Forum improvement suggestions?

What works for Drabblecast? What doesn't? New ideas? Speak up!
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tbaker2500
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Forum improvement suggestions?

Postby tbaker2500 » Mon Jan 02, 2012 2:42 am

The Drabblecast is always growing and improving. Let's mirror that here in the forums. I'd like to start people thinking about how to keep the forums active with lively, intelligent discussions.

We have a wealth of talent here, how do we capitalize on it? How do we expand the participating members, so it's not just the same 5 guys chatting? We have over 1,110 subscribed members over the past several years, how many of them come back for a second visit?

Mega-Beast has had a decent start this year, but nothing like it should for it's 5th season. People aren't throwing all their creative juices at it like in the past. How do we stimulate that conversation?

We have a few technical tools at our disposal, but they deserve discussion as to their value.
First off, I can do mass reminder emails to inactive members. This seems like a bad idea to me, spam is spam no matter how well intentioned.
Next, we have rankings. We've gotten rank labels back on, showing Members, Moderators, Site Admin, and Beast-Master. Now, Members can be split up into a bunch of ranks based upon post count. Are people interested in that? It can be just the description, or description plus image.


Now, onto content. I tend to drop by here more often to consume content than to create it. Many authors come here to write stories, and I love that. How can we further validate that?

I miss some of the off-topic threads which made this feel even more like a community. For example, the movie reviews here were quite useful. Also, I found some of my favorite podcasts in threads here. I'm going to make an effort to get posting on topics like these again, maybe we can get that ball rolling stronger than ever.
You're my quasi-ichthian angel, you're my half-amphibian queen...

The Dribblecast, we don't care if you sound like an idiot.

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ROU Killing Time
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Re: Forum improvement suggestions?

Postby ROU Killing Time » Mon Jan 02, 2012 3:21 am

What you said. It has been nice to see the recent addition of some strange newcomers, both in creative and in commentary roles, however. Here's to that trending.

Also, Vote Snaketopus(TM) this season 5 of the MBDM!!!

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Algernon Sydney is Dead
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Re: Forum improvement suggestions?

Postby Algernon Sydney is Dead » Mon Jan 02, 2012 11:44 pm

Yeah, emails would be a very bad idea -- except for maybe a true special request or fundraising request no more than once every 6 months (Jimmy Wales has it right).

Also, a great many "users" are spammers. Some are blatant, and we've done a good job zapping those. Some are more subtle, like this and this.

Many users are Looky-Lous who only have accounts so that they can track what they've read and/or see "members only" stuff (they think).

Content is king and the DCF has some good content, BUT it may be hard for people to find that which tickles their fancy. The DC audience is also not mainstream, but many potential fans have never heard of DC (every time I mention it to people, they've never heard of it).

But, you asked for forum improvement suggestions, not the need for more promotion and marketing, so...

Forum improvement:
  1. See Jakob Nielsen's guides. Starting with Top 10 Mistakes in Web Design.
  2. The DCF would annoy the hell out of me but for my Greasemonkey script -- which makes it tolerable.
    Links, text-contrast and size, color-coding, and built-in page delays -- these all need improvement or elimination.

    Users want fast sites that are easy to Grok, and don't strain the eyes when reading for any length of time.
  3. Super-long threads can intimidate some users (not sure if this is a bad thing, though :twisted: ).
  4. Fix the page titles per usability guidelines.
    For example, this page is titled:
    "The Drabblecast Forums • View topic - Forum improvement suggestions?"

    It should be:
    "Forum improvement suggestions? -- The Drabblecast forums -- View topic"
    Or:
    "Forum improvement suggestions? -- The Drabblecast forums"
  5. Many big improvements are difficult or impossible in a forum format, see below.
  6. Make the forum iPhone-friendly! See Jakob Nielsen again.


Site improvement:
  1. Consider simplified, human-friendly access to key/big areas. For example, drabblecast.org/drabbles, drabblecast.org/twabbles, drabblecast.org/megabeasts, etc.

    Use URL paths as much as possible instead of sub-domains (drabblecast.org/forums versus forums.drabblecast.org). This is especially important for "Single sign-on".
  2. Get that #$%@&*! squatter off of Drabblecast.com!
  3. Provide ways to Classify, vote and rank stories and podcasts. See the way Stack Overflow works for ideas.
  4. Search by rank and category to match the above.
  5. Speed-test the site, to make sure that every page loads in 0.5 seconds or less (for you, it WILL be slower for others depending on net state, their country, etc.). If meta-refresh is used at all, it should be instant.
  6. User-test the site. Take people who are not experienced with the site (or at least the aspect you are testing), ask them to do task-X, then shut up completely and record their struggles (not what they say, what they do).
  7. Make the site(s) iPhone-friendly. See Jakob Nielsen again.
  8. Monitor the server logs. Look for patterns of use that will suggest what users wanted to do and what difficulties they had.
    Ruthlessly address every 404.
  9. Come up with a marketing plan.

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tbaker2500
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Re: Forum improvement suggestions?

Postby tbaker2500 » Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:02 am

Thanks for your input, ASID.

With regards to the squatter on drabblecast.com, he'll be glad to sell for $5,000. He's Mr. Smith, and it's just a gmail account.
You're my quasi-ichthian angel, you're my half-amphibian queen...

The Dribblecast, we don't care if you sound like an idiot.

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Algernon Sydney is Dead
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Re: Forum improvement suggestions?

Postby Algernon Sydney is Dead » Wed Jan 04, 2012 4:52 am

There are procedures for getting scum like that off of a domain.

First, Norm needs to trademark "Drabblecast" officially. (Cost: about $350)

Then he/we can nail the bastard under the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act (ACPA) and/or file a claim for arbitration under the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP). (Cost: $50 to $5000 plus -- or, maybe a DC listener is a shyster willing to give free legal help?)

Getting that greedy douche to stop siphoning DC traffic for meager ad revenue: Priceless.


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