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Poll

Does The test server work for you? Are you willing to sped time helping me test it?

It works for me.
- 5 (31.3%)
It does not work for me.
- 1 (6.3%)
I'd be willing to help test it.
- 5 (31.3%)
I'm not interested in testing it.
- 1 (6.3%)
I might be willing to help test it.
- 4 (25%)

Total Members Voted: 12


Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 41

Author Topic: Agora, A better forum (Open Source Project): Now with Github and test site.  (Read 36466 times)

Angle

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I had an idea for a forum designed to facilitate complicated discussions between large numbers of people, like what we frequently have happening in the general discussion area on these forums. There are several different innovations I have in mind to allow this. The most basic is making discussion parallel, instead of linear. The way this works, is that each post can be addressed to any number of prior posts, and can have any number of posts addressed to it. This causes the forum to assume a web structure, and allows conversations to diverge and converge to cover all salient points without bogging up the thread the way they would in a linear forum thread. To make full use of this, posts should be very carefully structured. I'm thinking the Socratic method would work admirably: Have each argument state it's conclusion, list it's arguments, and refer to it's presuppositions in other posts. There are, of course, various challenges that will have to be solved: spammers, trolls, duplicated ideas, etc.

This isn't a very good explanation, but I'm not sure how else to put it. Any questions?

Update- Now with collaborative Google Doc!

Update: Github Added

Update: We now have a live site for further testing. You can view it here.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2017, 08:28:15 pm by Angle »
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Urist McScoopbeard

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Re: A more effective internet forum
« Reply #1 on: September 24, 2013, 08:58:45 pm »

So like a debate in text form? Sounds good, But it suffers from the same problems normal forums do, i.e. after a while there are simply too many posts for the USERS to keep track of, unless you can sort them into generalized 'sides' within a thread, even then it seems like a post might not be noticed. Also, how would an active conversation take place? Unless you mean to use some sort of text-chat in conjunction with these posts intricately interwoven and orginized.

However, despite that, I like the idea, it feels like it could be good, maybe go more in-depth? Or draw a picture describing the layout of a page.
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This conversation is getting disturbing fast, disturbingly erotic.

Angle

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Re: A more effective internet forum
« Reply #2 on: September 24, 2013, 09:06:24 pm »

So like a debate in text form? Sounds good, But it suffers from the same problems normal forums do, i.e. after a while there are simply too many posts for the USERS to keep track of, unless you can sort them into generalized 'sides' within a thread, even then it seems like a post might not be noticed.

The beauty of this idea is that no given user has to keep track of all the posts, just the ones they're commenting on. Let's say you present an idea, and several people all reply to it. I only need to read the given reply that I'm commenting on. There will of course, be problems with duplicated posts, where one person posts something and then another posts the same thing. I figure that can be solved via moderation of some sort.

Also, how would an active conversation take place? Unless you mean to use some sort of text-chat in conjunction with these posts intricately interwoven and orginized.

This isn't for a 1 to 1 conversation, this is for exploring large, complicated ideas with large numbers of people.

However, despite that, I like the idea, it feels like it could be good, maybe go more in-depth? Or draw a picture describing the layout of a page.

Sure, lemme fire up paint.

« Last Edit: September 24, 2013, 09:09:35 pm by Angle »
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Darkmere

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Re: A more effective internet forum
« Reply #3 on: September 24, 2013, 09:40:31 pm »

How would you browse this? After any length of time with any significant number of contributors, the complexity of a discussion-node-traversal graph will cause small children to weep and the weak-hearted to soil themselves.

Also, it kinda sounds like a forum crossed with a wiki.
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And then, they will be weaponized. Like everything in this game, from kittens to babies, everything is a potential device of murder.
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freeformschooler

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Re: A more effective internet forum
« Reply #4 on: September 24, 2013, 09:42:20 pm »

It would take a genius feat of interface design.
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Angle

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Re: A more effective internet forum
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2013, 09:47:45 pm »

It is a forum crossed with a wiki, and a few other things to boot. It terms of browsing, I'm thinking the way it would work, is the webpage would basically be a javascript/html5 app that tracks the current post your viewing, and presents things relative to that. So you see the post your viewing, above it are the posts it's a response to and below it are the posts that are responses to it. When you want to view one of these, you click on it and it shifts to being the post you view everything relative to. With some clever programming, this shouldn't require relading anything, you simply change how things are displayed, and load more content dynamically.

There would still need to be some limiting of how big any single thread got, but if you limit things to the original topic, and split off any large derails as their own threads, it should be workable.

It would take a genius feat of interface design.

Nosense, I'll show you! *Opens paint again*

Spoiler: Interface (click to show/hide)

Obviously, this is just a rough draft. I'd need to actually have this made and test it out for a period of time in order to perfect it.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2013, 09:55:48 pm by Angle »
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Darkmere

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Re: A more effective internet forum
« Reply #6 on: September 24, 2013, 10:03:05 pm »

Sure, I get that, and I like the general idea, but you're going to need to expand that to support potentially dozens of related posts that can all be navigated to from the one post they're referencing. Every time. For thousands of posts.

It's not the idea I have a problem with, but the actual implementation worries me.
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And then, they will be weaponized. Like everything in this game, from kittens to babies, everything is a potential device of murder.
So if baseless speculation is all we have, we might as well treat it like fact.

Angle

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Re: A more effective internet forum
« Reply #7 on: September 24, 2013, 10:13:37 pm »

Yes, that could be difficult - I was considering having every major argument be broken up into it's own thread, with a link from anything that references it. Maybe some method of breaking arguments up into major nodes of discussion? As I said, this would take considerable testing and refinement to make really work the way I want it to. For that purpose, I was considering running a kickstarter and using the proceed to hire a programmer and put up a website, for the ongoing development of the idea. First, of course, I need a good statement of concept with which I can interest people into contributing to the kickstarter and helping test the prototypes, which is a difficulty in and of itself.
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freeformschooler

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Re: A more effective internet forum
« Reply #8 on: September 24, 2013, 10:33:34 pm »

You definitely should work at this idea. It's something that isn't completely done, and the tone of a community can really be born out of the medium they use to communicate. I'd love to see what kind of tone and community this interface fosters.

Might not want to jump on the kickstarter idea immediately - I think it's something that, with some jquery/sql/other web type coding you could probably learn to make yourself!
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Angle

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Re: A more effective internet forum
« Reply #9 on: September 24, 2013, 10:39:48 pm »

Eh, I'm not very good at keeping up enthusiasm for a project all on my own - I've been kicking this idea around for forever, and have yet to do aything with it. I'd never be able to keep up interest long enough to learn how to code it myself, especially seeing as I have no idea where to start. If I have a kickstarter's worth of people eager to see result for their money, then I could keep up interest no problem, and I'd have the bonus of a large contingent of people to help me test the thing. Be difficult to get there, of course, but I think I could manage it. That's why I posted here, is to start putting together a proposal.
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Anvilfolk

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Re: A more effective internet forum
« Reply #10 on: September 24, 2013, 10:44:23 pm »

Oh, sweet.

This is actually totally related to my MSc thesis and subsequent avenue of research my university in Portugal's been pursuing for a while. We've got some nice theoretical/mathematical foundations for proper social argumentation. We currently have a simple but efficient algorithm for number crunching the solutions to our debating structures, but we're missing proper implementation - and are actively looking for it, but none of us have time.

Here are the links for a couple of our papers on the subject:
Social Abstract Argumentation
Extending social abstract argumentation with votes on attacks

If you are serious about this, and would like to get involved in this, PM me and we can go from there :)

Draxis

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Re: A more effective internet forum
« Reply #11 on: September 24, 2013, 10:48:46 pm »

For the interface, what about having a panel which shows the posts as a series of nodes linked to others, and they can be selected to bring up a windown showing the content of that post?  something (vaguely) like this:
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Angle

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Re: A more effective internet forum
« Reply #12 on: September 24, 2013, 10:51:45 pm »

That looks good for long scale maneuvering of the argument tree. If you want a quick overview, or want to find where you were browsing yesterday, that could be really useful. If you aim to have posts be individually small, and have there be lots of them instead, then it becomes even more useful. For i depth browsing, and especially when replying, you'd probably want to have the interface zoom in and use my method.
« Last Edit: September 24, 2013, 11:02:47 pm by Angle »
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Anvilfolk

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Re: A more effective internet forum
« Reply #13 on: September 24, 2013, 11:10:07 pm »

You shouldn't really have one post equalling one node. The reason is simple: one post can make a LOT of points.

What we've proposed is having each point, or argument, be one of those nodes. If one argument undermines another, you draw an arrow between the two, showing an "attack".

For a forum, I imagine that you'd easily highlight what piece of text you consider to be arguments in your post, and then possibly drag them onto other arguments to specify attacks between arguments.

From an interface perspective, you could have multiple zoom levels. One with just nodes, one with a little bit of text, and "full view". Of course, mousing over could show you more text and statistics and all sorts of other cool stuff :)

Angle

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Re: A more effective internet forum
« Reply #14 on: September 24, 2013, 11:19:20 pm »

You shouldn't really have one post equalling one node. The reason is simple: one post can make a LOT of points.


For this reason, much of my theorizing has been going towards figuring out a format that would take good advantage of this system. in my format, I'd probably have it so that each argument IS it's own separate post. This keeps things neat and easy to navigate, and keeps things from getting gummed up large walls of impenetrable text.
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