scott lee

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So many conversations, so few comments

Should something be done? How can we have conversations if people want to start conversations but don't want to participate in others?

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    Mar 2 2012: I have not been an active participant long, so I don't truly know all the rules about posting. I can think of a couple of things that might put people off and discourage posting replies. One is when any individual posts many, many questions at once. For example, if I saw one person post five or ten questions in sequence on the same day, I would likely choose not to respond to any of them. Those who believe in thoughtful conversation will tend to have limited time available, so I appreciate seeing questions from a variety of people with different interests rather than responding to one person's many simultaneous threads.

    Another reason some questions will get no response is that everyone who is not brand new has already discussed it recently. For example, a question like, "How can we reform our educational system?" seems to get posted every couple of days. People will get tired of responding to that, or any other often asked question over and over again.
    • Mar 3 2012: "if I saw one person post five or ten questions in sequence on the same day, I would likely choose not to respond to any of them" I agree......sometimes they have two pages worth of questions....incredible!


      "Another reason some questions will get no response is that everyone who is not brand new has already discussed it recently".....this is TRUE!! Happiness is also discussed quite alot.
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    Mar 2 2012: @Mary M.
    ‘What sometimes I don't quite understand is how someone can start a conversation, and then not reply to each entry.’

    This is actually the main reason why I have refrained from starting up a conversation (other than my first one)….a matter of dedicating the time to do so. Because I feel that as initiator it is respectful to provide some feedback to the commenter whether his/her input was helpful or not. Even if it was just a general comment to all in case you get way more replies than you can handle. I like David’s act of at least providing a thumbs up.
    I also think it’s respectful to the commenters to close the conversation with a recap, a possibility provided by TED but which so very few make use of. From time to time I do browse the topics archive, when looking for information on a certain topic, to pick the brains of more knowledgeable people. The recap provides insight to tell you whether it is worth your time to read through the whole conversation.

    I think that people starting up a conversation should also be aware that it asks for responsibility to manage the conversation. This includes providing feedback as much as possible, a recap at the end and yes, the thumbs up for positive reinforcement :)
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      Mar 3 2012: I must admit that on a few conversations I started that I did not realise that there was a final comment section for initiator feedback. Little embarassed by that, and I vow to do better.

      Also, sometimes the initiator can't respond to all comments because occasionally the discussions veer wildly off topic. Also, constnt responseby the initiator sometimes directs the conversation back to an immovable point of view (that is, the initiator unnecessarily stangles opposing viewpoints)

      But those are just hopes for continued considerations. As far as comments, I think more people should just go ahead and jump in. When I look at the many thousands of profiles in the TED community, and only the same dozen or so commentors, I feel that there is merely a handful of us performing for the crowd. Which I don't mind, because personally I think we put on a really good show!

      But I openly invite more people to join in! Speak up! Get involved! Imagine how many nrilliant ideas have died simply because they were never voiced!
      • Mar 3 2012: Did you know it is never too late to do closing statement??? Go back to the conversations, and you will be prompted.....

        Also, I agree with you, sometimes conversations are highjacked. Someone will say something controversial, and the conversation will take a turn for the worst......I guess you can flag the comment and TED will remove it.............but I personally cannot flag other's comments. I figure that if they wrote it, they should be the one to delete it.

        The other day, I almost jumped in to defend you when someone kept insisting on something because they were not understanding you......but you did pretty well on your own, so I stepped back....(I got your back Verble)

        And, I think that different people use different parts of TED.....alot of people comment under the TED talks.........but those conversations sometimes become too aggressive in nature........also, I dislike very much when someone talks negatively of the presenter..........like what they did with poor Jenna McCarthy's marriage talk. It takes alot of courage to stand up and entertain a crowd like the TED attendees....I thought she did a wonderful job in "entertaining".

        Take a bow Verble......I applaud your comment!!

        Be Well.
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          Mar 3 2012: Thank you much for your kind words, I will try to take a moment to find my few old conversations and place some ending comments.

          I did not see this marriage talk by Jenna McCarthy, but I agree that TED should strive to have the highest standards for polite debate. Disagreements are part of the fabric of debate, and passionate positions make for brilliant conversation, but personal attacks do nothing but poison the entire venture. But it takes us all to maintain this standard, the commentors, the initiators, the "overseers" and even the silent watchful majority.

          Thanks for the defense, Mary,somehow I always know that you are watching over me!

          And now for a shamelss plug (although it does fit this discussion): I have a new topic regarding regenerating new ovum in women, but alas! Four days have passed and not one comment! Sigh! Would anyone care to find it and comment?
    • Mar 3 2012: Hi Astra, yes I agree.

      The conversations I have started have been enjoyable. Some have had quite a bit of participation, while others have not. But I have always replied to the commenters. Some put me to thinking, so I take my time to reply, or at least put thumbs up.

      Also, I like to do closing statement......I get to have the last word...LOL

      Thank you for replying to my comment.........I hope to participate in one of your conversations soon....hopefully I will have something meaningful to say.

      Be Well.
  • Mar 2 2012: IDEAS >>>>>>>>>>>> what do you think????

    1....What if you had to earn a certain amount of TED creds in order to start a conversation????

    This way, by the time the person started a conversation, those of us who use the site regularly would be familiar with them.

    2...Also, there could be a time set...........if a conversation was not responded to in so many days, it would be eliminated?

    3...To cut down on the number of conversations posted, I also think that those that have closed can be separated from the rest......

    4...Sometimes someone will come on and ask a question that requires only ONE answer........then the person goes away, because they got what they were looking for..........these can be removed right away.....perhaps as the conversation starter, we can be given that option........like we can remove our comments, why not be able to remove our conversations?

    OK, that's it.......well, let's see if you can add anything further, or tweek my ideas.
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      Mar 2 2012: I think maybe you're suggesting a moderator?
      • Mar 2 2012: No, not at all.

        I don't know much about programming....but can't some of these ideas be programmed??

        And, TED has moderators. They remove comments and conversations, if they so desire.
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          Mar 2 2012: I was wondering whether this site had any.You're ideas seem to be on the ball but the first one might scare the first timers away or motivate them, at the moment i can't think of any which is usually the case until a couple of days from now.
      • Mar 2 2012: When I first joined, alot of my comments were removed, (I still take umbridge with that) and I even had a conversation removed.

        Once you learn what is acceptable, and how to choose your words wisely, nothing is removed.

        And as far as the ted creds it doesn't have to be alot...5 or 10....that's not that bad or hard to accumulate.

        Thanks for your input.
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      Mar 3 2012: well, I don't know about using ted creds. I've been participating a while and I haven't accumulated very many.

      I think that making people earn the right to start a conversation by commenting might work better for encouraging commenting, without excluding the general visitor of this site. Maybe a ratio of 3 to 1. Three comments gets you the right to start one conversation.
  • Mar 5 2012: And so many readers as well…
  • Mar 4 2012: We're social beings with a desire for attention. It's only natural that in a society that expects you to care about things that have nothing to do with you that intellectual intercourse runs into a few speed bumps.
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    Mar 4 2012: Well i will take a crack at hopefully improving the GUI.If they turn the "popular topics" into a dropmenu,get rid of the search conversations box and dropmenu the commenters aswel then you got room to add a box where it will give a short wording on the topic you have posted in,one line from your input then a small number that tells you how many have responded to you aswel as a separate coloured box that tells new response numbers to the subject.

    Oh also the translation software needs to be revamped as there are alot of young people who can't get there point across or i can't figure out what they are trying to say.
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    Mar 3 2012: The only way i keep track of replies is having my hotmail open as i don't have fast net or i'm engrossed in reading other posts.
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    Mar 3 2012: lol. I complain about there being so few commenters and then the conversation gets 30 comments in less than 24 hours!
    • Mar 3 2012: Serves you right!!! LOL
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    Mar 2 2012: The ratio of Topic:Comments is incredibly outbalanced most days.

    I believe the main issue is that not many people use this part of the site, but those who do wish to say something.
    If TED advertised this area, it would make a great difference.
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    Mar 2 2012: yeah, it seems that many people open conversations like crazy, instead of participating the existing meaningful ones. what do you think about it?
    • Mar 2 2012: I agree with you to a certain point.

      What I have noticed is that some of the conversations stem from others.

      Sometimes a comment will be thought provoking, and the next day you will see someone ask a question based on a comment in a previous conversation..........I personally like to hit the 'reply' button and ask the commenter further questions or put in my two cents worth.

      Also, the "wording" in a question/debate/idea, is of great importance, imho.........I started a conversation on this very same topic a few months back................only two people commented.......both had never commented before..............and now, look at all the participants here. :)

      I think people talk about what is comfortable for them, or what gets them excited.

      Krisztian are you familiar with the expression "the art of conversation"? It is truly an art, perhaps as more people read through these conversations, more will see how easy it is to participate.

      Be Well
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        Mar 2 2012: i'm an engineer. i know no art.
        • Mar 2 2012: How can you say that??

          Haven't you heard about the "art of engineering"..........oh, well, maybe it's a language/cultural thing.

          You can engineer conversations can't you?
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          Mar 3 2012: I'm with Mary. Engineering is an art. There is a great beauty in precision, and a harmony in design.
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        Mar 2 2012: sure. first you need to get rid of the rust :)
        • Mar 2 2012: So, what you are saying is that you are rusty??

          Or are you saying that first you have to get rid of the extraneous information irrelevant to answering the question......to get to the root of the actual problem, and then figure out a solution to the question....

          Please explain....
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        Mar 2 2012: i mean, i'm too much busy of getting rid of slack and rust around here, and i have way too few time to start the real work :)
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    Mar 2 2012: I think theres not enough people here or enough that have a broad knowledge base that they can feel they can comment on what an individual has put up.I've only just returned to this site and last year it was awash with commenters.
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      Mar 2 2012: I'm not so sure about that, I mean, what specialist knowledge do you need to participate in this conversation? I think it's got something to do with selfishness and the fact that TED is much more established now, and less of a novelty. People may see it as less immediate and relevant to them. Personally, I check it every day. But as you say, the number of comments is definitely going down. My last 2 conversations didn't get a single comment.
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        Mar 2 2012: I'm not a professional or a specialist or have a broad knowledge base but if i can't see that i can offer any comment that doesn't treat the uploaders question/idea/debate with some measure of respect/seriousness it deserves then i won't comment, is that selfishness? I'm not one for googling for hours for every question but i find i do learn alot from the comments.

        I posted one idea and got a humorous old bugger cracking a joke at me. all one can do is laugh.
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          Mar 2 2012: The ideas were disconnected. The selfishness, for me, is the fact that people only want reactions to their conversations...they want to be the centre of attention...so they post conversations but don't comment on others. Or you get comments which crave attention...people insulting or over-reacting in order to get a response. These are the selfish, immature ones.
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          Mar 2 2012: Humorous old buggers are always cracking jokes. Horace said, "A jest often decides matters of importance more effectually and happily than seriousness." Never stop laughing, Mr. Brown.
        • Mar 3 2012: @Edward........Here is another one by Oscar Wilde..."If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh---otherwise they'll kill you"

          Nice to see you Edward!!!

          At the end of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate factory ( the modern version), Willy Wonka is sitting down eating a meal with two elderly people, and he says......"you smell like old people and soap....I love old people and soap".................I just love that line, it reminds me of my grandma, she always smelled like old people and soap.....aaaah nostalgia.

          Thanks for bringing that memory back Edward.

          Be Well
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        Mar 2 2012: Actually i just reread my comment and it sounded like what you just said lol sorry mate.I put the dig in every now and then to help generate the conversation especially in religious debates but it's to help it if i get a sense that it's too biased.
      • Mar 2 2012: I wouldn't go as far as saying it's 'selfishness'.

        Perhaps the way the conversations are displayed has something to do with it.

        Perhaps the subject being asked about also has something to do with it.

        OR......look what I have also noticed.

        A few nights ago, there were a bunch of conversations noone had responded to, so I went in and said something brief as the first commenter..............a few hours later others had joined in.

        I think what happens oftentimes is that nobody wants to be "first"...........you know, like when you are at a party, and the music starts, and nobody wants to go on the dance floor until the first couple "dares" to go out.........

        Some conversations are like that.............everyone is waiting to see what direction the conversation will take before they will join it.............what they don't realize, is that conversations, by nature, can go in many, many directions............

        I have loved participating in this conversation..............each of my comments are different.........because this conversation does not have "ONE" single answer.........each of us have a different perspective..............hey, and that's perfectly ok.

        What do you think??
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          Mar 2 2012: About being the first, I agree. I went into a pub in Spain at 11pm to find it empty. I don't mind this, as I get good service and can sit anywhere I want, but I asked the barman when people would be arriving and he said, "Now that you're here, it'll be full in half an hour." And it was.
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          Mar 3 2012: You are so kind Mrs. Munoz. I think it is profitable to think of these conversations as happening around a coffee table at Starbucks with each person being encouraged, and allowed, to express themselves without any scorekeeping. In such a scenario it would be awkward and inappropriate to spuriously begin a new conversation before the current one ended. The image of face-to face exchange is helpful to me, even though I know we are not all at one Starbucks table, or even in the same time zone. Grace to you in abundance.
      • Mar 2 2012: How very interesting......you are a leader.......that's good....

        I think this happens on TED also, once someone comments, others follow.

        Check out the question I added to the conversation on "what ? would you like to be asked".

        I was inspired by your question.......my first answer was too serious, and then I realized, by reading the next two comments, that they could be fun questions.....

        Thanks.
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          Mar 2 2012: ha ha..a leader! I just like being first in the queue...but for good and bad things. Get the bad things over and done with and behind me.
    • Mar 2 2012: I was thinking that some people are shy by nature, they come on to read, and be educated.

      It's ok. It's part of life.

      What sometimes I don't quite understand is how someone can start a conversation, and then not reply to each entry.

      It's nice when the person asking the questions validates each commenters input......it makes for a nice conversation.

      Some TEDsters are really good at doing this............the conversation on the video games was enjoyable because the young man that started it always came back and replied, also the one on what you are grateful for this year was excellent for the same reason........there was a relaxed atmosphere inside the conversations, and people freely contributed.

      I think the question, when it is worded in an enticing way, and when it is on a topic that hits the emotions usually gets alot of participation.

      What do you think??
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        Mar 2 2012: People shy by nature tend to be much more vociferous when writing. There's a certain anonymity which shields. I don't reply to everyone who writes back...I asked a question based on Sir Ken Robinson's talk and got 200 comments. I just don't have the time, but I do try to at least give a thumbs up if I can't reply.
        • Mar 2 2012: Well, it is true that people tend to write more on line.....however, they still have to be able to express themselves.

          And, speaking of the international crowd, sometimes it is hard to express your feelings in english...

          Imagine if this site were in arabic.....how much would we be able to comment??

          It would be great if you could translate the entire page instantaneously to "ANY" language, and then, oh boy, the insights we would have on all kinds of issues. Because, anyone, speaking any language, could participate.

          Wouldn't that be something?

          And yes, I understand that when you have hundreds of comments it is hard to reply.
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        Mar 2 2012: In response to your latest comment about instant translation, I always used to think that the Babel Fish in A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy would be an excellent device for understanding any language immediately...but in the last few years, I've grown to appreciate the charm and mystique that lies in ignorance. Listening to someone talk in Arabic or Russian can sound tremendously exotic and erotic; do we really want to know that they were talking about their shopping list? Whispered sweet nothings become whispered sweet everythings.
        • Mar 3 2012: David.....you chased a rabbit......I'm not interested in understanding what people say out loud......I am interested in listening to other's point of view here on TED.

          I had never heard of Babel Fish...
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        Mar 3 2012: "What sometimes I don't quite understand is how someone can start a conversation, and then not reply to each entry."

        Well, I started this conversation last night and now there are 30 comments. I am not going to respond to 30 comments. I like ted, but its not a job.

        As far as translation goes, computers are bad at translating. However that duolingo system sounds really cool. I wonder if it could be applied to ted as comments come in. I think its great to get more conversations between people in different countries, since there are often so many myths about distant places.
        • Mar 3 2012: There are translations systems that can do this work.....I don't know where I read about it, or who uses it.

          But yes, it would be nice to have thoughts of others who want to share their ideas translated for our benefit.....it wouldn't mean that we would understand people "speaking" that language, but it would mean that we could learn from other's point of view.

          AND, while it is not easy to reply to each comment, common courtesy should impel the person who started a conversation to at least come back to it when the time is up and write "closing remarks"......many do not do that EITHER.......I find technology has given many individuals the go ahead to be rude, and they get away with it......common courtesy is not so common anymore. : (

          Be Well