TerryE

Ideas for improvements in 2018

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Now that we've moved into our new build I am starting to shift more from data gathering / exchange mode into a one of contribution focus.  So I have been thinking about possible "projects" that the Forum Management Group and other established members could do to help enhance the forum and the help that we give the community.  I've come up with two possible suggestions and I'd be interested in any comments / suggestions / wants from the wider membership that we could debate and prioritise.

  • Topic README FIRST threads.  We could have one per major topic area, the aim would be for any member who wants to get up to speed (say, with designing / installing a heating system for a passive house) could start by reading this topic.   Each thread would have a single designated "champion" who would edit and maintain the first (maybe few) posts which is the main Wikipedia style content. So the general format would be a non-controversial synopsis and mainly links out to key external references and sites and key forum threads / post/ blog entries that contain gems worth reading.  The remaining posts can be chit-chat on the subject.
  • More use of video.  My strategy for my blog is to focus on reference content, rather than a diary of what is happening on my build, but this is a personal preference influenced that the fact that I am a poor diarist anyway.  However, I have also found using short (YouTube) videos is a good way of explaining to vendors what I want.  These are easy to author and easy to watch.  You can get over a set of points on a subject as a 1 min video that might take a long post with graphics and pictures.  Take an example: how our window and door detailing works for a timber frame with a stone skin.  I am not aiming at professional quality, just adequate utility.  So I'd still do a blog post, but link in the short video.

So: reactions? other suggestions? 

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Terry I think they are great ideas especially for newbys who don’t want to trawl all the threads.

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Great ideas - Let's call it, number 1 that is, 'buildhub definitive' where the basic answers reside. I guess @Construction Channel would be able to offer advice to those who might want to contribute in number 2 area. 

 

I was going to propose a project to work with anybody else with an interest / experiance to build a decision matrix / model for heating and DHW which uses a simple grid - might need to be multidimensional, to take inputs such as 'gas', '4Kw PV', "UFH in slab', 'passive house level insulation', 'BR level insulation' and many more which then offers systems solutions. Or just outlines a set of basic systems component / combinations EG ASHP+UFH and shows compatibility between the combinations / offers outline advice on each.

Edited by MikeSharp01
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Yes i think a “must read” section is a very good idea as we all see the same questions come up time and again, and at some point the good people on this forum will get tired of answering the same questions time and again, a gentle “please see the must read sound insulation and then get back with your questions” could save a lot of time and keep people keen to give good answers and put forward good questions. 

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ARe those better separate as an area, or as pinned threads in each sub forum where people probably go and look? 

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The "must read" section is definitely a good idea, hopefully it will also decrease the number of people who join and then only send PMs to people (often me) usually asking much the same questions that may well have already been answered many times before.

 

As an aside, I'd love to know why people join and then decide to PM someone, so wasting someone's time that could have been usefully spent giving an input to a public topic.  I'm probably going to reinstate the old footer I used to have on Ebuild, that said "Please ask questions on the forum, rather than by PM, as you will get a better range or replies"...........

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Could you set it that the pm function is locked until you have 5 comments. Have been on similar forums where you have to post a min amount of times before you can pm or post pics.

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44 minutes ago, JSHarris said:

[...]

As an aside, I'd love to know why people join and then decide to PM someone, so wasting someone's time that could have been usefully spent giving an input to a public topic.

 [...]

 

The Internet is associated with the Gift  Economy. Online, people expect things for free. People expect things to be made easy. People expect the answers to be instant.

BH is a Community of Practice associated with  High Stakes processes. High Stakes in terms of effort, and the same in finance. Self building is also emotionally draining. 

So most of our members have little to spare, little energy to left over, unless at the end of their build, or perhaps in the planning stages or in the inevitable hiccup periods.. They want answers as quickly, easily as possible.

 

I for one would be delighted to see any of the ideas above come to fruition. It doesn't matter which. Every single one would be marvellous for our members.

Your posts above echo  the kind of  conversations I had with my colleagues when designing online resources for various professionally focussed courses. In doing so, we always had a simple guide: the relevant sector professional standards. To an extent we have analogous resources.

 

The key questions  are validity, consistency and quality. And then engagement: that demands energy and it's partner,  commitment. 

This is not the place to summarise 15 years or more spent developing  online resources.  It's hard to do well, harder still to maintain.  I will of course help anyone who dips a toe in this particular pond.

 

I will watch this thread with interest

 

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@Declan52 's idea is probably the best bang for buck? Easily implemented?

 

I think the best effort the mods could do is to arrange some kind of small commercial advertisements to help preserve the forums future. Probably won't be the most popular idea...

 

Forget messing around with the format too much I always found ebuild had too many sub forums. 

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10 minutes ago, Oz07 said:

 

I think the best effort the mods could do is to arrange some kind of small commercial advertisements to help preserve the forums future. Probably won't be the most popular idea...

 

 

If we have adverts, I'm out.  We have enough funds to run for at least the next two or three years and the day we have to have adverts here, and become beholden to the policies of advertisers in terms of post content (which is always a prerequisite of having adverts), then we have a brain dead censored forum with the content dictated by the whims of it's paymasters.

Edited by JSHarris
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+1 for README FIRST posts in each area. There are famous posts that keep getting referenced in off-hand comments that I often have to go digging for. Not hard to do mind, but this would be useful for first timers.

 

1 hour ago, JSHarris said:

As an aside, I'd love to know why people join and then decide to PM someone, so wasting someone's time that could have been usefully spent giving an input to a public topic.  I'm probably going to reinstate the old footer I used to have on Ebuild, that said "Please ask questions on the forum, rather than by PM, as you will get a better range or replies"...........

 

Can't speak for PMing off the bat, but agree with @Declan52's idea of unlocking the PM function after a certain number of posts.

 

As a relative newcomer I must admit that contributing without it looking like a plug for one's own project is hard. Particularly when you're new to the whole house-building thing and don't have a profession in any of the trades! Generally if I've had a stab at it first and have something to show I'll throw it up here for people to tear apart or make us of. Whichever they prefer!

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16 minutes ago, JSHarris said:

 

 

If we have adverts, I'm out.  We have enough funds to run for at least the next two or three years and the day we have to have adverts here, and become beholden to the policies of advertisers in terms of post content (which is always a prerequisite of having adverts), then we have a brain dead censored forum with the content dictated by the whims of it's paymasters.

I didn't realise it was that linked to content. Obviously you wouldn't want the tail wagging the dog I just thought something bringing in the running costs would be small fry?

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17 minutes ago, Visti said:

+1 for README FIRST posts in each area. There are famous posts that keep getting referenced in off-hand comments that I often have to go digging for. Not hard to do mind, but this would be useful for first timers.

 

 

Can't speak for PMing off the bat, but agree with @Declan52's idea of unlocking the PM function after a certain number of posts.

 

As a relative newcomer I must admit that contributing without it looking like a plug for one's own project is hard. Particularly when you're new to the whole house-building thing and don't have a profession in any of the trades! Generally if I've had a stab at it first and have something to show I'll throw it up here for people to tear apart or make us of. Whichever they prefer!

I don't think anyone minds when your plugging your own project. Everyone loves to learn from others experiences with photos and diaries. It's more when they're plugging a project!

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32 minutes ago, Oz07 said:

I didn't realise it was that linked to content. Obviously you wouldn't want the tail wagging the dog I just thought something bringing in the running costs would be small fry?

 

 

If every member here donated a few pence a year it would more than cover the costs, but right now, our last fund raiser (that lasted about a week) raised around 4 years + worth of running and upgrade costs, so money isn't an issue.

 

The moment you accept adverts you become beholden to the advertiser's policies. If an advertiser doesn't like a comment by a poster, then they will yell for it to be edited or deleted, or demand that they get a refund for their advertising.  It's just not worth the hassle, and would undermine one of the greatest assets of this forum, that it gives wholly impartial and commercially unbiased advice.  If a post here is true, but upsets a supplier or manufacturer, then that's tough - it's far more important that a full and wide range of views are expressed, without the risk of gagging by commercial interests (and ALL sponsored forums are censored or edited so as to keep their sponsors on side).

Edited by JSHarris
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Love - read me first type posts as I try to avoid asking questions that I am sure have been asked before but struggle to find the relevant post where it has been addressed.  I don't think I really have anything to contribute in terms of expertise but hope to be able to contribute experience that' may helps others avoid similar pitfalls (or at least know they are not alone)  but mostly to learn from others expertise because this is all a one off for me.  
The more I can find what I am looking for without being a nuisance the better.  

 

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Am I not using the forum correctly?, when I read “ unread content “ rather than read it again from the start or just read the last comment I would rather read it from where I last read it! ( another forum works that way).

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45 minutes ago, Oz07 said:

I didn't realise it was that linked to content. Obviously you wouldn't want the tail wagging the dog I just thought something bringing in the running costs would be small fry?

 

We’ve talked a lot about it and the costs for running the forum are quite low even though it’s on latest spec virtual servers and we keep it bang up to date with software releases. 

 

If every member gave £1, we would run the place for 3 years ..... 

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Would have loved the read me first when I first started investigating some 6 years ago when the self build was just a twinkle in the eye.

 

I think apart from the challenge of writing and maintaining it, will be that some aspects have multiple options and solutions, so providing a definitive solution is not going to be easy.

 

One disadvantage is that it might discourage discussion, which is always useful in uncovering salient facts and alternative solutions.

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@TerryE, both great suggestions, in particular I think 'read me first' threads would add real benefit, as it can be a bit chaotic trying to mine nuggets of information from other threads or where there has been thread drift.

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21 minutes ago, dpmiller said:

click the green circle beside the thread title and it'll do that.

Thanks mate, 👍

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Rather than a Must Read, it should be a Best Of in each sub-forum which can be based on user votes or that you can sort them by 'rank' and not just date?

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2 hours ago, ragg987 said:

Would have loved the read me first when I first started investigating some 6 years ago when the self build was just a twinkle in the eye.

 

I think apart from the challenge of writing and maintaining it, will be that some aspects have multiple options and solutions, so providing a definitive solution is not going to be easy.

 

One disadvantage is that it might discourage discussion, which is always useful in uncovering salient facts and alternative solutions.

Totally agree with this.

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4 hours ago, JSHarris said:

The "must read" section is definitely a good idea, hopefully it will also decrease the number of people who join and then only send PMs to people (often me) usually asking much the same questions that may well have already been answered many times before.

 

As an aside, I'd love to know why people join and then decide to PM someone, so wasting someone's time that could have been usefully spent giving an input to a public topic.  I'm probably going to reinstate the old footer I used to have on Ebuild, that said "Please ask questions on the forum, rather than by PM, as you will get a better range or replies"...........

I've had a good few too. I typically give a brief polite reply, and then go on to explain that my efforts need to be made on the forum only where the questions and answers can benefit more than just the person pm'ing me. I've just directed them back to the forum but agreed, it's a bit of an annoyance. 

On the flip side, other ( established ) members have contacted me with regards to work too, so my view is therefore different. As I choose to be on this forum I simply accept the extra effort is so,etimes required, and as a moderator I just see that as part of the encouragement and directing were ordained to provide.

Why do I do it ? Simple. Its because I've obtained so much information a from EB and BH it's just immeasurable. This community is very humbling in its selflessness, generosity and impartiality. You won't find that in any other resource, even if you pay for it. The last 3 years or so of being around a passive / energy conscious crowd has been like an open university course and I'm a totally different guy now for the experience. Long story short, I'm grateful for the opportunity to be here. 

If I get asked the same question a few times, so be it. New members don't see the problem, but it's clear that some already feel a sense of hesitation in engaging / asking, which isn't ideal. My fear would be of the forum becoming a little stale, where fresh enquiries and the new digressions / new member input it brings would slow down a bit. 

It sounds like a way forward, but needs a bit of thought so we can more easily offer direction but still provoke conversation. 

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6 hours ago, Oz07 said:

I think the best effort the mods could do is to arrange some kind of small commercial advertisements to help preserve the forums future.

 

The could be a controversial, and the FMG between them, plus some other member contributions have given enough funds to carry on running the forum as a purely pro-bono service.  And at the moment the bank plus the donation rate is very healthy and more than the expenditure rate, so we don't need the have this debate. :)

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