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  1. #1
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Default Ongoing Improvement Of Our Forum

    In the spirit of open and proactive communication, I'm opening up a thread to discuss status of efforts improve the forum experience.

    To start, I'll summarize some of the changes over the past few months. The initial focus was somewhat on technical improvements to the site because that side of things had been neglected for quite some time.

    March

    Mobile Phone App – We made he forum accessible through Tapatalk, which provides a much-improved interface for smartphone users. We have 334 people using it so far.

    New Hosting Provider – This has led to much improved performance, assurance of high forum uptime, hourly backups and fast response to issues and problems if they crop up. There was also some site security hardening that was done as part of this.

    New Content and Forum Restructuring- We’ve added Type Profiles for each of the 16 Types as well as Enneagram + Instinctual Subtypes and obtained content from a couple of our members ( @simulatedworld and @SolitaryWalker) as well as from OceanMoonshine. Additionally, we’ve added some subscriptions to RSS feeds to obtain high quality content from other sites. We also added some new subforums: Support and Advice, Typology Videos and RSS Feeds and finally Typology and Psychology Book Reviews.

    April

    Improved Search Function – We implemented an improved search function called “Sphinx Search.” It’s over 100x faster than the previous search function. In addition, it has new features, like allowing you to search your private messages and supporting more complex queries.

    Thread Prefixes – We implemented something called “thread prefixes” to the typology sections of the forum. The purpose of this is to make it easier to navigate the site and find the threads/content that you are looking for. You can filter on the thread prefixes, making easier to find threads on a specific topic.

    Advanced User Tagging – We upgraded this plugin including the provision of two new features. First, you can “tag” members in a thread if you think it may of interest to them. They are then notified of the existence of the thread. Second, we have Hash Tagging, a feature like Twitter has, that allows you to tag threads with a word. You can quickly see all posts that have a specific hash tag associated with them.

    May

    Vent Status – We added Vent status to the home page. Vent is our Voice over IP community that allows forum members to chat with each other or talk directly. We also doubled our Vent capacity to 48 concurrent users.

    Thread Avatars – We implemented a function called Thread Avatars, which spices up the appearance of the forum interface. There is also an ability to turn this off for members that prefer a more simple looking forum interface.

    Spam Firewall - We implemented the GlowHost Smam-O-Matic firewall to reduce instances of spam on our forum. As of the time I'm writing this, the software denied registration for 1245 known spammers.

    SEO Software - We implemented some software to help us with Search Engine Optimization, to make some of our content more visible to search engines. It includes things like optimizing the URLs for search, automated thread tagging, etc.

    Performance Tuning - We had the hosting provider and an outside expert do some performance tuning on the site. In addition, we bumped up memory on the system by 50%.

    June

    Home Page Changes - We removed some unnecessary things from the home page and worked on speeding up performance. It's much faster now.

    Plug-In Upgrade - We upgraded about a half dozen of our plug-ins to current releases. There are multiple reasons for keeping these current. First, you get better functionality. Second, you get better compatibility with current releases of VBulletin. Third, you get bug fixes and security patches. I think one of these upgrades has caused us some problems (the missing post issue). We're still trying to figure out which plug-in is causing the problem.

    Test System - We put in a test system so that as we make major upgrades to the site, we'll have a test bed in which to develop the software.

    Revised Banning Policy - To enact quicker but shorter bans vs. waiting and ending up with long ones. The new policy is here.

    New Member Resources - We split off the FAQ from the Forum Rules. Now, there is a New Member Resource section which can be found in the FAQ. It's about 80% done as of the time I'm writing this.

    Generally we slowed down changes in the site in June because we wanted to address some issues caused by the initial improper installation of the test system and also to debug the missing post problem with the Plug-In upgrade.

    There are other things in the works, which I'll communicate in other posts, which will include some of the results coming out of the forum improvement committee.
    Last edited by highlander; 07-06-2014 at 08:12 PM.

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  2. #2
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Next, the following are some of the results that came out of the forum improvement committee. This will be the first post of several.

    There are 19 members on the committee, which consists of members who volunteered and the existing mod/admin staff. @johnnyyukon is a new addition. He has offered to help us come up with some ideas to streamline our user interface.

    Committee Members
    @BlackCat, @cafe, @Chanaynay, @Coriolis, @Eilonwy, @EJCC, @Halla74, @Ivy, @Jennifer, @Lady_X, @Patches, @Randomnity, @SolitaryWalker, @uumlau, @Vasilisa, @yeghor, @Zarathustra, @johnnyyukon

    Thanks to all of them for the excellent feedback they have been providing. This post will be the first of several which summarize the results of some of our discussion.

    Summary of Question 1 - Paint a picture or vision as to what you think the forum should be in the future (idealized vision)

    The type of members we would have
    • Diverse - Our greatest strength is our members, and their greatest strength is their diversity - ages, nationalities, representing every type, etc. – Different types of people helps to support varied and interesting discussions; we’d have a more even distribution, especially with the types that are under-represented, such as Extraverts and Sensors
    • Knowledgeable and Eager to Share - about typology and willing to share their knowledge, information and ideas, but also appreciate the diverging point of view
    • Eager to Learn – Have a genuine desire to learn more about typology topics regardless as to knowledge level
    • Welcoming - To newer members
    • Entertaining - Bring entertainment to the forum, including a small number who are willing to stir things up
    • Mature – High quality discussions with a willingness to debate/discuss difficult topics in a mature, civil and open manner

    The type of members we wouldn't have
    • Hostile - Trolling, bullying, flaming, abusive, self-aggrandizing
    • Bullying - People that can’t disagree without having to shut down the opposition
    • Antagonistic - At the core we want a minimization of antagonistic sentiments between members

    How would you characterize the discussions – what should it look like?
    • Mature, Respectful, Civil and On Topic – even on challenging or controversial topics
    • Lively, sometimes heated, but not hostile
    • Edgy - We need more edgy/spicy discussion
    • Open - Discussion where alternative views can be discussed freely; new or different ideas are not shut down in favor of existing knowledge
    • Tolerant of different levels of knowledge, different ways of understanding as well as different styles of debate and discussion; members would learn to hear and accept authentic voices different than their own and be able to bring those authentic voices to any debate
    • Heated Debate would still be around but would not be allowed to go off topic
    • Fun - Able to lighten up and have fun - playful/social discussion that is both typology and non-typology related. (i.e., typing fictional characters, random thought thread, etc.)

    What we don’t want the discussions to look like
    • Pissing contests with content-less bickering
    • Trolling, bullying, flaming, abusive, self-aggrandizing
    • One sided discussions
    • Attacking the member and not the argument
    • When someone bombards the thread nulling out others voices
    • Jumping down another’s throat at the slightest provocation
    • Topics getting sidetracked into the proper way to discuss the topics

    How will participation benefit forum members?
    • Learning - More about themselves, typology and psychology, about different points of view and manners of expression
    • Communal - A place to belong where they can meet like-minded people and have a place to socialize
    • Relationships - Creating meaningful interpersonal relationships and expand their worldview by becoming more open to other perspectives
    • Might Be Therapeutic For Some – Giving or receiving helpful support or advice
    • Learn To Appreciate Others – Gain more understanding of others and more appreciative of their differences.
    • Practical Use of Typology - They might learn how typology might be applied in real life situations.

    How should we serve non-members? What resources should we provide?
    • Teaser Material
    • Educational Content - A place to find accurate, interesting and educational content related to typology, including high quality articles and RSS feeds
    • Archive or Information Hub - An archive/library or central hub of typology information – including written materials, audiovisual materials which we need more of, type examples (like videos), and links to informative sites
    • Wiki – Comprehensive high-quality educational/scholarly content about typology and applied typology, available in levels from expert to novice
    • Informative Discussions
    • Future Members - They are encouraged to join to get some of their questions answered

    The overall culture and forum dynamic
    • Fun But Also Slightly Frictional - enough to keep things interesting without becoming hostile
    • Community - Sense of community, feeling like a part of something special
    • Diverse - Diverse, with a mature attitude
    • Intellectual and open-minded
    • Personal - Ways for people to get to know each other on a more personal level.
    • Civil - supporting our members being more accepting of the diverging points of view
    • Accepting - An atmosphere of acceptance, tolerance of people's differences, and support for those facing hardships, plus modeling of these things by senior members, would help our members in both their online and real world relationships.
    • Warmer and Welcoming - Maybe a bit warmer. A little goes a long way. Right now we still do have people clinging to the people they already have connected with and sticking to them, when really there are plenty of new people that would stick around a lot longer if people engaged them a lot more. Maybe it could be a little less cliquish?
    • Dynamic - Somewhat organic/dynamic as opposed to overly controlled/static
    • Options For Different Preferences - Some are content with the audio/visual barrier that the Internet provides and don’t want real-life festivities or gatherings; Others want Meet-ups, group activities and contests, and participation in Vent encouraged

    Other points
    • We need some way to encourage new content or it won’t change from what it's been for years
    • The wiki should be limited to being edited by members only; also we should keep a changelong incase things get edited too much for ill intent
    • Typology content and wiki should be accessible to members and non-embers
    • Desire for more sections of the forum to be members only to support discussion of more personal topic
    • Desire for more structured debates that are carried out in a more civil fashion which could add tremendously valuable contribution to our current content
    • Groups have potential value but are pretty worthless today
    • I would like us to be a bit classier. That might seem like an odd word to use, but it involves greater courtesy, maturity, and substance, without requiring all of us to become scholars, experts, or great writers of English prose. It has an element of putting our best foot foward, rather than littering the forum with our passing drivel.
    • There are so many old threads that are worth re-reading and possibly reviving

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  3. #3
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Summary of Question 2 - Taking your answer to the last question, what do you think is a realistic picture as to what the forum could/should look like in three years?
    • Better and More Accessible Content - especially on typology/psychology topics, multimedia, and integration/organization of linked content from other sites
    • Bigger and More Well-Known – participation is thriving, general typological resources are available and discussions people want to participate in
    • Alive, Thriving And Full Of Interesting Discussion - Need to foster high-quality, interesting discussions based mostly on typology, and attract and keep interesting and knowledgeable members.
    • Privacy of Members Is Protected - including a more thoughtful structure on what is available to members and what is not, with the core typology content available to non members, and ability for members to discuss more private topics
    • Wiki Established – a large repository of information on typology established (establish concrete goals and metrics to measure progress)
    • Reduction In Hostility - and counterproductive drama to curb potentially off-putting atmosphere
    • More Meet-ups – including local meet-ups and possibly a centralized meet-up committee that organizes an annual meet-up that a large portion of members attend
    • More Diversity - Increasing or at least maintaining the diversity of our membership (already fairly good)
    • Special Sub-Forums - where members who are interested in rigorous discussion can do so with the select few who are especially knowledgeable about their topics of interest
    • Easy To Use Forum Interface – Simple, streamlined yet powerful interface and navigation features

    Other key points
    • To keep the forum on too narrow a path, with too many rules about what is acceptable and what isn't, is to make sure it stagnates and dies
    • Realistically, the forum will never be able to be all things to all types

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  4. #4
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Summary of Question 5 and 6 - With respect to those objectives, what specific goals should we establish for concrete improvements to be made over the next year? What about three years? How would you prioritize those goals and why would you prioritize them that way?

    One Year
    • New Member Growth - Bringing in new members who will contribute and support the goals/objectives discussed; Growth target of 500 members per day (from current high 200s) by May 1, 2015
    • Establish Typology Wiki - including written and audio-visual content, RSS feeds (not thread based) – consider asking members what content would be most valuable to them
    • FAQ Overhaul/Starter Pack – include mission and vision, essential rules, explanation of forum features and how to navigate it, and reliable tests from the Internet collected in a bundle so the member can type themselves
    • Promote and Improve Communication About Forum Features and Changes - such as through PMs, emails or announcements on the home page
    • Welcome Newbies – Establish Forum welcoming committee or buddy system to foster sense of community for quality newbies and dilute the sense of the tight bonds that are already created being impenetrable to newcomers
    • Home Page Revisions - Member of The Week & Possibly “Resource of the Week”; consider removing the random stuff
    • Establish Games or Tournaments - Bring back gauntlet, contests, or other games to bring people together, get to know each other and have fun


    Three Years
    • New Member Growth - Target of 1000 members online per day by May 1, 2017
    • Established Partnerships - Or cooperation with Typology professional associations, leading practitioners and or researchers - who participate or who we have relationships with
    • Forum Redesign (note, need to evaluate where Vbulletin is going; this will not be simple)
    • More Accessible Forum Content - Revisit organization, what content is most important, make more accessible including identification of what is good vs. bad; revisit what should be publicly vs privately accessible
    • New and Meaningful Content - Create and or publish something different, unique and valuable, such as Four Letter Type + Enneagram profiles; obtain high quality official content from authorititative sources, such as Tritype, well known authors or practitioners

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    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    The new member resources section of the FAQ is now complete. There are some things out here which will be of interest to longstanding members as well, so I suggest everyone take a look. Here is what we cover:

    • Site rules and reporting posts/messages that violate those rules
    • How do I access the forum from my smart phone?
    • Interactive chat and voice communication with forum members (Ventrillo)
    • Basic introductory information and tutorials on personality type
    • How do I figure out my type?
    • Navigating the forum - how to find stuff
    • The user reputation system
    • How to upload images, videos and the like
    • Privacy on the forum
    • How do I initiate feedback to forum leadership?
    • Thread Avatars

    The content can be found at New Member Resources.

    All new members receive a PM when they join the forum in which they are directed to this section.

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    There are a few things we will be changing soon.

    1. Menu/Navigation Structure - We've been looking a the forum navigation structure and ways to streamline it There is a fair amount of redundancy in the current structure and it doesn't work as smoothly as it could. I believe we will make the changes at some point over the next one to three weeks.

    2. Media Library - We are planning on implementing a new media library mod soon. It should be pretty good. This will happen within a few days to a couple of weeks.

    3. Home Page - We're going to redesign this to a much improved version. We haven't decided exactly what to do yet. More on that soon. (also, ideas are welcome)

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  7. #7
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    Cool, I appreciate all the effort you guys are putting into this
    Your kisses, sweeter than honey. But guess what, so is my money.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Mal12345's Avatar
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    Yeah, at least he's not a do-nothing like the previous owner.
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  9. #9
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    When I go to the homepage and I'm not logged in, there's a new "Welcome to TypologyCentral" graphic. I like the graphic; it looks good, and it's genuinely welcoming. But the word "TypologyCentral" has a squiggly red "spellchecker line" under it. (That is, the squiggly red line looks like the way that Apple's spellchecker signals a misspelled word.) It looks like someone did a screengrab of the graphic while their Apple spellchecker was on and signalling that "TypologyCentral" needs correcting. IMHO, that looks a bit strange. It makes me think that *my* spellchecker is on or something.

    IOW, I'm just being picky here: You might want to consider a different way to highlight the word "TypologyCentral" in the graphic.

    But the graphic looks good otherwise.

  10. #10
    Administrator highlander's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by YUI View Post
    When I go to the homepage and I'm not logged in, there's a new "Welcome to TypologyCentral" graphic. I like the graphic; it looks good, and it's genuinely welcoming. But the word "TypologyCentral" has a squiggly red "spellchecker line" under it. (That is, the squiggly red line looks like the way that Apple's spellchecker signals a misspelled word.) It looks like someone did a screengrab of the graphic while their Apple spellchecker was on and signalling that "TypologyCentral" needs correcting. IMHO, that looks a bit strange. It makes me think that *my* spellchecker is on or something.

    IOW, I'm just being picky here: You might want to consider a different way to highlight the word "TypologyCentral" in the graphic.

    But the graphic looks good otherwise.
    Good feedback. Thank you.

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