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With a little luck, it can be worked out

Posted by TomR on October 13th, 1999 09:17 PM
In reply to The 64 million dollar question by TomR on October 13th, 1999 09:36 AM [Go to top of thread]

Thanks all for the information. Your opinions support what I had felt for myself, pretty much to the letter. Allow me to share with you the findings I had already gathered, plus a few other goodies.

When I first came to this site a couple of years ago, I wanted to post a question on something I was working on. I ended up staying up till 3AM answering more than a dozen postings from others. So started a very enjoyable pastimeÖmaybe not so enjoyable from the wifeís perspective, but even she has come to enjoy its reading.

So along comes the new site, and at first it was enjoyable. But then you realize, at least for someone who spends most of the time answering otherís postings, that the new site is hard to navigate. Remember, most of the people who offer advice, like me, have responsibilities elsewhere which must rate higher than this "public service." In other words, I have a limited amount of time I can spend doing this. So, if it takes me a long time to go around the site looking for all the questions, thatís time taken away from answering them. Some postings will get overlooked or simply skipped. I may not have time to answer them in the detail they need. Worse, eventually I may loose interest and decide to move on.

Part of what I have been doing is posting questions in both the old and the new BBís. I used different names and posted different questions to see and measure responses. I do non-web based remodeling assistance, so I took the questions I get there and posted them on Bobís BB, too. I knew the answers, but I played dumb. I was not questioning your abilities. I just wanted to see how the two BBís compared.

Not to anyoneís surprise, many of my questions on the new BB were never answered, whereas none of my old BB postings were ignored. In fact, on the old BB, I would receive multiple responses. People would take the time to read my post, read the responses, and then offer additional answers, ask additional questions, even present opposing points of view.

But here are the problems:

1) *** **** provides this as a service for us users, an extension to his true endeavors, but there is probably a limit to his generosity. This service does not generate any revenue, so the cost of its operation is purely overhead. Both the old and new BB are freeware packages, not huge database-centric systems requiring large staffs to maintain. Although modification is possible, it may be limited and not in the budget.

2) The old site is getting too large. It is HTML page-based, with search abilities limited to your browser capabilities. About the only thing they can do to make it smaller is break it up into smaller pages. That, in effect, will eventually make it as hard to use as the new BB. A searchable, Archival process is necessary.

3) The old site has no security. Those who know me on the site see me as "TomR", but how do you know every TomR posting is mine? For that matter, how do you know right now that I am the true TomR?

4) Even worse, you can post anything you want. Some of the responses have been rude and vulgar, giving the site a bad reputation. Since no-one is registered, accountability is almost impossible. Itís just like when you make a customer service call. Now days you almost always hear a message like "This message might be recorded for quality assurance." Well, whether they record anything or not, that is mostly to keep the customers who call from going ballistic. The thought of them being recorded keeps them in line.

Although the new site helps solve #2, #3, and #4 above, it has its own problems:

1) It is hard to navigate. For one, you can look at recent postings, but only under specific topics.

2) The topic areas can be confusing. Okay, so Electrical and HVAC might be straightforward, but what about if you were putting in lawn sprinklers? Gardening? Plumbing?

3) Although having individual topic areas might make it easier for those who want to get an answer quickly, those who provide the answers will find it a slow process to weed through all the topic areas. I think the assumption was that those of us who like to help people will settle on one or two topic areas. I also think that is not the case, in reality.

Well, I said enough. If anyone is interested in what I would like to propose, let me know ant I will post it.

Thanks for reading - Tom Rawcliffe

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