View Full Version : A Question for all Cartographers

04-03-2014, 07:11 PM
I have a question for my fellow members of the Cartographers' Guild: are there rules, or is there a commonly accepted etiquette, regarding starting new threads?

I am aware that every time a thread is started, the forums become just a bit more congested, and presumably, the website becomes just a bit more difficult to maintain. This is the first website forum I've ever been a part of (albeit for a few years) and I often stop myself from starting threads by asking 'does this thread really need to be added?' (and I note the irony of starting a thread to ask this question).

So, can anyone explain what is considered good form in starting threads? (I would also like the ask the same question regarding uploading files, or linking to other websites)


04-03-2014, 10:59 PM
I'm going to argue that you create the type of forum you wish to take part in. If you want a lower activity forum but one with exceptionally thoughtful posts, then don't post unless you feel you have something particularly good to bring to the table. If you want a more active forum but one in which you have to wade through more material to find the posts that interest you more then post whenever you feel you have something that is topic appropriate and interests you. As for the uploading and linking I have no idea and would be as interested as you to find out.

04-03-2014, 11:34 PM
My opinion only, of course, but lots and lots of threads is typical of pretty much every forum I've seen. It doesn't bother me.

See, a large portion of the threads are from people asking for help making their maps better. At worst, a little validation and confidence building. For what it's worth the various WIP threads remind me of nothing so much as "rate/help my character" threads on various RPG forums. The exception being that it's almost never the same map over and over (though the problems we beginners wail over tend to be the same - see 'river police', 'making forests', and 'making mountains' as examples).

Oh, and it appears there are a lot more useful, beautiful results here than in the standard min-max character thread.

But the thing is if we beginners don't post about our problems then we don't get help. And then we don't get better. So personally, bring on the hundreds of new threads. If the system gets burdened the administrators can start culling old threads (archiving as they see fit).

Again, just my opinion.

04-04-2014, 12:31 AM
I don't think it's a problem as long as you think it's appropriate. The worst I've seen is people posting multiple topics about the same subject/issue in different section. And community leader are quick to fix the issue.

It depends, what's on your mind ?

04-04-2014, 01:11 AM
I suppose it comes down to individual personalities--creating the forum you want, as MCC said. Shy people (like myself) often keep to themselves, and although I might comment on somebody elses' thread, I'm less inclined to start my own. This website is a shared resource, and therefore one tries to be considerate of all the other users/members. Adding a new thread may satisfy my goals, but it risks annoying other people, or causing trouble for the administrators, or clogging up the forums etc. Then again, as KirkSpencer points out, all that 'congestion' is actually helping people.

I suppose, if there are no formal rules, all it comes down to is keep the comments appropriate, try to be helpful, and post what you want to post (in a sense, be selfish, and respectful at the same time).

On a similar note, I suspect that the phenomenon of the internet is so new that universal codes of conduct have not yet been fully worked out. Dozens of nationalities mingle online, with different traditions of politeness and etiquette, and I wonder how the internet will transform cultures over time. Any thoughts?

04-04-2014, 01:18 AM
I think it will create an all new media for people like me to be akward on far into the future. I personally vote for more THW threads, your intelligent long form responses have set my thoughts adrift on previously unknown waters.

04-04-2014, 04:21 PM
The typical forum etiquette is that you not create a thread about something else that's already being discussed on the first few pages or can easily be accessed by a search. (The search functions on some forums work better than others.)

Other than that, there's no real reason to stop yourself from creating a thread as long as what you're posting may be of interest to someone. The amount of data/server use one thread requires is minuscule if it's just small bits of text.

04-04-2014, 04:58 PM
Well, I've never thought about this before :)

Is there a place that really old/unused threads go, like an archive,
or does what you post remain permanently on the site? I can see
where the site would get bigger and perhaps harder to keep clean
if we had all sorts of spam posting. Luckily, I don't think we have
much of an issue, as this is an art/map forum rather than a game
forum. However, we have good moderators and not a lot of spam.

Perhaps a good way to evaluate something before starting a
thread is thinking about whether or not it could help you or others.
Cause that, i think, is really the goal of this all. I'm really happy
this thread (http://www.cartographersguild.com/tutorials-how/3822-how-get-your-rivers-right-place.html) got published, for example. I suppose it's more important
that everyone enjoys and learns from the thread then it is to keep
everything neat and clean.

That said, I think we have good organization here and that goes a
long way to keeping everything findable.

04-10-2014, 04:50 AM
For threads/posts in general, I think I agree with the sentiments expressed by ravells and Midgardsormr in the professionals vs amateurs thread. For the creative contributions, I think there are two main criteria that I use to determine what is worth a new thread/post.

The first is Place. Although mapping to me is a diagramming process (deemphasizing non-critical information, enhancing important information), the spirit of this forum seems to be mapping distinct places, real or imagined. With the amount of tools and resources that others have gathered here, it is suddenly a much easier process to develop an understanding of a new or existing place. Very exciting. (Admittedly, I have only been poking around here for around a year or two, so perhaps more non-place mapping has occurred in the past.)

The second is Time. I have found that it is tough to understand maps (or diagrams in general) if a certain amount of time/effort has not been put in already. Before I started posting here, my maps never needed to reach the 'easy for others to read' stage because I was the whole audience, and therefore understood lines and shapes without the need of lightweights or legends. The tricky thing with time is that some have already invested time into the overall process instead of the map itself. Since I have not yet invested much time in developing these processes, 20 hours of my time may be equivalent to 1 hour of others with more mature map-making processes.

As an example of something of mine that did not make the cut:
A diagram of a process that I spent about an hour on. This illustration grew out of a conversation in another thread about the ability of Roman bridges to span wide rivers. After looking through quite a few on Wikipedia I started noticing that some of the bridges had islands near one shore under the span of the bridge. I finally got a hint of why in the article on Band-e Kaisar, which said that the island is man-made, since the river is rerouted through a canal while the bridge foundations are built in the riverbed.

Band-e Kaisar - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Band-e_Kaisar)

In the end, however, the illustration fails both tests. Although its dimensions are inspired by Band-e Kaisar and Puente Romano (near Merida), it is diagramming a theoretical building process, not an actual place. Also, I only spent about an hour on it, and given more time there are a number of easy changes that could be made for the sake of legibility (starting with the Title, which should probably read "How I Imagine Romans Built Some of their Bridges").

04-28-2014, 09:11 PM
I don't mind wading through threads, it gives me the impression that the place is alive, especially when they all have comments attached.

04-29-2014, 11:30 AM
But you get that from looking at new posts to old threads.

For me the only etiquette is to make sure your new thread title is descriptive and not just some kind of vague thing. I see on some forums threads like "How do I...." then the opening post has the actual question in it. Thats a "no click through" thread for me. So nothing like "Question about maps" etc. Thinking about it, even this thread should have had something more like "Question about new threads" or something like that instead of just for all cartographers - which is basically nearly all of us (hopefully !).

04-29-2014, 12:36 PM
Thinking about it, even this thread should have had something more like "Question about new threads" or something like that instead of just for all cartographers - which is basically nearly all of us (hopefully !).


For what it's worth, I chose the name for this thread with the idea it would be sufficiently eye-catching that it would get a decent response (which it has). I take your poimt though.

Would it be worthwhile for one of the forums to have a sticky thread devoted to etiquette, or is that not really necessary?


04-29-2014, 06:43 PM
Based on the forum's collective behavior to date, I don't know that anything beyond the existing FAQ is necessary. The occasions when someone flagrantly ignores common-sense etiquette wouldn't be helped because those people aren't the sort to read those stickies, anyway, and pretty much everyone else seems to pick up the social norms through experience. Also, we have a proactive and respectful group of Community Leaders (thanks!) who help to politely guide people when needed.

As an aside to RedKettle: although maps of places are by far the most numerous things you'll see here, there are those who appreciate non-spatial maps, diagrams, and other infographic work as well. I like your Roman bridge illustration, and I wouldn't mind seeing more of that kind of thing here, even if it isn't properly cartography.