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Changes afoot ... Classifieds

Posted by wimg , in Board Talk 12 March 2011 · 468 views

Dearest members and visitors of this little fountain pen nut house on the digital prairie,

The last couple of months we have been working away at making some changes, hopefully for the better :D, here at FPN. You will have noticed undoubtedly the Blog, Downloads and Upload tabs already. Soon there will be a new Tab here, which will also make for a slight restructuring of the board. This is all about the Classifieds part of the Classifieds and Market Watch Section. We've had many requests regarding the limited functionality of the current format, limited mostly due to the restrictions imposed by the actual forum format in which it is embedded.

Well, we can now announce that we are in the final stages of testing an entirely new subsystem for the board, which will allow for a variety of the wishes everybody had, including the moderators of the marketplace forums.

First of all, posters of a Classified will be able to edit their classified(s) until the end of the run for a classified. Comments, questions, remarks etc. added by people interested in the item(s) on offer, will only be visible after the original poster has approved them, or he or she may even choose to keep a message or request private. He can also choose to re-edit the classified, and add any extra info based on questions other members may have, lowering the price, etc. This also means that any people posting a classified, will have to actively monitor them. Effectively, every member here will become the moderator of their own classifieds, although FPN still retains the right to moderate as well, of course.

Also, several of the rules for posting a classified, have been incorporated in this add-on application. Let me mention a few here for starters :D .

Addition of one or more pictures is mandatory. This is now controlled by the software. Everybody posting a classified has to attach at least 1 image. A thumbnail of this image will be created automatically, and this thumbnail will also be visible in the general or overall listing. Clicking on the thumbnail in the lisiting whill show the actual classified, and clicking on the thumbnail in the classified itself will then bring up the entire image in its full glory.

Will this affect my overall storage here on FPN I can hear many people ask already?

The good news is that it won't. Storage for pictures in Classifieds essentially is unlimited, the reason being that the number of classifieds is limited anyway for any time period, so this unlimited option is not going to pose any problems at all. This is another advantage of making this available as a separate piece of functionality rather than a part of the existing forum structure. It also allows one to save an image back to one's harddisk, for reuse, if necessary. And it also is still possible to add pictures via the image button in the editor too.

In short, an old option stays, another old option now becomes mandatory, be it for a minimum of 1 image. You can add more if you like or prefer. Links to images are still not allowed. However, you can convert a link to an image to an actual image here by using Upload, although that will still only work for images which are not attached. And as mentioned, you always have to attach at least 1 image.

One of the older rules was that people who make it a habit or profession to sell pens and related items, were really supposed to post in the professional FS forum. There were a lot of complaints about this, so we have more or less allowed for pros and semi-pros alike to post in both and set a limit to the maximum number of posts per day to help the occasional sellers a little. However, with the new classifieds system that is no longer allowed, and we will rigorously act on this. A pure hobbyist who sells in the Low Volume category, is allowed to post three classifieds a week, with a maximum of 100 classifieds a year. Any more, and they will be removed. Anybody who starts posting in the Higher Volume category, is not allowed to post anymore in the Low Volume category. All of this to prevent swamping of the much fewer posts people add who are buying or selling pens to add to their collection, rather than for profit or as a business. However, it is possible to either view the individual category listings, or a combined one, so the same functionality as before has been maintained effectively, if so required. It really is even better from this POV.

Furthermore, a poster will have to select from a "Shipping from:" dropdown list to indicate where the item is located, and this list includes all countries in the world, in principle anyway. Similarly, there is a "Shipping to" dropdown, although this is much more compact, and one of the options will be along the lines of "Other, to be described in the post itself". Payment options is another dropdown box, listing such possibilities as PayPal, etc., and again there will be an option for "Other".

Obviously, there will also be a box for the price, and since we don't all use the same currency, all currencies of the world as far as we know, have been added to another dropdown list, with the most commonly used currencies on this board right at the top of the list. Do note that not filling in a price will result in the listing showing FREE in large bold capitals - best to be avoided IOW, unless that was the intention :D.

All of these fields are mandatory fields so far. There are a few more however. Let me deal with those in the next episode of this likely three part article describing this new option, and maybe even accompanied with a preview or two :D .

Next episode more....

Warm regards, Wim




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youstruckgold
Mar 13 2011 00:47
I had 3 posts with pics magically disappear yesterday which was less than outstanding - as some people buying then thought I might be shonky! Each had pics, but all were links to my gallery. Does your pic rule include links?
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penspouse
Mar 13 2011 00:50
:embarrassed_smile:
These amplifications, clarifications, and additional features, are, I think, good things. Of course time and FPNers will judge efficacy. Thank you Wim and all other FPN heroes who are called "admins" and "mods", it is your efforts that make this such a delightful place!
Why do you people do such incredibly good work without being paid... I respectfully tip of my hat, sirs.:embarrassed_smile:

I had 3 posts with pics magically disappear yesterday which was less than outstanding - as some people buying then thought I might be shonky! Each had pics, but all were links to my gallery. Does your pic rule include links?

No, the pic rule specifically excludes links. You have to show at least 1 picture here. This is also true for the current system, although you are allowed ot embed pictures with the Add Image button. If you only had links in your posts, they were removed because of this. I do hear you actually posted 4 topics, which is currently not allowed. A moderator will contact you about this.BTW, with the new system you have to add at least one picture from your hard drive, a proper attachment in other wordsWarm regards, Wim

:embarrassed_smile:

Thank you! :D

These amplifications, clarifications, and additional features, are, I think, good things. Of course time and FPNers will judge efficacy. Thank you Wim and all other FPN heroes who are called "admins" and "mods", it is your efforts that make this such a delightful place!

Thank you very much! Much appreciated. I 'll make sure to pass your comments on just in case not all moderators have read your praise yet.We will of course keep track of how this will develop, and actually we have asked the developer for a few modifications already :embarrassed_smile:. Of course we don't know yet when and if they will appear, but that is a matter of waiting a little longer I would think. However, as it stands we do feel this is going to be a much better system than the old one.Warm regards, Wim
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somnath1077
Mar 13 2011 11:27
Thank you for the great work you guys are doing.
:embarrassed_smile:
Admin normally don't discuss our affairs in public :embarrassed_smile: but in this case I have to make an exception.Wim is being far too self effacing in all of this.What he has failed to mention is that these expansions and improvements are almost entirely his own work.I know from behind the scenes the huge amount of time and effort he put into this :)The rest of admin - with a lot of help from our Mods, did testing etc, but he was the driving force.He is being far too modest - thank you Wim!!Fond regards,Ruaidhrí
thanks, Wim et al for the great work. These are all improvements for the community. I'm in other communities as well, and the members there cannot imagine the quality of moderation and constant improvement that is done by volunteers here at FPN. So keep up the good work and know it's appreciated!
It's a great shame that FPN members will no longer be able to comment on sales posts without the advertiser's permission. In the absence of a feedback mechanism, it has proven to be the only reliable way for members to be made aware of issues with specific sellers or items for sale. The marketplace can also be a great place to learn about pens and exchange views. This won't always in the sellers' best interests - focused as they are on closing the deal. I think it's important not to forget that FPN is a community foremost and a money-making opportunity second.
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ArchiMark
Mar 13 2011 16:39

A pure hobbyist who sells in the Low Volume category, is allowed to post three classifieds a week, with a maximum of 100 classifieds a year. Any more, and they will be removed. Anybody who starts posting in the Higher Volume category, is not allowed to post anymore in the Low Volume category. All of this to prevent swamping of the much fewer posts people add who are buying or selling pens to add to their collection, rather than for profit or as a business. However, it is possible to either view the individual category listings, or a combined one, so the same functionality as before has been maintained effectively, if so required. It really is even better from this POV.

Wim, think I understand the new rules as you've outlined them....However, not sure I fully understand the seller category issue described above....How do you count the number of classifieds each year is it by each post that I start? For example, if I start a for sale post that has 3 pens shown for sale, it that counted as one classified ad?Also, regarding pictures, lately, I've been uploading pics to Photobucket and then putting the link to the image in my post so that the image shows up in the post. Is that still OK?Thanks,Mark
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Struthious
Mar 13 2011 17:36
I'd like to express my gratitude to all of the FPN admins and moderators. You really have created a lovely place for us all to gather. I'm glad you had the resources and made the time to implement these improvements. I've been noticing the upgrades that have been put in place thus far and really appreciating them. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Hey! I just had an idea right before I hit the "Add Comment" button. If FPN has a PO Box maybe we could all snail mail you our appreciations (that's the epitome of how the FPN rolls, right? Snail mail "Thank you" letters) For those of us struggling during these tough economic times we could at least spend a postage stamp if we can't afford to donate money at this time. Thank you again,LK
Thank you for the good work and continued improvements. The low volume/high volume seller change is a good move.
Thank you, Wim, for your hard work to improve the forum. It's not a big deal to me, but I generally would agree with 1000km that it would be nice if we could post replies to sales posts without the seller's permission. Still and all, thanks for improvements.
Is it possible that you could develop an RSS feed for the Sales forum as well?Thanks.
Just a few quick remarks, if you don't mind, rather than individual responses - otherwise I may well be here until well past midnight.First of all, thank you all very much for the rewarding and much appreciated favourable responses and compliments - much appreciated.Comments on sales: we never allowed these so far, although an occasional one may have slipped through here and there. So there is no real change in that regard. People can always post positive comments in the Community Forum, or ask for experiences with sellers, just like before. Again, there is no difference here. The big advantage for us moderators is that it is not longer possible to use these classifieds as discussion forums - that never was the intention, and neither did we allow this anyway, time permitting (some may have slipped through considering the turnover). BTW, the poster of a comment or question can always see his or her comment, as well as any reply by the seller. Furthermore, the reporting function on a classified will work too, and moderators can see all comments and replies regardless. And it is exactly that FPN is a discussion forum rather than a sales forum that this is implemented this way - the market place forums don't contribute to discussions about pens in a very meaningful way, other than establishing what possible price points for items are, if you are lucky that is.As to the number of classifieds per category: you can always post in the Higher Volume category, but you are not allowed to go back to Low Volume in that case, unless you have obtained permission from admin. Plus, when posting more than the limits, you have to post in Higher Volume. And just like before, a classified is comparable to a topic starter post (new topic). We have set the limit to 3 topics a week, 100 topics a year, which is very artificial, we know, but we did discuss this limit to some length, and this sounded quite reasonable, separating users/collectors from pros and semipros. It is also possible, just like before, to post many pens in a single for sale post. Actually, because the owner/starter of a new classified has editing rights all the way until the classified expires and disappears from public view, this is to be recommended - the classified starter can make changes if and when required.Pictures is another different story: it was already mandatory that at least 1 picture of all items for sale was included, one taken by the author ideally, and certainly not a stock image, unless, and that is the only exception, the seller has official approval to use these stock images from the owner/copyright holder (such as a the manufacturer), and the item is brand new in the box. With the current system in the marketplace forums, being able to show pictures meant either using the Add Image button in the editor to display a picture in the topic, or to use the Image Attachment option - links weren't allowed (well, unless you already had a satisfactory picture in place). Wih the new system, you HAVE to add a picture via the attachment option: the system won't allow you to save the classified if you don't. IOW, you need a picture stored on your system somewhere to start with. Thtis is also the picture of which a thumbnail will be used in the overall listings, hence this extra requirement, apart from it makign a classifed comply with the rules automatically. Furthermore, it won't disappear either when the other pictures are deleted, deliberately (to make space for example) or by accident. Another advantage is that it won't take up valuable space elsewhere, not on a hosting site, and neither in one's private image space here, which is rather limited (unless one uses the recently added Upload facility).Snail mail to FPN: well, what a lovely idea! You can always address those to our mailbox as indicated in the Donate box area on the forum main page. PO Box 321 in New Jersey - just check that. We've got that mailbox for people who prefer donating by check rather than PayPal, but obviously we can receive all sorts of mail in a PO Box :embarrassed_smile:.The RSS feed for Sales, that is an option we get lots of questions about. Considering the amount of traffic this potentially coudl produce, not right now, until we've sorted out all the other embillishments to the site, and we are happy after extensive testing that this is not going to bring the server to its knees :D. On prior occasions we had to stop this with brute force, because the site became totally unusable due to the traffic involved - and that was with just 2 users. So, if those problems are sorted by now, possibly later this year, but we can't make any promises yet.Ok, quite a length reply so far... :DWarm regards, Wim
Hi, congrats on all the hard work paying off, this looks like a wonderful new addition! I would like to admit my own bit of confusion, as there were quite a few stickies in the classified forums advising people to not upload pictures, and to use other image hosting sites. I've been doing that dutifully, trying to do my part, for the (very occasional) for sale posting I put up. Was an admin changing those links to uploas, or was I just getting a free ride? :embarrassed_smile: My apologies for my confusion, and I'm happy that the system is enforcing the rules now. Hooray!
Kinda ruff for those of us who do not have the ability or the equiptment to post pictures. Kinda yucky, methinx.

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