Over-Division of Forum Topics?

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Over-Division of Forum Topics?

Unread postby markvz » Fri Jun 24, 2005 11:24 am

Just a quick suggestion here.

I think that this board would benefit from merging several of the forum topics to create less division on the board. From my experience with other bulletin boards, this one appears to be too micro-managed. The overall volume of posts is fairly low, and they are being divided into too many categories.

What I would suggest is merging the Bay City/Saginaw/Midland forum into the Lower Michigan talk forum, and deleting the "heads up" and "trip reports" forum after merging their posts into the appropriate upper and lower Michigan forums.

There are a few reasons why I think this would improve the board:

As it stands now, one has to check out several forums to be able to keep up with all of the relevant threads. The beauty of the michigan railroads forums is that you can find everything you need in 4 major categories. I don't have to go digging through page after page to find interesting news. It makes the site seem much more dynamic and up to date when there are fewer, but more populated forums. "Heads Up" and "Trip Reports" type posts seem to be few and far between, and can be very easily covered by the upper and lower Michigan forums. This place makes it even easier to compress the forums into a more navigable format, because all of the replies to the posts don't sprawl down the page like at the MR forum. There's no need for the current level of separation in this compressed format.

Also, I've learned a lot of interesting news on the michigan railroads forum that I wouldn't have otherwise seen, because if it were more divided, I would only look at the forums that were relevant to me, allowing me to potentially miss things that I would like to read.

I feel this place would be much more popular if it were less divided and easier to navigate. The remaining forums would be much more populated and fluid. Users could see all relevant information at a glance, rather than having to dig through multiple forums. If one doesn't want to read the bay city/saginaw/midland threads, or trip reports, or heads up type posts, they can just skip them.

It's kind of like moving the party to a few central rooms in the house rather than spreading a little bit of it to every room. It's much more interesting to keep everybody less divided. I think the atmosphere and popularity of these forums would improve significantly if the forums were less divided.
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Unread postby markvz » Fri Jun 24, 2005 11:29 am

Also, the Amtrak forum can easily be merged into the Lower Michigan forum as well. There have been 12 original topics posted in that forum in the last 6 months. That's only one every 2 weeks. There's no need for a seperate forum for these posts.
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Unread postby Scooterb » Fri Jun 24, 2005 11:44 am

I would prefer the trip reports to stay seperate. but that is just my opinion.
Otherwise good suggestions.
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Unread postby ~Z~ » Fri Jun 24, 2005 11:46 am

very excellent suggestions Mark... one of the main, and only reasons for dividing the board was so that it did have a different feel from the shortlines/lower/upper/history area that seems to be so popular from boardhost. The main issue that i couldn't stand with boardhost was that the more popular threads got pushed down the list just as quickly as the dead threads. Conversations generally died after 1 day, and then someone would bring it back up later, missing most of the beginning of the conversation. EVen having the same questions asked again and again, because there was no archiving.... anyway, your points are very valid. I imagined at first that the board would be more busy than it is, but there are a decent number of registered users. perhaps you are correct in that people don't post as often because the threads are pushed out so much. I will try to work on it today to reduce the number of categories and get them better organized. Thanks and welcome to the board!
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Unread postby ~Z~ » Fri Jun 24, 2005 11:49 am

Scooterb wrote:I would prefer the trip reports to stay seperate. but that is just my opinion.
Otherwise good suggestions.
Scott B


i believe trip reports should stay separate as well... I'm thinking amtrak, heads up, bay city/midland/saginaw, and news will probably go into a lower michigan area....maybe even combining lower and upper, and keep news articles separate? any thoughts on this?
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Unread postby ~Z~ » Fri Jun 24, 2005 12:27 pm

moved the amtrak and heads up in the lower area. i'm at work at the moment, but want to hear from others as well as to keep michigan separate or to move upper and lower together. also want the other moderator(patrick) to give his opinion on his bay city/midland/saginaw area.
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Unread postby markvz » Fri Jun 24, 2005 1:30 pm

Thanks for the kind welcome. Also, thank you for considering my ideas.

I think that the UP/LP should probably remain seperated. Since the demise of the Chief there as been no direct rail link between the two penninsulas, so nothing that goes on in the LP will effect the UP and vice-versa. There is also a large geographical difference between the two. The separation of those two groups seems to be working well on the MR board. I don't mind checking two forums to get the content. I think that the streamlining of the forum has already improved things.

Personally I think the BC/Midland/Saginaw forum should be merged with LP until it becomes necessary to let it stand alone. I think it will be fairly obvious when there's enough discussion about it to warrant it being it's own forum. The content that would normally be in that forum can be used to jump-start the LP discussion.

Just my humble opinions. Thanks again for the hositality :)
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Unread postby patrick » Fri Jun 24, 2005 2:29 pm

The Bay City post was something I requested Zack to put up so I had a place of my own to post. Honestly, I'd be very upset having worked hard on this section and plugging this section and this stie on many other sites, if it was merged into the lower section. I think if Zack merged my section into the lower section it would be just like posting at the MS board, and that to me personally would be a step backwards for this site. I also agree that the heads up and trip reports section should stay as is. I think part of the reason things are not getting many views is that we're not pushing this site hard enough. We don't have as many people on here. Not enough people are posting here. We don't need a different setup, we need to endorse the one we have......
Last edited by patrick on Fri Jun 24, 2005 3:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Unread postby ~Z~ » Fri Jun 24, 2005 2:40 pm

MarkVZ wrote:Thanks for the kind welcome. Also, thank you for considering my ideas.

I think that the UP/LP should probably remain seperated. Since the demise of the Chief there as been no direct rail link between the two penninsulas, so nothing that goes on in the LP will effect the UP and vice-versa. There is also a large geographical difference between the two. The separation of those two groups seems to be working well on the MR board. I don't mind checking two forums to get the content. I think that the streamlining of the forum has already improved things.

Personally I think the BC/Midland/Saginaw forum should be merged with LP until it becomes necessary to let it stand alone. I think it will be fairly obvious when there's enough discussion about it to warrant it being it's own forum. The content that would normally be in that forum can be used to jump-start the LP discussion.

Just my humble opinions. Thanks again for the hositality :)


no problem at all for the hospitality. just glad you're enjoying posting over here so far. I do understand the geographical difference between the areas... Someone may live the lower and want to read the upper at the same time, but it's probably a good idea to keep it separate still. The upper forum was just quite slow..most people are still using the boardhost upper michigan forum, so they are staying away from here so far. maybe a plug over there wouldn't hurt :) Still trying to contact Patrick about Bay city...we'll see what happens.

EDIT: well, since i was on a long call, didn't see patrick responded.. i'll have to confer with him about the advantages, and well, it is my board :) this will be postponed for now.
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Unread postby Railnut » Sat Jun 25, 2005 9:22 pm

I agree with patrick, leave the Bay City section all, it's own, as well as the trip reports. If I can become a moderatio(and not realy pushing for it either), i gould get this site Into a web ring, and I will link this site to my own and vice versa right now. But for some of the quiet forums, merge them, make them all inclusive you could say, but keep the busier ones as is.
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Unread postby markvz » Mon Jun 27, 2005 9:03 am

Patrick,

From the sounds of it, you should really build your own webpage and promote it as such, if what you post here is that important to you. As it stands now, your content is in the hands of others, and no matter how well-meaning others are, things can change, possibly resulting in the loss of your data. Personally, I'd keep this data on my own webspace if it held so much weight, but maybe that's just me.

90% of the railfanning I do in Michigan is on the Huron Shores route of the LSRC. This is mainly due to the proximity to my home and my interest in the LSRC operations. I could maintain my own forum on Alpena and Bay City LSRC operations, but I'd much rather just share my information in a general forum. You'll find that every person on a forum like this one has their own home area which he will focus on. Each person could essentially maintain their own forum with their findings, but this would result in a disorganized forum. I can see that you take a lot of pride in what you post, and in having your own forum, but I really think that you should independently publish your work if you want to promote it as your own. If anything I would use this forum to share what is found on your own site.

Personally I feel that what I post here is only valuable because of it's context. Take away the people who are interested in what I have to say, and my info serves no purpose other than a personal one. Interested parties will read what you have to say no matter which forum it is posted in.
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Unread postby markvz » Mon Jun 27, 2005 9:24 am

Improving the forum population will only occur with increased content. People will naturally go where the most up to date information is. Right now that happens to be the MR board. You can't really persuade people to make a change to a forum that is inferior in content. One good way to give the appearance of greater content is to compile all of the information into fewer categories. I think the MR boards would appear much slower if there were more categories, even with the same amount of actual posts.

This is why I made the suggestions. You need to give users a reason to come to your forum before they can post content themselves. Nobody wants to bother posting to a forum where nobody will read their content. I feel that if you give the forum a more dynamic feeling, people will want to post more.

Right now, there are only 6 people on this board who make the lions share of the posts. This forum needs more diversity in its postings if it wants to grow.

You already have a better format than the other forum, now all you need is an equal level of content.
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Unread postby patrick » Mon Jun 27, 2005 4:43 pm

Getting people to switch over to this site has always been an issue here. The site belongs to Zack and I know that, but I work very hard at promoting the site in its entirity because on some things zack and I work very close to hand in hand on making sure the info that is posted is correct and if need be, verified. I don't have the funds to begin my own site, nor do I have the techinal knowledge on how to build a site such as he has done. Why would you want to take and split something as good as this and in turn end up having us compete for the members and such. We comtine to compile information on michigan railroading as well as railroading in the surrounding states. we work together to attempt to make this a not only a very good site for people to come and visit, but also a site that is very user friendly. I personally think that though i agree that some things needed to be compressed, I think that there are other things that do not. My section and the trip reports section are one of them. I know with myself, this site when you log on, tells you which sections have new posts in them. If you chose to look at them then great! if not, thats ok too. Some things don't need to be right in everyones face like they are on the shortlines board. Many a time I have come on that board, and there may be 20 new posts and maybe I'll only read 10 of them. honestly, I dont care if GP40 took 50 pics of the amtrak in lansing and chose to post them all. I just don't. GP40, please don't take that the wrong way man, I'm just using you as an example. the way this site is set up you can concentrate on one to two things at a time and really put your heart into them. Not to mention that items are archived here. I personally choose to remove posts from my section after a year. but if you wanted to go back and trace say, a loco that was in bay city, or something to that matter, you can do that on this site, without having to worry about the post falling off the bottom of the screen. I personally have been thinking about asking bob about buying him out on the shortlines board. I'd then give the site over to zack and the two of us would go from there. still just in the thinking stages though as I'm not sure if bob would allow me to buy him out or not later on when I could afford it. this idea also please should NOT be taken and reposted in any form onto the other boards as It may create trouble with in our ranks. I do not want that.

Zack, I have a suggestion for you myself however: I'd like to see a homepage link on the board here to the photo and info site other wise known as the mainpage. we need a www.railroadfan.com link bud!
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