Hosted forums are attached to Boards.ie but are not under the Boards.ie umbrella. We have no direct control over the content (admins will very rarely visit a hosted forum without reason) which has lead to issues in the past with content not suitable being hosted on a Boards.ie server and, to the end user, seemingly supported by boards.
Hosted forums were intended to be a form of incubator for special interest groups who met on boards to have a place before they find somewhere more permanent of their own. Hence they have their own mods, own charters and own rules on who can join or even see the content or know of their existence. Hosted forums are different to regular Boards.ie forums and despite the intention to have them as temporary add-ons, this was never really applied and some hosted forums have become almost permanent fixtures with a community of their own - and thats great to see but...its not part of boards and falls between the cracks when it comes to policy and management but responsibility is still fully on the Boards.ie management.
So whats the plan?
Well, first off we want to identify the quiet ones. We have, over the past two years , monitored Hforum activity and identified if a forum has been silent for an extended period of time (we're thinking of 1 year without a post as a flat rule but a posts-over-time measure may be a better indicator). these forums will be wound up and either archived and public , archived and private or merged as part of a suitable forum on boards.ie where the post dates will ensure they are not flooding the front pages.
next we will look at the not-very active forums and see if they match existing boards.ie forums. if they do, we merge them into boards.ie either as a sub-forum (if there are distinct differences) or as parallell content (if they are similar enough and assuming the content is acceptable!)
finally active forums: ideally these would be merged or sub-forumed but some may be better suited to a single thread in a parent forum (active could still be content light, just consistently updated over time). Others would not be suited to boards.ie and would either be archived (private) , archived (public).
If any forum is to be archived (private) , a notice will be put up and all users will have ample time to copy content / export links etc before it goes. we're not trying to destroy content or communities. I would hope that any archived active forums would have enough time to establish their community elsewhere and continue their conversations in their own happy corner of the interwebz.
Any forum that is elected to be merged or made into a sub-forum would have the original location redirect to the new so no users will lose their way and bookmarks will continue to function (because there is nothing worse than once reliable bookmarks that change!)
VERY IMPORTANT BIT:
ANY FORUM WHICH IS CURRENTLY PRIVATE WILL NOT BE MADE PUBLIC REGARDLESS OF THE DECISION. Doesnt matter if its better merged with an existing forum, if its private now it will always remain private. anything that users have posted in an environment that they believed to be controlled and secure will not be exposed to anyone (or role) that does not already have access to it. If this means a private forum/sub-forum then that will need to be reviewed especially in light of "suitability". A private hosted forum that is essentially "port your pr0n here" (does not exist as far as I am aware so no, you cannot have a link!) would not be a suitable forum private or otherwise as it contravenes the general boards charter/ToU.
Whats considered suitable for boards?
thats an open discussion and something that is constantly changing as society changes and as the need for discussion changes. We're open to suggestions on where to draw the line or where the current line needs to be nudged but that would not be the primary focus of this thread.
The future of hosted forums?
Not sure. I, personally, like the idea of spinning off communities that want a place to start out but it's a fine line between taking advantage of free hosting and accepting a helping hand to get off the ground. Also there's the issue of association with boards.ie and vice-versa .
So whats this thread for?
This is the Open Discussion thread for hosted forums in general where Boards admins and staff want to get user opinion and suggestions for how we proceed. The end goal is to clear down the current Hosted Forums, thats the decision , however how we do that and timeframe etc is not set in stone so thats what we would appreciate input on. We made a start with the Chelsea and Spurs supporter forums and, I'll be honest, we messed up a bit there. We should have had this discussion first and informed the users what was coming. In our defense this isn't new to us, it's always been trundling along so we (admins and staff) forgot that it would be new to others and in our rush to get it done at a quiet time in the soccer season, we didn't explain what exactly was happening and why. We got it wrong and this is the start of our attempt to get it right. This is not just about Chelsea and Spurs hosted forums though, this is about all of the existing hosted forums and their users, its abotu all future hosted forums and their potential users and its about how boards.ie can help make communities that extend beyond this website other than jettisoning users and mods in a cloud of dissatisfaction and, in some cases, feelings of betrayal.
How will this thread work?
This thread will be moderated but open.
what's that mean? well, you must post on topic but you can post anything that is part of the discussion as long as its on topic and is actually part of the discussion. Standard boards.ie rules of conduct apply regarding treatment of other users , content of posts and of course trolling.
I'm banned from a forum that is being discussed, can I post? emmmm.... lets look at it this way, if its on topic and its an attempt to give constructive feedback then ok. if its just a potshot at the mod/hmod/users or an attempt to segway into a different topic then we'll file it under "trolling" and deal with it that way. As I said, this is an attempt at open discussion.
Are there any restrictions on posting?
Yes. Any user may post TWICE in any 12 hour period. This is not an attempt to restrict user opinions but rather an attempt to ensure that opinions are considered and planned and to prevent reactionary posts or sidetreks. Why Twice? because you post once and someone counters or misunderstands. Its always good to hold a post back for clarifying a point or helping another user.
Will it make any difference?
As stated above, the decision has been made. In fact it was made two years ago and delayed repeatedly. However the HOW and the degree of severity / timeline / allowances / how we facilitate the hosted forum communities on the main site have not been finalised nor have the criteria for hosted forums going forward or how much of the Boards.ie charter should apply to hosted forums of the future or should a transgression in a hosted forum carry over to the main site? Also, any suggestions for criteria to judge eligibility of future Hosted Forums would be useful.
Edited to revise the time period from 24 hours to 12 hours.