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holy forum sections batman

squishy

Pirate ParkFlyer
#1
I can't believe how many forum sections there are here, this is way way too many, you guys need to consolidate it a little, don't try to categorize everything, take the subjects up a level of intellectual thinking and make broader sections. With so many sections the forum is very hard to navigate or find what you want via browsing, by trying to have a section for everything it makes the sections useless.

I have been a pretty active forum guy for a very long time and I have seen both approaches over the years. I have seen forums with only one section (see www.supertopo.com), everything mixed in, and then there's the polar opposite, too many sections (see flite test). The best way to create forum categories is to find a balance between the two, if you find yourself with too many sections or categories, you need to redefine how they are created. Not to mention you will get more hits and posts within each section instead of it being all spread out and appearing like some sections never get any action.

So I guess consider this a complaint and a suggestion. I was overwhelmed by the number of sections and how granular they were in subject matter. Yes I know you will not be able to be pointed or targeted on the subjects within each section but that drawback is nothing compared to the burden of having to scroll through a giant list to find relevancy. I am willing to bet you'd get more interaction in here if it was simpler. Keeping things simple is always a good idea, especially when dealing with so many beginners. We did this on my forums and at rcPowers and it really helped, I would highly suggest it.
 
#3
Geez, I look at the new threads that are posted. If I have a specific question on a topic I go to the correct folder.

I guess Dewey was wrong after all these years. I suppose we can just list everything under the 100's
 

squishy

Pirate ParkFlyer
#4
I have to use the "New threads" as well it's the only sane way to get to the goods...I have been an article contributor here for a while now but never really active in the forums, this is the 1st week I really spent any time in here but wow, I was shocked at how far I needed to scroll and it looked like you guys pushed all the food around on your plate so it looked like you ate it all, lol...
 
#6
I agree. You might consider taking everything under:
General RC
Electric Planes
Electric Rotorcraft

And combine them into three forums with those titles. Maybe split Electric Planes into Scratch Build and Commercial (Kit/ARF) since the scratch build forum is so active and is quite distinct.
 

squishy

Pirate ParkFlyer
#7
Can you give a couple of examples of topics that could be combined?
I would have to do some analysis which I don't have time for right now, but imagine a triangle, like the food triangle...

At the top is the main subject: "RC Airplanes" or Flite Test forums

If you built a forum with one section, this would be it's title, it would encompass everything below it. As you move the line down the triangle you gain more sections, it begins to be wider, but the titles of the sections become more granular. "general discussion", "foamies" "scratch building" and so on. Eventiually you end up with section like "soldiering" "gluing" "turning left" "doing loops"

It appears that this forum is using the bottom of the triangle, you guys have a category for everything. What you should strive for is something in the middle a nice balance, which retains the overall subject mater but gets into sections of general relevancy, not specifics. That's what the threads are for. This really all depends on your audience, users, traffic and where you want the community to go. All are factors when using your creativity to come up with the titles and sections to catch the threads you want.

Get it?

RCgroups is a prime example of way too many forum sections, but because they have so much traffic it's ok because each one gets enough action to stand alone in it's own right. Take a look at what we have done at ParkFlySac, it's been revised many times and it's been edited by a few different minds. Notice we tried to stay pretty general with the titles but then we were more specific in the descriptions. http://parkflysac.com/index.php?action=forum

Also, remember that no plan ever survives 1st contact with the enemy, if the sections are not working, be prepared to change and react as you are doing with my opinion. Thanks for hearing me out by the way.
 

squishy

Pirate ParkFlyer
#8
Oh and just because one dude can't find the correct section for his post, is not enough reason to create a new section, it just means the sections are not broad enough.

And how do I get behind the field shed? I got some the good stuff...lol
 
#9
Don't take this personal, but I hear a whole lot of analysis and work for one complaint, and personally I like the way things are set up. Now, I'm not afraid of change and maybe things would be better if it was. But maybe you should approach the web designers themselves and offer your help instead of the usual, hey everything is a mess in here in my opinion, straighten it up, oh and I'm busy.

Then some bs on structure without really saying anything. typical mid management justification stuff.

Meanwhile, they're aren't 20-30 threads replied or altered here a day. If thats too many new posts for ya I don't know what to think.
 
#10
In general, you want enough categories that things don't get lost, but not so many categories that things get lost. Helpful, I know. :)

More conversations happen when people see things that interest them while they are looking for something else. More forums reduce the exposure of threads, reducing the activity. Fewer forums increase that exposure, increasing activity. Yes, the "New Posts" function short circuits that, but you only see that if you have an account. When a new user coming in sees a huge collection of forum topics, they may click on a few and poke around a bit without seeing a lot of activity.

If you start with fewer categories, then you can watch for when they get so busy that threads quickly fall off the front page of that category. That's the best sign that you need to divide that category into smaller topics. Usually there's some theme to the stuff that gets the most attention; give that theme its own subcategory.

If you let me do anything I wanted, I would do this:
* Look here First stays as-is.
* Combine Flite Test Articles into one forum
* Combine The Flite Deck into one forum, with Show Suggestions as a subforum under that. The Videos forum goes elsewhere.
* Flite School, Gift of Flite, Not Quite Flite become their own forum called Flite School. The rest of it move elsewhere.
* RC Airplanes and Rotorcraft of all power types get subfora in an Aircraft forum. UAVs fall under airplanes, rotorcraft, or just Aircraft if they are blimps or something.
* Combine Workbench and the leftovers from General Topics into one forum, with a subforum for Scratchbuilding and Plans and another for Cameras and FPV.
* Two off-topic threads aren't really needed. Combine Behind the shed and F&D into one forum. VIdeo Production becomes part of Cameras and FPV above.
* Full Scale becomes one forum.
* Regional Info becomes a subforum under Flite School.
* For Sale/Wanted becomes one forum.
* SSPZ can stay as is, it works as-is
* Aviation News: conversation about full scale aircraft should be in the Full Scale forum. RC/Model news should be in forums or subfora based on the topic.

This takes you down to 10 fora and 6 subfora. It's easier for users to monitor, which generates more conversation. It's easier for moderators to monitor, which helps deal with problems earlier.

That's my opinion, anyway. It's worth exactly what you paid. :) It's easy for me to say "you should do X instead" when I'm not the one who has to implement the changes. So, do what you will here, and I'll keep on reading.
 
#14
It would have been nice to have had a poll on this one. I personally hate sub forums. It might tidy up the main page, but I think the original posts requesting things be "simplified" have been misunderstood. We still have the same amount of complexity, it's just more difficult to find a topic that isn't at the top level.

Time will tell if people continue posting in the sub sections in the same frequency... but from my perspective (granted, I'm only a minority!) the sucess of a thread usually depends on the amount of exposure it gets. If posts are nested in sub folders, you just don't get the same "advertising" as when it appears on the main page.

Just my 2 cents. Obviously you can't please everyone... but this is a reasonably radical change for what has been a pretty successful site, given the competition of the other forums.
 

FlyingMonkey

Stuck in Sunny FL
Staff member
Admin
#16
It would have been nice to have had a poll on this one. I personally hate sub forums. It might tidy up the main page, but I think the original posts requesting things be "simplified" have been misunderstood. We still have the same amount of complexity, it's just more difficult to find a topic that isn't at the top level.

Time will tell if people continue posting in the sub sections in the same frequency... but from my perspective (granted, I'm only a minority!) the sucess of a thread usually depends on the amount of exposure it gets. If posts are nested in sub folders, you just don't get the same "advertising" as when it appears on the main page.

Just my 2 cents. Obviously you can't please everyone... but this is a reasonably radical change for what has been a pretty successful site, given the competition of the other forums.
One of the things I notice, as a mod, and the guy who gets to do the thread moving, is many new people (and the forum does cater to the "noob" is how easily confused, or possibly a little on the lazy side, many people can be. I'm still constantly having to move and approve posts that are deposited in the section reserved just for Chad and the Flite Test team to start threads in. Simplifying the main page for those people to have an easier time deciding where they should post their thread was a large part of the decision. That and the complaints about it being too confusing, even from Chad himself.
 
#17
One of the things I notice, as a mod, and the guy who gets to do the thread moving, is many new people (and the forum does cater to the "noob" is how easily confused, or possibly a little on the lazy side, many people can be.
I guess these days, it's hard to believe that there are people out there that don't know how to negotiate a large web forum. You often see it in some forums where other frustrated posters reply "just do a search!" when someone posts a duplicate question (I've never seen that here, everyone is super helpful). The trick is knowing what key words to use and how to filter the results, bearing in mind that not everyone phrases things the same way.

As a mod on an unrelated forum, I just have to give the benefit of the doubt to the users. Whether they're lazy or not is not for me to judge... my job as a moderator is to encourage as many people as possible to post, since they're all interested in the forum. Most of the time that means I make minimal changes to the design (people hate change!) and try to manage the off topic/offensive/spam posts as quickly as possible.

If that job is too difficult, than we simply need to delegate the "power" to a few other trusted people. As sites grow, I don't really see any alternative. People definitely expect too much for what is usually an unpaid position!