Poll

Do you think there should be more sub-boards for different topics on this forum

Yes
14 (60.9%)
No
6 (26.1%)
Don't Know
3 (13%)

Total Members Voted: 21

Voting closed: January 18, 2007, 02:46:25 PM

Author Topic: New Forum boards?  (Read 24992 times)

Phil_The_Rope

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Re: New Forum boards?
« Reply #30 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

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Re: New Forum boards?
« Reply #31 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
Lesley
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Re: New Forum boards?
« Reply #32 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.


DerekSmith

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Re: New Forum boards?
« Reply #33 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
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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?