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Forum Library, Charter, Moderators: rogerd

Community Building and User Generated Content Forum

    
Preserving a Forum's Best Content
Libraries, archives, headliner threads, etc.
rogerd




msg:1560163
 4:10 pm on Dec 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

Most busy forums generate some great threads - ones where a particularly clear solution is provided to a common problem, a great give-and-take discussion takes place, etc. Unfortunately, these great threads fall off the radar screen eventually, to be stored in the archive with hundreds or thousands of much less useful threads. Keyword-based search functions won't help much since many posts other than the "best" ones may turn up for the same search terms.

A well-run forum finds a way to identify and preserve these for easier retrieval by new (and old) members.

Here at WebmasterWorld, for example, there are a few ways good content is highlighted and preserved. Important threads can be headlined on the front page, and will gradually scroll off into an archive list. In individual forums, moderators can add top quality threads to the forum library.

In another forum I'm familiar with, threads can be "featured" on the home page and/or the individual forum page. (Five threads are featured on the home page, while two are shown on the forum page). In each case, older entries scroll into a permanant archive list.

Both of these systems are largely dependent on human identification - a mod or admin decides to highlight the thread on his/her own or after a member's recommendation. That's probably less than perfect, as some forum mods may be very diligent about this task and others less so.

What systems have you implemented or observed to keep the best forum posts accessible in the long run?

 

Junanagoh




msg:1560164
 6:18 pm on Dec 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

If you dont mind me adding to this question,

I use a phpbb forum and I also have certain posts about the 'widget of the month' that I start off as a sticky. There are 3 'widgets of the month' so if I just kept them there soon there would be too many stickys. How do I archive these?

goldminer




msg:1560165
 2:54 am on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I use a phpbb forum and I also have certain posts about the 'widget of the month' that I start off as a sticky. There are 3 'widgets of the month' so if I just kept them there soon there would be too many stickys. How do I archive these?

Make a sticky containing important topics inventory.

That is the only solution that i ve found, with forum search and google site search.

Offering people various ways and options to search is good.

BTW, not highlighting good content could be good too. Getting maximum different topics with different wordings can be cool.
- Se indexing, people finding you whatever.
- old members using search function, and giving newbies url they found good!

OMG, 1 page visitors increasing!
At least, do they clic on ads?

Casethejoint




msg:1560166
 9:12 am on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

I think that it's not just about storing the content, but distilling it to make it more accessible: many people don't want to read through a whole conversation to discover why the participants found it useful.

An idea could be to encourage the thread's participants to help edit down the useful thread into a document summarising the key points made; place a link to the thread itself somewhere in the document. Then create a resource page, or somesuch, containing these docs - and linked to from a sticky, or announcement message somewhere prominent on the forum's frontpage.

rogerd




msg:1560167
 3:04 pm on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

It seems like with thread rating tools enabled, one could do a fully or partially automated solution, e.g., have a "library" autogenerated by highly rated threads, perhaps taking into account the number of views, too. Hence, the highest-rated thread with the most views would be at the top of the list.

Of course, that takes mod judgment out of the equation. There may be some really great threads that didn't get much attention.

linear




msg:1560168
 9:53 pm on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

distilling

I think this is the right idea. The vehicle of choice for me is that good threads get distilled to articles on the content side of the site. If all the goodness is from a forum member, it makes sense to allow that member guest contributor status. It can be a badge of honor of the members.

larryhatch




msg:1560169
 10:05 pm on Dec 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

Isn't there some sort of field in blog/forum software that allows moderators/admins to RATE a posting?

If so, I'd make the most of it, being careful not to allow contributors to change it.

Postings should be scored soon after they come in.
High scoring posts/threads could be easily sorted out later for archiving or other uses.
Trolls, bores, morons etc. would be rated at the other end of the same scale.
That's a lot of work saved when it comes time to use the materials. -Larry

M_B_Walker




msg:1560170
 5:15 am on Dec 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

I run a forum that has been operating since 2000 and gets several hundred posts a day. We try to keep the best threads alive using the following methods:

1. Add links to the best threads in the FAQ to the board.

2. Feature some topics (usually edited) on the main website (not the board).

3. Select some topics to be rewritten and featured on a companion "tip of the day" website.

4. Create a separate "off-topic" forum for non-widget related chatter. This is not archived, but its existance does help cut down on "archive clutter". We also manually edit or delete some threads on the regular boards with an eye toward maximizing their usefulness for the future.

One corollary to the issue of archiving is that users need to be educated on how best to search and use the archives. Our archives are very actively searched and read again and again -- it's even common for people to respond to posts on the board by directing others to specific threads in the archives.

rogerd




msg:1560171
 4:20 pm on Dec 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

OK, it looks like the most common methodology is a more or less manual approach:
- identify good content (mod or admin)
- add to some permanent or semi-permanent listing: library, FAQ, featured threads, home page, etc.

I'd guess most of us would be reluctant to give up that editorial control and let some automated system say, "this thread has lots of views, it must be good, I'll save it on the 'best' list."

At the same time, I know that on every busy forum it's a challenge to keep identifying and linking the high quality content. So, how about,
- a 'this thread deserves to be saved' button, perhaps available to members who have been around a while.
AND/OR
- an automated suggestion system that, whan a thread hits some threshold of viewership, bookmarking, subscriptions, rating, etc. sends a recommendation to mods/admins.

Either way, an experienced human still makes the final decision, but the probability that good stuff will be overlooked goes down.

Of course, a lot depends on how busy the forum is - on lower volume forums, a few people can read everything and hence is less likely to miss something good.

M_B_Walker




msg:1560172
 5:47 pm on Dec 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

At the same time, I know that on every busy forum it's a challenge to keep identifying and linking the high quality content. So, how about,
- a 'this thread deserves to be saved' button, perhaps available to members who have been around a while.
AND/OR
- an automated suggestion system that, whan a thread hits some threshold of viewership, bookmarking, subscriptions, rating, etc. sends a recommendation to mods/admins.

These suggestions can work, but note that many good threads contain some material that is irrelevant or not worth keeping. You'll either have to accept the chaff with the wheat or manually edit.

I should add that a good search mechanism is at least as important as deciding what to archive.

rogerd




msg:1560173
 7:38 pm on Dec 12, 2005 (gmt 0)

>>a good search mechanism

I agree - powerful search complements highighted content. Search works best for specialized or detailed searches, e.g., "convert dynamic urls to static Windows IIS rewrite", but may return way too many undifferentiated results for "higher google rankings".

External search engines like Google can actually outperform built-in site search in some cases because they take into account things like external linkage, linkage from library pages, etc.

Casethejoint




msg:1560174
 9:47 am on Dec 16, 2005 (gmt 0)

It might also be worth having a handy FAQ with some steps users can take to optimise and refine a search either in an external engine or the built-in one.

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