How interactive is this forum?

posted
18-Sep-09, 17:03
edited about 15 seconds later
by rick
Avatar for rick
posted about 10 years ago
I just wondered how interactive this forum actually is. There are a few threads which run for quite some time, with plenty of replies and remarks from the orginal poster. However I think a lot often spark only a few answers and the person who had posted the issue does not seem to react on those. Or am I wrong? Perhaps there could be some sort of code of practice, that if you post something that you try to provide follow up? Obviously many posters do seem to do this, especially the "inner circle", yet I think this "good behaviour" could be more widespread. Any thoughts?
posted
18-Sep-09, 18:10
Avatar for missspacey
posted about 10 years ago
You're not wrong. Quite a lot of posters ask for advice and then never bother to reply or say 'thanks'. But to be fair, I suppose a lot of non-regular posters may be asking advice from multiple sources, so simply forget to reply. I tend not to post replies to as many new posters now because I feel I'm simply wasting my time. Although, a few weeks back a poster sent me a PM thanking me for advice from ages ago and telling me they got a great PhD offer.
posted
18-Sep-09, 20:27
by rick
Avatar for rick
posted about 10 years ago
Hi Missspacey,

thanks for your reply.

I see your point, not to post too many messages, as the lack of reponse may be discouraging.
However that is also a pity, as I think a wide range of views makes the forum much more valuable. Even if various people express similar views this is worth adding, as it will make the argument more "reliable" .:-)
posted
18-Sep-09, 20:37
by Cobweb
Avatar for Cobweb
posted about 10 years ago
Don't forget though that although there are some people on here that don't reply to say thanks, etc, having replies from experienced postgrads really helps those who perhaps visit the site often, but don't have the courage to get involved in the conversation.
Saying that, I would also love it if the forum was a lot more interactive - it's really reassuring to know that others are just as addicted to the site! I'm quite new to it, but since discovering this site I haven't been able to leave it alone! :-)
posted
18-Sep-09, 21:01
by Danzig
Avatar for Danzig
posted about 10 years ago
Another possibility is that posters move on after a while. Some get their PhD's and are happy and don't need the forum anymore, others leave a PhD and don't want to visit again. There may be many reasons. I think it is the nature of the beast. Most people post when they have hit a low, want some advice on certain problems or just need some encouragement to finish the final stages of their thesis. Maybe, if the forum had a post-doc section people may migrate there afterward completing their degree. Who knows?
posted
18-Sep-09, 23:03
edited about 28 seconds later
by Eska
Avatar for Eska
posted about 10 years ago
Hi Rick,

I've never thought about wether or not people respond to answers on threads they've set up - I certainly don't mind if they don't, I see the threads as being of use to us all, not just the person asing the question - I just assume they're mulling things over.

I do agree that a postdoc forum is a good idea - we get postdocs coming on here, and although I can see why they don't want to give this up, their responses can feel a bit like the voice of the opposition! Particularly where student supervisor problems are concerned. I'll miss this site like mad when I finish though, so I can see why they're still around.
posted
19-Sep-09, 08:56
by rick
Avatar for rick
posted about 10 years ago
Hi Cobweb, Danzig, Eska,

obviously I think too that it is crucial that the ones who want to write something feel free to do so and the ones who like to read the reactions just do that and are not obliged to enter any information.

But imagine if you are with a group of people in a bar, all having a beer, and say "A" would say something like: I have this problem with my PHD, I do not know how to analyse these data etc.... and then walks out of the pub. Then "B" and "C" would say something, while the others are just looking without any sign of connection. I do not think that would be a long conversatation.

As at a forum there is no visual picture, no body language, it is even more a "black hole", where one does not know whether others think it is a good question, a stupid one, they do not care or are to afraid to answer etc. As such I do believe a certain "forum culture" could make the forum livelier, for example by trying to respond on your own postings, by readers to add something like "I agree or I do not" etc.

Thanks to all who responded.:-)
posted
19-Sep-09, 10:20
by rubyw
Avatar for rubyw
posted about 10 years ago
Hi Rick,

Do you think it would be more like a conversation if more people read older threads on this forum and responded, instead of adding new 'quickie' questions that are over and done with in a few days? There are often recurring topics on here, so that would be a way to keep a conversation going.

Or maybe it would be a good idea to have a few more off-topic threads occasionally that aren't necessarily focussed on the PhD. That might help people get used to it here and start posting, without feeling that they don't know enough to respond, or are nervous as they don't 'know' anyone. It was ages ago now, but it used to happen more when I first started posting on here, Olivia, who doesn't seem to be around any more, used to post off-topic threads or games that made it more like a chat in a pub and less serious 100% of the time.

btw Eska, is there a point at which one officially become the 'voice of the opposition' in expressing opinions on student/supervisor relationships? Is it the alternative opinion you object to, or is there a particular cut-off point in the PhD process when all previous PhD experiences become irrelevent and shouldn't be expressed on here? Personally, I've found it useful to hear other points of view - I've found Badhaircut's comments helpful sometimes and he's not the only one. Alternative viewpoints aren't necessarily related to having completed a PhD. If one is doing a PhD (so officially a student) but also happens to sit on research committees, have good friends who supervise students or who work in research in various capacities, then it's very difficult to not see things from both sides of the problem. It's just life, we all have opinions based on our own experiences.:-)

Maybe a post-doc section would be useful on here, although I don't think people should stick to one forum or another if the threads are relevant - you get BAs and MAs joining in the PhD section, so divisions aren't exclusive or rigid boundaries anyway.
posted
19-Sep-09, 10:23
edited about 1 second later
by Eska
Avatar for Eska
posted about 10 years ago
Hi Rick, I hear what you are saying, do you mean that there should be some form of ettiquette at the forum?

Personally, I wouldn't want to make everyone feel they had to respond to a thread they began - we're not in a pub or a bar, this is a public form, so it carries a totally different set of expectations. I also think people do say if they object to a post, or if they have any strong feelings - if a thread takes a while to get a response, it just means no one has come up with a useful answer yet - it's often the way people communicate on forums, if everyone who read replied and said 'just thinking about that will get back to you later if I think of something', the forum would be clogged. Also, why would anyone need to know if their post had the approval of other forum users?

Yes it is nice to get PMs with thank yous in them, and ideally, people should thank those who have advised them, but I think sometimes posters are upset, or very busy, and they just disappear, or even have forgotten they've posted here. I guess the regulars have built up something of a relationship, so the non-cyber social conventions you describe apply more readily.

I miss the 'last one to post on this thread wins thread' I thought that made the forum more interactive and fun! Used to cheer me up that, why did it go?
posted
19-Sep-09, 10:35
by Eska
Avatar for Eska
posted about 10 years ago
Hi Rubyw, re the postdoc question: I don't know about 'officially' the voice of the opposition, that's certainly not something I would say, as you suggest, boundaries are not that rigid.

I am thinking soecifically if the time when I had serious supervisor difficulties which were threatening my PhD, and received advice from a postdoc which went along the lines of 'just put up and shut up, you seem to be confusing PhD supervision with undergraduate teaching and are naive about the process, when you are in the position of a postdoc you will understand the pressures that lead to this misconduct and you ought to just get on with it'. I've also seen this kind of advice being given to other PhDs who are having serious supervisour problems. I, and many other people, come to this form in dire straits, when their PhDs, and often mental health, are in jeopardy because of serious supervisor issues and these kinds of voice of the opposition comments are destructive in that contexts, this is supposed to our place, where we can seek advice from peers, without the familiar excuses dodgy supervisors give for extreme bad practice.

posted
19-Sep-09, 10:49
by rubyw
Avatar for rubyw
posted about 10 years ago
Eska, I totally agree with you, and those types of unhelpful comments sound more like a problem with the person responding than their doctoral status. I feel like we should remember the horrible stuff from our own PhDs and use it in our own teaching in a positive way. I think it makes me a far better supervisor for undergrad dissertations, or so I was told :-). If I ever take on my own doctoral students in the future (though goodness knows what my future holds right now) then I hope my own serious ex-supervisor problems and my other low points help me with that too.
posted
19-Sep-09, 11:05
edited about 9 seconds later
by Eska
Avatar for Eska
posted about 10 years ago
Rubyw: Yeah, I'm always really careful with my undergraduate teaching too, I think bad experiences can make you aware of the impact you can have on students' lives.

I'd like a postdoc forum to be in place when I finish the PhD, it sounds as if there are at least as many things to moan about then, as there are for PhD students, afterall, there is a forum for MAs; and maybe the idea of this forum being for PhDs puts postdocs off posting. It would be especially valuable now and in the near future because things are tightening up so much, and getting more difficult: it would be great to have forum support when we graduate too... hint, hint, hint - moderators etc, are you reading?

posted
19-Sep-09, 11:38
edited about 20 seconds later
by rubyw
Avatar for rubyw
posted about 10 years ago
Eska, that's a good idea. They've already got a findapostdoc section on this site, so it makes sense to at least try a post-doc forum and see how it goes. Friends have told me that it took them at least a year to sort themselves out after completing to make their transition from PhD student to researcher, so there must be specific issues or hurdles one comes across in that situation....? It should be useful to anyone doing a PhD, as well as people like me right near the end of their doctorates who want to carry on in academia and research.
posted
19-Sep-09, 14:52
edited about 4 seconds later
by joyce
Avatar for joyce
posted about 10 years ago
I do sometimes wonder why you never hear from the orginal poster, but as others have said, if they get the answer, then they might not come back to the site, or not visit regularly enough (how can they not do that - its a great way to procrastinate - sorry, allow your brain time to process your latest idea so that you can write it down and amaze your supervisor :$) and it might just disappear into the depths of the list and be lost.
posted
20-Sep-09, 01:43
by Sheena
Avatar for Sheena
posted about 10 years ago
Interesting thread. I only skimmed through the replies and don't have time to read all. That actually is my problem -TIME-. I have posted a thread in here just to keep up with my writing progress in some sort of a record and a place to vent (maybe I should go & do a blog but some replies to mine looks as some others can share my thoughts). Maybe it is selfish to do that but I think its not harmful or bad practice, its just another type of thread among those very interactive ones. I do think this forum is big enough to have lot of different thread-dull, boring, funny, interesting, etc..

Again, sometimes when there is so much to do and very little time I just update my thread abt progress with a line or two(not everyday-sometimes in weeks), maybe reply to posts also and then go to sleep (I only have time at night to write with 2 small kids).

It's great if all of us are in the same place BUT we are not and 'forum culture' may develop with time and things may get adopted or dropped with the users preference and that preference or freedom..I think..would be better than forcing things to be done only in a particular way. The content of almost all threads are important to readers when they are in similar situations, it would not matter whether one or 100 replied if just gives the hope that others also feel the same and have same problems. Since most of the time all of us tend to find solace in the forum when in trouble or when facing problems, so I think..

...Let the waters run as they are to see the beauty they make... .:-x

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