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The short answer is we are doing a beta. This means a couple of different things to me, we are testing our concepts, and we may be modifying our concepts to become usable. Please go to area 51 to look at the progress of Poker Beta. You will see that we are not doing well at all. Our beta is on a path to failure.

Before I get into my narrative as to why we need change and suggest the changes I think we need to make, let me give you my abbreviated poker resume. I dealt and played my first hands of poker at The Western Hotel in 1986. Since then I have worked long stretches at The Las Vegas Hilton 1987-1990, and The Mirage (1990-1998), Wendover Resorts (2010-2014). I have worked as a dealer, a brush, a shift supervisor and as a consultant. I have also worked a couple WSOP tournaments and a few other poker rooms.

I am a player. At the Hilton and Mirage dealers could play on the clock. Most of my time at these places I spent more time playing then dealing, and made more money playing then dealing. The big advantage doing that is you had all the advantage of employment, and when the cards went bad you had an instant job. I have also played for periods of time without a job, and have filed taxes as a professional gambler.

I have been a hobbyist programmer since sometime in the 80’s. In 1996 I put up a website about poker. From then until September of 2006 most of my energy went into my websites. I have sat at over a hundred final tables at the WSOP with a press pass taking pictures and writing about the action and the players. I was the first guy to take a digital picture and include it with the results online at the WSOP. I was the first guy to place results online in real time, using a cell phone at 14,000KBs to connect. I also had a successful poker forum called Poker Clan, maybe some of you were there. It was one of the first poker forums behind two plus two. So from this context I believe that I just might be able to impart some wisdom to you that might help all of you reach your goal of having a viable questions and answers site about poker on Stack Exchange.

Our biggest problem is that we are to elitist. Starting from the description “site for serious players and enthusiasts of poker”, to the scope of moderation, this site is just not attractive to most poker players. Moderators and users have a much too narrow concept of what kind of questions belong here. My general observation is that you want a lot of real intelligent questions, and that a bias is toward math and higher language sort of things like calculated risk, implied odds, outs, hand histories and that sort of thing exists on Poker Beta. The current context here simply does not address the typical poker player. And even worse it does not address the questions of someone that is online researching poker. We are not meeting one of the basic rules of Stack Exchange, we are not making the Internet a better place.

I urge you to change the description of the scope of the site to simply “for enthusiasts of poker”, and adjust your mindset to answer all questions in that context rather than the more elitist nature that prevails currently. Most poker players do not fit the description of serious poker player. The game for most players is a past time. Don’t take this in the wrong context, all players are serious about the game to some degree, most are not serious to the degree that really serious players would consider them a serious player. Serious Players in your site description is limiting this site, and the term serious poker player in your moderating mind sets is going to kill this site.

We need to open our minds to find value in the more inane questions that come from new users, and newbie poker players. This is simple customer service, these people are our customers, if you blow them away they are not coming back, they will not become members of the community and thus this site will quite rightly go away. It is our job to frame questions sensibly, to get the customers meaning to a question. We are experts we are supposed to know what they are getting at even when they are not sure. Moderators here, please relax, the questions that are really horrible are obvious, you close way to many questions that have value or you simply do not understand. Let these questions stay for a while, and often you will find that something in an answer makes the question clear, or someone whom understands can edit it to be legible.

It is our job to answer the simple inane questions. Too many questions go unanswered because the question is not considered on topic. True “what is shoot the moon” is off topic, what I am saying is you need to put these questions on topic and within the scope, because these are the kinds of questions that people who are poker enthusiasts need to ask and have answered. Any simple question that is on topic about poker in almost any context should be answered here. We do not have the audience to be elite about what in the world of poker we want to talk about. We will never attract the kind of people that will become experts here if we blow them away. The best experts I had at Poker Clan started asking silly questions like a four year old. Questions I am sure would have been moderated out of existence here. One of these users was on the cover of Poker Player as an upcoming player to watch. One of these players was able to put together a team of players and make several millions at the WSOP (They put me in the 1500 hold-em playing for 60%, it was a short day *sigh.). The point being these questions are important to the future of Poker Beta as a useful and viable site. These new people often will become experts, and add to this sites future and growth in ways you cannot even imagine. Quite blowing them off and making them feel stupid. Answer the question and let the context of this site expand to include those at the beginning of the poker learning curve.

If you have questions to the OP asking in the comments is just fine. However discussing the merit of a question belongs in Poker Meta, not in the comments. It’s just plain rude and offensive and a giant turn off to most new users.

The nature of questions vary from each Stack Exchange site to the other. The nature of answers also vary as well. Poker Beta is not StackOverflow or exactly like any other site on stack exchange. Often questions on other sites need to be rather terse and exact, as the answers will be. Often these questions are closed and deleted because the answers can be to speculative, based on opinion rather than fact, or are too broad. My experience is that great poker questions and answers, (great being useful and informative), come from a lot of discussion that can be more argument and speculation then technical. People in Stack Exchange are typically technical, but technical is not always the best way to address an answer in poker. Poker has too many variables to fit neatly into a technical answer. (We had a thread several hundred posts long at poker clan that asked the best way to play pocket nines, everyone had a better understanding of how to play pocket nines. No particular answer in that thread could say exactly how pocket nines should best be played). Any “technical” question about poker is so dependent on known and unknown factors that any answer is going to have to be speculative and opinionated to offer any kind of relevancy. Answers can never have anything approaching perfect accuracy. A strict application of terse rules from Stack Exchange will never filter Poker down to making the Internet a Better place with Poker Beta. (Rather that is a good argument for killing Poker here or not is up to Stack Exchange.) Each poker question of any depth is going to be a discussion, any answer is going to be extrapolated from the discussion rather than from a direct simple answer. The point being is we need to open our minds to getting questions clarified and answered rather than doing what we have been doing which is not addressing the needs and wants of poker players here.

You guys really aren’t about poker here you are about some elite subset of poker. You do not have enough experts and balance here and it is adversely narrowing the scope of this site to what a handful of moderators, whom I dare say are not likely world class players or experienced in the industry, think what a good question and answer site might be. Proof is in the pudding here about rather are not this vision is succeeding. If you want to succeed here you will need to include all poker players and the questions they ask, you will need to expand your horizons and become tolerant of those people who asks questions from a different perspective then you. If you can’t do these things this site will never have enough content to attract those 1500 visitors a day you need to get out of beta, it will never attract enough users that will become experts, it will never become something that is useful on the internet. It will never become something that is competitive with two plus two or attract many people from there. It will never be a good place to post a question and get a good answer about poker at.

  • This is a great and important topic to have here and I really want to see a lot of activity around this question. Maybe we can reach to a formula that would really improve this site. Thank you for the initiative. – Radu Murzea Oct 18 '14 at 9:32
  • @RaduMurzea Just for you Radu. I have seen several posts killed by you for being off topic due to lack of research. One being mine. If a question is not answered here at "Poker", it should be here. Telling someone to go someplace else to find the answer is simply counterproductive. If we are going to be a resource you don't send people away to get their answers. If you consider that anyone can find any answer elsewhere online to any question here, every question here becomes invalid, by this deletion standard of yours. – Jon Oct 20 '14 at 6:58
  • I'm currently writing an answer on the question you posted a few hours ago. We'll talk there ;) – Radu Murzea Oct 20 '14 at 7:01
  • Guess what... Poker.se is out of beta ;) – Toby Booth Aug 4 at 1:01
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Are there any static in-hand thinking procedures and Should this question be allowed?

are two post in Meta that are too of the most recent. The first one "thinking procedures" was left alone, the second one was deleted.

Both of these questions should have been left alone. Discussions about both of these questions was a reflection of how silly and narrow minded the tone of this site is.

Since answers get out of order here, this a response to this answer from Toby

The first question is excellent. I was stunned that it was even being talked about in Meta, and it was one of the discussions that prompted me to write the OQ. What is excellent about it is that it does have many answers, and a wide scope of opinions, that will make an interesting discussion. This one left alone might lead to more interesting questions as the granularity of the question was exposed. To my mind as I said, questions that have no terse direct answers are what make a great poker questions. Questions in poker that lead to other questions make for a site with some growth.

The second question was closed because the moderator did not have a clue. The question was not only on topic, it had answers and it also had potential for interesting answers. The moderator whom deleted this had tunnel vision because they had never heard of an online site that offered something like this, could not understand why an online site would offer this, therefore to the moderator the question was without merit. To me the question was kind of silly, not that interesting, but I also know that indeed poker has been played this way, there were people that found value and interesting things playing it this way, and the question should of stood. Just because a moderator does not understand that the question was deleted. That is essentially moderating down, for no good reason, except that the moderator did not see value in the question. You should be open to possibilities here, not biased and closed minded.

I knew someone would come along and ask for examples. I was thinking of replying to whomever did that maybe if you can't see the problem as obvious, perhaps you should consider not moderating. But that would be contentious and you guys are the guys that care most, and don't deserve to be flamed so harshly. And being flamey is a good way to build resistance and not understanding. You guys need to understand what is the basic structural defect in the tone of this site or this site will go away and that would be a total shame. I am not faulting the tone of this site as not of good value, I am saying that it is not working, it will not work to build this site.

I am saying to you guys plainly, your all playing to tight here at Poker Meta, and it is hurting your bottom line. I think all the moderators need to go reread what a moderator is supposed to be doing especially that first line, that says "Not Much". Your supposed to be moderators, not censors. You may have all been involved with forming the site, but your vision for the site is getting in the way of your success for the site. I am saying it is time (way past due actually), to let your vision go, and let the site evolve into what is of most value to the people who come here. There are lots of them 500+ plus everyday. The questions they ask are the genetics of the site. You need to let those genetics evolve.

Toby you said changing the name from "for serious players and enthusiasts of poker" to simply "for enthusiasts of poker" would have minimal if any impact. I think that is correct. However it is not the title that bothers me, it is that moderation is geared toward the first half of the context and tends to blow off the second part of the context. Changing it would have more effect on our vision. The description is after all what defines what this site is about, to you, and to those that use and become part of it. To say for serious players is a narrowing convention. To me what this site needs to survive is less narrowing and more expansion.

You also said that this site needs more users. I read your post. I am saying that the way you see this site is to elitist to be practical. Please do not take this the wrong way, I like your vision. It would be great to have such a resource and this will be such a resource. Unless of course it dies mean time. You said in your post that high quality and standards is the way to go to bring us more traffic. I think the general point I am trying to make is that this is fundamentally incorrect. Incorrect because the result has been a site that has a tone that is uninviting. I am saying to succeed this site needs to become much more inviting, much more relevant to poker players in general.

The way this site is, low participation, not a lot of experts, is a huge problem. I am sure that you guys did not like my comment about this site is not a poker site but a sub site of poker. But hey, that is what we have here. My impression is that because we have so few leaders here that the site has become to limited in scope. You guys are laying your vision on this site, and what needs to be going on here is that this site should be evolving into something that fits the people here. I am getting at moderators need to stop considering if a post fits their vision or not. Moderators and users need to let go and let go, to stop being control freaks about the content, to sit back and look for possibilities, instead of considering rather or not something fits. You need to look at things with an open mind and not from a perspective of your vision. Moderators need to take egos out of the equation and let this site evolve. This is part of what beta is about. Modifying your vision does not end when you go into beta, it is just one more step in the evolution of a concept.

Your all smart guys, but I am a guy that has been around, and I am telling you plainly, you have gotten old and set in your ways, and you are not adapting to the reality of your situation here. You have a bad case of tunnel vision and are resistant to change in ways that will get you to your goal. It is time for the leadership here to let go, to let this site evolve into something more. You have set the direction, it is time to get down the path. Its time for you guys to relax and see possibilities that other people can bring here, rather then trying to keep other players playing by your rules.

Some posts are going to seem inane to you. Let them go. Let the noise go away through down votes, let the questions find their own value. Let these users feel welcome and give them time to adjust to the Stack Exchange way of doing things. Don't put questions on hold or delete them because you don't understand or see the value, let the users decide through the mechanisms provided if a question has value. You do these things and you will find that this site evolves into something that actually fits your original vision. New users get better at asking questions. New users get better at answering questions. The site evolves, it gets better and people with ideals new and foreign to you add wisdom you don't have that makes the site better.

I once started a forum. What I learned the hard way, was that I was not the smartest guy there about any particular thing. I learned that when I posted that it carried a lot of weight, and that that was a bad thing. It was bad because when I laid my BS on something, it narrowed the value of the site to someone else in some way. People do not like a site were there is a lot of nitpicking. I made lots of mistakes trying to manipulate users into my vision of a good forum. You guys are making those same mistakes and I know better then any of you through experience that these kind of mistakes have huge negative impacts. This site will be better if you stop laying your BS on everybody that has a different perspective then you. The more liberal you are, the more open minded you are the better this site will be. Get over it moderators, you will not be the smartest guys about any particular thing here. Everyone whom comes here will have an influence on the way this site will go, when you say no to them, you delete their posts, you kill potential for this site. Its great when you own your jobs as moderators of this site, but when you extend that to owning this site you do this site a disservice. The whole concept of Stack Exchange is democratic in nature, the site becomes what it is through a democratic process, not through manipulative moderation. I know you believe you are doing the right thing, but your practicing a little petty tyranny by putting your abstractions about what poker is on posts that are on topic. We all do a disservice to this site when we choose to kill a post rather then work with a post. Like I said before, the proof is in the pudding here, we are failing to be a valuable resource. To add more, we are failing because we do not understand what a valuable resource is. The only way you will become enlightened as to what a valuable resource that works here is, is when we let go of our ideals and let them evolve. It is not easy, first step is admitting you have a problem, second step is looking outside of your selves to find the solution.

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nb. Too long for a comment. Please forgive me.

Thanks for adding to the discussion. I have some questions but first let me introduce a bit about myself. I've been in the gaming/gambling industry for over 12 years now. Traded in Canary Wharf for a finance firm; been an odds-compiler; worked directly in online poker, and have been (still am) a pro-gambler for 6-7 years now, poker making up a significant portion of my income. I have deep links not only within the professional side of playing but also in its regulation as well. I hope that assuages some of your concerns.

I agree with your sentiment about serious vs enthusiast players, although looking at the review queue here it's unclear to me just where as moderators we may have been too zealous in closing Q's. Could you give some examples?

Just to add, we're often directed to close these Q's by other members of the community. It's not instant also, as the question goes on hold, with the hope and help, that it can be adjusted in situ, or remade as a new thread. I'm sure you knew that, but I wanted it to be clear to others.

I don't think it's ever been in doubt that Poker.SE would be more subjective as is the nature of the game, and if anything I've advocated that people take that approach, & I've definitely not discouraged it. I think we agree. Which is great.

Yes, we need more experts. Yes, we need to appeal to the broadest audience, but to suggest we're narrowing the scope of the site via excessive moderation or elitism or intolerance is debatable. I can assure you, the claim provokes my curiosity & not my indignation. I'd very much appreciate examples of this so we can substantiate your point of view, thanks.

Also, although it could help, and I'm willing to support adjusting it if others agree and see sound reasoning for it, to change the site description from "for serious players and enthusiasts of poker", will likely not have the kind of positive impact to alter the current trajectory of this site as the importance you give it. Content is king as it's often said. The alternative you suggest, "For enthusiasts of Poker" is a decent suggestion. Let's try it.

I've said it before here, I think we primarily need more people. If anything that will generate a greater frequency of "inane" questions although if you can find a good reason why a site devoted to learning about something would invite swathes of noise, rather than signal to its record then I'd be pleased to hear it.

Genuinely, it's good to see someone with obvious forum and poker experience taking an interest in the site as I have. Thanks Jon.

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Radu and I are having a discussion that started here I took it upon myself to continue that discussion here. The reason being is that the discussion is not about that question, as much as it is about what are we doing here.

I am using some strong terms to describe what I see here, I am using elitist, Tyrant, and abuse of power to describe what is going on here. I may have missed something, let me know. Never mind it was bias, I was saying the moderators are biased.

I have no doubt that if some people are not offended, they are at least not seeing the terms I have used in reference to themselves. It may be I lack proper language, since these terms are typically used to describe much more serious evils in the world then the moderation here, but I cant really come up with more accurate terms.

Moderators and anybody else that may have been offended, let me attempt to frame those terms a little better. Let me attempt to explain the context that these terms are being applied to.

Tyranny, elitism, and abuses of power, usually happen when good intentioned people find themselves in power. Apply the old saying absolute power corrupts absolutely. It is one of those things that just happens when someone finds themselves in a position of responsibility. Very able, intelligent and moral people have found themselves in positions of power and made seriously ill conceived decision's with the best of intentions, with the whole world looking on with no one saying a thing, because it is obvious to these people and to everybody around them that these are the best people to make these decisions. They believe in themselves so much, that they tend to think that there are always right. They tend to dismiss radical criticism out of hand. It is very difficult perhaps impossible for them to find a frame of reference with somebody that questions the premise that they are acting on. It is a phenomenon that happens on every level and to almost every human on the planet. Parents make bad decisions about raising children, police make bad arrests, companies fail, governments topple and on and on. Rarely do people in general own these actions, or ever see themselves as other then someone wisely doing their best to achieve whatever it is they are trying to achieve. All those words I have used are accurate to describe the symptoms of this phenomena. (Just as an aside, understanding this is a great tool in poker. Excellent context to understand the more irrational side of some plays).

Unfortunately the basic problem at Poker Beta, is that we have very little leadership here. All sites at Stack Exchange require leadership, you cant get out of beta without it, and the more you have the better. Its because more leadership, the more experts, the more likely a site is to become viable. With out leadership, meaning without a wide variety and viewpoint in the leadership, the phenomena outlined in the chapter previous is always going to happen to some relative degree, it has found fertile ground, it is natural. The phenomenon to any degree is always counter productive. It may not go noticed for a very long time because the people in the thick of it really do not see what they are doing wrong, believe they are right and build a natural bias toward the way the are doing things. An abundance of smart people on any topic act as counterpoise of the natural tendencies of all people to believe that their opinions and expertise is best.

We have good moderators here, this is not at all about the quality of the people we have. What we do not have is a large base of experts and moderators to act as a counterpoise to the phenomena. We are suffering for it. The moderators we have do not have a broad enough collection of experiences within the scope of our subject to really do an effective job leading us to success.

I don't mean to insult you and I hope that you are not taking it that way. All I can say to try and ease your resistance is that if I had bunches of points and was given moderator privileges, it really would not do much if anything to change the fact that our collective experience was still to narrow to bring this site out of the wilderness. The fact of the matter is that we are a very long way from having enough expertise on this site.

You guys have indeed become the victims of the phenomena. I beg you, I ask you, relax have a beer, and sit quietly and contemplate that this is indeed possible. Even if you can't come to that conclusion about yourself, please contemplate how we might get out of this predicament with the other moderators as screwed up as they are. I ask you to consider that your responses to criticism of your actions are defensive responses, they are rationalizations, and that other word that I cant think of that people use to defend their compulsive degenerate behaviors as something good for them. (Thanks in advance for that edit)

Now would be a good time to do that, go away for awhile, take a nap, sleep on it then come back and read the rest of this post. Let the possibility sink in a bit.

Did you take a break?

I am going to suggest you guys do something really radical and really difficult. Stop moderating for awhile. Trust me, as a complete act of faith that your moderation as you approach it now is doing more harm then good for this site. So simply stop for awhile, take a well deserved break. Moderate a little, the spam. Leave the rest of it un-moderated and let the built in functions of down voting take care of the rest. Participate in the questions and answers. Do write, do vote but leave the extra privileges you have alone. Let some anarchy in here, let the community run free for awhile.

There is really no way for you guys to see how negative your moderation is to the success of this site with out you taking a step back to see what comes forth when you no longer moderate. Radu sorry I did not answer your questions more directly. But it would be a circular argument and I don't particularly have answers for you. If you get what I am saying, you will understand that I am saying that the answers are with a lot of people, not with me, not with you, not with anyone in particular. The more people are engaged in this site, the more engaging this site will be. The more you let go here the more you will have to embrace.

You guys should step back for a good long time. You should step back until you see that you have a broader more diverse leadership to become a part of. The way it is now you are stifling new leadership here. Step back until that changes and you are a partner in the site and not able to be anything that would let you be in the place you are now where this site feels cold and uninviting. And step back in a bit when you see that someone else is getting into that place, and be the counterpoise to the problem, not the problem. Do no more harm!

  • To everybody reading this thread VOTE!!! Vote up vote down this is your site VOTE!!! – Jon Oct 20 '14 at 12:43

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