A change to the house rules at The Session

A change to the house rules at The Session

Happy Christmas, everyone. I’ve got a little announcement to make about what is and isn’t allowed here in the discussions section.

If you take a look at the “house rules” listed on the help page, https://thesession.org/help#houserules you’ll see this listed:

“Please don’t post meta-discussions i.e. discussions about discussions, or discussions about the running of this site. Get in touch with me (Jeremy) instead.”

My reasoning for this is that meta-discussions about the site itself just distract from the actual topic of the discussions section, which is to discuss Irish music.

But I’m starting to realise that this rule is causing a lot of frustration and anger. When I delete a meta-discussion, it can look like an arbitrary decision has been made. That was never my intention, but I can see how it could be taken that way. For that, I apologise.

So from now on, I’m going to let meta-discussions stand. Now, that said, please don’t go overboard: I wouldn’t want to see the discussions section become a place where the only topic of discussion is The Session itself: I hope that the vast majority of discussions will be about Irish music. But I realise now that there’s a value in publicly sharing feedback, ideas, and criticism of the site, and I don’t want to discourage that.

Please note: this doesn’t mean that the discussions section is a free-for-all. If you want to talk about sports, or politics, or anything else that doesn’t relate to Irish music or this site, the discussions section here is not the place for it (there are plenty of other sites out there for that kind of thing).

To all the people who submitted meta-discussions in the past with the best of intentions, only to have them deleted by me: I’m sorry about that. I hope you can accept my apology.

So, now that discussions about the site aren’t going to disappear in a puff of smoke, I thought I’d let you know what I’m currently working on:

* The midi playback and download is the biggest glitch right now. It’s not working in all browsers. I’m looking for an alternative solution/fallback. The ideal situation would be a third-party site that could accept ABC notation (via a GET or POST request) and automatically generate the midi file on the fly. If anyone knows of such a service, please let me know.

* The response times of the site, particularly in Europe, can sometimes be woefully slow. This certainly isn’t down to the pages themselves, which are as lightweight as it’s possible to make them, but rather the hosting provider. I’ve been told multiple times that they’re “looking into it” but I’m getting fed up with the lack of change. So I’ll be looking to move the site over to a different host at some point in the future. There will, alas, be some inevitable disruption when the move happens, but I’ll try to keep it to a minimum.

* I’m slowly tweaking the background colour and the text colour of the site to introduce more contrast.

* I’m constantly looking at ways of improving search, particularly in the tunes section. I’ll keep working on that. By the way, the advanced search feature, where you used to be able to enter a snippet of ABC, still exists—it’s just been rolled into the regular search form. I need to make that more discoverable.

* When I wrote a script to automatically extract tune settings from comments (and make those alternate settings for that tune), there were inevitably some false positives: either some lines of ABC that aren’t actually full tunes, or settings that aren’t associated with the right tune. I’ll delete them as a I find them, but your help would be appreciated. If you spot any of them, let me know. Weejie said he knows of some so he’s going to send the URLs my way.

And there’s a whole lot more. I want to introduce the “trips” feature, where you can say you’re going to some place from this date to that date, and then have the site provide relevant sessions, events, and members in that area. That’s going to take a fair bit of work but I think it will be a very useful addition to the site.

But mainly I just wanted to let you know that discussing the site itself is no longer taboo here in the discussions section. Sorry if it seemed like I was ignoring your concerns: that was never my intention. I’m trying my hardest to make the site the best it can be, but I don’t always get it right. I hope you’ll be able to forgive my mistakes.

Oh, one last thing: first and foremost in the house rules is the simple statement: Be civil. That is definitely *not* changing. If anything, I’ve been far too lax about that in the past, letting people get away with rude, bullying behaviour. Again, my apologies for getting it wrong. More recently, I’ve been practicing a zero-tolerance policy and it’s working out much, much better: the level of discourse on the site has been really, really great lately and I think that’s in so small part due to the fact that troublemakers and rabble-rousers are getting suspended at the first sign of bad behaviour.

So, yeah. I’m trying my best. I don’t always get it right — not allowing discussions about the site is one example of that. But I can see where I’ve made mistakes and I’m doing my best to correct them.

Thank you all for contributing to this site. I really, really appreciate it.

Re: A change to the house rules at The Session

Thank you Jeremy – this was going to be my last visit to these pages, as lately what I was looking for seemed to have disappeared without trace or explanation. The site is – contrary to what some have said – a valuable resource, I hope that it continues to be so.

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The Session is a brilliant and entertaining resource Jeremy…thank you very much for all your continued hard work….

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Well, fair dues to you Jeremy and a Happy Christmas - reckon you’ll need the break! I certainly appreciate that it’s your site and you can do with as you wish. But a site like this is almost worthless without the people that populate it, so good to see a more open policy towards constructive criticism.

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that is magnanimous of you

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Has the damage already been done?

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Thanks, Jeremy. I appreciate this greatly. Like gam, I was on the verge of leaving but this change in policy may have staved that off.

I hope no damage to our little cyberspace community has been done which cannot, in time, be repaired. I guess that remains to be seen.

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“…troublemakers and rabble-rousers are getting suspended at the first sign of bad behaviour.”
While I think it’s good to avoid people who are continually offensive, there is nothing wrong with spirited debate. I certainly think a warning or two before banishment would be a better thing to do than an immediate banishment.
A policy of forbearance is always a better idea.

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I for one hope that the “one chance and you’re out policy” doesn’t quash the spirited debate that made this message board worthwhile. You can have passionate debate without bullying. I hope people (Jeremy mainly) know the difference.

If I want to read nice, spiritless discussion about Irish music, there are plenty of places on the web to do that.

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Thank you for all your efforts in making this site, Jeremy. I often research this site before making trips, and it does take a lot of massaging of the data found in the session section to qualify if the sessions are still on etc. A trip feature sounds useful, so keep up the good work! Merry Christmas and God Jul from Norway!

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Mr Keith, may your hotwater bottle collection never perish.

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Thanks for all the hard work, Jeremy. This is a great site and online community. I sincerely hope it can stay that way. I look forward to the enhanced search and trips feature.

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Cheers Jeremy. Good on ya. And thank you again for your work on this site.

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@Jeremy - a merry Christmas to you, also!

And as someone who recently had a “meta discussion” (submitted with the utmost of good faith) unceremoniously zapped, apology accepted!

Folks do make comments and criticisms, certainly - but that’s only because they value the site as a great resource and want to contribute to making it even better.

Like Spear, I too was also thinking of leaving, but in the light of the new policy etc, that’s now on hold. But I’m only a relatively minor contributor. It looks like one of the site’s mega contributors (ceolachan - now, dani) has already jumped ship.

https://thesession.org/members/11705

But with your planned improvements (and perhaps a little friendly arm-twisting from myself and other members, we may one day get him back - let’s hope so!)

But it’s Christmas now Jeremy, so why not forget about the website for a while and take a well-earned rest.

The New Year will bring in new thoughts and fresh ideas, I’m sure!

- Mix

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Yes, I hope we can get Dani to come back.

And can we have our dates back as well, please! That little tweak would make myself and others a lot happier with the new site. 🙂

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I only recently discovered this site and I am lovin it. The format is sooo easy to read and follow and the participants are obviously well meaning and helpful. I actually feel very comfortable responding, and look forward to enjoying a long relationship with this group. Thanks from Alfred

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Jeremy, I don’t think i’ve ever said anything to you directly, cause I never really felt that there was anything to say. But now I must say, thanks for creating such an invaluable resource. Also thanks for consistently maintaining and improving it. Some people create projects like this and treat it like it’s as good as it’ll ever get, without giving it another thought. It’s obvious you care about it’s users, and we all appreciate it 🙂

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thanks for all your efforts over the several years I’ve enjoyed the use of site’s facilities and benefited from the wisdom of other users

encouraging civility is a really good idea

have a good Christmas and a happy new year

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I think this is a good idea, Jeremy, because this site has long been more than just a source of information about music. It has become a virtual community centered on the music, but a community none-the-less. And the rule against meta-discussions did not allow the community a chance to talk freely about what was going on in that community–who was coming, who was going, what people were thinking. What little of that discussion which did take place was little bits and fragments, gone once they were noticed. I think your intent was good, but the rule and its enforcement gave the site a kind of ‘1984’ style totalitarian feel, which I think will be good to put behind us. Some editing for civility will always be in order, but a lot less work should be required of you in the future.
For example, we can now say, without trying to tie it to a musical theme, such simple sentiments as Merry Christmas, Joyous Solstice and New Year, and Happy Holidays to all!

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Group hug! Get in here everybody…

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may i just say, not only thanks, but this sounds like a LOT of work: we all appreciate sharing the benefits, so hope you are enjoying the challenge and having fun at it. it’s a blessing to have worthy work that suits, and i hope i’m right that it’s a labo(u)r of love.

Nollaig Shona agus Athbhliain faoi Mhaise Duit

It is, of this I have no doubt, though a little enough experience and faith to also know…

Often more than two minds working on a problem, with shared interests, can more quickly come up with solutions and alternatives than the sometimes ping-pong back and forth that just two can get caught up in. This openness will allow for that kind of mix and interaction, and potentially also work as a steam valve, hopefully. I was uncomfortable that things like discussion of this website were being driven underground, where we know so much misunderstanding and misinformation can be spread and nurtured.

Thanks for everything Jeremy, I have always been aware of the hard work this site is, and I don’t just mean the mechanics, and I take responsibility for my occasional slip-ups and oversights, knowing there are many things an aspirin can’t cure. Apologies for when I’ve been that kind of a headache or pain in the backside.

A friend in the digital quagmire ~ ‘c’

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The problem with the “false positives” is bigger than I first envisaged. Each corner I turn, there seems to be more.

Two examples: “The Frost is All Over”

https://thesession.org/tunes/448

Two variants are submitted by Dow, both under the title “Hey to the Camp” (in C major). They are from Playford’s/Atkinson and William Vickers, respectively. They have been picked up and resubmitted merged as one tune under the title “the Frost is All Over”. There is no doubt these two variants are very close to TFIAO. However, I would say that if a tune appears in Playford’s under a particular name, it shouldn’t be submitted under an alternative title - no matter how close to other variants under that alternate title. The tune loses its history. Moreover, the two variants have been merged together.

Similar, but to a lesser extent with “Dr Gilbert’s” and “Dispute at the Crossroads”:

https://thesession.org/tunes/129

It may be an improvement to present different settings/variants with sheet music facility, but not homogenised under a single title. The titles under which these variants of tunes were originally published should be preserved, for the comments to have coherence. Even though you can scroll down and find the proper headings, it is confusing, and to anyone visiting the site who doesn’t know how the original layout functioned, it is misleading.

There are so many other examples of this that it’s going to take a lot of time and effort to sort it out.
A possible side effect of this is that if a tune is originally submitted under one of its more obscure alternative titles, other settings with the more familiar title are going to be presented with that obscure title.
The comments often present other variants to illustrate the differences, and show the evolution of a tune. If a script is turning out all these variants under a single title (even with the alternative titles given elsewhere), then that script is something that has dubious value.

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Good on you Jeremy for recognizing the need for change and for being honest about your own frailties. Would that all of us, here and in the rest of our lives, could also recognize our own issues. And Happy Christmas to you!

That said I would urge that you adapt the “one transgression and out” rule a bit. Perhaps a warning? I say this not to encourage rude and bullying responses, but rather because I recognize that folks who care deeply about any topic are quite liable to “cross the line” sometimes; either from misreading something posted, from feeling very strongly about something, or for some other reason. I’m not suggesting you make the policy generally public, but rather that when you encounter something upsetting you consider carefully whether the line has been crossed. That said, I suspect we can trust your thoughtful consideration on this and other issues.

On the MIDI thing: I wish I had an answer. I suspect that it might be something as simple as appending an extension to the file before it is passed to the playback software. I know from playing that the simple addition of .mid makes your downloaded files play on my Mac. Since the same software handles playback in the browsers I just wonder. I wish I had enough programming expertise of the sort needed to help more…

Most important of all: Enjoy the holiday season. Work on thesession if you will, but ignore all of our grumpy comments for now.

Thanks again for what you do.

Chuck Boody

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Thanks Jeremy, that’s a good move.

Another relaxation of house rules that would be welcome is to stop deleting posts along the lines of ‘I’m visiting such-and-such area next week and can anyone recommend some good sessions please’.

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Interesting to see there are a few people like myself who for various reasons are/ were considering ‘leaving’, this site is a hard habit to break though, I enjoy some of the discussions and the tune section can be useful. Thanks for all the work Jeremy, I hope the site goes from strength to strength.

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Right. I’ll try again, now I know it works.

What I wanted to say was, thank you Jeremy for the relaxation of the house rules. I am one of the people who inadvertently fell foul of the rule when new to the site and just beginning to get my feet, and my very first thread was entirely deleted and I received a sharp email. This is my first post since (apart from the test above!) and I just wanted to say I appreciate the apology for times past and look forward to putting it behind now and rejoining the community.

It’s still the best site of its kind and a great place for knowledge, good discussion & humour about Irish music and I appreciate all you do, Jeremy, to keep it up to date and to monitor and censure aggressive or insulting posts. Thank you.

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Thanks for the update Jeremy, and I have a bit of an idea of how much work’s involved.
Hope you can find a workable solution to the playback & midi download glitches as well as the response time (fyi is poor way over in Australia as well).

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Good changes all around, Jeremy – and thanks again for all your hard work!

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“I’ve been far too lax about that in the past, letting people get away with rude, bullying behaviour. Again, my apologies for getting it wrong.”

Thanks, Jeremy… one of my biggest frustrations with the discussion section has been this point.

Lax on bullying.

Jack, didn’t you tend to bully one former Montana member; deservedly or not?
Be honest.
😉

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The other way around, Na éisc, and I tried to keep him from bullying contributors who didn’t share his perceived consensus on all things ITM. I don’t think Jeremy intended this thread to become this sort of discussion, so I’m ceasing my part in it here.

~

Phantom Button, fair play. I’m not trying to justify either party. In my humble opinion reconciliation is the best path forward. The past is exactly that. Now is the time be here. Each of us has our own perspective on history. For civility’s sake it’s best to acknowledge what has happened and begin anew.

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I often learned a lot from those past clashes–disagreement is not always a bad thing, and often you can get a clearer picture of what a person is all about when you see them defending their ideas in a vigorous discussion. But I agree with Na eisc, the past is the past, let’s move on…

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I really like the new look: well done Jeremy. And many thanks for all the work you have put in the past and continue to put in. There’s nothing else like this. I wish there were similar resources in other music areas - any chance of cloning you?

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I like the new informative little swiggles in the profiles, after the numerical data of tunes etc submitted. They usefully indicate how submission activity varies over time.

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I agree, Trevor, and it would be interesting to see them at a large size, with a scale at the bottom and sides, so we could see when the peaks and valleys of our participation occurred. Not that I think that too much more work should go into them–they certainly do not add to the main purpose of the site.

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It’s no surprise that a site dedicated to a traditional art form would meet with resistance to change, but I have to say that after a few weeks, I’m really liking this new format. I enjoy the newsfeed on the home page even if I roll my eyes (an expression containing much fondness, mind) when I see that yet another person has added The Kesh to their tunebook. There have been some passionate discussions and more than a few sharp words exchanged. Foolishness and wisdom walk side by side. Llig has been temporarily banished again. Feels like home!

Cheers, Jeremy.