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Open Thread Self-Evaluation Results

Summary:

As you can see below, the results mostly seem to say “don’t fix what isn’t broken.” However, there were some common complaints/concerns. Those were:

  • The in-jokes and fast moving nature of the OT can make it feel exclusionary or hard to break into.
  • The population of the OT can often be perceived as fairly static, which can also make it hard to break into.
  • Meme spirals bring mixed results, as expected: some enjoy them, while some find them frustrating and wish they were more contained.

Proposed Changes:

None! However, there are great suggestions for new daily/regular threads in the results of Question 6 if anyone would like to take up the mantle for those. As a mod team, we’ll just add a friendly reminder here to continue being friendly and welcoming to newcomers, so the OT can be a place that’s valued by even more Avocados.

Question 1: How would you describe yourself?

Capture

Question 2: What is the value of the Open Threads, to you?

The responses here were varied, but the most common ideas were that it is an unstructured, freeform, relaxing place for interesting conversations, sarcasm, and amusement — a place to kill time or distract from work. A lot of people compared it to a group chat or Twitter. The specific aspects people value include: Cat pics, memes, spirals, food, recommendations, and shorter thoughts. We saw many people praise the sense of community or call it their watering hole, or friend zone. Others mentioned that it is a quintessential part of the Avocado.

Although this question is about the value, not everyone saw value in the OT. Some just listed “none,” while others said that it does not serve everyone.

Highlights: 

“It’s a place to relax and enjoy some internet humor with people that will be generally nice. Lots of places online can be funny, but can maybe take it too far into edgelord territory, and that isn’t likely here, while at the same time people can still be creative with their jokes. It’s also a place to be able to talk about something or air a thought if there is no one you can talk to in person, whether it be important or particularly if it isn’t important. If I had a thought on a film that isn’t worth a full essay/article or if I had a particularly good sandwich, this is a good place for it.”

“None, really. I think of it as the Closed Thread, because it’s full of inside jokes and memes that’s only meant to serve those who are already “in the know”, and outsiders are not welcome.”

Question 3: Who is not being served by the Open Threads who would contribute value? Why do you think that is? What value would they contribute?

We got a ton of “I don’t know” comments and a few “I don’t understand the question” comments on this one. For those who didn’t understand, the question asks who the Open Thread does not serve, which is to say, who is the OT not for? What kind of people don’t enjoy the OT?

Among those who answered more specifically, the biggest consensus was new people. The OT was described as too fast-paced, or clique-ish, with too many inside jokes, which can be intimidating for anyone new. Other people suggested that it does not serve people who are shy, or those who want more in-depth conversation. Others mentioned that the OT does not often support going to other threads.

There were also a couple of comments on demographics. A couple of people pointed out that the OT is populated largely by white dudes in their 20s, which can feel a bit less welcoming for people not in that group.

Highlights: 

“New members. The OT is probably the most active part of the site, but it’s an intimidating and kind of strange environment, so I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that we get lots of people who sort of “bounce” off of it and don’t get the opportunity to engage further.”

“Sean O’Neal”

Question 4: What would the Open Threads look like at their most valuable? What would an “ideal” (whatever that means to you) Open Thread be?

Again, we got a lot of “it’s fine as is.” But themes we noticed in the responses here were: both fewer and more meme spirals, less live-blogging without any context (will be covered under an upcoming State of the Avocado), a wider variety of Avocados engaging in the OT, the quick-moving nature feeling overwhelming, and more consistent modding. On that last note, we’re hoping the addition of new mods across more time zones helps with this!

Highlights: 

“An ‘ideal’ open thread is one that is welcoming to all. One where any topic can be discussed. One where every person no matter their age, gender, sexuality, status, etc. feels safe and welcome to contribute and enter into discussion.”

“Wit, wordplay, pop-culture recommendations and discussion, funny shit, serious shit, incomprehensible shit. People riffing on each other’s ideas. All at the same time. An agglomeration of buffoonery and cats.”

Question 5: What changes would the Open Threads and/or the mods of the Avocado need to make to get there?

Most responses indicated that people are satisfied or are not sure what, if anything, can be gone. A few people find it difficult to engage in serious discussions in the OT – particularly those who use the Night Thread when other parts of the site aren’t as active.

Highlights: 

Fewer cat pics! More cat pics!

Question 6: Are there topics discussed in the open thread that you’d like to see spun off into their own threads? If so, which ones?

Most responses were in favor of keeping the content as-is. Meme spirals were frequently mentioned, with the majority saying that they should be “quarantined” by being moved to a separate thread. Strip Club and Pet Thread were often brought up as examples of ideas that benefited everyone once they were established as a separate recurring thread.

Several responses suggested a pet photo thread, which may benefit from being posted multiple times a week. Other suggestions of dedicated threads include spaces to discuss finance, transgender inclusiveness, wrestling, superheroes, anime, advice, sporting events, and general Q&A.

Highlights: 

“Yes, an official ‘Come here to give Joey upvotes’ thread”

“Most of the ones I’m interested in, music, books, movies, tv already have their own threads.

“People have been really good recently about doing that on their own, like with the comic strip thread, in ways that I think have improved the OT and reduced tension. I’d be interested to see if things like a daily pet thread or a daily serious thread/mental health thread would reduce pet-based complaints and/or boost engagement as an experiment.”