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How about going to a PHPBB board ?

edited April 2008 in - WM and WN
The forum is elegant in its simplicity - I'll give it that! And I can see the attraction in its simplicity when it comes to the more mature generation navigating the threads and posting etc.

However, I do miss all the perks and the layout that a PHPBB (or similar) forum has. Such as

1. Instant information on a users post count and online status
2. Private messaging system
3. Clear and identifiable moderation.
4. The ability to create 'polls'
5. The ability to link pictures via free hosting sites
6. The ease of incorporating italics, fonts, bold, colour and other effects within your post.
7. The ability to easily quote another members post and incorporate it within your own.

...and so on and so on.

So... would any change like this be considered in the future ?

I have read a lot of posts from people here saying things such as 'There is a core group of members...newbies come and go....'
I do have a gut instinct that the reason newbies come and go is because maybe they are more familiar with the well established PHPBB format and find this forum limited in scope in terms of self-expression.

Comments on this subject most welcome :)


  • Uh, Oh! Been down this route before ...

    For me it's the content rather than the wrapper. I am a member of forums with more whiz bangs but the content and conversation does not warrant to much attention.
  • Well, I have posted on a number of boards, which have varying degrees of complexity but I actually like this one not because of any techie perks that may be included, but because of the contributions of the posters.

    I think that sometimes its simplicity is one of its strengths. When it comes down to it, it's the content of the postings that's most important.

    In my opinion, of course.
  • Riaz, we have had this discussion a number of times, and for many the simplicity is important.
    We used to have a private message system, but we lost that when Talkback updated. And Jon eventually put in the whisper system for us.
    Point 1- we have those sort of details in our account info- unless you mean something different to what I think you mean.
    Point 3- we do this for ourselves without having someone obvious- if we have issues we let Jon or Webbo know. And as Dorothy asked for details about what happens when posts are reported, he kindly explained in one of the 'sticky' threads.
    Honestly if it became too technical then I think more would go, and we would also lose a lot of what makes Talkback good.
    Does this help explain some of your points?
  • I don't see it as 'whizz bang' (and by that I take it you mean style over substance).

    I see it as offering more tools for us WRITERS. More tools for us to be expressive. Even the most basic, rudimentary tool such as being able to emphasise a word in italics is a feature I sorely miss...
  • Carol - your answers to those points are fair enough. But my points 4, 6 and 7 are features that could aid communication and allow more interesting posts, in my humble opinion.
  • 4. We had a poll for a while, open to everyone, not just Talkbackers- it used to get a mention in WN. And we did discuss the issue.
    6. Yes, I'd like to be able to use itallics, but too much mucking around with fonts etc I personally could do without. Plus we need to remember that not everyone has vision that is perfect. Some use special software to increase text size, and some fonts are not great for reading- just adds time that people don't have.
    7. You can quote by copying and pasting- quick and easy to do.
  • Riaz - 'whiz bang' : Lots of noise and a puff of smoke - no substance or effect. Used by the military to simulate live ammunition but without causing harm.
  • My humble opinions on your points Riaz:

    1. a) Why would I want instant knowledge of someone's post count? I don't see the relevance. b) Why do I need to know if someone is online or not? It wouldn't affect how and when I post messages.

    2. We have a messaging whisper system. I'm not crazy about it; I preferred the old system, but it's adequate.

    3. Ditto Carol's post.

    4. We have plenty of discussions and debates already. Polls can be very divisive. Personally I wouldn't be interested in joining in Polls (I hate questionnaires too ;) )

    5. I'm more interested in the written word than being distracted by photos on this site. I don't see the relevance of posting pictures on a writers' forum. Okay we use icons and I have a photo on my Account page, but that's only visible to anyone who looks at my personal page.

    6. I agree that italics would be handy; changing fonts and using colour would be irrelevant.

    7. Ditto Carol's post.

    Your statement:
    I do have a gut instinct that the reason newbies come and go is because maybe they are more familiar with the well established PHPBB format and find this forum limited in scope in terms of self-expression.

    I find that a fairly astonishing assessment Riaz. As writers we only actually need the ability to set down our words. If a writer requires "extras" to express him or or herself and leaves this forum as a result, sorry but I don't have a great opinion of his or her ability as a writer.

    And that's what this forum is all about - Writing and communicating with other Writers.

    Hope this helps.
  • edited April 2008
    Claudia - that is an excellent response - I am in full agreement. :)

    Riaz, I hope your comment, "And I can see the attraction in its simplicity when it comes to the more mature generation navigating the threads and posting etc." was not intended to be as ageist and insulting as it comes across? ;)
  • edited April 2008
    Yes. Absolutely. Moving to more up-to-date software would be a major improvement. The principal arguments against doing so seem to be 1. Content is more important than presentation and 2. We don't need all of that new-fangled stuff.

    I'd agree with both points but neither of them represent cogent arguments for not moving to more capable software.

    1. Content is more important than presentation: agreed; but so what? Moving to better software doesn't mean that the content is going to suffer. It means we'll have good content and good software. Have our cake and eat it.

    2. We don't need all of this stuff: true, we don't *need* it, but if it's out there, why not make it available? Once it's installed, anyone who doesn't like the new features can simply ignore them. Nobody needs a microwave, but there's no harm in having one in the kitchen. Ditto these new-fangled tea bag thingies. I say put the tea bags and the microwave in the kitchen. Anyone who prefers tea leaves and a tea-strainer can continue to use them, the rest of us can carry on with our new-fangled 21st century lives.
  • If it aint broke - don't fix it.
  • Must admit i do prefer working on making my textual content work harder through its composition and vocabulary. I used to be far too addicted to italics, bold and underline scattering through my work. And being unable to post pictures seems to drive off spammers perhaps, because they do love their pictures of catholic schoolgirls.
  • I'm with IG

    Riaz and Joey - I understand you liking what you're used to. So do I and this is it. If there were a consensus for change I would go along with it, but I don't think there is.
  • We also have to remember that cost will play a factor in what the magazine group will provide. Good point about the spammer issues.
  • It looks like the status quo is solidly established. I do think that's a real shame because I'm genuinely convinced that *everyone* would prefer the new software once it were installed. Nobody would want to come back to this version. People would look back on this board with fond memories, the way you do your first car, but nobody would want to swap back to it.
  • We're people who like pen and paper for writing. What do you expect? ;)
  • I'm sure there are lots of writing fora for people who like techy stuff, and lots of things like YouWriteon. How about leaving some choice out there so that those of us who prefer it like this have somewhere to go?

    It's a bit like the writing groups thread. Find one you like - you don't have to change the one you join.
  • Pen and paper? That's a disgrace! What's wrong with a good old piece of chalk and a cave wall? :)
  • But that's the whole point, Heather. These boards aren't designed by geeks for geeks; they're designed by geeks for the general public. That's how they make their money. Everyone uses the internet these days, these boards are designed to make it easy for non-techies to use them.

    And the whole thing about choice is that you don't have to use the new features, you can simply ignore them.
  • Joey, a lot of people use the internet, not everyone.
    Call me a luddite or a technophobe, I have no problems with that. I'm not calling anyone a geek. But I have tried other fora and have been put off by the style and complexity so was happy to find this one. That's all.
  • I know this is another thread, but how about entering this month's One Word Challenge?
  • I'm all for people over technology - as long as these people I have come to know and love stay here, I don't mind how the board looks! :)
  • No worries, Heather, I'm not trying to spoil anyone's enjoyment of the board. And I can see that there's entrenched resistance to change. And that's entirely understandable: people like it here and they are worried how change might affect things.

    I'm convinced that everyone would find the change an improvement and it's frustrating for me because it feels as though the argument is "I don't want any of these new features, therefore I'm not going to let anyone else have them either". I feel that by adding the new features, people who want to carry on using the board the way it is now will be able to do so, and people who want to make use of the new features will be able to do that too. It's a win-win.

    But I'm sure we all have bigger things to worry about :)
  • Joey - as a new member, you will be unaware that this board changed drastically earlier this year - this current layout is only a couple of months old as it is! So much for us not liking change - we stayed, didn't we? We also asked for many changes to be made, and those changes were implemented, so we don't do too badly!
  • It isn't long since we have had this new board- and if you think this is ancient you really wouldn't have liked the old TB board.
    Between us all, we tailored the board to work in a way that was practicable for everyone, and Jon worked on those aspects for us- but he does have other things to do I'm sure.

    I'm a fairly easy going person, but I get fed up of new members coming onto Talkback and wanting to change it to be more technical like other sites. I don't use those other sites because a. I don't have the time, and b. I don't need fancy fonts, pictures and all singing and dancing technical geegaws.

    I've no problem with changes which are of practical use, but much of what you suggested in your original post we have done or do in some other way.
    Sorry if that offends you.
  • Joey, we went down this route with you, Riaz, check it out, we went over these arguments with technophobe Joey, who upset people by asking about it the moment he set a toe in the TB water. Leave well alone. We had a very old system which everyone loved and used. WN changed it to this and we lost people immediately. Change it again to suit you people who want the whizz bangs, and I agree with that expression, and we lose a load more. It's the way it is and the way we like it. We don't want to lose more people, thanks very much. Joey, stop making blanket assumptions about people you don't know. So far of the 888 registered users, TWO have requested changes. That does not make it "I don't want any of thsee new features, thererfore I'm not going to let anyone else have them either' - it seems, from the replies, we are not letting TWO people have them. Sorry about that!
    Now, if you need pictures, Riaz, and Joey mentioned them too, then you are not word painting which you should be, as a a writer. The ONLY time I am considering adding pictures to my current work is for the biography I am writing, then pictures will go in of the Earl, his homes, his associates, himself with various dignitaries. Otherwise my books stand alone, no pictures, as do my articles for the most part. You want pictures, become a photographer! Otherwise, check out the One Word Challenge, see the startling writing there, which conjures enough pictures for anyone. First and foremost we are WRITERS and we need to WRITE, not play with gizmos in our 'down time' between the putting down of actual words. I echo IG here, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.
    Today's rant, I hope, is now over ...
  • Now, try and imagine these rants in glorious technicolour fonts, whistles and bells - done that? See why change would not be good? We had change. Enough already. :rolleyes:
  • edited April 2008
    I'm still wondering what the title of this thread/discussion actually means. :-)
  • Blimey, this subject doesn't half get people ruffled! :-) But on the whole I have to agree with Carol. If drastic changes meant many regulars felt alienated it wouldn't be worth it. Change is better done slowly, in stages, if at all.
  • I'm not offended Carol, and I don't want to make you fed up. I don't want to make the board more technical. I think a new board could make both you and me happy.

    Regarding the original post - if you're talking about this thread and not a similar one I started a while ago - it was from Riaz, not me. My rating of the importance of new features would pretty much be the reverse of the way they're listed in Riaz's post. But that's the thing, you could pick and choose which ones to make use of, or not use any of them at all.
  • Most people - including the staff at Writers News - seem to be happy with the forum as it is. Perhaps this thread should be left to archive itself.
  • As Dorothy mentioned, quite a few people couldn't get on with the new board- which only started up in the New Year- and they left, including a few who had only joined a few months before, and they said that it was the changes that was why they were leaving.

    (Apologies for getting Riaz and Joey muddled in the process)

    As said, we are writers, we can get much across with words, and smillies. And if you want to emphasise a word you can always use capitals.

    (The only thing I would agree that would be useful is for the site to be able to accept itallics- if you have something on Word in itallics and transfer it to say the One Word Challenge it comes out in plain text.)
  • Hiya Dot. How ya doin? You mean technophile, not technophobe; and for the umpteenth time, I'm not talking about making the board more technical.

    Everyone, including me, agrees that lots of silly technicolour writing would be bad; so we wouldn't do it. There are lots of features in the newer boards that people wouldn't use. There are a few that would be very useful. For me, quoting would be good, thread-monitoring would be good, links would be good. An occasional picture would be good, screenshots can often be useful.

    The point I'm making is that moving to one of the new boards would be a way of making everyone happy. People who wanted to use the new features could do so, people who didn't could ignore them.
  • Joey - You won't endear yourself to Dorothy by calling her Dot.
  • I think I've manged to not endear myself to her simply by existing :)
  • Dorothy is not that shallow, Joey ;)
  • Fairy nuff. I accept that. I don't want to start talking about personalities. It's just a discussion about software.
  • I think this was asked on New Talkback System, but Writers' News obviously has its own agenda. Just like everyone else, eh, Joey?
  • You're being cryptic again, Jay! :-)
  • I don't have an agenda, Jay. I'm simply saying that I'd prefer to use different software.
  • No, Jay is quite clear. I'm just used to reading between words with autistic children.
  • Joey, I DETEST being called Dot. OK? If someone has a name, use it. My constant companion's name is Antony, I would never, in a thousand years, call him Tony or even worse, Tone. (and yes, it is without the H, too.) Please desist from personal comments. I have no problem with your being here, if you don't keep stirring everything up in your overwhelming desire to turn us all into computer geeks. I am computer literate to a point. I do not want a fancy board. If you want to discuss software, send your comments to WN, not to us. Use the sticky thread at the top where you can send your comment direct to the webmaster. We don't need this kind of discussion on a writing site. We don't need gizmos to write. Look, you and Riaz can create emotion without a single italic, font change, picture or gizmo!
  • Dorothy, once again, I have no desire to turn you or anyone else into a computer geek. I am expressing my preference for a different software, that's all.

    One of the things about internet communication is that we all see it differently. From my point of view, this thread has only really become heated since you joined it. And here you are again, telling me what to post, and where, and what kind of discussions we do and don't need.

    There are lots of discussions on here that I'm not interested in, so I don't partake of them. This is a discussion that I'm very interested in so I am partaking. Might I suggest that you adopt the same stance? If you want to discuss the software, I'm more than happy to do so, if you don't that's cool too. But please don't keep telling what and where I should post.
  • Joey, I feel sure if I stayed off this thread, and I will after this, you will find the same heated passions without me. As I commented before, there are 888 users registered on this board, I seriously doubt one person, me, can raise the temperature of a thread all by myelf.
    Go ahead and post what you want, Joey. I am just saying it is not the right place. Tell WN your feelings, not us. We don't build or maintain this website. We just use it.
    But I would, if i were you, take note of the overall content of the postings here. How many are favourable to what you are trying to preach?
  • Joey, I think you should apologise to Dorothy immediately.
    Dorothy usually turns up around this time of day, so she will have just come to it.
    I too was going to suggest you put your suggestions on the relevent sticky thread.
    You have a right to an opinion, AND SO DO THE REST OF US! (see no coloured fonts, or anything else needed to express upset, or emphasis.)
    I'm sure that there will be more TB's happy as it is, rather than wanting more changes. I could be wrong, but I'm sure someone else would mention it.
  • This is getting silly. Joey, go and sit in the corner and no Nintendo for you until bath time! :-) Shouldn't we all be writing by the way...?
  • Do they still have Nintendo?
    Isn't there a new whizz bang version that everyone prefers?

    (so sorry - couldn't help myself!) :) :) :)
  • 'Nobody needs a microwave, but there's no harm in having one in the kitchen.'

    Joey are you sure about that?
  • edited April 2008
    Carol, Dorothy, please read back through this thread. Think about the tone of it until Dorothy's first post. Then look at Dorothy's first post. Put yourself in my position. It's a tirade, and much of it is directed at me. I probably shouldn't have called Dorothy Dot but it was a reaction to her own post.

    Pretty much all of Dorothy's contributions are directed at me. I'm a technophobe, I'm making blanket assumptions about people I don't know, I have an overwhelming desire to turn everyone into computer geeks, I'm preaching. But, graciously, she has no problem with me being here. Well, gee, thanks.

    Carol suggesting that the suggestions be put in the sticky is perfectly reasonable. And chatting backwards and forwards about the pros and cons of new software is also perfectly reasonable. I have no problem with either. I didn't start this thread, I'm merely joining in because it's a subject that interests me.
  • Kateyanne, well I did once hear about a poodle who's owner came up with a novel way to dry it after a bath. I think that particular pooch would probably have been happier had there not been one handy :)
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