Newcomer Feedback - Online Participation

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Mark Miranda

Oct 9, 2011, 2:38:32 PM10/9/11
to AppleVan
Being new to the area I don't have any history with AppleVan.
Unfortunately, this economy has me and my wife working twice as hard
for half as much. I commute between E.Van and Hillsboro so a 12 hour,
high stress day is my norm. Time to rest and be with our children has
become a valuable commodity. I don't even have time for my favorite
hobby; racing rc cars. My apologies to the group for not being more

I'd like to offer some help if the group would like to continue in an
online format. I can't promise attendance at meetings, or time for in-
person presentations and organization, but I can offer to host, build,
SEO tune, and maintain modern forums for us. Here's the technical
mumbo jumbo...

I run a limited, no support hosting platform for developer friends. I
helped build the servers that are colo'd at Olypen in Sequim, Wa and
they're blazing fast with redundant power and data backups. It has
network failovers on three separate networks. That said, I can build
and maintain an SEO tuned, modern forum for free. It will have some
bandwidth and space limitations, however it's unlikely a group like
this will even come close to exceeding them. Below are two of my
hosted forum sites that I can show. One is built on free SMF forums
with a wrapper and the other is a very primitive 5-page html site with
a linked phpBB forum.

* is my baby. It's a hobby site built by me. I spent
some time on appearance, form, and lots of custom code. It's got quick
maintenance tools built into the front end and I try to spend descent
time on the backend. It could be MUCH better, but it is what it is and
I get tons of hits and new traffic. It's

* is another hobby site for paying customers. I
built the framework in about an hour. It's ugly. The guys that own it
aren't savvy at all and don't really care about appearance. The group
is very active and they red-flag their quota every month.

Enough of that technical nonsense...feels like work. Let me know if I
can finally be useful. All I need is DNS info. is pending
deletion since but currently unattainable. If we do not own a domain
name I can take care of it..15.00 a year isn't gonna break the bank.
Keep me posted.

Mark Miranda

Oct 9, 2011, 3:32:46 PM10/9/11
to AppleVan
Short post:

I'll setup a real forum site for AppleVan. Please offer yes or no

Rory Bowman

Oct 9, 2011, 6:42:37 PM10/9/11
Thank you very much, Mark, but I have no interest in a regular online forum since it's my experience that those are not particularly accessible for new users and that AppleVan has historically never had the traffic volume to subdivide it. There was some discussion of this when we went from a static HTML site to the Google Group, and the e-list portion of gGroups was the most widely used by far (even when there were other features). Before the wider Internet, some such things made sense, but there are already dozens of these and even PMUG is moving to abandon theirs (The Electric Sheep) due to limited activity. - Rory

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Steven W Riggins

Oct 9, 2011, 7:08:26 PM10/9/11
Altho we did replace our Sheep with forums for members.  I considered a mailing list, but decided to try forums first.  So far, participation is up, I think partially because the forums are new, but also because it does not require a custom application to use.

We'll see how the forums work over time, but the key is that forums will die if nobody uses them.

Mark Miranda

Oct 9, 2011, 10:44:20 PM10/9/11
to AppleVan
I understand that you're not interested, Rory. That's cool. Just
offering some help.

Steve: You mentioned that forums will die if nobody uses them...
That's not entirely true. PortlandRC gets tons of traffic with a very
small percentage of people actually participating (and it's 100% free
without being bombarded by ads). Those that do participate eventually
stop (rctech is an international forum with a northwest section) for
several different reasons. Most forums die there. However, I use a
wrapper that creates more of a blog feel. I continue to post relevant
news about local tracks, events, products, whatever. It keeps the SEO
metrics fresh, is informative, and subsequently is up front in
regional searches with outstanding stats (for what it is). My
intention from the start was to help the community by offering an easy
way to find local information or a place to stop and jump in. So far I
consider it successful. I'm satisfied and it doesn't consume me. Fees
are not a part of my model though. With almost no participation:

Avg pages per visit: 5.46
Avg time on site: 3:26
Bounce rate: 27% (click-through from home page)
Between 380 and 550 visits per month after 6 months
New visitors: 67%

Steve: I visited and it looks great and informative but I
could not find the forums via a sidebar link. I found them via a
targeted google search. Nice... phpBB with a theme. No membership
number prevented me from participating. I tricked the form to find
membership prices. I'm very attached to my wallet at present, so I
stopped there. I found the ES BBS easily enough but that requires a
client app. Stopped there too. I'm a pretty typical case... minus
actively searching for forums.

Steven W Riggins

Oct 9, 2011, 10:48:25 PM10/9/11
Yeah, the reason our forums are closed is to just reduce spam, trolling, all that stuff that people can get on the rest of the Internet. It's simply a forum for members. I've not linked to it yet because we're still in a early beta phase, and a lot of the data is still be put together.

I feel there are a ton of free and open forums for people to talk about Apple stuff, which is awesome. Once I clean up the theme a bit more, it'll be easier for people to figure out that the forums require membership without too much effort. I'll work on making that experience nicer for non-members.

Mark Miranda

Oct 9, 2011, 11:40:48 PM10/9/11
to AppleVan
That's awesome Steve! Hopefully your forums will offer a platform for
some new sparks!
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