Phew, I suggested that this thread be opend less than 12 hours ago and look at it now
Ok, a few things I'd like to say -
True, the spam threads started specifically as a means for members to bump up their posts count without spamming other threads. We didn't frown and while not promoting it, it was just fine. What we are doing here is re-evaluating this approach. We may or may not change the policies following this discussions, but I don't blame anyone for using the spam threads to bump up their post count - as this was the original aim of the spam threads.
Your opinion does matter. If it didn't matter this thread wouldn't have come into existence. For me the forums are a community. We sometimes need to decide on rules or enforce them without consulting members. Still, where possible, I prefer to get feedback from you - the people who make this community, before making a decision.
Bandwidth is an issue for the board, but not necessarily for this debate. Not exactly bandwidth per se, but rather the number or requests the data base gets simultanesously. It's a bit techincal, but we may be having a problem there which occasionally slows down the boards. Due to problems our hosting company is experiencing right now, we can't even make sure that this is the problem. The spam thread is not what makes the problem - so for the sake of this argument, I prefer to ignore the technical aspects.
A chat room is not an option for the near future. For various reasons, one of them being that it's hard to moderate them (and we have a commitment to our hosting company as well as advertisers, to keep our pages moderated).
I think people who spam to get their post count up will find ways to do it, even if we get rid of spam threads. Even if we set up a minimal number of characters as a requirement to make a post count. I also think, that these measures will have some effect, but it's more a question of setting up a policy and letting everyone know about it. I wouldn't want to start policing this issue. I would hope new members will respect the policy.
Right now, what I have in mind is this - a change of approach which means we ask people to stick to meaningful posts and not spam the board just to get their post count up. What is meaningful and what isn't is debatable of course and I'm all for giving as lot of leeway. If someone makes 500 one word posts that say nothing - than we may edit them out and contact that person. I think I prefer to close the current spam thread - not because there's anything wrong with it, but because newbies reading the first pages will get confused about this new policy. I'm all for continuing the chit-chat tradition in a new thread - it's just those first posts there encouraging people to spam that I want out of the way.
I wouldn't delete it altogether and wouldn't touch people's post counts, even if they were acheived through spamming (that's why I wouldn't delete the thread). I know post counts do mean a lot to people and I think that if we apply a new policy now, it shouldn't affect the past - just the future.
I'm still not sure about setting a minimal character requirement for a post to count. I think length isn't that hard to acheive and it doens't necessarily make a post more meaningful. I think that people who are active in welcoming new members, wishing happy birthday or giving cyber hugs should be given credit for those posts. They are to me an important part of what makes the community what it is.
Right now, this is just my 2 cents. Please keep giving your input. Nothing is decided yet. I'm also going to consult other forums owners to see what others are doing.
Thanks for your input everyone - it is valued!