I just finished listening to a podcast in which Paul was chatting up Ernie and Erica, and Ernie mentioned more than a few times his frustration about answering the same questions on the forums because people don't read them first.
I empathize with him, that would certainly frustrate me as well, but at the same time, between the Wood-burning stoves section and the Rocket Mass Heater section, there are over 17 pages of threads with close to 9000 posts, and I think it's an unreasonable expectation that people read them all before posting.
I think it's necessary to organize these forums a bit. Delete duplicate and irrelevant threads, create subsections for people to ask questions about design modifications, create an FAQ section for people just starting out to easily find the most important basic information to preempt unnecessary new posts, perhaps even write a few instructional posts, similar to what Oliver has done in this subsection of the forums at diyaquaponics.com: http://diyaquaponics.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=112&sid=702f5cc68b66b3ee90c7952318962a10 so people aren't calling any odd constellation of bricks and cob a Rocket Mass Heater, which is something else Ernie raised concerns about in the podcast.
I don't want to add a bunch of work to the admin(s) here, but there is a LOT of information, which would take MONTHS to get through, and a little bit of organization here could go a long way to alleviating everyone's headaches. Agree?
I've had a lot of thoughts about this too. For me, the ideal would be a format that showed the most popular (as voted by thumbs or apples) at the top of a thread page.
So for example, the chickens thread would have Paul's chicken article linked (pinned) first, followed by a "Chicken FAQ" edited and approved by stewards. After that would be the top ten most useful threads related to chickens (voted by thumbs or apples). After those top 12 items, the system would run as it does now. It would also be nice to have quick links to multimedia either in a sidebar or in the header/footer too.
I think that if that model were replicated through the whole forum, there would be a lot less repetitive talk. Don't get me wrong, I don't want to limit anyone by deleting or editing. I think the Permaculture message is spread quickest and most effectively when the right/best information is easily accessible and understandable. This would be especially useful to new permies who are looking for fast clear answers.
One could consider this forum model "no-till educating". No need for serious digging. Everything you need to start is right on top.
I have a suggestion on how to improve the permies forum site. You probably already considered this but I'll give it a try anyway. I was looking for information on chicken coop designs and was overwhelmed with the number of topics under chickens. I did a search and didn't find what i was looking for. My suggestion is to put another layer or two of categories under chickens. Maybe one on chicken feed, chicken fencing, chicken coops, breeds, disease, paddock systems, other systems, etc. I'm guessing you get the idea. While this has its down sides it seems like it might be helpful.
Another idea is to have a rating system where users rate the "value" of the post and people could sort through the site by rating. So if someone is in a hurry they may narrow their results to only 5 star rated post/replies so they are not overwhelmed with 100,000 pages of posts/replies.
Another idea is to have "flaggs". People would have a certain number of flags they could attach to a post to "categorize it". For example if someone is talking about chicken stuff but is perhaps providing valuable information on a variety of categories they would check box all of the "categories" that are relevant. Someone searching for information on certain categories would then be able to significantly narrow their results based on the checkboxes they select. Implementation on the database side i believe would be simple enough but I'm not sure the posts are stored in a database like I'm thinking of.
I thought of having posts expire but I'm sure someone out there has posted some great information on chicken coop design issues and maybe links to really good designs that I could use to build one but maybe its 10 years old. Some of the best information is quite old.
I think it would also be helpful if as a general rule of thumb, people were instructed to search the website for their question to find answers before asking their questions. The discussions are what makes permies.com unique along with all the information brought up in the discussions. However, as this topic indicates, it does become redundant at times. Also, I think this happens because the forum etiquette/rules are not very clear.
-maybe people are shy or think it is weird for whatever reason to post on a thread that was started a couple years ago
I find the forum overwhelming there are so many topics. I would not like if there were any more layers.
If something is answered twice so what? It is not always Paul who answers and things do change over time.
Most people look up the first page of recent topics most of the time.
I would make one simple small and hopefully easy change: I would include "unanswered posts".
I'm new here but have been "searching" for several months. This site is great. Other sites have gotten carried away when it comes to searching. If I search a topic and the first few threads are nothing but "did you try the search function" it gets very frustrating. I never get to the answer.
You are either going forward (taking new posts on similar threads) or you are gonna be stagnant (everyone fearing getting bashed by even posting a topic)
For those that don't want to answer the same question over and over again- simply don't reply. Someone else will. This seems a great solution to the one rule on this site- Be nice.
Flagging/sorting, etc is something I won't use. Honestly, after the initial searching and going 5 pages back looking at selected topics (homesteading, etc) I have settled into looking at active topics. I would guess that most people here do the same thing. A flag or 3 categories on chickens won't change that. The subject line determines what I topic I click on.
Why not do a combination of new and old? I think it would be neat to take the new posts and link the new post to older posts of relevance to the new topic so that people can read where the old conversation has gone before and use it as a springboard to catapult the discussion farther than it went last time.
Other alterations to the same concept:
-after a certain period of inactivity, threads are locked and become reading material
-old posts could be synthesized into a scrapbook/collage of the best information on topics to condense everything
-a Post-Master-Monster could go scrounging around at the end of topics devouring posts/topics with the lowest rating, period of activity, etc
Dave, An action has an opposite and equal reaction. Mass Links to another thread can result in thread hijacking which results in hurt feelings by some. So then it's specified to only link to old threads...and on and on.
I also don't understand how going back and searching for that link is any quicker than just answering the question.
I still go back to "be nice". Brilliant imo. And from what I have seen, it works here.
Wayne, you are right, the linking is not faster, and it would definitely get messy keeping track of all the links.That still leaves the problem of what to do with the older threads/posts. That is kinda why I'm suggesting making collages/scrapbooks of the older posts so that people can see the best of the information that has accumulated over time on the discussions. Yeah..... I'm not sure.... This is a hard problem. How can the forums be restructured without hurting other people's feelings?
Here is an Idea ! (It needs lots of work !) Anyone can post to Wikipedia, and in the bad old days it was very common to find that the articles were often sprinkled
with spoofs ! The guy that started Chevrolet used winnings from an Indy %00 race to start the company (true ) with Richard Simmons of '' sweating to the oldies ''
fame ( probably not)
Now compare that with today, The Rocket Mass Heater section relies heavily on 'Our' work and someone (Ernie and Erika?) frequently fact check it, -who ever is
doing a Great Job !!! My point is we have to oversee the site anyway, and as creative commons we can reprint what is up on Wiki- and a simple computer program
I Think would alert us to any changes between any two copies !
Also this should increase the number of links back to Permies/ Richsoil and the Missoula Blogs, I am sure that there are problems I have not thought of with this idea
but It would be a great way to spread the word and use facts without worrying that the use of 'facts' breaks a Taboo here at Permies !
Please do not tell me that that is what APPROPEDIA is supposed to be, go look at the numbers of visits, With out Goring someones favorite Ox, sad very sad indeed !
My final word is we appear to be doing much of the work for Wiki where it affects us anyway ! Big AL
Success has a Thousand Fathers , Failure is an Orphan
I would put my "vote" on having stickies even if a lot of people won't read them. Some people will.
I think stickies with a structured list of the most interesting/content rich threads could be nice. Moderators could get some help by asking posters to reply to the stickies with their favorite threads, and then decide whether to add those to the list.
Also, some stickies could belong to multiple forums. E.g. you could have a single sticky for compost and soil. Or a single one for all of the building section.
One advantage of a sticky is that it could give ideas that people haven't thought to search for. Let's say I'm wondering about trees today. If there was a sticky I would be more likely to stumble upon the Black Locust thread and learn something I didn't think of searching for.
Location: cool climate, Blue Mountains, Australia
posted 4 years ago
Yes, I found the no reply button! I like reading a bit bigger (ctrl ++) and this disappears...
This was the first thread I started, and my third post overall.
I should have started it by saying, "Hi, I'm new here, and here's a list of all the ways I think this site and community are failing. Please allow me to offload months of work onto your desk and walk away."
I AM glad to see how some changes have been implemented since then, and I really appreciate the contributions here from Craig Dobbelyu and allen lumley.
I do still find it difficult to find what I'm searching for sometimes, and some additional filters would probably help a bit, but I wanted to say in revisiting this post that I'm glad to be a part of this community and I want to thank the multitudes of people who make it a remarkable experience.