Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A thought about GBKD format

So I was thinking today... we never really did find an ideal solution to the issue of making comments easy to keep tabs on. This makes having "conversations" through the blog more difficult. Haloscan looked good but it had some problems... like not being able to see who made the comments, and also making all previous non-Haloscan comments invisible.

One option is to change the format of GBKD from a blog to a messageboard. For anyone who hasn't visited or used messageboards before, it means that instead of posts, you have threads - a thread is like a conversation. One person starts it, then anyone who's registered to use the messageboard can add to the thread. The main difference between a blog and a messageboard is how it's displayed - each thread is shown with an icon or bold text to tell you whether anything new has been posted in that thread since you last checked it.

Messageboards can also be divided into sub-topics: for example, in addition to a section for general news about our lives, a GBKD messageboard might have a Crafting section, a Travelogue section... mmm, what else.... maybe a Recipes section. And whatever else we want, really.

Here's an example:

Of course, there's a lot of customizing that can be done so that it looks pretty and has functions we like.

Is anyone else interested in this idea?


Abby said...

I use message boards all the time and like how they work so I would be all for this.

Sally's sister said...

sounds good to me!

Sparkling Squirrel said...

I am not opposed to a change in format, however I'm not certain it will solve our problems. When I asked the Mister, who reads many more blogs and message boards, he was at first very opposed, "Message boards are great for discussions, but really poor for general updates."
So: -message board is much better for real discussions, particularly those that last a long time.
-blog generally better for updates.
-message boards vary greatly in how easy it is to tell if something has been updated, but could likely be adjusted to that it is very obvious.
-I personally like scanning photos and such: I'm unlikely to spend much time clicking through to bee photos, but love seeing them when posted. Most message boards don't have such photos (although I don't know that they can't).
-I wouldn't be suprised that the net total is about the same amount of time checking and clicking through.
-One big advantage of blogger is that it requires no maintenance on anyone's part. I won't speak to message boards (I'd still be more moving to moveabletype, the platform for norlos, if anybody had a mac and wanted to host, if I didn't know that the administrator of Norlos still has to work on it).

Anyway, I'd be fine with a message board, but I think it might reduce our ability to quickly read through personal updates and photos when we do check.

Irene said...

I don't know a whole lot about the maintenance part, I'll admit. I know Vlad has promised that he can set one up for us quickly and easily (and for free, without ads) if we desire it. I don't think it would require much effort to maintain, but I suppose there is the risk that if for some reason Vlad's web-hosting service stopped, we could lose the messageboard if it wasn't backed up.

Messageboards usually make it clear which posts you have read yet and which have been updated since you've last visited. I think the reason the Mister says they're not as good for general updates is that when you visit the site, you have to click on a heading to see each individual post, rather than automatically seeing the most recent one as soon as the page loads.

The photos part shouldn't be a problem - they can certainly be displayed without having to click.

I guess it all depends whether we collectively decide that we prefer ease-of-discussion, or ease-and-speed-of-seeing-latest-post.

Sparkling Squirrel said...

I think this is mostly an issue for our less frequent readers. Irene, Sal Sis, TT (when home and not dissertating), . . .me; I think I can rightly say that we will click however many times we need to read what our friends are up to. I would like to see longer discussions (thus pro message board) and will check pretty much everyday, just like I do now.
My concern is for the Cheryls, Mollys and Cathys of our blog. Will people who don't check regularly not click through on a message board? Or check more regularly because there are more discussions? (although I don't attribute much about lack of discussion to format-- I think it's more of a function of having a fairly small group of very busy people-- less than half of our posts have even one comment).

So I shouldn't speak for such people-- sporadic readers with field work-- what are your thoughts on format?

Erin said...

I will probably check a message board as frequently (or infrequently) as I check the blog. And I like the idea of seeing the posts I haven't read yet. As long as it is as easy to upload photos and make web links (like it is on blogspot) then I don't mind switching.

Irene said...

I guess one reason *not* to switch is that people have gotten used to this particular location and format - I don't want to "lose" anyone if we were to move. More likely, again, to be a problem for those who don't have time to check often.