I am concerned about the health of this forum. I believe that members of this forum are using it for reasons that are unclear, but are certainly unhealthy for Zcash.
I don’t understand the motives of those that spend significant time here but have no affiliation with the project. They have no holdings, they do not mine, they don’t support the community elsewhere, and they do not develop software. Instead, they routinely sow seeds of discord and they surface FUD they know to be untrue. And they do it in this forum. But they do it within the stated rules of the forum. It’s become a weeded garden.
This forum includes unknown people with language and a type of engagement that I generally only see from a few bad actors in the Monero community, as well as some Bitcoin maximalists and their followers on CT. I don’t see these people contributing to Zcash more broadly, or even with other projects in other forums.
I do not believe the community in this forum represents the Zcash community at large — the community I meet at the Zcons, working on related projects, or even other projects, at crypto companies in the space, in meetups, and at events.
The Zcash community is a community of builders, inventors, holders, advocates, champions and idealists.
The Zcash Community forum has the potential to be amazing. Because the people in the Zcash community are amazing. They are bright, thoughtful, curious, critical thinkers. They are respectful and have high ideals and integrity. That is the Zcash community I know and fell in love with. And there are some of them here - but only some.
I believe this forum could be (yes, it sometimes is) a forum for open dialog, deep thinking, experimentation, ideation, support, and joint encouragement for the benefit of our collective mission. It could be a place that others see and want to join because of all of the energy - the same energy I see happening outside of this site! Moderators, I don’t know where you stand or if you see this through the same lens or even agree. But I would love to help bring the community we all know and love into this thing called the “Zcash Community Forum."
the forum that could be… if zcash had greater times.
observing this place, interested and non-biased visitor could come to conclusion, that zcash team, both entities, somehow are disconnected from reality and are living in perpetual 2016. guys, you really significant expect increase in engagement and positive feedback when number almost permanently goes down? its main metric of appreciacion in crypto. tech, protocol, etc, are great merits, but they can fit as is somwhere in the world of free open source software. but, you know, there’s money involved there. more then that, crypto is all about finance and money at first place. and with such financial results isn’t it pretty obvious why there is a ghost town? there’s not even outsider trolls anymore. and contributing folks are leaving.
(disclosure. i’m minor coin holder from a recent time trying to gather some evidence for myself whether zcash would it be worthwile to invest more in near future, joined this forum not long ago)
Everyone, please flag comments that you think are inappropriate! The moderators read a lot of what gets posted here, but we can’t catch everything.
Also, Discourse (the forum software) has some auto-hiding behavior based on user flags. I don’t understand how it works. Do you, @Shawn?
On the culture here: Josh, I share your concerns about antagonism and FUD. A handful of people whose opinions I respect have independently expressed similar worries in private.
As a moderator, I waffle about where the line is between pointed criticism and contempt. A culture that guards against contempt, and nurtures the opposite, is important. Without mutual respect — without the mutual assumption of good faith — we cannot communicate.
But I am also keenly aware that over-moderation destroys trust. We have rules here, this forum isn’t a “free speech zone,” but it’s also supposed to be a venue for open discussion. That includes dissent, even sharp dissent. (As long as it’s not too sharp — which becomes a hard judgment call!)
And it includes various levels of familiarity with English, and various cultural backgrounds, and various life experiences, and especially various personalities. We get all sorts here, which is one of the attractions, but it also causes friction.
Over-moderation is dangerous. Especially arbitrary moderation. Clear-cut rules can never capture every type of ban-worthy behavior, because humans are creative, but moderators can also fool themselves into thinking that people who disagree with them are Actually Bad, so… it’s hard. (My fellow moderators are great, and I certainly try my best to be impartial, but no one is perfect.)
Where is the right balance? It’s always going to be a paradox of tolerance, but these heuristics come to mind:
If most participants always feel comfortable, the forum is over-moderated.
If most participants feel uncomfortable most of the time, the forum is under-moderated.
“Participants” includes lurkers. I could try to define “comfortable” but this comment is already pretty long. The heuristics try to optimize for a friendly environment that isn’t an echo chamber.
Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates; At the first gate, ask yourself, is is true? At the second gate ask, is it necessary? At the third gate ask, is it kind?
Slate Star Codex has lower standards than either ancient Sufis or preachy Victorians, and so we only require you to pass at least two of those three gates.
If you make a comment here, it had better be either true and necessary, true and kind, or kind and necessary.
Recognizing that nobody can be totally sure what is or isn’t true, if you want to say something that might not be true – anything controversial, speculative, or highly opinionated – then you had better make sure it is both kind and necessary. Kind, in that you don’t rush to insult people who disagree with you. Necessary in that it’s on topic, and not only contributes something to the discussion but contributes more to the discussion than it’s likely to take away through starting a fight.
Nobody can be kind all the time, but if you are going to be angry or sarcastic, what you say had better be both true and necessary. You had better be delivering a very well-deserved smackdown against someone who is uncontroversially and obviously wrong, in a way you can back up with universally agreed-upon statistics. […] And it had better be necessary, in that you are quashing a false opinion which is doing real damage and which is so persistent that you don’t think any more measured refutation would be effective.
Annnnnnd sometimes you might want to share something that’s not especially relevant, not the most important thing in the world – but if you do that it had better be both true and kind. No random interjection of toxic opinions that are going to cause World War III. No unprovoked attacks.
Threats, doxxing, most things people would call “slurs”, et cetera fail this test as neither kind nor necessary. You people are smart and don’t need me to explain this further.
The main weakness, in my view, is that people are powerfully tempted to justify unkindness by saying that it was necessary. Most of us (myself included!) are too biased to make that call for ourselves. So I think it’s better to strive to always be kind, even when you think that you’re “delivering a very well-deserved smackdown against someone who is uncontroversially and obviously wrong.”
It’s a struggle, but a rewarding one. I’ve accepted that I will try hard to be nice all of the time. Sometimes I will fail, and it will be a learning experience, and I’ll try to improve going forward.
People may be assuming that the subject of my post is a position against something. It’s actually the opposite of that, but it does necessarily include that as a backdrop. I suspect the people reading this assume I am advocating for greater moderation, because they, like you, share the concerns.
I’ll respond first to the topic of moderation and then get back to what I think this could become.
I love this idea:
And I completely sympathize with this:
But as a moderator, I believe it is your responsibility to have a bias. You aren’t a computer. You need to make a judgement call. And if the community has placed you in a position of authority as a moderator, it means that we all trust you to exercise good judgement, for the benefit of the community. If you fail in that role, the community can simply ask you to step aside. I trust your good judgement which includes your bias!
Perhaps the burden needs to be spread more broadly. Perhaps something like reddit, with the ability to push things up and down. Or perhaps the community tags posts with one or more of “true”, “kind”, and “necessary”, rather than just a like, and those will a certain score are more elevated. Maybe those are the right tags for us or maybe they are something else. But maybe those that have collected high volumes of the right tags are asked to help moderate in some way… or maybe that wouldn’t be necessary… not sure. I won’t try to solve for that here. But regardless, moderation can then be more evenly distributed to a broad group while reinforcing the norms expected by the community (true/necessary/kind).
Which leads my intended topic: what I think this could become. There, perhaps, is some mechanism design that reinforces community values as I tried to illustrate above. But I also wonder if the structure could be set and content contributed that would bring in a greater diversity of voices that more closely represent the broader Zcash community.
A model for community engagement might look like this (thanks Maslow):
I first started exploring crypto communities in 2016. I was surprised to see behavior that mirrored much of what was in this graphic. I was able to easily find a community and start exploring. As soon as I joined, I was welcomed. I could lurk … but so many people also reached out to me to say hello and suggest groups. People started sending me tokens. And then I asked which wallets I could use, and people started pointing me in the right direction. I started asking deeper questions and people that I could see who were highly respected, answered my questions. I quickly went from stage 1 to 2 and had an easy opening to stage 3. And it was all a highly positive engagement.
That didn’t mean that there wasn’t serious discussions or criticisms or hard things that were “true and necessary”, but that wasn’t my point of entry. I wasn’t in those community hallways. I was still a baby. Btw, the structure of application to and engagement at Zcon1 helps facilitate this very thing IRL.
This has turned into a very long response. My point is that perhaps a planned garden, with various user types in mind, might be better suited for facilitating a strong community.
This is an excellent idea, I really hope we can find a way to use the software to support this. It’s excellent because it’s “fine grained” opt-out in the sense that if you want to see all the posts, not just the ones tagged “kind”/“constructive” or whatever, you can do so, without having to opt out of the entire forum system of accounts, urls, etc. also
I thought a bit longer about your post and feelings about the current state of the forum. I didn’t answer immediatly despite i’am pretty sure that one of the people you have in mind is me, actually i’am pretty sure it’s me as i’am of the very few that admit honestly that they don’t hold ZEC currently.
I understand some of your argumentation as indeed it could be frustrating to be confronted daily with whatever not, but that goes the other way as well.
IF we exclude forum trolls everybody here on the forum, especially the ones you mention with “spend significant time here” invest their time into Zcash. Time, the most valuable thing everybody has as time can not be bought or retrieven under any condition. This alone should be seen as an affilation with the project.
It’s even close to offending in my opinion and just because someone for financial reasons temporary doesn’t hold ZEC doesn’t necessary mean they don’t see Zcash as a valuable project with potential if certain criteria is meet or improved in future, just as an example.
As you mentioned miners and just as a sidenote, did you notice that there are literally no miners anymore present in the forum expect maybe 2-3 home miners at best?
This is a pretty hard formulation and accusation. There are thin lines in my opinion btw. FUD, real fear, speculation, assumptions, suspicions, hypothesis and critical thinking which doesn’t exclude a combination.
That you insinuate that it’s done with intention and that they do it knowing it’s untrue goes very far. I myself have made in the past assumption that have turned out to be untrue, but automaticly concluding this is always/often done with intention goes pretty far and i doubt it hold true. At least i’am not aware of many such examples where it could apply. But than again, maybe i’am more openminded for various streams within a community and i could be wrong.
About the accusation of FUD in generally. I have witnessed so far several projects that use the word FUD every time something doesn’t go along to their wishes. They use it more than often to silence any critical voice as it seems to be more easy to stamp someone as a FUD’er than actually provide evidience someone is wrong.
What is FUD anyway? In my personal vocabulary there is no such word like FUD and FOMO as i personally think they are too subjective and missused all the time.
When i predicted 8 months ago that ZEC will fall to 0.0065 BTC (it was 0.014 than back) i got accused of being spreading FUD, being a monero troll (i never had a single XMR!) and whatever not. But exactly this happened, unfortunatly of course. I mention this example as it’s a good one that someone that is called FUD by one group is a good calculation and forcase for another group.
Who is going to decide what FUD, real fear, concerns, hypothesis, assumptions, speculations or critical thinking is?
I’am happy we have a very good moderation team that seems to give their best on keeping the forum as clean as possible. Even the forum community itself is flagging a lot of posts. Maybe you should more often visit some other forums to realize that ours is like paradise compared to real FUD, abused, insulting and swearing or censored ones that have only yes-man.
And let’s get one step further as it seems pretty easy just to call out some people (even it may be justified in some cases).
You say they are using the forum and are unhealthy for Zcash. That’s ok. But if i or someone else for example express an opinion/view that a given action by the ECC or ZF is unhealthy or might be unhealthy for Zcash it’s no longer ok?
And what does trigger such behaviour? I won’t comment this question my own, but maybe it’s a good idea to search for mistakes, wrong action, non-action and such within the ECC/ZF as well instead of reflecting everything negative being a result of some people within the community.
Weed? Weed garden? Pretty harsh, but if you think this forum turned into a weed garden with lots of weed, so it be.
Why are these good people not here on the forum?
Critical thinkers only as long as they don’t question too much and too often?
High ideals? This sounds good for several reasons. By definition: “If you have high ideals , you have very strong beliefs about what is good and right, and maybe even how best to save the world.” The problem with high ideals is that it’s a personal view and maybe even an purely egoistic view as well. IF you believe you have high ideals and that your path is the only right one, than indeed everybody with a different opinion does not qualify for your high ideals.
And while talking about high ideals, how do you measure them?
Or a philosofic question. Isn’t believing in high ideals for free and voluntary as well a very high ideal itself, maybe more than being paid for having these high ideals?
This means that the majority of the forum doesn’t fit into “your” requirements of honest, good, respectful people with higher ideals and integrity.
Welcome back to reality. You guys/girls really thought you create a financial instrument, a crypto currency, a volatile highly speculative asset and believe that this won’t attract speculators of all kind that have less “high ideals”?
That’s thin ice in my opinion. You made of course some valid points in the whole argumentation and post, but you should be aware that it can be seen other from a different point of view.
It could be seen as an attempt to silence/censor too criticial people, people that don’t agree with the ECC and/or ZF direction, people that don’t agree even with the funding questions, people that continously ask for more transparency and more accountability or have any other concern.
Especially in the heat of the current funding discussion i think it’s not a good call and a bad choosen moment that further could leave the impression that critical fund voices are not welcome to say it diplometicly. Your intentions might be different, but i feel it’s worth mention how it could be seen within and outside this forum.
While you mention only FUD, what about FOMO, even i don’t like these terms i have no other option to use them here. What about the over expecting people? Sure, these people temporary generate an upwind, a positive feeling, some kind of psyeudo support. But don’t be fooled, if expections are not meet these result in even higher frustrations. Me personally has no problem with either as in my opinion the true lies more often in the middle and average inteligent people should have no problem to differ their own from FUD and FOMO, btw good and bad intention, btw selfish and selfless actions.
While i agree that on social media there is 0 chance to oppose trolls, bad intended people and actors i think it shouldn’t be a problem to oppose such with arguments, facts, discussion, answers, such like on the forum. Maybe a more frequent AMA not only for technical questions could be a good idea. Maybe others like more frequent video conferneces like the one with Ehrenhofer another one. I think these options would as well have a way more positive outcome than just calling the result of uncertainity, missinformation, lack of information, lack of transparency and accountability a weed-garden.
Trust & respect aren’t given attributes that last forever. They are gained and it needs continous work to maintain these day by day. IF the ECC/ZF or Zcash losses trust it should be up to them to re-instate a higher trust or respect level. You guys/girls should as well from time to time analyse why trust or respect is lost. Maybe more often polling or even simple forum polls could give value feedback on what actions result in what level of gain/loss of trust/respect. But than again, this would need a very high level of transparency and an admission that own actions could have results in mistakes and failure previously, something i personally think especiallly the ECC has a problem with. But again, just my thoughts, my ideas, my suggestions, my point of view.
I wanted to add this clarification at the top. The ECC is not the Employees. In a project like this, where you get people working under their market value for something they love you can end up with a situation where a critique of the handling of a situation by the ECC is seen as a slight on the person who did the work/suggested it.
It also unfortunately follows back the same route, where the community will blame an employee for the behaviour of the ECC.
This happens a lot in game development too. I want to express my support on a personal level for the employees of the company and can strongly empathise with the level of connection they feel between the company, zcash tech and themselves. The line is fuzzy for them. For outsiders it is not so fuzzy and can lay anywhere, in the bounds of reason or out side of them.
I think moving the software away from discourse is a bad move.
I think moderation is fine
If you take away a the space for people to interact with the ECC and zcfd it will just be else where.
Wiki’s are curated spaces forums are not.
I don’t see a problem that needs fixing (does this mean I am the problem?)
I don’t see how anything that has been outlined will alleviate peoples fears.
The community can and will correct misinformation. All I see as needed at a maximum would be a highlight scheme for official positions. like mod edit. i even put a bounty on it. - This would greatly help containment of the sort of stuff that you wanted, people can move the post to a different category, wiki the post, then add the highlighted official ECC/Foundation response. Putting it in a category called something like “controversy”, “Common misinformation”, etc would greatly help in this regard.
All online spaces go through peaks and troughs. I don’t see how making it more like reddit would help, nor how more censorship helps. I do see what you are try to get at though.
If there needs to be a space for curated information surely that should be in the form of a wiki and its discussion page. In fact I can even make a wiki from threads. I haven’t clicked that button yet, but I will do after this post. lets see if the world explodes. - it didn’t do what I thought it did. It just makes the post a “wiki” post. dunno who can edit it.
A forum should be for all. you cannot tell if someone is acting in bad faith or not. It is an issue, but not one solvable by non human intervention. If a person with no ill intent posts stuff they saw on twitter that is inflammatory this should be a place to correct them.
It took me a while initially to ‘get’ discourse (as in the software and how it is intended to work) but the whole downvote/sage/mark post as true, etc does discourage active discourse of a subject. Don’t just say you are wrong, you need to let people know why/how they are wrong.
Remember if you give awards like “gives back”, “has 10 likes on 10 posts”, etc you are going to have to do the same in the negative.
A lot of the time people will see new people or strongly opinionated people as ‘weeds’ A great example of this would be @boxaex’s advocation of ASIC mining (something he later publicly retracted after he saw what they did) got him labelled by a lot of the community as a Bitmain shill.
In the walled garden/echo chamber model you outline, who here gets labelled the trouble maker the accuser or the accused? It is so nuanced it has to boil down to its all okay or none is okay. if none is okay, use a wiki.
I think you are also doing the moderation team a great disservice. They have always been up for getting involved and correcting misinformation. I cant remember who, but someone posted a link in the asic thread about how geeks talk to non geeks online, it was from the late 90’s I think. it was probably page or sonya. I will have a look.
Many people lurk and don’t post, they are still thinking these things. I said this to Nathan and he strong disagreed. however I haven’t changed my mind. People will be thinking what other people post. And that needs to be addressed, maybe create a space where threads can be moved to, say “controversial” and people can discuss them there.
And I see it more as “the forum that was”. anyway. its all just turtles at the end of the day. turtles all the way down.
Really, for you to see someones’s point of view not detrimental to zec, how much would they first have to own? Them going through a forum like this and seeing the contention, etc is a form of due diligence - because how discourse (the software) was designed.
It has some powerful thoughts and link on this topic in that thread. But I am a free speech advocate. say what you want, as long as it is polite. Expect others to be able to do the same to you.
Since sonya is reorging the place maybe have a “common misconceptions” area, and a “needs attention area” we people can move threads to.
Twitter, reddit, etc, do not really facilitate discussion, they reinforce pre-existing ideas.
@sonya - not quoting your bit about being nicer, you are nice. if you want to get ‘corporate nice’ go do call centre work for a year or so. (complaints or customer service) - or if you just want to be more ‘effective’ go read Wendy’s food chains twitter. I think the latter is a much better idea. also ECC != foundation.
I’ve been thinking about the ‘Lounge’ category & private groups along with the ‘stakeholder poll’ thread.
Maybe we could have a ‘Hodlers Lounge’ ? Price of admission is a signed message proving you hold some ZEC. Doesn’t have to be much, doesn’t have to be sybil resistent and anyone capable of producing a signed message has already done the ‘rite of passage’.
Perhaps such a group could be read by anyone & only posting restricted to those holding coin? We’re looking for ways to get input/opinion from holders & this could help focus it. Allowing anyone to read such a group takes away bad things like suspicion etc.
I don’t think there is currently a way to prove holding on z-addresses and that would be a huge issue in this scenario.
I do not use or hold ZEC in t-addresses. I’m not quite sure why anybody would hold funds in a t-address because in that case he should much rather use something like Bitcoin Cash or Dash with minimal fees (assuming it’s petty cash for spending). The only case I would imagine, is the lack of z-address support from hardware wallets, which is something the ecosystem team at ECC should have the highest priority for.
True. I only hold in shielded as well but would un-shield some (briefly) to get access to such a group. Actually its a bad idea, what we want is more shielded use & this would not help that.
What I miss most about what the forum ‘used to be’ is when the deep-thinkers would hang out, its actually what got my attention in the first place. If memory serves I had a (very) basic question on network difficulty & ended up with detail from daira, snippets of code from str4d & others.
These are extremely bright & busy people with better things to do than read a troll infested forum, if we could tidy up the place & provide a better environment maybe they would spend more time here.
Edit: Better idea (maybe). Create a zaddr ONLY for forum access & send the viewing key to the forum. Provided the balance is over X amount you can post to the private groups. There’s progress being made on view keys so should be possible soon.
Edit: A bit of reading, Discourse has an API that can assign badges to users which can control access, shouldn’t be hard to make something to interact with a node. Might play with that next week.
I concur with much of what Josh is saying. I was just chatting the other day with someone about how the overall tone of commenters on the forum has been more negative than I can recall in the nearly 4 years I have been here. But I don’t think the answer is as simple as weeding out users who we disagree with, that could have even more of a negative impact on the overall tone of the forum than just letting the conversation flow as-is.
I also agree with Sonya that its the Mods job to try and remain neutral on most topics (when acting as a Mod) and enforce the rules fairly and consistently. Its tricky to strike a good balance of hands-off to let users converse normally and knowing when to step in to say “hey knock it off”, or take a break. That said I think we have in the past been too lenient on certain users who have gotten several flags and suspensions only return to continue the same behavior. Modding fairly and balanced is not an easy task but as a team and using the rules we have set for ourselves I think we can come together to help each other out if we get stuck. I also need to work on taking of the “Mod hat” and spend more time conversing about general stuff.
I propose that rather than focusing on specific users as the issue we should make efforts to change the tone of the conversation ourselves. The two biggest topics for the last few months have been about the FR ending and the Price Speculation. The FR conversation literally breeds conflicting opinions (which is a sign of a healthy community!) and the Price Discussion thread is superficial and swings up and down largely based on how the rest of the market is doing.
Where has all the optimistic forward-looking discussion gone? What is next for Zcash? @joshs@nathan-at-least I’m going to kinda pick on you guys a bit with this one. I follow along with the Blog and Twitter and most of the “future” information is broadly optimistic (ie: Zcash to 10 Billion) or about past accomplishments or about development funding. Users need a outline of what you guys are working on at the moment and for the next few years in a clear and easy to read format. End-user stuff like UX and adoption efforts also need to be highlighted.
Also, @boxalex understand that lately you have been commenting in just about every-single-thread that gets posted about anything by anybody. This and your gigantic (while thoughtful) posts have been seen by some as a effort to steer every post where you want it to go. As you admit, lately you have been bearish and this tone comes through in many of your posts. If you are the person posting the most, how does that impact the overall conversations? I think you have lots of time to think about both sides of the conversation and this kind of introspection is a valuable tool, how can we use it to support Zcash rather than portray the negative side if the conversation? What can the Foundation or ECC to bring you back from the bears ?
This forum is not lost, and it doesn’t have to become an echo-chamber to become fun again. We can revive the “good news” thread, “What are you listening to” can also include what are you watching. Whats going on in advanced crypto-land? STARKS and SNARKS and the cool tech that we all joined Zcash to see? What about the Community Collaboration section? What other collaborations can we come up with? @nathan-at-least would it be possible for you or someone on your team to post small things that may not be difficult but may be time consuming that the community could help the developers out with?
@paige I also like the Idea of the retort plugin, it seems like it could be useful for some users who want a reaction rather than having to make a complete reply to a post. It could be what @mistfpga was looking for in another thread as a pseudo thumbs down option.
Going forward, we have all have to participate to be the positive change that we want to see.