Page 1 of 2

Reorganising the topics on the website

PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2005 5:46 am
by joel
You do need to liven this forum up a bit, and the way to do that would be to drastically reduce the number of rooms: down to no more than three or possibly four max.
eg:
1 Charlie's stuff
2 The music room
3 Everything else
It's also a good idea (if you haven't done so already) to create an "area 51" only visible to those with admin/mod status where you can park dead or deleted threads.
Doing this you concentrate all the posting and make it seem like there is more going on, which in turn attracts people to post.
One other thing would be to get some links to here up on your main page and on the mondomix page
Of course it may be your intention to keep this place a bit quiet, which is understandable.
Happy new year!

Joel

PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2005 1:22 pm
by Tom McPhillips
Joel's point about having fewer categories is a good one - I often miss new topics, because they don't always show up in "posts since last visit" - which is basically how I access the site, rather than try to visit all the areas...

I think Joel's suggestions are useful ones... which are proved by my perception that I need to post this in two places- which seems redundant!

happy New Year - how will you use the extra second?

PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2005 2:33 pm
by Ted
joel wrote:1 Charlie's stuff
2 The music room
3 Everything else
Joel


Maybe with subgroups in each section?

TW

PostPosted: Sat Dec 31, 2005 3:32 pm
by joel
Hi,
IMO, other than an FAQ and forum rules, no subgroups, at least not until there are several thousand members and several hundred posts a day. At that point...
I would also keep the stickys to a bare minimum, preferably none in fact.

PostPosted: Tue Jan 03, 2006 7:09 pm
by ritchie
I am intrigued by the number of 'hits' a particular topic gets which sometimes does nt always relate to the equivalent number of postings.

PostPosted: Fri Jan 13, 2006 10:50 am
by Charlie
joel wrote:You do need to liven this forum up a bit, and the way to do that would be to drastically reduce the number of rooms: down to no more than three or possibly four max.

eg:
1 Charlie's stuff
2 The music room
3 Everything else
Joel


I appreciate Joel's comments and have amalgamated a few previously separate threads, but can't find a way to join any others up.

For instance, to combine my three separate radio listings would cause a lot of confusion as to which playlist was which.

Having upcoming gigs as a separate list seems essential, and again I think it would be confusing to put the reviews into the same list.

futher suggestions and comments please?

PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2006 3:42 pm
by joel
I can understand that, but IMO, that suggests a decision on the priorities for this forum needs to be made.
Following on from your intial post, this forum could be a lot bigger and busier (although this is a very mixed blessing), Not Guardian-sized, but a couple of thousand strong I would have thought. The competition is hardly overwhelming.
For example, the playlists should be kept in a single forum, perhaps using stickies to keep the latest playlists at the top, or using categories (and stickies to keep the playlist at the top).
IOW, you might have the following hierarchy:
FORUM
> playlists (forum)
>> playlist one (category)
>>>latest playlist (sticky/announcement)
>> playlist two (category)
>>>latest playlist (sticky/announcement)
>> playlist three (category)
>>>latest playlist (sticky/announcement)
etc.
Alternatively, a flatter hierarchy might have no subcategories and only stickies/announcements for the latest playlists.
Rather than the current multiplicity of Playlist forums (which is a bit confusing I think).
Other forums like CD reviews (why only CD, eh ;-) ) should simply be threads that are part of the general discussion. Good threads that have legs will come back round to the top regularly, although you could sticky one or two (lots of stickies is a bad, confusing thing, however).
Another alternative would be to integrate playlists etc into a live xoops-style front end, but that gets really tricky to integrate with an exisitng forum (iow an existing sql db) and looks pretty crap if not *constantly* updated with new info (easier said than done).

joel

streamlining this forum

PostPosted: Thu Jan 19, 2006 7:09 pm
by Charlie
I have brought this correspondence out of the Website Admin section, so that everybody is aware of it.

Joel has proposed that I reduce the number of topics, and it is certainly true that contributions have slowed down. It's getting to feel like those slightly out-of-date magazines in waiting rooms.

I don't quite understand what Joel means - I think he is suggesting that there could be subfolders, so that not so much information is presented when you first arrive at the forum.

I approve the principle but can't see how to do it in practice - what to drop, what to bunch together.

Perhaps we could start with suggestions about which currently separate categories could be joined.

Should I permanently delete some old correspondence? If so, what?

PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2006 8:54 am
by howard male
Firstly I don't think there is any real need to reorganise here - this forum has always obeyed its own rules anyway - for example, long postings are welcomed here, rather than frowned on.

But perhaps in order that the place doesn't appear too overwhelming to newcomers dropping in, some streamlining wouldn't go amiss. So...(takes deep breath). I see no reason why 'Forthcoming Gigs...' shouldn't join 'Feedback on Gigs...' Under an umbrella title such as 'Gigs - News and Feedback.' There are so few postings in the feedback side of the gigs section anyway, that the could fit cosily in with postings about new events and cancellations.

I see you've already linked Offshore Accounts and Travel, which was going to be my next selection.

Then I can see that it starts to get tricky...

We have to start getting brutal. I think one has to start thinking about what contributors would automatically put under 'General' if a specific topic didn't exist elsewhere. So 'The Website: comments and suggestions' could go, as could 'Situations Vacant'

I think the three topics 'Books', 'Films with and without music' and 'Nothing to do with music' could all go under the heading 'Arts and Culture - other than music'

OK, that's enough for now - this is a bit like when you're moving house and you know you've got to throw out a lot of stuff. We're a bunch of anal retentives here, but I think a spring clean will feel better in the long run, even if it hurts a little to do at the time. If it does liven things up by giving the impression there are more postings, and also making those postings more visible to the casual drop-in visitor, that has to be a good thing.

Now's the time for such a tidy up, as there's a possibility the website might get a mention in an upcoming feature in the Observer Music Mag on favourite music sites. So this really could be the equivalant to a tidy up before visitors drop by.

Suggestions

PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2006 10:14 am
by Con Murphy
Howard's suggestions make sense if you are going to have a tidy-up, but I can't help thinking that there's an air of rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic to the idea. Is it really the case that if people faced a shorter list when they browse to the site, it would make them more likely to remain and/or post? I guess you don't know till you try! So, maybe you should just have three headings greeting the new visitor:-

Charlie’s Shows
Music – General
Off–Topic Posts


Under Charlie’s Shows, you'd have the sub-headings Radio London, Without Frontiers and World Service, and then all the Playlist and Comments and Suggestions, etc headings under those.

Similarly, Howard's suggested Gigs - News and Reviews (and similar categories like Other Radio) would be a major sub-heading under Music – General.

Off–Topic Posts would contain all the 'specialist' stuff like Travel/Off-Shore Accounts, Arts and Culture - Other, etc.

Finally, with recent accusations of cliquishness in mind, you might even want a fourth category - called Fringe or Members' Posts, where Howard's World Views, DJ Relay and CD Circle would reside.

The logical follow-on from the latter is to ask whether it would be possible to alter the site so that you can tailor it to only present you with new posts since your last visit from the categories of your choice. That would probably take more effort than is warranted at the moment, I guess.

As for permanently deleting old stuff, other than it being the inevitable consequence of culling sub-categories, one has to ask what there is to be gained from doing this. If I were a new visitor I'd be quite keen to have a good look round to see what the site's been all about all this time.

PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2006 10:31 am
by howard male
Con wrote -

Is it really the case that if people faced a shorter list when they browse to the site, it would make them more likely to remain and/or post?


It's not just a case of what does or doesn't put off visitors, it's also this thing of giving the impression of plenty of activity on the forum: the fewer topic headings there are, the more condensed the postings become, and therefore the more active the forum appears.

PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2006 10:59 am
by Con Murphy
howard male wrote:It's not just a case of what does or doesn't put off visitors, it's also this thing of giving the impression of plenty of activity on the forum: the fewer topic headings there are, the more condensed the postings become, and therefore the more active the forum appears.


It's nice to know Nu-Labour thinking isn't dead - it doesn't matter whether posters are put off, so long as the Forum looks busy. But I agree Howard, if you have just two or three major headings, they are all likely to have a relatively recent last-post date. However as you drill down, the impression of hyperactivity is always going to melt away as the last-post date of the sub-categories and/or posts become apparent. It's a conundrum alright.

PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2006 11:19 am
by howard male
The forum essentially has to be an advertisement for itself. If the impression of busyness soon subsides that's not an issue because our hypothetical newcomer will already be in our sticky web by then - they'll either like what they've seen and join in, or move on. But you've got to lure them in in the first place - it may be Nu Labour means-to-an-end thinking, but so is putting an attractive cover on a CD or book to sell it. It's part of the world we live in.

I don't agree that things should be as simplified quite as much as you suggest though, Con. The reason being that your 3 greetings headings - forgive me for saying so - are a little dull and generic. Trying to put myself in the virtual shoes of a stranger in our strange land, it is the unusualness of some of Charlie's chosen sub categories which would intrigue me sufficiently to explore further - such as 'Singing in English' 'Off Shore Accounts' and 'Looking for an Echo'. Some of that quirkiness has to be the first thing new visitors see if this isn't going to seem like a thousand other music sites.

PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2006 11:22 am
by RobHall
A good rule of thumb when presenting/designing information is never give more than 6 options (some people say 7) at any one juncture. I count 25 on the main index, not counting the navigational aids (Home, Logout, Profile, etc). Howard's suggestions seem fair enough to me, and I think that I agree, on the whole, that the site could do with a little pruning.

Rob

PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2006 11:37 am
by Con Murphy
howard male wrote:I don't agree that things should be as simplified quite as much as you suggest though, Con. The reason being that your 3 greetings headings - forgive me for saying so - are a little dull and generic.


Nice to have you back Howard!

howard male wrote:Trying to put myself in the virtual shoes of a stranger in our strange land, it is the unusualness of some of Charlie's chosen sub categories which would intrigue me sufficiently to explore further - such as 'Singing in English' 'Off Shore Accounts' and 'Looking for an Echo'. Some of that quirkiness has to be the first thing new visitors see if this isn't going to seem like a thousand other music sites.


Well, like I say it's only deckchairs - personally I don't care how they are arranged or whether they have a fancy pattern. My suggestions were based purely on the assumption that the proliferation of supposedly more interesting titles wasn't working.

I think we need to get a focus group together...