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Dabbler

ersatz engineer
I'd be shocked if it doesn't have the ability to rename/shuffle/move entire sections around
You can, but it is a pain. any sophisticated operations need to be done with database statements. One admin took down hobbymachinist.com by entering the wrong command - we had to back to the previous week's backup.
 

Janger

(John)
Administrator
Vendor
I was going to hold off on this until a decision was made on the other couple category suggestions but I think i will now chime in.
I belonged to a smallish forum (sort of like this one in size) with a couple thousand members, and maybe a couple hundred active members We typically had about 100 new posts per day. Intially the forum had 7 fairly general categories that seemed to work really well. New admin's opened the site for suggestions and seems everyone was quick to suggest an additional section or area for discussion. Soon we had almost 50 sub categories, some were bizarrely specific. For example we had a plumbing section, and incredibly, an advanced plumbing section - whatever the hell that is! I was the only one opposed to topic expansion. It was like the clubhouse moved to an apartment building, with tiny groups gathered in their own rooms. New queries began to elicit few responses. New members stopped joining because the place seemed dead. Old members drifted away for the same reason. The admin's blamed facebook groups for poaching members, but that was BS - IMO. The forum is still considered live, but is now like a ghost town. The most recent post to it was almost two months ago. I will agree that a forum like Practical Machinist has some 30 different categories, but according to one of the moderators, that forum receives a million unique views per day. Anyway, my two bits, as a cautionary tale.
Much appreciated comment @boilerhouse - what not to do is good info too!
 

ShawnR

Ultra Member
Premium Member
I like what @boilerhouse said as I have some other forums that I visit and when a member wants to post something, there are so many options that it,sometimes, gets lost. I have seen moderators tell members, "Yea, don't post it there cause no one goes there so you should put that stuff over here". I would guess it is a fine line. I have never been a moderator so don't know what it entails but would guess that to watch every post to see if it belongs in a certain area...yeesh..pull my hair out.

Having said that, being able to be flexible, reasonable, and listen to the participants is important too. I think in this group, no one will fault you guys for whatever you do. Heck, if you want to go for democratic, post a poll asking for suggestions of new areas and go with the top number of which you decide you wish to accommodate. You can also drop a section too if one goes relatively unused. (or close it to future posts, thereby not losing the existing posts, but not maintaining it either. )

2 cents Shawn
 

Janger

(John)
Administrator
Vendor
ah, no.

I was thinking directory database, and renovation of the sourcing metals section to include sourcing of other common metal working items and services such as lathe bed grinding, hobbyist friendly water jet cutting etc

IMO there would be greater demand for this than adding more off topic sections with their own specific titles.. no offense intended to @SomeGuy
@Jwest7788 @Alexander - see this thread.

Glad to see people are thinking and have ideas. We could have some additional threads on sourcing products, materials, services. A database would be best way to organize it but likely outside the admin's current scope. That would be a big project and require continuous maintenance of the info. Threads though are doable. One significant complication is the wide geographic distribution of metals edit -> members. Discussion about Federal Metals here in Calgary is pretty pointless to anyone not in Calgary. I also don't think we want 50 threads for Steel suppliers one for every city. I don't have a better idea. The sourcing thread is strange and it's kind of like oral history on the forum getting started.
 
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Brent H

Ultra Member
I like the way the forum is set up and really basic. It does keep the conversation going - sort of like being in the kitchen with lots of people discussing things and anyone can follow along and participate.

I participate in only 2 forums- this one and the Opel car forum - it’s all I can handle and track. This is my go to for metal working - really nice people.

Other sites I have been to are super huge, difficult to find information or the people are crap.

Perhaps that is a reason folks want more topic places - this site is great !!
 

SomeGuy

Hobbyist
I was going to hold off on this until a decision was made on the other couple category suggestions but I think i will now chime in.
I belonged to a smallish forum (sort of like this one in size) with a couple thousand members, and maybe a couple hundred active members We typically had about 100 new posts per day. Intially the forum had 7 fairly general categories that seemed to work really well. New admin's opened the site for suggestions and seems everyone was quick to suggest an additional section or area for discussion. Soon we had almost 50 sub categories, some were bizarrely specific. For example we had a plumbing section, and incredibly, an advanced plumbing section - whatever the hell that is! I was the only one opposed to topic expansion. It was like the clubhouse moved to an apartment building, with tiny groups gathered in their own rooms. New queries began to elicit few responses. New members stopped joining because the place seemed dead. Old members drifted away for the same reason. The admin's blamed facebook groups for poaching members, but that was BS - IMO. The forum is still considered live, but is now like a ghost town. The most recent post to it was almost two months ago. I will agree that a forum like Practical Machinist has some 30 different categories, but according to one of the moderators, that forum receives a million unique views per day. Anyway, my two bits, as a cautionary tale.

Definitely true, I find too many categories kill forums too.

Could be that some get collapsed into others. Both the CAD and Project Plans sections are pretty dead. Probably don't need the Request a Local Forum either. So if those 3 got collapsed into others, then make room for one general shop/tools and we don't have too many sections.
 

Darren

Ultra Member
Premium Member
the hobby machinist forum has so many subsections that i can't be bothered to browse over there. Just my two bits
 

deleted_user

Super User
as far as the number of categories, the only additions I would like to see and think are necessary are related to the resources section. We have a catch-all (off topic section) as a place for anything else... The resources section need not be broken up regionally...

I'd suggest that there are only a handful of specialist suppliers in the whole nation when it comes to some things. Case in point, so far I can't find a single business that provides edm services that will work with hobbyists who have one or two jobs a year

I'd even suggest that the member's only section is a waste, it is not used much and appears elitist to newbies. That's just my impression at least.
 

6.5 Fan

Ultra Member
Premium Member
I rarely go to the different subsections, just click on What's new. Could be why i miss some posts.
 

Susquatch

Ultra Member
Administrator
Moderator
Premium Member
I rarely go to the different subsections, just click on What's new. Could be why i miss some posts.

@Janger, I NEVER cruise the sections. I ONLY use What's New and Alerts to threads I follow (which doesn't always work).

But ya, I seem to miss stuff from time to time too.

The main thing that tempers my usage is the fact that I never use a pc. I ONLY use a smart phone on WiFi.

For me at least, it's a matter of time value.

I don't find the current sections too cumbersome. I can usually figure out where to put a new thread.

I don't use the sections to find things. I just use search - which can look everywhere.

I agree with what many others have said. Don't let the forum become cluttered with too many sections. A few more won't hurt. But please keep it simple. Sections that don't get used should die or get moved to a miscellaneous section. Consider looking at the most popular sections to break them up.

To be honest, I have never even looked at the premium members lounge. But I do like the idea of paying for a few extra features - not for the features but rather as a way to generate some cash to pay for the domain and hosting services. I look at it as a necessary evil. LOL!

Regarding directories and databases. I know that could turn into a nightmare of work. But I wonder if it could be simplified a bit by making that a single post section with replies blocked. The only way to reply would be a PM to the OP. Only the OP (and you guys) can edit their post. Thus a member creates and then edits a post to maintain their own list based on PM's they receive or whatever and it doesn't create any work for you. Maybe that feature already exists in the software, maybe it doesn't. We would soon see how many members would actually do it...... Just a thought.

Again, thanks for what you guys do for us.
 

LenVW

Process Machinery Designer
The number of sub-sections and forums is an ongoing discussion.

Can the ADMIN delete posts based on the DATE ?
Post that are ‘more than a year old‘ are useless because of component values, vendor changes and equipment updates.

I know it is helpful to see how someone fixed a problem, but, if you can no longer get the parts or they are 4x the price, the information is useless.
 

CalgaryPT

Ultra Member
Vendor
Premium Member
Let's remember that the admins here are volunteers. The final filter for changes should always be how difficult it is to make changes— but more critically—maintain the site. I'm retired, but still wouldn't have the time to pitch in on admin or moderating the site. I know it's enough of a challenge for people with FT jobs and young families as is.
 

deleted_user

Super User
The number of sub-sections and forums is an ongoing discussion.

Can the ADMIN delete posts based on the DATE ?
Post that are ‘more than a year old‘ are useless because of component values, vendor changes and equipment updates.

I know it is helpful to see how someone fixed a problem, but, if you can no longer get the parts or they are 4x the price, the information is useless.

premium members can edit and delete their posts.

I dont believe that it is hard to delete or update an entry in a thread of suppliers. Say someone contacts a supplier and notices they've gone out of business. They can leave a note in the thread to the entry creator and or a moderator informing them of updated status. Any of those people can then delate and it would take all of 15 seconds or so.


case in point, I've just edited this thread in 10 seconds. I've deleted about a dozen entries I've made in the past month or so
 

PeterT

Ultra Member
Premium Member
I'm not on the admin team so cant say for sure what the original intent was or how it looks today with hindsight reflection. I seem to recall noble intentions. Like there were some out of pocket costs involved hosting/maintaining the site & by donating you helped it survive & maybe as a perk had some small say on certain matters (although that may be not stated or obvious anymore). Regarding suppliers/venders services... same deal. A conscious effort to avoid adverts & flavors of membership to buy your way out of no popups predominant in so many other big forums. This started out as a Calgary-ish thing & now its grown to much larger radius. Realistically the number of vendors & suppliers in this town could be summed up on a sheet of paper double spaced so likely explains the apparent dormancy. But doesn't mean it cant be populated by others in other regions. Unfortunately when it comes to steel & heavy-ish things in general, an identified deal even 500km away has less appeal shipping cost wise. That's the reality of weight & transportation but I think everyone understands that.

I'm not sure, are we concerned with website database space? Or is it just a matter of date stamping? By the same token, the hundreds (maybe thousands now) of member spotted lathes/mils/whatever deals on Kijiji, auctions or whatever are presumed to be short shelf life - as in likely sold & irrelevant in 3 weeks. But they may still have value to someone wanting to get a hindsight feel for price, maybe applied to a current purchase consideration. But if @LenVW means cull the website posts in general based on 1-year date, that would be a bad thing IMO, because you obviously lose all that good info that has nothing to do suppliers. How to hold a part, how to mount a chuck, parting problems... the Search tool is your friend. Many things have been discussed before but when someone joins up they may not be familiar with how to search. Although this is a clue LOL

1646588527597.png
 

Janger

(John)
Administrator
Vendor
Thanks for all the ideas and feedback everyone. One problem I have noted is women don’t participate- the few that join give up shortly. It may be there is a locker room smell occasionally. If there are any perspectives on that you’d like to share please speak up or PM me if you’d rather not add to this thread.
 

SomeGuy

Hobbyist
There is almost no reason to ever delete posts on a forum for space reasons. Space is cheap, so much so that for $10/month you can buy "unlimited" space from most web hosting companies. I would never recommend culling posts, even the old for sale stuff...there's often discussion in those that proves valuable years later.
 

Chicken lights

Forum Pony Express Driver
Thanks for all the ideas and feedback everyone. One problem I have noted is women don’t participate- the few that join give up shortly. It may be there is a locker room smell occasionally. If there are any perspectives on that you’d like to share please speak up or PM me if you’d rather not add to this thread.
Tell the truck driver to shower more often, that might help the funk :D
 

terry_g

Ultra Member
Could someone start a general shop/tools thread in the appropriate fourm and could it become a "Sticky"
 
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Jwest7788

Joshua West
Administrator
Regarding directories and databases. I know that could turn into a nightmare of work. [...] Thus a member creates and then edits a post to maintain their own list based on PM's they receive or whatever and it doesn't create any work for you.
Wherever possible, solutions that better distribute administrative load off admins will have the best chance of surviving long-term. I like this idea for that reason.

Can the ADMIN delete posts based on the DATE ?
and
Case in point, I've just edited this thread in 10 seconds. I've deleted about a dozen entries I've made in the past month or so
We're not likely to implement auto deletion of any content, as others have noted, storage *space* isn't a major issue.
We had troubles last year tied to compute power, and storage *speed* becoming an issue. So we pay attention to media storage and quality, but posts are basically free due to how readily text is compressed. (This is the same logic that video content isn't generally hosted at this forum. Video content can really slam the areas where we have the least strength.)
For the tech savvy newcomers, we migrated away from cloud infrastructure awhile back because the hosting fees were no longer making sense as the forum grew. This naturally presents other challenges, but cost has been more predictable since.

Also, as I didn't see it mentioned elsewhere, historical posts are the forums most useful tool to grow our user base and activity levels.

Other than the 20 or so folks who were present when the forum started, I would wager (but didn't check specifically), that nearly 100% of our members have come directly from Google search leading them to the forum, much of which was likely to historical post.

The history is visibility, for a forum.


I seem to recall noble intentions. Like there were some out of pocket costs involved hosting/maintaining the site & by donating you helped it survive & maybe as a perk had some small say on certain matters (although that may be not stated or obvious anymore).
I agree across the board. I would hope for everyone to have some say in most matters.
Much for the same underlying reason as noted above, input from members reduces the cognitive load require to keep most folks happy and also serves to alleviate our lack of full-time (employed) leadership.

I think it's fair to say that I am not just speaking for myself, the input, PMs and feedback the admins receive is taken to heart, we discuss every item, and it truly helps us keep things running smooth around here.


Regarding suppliers/venders services... same deal. A conscious effort to avoid adverts & flavors of membership to buy your way out of no popups predominant in so many other big forums.
Yeah, ads on the forum would suck for members.
In the past I have thought about ads for the 99% of folks who never even sign up as a member, but when our admins spoke about this last we concluded that we don't really have a use for the chunk of funds it would bring in anyways.

If I recall correctly, a Google tool estimated the forum could be pulling in $1200 a month. Not enough for staff to manage a shop, or hire someone in a management role, but much more than we need for our current costs,
--> The forum isn't a money making venture. If it was, I would have done a ton differently, but also we likely wouldnt have garnered the awesome community we have today. (My work during the day is broad, but I have specific expertise in digital advertising and tailored marketing-performance data capture. Yet, the forum has never seen or paid for an advertisement, and I've kept tracking to the minimum I need to bug-fix and optimize when things go sideways. If this was about quitting my day job, I would say we've done a poor job at it. Haha)

Periodically I think about what this group could achieve with funding, regardless as to how we acquired it. There is a ton, but the trick is that no one is really in a place to manage the group as a business like that, at the moment. Even if we had the spare cycles, one thing we have been consistent on over the years: It says "Hobby" right in the name. :p

Though, I am open to the conversation if anyone has ideas of wants to chat.

There is almost no reason to ever delete posts on a forum for space reasons. Space is cheap, so much so that for $10/month you can buy "unlimited" space from most web hosting companies. I would never recommend culling posts, even the old for sale stuff...there's often discussion in those that proves valuable years later.
Yep, great summary.

Space isn’t an issue. Josh has a server rack full of gear.
Yeah, most of my gear is decommissioned from actual enterprise use (see: old), but a number of small optimizations since last year when everything was a bit dodgy has us running fast and smooth.





With regard to forum thread structure, changes and additions are pretty straightforward, not requiring much time to actually make the change, but I do consider it a major and important change.
Circling around to the start, all members are new at one point. Each had to learn the site structure.
It's these folks I feel that we need to consider first and foremost. Regular members know what they are looking for regardless of the site structure.
 
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