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something about forums

Started by Mark Sands, 2010-11-16T23:24:17-06:00 (Tuesday)

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Mark Sands

Let me start by saying that I'm thankful that several of us have voiced our opinions about the forums "dying" since they've been moved off of the landing page. [sarcasm] Surprisingly, [/sarcasm] I got the point the very first time someone mentioned it. But it is something worth noting. Apart from what anyone else thinks, I still believe the landing page is better suited as it is a center for main events.

At any rate, I got frustrated the other night after reading posts along the lines of "[the boards have] dried up a lot since being taken off the CAOS main page." or "The board is active, but not as much since it was moved off the main page."

We get it.

In order to set the order straight, I did a little research. Last night I pulled a current dump of the database and graphed the number of posts over time. There are two graphs: one that shows posts by month from September of 2002 through now, and one that shows yearly posts since 2002.

see the month by month graph here: http://marksands.github.com/caos/month.html

see the yearly graph here: http://marksands.github.com/caos/year.html

The yearly graph shows a dying trend in forum posts ever since it peaked at 2005. The monthly graph also supports the hypothesis that moving the forums is  also related to even more of a decrease in forum posts.

Before I continue, note that a dying trend in forum posts doesn't mean less interested computer science undergrads or less active caos members.

That said, it still is a little upsetting that the forums are showing decreasing activity. However, think about what's happened with technology since 2005. Back then there weren't really any popular social networks, and Facebook had literally just launched. Whereas now, I see a lot of active caos members dodging the forums to post questions/thoughts/other ideas related to CS directly on Facebook wherein other caos members engage in discussion.

I don't see the point in trying to revive the forums if people are going elsewhere. Instead, we should just move caos where the activity is currently at. If we need to make a Facebook page, a twitter page, a whatever-the-heck page, then we should. I don't see the point in fighting it, and I really don't see the point in being juvenile on the forums as an act to point this out.

I like the forums, but I don't think it is, or necessarily should be, the target for the CAOS audience. 2011 is just around the corner, so let's get with it, accept change, and move on. No one's going to be deleting the forums, especially because of little activity, but can we please just stop the complaining?

Mark Sands
Computer Science Major

William Grim

Hmm, I read the results a little differently than you.

Having been on the forums since the beginning, I would actually consider the decline happening in 2007, when we switched to the SMF forums.  The SMF forums just aren't as good as Xoops was.  I thought we already had a lot of work put in on Xoops and should have either gotten our forums updated to the latest version or should have just forked it, but that isn't important anymore.  I also consider the peak to be an anomaly; if you look on either side of the peak, you'll see that the post rate was fairly steady.

I think the second major decline occurred right around moving the forums out of focus.  There actually was never any reason you couldn't use the SMF forums for announcements; we used forums like that all the time in the past.  It was just as effective at doing announcements as your current front-facing page probably is.  The only real negative about it that I can see next to the current page is that maintaining an easy-to-see history of announcements wasn't as great (but could have been made better if we did it).

Lastly, it's possible Facebook and Twitter have gotten in the way.  That's a conclusion that isn't really supported in your graphs, however, but I can see it as a possible reason.  Although, I don't consider it a bad idea to experiment and open a CAOS page on Facebook, but I don't think the Facebook group pages are really as good at having separate topics of discussion like a forum is.  It seems more like a stream of comments, unless I've missed something, but it's worth trying.  I actually thought about considering mentioning diaspora to Brent a couple months ago when he talked about updating the forums, but that code base is too incomplete (and has a stupid name, to boot).

P.S. Complaining is not in itself juvenile.  It's one way change is effected (i.e. complaining to members of Congress for reform, complaining to your faculty members for course reform, complaining to the current CAOS officers for forum reform).
William Grim
IT Associate, Morgan Stanley


I don't see any reason to abandon the forums all together.  This always was and still is a good place for people to post new technology and ask questions.  My thing is this.  When SIUE gets new students that are starting to look into Computer Science, where do you think they go?  They go to http://www.cs.siue.edu/ and check everything out.  How can you not at least have a link to the forums in the menu on the left?  Every site that has a forum puts a link to it in a similar place.  New students will see that, check it out, see people talking and get interested.  It is the only place you can put a link to the forums that will let people know the exist.  I don't think there is any reason you can give that would justify taking it off there. 

P.S. people aren't being "juvenile" by mentioning it.  They don't agree with it and are expressing themselves.  Why not put it back and see what happens?  Really, it hurts nothing.  I see no reason it shouldn't be there.  I was surprised when I decided to post the QT post and didn't see it there. 
I would rather be hated for doing what I believe in, than loved for doing what I don't.

Mark Sands

Quote from: Tony on 2010-11-18T14:38:12-06:00 (Thursday)
I don't think there is any reason you can give that would justify taking it off there. ... Why not put it back and see what happens?

How about a little less pronouns; what do you mean by "it?" Are you talking about having a link to the forums in the cs.siue.edu menu bar? If so, I have no control over that site. I'm not sure who updates it--I'm not even sure there's ever been a link to the forums from that page so I'm pretty sure it hasn't been removed. But good suggestion! I'll look into it.
Mark Sands
Computer Science Major

William Grim

Ha!  I just looked at facebook, and a "Computer Association of SIUE" group already exists.  It's been around since early 2007, has 52 members, 6 posts (I was the second post), and the last post was April 28, 2008.  So, I don't think a facebook group will do anything whatsoever.  I'm still with the idea of making the forums more central and possibly not using SMF.
William Grim
IT Associate, Morgan Stanley

Peter Motyka

Not to beat a dead horse here, but I'm going to agree with Grim.  All I see when I go to caos.siue.edu is an old post from March 16, 2011.  The area of the site that sees the most activity should be most prominently featured.  Just my 2 cents, which isn't worth much since I haven't visited this site in quite a long time :)

SIUE CS Alumni 2002
Grad Student, Regis University
Senior Engineer, Ping Identity

Tangent Orchard

I would agree with Peter.  The forums were bustling back when they were the first thing anyone in the CS Computer Lab would see upon opening a browser.  I eventually stopped checking the landing page because I knew nothing new was going to be posted anymore.  It would be pretty awesome if we could change things around again.  We get new CS students every year--why not give them a taste of what CAOS is supposed to be?

(On that note, does CAOS even actually do events anymore?  I haven't seen mention of anything at all in well over half a year.)