OK. This is a good conversation to be having, and I hope the community can help and collaborate to create a framework or establish a set of posting expectations that works effectively and efficiently for the greatest number of students in the TCM Presents Into the Darkness course.
To let you know my viewpoint as the instructor, I believe in letting certain aspects of the course evolve in as organic a manner as possible. That sometimes leads to messy beginnings, but I personally do not like creating frameworks or policies until the need for them arises. I'm sure others have a different view of this, but that was one of my reasons that this course doesn't have its first lecture till Week 2. Week 1 is the time when I like to work out the processes, fix the bugs, get everyone settled in, so that the remaining 8 weeks are focused on the reason for this course: a great and vibrant space for film noir discussion.
That said, I think the need has arisen for a solution to the message board issues raised on this thread. However, I want to make two points. First, message boards like this have limitations due to their threaded and chronological nature and it is sometimes hard when a thread reaches 200 post to feel that your new observation will make sense as Post #201; and 2) any decisions regarding a posting policy for the TCM Message Boards needs to balance two different and competing impulses:
Impulse #1: The desire to keep the threads organized so that it is easier to follow when we have hundreds of posts on the same subject
Impulse #2: The desire to give the community a certain amount of freedom to post on subjects they are passionate and/or knowledgeable about
In a massive course like ours--that has thousands of active daily participants--it is frequently difficult to balance those two competing impulses. For each person who wants more organization, there is likely another person who wants to have the freedom to start their own threads.
Moreover, different students have different views of the benefits of a message board. Reading through hundreds of posts, I see different desires and purposes among our community of active posters. Some want to just share their views on the films. Others seem more interested in responding to others posts. Yet others feel that their views are different enough that they warrant a new thread. And some of the new topics are truly different from the Daily Dose discussions. I do not see any of these posts as problematic, but it will be hard to find a single framework that works for all those types of postings.
I do think one place to start is to try to minimize additional topics related to the Daily Dose of Darkness. I see how many of the additional threads that were opened regarding the Daily Dose could be developed and shared under a single topic heading. I think maybe we can post expectations to tell students to stay in the Daily Dose topic if their post involves a comment on the Daily Dose. Moreover, I would love to hear suggestions on how we can better curate and build on the existing posts. There is so much good stuff in those threads, but I'm not sure it is easy to access the knowledge that resides in those posts due to their sheer number.
Another thought is that we build a system more akin to folders so that it is easier to find posts or to make posts. In that mentality, Summer of Darkness could be broken down into the following "folders" to help organize topics. An initial idea would be like:
--Folder 1: Daily Dose Posts
--Folder 2: Summer of Darkness Film Posts
--Folder 3: General Film Noir Questions
--Folder 4: Everything Else
Thoughts? Comments? Concerns?
Thank in advance for your patience as we work through these issues.