Where and What are we - Introspection Episode 1
June 12 2018
During a slow day at Taunton I sat talking to a couple of people whose views I respect and a bloke I didn't know who doesn't like me or Grocklesit seems (possibly because I don't think our individual views have 'meshed' online at some time in the past). Both camps commented on the fact that the site had changed over time. For the better? For the worse? Was it fact or perception? Well now's as good as any time to investigate that and test the wind. Join the chat......
"The Grockles Obsession" started sometime in the spring of 1994 at Henbury School in Bristol as an Advanced Applied ICT project. The first match report was sometime in June and it was left up over the winter and rumbled along with traffic of sorts. It was picked up by Rivals.net sometime in 1996/7 after a couple of webspace transfers and expansions where it was turned into "Grockles.com" with its own URL, webspace and some sort of structure. Here we are some 20 odd years later and it's still here.
Before opening the debate about what Grockles should be, maybe it would make sense to identify what it isn't.
It is an independent site for Somerset cricket NOT necessarily a Somerset supporters site. Obviously the majority of posters and readers are supporters but forum membership is not based on the need to support the club and never has been.
Grockles has NO club affiliations or loaylties though we are appreciative of the interaction and access that we have been afforded over the years by the organisation. Contrary to the belief of some I am NOT employed by the club. I have not been a member of Somerset for more than a decade.
Grockles is NOT a vehicle soley for my views on Somerset. I do post my views. So do many others. We agree or we don't and the world turns. I am not the Kim Jong Un OR the Donald Trump of Grockles whether you like me or not. The conversation is what is important to the readers (that may be a fundamental point in this investigation) but I am afraid that some of you have to get used to the fact that without me there is no Grockles.com so I'm probably here to stay.
There were never 'good old days' of Grockles when the posting forum numbered in the hundreds. The regular posting population of the site has never been in 3 figures. It usually has had a core of about 30 to 50 with others who floated in and out. It has rarely (if ever) been over 70 regulars. This is not unusual. most forum sites are 'iceberg' like with far more readers than contributors.
Grockles readership has varied over the years and is of course affected by the development of other social media etc but suprisingly our figures are pretty much where they have been. Grockles is NOT a marketing exercise, we do NOT chase a market, we are a 'word of mouth' site and we have no agenda of becoming the 'number 1' site or anything else.
Statistics can be used in many ways but in the days before universal wifi, smartphones, Twitter and video streaming we counted our traffic in millions of page hits a year. Unique users were in the thousands and page hits monthly were in hundreds of thousands.
Today? Well yesterday we had 4173 page views from 350 unique users. I can log on 10 times a day. Grockles is what is known as a 'sticky' site. People log on and look around at more than one page per visit and they visit more than once a day. A 10% user to view ratio has been pretty much normal for us. The average daily rate for 2018 is about 2,400 views from about 230 unique users. The highest daily rate in the last month has been 5567 from over 400 users.
On a monthly basis the use of Grockles is obviously related to the time of year. Last month there were 139,393 page views by over 2000 unique addresses. The present average for the first 5 months of 2018 is 89,630 which will probably rise as that only covers two of the 6 months of the season. 2017 had a monthly average of 131,000 with a highest monthly total of 368,000 and a total for the year of over 1.5million.
The number of different users is not as easy to sort out. 19,531 users were identified in 2017 but many of them come back more than once and log on from more than one location. I have used 5 locations in two seperate countries and that doesn't include airport terminals, trains, planes and automobiles. In our hayday we did have over 3000 unique users per month in the days of few other sources. Now? we have a monthly average of about 1600.
Grockles tends to moderate itself. As the only moderator I feel I need to interfer very little. Maybe that is another issue as some seem to think I need to interfer more?
I have in the past given posters the opportunity to complain and request specific moderation. Almost none have taken me up on that though they do seem to moan about the lack of it on a semi regular basis. Some say the 'feel' of the site is different but nothing I have tried to get people to identify their issues has resulted in any of those people helping me identify what has changed that feel.
I have had demands to remove posters for minor indiscretions, I have had posters leave the site over the use of a word they disagreed with. Posters move on, leave and come back or just get bored of it all. Almost no one in the life of the site has identified the issue they have had with a poster or a post and asked for specific moderation or have been willing to identify evidence that back up their demand. I have found myself more than once demanding that a poster change their posting habits for the good of all and then having to defend the same poster from demands for bans once they have improved and become less prococative.
Grockles does NOT ban if it can help it and will NOT ban because an opinion is disliked. We may ask for evidence of that opinion and for more factual rigour in the argument and may hide a post until it is provided but we look to ban trolls rather than people with opposing views and I do need some help occasionally to identify the former from those who see this as suddenly important from time to time. Most of the time it is demanded without reasons being given and I may need to be persuaded because to be honest it isn't always that cut and dried with some of the population on the site.
One of the people I was talking to yesterday gave an analogy that has been used in the past that Grockles is like a room in a pub where people familiar with each other sit and discuss the day. That aspect of the site is where its value lies in my view and we are fortunate to have a particular membership that creates that environment. That is where the life is and that is where the gems are.
I would add to that analogy. It IS like the back room of a pub but with an intercom to the public bar. Occasionally something sparks the interest of the public and they either pop in to the pub to listen or they actually come into the back bar to involve themselves in the discussion. That involvement may not always be welcome and we do get have situations where the pushing of the comfort zone of regulars can occur until someone leaves, adapts or is evicted. One question is at what point is eviction the solution rather than allowing the opposite view to possibly move regulars on who do not want that conflict in their familiar place? Are the regulars important or is the debate sometimes of more importance?
What is the point of Grockles.com?
What do you believe the policy should be towards 'dissenting' voices?
At what point would you like to see 'agent provocateurs' being sent on their way and how can you help the moderator to identify when that point has been reached?
What do you like about the site?
What bothers you about it (positive suggestions to remedy those things would be welcomed rather than just moaning)?
What would you like to see that is not here?
I am asking these questions not because I am looking for some 'product development' to increase our internet footprint or market share. It is more because many of you have invested a lot of time in the relationships you have in this 'pub backroom' and you have the right to be asked what bothers or warms you about Grockles because you make it what it is. If improvements mean we get more crowded then it might be worthwhile but it will be what it will be.
If you want to make this personal then can I please ask you to reply by PM rather than using a public forum to vent your spleen? I'd like the discussion on the site to be positive. If you can't do that without aggression then please be aggressive off site and I'll calm it down and put your point on the site with a little less provocation. I do reserve the right to do that anyway if some posters can't manage to do that themselves (it has been known in the past)
I am looking for an open and honest conversation and some movement forward. There is no requirement to comment, though to some extent that also means you forgoe the right to complain at what you get. As Jim Jefferies says at the end of each of his shows 'I think we can all do better'.
We shall see how we go. Over to you lot.
To start you off, one thing I would love (and it was suggested by someone here) would be a like and dislike button - damn that would make my life easier.pqs: qs:
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We know that.
More like Basil Fawlty.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:06:12:14:54:29 by Grockle.
In Tom's case it is because he simply posted to say he won't comment and in CH's case because he simply seems to want to fight me. I've referred him to the PM system
I'm happy to remove this whole thing if people think it is about 'me'. I thought it was about the site and what might need changing in the way we deal with each other or whatever. I'd rather not talk about 'me'.
Please either attack me personally via PM and I'll happily accommodate you or come on here and talk about Grockles without personalising it. You've been given ample opportunity to attack me - that avenue has been open to you for nearly 10 years but very few have used the thread given over to that very function in that time.
If you think this site is about 'me' and you don't like that/me then I can only suggest that you stop posting on it and find something else. Either that or explain yourself and suggest ways in which the site can be depersonalised from the 'me' bit.
CH says I don't 'get it'. Well sir explain 'it' without the personal aggression and maybe we can do something about 'it'.
One suggestion I have had is that I remove posters with a negative attitude. Then we wouldn't have this would we? But I'm personally of the opinion we might lose more than that. Am I wrong?
Some people think Grockles has lost something. I'm just opening the conversation to see if we can find out what it is.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:06:12:20:39:43 by Grockle.
If you read the material above I did say that if people couldn't keep their own personal aggression out of the posts I would try and take it out for them but give their opinions if possible. If you want them to be anonymous I'm happy to remove them so let me know but you posted under your own pseudonym the first time around so I assumed it would be OK.
I'll remove them if you'd rather I did.
Posters dislike it when they are shown disrespect so don't do it to others. Mutual respect makes for better dialogue.
I added to that the point that some have been here a long time and expect certain responses from those they interact with here.
Sometimes they expect that to be disrespectful and react quickly and sometimes inaccurately because of that.
If something seems to be 'iffy' do we have to immediately react to it? Is it not possible to check whether we have the right end of the stick first? We have a PM system for a reason and we don't use it enough
Could we all work on changing relationships we have with people we think we 'know' but only via text which is not a great medium for providing meaning?
Could we make a post clearer? (TiC) emoticons to show humour or whatever?
Should we count to 10 before we respond?
Should we respond at all?
Accepting something is wrong is one thing. Accepting we may all have some responsibility for it being wrong or for putting it right is another.
Are we all so perfect that it is all someone else's fault in every case? Isn't improvement a two way thing?
Do both sides of the problem want to improve things for the mutual benefit of all and if not should that be allowed to stand?
Sorry there is more than the initial post from my posting colleague. Got away from me a little.
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2018:06:13:09:45:39 by Grockle.
I get a bit fed up with the petty squabbles and one or two who seem only ever to be negative about individual players, the club or the sport - tho I'll admit to my own hypocrisy in being happy with often-unfair negativity towards Surrey, the ECB and Australia - as long as it's largely good-natured, it's fine. On the whole, it's a shame to have lost the likes of Frome Exile and Big Jim, but Farmer White's reports are a great addition.
Has the world just become squabblier?
I also take the point about the constant negativity but is the solution to remove that entirely? Should we require balance and if we do, how do we impose it?
The post above does highlight that we can be more aware of squabbles if that is a major issue.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:06:13:09:46:08 by Grockle.
Don't think 'negative' posts should be removed, (unless they are abusive/offensive). One man's 'negativity' is another persons constructive criticism !
Here's to another 20 years.
Some seem to find it difficult to compatrmentalise that and it has led to people making a decision to decrease or end their involvement. But is the site honest if it does not allow those comments inside the rules?
In a good season there is less of it but I know you and I have both found ourselves agreeing with a promminent 'dissenter' in part quite recently.
The reason we have been able to do that is because moderation has caused adaptation and posts of a less abrasive personal manner with points worth making and discussing in them from said poster. Is that progress or "kowtowing'?
Blanket bans might see a handful of posters disappear and a return to more 'cosy' times but is that the aim of a site discussing Somerset cricket where things are rarely 'cosy' for long?
I think I'm with you but still looking for the fabled... 'middle way'
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:06:13:09:47:40 by Grockle.
From my point of view I feel that some take everything to do with Somerset cricket just a little too seriously. I admit to becoming passionate about our wonderful team - but only when they are doing well. If they perform less well, I remember that there are worse things in life, as the great Lord Tresco said about his broken foot.
As for the occasional insults and sheer rudeness we sometimes see here, I try to live (though sometimes failing to do so) by my personal mantra which is Never waste your abuse on people you don't actually like. Bobstan, BJ and others will understand.
Seventy Seasons a Somerset Supporter
I am by no means a saint here but the number of times I find myself in personality clashes rather than cricketing clashes after 1 misperceived/ or ill made post on one side or the other has certainly increased in the last few years. It becomes 'banter' with some quite quickly. Flares and goes.
Others it is deeper, aggressive and off the cricket topic very soon. There are those who bear grudges for slights they percieve or have received in the past which colour posts or create agendas they cannot/will not let go of.
As you say LoL. Life is a little short for that stuff and maybe this the the area to build bridges or remove them. It's all grist for the present mill.
Seventy Seasons a Somerset Supporter
By going on regularly it does not take long to work out the characters behind their posts. I find some too critical and negative as im sure no one goes to play without wanting to do their best.
farmer White's reports are some of the best piece of writing I have seen on any sport in a long time and sum not only the play but also the atmosphere around the ground.
Long may the site continue.
I might even contribute as will be at Chelmsford for the first day
It is great that we have people in other parts of the world who pick the boys up when they go out of the West into those dangerous parts of the UK!!
With that in mind, we're all going to rub someone up the wrong way at some point: that's inevitable with the anonymous nature of the 'net. But it means you have to react differently from the way you would in a face-to-face conversation around a table. While you might on occasion justifiably take personal offence in the latter situation (where you'd expect people to take into account exactly whom they're talking to), on here, by contrast, you just have to ignore a tone of voice or a background squabble you don't like, and simply deal with the opinion expressed. Play the ball, not the man. It just doesn't work online otherwise.
Put it this way: I've seen characters as diverse as an MP, a grizzled Cary hedgelayer, a Yeovil bookmaker and a Devon racehorse trainer rub shoulders quite civilly at the County Ground, because they instinctively know how not to make it personal. But if they were to be coralled anonymously into an online chatroom, it'd kick off spectacularly, unless each party understood it's NOT personal, despite how it might sound when you read it.
I'm not offering a solution, I'm afraid. Just pointing out that the medium invites friction, and the only people who can diffuse it are the contributors themselves. Moderation can just turn out to catalyse even more seething resentment.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:06:13:21:33:24 by That Bloke With The Dog.
Seventy Seasons a Somerset Supporter
It would be nice if someone from the club at a community level made themselves known with semi-official updates from time to time e.g. floodlights, temporary stands, other initiatives. We could then politely challenge them and raise any other points. "Disabled toilets locked before close of play, I'll have a look into that for you"
By this I don't mean someone from the committee to spout about their corporate synergy impact or reaching out on marketing initiatives.
It may serve a purpose alongside the members Q&A sessions, getting to a much wider audience
Peter Anderson wanted it ONLY that way in the deep past and saw us all as malcontents and dissidents.
As stevecav said ... "I would hate to lose this site. Keep up the good work Grockle. And don't let the @#$%& grind you down!"
The difference was that you contacted me off site and we discussed the issues we seemed to have (but found we actually didn't). I think you are the only poster who has come new to the site and done that when it didn't quite go as planned.
Since then the world has become a quieter place for more than just us two and the world moves on. I hope we have both adapted and become a little more thoughtful about posts.
Well CH you can start by reading the initial post in its entirety and follow the request made there.
Your first post was simply an agreement with Mr Seymour about 'him' (me) posting all about ME and commending TS for his courage in saying so. It had little to do with the debate and was particularly personal when I had requested posts not to be.
I offered you PM fisticuffs if you wanted them, toned down both your posts and reposted them as I said I would. So you did 'join the debate' and your point was made just without insulting me in the process.
Thanks for the rest of your second post which is useful and avoids the aggressive and dismissive tone you yourself can use at times but not always - like the rest of us.
There is no need to remove it. There are posters with their little 'foibles'. You mention one who is singularly missing at the moment I hope for no serious reason. Most people point out when he is going a little over the top and many deal with him on an almost affectionate basis. We can ignore his posts if we want to and some do. I rarely have to remove material from them although he can become patronising at times - as can we all.
One thing about him though, repetitive as they are, his posts are almost always about cricket and stay away from other grievances or personal issues with posters - most of the time.
On the basis of operating this site like my 'Fiefdom' well sometimes there is no avoiding that I am afraid. Some people need moderating at times. However I have made every attempt to provide ways in which posters who feel that way can let me know they think I am going over the top without affecting the main flow of the site.
Unfortunately, to date very few of the critics do what is requested, they insist on putting it all in the public view, affecting the use of the site by others and wanting a public punch up. Sometimes they get it but usually now they find I treat the site like a 'fiefdom' and remove their voice because they will not follow their own complaint and keep this stuff off the main site. They then return to complain their voice is not being heard.
Please correct me if I am wrong but I can only think of one time you have used this process yet it seems to bug the hell out of you on a pretty regular basis. Complain CH BUT not in the middle of a thread other people, not involved in your issue with me, are using.
I'd also like to point out, as I have to another poster who has this issue, that I do NOT remove posts without letting the poster know why and offering the right of reply or revision. Most if the time I will hide a post and let the poster decide what to do with it. I also remove posts very rarely. This year I have removed or asked for revision of less than 10 posts and 3 of them are on this thread.
'Why can't we have less agression?' Damn good question. Tell you what, you send a little less my way and I'll do the same. Maybe we'll start a trend and others will follow it?
I stand and fight when I am attacked. Many in that situation have all the traits you identify as mine. I would with respect include you in that when you lose it. We are all as bad as each other. So as you say. Let's all look to avoid starting public punch ups.
Nowadays I walk away from the 'last word' you accuse me of more often than not because I've found that is a way to stop aggression - no response. I would, as I always do, refer you to the number of times I have admitted I am wrong on things but it rarely has an effect on that generalisation. I also don't hold grudges. As LoL says 'Life is too short' and this is just a website.
Backing down when the same argument is put forward over and over again? That's a different thing.
I am part of the problem. I know that. I'd appreciate some help rather than hinderance from other posters to help me deal with my issues. But I'm not the only poster with this particular foible so in some circumstances my response is - I'm looking for ways to sort my issues out, what are you doing about yours?
Aggression on this site does not all come from OR start in Bicknoller Towers so to some of the 'physicians' with their perfect cure. Have a go at healing yourselves while you are at it and the whole place may just be a better environment for all.
I was told when I put most of this in a PM yesterday to a poster that it was POINTLESS talking to me. Well there is no real way to come back from there. If that is where you think you are then I see no way of going forward with you. I am offering to adapt and listen. If your response is that I am not doing that I don't know what to say to you other than 'goodbye'.
Thanks for feeling the need to put this on CH. I hope I haven't marginalised it and I hope there can be forward movement on the conflict front. BUT it is all those who get into these things not just one poster. We have no regular trolls though that does not mean some posters go that route at certain times.
I suppose we'll see whether we can put our keyboards where our complaints are and do a more 'positive' job for the good of all. You are right. Less aggression would be a good place to start.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:06:14:22:58:43 by Grockle.
I offered you PM fisticuffs if you wanted them, toned down both your posts and reposted them as I said I would. So you did 'join the debate' and your point was made just without insulting me in the process."
If by mentioning "both your posts" you are referring to my post of 12 June, and Cricketharris's post shortly afterwards, you have not reposted them.
Why do you say you have?
Do you want me to put mine on here again?
A glass half - empty or a glass half - full?
Regardless, both glasses need filling up.
"If you want to make this personal then can I please ask you to reply by PM rather than using a public forum to vent your spleen? I'd like the discussion on the site to be positive. If you can't do that without aggression then please be aggressive off site and I'll calm it down and put your point on the site with a little less provocation. I do reserve the right to do that anyway if some posters can't manage to do that themselves (it has been known in the past)"
I reposted the main points of both of them. If you want to repost please do but - for the same reason - I will remove it as it simply said this was an ego trip and you wouldn't be commenting further.
Or are you saying that wasn't what the post said?
Repost it to my PM if you think I have been unfair and I'll have another look. However the decision about it being relevant here will remain while I do that - shouldn't take long, it was a short post.
You have decided not to comment here - you have not been banned from relevant comment of the correct nature.
A relevant comment is welcome, disruptive provocation won't be. The latter will include an attempt to debate what your view of 'disruptive provocation' is. If you want to discuss the nature of that then please do it via PM as it has nothing to do with the conversation taking place here (though the result of the discussion may determine the level that is acceptable on Grockles).
We'll hear from you or we won't. Your choice on how you go from here.
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 2018:06:16:11:56:04 by Grockle.
One ground not mentioned was Ironmould Lane where Brislington played - a young Greg Chappell scored a century in a JPL match in 1967
Stevecav - your post and list of out grounds brought back memories. My primary school was the other side of the railway embankment from the Imperial Ground and lunchtime at 12pm as an 8 or 9 year old I would leave school by the back gate, under the railway and entered the ground by the back gate at the rear of the pavilion ( unfortunately burnt down some years ago and the only reminder is that the new houses have the address Pavilion Way.) Returning for afternoon school before returning at 3.45.
One ground not mentioned was Ironmould Lane where Brislington played - a young Greg Chappell scored a century in a JPL match in 1967
Somexile - I remember Ironmould Lane well as I lived in Keynsham. I remember a JPL match at Ironmould Lane being televised in black and white of course. Would that have been that game? I'm guessing it must be? Actually I'm thinking the tv game I remember was 1968 definitely as I know where I was when I watched it.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2018:06:16:19:36:04 by stevecav.
Surrey 173/7. Somerset 175/1 - Virgin 42* Chappell 128*. GSC was still only 20 yrs old.
Seventy Seasons a Somerset Supporter
Although I drift in and out dependent upon circumstances, I think it's a great forum - especially for those of us exiled from Somerset.
It's really good to read others opinions and FW's day reports are something to look forward to and savour.
Compared to some other forums - Football, Classic Cars - the level of disagreement here is minimal.
I do sometimes point out the hassle and mayhem that takes place on other sites to those who are sometimes a little 'delicate' about disagreements on here. The complaints tend to come after the disagreement and not during it. A bit of heat is bound to happen on an open forum and it really isn't over the top all that often here.
As I've said before I feel I am not asked to moderate often enough based on the seeming feelings of some but I am hardly asked to moderate at all because the site tends to self police and arguments are short lived even if the bad feeling behind them isn't.