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Adrian B
(adrianb) - MLife

Locale: Auckland, New Zealand
Forum package on 09/03/2007 01:11:40 MDT Print View

Awhile back I read an old post (2004) stating that after looking at some of the open source forum packages around that BPL decided to go with a home-grown solution, from scratch.

I wonder if this decision should be re-evaluated: with respect to the guys/gals who've worked on them, the forums here are still clumsy & quite primitive. And that's no surprise, it's just not feasible to match the thousands of hours of collaborative effort that have gone into polishing & adding features to something like http://www.phpbb.com/.

Surely we'd all much rather BPL spend their efforts of other parts of the site (reviews, reader reviews, shop etc) rather than reinventing the wheel.

Are the limitations of external packages related membership levels still present? Is the effort to surmount these still greater than writing & maintaining more basic forum software from scratch, which provides an inferior user experience?

Edited by adrianb on 09/03/2007 01:13:10 MDT.

Ben Klocek
(benklocek) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: SF Bay Area
Suggestions on 09/17/2007 10:11:02 MDT Print View

Just wondering if you might be able to give some suggestions for improvements. It so happens that the forum software is deeply embedded at the moment, and will probably remain as it is for a while. We are open to suggestions for improvement though and would love your feeback.

Brian James
(bjamesd) - F

Locale: South Coast of BC
Re: Suggestions on 09/17/2007 10:59:59 MDT Print View

It may be time to switch IT service providers. Since your forums are so basic, exporting your data to other forum software should be a weekend project. (Configuring the whole thing, testing, and taking it live will be a week's work or so.)

I was once quoted $100 000 to port an in-house ERP package to another platform. (By the original developer, no less.) Dissatisfied, I mentioned my dilemma to an admin person over lunch. She gave me the number of a pair of software engineers (from her church, go figure) who did it for six thousand in their spare time. I paid them a 50% performance bonus and put them on a retainer. The IT Service sector is like that: some people are stuck in the 80's mentality of every project being a massive foray into the unknown, and every specialist writing his own ticket.

If internal politics prevent you from making the needed update, here are a couple of stopgap measures you could implement:

Real boolean search would make a huge difference. Huge. The BPL forums are the greatest store of knowledge on this particular subject -- but unfortunately most of it disappears when the thread gets to the bottom of the page. This makes it all that much harder for new users; they're not "up to speed" yet and they can't find the relevant threads to give them the needed background.

Consolidate some of the lesser-used forums. Technically, almost every post here relates to either "gear" or "technique". Is it necessary to have a Winter forum and a Winter Mountaineering forum? Most people know that if they don't post to The G Spot, only a small fraction of the readership will read their question.

Finally: change the name of The G Spot. For those of us trying to bring loved ones into the world of outdoor recreation, that label is just one more hurdle. For instance, I won't introduce my girlfriend to the forum because of it.*

Brian

*The last thing I am is a prude, but it's not me who is uncomfortable with this label. Most of us have mothers, sisters, wives/girlfriends. Naming the main forum after a section of the vaginal canal just reinforces so many of the stereotypes associated with outdoor people. For some women, it makes this sound like a man's club of manly men doing manly things and joking about vaginas.

Andrew Lush
(lushy) - MLife

Locale: Lake Mungo, Mutawintji NPs
re: Suggestions on 10/11/2007 21:48:27 MDT Print View

edit

Edited by lushy on 02/12/2008 15:29:20 MST.

Ryan Hutchins
(ryan_hutchins) - F

Locale: Somewhere out there
Re: Suggestions on 03/05/2008 17:09:11 MST Print View

"Just wondering if you might be able to give some suggestions for improvements. It so happens that the forum software is deeply embedded at the moment, and will probably remain as it is for a while. We are open to suggestions for improvement though and would love your feeback."

A few suggestions would be:

1. When you hit quote a message, have it open the reply with the quoted message in a seperate box in the message window, as w/ phpbb

2.Have replies to threads keep the original title so that it is easier to follow threads you have participated in as w/ phpbb.

3. Tool bar to insert images, links, smilies, etc, as w/ phpbb.

I think it would increase usability quite a bit and increase use of the board.

I hope those suggestions help, I really do think going to open source would benefit the site, as most internet forums I visit are using some form of phpbb or something similar. It makes usability a seamless transition.

Edited by ryan_hutchins on 03/05/2008 17:10:56 MST.

Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Suggestions on 09/09/2009 21:25:32 MDT Print View

I agree with the comments above. The forum piece that I'd love the most is some kind of auto html link feature. Every time I want to post a link, I have to do an google search for "insert html" because I can't remember how- I'm not an html guy. Therefore, most of my posts have useless links that someone else has to cut and paste.

My greatest frustration, though, is the overall BPL search feature. When I try to find a review of a product, I get a ton of links and such, with reader reviews at the top and our thorough BPL reviews buried deep in articles. It's frustrating how hard it can be to find a review- especially one that I wrote myself. :-)

The site upgrades through the years have been great- big steps forward- but it would be nice if some of these things were included in future upgrades.

I agree that this is the greatest source of ul content out there- both reader and editor created- but it's hard to get to what you want to find.

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
here's how to effectively search the BPL archives on 09/09/2009 21:42:08 MDT Print View

My greatest frustration, though, is the overall BPL search feature. When I try to find a review of a product, I get a ton of links and such, with reader reviews at the top and our thorough BPL reviews buried deep in articles. It's frustrating how hard it can be to find a review- especially one that I wrote myself. :-)

Doug, this is a common complaint, but there is an easy solution! I never have any difficulty finding old threads, reviews etc on BPL... because I never use the BPL search feature. Instead, try using a site-specific google search. As an example, if I wanted to find your BPL article on umbrellas I would type into google:

site:backpackinglight.com umbrella review doug

The "site" bit tells google to only search the BPL site. Your article comes up as the first result. Even if I leave the "doug" bit off, it still comes up as the second hit.

Seriously, give it a go. I can find pretty much any old thread I need in this way. For key words I just use whatever the thread was about, plus the names of one or two people who contributed to the thread. For example if I want to find that thread by Richard Nisley about choosing clothing for hiking according to clo value (the one with the funky graph) I would type:

site:backpackinglight.com nisley graph clothing clo

It comes up as the first hit. How about the more recent thread by Richard, where he had the bar graph showing clo values of various down jackets/parkas:

site:backpackinglight.com nisley graph clo parka

Comes up as the second hit. The key is to try and remember any unusual key words which may have appeared in the thread. If I'm trying to find a thread that I contributed to myself I will often put "ashley" in as a key-word. If I know the post was from earlier this year then I might add "2009" as a key-word.

Anyway, hope that helps. The fact is that most good site search engines these days are powered by google anyway. So you may as well cut out the middle-man and put "site:backpackinglight.com" into your google search. It works!

Edited by ashleyb on 09/09/2009 21:46:31 MDT.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: here's how to effectively search the BPL archives on 09/10/2009 09:25:28 MDT Print View

Ashley,

What a great, valuable tip! Thanks!

Doug

(Edited per post a couple below!)

Edited by idester on 12/12/2014 07:39:17 MST.

Marco A. Sánchez
(marcoasn) - M

Locale: The fabulous Pyrenees
Re: here's how to effectively search the BPL archives on 09/10/2009 09:43:15 MDT Print View

The site: feature is great as long as you search for public BPL contents. Google cannot “see” the premium contents, so if you search for words or phrases that only appear inside an article that requires a subscription, you won’t find it.

Nate Meinzer
(Rezniem) - F

Locale: San Francisco
Google on 09/10/2009 09:58:51 MDT Print View

Fortunately, the summary of the membership content is usually good enough that your search will turn up a premium article. This hasn't been a problem for me. YMMV

Ashley Brown
(ashleyb) - F
Re: Re: here's how to effectively search the BPL archives on 09/10/2009 19:20:48 MDT Print View

You're welcome Doug.

ps. ha, I temporarily changed my name earlier as part of a discussion on profile names in another thread... so my profile name was "John" when you replied! Back to Ashley now.... ;-)

pps. it must have seemed weird that "John" would suggest using "ashley" as a key word when searching for his own threads!!

Edited by ashleyb on 09/10/2009 19:22:12 MDT.

Adrian B
(adrianb) - MLife

Locale: Auckland, New Zealand
Re: Forum package on 12/23/2010 01:41:14 MST Print View

Bump.. it's a pity.. these are really good forums, I would spend a lot more time here if they weren't such a pain to use.

Brian Barnes
(brianjbarnes) - M

Locale: Midwest
hang tight on 12/23/2010 10:18:38 MST Print View

Adrian - Hang tight... rumor I hear is forum changes are happening soon.

Mark Hudson
(vesteroid) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Sierras
I agree on 03/24/2011 07:31:49 MDT Print View

I hate to jump on a bandwagon, but I have to agree this forum is a wonderful place to be, perhaps the best online community I have ever seen. I had an issue with not getting an item over the winter and several people I didnt even know offered to loan me said item for my trip.

On the other hand I agree that all you have to do is visit another forum to see the vast differences between the functionality of this site and theres.

The reply, the PM, and the search are main issues...other small things like copying a link in here doesnt work, but does with just a copy on vbulliten.

On top of that most of us pay for this site, that to me means we ought to at least have current technology.

it just seems odd to me that the community is so cutting edge on gear, ideas and advice, and so behind in technology on their forums.

This is really not meant as a bi*ch, but an observation and request.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Forum package on 03/28/2011 08:16:27 MDT Print View

Our ears are on and we hear you, faithful community members. Help us help you - tell your friends what a great benefit subscribing to BPL is. Websites aren't cheap and we appreciate your support.

Richard Rini
(rarini) - MLife

Locale: Southeast
Re: Forum package on 03/28/2011 18:02:31 MDT Print View

I completely understand Mark's comments. For me and probably others, I'm not here for the technology, although it is nice. My reason for being part of this community is the intellectual prowess of the BPL staff and community. I don't really know where else one can find such a wealth of knowledge. Yea, sometimes they miss on some things but that's okay as they are always quick to acknowledge the mistake.

Edited by rarini on 03/28/2011 18:03:07 MDT.