New NARGS Forum - Issues, Question, Suggestions

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Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Cockcroft wrote:

It's unfortunate that the forum is so little used.  When I check who is on the forum, I usually see only one or two other names.  Now the NARGS forum has never been as active as the Scottish Rock Garden Forum (with 71 users today, for example), but the drop-off in activity since the changeover to Drupal is dramatic.  Before the change, I thought the activity was picking up.  The discussions were certainly livelier.

As a retired techie, I have pretty much figured out how to use the forum as much as I want to use it.  I find it incredibly slow compared to the old forum, and no improvement in any way over the old format.  It is distressing that so much money has gone into creating a product that does not meet expectation.

 

Claire, I think you expressed it well, this changeover to a Drupal-driven forum, versus keeping the SMF forum (software expressly developed for forums) that we had before, has had the net effect of dampening forum traffic.  In part, this might also be due to people having difficulty logging in initially, we know fof some actual cases where the password reset feature didn't work for some people who attempted to login, so some users might have just given up.  The lack of a "mark unread" feature on topics, is a real deterrent to "conversation", because after looking briefly at what new messages came in, one forgets which topics they were when returning to the forum at a later point. If we could just get a few of the main issues resolved, I think traffic would increase.  Thanks for sharing your thoughts here :-)

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Peter George
Title: Member
Joined: 2009-09-03

Although it seems as though I've been 'missing' these past few months, I've followed the introduction of the new website and Forum extremely closely. Rather than insert myself into a process and a project about which I know very little, I've left the discussions to those who have a real understanding of the issues, and whose input would be helpful. The people who have managed this project are competent, and have my trust, but at this point the Administrative Committee is going to get involved to delve into where we are today, and where we ought to be. I'll be sharing as much information as possible over the next few weeks, and hopefully we'll all understand a good deal more about the process, the current status, and what we can expect over the next 2-3 months.

I just want to affirm the fact that I have some authority as President of NARGS, but I'm not a monarch. And given the level of knowledge I have about technical issues (very little), any interference from me during this process would have been................well, unhelpful. Let's see what the next couple of weeks brings. And please continue to offer suggestions/criticisms. They are not being ignored.

Peter

Peter George, Petersham, MA (north central MA, close to the NH/VT borders), zones 5b and 6 around the property.

Anne Spiegel
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-26

I'm afraid I've become one of the NARGS Forum dropouts.  I find it difficult to use, and most importantly, difficult to have a good overview of what's new.  Things seem to disappear from view and it seems much harder to keep track of conversations.  Personally, I really liked the old forum (probably because I understood how to use it), and I miss it.  I like the concept of a Forum - so much useful information from so many very talented growers - but I don't have the time for what seems to be a very steep learning curve.  The old Forum was getting better, and now it is back to zero.  "If it ain't broke, don't fix it". 

Daniel Dillon
Title: Member
Joined: 2012-09-28

Hi Anne.

We all are facing the task of learning where the buttons are, and perhaps accept that a couple of buttons may no longer be there. After reading your complaint, above, I can offer no solutions as the complaint was vague and seemed to be more a venting of frustration rather than a request for help. If you have a specific question, I can answer it for you, and maybe help to reduce the incline of the learning curve. Please feel free to ask me, or Mark McDonough if you have a concern. We are here to help.

Daniel Dillon (artist) & Esther Wrightman (gardener)
St. Andrews, New Brunswick.

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Hi Anne, as always please feel free to contact me (or the other Moderators) with questions you may have on using the forum, and in the evenings after work I can help out.

So far as keeping track of conversations, two things can help:

1. Mouse over the Forum tab at top of the forum page, and select "Active" from the drop-down menu; it displays a list of topics most recently having active posts.

2. For topics you're most interested in, you can Subscribe to them and get email notification when new replies arrive. Do this by going to the first page of a topic, then at the bottom of the very first message, click on "Subscribe".

I urge you to try using the forum, it's really not all that different than using SRGC or even Facebook, as Daniel says, we're here to help.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

deesen
deesen's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-01-31

It might be "little different" in many ways Mark but it isn't in the same street as far as good old "user friendliness" is concerned and maybe this is what Anne is getting at.

I do miss a spell checker and I do miss smiley faces that give a wonderful emphasis to posts. When I'm composing a reply to a post I miss too the ability to just scroll down the page and refer to other posts a little further back in the thread. 

David Nicholson
in Devon, UK  Zone 9b

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Thanks for your feedback David, there is re-invigorated momentum to get some issues taken care of.  The ability to see more than just one post when replying is being looked at. 

As for spell checker it is built-in, in fact, I will spell baddly to shoow that it is werking, misspelled words in blue, haha. See screen capture of this message in progress. The blue background ABC button has been enabled to always be turned ON, and wrongly spelled words become underlined. If a word becomes underlined as you type, right-click the word for spell checker suggestions. Or wait until finishing your draft and spell check underlined words at the end, select only the underlined words you want, and don't bother spell checking Nomocharis, Fritillaria, and Helleborus, because you know you spelled them right, or add them to your spell checker dictionary.

Also, click on the blue-background ABC toolbar button, for more spell check options.

I hope that helps :-)

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Anne Spiegel
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-26

Thanks, David, for supplying the appropriate words.  For me, the new forum is not user friendly.

Tony Willis
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-02-01

Having probably got over the issue of uploading photos which I found to be an absolute pig of a thing my biggest problem is the time it takes for the forum to load. It is like watching paint dry sat in front of my screen with the message 'waiting'.

As we are at the end of my season for a few weeks I will probably have to re-learn the picture posting.

I am trying to be supportive but it is very frustrating compared to the previous programme.

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Not sure where NARGS.ORG web server is hosted geographically in the US (in terms of getting a sense of potential internet latency location-wise).  There have been times where something is being done on the "back-end" of NARGS.ORG that's slowing things down, and other times we all experience when internet is slow (probably due to high traffic).  Just did some testing on loading NARGS Forum pages, most pages, boards, and even the initial loading of NARGS Forum from a bookmark, currently taking approx 2 seconds, there were a couple 3 second loads. I'm using a stopwatch feature on my smart phone, not scientifically accurate, but good enough to get a sense of load times. In about 10 minutes doing this, I did hit only one page load that took longer, 13 seconds.  By comparison, loading pages on SRGC Forum took on average about 1.5-2 seconds, occasional longer loads are possible depending on traffic.

With my testing, I am running 3 of my own computers each going through my wireless router to a single internet connection, and have multiple browser windows open on each, with 3 different remote-desktop connections going to computers in another State, and my wife and daughter also access our single internet connection via wireless ; a lot of traffic going though our single internet connection.

Maybe some of our European friends can try something similar, use a stopwatch and report average page-load times.

Tony, I'll be happy to assist if you forget how to load images here.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

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