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We are staying focused so that we can build groups with a decent amount of activity. As such, the creation of new study groups is currently something that only the site admins can do. We experimented briefly with allowing arbitrary group creation, but that resulted mostly in cruft and a myriad inactive or off-topic groups. For now, we keep an eye out for interest from people on subjects, but it may be a little bit before we add any new groups.
Ah. I understand. However, this unfortunately for me, deeply limits the functionality of this site. Also, it makes the implication of the claim's "largest real time study group" & "open" specious, at best. More akin to marketing, than actual features in a pragmatic sense.
An understandable concern for sure. But we think we are still both of those things. The key here is that having a group that has no users in it most of the time is (in our mind) more harmful to the community than not having the group at all. Not having the group means we hear about interest, and once we get a critical mass we can bring it into being. Having it with no activity means people come, see the group, and get a bad impression of the site as a whole.
Obviously feel free to share your thoughts. The decision to disallow user-created groups is one that we took about 3 weeks ago, and it's on the forefront of our mind most of the time (particularly because there is a decent amount of demand for that ability—sadly, it usually exists in disparate areas instead of focusing on a handful that would become active).
Users should be limited in that regard, I believe. Only because we don't want another facebook on our hands. Requests aren't ignored, however, and good ideas are swiftly recognized. That's as open as it needs to be, in my opinion.
Moderator defined "official groups" are necessary to prevent an array of abuse.
Out of curiosity, do you not need help in the subjects that we do have, or is it simply an all-or-nothing deal in your mind?
In principle, it is all or nothing. However, at heart like I said, the problem is pragmatic. Meaning, that yes, I needed help in these subjects, and in trying figure out how to meaningfully start conversations regarding them is where I bumped against the inoperable design principles. Or, in other words, principles only matter when they come in to contact with real usage.
Dyiliq, this is fine, I just wouldn't call it "open" or "large." And, im not sure if its necessary, other places seem to be able to do it without incurring the problems you point out.
All you have to do is ask a question in a relevant group....
Other places have armies of paid moderators to skip merrily through every post and every thread to make sure
Hi @wwjimd - Sorry I missed this thread. Going off of what @shadowfiend stated, this wasn't a decision we made in a vacuum. In fact, the fact that users cannot create their own groups is a relatively new part of OpenStudy, and was *never* in our original plans. However, the fact is that user created groups typically did not get the audience they needed to be effective, and oftentimes devolved into areas where people abused the site for purposes *completely* unrelated to studying or learning. Which brings me to my second point - OpenStudy is a community for users 13 - 80. We have to be aware of this fact at all times in our content and moderation guidelines. For this reason, tools like Facebook and Twitter are not truly analogous to the service we aim to provide (lack of censorship for instance). Thirdly, this is not to say we are inflexible. If anything, we pulled the plug on User created groups after *numerous* repeated cases like I described above. However, we still are discussing the future of this functionality - and if you have an idea for a group that should be created, by all means, let us know.
Also, what exactly do you mean by 'principles only matter when they come into contact with real usage?'
@cshalvey I'm not making the claim that OpenStudy is analogous to Facebook or Twitter (FB & twitter are more general purpose), only that, in its current manifestation, that it offers me no extra functionally that i can't get in better forms on such networks. This is even more the case if I include G+ & Quora. This makes OpenStudy functionally superfluous to my needs. I came here because I had some questions/conversations I was interested in engaging in regarding philosophy & psychology. So, those would be my immediate suggestions. However, this somewhat misses the point. I also sometimes get stumped in the fields of computation biology, neuroscience, education, linguistics, sociology, etc, etc, etc. The university/school system has virtually limitless fields of study. When I have questions I often, due to time pressures in academic settings, need to address them immediately. Wait for a admin to create a group every-time I have a question in a non-existent group makes the site unworkable for many, if not most, academic purposes.
@cshalvey One of my core frustrations is what seems like the use of openwashing, and other marketing that is speciously worded marketing phrases. Maybe this could be cleared up if it was specified how "open" is being defined in the context of OpenStudy, and how "largest" is being measured and evaluated in the context of "real-time study group."
@cshalvey Lastly, I mean: if design principles don't impact user experience negatively, or contrary to expectation created by statements of purpose, then they don't even show up in user experience, so are unimportant.
I'll give you a partial answer on the definition of “open”. To us, open is a matter of having an open, welcoming community, and having the whole team be open in terms of what we're up to, what we're thinking, and in terms of accepting feedback. In an ideal scenario, it's also about accepting all kinds of study-related content, but in practice this has meant too much non-studying content to manage properly, so we've scaled that back for now. We still want to get to a point where we can open that back up, we just can't do 20 different things at once, and we've chosen to deprioritize that for the immediate future :)
I guess the thing I'm confused about is that even if you could create your own group, say a Philosophy group, it would still be devoid of actual users, so asking a question there would be ineffective, wouldn't it?
You don''t know until the group is created. I think you need to apply the facebook integration a little deeper. You've got over 1,000 likes....I wonder how many registered users you have?
@shadowfiend Yes. It probably would be ineffective given what you have told me. However, this brings into question the second claim of "largest." In a large community, from the way I understand it, there would be enough diversity of interest to easily support newly created groups. And, yes, this isn't a common use of the word "open" regarding info/software, hence my confusion.
I can see the confusion regarding open, yeah. I hope you see how we don't consider it to be mere marketing-speak, but rather a core part of our identity, though :) Notably, we are open to some extent in the software sense, as well. A couple of our developers contribute to open source projects (I myself recently became a committer on the Lift framework, which powers this site, and am in the process of contributing back some of our internal modifications to Lift), and when we get a chance we publish components that make sense as standalone projects (in particular, I'm eyeballing open sourcing the drawing component once we get a chance to improve it a bit).
@shadowfiend Given that it isn't in-line with common usages of open, then it shows up as marketing-speak, whether it is your intention or not. In any case, I need to get back to studying/addressing the questions I originally came here to ask. If things change in the future, or you would like feedback about potential ways of designing systems that are open w/out the downfalls, feel free to contact me in the future.
I'm definitely sorry about that misunderstanding. Given that the value we provide is our community, I believe our use of open is fully justified. We hold true that our value, which is our community, including the development team, is open. We don't believe that not open sourcing all of our software dilutes that fact. Good luck with the answers you seek, and we'll definitely let you know when we reach a point where we open up the ability to create user groups again.
@shadowfiend Ok. Last thing. It's so easy to get caught up. Sometimes it is less important then whether one feels justified, but how something is showing up. I'm not looking for a defense of your usage, I'm offering feedback about how it can be interpreted from the outside.
ok. Closing the window. =D
Oh no, I understand that. When I say we're justified, I'm not saying just internally. I'm saying that people have generally understood what we mean :)
yea you cant create one (anymore)
Close ze question! :3