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New Forums, To Be Or Not To Be?

Posted by wimg , in Board Talk 07 September 2011 · 987 views

Dearest Members of the board,

Considering the most recent discussion and poll for a new forum, Visconti in this case, I guess now is the time for another attempt at explaning why and how of forums, etc.

Brand forums
First of all, the brand forums exist because each of them either represents a brand with a large contribution in posts to the board as a whole, or because a moderator seen as an expert on the brand loved to moderate such a forum here.

General forums
Next there are a bunch of general forums, such as News, New Members, and different types of pen related discussion forums Writing Instruments, Inky Thoughts etc.), and I think I do not need to explain those.

Regional forums
The regional forums were created when it was clear that some pens were discussed a lot, but not enough to warrant a forum by themselves. I'll come to those requirements just now. However, when combined as a regional group, for which there were no other forums yet, they did have enough weight, hence the Italian and Japanese pen forums.

Creative Expressions
The forums in Creative Expressions were created for what we do with our pens, to show them off etc., so makes sense too if you'd ask me.

Miscellaneous forums
Next there are a few community related forums, such as Chatter, Community Feedback, Members Helping Members, etc., which used to have the FS forums too. The latter were of course moved to Classifieds, which is really what they are, and they do deserve a section just for themselves anyway (and no, I do not plan on discussing that here, just so you know).

Projects
We also have a Projects Category, with currrently a single forum, namely the FPN LE Pens forum, only visible to those who ordered and paid for a pen, for status updates and the like on the FPN Pen project.

Review forums
Another important part of the board is the Reviews section or category, which was created in 2004 or 2005, I can't remember now, and which is really a very important part of this community, because it allows people to share their opinions on pens and pen related items, without bias from vendors etc. This, BTW, is the category that really made FPN fly from a Google rating POV.

Other, hidden forums
Finally there are a few forums which are only available to moderators and admins, in which we discuss devious plans to keep everybody here on their toes at all times :D. Just in case, as some people do not seem to realize yet: we do discuss all happenings on the forums and other sections in these forums, are in daily contact most of the time, and are always aware of what is happening as a result. Furthermore, the mod and admin team back each other up at all times :D.

Conditions and prerequisites for new forums
Niow, when do we consider it worthwhile to start a new forum, and what are the prerequisites?
First of all, a new forum needs to take away at least 7% of traffic from Writing Instruments, otherwise it will just not fly - speaking from experience here. Secondly, we need at least two moderators who are able to work with the rest of the moderator and admin team. They have to fit in with the bunch of loonies we are, work with and in the team, and have to be able to cope with the stress involved - yes, at times it is very stressful, mostly because we really care about the people here and then FPN as a site itself.

If those conditions are not met, we will not create a new forum. Also, we do not want to create a forum list that is longer than the list of messages posted here. With 1000-1500 new messages a day, the current structure works well enough.

There are 800+ brands known worldwide, we will not create 800+ brand forums. Furthermore, a brand forum needs to be interesting enough to keep on generating new discussions. If a brand has only a short history, and few models, we will likely not create a forum for it. Neither will we do so if it attracts too few posts in general, as already stated above. Neither will we create forums for differently shaped pens, differently coloured pens, etc. Although this would make for interesting discussions, it is not really how the pen world works :D.

The creation of a new forum, BTW, is a very painful thing to do. Topics have to be moved from one forum to another, which is a manual exercise, i.e., going through all topics and moving them more or less one at a time from WI to the new forum. That is another thing to consider, and therefore not something we will do just on a whim. It takes many hours to finish this process, and I am speaking fom experience here.

Current thinking
The current thinking is that the structure here works very well, and that there is more gain to be had from implementing new functionality rather than new forums, hence the spate of introductions of new applications rather than forums in the last year or so, such as Classifieds, Downloads, Upload, Blog and the Store, and there are likely more to follow :D.

However, more important currently is to upgrade the board itself, as a new version of the board software is already in its third incarnation (2nd upgrade) since late yesterday. We are still waiting for a few pieces of software to be upgraded as well, and then we will likely plan a day of downtime for the upgrade, but only after extensive testing on our test site. BTW, this also includes an improved version of Classifieds.

Conclusion
In short, there is not going to be a Visconti forum any time soon. It doesn't warrant the creation of a (sub)forum by itself (and neither do Lamy and TWSBI), and there are still quite a few exciting updates and enhancements lying ahead of us anyway.

Warm regards, Wim




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Gobblecup
Sep 07 2011 19:37
Wim,

I very much appreciate your 'response' here. You give us a very good rundown of everything, and some exciting things to look forward to. I never did think Visconti needed its own forum myself, but I am happy you have responded to the notion in such a kind and thorough manner!

Best,

Gobblecup!
Wim, would you mind pinning a topic linking to this post at the top of Community Feedback? I think it might save some kilt-faffing.

Wim,

I very much appreciate your 'response' here. You give us a very good rundown of everything, and some exciting things to look forward to. I never did think Visconti needed its own forum myself, but I am happy you have responded to the notion in such a kind and thorough manner!

Best,

Gobblecup!

Thank you for your kind words, G., and it is a pleasure!

Warm regards, Wim

Wim, would you mind pinning a topic linking to this post at the top of Community Feedback? I think it might save some kilt-faffing.

Hi Deirdre,

We probably would like to do this in a slightly different way.

We really need somebody to update the FAQ, with links to things like this, consolidated in a single topic/post or even web page, rather than having all the pinned topics at the top of the list.

Something to think about, for sure. I'll discuss with admins and mods...

Warm regards, Wim
I think there is one other reason to consider.
I am not exactly one for brand loyalty, I have many Lamys and I adore Visconti designs, but I never put blinkers on and ignore the rest.
Usually all important info is posted in Writing Instruments, as well as, of course, in the brand forums. But sometimes interesting information about new models or the like is posted only in the brand forum.
The more brand forums there are, the more information is diverted away from people not usually interested in a brand.
Of course, Writing Instruments would be hardly usable if all the activity of the brand forums were put in there, too.
So I think, there is a nice balancing act going on here.
Thank you, Sven.

That is exactly what we are trying to create - a balance of sorts.

Warm regards, Wim
I think you are very wise in your reading if what a healthy forum environment looks like. I have seen so many forums on other websites on many topics with so many sub forums that are under utilized where you feel like you are shouting into the void when you post there.
I would love to see a Graf Von faber-castell section but what I really mean when I say that is that I would love it if there were a GvFC community which would require a forum, not the other way around. I think some people get the two confused.
You guys rock! Thanks for all you do for this wonderful wedge in the pie of life. :happyberet:
Thank you for all the hard work that must go into maintaining the forums, and which are such a pleasure to read. While not a regular contributor, I often go to the forums for information before buying a pen, or for help with a problem.Recently I have noticed an increasing number of contributions to the review section dealing with chinese pens, and I wonder whether you think there may be a case for a new regional forum here ?

Thanks again for your work!
I know it's somethig you deal with all the time and very much against the spirit of the article I only just read....but have you considered a heretics board? I'm fairly confident that the board sees a small but significant percentage of threads and posts about rollerballs/ballpoints/pencils/finigerpainting that could all go in one place so people dont have to keep apologizing for posting a thread in writing tools asking about a non FPs on an FPs forum?

Just a thought, feel free to dispatch the FPN sniper team to the grassy knoll out front my house now.
Just to really annoy you! I'm always suprised at the lack of a pilot forum.
I can see the need for two further product forums: Lamy and TWSBI
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Greysetter
Sep 02 2012 15:56
Definately Lamy
:mellow: Hey everyone I am looking for a Parker
Giant ! Dose anyone have one in there collection.?
Does any of the members have any information or knowledge of a French-made fountain pen branded REFORME.
I recently was able to purchase one which is a beauty and write very smoothly, but I will like to know more about it. Thanks,
A.E.S.
Thank you for this description of the criteria for creating new forums. However, I would like to challenge the criteria for the "Regional" forums.

According to the current model, the Regional forums are for the regions of PENS. However, it would also be handy to have regional forums for FPN MEMBERS. In other words, I don't care where a PEN is from... But I do care where FPN MEMBERS are from, and would like to tap into expertise in my country and others.

I find that the vast majority (it's not even close) of pen resources are U.S.. As a Canadian, it's very hard to share information with fellow Canadians about sellers/stores, resources, events, etc. happening in my country. For example, who provides nib repair or pen restoration work in Canada? I currently don't have an obvious forum to post questions such as this.

I think that considering regional forums of this sort this would be a helpful addition to the FPN.

Thanks,
Cameron
Interesting suggestion, Cameron.

I would like to point out, however, that most requests for new forums originate from the poster to have a specific (new) preference or idea, and to be very honest, yours is no exception.

We will make a few enhancements in the future, which may make it easier to find the information you are looking for, but it will likely not be a forum.

HTH, warm regards, Wim
Funny, I was searching forums for Visconti recently. Those of us who own fountain pens without their own forums have to search through titles to find information on our brand of fountain pens. (The majority of my FP are Lamy and Visconti.)

So I suppose what we have to hope for is that when people start a topic that they give it a good descriptive title.

But we have to accept the verdict of those who work hard to make this Fountain Pen Network a wonderful place to talk, learn and share all things fountain pens.
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Sinistral1
Sep 07 2013 00:26
Just wondering if you have considered a forum devoted only to nibs - materials, construction, modifying, repair, adjusting, etc. Thanks.

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