PDA

View Full Version : Too Many Separate Forums



Jessica
04-05-2010, 02:42 PM
As an active member of various forums for over 10 years, as well as a previous forum administrator, I would like to gently suggest that the number of sub-forums here is greatly reduced. People new to the forum format, as well as veteran members, are often intimidated by too many sub-forums. While I was at first very excited to find a secular message board, I have found that I've barely posted or read the messages here since my first week of membership, entirely due to the format.

The format of The Well Trained Mind forums, with just two main "rooms" and a few various smaller "rooms" tends to generate more traffic as it reduces the amount of clicking around one has to do to get from point A to point B.

Just some food for thought while the forum is still new and fairly small and changes won't create too many ripples.

Sincerely,
Jessica

Topsy
04-05-2010, 03:10 PM
Other opinions on this???

Snoopy
04-05-2010, 04:07 PM
I have also been reading forums for many years and I have led several forums, including Yahoo Groups and an IVillage Florida forum back in the days. I LIKE the organization, personally, I think it makes it much easier for people to find the info that they are interested in without having to wade through tons of unrelated threads. However, I do have to admit that, on occasions, I have thought that there were a tad too many forums. Sometimes I'm not quite sure of where to post a certain post. For example, "Good secular sources" and "Secular Resources by Subject" could probably be combined. Being a somewhat eclectic homeschooler leads me to check out all the forums since we use a little bit of each approach. Sometimes I'm not sure if I should post under a particular approach or under "Eclectic". But I've always received feedback on my posts so I don't think it's all that hard for people to find the info they want to find. I prefer this format to the Yahoo Groups format or even the WTM forums where everything is either lumped together (Yahoo) or in fewer folders (WTM) and it's sometimes hard to follow a discussion or pinpoint the information that would be beneficial to me because the category is so generic.

I think that, as I have expressed in the past, it would be easier for members to catch up on the group if, when they click on "new posts" they truly see what posts/threads are new to them (and not since they last visited even if they didn't read anything that day), like a Google Reader feed, for example.

dbmamaz
04-05-2010, 07:36 PM
I have a bug which kinda relates to this - in order for a folder to be marked as read, after reading the post, I have to click the subforum name, and then the next nested name, and then up to the top. If i miss one level, it remains marked as unread. And the forum is really slow to load (compared to the one i'm on the most, my local moms group), so all this clicking drives me nuts. So if there were less folders, maybe it would be faster for me to mark things unread without having to click back up through so many nested folders. Does that make sense?

Snoopy
04-05-2010, 07:50 PM
Cara, does this mean you don't use that "New Posts" option then?

Your bug sounds like the opposite of mine because my folders all get marked as "read" when in fact I haven't read them. LOL. Topsy's probably getting a headache from reading all of this!

dbmamaz
04-05-2010, 08:24 PM
No, i havent used the 'new posts' thingy. I dont on my other boards either. I like to decide which folders to read. For example, I often will skip this forum, or intros, if i'm not in the mood. I often just mark the unschooling folder as read without bothering.

Riceball_Mommy
04-05-2010, 10:30 PM
I only use the "New Posts" and half the time I'm not even aware of what folder I'm in.

dbmamaz
04-05-2010, 10:52 PM
I only use the "New Posts" and half the time I'm not even aware of what folder I'm in.

Doesnt that pretty much make the argument that having so many folders is not all that productive? If people arent even looking at them?

Snoopy
04-05-2010, 11:38 PM
But if you have them so that people like me, who like the organization, are happy and then people like riceball_mommy can do "New Posts" and not pay attention to what folder they're in, then... you have the best of both worlds, no? Maybe Topsy could do a poll to see what everyone else's think?

And there are probably "tricks" to use these forums that we don't know about or forget to use. For example, you can subscribe to individual forums (under forum tools, subscribe to this forum) or even individual threads (under thread tools, subscribe to this thread). I personally didn't even know about "New Posts" until someone mentioned it. It's been very helpful yet I still scan the list of forums to see if anything else might have come up that didn't get listed under "New Posts".

Firefly_Mom
04-06-2010, 12:27 AM
I only check the "new posts" when I get on. The groups I belong to don't have any posts at all, so I never go on them. I've replied to a number of things, but the only post I've started was my intro, and it was easy to figure out where it went. :)

Shoe
04-06-2010, 02:20 AM
I'm still new here, but I like the way the forums are organized, and I have found them easy enough to navigate.

crstarlette
04-06-2010, 09:22 AM
Well, I guess I agree that there are too many forums. I usually only comment on whatever's on the home page because I don't want to sift through all the forums. If something has been bumped off the home page by the time I get here I likely won't see it anytime soon.

Museling
04-06-2010, 09:29 AM
Jumping in without reading anything but the OP... I like the format of this website, especially the forums. Having everything sorted out into different subjects, and then everybodies own thread makes it easier, especially being a new member (to homeschooling and the website) to navigate around. I can see where it could get frustrating and you can miss things...for instance I didn't ever see this thread until it popped up on the recently posted radar screen at the main forum, but I wasn't looking for anything about this so....

I think my one suggestion would be to see if we could have a way of being notified or seeing that whatever thread or group thread we've replied to has been replied back? Being really active, sometimes forget to go back and check to see a thread that someone else has replied to and don't want to come off rude by accidentally not replying to it. (Of course, this may already be somehow, and I just haven't seen it because I've been too excited conversing with everyone) :)

Those are my two cents!

Topsy
04-06-2010, 09:32 AM
Lots of great feedback, everyone!! I think I'm going to compromise a bit. I don't really want to trim down to just one or two forums, but I'm rethinking the structure and will probably cut out most of the subforums. I also, thanks to crstartlette's comment, am going to increase the number of forum posts that show up on the home page and forum page widget. The main focus is simply increasing the conversation, right? So if fewer forums will do that, then I am all for it! Maybe after I do some tweaking, I will be able to come up with a few more tips and tricks for viewing all new posts.

Thanks again for all the input!! I'll try to get to this re-vamp later in the week, okay?
Topsy

Snoopy
04-06-2010, 09:42 AM
Thanks, Topsy, for being so responsive to your users' concerns :)

Museling
04-06-2010, 09:48 AM
I think, maybe grouping them differently might help, but looking at it and I don't want to loose any of the sub groups! I like that there are appropriate areas to talk about appropriate subjects, but if you combine I would suggest having intros and welcomes, homeschool methods and cirriculum, personal corner (for family issues, recipe swap, unrelated content etc) and the feedback and tech issues.

What my fear would be is that by grouping things together to make it more user friendly for the regulars would make it more uninviting to new members, and just speaking as a brand new member, I found everything as it is very inviting! I feel like I really gotten to know a lot of you and have felt very welcomed and included.

Shoe
04-06-2010, 09:56 AM
Thank you, Topsy, for all the work you put into keeping this up, running and organized. It's a great resource.

Cheers

melgriffin03
04-06-2010, 02:48 PM
I think that there are a lot of forums but it is nice and organized and when you are looking for something specific that is really appreciated.

For everyday reading and checking in, it can be a bit overwhelming if you don't use the new posts button.

Jessica
04-06-2010, 02:52 PM
Thank you, Topsy! I agree that you're doing a wonderful job, and I'm so grateful to have a secular homeschooling forum to visit.

If I had to combine, I might divide things up as follows (just thinking out loud here):

Leave Techinal Issues, Feedback, and Intros as is. Or combine Technical Issues and Feedback, and leave Intros as is.
Make the Weekly Poll a sticky thread in the main Secular Homeschooling forum.
Combine all Homeschool Curriculum sub-forums into one.
I'm not sure what to do about the Homeschool Styles. I think we tend to learn so much from each other regardless of style that combining them would be beneficial, but I know not everyone would want that. Perhaps just two, a Homeschooling Styles sub-forum (with all styles but unschooling combined into one) and an Unschooling sub-forum.
Combine General Homeschooling Issues, Family Issues, and Learning Issues.
Leave Special needs and Gifted Learners as is.
Combine Links, Blogs, and Freebies into one forum.
Combine all of the Fun Stuff (except for Field Trips) into one forum.
Add a Homeschooling High Schoolers sub-forum. (It's such a different beast, and I think it deserves its own space.)

If I counted correctly, that would still be approximately 14 different sub-forums.

Whatever you decide to do I'm sticking around! I'll just need to adapt. :)

Firefly_Mom
04-06-2010, 02:58 PM
I think my one suggestion would be to see if we could have a way of being notified or seeing that whatever thread or group thread we've replied to has been replied back? Being really active, sometimes forget to go back and check to see a thread that someone else has replied to and don't want to come off rude by accidentally not replying to it. (Of course, this may already be somehow, and I just haven't seen it because I've been too excited conversing with everyone) :)

Oooh - I would like that, too!

Jessica
04-06-2010, 03:45 PM
I think my one suggestion would be to see if we could have a way of being notified or seeing that whatever thread or group thread we've replied to has been replied back? Being really active, sometimes forget to go back and check to see a thread that someone else has replied to and don't want to come off rude by accidentally not replying to it. (Of course, this may already be somehow, and I just haven't seen it because I've been too excited conversing with everyone) :)


Oooh - I would like that, too!

You can already do that!

Go to "Settings", which can be found at the top right of the webpage.
Along the left-hand side, under the heading "My Settings", click on "Forum Settings".
A few lines down you will see "Default Thread Subscription Mode". Change it to say "Instantly, using e-mail" and you will get an e-mail every time someone replies to any threa that you post to. Alternately you can choose to receive e-mail updates daily or weekly, or without e-mail through the message board control panel. HTH!

Firefly_Mom
04-06-2010, 03:52 PM
Thanks Jessica!

Museling
04-06-2010, 07:59 PM
Yes, thank you Jessica!

Topsy
04-07-2010, 10:09 AM
Hey...good to know this place is in such good hands when I play hookie!! Thanks to all of you for your support, encouragement, ideas, suggestions, and advice!! And thanks for taking the initiative and answering questions in my absence as well! You guys and gals rock!!!! :)

ginnyjf
04-07-2010, 12:04 PM
I use the New Posts feature, too, and it seems to be working out okay. At least I don't think I'm missing out on anything important. Of course, you could be talking about me behind my back and I would never know.

Edited to Add:

And Yay, Jessica!! Thank you so much for the tip! Now I'll know if anyone is talking about me. Hee.

Jessica
04-07-2010, 02:26 PM
You are all very welcome. I find the instant e-mail to be a very nice tool! And lol ginny!

QueenBee
04-07-2010, 03:41 PM
I have to agree that although I can't put my finger on exactly why, I too like the format of something like the WTM forums. I have a harder time here as well, even though I really want to use this forum more! I don't know if that makes sense. I think it does have to do with the number of forums. I find that at WTM, I just go to the curriculum forum and then scroll down or search for what I'm looking for. Here, I'm not sure where to begin... I usually just look for newest posts, but I wonder what I'm missing that way.

Hope that helps!

**Editing to say that I only replied to the original and am now working my way through the replies... I didn't realize it was on page three! lol

Snoopy
04-07-2010, 07:38 PM
I use the New Posts feature, too, and it seems to be working out okay. At least I don't think I'm missing out on anything important. Of course, you could be talking about me behind my back and I would never know.

Edited to Add:

And Yay, Jessica!! Thank you so much for the tip! Now I'll know if anyone is talking about me. Hee.

Actually, Ginny, we have a special group for "Secular Homeschoolers Who Want to Talk About Ginny Behind Her Back". We thought a subforum would be a little obvious... LOL.

Topsy
04-09-2010, 11:23 PM
OK Everyone...you may now consider the forum MERGED. All sub-forums have been removed, and I have tried to make better descriptions for the main forums, so that you will have at least a general idea of where a post "should" go. But hey...it's a public forum. Post those things wherever the heck you want...I'm just happy you are here!!! ;)

Jessica
04-11-2010, 12:57 PM
OK Everyone...you may now consider the forum MERGED. All sub-forums have been removed, and I have tried to make better descriptions for the main forums, so that you will have at least a general idea of where a post "should" go. But hey...it's a public forum. Post those things wherever the heck you want...I'm just happy you are here!!! ;)
You're awesome! It looks good, and much easier to navigate.

dbmamaz
04-11-2010, 02:26 PM
lol someone moved my cheese! I'm confused! But yes, its easier to navigate, thanks