has been so it doesn’t get out of hand.
So, not sure that this has helped much with making the forum more welcoming, but it’s been good to think about why it needs to be the kind of place it is!
That is a much better way of saying what I was trying to explain!
Ah, Yes. I hadn’t thought of it before, but I can understand that if the existing welcoming top folder was to be restricted to “Language Questions”, with “General” being a further 2nd folder, and then the debating stuff lower down again, that might possibly serve the purpose mentioned above?
From a security point of view, I don’t think it’s a good idea to use actual names and photographs on the internet. Incidentally, the same applies to using a full name in an email address.
I also think it would be a good idea to split the forum broadly into two areas.
The first to concern Cymraeg: help with lessons; pronunciation; structures; grammar (if you must); Skyping, etc.
The second to be concerning Cymru related matters: rugby; things to see and do; recipes, and so on.
I find the Cymraeg posts very interesting and instructive. Some of the non-Cymraeg posts interest me, but, frankly, a lot do not, especially the non-Cymru related ones.
I’m sure a lot of people won’t agree with me, but I welcome that.
We’d all do well to remember the golden rules - 'wara teg and don’t argue with the referee.
To be honest, I didn’t read all posts. Too many of them to go through (sorry, my eyes suffer lately with too big load of work at my job where I’m staring onto the screen for (almost) full 8 hours) as I firstly didn’t even intend to enter into discussion because of as one who moaned most of the time at the beginning of comming here until just (let’s say) recently I didn’t feel I’m allowed (or better said I didn’t grant the permition to myself) to post in this thread because of I might have nothing wise and useful to say.
But, reading some of the first posts and gathering some of my feelings and memories form before I came to this forum (well to the old one first for that matter), made me feel I have to put a slight insert of my own in here.
First of all: don’t get me wrong, but I believe political debate is better being avoided (as it was until recently). It might be many of you are feeling that debate about Welsh language can’t go without political debate. Yes, it’s true in a way and slight discussion about policy regarding language, schools and such stuff really is unavoidable but can be lead just nicely I believe. All other political discussion (along with Brexit stuff I believe) I feel strongly it doesn’t quite belong here. The first reason is that even if the categories/topics of such discussion would be separated, they can quickly get sparkled with hard words or even insults and when sparkles spread there’s big possibility of staring fire and flaming. Don’t forget every forum has private messages which moderators don’t control and one can quickly get feeling of not being welcome bacause of flaming through private messages as well as through the threads. And after that, you know all very well that it’s hard to “renew” or “heal” everything. Private messages can’t be disabled either. Those make us community too.
And the second reason is we’re comming from allover the world and not all are equally acknowledged into all political situations and what might be jsut some “light” conversation about the matters to one person, for the other might mean different, more “hard” thing. Not all understand things equally (for example I’m not too acknowledged into English humor and quite many times I don’t get (understand) the joke provided especially if it’s written one) especilally as there’s no tone, just picture (as we in my country say). So, I would say avoiding policy as much as possible would be one of such things. We’ve got very well along in the past, why now would be different. There still are social media such as Facebook, Twitter or (even) Clecs where we can express our views a bit less restricted (what of course doesn’t mean we are allosed to be offensive there though.)
With real names on the forum this doesn’t mean you should give name and surname as a forum name especially for the people like me. I didn’t see even one Tatjana on here so why not putting my name on? It’s a name which doesn’t neccessarily disclose who of all that many Tatjana’s of this World I really am, where (exactly) I live etc. Actually there’s no fear if you write your name down. Those who’d potentially like to get your data will surely use more profined methods then your name and surely elswhere then on such friendly forum. Well, there are many people with the same name, it’s true, but a number or first initial of surname or something like that is probably just enough. We would at least know that John is really John, that Anna is really Anna (as we do for both of those brilliant people I have in mind) and that’s perfectlly enough for one to feel welcomed I believe. I agree with @AnthonyCusack that being too persistent in this surely isn’t good either. And besides: when you are signing to SSiW for the first time you have that option to change your name before you click the button “submit” (or what it is actually nowdays) so you’re not obliged to put name and surname as your username at all.
As far as concerns actual pictures. It might depend of how “brave” one person is. I for example might appear too brave to many of you but on the other hand: if you present yourself with not your picture but something else and you publish stuff on the social media (like pictures on FB, tweets about where you are and what you’re doing) then the actual profile picture can’t do any more harm than this. You have privacy settings on social media, yes, but do they really fully work? (not to scare you though but anyway).
Also as @aran once already pointed out and has written the rules about this also, I love the topic Be’ dach chi’n gwneud (I’m not sure I’ve spelled this righth though) where we can write totally in Cymraeg (although I don’t do anything what would be worthy of publishing here so I don’t post there lately), but this, along with Poet’s corner and maybe one or two more topics I agree there shouldn’t be entire posts in Cymraeg no matter we’re all learning the language. From my experience before I came on here … I was afraid to even peer into the forum because I thought all what’s allowed is Cymraeg and if one newcomer feels the same and after they finally gather the courage to “enter” the forum only to see the first thing they encounter is the whole posts in Cymraeg, could scare them away feeling they don’t know enough Cymraeg to stay and post. Fortunatelly this didn’t hapen with me (or unfortunately maybe ) but it might happen to someone less confident and more shy for sure. So I second that if you have a real desperate desire to reply entirely in Cymraeg, the translation into English should be given. Google Translate doesn’t translate all that good, believe me (you know that already though).
For the good old forum: At first I’ve missed it too, because this now is based on totally new software which works (as far as I can see it) more on the basis of instant messaging rather then phpBB software and this for it looks much more different. But there I think is no way (at last not without too much effort) the forum would look like the old one. I still run one forum based on phpBB old software (which sadly felt into more or less deep slumber unfortunately) and, to be honest nowdays when I look at it it feels rather too oldfashioned to me … If you are searching for something specific, there’s always that “magnifying glass” icon at the top right of the blue (or whatever color you have) bar, which opens the search bar. Putting a bit more specific words into it gives you quite good results what on old forum(s) usually worked quite badly. There are many ways to find things and many things to do on this forum to get stuff done faster and that’s why I’ve made all those instructions about how to do some things on this forum in Really useful ‘How to’ stuff and other great posts. I wanted this forum to be equally user friendly to all not just us more “techy” people. The instructions should be a bit updated, I know, but they’re still as usful as before.
And at the end: if people stay as friendly as they already are, then there’s not much more to be done. The real people are the community of this forum not the software and hardware. We’re people who are different, from different parts of the world with different habits but yet one common love, love for the language fo Gods - Cymraeg so let’s stay like so.
Sorry for (not too friendly in terms of lenght) long post.
I agree, @hectorgrey. This might be a good idea. Then, if anyone doesn’t want to delve into that fractious subject, they can just avoid it.
I also agree with you that this has been a phenomenally emotional year for pretty much the world. I notice myself much more stressed than usual; and I’m sure I’m not the only one. It may very well be that, once things calm down politically (which may not happen for a while, but will eventually) it may be reflected in people’s actions. In the meantime, we’re all going to have to be just that little bit more careful about the tone of what we say.