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View Poll Results: Do web-based forums really suck?
Yes - a waste of bandwidth and time. Bring on the plain text... 3 23.08%
No - They are easy and accessible for all people from anywhere on the net 10 76.92%
Voters: 13. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 13.05.2005, 20:43
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Why web-forums suck ...

Mark asked in a different thread how mailing lists compare to forums. In no way should what I'm about to write be interpreted as complaint against Mark personally nor this particular forum nor its members - I'm aiming at the "technology" itself. I think Mark has done a fine job in setting this up, and I hope his effort is rewarded with lots of activity.

Why I loathe forums:

1. They are an inferior and utterly superfluous re-invention of existing internet communication means - newsgroups aka usenet.
2. They're web-based - the interface changes just about every time you change forum. Add to that
the entirely superfluous graphics and icons and what have you, and they become very heavy on
the bandwidth side.
3. Following multiple separate forums can't be done on one screen.
4. There is no proper threading in forums.
5. They usually require that you login. Downright silly.

So what am I doing here? Well, I love to chat and that'll keep me interested for a while. However, I know I'll forget the URL and the forum before long - that's what always happens.

In my newsreader I use 3 different providers: 1) my internet providers news-server, 2) gmane.org, and 3) my local news-server for non-gmane mailing-lists. As I can't add this forum to my newsreader, I'll forget it.
Screenshot: http://jessen.ch/images/screenshot-of-knode
The mailing-list I'm reading is the english-language SuSE-Linux list which is also available on news://news.gmane.org.
http://jessen.ch/images/screenshot-of-knode2. Here I have my providers server with some international, some german and a danish newsgroup, plus some gmane groups/lists.

To try out usenet, point your browser (provided you have a usenet-capable email-program installed, for instance Outlook or Thunderbird) to one of these:

news://news.gmane.org/
news://news.bluewin.ch/
news://news.solnet.ch/
news://news.<your favourite provider>.ch/

There are about 70000 newsgroups out there, plus about 40000 mailing-lists hosted by gmane.org.

Now that I've let off some steam, perhaps someone can argue the case why forums are so great? Preferably when compared to mailing-lists and newsgroups.
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  #2  
Old 13.05.2005, 21:03
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Re: Why web-forums suck ...

Just a quick screenshot of this forum now that I've chosen threaded message-display - what an incredible waste of screen real-estate ... in comparison to using a newsreader.
http://jessen.ch/images/eforum-shot2
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  #3  
Old 13.05.2005, 21:56
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Re: Why web-forums suck ...

Quote:
Mark asked in a different thread how mailing lists compare to forums. In no way should what I'm about to write be interpreted as complaint against Mark personally nor this particular forum nor its members - I'm aiming at the "technology" itself. I think Mark has done a fine job in setting this up, and I hope his effort is rewarded with lots of activity.

Why I loathe forums:

1. They are an inferior and utterly superfluous re-invention of existing internet communication means - newsgroups aka usenet.
2. They're web-based - the interface changes just about every time you change forum. Add to that
the entirely superfluous graphics and icons and what have you, and they become very heavy on
the bandwidth side.
3. Following multiple separate forums can't be done on one screen.
4. There is no proper threading in forums.
5. They usually require that you login. Downright silly.

So what am I doing here? Well, I love to chat and that'll keep me interested for a while. However, I know I'll forget the URL and the forum before long - that's what always happens.

In my newsreader I use 3 different providers: 1) my internet providers news-server, 2) gmane.org, and 3) my local news-server for non-gmane mailing-lists. As I can't add this forum to my newsreader, I'll forget it.
Screenshot: http://jessen.ch/images/screenshot-of-knode
The mailing-list I'm reading is the english-language SuSE-Linux list which is also available on news://news.gmane.org.
http://jessen.ch/images/screenshot-of-knode2. Here I have my providers server with some international, some german and a danish newsgroup, plus some gmane groups/lists.

To try out usenet, point your browser (provided you have a usenet-capable email-program installed, for instance Outlook or Thunderbird) to one of these:

news://news.gmane.org/
news://news.bluewin.ch/
news://news.solnet.ch/
news://news.<your favourite provider>.ch/

There are about 70000 newsgroups out there, plus about 40000 mailing-lists hosted by gmane.org.

Now that I've let off some steam, perhaps someone can argue the case why forums are so great? Preferably when compared to mailing-lists and newsgroups.
hi
can you advice me how to get newsgroups in english...i forgot how i did it the last time (not really a techie person)...i miss that so mush...
thank you a lot
snjez
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  #4  
Old 13.05.2005, 22:13
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Re: Why web-forums suck ...

First of all, it depends on your provider, but generally newsgroups can be found under news://news.<provider>.ch etc. See my previous examples. You simple take that URL and paste it into your browser. Generally, usenet is in engliish; only if you branch out into the national groups (de.xxx, nl.xxx, pl.xxxx, dk.xxx etc.), will you find the national languages.
Tell me who your provider is, and I can give you specific directions.
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  #5  
Old 13.05.2005, 22:51
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Re: Why web-forums suck ...

hi,
i am with tele2 with ADSL
thanks
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  #6  
Old 13.05.2005, 23:14
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Re: Why web-forums suck ...

do you know why i cannot read soc.culture.europe for example, as this is one of the several newsgroups i use to read......i found something from your link, but i cannot find the ones i knew from before...it prolly depends on provider, right? hhhmmmm...well, thanks anyway
s,
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  #7  
Old 13.05.2005, 23:50
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Re: Why web-forums suck ...

Some interesting points raised there.

Some are valid, some I don't really agree with. I guess it's my job to defend web based forums right? oh - ok, in that case I'd better get on with it.

I'm tech savvy and used newsgroups for a while, before I went off them. I use them from time to time but via google groups when I need to. Usually for technical questions and searching the archives. I have been known to use the odd binary group or two.

But while the software is relatively easy to use, it's still a hard sell to most users. Try and convince a bunch of people in a bar to download a news reader and start playing around with newsgroups. Even if they already have a newsreader built in they'll still be apathetic. They'll probably say "yeah I'll get around to that one day". People are so damn lazy these days you can't even get them to click on links.

But a web browser they understand. Things look nice (hopefully), they know how to use it. If you tell the same guys "hey I found a cool website" they might be more likely to look. Sad but true.

So what do I like about web based forums? They've come a long way, and when they are integrated with email they become very useful. Let me give you an example. I've done some forum mods for phpbb, and have some posts about them. Some of these threads are years old. Occassionally someone posts to it and I get an email and I go back and check on the thread. That just wouldn't happen with newsgroups, it's much harder for topics to "come back to life" after their initial burst of activity. When a thread gets too chatty and off topic I just unsubscribe. I can choose how often I want to be notified.

Some threads get more popular, I can see at a glance if a thread has been voted as popular, or if it is "sticky" and maybe I should read it. Threads getting a lot of attention show as "hot". It makes me feel like I'm more in control.

And they can be visually more appealing too. It's easy to click and drag images straight from someone else's page into the editor window and spice up your content. You can format your message nicely without having to feel like the idiot that sends HTML emails to everyone. You can add polls, you can look for other messages posted by certain people. You can add other features like the calendar which increase the usefulness of certain forums.

Regarding bandwidth. I have plenty, and these days so do most users. If we were all on dialup it would be a very different story, but most of us aren't anymore.

So on the whole I think web based forums can bring us a heck of a lot of benefit - it's up to the imagination of the users and the admins to make some nice features.

Your point about registration. Many forums allow guests to post in forums. This one doesn't. There are 2 reasons. Firstly there are idiots out there (as well as spambots), secondly what happens if a guest posts a message? He will never know if anyone replies. What if he gets a reply months later? By forcing registration there's more chance that people will get drawn back into the forum to answer replies on their posts, and the conversation is more likely to keep going.

In addition vbulletin allows you to use the login from one site at other vbulletin sites, no need to register at each one. (haven't check this out yet)

Just my CHF0.02 worth...

Mark

P.S. I shifted this from general discussion to complaints corner. Seemed more like a complaint
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  #8  
Old 14.05.2005, 12:27
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Re: Why web-forums suck ...

Hi Mark,

yeah, as responsible for deploying the technology, you get to defend it :-)

You've listed some nice ideas of webforums, but I don't think you've really addressed my main points.
Granted, bandwidth is probably not a real problem these days, and I noticed that threading does sort of work.

On the matter of "selling" the webforums or the newsreader to people:

Newsreader availability:
There is almost never any need to download and install anything to start using a newsreader. Even Microsoft systems come with one builtin.
In fact, it's pretty difficult to get rid off. I don't know of any Linux-distribution that doesn't come with one builtin. I'm pretty certain Macs
have a builtin one too.

Newsreader usability: type in the URL in your browser of choice and it opens. What's difficult about it? You can hand out URLs to newsgroups
just like you'd hand out the URL to the website. I fail to see much of a difference.
With a newsreader you have _one_ interface to all of your lists and groups. With webforums you have God knows how many different
implementations. The learning curve is the same, except with webforums you repeat it just about every time you subscribe to another
forum.

About logging in: I can't help pointing out that newsgroups and mailing-lists have managed perfectly well without it for years.

To finish off - how do you manage it when you're active in 20 or 30 forums, possibly spread over 15-20 websites, perhaps tracking 2 or 3 threads
in each forum? If you chose to get email notification, you'll have a whole bunch in your inbox every day/hour. If you chose no
notification, you have to go check each and every forum. With my newsreader/email-reader, I click twice and I have
a complete overview of everything, all updated etc. For all the various servers and all the various groups and lists.

As to your "poll" - newsgroups and mailinglists are also "easy and accessible for all people from anywhere on the net".
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Old 14.05.2005, 12:36
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Re: Why web-forums suck ...

Simone, I don't know where tele2 has the news-server. I thought it would be news.tele2.ch, but that doesn't seem to exist. I think you'll have to ask tele2. Some newsservers don't have all the groups, but you can always ask to have missing ones added. Also, there are free news-servers available. Some of them are quite limited, as running a full server with all the groups can be very expensive (there is a LOT of traffic in usenet). You could try news://freenews.netfront.net/, but it's quite slow.
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Old 14.05.2005, 12:47
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Re: Why web-forums suck ...

OK, I did find a tele2 webpage that listed "nntp.swip.net" as the news-server, but that doesn't exist either ... anyway, it took a little while, but I finally managed to find it: news://news.tele2internet.ch/ - I can't read it as I'm not a tele2 subscriber, but they say it serves about 33000 groups.
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Old 14.05.2005, 13:17
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Re: Why web-forums suck ...

oh, thank you so much for all the work...i will try...i have tried bluewins, but it seems its not working as i am with tele2...
have a nice weekend and thanks again
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  #12  
Old 01.10.2005, 10:03
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Re: Why web-forums suck ...

I think I am not techie enough to follow this thread:-(

I prefer Yahoo groups to forums as the messages come straight to my inbox.
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Old 02.10.2005, 07:56
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Re: Why web-forums suck ...

Thanks for the links. I have registered myself unfortunately it seems to take quiet long to get the approval.

Have a nice Sunday - despite the pityful weather.
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Old 02.10.2005, 19:51
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Re: Why web-forums suck ...

I haven't used usenet, but I do use the web a lot, and subscribe to a few newsfeeds, and use lots of forums and discussion boards, and blogs and podcasts etc...

The reason people like forums is BECAUSE they have lots of stupid icons and such. The design makes it easier for people to 'get'.

I've watched a bunch of user labs, seeing actual people from different age groups click their way around a site. You'd be really really surprised at the huge range of web skills in users. And the low end of skill level is pretty darn low. And people get pissed when they can't figure something out, it makes them feel stupid and no one likes that. So a pretty, cutsy looking web page makes them feel better, and encourages web use. Putting down user-friendly design is like saying that you want to close the gates to people who aren't over a certain height or speak a certain language. I'd rather open the doors than close them, that's the whole point of the web.

And, yes, logging on to several sites is a PitA! I have a little piece of paper next to my computer that I write down my UN and PW for sites, I have about 44 (good god!) at present count. (These aren't all forums, they're all different types). So while registering is a downside, it's hardly unacceptable if the site is worth it.

Hmm, that was fun. Tchuess!
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Old 03.10.2005, 09:17
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Re: Why web-forums suck ...

@Carmen - Hey look - the message came straight to your inbox That's the whole point of this forum - you choose which threads come to your inbox and while ones don't. With yahoo groups it's all or nothing and you have to listen to a lot of useless conversations. Another thought - you replied to a thread that was quite old, and the conversation starts again. With yahoo groups you would have never even joined this conversation because it started too long ago and would have disappeared. Also google cannot find its way into yahoo groups because most of them are closed - you have to register before you can read. This forum is open to anyone to read, which hopefully makes it more accessible.

@spinelli - I'm not sure what you mean. The "approval" you talk about is simply the confirmation mail which is sent after registration. You have to click a link in this email to confirm that your email address is valid. This email is sent within 30 seconds of registration, and then how long it takes to click the link is up to you. But I guess the fact that you replied means that you already have confirmed your registration, but I'm puzzled why you believe this process was a long one.

@bostonian - You might be amazed to know that despite every attempt being made to make everything user friendly I still have a lot of users who never confirm their email addresses and wonder why it doesn't work. They delete the confirmation email without reading it, and don't read the instructions when they register. But one can only try....

As for logging on to several sites, I'm not sure why you write down all your passwords. I use a standard set (I know this is bad), but using the "remember me" function means you will log in automatically to each site. If for some reason you later get a new computer and you need your password again you can always follow the "I can't remember my password" link and recover it. I am probably registered on around 100 forums, most of which I don't visit regulaly. If I'm not automatically logged in I just try a list of my standard username combinations and passwords and usually get in without problems...

Just my two cents worth.

Mark
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Old 03.10.2005, 09:26
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Re: Why web-forums suck ...

> Hey look - the message came straight to your inbox


But I can't just read it and delete it knowing that the next message will come to my box as well. I have to go to the forum...

"There may be other replies also, but you will not receive any more
notifications until you visit the forum again."
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Old 03.10.2005, 10:43
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Re: Why web-forums suck ...

Quote:
But I can't just read it and delete it knowing that the next message will come to my box as well. I have to go to the forum...
Hi Carmen, you are correct. This seems to be a feature to reduce the amount of times the forum bothers you about a particular thread. It assumes that if you don't visit the forum to look at the message it will stop bugging you with further notifications until you visit again. This can't be configured in the software :-( The alternative would be to not include the message text from the forum in the email, which would mean you would have to click the link to see the message, If you've already seen the message, then I guess there is no reason to click :-) However, I like seeing the text in the email, but I do visit the site occassionally to see if there are new messages. Thankfully it is easy to see which messages come up in a different colour - these are the new ones since my last visit.

I guess it is hard to find a feature set that keeps everyone happy. But I can only try.. :-)

Mark
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Old 03.10.2005, 13:43
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Re: Why web-forums suck ...

re: using several UN and PW. I have about 6 standards. I change the PW every few months, since several of them have CC attached. I often clean out my cookies, since I websurf so much I attract oodels of spyware, and viruses, even though I use Adaware and Norton. Also, the damn Windows XP has some sort of glitch where it won't let me view source if I have too many cookies in the cache (don't ask - it's not worth it).

AND - just as users can be pretty clueless, a lot of sites are pretty bad. The Forgot UN or PW links don't always work. Or they ask me my birthdate to verify myself, something I always lie about. Damn, that one has bit me in the ass.

Actually, most users will simply re-register at a site rather than click "forgot" blah blah. They think it's easier to stay there and re-register than figure out any account management or emailing back and forth.

But this is WAY off topic!

Fun forum!!

-Terri
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Old 09.10.2006, 14:12
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Re: Why web-forums suck ...

Quote:
And, yes, logging on to several sites is a PitA! I have a little piece of paper next to my computer that I write down my UN and PW for sites, I have about 44 (good god!) at present count. (These aren't all forums, they're all different types). So while registering is a downside, it's hardly unacceptable if the site is worth it.

Hi bostonian et al,

I can recommend password safe. Not only does it store all your passwords for you, but it has auto type functions. e.g. CONTROL-L links to the page, and then CONTROL-T auto_types, so you can tab, tab, user, tab, password, enter etc etc. It's VERY easy to use, even for non-techhies


http://passwordsafe.sourceforge.net/


Very good for lazy people like me. Also most of our in-house SAP applications do not use LDAP so we have to have stupid and different passwords for each one......

regards

Buzby
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Old 09.10.2006, 22:14
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Re: Why web-forums suck ...

I think forums and newsgroups (and Yahoo-style groups) all have their place. I think they each tend to appeal to a different type of user, with possibly some overlap.

For example, I am a member of several Yahoo groups, and a couple of forums, but no newsgroups. My husband does newsgroups, but no forums or yahoo groups. So by having topics (such as English speaking expats in Switzerland) on offer in a variety of ways, the information can reach more people according to their preferred method of obtaining information/participating.
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