I think that all members would agree that we would like a high degree of interest in the forum, both in the number of posts and in the numbers visiting and reading the forum, however there is a fundamental dichotomy of opinion as to whether this should be in the form of rapid discussion of recent topics or a more considered discussion of long-standing questions. I would suggest that we should also seek a balance in individual members contributions so that it does not feel as though a vocal minority are dominating the life of the BB.
There are some who would seek to recreate the Dartmouth e-mail list in a different form. Personally, I can see little point in going entirely down that route. The Dartmouth list still exists but many people have given up on it, because they do not wish to be involved in that sort of discussion. Among the factors which contributed to the demise of the list were a few far too frequent posters who could be guaranteed to post in such a way as to kill discussion. Another, I believe, was a few posters who had regular access to their computers and would 'fire from the hip' so that every topic carried an overhead of their views.
Some competent pipers regarded the discussion on Dartmouth as shallow and pointless and the postings vanished into the archives only to reappear after a year are so in an everlasting Ground-hog day scenario.
I undertook, when I started this forum, that it would be organized to avoid the pitfalls experienced by Dartmouth. Although this was a requirement of the NPS Chairman for his consent, I did it in an attempt to build higher quality discussion. In particular, I wish to favour infrequent visitors, so that they can locate discussions of interest and contribute to them even if they are months or years old.
Users must be encouraged to log in when they visit the site. In this way they can be informed of new postings.
Also, at the highest 'Board Index' level there are the following options:
- View unanswered posts
- View unread posts
- View new posts
- View active topics
At the top level there will be the following forums
- Welcome - which will contain information to get people started
- General Discussion - corresponding to All and Sundry
- Forthcoming and past events
- For Sale and Wanted
- Assistance to new pipers
- Specialist Forums
The welcome forum would be largely locked - not accepting posts.
The contents of Specialist Forums would only be visible to logged on members.
The remaining four forums would be automatically pruned when no response to a topic had been received for (say) 28 days. There would of course be no reason why topics could not be moved to a specialist forum before they reach their prune date. Also Announcements of topics in specialist forums could appear in General Discussion.
I will also look into RSS feeds and bring forward proposals concerning the future of Peacock's Parlour.
I trust this will meet with general acceptance. If members wish to discuss any issues contained in this posting, or suggest improvements can they please start a new topic in this forum, so that we can discuss each issue separately.
PS (added later) following a telephone conversation with Francis Wood, I think I should spend some time preparing some fairly detailed instructions on how to use the tools which already exist in the forum.
phpBB has been created by a community of programmers, many of whom are professionals. They have taken great care to ensure that the software is user friendly and there are many forums from the high to the low which use it. However, it would seem that their efforts have not been as successful as they would have liked and the available tools are not sufficiently obvious.