The forum "community"

shutyertrap

Moderator
Staff member
Mar 14, 2012
7,334
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Heretic and I were having this discussion in the chat room.

He was wondering why all the talk in the forum has to be pinball related. I said it is only natural for people that come to a pinball forum would want to talk about it! But then he brought up that in order for it to have a 'community' feel, people need to talk about other stuff. I think what he was trying to get at is a well rounded community of people may gather for one reason, but they stick around for what develops from that.

Now in the 3+ years him and I have been part of this forum, there have been many people who have come and gone. Some were prolific in posting even. Is there something to be said that for the forum community to be nurtured and thrive, things other than pinball need to be discussed? Do people come here hoping to form friendships, or is that just a happy accident if it happens at all?

For myself, there are a handful of people with whom I consider more than just names in the forum. They'll insta chat me in Steam, or BS with me in the chat room. It typically started with pinball conversation, but now frequently doesn't at all. On that basis, I think Heretic has a point. The people I look forward to hearing from in chat now often are just saying hello and wondering what's going on. They've grown into personalities I feel comfortable sharing everyday details with. Again though I wonder, is that just a side effect of the forum, or should it be a goal?

So what do you all think? Does the 'community' of a forum come from talking mostly about the very reason the forum exists, like pinball, or is it from the interpersonal bonds that can form when talking about other stuff? Because let's face it, we all have pinball in common. Should we be seeking out what else we individually have in common?
 

Locksley

New member
Jan 2, 2015
384
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And don't we?
Say it starts out with pinball this or that then say it is a movie theme one slips into talking about other movies or even production, costume, cutting, direction, public reception...

For me I always prefer the 'real life' communion; but it is just part of the resolution of an online friendship I think. I got a fellow modder living in Rio de Janeiro and we talked games and life for almost 10 years and we got an open invitation to go visit each other. That is prob one reason I mentioned the 'go to invitro' as a price winning the predict S5 contest, because I would think it would be great fun for both even if it does not amount to anything more than just casual talk and not end up in friendship.

As to your question, yeah I feel that the community comes from talking pinball.
What happens if I tire from pinball? Well, then I wont come here but if I developed friendships outside pinball related stuff I would hold on to those people if we were already doing stuff outside the pinball forum - email, chat, what not.
So there you got an other answer; to keep the community it has to evolve beyond pinball.
But really, it must be pinball saturating the forum otherwise someone looking for pinball wont join as it seems it is all 'but' about pinball :p

And for a short time I vowed never to post here again and just lurk because people are people and people can be mean and in general just about everybody is stupid in someway to each other :p
 

Espy

New member
Sep 9, 2013
2,098
1
Forums can definitely become more than a hobbyist discussion area. I am still in contact with a bunch of people I befriended on a Zelda forum when I was 13. That's half my life.
 

invitro

New member
May 4, 2012
2,337
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people are people and people can be mean and in general just about everybody is stupid in someway to each other :p

What a classic quote. :)

It is early and I probably don't understand the topic, but while pinball may be my #1 interest and TPA is somewhere in the top 5, I like lots of other things and will talk about them if someone else talks about them. And there are many more things that I don't much care about and won't talk about. Pinball and especially TPA have some big advantages as topics... they are almost entirely non-political, and they have endless factual details and minutia to discuss. I think most topics have large political elements that result in people eventually being angry at each other, or are not detailed enough and run out of steam. Anyway! I overdid TPA a little bit last week and am taking a couple of days to put my computer energies toward Legend of Grimrock, which I highly recommend especially if on such extreme sale as seems to be a wonderful component of modern computer gaming. I mean I paid like $2 for it at humblebundle, good grief.
 

Kolchak357

Senior Pigeon
May 31, 2012
8,100
1
Things just often feel specialized in forums to me. If I want to talk pinball, I come here. If I want to talk about astronomy I go to me favorite astronomy forums and so on. I only have a few interests, pinball, classic TV, astronomy, true crime, cryptozoology, ufo's, and I always assume they don't crossover to each forum. I'd guess a lot of people make the same assumption.
 

The Digital Man

New member
Nov 21, 2014
119
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Over 25 years ago I joined an IRC group that was started and devoted to the band Rush while goofing off at work. There was certainly on topic discussion about our favorite Canadian power trio, but we also went on about everything else. In the passing years, obviously many of us started families became teachers or professionals of some kind. All though attendance on the channel deteriorated a bit due to life, it was always great when a prodigal member would stop by in a sort of homecoming. These are people who got together from across the states and Canada who had barbecues and attended concerts all started by a mutual interest and a virtual frienship. With social media it's easier to keep in touch, but to this day the channel still exists on Efnet maintained by a bot or two. And every once in awhile...

Birds of a feather...
 

EldarOfSuburbia

New member
Feb 8, 2014
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I started off my internet life in 1992 on a text-based bulletin board (which still exists, and which I still have an account on, though I very rarely visit any longer) and I'd say a large proportion of the people I know are from there. We went through university, getting jobs, becoming grownups, marriage, kids, and now becoming forty-somethings together. There were regular meet-ups, parties, pub gatherings, all that. The community itself was very wide-ranging; there were a whole bunch of topics you could join in with, it was about as an eclectic a mix as you can imagine.

Oh, and I met my own wife via this bulletin board, and the name I've used from day 1 there is "eldar", I only added the "OfSuburbia" bit recently because the shorter version was usually taken. Kinda like when people starting taking surnames to differentiate Bob in this village from Bob in that village.

Okay, history lesson aside, I think I got used to going to one place for general discussion about anything, and going to specialized places for specialized discussion. Back then it would've been rec.games.pinball for the latest rules sheets and pinball talk, or the Lurker's Guide to read up on Babylon 5, and so on.

That said, I know a lot of people like to have off-topic stuff going on, and a lot of people will come for the pinball (or whatever), but stay for the off-topic stuff even after they've got bored of whatever the prevailing subject matter is.
 

shutyertrap

Moderator
Staff member
Mar 14, 2012
7,334
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Does it bother you guys when threads start going off topic? Also, without a doubt, someone needs to invent the 'sarcasm' or 'just kidding' font.

I have found while doing the BlahCade podcast, that some people really don't like it when we talk something other than pinball. I quite honestly need to inject a few other topics in there, because while I like pinball, it isn't always my favorite thing to talk about. That'd be movies and TV, if that isn't obvious to anyone who's listened. Still, I know that the majority of people tuning in are there specifically because of pinball. My thing is, those that like pinball probably have other likes that crossover too. Look at what gets licensed for tables; movies and music and sports. Look at the themes used on tables, be it fantasy, gambling, aliens, or a combination of all three (Alien Poker anyone?).

I'm kinda wondering if we should be a little more lax in threads though, instead of jumping in and saying 'stay on topic please'.
 

EldarOfSuburbia

New member
Feb 8, 2014
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Pinball threads going "off-topic" need to have a firm but fair moderatorly hand guiding them back in line, but it doesn't overly bother me. I've seen enough of it happen over the years to know it's just going to happen - and I've been as guilty as anyone of going with the flow and leaving the original thread topic in the dust.

Threads in the off-topic forum going "off-topic" aren't a problem. Unless they start wandering into personal abuse or morally dubious areas, but there's very little of that around here.

Compared to the forum my wife hangs around on, this place is a small gathering of mates over a couple of beers (and a game or two of pinball, well, if pubs had pinball tables any more which they don't).
 

The Digital Man

New member
Nov 21, 2014
119
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I would say keeping thread topics on topic is neat and orderly. If we want to discuss other things beyond TPA or pinball in detail, that's what the chat room could and should be used for, in my humble and still very much a new guy opinion.
 

Fungi

Active member
Feb 20, 2012
4,888
2
Well, who goes to a specific forum and talks about, say, urinal cakes? There's a reason why we all came to this particular forum, and that's where we're all going to find common ground. I don't have an issue with talking about anything else, but just don't be surprised that everyone in a pinball forum starts off by talking about pinball.

If Hairy wants to talk about anything else, that's fine. Unfortunately, due to his thick ass accent, sometimes I just can't tell what he's saying. Fooking? What the hell is Fooking???
 

invitro

New member
May 4, 2012
2,337
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Well, who goes to a specific forum and talks about, say, urinal cakes?

/me raises hand

urinal-cake-birthday.jpeg
 

MontanaFrank

New member
Dec 19, 2012
677
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This is the only internet forum I belong to. It's the only place on the internet where I feel safe and free to talk pinball or the option of the "Off Topic / Forum Discussion if I want to post anything else. There are many threads in that forum which have no mention of pinball at all. There is diversity and I agree the chat room should not have to be about pinball all the time. A member can always try to change the subject in a respectful manor.

Heck I'm so shy and so careful not to get in situations where someone could be mean to me. That's why I feel safe here. People know who I am will and have defended my honor. Thanks to all those who have, Lord Gacy for sponsoring this forum, the wonderful Moderators of PAFF who keep things flowing in a pleasant way and to all other members in the forum.

I've learned a lot about many fine forum members just from they post in the Off Topic and in the pinball forum. There are many of you fine forum members that I am very fond of and no one has been a jerk to me in this forum. The one person who posted scores in my name was kind enough to make them high, I appreciate that. The members who I've interacted with here know I'm honest an open human being.

I will try to get into chat though. I can always lurk or I always answer any question that is asked of me. I just get shy initiating a conversation. Been that way all my life. I've been a member of this forum for 2-1/2 years now and it has made a big positive difference in my life. I indebted to PAFF just for that.
 

Bowflex

New member
Feb 21, 2012
2,287
1
I enjoy when things stray. Sure there is an off topic forum. However, as passionate as I am about pinball there is only so much you can say between table releases and other news. Going away (albeit not too far) leads to great amusement and rejuvenates the energy in a thread.
 

Nightwing

Active member
Aug 1, 2012
1,136
0
I enjoy when things stray. Sure there is an off topic forum. However, as passionate as I am about pinball there is only so much you can say between table releases and other news. Going away (albeit not too far) leads to great amusement and rejuvenates the energy in a thread.

Pretty much agree. While I mostly come here for the pinball talk,I don't mind other discussion going on as well. I met my now wife on a chat client back in the 90s called Talk City,in the Sci-Fi Fan room. Where we usually talked about anything but scifi. But I have met some awesome people online over the years that I do consider my friend.

This forum is good. I'll continue to do my part to support it. I also need to make more of en effort to make it into chat.
If only to hear what Heretic is ranting about ATM. :)
 

Jeff Strong

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 19, 2012
8,140
2
I've made many great friends here. Even though I haven't played much pinball lately (we all go though phases), I still come here every day because I have buds here. :)

That said, I'd love to see more off topic threads.
 

Kratos3

New member
Sep 22, 2013
2,352
1
Does it bother you guys when threads start going off topic? Also, without a doubt, someone needs to invent the 'sarcasm' or 'just kidding' font.

I have found while doing the BlahCade podcast, that some people really don't like it when we talk something other than pinball. I quite honestly need to inject a few other topics in there, because while I like pinball, it isn't always my favorite thing to talk about. That'd be movies and TV, if that isn't obvious to anyone who's listened. Still, I know that the majority of people tuning in are there specifically because of pinball. My thing is, those that like pinball probably have other likes that crossover too. Look at what gets licensed for tables; movies and music and sports. Look at the themes used on tables, be it fantasy, gambling, aliens, or a combination of all three (Alien Poker anyone?).

I'm kinda wondering if we should be a little more lax in threads though, instead of jumping in and saying 'stay on topic please'.

Obviously, it depends on how far off topic the thread gets. I guess I prefer when a thread is mostly about the thread topic, but some good discussions come out of a little threadbending. You guys do a good job of not letting things get too out of hand.

A sarcasm font would be helpful. I'm rarely serious when giving someone a hard time.
 

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