International Guild of Knot Tyers Forum

Feedback => Feedback => Topic started by: admin on January 04, 2007, 02:46:25 PM

Title: New Forum boards?
Post by: admin on January 04, 2007, 02:46:25 PM
Following a number of recent discussions on this board and amongst the forum moderators, we would like to ask your opinion on possibly adding some new boards to the forum. To this end, we'd like to ask all forum subscribers to take a moment to post in this poll which will run for exactly 14 days and then close automatically. The poll's results will only be available after it has closed to try and ensure as fair and objective a result as possible.

If there is a clear concensus in favour of creating new boards, we will then follow this up with a second poll to allow people to indicate preferred board combinations and discuss a possible way forward.

Thank you.
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: Lasse_C on January 05, 2007, 12:17:56 PM
before any division into sub-sections is made, I suggest we all take some time to think about how many sub-sections we really need, what the sub-sections should be called and contain! If the sub-section headlines are too vague, anything might fit into them and they are useless. If they are too precise and limited, on the other hand, the number of specialized sub-sections will be so large that it is hard to keep track of - and useless for that reason.

A division into sub-sections should be made in a way that improves this forum, not making it difficult to use or complicated to navigate.

Just my little piece into the discussion.  :)

Lasse C

Usually, I find quoting myself to be ridiculously (is that the correct spelling? ???) self-centered, but sometimes I find it useful.
I just wanted to repeat this: Let´s think this over properly and not rush into anything. It is better to think it over one extra time than to create a structure that will not work and/or we will not like.

Lasse C

Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: Willeke on January 05, 2007, 04:27:00 PM
Lasse,
As moderators we feel the same and we rather move slowly but right than hurried and have to live with a mess.

Willeke
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: admin on January 05, 2007, 06:11:09 PM
I just wanted to repeat this: Let´s think this over properly and not rush into anything. It is better to think it over one extra time than to create a structure that will not work and/or we will not like.

I agree. Time taken now will be well spent if it stops regulars having to repeatedly redirect newcomers to different boards to have their questions answered. The ideal solution would be intuitive, natural and simple but getting there isn't so easy.

Simple is good. Simple can be built upon without too much mess and simple means less bits to break down. I like simple.  ;D

Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: squarerigger on January 05, 2007, 10:23:46 PM
UUMMM - how do we vote?  There are no radio buttons on my window of the voting board - are they hidden somewhere?

Lindsey
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: admin on January 06, 2007, 12:09:01 AM
UUMMM - how do we vote?  There are no radio buttons on my window of the voting board - are they hidden somewhere?

There should be only three situations when the voting buttons don't display:

1. If you haven't logged in (only forum members can vote)

2. If you've already voted in this poll (only 1 vote per member)

3. When the poll closes (in 13 days)

You're obviously logged in, so No. 1 doesn't apply. Can you confirm that you haven't already voted? Does anyone else who hasn't voted yet have this problem?



Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: squarerigger on January 06, 2007, 12:55:16 AM
I had not seen the poll until today and had not previously voted on this poll, although I had voted on other polls.  Maybe some of those results were carried over? 
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: Willeke on January 06, 2007, 01:07:06 AM
Lindsey,
Are you using Internet Explorer? If not, do you have an other browser that you can try?
I am not sure it has anything to do with the problem, but I have noted that a change of browser can clear but also create a lot of problems.

Willeke

PS, I have just tried the poll with firefox and no problems.
Did you also have problems with the earlier poll?
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: Dan_Lehman on January 06, 2007, 07:32:55 AM
An advantage to more boards & thus fewer threads per board is the more
likely occasion that threads of reference will be proximate vs. some pages
removed.

Quote
Is this forum system one that enables threads to be moved?  --thinking
that if there were a general landing zone so to speak on which some topic
was raised which topic nicely fit elsewhere it could be relocated there.
... which I wrote (and edit to quote) obviously before gaining consciousness
and looking a tad closely at the list of Topics (many which read MOVED) !!
Sherlock strikes again!

"Decorative" & "Practical" are two pretty obvious candidates for consideration
as companions to "Chit Chat"--which pretty much operates as "Only", now.
Beyond this might be something we wait to see a need for?  One can think
of other divisions, but I'm not confident they'd be much populated.

--dl*
====
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: DerekSmith on January 06, 2007, 06:32:02 PM
Webmistress has asked me to post this proposal here, so here it is.

-----------------

There are a number of reasons for considering a serious restructuring of this Forum.  The reason which triggered the present interest - Sensitivity -  is important, but by itself it might not constitute sufficient reason to split off a tiny number of threads which could somewhere in their posts cross a PC line.  Equally, KC made the valid point that we do not currently have many posts per day, and splitting these across too many boards becomes a nonsense, he suggests that we should not consider more than half the number of posts the Forum takes in a day.  The Forum statistics show slightly more than 8 posts per day, so no more than four boards, which seems a sensible limit (I do not count the 'Feedback' board in this as that is purely an administrative board as is the read only 'Announcements' board - sensibly these two should be condensed into one 'Forum Admin' board).

Just splitting up the 'Chit Chat' board into some 'arbitrary' categories without a clear purpose is likewise a nonsense and will simply lead to us having to switch between boards to read all the stuff we used to find in one place - clearly a backward step.  I wouldn't want that and I am sure few would, let alone the extra work for Moderators, shuttling topics back and forth as their content meanders or splitting posts up into the 'right' boards.

There is however, an absolutely clear rationale for restructuring the boards, and that is:-  To promote greater participation, to encourage posting and to gently lead new members into becoming active Forum contributors.

An uncomfortable truth is that this forum is suffering a death by a thousand cuts - slowly bleeding away - and is not growing or regenerating fast enough to compensate for the rate of attrition.  The truth is that skilled knotters can be a grumpy group and often this forum can be seen as aggressive and very daunting to new members.  Worse still we have no 'Welcoming strategy' and no 'Helpful Grandfather/mother types' topped off with a group of Moderators who can be more evangellical than a Parking Meter Maid on heat.  For all that I love my hobby and care for this forum, it is loosing quality contributors too fast for any chance of a healthy future.  We need to promote new members into active contribution and there is a strong chance that the right structure might just help.

Consider then for a moment the Forum of the IGKT to be a grand and wonderful building.  Right at the front, behind the Grand doors is:-

    * The Foyer        -  The visitor or passer by is Welcomed here, full of 'Chit Chat' and beginners questions - asking 'silly' questions is approved and being critical or making fun of the newbies is not allowed.  There should be no greater goal, than attracting new folk to the Foyer and tempting them to stay a while.

Moving into the next Grand Hall you enter :-

    * The Showcase  -  Sharing, Showing and Developing all aspects of decorative knotting - many will aspire to this level of skill and expertise and will be asking for help from all our decorative experts.  Many will end their apprenticeship here and become Master Decorative Knotters, staying here to help others learn their skills.

As Apprentices grow in knowledge and confidence, they may be tempted to the hall at the back of the IGKT :-

    * The Workshop -  Where knotting Nerds can congregate, dissect and develop the tiny details of knotting knowledge science, theory and forensics.  Not to everyone's taste and certainly the hangout of the grumpy and cranky members of the cult, so be prepared to get your head bitten off occasionally - this allowed.

and of course, every Guild has its darker side, generally kept away from public and casual gaze.  Guild Masters will occasionally spend time in :-

    * The Dungeon    -  Nooses, Snares, Blood and Bondage - the darker side of knotting - don't complain if you don't like what you see here or the language used, it's part of knots at work and not necessarily fit for the dinner table.  NOTICE - Children and Newbies not allowed

It's worth saying again - the important reason to restructure is :- To promote greater participation, to encourage posting and to gently lead new members into becoming active Forum contributors.  If you were - or are - a newbie, could you see this structure as a constructive enhancement?

Derek
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: admin on January 06, 2007, 08:06:02 PM
I had not seen the poll until today and had not previously voted on this poll, although I had voted on other polls.  Maybe some of those results were carried over? 

No - I didn't carry over any results from previous polls although we do still have the voting results from those. Each poll is completely unaffected by any that have come before.

I've doublechecked the database backend and it would seem that you have already voted in this poll.

Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: squarerigger on January 07, 2007, 12:20:59 AM
Quite right - thanks for checking - mea culpa in having forgotten among the flurry of polls created (I was one of those creating a poll I recall) that I had voted here already.  They do all seem to blend together after a while and they look different after voting.  Thanks for helping me.

Lindsey
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: Dan_Lehman on January 07, 2007, 07:13:25 AM
Quote
There are a number of reasons for considering a serious restructuring of this Forum.
The reason which triggered the present interest - Sensitivity -  is important,
I disagree:  this is having the (occasional) tail wag the dog.  For the case of a sort
of official "sensitivity"--i.e., having those "flash" postings which can have health
consequences--, I can see having a well guarded section to hold them.  But it
is not sensible to establish a separate spot for some supposed sensitive item
(which afterall is much in the mind of the beholder).  I don't see the history of this
forum indicating a need for this.

And I certainly don't want any nod or even discussion much of S&M/bondage here.
Again, look back over the history here (and at rec.crafts.knots, for that matter)--no case for it.

Quote
(I do not count the 'Feedback' board in this as that is purely an administrative board
 as is the read only 'Announcements' board - sensibly these two should be condensed into one 'Forum Admin' board).
Hmmm, it's interesting that there was at least this split and yet many post had to be MOVED
to it--i.e., although a proper spot for it existed, posters went elsewhere.  "Announcements"
maybe could gain meeting reports as a way to give it more content--and such content seems
in keeping with some of what is posted there.

Quote
Just splitting up the 'Chit Chat' board into some 'arbitrary' categories without a clear purpose
Hasn't been suggested by anyone.
To this point, I might question the initial division of General/Feedback, which I think could disappear
without harm and be one level cleaner?  (I don't really think of Announcements as being subsumed by
Feedback.)

Quote
There is however, an absolutely clear rationale for restructuring the boards, and that is:- 
To promote greater participation, to encourage posting and to gently lead new members into becoming active Forum contributors.
Frankly, I don't see that the current situation is much of a factor here.

Quote
An uncomfortable truth is that this forum is suffering a death by a thousand cuts - slowly bleeding away -
and is not growing or regenerating fast enough to compensate for the rate of attrition.  ... We need to promote
new members into active contribution and there is a strong chance that the right structure might just help.
If indeed we're losing members for some reason, then tinkering with Forum divisions is hardly the recipe for
salvage, as I don't think it is a cause of the loss.  --sounds like asking for a bigger pump for a tire deflating
from a puncture:  misses the point!

Quote
    * The Foyer        -  The visitor or passer by is Welcomed here, full of 'Chit Chat' and beginners questions -
asking 'silly' questions is approved and being critical or making fun of the newbies is not allowed. 
I muse about the sense (good/not so) about having all threads begin life in some "foyer" and then get moved
off to an appropriate Practical/Decorative folder by a weekly(?) maintenance sweep.  --point would be to have
a one-stop spot to see new (vs. the hardly onerous need to check two places vs. one, if one's interest were
so broad).  (looking "not so" at this time )

Quote
The Showcase   * The Workshop
NIce names, BUT, not obvious enough for quick newbie direction, unlike Pract/Dec ones.
Hmmm, I can see a happy compromise by fusion here:  Decorative Showcase,
Practical Workshop.  Though one could interpret this as "show my double-knitted
HydraHead here, reveal my technique there"--which isn't what I meant!

Quote
and of course, every Guild has its darker side,
No thanks.  You want darker?  Go to Darfur, to pick one spot of way too many.

Now, let's consider a real post we've seen in light of my musing about Practical/Decorative
split, and use of Announcements for meeting reports.  Andre van der Salm comes to post
notice/link to "a few new pictures on my website of our monthly knot tyers meeting in Rotterdam."
Since this has been of principally decorative knotting activity, should it go to that mused
slot, or ... ?  (I'd say slot it where meetings reports / announcements go; it can be referred
to (well, in this case it has only a URL to images, not images themselves).

--dl*
====
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: DerekSmith on January 07, 2007, 04:01:48 PM
Hi Dan,

I have taken a number of comments from your reply to indicate that I have not been adequately clear in my post as to the underlying objectives.

First, the case for restructuring and expanding the Forum is by no means clear cut.  Your example with Andre's post, is an example that more boards simply incites confusion as to 'what goes where' and this is undesirable when the forum attracts a paltry 8 post a day on average.  Present levels of contributions do not in any way demonstrate a justification to restructure per se, unless you consider that the underlying goal is to attract significantly and consistently more than a mean of 8 posts a day and consider that the Forum structure may assist in achieving this goal.

Your comment about the need for "having all threads begin life in some "foyer" and then get moved
off to an appropriate Practical/Decorative folder by a weekly(?) maintenance sweep."  - Threads do not move through the halls - people move through the halls.  Consider the Foyer with all of today's light hearted 'Chit Chat' (and hopefully much more of it), but without any of the in-depth and occasionally borderline aggressive content from the likes of you and I.  Anything and everything would be discussed in there but in the context of the Novice with no prior expectations as to what they should or should not already know about knots.  Generally, the only input from Grand Masters such as yourself would be guidance and encouragement.  Essentially it is the IGKT 'Chit Chat' forum without grumpiness, criticism or arguments - its a NICE place attractive to novices and unchallenging to them, where they feel they can post on their new hobby without looking foolish.  The only time threads might get moved is if the language became too technical or 'dark' as to be inapropriate for an area frequented (hopefully) by children.  The guidelines for the Foyer will relate to maintaining its atmosphere, not to its content.

Hopefully people will with time become more confident in their hobby and will want to move on to the less densely populated and  more technically arduous Showcase and Workshop.  It is the person that moves, not the thread, although doubtless, when a Novice outgrows the Foyer, it is likely they will spend some time migrating between both halls, often posting similar threads/questions in both - Andre's post would quite logically have been posted in both the Foyer and the Showcase - nothing wrong with that.  The level, style and terminology used in the replies in different halls would reflect the expectations of the participants and the behaviour guidelines for each hall.

You propose the move to enhance the names to "Decorative Showcase and Practical Workshop", and here you highlight an important pitfall - that of over specifying a halls use and content.  If a thread starts in the Showcase about tying a fancy, then evolves into a technical discussion should it be moved? or should it be split?  The answer is - neither.  If you over specify an areas content it becomes unusable, instead of enjoying our hobby, we become obsessed with 'Should this be in this box or that box?'.  There are people who spend their life sorting the contents of boxes and there are people who enjoy tying and discussing knots - this forum is for the latter, not the former.  By keeping the guidelines for content fuzzy, any topic can be discussed in any hall, the only thing that differs is the rigour and 'tennor' of the discourse and the suitability for children and the dinner table.

This all moves the discussion away from content permissible in each hall over to behaviour permissible in each hall and from that into agreeing some guidelines for what that permissible behaviour should be.
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: Dan_Lehman on January 07, 2007, 09:45:45 PM

Consider the Foyer with all of today's light hearted 'Chit Chat' (and hopefully much more of it), but without any of the in-depth and occasionally borderline aggressive content from the likes of you and I.
From me?! ::)

Quote
It is the person that moves, not the thread, although doubtless, when a Novice outgrows the Foyer, it is likely they will spend some time migrating between both halls, often posting similar threads/questions in both - Andre's post would quite logically have been posted in both the Foyer and the Showcase - nothing wrong with that.  The level, style and terminology used in the replies in different halls would reflect the expectations of the participants and the behaviour guidelines for each hall.
I don't concur in any of this sentiment.    All this worry about appropriateness of some tone of response
is silly, IMO; we've handled plenty of "newbie" posts w/o special precaution (just common sense)
--with one sort of exception attributable to personal issues not affected by Forum management.

Incidentally, one of the indications that people do not move is the posting of Announcements
information in Chit-chat--in the (prudent) belief that folks don't give much heed to checking
Announcements much.  --WARNING & SUNDAY regular posts seem appropriate to A. vs. Cc..

Quote
You propose the move to enhance the names to "Decorative Showcase and Practical Workshop",
and here you highlight an important pitfall - that of over specifying a halls use and content.  If a thread starts
in the Showcase about tying a fancy, then evolves into a technical discussion should it be moved? or should it be split?
The answer is - neither.  If you over specify an areas content it becomes unusable, instead of enjoying our hobby,
we become obsessed with 'Should this be in this box or that box?'.
"OVER specifying"?!
Again, you are raising molehills into windmills and then crusading against them!
In some few cases, the answer is "yes, split off a continuation of a thread to a better location".
There is a general problem of dealing with "hijacking" of topics, and some discipline in posters
is reasonable to call for and fixes such as MOVED serve a purpose of keeping threads grouped
for better access/finding/reference.  And at our level of usage, this should be no big bother.
(I recall back in the good ol' pre-WWWeb days of USENET groups when rec.bicycling got
split into, hmmm, maybe nine (!) subgroups (.tech, .marketplace (4 sale/ISO), .rides, .advocacy ...)
in order to make the use of that resource much much better--it was getting huge numbers
of posts daily, then.)

It does occur to me tha having the ONLY actual knotting-discussion area named "Chit-chat"
inspires other than great interest/respect from a new reader!  (Think of looking for, say, some
important medical advice from a university hospital and all you find is "chit-chat".)-:

Quote
This all moves the discussion away from content permissible in each hall over to behaviour permissible
in each hall and from that into agreeing some guidelines for what that permissible behaviour should be.
I see a choice of location (among likely few options)  to be natural and easier than your envisioned choice of
attitude or response disposition (which requires some presumption of some level of ignorance which itself might
be awkward to make).

Below are a couple of scans of the Forum's index pp taken some time ago when it occurred to me
to see how a break-up of "Chit-chat" might look.  I'll split it as per Decorative, Practical, & Other,
for simplicity at this time; "Other" might hold hints for a further specific heading.
(I'm going to guess at the subject of some threads; I've not read all ... .)

Decorative Designs & Showcase
Templates..how did they do it? walrus
Is there a calculation which gives the amount of cordneeded for a turks head?---Mrs_G_Chew
A shifting knot (150K worth of pics)---V.V.V.V.V.
How do I do what I know as multiple plaits?---Mrs_G_Chew
Newspaper article about Chinese Knotting demo in Dayton, OH---KnotMe
Decorative knot around a pole---Evan Plett
whipping for ship's wheel---arniesails
historical / maritime walled town festival---Andre van der Salm

Practical Lab & Workshop
Essential Knots?   « 1 2 3 4 5 Lasse_C
Beefed up KC Hitch---DerekSmit
A knot by Design---DerekSmith
Construction Knots---rosco rathbone
Tying the Blood Knot---DerekSmith
Double Dragon Vs. Double Tucked Perfection loop---Mike
Compact loop on a bight!?--
Fishing St. Maarten Blue Marlin Classic ---Andrew
Knots in movies---DaveRoot
Certified Rope Splicer---DerekSmith
monkeys fist  « 1 2 » --- edward
Power in VersaTackle  <<1,2>> ---KC
Lash-Seize-Whip: Distinction?!---Dan_Lehman

Greetings, Notes, & Miscellany
The Knotboxes are open DerekSmith
Sunday again« 1 2 »  Willeke
Is this the right place for intros? « 1 2 » --walrus
Triptease--Willeke
new pictures of knot tyers meeting in Rotterdam---Andre van der Salm
Des Pawson's Book(s) ---aknotter
Overs Index ---DerekSmith
new pictures---Andre van der Salm
Spooky way to find knots---DerekSmith
yet another name question---twentythree
New to knots---marieferry
archaic term for knot tyer?-- cricket
Rather tattered book-- Petr Stasa

Announcements
New forum is working. ---Willeke
igkt.eu ---patrick
Southampton & knotting---JustKnot
Spam warning---Willeke

Now, this isn't perfect, and there are arguable mis-classifications, esp. since
as noted I've not gone back to review each thread; and there can be yet
continual questions about slotting.  But is it overall a better system than
lopping it all under "Chit-chat" (or some better name) and being a one-slot
Forum (with clearly a range of topics)--I think so.

--dl*
====
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: Lasse_C on January 08, 2007, 12:35:13 PM
I have done some thinking about the matter, and looked at a couple of other forums I frequent.

First, I do think that the IGKT forum has reached at point where it is relevant to divide it into sub-sections. If nothing else, the number of threads is now so high that at least I find it a little hard to look up a specific old thread.

Derek has a very good point of “the Foyer”. However, I do not think of it as a section where you actually post questions. I think of “the Foyer” as the page that meets the visitor. In “the Foyer” you find the basic information (“Read this before posting” and such), and this is where you get directions where to go next. Simple, clear, inviting, informative – that is how I picture Derek´s idea of “the Foyer”, and I certainly agree!

I like to think of the forum as “areas” with “sections” - not because I believe that is necessarily The Best Structure TM , but simply because a couple of forums which I like and which seem fo work well, are done that way. A Swedish forum about Living History and Historical Reenactment has five “main” sections, with several sub-sections, for example:
Equipment – subsections: Clothes & textile, Leather &  shoes, Housing & living
Arms & battle – subsections: Armour, Weapons, Martial Arts
(I think you get the idea. It is at http://www.historiska.se/histvarld/forum/ if you want to look at the design.)

We should avoid dividing into too small categories, though! Let´s start with some major, and if need be, they can later be divided. Note: The “areas” are only headlines, not sections in which you actually post!

I think we should be careful about what “signs” we put on the “areas” and sub-sections. Labels that may be obvious to “old” knotters but not to newcomers should be avoided as far as possible! In my opinion the labels should (ideally) be so obvious that a newcomer who can hardly tell a bowline from a slipknot can find out in which section his/her question belongs! As far as I´m concerned, the forum should have a design that will attract the interest of potential users "passing by", enable them to easily find their way around, and - hopefully - return.

“Decorative” and “Practical” have been suggested, and to me, they sound as “areas” They are good, simple to understand, and fairly obvious – at least if you add a little comment under the headline.

For example: 
Decorative: Knots and knotwork that is done purely or mainly for decorative and ornamental purposes
Practical: The focus is on knots in practical use – what you may call “working” knots
Possibly (but I am not sure about these) we can also have:
Science: Knotting theory, physics, etc.
Media: Books, internet sites, instruction videos, etc.

The section which was in part the spark that ignited this issue, “Forensic and medical knotting” might be a suitable subsection in the area “Science”.

I strongly support the idea that there should be a section of “chit chat”. There are always some little issues that we like to chat about things that may or may not be knot related, and which does not fit into the other categories. Such a section is needed (and often fun!), and helps keep the other sections "cleaner".

I would like to add that the sorting Dan has done of some threads and where they might be put is a good example of the thinking I am after. I may not agree on what he calls the headlines, but I do agree that the threads he has put in groups belong together!

I think we should keep discussing this issue with as little personal prestige and quick conclusions as possible. After some time we may reach some kind of consencus, and/or pick the best ideas from different inputs.

Still, I for one need a little input as to what is technically possible and (perhaps more important) not possible to do! In this discussion it seems that a structure is already beginning to take form - and we do not know if it can be done!

Lasse C


Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: admin on January 08, 2007, 06:12:51 PM
Still, I for one need a little input as to what is technically possible and (perhaps more important) not possible to do! In this discussion it seems that a structure is already beginning to take form - and we do not know if it can be done!

The only real technical limitation is that it is not possible for one board to be the 'child' of another board. Where a number of boards need to be grouped together, they can be placed into a single 'category'. So, for example, if there was a Practical Knotting Category, it might hold a number of board such as "Beginners", "Techniques" and "Decorative Knots".

Simple Machine's own forum illustrates this quite well:

http://www.simplemachines.org/community/ (http://www.simplemachines.org/community/)

The order of boards within a category and even the displayed order of the categories themselves can be changed to suit at any point.

Um...anything else special that might be under consideration?



Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: Lasse_C on March 06, 2007, 07:10:02 PM
Hmmm.... A lot of dust was stirred up by a rather heated discussion, and then.... what?
Is there some work going on that I am not aware of, or did the issue sort of... die?

Lasse C
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: Ruben_Knotter on March 06, 2007, 08:08:30 PM
the key issue is to have a platform for communication, which is easy to use as reader and contributor.
there is some inflation of platforms (knothead, knottyer, IGKT chit-chat and more).
due to this, its more and more effort to monitor all of them.
how do we cope with this trend ?

state-of-the-art platforms should allow the user himself to structure the board according to her/his needs, e.g. sort the entries (author, topic, keywords ...)

As the the previous entry fom lasse hilites, older topics will vanish from page one (out of sight - out of mind) even with structured forums.



Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: Phil_The_Rope on March 10, 2007, 01:25:46 PM
My two-penneth ...

I've come into this conversation late, and have only quickly scanned the posts. I concur with what many people have said in that it's not always intuitive finding what you're looking for, and people will often disagree where a particular topic should go!

What I think is MORE important is the "Subject" line. On other forums I've so often seen posts which say something along the lines of "Problem with version x", which doesn't give any clue as to what the problem is. That's no use to anyone! If people can think of a sensible headline for their posts then that helps enormously. It's like getting an email with either no subject, or something like "Hello" from someone who's not in your address book - in Phil The Rope's household these emails invariably get deleted before they're even previewed, never mind opened.

Very, VERY, important in my view that we all try to be as specific as possible when describing the subject of our topic.

Make sense?

Phil
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: Lasse_C on March 13, 2007, 10:24:55 PM
Very, VERY, important in my view that we all try to be as specific as possible when describing the subject of our topic.

Make sense?

Phil

Makes lots of sense, if you ask me! Requires some self-discipline of all of us, though, but should prove well worth it!

Lasse

*Really would want to come here more often, but between hectic work, exercise for aching knees, etc, there is not all that much time!*
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: Willeke on March 13, 2007, 10:50:46 PM
Should the moderators change the subject (title) of the thread if it is not clear?

Willeke
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: Lasse_C on March 15, 2007, 12:57:41 PM
Should the moderators change the subject (title) of the thread if it is not clear?

Willeke

Yes, why not? On a couple of forums I frequently visit this can be done. The title can be changed into something that better reflects what it is about. If need be, threads can be moved to a more suitable sub-section. Occasionally a thread starts to go in two directions, i e contains discussions about two subjects in one thread, and in that case the moderators split the thread. It may sound to some as if the moderators meddle much, but this is one of the best run forums I know of!

Lasse C
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: WebAdmin on March 15, 2007, 02:35:13 PM
" but this is one of the best run forums I know of! "

Why, thankyou, kind sir - we aims to please  ;D

Lesley
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: Mrs Glenys Chew on March 15, 2007, 11:37:34 PM
>Discreet cough from a nervous contributor<

I was just thinking today about the letter I've sent to Knotting Matters, in which I said something like "I'm trying to keep my eyes open for opportunities to tie knots in a non-knotting environment".  (I bet if it's printed I didn't put it half so well!)

Anyway - today, we hopefully fixed a problem with a 6 ft high fencepost which pulls away from its gate, and needed something to hold it in the right place whilst you wrestle one-handed with the rusty padlock.  I found a small thimble at a local ironmongers, tied a scaffold knot round it, followed it up with a Solomon Bar, left a couple of loops free for extra grip in miserable weather, and fixed the whole thing to the gate with a handy D-ring with 4 screwholes in it (if anyone recognises that description, please can they tell me what it's called).  Then I discovered that Solomon Bars slide, and I had to add two overhand knots (one on each loop) to keep it all in place.  Anyway, it works!  (Photos may be appearing soon on my Yahoo album.)

Times past, I would have just put a handle on the fence.

Cutting the rest of the waffle, I had a project that would test me on one new knot, and two familiar knots in an unlikely setting.  It was a practical application of knotting I wouldn't have otherwise have thought of.

What about a forum or noticeboard where people can post situations in which they used knots in a mundane or unusual way, in order to encourage others to try them, or to be encouraged that "hey, if they could do that, I could use that to do this..." (sort of thing).

I probably haven't explained it too well, but as an amateur and very irregular knot-tyer, creative ways of using knots other than fishing, sailing, and life-supporting (aka climbing) would spark lots more ideas and thus hopefully be more visible to the general public, too.  Putting these all together in one forum or noticeboard would make them easily accessible.  A sort of "I wanted to do ..... so I used ....." title.  After all, it was a letter in Knotting Matters telling how a gentleman gave keyfobs to a choir he met on a bus that inspired me to make 35 Solomon Bar keyfobs for a choir visiting our church last week.

I hope I haven't butted in too much or anything.  As a new member, I'm nervous about speaking up in Guild administrative matters.

Regards
Glenys Chew
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: Lasse_C on March 16, 2007, 08:24:22 AM
" but this is one of the best run forums I know of! "

Why, thankyou, kind sir - we aims to please  ;D

Lesley

Ehhh... No offence, but I was actually thinking about http://www.svartakatten.com/forum/phpBB2/index.php
The IGKT forum is also very well run, but I do think Svarta Katten´s forum is better in the aspects we are discussing in this thread - subsections and administration by moderators.

Lasse C
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: DerekSmith on March 27, 2007, 06:19:40 AM
Well, it is now eight weeks since I took good council and stepped back from this topic and indeed from posting here at all.  My objective in doing this was to let the heat go out of the situation and to follow the opinions of others as they developed.

Unfortunately, it seems as though just about everyone else has done the same thing.

New topics have fallen from nearly 2.5 per day to less than 0.7 per day and posts have dropped from an average of 8.6 per day to a low of less than 4 per day.

What has happened?  Is the board in terminal decline or is this some seasonal anomaly that has been seen before?  This decline is most surprising because the stats indicate a steady influx of around 200 new members a month (this in itself is strange considering our total membership is only 387).  Doubtless some of these are spammers, but if we are attracting genuine new members why are they not posting?

Webmistress, do you have any measure of how many of these new members are bogus?  Even if only a quarter of these are genuine, we should still ask - "Why are they not posting?"  You do not have to join in order to read the posts, so presumably they are joining with the intention to post, yet something is holding them back.

At less than one new topic per day and less than 4 posts per day, splitting the board up would be silly, we would have to hunt for the new content and moderators would have to fight over who was going to move what and to where (yes I still think this board is excessively moderated, although even the mods have been quiet for the last few weeks).

Do we now drop this issue as it has become a meaningless exercise or do we take it as a warning that unless this forum is welcoming and has interesting and well structured content it will continue to slide into total disuse?  I have a terrible fear that this forum has already fallen below the critical point where there is just no point in logging on because there is nothing worth reading!!

Five days ago Colin Younger posted a request for help teaching knots to his Cub Scout group.  Gordon immediately offered him off board help (well done Gordon) but has not followed up with any news as to how Colin's challenge is progressing.  Willeke followed by posting what I believe is the most insightful assessment of the problem I have ever read and probably the best advice ever given.  And then......  NOTHING.

Nothing, despite this being possibly the most important topic for the future of this forum.  A post so important it almost warrants a sub forum of its own.  Where are the prolific posters with their valuable input?  Where are the IGKT officials with their sage like advice?  Is it possible that we are witnessing the last dying flickers of this forum?  I hope not.

Unless there is a seasonal explanation for this decline, then we need to take action to 'fan the embers' and although it is silly to share our precious 4 posts a day amongst more boards, I am going to suggest that TPTB consider using this oportunity to spark some interest in the forum.  I am going to suggest you consider a slight renaming of Chit Chat and two new boards.

1.  Rename 'Chit Chat' to 'Chit Chat and Novice posts' (leave all present content within it)
2.  New board called 'Youth Group Support' (move Colins post here and promote it widely)
3.  Following Glenys Chew's excellent proposal, a new board called 'Knots put to work'

If there are others out there who, like me, really enjoy this place, then now is the time to help - blow on these embers - blow - blow.
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: WebAdmin on March 27, 2007, 01:22:35 PM
Members are still logging on and reading posts - average for March - 27 per day.   And when I look at the site - which is normally at least 3 times a day, there are often more than 15 guests looking at a variety of posts, as well as 3 or 4 members.

Since the beginning of January there have be 48 possibly genuine members and I have removed over 400 very doubtful new members.  I really can't understand the point of these people joining - they just join and are never heard from again.  I have also removed several members who had not been online since the new Forum was put in place in July last year and whose IDs looked a bit suspicious.   There are still a few members who I have my doubts about, but I'm leaving them for a while - if they haven't been online or posted within the next couple of months, I shall remove them, too.   It would be nice to see that we just have people interested in knots involved in the Forum.   

If this is what you call "excessive moderation", fine - I shall continue to excesslivly moderate.   I'm sure you do not want members with names like "Very-old-gibon", "pornaster", "SafeSex", "ADULT-WEBSITE", "webbyTimewasteroo" etc etc.  And these are but a few of the clean ones!!   The only messages that have been removed are the odd bit of spam or pornographic material that has been posted - do you want those left in as well?   I would really like to know what you call 'excessive moderation'.   Whatever restrictions are in place have been made necessary by would-be members with no interest in knotting trying to disrupt and contaminate the Forum.

Very few new posts actually go unanswered.   And there have been some really interesting posts recently.   However, what would be the point of someone in the North of England or America responding to Colin's request?   He needed local help, and he got it.   Hopefully, with the help of Gordon and members of the Solent Branch of the Guild, sufficient interest will be generated within Colin's Cub Group to encourage a few of the lads to join the Guild.   It is after all one of the aims of the Guild to to foster young people's interest in knot-tying.

Lesley
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: Fairlead on March 27, 2007, 09:02:27 PM
Derek,
There is no progress report to make as Colin has not yet contacted me

Gordon
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: DerekSmith on March 28, 2007, 08:54:01 AM
Hi Lesley,

Thanks for the stats update.  90% wastage rate (or should that be waster rate) is quite shocking, still, 48 possible new members is good, so long as we keep them and encourage them to become active.  As for the average of 27 visits per day, could I suggest that you not be misled into thinking this is a good statistic.  This site has in the past had some extremely interesting topics and lively debates which will have collected a significant number of readers and potential contributors.  When contributions start to dry up (as they have done over the last two months), those readers still continue to log on in the hope that someone will have posted some new content, but eventually, as the content continues to dry up, even those diehard readers give up looking to see if there is anything new.  The critical lifeblood of any forum is not readers - it is CONTENT.  Without content, a forum is just unused webspace.  Interestingly, you have not confirmed that this is a regular seasonal effect, so I guess this means we have to suspect the worst - for some reason, contributors are leaving the forum.

As for your sarchasm re "excessive moderation" - shame on you.  You know full well that the sterling work you and the mods do to keep spammers off the forum is respected and appreciated by all the genuine forum members - especially me.  You also know full well what I am referring to when I use the term "excessive moderation" and why it is abhorrent to me and those it has driven away.  However, if you genuinely want to discuss this problem I would suggest that we do it in its own post on Feedback.

Touching briefly on your comments on responses to Colin's request for help, could I respectfully suggest two things.  First, that it is beyond the Webadmin Job Description to decide that only local help is necessary and appropriate.  Second, that I think you have missed the fundamental point of an Internet Forum if you seriously believe that a response from the North of England or America is in any way limited or inferior.  Of course it is important to promote the youngsters to join the world of knots, that was the point I was making - that we should put additional effort into answering Colin's request - ON THE FORUM - so that the knowledge can be collected from, and shared around the world by many Cub Scout groups.

Finally to the point of my post which you did not address - ENHANCING THE FORUM.

More than 2:1 of those who voted were in favour of enhancement.
There have been a number of proposals for section headings.
The only negatives posted were that we might loose our few posts amongst too many boards and it might create a "frenzy of excessive moderation", and I am sure that neither of these will pose a real problem.

So my question is "As the board members have expressed a desire to make changes, how do we now implement this ?"

Your advice on how an enhancement could be implemented would be appreciated.
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: Phil_The_Rope on March 28, 2007, 09:49:08 AM
I must take the opportunity to echo Derek's sentiments regarding the sterling work you do in looking after the forum.

I set up a forum for our cricket club, and decided to make it "Members Only", where only I can register people - I simply do not have the time to be constantly seeking out an deleting rubbish. "Members Only" is a luxury that most forums cannot afford because most forums are designed to attract new members. Unfortunately, there are a growing number of low lifes out there who have gone beyond spam email and are using any forum they can find to peddle their worthless and annoying wares.

A company in Australia that I deal with has a useful forum for customers and staff to seek advice and help from each other - it certainly has been a great help to me, but the CEO had to take it down for a while because he could not cope with the exponential growth of rogue visitors. The company finished up having to design a new, more robust forum. The same company restructured another part of its business, redesigned the web site, but decided not to reintroduce a forum on that because of the work involved in monitoring it.

We should not under estimate the amount of work that goes into moderating forums - keep up the good work!

Regards,

Phil
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: WebAdmin on March 28, 2007, 02:08:53 PM
Thanks Phil

And thank you, Derek, for your appreciation.   However, I still am not at all sure of what you call 'excessive moderation' - it has never been apparent to me on this Forum.

Whether the dearth of posts is seasonal, I'm really not sure, and I'm afraid I don't have the time to do any research into this.   Let's hope that members reading this will start putting fingers to keyboards and get writing.  HINT! HINT!!   I will probably bring the subject up at the forthcoming AGM and we'll see if I can persuade (!!!) a few more members to contribute.   Maybe a few strong-arm tactics are required here :D

With regard to my comments about response to Colin's request, it was my understanding that he wanted local help, not help from afar.   Hands-on, face-to-face help was available which would be far more useful to him and his Cubs than trying to show how to tie knots either by photos and/or the written word.   Both of these are, of course, extremely useful, but nothing can be better than to have someone physically in front of you showing you how to tie a knot.   I was by no means implying that help from knotters in the North of England or America was inferior to that of those in the South of England or that it was not required, just that in this situation local was better.   I'm also not aware that I made any comment with regard to Colin's request, only in my reply to you - there was no decision-making from me just a passing comment.   I was pretty sure that Gordon would reply, anyway.

With regard to enhancing the Forum, it would appear that most members are not particularly bothered, as, out of a potential 300+ genuine members, only 23 expressed an opinion on the Poll.   One or two have expressed opinions in Posts, but on the whole it would appear that the Forum is OK as it is.   However, I shall have another look at the Poll and the other responses, including yours and see what we can do to satisfy all those who expressed an interest.

I think I have now answered all your points - and will move this Topic to the Feedback Board, which is where it really should be.

Regards

Lesley
Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: admin on March 29, 2007, 11:27:31 AM
Webmistress, do you have any measure of how many of these new members are bogus?

Unfortunately, apart from the obvious clues in usernames and email addresses, there is absolutely no way to determine genuine members from bogus ones. Such is the nature of the Internet. In fact, is is impossible to even define what a genuine member is based upon registration information alone. All I can say is that current estimates suggest that 90% of all email is junk or malware. Given that forum spamming is very similar to email spam and uses similar posting techniques, I think it would be reasonable to suggest that a very large number of 'new members' are also spammers. Beyond that, I cannot say.

Quote
Even if only a quarter of these are genuine, we should still ask - "Why are they not posting?"  You do not have to join in order to read the posts, so presumably they are joining with the intention to post, yet something is holding them back.

I do not think that there is anything significant in this forum that stops people from posting. It would seem valid to suggest that those people who do join do so with the intent of posting but experience suggests that it isn't actually that simple. Some people will join because they suspect that there may be additional boards to read that are only available to members (it is a fairly common feature on forums) but are not interested in posting themselves. When they join and discover that this is not the case, there is no mechanisem by which they can cancel their forum membership, so they simply leave and never return.

However, experience also suggests that a very large number of people wil join a forum with the intent of possibly posting something one day - but 'one day' never comes. They find the answer to their question has been already answered or lose interest in the subject or just "never get around to it". They may read avidly for a few days or weeks and then drift away for no reason other than something else demands their time or interest.

I do agree with you that a forum needs a steady flow of both contributions and new blood if it is to remain healthy long term. But the fact is that, for very every one poster, there may be 1000 readers. It is the nature of the medium and is not confined to web forums. It is a behaviour that extends to Usenet (newsgroups) and beyond the Internet into fora that existed long before we had the Web. In every case, it is a suprisingly small core of very active contributors that keep discussion groups alive whilst the great silent majority are content to merely read or listen. Despite almost 10 years of managing a range of different web fora across a whole range of topics, I have never come across anything that can significantly reverse this behaviour.

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Do we now drop this issue as it has become a meaningless exercise or do we take it as a warning that unless this forum is welcoming and has interesting and well structured content it will continue to slide into total disuse?  I have a terrible fear that this forum has already fallen below the critical point where there is just no point in logging on because there is nothing worth reading!!

As we have only had this particular forum platform for less than a year, I do not have any accurate statistics on seasonal fluctuations within the forum itself. What I can say is that this forum is consistently the most popular area of the IGKT web site - a position it has retained, unchallenged, for about 4 years. Currently the web site has around 10,000 'visitors' per month. The forum is currently being 'viewed' around 33,000 times per month. In comparison, the second most popular area (the online gallery) accounts for around 15,000 views. Overall, the amount of traffic is steadily but slowly increasing across the site - again a trend that has persisted for the past few years.

Incidentally, I did note that most common key phrase that resulted in a visit to the site over the past 3 months has been 'monkeys fist'. Whilst it would be unwise to place to much significance on traffic statistics (or any statistics, for that matter), it does suggest that the prime reason for site visits is to answer a question. It may well be that, in this sense, the forum actually achieves the purpose well. People find what they are looking for and go away happy. I appreciate that this doesn't help in terms of trying to get more new posts but I think it is worth bearing in mind that the forum exists to provide an information resource as well as discussion area.

Quote
Five days ago Colin Younger posted a request for help teaching knots to his Cub Scout group.  Gordon immediately offered him off board help (well done Gordon) but has not followed up with any news as to how Colin's challenge is progressing.  Willeke followed by posting what I believe is the most insightful assessment of the problem I have ever read and probably the best advice ever given.  And then......  NOTHING.

Nothing, despite this being possibly the most important topic for the future of this forum.  A post so important it almost warrants a sub forum of its own.  Where are the prolific posters with their valuable input?  Where are the IGKT officials with their sage like advice?  Is it possible that we are witnessing the last dying flickers of this forum?  I hope not.

Before you get too carried away, it's worth considering that the poster in question may simply have got everything he needed. Not all help takes place in the public eye.

Quote
Unless there is a seasonal explanation for this decline, then we need to take action to 'fan the embers' and although it is silly to share our precious 4 posts a day amongst more boards, I am going to suggest that TPTB consider using this oportunity to spark some interest in the forum.  I am going to suggest you consider a slight renaming of Chit Chat and two new boards.

If the forum is going through a perfectly natural quiet spell (or even if it is a decidedly un-natural one), I'm at a loss to see how spreading fewer posts over more boards would help. In this situation, the only solution I have ever seen that does work is for people (and, invariably this means the forum regulars to start with) to post more quality messages. You don't get discussion going by dividing  the conversational groups into different rooms. You get it going by introducing more inviting topics for discussion.

Title: Re: New Forum boards?
Post by: DerekSmith on March 30, 2007, 08:39:54 PM
Thank you Webmistress for an excellent analysis of the situation and an informative reply.

I particularly accord with your conclusion
Quote
In this situation, the only solution I have ever seen that does work is for people (and, invariably this means the forum regulars to start with) to post more quality messages. You don't get discussion going by dividing  the conversational groups into different rooms. You get it going by introducing more inviting topics for discussion.

The question begs though - how do we promote our regulars to write these inviting articles?

In answer, I will offer one interesting piece of human psychology gleaned from early motivational studies.

A team of 'Time & Motion' experts made a change to production line conditions and observed that productivity went up, they then made another change and productivity went up again.  To test that these changes were real, they then made a third change - BACK TO THE ORIGINAL CONDITIONS - AND PRODUCTIVITY WENT UP YET AGAIN.

It turned out that change triggers interest and in turn motivation.

With this in mind, there is a possibility that making a change to the forum and using that change as an opportunity to contact all the members to notify them of the 'Improvement' might just be the trigger necessary to get the keyboards running hot again.

What do your think?