• A friendly and periodic reminder of the rules we use for fostering high SNR and quality conversation and interaction at Stormtrack: Forum rules

    P.S. - Nothing specific happened to prompt this message! No one is in trouble, there are no flame wars in effect, nor any inappropriate conversation ongoing. This is being posted sitewide as a casual refresher.

New Stormtrack changes for January 2012

EDIT: Jeff Snyder suggested splitting off this thread from "Is this site dead" since it contains a lot of new info, so here it is.

It's been a few weeks since I've visited this thread (mostly due to the holidays and end-of-year jobs I have to do), but this discussion has been on my mind a lot. I want to thank you all for your inputs. I've read all of the posts carefully and given them careful consideration, even the posts from the self-professed "outsiders" like Andrew Burnett upthread.

It is January 11, and we are in the abyss of the winter doldrums. We are about to start our runup to spring, and accordingly we will be making some site changes, as discussed back in December. Here's what to expect.

* Real names are no longer required as a username. This change will bring us into parity with the vast majority of the better Internet forums out there, and will allow use of amateur radio callsigns and allow some anonymity from data miners, Google, and employers (including the bosses at NOAA and NWS). On the registration form we will encourage the use of a real name, with an asterisk indicating that most of our site currently uses real names and it makes it easier to recognize other fellow chasers out on the Plains. Rob Hurkes made a good point that real names get more recognition; people may see this and eventually convert over to a real name, though some won't for whatever reason. Any user is permitted to change over to a nickname if they want; PM me or a moderator with what you want it to be, and give us a few days. Of course, we do reserve the right to deny any username if it's not consistent with our community standards.

* We will continue the essay requirement, but mostly as a formality. Our moderator team will continue to manually approve each user before they can post. We will throw out only those who omit the essay (indicating early on that they can't read the rules) or who give us the impression that they really don't belong on our site. Nickname accounts will be scrutinized more carefully.

* There is a small chance of some random spam once we allow nicknames in, since the real names policy has been one of our litmus tests. If spam appears here, flag it and move on. Most of the vBulletin spammers are good at jacking up the registration forms but are pretty stupid at blending in as far as the form fields and registration data, and we have different ways of blocking them.

* Programming has begun on that chase targeting game some of you old-timers may remember (picking targets, getting a score). This new game will be improved, database driven, fed with real-time data, and we'll have a scoreboard and statistics.

* Our goal this year is light moderation of the site. We will cease use of the infraction system. Most minor infringements can be overlooked or fixed on the spot if a repeat infringement is unlikely. Moderators are asked to softdelete posts or edit them (stating at the bottom that an edit was made) and if possible send a friendly PM of some kind to the user explaining the right thing to write. If you as a user gets spot corrected for something, I ask that you please not take it personally and consider the moderator's viewpoint. It is NOT a big deal or worth making a stand over. This is a small concession you can make to keep us from having to overmoderate the site, which is what you DON'T want if you don't like being corrected. If a user is not "getting it", particularly in TA, we have means of curtailing their use of parts of the site. We can also remove them from the site on a no-fault basis as not being a good fit for our community.

* Target Area post permissions will continue to be protected. The current system is you opt in, and as long as you are meeting Target Area standards, you remain opted in. I ask that moderators revoke permissions of people systematically contributing noise to Target Area until they have a private talk with the user and reach an accord. Users who see noise are NOT to call it out publically or complain about it... just flag it and move on. If you see a chronic TA problem, you can e-mail a moderator or e-mail me and we'll investigate, but this is not a guarantee that we are willing or able to correct it.

* Malicious use of the site will be dealt with swiftly and sharply: flame wars, callouts, hate speech, undermining the site, refusing to cooperate, and so on. This is where users get on our sh##t list. We MAY give the benefit of the doubt, but otherwise we will move very quickly to give offenders a plane ticket home. Personally, I regret not having acted more swiftly with the bans we've imposed in past years, so that option is there, even more so. For those who don't like it here, it's wiser to quit and get involved with some other weather site, because there's always that chance Stormtrack may change into something else one day and you'll want to have that account waiting and ready.

* We will be bringing back the "thank you" button, probably renamed as a "Like" or "Favorite" flag. We had this a couple of years ago, but it was a mod and it broke during an upgrade. The idea is people can upvote posts that they agree with and emphasize it for other users, much like you see on Slashdot, Digg, Reddit, and Metafilter. In order to prevent the site from fostering a culture of power users or popularity contests, running totals of "like" stats will not be displayed. This also would likely be a positive-only system with no option to "bury" posts, as S/N ratio is not really a problem for us. I will try to get this running again this week.

* Target Area will be restructured as discussed in previous posts to make it more usable. I will be working this out tomorrow.

What would I like from you all? I have only a few requests as we head into 2012:

1. Please stay out of flame wars, trolling, and snarking. This should not be done for any reason. I don't like banning people, but I will do this to keep bad behavior off the board. Enlist the help of a moderator to seek redress, or better yet just ignore it. If you argue with an idiot, people watching may not be able to tell the difference.

2. Give the newbies your time and respect. They are the future of this website. The person who's asking where to apply for a chasing job may, in 2 years, be attending OU Meteorology or giving a talk at ChaserCon. I've seen a lot of stories play out like this over the years.

3. Everyone is in a position to help bridge the rift between Stormtrack and the social networking sites like Twitter or Facebook and show how good we've got it over here. When the opportunity arises, post links to content here, or talk about something you heard here. The more quality content and expertise we bring to Stormtrack, the more we all benefit. Good luck trying to dig up things like forecast thinking for 5/10/2010 on Facebook.

Tim
 
Last edited by a moderator:
I think allowing random user names is stupid. Having real names allows us to know who each other is, put a face with a name, etc... on Facebook. I say keep the real names. Just my $.02.
 
I decided I need to make up for my lack of contributing. Just some thoughts and opinions yall…. I joined in Feb of 2009 and started reading threads here a few years before that. I was totally surprised at the emphasis placed on making a personal forecast. That was a mostly new concept to me. I admit, even to this day that I read SPC and WFO forecasts to decide about where I need to start, and then I adjust from there based on satellite and then eventually radar, the day of the event. It’s just the way I’ve always done it…. I don't really care where everyone else is, as I've never looked at spotter network while on the road for example. (I'm going to get around to a point here in a minute) I don't look at models much, and soundings and upper air charts, even though I do now understand some of it. It takes a lot of time with my slow connection and it’s boring to me trying to tie it all together, clicking from one thing to the next. I’ve read plenty, watched a few DVDs on it. But making personal forecasts even a day in advance is one area of chasing that is not important to me. Some people get excited forecasting, it’s as much a joy for them as their time spent on the road. And yes I completely agree that those who do it will be more successful. That has been proven multiple times. But I'd also point out, that someone can be excellent at positioning themselves and not be worth a hoot at making decisions when towers start to go up. I believe one is more important than the other and those who are most successful, know how to do both well.

Meeting people on the road and carpooling… some people love that. One thing I like about chasing is being out on the plains by myself, the fewer people I see the better. But I will talk to folks if the opportunity arises. What I'm saying is, and this is my point, we are all different. Soon after I joined I felt like I joined a "forecasters" forum. OK great, but that’s not what I am. But I do see tornadoes and other severe weather and photograph it and post here with what I see. I feel like I’m somewhere in between, a chaser, yes… as I do everything solo and make my own decisions about actions I take, but I don’t poor over models and charts in advance, so I’m not a forecaster. I can understand both sides I guess is what I’m trying to say. I have little respect for those who just follow someone with out their consent, or show up exactly where someone else said they were going. There are gobs of resources to use now days, so at least use some of it. But it is possible to have fun and success without spending hours the night before on a forecast.

I think the policies in effect are a decent compromise, and folks need to be honest with themselves and their own experience and knowledge and contribute how they can. Don’t worry so much about doing something wrong if you are new here, just follow the rules. If you post something in the wrong place, that is what the moderators are for. And if you are one of the more educated ones, ignore or cheerfully correct those who are not. We've all made plenty of mistakes.

One additional point…. It seems some stopped contributing to forecast discussions here, thinking it would cause less congestion on the roads. I think all of the talk about not making forecast leading to less convergence is wishful thinking. After all, many chasers make detailed forecasts available on their websites. Folks who don’t want to make decisions for themselves can find someone to tell them where to go many places, as has been stated before. What I'd like to see, is if you enjoy talking setups days in advance then do it, and accept the fact that there are going to be a lot of people on the road regardless. I just feel that it’s not so dependent on what a few individuals say on a forum.
I like this place, it’s my connection to the chasing world for now, no FB or anything for me yet. As long as the reports section stays active I'll continue to visit and contribute. I wish everyone made reports here, because it is a real joy to go back through the big days of the previous years and revisit all the pictures and share in the adventures. Go ahead and put up what you have, even if you don’t have much, or even if you’re a few weeks late, or months. There was a new post to the May 24th thread last month. I had not seen that before... what an awesome experience for Mr. Carlson! If your new to it, but you actually chased, only got one photo… share it! Have a great year and an exciting season, and I’d like to say thanks to everyone for taking the time!
 
One thought is to push the "real name" requirement into the profile with a visibility option, so it's not open to non-ST members, and in some circumstances only to administrators.
 
I like the option to not use real names, for the sole fact it could be used for people to post under their brand name, and get them better known. I think a good thing to do would be to have the option to display both. For example I would have Aerostorms [my brand name] and then perhaps in parenthesis underneath my real name.

The downside is obviously people signing up with stupid crap like supersexyspotterman69, and that losers like KM and ZL may be allowed to slip in under the radar. I hope there will be some limits for crap like this, and tracking IPs of troublemakers.
 
We will be exercising veto power over usernames that are not consistent with our community standards, so supersexyspotterman69 would not pass the review stage of registration. You might see it in the user list temporarily but it wouldn't have posting privileges.

Tim
 
I'm a mod at a forum with about 530,000 members, and over 1.6 Million posts, and we have found that spammers are getting very creative as of late. Registration checks will get the bots, but the human ones get by them fairly easy.

Here is what we do to combat spam:

1. New user registrations do not get access to PM's or signatures until they are off of moderation.
2. New user registrations are all moderated for the first several posts. The exact number is not released to the membership because the spammers were getting too smart for that. A few valid posts to get thru the system, then spread their crap. Spammers can get by the registration checks, but they have a piss poor comprehension of the english language. Posts that contain structural errors, grammatical errors, or odd punctuation are almost ALWAYS spam. Sometimes spammers will attempt to evade moderation by copying previous posts that are valid and on topic.

These actions keep the spam that becomes public to a minimum if the posts in the moderation queue are all given much scrutiny.

This does require changing some usergroups around, but isn't too difficult to implement... And no more essay's for new user registrations ;)

Sent from my Transformer TF101 using Tapatalk
 
We will be exercising veto power over usernames that are not consistent with our community standards, so supersexyspotterman69 would not pass the review stage of registration. You might see it in the user list temporarily but it wouldn't have posting privileges.

Tim

Can I have David Hoadley for my username?
 
I'm a mod at a forum with about 530,000 members, and over 1.6 Million posts, and we have found that spammers are getting very creative as of late. Registration checks will get the bots, but the human ones get by them fairly easy.

Here is what we do to combat spam:

1. New user registrations do not get access to PM's or signatures until they are off of moderation.
2. New user registrations are all moderated for the first several posts. The exact number is not released to the membership because the spammers were getting too smart for that. A few valid posts to get thru the system, then spread their crap. Spammers can get by the registration checks, but they have a piss poor comprehension of the english language. Posts that contain structural errors, grammatical errors, or odd punctuation are almost ALWAYS spam. Sometimes spammers will attempt to evade moderation by copying previous posts that are valid and on topic.

These actions keep the spam that becomes public to a minimum if the posts in the moderation queue are all given much scrutiny.

This does require changing some usergroups around, but isn't too difficult to implement... And no more essay's for new user registrations ;)

Sent from my Transformer TF101 using Tapatalk

Hi JSmith... we're glad to have your expertise here. Fortunately we haven't seen much of a runup in spam yet. Post moderation is a great idea, especially the idea of an ambiguous value for the post number. We'll certainly exercise that option if we start seeing problems.

Can I have David Hoadley for my username?

Sure, as long as it's okay with David. :D

How do the spammers make it past the essay? :)

They sometimes do, but generally a weather enthusiast in Omaha is going to have a whole different style of writing than some guy sitting in a cubicle in Bangalore. We have the advantage of having seen so many essays over the years that the patterns are somewhat obvious. If the essay is too brief to tell anything, it doesn't pass.

I would like to caution the moderators not to share any of the actual essays, even as examples, since that woud be useful data for spammer registrations.

Tim
 
I'm a mod at a forum with about 530,000 members, and over 1.6 Million posts, and we have found that spammers are getting very creative as of late. Registration checks will get the bots, but the human ones get by them fairly easy.

Here is what we do to combat spam:

1. New user registrations do not get access to PM's or signatures until they are off of moderation.
2. New user registrations are all moderated for the first several posts. The exact number is not released to the membership because the spammers were getting too smart for that. A few valid posts to get thru the system, then spread their crap. Spammers can get by the registration checks, but they have a piss poor comprehension of the english language. Posts that contain structural errors, grammatical errors, or odd punctuation are almost ALWAYS spam. Sometimes spammers will attempt to evade moderation by copying previous posts that are valid and on topic.

These actions keep the spam that becomes public to a minimum if the posts in the moderation queue are all given much scrutiny.

This does require changing some usergroups around, but isn't too difficult to implement... And no more essay's for new user registrations ;)

Sent from my Transformer TF101 using Tapatalk
AS a past moderator on another forum, I can validate and agree with these tips!
Had to deal with the sneaky spammers more than a few times myself.
 
Why is the target area viewable by non members? I think that's why many people have stopped posting, so freeloaders can't get information. I think that should be changed. Also, I loved the way the target area was way back when, with now threads and FCST threads, and having a separate forum for post storm discussions. It just made things more manageable and organized and people used to post more often.
 
Tim,

Thanks for the changes! I love how you're always trying to improve the site.

Why is the target area viewable by non members? I think that's why many people have stopped posting, so freeloaders can't get information. I think that should be changed.

I agree with Andrew. The Target Area shouldn't be viewable by the general public, unless there's a reason I haven't thought of. It should only be viewable by forum members.

Thoughts?

Thanks again for all of the hard work. I've always loved this site and it has played a very important role in my development as a chaser!

Bryan
 
I agree with Andrew. The Target Area shouldn't be viewable by the general public, unless there's a reason I haven't thought of. It should only be viewable by forum members.

That was probably an unintended casualty of moving to a simpler, one forum Target Area. We might need to go back to separate Forecast and Reports sub-forums to get that feature back as I don't see a way to make just certain threads visible to members only. We also definitely want the Reports threads visible to all so it would probably not be best to make the entire Target Area visible to members only. I think Tim is still making changes so I'll see if we can make some suggestions.
 
Why is the target area viewable by non members? I think that's why many people have stopped posting, so freeloaders can't get information. I think that should be changed. Also, I loved the way the target area was way back when, with now threads and FCST threads, and having a separate forum for post storm discussions. It just made things more manageable and organized and people used to post more often.

That was definitely unintended; it probably happened during one of our recent reorganizations. Thanks for letting me know. I'll set it to how it was -- which was where guests could see the post titles to get an idea of what was in those forums, but not be able to read the post content.

While we're on that subject, I'm willing to consider thoughts and opinions about having Target Area public vs. private. One reason we originally made it private was to help provide a better atmosphere where the top qualified NOAA and SPC people (yes, we have quite a few, like Rich Thompson and Greg Stumpf) can post without worrying about any issues that might come with public scrutiny. Now that nicknames are allowed on Stormtrack and NOAA users can go anonymous as far as the public is concerned, this isn't so much of a concern. I think what we're down to is whether there is a genuine, adverse effect having Target Area visible and whether it will get undeserving people to the storm of the day.

I will say that as the owner of this site, I do have a vested interest in allowing Target Area to be widely visible and completely indexed by Google, since that helps preserve the strength of this website, brings in more users that we wouldn't have otherwise, and reinforces Stormtrack as the prime spot for forecasts. On the other hand, that interest is self-defeating if that's enough of an issue to annoy our experienced users or deter them from posting. So I'd like to solicit some feedback about this and see what you'd like. In the meantime I'm going into our configuration to see what's wrong and lock Target Area back up.

Tim
 
That was definitely unintended; it probably happened during one of our recent reorganizations. Thanks for letting me know. I'll set it to how it was -- which was where guests could see the post titles to get an idea of what was in those forums, but not be able to read the post content.

While we're on that subject, I'm willing to consider thoughts and opinions about having Target Area public vs. private. One reason we originally made it private was to help provide a better atmosphere where the top qualified NOAA and SPC people (yes, we have quite a few, like Rich Thompson and Greg Stumpf) can post without worrying about any issues that might come with public scrutiny. Now that nicknames are allowed on Stormtrack and NOAA users can go anonymous as far as the public is concerned, this isn't so much of a concern. I think what we're down to is whether there is a genuine, adverse effect having Target Area visible and whether it will get undeserving people to the storm of the day.

I will say that as the owner of this site, I do have a vested interest in allowing Target Area to be widely visible and completely indexed by Google, since that helps preserve the strength of this website, brings in more users that we wouldn't have otherwise, and reinforces Stormtrack as the prime spot for forecasts. On the other hand, that interest is self-defeating if that's enough of an issue to annoy our experienced users or deter them from posting. So I'd like to solicit some feedback about this and see what you'd like. In the meantime I'm going into our configuration to see what's wrong and lock Target Area back up.

Tim

Well, I think with all that has happened over the last year or two, the mass exodus from ST has mostly completed and I have doubts that many of those who fled will come back. As the forum now stands, many marginal days now go without a FCST thread, and even some of the bigger days only have a handful of forecasts contained within their thread. I don't think that's entirely because of people unwilling to share their target areas. Rather I think it's because of the number of people who no longer visit the site on any sort of regular basis, and those who have gone to using other methods (private blogs and Facebook, for example) to share their forecasts. I would find myself annoyed if someone ended up following me because they saw my post on ST, but at the same time, I don't have to list a specific city, county, highway, region, or whatever in my forecast. Therefore, I say with some careful writing, members should find it pretty easy to avoid giving away chase targets. So I can't say I would oppose making the target area fully public. I say it's worth trying.
 
I've looked around and it seems possible to delay indexing of webcontent until after a set period. I'm far from an expert on this but I'll look into it if no-one else is and there's interest in this approach. Shelved content would be public and active discussions private.
 
Back
Top