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Reorganization - june 2012

PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 4:42 pm
by Barry Say
I am developing a proposal to restructure the Bulletin Board.

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.

Barry

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.

BJ

Re: Reorganization - june 2012

PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 6:37 pm
by Francis Wood
Barry's proposal requires more thoughtful and detailed consideration than I can manage at the moment, but I believe it deserves an immediate welcome as a very positive response to the recent suggestions for change.

I am in favour of some modification but I think also that it is important to recognise that the Forum in its present state is the product of a good amount of time and responsible management. I feel no nostalgia for the Dartmouth of old, since disagreement often developed into personal unpleasantness on far too many occasions.

For that reason, I feel there is no problem at all in considering and applying change in a patient manner.

Francis

Re: Reorganization - june 2012

PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2012 7:12 pm
by Tim Rolls
I too welcome Barry's proposals. I think we all recognise that Barry has put an enormous amount of thought and time into getting this forum as far as it is physically (virtually). What people won't realise is the amount of effort he put into persuading some less computer savvy people of the need for it to happen at all, ie, getting it past the conceptual stage. It has proved his opinion right that there was a demand, and the forum represents the vast majority of the NPS website traffic.

The nature of the beast is that it will evolve, but to try to second guess the nature of that evolution would be foolhardy. Better to see what works, and amend as required, which is where we are now.

It was good to see a beginning piper (sorry, can't remember his name, and can't get there to check just now) expressing the value of just being able to read others' posts, this is how I mostly use forums. I think there is scope for some change, but I don't feel that only a small proportion of signed up members posting necessarily indicates a problem, other than, perhaps, a very small pool of knowledgeable people.

Re: Reorganization - june 2012

PostPosted: Mon Jun 18, 2012 7:58 pm
by John Gibbons
Barry,

Your suggestion is a very good start.

You are right that reproducing the faults of Dartmouth is the last thing we should do.
But, living in the NE, you may not realise the value, to people who may live 300 or 12000 miles away from the Chantry,
of being able to 'talk' about piping, in an unstructured discussion format.
This was a great help to me in London, let alone to someone in North Carolina or Australia.
So a general discussion 'room' in the new version is vital.

A welcome page, explaining how to use the BB, would be a great help;
RTFM is great advice, but it helps if you know where the manual is.
Buttons to find new or unanswered posts etc. are clearly useful - making these clearer to find would be great.

I get the feeling there's a huge house, with a great party nearly going on -
all the guests have arrived, but hardly any have yet met one another.
If discussion gets livelier, there will be more participants in the more specialist topics.
You don't get considered discussion unless people are discussing.

Good luck with the reorganisation, and thanks for thinking about this.
Hope the lurgy has passed off,

John