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Thread: Forum Fragmentation

  1. #1

    Default Forum Fragmentation

    There is a delicate balance between segmenting the forums enough so that a given user doesn't need to look at posts not "interesting" to them (e.g. If you don't use the SX, don't check out the SX forum) and conversely, making the forums too fragmented, and as a result it's hard to know the best place to put something.

    As an example, should someting for a prop retro game be in the Prop forum, or in the Hydra? While if you're not using the Hydra, it seems obvious to put it in the Prop forum, but what happens of the specific "gamer" that has the answer to your question only hangs out in the Hydra forum? What about all the other "non-gamers" having to read/filter out something they really don't "care" about?

    Was it right to make a new forum for the Prop Scope vs having that in the Sensors forum? Don't know.

    Should "Wireless" have included, or be expanded to include all forms of "external" communications? Would we want to end up with a separate forum for "ethernet" communications? Should all of this be in with "Sensors" and rename "sensors" to "periphials"?

    Why isn't there a separate forum for Video on the prop?

    Now, don't take all, or any of this, as a specific suggestion, just a few thougths to ponder. I have seen, both in the hobby and professional world, forums fail by both being to fragmented, where each forum was too specific, and hence useful information harder to find/get, and also by having too few forums, and you couldn't find the post you added yesterday because of all the other "junk" in the way.

    Thus far, we've seemed to have a decent balance. Watching post numbers, etc., would be a good tell tale. If you don't see a significant number of posts in a given forum, that might be an indication that consolidation would be in order. Likewise, if the count is exceptionally hight, there MIGHT be a case for breaking the topics up.

    My personal thought would be to error on the side of too few forums. The danger of fragmentation is gernerally higher than the opposite.

    All of the above, and about $6 - $10 (depending on where you live) will get you a really nice cup of something at Starbucks.

    John R.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Forum Fragmentation


    I agree. I'm about to suggest a consolidation of PropScope and Hydra into Propeller.

    And we likely will not be creating a beginner's Propeller forum, too.

    These are all fine suggestions.

    - Ken

  3. #3

    Default Re: Forum Fragmentation

    Iam on a few forums for many things and I have found that sub forums are a simple way to reduce a mess .

    One site in mind is theccdb.com

    --------(2) Robotics ( its own forum)

    --------(2) Microcontorlers
    ---------------------(3)EOL SX
    ---------------------(3) EOL javlin
    ---------------------(3) general MCU discussion
    ---------------------(3) stamps/(Prop?) in classes.
    ---------------------(3) Hydra ?( if not moved with prop)

    ---------------------(3)Wireless ( inluding RF and AF and IR )
    ---------------------(3)Wired ( RS232 USB )
    ---------------------(3)Peripherals( Mouse SD cards ect )
    ---------------------(3)Video (
    ---------------------(3)Parallax sold sensors support ECT RFID linescan

    ---------------------(3)Compleated projects
    ---------------------(3)Works In progress ( We need this Please !)

    -------(2)Everything else
    ---------------------(3)Support for forum
    ---------------------(3)Plaxx feedback
    ---------------------(3)Test area

    the (x) is the layer deep it is from
    the idea is to have sub forums .

    One Idea I would love is to see a WIP section as this way when a user is using a Parallax Product In a project we can see it come to life and answer questions In that users project thread

    the ARLISS is a great example why I would love a WIP thread
    so is my DORTHY and other WIPs Iam involved with ..
    . it provides VERY valuable documentation!!! and once a projects is done a MOD can easly move it to the completed thread to archive .

    We can now not just learn of a completed item but also the flow of HOW we got from "Idea" to "Item" .
    Some times the journey is more valuable then the outcome .
    EG My kA Speed con .

    for the IO forum .

    haveing a sub forum for just Items Parallax sells would make helping those with the RFID reader get help fast and may reduce the need for multaple users asking the same Questiions over and over ( demo code can be posted here too) .

    the Peripherals would be for like Sparkfun GPS or make your own line sensor or Batt guage reader or what not .

    the stuff on C VS Basic VS ASM would go in the General MCU decuessions section

    Now the EOLed stuff is tricky I admit , but Like parallax said there EOLed not dead ! so they desirve a spot in the MCU area .

    Sadly I dont have a area for the PropScope and I dont think it should be in the MCU eather .

    but its far to importaint to stick in the IO> Parallax sold suppport area.
    Last edited by Peter KG6LSE; 09-03-2010 at 03:32 AM.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Forum Fragmentation

    Peter's post is kind of what I meant by "fragmentation", almost to the extreme. If you get that granular, you need everyone to post to exactly the right place. That simply doesn't happen, and won't happen (ask PJ...).

    It's a nice concept, but my personal experience is that it just doesn't work out in practice.

    You can get the same effect (to some extent) by using tags. This can, if used effectively, but even more useful.

    again, these opinions and about $6 - $10 (depending on where you live) will get you a really nice cup of something at Starbucks.

    John R.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Forum Fragmentation

    John, I guess I feel akward posting Parallax products based WIPs in the sandbox.

    How come it wont happen?
    I assume the user base here can handle it .
    the CATS costumers have had almost no issues with mis posting .
    and the users there are much younger ...
    Last edited by Peter KG6LSE; 09-03-2010 at 03:09 PM.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Forum Fragmentation

    One thing that can help to alleviate uncertainty about where to post is the use of tags. If you are not sure about where to post, just pick one and label your thread with tags that refer to the other possible areas. Tags are new to this forum; dotNetBB did not have them. Frankly, it takes discipline to use them consistently, and I suspect that no one -- myself included -- has even begun to explore their potential.

    As an aside, if I were designing forum software from scratch, there would be only one place to post a new thread, and the tags you select would determine which forums (yes, plural) the thread appeared in. Responses to the OP would also appear in all those forums. But I've got other fish to fry; and, besides, the new forum is pretty darn nice!

    Last edited by Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi); 09-03-2010 at 05:09 PM.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Forum Fragmentation

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter KG6LSE View Post

    How come it wont happen?
    For the most part, it would probably happen. There will be missposts, it happens now, somewhat routinely. A "prop only" member posts about a wall wart or "whatever" in the Prop forum, because that's where he's used to posting, and in his mind, it's for his prop work, even though the question has nothing to do with the prop.

    More significantly from my standpoint, and more the point of my original post, it is my experience (see disclaimers in prior posts) that many users don't like having to sort through multiple forums, and would just as soon have fewer, if broader, forums, within reason.

    I'm generally a very heirarchical guy, Unix file structures have nothing on my hard drive storage structure. It just seems that people (self included) deal differently with forums.

    The thing that can happen with fragmentation is that the feeling of "community" can get lost, or fragmented as well. This would be a real shame in the case of the Parallax forums.

    John R.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Forum Fragmentation

    My only true wish is to have a WIP section .

    would LOVE a shout box .
    Last edited by Peter KG6LSE; 09-03-2010 at 06:25 PM.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Forum Fragmentation

    I think a lot of mis-posts to the Prop forum occur because it's the top forum in the list. This problem could probably be alleviated by putting the Sandbox at the top, since that's where most of such mis-posts belong anyway. I'm not sure that would align with Parallax's objective to give the Propeller prominence, though.


  10. #10

    Default Re: Forum Fragmentation

    Or perhaps people post stuff to the Prop forum, because that is the only one the majority of members read....Separating the various threads is a good idea, but i don't think people will stop showing favoritism to a particular forum

  11. #11

    Default Re: Forum Fragmentation

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Gracey (Parallax) View Post
    I'm about to suggest a consolidation of PropScope and Hydra into Propeller.

    The very reason I have posted in the Hydra forum is that I did not think some things "fit" in the Propeller forum, or code that would not make sense to have in the OBEX. Just thinking out loud--would merging the content into the Completed Projects forum make more sense? They are mostly software projects--however if those, "retro computer emulation" threads, and VM threads were moved to a projects/completed projects forum, it might help alleviate some of the "clutter."


  12. #12
    prof_braino's Avatar
    Between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge
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    Default Re: Forum Fragmentation

    Tags or keywords?

    Folks post where ever they think is appropriate, and everybody things different (from me at least). Thus fragmentation.

    BUT the words used (sensor, spin, H-bridge, servo) could be used as search criteria and or presented in a list of most frequently occuring words or something. I would certainly want to see all post containing "haptic vision" but I wouldn't know what thread to look in.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Forum Fragmentation

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter KG6LSE View Post
    My only true wish is to have a WIP section .

    would LOVE a shout box .
    It sounds like you are suggesting the same sort of thing I was trying to get at.

    Separating "discussion" from "projects (WIP/completed)" would be great.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Forum Fragmentation

    trodoss Exactly .

    with a WIP thread we can see the trials and errors of our projects .
    I learn a lot form what NOT to do . Or things that do not work .

    Seeing a Project come together is a way to show others HOW you got from A to B . this way if someone wants to see how they can .
    engineering is not just Idea to item .

    there are many steps along the way . and if we as a community want to
    Improve and learn . not just "Do" . we need to document every step .

    I was the person who NEVER documented a single thing Until I started college 5 Y ago . now I have a pile of Flash drives with My projects on them .. Video Audio Notes text PDFs .I save it all!
    cause I know its the Key to my success.

    Now as it is we do document mostly only After the Item is fully debuged . this is OK from a replication standpoint .
    But I see a item on Here that I want to make .
    Il never know what did not work . so If I try a Alternative way to get from Idea to Item and the Original builder already tryed it to but it did not work I would Never know . and I would waist time on a bad Alternative way to make said idea In to Item.

    So having a WIP Only Forum and then a Completed Projects Forum would be Ideal .
    this way If a "Idea" does not Become a "Item" we don't clutter the Completed Projects Forum .

  15. #15

    Default Re: Forum Fragmentation

    It seems to me that the individual forums (Propeller, BASIC Stamp, Robotics, etc.) already serve the same purpose as a Work-in-progress forum would, except that they're better targeted to their intended audiences. I don't any advantage to having a separate WIP forum. In fact, I think you'd lose part of your intended readership, and Parallax would lose the product line focus that the forums are, in part, intended to provide.


  16. #16

    Default Re: Forum Fragmentation

    @Peter KG6LSE,
    I do like documentation/organization, however I am actually coming from a slightly different perspective.

    I have seen lots of excellent Propeller projects that within days/weeks/months "roll off" the Propeller forum when there is no more activity on the thread. Maybe you have experienced this yourself.

    There have been several users that have started their own threads, linking threads together (see: Clusso99's retro emulation threads, or the Hydra forum projects master list). There have also been attempts by other users to link to content off site to showcase excellent Propeller projects.

    Granted, the new forum software is easier to search. However, you still have to know *to* search for something specific, rather than being able to see what has been done easily.

    I am sure you know better than I do about the content of the forums. I cannot say that I have done more than casually browsed some of the others from time to time, and could not say what are the significant projects in those forums. Would I find that information useful/interesting/inspiring? Of course. A lot of my exposure to BASIC Stamp projects, for instance, has been through sites like HackADay, where project information is being distilled.

    Separating out discussion vs. projects is, after all, just a suggestion -- and should be seen as that (no more, no less)

  17. #17

    Default Re: Forum Fragmentation

    I took a look at the Tags functionality and read the FAQ, so I could understand your suggestion better.

    As you had mentioned, it's success would be highly dependent on a lot of user involvement. Certianly if they (tags) were required for a post it would be best. I don't think "auto tagging" (even if it was an option) would work though. The tags "basic, stamp, propeller, robotics" would be far too frequent to be useful.

    For those people maintaining lists of "interesting posts" on their own website, I could see how it would be worth their time to tag posts, and link to them that way.

    It would be nice though if there could be a categorized display of the tags, instead of the "cloud" form, and could be made more prominent.

    A "sticky" thread at the top of the forum, if that would be permitted, would be a way of accomplishing that. Again though, that would require significant user involvement, unless there is some way to automate the process.

    Last edited by trodoss; 09-07-2010 at 02:18 PM.

  18. #18

    Default Re: Forum Fragmentation

    Another way to solve this problem would be to have user blogs. Each user then, could use that blog to update whatever things they find useful to update.

    For a good model of this: http://www.atariage.com

    That community organization is fantastic, but too broad for our use case here. I do like the blogs though.
    Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball! @opengeekorg ---> Be Excellent To One Another

    Parallax colors simplified: http://forums.parallax.com/showthrea...hics_Demo.spin
    PropGCC Mac OS 10.6.8 + https://www.dropbox.com/s/539urmnpem...allax.zip?dl=0

  19. #19

    Default Re: Forum Fragmentation

    Blogs are coming when we upgrade to the next full release of this system. I don't have details on how this will be rolled out but you can see one way it can be implemented here.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Forum Fragmentation

    Excellent!! I think this will go a long way toward addressing the project status concerns.

    On the other site I linked, it's not uncommon for threads to be started for new development, with the author keeping overall status notes, latest versions, and other things of interest in the blog.

    Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball! @opengeekorg ---> Be Excellent To One Another

    Parallax colors simplified: http://forums.parallax.com/showthrea...hics_Demo.spin
    PropGCC Mac OS 10.6.8 + https://www.dropbox.com/s/539urmnpem...allax.zip?dl=0

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