Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
MikeT

Help us improve YOUR forum!

44 posts in this topic

The Board of Directors, that has the responsibility for managing this forum, is interested in taking stock of where we are at now in terms of user-friendliness and how the forum structure could be improved to make it look and work better.

Obviously a huge part of this is that we need to consult with the members who actually make this place a great site. We need your ideas about:

    [*]forum and subforum structure

    [*]the degree to which keeping discussions in the various subforums on-topic matters to users

    [*]how to recruit new moderators for the various sub-forums (moderators should be very frequent users)

    [*]anything else that is related to forum structure, appearance and general administration

We have some ideas of our own. One of these is that there are too many subforums, and that the ones that should be combined or merged are those with very infrequent posts. Any and all feedback on the structure and organization of the forum is welcome, please post your thoughts here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

An improved search function would be nice...Off-topic comments in the more social posts are fine and often amusing, can be very annoying to wade through when you are in search of specific info on a technical subject.Perhaps a separate FAQs forum, start some threads on the various subjects that come up over and over, implore people to stay very much on topic and not repeat, ruthlessly moderated. Keep each thread short and very relevant. Lock the thread and forum after some time. That idea might be even better as a wiki to start. Locked after some time of course. There have been so many threads on "three bars", "clutch actuator", "EGR", "Should I buy a smart?" and so on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would like a wiki too. And a photo album. And a pony. I have been good this year.Bil :sun:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is a dumb question: what is a "wiki"?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A wiki is a user contributed document i.e. like this -

Wiki

but instead of hosted at the wikipedia server it is hosted locally - we can add that with the existing software but it is really dependant on user contribution and moderation to keep it useful.

Also before opening the floor for features - have to remember the administration side of things - complex sites take more effort to administer - and we have a dearth of admin types.

Cheers,

Cameron

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cool! So that's a Wiki. Well, it sounds like a good idea to me. I figured it would just be a Wikipedia entry...So it seems we will probably need some others with technical abilities volunteer to help with the value added stuff, if there is enough demand for it.Keep the fresh ideas coming, please!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like this site just the way it is. Sometimes things are changed,and end up being just more complicated and harder to use.Voice-mail and certain electronic devices are two good examples. Voice mail certainly does not benefit the USER.

Edited by PrairieBoy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A persistent annoyance is trying to find a specific tidbit of information that is lost among a sea of discussion. Not even necessarily off-topic discussion. There's a lot of good information on this site for which a discussion forum is totally the wrong medium. For example, the "what's that part number" thread(s). Even if we took out all the banter and limited it solely to posts listing part numbers, it would still be difficult to wade through and find the right information, because the discussion forum format simply does not lend itself well to presenting stuff like that.

Another annoyance is when useful information gets lost in endlessly-long threads that don't have a specific topic. For the example, the "what did you do to your smart" thread has lots of great mod show-offs, product recommendations, heads-ups about Canadian Tire sales, collision-repair information, and who knows what else. It's unlikely that anybody looking for any of that info is ever going to read through all 24 (and counting) pages in order to find it. All of that stuff belongs in individual threads with specific topics, so as to actually be findable.

I've also never understood this statement on the front page:

Most people start with the forums, and then they dig deeper into our site for more specific information.

Where is this "deeper" part of the site? I always thought the forums were the site!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Agreeing with Some Guy. The discussion format is of limited use as a detailed service "manual". Just about whatever you need is in here somewhere, but finding it can be frustrating.

This is why I advocate for a technical wiki. With a logical architecture, and if properly searchable, such a feature would be an invaluable addition to the forum's existing, less formal discussion format.

Bil :sun:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cool! So that's a Wiki. Well, it sounds like a good idea to me. I figured it would just be a Wikipedia entry...So it seems we will probably need some others with technical abilities volunteer to help with the value added stuff, if there is enough demand for it.Keep the fresh ideas coming, please!

"stikis" may be better and easier to manage than a "wiki". Evilution already covers much of what a Wiki or Stickies usually cover, but there must be many other learnings you guys have made over the years that could be put at the top of each forum section so as to be easier to find. Especially those more relevant to our CDIs than Evilution and the other on-line forums cover.The Benzworld W210 forum is a good one to look at - at the top they list various DIY and otehr model related info in a semi organized way.By the way - This is already one of the better car owners forums around! Quite active and covers both technical and general stuff - I like it as-is, but a little fine tuning won't hurt!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't exactly agree with the sticky>wiki argument. A wiki would allow better formatting and what not for describing mods/how-tos.Another feature that isn't exactly related to daily usage, but more to new members. One situation that is usually encountered is the inevitable new member "I'm located in XYZ and would love to participate in local meet-ups". It would probably be beneficial to new users if during registration they could select their regional forum so that they can be subscribed for email updates (If they are so inclined) to new threads cropping up in that forum. I don't know how difficult it is to modify the registration page to add such functionality though...(Maybe we could add a sticky somewhere just suggesting subscription to regional forums, for updates on local events)I have set up a wiki or two using MediaWiki (The software used in Wikipedia) and could help with setting one up for us. I'm sure with some research, it would be possible to integrate membership to the forum into membership with the wiki. Otherwise you would need to register to the wiki as well.If I recall from before, the "Articles" functionality that we have right now wasn't so great for some reason? One good thing with it though is that it uses the same members, yes?With regards to Alex's suggestion of an FAQ forum, a wiki would be quite appropriate for maintaining an FAQ.Forum/Subforum structure:----------------------------------I wasn't so much a fan of the flattening of the regional forums, however I imagine that it has been easier for newbies to find the appropriate regional forums. That's all I can think of for now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Benzworld W210 forum is a good one to look at - at the top they list various DIY and otehr model related info in a semi organized way.

Took a look at it. I think it's a great example of the discussion forum format being the wrong medium for the information being presented. Their "sticky threads" have to constantly be manually edited by a moderator to remain useful. The stickies present nice organized lists of links, but any of the links I followed just go to the usual: pages and pages of back-and-forth discussion that has a useful "learning" buried somewhere in the middle of it.

I have set up a wiki or two using MediaWiki (The software used in Wikipedia) and could help with setting one up for us. I'm sure with some research, it would be possible to integrate membership to the forum into membership with the wiki. Otherwise you would need to register to the wiki as well.

I've set up MediaWiki before and using some hack that I've long since forgotten, got it to use accounts from a phpBB forum. Presumably a similar hack exists or could be came up with for using IPB forum accounts.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great ideas, and thanks for offering to help, keep them coming.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Took a look at it. I think it's a great example of the discussion forum format being the wrong medium for the information being presented. Their "sticky threads" have to constantly be manually edited by a moderator to remain useful. The stickies present nice organized lists of links, but any of the links I followed just go to the usual: pages and pages of back-and-forth discussion that has a useful "learning" buried somewhere in the middle of it.

You are right about the BW stickies that just lead to threads. But at least you get to that thread quicker. The BW W210 site also has some other great links in the stickies. For example the ones that link to the MB video instructions.I also belong to the 107 SL BW forum. That somewhat irreverent forum has gathered quite a bit of info on old SLs and, for example, is probably the only place anyone could find detailed info on how to do a DIY softtop install on an SL. It also has a neat intro!The problem with a wiki, is that someone has to write it. They have to gather all relevant data from multiple sources and put it together. Much like writing a book or a technical paper. It is of course a cooperative effort so no one person has to do it. But even still, quite a time consuming task and my experience has been that in some cases it starts off great and then just bogs down and becomes stagnant. The sticky idea allows anyone to recommend a thread for sticky status at any time and that usually happens. But if this group has the energy to produce a wiki, that would be great! But, any way of more easily finding info and not repeating questions already answered multiple times would be great.We are lucky we have the UK sites that really are wiki-like. We really only need something to supplement those. And maybe provide links to appropriate sections in those sites. The How-To forum already has a good start at this.Regarding the search engine here, I sometimes get results, but other times despite a failry precise search, it comes up with pages of results that seem irrelevant. Not sure why. also belong to the W Edited by Graham

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The idea is that from the point of creation of the wiki onwards, people would be able to initially create their how-to's right on the wiki itself. There would then be people like myself, and others who could transfer older how-to's over to a wiki format. Other relevant material would get pulled in as people come across it. There would certainly be a few months of determined info digging, but after that time, most of the really wiki-relevant information would be there, along with a basic layout for how stuff can be arranged.EDIT: In the transfer mean time, rather than having threads marked as being sticky worthy, they could just as easily be marked as wiki-worthy, where people would be able to transfer the knowledge.

Edited by FlossyTheSmart

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

they could just as easily be marked as wiki-worthy

Excellent idea! Anyone can select an old thread, clean out a lot of irrelevant chatter and repetitiveness, put it up for members to continue the wiki evolution.

Is it feasible to have a "sandbox" where any member can copy a thread to, where they will have full power to delete or change anything in it, then submit the result to a moderator for posting (if they did a good job) in the FAQs wiki?

All the info is there, just a matter of getting it into a usable and findable form. Easier to start with one of the long threads and delete all irrelevance and add missing and new data later, rather than start fresh.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I really like this forum, but the most frustrating thing that I have found is that I cannot search 3 letter terms. That might lead to multiple posts, like SAM, EGR...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi, I wish someone could figure out for me why I cannot post any photos now. Thanks!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

With out having access to your system Alberta it is hard to say why you can't post pictures - can be a number of things - with your permission I can try logging in on your account and trying - that will narrow it down to an account issue or a local computer issue. Let me know off line if you want to try that.

Perhaps we need folks on alternative platforms to have a tweaks and tips section to help others on similar platforms.

One thing I would agree with is a better search function and also we should be aware there are newer versions of our forum software - we just need to make the upgrade purchase and do the install. Here is a link to the product and features of the upgrades so see if it answers any of your wish lists.

whoops - forgot the link - IPB new version features

Cheers,

Cameron

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So here are some thoughts I have on the general structure of the forum:

1. Eliminate the Special Announcements/Events forum and use pinned topics in General Discussions for important news, if we ever have any

2. Eliminate the Eco Matters Forum and merge it with the Community Chatter Forum as a new sub-forum

3. Merge News and Entertainment Forum with General Discussions, as a sub-forum if need be

4. Merge Vehicle Distribution and Tracking Forum with General Discussions, as a sub-forum if need be

5. Make the How To Forum a sub-forum of the General Vehicle Operation and Maintenance Forum

6. Eliminate Administration for Regional Groups Forum

7. Merge the topics of the Canada Wide Forum with General Discussions

8. Merge the two Alberta forums

9. Merge the BC Beyond Hope and BC Mainland forums

10. Merge all USA regional sub-forums into the US forum

11. Eliminate 2007 Cross Canada Relay Forum and merge it with General Discussions

12. Make the 2009 Election Results Forum invisible to members (ancient history!)

That is my preliminary assessment of how to reduce the clutter, for a start. The elimination of some of the forums does not mean that the posts would disappear, just that they would be merged with other forums. Most of the above-noted suggestions propose a merger of little-used forums and would have the cumulative effect of significantly reducing the bulk of the first page of the forum.

Comments?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There would be some issues with merging the How-To forum with the General Vehicle Operation and Maintenance forum. Since a lot of the material in the How to forum is mod information, I wouldn't exactly describe it as "General vehicle operation" or "maintenance". I think changing "How to" into "Mods" (Or something along those lines) would make the forum have a more clear intent (rather than just how to do anything). Of course, non mod threads would need to be moved to "General vehicle operation and maintenance"

Everything else looks good to me though.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Comments?

A good start on simplifying the forum architecture, Mike :thumbup:.

But I still believe there is a strong need for a collaborative function (again, like a wiki) for the how-tos, whether they are how to do maintenance & repairs or how to do custom modifications. And a photo gallery has been mentioned before as a desirable feature. Both appear to be available as add-ons to the IP.Board system (depending on the version).

But Mike's list is a start. Away we go! :horsie:

Bil :sun:

P.S. $60 license for the IPBwiki, and $65, plus $20/year for the gallery, plus expert to install them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Bil, I have not forgotten the ideas mentioned before my post, but I thought something simple to start with might be easier to get some sort of quasi consensus on. Baby steps eh?The Wiki idea is totally making sense to me and it seems some of our members would be able to lend a hand setting it up.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I like the idea of a wiki here! I tend to find them handy on sites that deal in lots of how-to information. Loads easier than trawling through threads that mention your keywords hoping that someone posted a solution amongst the chatter.

I liked the idea of a gallery a couple years ago, and I still like it. ^_~

Edited by Kitty

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not in favour of moving Vehicle Distribution. A lot of work has gone into that forums content, and it is best accessed as a separate forum. Mike - I might suggest that your topics in GD should actually move to VD&T......The forum will get visits!Same for N&E. It's best as it's own forum based on the volume of content, although I do propose we boot it off the front page.Merging too much into GD will obliterate the useability..... and creating as sub-forums will make them hard to access.I'd like to see a few merges at first (like USA and some other regionals), and see how it looks before going further.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

    Chatbox
    You don't have permission to chat.
    Load More