In response to feedback, the structure of the BNC Discussion Forum on ProBoards has been greatly simplified. The revised forum looks like this:
Logically (in my mind, and that of the BNC Moderator), it made sense to give people a robust classification structure. But in practice, such an approach is NOT user friendly.
While I’m not actually an user interface designer, I’ve been involved in usability design for some years. The comments on the blog and the fact that discussion has not easily moved to the forum suggest that the forum structure is indeed too messy. I would suggest again reducing the number of subforums to a bare minimum; in particular, sub-subforums should be eliminated altogether unless there is a very very very good reason to have them (which I don’t see at the moment). With the relatively few posts now being generated daily, this forum would work with just one or two big discussion areas with individual threads (with suitable topics) playing the part of subforums.
With fewer subforums, following the discussions would be much easier and would in all likelihood increase the odds that people will actually contribute and comment to forum instead of in the blog posts. The best forums, in my experience, evolve over time: subforums are added only when there is sufficient content to warrant one. Even then, less is often more.
I accept this as good advice — and it gels with experience I’ve seen reported by others. It’s the old KISS axiom, reworded.
So, I’ve totally revamped the Boards. There are now only 4 options – BNC Blog Posts, Energy, Climate Change, and Forum Help. That’s it. All the old posts/comments were moved to one of these Boards. No more fine-grained and catalogued hierarchical classification. Just nice and simple.
If you want to find something specific (topic, person, keyword, etc.), just put it in the search box (the search engine on Proboards is excellent, and has many advanced filtering options).
Is the Forum now too cut-down? Perhaps, but any additional boards will be added cautiously from hereon in, and only if demand or popular vote warrants it.
DW also noted this:
If you *allow* comments [on BNC.com] (which you should be able to turn off) then people will comment. The reality is that board like at the BNC Public Forum do not get the intensity of discussion because we are presented with a diffuse set of topics. But this is especially true if you post HERE and not THERE. You end up drawing people here as if it’s a portal to the Public Forum space. It’s not, it’s brick wall. You should make a decision to either reopen this as a discussion site OR shut it down and have all these main posts go there.
He is also quite correct. The correct place for making comments is now on the forums, not here. That was a firm choice I made, for many reasons.
As a consequence, I’ve now closed comments on all the new (post-BNC-Forum) blog posts, and will not open them for any new blog posts. (Comments remain open for old archived BNC posts). The only place to comment on new BNC blog posts henceforth with be at the BNC Forums, here: http://bravenewclimate.proboards.com/index.cgi?board=bncblogposts