WelcomeSaturday, November 26th, 2022
While playing around with the beta forums software, I got to thinking about the massive number of forums we actually have here. I'm a bit torn about how I feel about that. So, I figured I'd pose the question here, since there's never a shortage of opinions amongst a group of surveyors.
Do we have too many forums?
I mean, take a look at the surveying-related forums list on the Forums Index page... does it seem excessive, or is it just good organization?
You can see that some of them have very few posts. The "Surveying & Geomatics" forum is indeed the largest by far, but it is sort of a catch-all for topics that are surveying-related but don't necessarily fit in any of the other forums. It's not really fair to compare the other forums to that one.
To be clear, my intent was to address SEO (search engine optimization) for each of the forums, in an attempt to increase traffic. It certainly hasn't been a negative effect in that regard, but I can't say it's improved search rankings. At the end of the day, people mostly find us through Google searches, and it doesn't really matter which forum they are in, because they just click to go right to a particular topic.
Considering all of the above, should we consolidate our list of forums?
What is a good core set of forums?
Assuming we decide that we should indeed consolidate the forums, we are then left with additional questions: Which ones do we keep, which ones do we merge, and where do we merge them?
I would love to get your opinions on all of the above.
As always, thank you for your feedback! I welcome simple responses, elaborate responses, or anywhere in between. Just hoping for some guidance from the folks that use this website the most. 🤠 😎 😀
Surveying (all categories), Lost & Stolen, Rest in Peace, Wanting to Buy/For Sale (condensed into one topic), and General should make the topic management easier. I browse by Recent or Unread, not by specific topic. Keep it short & simple.
Wendel, I always go to "recent". I have never clicked on a forum. If I were posting questions and wondering what forum was the correct one it might be different. I do often arrive from a search site, and stick with the search results. Merging or not would have no affect on me. Your search engine optimization seems to be working as I usually find a link to this site when searching a survey related question. Now how to get it into the top results is a question for forum professionals and Google sales teams. Den
Go to recent as my standard search.
Also someone who only uses the recent page and only thinks about other pages when listing a new topic.
Perhaps just "surveying" and "private" for messages you have to be logged in to read? Possibly with buy/sell hashtag etc so you can filter them on search (which I guess is not any different to having a separate page for them).
Sponsor posts could be pinned to top of list for say a week and then just revert to their place in forum history?
You have a bunch of forums? All I ever look at are the recent posts. In my mind there is only 1 forum and that is surveyor connect with a bunch of different categories that people post in and I use "recent" to pick which posts to read.
I, too, always go to recent posts first thing. I was thinking about making that the homepage, which makes the most sense to me.
In the short time since posting this topic, I feel like I'm starting to lean toward minimalist, as @kevin-hines implied above. It would make the process of posting a topic simpler and might even entice people to do it more often.
Another here who uses a bookmark for Recent.
"Recent" user here, too. Sometimes when posting a new topic I have a hard time figuring out which forum would be best, so some consolidation probably makes sense.
As most repliers the Recent page is bookmarked and my come-to place. I see the real forum index page max. 5 times a year I guess. For those of us who visit on a daily base that works very good, not sure how that works for someone who checks in once a month/year of how the new members got an idea of what's available here.
Is it worth spending time reorganizing again?
My bookmark goes to the main page, from there I bounce between unread and recent, unread being the primary "go to".
Count me in as one who has my bookmark to go straight to the "Recent" page. The sub-forum doesn't matter at all to me.
1. All of the forums under the "Marketplace" heading could be amalgamated. Same with "Help & Information".
2. All those under "Non-surveying" could be as well except Computers and Tech, which I'd move to under "Surveying and Related". I'd then rename that forum "General Discussion" or something like that.
3. I'd amalgamate "Memes for Surveyors" and "Today's Office" into the "General Discussion" forum.
4. Finally, I'd amalgamate the "Precision Ag", "Forensic Surveying" , "Bathymetric Surveying" forums to a "Specialized Surveys" forum.
For the record, I'm going for "Recent" 99.9% of the time.
I'm recent, or at least my "go to" is : less said about my age the better!
Today I've taken the first steps toward consolidating the various forums. For this first phase, I've taken it down from 29 forums to 17.
- "For Sale" and "Want To Buy" forums were merged and changed to "Classifieds: Buy, Sell & Trade". I created prefixes so that when you post in the new Classifieds forum, you can select the kind of post from a dropdown next to the title field (for sale, wanted, etc.).
- Several low traffic surveying-related forums were merged into "Surveying & Geomatics".
- Most of the Non-Surveying forums were merged into the "General Chit-Chat" forum. I haven't decided what to do with Humor yet, but I'm leaning toward merging it as well. If I do merge it, I may create a "Humor" prefix.
- "Looking For Work" was merged into the "Surveying Jobs" forum. I've added appropriate prefixes there as well.
- I've added a "Sponsored" prefix to the "Surveying & Geomatics" forum, then moved all the "Vendor Showcase" posts there.
- "The Playground" went bye bye.
- I think I'm going to remove News & Announcements from the forum altogether and put them into a blog. The FAQ forum may go along for the ride.
- Also thinking about moving Support-related topics out of the forum and creating a separate place for support (much like a support ticketing system like I use for my web design clients).
- I think the "Ask A Surveyor" forum pretty much needs to stay -- it's a place for landowners and other non-surveyors to ask questions. It seems appropriate to keep it separated.
- As for "Education & Training", I'm seriously considering setting up an "Upcoming Events" section (not in the forum) where I'd allow event submissions. If we could collectively get people to submit events, we could have a pretty awesome calendar system to help everyone find and attend conventions, webinars, workshops, etc. General discussions about education could continue to take place in the "Surveying & Geomatics" forum.
This is just what I've done so far, and it's amazing to me that I managed to nearly halve the number of forums. It's already less complicated. I'm not 100% sure how I feel about merging the remaining surveying-related forums -- it's a tough one for me. Once they are merged, there's no good way to pull them back out. So once it's done, it's really, really done.
I really appreciate your feedback! Wondering how you feel about it now that I've thinned it down so much. 🙂