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Dear fellow Cemetechians!
I have a word to say regarding what this site should be versus what it actually is. As a member of this community, I joined in 2014, and despite longer absences since then, I think I have a snapshot of how Cemetech evolved over the last few years. From a site meant to feature Kerm's projects back in 2000, to a forum where people would show off their achievements and learn from each other.
Throughout all this time, Cemetech had values. Some of the most important ones were to teach and to learn, and to keep the quality of the content as high as possible. To this day, those two especially important ideas of Cemetech are preserved and summarized in two mantras: "Make Cool Things, Teach Cool Stuff" and "Quality over Quantity".

This gets us to my actual rant. The teaching and making part is alright. The quality over quantity part is not. Over the four years I am here and had the chance to leave my mark, I noticed gradually deteriorating quality of posts. It is sad to see this place degrade. I do not want to blame Cemetech for it. Neither the staff, nor the rest of the community. Quick, mindless posts and poor spelling can be seen all over the internet nowadays, with the rise of instant messaging and social media. It's normal. But it's not good. Modern 12 year old children have trouble with correctly spelling words, even if they try to. Quality on sites such as this one significantly falls.
I personally reject name shaming, but I feel like I need to mention some recent examples here. If you are the author of one of those or similar threads, please don't take this as an offense. Those posts are not the worst, but rather a few comparatively recent examples of what I do not want to happen. Please read on for constructive criticism.
https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=14684
https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=14566
https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=14346

So, do you see what's wrong with those?
I can explain. They either show poor spelling, or poor research, or poor thinking about potential readers. It's not about limited English skills. Not everyone speaks English as a first language and not everyone is good at learning foreign languages. That's okay. But those posts show low quality because of laziness, not because of bad English - and that is not okay! They are not reader friendly. As a person, I open this thread, I see a low quality post, and I lose my motivation to help the asking person. The result is a lot of useless threads that neither contain any information that might teach someone (respondents lose their motivation just as I do, and no answers are given), nor they are easy to read. As a consequence, the internet as a whole just got less useful.

We, your readers, are just people. We have our own busy lives, and we don't want to waste them fighting through a jungle of illegible posts, trying to figure out what the other person wanted to say. When you post a new topic, or comment on an existing topic, please, mind your readers. Invest some time for proper spelling and punctuation. Enable your browser's spell check (Chrome has a great one!) and have a look at what it tells you. Hit that "Preview" button and check for broken BBCode or similar tags - also use this occasion to re-read your post another time. Research before you post - in particular, have at least a few Google queries, and ideally also use the search box at Cemetech (or any other forum you are posting on). Double check your post for proper grammar and before you hit "Submit", take another minute and think - can I solve this problem myself by searching the web? If it is not a problem, is my post useful? If someone comes here to help me, did I make sure the conditions for that helper are fine here? In the post, show that you made sure that your readers are appreciated. Show that you had a Google search and provide the info you found, so others do not have to post it redundantly. If you are a non native speaker, such as I am, Google for words that you can't translate yourself. There are plenty of online translators, synonym helpers and similar. It's easy, you just have to use them.

Finally, I want to recommend each and everyone occasionally posting things on the internet: Read this guide. After one or two years, re-read it, just to make sure. I do it too.


Show some thought, and make the internet a better place. Thank you.
As discussed in SAX, I'm in general agreement with you. Cemetech has worked very well in the past due to a large bulk of relatively mature users able to express themselves coherently through quality posts (and even quality, non-text-speak SAX/IRC messages). A minority of new users who don't necessarily conform to our netiquette guidelines have historically been carefully and respectfully molded into the Cemetech ideal, encouraged to write in complete, grammatically correct, proofread sentences, and not to write single-sentence "Great work!" / "Cool!" posts, and equally importantly, to be polite, kind, and non-trolly to each other. We have the enviable problem of growing faster than ever as the calculator community has shrunk, which means that the ratios have been thrown off: fewer longstanding users and more new members. In turn, suboptimal interactions on the forum and SAX have grown more than they would have previously.

In looking for examples in the last month of posts, I actually found that the desired self-correction is already happening to some extent. Some of the members I privately considered the worst offenders have started to improve already, and others seem well on their way. I call for our established members to set a good example and for our newbies to recognize that they're working on becoming part of what I think makes Cemetech great, has made us endure for longer than most of our new members have been alive, and what will make it stick around for years to come.
Just because someone is able to make a really good-sounding sentence doesn't mean their post is quality. People don't stick around because of good grammar, they stick around because they enjoy it.

Generally this is the first experience new users have with any forum. And as they grow older they get better at speaking, both online and offline. Good quality posts come from people who are passionate about what they are talking about; and the only way to get that is to not leap immediately on someone's manner of communication, and let them learn as they grow older and more experienced.
MateoConLechuga wrote:
Generally this is the first experience new users have with any forum. And as they grow older they get better at speaking, both online and offline. Good quality posts come from people who are passionate about what they are talking about; and the only way to get that is to not leap immediately on someone's manner of communication, and let them learn as they grow older and more experienced.


I agree with this. Look at me, for example.

If you look at my earliest posts, they aren't very good. They were really short, and my words per post was around half of what it is now. (I'm not saying words per post is the ultimate measure of quality, rather, I think it is one of several metrics.)

At that time, I wasn't as good of a writer as I am now. I can type and write faster while improving my accuracy and getting my points across faster. Obviously, the 82+ thousand words I've written on this site have helped my typing speed. This post is a little long, so I still need to work on getting my posts more concise.

I was gently prodded by more senior and mature members to improve my post quality. If I were attacked on SAX (I didn't use IRC until recently) or felt singled out, I would probably not have stayed on Cemetech.

This being said, I don't think the whole problem lies in the "younger, less mature members". I'm barely older than some of them haha. I think we need to be more encouraging and less hostile.

Besides, (as Mateo said) some of these first time posters have never posted on a forum before, and I think even I can count the number of semi-formal (as in, not texting) emails I've sent on one hand. (All of them were to Kerm or TI-Cares) These users are probably just receiving their calculator, coming from more "suitable" programming languages, or have never even written a line of code before. Think about yourself. How did your first lines of code look? In fact, did you *always* check out the documentation every time you needed help? Probably not, unless you didn't have resources like Cemetech.

Think about these users. In less than a year, they will most likely be so much more mature. Look at me again. It really wasn't that long ago that I pressed the submit button on the register form, and I've gotten much more mature myself.
I agree with what has been said so far. I think one of the things on the forum that does not help is the number of posts by each user. People are slightly encouraged to make quantity over quality because people are judged by the number of posts they made. For example, a newcomer who had never read any posts by anyone here could see Kerm and wonder, "Hmm, is this guy any good?" and then look and see that he has over 63,000 posts. However, someone who wants to increase that number could make a bunch of low effort posts so that the number goes up. That number is how people are rated here. Not saying this should be a new Stack Exchange or anything, but here is my suggestion: replace the reputation system. A system like SE works well because low effort posts get down voted and the user loses reputation. I am also not sure how this would work with the current site, but the way I look at it would help.
To expand on ItsJustSomeDude's idea, I think the karma system we currently have through SAX/IRC could be a viable replacement option for the current ranking system. Instead of increasing in rank by making more posts, you increase in rank based on the amount of karma you have.

Thoughts?

EDIT: The only problem I currently see with this regards users who post on the forum but don't really talk much on IRC, and thus may not gain much karma through it. It'd be a tough idea to implement, but perhaps the karma system could be implemented on the website as well, next to posts or whatever.
Michael2_3B wrote:
To expand on ItsJustSomeDude's idea, I think the karma system we currently have through SAX/IRC could be a viable replacement option for the current ranking system. Instead of increasing in rank by making more posts, you increase in rank based on the amount of karma you have.

Thoughts?

I can't wait to visit controversial threads and downvote anyone who has a different opinion from me!
Quote:
I can wait to visit controversial threads and downvote anyone who has a different opinion from me!


If the down voting system was like that of Stack Exchange then you would lose a small amount of reputation when you down vote, but the person you down voted would lose more.
c4ooo wrote:
Michael2_3B wrote:
To expand on ItsJustSomeDude's idea, I think the karma system we currently have through SAX/IRC could be a viable replacement option for the current ranking system. Instead of increasing in rank by making more posts, you increase in rank based on the amount of karma you have.

Thoughts?

I can't wait to visit controversial threads and downvote anyone who has a different opinion from me!

Hahaha - however, whether this is a joke or not, that would be discouraged... Reddit has a similar system where some subreddits explicitly say not to downvote based on opinion.
ItsJustSomeDude wrote:
[...] people are judged by the number of posts they made. [...] someone who wants to increase that number could make a bunch of low effort posts so that the number goes up. That number is how people are rated here.

This is actually a good point. If Cemetech moved the post count and user rank (which is based on post count too!) from every post's header to the user's profile page, and showed something else in the header - for example the registration date - this would stop being such an encouragement factor.
I think it's fun (but albeit a little mean) to, when replying to a particular comment of uninspiring wording, edit the quote to make it spelling and grammar accurate.
Perhaps we could create a style guide/how to do quality posts guide that gets sent to new members? I feel like that could be helpful, especially with SAX level questions vs. post level questions. If you're asking for something simple: i.e. 'what calculator you should buy,' I feel like people are more patient if that's posted in the SAX chat.
tldr: "nik hates new users and wishes they would never bother joining and learning"
allynfolksjr wrote:
tldr: "nik hates new users and wishes they would never bother joining and learning"


errm... can we be protons, please? (more positive, get it?)

***SM84CE hides

I think that it's just teaching people better netiquette, and how to write better, overall (resumes, essays, etc.), so promoting this in this way is actually a great idea!
It's a really hard subject to tackle. We could do this a few ways:
  • Adjust the e-mail we send to new users to be more informative but, that's just going to be ignored.
  • Put place holder text in the text boxes reminding users of the elements behind a good post. Probably the most ideal.
  • Create a bot account that monitors new topics and asks for more information if it's below X words. I think this is a bad idea though.

Michael2_3B wrote:
c4ooo wrote:
Michael2_3B wrote:
To expand on ItsJustSomeDude's idea, I think the karma system we currently have through SAX/IRC could be a viable replacement option for the current ranking system. Instead of increasing in rank by making more posts, you increase in rank based on the amount of karma you have.

Thoughts?

I can't wait to visit controversial threads and downvote anyone who has a different opinion from me!

Hahaha - however, whether this is a joke or not, that would be discouraged... Reddit has a similar system where some subreddits explicitly say not to downvote based on opinion.


If we ever did something like this, we wouldn't include a downvote option; plus too much ego gets associated with this sort of system. However, I'd rather encourage users to vote positively on posts that contribute and ignore the ones that don't. That said, I feel like there are better systems and methods to encourage informative and thorough posts.
If an upvote/downvote system were to be added, I think Stack Overflow does it right.

The points from upvotes you gain are more than points lost from downvotes you receive. The simple act of downvoting someone costs the downvoter a small amount of points. You also gain the ability to downvote after you gain the ability to upvote, and strict moderation is enforced.

Then again, Cemetech is very different than Stack Overflow.


I think there should be a way for users to rate individual posts on a "quality score" (a combination of effort, helpfulness, and more) scale of 1-10. This would be a privledge, not a right. You would not be able to vote on your own posts, and all of the voting would remain anonymous to non-moderators. Ideally, this should be a quick, friction-free system. As with the ratings in the archives, words should be attached to these ratings, so that people do not mindlessly vote.

The quality scores submitted would be averaged, first on the per-post level and then on the user level.

This would be a much better user metric than words per post. I can easily write a long post (like this one) that brings my wpp up.
Can we just not do anything and let people who think they are better because they can spell words right continue to be pretentious?
I'm all for the discussion, since that helps shape ideas we can use later on but there are many things I'd rather we implement first than add up and down votes. But none of it is feasible for the foreseeable future. So yes, we just aren't going to do anything.

We'll just have to continue to encourage an atmosphere where users feel welcome, whether they ask vague or detailed questions.
MateoConLechuga wrote:
Can we just not do anything and let people who think they are better because they can spell words right continue to be pretentious?
-Mateo says as he continues to spell words correctly.
I'll contribute to the discussion in two ways, first by describing what, in my opinion, destroys a community, and second by sounding off on already-proposed solutions/ideas.

First, here's some of the most obvious things that can take a community down: (disclaimer-- just because I'm listing something doesn't mean that I think cemetech does it).
- Inactive members
- A disconnect between community staff/moderators and the general populous.
- An "I'm better than you because I've done more/said more/know more" attitude.
- Treatment of new members.
- Treatment of novices to new topics.
- Fair and equal application of the rules to everyone.

In my opinion Cemetech does fine on the first two. We have a good deal of active members, and the staff is present, fairly easy to get in touch with, and communicates well with its users. We also interact with/encourage/support new users very well. The remaining three blur together and in my opinion are where, at times, we fail.

When you've been working in a language, or style of programming, or been doing something for a while, it may be easy to forget the work it took to get there... the time you spent reading, analyzing documentation, experimenting... and asking questions. Yet when someone new to a topic asks a question, there is the notion that simply having the question means one did not do anything to figure it out on their own, when that is not usually the case. That notion creates so much of a disconnect between the more experienced members of our community and the newer, less experienced ones. We often forget that passing someone new to a language off to a subtle reference to something in an obscure place in documentation in a file within a folder within a folder that you probably need a lot of experience with the language to even understand what the footnote means does not constitute being "supportive, instructive, or helpful", and I can almost guarantee that when YOU were learning, you got a heck of a lot better from the people you were asking questions of. It's compounded by the fact that not everyone learns the same way or at the same speed. I've seen new and long time members fall victim to this, including myself. This is part of the attitude that made me almost quit programming completely because I felt like what was the point of trying to learn to understand the language better and ask better questions if I was just going to be attacked no matter what. I can almost assure that I'm not alone.

Secondly, and related to this, if the policy of this community is respect for everyone, those rules and consequences need to be applied consistently and equally, no matter if someone has been a member for a day or a decade, has released one never-used program, or ten highly-used ones. Saying "it's just how they are", or protecting people who are more contributive does not make other members feel like their membership, or even feelings at times, are of any importance. The destruction of a community goes far deeper than just using appreviations or slang or few words in a post.. those are just symptoms of the problem. People will feel the drive to write more effectively and intelligently, and contribute more if they feel their contributions will hold the same value as everyone else on the site. It's really as simple as that.



As for my suggestions:
- I certainly feel topic posts AND SAX comments should be votable in some way. If a topic post is not constructive we can downvote it. If a SAX comment is disrespectful it can also be downvoted.
- I extremely disagree that the upvotes should be worth more than downvotes. They should not. If one day I did something good for a member and the next day called someone worthless in SAX, why should my rating still be positive? It makes no sense. I think an upvote should be +1 and a downvote be -1. This also means that if a user is treating new members horribly, those members opinions of that have equal weight as the couple of older, experienced users said member is nice to.
- I also think the penal system should be based on the voting system. Someone whose karma drops below a certain level should lose access to some things... voting on posts and programs and SAX for instance... until they improve their rating.
- A way to promote the programs of new members (and existing members) both internally and externally. For internally, we could create a "Featured Downloads" panel, where the formula to select what programs to display combines the relative newness of a member, the member's karma, and the rating of that program. Thus, newer members can have their programs featured more easily, but as they spend time with the community they find that in order to have a feature, they must have good karma (treat others in the community well) and the program must have a decent rating. The featured downloads should also post to social media, and could possibly be promoted in other ways to help spark renewed interest in calculator programming**

** This is a seqway into another thing I wanted to talk about... calculator programming dying. I think we should be spending more time and effort, and perhaps even funds, to help promote calculator programming as a niche and an introduction to computer science (I'd certainly be willing to help with this). I am aware of the T^3 convention, and the Makers Faire, and social media pages, but the problem with these is you're still limiting your target audience to people within the education/tech fields, or people with enough interest to visit these things. We need to expand beyond that and target people on the fence, or who never really explored it before with things like CALCnet, DoorsCS, Mateo's libs, and the vast array of other cool things to get those people interested. That's how we bring back calculator programming.
  
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