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#1 2014-08-13 02:40:36

iMic
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From: Adelaide, Australia
Registered: 2014-05-12
Posts: 916
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Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

Over the last couple of months we've been considering a restructuring of the forum index to better suit the needs of the community. We currently have some dedicated areas for specific models and some limited general technical forums, but it leaves a lot of potential discussion areas uncovered.


For example, say I have a thread about the cooling systems in PowerPC Macs. It applies to all models, not just a specific product line. Where do I post it? I can't post it in the Machine-Specific Forums, since it's not Machine-Specific. I can't post it in Hacks & Modifications, since it isn't a hack or modification. It's not a Peripheral, it's not a Handheld. It has nothing to do with Software. The Front Bar is for off-topic discussions, and yet this is relevant to the subject matter of our forums.

This same issue arises if someone wanted to discuss their vintage Intel based Mac. We do technically support them since they're an unsupported machine, but we don't have any suitable areas to discuss them. The Front Bar isn't suitable for it since it's an off-topic discussion forum and not a technical forum.

What we would need is some kind of general technical discussion area that covers some of the broader areas of computing, an area where topics that aren't specific to any particular model or series can be discussed on a thread-by-thread basis. A Tech Talk section, if you will.


Then there's the issue of Newtons. We have a dedicated forum for them, but currently we have it down in our "Other Forums" section. We've been thinking that since the Newton is a product line and platform in itself, we could probably move it into the "Machine-Specific Forums" along with the Apple I, II, III, Lisa and Macintosh.


We could then take the "Other Forums" category, rename it to "Technical Forums" since that's what it would consist entirely of, and move it to a more prominent location toward the top of the forum where it's more noticeable. The "Machine-Specific Forums" would still remain and be the same as ever, but would be moved down into third place.


With these proposed changes, the forum index would then look like this:


### Community Forums ###

* Community News & Discussion
* Front Bar
* Members' Machines
* Buy, Sell & Trade

### Technical Forums ###

* Tech Talk
* Hacks & Modifications
* Software
* Peripherals & Accessories

### Machine-Specific Forums ###

* Apple I, II, III & Lisa
* Compact Mac
* Quadra, Centris & Mac II
* Performa & LC
* Power Macintosh
* iMac & Power Mac
* PowerBook, iBook & Portables
* Other
* Newton & Handhelds


Since this is a community matter that directly affects how our content is stored and presented, it's open to feedback from everyone.

Likewise, Tech Talk is only a working title and is something that we could discuss further.

We don't want to clutter the index too much or split the forums into any more discussion areas than is absolutely necessary, but this seems like a fair compromise and something we could work with as the community grows.


Cheers,

~ iMic.


Resident Professor of Alternative Methodology
Faculty of Macintosh Restorations & Modifications - "It works, let's fix it!"

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#2 2014-08-13 21:22:36

cc333
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From: North S.F. Bay Area, CA
Registered: 2014-05-23
Posts: 589

Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

It looks pretty good, but I have some suggestions:

Under Machine-Specific, maybe we can split it up a bit, in the style of 68k MLA (a style I sort of like, as it just seems cleaner somehow), like this:

###Machine-Specific Forums###

Non-Mac Platforms
* Apple I, II, III & Lisa
* Newton & Handhelds
* Early iDevices *(iPhone 2G and 3G, iPod Touch first and second gen, and first gen iPad)

68k-Based Macs
* Compact Mac
* Quadra, Centris & Mac II
* 68k Performas & LCs
* Mac Portable/68k PowerBooks

PowerPC-Based Macs
* Pre-G3 Power Macintosh and Performas
* Power Mac G3/G4/G5
* iMac, eMac, Mac Mini
* PowerPC PowerBook and iBook

Early Intel Macs *(anything that doesn't support at least Mac OS X Lion)
* 2006/2007 Mac Pro
* CoreDuo Mac Mini and iMac
* CoreDuo MacBook and MacBook Pro

EDIT: We can keep "other", but how about giving it a more descriptive title, like, "Uncommon Macs" or "Rare and Special Macs"? It presents a problem though, since it doesn't really fit in any of the categories I've layed out.

I know it seems busier, but sometimes that's what it takes to get discussions properly organized (for instance, discussion on the vintage Intel Macs is significant enough at this point that I think they warrant their own set of subforums).

And "Tech Talk" could be called "General Tech Discussion" or something similar which would have a nicer flow to it.

Thoughts?

c

Last edited by cc333 (2014-08-13 21:43:25)


Main Macs: Early '09 Mac Pro, Mid '12 MacBook Pro 13"
Secondary Macs: Early '08 Mac Pro, Mid '12 MacBook Pro 15"
Playthings: Mac SE/30, 3.0 GHz Mavericks-based HackServe, Many others....
Desired: Lisa, Kanga PowerBook G3, Apple IIc, Apple II, Spare parts, etc.

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#3 2014-08-13 23:23:21

bbraun
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Registered: 2014-05-29
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Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

It seems to me there's 2 general philosophies to follow:

1) Meet the needs of the community.  Start small, and provide what the community needs, when it needs it.  For instance, right now, there's only one post in PowerMacintosh and Newton & Handhelds (and the one in the Newton & Handhelds isn't even about a Newton smile ).  Does the community, as it stands now, benefit from these model-specific categories, or would something like

Macs
* 68k
* OldWorld
* NewWorld
* Intel

Non-Mac Apple Platforms:
* Apple ][ Family
* Pre-iDevice Handhelds
* iDevices

make more sense?  Then, if one of the forums starts getting sufficiently busy that we can't keep track of the posts, start splitting it out.

2) Design for what you want the community to be.  Shape the community with the layout.  If you've got a vision for the type of community you want to attract, design for that.  The "If you build it, they will come" approach.  I have no such vision, so I can't help you here.  We're already kind of guiding things as is, with the emphasis on hardware.  We've broken out every hardware product family into its own forum, and have almost 40 years of software in a single forum.

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#4 2014-08-14 00:29:45

iMic
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From: Adelaide, Australia
Registered: 2014-05-12
Posts: 916
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Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

cc333 wrote:

It looks pretty good, but I have some suggestions:

Under Machine-Specific, maybe we can split it up a bit, in the style of 68k MLA (a style I sort of like, as it just seems cleaner somehow), like this:

~

We've received some criticism in the past for our current forum structure, mainly from those that think it's similar to the 68kMLA model. We ideally want to branch out and move toward our own forum structure model than adopt theirs.


bbraun wrote:

It seems to me there's 2 general philosophies to follow:

1) Meet the needs of the community.  Start small, and provide what the community needs, when it needs it.  For instance, right now, there's only one post in PowerMacintosh and Newton & Handhelds (and the one in the Newton & Handhelds isn't even about a Newton smile ).  Does the community, as it stands now, benefit from these model-specific categories, or would something like

Macs
* 68k
* OldWorld
* NewWorld
* Intel

Non-Mac Apple Platforms:
* Apple ][ Family
* Pre-iDevice Handhelds
* iDevices

make more sense?  Then, if one of the forums starts getting sufficiently busy that we can't keep track of the posts, start splitting it out.

While having a limited set of forums and categories is recommended in the earliest stages of establishing a forum, we had to consider a major drawback in this method. As the forums expand and we manually split each forum into dedicated discussion areas, we need to manually filter the threads in each forum and move them into the appropriate split forums. This would require opening each thread, reading its contents and determining the appropriate location for it, then performing a move operation.

So while having fewer forums works now, it would require a lot of effort and probably quite a few people to correct it when the forum increases in size.


bbraun wrote:

2) Design for what you want the community to be.  Shape the community with the layout.  If you've got a vision for the type of community you want to attract, design for that.  The "If you build it, they will come" approach.  I have no such vision, so I can't help you here.  We're already kind of guiding things as is, with the emphasis on hardware.  We've broken out every hardware product family into its own forum, and have almost 40 years of software in a single forum.

Here's the alternative side, and I'll address cc333's recommendations here as well. Starting a community with a large set of forums thins out the content. Since new users want to see activity in a forum, thinning out the content can have an adverse effect on growth since the forums will look emptier for much longer until enough users come on board to populate each forum. This is why we didn't want to expand out into additional categories or into additional forums.

I have found it a little unusual that we can cover several decades of software in one forum while having dedicated areas for each generation of hardware. This seems to be a common trend across computing forums. The challenge is knowing how to effectively split up a software area. One common solution is to separate it into a dedicated area for Operating Systems, one for Applications and one for Drivers & Firmware. It doesn't really solve the issue of spanning multiple eras and generations of software though. Because software tends to blur together as well (an Application issue could also be an Operating System problem), selecting the appropriate sub-forum for a software question can be difficult.

We chose to consolidate the software discussions into a single forum for now and see how it develops before coming up with a solution that suits our needs.


Resident Professor of Alternative Methodology
Faculty of Macintosh Restorations & Modifications - "It works, let's fix it!"

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#5 2014-08-18 00:07:51

Mk.558
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Registered: 2014-07-08
Posts: 160

Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

Of primary consideration is that the 68kmla style thread layout is probably undesirable because this forum isn't popular enough to warrant it yet.

mac68k.info has only four subsections, and it's a small forum, so it's fine. I think bbraun's suggestion is good.


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#6 2014-08-19 02:19:00

iMic
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From: Adelaide, Australia
Registered: 2014-05-12
Posts: 916
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Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

Mk.558 wrote:

Of primary consideration is that the 68kmla style thread layout is probably undesirable because this forum isn't popular enough to warrant it yet.

Absolutely, I think we'd run into issues if we broke up the forums into that many separate discussion areas at this stage.


I think at the moment we are using more forums than required, but we decided to configure the board this way to save having to make dramatic cuts and changes to the structure later on.

One such major issue is that splitting the number of discussion areas up later on to cater for demand would require moving hundreds of existing threads into newly created sub-forums, requiring some downtime while we sort them manually and breaking all of our existing inbound links in search engine results and from external sites.

Starting off with more forums than required has resulted in a few challenges for us, but thankfully it's worked out better than expected so far.


I'll continue looking over the suggestions put forward in this thread so far.

At the moment I'm thinking of letting the current forum structure continue for a while longer with the possibility of revisiting it at a later date. We can still make minor changes if absolutely necessary between now and then.


Resident Professor of Alternative Methodology
Faculty of Macintosh Restorations & Modifications - "It works, let's fix it!"

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#7 2014-08-19 04:13:22

cc333
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From: North S.F. Bay Area, CA
Registered: 2014-05-23
Posts: 589

Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

Yeah, good thinking.

My suggestions were overkill anyway, now that I think about it.

One thing that would be accomplished quite trivially, however, is to change the "Other" sub forum to something more descriptive (like, "Special/Rare Machines" or some such).

Keep up the good work!

c


Main Macs: Early '09 Mac Pro, Mid '12 MacBook Pro 13"
Secondary Macs: Early '08 Mac Pro, Mid '12 MacBook Pro 15"
Playthings: Mac SE/30, 3.0 GHz Mavericks-based HackServe, Many others....
Desired: Lisa, Kanga PowerBook G3, Apple IIc, Apple II, Spare parts, etc.

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#8 2014-10-05 20:08:22

iMic
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From: Adelaide, Australia
Registered: 2014-05-12
Posts: 916
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Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

We're revisiting some of the suggestions made in this thread, but I need to address a few issues here.

Some of our users have requested that we further expand the forums out into individual sub-forums. For example, expanding Peripherals out to individual forums for Disk Drives, Video Cards, etc. We simply won't be able to do this. Even in discussion forums with hundreds of users, this would dilute the peripherals discussions down much too far. We'd never be able to build enough activity around each individual discussion area.

We've also been asked to consider consolidating discussions down in the Machine-Specific Forums. This is something we would be open to discuss and possibly act on, but we need to determine the best way of doing this. Some suggestions we've received include reducing those discussions down to simply Desktops, Notebooks and Servers, but this feels like overkill. While a Macintosh 128k and a Power Mac G5 are both desktops, they're dramatically different machines internally and in components (the 128k has an internal CRT, for example) and so throwing them together into a single discussion forum doesn't feel like a wise move. Not to mention the differences in software and capabilities between Old World and New World systems.

If we can streamline the forums sufficiently, we may also consider taking on some other discussion areas, like the recently discontinued iPod (classic) line.

We need to come to some sort of agreement between users on what they think is best for the community, and then reach an agreement between that and what we want the community to be and what interest groups we intend to target in the future. Because this is a discussion with significantly different viewpoints from everyone involved, the administration will reserve the final call on what we choose to do.


Resident Professor of Alternative Methodology
Faculty of Macintosh Restorations & Modifications - "It works, let's fix it!"

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#9 2014-10-06 12:48:48

jt
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From: Bermuda Triangle, NC USA
Registered: 2014-05-21
Posts: 1,420

Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

My only suggestion for additions ATM would be a support forum for Accelerators, PPC Upgrade Cards, PC Compatibility Cards, Overclocking and the like. Maximizing performance and compatibility (unsupported OS workarounds like "I wish I were" and ROM SIMM swaps) of Macs would another of those general cross platform topics.

Such seems only peripherally supported and much diluted in all forums with which I'm familiar. Intentionally blurring machine specific distinctions/capabilities which were supported/provided even by Apple (PPC Upgrades, up to and including the enigma that is the Duo 2300c for example) and the many dedicated second source "Performance Parts" mfrs. has a long, far-reaching and fascinating history.

Since we're organized more along the lines of Auto Forums than the likes of 'fritter/MLA etc, a Performance Shop/Auto Show Dream Car sort of deal seems appropriate. Think of it as the Yang balancing mcd's auto-restoration purist's Yin approach to retro-computing. For me, such discussions are by far the most interesting and the subject isn't really appropriate to machine specific, hacks or software forums.

____________________________________________________


I'd like to see something like 'fritter's "Other Tech" as well, but that might not be appropriate considering mission statement/focus/whatever.

Last edited by jt (2014-10-06 12:58:02)

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#10 2014-10-08 19:37:26

iMic
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From: Adelaide, Australia
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Posts: 916
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Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

Well, what I would like to do with this community is consolidate a few of the discussion areas. We've been asked if we could possibly bring some separate machine categories together under one umbrella, namely into a structure similar to:

  • 68k Desktops

  • 68k Notebooks

  • PowerPC OldWorld Desktops

  • PowerPC OldWorld Notebooks

  • PowerPC NewWorld Desktops

  • PowerPC NewWorld Notebooks

However there's some overlap between these categories (such as in the PowerBook G3 line from Wallstreet/PDQ to Lombard/Pismo) and some categories contain models that justify their own forums, like Compact Macs which are a dramatically different beast to a Macintosh II series machine.

I must remind everyone that reducing the forums down too far - which would be the case if we were to only have separate forums for Desktops, Notebooks and Servers for example - would create a nightmare situation that makes it harder to locate relevant content within the forums, and any attempts to move threads into their appropriate sub-forums at a later date would require a lot of manual moving of topics.

If we aren't able to devise a better solution, then I'll call the current forum layout good, perhaps with some minor tweaks. This isn't something I intend to keep worrying about beyond the next week at the most without at least a start toward a viable solution.

I've explored some of the options and started looking into other options, but since the requests to restructure the forums haven't come from within and I don't particularly think what we have is terrible as-is, I can't make the call to proceed on any alterations.


Resident Professor of Alternative Methodology
Faculty of Macintosh Restorations & Modifications - "It works, let's fix it!"

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#11 2014-10-08 23:32:31

mcdermd
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From: Corvallis, OR
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Posts: 988
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Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

New World/Old World isn't a really evident split for anyone just starting in the hobby.


Daily Drivers: 27" iMac 2.8 GHz Quad-Core i7 (Late 2009), 21.5" iMac 2.7GHz Quad-Core i5 (Late 2013), 11" Macbook Air 1.6 GHz i5 (Mid-2011)
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#12 2014-10-09 01:27:39

LCGuy
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From: Sydney, Australia
Registered: 2014-05-13
Posts: 837

Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

How about Beige and Translucent?

But then again we come back to the PowerBook G3, none of which are translucent...

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#13 2014-10-09 01:41:38

mcdermd
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From: Corvallis, OR
Registered: 2014-05-12
Posts: 988
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Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

Even though it's not technically as clean, Classic Mac OS PowerPC and Mac OS X PowerPC might be better from a simpler-is-better standpoint.


Daily Drivers: 27" iMac 2.8 GHz Quad-Core i7 (Late 2009), 21.5" iMac 2.7GHz Quad-Core i5 (Late 2013), 11" Macbook Air 1.6 GHz i5 (Mid-2011)
See the restored heroes here.

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#14 2014-10-09 14:40:52

jt
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From: Bermuda Triangle, NC USA
Registered: 2014-05-21
Posts: 1,420

Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

Ditch the Compact/Desktop/Laptop Distinctions and get to the heart of the matter?

68000
68020
68030
68040
PowerPC - NuBus Series
PowerPC - PCI Architecture
G3
G4
G5(?)
Macintosh Clones(?)

It has a few more heading this way, but I can't think of anywhere it's done this way or any clearer divisions, especially for those new to the hobby. Nomenclature, ROM, OS, Software etc. blur across divisions, CPUs don't.

Classic and NuBus Architectures:
68000
68020
68030
68040
PowerPC - NuBus Series

Macintosh Clones: a sea change for Apple and the Macintosh.

PCI Architecture: a new beginning
PowerPC - PCI series
G3
G4
G5(?)
Intel(?)

Dunno, but it overlays an historical perspective.

Last edited by jt (2014-10-09 15:06:19)

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#15 2014-10-09 17:13:51

iMic
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From: Adelaide, Australia
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Posts: 916
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Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

jt wrote:

Nomenclature, ROM, OS, Software etc. blur across divisions, CPUs don't.

Depends how you look at it. If you're looking for information about resolving an issue with a machine - say for example a power supply issue - and you look into the 68020 forum, you'll find information there about the Macintosh II, the Macintosh LC, the Macintosh Classic II and the Macintosh Color Classic, which are all wildly different. It doesn't become all that much better in later years either, if you looked up the G3 series you would get information about the iMac G3, Power Mac G3, PowerBook G3 and iBook G3, with some Old-World, some New-World...

There will always be edge-cases, like the rollover from Old-World to New-World in PowerBooks, Power Macs and iMacs, or machines like the Twentieth Anniversary Mac that were one-off limited release models. We'll work with them on a case-by-case basis.


We may have no choice but to continue using separate forums for product lines. At the end of the day, for a member new to Vintage Macs, finding the appropriate sub-forum to post their question in will never get any simpler than reading the sticker on the front of the machine and choosing the forum that matches.

What we can do is look to see if we can clean up some of those model forums and consolidate them based on their hardware similarities. Some of the forum names and descriptions can change, as can the boundaries of what they cover. Clones for example could be easily handled in the "Other" forum once we make some alterations to the criteria that forum covers.


Resident Professor of Alternative Methodology
Faculty of Macintosh Restorations & Modifications - "It works, let's fix it!"

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#16 2014-10-09 22:41:30

jt
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From: Bermuda Triangle, NC USA
Registered: 2014-05-21
Posts: 1,420

Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

NoPro, just thought I'd float the notion.

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#17 2014-10-10 05:03:41

iMic
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From: Adelaide, Australia
Registered: 2014-05-12
Posts: 916
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Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

Certainly appreciated. I don't like to dismiss ideas, since each one suggested here so far carries an attribute that would be beneficial to the site, but structuring a community is such a delicate balancing act. Nobody will see the issue quite the same way, and we have to estimate what our user base will look like moving forward and structure the forums accordingly as well. With so many variables in play, any solution really does come down to lowest common denominator stuff like listing out each product line individually.

Former IBM Programmer Rich Seidner, when interviewed in Triumph of the Nerds, put it rather nicely...

I mean it's like getting four hundred thousand people to agree what they want to have for lunch. You know, I mean it's just not going to happen - it's going to be lowest common denominator you know, it's going to be you know hot dogs and beans.


One alteration we're making to the forum structure is in the forum descriptions. Each forum will soon have a more detailed description of what it covers so users can find the best forum for their needs at a glance. I've already modified and expanded the description of the Other forum to cover machines like the Pippin, Apple Network Server and the Macintosh clones.


I have some additional ideas for review by the community:


Merge Compact Mac with Lisa. At the moment the Lisa is included in the Apple I, II, III & Lisa forum. However the AIO nature of the Lisa, combined with its 68000 microprocessor and its later rebranding as a Macintosh XL makes me think it's closer to the early Compacts than the 8-bit and 16-bit Apple computers.

Separate Apple I, II & III and Newton & Handhelds into a separate category. Since the Macintosh line is so diverse, I'm considering allocating it to its own category and having a separate category for non-Macintosh Apple computers and devices. Machine-Specific Forums would become Macintosh Discussions or something along those lines. However I'm concerned about the precedent this would set for devices like the QuickTake, which I don't think would generate enough traffic to warrant having its own forum.

Reduce Newton & Handhelds to simply Newton. Newton discussions encompass the hardware, software, peripherals and the Newton OS. I'm still undecided about mixing Palm hardware into this mix since the Palm (for example) isn't a vintage Apple product that we specifically cover on the forums, however it would be counted as a Peripheral and could still be discussed there.

Adding iPod to the lineup. With the discontinuation of the iPod Classic (or simply iPod) line, I've considered bringing it on board here at ThinkClassic. Currently all Hard Drive based iPods manufactured prior to September 2008 are now in Vintage or Obsolete status with Apple. However I do wonder if this is a topic already best covered on discussion forums like Head-Fi.


Keep in mind that these changes can be approved for such a time that the community has enough users to sustain them. They don't have to be actioned immediately, but it's worth discussing them.

Last edited by iMic (2014-10-10 06:08:25)


Resident Professor of Alternative Methodology
Faculty of Macintosh Restorations & Modifications - "It works, let's fix it!"

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#18 2014-10-10 12:28:51

jruschme
Member
Registered: 2014-08-27
Posts: 24

Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

iMic wrote:

Adding iPod to the lineup. With the discontinuation of the iPod Classic (or simply iPod) line, I've considered bringing it on board here at ThinkClassic. Currently all Hard Drive based iPods manufactured prior to September 2008 are now in Vintage or Obsolete status with Apple. However I do wonder if this is a topic already best covered on discussion forums like Head-Fi.

I'm not sure that Head-Fi is a good example given that their focus would be the audio aspects of the iPod. Also, the current interest is more in modding Classics to hold SSDs, rather than more vintage/obsolete iPods.

iLounge's vintage iPod area is a ghost town.

The only active forum I've seen is the one on MacRumours. There seem to be several iPod collectors hanging out there.

By comparison, I see our community as one where vintage iPods are collected, restored and used daily.

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#19 2014-10-31 19:26:26

iMic
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From: Adelaide, Australia
Registered: 2014-05-12
Posts: 916
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Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

If anyone's been looking over the forums the last few days, you may have noticed that it looks a bit different than the ThinkClassic forums we're all used to. We have made some small changes to the structure with the aim of making the site easier to navigate for new members coming in. The aim was to allow new members to quickly identify which forum to post topics in by simply matching it with the label on the front or back of their computer.

As a result of this, the Compact Mac forum has faded into history. We unified the Apple 32 SuperMicro line, bringing the Lisa and Macintosh XL in under the newly created Macintosh & Lisa forum. The architecture of the Lisa, being a 32-bit 68000-based all-in-one, more closely resembles that of a Macintosh, so it felt appropriate to bring these discussion areas together.

Many of the descriptions have also been updated with more information, making it easier to quickly determine what a specific forum covers. Some of these could still be shortened or expanded accordingly.

The Newton & Handhelds forum has been retired for the time being. That's not to say it won't return, but with the current size of the community and the minimal activity around that forum, we've decided to hold off having it there until such a time that we have a need for it. The one topic that was in there wasn't Newton related and has been moved to the Peripherals & Accessories forum.

Performa & LC discussions will for now remain as-is, even though some Performa and PowerPC LC models (5200 LC, etc.) are derivatives of Power Macintosh models. Thanks to Apple's convoluted product strategy during that era, this is a particularly difficult one to handle elegantly.


I want to remind everyone that these changes are ongoing. Some of the descriptions may still need to be revised and some sections may be added, removed or reallocated.


Cheers,

iMic.


Resident Professor of Alternative Methodology
Faculty of Macintosh Restorations & Modifications - "It works, let's fix it!"

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#20 2015-06-29 10:45:43

iMic
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From: Adelaide, Australia
Registered: 2014-05-12
Posts: 916
Website

Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

I'm reopening this discussion now that we've been online for a while. Tensions aside, as member null pointed out in another discussion thread, the website needs a significant overhaul to allow it to continue to expand and organise content in an elegant manner.

null wrote:

The problem is that you and everyone else are using forums that haven’t innovated or changed since they adapted Usenet to the web in the 90s. Not only that, but you’re organizing like them too. This is busted. Categories overlap (and you’ve obviously copied them from That Website – you can claim it’s that Australian site all you want, but I know) and may poorly fit. Resources get stuck as barely updated stickies with poor organization and formatting, buried amongst several other stickies. Information gets stuck on Page 6/72 and never seen again.

I know we can all do better, but no one does – everyone is stuck with this mediocrity, and many of you wish to preserve it in your reactionary ways. Forum software has barely moved forward as well, but we could think beyond forums into community and resource building software. Software that’s not afraid to change the way we discuss, and the way we preserve information. I see you’re stuck fighting forum software with a dead community and ultimately conservative ways of thinking.


There are some observations I've made over the last few weeks that I would like to share.


Members have an interest in more than just Apple computers. We have a number of Commodore 64 and VIC 20 threads in the Front Bar, along with handful of mentions of Atari, IBM and so on. There are dedicated forums for these machines but our members want to share it here with others they know, and I see potential for expansion here. We could consider diversifying the machines we cover if our members feel this could benefit us in the long term. Otherwise we could consider a catch-all "Other Vintage" discussion forum if we feel that a full-scale expansion isn't required.


Members have an interest in discussing early unsupported Intel systems. We have a handful of members here sharing modifications, hacks, upgrade advice and technical support for early Intel based Macs. At the moment we direct such posts to the Software, Hacks & Development, Peripherals & Accessories or Front Bar forums. We could potentially devise a better solution here.


"Tech Talk" doesn't have a dedicated home. Discussions around general technology talk, repair practices, reviews of tools and the like currently take place in the Front Bar. Where would someone post a PSA about exploding Maxell batteries, for example? This is because anything hardware specific that isn't confined to a single model doesn't have a dedicated discussion area.


Too much overlap in the Machine-Specific forums. I have defended this decision as a valid one in the past but because feedback suggests otherwise, I need to reconsider it. We have separate forums for each product line by name (Performa, Mac II, Quadra, Centris, etc) but because Apple wasn't about to make this simple for us, those forums bleed together. Some Quadra models were also Performas, the Performa name spanned both 68k and PowerPC and the PowerBook name remained consistent across Apple notebooks all the way up to the Intel transition. We organised it this way to make it easier for newcomers to find the appropriate forum; simply match the model name on the front of the computer with a forum. This doesn't work from a technical standpoint though, and since most of the questions we receive are technical support questions we should perhaps consider revising all of the model specific forums and consolidating them if necessary. We may be able to clean up the discussion forums a little in the process.


Members seem somewhat divided on how the Members' Machines forum should be used. This one is a matter of preference I suppose. We built that forum with the idea that every member has their own discussion thread that they can post everything about their collections into, like a running blog and discussion area to share updates and acquisitions with other members of the forum. Some members however prefer the forum to be a little more "68kMLA Conquests" styled, where every new acquisition has its own thread created for discussions and these threads are all tossed into the Members' Machines forum together. I'm still a fan of the system we already have with one thread per collection, but we should open this one to feedback as well to consider the pros and cons of either approach.



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Another thing to be aware of is that some of the drawbacks listed above are simply because of the limitations of older forum software. Forums aren't particularly good for organising information unfortunately, which is why so many new projects are starting up with the aim of "fixing" discussion forums, but this isn't a simple task by any means.

If we were to implement changes for all of the above points, we would require a complete tear-up and rewrite of how our forums are structured. We would need to consolidate some areas, expand on others, draw more attention to certain sub-forums and change policies in others. If we were to add some additional forums, it would be nice to trim away or consolidate some of our current ones first so we don't have a forum list that is too long or too difficult to manage and moderate.

Should we make significant alterations to the forums, be aware as well that it would require our moderators to start moving topics around which is a time consuming process, so some downtime can be expected. We'd need to also be absolutely certain that whatever structure or revisions we settle on are 100% what we want, because they're set in stone. Once we start merging posts from two forums together, separating them again without reverting to an older database backup (and losing all new posts in the process) will be extremely difficult, almost impossible.


Anyway, discuss.


~ iMic.


Resident Professor of Alternative Methodology
Faculty of Macintosh Restorations & Modifications - "It works, let's fix it!"

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#21 2015-06-29 13:23:09

TheWhiteFalcon
Member
Registered: 2015-04-27
Posts: 504

Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

Perhaps do a generational system separation? 68K (68000-68020) 68K (68030-68040), PowerPC(1994-1997) PowerPC(1998-2006), Intel(2006-?)? It's possible the 68k's could be kept together, but there is a significant difference in Pre-Jobs and Jobs-era PPC stuff. Ideally you could say Old World/New World but that's not very new user friendly, if that's a concern, and the overlap would be an issue since OW stuff hung around until 1999.

Processor separation on PPC is messed up by the Kanga, that belongs in an OW discussion but has a G3.

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#22 2015-06-29 15:00:57

ClassicHasClass
Member
From: Electron Alley
Registered: 2014-05-26
Posts: 1,117
Website

Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

I like the "other vintage" idea.

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#23 2015-06-29 16:59:03

markyb
Member
From: Aurora, OH (330)
Registered: 2014-05-16
Posts: 185
Website

Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

Yeah +1 for the other vintage forum. If it grows bigger than maybe a category split, but it should be fine on it's own.


http://markyb86.weebly.com for some packs of old macintosh wallpapers, desktop patterns, windows wallpapers, sound files, etc.

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#24 2015-06-29 19:38:51

volvo242gt
Member
From: Duvall, WA
Registered: 2014-05-22
Posts: 410
Website

Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

The Other Vintage forum sounds nice.  I'd nuke the Performa forum, but maybe write up a description for the remaining forums to help people figure out where to ask their questions.  Case in point, the 200-467, 550, and 600 machines would go into the '030 and older forums, whereas the 475, 476, 575, 63x machines go into the '040 forums...


modern: Mac Pro 2.8GHz 8-core 6GB/500G/DVD-RW
Pre-Mac: ][+, //e
other: iPhone 6s 128GB Space Gray

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#25 2015-06-29 19:57:48

MJ313
Member
Registered: 2014-09-23
Posts: 498

Re: Proposed Forum Restructuring (Updated!)

ClassicHasClass wrote:

I like the "other vintage" idea.

^----Likey this----^

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