Author Topic: Too many sticky topics in forum board categories  (Read 11804 times)

unbeldi

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Too many sticky topics in forum board categories
« on: October 11, 2013, 03:26:43 AM »
The forum categories have so many sticky topic that there is only space for 4 or 5 active topics. I think this is way too much, this practice is ab/over-using the sticky topic idea.  There should be at most 2-4 sticky topics of the most important content. These sticky topics are rarely added to, are essentially dead weight, and I feel they kill the interest of users to continue discussion on more active topics, because when a topic falls out of sight, it is quickly forgotten and people loose interest to dig into the additional pages.

I understand the usefulness of sticky topics, but it would be much better to provide links to them, perhaps with stuff explanation of content and intent, on a single topics page, an index page so to speak, so that these topics can be quickly accessed without the search function.  This way the lists of permanent topics can also easily be extended to almost any length without impacting the traffic on each board.

Frequently read topics could be indexed every few weeks or months by the number of times read which is already recorded in the database and displayed, so it should be easy to automatically generate a "50 most frequently read topics" index page, or a WE500-set topics page since keywords can be queried just as easily, and those types of pages should be made sticky.

Another suggestion would be to expand each page to more than the currently displayed topics (20?), to say 50. This might also be a per-user configurable preference option.

I am wondering even why some of these topics are sticky, like "FrankenPhones AKA the Kludge of the Month Award" . What????  If there is any value to that, perhaps create a new forum category and get it out of the main traffic.


« Last Edit: October 11, 2013, 04:22:02 AM by unbeldi »

Offline DavePEI

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Re: Too many sticky topics in forum board categories
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2013, 06:03:55 AM »

Another suggestion would be to expand each page to more than the currently displayed topics (20?), to say 50. This might also be a per-user configurable preference option.


At the bottom of each index page, there are links to view any other message in the topic. So they are all available, all of the time. Just click on the arrows or numbers to go to the next page.

Stickies are used to mark the most referred to pages, and pages describing how an area should be used. There is no limit how many messages there can be in a given topic, but to prevent huge page loading times, messages below the top page are accessible via the number and arrow links at the bottom of each page.

Now, it is easy to assume that modifications can be made in the Forum software to make it do whatever one wants - we are limited by the options already available in the software - to modify it beyond that would take a software Guru, and to pay him would result in an extreme cost of running the board, and force charging people for memberships.

So, there are just some things we have to put up with, and perhaps future updates from the software developer may include some of these improvements.  

Meanwhile, we should limit stickies whenever possible. In the areas I work on most, there are some subjects I leave sticky for a while, but un-stick when they become less active - perhaps we can be a little more diligent trying to keep on top of excessive stickies.

Meanwhile, remember those links at the bottom of the page = they will allow you to view every title in a subject, be there 20 or 200,000. It just takes a little while to page through them on very active topics such as "General Discussion". Then there is also the search engine, which will help to find subjects further down the list. Once a message falls off the first page, it is always still available by going to the next page, or beyond.

Dave
« Last Edit: October 11, 2013, 06:12:13 AM by DavePEI »
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Offline AE_Collector

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Re: Too many sticky topics in forum board categories
« Reply #2 on: October 11, 2013, 12:23:37 PM »
I agree with many of your points unbeldi and want to add my two cents (hmm, now how do I do the cents symbol again?).

Many of the sticky's were created in an effort to keep people posting "common theme's" into the same ongoing topic rather than constantly starting new topics on the same theme. I felt this was a better way to handle common themes and it created a "One Stop" resource for someone for example "E1 Handset Service Tips" in the Technical Stuff Board. This was accomplished by going through the forum attempting to find all of topics on the subject and merging then together on the proper board and making the topic Stiicky.

Making a topic Sticky has definitely worked at keeping a common theme together in one ongoing topic by keeping it right in front of people so that they add their post to the existing topic rather than just starting a new one. Some of the "fun" topics are a good example as well such as "Lamp Phone Atrocities" on the General Board. Believe me, there were a TON of individual topics started over the years about Phones made into Lamps.

I have noticed many times that there are quite a few Sticky's on certain boards and that does reduce the number of new non sticky topics that are "in front of viewers" on each board at any given time. In the past I have released some sticky's, merged others together and occasionally moved some to other boards where there is more room for them when it made sense. That said, ongoing diligence in this area is warranted. Many Sticky topics haven't been "added to" in quite some time which *might* indicate that they are of little interest and don't deserve to be sticky'd. Of course it is possible that a topic is used for reference frequently yet rarely added to.

We will do some work in this area as it does need ongoing attention to keep things working smoothly.

I moved this to the "Forum News" Category where all things related to the forum directly are discussed. I didn't sticky it though.... :)

Terry
« Last Edit: October 11, 2013, 12:36:47 PM by AE_Collector »

Offline Dave F

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Re: Too many sticky topics in forum board categories
« Reply #3 on: October 11, 2013, 01:55:23 PM »
I agree with many of your points unbeldi and want to add my two cents (hmm, now how do I do the cents symbol again?).....
Terry

To create the symbol: Hold down the ALT key and type 0162 on the numeric keypad at the right on your keyboard.  Then release ALT.

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unbeldi

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Re: Too many sticky topics in forum board categories
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2013, 02:02:26 PM »

Another suggestion would be to expand each page to more than the currently displayed topics (20?), to say 50. This might also be a per-user configurable preference option.


At the bottom of each index page, there are links to view any other message in the topic. So they are all available, all of the time. Just click on the arrows or numbers to go to the next page.

Yes, but this is what people usually NOT do. Most people participate most often in the topics they see.  This was in fact the exact same reason the sticky topics were created. But I belief it is far more important to entice people to participate in the currently active topics than in old threads.

Quote
Now, it is easy to assume that modifications can be made in the Forum software to make it do whatever one wants - we are limited by the options already available in the software - to modify it beyond that would take a software Guru, and to pay him would result in an extreme cost of running the board, and force charging people for memberships.
I believe that the number of topics displayed is already a configuration option. Admin-->Forum-->Posts and Settings-->Post Settings ? or somewhere there?

The software of these types of forums is used so widely, there are many programmers and many hobbyists who know the software very well. I would not be surprised if a few teen relatives of members even can do simple modifications in merely hours or minutes. It does not require a professional always.

« Last Edit: October 11, 2013, 02:04:57 PM by unbeldi »

Offline DavePEI

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Re: Too many sticky topics in forum board categories
« Reply #5 on: October 11, 2013, 03:51:18 PM »
The software of these types of forums is used so widely, there are many programmers and many hobbyists who know the software very well. I would not be surprised if a few teen relatives of members even can do simple modifications in merely hours or minutes. It does not require a professional always.
That would be great if we had someone willing and capable to do that. However, then arises the problem of the next time there is a security update to the software, of losing  any  changes or modifications we have made here. The change needs to be made at the software developer's end so that the change won't be lost whenever there is an important update to the software,.

At any rate, your point has been well taken, and Terry, Greg. John and I are going through all the stickies to see which can be deleted - in fact, I have un-stickied many today in various boards.

I put the information about paging through the various topics not for your benefit, but for others who might not understand how it works. Un-stickied posts gradually fall down the list until they move on to the next page. If a post is active, it will generally remain on the first page. However, this refers to posts which are recently added, and not to topics which people refer to frequently. As Terry pointed out, that is what a sticky is useful for. One example which comes to mind, it there have been many, many posts about where to get crimpers and how to put spade lugs on wires. Therefore that topic was stickied, to keep it up top. Same with the lamp phone thread.

Anyway, we are trimming stickies - in fact we have always done so, but are doing it with a more critical view towards reducing the numbers.

Dave
« Last Edit: October 11, 2013, 10:36:49 PM by DavePEI »
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unbeldi

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Re: Too many sticky topics in forum board categories
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2013, 06:22:24 PM »
Thanks for the efforts!  I am sure everyone here appreciates the time and dedication this all takes.

Offline ESalter

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Re: Too many sticky topics in forum board categories
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2013, 08:22:13 PM »
I must be the only one that doesn't see sticky threads unless someone posts on them.  Ever since I joined 3 years ago I've always just clicked the "show unread posts since last visit" button and read what was new.  I do that several times a day and that's it.  Whenever I'm looking for something specific I do an actual search for it.

Just throwing a different point of view out there, that's all.

---Eric

Offline AE_Collector

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Re: Too many sticky topics in forum board categories
« Reply #8 on: October 11, 2013, 08:41:37 PM »
Yes that is something that the moderators have to keep in mind for other newer members sake. Since we are here a lot we likely all use the forum the exact same way that you do. We use the "show unread posts since last visit" and click on the red "new`button to go directly to the new posts. Anyone who hasn`t been through the vast majority of the old posts has most of the 10,000 topics showing as "unread" so until they get "up to speed" they are more likely to be looking through the boards for interesting topics or doing searches on the forum.

I recall in the past lots of chatter about what category things were listed under on ebaY. And when you go to list something one of the first things you have to do is pick a category. That always seemed strange to me as I never search that way on ebaY. I have prebuilt searches or just use keywords to do a search and I really don't care at all what category it is listed in!

On a different note, I did take a look through the admin area and can't find anything related to options such as the number of topics per page. We are set at twenty and had I found the setting for it I thought we could experiment with 25 initially just to see that it didn't slow things down to much for members on dial up. Unless I am blind (a definite possibility) I suspect those settings are hidden where only Dennis can get at them. Us Global Moderators can move things including boards within categories, rename anything at all and create new boards, categories etc but I don't see any of the other forum Global Settings.

Terry
« Last Edit: October 11, 2013, 08:43:28 PM by AE_Collector »

Offline twocvbloke

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Re: Too many sticky topics in forum board categories
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2013, 06:46:50 AM »
On a couple of forums I use, I've noticed that one way to deal with excess stickies is to create a Sub-forum (basically a section within a section) where the stickies relating to that specific section are moved to aside from important or really useful ones, that way it keeps more of the non-sticky posts visible on Page 1 and tidies the stickies up so you can scroll through them at your leisure... :)

Basically putting the stickies in places like how the telephone wiring, key switching and paystation sections have sub-forums... :)

Offline AE_Collector

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Re: Too many sticky topics in forum board categories
« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2013, 01:44:06 PM »
Thanks twocvbloke.

Here these sub boards are called "Child Boards". This Board, the "Forum News" Board has three "Child Boards" called New Member Introductions, Forum Members Only, and How to Post Photo's to CRPF.

A valid suggestion to put the Sticky's there possibly into a fourth Child Board though that somewhat "hides" the Sticky's from easy view which of course is the intent of making a topic Sticky. We are considering bumping each page from 20 to 25 topics to see how that goes but have to figure out if that is in our control first! Meanwhile we have started and will continue to go through the sticky's and let some of them go in order to keep the total number on each Board/Child Board at a reasonable number.

Terry
« Last Edit: April 11, 2016, 11:49:43 PM by AE_Collector »