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Last month, I proposed an experiment to freeze The Sand Trap (TST) for 3 weeks, to see whether The Nineetenth Byte can handle being the primary chat room again. And 3 weeks ago, TST was frozen so that the experiment could happen. Now, it's time to discuss the results of the experiment.

(For reference, TST is now unfrozen, and TNB's room description has been updated to include the reference to TST again.)


Survey Questions

If answering, please try to answer all of these

  • Before the freeze, would you say that on-topic messages were being drowned out by "noise" or general conversation?
  • During the freeze, would you say that on-topic messages were being drowned out by "noise" or general conversation?
  • Before the freeze, did you feel confident/able to/willing to express that a conversation should be moved/halted?
  • During the freeze, did you feel confident/able to/willing to express that a conversation should be moved/halted?
  • During the freeze, did you feel that message quality dropped significantly?
  • During the freeze, did you feel that the level of noise was excessive?
  • On a scale of 1 to 5, how enjoyable was TNB before the freeze? (1 being "I hated it" and 5 being "TNB is the only thing in my life that I care about what do you mean there's things outside of TNB?").
  • On a scale of 1 to 5, how enjoyable was TNB during the freeze? (1 being "I hated it, I wished that the freeze never happened" and 5 being "I loved it, it was the best thing ever, I wish TST was frozen 24/7").

If answering, these questions are optional

  • Do you feel that the RO roster for TNB is adequate to handle the management of off-topic conversations?
  • Would you support a permanent TST freeze?
  • During the freeze, did you feel like contributing more or contributing less to TNB?
  • Was the freeze something that you noticed? Or, if it was possible to completely ignore pinned messages, did it seem like TNB was going as usual?

Feel free to add any other observations/data/feelings about TNB/TST/The freeze in your answers.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I feel like being able to talk on TNB for other topics is better. Also, I barely use the sand trap, so I didn’t notice much difference. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 14 at 11:58
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    \$\begingroup\$ Not enough for an answer, but: I don't think a three-week experiment is long enough to see disruptive behaviors develop. Also, they're more likely to be caused by new users joining than by current users becoming disruptive for some reason. That said, it seems sensible to turn the three-week experiment into an indefinite experiment. If we decide in a year and a half that we need The Sand Trap back, we can always unfreeze it then. \$\endgroup\$
    – DLosc
    Commented Apr 16 at 16:21
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DLosc you're right that 3 weeks isn't really long enough to see if people devolve into noise - I imagine it'd take a lot longer for people to fully gravitate back to TNB and to start freely talking again. But I think that the 3 weeks were long enough to see whether there's merit to making something more official and permanent; it makes sure that there's no emergency reason as to why a longer experiment should happen and that it's something people want to see more of. And that was really the point of the experiment. Not to see noise patterns as such but to see what things could be like \$\endgroup\$
    – lyxal
    Commented Apr 16 at 22:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ There have only been 10 messages since the unfreezing of TST. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 17 at 9:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ @TheEmptyStringPhotographer Because everyone's pretty sure it's about to get re-frozen and has continued posting off-topic stuff in TNB anyway. \$\endgroup\$
    – DLosc
    Commented Apr 17 at 18:58
  • \$\begingroup\$ As an irregular user of CGCC I didn't know until this that TST existed, so I thought TNB was just dead. I was pleased to see it revived this week, and I think I'm more likely to engage with conversation in TNB than TST \$\endgroup\$
    – pxeger
    Commented Apr 27 at 13:08

3 Answers 3

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A perspective from a TST addict

I mainly used TST between its creation and its freezing (but TNB before that), so this is a perspective from someone who is mostly a TSTer and not a TNBer (these days):

Before the freeze, would you say that on-topic messages were being drowned out by "noise" or general conversation?

No. Definitely not, even though I chatted in it much less than before TST was created.

During the freeze, would you say that on-topic messages were being drowned out by "noise" or general conversation?

While there was a lot more general conversation/remarks during the freeze, I wouldn't say they drowned the on-topic things out. CMCs were still answered, code was still golfed, and most offtopic conversations were at most around 20 messages.

Before the freeze, did you feel confident/able to/willing to express that a conversation should be moved/halted?

N/A, all my (even slightly) offtopic convos were in TST

During the freeze, did you feel confident/able to/willing to express that a conversation should be moved/halted?

Most conversations self-halted before they got to that point, and I never felt the need to say so.

During the freeze, did you feel that message quality dropped significantly?

If you mean "ontopicness", yes. Otherwise no.

During the freeze, did you feel that the level of noise was excessive?

I was still easily able to find CMCs and other on topic things, so no.

On a scale of 1 to 5, how enjoyable was TNB before the freeze? (1 being "I hated it" and 5 being "TNB is the only thing in my life that I care about what do you mean there's things outside of TNB?").

As mentioned before, I moved mostly to TST after it was created, so I'd say a 2.

On a scale of 1 to 5, how enjoyable was TNB during the freeze? (1 being "I hated it, I wished that the freeze never happened" and 5 being "I loved it, it was the best thing ever, I wish TST was frozen 24/7").

Before TST was created, my rating of TNB was 5. I loved it, spent quite a lot of my internet time in it, and, most importantly, (as others already noted before) it was fun. After TST was created and officially recognized, the level of fun significantly dropped, and it all went to TST. However, it was a bad compromise, because many TNB regulars don't visit TST and the conversation there is dominated by the few people who do visit it (Ginger and Rydwolf make up more than half of all messages in TST). During the freeze, all these people went back to TNB and, most importantly, the regulars of TNB got to join it, making it fun again. I would give it a solid 6.

Would you support a permanent TST freeze?

Per the above, yes.

During the freeze, did you feel like contributing more or contributing less to TNB?

Definitely more.


TL;DR TNB was fun again, and I fully support a permanent and immediate freeze of TST. Although I was an advocate of TST's creation, this experiment (IMO) cased significant harm to both rooms.

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For posterity:

  • Before the freeze, would you say that on-topic messages were being drowned out by "noise" or general conversation?

No. If anything, there wasn't enough messages to be drowned out in the first palce.

  • During the freeze, would you say that on-topic messages were being drowned out by "noise" or general conversation?

Also no. As a Room Owner (RO) of TNB and a SE mod, people know that I'm one of the people to ping when there's a need to move messages away to another room, or to reel the room in. During the freeze, I had no requests to bring the room in line.

  • Before the freeze, did you feel confident/able to/willing to express that a conversation should be moved/halted?

Yes. But that's a bit because of the RO+Mod combo :p

  • During the freeze, did you feel confident/able to/willing to express that a conversation should be moved/halted?

Yes, because like above :p

  • During the freeze, did you feel that message quality dropped significantly?

So what I envisaged when I said "quality" was like "did messages devolve into things like caret chains, nice chains, keyboard mashing or edgy cringe style messages". None of that happened during the freeze. Messages were still legible and conversational imo.

  • During the freeze, did you feel that the level of noise was excessive?

Short answer: no. Long answer: at first, yes, but I think that's because TST has conditioned me to think that any conversation in TNB has to be strictly code golf. As the experiment went on, I could start to see the noise levels as being perfectly fine, but there's still some TST unlearning to do :p

  • On a scale of 1 to 5, how enjoyable was TNB before the freeze? (1 being "I hated it" and 5 being "TNB is the only thing in my life that I care about what do you mean there's things outside of TNB?").
  1. It was nowhere near as fun or engaging as it used to be in 2021/early 2022.
  • On a scale of 1 to 5, how enjoyable was TNB during the freeze? (1 being "I hated it, I wished that the freeze never happened" and 5 being "I loved it, it was the best thing ever, I wish TST was frozen 24/7").
  1. Especially the last week of the freeze. Some of the conversations and activity levels were some of the best fun I've had in chat in a very long time.
  • Do you feel that the RO roster for TNB is adequate to handle the management of off-topic conversations?

At current activity levels, yes. However, if activity picks up in future, adding more ROs would be 100% something I support.

  • Would you support a permanent TST freeze?

Enthusiastically. Get that temperature down like it's 0 degrees kelvin.

  • During the freeze, did you feel like contributing more or contributing less to TNB?

More, because there was more to contribute to. There was more people to interact with, and more conversations to actually participate in.

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There was no change between before, during and after the freeze, TNB was always good. Thus, TST could be feasibly frozen without any issues, since it is redundant. Nobody likes redundancies!

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    \$\begingroup\$ Given the intent of the question is to gather specific feedback, your answer would be significantly improved if you included actual feedback, even if that was "golfing" your entire answer to "I didn't really notice much change". As it reads now, this feels like a perfunctory answer that contributes very little to the discussion. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Apr 15 at 18:59

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