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Forum Suggestions Member suggestions for the Forum design

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Old 07-29-2008, 09:02 PM
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Default How Have We done

Anyone remember this post?

Below are some suggested guiding principles and other suggestions for the forum.

Regards,

Dan.

----

Members are #1 - A forum provides a service to its members and exists to leverage their skills, knowledge, and ideas. It lives and dies based on the content of the members. For example, I don't regret leaving <another forum> for one second. I DO regret losing access to its members and member content.

Moderators are Critical - Running a forum is stressful and requires a lot of effort. Moderators are critical to success because they work the day-to-day, visible, "tactical" issues and leave the Administrator to manage and improve the infrastructure, and focus on "strategic" issues.

Safety and Continuity - In the beginning stages, a forum struggles to get off the ground. As time goes on, it stabilizes, matures and grows. At some point, members (aka "Me") worry about longevity, continuity, and content archiving and safety. I.e.,what are the plans in case something happens to the systems, the Moderator(s) and the Administrator(s). I believe that addressing this issue up front, at least as a policy statement, is very important.

Assistant Administrators - IMO, there should be at least one (maybe two or three) "Assistant Administrators". I don't know the best way of structuring this, but these folks should have the "Keys to the Kingdom" in case something happens to the Administrator. I.e., they can run the forum if the Administrator goes on vacation, has an accident or illness, or even if the Administrator just needs time off. This provides a safety valve for the Administrator and security for the Members.

Keep It Simple - I believe that it is very important to keep the forum structure relatively simple. Every added feature has to be maintained. I.e., more work for the Administrator. And, lots of extra features can won't necessarily make the forum UI any better. I.e., most users won't care.

Many years ago, I was in sales. I took a class where they discussed "Satisficers" and "Dissatisficers" (spelling is correct). A "Satisficer" is something that you always want more of. E.g., for some people, the more money they make, the happier they are. A "Dissatisficer" is something where a person is happy as long as they have at least a minimum amount, but don't get happier if they have more than the minimum. E.g., for some people, they are happy if they make ENOUGH money. Making more money doesn't make them happier.

Another example is the difference between Microsoft Windows Mobile phones and the Apple iPhone. I have a Win Mobile phone with Win Mobile V6.0. It sucks. It's got lots of whizzy features, but I don't use 90% of the features and they get in the way. And it's FULL of bugs.

Now compare that to the iPhone. It works very smoothly and it has most of the important features, but not a lot of extra garbage. (The new iPhones appear to resolve the few remaining limitations of the original one.) Most importantly, it just works.

I believe forums are the same. I.e, for most members, as long as they can post quality content, add some pics, and find the UI easy to use, they are happy. Adding lots of "whizzy" features doesn't make members any happier and makes more work for the Administrator.

My suggestion for the forum is to ensure the basics are there and let member requests drive the rest. This "Forum Suggestions" board is a great place to post and discuss forum structure ideas.

Form Follows Function - This is similar to the point above. Making a forum "pretty" does NOT make it better. Adding usable, member-driven function DOES make it better.

Frankly, I was amazed the first time I saw this forum. The look is clean and usable. Icons are nice looking, readable, consistent and obvious. The basic board structure is logical, with enough structure to focus posts but not enough to get people confused. In other words, it's "damn fine" lookin' right now and doesn't need to be changed.

For example:

Would I change the icons? NO! They look great now. IMO, that would be relatively easy, but provide little additional value to the Forum. OTOH...

Having the ability to embed videos would be nice. If we had a gallery that might be nice too. Those are functional changes. They may take some time and effort to implement, but they could make the forum better.

Bottom line: Add function, not form.

More pics per post, but smaller size - Pictures take up space. So that has to be watched. But...

Sometimes you need to post more pics to explain a process. My suggestion: Keep the max size of pics to something like 125-150Kb and the max per post at between 6 and 10.

Regarding the pic uploader, I find it to be very usablae


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5 or 6 weeks later, which to be honest is a very short time talkFestool has moved to it's new home which is powered by sleek fast servers and using IMHO the best software around for forums . Looks like stage one is complete after reading the above guidelines How did we do ? did we meet you expectations ?
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Old 07-29-2008, 09:12 PM
MichaelKellough's Avatar
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You did great!

The more I look around the more I like it.

For example, i just discovered the New Post item on the menu bar.
Eagle eyes eh?

Last edited by MichaelKellough; 08-02-2008 at 03:55 AM.
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Old 07-29-2008, 09:22 PM
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Michael
Believe it or not we looked at all the available software closely This was the only not Free version we considered.....but after we did the research we decided the 'V' in vBulletin stood for vast, It is a very flexible platform for us to work off and also very very flexible. Thanks for your input
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Old 07-29-2008, 09:26 PM
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Location: Bellevue, WA, USA
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Michael,

Sometimes "free" is NOT "free". This software is so flexible and easy to use, it saves massive amounts of time. Also, there are thousands of addons available - come free and some commercial.

Regards,

Dan.
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