Forum change

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daviemck2006
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Re: Forum change

Post by daviemck2006 »

I'm not particularly worried either way, but my feeling is that this is a modification implemented by one or more admins and said admin or admins are going to implement this and sod what everyone wants. Now, as said I am grateful for the work that admins do behind the scenes that I wouldn't want to do, but if a change causes so much distress and anger to what is usually such a mild mannered and friendly forum as this is would it be a fairly sensible idea to reverse It? I am not anti progress by the way if progress is needed, but in this case it seems that the progress is causing more anguish than progress and therfore should be considered being reversed.

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Paul-R
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Re: Forum change

Post by Paul-R »

Maybe a poll should be set up? I suggest three possible answers:

a) Yes, the changes are good. Keep the extra subforum sections.
b) No, the changes are awful. Put everything back in a single main forum section.
c) Don't give a rats either way.

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waynedance
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Re: Forum change

Post by waynedance »

Dare I say my 2 pence worth?

For me I much prefer the old system, too many sub forums now. I just like browsing the for sale, Citroen and General forums.

A poll sounds like a good idea or has that been done? Off browsing........

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Last edited by waynedance on 24 Feb 2017, 22:25, edited 1 time in total.

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GiveMeABreak
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Re: Forum change

Post by GiveMeABreak »

Paul-R wrote:Maybe a poll should be set up? I suggest three possible answers:
a) Yes, the changes are good. Keep the extra subforum sections.
b) No, the changes are awful. Put everything back in a single main forum section.
c) Don't give a rats either way.
Paul that's a good idea and I have no issues with setting up a poll. I may change the options slightly :) but will have the same suggestions.

I'll look at setting this up tomorrow.

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Zelandeth
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Re: Forum change

Post by Zelandeth »

Advance warning...this has turned into a bit of a waffle from me, not that that ever happens...

My take on things like this is that it's always tricky when changes are considered, and sometimes things work, sometimes they don't. Likewise sometimes something that looks like a really good idea in theory and on a bit of paper, in practice doesn't actually work. I've been there and done that myself.

User engagement is important. You need to look after your users - and that means both the regulars who come back time and time again, and those who for the most part only pop their heads through the door once from a Google or Bing search. If the regulars lose interest and go elsewhere, the community suffers. If you don't get any new blood coming in (I stumbled across this place from a Google search originally), likewise the community will suffer. They both lead to the same result at the end of the day - a user base that over time will spiral downward.

Changes are always going to be controversial to some extent - and the question of how to manage them is a hard one, to which there's really no right or wrong answer - *especially* when the team running the place are doing it in their spare time off their own backs. There's another busy website I've been a user on for a good few years (since 2006 if memory serves), which has a long, long history of dropping *major* UI changes on its user base without so much as a "by the way, we're thinking of doing this..." until several days after it's happened. I don't actually know exactly how big the whole user base is, but I just had a quick look at the stats, and there are a little over 15,000 users online at the moment. Since at least around 2010, there's been a chronic lack of user engagement over there, and a lot of the changes have been generally well intentioned, but more often than not poorly thought out. At least 80% of the time they've wound up having a major impact in the user experience (in at least one instance to the extent that it wound up being outright unusable for a brief period!), completely failing to actually respond to any questions asked - and the changes getting silently rolled back a couple of days later. That's a good example I reckon of how *not* to do it. They do apparently have a beta program floating around somewhere, but the information flow on what's going on there is about as good as elsewhere!

The sad thing there is that a lot of the people involved are actually employed in the operation of the site, so I've a bit less sympathy than I might otherwise! Granted, I don't envy them either as such a large user base like that is at the very least "unwieldy" at times, as any consultation project even if you only get a 5% response rate, that's still going to be 750 odd people's replies to go through!

Tricky thing though is where's the correct balance between "not enough engagement" and "requiring unrealistic levels of admin involvement."


I confess to having been caught off guard by these changes. I do realise that there was a forum announcement regarding it, but I for one completely missed it.

What I might have suggested as a better way of trying to get some pre-change feedback and buy-in from the user community (because let's face it, that's what we are) might be once the rough proposed changes were put together by the admin team, to put in the forum header a very visible announcement that changes are afoot, showing examples of what's proposed where possible and inviting feedback for a period of say 14 days or something. What sort of feedback you get from that should give at least some sort of idea of what to expect when the changes are rolled out, and you never know, there might well be some really good ideas bounced back through the process. It shouldn't (at least in my understanding) take a *huge* amount of time to put together beyond the actual planning out of the proposals themselves. Dealing with a relatively small user base such as we have here, you'd not be likely to see an unmanageable number of responses either.


UKSaabs is another car related forum which I frequent (and have for far more years than I like to think about), and somewhat usefully in timing terms, they actually just undertook quite a moderately large reshuffle of their topics. The biggest issue there was that the number of people asking questions about or talking about the "classic" models has understandably got smaller as time has gone on and those cars get more scarce, but there's still a bustling community around the more recent models. As such, requests for help for the older models had quite a tendency to get swept away (I fell foul of that myself - generally if your topic didn't get responded to, you were off the front page in less than six hours, and by that point were unlikely to get any help). The decision they took was to split things into a "classic" and "more recent" subforums.

The immediate headache I see trying to implement things in a similar way here is the tendency of Citroen to use one model number for such hugely long times - the C5 immediately springs to mind as an obvious offender - and that very fact also makes it very difficult to make search functions cooperate usefully to start with, and of course the question of where do you draw the line? I guess the divide here might sensibly be Xantia or earlier = classic and the C... models are later. Everyone's likely to have differing views there though.

One thing they do have there, is a relatively strict rule regarding titling of threads in the "workshop" - i.e. that posts should always be labelled as "year, model, brief problem/advice/observation description." which straight away helps keep things something resembling organised even though there are essentially only two categories. I *do* imagine though that there's quite a bit of moderator effort required there though making sure that people adhere to that, as I'm fully sure that the "unfiltered" version of the topic listing is far less orderly! There is a very large, very visible banner at the top of the relevant pages advising people of how to title threads though.

Another of the other forums I use which runs significantly different software (Invision from memory) allows you to add specific "tags" to any posts you make there, which the search system then uses - the big problem with that though, is that the search function then is still only as good as the tags - and again that is something which could require a lot of admin involvement, especially if you're talking about an existing large database of topics. It's also not going to help with the multiple flavours of C5 etc, and the fact that you could get five different people who would all name the same car different ways...again, the admin would need to go through each new post there and make sure that it's handled in a uniform way - until suddenly you end up with two admins who unbeknown to each other use a slightly different syntax...i.e. the facelife Xantia being referred to as Mk II, Mk2, or S2. Personally I think there's a reason that I've found the search function on that particular forum to be even less effective than the clearcoat applied to Dante Red Xantias...


I've generally found the somewhat relaxed administration of this place to be one of its great assets, as it makes it a pleasant place to be. I fully admit that I struggle to deal with things changing sometimes (one of the joys of being autistic for one, in addition to just being stubborn...I live up to the reputation of being born an Aries!), but I can see why there might be the need to things to change a bit going forward if we're to make this both a place for us bunch of idiots to natter amongst ourselves, *and* to be a useful informational resource to the outside world. It's a tricky one to balance (especially with the downright difficult to search for model descriptors mentioned earlier).

I do personally feel though that the current format of the changes has maybe pushed things too far towards the latter, with the risk of alienating some of the regular users. It does just feel that the Citroen section is...unwieldy...now. I *don't* have a magic solution to propose to fix it for both user groups overnight, but I'm certainly happy to be involved in any discussions if that would be helpful.

I have been somewhat involved in the back office processes of a forum, an IRC channel and a couple of mailing lists - albeit 10+ years ago, and nowhere *near* as busy as this! As such I don't claim to know exactly what I'm talking about, but do reckon that I do have a reasonable understanding of some of the challenges faced in running this place.


PS: My laptop has been doing a really annoying thing today where it drops out responding to keyboard presses for a fraction of a second seemingly at random...so if there are any really odd typos in there, that is likely responsible!

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van ordinaire
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Re: Forum change

Post by van ordinaire »

My immediate reaction to the news was "but many of the queries are engine related & they are common to severel, if not many, models." My cadillac forum of choice is divided up like this but even I know that my model Seville has far more in common with contempory Devilles (e.g.) than the original Seville. Then again it also has a number of engine bases sections.

At the moment I feel it's too early to say, there has to be a period of adjustment but I am concerned that I might miss something, possibly a lot, even, if I stick to my own section (especially as the light vans are something of a minority interest).

superloopy
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Re: Forum change

Post by superloopy »

We appear to heading towards a poll. Good to see, yet when i suggested a 'referendum', a poll by any other name, it was immediately slapped down by one discontented individuaI as a hark back to the dark distant days of the internet. I echo the opinions expressed by 411514 and daviemc that these changes smack of 'junior management' by over enthusiastic individuals (or is it a collective, I really have no idea who is in charge and steering the forum these days?) who have failed to 'consult' the members. We've all seen the outcome of such 'keenness' in our day to day lives i'm sure. So ... let's have our poll and see how the land lies. Not 'loaded' in favour or otherwise. I WILL cast my vote with a feeling, as has already been voiced, that those in charge will prevail whatever. This could have been managed better by speakinging to the members and rolling out any NECESSARY AND AGREED changes in a slightly more controlled manner. I do not want the forum to become a plaything for those individuals behind the scenes to do with as they please!

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GiveMeABreak
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Re: Forum change

Post by GiveMeABreak »

A Poll will be created later today which will run for a fortnight. As no further time and effort will be expended on taking this work further at present, the Forum structure will be returned to the previous state so that posts are not split into several locations for longer than is necessary.

A revised announcement and the Poll will be posted later today.