Well, 76.8% of those who responded indicated that they want a forum. There were many positive and encouraging comments posted. There were also many constructive comments posted from those of you who told me why they don’t think a forum is in the site’s best interest. Let me answer some of the more common points made.
“There are enough narrowboat forums already. Another really isn’t needed” I agree that there are a few forums around discussing boats in general and narrowboats in particular. Some contain thousands of topics and tens of thousands of replies, but that’s part of the problem.
I consider myself reasonably proficient with computers. I do a lot of research online so I’m pretty good at searching for information that I need and finding it without too much trouble. I always struggle with forums though. There are often so many topics and threads to plough through that finding the right information is like trying to find a needle in a haystack.
I intend to add a little more structure to this site’s forum. I’m going to link forum topics to articles in the site and vice versa. I’m going to extract relevant information from forum conversations and write articles based on that information. I’m going to encourage the use of tags in forum posts to make finding information easier and I’m going to create an index of subjects with links to appropriate posts.
There’s a lot of work involved to keep on top of it all, but the site is my hobby and, as I don’t actually have a social life, I should be OK.
Here’s another constructive comment from the “No” section of the survey;
“There are often cases of cyber bullying on forums from a few established and highly opinionated members” I agree. I’ve seen it often and experienced it myself once or twice. While the forum should be a platform for open debate, there is absolutely no justification for individuals using their online status to intimidate others. I feel very strongly about bullying of any kind. Fortunately I am in a position to do something about it on this site. I simply won’t allow it. I would rather lose a forum member who is a regular contributor than allow other less frequent visitors to be intimidated.
So you now have a forum. I will do everything that I can to ensure that it’s a useful resource for the narrowboat community, but I can’t do it on my own. I need your help. Without it the forum will fail. The forum needs to be used for it to work. It needs to be used by both experienced and inexperienced narrowboat enthusiasts. The forum needs questions posed and questions answered. And they need to be answered in courteous and helpful manner.
It’s time to introduce you to the forum. Click on the following link to go to the forum home page. The page will open in a new window so that you can refer to this post as I show you around. Here it is.
This is the forum home page. You should be logged in already if you’ve followed the link from this post because you need to be logged in to read this post. If you are logged in when you reach the forum home page, you should see your login details and avatar if you’ve selected one in the top left hand corner. You need to be logged in to read and to write posts so if you aren’t logged in already, log in using the link at the top right of the forum window.
Before you do anything else, why don’t you update your profile. The forum software copied your very basic details from the web site database when the forum was created. This information just consisted of your login details and your name. You can enhance that information here. At the top right hand side of the forum window, you will see a button labelled “Profile”. There are numerous options in this section. The first tab, profile, is where you set your display name, first and last name, location, a short biography, and your signature.
The important ones are display name, location, and signature. These will be displayed on each post you write. The display name needs completing so people who read your posts know what to call you. The location doesn’t have to be completed but, personally, I think it’s really interesting to see where subscribers are located. At the last count, there were subscribers from 32 different countries! If you are a continuous cruiser on your own narrowboat, just add the name of your narrowboat and the fact that you are cruising full time in the location field.
It’s nice to know a little about the people you are talking to, so if you have time please fill in the biography section. You don’t have to write a novel. Just a few words about your situation now, whether you are a boat owner or whether you hope to purchase one in the near future. That’s all you have to put there.
If you have your own blog or website, you can add it here. The more you post on the site, the more your profile will be viewed and the more likely you are to get subscribers from this site visiting your blog.
The signature field is a bit of fun. you can see the signature on the bottom of my posts. It says “loving life afloat”. It sumarises they way I feel at the moment. Be creative!
Do you have an avatar? It’s your online graphic representation. In my case it’s a head and shoulders photo, but you can add whatever image you like to this section. There are just two riders to that;
The last section on this tab is the account settings. You can change your email address here if you want forum notifications to go to a different address from the one specified. You can also change your password. A word of warning though, if you change your password here, it won’t update your site password. You’ll have to remember two passwords; one for the forum and one for the main site.
There are six other tabs for you to explore but I won’t go into them now. You can change notification settings, define buddies and adversaries (subscribers whose posts you don’t want to read and who you don’t want to send you private messages.
Talking of which, the forum has its own internal email system. You can send private messages to other members whenever you want. Please only use this for topics that are not in the public interest. If you think that others can benefit from the questions you ask and the answers you receive, post a topic on the forum instead.
I’ve never been much of a rule follower but it’s in everyone’s interest that we adhere to one or two. There aren’t many rules but they are important so please read them here.
I want the forum to grow into a friendly and mutually beneficial community, just like the real world boating community. The first step is getting to know each other. This is where you can do that. I’ve started you off. Please read this to find out what encouraged me to leave a very comfortable bricks and mortar home for a relatively claustrophobic steel box.
It’s time to begin! The majority of you wanted the forum so now’s your chance to put your money where your mouth is. We’ve passed the theory stage. The forum is ready and waiting. Let’s get posting. I promise you this, if you create a thread, I will respond to it. So if you have a question you would like to ask, please ask it. And if you know the answer to a question that’s been posted, please share that knowledge with other subscribers. It’s time to join the forum!
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