Thank you all for your comments and suggestions i the Future Of The Forums thread. It's very nice to see that a lot of you are interested in and willing to contribute to make the discussion forums on Airliners.net a better place. I've read all replies in great detail and it has certainly given me a lot of new ideas on how to move things forward.
I'd like to comment on the major points brought up and will for convenience include a quote of the text I am commenting on:
Yes. Allow users to moderate posts. But ONE user should not automatically be able to delete posts; rather they can raise or lower the score of a given post. (This moderation score would be separate from the 'stars' rating -- although the 'stars' rating might be possibly weighted in the formula) Posts with scores lower than a certain amount are AUTOMATICALLY deleted. This makes the system fairer and more objective.
I've seen this system in action at Slashdot.org and it seems to work relatively well. It's not a bad idea and might be something to consider implementing although I think it's better suited for a wider scope site like Slashdot than for Airliners.net. I fully agree that ONE user alone should not be able to delete a post.
And notice how you can select the minimum score of posts you want to read. So someone who only wants to read the high-quality posts, can set their score to a high level, and not even read the 'crap' posts. So a 'minimum score' filter would be very nice to have as a user option on airliners.net.
I'm not too fond of the idea to keep the low quality "crap" posts at all.
Just to add something, I think these guys should be able to close threads and not delete them, unless they are offensive. I think closing threads is much nicer then deleting them, but has the same effects, this way we can see what was going on and understand why it was closed.
Yes, giving them the ability to close (archive) a post but not delete is a good idea.
As for the fee, why not talk to some companies like airlines, or publications like Airways to help sponsor the site? I have posted this suggestion many times on this forum before, but it has apparently fallen on deaf ears!
Airliners.net is currently relying on sponsor deals and advertising for financing. Unfortunately, the online ad market is not what it used to be and we're currently looking for other forms of income. That's another discussion though.
Also, agreeing with that LV-7772 said, a persons quality of post ranges VERY greatly! I've seen people in the TWFirst forums type ONE NUMBER AS A POST AND DO THIS 10 TIMES!
If the total number of posts will be included to determine whether a particular user can become a moderator or not, posts in the non-aviation forum will not count.
Another suggestion I just thought about: Allow users to submit questions/answers to the forum FAQ document. There could be a board of editors that would approve submissions, and add them. It would work similar to the articles.
This is definitely something worth implementing. It's been on my mind for quite some time but I haven't been able to decide the exact layout and who should be allowed to post questions/answers to that document.
However, instead of selecting these power users [Moderators] based on arbitrary criteria, why not create a "short list" long term, knowledgable users - and then put them to a vote from the general population?
It's a good idea but might be too much work. Not only is the programming of voting scripts and managing the voting process a problem, I'm not so sure this procedure will bring forward the people best suited for the job. I'd rather give moderator status (ability to archive posts) to everyone that reaches a certain level and remove those that cannot handle it (incorrectly archived threads can easily be "un-archived").
As far as raising revenues, a couple of suggestions: provide links to Amazon.com, etc for buying aviation books and when someone follows the link and buys something Airliners.net gets something. Also, in the aviation hobby section a lot of people are trading and selling aviation stuff, how about create a separate "auction" forum where people can do this, like eBay - and you charge them a % of each sale made.
I've tried working with Amazon and the revenue is unfortunately very small, far from the revenue needed to keep the site up and running (servers, network etc). Creating an entirely new section like an auction is a lot of work, not least writing the scripts that charges people a percentage of sales. Furthermore I'm not so sure it would generate any revenue to speak of as most people would use eBay anyway. The revenue issue is different topic that I'll get back to some other time.
If you do end up charging for the site make the system work so that you can view the posts for free, just it costs to respond. This way people will only post when they have something important enough that they will pay to have it said. For those that don't want to pay, they can still read the forum and learn what is happening in aviation.
If we decide to turn parts of Airliners.net into a subscription service (note that I said IF, it's far from a certainty) that's the way I intend for it to work. Reading is free, posting will cost.
It would be a nightmare for the administration and would probably have to be "out-shopped" to an agency which would charge a percentage. You could not sensibly run a fee on anything less than an annual basis, without massive administration and probably a minimum fee of $20 pa.
Indeed true and yet another problem making the situation more complex. It is possible to use services like PayPal but micropayments on the Internet still has a long way to go.
Although I find the forums to be the best ones I have ever visited, who would pay to use them if there are so many other free ones out there?
Online services are growing up. The fact is that it costs money to run a quality service. It you want to be around in the long run, you'd better charge for your services. Just like any magazine, we have ads on our pages to pay for the costs we have. Magazines aren't free, you will have to pay if you want to read it. The same thing will happen to the Internet. Yes, there's a lot of free services out there right now living on "future expectations". But when all comes around, they too will have to find some way to pay for their hardware, Internet connection, staff etc and banner ads just doesn't cut it anymore.
Think if your favorite magazine. Sure, it would have a heck of a lot more subscribers if the yearly subscription cost was 0:-. That would unfortunately mean that they would go bankrupt pretty quick. Same goes for Airliners.net. Yes, we will loose a lot of visitors if we start charging for our services. That's however a price I'm willing to pay to keep the site up and running and I hope those of you that enjoy the site appreciate that. But again, the issue of the future of Airliners.net is another topic.
What you haven't suggested is something I have thought about. How about in the registration process requiring an email confirmation. The user will not be able to post until they have received and replied to the confirmation.
That's the way it currently works and has worked for a year or so (but I know it wasn't implemented when you registered in Feb 2000).
And perhaps have a daily posting limit for new members. Say 20 posts/day for 15 days max. That would certainly be enough to participate in the forums at almost any level.
I'm not so keen on adding a limit on the number of posts. However, for new users, it might be a good idea. Maybe limit new users to one thread-starting post a day for the first 10 posts or so.
Then there are the fishing expeditions, such as: What is the best/worst/mediocre airline/aircraft/airport/picture/food/service/stewardesses you have/haven't ever/will plan on/ not plan on in your life/parent's life/past life/future life? Perhaps individual polling areas should be introduced for these.
Perhaps. I'm not very fond of those posts either but I am not sure a "polling area" would be the best solution.
I think having a few mods would be a good idea. But just to "close" a topic, not delete it. Also, when they close the topic, they should give a reason at the end of the topic why it is being closed, that way people know why, and who closed it. But i think only you (Johan) should be able to totally delete topics. Also, you should be able to open topics back up if you feel they shouldn't have been closed.
Yes, that's exactly how it should work.
Aloha 737-200 wrote:
And, refelcting on all that I said earlier on users "bonding". That's what non_av is for too. you can chat with a person on a personal level there, or just laugh or have fun, or do what friends do. Granted, everyone is different and you also get your radicals who like to cause problems.
Yes, I too see positive sides to the non-aviation forum and hope we will be able to keep it.
Your goal here, I believe, is to keep away non-serious users. I think you can acheive this by simply putting a 24-72 hour waiting period on joining the forum. Even send them an e-mail reminder when this period is up. This would make the process of obtaining a new membership a pain-in-the-ass enough to keep away most people who just want to cause troube or even create a second false userid for some spur-of-the-moment activity.
An excellent idea I intend to implement.
I think that sometimes it would better to suspend a user for a period of time rather than delete them outright, or possibly suspend or ban them from peticular forums rather than the whole site.
Yes, the problem is that there's currently no such function in the scripts that manage the discussion forums. It's something I'll have to write. While at it, I'm also intending to add an automatic email notification to users when a post of theirs is removed or archived. It can contain a copy of the post and the reason it was deleted as well as a warning if the offence was severe.
This idiot was allowed to reign havoc on the main forum for quite a number of hours before the posts were deleted. If "moderators" were not to have the same "power" as current admin, those threads would still be there for all to see on the main board.
Yes, that's a problem. Maybe we could let moderators delete posts as long as more than one (or two) request for it to be removed. They could also be given the ability to temporary suspend a user's ability to post.
Another feature that I would support fully, is that the IP address of the person posting should be available for people to see. This will stop people to some extent who are posting under multiple usernames, often to flame other users.
IP addresses are always logged although not shown to other users. It's a privacy issue and I'm not sure other users would appreciate it if their IP was displayed. As it's logged, we can always use it against troublemakers.
Personally, if it was my site, I would also get rid of the star rating for posts.
Some people claim it's a waste of bandwidth as it isn't used for anything but I think it does serve a purpose, especially for new users. If a post of theirs receives a low rating, they might refrain from posting a similar topic in the future.
We're Nuts wrote:
5 dollars a YEAR!? Why not just rob Johan as he walks down the street?
Yeah. If there were a million users, five bucks a year would pay the costs. Unfortunately there's not (yet) a million of you.
People need to start thinking of airliners.net as a MASSIVE "Airways" or "Airliners World" or one of the other enthusiast magazines, and it is only fair that people should pay for that privilege.
Imagine the look on the magazine publishers face if you were to go to them and demand a FREE subscription.
Also, I do not buy any of these enthusiast magazines because they:
a) Do not have anywhere near the number of photos which are available on airliners.net
b) Their news is limited
c) Their news is out-of-date by the time of publication, and the forums here on airliners.net are full of a wealth of information on aspects of aviation which you just don't see in these magazines, a prime example being my passion, Russian aviation.
I like your point of view!
If we paid a subscription fee, would that get rid of the friggen slow banner ads? No offense, this is a great site, but it's got some of the slowest ads on the internet, and they delay the whole page
That could definitely be added as one of the "features" of a paid subscription.
I suspect the difference is down to the relative focus of the forum. Civil is just too wide. Maybe the forums need to be re-organised into more specific groups, perhaps requiring separate reg. for each.
I'm not so sure splitting it up is a good idea. It is very important that the range of topics in the different forums doesn't interfere or people will just post where the most action is. I've tried to keep the distinction between the different forums very clear and still people tend to post photography related topics in the civil aviation discussion (As it's got "more users").
UAL Bagsmasher wrote:
Many users on this forum, particularly airline employees, do not want their true identities to be revealed. Doing so may put their job in jeopardy in the event they say something they aren't supposed to about their job and/or employer.
Yes, it will not be required to reveal your true identity to other users, that's that the username is for. However, you are required to give us your real name but as you all know, you have the option not to have it displayed to other users.
Go canada! wrote:
its sensitive data its the law..i didnt request to see your e-mail. ITS NONE OF MY BUISNESS. if you want to display your email address because of your liberila values then thats fine but dont expect me to do it as well.....
I am being liberal here and giving you the option of hiding your email address from other users. That's not a right, that's a service. If you don't like the rules and conditions you have the option not to sign up and participate in our forums.
How about creating a "New User" forum? All the newbies can go there and post all of their questions that they don't realize were already addressed many times. When someone signs up, the FAQ can suggest that they post in the newbie forum and only "lurk" in the other forums until they're comfortable that they have the a.net etiquette down.
Interesting though. I'll have to consider what the consequences would be.
Lindy field wrote:
Divide the Civil Aviation forum into two separate forums. The first, designed to attract more professional discussion, might be titled something like Aviation News, Facts, and History. This forum would be a place to discuss breaking news, to ask factual questions about airlines, routes, aircraft, or what have you. The idea is that it would be a forum for thoughtful analysis rather than defensive or emotional posts.
The second forum would be devoted to Love of Aviation and might contain the subjective topics about favorite liveries, airlines, aircraft, etc. This could be a place for topics like "Japan Airlines should serve Fresno!" or "Northwest would look better if they painted their tails green." It could also serve as a forum for fantasy liveries or other creative endeavors.
That's a split that might actually work despite the negative comments I wrote higher up about splitting the Civil Aviation forum. I'd appreciate comments on this idea, what are the negative sides to it?
Have 2 forums. Forum #1 for subscribers. Those who want a serious and knowledgeable discussion about aviation would be willing to pay a fee to use this site, if they knew they were receiving quaility exchange of information. I certainly would. Those who do not have a credit card or choose not to part with their money would be allowed to read only, but not post on this forum #1. This would help eliminate the non serious users.
Forum # 2 would be for all to use, and moderated as it is now. This would allow for non subscribers to still communicate and share aviation information. Naturally, there will be more topics of marginal interest to work through to find the nuggets of knowledge/opinion posted. But, this would allow those interested, but not interested enough to subscribe, to still communicate about aviation topics.
That's another interesting though I'd have to think about.
I am looking forward to reading your comments now that you know in more detail my thoughts on the issue.