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Friends and Lapsed Members

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Rod has said he’d like to start working on improving the software of our website system. In fact, he has already recently made some improvements and fixed a couple of annoying bugs. Maybe we can revive the defunct Website Team project.

In any case, this encourages me to float a couple of proposals that can only be realized if we make some changes to the software. Before I add them to the existing list of wishes, I’d like to sound out here whether others have ideas for improving upon (or objections against) these ideas, and in general how they feel about them.

1.  Create a category “friend of IOPS”

At the moment, people who are generally sympathetic to our vision but, for whatever reason, do not (yet) want to commit to becoming a member, can only participate in discussions in the so-called Pre-members Forum, which is meant for asking questions about IOPS. The proposal is to institute a category friend, which is almost like a member but not quite. To become a friend a person needs to register, but need not assert that they share the goals and values of IOPS, but only that they like them. Unlike members, friends cannot vote in IOPS polls and not take on mandated roles, but for the rest, they can basically do everything a member can: contribute to blogs and forums, participate in projects, send messages, and so on.

It should be simple for someone who is already a friend of IOPS to join IOPS as a member by checking some boxes on their My Account page.

The hope is that this will lower the threshold to participation and offer a smoother path to membership. As to the objection that this opens opportunities for trolling: it does not actually add to the opportunities that exist already.

2.  Allow the membership of inactive members and friends to lapse

Let the software keep track of when a registered participant last gave a sign of life – even as little as logging on. After a year of continuous inactivity, send the person in question a message whether they want to continue their membership or friendship. If there is no reaction of any kind within a month, flag their status as “lapsed”, which also means they are dropped from membership lists and counts.

However, the data comprising their account is kept for another year. Lapsed participants can simply regain their former status by logging on again. But after another year in which we hear nothing, the account is purged.

We can likewise keep the account data of a participant for a year after they deactivated their account themselves, allowing them to return, with their old account restored, without fuss.

Discussion 10 Comments

  • Peter Lach-Newinsky 10th Nov 2016

    I think No. 2 a great idea. Re No. 1, not so sure about it 'not actually adding to the (trolling) opportunities that exist already' ...

    • Lambert Meertens 10th Nov 2016

      Any aspiring troll who would be able to register as a “friend” can already now register as a full-fledged member and start trolling away.

  • fred curran 10th Nov 2016

    Seem like fine ideas to give a go. Thank you for the work Rod.

    I am not too worried about trolling getting out of hand. If it does we can always revisit the idea. It might open up more participation and add an interesting layer to this operation. It might be fun.

  • Rod 11th Nov 2016

    Hard to predict if proposal 1 will make much of a difference, but I'm willing to give it a go. Proposal 2 sounds like a good idea.

  • Bat Chainpuller 11th Nov 2016

    I too like proposal 2. Jason Chaplin mentioned a long while back before he deactivated himself (shit, that doesn't sound too good!) that IOPS needed to purge itself of those pesky inactive "members" or just signerupperers.

    I don't see the need for friends. The fewer the better I reckon. Less obligations and responsibilities. But no. The path to membership is pretty easy, you just join and being a "friend" would not have made my jumping in and participating any easier. Just the same. Just gotta join and join in.

  • Donna Wilson 12th Nov 2016

    Hi, I'm one of the newest members of IOPS, just thought I'd share an experience. I recently sent out a message to every member I could find within about a 50 mile radius of me, 14 folks total. I introduced myself and asked if anyone was interested in meeting up, discussing organizing, etc. I received replies from 2 people, because of this I think contacting and then deactivating lapsed folks might be a good idea.

    In response to the Friends proposal, is there any demand for this right now? Since this website is the public face of the organization I would rather only have members contribute to the main site content and leave the pre-members forum for potential members to interact. It would be good if the pre-members forum was a little more...inviting I guess? When I found that forum I just noticed how old most of the posts were and some of the topics just looked nutty. I don't really have any concrete proposals to address this yet but it's on my mind.

    Thank you for bringing these proposals forward.

    • Rod 13th Nov 2016

      Welcome Donna! 2 out of 14 sounds pretty standard for IOPS. I agree it would be good to do some culling at some point. Then at least we know who the (semi-)serious members are and are less likely to be disappointed when trying to contact others.

  • Rod 13th Nov 2016

    Going a bit off topic here, but there's at least one item on the wishlist I'd like to pick up first. This is the request for a list of most recent comments (on blog/news posts) on the frontpage. Some work has already been done on this by the previous developer(s), but it was left unfinished.

    It would make it easier to keep track of what's going on comment-wise.

    • Lambert Meertens 13th Nov 2016

      It‘s off-topic indeed, which reminds me of another wish: facilities to refactor discussions so as to be able to separate out an off-topic discussion thread, as was done recently, but only through admin intervention, resulting in a separated-out forum topic Can P2P coexist with Parecon?.

      As to a list of most recent comments, I guess this will be most valuable if the items on the list are presented in a terse form, so that more items can be squeezed in. And don’t forget to include newly created but not yet commented-on blog posts – unlike for the Forum list of “last posts”, which does not include new, not yet replied-to forum topic posts.

    • Rod 13th Nov 2016

      You're welcome to add it to the wishlist :)

      And going further off-topic: I haven't committed to working regularly on the website yet. I did express the desire and intention to do so, but if I can do this on a regular basis will very much depend on how time-intensive it turns out to be for me. I've picked up some low hanging fruit in the form of fixing some bugs, but developing new features will generally require more skills than I currently possess. Before the end of the year I expect to be able to say if I can take up this commitment.

      If I can I could certainly use help from others in refining, prioritizing and testing new features. This requires no coding skill, just a good eye for detail, some experience with the website and above all time and motivation. So reviving the website team project at some point seems like a good idea, but would now still be too premature since without a developer there won't be much development going on.