Traditional Irish Music
Before I start, I'd just like to point out that this is no way a criticism of the way this site is working so far, for I'm sure you'll all agree with me that Tony is doing a great job. So no, this isn't Mutiny, but simply an open discussion amongst concerned members, who would like to help him steer the best way forward.
So, to the discussion .....
I have noticed that already, some members here are choosing to lock their Profile Pages, which I must confess I find a little odd, given that this site offers a great opportunity for musicians to meet lots of musicians with the same interests as them, make new friends & learn lots more about their favourite music, then the first thing they do is .... lock their Profile Page!
Call me old fashioned, but isn't that a bit like going to a great party & then going off & hiding in a room & locking the door?
Mind you, I notice too that some groups on this networking site are also locked to non memers, which I find a little odd, but then maybe that's just me. Anyway that's probably a discussion for another day. ;-)
Surely this begs the question, if you didn't want to make new friends & meet people, why did you bother going to the party in the first place.
Now I can fully understand this if, for example, they are youngsters who are perhaps still at school & are worried about all those weirdo internet stalkers that they read about. However, I'm an Old Fart myself, & I know that most school children today are far more street wise than kids were, way back when I was at school. So I reckon they are really savvy, when it comes to spotting the dangerous net lurkers.
Oh yes & I know that if an older person was going to stalk me here, they'd need to be in their 70s .. so clearly, I'm not in any danger here! ;-)
Anyway, surely they are aware that Tony keeps a watchful eye on all new members here, so anyone who doesn't answer the intro questions correctly or fills out their profile info in an odd fashion, will immediately ring alarm bells TradConnect Tower.
As well as that safety net, there is also an integrated Spam Alert system on this site. As well as those safety measures though, I'd also like to think that all members here take the safety of all other members really seriously, so that we are all watching each others backs & would report any suspicious postings immediately to Tony.
Let's face it, if it became the norm for each of us to lock ourselves away behind our Profile Pages, I think this would become a very, very strange networking site, it could lead to an unhealthy & unproductive atmosphere here & would surely defeat the whole object of the exercise, wouldn't it?
Given the fact that this site is here to encourage all those who are learning to play Irish Music to join, I think it is inevitable that this site will probably end up with a large percentage of youngsters on board. So, if the main objective here, is for all members to network freely with one another, make new musical friends & learn from each other, perhaps it is worthwhile considering the option of locking the outside door to this party, so that all those inside can then feel safe to chat freely & meet new friends openly & so not feel the need to hide themselves away on their own wee secret Profile Pages.
Of course, locking the front door, would mean that outsiders could still visit the Home Page & see what this site was all about & what it had to offer, so they would still be in a position to decide whether or not it was of interest to them, but they couldn't actually gain access to any of the inside pages here, including Profile Pages.
This would then mean that all members Profile Pages were only visible to other members, which would hopefully then give each of them a greater feeling of safety here & perhaps lead to everyone being a little more open & friendly.
Incidentally, the front door here can easily be locked with just the click of a Mouse, so one option might be to try it for a few days & see how people feel about it & see also if it deterred new members from joining, which as far as I can see, would be the only disadvantage to a locked front door.
As it is, at the moment the site is open, so I can understand members being a little reluctant, in todays World, to post photos of their expensive instruments, not to mention photos of children & their instruments, but I think that's a real shame, especially on a site like this, which has great potential to engage with thousands of young musicians.
Makes me wonder too that, if we did have a locked front door, then perhaps more members might actually post photos of themselves, as their avatar. That would surely make the members page here a lot more friendly looking, than the way it is now, with all those faceless heads!
Perhaps I have the wrong end of the stick, when it comes to why some members here have already locked their Profile Pages & whatever their reasons are, that is of course their own business & absolutely nothing to do with me. So I'm certainly not prying here, but I just think that if it is the case that some of our younger members here, don't feel 100% safe here, now would be a good time to address this issue. I'm sure we'd all hate to think that some younger musicians out there, were afraid to join us here.
By the way & just for the record, I myself run two music sites like this, one is open but the other has the front door locked on it.
The reason I decided to lock the front door on the 2nd one was because, after discussion, it was felt that most members actually preferred the front door to be locked, to gave them more freedom to post photos of their expensive instruments.
As for the open one, that's for Banjo players & let's face it, who in their right mind would stalk a Banjo player! :-) As for someone actually wanting to steal a Banjo, be honest, if you leave a Banjo in an open car, the chances are when you return, your more likely to find that 4 or 5 other folks have dumped more Banjos in there! :-)
Anyway, to be serious again, I'd be very interested to read other folks views on the option of a locked front door?
Of course, at the end of the day, this is Tony's website & he will run it the way he sees fit & I know we'll all support him 100%, but I'm sure he would also appreciate reading your views on this subject.
In responding to this there seems to be four points that need to be addressed.
1. Locking the Door
This is a young site, with the goal of connecting people. To do that you need lots of members. To Lock the Door would run contrary to this Goal and prevent its ability to succeed so I don't see this as a realistic option.
2. Profile Pages Locked
Under a test file I quickly looked at 60 random accounts and found 5 locked. My own feeling on this is that the security and safety features that are built into this software (which are very sophisticated,) are there to give members the ability to protect their privacy. If they want keep them private then that is their decision. As the site grows the overall number as a percentage will reduce and there will still be lots of members to connect and discuss with.A few locked profiles will in my view not overly matter. From a security point all locked profiles can be viewed by me and other site administrators.I actually believe some of these accounts are locked in error, and will be opened once the member discovers it is so.
3. Groups locked to non members
Not sure if I follow you on this point. Maybe drop me an email. However as I understand it you need to be a member of TradConnect in order to be a member of one of the Groups.
4. Security & Safety
This is the critical issue on all social networks and one that I am constantly grappling with. As it stands you need to be 13 to join TradConnect and you have pretty much the same privacy controls as you do on Facebook, which has an age of 12 as I understand it. To be on under that age could only be done with your parents assistance/consent. A few under age issues on the site at the moment are being dealt with. I will today be adding a new Tab to the site dealing with Safety for members and parents. TradConnect takes this issue very seriously, and as a father of a 12, 9 and 5 year old I am close to the risks. I think the talent in our young people is fantastic. I spent the weekend at the Leinster Fleadh sitting in on loads of competitions, duos, trios, flute, fiddle etc. I think it would be a wasted opportunity to allow these talented teenagers to spend hours on Facebook discussing Hannah Montana, the Script or whatever and not let them use their online time in a forum that promotes traditional music. With the software controls and with mine and the members input I believe this can be managed.
I take security and safety very seriously and will be constantly developing /watching it. However I understand that there are a thousand different opinions out there on this issue, and it would be good to hear some from our members.
Finally member input is always welcomed. I might be too close to the site at time "see the wood for the trees" type of thing, so a detached view is actually great.
"This is a young site, with the goal of connecting people. To do that you need lots of members. To Lock the Door would run contrary to this Goal and prevent its ability to succeed so I don't see this as a realistic option."
Aye, I can see why it wouldn't be your first choice Tony, for to lock the front door would perhaps look like you were not exactly welcoming new members with open arms. However, as on my own Irish Concertina site, visitors can see everything that is on the Home Page, which is after all like the Shop Window of the site. So I do think that visitors can easily decide from what they see on the Home Page, whether or not this site is, or isn't, for them.
"If they want keep them private then that is their decision."
I of course agree entirely with this, it just seems a little strange to join a networking site & then stay hidden, but then perhaps they are just waiting until they have had time to explore fully, before they feel confident enough to unlock their profiles. Or, perhaps they just haven't had time to post anything of interest yet on their profile, so have decided to keep the curtains closed until they have tidied the place up, or as you say, maybe they don't know they have locked everyone out.
"Groups locked to non members ... Not sure if I follow you on this point."
Well, when I check out say the South Sligo Summer School Group, I can see all the group info & what the group is all about. However, when I try to check out others like say the Dublin one, it is locked to visitors. It just seems to me that it would be more inviting if other members of the site could visit those groups, not only to see what they're all about, but also perhaps to get some inspiration for starting up their own groups for their own areas.
"Security & Safety"
Yes, I agree with all you say on this matter & thankfully I don't have quite so much to worry about on that score, on my own Ning sites, as they are geared more towards adults. However, on this site, I'm sure you are keen to encourage as many younger musicians to join up & network, so it certainly is something to keep a careful eye on & as I said, I'm sure all the members here will be right behind you, in helping to ensure the safety of all members.
It'll be interesting to hear what other members think on these issues, but the final decision on all these matters does of course rest with your good self. It's just helpful I think, to sometimes bring these things out into the open & throw a few ideas around, to get a better slant on the best way forward.
As I said, I had to go through this process on my Concertina site & I was keen to do it out in the open & give all members a say on the subject, before I made a decision. Likwise on my Old Time Music site, we went through a rather tough & often heated debating process on whether or not to allow elements of Bluegrass Music to be permitted & encouraged on the site. Like yourself, I had the option of just deciding myself without any discussion, but as I felt that all members did at least have a say in these matters, I thought it was only fair to have an open debate first. In the end I still had to make a decision, but at least I was able to do it from a point of pretty good knowledge on how most active members felt on the matter & I feel that our site was all the stronger for bringing matters like these out into the open.
On the session.org Jeremy runs a very tight ship & all decisions appear to be reached by him behind closed doors, with never any debate or discussion & indeed he actively discourages any open debate on any operational matters of the site. Now of course the site is his & he is entirely within his rights to run it whichever way he chooses & let's face it, he's been doing a brilliant job for a very long time now, & more power to his elbow, so that system works well for him.
However, by my nature, I prefer to be more open & I do feel that there will always be a certain number of active members on any site like this, that will appreciate the opportunity of being able to, at the very least, be able to voice their opinions from time to time, safe in the knowledge of course that in the end, it's you & you alone who has to make all the tough & final decisions ...... & also keep a weather eye on the tiller. ;-)
I see the problem with the Dublin group. I'm viewing it as the creator so it always appears open, when in fact it's closed. I sometimes log in under a test name to see what everyone else see's. Missed this. However open group discussions appear in the Latest Activity feed and can start to clog it up. Making it private prevents this. This might have to be considered at a later stage if the groups prove successful. Imagine 20 active groups. Latest activity would have the last hour, at peak times.
I'm not Jeremy. I cant do this on my own. All help,advice,feedback is welcomed. This site is for the members, not me. I just woke up one morning with a mad idea. No grand plan. Just do it and see what happens. All input accepted and welcomed.
That's an odd coincidence Dick, as I had recently written to Tony here expressing some reservations, in relation to younger people, about his exhortation to members to fill in personal details. I was looking at the Willie Week page and it was obvious that many of the group were likely teenagers. Tony has responded and I don't know where the best answer lies. One of his concepts is to 'connect' people and you need some level of personal details for that purpose. But I'd be wary about my children posting age, town and stuff like that - it's well known that exploitative people look at sites like this, start online communication and seek to extend that by identifying where they live and seeking to meet etc. Let's not be so naive as to pretend this could not be an issue just because it's a site relating to trad (Irish) music. Maybe there's a happy medium somewhere?
I am pretty much in agreement with you. I am coming to the conclusion that the age restriction should be raised to 17 as a minimum, maybe 18. I would like to hear other members views/ideas on this issue and how best to deal with it.
First, I would like to personally thank Tony for the wonderful work he has done in implementing this site!
In response to the ongoing discussion concerned with "Locking the Front Door", I would also like to take this opportunity to state that I am equally impressed with the level of professionalism, sincerity, and candidness of the engaged members' perspective, as well as, the courtesy and respect that has been exhibited in expressing their thoughts as well.
Of course security is paramount in dealing with websites and there are those amount us who can appreciate that first hand. It does not surprise me that many members maintain personal and professionl websites of their own (your truly as well). However, in my line of work, I always look at "materiality" when addressing matters of change that could result in a significant impact (negative or positive). Consider the fact that Tony has taken a random sampling which yielded 5 members out of 60 or roughly 12% who had elected to "lock their profiles". That is 12% of the sample population. For Tony, this sampling may or may not warrant for him to take appropriate measures to improve an undesirable or unintentional outcome. It has been my experience that initiating action absent of research but based on assumption may not yield results as expected. One can only assume the reasons behind why someone elects to lock their profile within a special interest site such as this. My theory is that Members will continue to "lock profiles" given the Front Door is locked or not.
I am in support of the following:
1. Raising the age to 17 or 18 to enroll in membership.
2. Only members may post comments ( I believe this is already the case)
3. Always maintain an open and inviting "Front Door" to encourage membership.
a.If locked, provide enough exposure to ensure adequate representation of the site's mission.
4. Provide autonomy to members (the ability to secure their profile via levels- how much they want to disclose).
5. Maintain the "Status Quo" by continuing to monitor and manage the site appropriately to ensure integrity and direction to the site's mission.
I have enjoyed being a member of this site and look forward to a long and active engagement!
Thanks for a job well done!
Ed - :::---( o )