Forum:Size and scale of the bar

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This discussion was moved here from RationalWiki:Saloon bar.

As the saloon bar is massive, I'm wondering if it'd be a good idea to split it into a few sub forums (in practice, sub pages of this page, which would act as a menu screen). The benefits are pretty good, you can organise it all better and probably keep a good level of activity. It might also help a little with server load so we don't need to reload the entire page repeatedly (this has been an issue for me, at least, recently) but I'd want Nx or Trent to comment on whether that's true or not. Downside is that there are more pages to keep track of. Scarlet A.pngd hominem 09:40, 11 December 2009 (UTC)

I like that idea. At the moment Pibot is archiving when threads are 40 hours old and it is still long. Or we can go back to using the forums? - π 09:51, 11 December 2009 (UTC)
The forums died when the Saloon bar started. This page is more plusgood because it's easier to load in pictures an' that. Sub-saloon bars? Hot l Baltimore, anyone? Totnesmartin (talk) 10:00, 11 December 2009 (UTC)
But a decent install of phpBB or something similar can do just as much stuff as the MW page. The downside to using the forums is that it's two log ins and two different ways of working. It could be advantageous as the forums are designed to hold forum traffic so may help with the server problems and the archiving problems. So if the forums aren't a popular option, splitting would be a good way to sort of merge the two types of interaction. I'll think of some categories but I imagine the standard net break down of on-topic/off-topic etc. would be good. Scarlet A.pngd hominem 11:05, 11 December 2009 (UTC)


  • Rationalism/Pesudoscience (for the odd time when we want to talk about it)
  • Mad Fuckers (for the reporting of the batshit insanity of the world)
  • Saloon Bar (for general discussion)
  • Goat Worship (the totally off-topic forum)
  • Sticky page (where adding new sections are is forbidden, but the pages aren't archived)
Scarlet A.pngd hominem 11:08, 11 December 2009 (UTC)
No, no no! I like that the Saloon Bar has all kinds of discussions going at the same time, like an actual bar. Splitting it up would decrease the amount of talk because no one would bother to follow all of the individual discussion pages. Tetronian you're clueless 13:50, 11 December 2009 (UTC)
That's more of a problem than anything else. The bar is fucking huge and threads get archived after less than two days. The prospect of bringing up old topics is practically impossible and some of the interesting or productive or important topics get archived quickly because they're swamped by the random crap. It needs to happen one day. At the moment, the system is like a Facebook group with more than 50,000 members; the messages are impossible to keep up with because there is ZERO organisation and it updates too frequently to keep track. This is especially important as people, you know, work, or have lives and can't be attached to the Internet 24/7 just keep track of every new conversation, at least half of which they may well not be interested in. Fragmenting it on the other hand has numerous benefits, and giving topic titles might encourage people to start more threads, not less. Scarlet A.pngd hominem 19:28, 11 December 2009 (UTC)
I suppose you are right. I think we need more discussion though, and I would like to see what other editors have in mind. Tetronian you're clueless 05:20, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
The saloon bar should be disbanded.
And why is that, pray tell? The Saloon does more than anything else to contribute to the sense of community here. Tetronian you're clueless 13:52, 11 December 2009 (UTC)
It adds to the insular and reactionary culture which is making this place slowly die.
Are you now too lazy to log in, MC? Fedhaji (Talk) 00:44, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
Best reason for keeping it I've seen so far. --Kels (talk) 18:06, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

From Pi's talk page[edit]

As the discussion didn't attract many people, I figured I'd probably go ahead and split the Saloon Bar unilaterally (it gets the mobs attention quite nicely). Would this cause any issues with Pibot and archiving? Adding the Template:Talkpage/Pibot template should work but there could be an issue with searching subpages. The simple way to do it would be to search all the archives of all the "sub forums" (I.e, the saloon bar page itself would have the titles of the search bar, the bartop and the links to sub forums only) but I'm not sure if the pibot parameters would do that automatically. Scarlet A.pngd hominem 13:58, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

If you leave the archive path parameter as it is, it will archive all the subpages to the one archive page. The search box searches all sub pages of the current page. There is a Template:Talkpage/PibotHidden that will archive a page without creating any on screen display. - π 14:06, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
Ah, so literally "don't change it". That's good to know. Scarlet A.pngd hominem 14:38, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
No if you need to archive sub-pages they each will need a template, but if you tell them to all archive to the same page it will. - π 23:20, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
I agree that a split would be a good idea, but I think we should have more discussion first. No need to do it unilaterally and send everyone into HCM. Tetronian you're clueless 23:25, 12 December 2009 (UTC)
Armond, we really need to discuss this before unilateral splitting. How about a "sticky" thread on the bar about it? I'm sure the accumulated brainz here on this site can come up with a good way to do it so it doesn't dilute the energy that makes the SB what it is, while allowing us to perhaps slow down the archive rate a bit. ħumanUser talk:Human 00:50, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

It is probably best to ask everyone first, however if you are going to do it, the best way would be to put:

|algo = old(time)
|maxarchivesize = 150K
|counter = 44
|algo = old(96h)
|archive = RationalWiki:Saloon bar/Archive%(counter)d

on each subpage. That way they will archive back to the main saloon bar's archive. - π 08:08, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

I'm not sure that will work because of the counter.-- Nx / talk 08:10, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
It updates the counter itself, doesn't it? I haven't looked at the script in a while. - π 08:14, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
Yeah but if the counter is different on some pages, won't that cause problems? -- Nx / talk 08:17, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
It does only add one at a time, but it loops until it has archived the threads, so it should keeping going until it finds the next free archive. - π 08:18, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
I am an old man, easily confused and I may have missed something. But what we going to split the Saloon Bar into? And how exactly will it help us?--BobNot Jim 08:48, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

My suggestion is to keep the Saloon bar for off-mission chat (food, music, rl anecdotes, etc.), have a separate but similar page for on-mission or topical chat (anything about cranks, blogging, also news stories, etc.) & a separate place for discussing possible changes to the site (technical, aesthetic, policy), a bit like WP's village pump.

Also, I think this discussion ^ should be moved back to the Saloon bar. ωεαşεζøίɗWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 15:40, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

The problem with "more discussion" that nothing ever gets done that way. The unilateral action at least gets some attention - but thanks for the comments above anyway. Weasloid seems to have the best idea, it seems. There will always be a place for off-topic discussion. Discussion on cranks etc. (the "on topic" chat) can go on the WIGO pages, though, they're not used much but they should be. Having yet another place might dilute it too much but perhaps if we could integrate it all better, add the saloon bar (off-topic chat) to the WIGO nav-bar. A subpage to discuss new article ideas specifically (perhaps combine with the "to do list" in some way) and also add this to the same nav-bar. Site policy would probably need a new page (or use talk:main_page?). But again, put it on a nav-bar. That puts all the major social interaction points on one navigational template that can be jumped between easily. Scarlet A.pngd hominem 16:09, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
Actually, I think this should be on a seperate debate page.
And I'm still a bit confused about the objectives/advantages. If people don't understand or sign up to such a change then they will all continue to go to the same page. What would be nice would be a clear statement of:
  • The problem which needs to be resolved.
  • How the proposed solution would resolve this problem.
  • What advantages (if any) this solution would have for individual users.
  • How the split would work in practice.
While I understand that unilateral actions have the advantages of overcoming institutional inertia, I do feel that a general discussion would help get some kind of consensus, and messing with the main point of interaction on RW is not a small step.
I would suggest therefore that: 1) this be moved to a debate page. 2) the debate page be announced on the intercom 3) those proposing the change explicitly answer the questions I have outlined above.--BobNot Jim 17:45, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
I definitely agree with separating off-topic chat from discussion about site changes. -- Nx / talk 20:37, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

Other suggestions[edit]

Why don't we create a "forum" namespace, and instead of a new section being created here, a new page in the "forumspace" is created for each new thread. That way users need only watchlist those threads which interest them. And we can keep track of all the new pages created by adding one of those thingies that display Recentchanges, and set it to only display edits to the forumspace. It's a lot like what Uncyclopedia does, really. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 20:52, 13 December 2009 (UTC)

That might work quite well (haven't looked at the UC one though). And the SB itself could perhaps be transclusions of all the current ones, set up so the "edit" buttons take you to them? That way the SB contains everything in one place, but after editing one ends up just loading the "current" thread. Can each thread then have a menu listing all the others? ħumanUser talk:Human 21:45, 13 December 2009 (UTC)
I think this is a good idea. With the inputbox extension we can create a box to easily start new threads, and with dpl we can list the x threads with most recent activity on a single page. I suggest we don't replace the saloon bar though, let's just leave it alone during the transition (if we decide to do this), and if the new forum namespace is successful we can close down the saloon bar. -- Nx / talk 06:35, 14 December 2009 (UTC)
Also, we could use categories to create various "subforums", since dpl can filter by category. Also, the new version I installed a while ago can produce multi-page output -- Nx / talk 08:06, 14 December 2009 (UTC)
That's good to hear. Though if we want to actually implement it we'll need to hear from others first. What do Pi, Toast, and Ace think? Bob (both of them)? All the n00bs who've joined since I left? : ) Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 07:43, 14 December 2009 (UTC)
Does this mean we would scrap the RW forums as they are now? ωεαşεζøίɗWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 08:02, 14 December 2009 (UTC)
Nah, they'd be left as they are (presumably as a testament to our own sadness : ) ). We'd simply continue not using them. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 08:04, 14 December 2009 (UTC)
I'm trying to get my brain around this. As I understand it we're trying to resolve two problems:
  • The SB uses a lot of bandwidth.
  • As a consequence of this the SB gets archived very quickly and sometimes before people have time to read or comment.
So the suggestion is to create a new namespace and make each new topic a page in this new namespace. These pages would themselves be accessed through topic headings in the existing SB (or a new variation thereof).
If I have understood the problem and the solution correctly then I'm all for it.--BobNot Jim 08:23, 14 December 2009 (UTC)
Alright! Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 08:42, 14 December 2009 (UTC)
Well, dpl and individual threads are more complicated than I was thinking, but it sounds interesting. But yes, Bob, the problem is that the sections get archived so quick they're almost impossible to keep going if only a few people are involved. Sticky threads work, but as with most forums with stickies, they're starting to expand and take up more room. With sub-forums (as categories, as Nx suggested), individual threads and discussions will be easier to find. A single page to a thread won't work like the Saloon bar, where you see everything, but it'd be no more clicks than the usual kind of forum ran on VB, XMB or phpBB or whatever. Though if we go that route, it'll be best to implement it while still running the saloon bar as it is and encouraging people to use both to provide feedback - as the trouble with most changes (As a Facebook user of nearly 5 years, I know this from experience) is that people just go "NNOOOO!! CHANGE IT BAK!!! NOO!!!!!" to any change. Scarlet A.pngd hominem 17:54, 14 December 2009 (UTC)
(EC)We're not typical facebook sheep, though, surely? Totnesmartin (talk) 18:03, 14 December 2009 (UTC)
As Human has demonstrated, we aren't far off. Professor Moriarty 18:20, 14 December 2009 (UTC)
I'll get on it soon. Just don't start creating pages that start with Forum: because that will be a problem when I introduce the namespace. -- Nx / talk 18:00, 14 December 2009 (UTC)
The SB became popular because it was a single entry point to lots of different topics, it has an immediacy that is missing from the BB. Previously WIGO:CP seemed to get clogged up with non CP stuff. The advantage of the Saloon Bar is that you don't have to click around to see what's of interest. I don't like the sticky stuff here as I feel there's probably better places where it should go and if a topic generates a lot of interest it is often moved into a separate space. The bulletin board format makes it more difficult to peruse as you have to keep clicking between the different threads. Redchuck.gif ГенгисOur ignorance is God; what we know is science. 23:47, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
That is a good point. In any case, I've set up RationalWiki:Forum for testing, so you can try it out and decide which one is better. -- Nx / talk 01:00, 17 December 2009 (UTC)
It's possible to create a page that resembles the saloon bar with the new system: RationalWiki:Forum/Off_topic_chat_expanded. This lists the 25 most recent threads with their content, and allows you to scroll through all past threads (the pagers don't appear because there are less than 25 threads) -- Nx / talk 02:04, 17 December 2009 (UTC)
Why don't we make that the default setting, because it's the most familiar view to everybody? Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 02:12, 17 December 2009 (UTC)

On a related note[edit]

I'm finishing the phpbb upgrade and will open up the rationalwiki forum again soon. -- Nx / talk 21:27, 14 December 2009 (UTC)

Looks nice, do you think we can encourage people to use it? - π 01:00, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
Say what?? There's a forum??? (I'm kidding) Tetronian you're clueless 01:04, 15 December 2009 (UTC)
There's always been a forum. Search for it on RationalWikiWiki for some amusing insights. Scarlet A.pngd hominem 12:01, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

New thread way down below[edit]

I think I'm so smart, but I did make a lot of the things we like here work well. User #188 ;) OK, Trent made them work well, but I made them pretty and wrote the instructions. If anyone wants to cut and paste it up here go ahead, I just didn't want to get EC'd after writing it. ħumanUser talk:Human 06:49, 17 December 2009 (UTC)

Wherein human tries to be as useful as Mei regarding new forum/saloon bar ideas[edit]

I've been thinking, or at least drinking, about this, and have some "ideas" which I will now propound.

I think that we should have both the Saloon Bar and the forum: "sub SB" system.

The arguments for change are good - 1) the SB is a pig and takes ages to reload after editing, even though 2) it is archived aggressively.

One problem - sticky sections. The section way up above that is about this topic is huge, and we have to load it every time we want to read why someone hated a TV show. Usually we moved long sections to debate pages and talked about them to death. The forum idea makes this more streamlined.


Here is my idea. And it is my idea, no one else's, my idea and my theory and it is mine.

Let us have both the old-school SB and the new forums page - but let us integrate them automagically. We have the skills, we have the technology.

I propose that:

  • People continue to add section to the SB as always.
  • Some sections will die a quick death due to lack of interest and pibot will archive them after 48 hours or so.
  • Sections that grow and gather interest can be renamed carefully to indicate their content and tagged "forum" or "(forum)" (by anyone). Then pibot should move the contents to a forum: page.
  • The SB should list, at the top, the last ten (or so) edited forum pages. Thus any "vanished" topics will be obvious to readers, due to the intelligently designed title.

The forum page will list all topics edited in, say, 30 days, in order of recent editing. Both pages will link to each other, and I will write brilliang instructions or help bits for both. Pi and Nx will write brilliang code to make the magic work.

Thus, headers like:

== I saw Star Wars==
And it sucked, I preferred Star Trek. ħumanUser talk:Human 06:42, 17 December 2009 (UTC)

That get no further comments, will just get archived.

Headers like:

== Let's discuss Heinlein and making movies of novels==
(Eight hundred comments)

Would have days ago been moved to a forum: page.

For a lot of time on this wiki, I acted as the "make it pretty and easy" adviser to Trent, back when he was the only "extension writer" here. Most of this work occurred behind the scenes, ie, on the phone while he and I worked in sandboxes. That time is over, and I wish to now figure out how to work on-wiki with our new reptilian overlords. Trent & I did some great work, and some crappy work (the "vote" template was probably the best, the AotW the worst, mostly because no one ever figured out how to make comments there turn up on RC, so it was a dead end page). Nx rewrote Trent's work to make it better code. Now the wikiworld has changed - Nx and Pi work on their own, and I struggle to work with them. OK, "struggle" is the wrong word. I am not working well with them ;) The "new" RW, if I am to influence its direction, requires that I work well with our new reptilian overlords, in terms of helping with "look and feel" and "user interface", and, most importantly, writing help pages and instructions so noobs and css illiterates like me can work with the awesome web 2.0 functions we have here.

I hope that some or most of you will think my idea of how to manage the SB/forum: space makes sense (it did to me, but, yeah, whatever). I hoped I explained my idea clearly, since poor explanation results in failed dreams (wow, great insight, I should write an essay on CP about that!).

That's most of my thunks, I think I expressed them reasonably well. Now let the mob tell me why or where I'm wrong, and let Nx and Pi make it happen. ħumanUser talk:Human 06:42, 17 December 2009 (UTC)

Reptilian Overlord Nx controls the MySQL database for Pope Trent
Reptilian Overlord Pi is just eye candy.
I generally agree with you, that it would be nice to integrate the two, though I have concerns that moving a popular section to its own page, a la the forum, will make orphans of a significant chunk of the edit history of every popular thread (in other words, half the fossil record is buried in this page, the other half is buried waaaaaaaaaaaaay over here. (Oh, and its from two months ago—good luck finding the relevant chunk of edit history!) Maintaining an easily accessible edit history is one of the things that is most important to me on this site, and part of why I supported the creation of a new "forumspace" in the first place. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 06:59, 17 December 2009 (UTC)
You have addressed the weak link in my grand plan ;) Let pibot also make auto links "from" and "to" like we do when we move sections to debate pages? I just didn't want to clutter the SB with "this section moved to" links, but of course that would make sense. Please add the new thing for pibot to do be added to my list? Does that work? Gawd, it's nice working with you again, none of these drunks and general reprobates on this place have a clue any more. ħumanUser talk:Human 07:06, 17 December 2009 (UTC)
Well, the "movedto" and "movedfrom" templates don't point to a specific chunk of edit history, they're merely signposts that tell you a thread has been relocated—with the relevant edit history of the thread still orphaned. Is there a way to link to a page history so it displays the edit history made within a given span of time? If we could automate that, it would be tolerable. Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 07:20, 17 December 2009 (UTC)
I do think "this came from there" is sufficient. Do you disagree? Oh this will be awesome, all bow down before the RA v. H edit wars once again!! But seriously, I think, at least, our conflicts always resulted in imrpoovmints to the wiki. ħumanUser talk:Human 07:46, 17 December 2009 (UTC)
I disagree that saying "this came from here" is sufficient. It is a huge step in the right direction in that it tells you where to start looking for the original edit history (versus giving no indication at all), but I still find it inadequate. However, for the time being, I am resigned to the fact that I won't be able to get the site to completely shift over to a new forum system. At the moment I'm just tickled pink that your actually supporting such a major change in format. (First chance I get though, I am totally going to drown our fat, spoiled baby of a Saloon Bar in the bathtub : ) ). Star of David.png Radioactive afikomen Please ignore all my awful pre-2014 comments. 08:06, 17 December 2009 (UTC)
It could always have a diff showing where it had been cut from the Saloon bar. - π 23:20, 20 December 2009 (UTC)
Do this magic. It is desirable.--Tom Moorefiat justitia 09:13, 17 December 2009 (UTC)
I agree with RA that the edit histories would become much cleaner with the new system. It would also make it much easier to link to an individual discussion. With the SB you have to link to the section, but if it gets archived you have to hunt it down in the fossil record, which is a pain in the ass. You could of course use a permalink, but then the thread won't show any replies added after that revision, and you would have to go clicking next diff until you find the diff where the section got archived. And with the forum when you just keep clicking next diff, you won't get "noise" from other threads that you are not interested in, you can just follow the same discussion nicely.
Unfortunately, the expanded view isn't faster, it is actually slower (since DPL has to fetch all the pages individually, and there's no caching). But viewing and editing the individual threads is faster, since they are smaller pages.
As for shifting to a new system, this whole thing will be replaced by LiquidThreads soon, which looks a lot like our new system, except it's shinier. -- Nx / talk 10:17, 17 December 2009 (UTC)
Yes, do this. It's probably a good idea. Tetronian you're clueless 12:26, 17 December 2009 (UTC)
I support Human's suggestion. I don't think every new Saloon Bar thread should immediately be a new page, as often there are threads started where few people or nobody responds. Moving popular threads to a new page is better. I think the edit history issue is being overemphasised. These are discussion pages where (almost) every comment is signed & datestamped, so digging around in the fossil record of old threads will rarely if ever be necessary. ωεαşεζøίɗWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 18:35, 17 December 2009 (UTC)