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Forum Layout.

Discussion in 'Staff Room' started by Duke, Apr 9, 2006.

  1. Duke

    Duke Guest

    OK, I figure I may as well start a new topic for this since I believe it may turn into a discussion that will need to be agreed upon prior to any changes actually happening.

    This is our current layout:


    Personally, I think it's a scrollfest and doesn't present itself as a well-organized forum. That's not a good first impression if we're a webmaster resource trying to help others understand the world of webmastering if we have a zoo for a forum. The other thing to consider is that this is vBulletin and as such, has a number of display options available to us when configuring a forum, one way being the use of sub forums.

    Just out of curiosity, can we not generalize a bit more in our forum categories and forum topics? When a forum topic shows particular interest in expanding, only then should it be broken down into more specific subtopics/subcategories, not before IMHO.

    For example, why do we have a "General" category at the top of the site and an "Off Topic" close to the bottom, can they not be combined somehow? Does the topic "Competitions and Lighter Side of Webmastering" need to be broken out or would it fit into "General Webmaster Talk"? Could we not draw attention to this now defunct topic by editing the description on the "General" category as follows:

    - General Webmaster Talk: Website Management/Maintenance, Web Development/Promotion, Search Engine, HTML, Competitions and Lighter Side of Webmastering

    Now that’s just an example but it will save what, half a scroll on the mouse button? What if we could combine 2 or 3 topics and/or categories, 6 or even 8? Imagine how nice the forums would look if they were all compressed and well organized.

    Would that not be putting our best foot forward?
  2. OldWelshGuy

    OldWelshGuy New Member Webmaster

    Usability is crucial for a forum, which is why I advocate as few categories as possible!

    My rugby forum started with

    Welsh Rugby
    Non Welsh Rugby
    general stuff

    Just those three. We have since added forums to areas that were clogging up or getting lost. In the 18 months or so since I started it we have had 190,000 posts. I am totally for pulling in the horns and adding forums only when they are needed.

    My reasons for growing out, rather than starting out with losts of categories was that I wanted the forum to look busy, and gradually spread it as the business became a problem. I have to say it works really well.

    As I go stright to 'view posts since last visit' I never see the front facing page of the forum :(
  3. Duke

    Duke Guest

    That's pretty much the exact model I used at Lifesupporters and continue to use at every site I build. The great thing is that it's the members who usually request the additions so it also helps to make them feel like they were part of the decision making process.

    Any preliminary thoughts on what we could combine, alter or remove all together?

    Also, I've started going through each forum, one post at a time, and removing all the spam and relocating it to the "Purged Topics" area. I think this will help give us an accurate model of just how much spam is in each forum and whether or not that forum is actually required.
  4. OldWelshGuy

    OldWelshGuy New Member Webmaster

    Yep, I used to remove what I considered spam, but then I would come along and Temi or Ovi might have replied to a post that I would have edited. So it is bad ettiquette to edit a post after a mod/admin has posted to it, so I leave it go :(

    Spam is one of the things that kills a forum.
  5. Duke

    Duke Guest

    Agreed but I'd suggest we go through now and move all the posts you beleive are spam as well. There isn't a tremendous amount of inforum activity so I'm sure if these posts were to disappear, no one would miss them.

    I think once we clean up the look and improve the overall aesthetics, we can then move forward to ensuring posts are in their proper place, spam is split from topics and perhaps even look at indexing the "high importance and prioriy" posts.
  6. Duke

    Duke Guest

    So which forums do you think we could combine and/or rename?

    I say lets get started folks, the sooner the better.
  7. Robster

    Robster Guest

    I agree with reducing the number of forums, I've found the same as you guys with several forums I've run that just adding new categories as needed is the best way to go.

    Here is my suggestion of a few things to do.

    Off Topic Section
    Merge "News, Articles.." with "Competitions and Lighter.." to create a General off topic forum and then add "General Software Discussion..." and "Microsoft Windows" as both of these forums have not much to do with webmastering.

    Then change the "Linux - Configuration" forum to be a forum about all kinds of Webserver OS

    -Merge Domain Names with Web Hosting
    -Merge the 2 Marketplace forums, as Business offered/wanted mostly seems to be people looking for customers, which to me is very similar to looking for jobs.
    -Make New Members Introduction a subforum
    -Remove the Blogging subforums

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