It is currently Sat Nov 25, 2017 5:41 am

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 89 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: RYPN as a Useful Forum is Dying (A Rambling Rant)
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 4:13 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:28 am
Posts: 2440
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
RYPN as a useful form is dying. This is not a new, nor a unique observation. The long, slow death cannot be attributed to any one particular person(s) or events. However, the situation we find ourselves in, as users of the Interchange is very critical. If events continue to transpire as they have, then the forum will continue to become less and less useful. I feel that I am in a position to make this observation, as I have been a user/visitor of RYPN since the late 1990s.

The recent thread regarding a Utah Transit Authority Frontrunner commuter train being involved in a grade crossing collision highlighted this problem. One user seemed to scream "IT'S NOT PRESERVATION, LOCK THE THREAD!" While UTA is not a museum, better understanding the issues surrounding grade crossing protection is useful for those of us who volunteer at organizations that use such protection. Even though the same user seemed to also protest that "Those who know already know" nothing could have been further from the facts. How many times have you had to educate board members, managers, executive directors and others regarding the technical and regulatory aspects of railroading. Nonetheless the moderators moved the thread to die over in the "Railfanning" forum.

Back when Hume Kading created the current incarnation of the site, he laid out the purpose of RYPN, which can be found here:

http://www.rypn.org/pages/purpose/

The very first purpose of RYPN is to:

Quote:
report on items and issues of interest to the railroad preservation community; and educate the public to the past and current impact of railroading on the history of this country.


This casts a large net around what is and what is not topical, something that our current moderator staff seems to forget/ignore. Instead of this morphing into a general group complaint, I have highlighted three core problems with RYPN as a funcitioning/useful forum. This is not an exhaustive list.

1. We seem incapable of discussing "hard" or "difficult" issues.

Want to see a thread get locked, or deleted down the Memory Hole? Ask a difficult question. I am not discussing "difficult" as in hard to answer or technical, but as in discussing some of the less-than-favorable aspects of railroad preservation. This includes attempting to have frank discussions on failures in railroad preservation.

I understand that it is easier to trumpet success, than look into the mirror of defeat, but as a whole, we seem uncomfortable discussing failure and the reasons behind it. When failure(s) are brought up the reactions run from a) positive spin; b)posters complaining about how the discussion is too "negative" and "personal" and ; c)forum moderators jumping in to squelch the conversation.

2. The forum and its moderators reward "Bad Actors" far too often.

The forum and its moderators reward "Bad Actors" far too often. Back in the mid 2000s, a forum member threatened to sue RYPN and its board, because he had been moderated. He claimed that RYPN violated his First Amendment Rights. The claim was bogus and pure bunk. However, the threat of litigation was more than enough to get people like Hume Kading to leave RYPN. Since then, the forum has been on life support. While it is easy to point the blame at this person, whose name is unimportant, it was bound to happen either by one blowhard or another. When RYPN came out of stasis as a functioning forum, this person was still allowed to post, which only rewarded the bad behavior.

Flash forward to today. When one steam locomotive that is sitting in Stearns, Kentucky is brought up, an owner of a railroad contracting company connected with work on said locomotive, goes into hissy fit mode. Once again, this person's name is not important. However, the behavior, to yell, scream, and otherwise engage in a temper tantrum has the effect of the thread being either locked and/or deleted altogether. At least one of the current moderators thinks this person should get a pass because the offending party does "good work." Because we cannot discuss difficult issues, it enables bad actors to stifle discussion. Do not want to discuss something that will make you personally look bad? Throw a virtual fit, and let the moderators do the dirty work for you.

3. We have forgotten what RYPN is supposed to be about.

We have forgotten what RYPN is supposed to be about. The real purpose of the forum is that we are to exchange information and have honest, frank discussion about the various issues facing historic railway preservation. None of this are encountering new or unique issues. We can learn from experience, even though we live far away from each other (and some of us live in different countries). It is not a forum to advertise your products/services, though such an approach often opens up useful discussion on best practices, sources, materials, etc. It is also not a railfan forum.

What will happen if things continue down their current path?

The forum will live on, but the quality of discussion will continue to dissipate further and further. While this is an unscientific measurement, I feel that the forum of today is about 15-25% of the quality it was in 2000.

What role does technology play in the current quality of RYPN.

Quite a bit, forums are used by fewer people than before. Social media has become an excellent way to communicate and discuss ideas. While scrapping the forum may not be a good idea, expanding the reach of RYPN via a revamped front end, a Facebook presence, and other ways might be a way to grasp a larger audience and keep the community active.

What's the solution?

There is no one solution. The problems RYPN faces as a viable forum are many, I only highlighted three of them. Blaming specific people/moderators/forum users is not useful either. I am sure this thread will generate a round of "I LOVE OUR MODERATORS, THANKS!" responses. These are not very helpful, because they assume the status quo is okay. It is not. In the last two months we have had one moderator quit from flack he received from a bad actor, who we continue to reward by giving him a forum to act badly. That is not a sign of a healthy forum.

I am going to put away my soapbox now. I am interested in feedback.

_________________
--
David M. Wilkins

"They Love Him for the Enemies He Has Made!"


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: RYPN as a Useful Forum is Dying (A Rambling Rant)
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 4:23 pm 

Joined: Thu May 06, 2010 10:30 pm
Posts: 603
Location: Bucks County, PA
wilkinsd wrote:
Social media has become an excellent way to communicate and discuss ideas. While scrapping the forum may not be a good idea, expanding the reach of RYPN via a revamped front end, a Facebook presence, and other ways might be a way to grasp a larger audience and keep the community active.


I agree very much with this statement, to a point. Expanding somehow to having a Facebook presence would be great, and getting more people to this site would be great as well - but if you think the cast of "Bad Actors" is bad here, the potential to get even more and even worse from Facebook is great.

I know there are those here on the board who say "I hate Facebook, I'll never get a Facebook account" etc., - but if we could get some more of the FB preservation content over here to RYPN, I think it would only help the site more. There are a treasure trove of posts and updates from various preservation groups on social media that just don't make it to RYPN.

Ok I've rambled enough for now myself...

_________________
Big Jim Video Productions
Morrisville, PA

http://www.bigjimvideo.com/home.html
http://www.youtube.com/user/bigjim4life


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: RYPN as a Useful Forum is Dying (A Rambling Rant)
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 5:08 pm 

Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 5:06 pm
Posts: 122
I find this thread ironic.

_________________
Steve DeGaetano
Fireman, New Hope Valley Railway


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: RYPN as a Useful Forum is Dying (A Rambling Rant)
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 5:19 pm 

Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2005 4:03 pm
Posts: 719
Steve DeGaetano wrote:
I find this thread ironic.


using or characterized by irony.

happening in the opposite way to what is expected, and typically causing wry amusement because of this.

Hmm…

I've messaged wilkinsd this privately, but there is a small effort to help revitalize RYPN with a face-lift and content strategy that has been making inches of progress. There's a new front end designed and set up and has been for a year.

While superficial changes will only take you so far, it's a way to try and re-invent the RYPN wheel a degree or two and bring it into Web 3.0. With a content strategy, you're not just relying on forums, but dedicated authors and contributors (some of whom have already made themselves known) among other things.

It just needs some horsepower and ownership.

_________________
Kelly Lynch
Vice President
Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, Inc
http://www.fwrhs.org


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: RYPN as a Useful Forum is Dying (A Rambling Rant)
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 6:05 pm 

Joined: Sun Dec 28, 2014 11:12 pm
Posts: 97
wilkinsd wrote:
Social media has become an excellent way to communicate and discuss ideas. While scrapping the forum may not be a good idea, expanding the reach of RYPN via a revamped front end, a Facebook presence, and other ways might be a way to grasp a larger audience and keep the community active.

I was thinking about this in regards to RYPN recently when reading several articles both in the Interchange and Railfanning sections where I saw multiple users over the last year imply that various projects/organizations were/are dead OR were not reputable because they don't keep the forums here updated on their efforts. It disheartened me the other day to see on TO a member who is well respected in preservation and is active here as well ask what the Midwest Railway Preservation Society even does as they dont have a presence on either forum.
More and more I have noticed that these groups will keep their updates on FaceBook as it provides them a much larger audience to get the word out. Case in point being the group I mentioned above. Currently they are restoring and rebuilding the roundhouse in Cleveland with it being documented with photographs; both the 2716 and 576 groups are doing the same.
Back in the summer/fall there was the kerfuffle over Steamtown scrapping several pieces and I remember that due the complaining on the forum that the facebook group basically said that there was no obligation to post on here. I agree with this. I visit this forum for informational purposes mostly and I have noticed that drama tends to find its way into almost every other topic. Heck most topics about Union Pacific become sprawling messes that are then banished to the swamp of the railfanning subforum even though when they are created they are preservation based.


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: RYPN as a Useful Forum is Dying (A Rambling Rant)
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 6:15 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 21, 2004 10:52 pm
Posts: 909
Hi,

I had noticed that the RyPN Book Reviews and magazine like articles have not been updated for over 5 years.

As to Facebook:

1) FB does not appear to allow you to read and get comfortable with the format before joining.

2) The FB join-up page asks a lot of personal information that I would not share until I get comfortable with the format.

3) Even not completing the FB intrusive and insistent flows of junk e-mail saying that I should know people who are no way known to me to the point of blocking as spam all emails from FB.

4) no way to remove a log-in.

As far as FB is concerned, unless they have a path to let potential new members to get comfortable with the format, I will not look into joining FB again.

As for as RyPN, FB might be a good thing, just not for me.

Doug vV


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: RYPN as a Useful Forum is Dying (A Rambling Rant)
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 6:49 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2005 7:16 am
Posts: 1379
The internet was more fun when it was new. The hobby was more fun when it was civil. Discussing among friends who have done a lot of writing, it seems as if enthusiasm for posting on the internet is declining, among at least some of those who have put a lot of time and effort into articles for websites in the past. What you are viewing can be extinguished in a second if someone forgets to pay the ISP or if a critical support person is not available at the right time. So how much of your time and effort are you willing to put into internet displays that can be gone the next time you turn on your computer? I wonder how many of the participants in RYPN would write for the articles section (again) if it were restored?

PC

_________________
Advice from the multitude costs nothing and is often worth just that. (EMD-1945)


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: RYPN as a Useful Forum is Dying (A Rambling Rant)
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 7:40 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
Posts: 5254
Location: southeastern USA
I don't know if it is dying, digressing itself away or just not as populated by a narrower group of more involved and serious people than it was in its beginning. I find less of it useful but the useful parts just as useful as it has been. This means a lot more BS to weed through, but to me that's OK...... I still know that when I need advice there are some legitimate experts and people with a lot of experience here I can call on, just hoping they will ignore the nonsense parts of what transpires afterward and will contribute information of value anyhow.

I for one have no problem with the airing of what didn't work - that's information as valuable if not moreso than what did. Knowing what not to try saves a lot of time and resources. Assuming people who try something that doesn't work are idiots on the other hand...... unless the thing tried was so patently impossible that a 10 year old would know better, only those who call it idiotic are idiots. FWIW, only about 20-30% of everything I have gotten involved with in this business has resulted in successful completion of the project to plan. A lot more started big, got lost in political or personal issues or failed to succeed when some unanticipated very costly problem made itself known or nobody wanted to do the actual work in development. Others never got around to getting legitimately started. Every one - successful or not - was an education in itself. Much of my career was spent working in projects with limited resources and big ideas - it always appealed to me more than those in which there were millions in the bank and anybody could do it. If you gravitate to such things, get used to varied outcomes. It's common for us.

I don't believe in proprietary information or intellectual property in our industry - there's just not enough of a market to make it worth much, so why obsess about it - and we're in a position in which it behooves all of us to raise the cumulative bar such than every one of us delivers a quality experience to our customers - otherwise we are all painted with the same tar brush and they won't ever visit any of us again. Open sharing is imperative. This can include such things as constructive criticism of shortcomings experienced. Some operations are too marginal to ever achieve success - it would be nice if they realized it before they did us all a lot of damage and chose to stop. Others are too directed inward to see their operations through their visitors eyes, and genuinely don't know they are not doing well, and perhaps can learn. How can we help them to do better if we can't openly talk about it?

Things that aren't in the digital world actually do exist, young readers - in the real analog world. This doesn't mean it isn't smart to use the digital world to further the process of working towards success, but to do so being aware of its limitations. This forum, any of the social media or your organization's web presence are just tools - and like all tools they need to be maintained clean and sharp and ready for use. Maintain your digital presence or don't have one. I started a page for a project that devolved to dead slow progress but not before a lot of very good technical information was posted - it's still rotting out there, but full of very good technical information if you find it - but the operation involved is reaching a critical point based on a loss of focus and spreading resources too widely across a lot of projects which were not well conceived over the past 5 or 6 years, combined with squandering their natural advantages by refusing to make use of them. Help yourself.

Yes, good articles would be helpful. I was pleased to have contributed some. I'd do it again if I ever do anything interesting again.

So, do we need to reconsider the basics of RyPN or do we just keep on? More curation requires more active management which means more volunteering by capable people. I'd be happy to help.

_________________
"Techies never minded eating bits and jots of their work. They were grit and grease inside and out and could turn a pile of junk into a magical kingdom."

Andrea Hairston


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: RYPN as a Useful Forum is Dying (A Rambling Rant)
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 7:56 pm 

Joined: Tue Jan 25, 2005 4:03 pm
Posts: 719
PCook wrote:
I wonder how many of the participants in RYPN would write for the articles section (again) if it were restored?

PC


This was/is one of the goals of the overhaul/facelift.

_________________
Kelly Lynch
Vice President
Fort Wayne Railroad Historical Society, Inc
http://www.fwrhs.org


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: RYPN as a Useful Forum is Dying (A Rambling Rant)
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 8:12 pm 

Joined: Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:07 pm
Posts: 965
Location: Leicester, MA.
PCook wrote:
I wonder how many of the participants in RYPN would write for the articles section (again) if it were restored?

PC

Sign me up Preston.

Now onto a point I haven't seen come up yet; egos. How many flame wars get started because someone tries to defend their legacy or record? How many people throw that weight around like a wrecking ball on what are otherwise logical and reasonable threads only to start another fight? Guess what? Those web forum fights aren't worth the time. There's probably not much we can do NOW (we'll always have flame wars with the current cast of characters on here, and likely so if the membership grows) but if this resource is to grow we need to teach newcomers to contribute, ask questions and use their brains, not to act like an RYPN-esque armchair airhead...

_________________
Dylan M. Lambert


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: RYPN as a Useful Forum is Dying (A Rambling Rant)
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 8:26 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 19, 2004 2:19 pm
Posts: 1121
Location: Washington, D.C.
Jeff Lisowski wrote:
I would wager that the majority of newer posters (in the past 10 years) on RYPN have no clue as to RYPN's origins as Locomotive & Railway Preservation Magazine.


Just because I have a weird alliegance to the historical record, this was not the case. One founding staff member of RyPN had been, formerly, a columnist at L&RP. But there was never any institutional, financial or legal connection between the two.

_________________
Erik Ledbetter
www.steamsafari.com


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: RYPN as a Useful Forum is Dying (A Rambling Rant)
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 8:49 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 11:26 am
Posts: 3731
Location: Maine
Why would anyone put themself of offering insight and advice, only to be publicly pilloried by the few jerks who criticize everyone and anyone who posts in this interchange, even those with a proven record of getting things accomplished?

Keep te RYPN as it is, and if it doesn't tickle your intellect, go to Faceplant.

_________________
"It's only impossible until it's done." -Nelson Mandela


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: RYPN as a Useful Forum is Dying (A Rambling Rant)
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 10:39 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2080
RYPN remains exactly what it has meant to be, if something newsworthy comes along we may fly with it, I see no concern about it, there are plenty of other threads about preservation.

overNout


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: RYPN as a Useful Forum is Dying (A Rambling Rant)
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 11:25 pm 
User avatar

Joined: Sat Jul 02, 2005 7:16 am
Posts: 1379
Just as a point of interest, here is the chronological distribution of the 31 articles (by 24 authors) posted in the articles section back in the days when that portion of RYPN could be accessed, edited, and maintained:

2003 - 4 articles
2004 - 7 articles
2005 - 9 articles
2006 - 7 articles
2007 - 3 articles
2008 - 1 article

It looks to me like the articles section died of "natural" causes, not from the inability to post to the articles page.

Does anyone know what percentage of the site users back ten years ago the 24 authors would represent?

In many historical groups the percentage of the membership who are published authors is less than 5%, and often as low as 2%, of the membership.

PC

_________________
Advice from the multitude costs nothing and is often worth just that. (EMD-1945)


Offline
 Profile  
 
 Post subject: Re: RYPN as a Useful Forum is Dying (A Rambling Rant)
PostPosted: Mon Feb 06, 2017 11:38 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 8:28 am
Posts: 2440
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
PCook wrote:
Just as a point of interest, here is the chronological distribution of the 31 articles (by 24 authors) posted in the articles section back in the days when that portion of RYPN could be accessed, edited, and maintained:

2003 - 4 articles
2004 - 7 articles
2005 - 9 articles
2006 - 7 articles
2007 - 3 articles
2008 - 1 article

It looks to me like the articles section died of "natural" causes, not from the inability to post to the articles page.

Does anyone know what percentage of the site users back ten years ago the 24 authors would represent?

In many historical groups the percentage of the membership who are published authors is less than 5%, and often as low as 2%, of the membership.

PC


I tried emailing Dave C. to post articles several times in the last several years. Never got a response, so it wasn't a lack of trying.

I mean, said articles were in a document attached to the email.

_________________
--
David M. Wilkins

"They Love Him for the Enemies He Has Made!"


Offline
 Profile  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 89 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]


 Who is online

Users browsing this forum: Bing [Bot], Google [Bot], Yahoo [Bot] and 42 guests


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to: