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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 . 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 .
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 .
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.
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 .
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.
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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