Mantaining the friendliness of the forum

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Tuesday 21 November 2006 1.53pm
People often used to comment on the friendliness of this forum and its participants.

Unfortunately in recent times people have started telling me that they feel that this friendliness has diminished.

Apart from all of us making a concerted effort to think a bit harder before clicking 'Post message' - what can we all do to maintain a friendly online community:

a) that can have a robust debate about contentious matters but without it turning personal and putting people off from joining in again?

b) that celebrates the fact that many people have become good friends via the forum - but without making those who are new to the forum, don't go to the socials or contribute less frequently feel excluded?

Of course all forums have their ups and downs, and I think that after more than 60,000 messages the positives far outweigh the negatives, but we mustn't be complacent.

All comments welcome.

Editor of the London SE1 website.
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Tuesday 21 November 2006 2.19pm
James Quote:
Unfortunately in recent times people have started telling me that they feel that this friendliness has diminished

Name and shame the culprits. Am I one? I know Jackie took umbrage
over one of my comments some time ago.
I read somewhere you should always say when you're joking online as
peoples humour varies so much, what seems a joke to one is upsetting to others.
I hereby apologise for any offence, real or imagined, I may have given to anyone.
Tuesday 21 November 2006 3.46pm
A few more thoughts on this - sorry for the lengthy post.

I want to make it very clear how appreciative I am of the group of regular posters to this forum who have contributed a great deal over the years and formed the backbone of the forum community.

Many people have provided me with a great deal of support and encouragement to keep this website going and develop it, and have gone out of their way to tell people about it and generally be helpful.

Of course I am hugely grateful for that. And I hope that they will all continue to play a leading role in the forum.

Equally, it has been a pleasure to see so many social events take place as a result of messages on this forum - and that so many enduring friendships have been formed as a result. That's fantastic.

Please don't be under any misapprehension that I am having a go at anyone personally.

However - I am sure I am not alone in hoping that many other people, perhaps discovering this website for the first time, will have the opportunity to be fully part of what has become a wonderful, diverse and quirky forum community.

Therefore it is incumbent upon all of us to be mindful that we are not behaving in a way that makes other people feel unwelcome or excluded.

I don't think anyone has deliberately tried to exclude new people, but people do tell me - on a regular enough basis for it to be worth taking note - that they the perceive that sometimes the forum can seem rather cliquey and that has put them off joining in.

It's not a comfortable thing to hear, and the instinct is to deny it and insist everything is wonderful.

Of course, people who have become good friends or have met socially are naturally going to communicate in a different way to complete strangers.

But let's all make a conscious effort to ensure that new people are keen to stick around and contribute new things to the forum community.

The other side of the coin is that some of the long-term forum members tell me they have become disillusioned by the shrill tone of some of the threads and the speed and vehemence with which some contributors get shouted down.

We have always had some fairly heated discussions (cycling on pavements comes up about every six months and has done since at least 2001!) but there does seem to have been a change in atmosphere recently which has been commented upon both on the forum and in private.

It goes without saying that a forum where everyone goes to great lengths not to give offence would be pretty bland, and I don't think anyone's asking for that.

I don't think that more hands-on moderation or micro-management is the answer, which is why I am opening this out for wide discussion so we can share ideas about how to improve the general atmosphere on the forum, if that is possible.

Please keep your thoughts on these issues coming, either by replying to this thread, or by private message.

Editor of the London SE1 website.
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Tuesday 21 November 2006 4.59pm
Phoney suggests nameing and shaming. I don't think this would be the way to go it may mean the offender not posting again, when the upset may have been intirely unintended. Although maybe persistant offenders if there are any should be named or given a servere warning. James you are such a good moderator you usually pick up on it very quickly and a warning post from you usually does the trick and there is always the option for other members to report the offending post if you haven't noticed.

I do find it sad when posts turn aggressive or when all the posts seem to be negative and moaning as happens from time to time. I guess part of the problemn is one often posts about things that annoy/upset/offend us more often than the hey isnt this great and in these cases it is easy to post in haste.

As for the cliquiness of the forum again I see no easy way to avoid this although I do try to post without making it obvious to all wether I know the other posters or not esepcially on the SE1 discussion section. I first met members from the forum 3 years ago today and I haven't looked back. Having lived in the area for 15 years I suddenly gained many friends I never had before. The social side of the forum has grown since then and generally posts in the social section do tend to stress that new people are always welcome. As we often see new faces who then come again I can only assume that we have welcomed them with open arms.

I guess we must all try do our best to our bit to make sure this forum stays a place for all to visit and enjoy.
Tuesday 21 November 2006 6.13pm
i do find that i tend to post things in the discussion section which i wouldn't think twice about in the chatter section, but which may be misconstrued in the wider viewed part of the forum.

i have heard that sometimes people subscribe to get email allerts when threads are responded to, and frivolous banter can be quite annoying, if it's an important issue.

i'll try and keep stupid/flippant remarks to the chatter pages where it's less likely to be misinterpreted.

Thanks again James for a great site.
Friday 24 November 2006 10.16am
Thanks to those who have replied or sent private messages with their thoughts on this.

More views/ideas still welcome.

Editor of the London SE1 website.
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Sunday 26 November 2006 12.17am

Can we substitute friendly for "lively".

I feel a bit guilty for dragging some of the more contentious bits of Waterloo politics into your forum. But also am very grateful for an open forum to which everyone can contribute. We may not agree and we may get heated, but isn't that because we care about our community.

Curoiusly I was getting slightly bored with the regular...does anyone know of a good plumber posts, as well as recognising the scope for appearing cliquey. (People post in part because they are bored and want some banter.)

I am interested in seeing how the site evolves. It could end up being a slightly impersonal but splendid information site. Or, though I dont know if people could bear it, a way of providing greater transparency to loval politics and agendas. Or an expanding and friendly network of people who live near each other and who are interested and committed to the area.

As perhaps the most slagged off person on the whole site though, I am well placed to make a plea for friendliness!

Thanks again,


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