Frequently Asked Questions
What is this place?
Trees and Things (TnT) is a community run discussion site that is open to all contributors. Though we have a bit of a political streak, any topic is open for discussion.
All you need to do to participate is to create an account. You can start commenting on stories immediately, and even submit a story for the front page (see story submission guidelines below).
Trees and Things is not a commercial enterprise, it is a non-profit organization managed by a Board of Directors. The Board of Directors sets policy, attends to administrative details such as paying the web hosting bills, and is responsible for prioritizing and implementing new site features.
The Board is dedicated to incorporating community feedback into its decision making process, and conducts its business in an open and transparent manner. Openness and transparency are a general theme around here, from the publication of our Board's chat logs, to the open moderation system, there are few secrets in the TnT community.
Who are the current Board Members?
- Michael Williamson (HidingFromGoro), President
- Rich Dubielzig (3fingerspointback), Treasurer
- Logan Hawkes (logan), Secretary
- Shane Nelson (shane)
How do I get to vote for or serve on the Board?
Who do I contact if I have a question, gripe, or suggestion?
Direct all questions, comments or suggestions to email@example.com. This account is regularly checked by the members of the board of directors and site administrators.
How do I create an account?
Creating an account is simple, and only requires an email address. Just click "Make a new account" link under the search box on the right hand side of the front page. Or click here. Follow the directions, and an email confirmation will be emailed to you shortly. Once you confirm your email address you are ready to start contributing.
I find someone here to be very bothersome. How do I block their comments?
It is possible to block comments by using a firefox addon known as greasemonkey. Once you install and learn how to use greasemonkey you can add this code into it to block a user.
How can I help?
We currently have more new feature and modification requests than we can handle. Though we've got some dedicated programmers working the task list, they all have day jobs, so we can always use more help. If you know Perl and have experience with web site programming (special bonus if you are familar with Scoop), you can help.
Browse our development priorities list. If you see something that interests you, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include a short description of yourself and your web development experience.
We also have a great need for user and administrative documentation.
What are the story submission guidelines?
There are no hard and fast rules, but before you submit a story, take some time to read the site. Read as many of the story write-ups and their discussion threads as you can. This will give you an idea of what TnT readers are looking for in a good story submission, or 'sub'.
Next, take a peek at the submission queue, the 'Moderate Submissions' link on the right. The submissions queue (sub Q) is where all stories are vetted before they make the front page of TnT. Things can get a bit rough and tumble in the sub Q. Take some time to read some of the editorial commentary. This will give you an even better idea of what TnT readers are looking for.
All TnT readers can vote on stories in the sub Q. In order to be posted to the front page, the yeahs minus the nays must pass a certain threshhold, defined by site administrators. Alternatively an editor may promote a story if he or she feels there is some urgency.
Once you have a good idea of what constitutes a good sub, find something to write about. It can be about just about anything, but the more topical, current and discussable, the better. As there is currently no good way to edit your post after you've clicked the 'submit' button, it's generally a good idea to edit and proof your story in external editor or word processing program.
Although many submissions tend to be longish, there are no hard and fast rules on story length. A well written paragraph or two that succintly summarizes the issue, provide a few quality links, and directs discussion in interesting directions can be just good as an exhaustively researched dissertation that leaves no stone unturned (in fact, some prefer the shorter submissions). In many cases though, the roots of a successful discussion lay in the subject matter. Pick wisely, and an intelligent and interesting debate on the issue will arise, sometimes even in spite of the quality (or lack thereof) of the submission.
And most of all - don't worry. If your story doesn't make the cut, you can take the feedback you've been given and resumbit it, it will mostly likely it will be accepted.
Can I embed streaming movies in my submission?
Yes! If you wish to embed any multimedia into your story sub, just copy the "embed" html code for the object, and paste it directly into the story submission. For instance, if you wanted to embed a YouTube video between this paragraph and the next, you would end this paragraph after the next colon, then paste in the data from that video's embed field:
<object width="425" height="355"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/YouTubeVideoReference"></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/YouTubeVideoReference" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="355"></embed></object>
...and then continue with your sub. The embedded video will not show up when you submit, but one of our editors will convert your code to HTML, and it will show in the final story.
And you don't need to limit yourself to streaming video multimedia. If you know the code to embed streaming audio, a slide show, or a flash game, feel free to do so, but please observe our submission guidelines: Any embedded object that automatically starts to stream or emit sound without any prompting from the user will be rejected.
Dude, where's my Karma?
Scoop lacks the concept of Karma, instead it has 'mojo', a time weighted average of the ratings your comments have received. By default, mojo is not displayed anywhere, to anyone, it is only used in some rare instances to enable/disable features based on a mojo threshhold. As configured, mojo will have no effect on the end user experience on TnT.
Resource allowing, we may eventually be able to corrupt mojo into something resembling the old Karma system.
How does the comment rating system work?
All registered users are allowed to rate story comments. You can rate a comment on a scale from 1 to 5, and provide an optional description of your rating. The overall rating, displayed on the comment, is the average rating the comment has received. For example, if joe rates a comment a 5, and nancy rates it a 3, the rating displayed will be 4.
To see who has rated a comment, click on the comment rating number, and you will see a list of all ratings along with the user name.
You might wonder, "how do I downmod then?", give a comment a 1. You might think this means the comment is then higher rated than an unrated comment, but they are treated differently by the comment sorting options.
Speaking of which, you can use the comment sorting options at the top of a page to sort the comments by rating. If a story doesn't have a large number of comments, these options probably won't make much of a difference.
What are diaries?
Diaries allow you to post personal observations and commentary, in the same way you'd submit a story. The difference is that all diary entries appear in the "Diaries" section, unedited. This tends to make the Diary section a bit more blog-like.
Discussions in the Diary section tends towards meta-commentary about the site.
The Board of Directors diary is used to communicate information about the meetings and decisions of the board of directors of TnT. These discussions on these diary entries are widely read, and are a good place for suggestions and feedback.
Trees and Things history
Trees and things began life as an alternative to plastic.com. During Plastic's long absence beginning in May of 2006, a number of wiki's and blogs were spawned by the Plastic diaspora to track Plastic's status and share any news regarding its ultimate fate. As time went on, and hope of a return waned, Shane Nelson stepped up and attempted to create a new home for former plasticians. Using his own money, he hosted a temporary Scoop site, and donating a domain name he'd previously used to host his photos of 'Trees and Things'. He solicited donations, and quickly raised enough money to keep the site going for close to a year. This website has now evolved in to our permanent home, treesandthings.com, aka TnT.
Early on Shane decided that in order to avoid the fate that befell Plastic, the management and control of TnT should not rest in the hands of a single individual. He resolved to turn over control to a board of directors, who would be tasked with creating a corporate identity for TnT, most likely as a non-profit, and then managing the future direction of the website with an emphasis on incorporting community feedback into site design and features.
Volunteers for board members were solicited, a selection committee reviewed them, and a 7 member board empaneled in late July of 2006. Just as the board began to tackle their formidable workload, Plastic suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, rose from the dead. But given the extended duration of the outtage, and the decided lack of an explanation, many who had thrown their lot in with TnT decided to stick it out. Those who commented on their decision to stay noted that they particularly appreciated the openness and transparency evident in most every aspect of TnT, from the open board meetings, down to the fact that you can see everyone who downmodded your comments 'obnoxious'.
We continue to grow and evolve, endeavoring to create an online forum that is at once familar and welcoming to former plasticians, but open to new voices and input, with an eye towards expanding in new and interesting directions that could not be explored in our former home.
I click 'submit', but I keep losing my comments, and they are not showing up in the discussion.
If you use the spell checker, make sure to uncheck the spellcheck option before you submit the story. The spellchecker, if enabled, forces preview mode, no matter how many times you've previewed before. This will be fixed in a later release.