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Sean
Cucamonga Man


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 982


Location: Monterey Park, CA

PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:12 pm    Post subject: Forum Update Reply with quote

I've been going through individual topic threads to get a better understanding of how members use the various forums here. One notable takeaway is that people post many topics in the General Discussion forum which, ideally, should be in other forums. Thus, I have spent some time re-sorting these topics. And now we have a decent idea of how popular each main subject matter actually is. Here is the percentage breakdown:

General Discussion: 21.9% of total posts
News & Conditions: 19.5%
Trip Reports: 40.4%
Other SoCal Ranges: 0.5%
Flora/Fauna/Fungi: 6.8%
Gear: 5.2%
Pub: 4.2%
Question/Comment: 1.5%

Another, more obvious, point is that many redundant threads have been created over the years, for such things as water and snow reports and trail and general conditions. I've now merged most of these redundant threads and created sticky posts to guide users looking for such information.

Of course, users are always free to post wherever they want. But I might be more active now in moving posts to a more appropriate forum when necessary, and perhaps even merging certain redundant topics with prior threads after the poster has gotten an answer or reply.

Given all this, I'm also considering a few changes at the more noticeable forum-level, and I invite your comments.

1. Should the General Discussion forum be moved to the spot below Trip Reports? I believe this might cut down on misplaced News/Conditions and TR topics that get posted in the General Discussion Forum. It will also place News at the top, which I think is a more logical spot for it. And TRs bumps up one spot in the order, which I believe also makes sense, given its overwhelming popularity.

2. Should we put in some subforums? I think, at minimum, the Trip Reports section could benefit from a little organization. I don't want to get too crazy with the filing system, but perhaps visitors would appreciate TR subforums for the Sierra Nevadas, Deserts, and Other States. This would, by default, relegate the main TR forum to mostly SGM, with some Jacinto, Gorgonio, and minor SoCal ranges stuff in the mix.

3. Also, should we rename, clarify, and expand the Gear section? I'm thinking it should clearly include such things as clothing, accessories, supplies, tools, gadgets, maps, technology, hiking apps, food, drinks, supplements, nutrition, survival skills, performance techniques, fitness tracking, etc. Maybe call it "Clothes, Tools & Performance" and then have a detailed description underneath. Perhaps with a clearer name and description people will think of more things that they want to post in this particular forum. Expanding this section would result in 50+ threads being moved to it from General Discussion.

Let me know what you think. Thanks.
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RichardK



Joined: 30 Sep 2007
Posts: 639


Location: Florida East Coast

PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 6:26 am    Post subject: Forum organization Reply with quote

Sean - Thank you for asking about this!

I have often thought that the forum has too many categories. The Mt. San Jacinto forum gets by with only 5. I have never been clear on the difference between General Discussion and News and Conditions.  It seems that General Discussion, News and Conditions, Flora, Gear, and Pub could all be combined. Other SoCal Ranges could be merged into Trip Reports. In 2016, there were only 8 reports posted there. What about having only 3 categories:

Outdoor Talk

Trip Reports (for anywhere)

Administrative and Technical Topics

This approach may be an over simplification. I am curious what other members think.
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JeffH



Joined: 28 Nov 2010
Posts: 378


Location: Claremont

PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 6:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like the idea of TR at the top, even without seeing the stats I figured it was the primary reason for people visiting. That's how I got started here...
Regarding the merging of threads, that may take some educating of folks regarding things like snow levels or water availability. Stickies at the top may help but the number of them should also be minimized so it's easy to find. Perhaps the big three of trails open, water, and snow.
Gear is definitely under-utilized, especially compared with other forums that I read so encouraging more discussion there is welcome.
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Sean
Cucamonga Man


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 982


Location: Monterey Park, CA

PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

RichardK wrote:
The Mt. San Jacinto forum gets by with only 5.

For reference here, the five forums at the SanJ site are:

1. Mt San Jacinto & Santa Rosa Mtns
2. Outdoors-related Topics
3. Outdoor Gear & Apparel, Food, Books
4. General Chat
5. Announcements & Feedback

The first two forums get almost all the posts. The third forum has yet to see a post in 2017. The last two forums, no posts in twelve months. Like our site, members at SanJ often use the first forum as an all-purpose posting ground, so there are many misplaced posts, despite there being only five sections.

Speaking generally, any site might work with only one forum, dumping everything on any subject together into one big messy pile. Such a minimalist approach to organization might be enough for users uninterested in past threads or exploring content by similar subject matter, or for those with extraordinary "search box" skills. However, it will not satisfy those interested in using a forum as a genuine resource that's easy to navigate or browse for related content.

Personally, I'd like to see this place become more like a library and less like a yard sale. I'd like to reach a happy medium between a minimalist and maximalist approach to organizing the database. To avoid both a cluttered and an OCD feel to the main page structure, I propose utilizing subforums to reduce the number of first-level categories, yet improve the ability to navigate for semi-popular subject matter. For example, what would you think of this layout?

1. News & Conditions
2. Trip Reports
    2a. Sierra Nevadas
    2b. Desert Ranges
    2c. Out-of-state Hikes
3. General Discussion
    3a. Flora & Fauna & Fungi
    3b. Clothes, Gear & Technology
    3c. Nutrition, Training, & Techniques
    3d. Other SoCal Ranges
4. The Pub
5. Questions & Comments
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RichardK



Joined: 30 Sep 2007
Posts: 639


Location: Florida East Coast

PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 7:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sean wrote:
For example, what would you think of this layout?

1. News & Conditions
2. Trip Reports
    2a. Sierra Nevadas
    2b. Desert Ranges
    2c. Out-of-state Hikes
3. General Discussion
    3a. Flora & Fauna & Fungi
    3b. Clothes, Gear & Technology
    3c. Nutrition, Training, & Techniques
    3d. Other SoCal Ranges
4. The Pub
5. Questions & Comments


How about a Trip Reports section for the San Gabes? Would not Other SoCal Ranges belong under Trip Reports? I assume that Desert Ranges are only California. Otherwise, does climbing Boundary Peak, Nevada, belong under Desert Ranges or Out-of-state Hikes?

Keep the ideas coming!
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Sean
Cucamonga Man


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 982


Location: Monterey Park, CA

PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

RichardK wrote:
How about a Trip Reports section for the San Gabes? Would not Other SoCal Ranges belong under Trip Reports? I assume that Desert Ranges are only California. Otherwise, does climbing Boundary Peak, Nevada, belong under Desert Ranges or Out-of-state Hikes?

Keep the ideas coming!


To clarify, the three subforums under Trip Reports would also be trip report sections. 2, 2a, 2b, and 2c would all be devoted to trip reports. And 2, being the main forum, would still be primarily for the Gabes and nearby ranges.

Other SoCal Ranges is an open forum, not necessarily devoted to trip reports, but general chat. It's a bit redundant, but helps to separate local non-Gabes discussion. It doesn't have many posts, possibly because it's a more recent addition on a site created for the Gabes. We could also add a TR sub for Other SoCal Peaks, if enough people want that.

Desert Ranges would only be for CA deserts. Arizona stuff, for example, would go in Out-of-state. Boundary Peak is a little unique, but I think it should go in Out-of-state, since it's technically in Nevada. But the authors would have a say in where their trip report goes. I wouldn't move new TRs against an active author's wish. In fact, I only plan to move older TRs that have already had their time in the spotlight. For example, if a report on the Grand Canyon is posted to the main forum, I would wait at least a month before moving it to Out-of-state, and only if interest in it has died down. Depending on the situation, I could also create a shadow topic, so that the report temporarily appears in both the main forum and the sub.
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Last edited by Sean on Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:42 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Sean
Cucamonga Man


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 982


Location: Monterey Park, CA

PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Forum organization Reply with quote

RichardK wrote:
What about having only 3 categories:

Outdoor Talk

Trip Reports (for anywhere)

Administrative and Technical Topics

This approach may be an over simplification. I am curious what other members think.


Admin & Tech Support
Updates, questions, and feedback about this site.

How's that?

"Outdoor Talk" is quite a broad concept. I prefer Mountain Talk/Chat/Discussion. Also, I still am attached to the idea of having a separate forum for News. I want there to be a solid line between news and gossip. I might be persuaded though to fold Conditions into Mountain Talk.
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Sean
Cucamonga Man


Joined: 27 Jul 2011
Posts: 982


Location: Monterey Park, CA

PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

JeffH wrote:
Stickies at the top may help but the number of them should also be minimized so it's easy to find. Perhaps the big three of trails open, water, and snow.


I hope to keep the number of sticky posts to five or less per forum, so that one need not scroll down to find new topics. Announcements and Stickies could be segregated from normal posts by tweaking the template design. But fiddling with the template is my least priority right now. I'm not even sure what could be done in that regard without access to the owner panel.
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HikeUp
Likes Beer


Joined: 27 Sep 2007
Posts: 2772


Location: Pasadena, CA

PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 11:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Currently we have "Trip Reports" and "Other SoCal Ranges" I think.

Seems like a lot of the TR's that are put in the Trip Reports subforum are from other ranges (non-San Gabriel range). Might be why the number of posts in the "Other SoCal Ranges" sub-forum seems low. Just saying, not really making a point.

I like a strictly "San Gabriel TR" sub-forum and a "Other TR" because this is a San Gabriel forum and the other stuff is interesting but a minor focus of the forum. Summitpost is the all encompassing forum. Do we want to compete with that?

A bigger issue to me is the title used for TR's. I think the title should include trail/peak/canyon name and the date(s) of the hike (I prefer yyyy/mm/dd format). In my opinion this would help to search and find a TR that you want.

Thanks for your work. This forum is always a good read about one of my favorite places on the planet. Keeps this San Gabe greybeard entertained.
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