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Patrol4x4 Admin
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ladies and Gentlemen. Maybe a bit long winded, but relevant. I'm very grateful for being asked to join and for the opportunity to put forward my thoughts considering this is also a feedback thread. After reading Robs post https://labs.platforum.cloud/threads/what-is-labs-and-why-are-you-here.37737/ I felt much more at ease, I'm not a shrinking violet as a few of the guys here will know, and I make no apologies for my little rants to them in the forum on which I am the lead Administer, so here goes on my outlook. I need to say straight up that our forum maybe small by some standards but we have a worldwide membership as we are the best informed Nissan Patrol Forum on the Planet, google anything about a Nissan Patrol (especially early ones and later GQ/GU models) and 99% of the time you will land on our site.

Rob mentions how acutely aware we are that often members are not very tolerant of change, even though I'm an old bastard my job had me dealing with change all the time so I've 'Been there Done that and got a T shirt to prove it'. Change for change sake isn't good but VB was getting past its useby date. I'll be honest and say as the lead administrator we were not informed of the depth of change when it happened around May and its effect on members, especially its effect on admins that had spent a lot of time (free) building a forum to get more people interested, to make it more relevant to new members as well as make it more family friendly, etc, etc (which in its own can make you a little unpopular with a small minority), I will go into effect on Admin/Mod roles a little later. We have had many long term members walk away and many more visit once a month instead of daily, the format left a lot to be desired and seemed to concentrate on 'feel good' aspects which had very little interest for our core membership and they told us. I had a few run ins with ModAdmins (some who seemed to disappear) and started looking for and joining other forums on the Xenforo software to get ideas, this is where I first came across Rob.

To cut a long story short, the improvements we have seen in the last few weeks have gone a long way to appeasement of the gods (our members) especially fixing of the tapa pic issue, which seems to be holding out, this was very important to core regulars. We still have missing pics in various tech threads and broken links in the Technical Archives I started several years ago (this is heart breaking) but I know this is being worked on and I'm hoping this format will give rise to a better form of feedback to us, another good thing was being informed of the 'new' buttons on the Subaru forum and would we like them, yes, absobloodylutely, much more user friendly and now I'm getting great feedback from members. So the upside is we are getting some of those members back (I noticed a member from New Zealand posted in our forum this morning, 2 months ago he swore he was gone forever), our Guest numbers 'seem' to be climbing slowly again and our new membership is looking healthy.

OK now to the main outstanding issue remaining as I see it which is Admin and Mod roles, I have put a list of requests in at least twice, the last time only a few weeks ago. As said we were not informed of the depth of change which I saw as being dishonest with us and said so on a few ocassions. Our history is Verticalscope bought our forum around 2010 when it was in disarray from poorly managed servers and a disinterested owner. Verticalscope saved us from ruin, Marco was our contact then, we were basically left alone to do with the forum what we saw fit, as we grew admin powers did also, when Marco left I established contact with another ModAdmin who helped me with things if I was stuck, that person has moved on as well now sadly. I became lead admin after agreement and following on from discussion with fellow admins I would install new sections, change/delete old ones, etc, this system worked and worked well. Now that has all gone, mods are unaffected but admins and especially myself have been cut to the bone. Of the 4 Admins that were appointed following a small upheaval 2016 only 2 are currently active, so whenever I speak on behalf of the forum it is normally with the knowledge of that second Admin whom I talk with at least weekly, he and I have been friends since 2010 and he lives not far from me so we often have personal contact as well, he trusts me and my judgement. As said earlier I had submitted a list of what we wanted to return to in admin rites, I could put that list here quite easily if people wish to see it but I'm uncertain as to how each forum worked in its own rite, that list is in the hands of Verticalscope people right now, I could post it if wanted.

To finish I have a couple of questions,
1. The 'new' buttons on the Subaru forum I mentioned weren't on ours, so I can only assume parameters can still be switched on and off between forums on the same Xenforo software. I have issues with AI approval of new members, we have had quite a few spam and one nasty drug related first timer sneak through, so at the moment I'm not a fan, thoughts? Does the immediacy of AI approval have any relationship to membership, ie, does it give the Forum that initial Fakebook feel?

2. As a reward for loyalty we put together a banner for members who had stayed for 10 years and had a minimum of 100 posts, it was not automatic, I started a thread where they could request the honour, it was something that was greatly appreciated by the recipients, we had no issues manually giving them this recognition. I'm not asking for that banner again, maybe something simple like a green circle around the avatar (not a fan of the round avatar though but at this time it is insignificant)

10 year banner under VB
3804
 
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Thanks Ross for this great post. We are definetly working on a lot of the things you have mentioned.

First, I think one of the biggest changes at VS is that when we say we are "working on something" or "listening to feedback" its actually true now. Crazy right? I think for so many years, we had this culture of telling people we were listening, but we weren't actually doing it. We are changing that culture internally and externally, and really trying to work with our mods/admins and on member feedback. We even have 3rd party outsiders doing feedback analysis to remove any of our internal biases. We are also much more data-driven than we were in the past.

The point you made about the "new" button nav is a helpful one for something I wanted to share. When we launch new features, we are often building in the ability to "feature flag" them ON or OFF. For the new navigation, we launched with about 10% of our sites ON. Then, we waited on the data, both qualitative (member feedback) and quantitative.

Here is the data:

3808


The winner is clear, both Quantitatively and Qualitatively. So we will soon be upgrading all sites to the new navigation. We will continue to run tests like this, and I'm sure we will find some that don't work, and we end up scrapping the test/idea.

In the next few days, we will be sitting down for our November roadmap and priorities session. We have a couple things that are still waiting to get finished up, but our top priorities have been for October:

1. Performance & SEO (this includes things like missing photos, better URL rewriting, as well as just faster site speed)
2. Mod & Admins permissions and back-end access
3. Premium Membership
4. Polish & User Feedback (including increased photo upload limit, tapatalk bugs, FAQ anchor bugs, improved Contact Us, larger avatars, improved profile roll-overs, and infinite scroll on threadlist and whats new pages)
5. Upgrade to our Vespa.ai Search Engine service to allow for faster re-indexing, and faster searching

With respect to the 10 year badging, this is something that we have in our backlog. We want to introduce a solution that will be flexible for all sites -- so different sites can introduce their own badges and social groups. For example, some sites like to have "Ex-Military" as a badge or group. You guys have 10 year member. The list goes on. We want to be flexible in how we approach it, so that sites can use one rock-solid code-base, but still be able to personalize it to their site's individual needs.

I know this sounds a lot unlike VerticalScope. We are actually listening, responding, etc. We really are trying to change the culture, and while its never easy, its important. Forums are at a critical juncture, as popular software like vBulletin is far beyond its usable date. We need to capture new audiences, and we can only do that by building products that new & old users alike can love. The great news is... some of our May cohort migrations (sites that were moved in May) are up by as much as 40% in traffic! That is huge in the forum-world, where sites haven't seen much growth in many years.
 

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Patrol4x4 Admin
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for that Rob, I look forward to the detail as it becomes available, I truly love P4x4, it has helped save my 'sanity' a few times over the years and I want it to grow and prosper.
 
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hmmmm! Rethinking the 10 year green circle thing (was trying to keep options simple) it would need to run alongside the red circle for premium membership, maybe just outside of the red circle??? or seeing as different levels have different markings on their avatar, is it possible to have a small green 10 sitting on the circle in addition to anything else in there, like the star on the premium membership, one top one bottom????
 
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Hmmmm! Rethinking the 10 year green circle thing (was trying to keep options simple) it would need to run alongside the red circle for premium membership, maybe just outside of the red circle??? or seeing as different levels have different markings on their avatar, is it possible to have a small green 10 sitting on the circle in addition to anything else in there, like the star on the premium membership, one top one bottom????
Hey Ross! Nice to "meet' you. We do have some things in the works for users to help with this type of recognition. It's very helpful to know how you have used those sorts of accolades or recognition in the past so we can take that into consideration. The exact implementation of type of thing is still being formulated, but I'm going to add your example to our tracking. Thanks so much for taking the time to share.

As a side note, your evolution within P4x4 sounds a lot like my own story with a local parenting communityI've been involved in for ages. Our group initially connected way back in the day over Yahoo groups, eventually moving over to a forum format out of necessity. As I stuck around longer and racked up that longevity, I ended up in a similar role as you, so I can definitely relate to your journey. I know how much forum members like yourself and other long time contributors add to a community.
 
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Hey Ross,

Great words! The CM team speaks very highly of you, Danniella and Kyle are part of your Fanclub!

Obviously there are different ways to do badges and banners for users. If you go to your profile page you will see
Replies6Discussions3Reaction score6Points3
If you click on the 3 under points you will be shown the trophies you have earned.
HERE is a link to trophies. For now, they are the stock XF ones that come out of the box.
We can add a 10-year trophy for now?
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I look back at this thread and see how far we have come over the months, and I wholeheartedly say thank you to all who participated in making these changes. But, I'm not going to let you rest on your laurels just yet, there is one thing in the first post I would like to bump, the 10 Year Badge :).
 
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I look back at this thread and see how far we have come over the months, and I wholeheartedly say thank you to all who participated in making these changes. But, I'm not going to let you rest on your laurels just yet, there is one thing in the first post I would like to bump, the 10 Year Badge :).
Thank you for being part of Labs and sharing your passion with the community!

It is on the radar once we tackle and perfect some of the larger priority features. More great stuff to come in 2020, we are just getting started.

PS - I hope you are safe down under with the recent news I have heard of brush fires out there. I have meant to reach out to you and a few other Aussie staff to check-in.

Jeff M
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Cool, just keeping you on your toes mate ;).

We are pretty good with fires up here now, early December was our bad time, Fraser Island and along the coast had some big fires with no loss of life. We had several big fires around one large housing estate not far from us where breathing was a little difficult at times and visibility was down to a few hundred metres, all those particular fires were started by kids up to 16 years old, I know two were caught and charged but that is the last you hear of it in the PC climate of today, several thousand people were told to evacuate on all occasions, this estate is like an island in thick bushland, one road in and out, so to say residents were P'd off is an understatement.
You may hear a lot about our fires and all the theories as to why/how and who's to blame. I read a university study from 2008 that studies fires back 100 years. The resultant pie chart stated that 6% of all documented fires over that period were caused naturally, the rest were accidental-arson-misadventure. I can relate a story from just a few months ago and this happened to a friend of mine in NSW, he decided to clean his shed out, so all the stuff he threw out was piled in his driveway awaiting being taken away, he goes to work, later that day he gets a phone call to say his shed is on fire, what had happened was a mirror was one thing to be thrown out, the sun got to the right angle and the mirror did the rest to bits and pieces beside it, that is how easy it can be.

There are many people on the religious route of catastrophic man made global warming, I'm somewhere in the middle, but the main thing we have let ourselves down with over the years is Forrest Management where PC BS has often been King. I have done many hundreds of thousands of K around our big country and being a 'Boy from the Bush' originally I have some idea of home management, on my trips I've seen many houses out in the bush that you look at and say "there is no way that house will survive even a moderate bush fire" due to how the house and land is maintained, ie trees all around the house and gutters full of dead leaves, as one small example and I'm sure we are not the only country with that problem.

Down South is where the current disaster is happening and it is horrific, Kangaroo Island has probably lost over 2/3ds of its Koala population (Kangaroos do much better, they can often double back through burned areas quickly).We have always had big fires, drought and massive floods A poet named Dorothy Mackellar who wrote a poem named My Country which contains the words "I love a sunburnt country/A land of sweeping plains,/Of ragged mountain ranges,/Of droughts and flooding rains." Of course long droughts cause bushlands to dry out, trees to die and ground fuel to amass, this is what needs to be handled much better than it has been, massive fuel load on the ground means the fires get into the treetops quickly, gum trees bur viciously when this happens and animals like the Koala do not stand a chance, low fuel load they do stand a chance.

Black Saturday (VIC), 7-8 Feb 2009
Black Saturday resulted from some of the worst fire conditions ever recorded in Victoria. Record-high temperatures and strong winds after a season of intense drought set the bush alight across the state, causing widespread devastation, 173 fatalities and the destruction of more than 2000 homes.

Ash Wednesday (VIC, SA), 16-18 Feb 1983
Widespread drought, gale-force winds, high temperatures and low relative humidity set the scene for a series of fires across Victoria and south-eastern South Australia. Accidents and arsonists started most of the fires, which spread rapidly through scenic residential regions near Melbourne and Adelaide, resulting in the death of 75 people and the destruction of nearly 1900 homes.

Black Friday (VIC), 13-20 Jan 1939
Drought conditions and water shortages also preceded Black Friday, but the usual combination of high temperatures, strong winds, and low humidity finally triggered fires throughout bush communities near Melbourne. Well-meaning locals and graziers made the problem worse by trying to use controlled burns to protect themselves from disaster, only to see their good intentions help spread the flames. In all, 71 people were killed and 650 houses were destroyed. A Royal Commission investigation into the fires led to increased fire awareness and prevention efforts throughout Australia.

Black Tuesday (TAS), 7 Feb 1967
An unusually abundant spring covered Tasmanian forest floors with litter, providing excess fuel for the bushfire season. Strong northerly winds and high temperatures coupled to help fuel at least 80 different fires across southern Tasmania, which swept over the south-east coast of the state and came within 2km of central Hobart. The fires killed 62 people and razed almost 1300 homes.

Gippsland fires and Black Sunday (VIC), 1 Feb-10 Mar 1926
Large areas of Gippsland caught fire, culminating in the Black Sunday fires on 14 February that killed 31 people in Warburton, near Melbourne. Over the two-month period, a total of 60 people were killed.

Rant over ;).
 

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I look back at this thread and see how far we have come over the months, and I wholeheartedly say thank you to all who participated in making these changes. But, I'm not going to let you rest on your laurels just yet, there is one thing in the first post I would like to bump, the 10 Year Badge :).
Thanks for the reminder Ross :)
We have a larger team than ever before on both the Product and Engineering side to help deliver new features for the communities. We are excited about the year-ahead, and will be sharing some thoughts on road-map shortly for your feedback.
 

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Cool, just keeping you on your toes mate ;).

Down South is where the current disaster is happening and it is horrific, Kangaroo Island has probably lost over 2/3ds of its Koala population (Kangaroos do much better, they can often double back through burned areas quickly).We have always had big fires, drought and massive floods A poet named Dorothy Mackellar who wrote a poem named My Country which contains the words "I love a sunburnt country/A land of sweeping plains,/Of ragged mountain ranges,/Of droughts and flooding rains." Of course long droughts cause bushlands to dry out, trees to die and ground fuel to amass, this is what needs to be handled much better than it has been, massive fuel load on the ground means the fires get into the treetops quickly, gum trees bur viciously when this happens and animals like the Koala do not stand a chance, low fuel load they do stand a chance.

Rant over ;).

Understood.

Yeah, I saw videos of those poor little guys. It was horrifying to watch.

They get the same thing in California with wildfires from all the "fuel load" on the forest floor. It becomes news because people build houses in the hills all around them.

Jeff M
 
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