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John Mallinson

Structure of BalletcoForum

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Dear All

 

We want to canvas views on the best structure for BalletcoForum, that is, how many different forums? what named? The main criteria are clarity and usability - simple is best.

 

The following is just a suggestion. Forums might be:

 

Ticket Trade - Tickets For Sale/Wanted

 

What's Happening/News

 

Dance Links - reviews & features

 

Doing Dance

 

About Us and Help (this would include the present forum)

 

Not Dance

 

Test

 

 

You'll notice that this amalgamates the present What's Happening with News - they're quite difficult to separate sometimes anyway. Is that sensible or would renaming them to something like 'Performances Seen' (instead of What's Happening) and something like 'News, Information, Performances to Come' (for News) be a better solution? And what order should they be in?

 

Your opinions are most important in deciding about this so please respond. Of course nothing here is set in stone so if the usage and needs change in future things can be reorganised.

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John, are you planning to use subforums (as they do on BalletAlert?) Otherwise I think I would find a joint News/What's Happening forum (which so far as I'm concerned is more or less Everything Except Links) a bit too much, and perhaps it would be rather overwhelming for newcomers.

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I think combining News and Whats Happening is a great idea, for exactly the reason John gave. In my opinion, sub-forums are too complicated.

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I think sub-forums seem to go against the combining of forums!

 

I look (but don't use, so an important distinction) at other dance forums which heavily split on geography or whatever and I think my goodness do I really have to look in all these places to see whats going on? I know if you are a regular AND switched on tech wise, you can arrange things so that you are only shown the latest posts. But most don't use the facilities available and lots of forums just look complicated.

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Well, I find the opposite - it's much easier for me to have things broken down into smaller topics than having to look through everything to find what I want! Maybe more use of tags, as was suggested the other day, is a possible compromise?

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The world's divided into lumpers and splitters. Me, I'm a splitter and would favour renaming rather than merging the two forums but my opinion carries no more weight than anyone else's. I entirely agree however that having too many different forums is confusing and annoying.

 

As Jane says using tags would be a useful means of collating related topics but I can't see them being widely employed. They can be made mandatory but that seems rather bullying. The Search function here is pretty good and helpful (especially if you get the Advanced Search by clicking the little cogwheel, or is it a sunflower?) to the right of the search box.

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I would prefer the What's Happening and News to remain separate, maybe rename What's Happening but keep it for ongoing performances only.

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I agree with those who would like to keep the two separate. I would also prefer to have the 'Ticket Sales and Wants' as the first item (as shown in the list above) so it is easy to get to.

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I would re-label "Discuss this Forum/Site and Future possibilities" as "About us / Help" (or something similarly concise), give it concise sub-text, and move it to Balletco forums so it's with all the others (I tend to keep missing it currently).

 

When I was new, "What's Happening" confused me - I was expecting it to be "What's On" i.e. what's coming up, which we normally put in News. Not sure if other newbies would be confused... but I can't think of a better title.

 

(Now a calendar of stuff coming up, like on Ballet Alert, looks to be really good. We could manage that couldn't we? Could include stuff on stage, in cinema, on TV and radio. Can it be done so that several people can contribute?)

 

Think I would prefer News and What's Happening to stay separate. But, I've often thought it would be better if EVERYTHING to do with a run of performances (e.g. RB - Romeo and Juliet) was in that thread. In particular, all the casting info for that run would go in that thread (in What's Happening). Other stuff like new season announcements, leavers, joiners etc would go in News as now.

 

Not sure that sub-forums would work. On what basis? By company? Can't see that we would have enough, and enough activity, to justify it. Maybe by geographic region... UK, Russian, European, American, World? It can get complicated... and for any sufficiently good reason?

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<<<<<You'll notice that this amalgamates the present What's Happening with News - they're quite difficult to separate sometimes anyway. Is that sensible or would renaming them to something like 'Performances Seen' (instead of What's Happening) and something like 'News, Information, Performances to Come' (for News) be a better solution? And what order should they be in?>>>>

 

I like the way "What's Happening" is now described because that would include something like: "I'd like to discuss how costuming for Romeo has changed over the years" or the oft asked "Is ballet a self centered/elitest art?" or is the audience demographic changing? or "Is the role of the critic changing? etc.

 

In other words "What's Happening" as now described can also include a discussion of something that is not about a particular performance or dancer but a trend or general discussion of dance/ballet. Some of the most interesting threads in the "old" forum were about these kinds of historical or cultural or trends, etc., based discussions. I particularly remember a discussion on how sword fight scenes were staged - and another about the history of how the costume for the Lilac Fairy has changed.

 

I don't particularly like sub-forums - too complicated. I also don't like too much division/separation such as: UK, American, World, etc. I think it is too tempting to just stay within one's own area. We can see that happening in what seems to be a division between those who inhabit Doing Dance and don't often seem to participate in other Forums and those who inhabit other forums and seldom glance into Doing Dance. Too many divisions leads to that, I think.

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My preference would involve the 'About Balletco' (or 'About Us and Help') material being retained in a separate Category, as it is today, as it will inevitably hold some new material on How to Join, Acceptable Use Policy and the like that will be needed for the longer-term running of the site, and which will not be up for debate.

 

Beyond that, and in the Forums Category, I would now willingly see 'What's Happening' and 'News' amalgamated - mainly because it would ease the 'policing' issue that the present separation causes, and which I find it increasingly difficult to justify. With that done, and partially seduced by Anjuli's argument, above, I could live with a "What's Happening/News" title for the resultant forum.

 

Within such a forum, and whilst I do not seek a long, detailed list of sub-items marked by company or geography, I think that custom and practice from ballet.co might usefully be repeated by having a pinned thread for the Russian companies at the top and, seeing what has developed here in recent days, I would be open to similarly pinning the "Austria, Germany and Switzerland" thread just below that.

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"partially seduced" ???? I'm going to have to work on my skills. :)

 

Seriously, I can see combining What's Happening with News - especially if that helps in "policing." Perhaps a "Dance Issues" or some such title for those items I mentioned above? if you think including such issues in What's Happening/News doesn't quite reflect such more general discussion.

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Think I would prefer News and What's Happening to stay separate. But, I've often thought it would be better if EVERYTHING to do with a run of performances (e.g. RB - Romeo and Juliet) was in that thread. In particular, all the casting info for that run would go in that thread (in What's Happening). Other stuff like new season announcements, leavers, joiners etc would go in News as now.

 

This is mainly but not exclusivly a Royal Ballet thing but its a real problem: RB release details in Booking Periods - clusters of different shows. These normally go in News and as cast changes happen they go as comments on the News item. When the show is running there are more cast changes and sometimes they get mentioned on the original News thread - logical and keeps it all together etc (and what I have always preferred, so you know what is where) - and sometimes in What's Happening - where people are looking at that time.

 

You are suggesting that the casting for a specific run is teased out from other casting and used to start a thread in What's Happening - presumabably when the first performance of the run happens. This seems to be work for somebody.

 

But whatever way you go currently people find (RB) casting in both News and What's Happening and it is a confusing pain. I certainly think its nice to have casting in the thread with the subsequent discussion, just not sure how it happens and visitors know what is to be found where.

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You are suggesting that the casting for a specific run is teased out from other casting and used to start a thread in What's Happening - presumabably when the first performance of the run happens. This seems to be work for somebody.

At risk of getting barred from this place there is Another Site which I run which has all the Royal Ballet casting information (usually accurate). Easy enough to link, or maybe better I could copy and paste into whichever forum here. It's organised per booking period which is how the information is released by the ROH.

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This is mainly but not exclusivly a Royal Ballet thing but its a real problem: RB release details in Booking Periods - clusters of different shows. These normally go in News and as cast changes happen they go as comments on the News item. When the show is running there are more cast changes and sometimes they get mentioned on the original News thread - logical and keeps it all together etc (and what I have always preferred, so you know what is where) - and sometimes in What's Happening - where people are looking at that time.

 

You are suggesting that the casting for a specific run is teased out from other casting and used to start a thread in What's Happening - presumabably when the first performance of the run happens. This seems to be work for somebody.

 

But whatever way you go currently people find (RB) casting in both News and What's Happening and it is a confusing pain. I certainly think its nice to have casting in the thread with the subsequent discussion, just not sure how it happens and visitors know what is to be found where.

 

I can certainly see it working well and easily for BRB - start a thread "BRB - Spring Passions", stick the Brum casting in it, casting updates, add some thoughts on the shows, add the Coli casting, some more thoughts etc, and you have a nice complete record all in one place - far preferable to having separated casting and reviews threads imo.

 

For the RB way of releasing casting, well in advance and without user-friendly casting pages on their web site, I appreciate it's not so easy, so it's up to what people want to do. But whatever pattern is used for the RB threads, I don't think the BRB (and other) threads should have to follow the same pattern. As it's probably good to keep all casting in the same forum, then either put all casting in What's Happening, or merge What's Happening and News.

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It seems to me that Internet forums range - to put it in dance terms - between the extremes of Ballet Alert's ultra-structured approach and Dansomanie's "keep virtually everything together" one, both of which I find frustrating to some extent. "Ultra-structuring" would require more breadth than we have at present, and it's not psychologically good, or inviting, if nobody's posted in a sub-forum for months or even longer. I suppose we could add sub-forums later if it were felt necessary, but I agree that there's potential there for a bit of "ghettoisation". On the other hand, if there's little or no structuring, it's very difficult for the casual visitor to keep up with things without feeling inundated.

 

Thanks for the point about the alternative RB casting, John - I hadn't realised it was there, and will certainly use it next time the waiting-room's keeping me from accessing it on the ROH website. But how does it get updated? Presumably you're just as reliant on spotting (or someone else spotting) casting changes as the rest of us are, unless you have a hotline to the powers that be.

 

Paul N's comment about the calendar is good, but how does it work? I suspect it's not that easy. I don't know how the feature works, but unless it's capable somehow of grabbing details out of individual posts, it presumably has to access a database or something, which means that someone needs to feed it. I find it quite enough of a pain entering RB dates for the year in my Outlook calendar in order to get my head round the schedule without doing anything more, and it's worth noting that the early Ballet.co used to run a "What's on this week" page which was discontinued because it became too difficult to keep it up to date.

 

As for the News/What's Happening issue, I look at most news items as being alerts, relatively short-lived things, with possibly only a few posts to each, whereas many of the What's Happening threads are much more ongoing, and can end up with pages and pages of contributions. If the two forums were amalgamated, I think there would be a risk of news items getting displaced or inundated by the other ones, which I wouldn't want to see.

 

Incidentally, I note that Dansomanie seems to start a thread at the beginning of the season for each Paris Opera Ballet bill, and then everything pertaining to that bill gets put in there (I presume). I've sometimes wondered whether that would be a good way to do things for the Royal Ballet or not. OTOH, I think that threads of over 100 pages are probably a bit excessive :)

 

Edit: oh, and I think tags are potentially a good thing, but they might need to be a bit more consistent to be of real help. Certain forums I've seen have a list, or cloud, of frequently-occurring tags which you can use rather than make up your own each time, but again I don't know whether this software allows that.

Edited by alison

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Alison

 

I have no hotline to the RB unfortunately so keeping casting info up to date is inevitably a bit hit and miss.

 

Anyone who's logged in to this site can add to the calendar but it does need feeding by hand - I somehow can't see anyone wanting to come forward and devote their life to being the calendar czar. It would be a lot of work.

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Speaking as one of the members who posts most in Doing Dance, I do find it intimidating to venture into the other forums. I have posted in the past on the wrong subforum and found myself quite confused when I have been (gently) corrected and my thread redirected. It is the Whats Happening and News threads that are very tricky to differentiate for those who don't post there often, the distinctions between them are too subtle!.I am echoing Anjuli_Bai on this one. I appreciate that a combined forum for them may seem to have too many current threads to keep track of. Is there a way of overcoming this?

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I know that I'm fairly new on balletco, but have followed for a number of years. I saw that feedback was asked for, so thought it only fair to give some of my thoughts. As can be seen, there are many different ways on how the forum can be structured and run, but at the start of a process its obviously good to get things as broadly right as possible, as it gets more difficult to change later on.

 

For myself, I do feel that we could have some additional splits that would cover ballet outside the UK, we had a new topic in news for 'Germany, Austria, Switzerland' which seemed to cover a number of 'news' items in its own right. There are also similar threads in 'what's happening', covering other countries.

 

What might be a useful exercise would be to look at all the topics that have been posted in this new forum and see how well they fit into the current proposals. From the spread of topics it may then be easier to see what gaps (if any) we have.

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I know that I'm fairly new on balletco, but have followed for a number of years. I saw that feedback was asked for, so thought it only fair to give some of my thoughts.

 

Thanks :). You make some good points. We used, of course, to have separate forums for the Bolshoi and Maryinsky, but whether there's currently enough content on them to justify splitting them - or whether splitting them would encourage more content - I'm not sure yet.

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Personally speaking, my routine for years has been: What's Happening, then News, and lastly Links for the reviews. It suits me fine. I have looked at balletalert one or two times in total, but the format doesn't appeal at all. Balletco is the only one I support, and I fervently hope that it will carry on in the future!

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I'm quite happy with whatever is decided it is fine as it is and the suggested format is fine by me too.

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Personally speaking, my routine for years has been: What's Happening, then News, and lastly Links for the reviews. It suits me fine. I have looked at balletalert one or two times in total, but the format doesn't appeal at all. Balletco is the only one I support, and I fervently hope that it will carry on in the future!

 

Interesting that Fiona didn't mention doing dance which is an active category, but (generalising I know) has parents seeking advice on schools, auditions and injuries. There is some 'self promotion' in here which I found interesting (good to know/see how students are progressing) and was not always sure why this is frowned upon. But maybe this does show a divide between ballet goes and actual parents/dancers.

 

I know this maybe difficult to achieve (or maybe it does happen already and I didn't realise), but it would be good to have some actual dancers posting especially when looking for advice and how performances have gone from their perspective. This in itself might pull things closer together.

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So far the consensus seems to be to leave things be, not to amalgamate News and What's Happening into one forum and not to add more forums covering different geographical areas.

 

If we are to leave those two forums separate (and maybe there will yet be an influx of opinions to the contrary) then I think they should be renamed. For myself, I always have to think twice before deciding which of the two is correct for what I want to say. But maybe that's just me. Thoughts?

 

What about:

  • What's Happening becomes Performances seen & related matters
  • News becomes Ballet & Dance news, information, general discussion

Going through the present What's Happening it seems to me that 10 of 53 postings could be said to be in the 'wrong' place i.e. would fit better into the other more general topic, presently News. In the News forum there are 67 topics and only a couple have gone forward from an announcement of something to come to a discussion of it when it had come i.e. something more suitable for What's Happening.

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How about......

 

What's Happening: Performances seen & general discussion

 

News: Ballet & Dance events & information

 

 

 

Keeping the old "What's Happening" and adding the description

 

Keeping the old "News" and adding the description

 

The "new" What's Happening would be about the "present" and "past" - performances seen, reviews, and any other general discussion.

 

The "new" News would be about the "future" - coming events - cast changes - company changes - upcoming tours - etc.

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...I'm not sure that there was a general consensus not to split out different geographical areas (assuming this refers to non UK), infact alison made the point 'or whether splitting them would encourage more content', which I think it would, just based on the current thread in news covering 'Germany, Austria and Switzerland'

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So far the consensus seems to be to leave things be, not to amalgamate News and What's Happening into one forum and not to add more forums covering different geographical areas. If we are to leave those two forums separate (and maybe there will yet be an influx of opinions to the contrary) then I think they should be renamed. For myself, I always have to think twice before deciding which of the two is correct for what I want to say. But maybe that's just me. Thoughts? What about:
  • What's Happening becomes Performances seen & related matters
  • News becomes Ballet & Dance news, information, general discussion

Going through the present What's Happening it seems to me that 10 of 53 postings could be said to be in the 'wrong' place i.e. would fit better into the other more general topic, presently News. In the News forum there are 67 topics and only a couple have gone forward from an announcement of something to come to a discussion of it when it had come i.e. something more suitable for What's Happening.

 

I understand why you might keep the essential watching dance part of the board to the two forums and I understand why the names might be amended to be more helpful to people. What I don't understand is why there seems to be a rebalancing to put catch all points in News rather than What's Happening. My 2p but I've always thought of News as just that - items of news and not a place that generaly sparks lot of discussion - for the most part that happens in one place. Not saying a rebalancing is wrong just interested in the why?

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...I'm not sure that there was a general consensus not to split out different geographical areas (assuming this refers to non UK), infact alison made the point 'or whether splitting them would encourage more content', which I think it would, just based on the current thread in news covering 'Germany, Austria and Switzerland'

 

But I don't think there has been a general consensus to split either and Alison, who you quote in part, was not convinced either.

 

The devil is in the detail on this - can I ask for your explicit suggestion on what forums should replace News and What's Happening - or join them even? ie the actual titles of the forum so people can see how it might play out?

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Interesting that Fiona didn't mention doing dance which is an active category, but (generalising I know) has parents seeking advice on schools, auditions and injuries. There is some 'self promotion' in here which I found interesting (good to know/see how students are progressing) and was not always sure why this is frowned upon

 

Self promotion was frowned on (indeed against house rules) because we didn't want to become an advertising hoarding and see lots of people register in order to promote something they are connected with. We wanted a simple rule to stop this. I don't see much self promotion in doing dance because largely it is unknown posters posting about unknown offspring. It only really becomes meaningful promotion if real names emerge and by and large they have not. That's the past and current position but all will shortly change - when the new moderators are in place a new Forum Acceptable Use Policy will come into effect.

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...I'm not sure that there was a general consensus not to split out different geographical areas

 

You're right of course, consensus was the wrong word, but there don't seem to be a lot of people clamouring for geographical divisions.

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