Thanks to the Forum – and Farewell

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After very nearly seven years online, and over 650,000 posts by its members, the time has come to shut the doors on the original Galaxy Zoo Forum. Originally an afterthought, created to deal with the fact that we couldn’t possibly deal with the volume of mail that we were getting, the Forum quickly established itself as a very special place. It generated science – the Voorwerp and its diminutive colleagues, the Voorwerpjes, the Peas and much more came from discussions amongst its boards, as well as such random fun things as the letters that power My Galaxies.

It was also a very civilized place – entirely due to the standards set by Alice and the team of moderators that followed, especially Graham and Hanny who have served most recently. The forum inspired much of what the Zooniverse tries to do today, but time has moved on and we have taken, in collaboration with the moderation team, the decision to shut the forum down. The vast majority of Galaxy Zoo volunteers now interact with each other via Talk, not the forum, and that’s where we want to concentrate our efforts. Closing the forum will allow us to abandon the archaic software that runs the forum itself, and free the moderators from the increasingly onerous task of clearing the forum of spam. It will be preserved intact as a valuable resource, and a record of discussion during the first seven years of Galaxy Zoo’s life.

Feedback and discussion about everything in the Zooniverse is still welcome, of course. As well as Talk, there are blog comments, and thanks to a recent grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, we’re going to be rebuilding Talk over the next few months. If you’d like to help shape the future of discussion and community in the Zooniverse, then there’s a form for feedback available here. I’m looking forward to reading what you have to say.

Chris

23 responses to “Thanks to the Forum – and Farewell”

  1. Hanny says :

    It’s been a pleasure! See you all out there! 🙂

  2. Graham aka Infinity says :

    Yes an amazing seven years of learning and working with like-minded people 😉

  3. Richard Nowell says :

    Thanks for all the astronomical education and social interaction. GZF has changed my life for the better and I will miss it greatly. Give Peas A Chance!
    Voorwerpjes! OOTDs! Even an APOD! Got banned once for 3 days! Much
    obliged & all the best, Rick.

    • zutopian says :

      At the end of the story, they “banned” every member from the GZ forum forever! It’s a pity!

  4. joecho says :

    The feedback I am receiving at the moment is how people feel very sad from a social point of view, having lost somewhere to ‘meet up’. The Zooniverse is a great new world with many zooites finding different projects they like working on.

    How possible would it be to have one place to chat? Keeping Talk ‘help’ and ‘science’ boards unique to each zoo but changing ‘chat’ to ‘zooniverse chat’. One area where all the various zooniverse project participants can hang out? This maybe a nice place to talk about social/science gatherings (ZooCon) etc. And help people stay connected even while working on various projects.

    Just a thought…

    • Brooke Simmons says :

      I think that’s a really interesting idea. I hope you’ll post it to the feedback form Chris linked to in the last paragraph? I think it would also be great to hear thoughts on how it might work, e.g., would it be something you’d see while you’re doing a classification? Or while you’re on Talk for a project? Or totally separate? What would work best for you?

      In an ideal world where we have thousands and thousands of active participants at any given time then we’d have to deal with the size of that kind of chat area, but that’s a problem I’d love to have. 🙂

      • chrislintott says :

        I think the other part of the comment is important too – ‘somewhere for all the participants on the Zooniverse projects to chat’. A proper Zooniverse-level discussion forum is definitely part of our plans for the next few months.

  5. Lizardly says :

    Please reconsider this terrible decision. You’ll never know what science failed to get done if you close the forum.

  6. Lizardly says :

    I don’t understand why spam is a problem when only registered users can post in the Forum. Please explain that, dear Zookeepers.

    • Brooke Simmons says :

      I am not a moderator or admin on the GZ forum — in fact I’m still a Newbie there — but when I was a moderator on a different forum we also had problems with spam even though only registered users could post. The main trouble there was that it was easy for spam robots to set up accounts from which they could post spam. Even when we tried to make it harder for the robots, well, there are still plenty of real people who post spam messages, and you can’t stop them from registering without stopping *everyone* from registering, which obviously doesn’t work.

      I don’t know if the issue is similar on the GZ forum (the software was different on the one I moderated), but it may be.

      • Edd says :

        This is pretty much as Brooke says. We do get spammers registering. One other board I’m on which runs the same software, which is used by fewer than 100 people, has had nearly 260,000 registrations – so you can see how bad the spam problem can be if left unchecked. It wasn’t that bad on the GZ forum as we’d put in the controls Brooke mentions, but it was indeed an onerous job for the volunteer moderators.

      • chrislintott says :

        Right – and the problem is best mitigated by keeping the forum software up to date. There’s a large community of open source people who keep the SMF software as robust as possible against this sort of attack, although they’re often fighting a losing battle. Unfortunately, years ago we stopped using the standard software so we can’t just click a button to upgrade the forum. Hence leaving ourselves and the forum open to attack…

      • Graham aka Infinity says :

        Yes the spam issue was definitely bad on GZ, we’d taken to the habit of checking the new member lists on hourly basis just to check and prune as necessary to keep it under control and tidy before they got to post in the threads most of the time.

      • zutopian says :

        Well, I would like, that just new registrations to the GZ forum should be forbidden in order to stop spam, but already registered members should be allowed to continue doing posts in the GZ forum!

      • Hanny says :

        Yes, there was a spam issue. However, this was not the only issue. And Graham and I were happy to handle all of this when there were still enough people around to make it worth it. This is the main thing. Many people who are disagreeing with the close now, haven’t been online for years. Now, I understand why they feel sad that the forum is closed (I am too), but I hope in return they can understand why we felt it was time to leave it as a beautiful archive.

  7. ttfnrob says :

    Reblogged this on Zooniverse and commented:

    Today marks the end of an era for the Zooniverse: the closure of the Galaxy Zoo forum. Read all about it on the Zooniverse blog.

  8. Patrick Dunlea. (paddy) says :

    Although I haven’t been around, or contributed much over the years.
    To me it is a sad day, I have met some wonderful people and had a great time.
    And that I thank you all.

  9. planetaryscience says :

    For the scientists that may find this thread: I am attempting to start up a new forum- if the active members of GZ were to run it, and we were to have a similar name (not decided) to the original forum, would you allow it?

  10. Margaret Kosmala says :

    Goodbye, SnapshotSerengeti thread in the GalaxyZoo forum!

  11. anonymous says :

    I feel very sad about the closing. Is there any way to make it so that we can still see the posts already there? There is so much on there that people can learn from and so much history on the forums.

    • Hanny says :

      Dear anonymous, that’s what we’ve done. The forum is now a read-only website, and the plan is to keep it that way. So you can’t log in anymore (to post), but you can still see everything you could before and link to it, etc. Hope that helps. 🙂

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