View Full Version : Another Question for Scott about Social Groups

Barbara Shultz
Sep-24-2009, 3:14pm
Scott, you probably are aware that the Song A Week Social group is growing in leaps and bounds, and because of that, we are having growing pains! Mostly pains in tweaking the format, and in my trying to stay on top of things... right now, its in the table of contents issue. As of now, we are up to 224 members, with 4750 messages within 250 discussions!

When the suggestion for needing table of contents came up early on, I figured out a way to do it, and just now, a member came up with a good idea to streamline the look, and the user-friendliness, and less work for me, the administrator!

Another member has come up with an additional suggestion, but I don't know how much flexibility you have within the framework of the program that the social groups are in (not knowing good computer geek words, I may not be making much sense!)

We have divided the types of discussions into "official tune of the week", "other tunes" and "discussions". People participating right now, just click, 'post a discussion' and post. I have created 'table of contents' discussions (one for each category) and I have to stay on top of manually adding a link to new discussions as they come in, into the proper table of contents discussion.

Is there anyway that when our members want to post a new discussion, they would have to chose from one of those categories, and having our message board divided into those groups. Maybe something along the line of the regular message boards, which have categories within categories?

AND is there anything in place that could then automatically put links to those posts in some kind of table of contents or directory?

I took on this in the beginning, and am having fun doing it, BUT, I'm truly pretty ignorant in how things work behind the scenes! I'm most a WYSIWYG person!


Scott Tichenor
Sep-24-2009, 5:39pm
Barbara, first, I applaud your efforts!

The Social Groups don't have a sub-category function, so dividing those as you describe isn't an option.

I'm surprised you've taken the effort to build a manual table of contents. The purpose of a forum is to list discussions in the order in which they're being updated--so that someone doesn't have to do that manually. The social groups have a feature where you can view by creation date, or by last post. Imagine someone trying to do a table of contents for one the forums on the message board with several thousand threads, and your group is heading that direction. Will you want to do this a year from now when there are five times as many users and threads? I'm not trying to discourage you, but I'd question whether this can be maintained in this fashion long term. As someone that's brought himself to the brink of burnout on the web way, way too many times, I hope you can keep it up if that's what you choose, and it remains fun.

That said, I see the value of a list of available tunes being discussed. But there's also a search function for each group. I used that to easily locate several tunes I didn't know you'd discussed and didn't have a problem.

Looking around your group I also see a separate entry for a link to each poll. That's a lot of clutter, and about 20+ some additional threads. You don't really have that many threads... yet. Maybe one single thread for links to each new poll, and have the discussions occur on the message board with the poll. Just a thought. Too many trees--hard to see the forest.

There is nothing in place to auto-create a table of contents. In a way, the forum already does that, but I know, that wasn't the question. The reason I'm making some suggestions that you haven't brought up is because I think there are some easy fixes/rules/guidelines that could be put in place to ease up the organizational needs.

This is probably disappointing to hear this, but the nature of how forums are constructed make this beyond what is capable in my hands. These are enormous and complicated programs, and we're subject to upgrades by the commercial developer that come at us on a regular basis, so changing the rules of the program puts everything at risk when new code and templates are added.

My recommendation would be to take a hard look at what's manageable and stick with it, and let the strengths of the program in place do most of the work.

Barbara Shultz
Sep-24-2009, 5:46pm
Scott, thanks for your speedy reply, I thought that was likely the answer.

The whole Table of Contents issue... that's what they wanted. If I had to start NOW and do it, it would be overwhelming, but, since I update them as they come in, it's not too bad. It was even manageable when I was gone for most of a month, and had to update when I returned!

Who knows how it will be managed years from now.... but who knew it would grow the way it has! Compared to all the other groups... well, I'd be willing to bet that this one group probably has more posts than all the other social groups combined!

Thanks, Barb

Scott Tichenor
Sep-24-2009, 5:56pm
I'm all for improving functionality when possible. The social group features aren't as robust as other areas of the forum, but I can't even imagine some of these features in Facebook or any other social networking host. Social groups are still a relatively new feature to most forum software developers, and your group is using it beyond what it was built for. That's good, I have no problem with that. I really do think the users of the group should, with your guidance, take a look at how they're using that space. There's room for improvement there, and having those members observe some basic changes would go a long way in improving their experience.