Sunday 9th March 2003

As previously mentioned, I’m currently looking at adding some kind of discussion forum. This would mean we can restrict diary entry annotations to more specific information, references and explanation, and move longer discussions elsewhere. This way those who are only interested in reading the diary and having obscure words and themes explained don’t have to wade through long conversations, and those who wish to discuss further can do so.

But I’d like to know what, if anything, you want to do with such a forum. Are there topics you’d have liked to discuss in the past? Are there things you want to start conversations about? Should any forum have discussions linked to each days’ entry or would a more free-form format be suitable (ie, just starting discussions on any topic when you like, rather than one per day)? Are there features you feel a new forum must have?

Or maybe you can’t see any need for another forum; if so tell us why. I tend to think there is a need, because at the moment the annotations are dauntingly long for anyone who just wants to read and understand the diary (rather than discuss it). But I’m happy to be proved wrong if enough people don’t see the point!

The overall aim of a new forum should be to make the annotations briefer and more pertinent. But as for the details… I’d like to hear from you.

59 Comments

language hat   Link to this

I favor it

Laura K   Link to this

I respectfully vote "no"

I personally don't see the need for a discussion forum. I think this site is great as-is. I would, however, love to see the annotations remain shorter and more pertinent. If a discussion forum helps that happen, then it's a good idea.

In my limited experience, discussion forums are usually better if they have clearly defined guidelines and are moderated. In this case, we would also need guidelines as to when an annotation becomes a discussion - the difference between the two.

Laura K   Link to this

Adding to what Language Hat said:

If this turns out to be the driving force behind a perceived need for a discussion forum - the central incentive, so to speak - then perhaps what we really need are guidelines for annotations. A clearer definition of what an annotation actually is would be helpful. And would a maximum word-length be so bad?

This would save Phil a lot of work, especially if most readers/annotators don't really feel the need for a discussion forum, but don't care for the long, rambling, off-topic posts.

gerry   Link to this

I concur completely with Language Hat.
Lets do a Joe Friday and stick to the facts in the annotations.

Pauline   Link to this

Maybe just a move in that direction and see what happens.
Unless such a forum is technically easy to set up, you could just add a place in Background Information for wider discussion, see what it draws, and make decisions about the Forum and its design based on that.

I agree with language hat's comments above. But I also think most of the difficulties the annotators get into or raise will correct themselves or take a group fix--expecially if we confine ourselves to protesting what we don't want in the annotations instead of going after the person.

I'm personally not interested in a forum.

I agree with Laura K. Some blurb on how to annotate, guidelines.

mcewen   Link to this

I'm in favour. Though a precise line may be impossible to draw, I believe that a rough line can and should be drawn between 'factual annotation', on the one hand, and personal reaction, commentary, flight of fancy, etc, on the other. Not that the latter are necessarily unhelpful, uninteresting, or wrong. Only that we all should have the clear choice of availing ourselves of them or not. A link from the daily entry to reader discussions would enable this choice. (Perhaps each annotation could be directed to one of the two avenues as part of the posting process.)

Keith Wright   Link to this

Where does explanation sufficient for comprehension end, and discussion requisite for full comprehension begin? Even with the best intentions, the distinction will blur. Guidelines too strict may constrict more than they inform.
A bit of style and character when reporting The Facts lends charm and interest---so long as it is matched by a sense of when to quit. Why merely repeat on-line what others have already done in print? Always vary or improve on what you steal or borrow.
I’d rather pick and choose on one site, as now, than have to hopscotch between two, and still have to pick and choose on the second. Other readers, fully as cogent, disagree. But whichever solution Phil settles upon---he’s the one doing the work, after all---visitors may still need to exercise the right to Scroll Down.

maureen   Link to this

I am inclined to agree with Keith Wright and others above who do not want to see a separate discussion stream.

The politics of this period and the history of political ideas in the seventeenth century have been pretty well covered by the scholars. Let us, by all means, have references to these works and the ones still to come. Let us say I agree / I disagree with so-and-so on this point.

Let us concentrate on what I - and I think others - value about this site: the discovery of Pepys, the opportunity to ask questions and add information, the wit, the personal asides, the way that it works for both Pepys experts and those who are new to the diary.

At its best this site is a courteous conversation on a subject of common interest. Long may that last!

Having a stream for general ramblings, without the discipline which exists in a scholarly journal or in publishing, where no-one has to quote sources or indicate what qualifies them to pontificate could well turn the whole thing into a slanging match.

It would certainly ruin a brilliant site for me!

Hhomeboy   Link to this

Language Hat and Laura K...

Ironically, Language Hat has a commentary forum attached to all his own site's entries, although not many people have taken him up on his exhortations to respond--either with "vitriol" or otherwise, but then his is not a high-traffic site.

The beauty of a forum is that Laura K and others who seem to want Coles notes type reading aids don't have to go to a discussion board where all sorts of issues, answers, factoids, period reference works and links can be posted for everyone's perusal.

I wonder what Mortimer Snerd thinks?

To date, I have received 23 private e-mails from fellow Pepysters (including women), of which 15 or so would have been good additions to a discussion board but alas not to a pseudo-academic notion of annotations, which, I agree should be reviewed/edited by the webmaster or his appointed minions.

Before this tight-assed notion of what constitutes the appropriate form and length for annotations, I note that at the beginning David Quidnunc aka Gurliacci was posting some longer and quite enjoyable ruminative posts re: Pepys and the diary's contents.

As I have mentioned to Phil (I usually e-mail him personally re: housekeeping suggestions), good stuff posted in the "forum" space can be grabbed or excerpted and filed in the background section entries, which, already, are far too sparse for the diary as it stands to date.

This birfurcation method is also likely to relieve our esteemed moderator (divinely appointed btw) of a good deal of work...ie. Q's about what's this, who's that can be posted in a forum entry KEYED to each day's diary entry and then all comers can reply...once the issues have aired, Phil is free to pluck the best and plant them either into annotations and/or background section topics.

The forum, which should have a chrono string (and therefore accessible archives) can also have various and sundry topics initiated by the moderator and by reader-participants...again, the wheat can be separated from the chaff and re-posted into annotations and/or background section topics.

Last point: Keith is of course correct that the most appropriate and least confusing or bothersome route to go is to stay online chez the same site server with the discussion board topics/forum, which should also have searchable contents.

In closing, it is my fervent hope that some of you will expend as much energy doing a little research (offline) on various quandaries as you have in chiding me for my exuberance and and exegetical enthusiasms.

N.B. Partisans of wide-ranging annotations posted to date will perhaps recall two excerpts from Evelyn's diary in which Evelyn describes at some length activities (church service abnd country house tour) Sam recorded somewhat laconically.

The Forum should become a kind of kaleidoscopic resource bin for knowledge and impressions as well as a comparative reading tool.

Let's hope Phil listens to those who welcome exploration and experimentation--the actual raisons d'etre of this site--rather than those who cling desperately to the 'petit bourgeois' fig leaves of orderly ornamentation and orthodoxy....

Phil   Link to this

I'm going to resist replying to most of Hhomeboy's comments, some of which I agree with, some of which not. But I must say that peppering one's argument with terms like "tight-assed," adpoting a overly superior tone and dismissing those who hold an alternate (and perfectly valid) point of view does little to support his case.

The one point I do wish to correct is his mention of the "raisons d'etre of this site" as support. The purpose of this site was and is for reading the diary and making its obscurities clearer for readers without the knowledge or time to understand it fully themselves. Whether or not "exploration and experimentation" covers this or not, any discussion forum will be an effort to maintain the site's tight focus for those who have no interest in lengthy discussions. I do not, to be honest, see a forum furthering the tight focus of this site further.

I'd prefer it if the need for a forum hadn't arisen, but some solution seems necessary to keep the goal of this site achievable, and not have it diluted.

KMS   Link to this

I for one would be perfectly happy to use the scroll down feature when an annotator has gotten carried away rather than miss the interesting discussion, speculation and elaboration that develop as we tease out the meaning of the diary. When I see that there are 20 new postings on a day's entry it seems like a treasure, not a burden.

However, the incivility that has become more and more frequently a feature of this site will sooner or later convince me that it is not worth a daily visit. Personal insults and ad hominem attacks do not raise the level of discourse, and can't possibly be faithful to the original intention of this site.

Phil, I'd like to propose that you retain one annotation/discussion site but adopt an inflexible rule that any posting that contains hostile language aimed at another annotator (or at you) is to be removed regardless of how otherwise brilliant the posting may be.

language hat   Link to this

Hhomeboy:
Yes, I have a discussion section, and there's nothing ironic about it

Hhomeboy   Link to this

Phil...

Experimentation is very much the purpose of posting the diaries and then turning them--to use yr. own phrase--into a "living" text via the addition to the text of "interactive" sub-texts via 'annotations' posted 24/7....Who knew, Dr. Gyford, that once you had breathed life into yr. experiment, you'd want to soak it in formaldahyde???

Given the insults and false attributions re: me posted with impunity by others (who were advocating "banning" me and/or others) and left up by the moderator (who accused me of making "errors" etc.) who also showed his defensive, 'tetchy' side by jumping in to admonish or remonstrate with others who posted defending me or my rights of free expression on "his" site.

Phil, you wrote me an e-mail yesterday to say you were spending the day today exploring the right forum software options...then you post a truly silly and vexed sounding missive saying how you (who knows little of Pepys or the period) do not see how the site's mission will be furthered by implementing such a forum...surely you're not as thick as all that.

As I explained to you Phil, the site, while legally registered to you, is in fact Pepys's and those who use it...when you see people wanting to express themselves, go with the flow and not heed or pay mind to the pseuds and grundy's...

Final point: I offered to set up a discussion site--provided you provided me with written assurances that you would post links to it on all yr. Pepys pages for the duration.

You then wrote to me saying you thought it might be best if the site and forum were closely affiliated/managed.

Naturally, I deferred to your wishes; which seem to waver.

N.B. If one does a content analysis/breakdown of the current annotations since Jan. 01, a pragmatic conclusion for one who wants far fewer and shorter annotations is that before posting the daily diary entries, you as moderator need to provide anywhere from 5 to 15 scholarly/explanatory footnotes, depending on the length and contents of the quotidian entries.

Since you are unable and/or unwilling to do so, you must expect lots of back and forth and semi-tangential commentary.

When you rely on all this free and willing labour to fill out your skeletal site, why on earth would you try and dampen the spark and spirit of inquiry and cultural/historical/linguistic debate your one original notion (ie. to put Pepys online as a daily read) has engendered???

The mind boggles...what would E.M Forster have to say, to say nothing of Sam after two pints of wine.

David Quidnunc   Link to this

Keith Wright's right on the money

In my humble opinion, keeping most annotations below essay length is all the clamping down we need. Things seem fine right now. Some may dislike scrolling past annotations. Personally, I hate going to extra web pages. I even like the mix of scholarly and non-scholarly posts.

IDEAS:
(1) I second mcewen's idea: If there's a way to identify whether a posting is scholarly or nonscholarly, that would be helpful. Why not have more scholarly annotations put into one typeface or letter font and the more personal annotations in another? (Sure, mistakes would be made and categories would be straddled. But no matter what we do, mistakes will be made.) I think letter fonts are the most annotator-friendly solution.

(2) The most reader-friendly solution, IMHO, would be to have two parallel columns underneath the diary entry -- one for Puritan (scholarly) postings, one for Cavalier (nonscholarly), both on the same web page. As a complete ignoramus on these matters, I can say with the appropriate degree of confidence that it shouldn't be that hard to do. Yes, people would have to use the scroll bar to go back up to the top of the second column. To me, that's not too steep a price to pay.

(3) What if we put the identification of the annotator at the top of the annotation rather than the bottom? That way we'd (usually) have a better warning of what kind of annotation it would be.

(4) Laura K.'s idea for a maximum allowable number of words per annotation might be done automatically. I've heard of websites where you can type in only so many letters, although I myself, of course, have personally never experien

Laura K   Link to this

Really, Hhomeboy, how dare you say "surely you're not as thick as all that" to Phil!!

It's unforgiveable. Phil - of all people here - is entitled to his opinion without being ridiculed. Of course, we are *all* entitled to voice our opinion without being derided, but to ridicule the *host*... !! Talk about "the mind boggles"...

Hhomeboy   Link to this

lh...........

"...a civilized group of discussants who don

language hat   Link to this

Vitriol:
Since you seem obsessed with that particular post, I will explain the context and hopefully set your troubled mind at ease. I was linking to a discussion of academia at another site; on the off chance that some reader with strong opinions would go over there to voice them, I invited any such to save their vitriol for my own comments section. It was an act of altruism (if that's a word in your vocabulary); little as I like vitriol on my own blog, I did not want to be responsible for foisting it on someone else's. If you wish to continue beating a dead horse with a red herring, be my guest; at least now you know the facts and have no excuse.

Oh, and thanks for the repeated plugs for the Languagehat blog; I trust readers here to take your opinions of my writing therein with the full measure of respect they deserve.

David Quidnunc   Link to this

On the subject of David Quidnunc

From Hhomeboy's first posting (paragraph five):

"I note that at the beginning David Quidnunc ... was posting some longer and quite enjoyable ruminative posts"

I think this Quidnunc/Grliacci dude was sometimes posting a little too long. And even if his words all deserved to be etched in gold (not quite the case), their length may have set a bad example. And length combined with ruminations becomes annoying pretty easily.

(Length is much less of a problem in the background pages, I think.)

In any event, citing this Quidnunc character is certainly not a precedent useful in any discussions on this site -- I, for one, never consider his past actions a guide for anything I'll be doing in the future.

Hhomeboy   Link to this

Well, lh, why don't we help Phil out here and agree to a cease-fire--on this site.

As for yr. site, I like some of your media and journal article links and blog recommendations.

Hhomeboy   Link to this

Say it ain't so D.Q....

Your keen amateur's (ie. journalistic) scholarship and common-sense spin plus Glyn and Keith and Pauline's and Sr. Miller's and several others posts right out of the gate in January were the attraction.

Unfortunately, the Gutenberg text is badly transcribed and the Wheatley version is incredibly stupidly censored/bowdlerized.

Your cavaliers and puritans augustinian parse protocol is totally terrific and appropriate...I used the word bifurcation...but hadn't imagined a graphic representation on the 'same page scrolling'...but it sounds feasible and is 'a fun' twist which refects the period's prejudices to a 'T'.

BTW, those were your UPI bylines I caught during the Skakel-Moxley trial, n'est-ce pas?

Phil   Link to this

I hope most people will understand I've done my best to be patient thus far, but there are limits.

Hhomeboy, I realise you're trying to help and can be surprisingly reasonable, but any benefit is vastly outweighed by your arrogance and insensitivity. You have succeeded in making it a miserable few days for me. To do you the honour of responding to your points...

I was saying that I would prefer it if the need for a forum hadn't arisen. In fact, it has only become a prolonged issue (it had also been discussed briefly earlier in the year) when you began posting overly long and less-than-relevant annotations and resisted calls to cease. So in this situation a forum would improve the site's mission by returning the annotations to a previous state.

You seem forgetful... *you* said this was just Pepys' site. *I* reminded you that the readers had as much stake in this as I do. So far, despite your claims to have fans, I have heard nothing but people wishing you would shut up. I would genuinely love to hear from people who feel I've been unfair to you.

I have been looking at forum software and there's some great, and free, stuff out there. But I'm not quite convinced there's enough need for it here. It's a close call, particularly when looking at the needs of most users (those that never or rarely post annotations) who may just find it complicates matters. A simple Yahoo! Group style mailing list/forum may suffice for off-topic chat for the dedicated.

As for me relying on free and willing labour to fill out this "skeletal site"... Originally I was hoping I'd have maybe 2-3 annotations per day. I would have been extremely pleased with that. Instead I've been blessed with large numbers of eager annotators who have surpassed all my expectations in terms of knowledge, curiosity, generosity and friendliness. Don't you dare suggest I wish to "dampen" this or that I take it for granted.

Despite all this I still don't want to physically ban you yet, although believe me, I've come close. I suspect you will, as ever, continue to be patronising and oblivious when I warn you you'd better keep a damned low profile on this site from now on.

Phil   Link to this

David:

Good ideas about how to physically improve the annotations. I'm not sure about splitting them into two streams, but it's food for thought.

Putting names at the start of annotations is a good one that I'd been pondering but if someone else has thought the same it's worth further investigation on my part!

I'd like to limit the length of annotations but Movable Type doesn't have such a feature as yet. I may look into hacking something in if it continues to be a problem in the future.

michael f vincent   Link to this

1:- I like DQ's point 3- excellent, as most of us are not scholars. This site is great for us who sit in the last row and not be seen and 'not heard?',
point 2: Those of You with your own web page, one inviting headline followed with the url will pay the price of further erudition;
of course the Romans suffered with the G word, now the web: those who want a discussion should I believe, use their own site as they appear to ex_perts in commentary
DQ's 4 -max one page essay maybe ;

i.e. if when annotation is parsed and it exceeds 100 words for example it goes to a page for those who want to be educated
DQ's 1&2 too complicated:
DQ's method of one point one sentence
my comprehension is short: white space is needed:
oh well enjoy:

Laura K   Link to this

Thank you, Phil. I don't understand your patience thus far, though I admire it. Please, please, for the sake of this wonderful site, make good on your warning.

And will somebody please take away Hhomeboy's thesaurus?! Forget EM Forster and Mortimer Snerd, I hear Strunk and White rolling in their respective graves!

Warren Keith Wright   Link to this

DQ read my mind: does the posting software permit moving the "byline" to the head of each new annotation?
That way, if frequent visitors figure they've had all they can stand of WKW, they can hit "Page Down."
Might that adjustment obviate the need for a second site?
I really prefer an inclusive atmosphere, where long-time readers can contribute their expertise yet newcomers won't feel scared off. As Maureen says above, "At its best this site is a courteous conversation on a subject of common interest." Think how highly Pepys values "civilness."

Yak   Link to this

What do you want from a discussion forum?
I have been following this site from day one. The first two months I have really enjoyed. Sadly, I feel this month is going down hill.
Please Phil keep the site like it was. Keep it simple. I know it is difficult to please all the people all the time,but I get the impression some one is trying to hi-jack your site.

Rita   Link to this

The most interesting thing about all the above discussion, with its sniping and "catcalling" is that it shows how much humanity has remained the same since Pepys' time! All the rivalries and human comedy of 17th century London is mirrored right here in 21st century online society. The only thing I would add as a suggestion, is that annotators make more use of the topic organized background information area. One way to improve it would be that if you are providing some background on a food for example, put it in the background area and make a short note in the day's annotation area directing people to check it out if they are interested. As more information gets into the background area there would be less reason for repetitive questions, and perhaps the day's annotations would be a discussion on the day's events. I would like to personally thank Phil for giving us all such an interesting site, and lets try to make his life as pleasant as possible so he can keep it up. Those who prefer could always read the book version of the diary and start their own discussion forum!

Laura K   Link to this

This seems as good a place as any to note that I, for one, really appreciate people quoting verbatim from the OED and various other sources.

I don't have every reference book at my disposal, or the time and/or inclination to search through the ones I do have. I very much appreciate readers taking the time to share their resources.

I do *not* think annotators have an obligation to add personal flourishes or expound on what they find. It's not a competition!

I hope those of you who share your resources will not be intimidated or put off, and will continue to do so as much as you like.

Pauline   Link to this

Frequently Used Wisdom in Annotating
We could just compile a list of guidelines from our own experience. Like David, we have all probably given some thought to how we can best enjoy and participate in this site and have adjusted ourselves to the enjoyment and participation of the other readers.

* Every typed annotation does not need to be sent/posted. It can be selected and deleted.

* "I" statements should be very brief and very related to the entry.

* Personal experience examples should be infrequent and limited to one sentence of few words, and preferrably be wry, very funny, or moderately disgusting.

* Quoted material should be briefly referenced, placed in quotes, and edited down to the information you want to present. Link can be included.

* Avoid copying more than a few pertinent words of the diary entry you are annotating into your annotation.

* ETC...............

Not RULES, just some wisdom.

Hhomeboy   Link to this

Phil...

"...Originally I was hoping I

Laura K   Link to this

Phil? Oh, Phiii-iiil? Are you ready to pull the plug? Please?

Readers and annotators everywhere are clamoring for you to take charge. I'm hoping this project means enough to you to not let this one person drag it down. Some may miss him, but most will applaud you.

Phil   Link to this

Hhomeboy:

1. I'm past being reasonable with you. I've tried it to no effect.

2. Well, you're wrong. I *do* have the last word, although I've never come close to wanting to exercise my power against anyone but yourself.

3. Many Yahoo Groups style groups do fade, but not all. It wouldn't be a perfect solution, but I'm not convinced there is such a thing.

4. You're taking a simplistic view of things. This site is popular because it was mentioned on a couple of popular weblogs and in turn got picked up by the BBC. If that hadn't happened few of you would have heard of the site, unfortunately. I got lucky with publicity.

5. You're more than welcome to set up a companion site at any time. Honestly.

6. I certainly am sensitive about some things and insensitive about others. It beats being insensitive about everything.

7. Some people do want a forum - I'm still undecided. Many of those who want a forum (but certainly not all) want a forum so they can enjoy the diary without your lengthy opinions getting in the way.

8. Private Eye really have more important things to worry about.

9. Entirely wrong. I'd *love* to play and work with some forum software as it's all new to me. But it would be wrong of me to implement it just because I want to play.

10. I am content to leave things here. If you continue to behave in the annotations we can continue. If you don't behave, or you post anything further here other than some suggestion of apology, you're banned. It's your last chance.

Phil   Link to this

Pauline:

Great stuff! I'll soon start a discussion on annotation guidelines, beginning with your suggestions.

Hhomeboy   Link to this

Phil, I said I'd give you the time you requested to tweak and figure out the annotations conundrum.

If and when you do, that's great.

I don't appreciate your threats and think you are just inexperienced at dealing with anyone but yr. own web 'n blog set.

This is my last message (public or private) on this subject. You are very welcome for the ideas and encouragement.

In the end, your annotators are who interest me; you I find....

I'll reserve comment for a wider audience.

'Cheers

Amber   Link to this

I agree with Yak - the hhomeboys of this site are spoiling it for me. Back in January, I had hopes of my high school kids enjoying the new format and thereby developing more than a passing interest in Pepys and his world. Not only are the scholars making it increasingly difficult for youngsters to participate but their manners leave a lot to be desired too. What a shame.

Alicia   Link to this

Phil, you have demonstrated the patience of a virtual Job and absorbed way too many unjustified insults. Readers of the site have had to wade through and scroll around too many pointless diatribes and displays of ego. I am sure I am not the only person who has hesitated to post recently for fear of sparking another take-no-prisoners intellectual contest (although I am sure that Hhomeboy's response would be that he considers me beneath his notice). Thank you for taking a firm stand and putting an end to it. Moreover, thank you, very much, for creating this web site and sticking with it through thick & thin.

Kent Kelly   Link to this

One vote to keep the site as is. I enjoy the annotations (mostly) and prefer to see everything in one place. My only suggestion for an improvement is to second (third?, fourth?) the idea of placing the poster's "name" at the top of the annotation. Although by now I recognize the tone, I'd still like to have fairer warning that hhomeboy has done another annotation.

I've been with this site from early on and hope you will exercise your right as host/moderator to pull the plug more quickly next time.

Thanks for all your efforts and for almost all of the people who add great value to this site.

Grahamt   Link to this

Private Eye:
For those who may not be familiar with this great British institution, it is a satirical magazine that has a section called Pseud's corner. This section pillories pseudo-intellectual, patronising, overblown windbags by quoting their words from other magazines or media.
I wonder who here would fall into that category? (clue: it's definitely not Phil!)

Peter   Link to this

Wow, did this ever set off a spark! I love the site and thank Phil every time I log onto it. I particularly like the annotations, they are a lot of fun and I learn from then. I always stay a couple of days behind in my reading to get the maximum comments. If any annotation gets too long or boring I can always scroll through it. I also like having the annotations on the same page so I can scroll up if the reference is unclear.

momar   Link to this

The site is fine and addictive just as it is and is an excellent primer on Pepys for those of us among the unlettered. It's a simple, compact, daily pleasure. As for the invective, my down arrow takes care of it. (Although some of the bloviation is priceless: "Including women." Hoot!)

Most of the annotations are appropriately terse and helpful. Please remain unrankled and leave the site unchanged.

Frank G   Link to this

I would also like to thank you, Phil, for this fantastic site. I read the diaries before, but very much enjoy re-reading them with all the annotations and background information. That is, with the exception of the long-winded and arrogant contributions from the one bad apple in the barrel. If you ban him, there will be very little complaint from most people who enjoy your, ( yes, your) site.

Grahamt   Link to this

I would like to add my thanks to Phil.

Before I learned of this site, I was more ignorant of Pepys than I realised. I have become totally hooked and read the diary and annotations daily. I have even bought and read Tomalin's biography of Pepys because of this blog, and I am planning on buying the L&M soon.

Well done Phil. Whatever you decide about the discussion forum is OK with me, but I do like the site as it has developed, sans verbosity of course.

Michiel van der Leeuw   Link to this

Looking at this discussion, I think that a forum might easily turn into a flame-page.

The site is great, so let's not give some people the opportunity for taking the fun out of it.

And everyoneone (including myself!) should carefully read and think over their annotations before posting them...

Bill-in-Georgia   Link to this

Ban Hhomeboy?

He's had some good posts, but he's getting on my nerves. And to attack our great and wonderful host is unforgivable.

Tina   Link to this

Please Phil, ignore all carpers and continue the site as it is. I've been logging on since the second week, having never read Pepys, and have learned more from the annotations and links than I care to mention. Even the odd flamer gives an "all human life is here" flavour, though I appreciate it must be upsetting to be on the receiving end.
Lots of us are grateful for all this site offers.

beada   Link to this

Phil: It's a lush site as is, and my scrollbar works, too, but maybe a discussion forum would save banning too many people who "talk very high."

Glyn   Link to this

(1)I completely agree with KIETH WRIGHT and MAUREEN'S comments so won't repeat them.

(2) I'm against a Forum on the principle of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid): the site should be easy and unconfusing to use for newcomers, and low-maintenance for Phil or else he won't keep doing it.

(3) I'm also against a separate forum because no-one would use it: they would instead put their annotations where they are most likely to be read and then complain if the website moderator shifted them elsewhere.

(4) I like reading annotations as well, but came back after a week away to find there were more than a hundred of them to go through. Restricting the entries directly to Pepys may make the site more supeficial but is probably a necessary thing to do. Basically, we need an OLIVER CROMWELL to manage this site: someone who takes advice but then reaches a situation and lays down the law with no right of appeal. Are you listening Phil? This is private property, not a democracy. You're the Captain, so bloody well get on with it.

(4) I still think someone should prune entries from the previous couple of months, and do so rigorously. Otherwise at the end of 10 years we'll have more than 10,000 annotations (you calculate the math) - 1,000 plus to do with currencies - and that way madness lies.

(5) But please will you all remember that you, me, Hhomeboy, and Phil are basically all on the same side. The site shouldn't be causing Phil grief or he'll walk away - nor anyone else. In these days of Iraq let's keep a sense of proportion.

Glyn   Link to this

A possible compromise/resolution might be along the lines of:

all entries to be kept together;

moderator has the right (and duty) to remove any that are irrelevant or too far off-topic (no matter how valuable in themselves);

no right of appeal (the decision of the website manager is final even when wrong);

no entry to be more than XXX words long;

no-one to make more than 2 contributions in any 24-hour period(that would [A] make people value their contributions, so use them more sparingly and [B] give people in other time-zones the chance to jump in and explain that particular reference. You could always go back to that particular day on another time, if no-one has made your point by then.

I've gone past my limit so will stop (still enjoying the site by the way).

sam   Link to this

Oh well, Ive wanted to make posts to this truly fantastic site many more times than i care to remember. As it happens i think i've only managed to twice - once with a question which was promptly answered ( privately and very nicely i'd like to add ) and once with a pretty harmless comment. I've been reading here since day one (after seeing it written about on BBC news website) and like Tina in the posting above, i've found that the annotations have helped me understand Pepys more than i ever thought i would want to. However, some of the past few weeks comments have been just a little too haughty than i feel is necessary.

I'm with all of those who think that Phil has been doing a bloody good job up until now and i say thank you. Annotations and commentary are meant to help and not hinder.

Apologies for moving off from the point in question so far. I suppose i'm saying that the daily annotations have always been good enough in the past - as long as they remain relevant to that day's entry!

thanks again Phil and to everybody out there who is making this site a must visit.

Todd Bernhardt   Link to this

I take a day off to enjoy some fine weather, and look what happens!!

I -- and several of my friends (including women) -- would step in to defend our esteemed (and justifiably steamed) moderator, but I see he's done a fine job of it, so I'll just try to make a point that I haven't seen so far:

I think what happened in the last couple of days is simply a part of the site's growing pains. Because the Anarchy of the Internet provides the ultimate democratic forum, discussion groups typically ebb and flow between value and uselessness, to varying degrees that depend on the subject matter and the people attracted to it.

Though I'm disappointed at the events of the last several days, I'm not surprised by it, and in fact I'm heartened by the community that has evidenced itself here. The strongest discussion groups I've been involved with end up "policing" themselves, with very little need for editing from the moderator (though it helps to know that s/he is willing to step in when necessary), and it seems that a majority of folks here have pulled together and decided what they want out of this Mother of All Book Clubs.

I suspect that as time goes on, trolls will come and go, yet if we stick together with our eyes on the common goal -- the desire to learn about and civilly discuss this fascinating work of art and first-person, "real time" depiction of history -- then we'll be fine, no matter what they throw at us.

So ... my vote is to leave things as they are, with perhaps the exception of displaying the annotator's name at the beginning of the entry. Otherwise, I'd prefer to leave the responsibility for "filtering" what is and is not useful with the reader, not with Phil (except in cases where his editorial judgement is obviously needed) and not with a set of rules, automated or otherwise, that he sets up.

Phil's got a life, folks. He already spends a bunch of time on this site, and it's unfair to ask him to do more when we're all perfectly capable of deciding what we find valuable, and what simply merits use of the page-down key.

C.Short   Link to this

Bernhardt makes an excellent point. The site is still young, and these issues would have come up sooner or later, though perhaps not in such an extreme form.
I like things the way they are, in fact I would have no problem with a long posting as long as it was well written, relevent and arrogance-free.
I hate to admit I found some perverse pleasure in the drama of the past few days, but will be relieved to get back to the quiet enjoyment of this wonderful site.

Laura Brown   Link to this

I hope it isn't too late to comment

I don't post to this site all that often, but I did contact Phil a few days ago about a topic that might go in the proposed discussion forum, so I thought I would add my two cents' worth.

I agree that a general "chat" forum would be a disaster. However, it occurs to me that it might be useful to have a forum for Pepys discussion that does not relate to any specific entry. Topics discussed in such a forum might include future events in the diary (which could thus be discussed without fear of "spoilers"); Pepys' life before or after he kept the diary; the way Pepys has been viewed throughout the centuries and the influence he has had on later diarists; and the current revival of interest in Pepys, with discussion of the various museum exhibits, etc.

By the way, what I contacted Phil about was a World War I-era pastiche of Pepys ("A Second Diary of the Great Warr" by "Samuel Pepys Junr") that I found in an antiquarian bookshop. If anyone is actually interested in this, I have put some excerpts from it on my web site. (Be warned, I don't claim that my web site is anything other than amateur.)

Besides all that, I just want to say that I, too, am sad at the tone the discussion has taken recently. I always look forward to reading the day's entry when I get home from work, but lately I have been skipping the annotations. Surely people should be able to discuss SOME subjects without fighting?

francesca   Link to this

Why is it always one person who makes things difficult (and that does not include Phil or women...); keeps on being difficult even when called on it.. when one little simple change on their part would be a whole alot easier then everyone else having to figure out what to do.. creating a huge diversion and xtra unnessary work/time? I for one am having a difficult time scrolling past Hboys rambling paragraphs and his are the only annotations that I do.. unless he types short and to-the-point ones. Let Pepys be the one that has the center stage here, and I trust Phil to do whatever he thinks is necessary for this site and that his decision be the final one.. no ifs, buts, and what nots!!

eehatt   Link to this

Please keep it as it is.

mary   Link to this

Another vote for the status quo

I would be able to support a suggestion that the correspondent's name be posted at the head of each annotation , but please don't let us go for split sites; whilst it might be good to hive off the more tedious contributors, we might lose more than we would gain thereby. My scroll-down button works pretty well and I suspect that the really tiresome/off-the-mark commentators will eventually hang themselves in the toils of their own verbosity. They seem to seek recognition, and if we don't allow it to them .....
I add my most sincere thanks to Phil for establishing this site in the first place and for running with it in the face of what has seemed, at times, to be a wrecking operation.

Laura K   Link to this

Bravo to Todd Bernhardt. I second his post.

Jenny Doughty   Link to this

I don't have an L&M, or a complete OED, and entries that draw on those resources are very welcome to me. Some of the other information - on the politics of the day, on coinage, travel and costume for example - has been both interesting and enlightening. Personal comment, on the whole, I scroll past, although as I have been offline for four days there has been a certain ghoulish satisfaction in catching up. Those who feel as I do may wish to scroll past my last sentence...

Paul Chapin   Link to this

OED Online
A perk of "membership" (i.e. having a customer account) in the Quality Paperback Book Club is free access to the OED Online. It works very well, the search engine is simple and fast. It doesn't cost anything to belong to the QPB, but like any commercial book "club", they will send you a new book every month or so, and charge you for it, unless you tell them not to by a certain date (which you can do online). I don't know whether people living outside North America can join QPB or not. If you're interested, you can check it out at
http://www.qpb.com

Zadok   Link to this

Why not set up a discussion group under Yahoo and keep this site for the diary and annotations - which I find very useful.

Log in to post a comment.

If you don't have an account, then register here.