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Two Steps Behind

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by Gene Steinberg, Jan 3, 2012.

  1. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Well-Known Member

    After an initial flurry of activity, our XF forums have died down somewhat.

    A few posters say they aren't enamored with the new layout, compared to our vB 4 setup.

    These messages should be available to even non-members if you want to look. Maybe some of you have suggestions how we might update the forums to please them, if that's possible. Of course, there will always be people who cannot be pleased.

  2. ChemicalKicks

    ChemicalKicks Well-Known Member

    I think at this stage pandering to days of old isn't going to work.

    It looks different and feels different because it is different, there's nothing you can do about that. What I would say is to keep your public face happy and helpful, if someone points out something you like try and counter it with a positive or just thank them for feedback.

    Did you do any preamble to XenForo did you try and build excitement about the change?
  3. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Well-Known Member

    I did post information about it, but most people who visit the paranormal forum aren't into the nuts and bolts. They just want a place to post messages.

    It's all about change. I think if there were a couple of more add-ons closer in concept to the ones we used with the vBulletin forum (such as a Recent Posts utility that puts a widget in the main forum area, below the navigation bar), they'd be happy. The Ragtek sidebar thingy isn't as good, although more visually attractive. And since the developer of that add-on has closed his own site and vanished, it seems, I've no hopes it'll get any better.
  4. wickedstangs

    wickedstangs Well-Known Member

    maybe try changing the look of your forums.. I am battling with member leaving to facebook:( Forums seem died at times..
  5. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Well-Known Member

    I've tried one or two that I didn't like. I was thinking of possibly a theme that is reminiscent of vBulletin in color schemes, or some hand-holding to help me build such a theme (I assume it's just clicking on colors). I basically took the background of the older forums, and made minor changes to the new forum's style to integrate, but it's not my expertise.

    XenFans is no longer active; they had some neat themes. Suggestions?
  6. ChemicalKicks

    ChemicalKicks Well-Known Member

    Dive into the colour palette, you couldn't do any worse than me.

    What did your old site look like, do you have any screenies or do you still have it available on another url?
  7. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Well-Known Member

    The old theme was mostly vBulletin 4's standard setup, with larger labels and text, more "air" around the forum area, and the same blue background we have now. I sold off the vBulletin licenses, hence the installation is history. But looking at the standard vB setup, you can probably imagine what we did.

    When I set up XF, I kept the same background, made the background surround wider, increased the sizes of the buttons (which I think are too small), and let it flow. I went ahead and installed whatever add-ons I could find that sort of matched the previous forum, with a few extras unique to XF.
  8. yavuz

    yavuz Well-Known Member

    I would suggest you use the widget framework for latest messages, threads, popular posts and many other cool stuff. Transition is a hard thing to to expecially when you have not the right tools avaliable you users became addicted to.
  9. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Well-Known Member

    The issue is that we have to drop all the Ragtek stuff, because those add-ons use a framework not compatible with the widget framework. We use the Recent Posts and Birthdays add-ons. If there was another way to do that, I'd add it in a heartbeat. vB had a standard birthdays feature.
  10. Forsaken

    Forsaken Well-Known Member

    I'd really suggest going for a new theme... The default theme is alright, but it doesn't please the majority of your average users.
  11. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Well-Known Member

    I welcome suggestions. Something closer to the vBulletin look, alas, may be the direction to go.
  12. yavuz

    yavuz Well-Known Member

    Gene, I don't know how your website looked before but your website looks more like a standart discussion board, no offense.. Header doesn't fit with the rest of the theme for starters and the Blue-white standart xenforo theme is maybe not a wise choise for your website genre... Maybe you should consider purchasing a custom theme or if you're comfortable with it, modify the current theme. Ask them what they don't like and what they miss. I could picture your website looking much more in its genre with themes like Class, Baisik or Animate...

    It's also proven to help to show what you're planning to do to selected users, get feedback, add or remove things and roll out after that.
  13. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Well-Known Member

    I reject styles with white type against a dark background. They're impossible to read. So that lets Animate go. I don't see how Baisik fits in with black, blue and gold.

    As to the others, maybe Baisik has a possibility.

    Other ideas are appreciated.

    Any other suggestions?
  14. Trekkan

    Trekkan Well-Known Member

  15. Deepmartini

    Deepmartini Well-Known Member

    Honestly Gene, I don't think it has anything to do with your choice of forum software but rather the constant begging on your newsletter list and special emails asking for donations and loans from your members. I can understand that times are tough for everyone, but that probably turned a lot of people off from returning to your community. This isn't meant to be blunt, but rather an observation from an outside point of view. There are external factors which can affect people's participation in an online community (which has nothing to do with the forum software itself). You may be shooting yourself in the foot without even realizing it. Maybe there is a way to get those people back and re-establish goodwill?
  16. Morgain

    Morgain Well-Known Member

    What I see on the thread you link in your OP Gene is that you keep arguing with your members and insisting XF is better. It comes across like you're telling them they are wrong, old fashioned, not savvy .... No one likes that. At the same time I really understand how you feel.

    OK here goes.

    FORGET telling them you spent weeks designing it. If you spent weeks working on something they frind uncomfortable then you're just guilt tripping them on your fatigue!

    RATION how many times you tell them XF is better on XYZ feature. They have made their own assessment and they don't think so. They need to know you respect that.
    Consider that you're not only asking them to change software - how they does it. You're asking them to change attitudes too as they have decided they don't like it much - we're targeting those, not the ones who do like it.
    So triage the issues where you point our XF excellence. That means out of 5 issues critiquing XF, select only 1 or 2 to say oh but XF has something nice here.
    You've written ethusiastic guide paragraphs on how to do stuff - how it's lovely, easy, efficient, right there in front of you. Ration that. Keep such a poar5agraph to 2 sentences. Why? Because by saying it's right there and easy you're telling them they are stupid not to have noticed.
    My apologies for straight talk.

    MOST OF ALL examine the power issues here. The central one is that YOU have the power -0 they don't. This was YOUR decision - YOUR excitement - YOUR fun. They probably had no vote and no input on it.
    Some of the reaction is that, though they will not say so. Translate "You jerked me into this and I didn't choose it. GAH!"
    No amount of new toys, cutting edge status etc can cancel this out.


    Some you won't win over. Meditate on that.
    Their choice.
    In fact that's one way they can rebalance their lack of choice: reject you.

    Some need time. The adjustments, the lack of control on the decision.
    But you can do some stuff to ease it for them and for you.

    Respect the whingeing! rather than arguing with it, honour it, and invite it.
    You could consider a thread that positively invites what they don't like. Ventilate it.
    Ask a couple of other members to help you respond maybe - and make every response sympathy without criticism of their point, or argument. Useful phrases:
    "I can see what you mean."
    "Hmm yes you have a point."
    "It's always a bit awkward with a new system."
    "I hadn't seen it that way but now you mention is .."
    "You're right ..." (This one is heap big magic.)
    Even better use THEIR wording in your response say you understand it.
    (psst many women are often very good at this slightly empty "I see what you mean talk. Guys tend to argue more to control the other person making forceful interesting exchange but less supportive.)

    Have another thread for help on how to use the new toys.
    Invite members to say their favourite bits of XF.
    Do NOT mix the two threads here. If they do, split their posts or move them. Otherwise it becomes an argument.
    Start the plus one with no more than THREE points that first attracted you.
    If no one answers for 24 hours beg someone friendly (or 2) to post on it!

    Put stuff in that gives applause to some members who DO adjust.
    eg thank someone/ several someones publicly for using Likes so courteously - mentioning how friendly and quick to do this is.
    By featuring members who are adjusting you're constructing an ideal of members who handle it well without you lecturing on how it works.

    Where whingeing leaks out elsewhere you might be able to ghetto it on the whinge thread. If not you might be able to offer the member privately the option of using the whinge thread.

    Act like a calm powerful parent. You've made the decision for the family.
    They need to whinge and grumble. But you've got what YOU want - if you lose traffic it'll build again because XF is so attractive. (Some of this is your own self doubt after the change kicking in! Inevitable - you're a bit tired and having your own reaction.)
    Let them have their fuss. It's not going to change the decision and they know it. Their posts are not rebellious just wistful. Quite gentle really.
    Keep expressing sympathy for the whinges and at the same time use XF toys to offer interesting things to connect around.
    What did they most respond to before? Do that again.
    whynot, MGSteve, Walter and 2 others like this.
  17. Deepmartini

    Deepmartini Well-Known Member

    I agree with Morgain's assessment. Members don't appreciate being talked down to, and they want to feel included on decisions which affect their community. There are many forums to participate in online and I suspect that people simply got fed up with the tone and went elsewhere. People are investing their time to participate and need to feel appreciated.

    Every other site that has converted to Xenforo has seen a traffic increase and lots more user interaction and activity, search the forum here and you'll see thread after thread proving this. So that leaves other external factors as the underlying cause.
  18. Morgain

    Morgain Well-Known Member

    Hey Deep I appreciate you like my approach. But I think you're being a bit hasty saying everyone gets better responses with XF. A lot do, that evidence comes in here where we see it, but we can't know it's everyone. There's no research.No software suits everyone though I'd run a guess XF comes the closest ;)

    I think Gene is really worried and writing in here shows he's willing to examine his methods to handle things better. He, like his members, deserves credit for his effort in owning up things aren't right.

    His example needs respect, and gentleness. I'm afraid it's been a long night and I was not gentle enough myself perhaps.
    OOOOOF my back!
  19. Digital Doctor

    Digital Doctor Well-Known Member

    Idea: Use the new Likes extension Add a category called: Proof.
    Get people to click Proof if they think the post contains rock solid proof of the paranormal :)
  20. Gene Steinberg

    Gene Steinberg Well-Known Member

    Most of this doesn't really have anything to do with what I actually said in my responses to the thread. I remarked how quickly I was able to adapt to the new forum, and then presented a few suggestions on how new features replaced the old. I also provided links to some new skins in case they have some suggestions to offer.

    Actually when we first moved to the new style, everyone praised it. I also posted several messages on how to use the new features.

    In the end, yes, they will adjust, and it has nothing to do with someone's post about irrelevant matters that do not relate to the transfer to the new forum a couple of months back. Oh well.

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