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A new forum section is needed

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A new forum section is needed

Unread postby Peter Jordan » Mon Aug 2, 2010 7:33 am

OK, so let's discuss the situation that has developed. A very significant person in the world of signalling has passed away but this forum no longer has an obviously appropriate section where this news can be posted and others can make their responses. Speaking personally I never look at the 'About this Forum' section and I never dreamed for a moment that such important news would be posted there. That is why the news became duplicated in the 'Signalling-Historical' section because, while still not being entirely appropriate, that seemed a better place for the news to be imparted than in the 'About this Forum' section.

Under the old system the DI quite justifiably got irritated (as did others, myself included sometimes) by people veering off-topic and the introduction of a 'General Chat' section in the new forum went a long way to addressing that issue. But then what happened? The 'General Chat' section was closed down because it was being used, of all things - for general chat! It was not being abused or targetted by 'spammers, simply used by members in the way that was intended. I know I am not alone in finding that decision totally illogical and it has now resulted in the confusion that we see following the death of Larry. His passing deserves to be treated with dignity and not to become the subject of a mess such as we now have.

I can understand that the DI must have found it frustrating when there seemed to be more traffic going through the 'General Chat' section than the main part of the forum, but that is a situation that would inevitably have worked itself out over time. The latest situation highlights the fact that we desperately need a section where important but 'peripheral' signalling news can be posted.


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Re: A new forum section is needed

Unread postby Chris Osment » Mon Aug 2, 2010 8:17 am

His passing deserves to be treated with dignity and not to become the subject of a mess such as we now have.


I feel that is rather an emotive comment that it not really appropriate under the circumstances. I do agree that there is a need for a forum to cater for topics which do not obviously fall under any of the existing headings, but that has nothing specifically to do with Larry other than by a coincidence of timing.

Speaking personally I never look at the 'About this Forum' section


I admit that I rarely do either, but.....I normally use the "View new posts" link and so I got the original message by that route :)
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Re: A new forum section is needed

Unread postby Peter Jordan » Mon Aug 2, 2010 9:43 am

Yes, but that 'coincidence of timing' was bound to occur sooner or later with some other subject and cause exactly the same sort of problem once the 'General Chat' section was removed. That section was set up to resolve a specific problem, and it did that very successfully. We clearly need something similar back.

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Re: A new forum section is needed

Unread postby John Hinson » Tue Aug 3, 2010 3:12 pm

I have deliberately allowed time for people to have their say and will now detail the reasons for things being as they are.

The reason I closed the General Chat section was because it was being abused by a few members of this forum that do not seem to understand its purpose. The forum is not a soap box or a broadcasting service, nor a place for one-to-one chat or "in" jokes, it is here for you to share and gain knowledge about railway signalling. As far as I'm concerned I can't see that the General Chat section would have "worked itself out over time" - it was escalating out of control, monopolised by meaningless drivel from a minority of our participants.

Larry most certainly deserves respect and dignity, in the same way that anybody who dies does, so lets give it to him. I see no need to announce any death, marriage or birth publicly here. How on earth did we manage before this forum existed? We used private communication - there is no need to tell the whole world, we only need to tell those who need to know. There is always the telephone, email, post and, of course, the private messaging feature of this forum that can be used to contact your friends.

Likewise, the sympathies and commiserations are not reaching the right place by being broadcast here. How much more meaningful it would be if personal letters along those lines were written to the widow or widower concerned. I know some have done so.

I believe that all subjects relevant to this forum are catered for by the present categories and therefore have no plans to change them at present. This forum may not be perfect but it does have an exceedingly high reputation against many other railway forums (which can get very childish) and is frequented, used and supported by members of more than one body on the business-side of railway operation. These are standards I seek to retain.

Best wishes,

John
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Re: A new forum section is needed

Unread postby Peter Jordan » Tue Aug 3, 2010 8:14 pm

But there is no reason why the forum should end up like that - and it is just as likely to happen with the current format as with any other. There is no way of telling what direction someone's sense of humour (or otherwise) might take a topic in and even as things stand the DI occasionally has to remind people not to stray off-topic.

We don't necessarily need the return of a 'General Chat' section if the DI feels that would be undesireable. What we need is a section headed something like 'Signalling - announcements and miscellania' to provide a suitable vehicle for imparting news such as needed to be done recently. Such a title would remain a constant reminder to people that material posted should have some sort of relevance to the world of signalling.

I've already floated this idea past another member of the forum who thinks it would be an excellent solution. So what do other folk think?

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Re: A new forum section is needed

Unread postby Adrian the Rock » Tue Aug 3, 2010 8:40 pm

signalman wrote:...I see no need to announce any death, marriage or birth publicly here. How on earth did we manage before this forum existed? We used private communication - there is no need to tell the whole world, we only need to tell those who need to know. There is always the telephone, email, post and, of course, the private messaging feature of this forum that can be used to contact your friends...

Sorry, but I really must beg to differ on this specific point. I doubt I would have heard about this sad event so promptly had it not been posted here. Though I only met Larry once, I would not wish to have been denied the chance to communicate my respects. I understand my comment here has now been passed on to his relatives and that is exactly as I would have wanted.

Suppose - without wishing to tempt providence - a regular contributor to this forum were to pass away. Surely it wouldn't be sensible to rely on the vagueries of private, individual members to pass the word around. Surely most of us would then want that news to be communicated here.

But there's a further consideration. I myself am sadly familiar now with the situation of deaths from the perspective of a close relative, having lost three of those myself in as many years. One of the problems you often face as a close mourner is how to make sure the news gets around promptly enough to all the people who knew the person. Discovering afterwards that someone who would have wanted to attend the funeral but didn't find out in time is a nightmare scenario. Were I to be the one to go, I'd certainly want the news posting on at the very least all fora on which I have contributed more than the very occasional posting.

So please can you have another think about this. Peter's suggestion above sounds entirely appropriate to me.
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Re: A new forum section is needed

Unread postby Mad Mac » Wed Aug 4, 2010 4:23 am

I'm with Peter on this one. Time was when word of this sort of thing got round by the "bush telegraph'. It's a changed railway now. Word doesn't spread like it used to. I recall about eleven years ago myself and a number of colleagues finding out about the passing of a long time career railwayman and friend by chance several months after the event. I wouldn't like that to happen again.

Do we need an 'obituary' column? No, that's not what we're here for. However, I believe an "Announcements" section would be entirely appropriate for this and other similar matters.
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Re: A new forum section is needed

Unread postby Chris Osment » Wed Aug 4, 2010 10:40 am

I agree with Adrian and Mad Mac. I only knew about the sad passing of Larry from the original posting on this forum last week - nothing from the SRS at all yet, even though (as the DI knows!) we often get regular messages about some research topics. You can't rely on someone who has the news to know just who all the contacts are to whom it should be passed on.

I quite agree with the DI about marriages and births, but I do feel that there is value in using this forum to convey news about those who have played their part in helping to progress the study of railway signalling. I don't think that a restrained use for such a purpose would detract from the overall high status of this esteemed forum :)
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Re: A new forum section is needed

Unread postby Peter Jordan » Wed Aug 4, 2010 12:42 pm

I've just thought of another useful role that an extra forum section such as I have suggested could fulfil and that is of offering help and advice on signalling for model railways. We often hear otherwise superb layouts criticised for inappropriate/inaccurate signalling but where does the enthusiast without the necessary expertise turn? We've had one or two model railway signalling questions referred to the forum in the past but, like other things we've discussed, the postings had to be in places that weren't wholly appropriate.

If we want to help improve the standard of signalling that is seen on model railways, then we need to show people that there is an appropriate place here to pose their questions.

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Re: A new forum section is needed

Unread postby Markus Redd » Wed Aug 4, 2010 2:10 pm

I don't normally post on fora but I feel I must say that I am amazed at what I am reading here. This is one of the best that I frequent but never have I encountered members telling admin how to run the show. Why dont you guys enjoy what you have instead of moaning. This one does what it says on the box and I certainly like it the way it is.
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Re: A new forum section is needed

Unread postby beast66606 » Wed Aug 4, 2010 3:01 pm

Peter Jordan wrote:If we want to help improve the standard of signalling that is seen on model railways, then we need to show people that there is an appropriate place here to pose their questions.


Some of us already do that on the model forums Peter - I'm not sure here is the place for a typical railway modeller to ask about signalling, they are likely to get overwhelmed by the answer !
Better to be thought a fool than to type a response that confirms it.

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Re: A new forum section is needed

Unread postby Alan Johnston » Wed Aug 4, 2010 4:30 pm

My suggestion would be for an email circulation list rather than a forum. A member with an announcement to make would then send an email to that list. Each user would decide if they wish to subscribe to that list. That keeps the number of forums down and each person, if the email is of no interest to them, can just delete it.

All this makes a huge assumption that such a facility would be available and easy to implement, I think the DI has enough to keep him running up and down his spiral staircase already :D

(John - I'm thinking of something like the NNT email list system.)

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Re: A new forum section is needed

Unread postby Chris Osment » Wed Aug 4, 2010 6:30 pm

I don't think that anyone is 'moaning' Markus, merely suggesting what some consider might be a useful addition/improvement. I'm sure that the DI is not averse to constructive suggestions, whilst retaining his admininstrative perogative to ignore those with which he does not agree :)
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Re: A new forum section is needed

Unread postby MRFS » Wed Aug 4, 2010 7:11 pm

<throws down 2d>

Does the DI have the ability to 'message all' via PM?

If so the easiest way would be for someone to contact the DI with 'information X' - then it is up to the DI what he does with 'information X' - post it where he sees fit, distribute it by PM or quietly discard.

I appreciate this might burden the DI with a bit more work; but I'm firmly in the camp that believes the current headings are adequate.

WRT the modelling of signalling, that has been covered by people subscribing and asking questions - perhaps a footnote somewhere along the lines of 'please ask any modelling related questions in the area of the forum appropriate to the era/land-over-water you are trying to replicate' would suffice rather than another board.

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Re: A new forum section is needed

Unread postby SimonT » Wed Aug 4, 2010 7:26 pm

Chris Osment wrote:I don't think that anyone is 'moaning' Markus, merely suggesting what some consider might be a useful addition/improvement. I'm sure that the DI is not averse to constructive suggestions, whilst retaining his admininstrative perogative to ignore those with which he does not agree :)


The tone of some posts has been a little ambiguous, and I may have misread that some were using sad news as an emotive factor to aid pushing their point across. In any case, could I suggest PMs to the DI may be more effective and certainly more polite than attempting to publicly drum up a support for something he has already given a clear answer.

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