Feasibility discussion

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Mitchell Marks

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Sep 21, 2020, 12:30:44 PM9/21/20
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Three comments from the Random Comments thread: 

Winter Wallaby SEPTEMBER 21, 2020 AT 11:55 AM

As I see it, the main difficulty with continuing in with the same format isn’t primarily getting the password for this site. It’s that the current format requires a huge amount of work from one individual, and I don’t see how that work can be divided up. If someone is willing and able to do what Bill did, and they can get the password for this site, they can continue here; if they can’t get the password, they could move to a new site, and we could shift there. The former is a little better, but either way would work. The main problem is whether there’s anyone willing and able take on all that work. Personally, I could help with hosting fees, or other miscellanous tasks (and I think a number of other people are willing as well), but I couldn’t take on the large amount of work that Bill did. 

 I’ll mention that I’m only thinking about the not inconsiderable work in the mechanical aspects of running the website. In addition, Bill had an ideal temperament for moderating discussions here, and keeping the the community civil. And he came up with so many witty headlines, and fun off-topic posts. No one is going to match Bill in those aspects. If someone is actually willing to take on the work of running the website, that would be quite a lot to take on, and I don’t think they should be deterred by the thought that they need to be able match Bill’s temperament and wit.

Carl FinkSEPTEMBER 21, 2020 AT 12:07 PM

There is almost no work involved in running the site. As I’ve mentioned, I have been known to run 6 at a time in the past, now only 4. It’s nothing. If we divide up the work of content publishing, it’s not even a big workload for that. 


Yes, I join with Carl in replying to Winter on the question of what is feasible.

No, nobody can replace Bill. And we should not look to any single person to try.

But there are workable options.

1. Current site. Use Bill’s password to create new admin user, share that to members of an Editorial Committee (or enable their existing WP accounts to admin here.) Also create a new email address, which the Editors will share (either by actually using a shared password to log in to an email, or by forwarding mail to them individually, or some kind of “service desk” system).
Users mail submissions to the submission address as before, on some rota or help-desk basis the Editors respond and post some of the submissions, maybe continuing the once-a-day tradition or adapting.

2. A new site, but with arrangements as in (1). This would in some ways be easier. What we would need from Aaron would be not a password but shared understanding that it would be okay for us to use a form of name related to CIDU and explicitly announce the connection. Much later, maybe incorporate the archives.

3. A new site, but with less editorial presence. A small group to work on maintenance, moderation when necessary, and hosting fees, but (subject to tech implemented rules like first-time posters get moderated) not routinely needing submission and editor-publishing: that is, an almost-open posting site.

For any of these there are subsidiary questions, but they could be settled later.

Mitchell Marks

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Sep 21, 2020, 12:47:09 PM9/21/20
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Can we hear from more CIDUers on what kind of option you would prefer:

1. Continue on the current site, after working with Aaron Bickel to make new admin users of an editorial committee, then proceeding as now: Readers submit items by email to single point-of-contact address, only admin creates top level posts from them, approx once daily, but visitors may freely respond, responses can use some HTML and can use linked images.
As I said: mostly just like now. But with a committee in place as central contact point.

2. New site, with operations working pretty much like (1), or thus pretty much like now.

3. New site, but close to open posting. (Some protection against spam and uncivil content.)

4. Yes you would like to see a continuation / successor site, but not on the basis of the above choices. Instead, you suggest: __________

5. Sadly, CIDU had its time, and we should let ourselves let it go.

J. Isaac Powers

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Sep 21, 2020, 12:49:28 PM9/21/20
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I'd like to see a more open format, where people can post comics for discussion and it's easier to jump among them than in a linear blog format. A message board might work well.


Powers  &8^]

Mitchell Marks

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Sep 21, 2020, 12:55:41 PM9/21/20
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Thanks, Powers!

Would you mind also dropping you comment in the Random Comments thread on CIDU?  Sorry about the duplication and waste of cognitive bandwidth but that is really where the work is getting done. 

==Mitch

J. Isaac Powers

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Sep 23, 2020, 9:04:17 AM9/23/20
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I would mind, yes; isn't the whole point of using this board is so that we don't have to deal with the unsuitable interface of a random comments thread?


Powers  &8^]

Mitchell Marks

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Sep 23, 2020, 10:22:31 AM9/23/20
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@Powers, Well, I would agree, except that there have been a few people, either Google-avoidant or disinclined for some reason to go (semi-)private; and they are  voices that should not be excluded.  

Later on, e.g. when the editorial group is actually operating, there definitely will be a need for a private area (at least a separate maillist or webforum, maybe special software) for tracking submitted comics and steps towards posting, in a system better than using the mailboxes of the submission address.  (@Winter, I am busily about to reply to you on this topic in Random, and will copy back here.)

Sorry, thinking ahead of what we were talking about.  But even something like planning for that system, which will in the end be private, can benefit from input of random voices in planning stage.

==mitch

J. Isaac Powers

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Sep 23, 2020, 1:05:50 PM9/23/20
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Having an editorial board perusing submissions seems overly complex to me, when we could just have open submissions. Even something like a subreddit would work.


Powers  &8^]

Carl Fink

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Sep 23, 2020, 1:09:10 PM9/23/20
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No. As the name implies, this is the "backstop" should we lose access to the comment threads.

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Phil Smith III

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Sep 23, 2020, 1:11:21 PM9/23/20
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I don’t disagree, but I think the idea should be to have controls ready in case there are issues. Eventually some spammers/script kiddies will show up to the party and need spanking (or “need spanked” in current idiom).

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J. Isaac Powers

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Sep 23, 2020, 1:31:02 PM9/23/20
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Well we would need moderation of course. But I don't know if that necessarily needs to translate to preapproval.


Powers  &8^]

Bill Clark

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Sep 23, 2020, 2:20:03 PM9/23/20
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I will say I am categorically opposed to open-posting. I'm sure there are many places that simply discuss comics and comic strips in general. 

A primary positive comment about Bill and CIDU was the civility of the space. Sometimes Bill stepped in to remove anything he thought inappropriate, but that wasn't often necessary as he made the rules clear and we kept to them. Furthermore, he kept any comics that he thought would turn the comments inappropriate off the blog. Usually things around politics. With open posting it is only a matter of (probably short) time before partisan political cartoons started showing up. Then the crap starts flying. Then if you remove something, there will be complaints of your "censorship" and why didn't you pull that other one, you are showing bias to side A or Side B. 

I think another reason that the community is close is the "slow-but-steady" volume of posting. A regular post at midnight Eastern Time, maybe an extra one. The colllections on Saturday and Sunday. Everyone was looking at the same few comics and reading the comments. Our attention was focused, so people who might not care about a Bably Blues comic normally would still look at in and join the conversation. And because of the concentration of great minds, you could also get those wonderful off topic excursions. With an open, post anytime approach, I think that might be lost.

Some of the early comments, I think from Kilby and possibly Powers, could see the archive be more active and accessible, though. Numbered comments would be a good idea. And the archive should be searchable by date, making it easier to page around. I think that would be fun, as comics would stay in circulation and sometimes have new comments  or full-blown discussions pop up long after the initial appearance.

So, those are my thoughts.


Mitchell Marks

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Sep 23, 2020, 2:29:06 PM9/23/20
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Sure, there is quite a bit to be said for open-and-easy posting.  

I included it in a short list of options for surveying in Random thread, and several people approved (mostly in the "I'm okay with 2, 3, or 4" way).  A couple people, however, posted about how the scheduling of a single daily CIDU (with variations of course) was a very positive feature for them.  They wrote of waiting for midnight, or getting up in the morning, to look for the new CIDU; and how having a space ahead before a new one was good in letting people develop a thread, that might not happen if a new one came along right away.  

Probably some of my incidental language (of a "rejections folder" etc) has contributed to a particular impression of the point of editors.  As when Bill set it up, the point is not really to protect from offensive or even weak contributions, but just to choose a good one for next time; given that there is a throttled flow.  (I did sometimes mail something to Bill as a CIDU and he would reply that there was an easy explanation.  So a sort of rejection slip.  But if I still cared, it could be slipped in a comment thread or something.) Also the throttling was paired with some free-for-all, like the weekend LOL collections.  Very smart!  

But there is no reason an easy-and-open site could not work.  It would appeal to some, and not to others.  

In all sincerity, and friendly spirit, why not just go ahead and get one of this kind going?  The edited-WordPress startup is going to take a while still, if it does in fact work out, and you could start an open alternative pretty quickly, I bet.  (I'm only a casual user on Reddit, but what does it take to follow your suggestion of staking out a subreddit?)  So you could announce it and let those who want to come congregate there.  Also besides existing CIDUers there would be people to see it and join in on the platform (depending on specifics, of course).

Cheers,

Mitch

Mitchell Marks

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Sep 23, 2020, 2:32:41 PM9/23/20
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Singapore Bill's comment must have arrived while I was still writing the one that appears below it.  His description of what he liked at CIDU is a good example of the earlier discussions I mentioned, of people who enjoyed the pace and mood of CIDU. 

Winter Wallaby

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Sep 23, 2020, 3:24:25 PM9/23/20
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I agree with everything Singapore Bill said regarding open-posting, and the scheduling.

I will add that if we want to keep the tone of the original blog, the editors will still needs to step in and turn off/delete comments when the tone turns unpleasant, just as CIDU Bill did. So no matter what, there will be complaints about censorship and bias. But it should be more manageable than with open posting.

Higher-level point: Does this CIDU-continuation board serve a purpose at this time? It seems like we could have this conversation at the Random Comments thread, and get wider feedback. I had understood the main point of this board was in case the blog shut down, but there doesn't seem to be danger of that in the near future, so this board mostly just ends up requiring duplication.
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