M.A.I.L. Website Improvement Wishlist. Your opinions wanted.
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Joined: April 15, 2002
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Location: Calgary, AB. Canada.

M.A.I.L. Website Improvement Wishlist. Your opinions wanted.
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Posted on Wed Jan 19, 2005 1:52 am
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Okay, some of you may remember over the last few years, threads coming up about what kinds of changes people would like to see in the website, and the structure of the website. The Header Redesign Project is probably the one that made it the farthest, but there've been lots of ideas.

However, the problem is that we don't have enough volunteers to make the changes *right now*. Our admins are kept busy just keeping this place running. That's okay. But the problem is that *if* someone wants to volunteer, or has time, we don't have a plan or a goal.

In late October and through November, some of you might've noticed threads mentioning some behind-the-scenes work being done. Aderamelach (links admin), Drax (article admin), SakredChao (voice, and weaves admin), and myself (ad hoc?) had many conversations about what we would like to see done to the site. By my count, it's around 80 pages worth of emails, not including instant messaging, and all the refferenced threads that covered entire conversations.

So you know where we stand, myself, Aderamelach, and Drax came to agreement over changes we'd like to see, ideally. SakredChao, as I understand it, is all for debate and supports what the community would like to see, though personally didn't like some of the specific changes.

The point of these discussions was to hammer through the debates and save the community some time, and so people wouldn't get bored with the idea, (3 of us covered 80 pages in conversation). Now, we're presenting the more major changes we'd like to see, to open them up to discussion, debate, and explanation for the whole community.

Forget for the moment *who* is going to do this work, this is a wishlist and a plan. This post is already longer than I thought, so I'll just post the brief list here, and the better-explained list in a separate post.

THE LIST:

1. Finish the new header project. This includes finishing the header and doing whatever sight re-design is needed to accommodate the new header (i.e. combining and removing links from the current header).

2. Make front page more newbie friendly. Place announcements somewhere other then the middle of the front page. The new front page would be very simple, only a few links. It should be immediately obvious what MAIL is, and the major sections. Simple choices.

3. Re-organize articles section. Make sure titles are appropriately descriptive. Add a short description of what is in each article next to the title. Make list of articles easier to read through better use of white space. Date stamp articles.

4. Change weave section so that the picture of each weave is a link leading to an article (or articles) on how to make that weave. Each weave should have its own page, about itself.

5. Give people the option to donate content to M.A.I.L so that M.A.I.L editors could change people's work were appropriate (for example adding links between related articles).

6. Re-design the gallery so that each thumbnail links to a thread related to that picture. So people don't have to shove all their details into a little box, and make multiple individual submits for other camera angles of the same project.

7. Add a "projects section" with linked articles appropriate for the given project. For example, putting the articles for E4-1, 45 degree seams and expanding circle into a project section on "how to make a coif".

8. Add a forum where maillers can rate and relate their experiences with ring dealers, other armouries etc. AKA: "Good, Bad, and the Ugly."

9. Encourage monetary donations through a formation of a "dollar club", or some other system to recognize donors.

10. Change the member ranking system to reflect how much content a member has contributed to M.A.I.L rather then just counting their board post number.

11. Remove/combine little used forums on the M.A.I.L board.

12. Re-organize the links according to content (separate those links with instructions from those with materials from those with finished maille). Rather then putting links in alphabetical order they would be listed according to utility value. For example, in the "instruction" section Derakon's Library should probably be the first link on the list as it is (arguably) the best introduction page aside from M.A.I.L and therefore a page likely to be popular with a lot of maillers.

...

That's the brief list for everyone to digest. I'll explain them in more detail below.

Joined: April 15, 2002
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Posted on Wed Jan 19, 2005 1:53 am
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1. Finish the new header project. This includes finishing the header and doing whatever sight re-design is needed to accommodate the new header (i.e. combining and removing links from the current header).

- This is a generally agreed upon concensus. The top menu is far too complex. It could be made a lot more simple, and useful. 14thWarrior headed the gruntwork on a header redesign project that passed an ISSUE POLL vote according to the charter. Actual structure needs to be approved, and pages rewritten. There are 3 big threads about this, but I'm too lazy to dig them up. If you've never heard of this, just search for it.

2. Make front page more newbie friendly. Place announcements somewhere other then the middle of the front page. The new front page would be very simple, only a few links. It should be immediately obvious what MAIL is, and the major sections. Simple choices.

- The front page is intimidating. If this was your first time to the site, you would not know where the information is on the site, what the site is, and would generally be overwhelmed and confused. It should instead have a brief explanation of M.A.I.L. and introduce the main areas.

There could also be a "Veteran's Page". A lot of people like the current front page because it has everything. Create a different page for the experienced MAILer's to visit. It'll have the latest 10 gallery thumbnails, latest 20 threads, latest 10 articles, latest 10 weaves, news updates, etc. They can bookmark this instead, and never look at the simple front page for first timers.

3. Re-organize articles section. Make sure titles are appropriately descriptive. Add a short description of what is in each article next to the title. Make list of articles easier to read through better use of white space. Date stamp articles.

- Not a lot of explanation on this one. Articles are really hard to find, aren't named descriptively, and don't have summaries. The overall organisation can change, individual articles can be merged or grouped in some cases. Since so many articles fall into the Weaves category, or could, this ties in a lot with the next point.

4. Change weave section so that the picture of each weave is a link leading to an article (or articles) on how to make that weave. Each weave should have its own page, about itself.

- Group all similiar information into a single weave page. Every article about Euro 4-1, that doesn't belong more strongly elsewhere, should be listed and linked on this page. Each weave's page can have blowups of various ARs of the weave. Some sample pictures of what you can make with the weave. History of the weave, if applicable. Basic uses of the weave, what it's good for. It's obvious properties. Pictures of expansions/contractions, and links to the articles about it. Pictures of seams, and links to those articles.

Combine simliar weaves, until there's enough written about them to branch off. All the birdcage variants should go under the same Byzantine umbrella page. Trizantine? Maybe it gets it's own, maybe not. Turkish Round? Again, maybe. Also list the general ways to modify the weave. How to turn Byzantine into Turkish, into a fatter tube weave that doesn't have a name yet, into a doubled-up "King" version of the weave, how to sheet it, etc. We don't need a name for Euro 28-in-2. If some of the normal variations are popular enough to have a common name, great, and maybe they even get their own page. But there are a lot of weaves out there that aren't even really weaves, or duplicated. We don't need someone to submit a bunch of weaves as an individual weave unless it has distinctive properties. Euro 6-1 is probably different enough and has different enough properties from Euro 4-1, but a lot of the later ones don't. Demonstrate the properties of the *ways* that you can modify a weave in general, and then allow people to extrapolate on their own.

Each weave should have this base page explaining whatever we know about it. If all we have is a grainy picture, fine. If someone wants to write more about it, or incorporate something into the main page, or rewrite something, good. Group information that makes sense being together, together. As a weave gets popular, let people write things about it and include those into that weave's "homepage".

5. Give people the option to donate content to M.A.I.L so that M.A.I.L editors could change people's work were appropriate (for example adding links between related articles).

- Right now, we don't even have the option of donating content. This means the site has to be set up as massive collection of individual, stand-alone articles. At least give people the option (and, furthermore, encourage them) to donate content so that it can be edited, added to when outdated, etc. All edits will have to be approved (and should be generally approved before someone goes and does all the work) by the articles admin, or whatever admin's category it falls into. This also means that if we want to rewrite something, we don't have to ask permission from the original author. Or, if that person didn't want to donate their article, we can have someone write their own version of it and remove the locked one. Gradually, move towards replacing locked articles, so eventually the community is able to manipulate the content.

Weaves should *have* to be donated. I personally think it's ridiculous that someone can pull a weave. Someone could un-submit Euro 4-1 tommorow. Articles, written by people, give them a choice. Gallery pics, of specific projects, sure, they don't need to be edited anyway. But weaves? No.

6. Re-design the gallery so that each thumbnail links to a thread related to that picture. So people don't have to shove all their details into a little box, and make multiple individual submits for other camera angles.

- Pretty simple. The best of both worlds between a discussion gallery like on TRL, and a thumbnail gallery on MAIL. Mari (site founder/original coder, retired) approved of this some time ago.

7. Add a "projects section" with linked articles appropriate for the given project. For example, putting the articles for E4-1, 45 degree seams and expanding circle into a project section on "how to make a coif".

- A lot of time people are looking for how to do a certain type of project. Give people a place to start. Submit project overviews, and walkthroughs. Should cut down on a lot of repeated questions too.

8. Add a forum where maillers can rate and relate their experiences with ring dealers, other armouries etc. AKA: "Good, Bad, and the Ugly."

- This was discussed a bit in a thread a year ago or so. Basically, the links collection is too massive, and there's nowhere to give feedback. If people have a good, bad, or ugly experience with a business, they can mention it here.

9. Encourage monetary donations through a formation of a "dollar club", or some other system to recognize donors.

- Give people a little recognition for donating. Like a little graphic of a dollar sign by their forum name. There are lots of ways we can do this. Maybe a Dollar Club would be everyone who signed up to an automatic $1 donation per month to MAIL, (via paypall, and get MAIL it's own Paypall addy, donating is actually rather obscure right now). Another option would be something like a $3 Club. Where, as part of an official fundraising drive, members donate just $3 for a year. For our membership base, it's embarrasing that we can't pay our bills. Many people would probably donate $3/year, or $1/month, or whatever, but don't want to waste it or do it alone. If we do it as a funding drive, as an event, recognise people for it in the forums, and show how they're part of paying the bills, more people probably would. Whatever we do, don't complicate it, just pick one type of system, whatever it is.

10. Change the member ranking system to reflect how much content a member has contributed to M.A.I.L rather then just counting their board post number.

- This has been discussed heavily in past threads. It cames down to two types of systems. One is a scorecard type system where each type of contribution has a weight, and is added to a score. Your forum title reflects your score. A gallery submit might bet worth 3 points, a forum post 1 point, an article 100 points, a weave submit 50 points, etc. This system encourages all kinds of activity on the site. An alternative system is to have only a few ranks, and to rise in them based on the type of contribution the member has made to the communitym. It could work as follows:

1) New member. (nothing).
2) Aged member. (been around 3 months?)
3) Active member. (made 50 posts?)
4) Contributing member (made an article submission).
5) Leading member (made 5+ submissions).
6) BOD member.

Members can only progress in order. You can't jump the gun. Also, forum age doesn't count except for the first promotion. It says you've been around a while. Post count doesn't count after some number, it just says you're a member that's been active, you can't get higher rank by posting a million times. Contributions count as soon as you make your first new article, or an edit or rework of an existing one. If you've made more than some number of contributions, you are recognised as a leader in the community, not just someone who churned out a single contribution. BOD members get their own category, not necessarily linked or progressed through.

Beside each member's rank would be a submission count. So the submissions between 1 and 5 (for example), or over 5, are still shown. For example, if BobTheMailler had been here 2 years, made 1000 posts, and credited with 12 articles, it would look as such:

BobTheMailler
Leading Member (12).

All numbers for either system are just made up for example, and obviously need to be tweaked for appropriateness.

11. Remove/combine little used forums on the M.A.I.L board.

- Several forums you can see back weeks or months on a single page. If they were incorporated into other forums, you'd not notice a difference. Forums should only be different if they discuss material that needs to be separated (Knitting Circle from Chat from Admin), or if they're unmanagably busy. Many forums do not have a lot of traffic or readership. For example, I don't think anyone goes "I'd like to read up a thread about an article." A more generic on-topic discussion forum could serve a lot more needs.

12. Re-organize the links according to content (separate those links with instructions from those with materials from those with finished maille). Rather then putting links in alphabetical order they would be listed according to utility value. For example, in the "instruction" section Derakon's Library should probably be the first link on the list as it is (arguably) the best introduction page aside from M.A.I.L and therefore a page likely to be popular with a lot of maillers, and be what they're looking for.

- The common arguement is that if you judge them, it's not fair. But, alphabetical isn't fair either, because people only see the A's, and *no one* would get to the Z's. It's so large, it's only useful for looking up something you already know exists. And if you do that, you might as well just go to their page. So, might as well just do what's functional, if you're not being fair anyway. Few people will ever check out more than a half-dozen sources for something. No one would go through and actually investigate 20 sources, let alone a few hundred. They look at a few, pick the best, and make their purchases. So.. maybe hand-pick the top 6, and then toss the rest into an alphabetical list, for people specifically searching for them. It'd be nice if everyone read everything on all hundreds of sites.. but no one does that.. so we might as well tell them where to go. The person in charge of links can set this up, and maintain it if anything groundbreaking changes.

Links can fall into multiple categories. Here's an example of how that could work: DC wireworks should be one of the handpicked for supplies, possibly handpicked for teaching/info.. but probably not for the sale of finished maille. (You can view by category).

As for the initial decision-making, I'd get the community involved. (And mention on TRL and TCB as well). Get people to pick all the places they go to for stuff and briefly why. Like, get them to name 6 places they'd buy rings from. If most people say "I'd only ever buy from TRL and DCW".. then that's fine. They don't need to fill in six. Just see what keeps coming up and make the judgement that way.

Maybe the additional duties of the Links admin to occationally/periodically review the links and keep in touch with the community if you see any trends, need to make any changes. There might be some bickering, someone thinks someone deserves to be in the top 6 instead of someone else.. but, too bad. Don't hardcode the number to 6, some might have 3, some might have 8. Pick the big relevent places to go to.

Links selected would not be an election, but based on the Links admin. They will be judged on the following basis "Quantity and quality of information available at the link, as it would pertain to a chainmailler, in the category selected."

This solution has been tentatively approved by our Links Admin, Aderamelach.

-------

That about covers all the major things.

Now it's time for everyone to say what parts of that they like, don't like, or want explained further. So, speak up.

Joined: March 3, 2002
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Posted on Wed Jan 19, 2005 6:31 pm
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i think there are a lot of good ideas in here.

i also think that with our admins already spread thin the best route is to put up a to do list under 'help wanted', and link it back to a thread discussing ideas before they make it to the list.. that would be simple, easy, and encourage the sort of volunteering we need.


kim


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3.o is fixing everything.

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Posted on Wed Jan 19, 2005 9:40 pm
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As a newbie (only been mailling for a few weeks) I do have to agree that there is little direction in "where to go".

I spent a lot of time going through articles but found that they can be very "hit or miss". Some are clearly not aimed at beginners (which is fine - it just adds a great deal of time to those looking for information to get off the ground) and some that don't have helpful titles.

A nice beginners area would be nice. Things that I would have found helpful would be a nice comprehensive list that takes you through the following:

Short required tool list for

1) wrapping wire (mandrels, optional power drill, etc.)

2) cutting wire - we have a few nice articles on different snips, but some can come across as contradictory. Something a bit more "bare bones" is good when you're already overwhelmed with info.

3) making rings - this is pretty straight forward and even a direct link to E4-1 tutorials since that's really the bread & butter of what most people do. It also helps develop some good skills with handling your tools and rings.

4) misc stuff that's important (goggles, gloves, etc.) - mostly odds and ends that don't fit into the above catagories where "seasoned vets" can share the little tidbits of info that really help out.

The next thing that I had a hard time with was figuring out what a "good first ring size should be". Larger are good to practice on since you're just trying to work on technique and familiarity and not get bogged down on the finer points that are developed with time. However, too large can be very discouraging as the pieces you make don't look as clean as many of the pictures that you see on the site. I found 16g 3/8" a good size to start out with. It wasn't too small that I couldn't work with and not too large that it looked horrible when done.

After we have the newbie making rings the next thing is to get them putting them together. I was hoping to find a big selection of start-to-finish tutorials on all manner of chain projects. While there are some (the really nice ones having clean and clear pictures), not everyone wants to make dice bags, haubreks and coifs. Smile Luckily I'm happy making dice bags right now... but once I get more skilled I'd like to add some more beginner-based projects to the list.

Now, all that aside, I want to go on the record saying that MAIL has been very helpful. I did learn a lot from the board and the articles and the weaves section (though hopefully more tutorials can be added over time) - and I thank everyone for that. It's truely been an invaluable resource after I waded through things a few times and finally got all the pieces sorted in my head. I feel that with some focus on the end-user point of view we can put together a top-notch how-to/beinner's guide that can save some people hours of searching.

Once I get a bit more experience and am more confident about my abilities, I'll certainly be more than willing to help.

Joined: January 21, 2004
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Posted on Wed Jan 19, 2005 10:07 pm
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Those all look like great suggestions.
One thought: for the Good, Bad and Ugly section, if someone has had a negative experience and wants to post about it, could they have the option to post anonymously? That way they could give an honest appraisal without fear of the vendor getting ticked off at them. They should have to put their name on it while submitting the review, to keep themselves accountable to moderators and to avoid needless libel, but it wouldn't publicly display their name.

And for the weave section, could there be a way to rate the difficulty of the weave? A beginner level for e4-1, byz, etc; moderate for hp4-1 and captive inverted round; advanced for confused chameleon, hoodoo. That might be part of one of the various previous discussions; if so, sorry. Smile

-phong



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Posted on Wed Jan 19, 2005 10:48 pm
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Regarding volunteering, a list of 'positions' that need help and the required skills would be great. e.g. Helping Criterion and Blasie customize/patch anything requires PHP knowlege. I would be willing to help if there is something I can do. I can navigate Photoshop fairly well, I've dabbled a bit with Illustrator, I can manage HTML...

Er...Hoodoo is advanced? Damn...That was the first weave I did more than make a test patch in....


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Posted on Thu Jan 20, 2005 1:42 am
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I like the first of the two ideas for new ranking systems, plain and simple. It's more encouraging for activity. There's always going to be point competition, so if we have people wanting to fight for points, make them useful about it by contributing.

I'm worried about the combining weaves and articles information thing. There's too much variation on things that can split it up into multiple catagories. Like information on the 45 degree seam. If you put in in "how to make a coif", someone trying to make something unique might have no idea where to look for it. You'd have to ask yourself "now what kind of project is most likely to need the technique I'm looking for?" That could get a lot of people hopelessly lost. We dont want our site turning into a newb-trapping labyrinth.

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Posted on Thu Jan 20, 2005 2:16 am
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Tesserex wrote:
We dont want our site turning into a newb-trapping labyrinth.


I thought that was the whole reason for doing this? Laughing

Siege


John Lennon once sang a song where he imagined a world with no religion at all, and how all the people would be living life in peace, which sounds like a pretty terrific philosophy to follow - but then again, John Lennon also sang a song about how he was an eggman and a walrus goo goo g'joob, so i'm not sure he was always 100 per cent reliable.

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Posted on Thu Jan 20, 2005 2:44 am
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Tesserex wrote:
I'm worried about the combining weaves and articles information thing. There's too much variation on things that can split it up into multiple catagories. Like information on the 45 degree seam. If you put in in "how to make a coif", someone trying to make something unique might have no idea where to look for it. You'd have to ask yourself "now what kind of project is most likely to need the technique I'm looking for?" That could get a lot of people hopelessly lost. We dont want our site turning into a newb-trapping labyrinth.


Now, I'm a bit ignorant to the site setup and the DB backend, but there's two simple ways to make sure that people find what they're looking for:

1) Force good article titles and have the writers give "short descriptions" (one or two sentences) that give a bit of insight beyond the title.

2) Many-to-one relationships between the categories and articles. This means that when appropriate, one article can show up in multiple categories. The key to this being useful is consistency and awareness by those that actually categorize the articles at publish time.

I have experience with this sort of stuff, so I can certainly give more technical information to anyone interested in database design.

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Posted on Thu Jan 20, 2005 5:13 am
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i'm in the middle of working out a newbie page. i point out 4 articles.
how to make chainmail-david austin
know your terms-blaise
(under beginner)

and
hazards of mailling -alex the maillesmith
stretching-sakredchao
(under safety)

i'll look at adding a few more.
thanks for the input.

kim


PSA: remember to stretch.
3.o is fixing everything.

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Posted on Thu Jan 20, 2005 7:01 am
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Here are my thoughts.

Idea one: I like it. The header needs some cleaning up.

Idea two: I don't like the idea of a "Veteran's page". IMO if changes are made, they should apply to everyone.

Idea three: Agreed. Will it be a row and column set up?

Idea four: Agreed, though I'm a bit fuzzy on what it will look like.

Idea five: Agreed. There has been a time or two when I would have loved to replace a pic or made something more clear. Donation would certainly give me (a single member of M.A.I.L) a bigger voice.

Idea six: Agreed, but what if more pics are necessary for further explaining something? Will they go into the thread, or......?

Idea seven: Nah. I think the FAQ would be more appropriate. Besides, people need to use their imaginations more.

Idea eight: Maybe. How would the link owners feel about that?

Idea nine: This one sort of opens the doors for flaming IMO. "You've been here for [insert time frame] and you havn't even given a dollar. I'VE given $[insert amount] so poo on you." How about a ticker of sorts that shows the goal-amount needed to pay the bills, how much has been donated, and how much is needed to reach said goal.

Idea ten: Agreed, and a final version can be discussed.

Idea eleven: Agreed.

Idea twelve: Agreed. I think we should change the identification system as well. Those little letters standing for "informational" or "historical" just don't work for me.

That's my input for now.

Peace.

Mical. Coif Smiley

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Posted on Thu Jan 20, 2005 10:09 am
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Combo post, multiple-quotes. The first part in reply to Tesserex here is pretty long and mostly a repeat of what I've said before, so, if you're familiar with it, just skip this first part.

Tesserex wrote:
I like the first of the two ideas for new ranking systems, plain and simple. It's more encouraging for activity. There's always going to be point competition, so if we have people wanting to fight for points, make them useful about it by contributing.


I agree with your reasoning. I think that it's good to have people contributing more. The way I break down the second ranking system (the non-point one, which I'll defend since I thought it up), is as such:

1) Rank should recognise people for their contributions.
2) Rank should encourage people to contribute.

I also agree that people will fight for more points. That is why I proposed the second system. I don't want to see people post-whoring. I don't want people to get more rank based just on how long they've been here. I think that should be discouraged, if anything. Yes, conversation is good, community is good, and discussion is good, but rewarding people each time they toss in their one line of comments, (which they'll start to do, if they get rewarded for it) I think will make the Crap:Usefull ratio skyrocket, and I think that's a bad thing.

Awarding points for posts is going to encourage people to post more and more. That's somewhat what we have now. But, at least in it's current state, at least everyone knows that the rank only responds to post count, and isn't that big of a deal. If you start mixing how you recognise contributions, I think it will undervalue the people who make the real contributions as well, as a side-effect.

In the second system, the one I proposed and favor, you get a promotion after you've been here a while. That serves to: A) recognise members as non-noobs, and B) discourage people from being idiots and then registering new accounts, because this is the *First* hurdle you have to pass. You *can't* get promoted until you've been here a while. And, past the "You're not a community noob" stage, I don't think forum age really matters.

The second promotion comes after you've posted a certain amount. This promotion establishes that you're active in the community. After you've shown that you're active, I don't really see a point in recognising you for every single post, or encouraging you to post as many times as possible. I've seen this system set up on other places, the RedvsBlue forums for example, and in my opinion, it's been disasterous. It's not an entirely fair example, because at near the same time they launched that system, Halo2 tie-in promos happened, and their popularity surged, but even before that point the forums had degenerated massively.

Both systems will encourage and reward permanent contributions to the community's knowledgebase. However, in the second system, that's a hurdle. Once you've been here a while, and been active, you can't go up in rank until you add something more concrete to the community. I think there are many many people here who would sit down and write something new to get recognised for it. Wheras in the first system, you're never encouraged to, you can just post a lot more.

And, lastly, the highest non-admin level. This is after you've contributed a significant amount of material. Honestly, at this point I think people will have established themselves in the community's eyes, without need for a rank, but, it sure would be nice to recognise those people anyway.

To recieve part of the benefit of the first system, (recognising each contribution) I think it was Aderamelach who suggested that beside the rank we tack on a number, showing their status. So, it doesn't go completely unignored. You'll have:

Tesserex
MAIL Contributor (4).

For having made 4 permanent contributions. Yes, you only got promoted at the first 1, and won't get promoted again until you tack up a 5th contribution (or whatever numbers we choose), but there's still mention made.

If you want to read up on some of the threads... I just did a search and pulled up a couple:

http://www.mailleartisans.org/board/viewtopic.php?t=2572&highlight= <-- That one shows how the idea got started.

http://www.mailleartisans.org/board/viewtopic.php?t=2583&highlight= <-- That one shows the progression of the system I preffered, (it originally included a 'special' rank that I pulled because I couldn't think of a fair or automated way to implement it).

What I suggested above is slightly different than what appears in those threads too, as it's been refined by Drax and Aderamelach.

Tesserex wrote:
I'm worried about the combining weaves and articles information thing. There's too much variation on things that can split it up into multiple catagories. Like information on the 45 degree seam. If you put in in "how to make a coif", someone trying to make something unique might have no idea where to look for it. You'd have to ask yourself "now what kind of project is most likely to need the technique I'm looking for?" That could get a lot of people hopelessly lost. We dont want our site turning into a newb-trapping labyrinth.


... Like MikeB said, I think it already is. Not everything will be put under a single page. The Euro 4-1 page for example, won't just be a massive stream of text. It'll have a lot of text, and links to the appropriate articles in the appropriate places. Those articles can be refferenced elsewhere too. The internet makes this very easy.

The only difficulty I see in this, is that if you make a change once, it will affect many systems. The way to make sure that that difficulty doesn't become a problem, is, no matter what the article says, that it stays true to its title. So, if you change a bunch of stuff on 45-degree seams, at least that page is about 45-degree seams as it's core. The way we divide up the knowledge-base will be based on what makes sense, how isolateable certain topics and such are. That probably sounds really complicated, but it comes down to mostly just common sense. Harder to explain that it is to simply do.

Next Reply:

Mical wrote:
Here are my thoughts.

Idea two: I don't like the idea of a "Veteran's page". IMO if changes are made, they should apply to everyone.


Maybe you misunderstood. The front page of MAIL would be the same for everyone. When you punch in mailleartisans.org, it takes you there. It's simple, and spoonfeeds newcomers. There will be another page accessable to everyone, once you're familiar with the site, and, for those that are regulars to the site, to keep some of the benefits of the current front page. It will be very busy, but, not confusing for anyone who's familiar with the site. It also won't have to serve the dual-purpose of being our front introduction page, and a quick refference page. It can be constructed solely based on what site veterans want at their fingertips.

Mical wrote:
Idea three: Agreed. Will it be a row and column set up?

Idea four: Agreed, though I'm a bit fuzzy on what it will look like.


3) I'm not sure what you mean. Please elaborate. Another thing I forgot to mention, was that I would like to see a site map (text map). A list of all articles, like a site table of contents. Broken down and indented. Also have an alphabetical list, and a chronological list. It can be set up to updated automatically and requires almost no effort to set up, all the information is in the database, the computer does all the work.

4) Hrm. Did you read my elaboration in my second post? If not, try giving that a read.

Else, picture this. You have the weaves list, just like it is currently. Instead of cramming all that data into the weave description, you just have the weave's name and author. When you click on the picture of a weave right now, it brings up a single blowup of the previous picture. If people want to include text, they have to smuggle it onto the face of the picture. Instead of this, when you click on a weave's image, it takes you to a page for that weave. One of the first things will be that same blowup of the weave that you had before, because that's really what most people are looking for.

The second thing people will be looking for, will be "How do I make this?" Until just this last year when SakredChao started linking articles into the description part of the weave, we didn't even have the two linked. That doesn't make sense at all. Another thing people will be looking for is what this weave can look like, what kinds of things it can do, what it looks like from various angles, what it looks like in various AR's. All that info goes in there. Add in historical info. Add in sections on common alterations of the simplest weave. And, explain all those sections and the articles they link to, from the perspective of that weave.

This, coupled with donating content and constructing the knowledge base from a big-picture perspective is probably the biggest and most important (to me) change that needs to occur in MAIL. The site in my opinion has outgrown it's original format, and the information management is quite poor, it's hard to find, and what you find isn't as useful as it could be set up to be.

Mical wrote:
Idea five: Agreed. There has been a time or two when I would have loved to replace a pic or made something more clear. Donation would certainly give me (a single member of M.A.I.L) a bigger voice.

Idea six: Agreed, but what if more pics are necessary for further explaining something? Will they go into the thread, or......?


5) Of course, all changes have to be approved by an admin. You can't just run rampant. But yes, if someone has blurry pictures in their article, and someone else wants to submit better ones, that's not something we can do right now. If someone wants to add info to an article, that's something they can't do right now either, they have to write another article, when really, a person looking for either would want them both. Our knowledgebase is very fragmented and dangerously individualized right now in my opinion. We have a huge contributing memberbase, but it can't network very well. People can't volunteer to change anything but their own content, since we consider all content "owned" by the original submitter.

6) I struggled with this for a while. Ideally what will occur, is that if someone asks a question, the original submitter should answer it by editing their top post instead. If someone wants pics from a new angle, they should edit the top post. Then they just reply and say "Question answered in top post". So, most often the top post is the best.

You're on TRL too, right? Just like how their gallery thread works, but ideally, we write up some guidelines we suggest people follow to make it even more useful. The only difference between what TRL has, and what's suggested in this proposal, is that we keep the thumbnail viewer.. so people don't have to read a text description and open a thread just to see if it was something they were interested in. Especially when you get posts like "Check out what I made!", "A weekend's work", and "Something fun." Obviously, you'll only be able to have one thumbnail picture per project though, so, the submitter would just have to decide. Not that big a deal.

I'd also like to see the thumbnail gallery format changed to a 2-collumn format, with text reading sideways, rather than a word or two per line, 4 or 5 collumns wide. Though, it might not make much difference if people don't have to cram all their details into that description. They could actually leave a simple description, and include the techy details for the thread.

Mical wrote:
Idea seven: Nah. I think the FAQ would be more appropriate. Besides, people need to use their imaginations more.

Idea eight: Maybe. How would the link owners feel about that?


7) I agree, that we don't want people to mass produce the same crap. However, what a lot of people *want* is specific instructions on a project. Some people have a lot of trouble with that kind of thing, and if they can have a project walk-through set for them, getting started with chainmaille, or with a new aspect of chainmaille, is a lot less intimidating. An FAQ is scattered, hard to glean topic knowledge from, and for some reason no one reads them anyway.

Uber How would owners feel? My quick reaction would be "Who cares?" We're not here to patronize people and keep everyone happy at any cost. What it *will* do, is for any businesses, be a watchdog. They know if they treat people in the community poorly, they're going to lose business because of it. Right now, they could get away with that. Customer service will go up as a side-effect. Plus, beyond punishing the bad, it will reward the good. Both of those are beneficial to the community.

If fast shipping is your highest concern, and you investigate and find one business is very fast on their orders, and another is slow, that helps you make a good decision. In that case, you might even find that the business with the slower service is actually much more highly recommended place. However, the other things might not matter as much to you.

Of course, it'll just be a thread full of opinions and personal experience, not an official statement or site policy.

Mical wrote:
Idea nine: This one sort of opens the doors for flaming IMO. "You've been here for [insert time frame] and you havn't even given a dollar. I'VE given $[insert amount] so poo on you." How about a ticker of sorts that shows the goal-amount needed to pay the bills, how much has been donated, and how much is needed to reach said goal.


9) A thermometer kind of this? Simply, because that doesn't work. We're already doing that. There have only been a half-dozen people who've put up money for this site. And by the way, I'm not one of them. During the funding drive one year, I said "I'll donate $20, if, as a group, everyone else can donate enough to match that by the end of the week." Well, no one else did, even knowing for every dollar they donated, MAIL would get $2.

But, I think that's because $20 is too high. Almost no one would (or, by observation, has) donated $20 for this site. But, I bet a lot of people would throw in a dollar or two. The problem is that they know that a dollar or two doesn't mean anything. That's why I thought it'd be a good idea to merge the group-giving thing, with the not-noticible-donation thing.

If you've got a better idea to raise money and pay our bills, I'd like to hear it. So far, it ends up being only the hardcore people who founded/really care about the site, and in fact, mostly the admins (who already put in tonnes of time for us) who chip anything at all. And, if people can be shamed into donating, I'm all for it. Remember we still have an acceptable forum conduct policy, and mods aren't going to let anyone harrass anyone else.

I think it has far more in terms of positive encouragement and pride in supporting the community, than it ever would for looking down on people. It recognises donators, and, for the people who care about status symbols, sneaks a few bucks out of those people.

I've never given a penny to MAIL. If we started a system like this, I would. Maybe I'm alone, but I don't think so.

Joined: March 3, 2002
Posts: 4372
Submissions: 79
Location: tres piedras, new mexico

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Posted on Thu Jan 20, 2005 12:31 pm
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so i can shame you into donating right now? Wink i think you were thinking that 20$ matching thing the week i sent in my 50$ donation. pay up chainmaille boy. hahaha.

i'm against a good/bad/ugly forum. customers can go and complain somewhere else. or, a person could set this up as their own website idea.. but MAIL should be clean of that sort of thing. clear of advertising and commercialism. at least as much as is reasonable.

i think that all of these are good ideas. i think that one way to make them managable would be to list them in short form, take a tentative poll, and deal with one idea at a time.. but that is how i work best not how everybody does.

kim


PSA: remember to stretch.
3.o is fixing everything.

Joined: September 25, 2003
Posts: 353
Submissions: 11

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Posted on Thu Jan 20, 2005 4:40 pm
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Just a pop-in from me, sorry I've not got more done lately, I wanted to but have been sick most of this week. I'll be on some stuff hopefully full blast next week Smile.

Wanted to let everybody know I've not forgotten or anything hehe.


"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic."
-Arthur C. Clarke

DarkSkye Designs

Joined: June 21, 2002
Posts: 1682
Submissions: 72
Location: Idaho

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Posted on Thu Jan 20, 2005 6:03 pm
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I offer my sincere apologies for being unclear. Perhaps I can further express my thoughts.....

Quote:
Maybe you misunderstood. The front page of MAIL would be the same for everyone. When you punch in mailleartisans.org, it takes you there. It's simple, and spoonfeeds newcomers. There will be another page accessable to everyone, once you're familiar with the site, and, for those that are regulars to the site, to keep some of the benefits of the current front page. It will be very busy, but, not confusing for anyone who's familiar with the site. It also won't have to serve the dual-purpose of being our front introduction page, and a quick refference page. It can be constructed solely based on what site veterans want at their fingertips.


I understood, however, after having thought about it a bit more, I'll go with it. I Do like the M.A.I.L homepage. I wonder, will there be the option for individuals to bypass the "simple" homepage? Sort of a "make this my homepage" when one uses the 'always log me in on this computer' sort of thing? I'm just thinking of convenience, though. This can be talked about later.

Quote:
I'm not sure what you mean. Please elaborate. Another thing I forgot to mention, was that I would like to see a site map (text map). A list of all articles, like a site table of contents. Broken down and indented. Also have an alphabetical list, and a chronological list. It can be set up to updated automatically and requires almost no effort to set up, all the information is in the database, the computer does all the work.


I was just curious. Will there be 'article names' in one column, and then 'article descriptions' in the next? Also, will the categorization be changed? I mean, will there be something more than "armor", "construction", "weaves", etc. added or changed? I've often found it difficult to find any particular article, thinking it would be in "weaves" or "construction" and found it in "misc." (that was just a simple out-of-my-butt example) so I was just wondering.

Quote:
Hrm. Did you read my elaboration in my second post? If not, try giving that a read


Ah. After having read your most recent description, I get it now. Your second post just wasn't clear to me at the time. Now, I agree fully, and think the idea would be quite cool.

Quote:
I struggled with this for a while. Ideally what will occur, is that if someone asks a question, the original submitter should answer it by editing their top post instead. If someone wants pics from a new angle, they should edit the top post. Then they just reply and say "Question answered in top post". So, most often the top post is the best.


Hmmm OK. So more pics will be easy enough to do. I wonder though, will there be a 'submit pictures' button making it work like the current gallery, or will we have to provide a link to the image? I would think a space at the top of the thread with little thumbnails would be nice, but, again, that's me.

Quote:
You're on TRL too, right?


No, but I understand what you're saying, and I agree.

Quote:
I agree, that we don't want people to mass produce the same crap. However, what a lot of people *want* is specific instructions on a project. Some people have a lot of trouble with that kind of thing, and if they can have a project walk-through set for them, getting started with chainmaille, or with a new aspect of chainmaille, is a lot less intimidating. An FAQ is scattered, hard to glean topic knowledge from, and for some reason no one reads them anyway.


I see, and I agree. So, will a project for "how to make a coif" simply be a list of articles on different aspects of coif construction? Or will it be an article containing other articles that further explain the idea?

Quote:
How would owners feel? My quick reaction would be "Who cares?" We're not here to patronize people and keep everyone happy at any cost. What it *will* do, is for any businesses, be a watchdog. They know if they treat people in the community poorly, they're going to lose business because of it. Right now, they could get away with that. Customer service will go up as a side-effect. Plus, beyond punishing the bad, it will reward the good. Both of those are beneficial to the community.


Agreed.

Quote:
If you've got a better idea to raise money and pay our bills, I'd like to hear it. So far, it ends up being only the hardcore people who founded/really care about the site, and in fact, mostly the admins (who already put in tonnes of time for us) who chip anything at all. And, if people can be shamed into donating, I'm all for it. Remember we still have an acceptable forum conduct policy, and mods aren't going to let anyone harrass anyone else.


I understand. I just get an ucky feeling about having dollar signs next to donators' names. It seems hierarchical to me (sort of like the current 'ranking system') which, to my eyes, is ultimately flawed. On the other hand, people (including myself) enjoy recognition. Perhaps a seperate page with a list of donators would work, like the one we have now. Just make it stand out a lot more. If that's stupid, though, I'll go along with what ever the ultimate decision is. Smile

About the thermometer thing: We're doing that now? Maybe it's just me, but I havn't seen anything like that. I would think a big "keep M.A.I.L alive" button on the front page, stressing the need for fundage, would be more effective, but I honestly don't know.

Again, I'll happily go along with the community's ultimate decision.

Mical. Coif Smiley

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