December 15, 2004

The Life and Death of a Discussion Group

by Ed Rozmiarek

The Nigglybits Yahoo discussion group was once a fun place for boardgamers to hang out, have light hearted gaming discussions, make fun of the all sorts of people and things related to the gaming world, etc. In short, you could relax and shoot the breeze. It was advertised as a “virtual pub” by those who posted there. You could “pull up a bar stool” and talk to your friends. No topic was off limits and several interesting items were brought up, but a majority of the threads were still boardgame related. Unfortunately, those days are over. The Pub is still there, but it’s more like rundown bar that no one frequents anymore than the friendly neighborhood pub it once was.

I think that there are several reasons why this happened. The Pub had grown over the past couple years and as such the traffic on the group had grown as well, almost too much in my own opinion. The signal to noise ratio was dropping with more non-boardgame related talk and insane quick polls (for example, “What type of underwear do the pub dwellers wear?”). Since nothing was “off topic” for the Pub, calls to return to more game talk were usually shouted down. In fact it had gotten so bad people would apologize when posting something game related. However, I believe the downfall really started when Nick Danger, the creator, owner, “bartender” and heart and soul of the Pub left this past summer. Feeling burned out and needing to simplify his online life, Nick slipped out in the middle of the night, turning over the keys to Mark “Fluff Daddy” Jackson. A month or so later Mark left as well and then the fabric really started to unravel.

Nick started the Pub after getting kicked out of the SpielFrieks Yahoo group back in May 2001. Kicked out may be too strong, more like he was asked to take his funny remarks and “quick polls” elsewhere since SpielFrieks was for “serious discussion” of boardgames. I was one of the early pub dwellers, joining the group a couple of days after it was created. It quickly became my favorite discussion group and for the next couple years, the first one I would catch up on each day. There was a ban on “emoticons” and Pub dwellers were trained to take insults as a joke or friendly jest, just as if everyone were friends sitting around a bar having fun. SpielFrieks (or the “lounge”, in Niggly speak) became the place for rules questions, news, play reports, and cannon fodder for Nick’s sharp wit while the Pub was the place to have fun. I must admit I was more of a reader of the discussions than a contributor. I wish I could have contributed more than just a few posts here and there, but work and other things usually got in the way.

These days, the Pub has grown very quiet, almost completely dead. Looking at the number of posts for the last six months or so, you see a disturbing trend. After peaking in April of this year with 1891 posts, the number of posts each month has dropped off. They have fallen drastically the last few months with only 503 in October, 357 in November and only 60 so far December. It’s not quite dead yet, but it’s like a zombie, slowly stumbling forward looking for a brain.

This fall I started to realize that the Pub just wasn’t fun anymore. Around the first of November I decided drop e-mail delivery of Nigglybits posts to see if I would miss it. To be honest, I really haven’t. I have peeked into the Pub’s windows a couple of times via the web interface to see if anything has been going on. It seemed just boring as before I left it. It’s pretty obvious in hindsight that Nick was the spark that made the Pub the fun place that is was. No one was able to pick up his bar rag when he left.

So Nick, here’s to you, a virtual root beer toast and a thanks for all of the fun in the past. Nigglybits may continue in name, but the spirit is gone. It was fun while it lasted, but it’s time to move on.

Posted by Ed Rozmiarek at December 15, 2004 1:54 PM


I'll raise a glass of Snapple with you, Ed... the Pub was a wonderous thing while it lasted. I'm sorry that my short tenure as owner-barkeep-bouncer-resident theologian was so, well, short. But without Nick hanging around the place, it was harder to ignore the smell and the more & more commmon bouts of meanness from some of the patrons. Sigh.

Still, it was good while it lasted. So, here's to the Pub, the place that spawned Threadslayer & Fluff Daddy! Here's to McFlufflin & Wandila & the Quick Panda! Here's to the table that Invisble Craig hid under, the much-maligned jukebox & TV, and , of course, here's to the Alley, home of the CCG players & political discussion!

Merry Christmas to all of the former Pubdwellers - and to all who still bend an elbow at it's virtual bar.

aka fluff daddy

Inigo Montoya: You are wonderful.
Man in Black: Thank you; I've worked hard to become so.
-- The Princess Bride --

Posted by: Mark aka Fluff Daddy on December 15, 2004 8:00 PM

I was a late-comer but I miss the community of the Pub, too, but I haven't given up on it yet. It'd be nice if Ed, Nick, Mark, and some of the others came back to see if a spark could be lit into the conversation.

Posted by: Bobby Warren on December 27, 2004 12:27 PM

I'm dead?

Nice eulogy though, ed!

I was having a chat with Michael Weston and he mentioned your post, so naturally I had to come and check it out. Thanks for the very nice words Ed, but you give me far too much credit. About all I can take credit for is spotting the dry rot early and scrambling out the door first!

It was a fun run though and I enjoyed the company immensely, so I'll join you in a final toast to the NigglyBits Pub - may it live forever, even if it's only in our memories! (cue Green Day...)

Posted by: Nick on March 12, 2005 6:09 AM
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