Boards defuse constructive debate and encourage bad behavior

Since boards came out, it has gone through a series of changes to make it the best forum experience for everyone. I can tell you that from an experienced forumers point of view, this forum is severely lacking in vital areas. So what makes a good forum? 1. Forums must be beginner friendly. Anyone can jump in and start a discussion, and being taken seriously by its readers. 2. Freedom of speech. Anything that does not break the rules of the forum should be allowed to be said. Those forums that limit the topics that can be spoken about (for example neglecting to include the vital subforums required), are bad forums. 3. Topic protection. Any topic should be freely available, and easily accessible to a majority of readers, at the original posters' discretion. Forums that hide threads that are less popular among the community, is a bullying-community that drowns unpopular opinion and chokes good discussion. 4. Vocal opinions should only be challenged by another vocal opinion. If a vocal opinion is challenged by a silent voter, for example, the whole point of the forums is a mute point, since there'll be no discussion. Okay, so some of these points go around each other, and they're supposed to do that. The bottom line is, make a forum where everyone can be heard. And I'm sure most people want that. Now what does League Boards have that is in opposition to this? Some of it may be obvious from the way I wrote my points earlier, but I'm going to say it anyway: **The first opinion** I want to take up is that the category system (Best, Hot, New, Recent) is highly flawed, and only showcases a small minority to the public. This goes against point 3, about topic protection. If your post is dismissed or falls behind the top spots on either of these categories, your topic is dead, and unable to revive it without something additional to add. The reason why this is bad is because a majority of readers are not on at the same time, reading the same category in the same subforum. This means only a small handfull of people will ever get to read your topic, and those might be a sample of people that will not create good debate. **The second opinion** I want to highlight is that the voting system creates a highly negative atmosphere, and ties into all 4 points. Beginner forumers that do not know how to create a popular topic, will easily be dismissed and downvoted by the majority. Then they might see that this forum is not a good place to be and leave instead of trying to work on their topics. Downvoting makes a topic less inclined to receive comments that can challenge, and even change the original posters' mind about the topic, leading to possible future topics that are not so popular either. Downvotes only create spite, and out of spite, hate is born. We don't want that, do we? Fixing these two problems will change the forums for the better, forever. The two solutions I have in mind are easy to grasp, and are already successful parts of other forums I've been a part of, so I know they do work. **The first suggestion:** To make the forum a place where threads are visible to most people whenever the OP is online to discuss it, a simple feature has to be implemented. That feature is called a _bump button_. Runescape's official forums is one of the few forums I've been to who has this system and uses it successfully. A bump button has a cooldown timer of 10 minutes for any thread, and can be accessed by the original poster only. It is located next to the edit button on each of the OPs' posts. When it is clicked, the topic is bumped to the top of the 'recent' tab (the classical forum tab) on the first page, making it visible to anyone viewing it. The bump button contributes to sorting the topics with an active OP first, and any OP can do it with their thread every 10 minutes. This gives OP the opportunity to let their thread fall behind the others when they go away, and when they come back and ready to discuss more they can bump it to the front, making it more realistic for an OP to control the traffic in their thread. **The second suggestion** Remove downvoting, keep upvoting in place. The reason is simple. There is no "unpopular" tab, only "best" and "hot" tabs that are affected by upvotes. There is no single reason to have downvotes though. The thread doesn't magically fall into a category where other people can read it, it simply destroys any constructive debate in that thread. That's all the downvotes do. So remove downvotes, and keep upvotes. Need I say more?
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