The new website - A failure or success.

10 years 7 months ago #76392 by JohnMurphy
The new website - A failure or success. was created by JohnMurphy
Firstly I would like to make it clear that my following comments are sincerely meant as constructive crticism, and in no way are meant to disparage any of the hard work and efforts made by the people at IFAS that toil to bring news, information, help and a forum for the further advancement of Astronomy in Ireland.

However, I believe that the Forum on this site is slowly dieing. In large part I feel the problem is due to the lack of feedback that used to be a large contribution to the success of the site.
The previous version of the boards used to give an instant alert to contributors to posting of any activity that was taking place on a post in the form of an email to the contributor. This feedback I feel was vital to users of the site, and contributed largely to the success of IFAS. I believe this site is starting to suffer from stagnation. This could easily be turned around by providing the sort of feedback to postings on the site by email or PM or whatever.
Is there any way the situation can be turned around by returning the alerts (emails) to users when a post they are contributing to has been updated?

Is it just me or have others noticed how flat the boards have become?

Regards,
John Murphy

John Murphy - IAS
Check Out [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/jcmurphy/[/url]

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10 years 7 months ago #76393 by Seanie_Morris
Replied by Seanie_Morris on topic The new website - A failure or success.
I blame the weather...

:silly:

Midlands Astronomy Club.
Radio Presenter (Midlands 103), Space Enthusiast, Astronomy Outreach Co-ordinator.
Former IFAS Chairperson and Secretary.

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10 years 7 months ago #76394 by phoenix
Replied by phoenix on topic The new website - A failure or success.
Hammer, nail and hitting on head may be involved here. I know that IFAS reps no longer get any notification of new posts on the Council side WHICH has been rasied on that section.

Weather plays a factor yes BUT feedback/alerts is zero so I check the site less and less these days. I only look at the front page which shows the most recent posts without logging in so I miss anything that may be on the council side.

I tried to check if my profile was set not to get any messages but it's mostly not visible to me?

Kieran
16" ODK (incoming), Mesu Mount 200, APM TMB 80mm, SXV H16, SXV H9
J16 An Carraig Observatory
ancarraigobservatory.co.uk/

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10 years 7 months ago #76395 by johnomahony
Replied by johnomahony on topic The new website - A failure or success.
I generally check the front page once a day. I have to admit that in the last year the boards seem to be very quiet. Whether it is the recession or the weather, loss of high activity posters (like PJ) or a general lack of interest- I don't know.

The Lord giveth, the Revenue taketh away. (John 1:16)

www.flickr.com/photos/7703127@N07/

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10 years 7 months ago #76397 by donalmcnamara
Replied by donalmcnamara on topic The new website - A failure or success.
While also acknowledging the great work of the 'web team' I must admit I also feel the same way.

The subscribe option is usefull to keep track of posts, but you have to go into topics first and often things could be gone for 24 hours between pooling. I do miss the new notification option.

Donal

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10 years 7 months ago - 10 years 7 months ago #76398 by JohnMurphy
Replied by JohnMurphy on topic The new website - A failure or success.
Seanie_Morris wrote:

I blame the weather...

:silly:


The weather has always been Sh1..etc., we have no control over it and it should be disregarded as a factor.

I am sure that this new software has a statistics section, and if a comparison is done with the previous version then it will be apparent that a lot less postings are taking place.
Is e-mail feedback not a feature of this new version of the site? If not then I say the site is in serious trouble.
What has been gained vs what has been lost by converting to this new software?
Has a post conversion analysis been done?

John Murphy - IAS
Check Out [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/jcmurphy/[/url]

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10 years 7 months ago #76400 by jmcc5
Replied by jmcc5 on topic The new website - A failure or success.
I also agree with the other posts that the use of the site has died down considerably.

The topic notifications by email in the past were great as you knew exactly what was being discussed. Now you have to go into each individual section to see what the new topics are.

BRING BACK EMAIL NOTIFICATIONS

Joanna
Cork Astronomy Club

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10 years 7 months ago - 10 years 7 months ago #76403 by michaeloconnell
Replied by michaeloconnell on topic The new website - A failure or success.
A few points before I start:
1. My knowledge behind the programming of the website is very limited.
2. I think it is good that we are discussing ways at improving the website.

There are a few issues to be fixed still, such as notification of new topics in the IFAS Council section, but this one only affects IFAS Reps. I hope the web team can resolve this quickly please.

In terms of the remainder of the site, it was my understanding at least that most users did not use the e-mail notification system. However, that's not to say it should not be available. Initially, when the new website went live, there was a "subscribe" button which defaulted to "ON". So, whenever one posted a new thread, you would receive an e-mail notification of all new responses to that thread. Many people complained that their e-mail box was getting swamped and so the "auto-on" featurte of this was disabled.

In terms of e-mail, which of the following would people like to see?:

1. Receive e-mails when a new thread is started;
2. Receive emails when a new post is made;
3. Receive no e-mails.

Whether the first two features are immediately available in the website software right now, I don't know for sure. I will have to check with the web team.

However, I have looked at the administrator tools for the site and see there is a "subscribe" function in there. It can be adjusted on a per-user basis. As a trial, I have "subscribed" John Murphy to the site. I would like to get your feedback on it John over the coming days. If it worrks, I don't see any reason, pending discussion with the web team, why other people cannot have their profile amended accordingly.


Michael.

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10 years 7 months ago #76404 by JohnMurphy
Replied by JohnMurphy on topic The new website - A failure or success.
Seems like those of us still left on the boards agree.
Without e-mail notification posts are becoming very disjointed or else totally stagnate. There are quite a few users who I have talked to who also agree with this but have not yet commented on this post, probably because they are not visiting the site as regularly (because of lack of e-mail notification) and have therefore not seen this post yet. Bring back the old boards software please or else enable e-mail notification.

Regards,
John

John Murphy - IAS
Check Out [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/jcmurphy/[/url]

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10 years 7 months ago #76405 by JohnMurphy
Replied by JohnMurphy on topic The new website - A failure or success.
Sorry posts must have crossed.

Michael,

The offerings you made:

1. Receive e-mails when a new thread is started;
2. Receive emails when a new post is made;
3. Receive no e-mails.


What about the old way where we just got notifications to posts we were contributing to? I would not necessarily like any of the above choices, that could indeed fill your mailbox, but the option to just receive mails in posts you are contributing is, I would have thought, vital.
Thanks for looking in to this by the way.

John Murphy - IAS
Check Out [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/jcmurphy/[/url]

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10 years 7 months ago #76408 by DeirdreKelleghan
Replied by DeirdreKelleghan on topic The new website - A failure or success.
I really enjoy the IFAS forum, but I miss the old notification of topic feature.
The council members never get notice of updates in that zone, therefore
action on those issues are sometimes very slow to engage.

The photo uploading method I have sussed out now but lots of other people
cannot figure it out.

I have no idea if fixing these things is a lot of work or an easy thing to achieve???

Perhaps somebody out there could offer their time and skill to help sort it out.

I wonder if the IFAS forum had a Twitter it might be a good way to connect everyone ??
Lots of organizations have Twitter. I am only using it for a short while and I find it very useful to get information out in short bursts to large groups without having to send e mails.
Its a social messaging thing, but huge organizations use it to feed people information.
I enjoy reading the Irish Times headlines , National Geographic Photo of the Day , NASA information and information put up by other astronomers all in seconds.

twitter.com/skysketcher

Deirdre Kelleghan
PRO IFAS

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10 years 7 months ago #76409 by JohnMurphy
Replied by JohnMurphy on topic The new website - A failure or success.
The unfortunate thing about the likes of Twitter etc is that it will be blocked by a lot of firewalls / web screening software etc. as it falls under the category of social networking e.g. facebook, bebo etc. this is seen as a security / social risk in most companies as is instant messaging etc. and as a result gets blocked automatically. Email is the only "safe" way to do this.
Good suggestion though.

John Murphy - IAS
Check Out [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/jcmurphy/[/url]

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10 years 7 months ago #76413 by Seanie_Morris
Replied by Seanie_Morris on topic The new website - A failure or success.
Personally, I NEVER used the e-mail notification feature since I joined, I found it a nuisance. I (personally) prefer the "login to view what's going on" method to view all the community forums I take part in as it makes me become more involved. That is NOT why we have no notification like what you're used to by the way!

The lack of postings was inherently noticed even before the forums switch last July, and it could be down to people coming and going, the weather making Astronomy useless, and yes, in some cases the lack of topic notification by e-mail.

In a nut shell, the change to Fireboard over phpBB was for a number of reasons, namely feature additions that phpBB did not allow, features that was often requested by people here (ordinary posters and IFAS committee members). Warnings were issued about not being able to rollback to phpBB when the transition was to be made, and the slight adjustment to alternate features (such as the notifications) with Fireboard. So, no one was un-forewarned about the possible shortcomings this was to have.

In all, I neither agree nor disagree with statements here about one version over the other, I still enjoy checking into these forums to see how like-minded amateur astronomers are getting on every day.

Seanie.

Midlands Astronomy Club.
Radio Presenter (Midlands 103), Space Enthusiast, Astronomy Outreach Co-ordinator.
Former IFAS Chairperson and Secretary.

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10 years 7 months ago - 10 years 7 months ago #76418 by michaeloconnell
Replied by michaeloconnell on topic The new website - A failure or success.
John Murphy wrote:

What about the old way where we just got notifications to posts we were contributing to? I would not necessarily like any of the above choices, that could indeed fill your mailbox, but the option to just receive mails in posts you are contributing is, I would have thought, vital.
Thanks for looking in to this by the way.


I *think* this is what the "subscribe" function does (only posts you are involved in), but I could well be wrong.
I am having another look at it this evening - not sure if it working or not.
I'll keep you posted.

Michael.

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10 years 7 months ago #76419 by michaeloconnell
Replied by michaeloconnell on topic The new website - A failure or success.
Just in case people are not aware, there is the "Recent Discussions" button at the top of the page.
The direct link for this is: http://www.irishastronomy.org/forum?func=latest
So, one can just bookmark that link and you have access to a list of the latest discussions.

Michael.

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10 years 7 months ago #76420 by Keith g
Replied by Keith g on topic The new website - A failure or success.
Hi all, I'm only getting to read through this now, may I add to the comment of the first post, I for one am really missing the 'new topic notification' e-mails that came through on a daily basis, these were the heart and soul for me regarding the site for activity and daily postings.

I would really love to se them back, unfortunately there seems to be less postings per month as time goes by. If an option to subscribe to the e-mail notifications were presented for each user, I do believe we'll all see a lot more activity once again.

Otherwise, no complaints, the web team has done a fantastic job in giving their spare time towards the upkeep of this site :kiss:

Keith..

If a telescope can fit into your backyard it's too small. If you can't move it, it's too big." -- John Dobson

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10 years 7 months ago #76421 by dmcdona
Replied by dmcdona on topic The new website - A failure or success.
The old boards allowed users to opt-in to email notification of a *new* topic. You got one email and that was that *unless* you posted to that topic and has asked (in your profile) to be notified of "new posts".

The current boards have no notifications of new topics - so unless you log in regularly, you can miss new threads altogether.

If its an easy enough fix to give us back the old functionality, I personally would like to see it done.

If its a tough nut, then we'll just have to live with it. Hopefully without activity dropping off.

Dave

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10 years 7 months ago #76423 by paulevans
Replied by paulevans on topic The new website - A failure or success.
Hello Peeps,

Just a flying visit....

Any change of course comes with pain, but of course some mistakes were made with the changeover from PHPBB to Fireboard, most obviously the narrow fixed format, but that was fixed quickly. I didn't use the email notification after I'd tried it for a while as it became a bit of a PITA - I actually think that the front page with 20 most recent posts gives an easier flavour of what's going on than the email notifications.

A lot has been lost from here and blaming it on the change of web design is unfair to those who have put in the effort to try and make the site better. Heck, there used to be photo competitions, podcasts and an atmosphere of tolerance here, but all three seem to have gone. A good few people have left, and I have declared myself "inactive", due to what is perceived by some as a "we're better than you" attitude. Experience suggests that that's the beginning of the end and its been going on a while now.

Positive action is needed.

Just my 2p worth.

Clear skies,

Paul.

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10 years 7 months ago - 10 years 7 months ago #76424 by JohnMurphy
Replied by JohnMurphy on topic The new website - A failure or success.

However, I have looked at the administrator tools for the site and see there is a "subscribe" function in there. It can be adjusted on a per-user basis. As a trial, I have "subscribed" John Murphy to the site. I would like to get your feedback on it John over the coming days. If it worrks, I don't see any reason, pending discussion with the web team, why other people cannot have their profile amended accordingly.


Michael - thanks for trying, but this is not working.

Paul - I'd prefer if this post is kept purely at a technical level and that the shortcomings of the new software are addressed, and that a slagging match is not started. Good to hear your still kicking around though.

Seanie - sorry to hear that it was a one way trip with the "upgrade", I do think that the old site was better. Can you tell me what these new features are that made the upgrade such a necessity? Personally I think more has been lost than gained, and to this extent while the new site looks cooler, it is in no way better funtionally, it is worse. But hey I would like to know what the gains were, maybe I can use them to compensate for all the shortcomings. Please let us know what the benefits of the new site are. By the way I've never had the option to "subscribe" - I can't even update or edit my profile anymore, signatures have to be done by hand at every post, it took quite a while to get over all the bugs when adding an image, as a matter of fact it still has to be done by hand adding BB tags. The new image attachment option does not work, neither does the file attachment. So what are the bonuses?

I did notice an old post from about six months ago complaining about the lack of email notification, so it seems I am not the first to raise this issue. Despite the other shortcomings on the site, you can live with them and work around the issues, however no emails is a tricky one. Is there no way to switch this back on?

By the way where is the "Subscribe" option? I have searched but cannot see it anywhere. Is it switched on only for some users?

John Murphy - IAS
Check Out [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/jcmurphy/[/url]

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10 years 7 months ago - 10 years 7 months ago #76425 by dave_lillis
Replied by dave_lillis on topic The new website - A failure or success.
Hi,
I have to say that I'm not on these boards as often as I used to be (don't all cheer at once now) but I do have to say that I preferred the old boards, what can I say, SAC use the old boards system and every time I'm on them, I think back to what these boards used to be like.
I don't know what issues have been fixed and what haven't so I don't know fully whats happening on the site, but what I do know is that the site went through far too much pain in the transition and that pain almost killed the site off completely.

Alot was lost in the transition, such as images in previous posts, looking back at old threads has lost its impact as images are missing and look at just how much screaming by many many people it took to get something as fundamental as the width of the pages changed.

What I cant understand is why some people were so driven to include features that as far as I can see were not asked for, and are not really used while other features that many depended on were thoughtlessly dropped, talk about not listening to the customers.

This must sound very ungrateful, but the numbers do speak for themselves and blaming our crap weather, builders holidays or our current economic situation is serious burring your head in the sand stuff.....


BTW, below my avatar is "Moderator", I haven't been a mod for ages ...

Dave L. on facebook , See my images in flickr
IFAS Rep. Shannonside Astronomy Club (Limerick)

Carrying around my 20" obsession is going to kill me,
but what a way to go. :)
+ 12"LX200, MK67, Meade2045, 4"refractor

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10 years 7 months ago #76426 by michaeloconnell
Replied by michaeloconnell on topic The new website - A failure or success.
John,
You are correct, I can't seem to get the "Subscribe" function to work only for your profile. If there is a thread you want to keep an eye on, hit the "subscribe" button. This red button is located directly above the top of the first post in the thread. Once you hit this button, AFAIK it will send you an e-mail with the content of each post made thereafter in that thread. Downside: Must be pressed for each thread you want to monitor.

In terms of "New Topic" email notifications, I have an idea:
How about we move the RSS feed from the front page, where it does very little, and place it in the "Recent Discussions" page? Then, we might be able to configure it to send an e-mail each time the page changed. Would this work Seanie??

Michael.

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10 years 7 months ago - 10 years 7 months ago #76427 by JohnMurphy
Replied by JohnMurphy on topic The new website - A failure or success.
Michael,

Thanks I can now see the subscribe button. I am sure this was not there just a short while ago. I'll give this a bash. I can live with that as a work around - if it works. I'll let you know tomorrow. That will certainly help me and others who bother to use it. Maybe it would be a good idea to highlight the use of this button to users so that maybe the old smooth flowing threads of old are returned.

Now if I could only edit my profile and update my email address, but its telling me that I am not a valid user (probably because of the space in my username). Can anyone help with this?

John Murphy - IAS
Check Out [url=http://www.flickr.com/photos/jcmurphy/[/url]

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10 years 7 months ago #76428 by michaeloconnell
Replied by michaeloconnell on topic The new website - A failure or success.
Naah, that Subscribe buitton was there all along, but anyway... :-)

You should also be able to update your signature.
On the blue column on the LHS of the page under "User Menu", click on "My Profile" (alternatively, click here: http://www.irishastronomy.org/my-profile )
Move the mounse over "Edit".
A menu drops down.
Click on "Update Your Profile"
Click on "Forum Format"
Now type your signature in the Signature box.
When finished, hit the "Update" button.

I have just tested this to make sure it works, and it works just fine.

Let me know if this works ok or not for you John.

Michael.

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10 years 7 months ago #76429 by michaeloconnell
Replied by michaeloconnell on topic The new website - A failure or success.
John Murphy wrote:

Michael,

Thanks I can now see the subscribe button. I am sure this was not there just a short while ago. I'll give this a bash. I can live with that as a work around - if it works. I'll let you know tomorrow. That will certainly help me and others who bother to use it. Maybe it would be a good idea to highlight the use of this button to users so that maybe the old smooth flowing threads of old are returned.


I just tested this and it sent me an e-mail.

You raise in interesting point though. We should do up a summary post of some of the features in the new website layout. This may help in the transition.

BTW, something worth checking out is the Calendar. Anyone can add an event in here. At the moment it is aimed at Star Parties and Club Meetings. I don't see any reason why we can't create another category for astronomcial events. I've just added MAC club meetings in here - first Tuesday of every month. Take a look.

Michael.

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10 years 7 months ago #76430 by michaeloconnell
Replied by michaeloconnell on topic The new website - A failure or success.
No. of posts per page changed to 15 - was set at 6.
Hopefully this will make it easier to follow the disucssions per page, rather than having to keep hitting the "next" button.

Michael.

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