/ NEWS: UKC Forums Q & A with Alan James
In our user survey of May this year we asked some forum-specific questions. The results of these are shown below. The answers we...
Read more at http://www.ukclimbing.com/news/item.php?id=68443
Is this genuine news, or sponsored product news?
On a serious note - having smileys would allow people to convey their emotions / sarcasm / cheekiness much easier and reduce the amount of unnecessary arguments drastically.
No they wouldn't...!
Why on earth would anyone need/want 'smilies',
Another no here to picture smilies. What on earth is wrong with good old text ones? =8-0
Why on earth would anyon need/want to reduce the amount of unnecessary arguments?
My Alan James fell apart the second time I took him out climbing. I find the stitching poor quality and the design aesthetically unpleasing. Much prefer my robust Chris Craggs that I've since bought, much more pleasant on the eye...
> My Alan James fell apart the second time I took him out climbing. I find the stitching poor quality and the design aesthetically unpleasing. Much prefer my robust Chris Craggs that I've since bought, much more pleasant on the eye...
Ah yes...tis mushroom season.
> Why on earth would anyone need/want 'smilies',
> Chris ;-)
Indeed - and ditto avatars. Why on earth would anyone need/want to see everyone else's ugly mug.
Your keyboard is missing the : and ) keys?
Youthful audience bedamned. What's wrong with miserable old curmudgeons with good spending power...?
The only thing I find irritating, other than a few other posters of course, is the search facility.
Surely it wouldn't be too difficult to upgrade it to something slightly more sophisticated.
> The only thing I find irritating, other than a few other posters of course, is the search facility.
> Surely it wouldn't be too difficult to upgrade it to something slightly more sophisticated.
Less of that. I thought that the whole point of this thread was to demonstrate that none of us have any interest in what AJ and his tiresome acolytes and camp followers have to say for themselves.
Can we have better thread tracking? For example, if someone replies to a thread I posted a few weeks ago it is likely to be missed.
A simple table of threads started/replied to, with last reply/date might work?
Also an "ignore user" button may be helpful... ;)
I sometimes wonder if some people realise how old fashioned this site must look to young people. Climbers in their late teens probably don't even know what text-based smileys are...
Not saying everything needs to be changed on a whim, I'm just saying if UKC is to remain relevant then steps need to be taken to avoid it becoming a Web fossil.
Surely you can just go to your profile page. I'm certain I can go back through over a year's worth of posts? Sorry if I have that wrong.
I do agree the search feature is quite tiresome. For example, if you select a link from the 8th page of search results, have a quick read and wish to continue from the 8th page, you are forced to start from page 1 of the search results each time.
Demonstrably not true.
>UKC needs to catch up with the 21st century or risks losing its youthful audience
if UKC forces its youthful audience to construct coherent sentences using the English language to convey their intended meaning then it will have performed an important service to society.
Now what's the emoticon for 'grumpy old codger'?
I find the easiest way to get back to threads I've contributed to is to click my user name in the top right, which takes me to my profile which shows recent threads I've posted in
I think your comments are relevant if UKC was a commercial enterprise, however...
People know exactly why they come here, so don't need selling on the idea of accessing climbing related news and info etc.
I'm not saying we shouldn't change and think the odd upgrade would improve the sites useability, but I don't think it is necessary to remain relevant.
Relevancy is surely judged by the quality of words used to describe our little world, not the ability to lazily say you 'like' someones post for example.
I'd rather it stay a 'web fossil' than have its functions eroded by continuous 'development' of the sort found at OutdoorsMagic, which has been suffering with 'fiddling developers' for the last few years, to the point at which the forums are barely useable. At least UKC has someone in control, deciding what features to implement, implementing them (generally) well, and only rolling out robust code.
Graphic/animated smileys and avatars are hardly '21st Century' web features. The lack of them is a stylistic choice that UKC owners and the majority of users seem to be happy with.
Martin's 'lost posts' could be dealt with by a thread notification system*, that you could opt into, or, as he suggests, a personal 'latest replies' page to show replies to threads you've posted on.
* OM used to have one, but it's been broken for a very long time; little fingers again...
> I sometimes wonder if some people realise how old fashioned this site must look to young people. Climbers in their late teens probably don't even know what text-based smileys are...
This site is full of people posting from work - just look how the postings die down out of office hours... It has to look slightly workish...
> I sometimes wonder if some people realise how old fashioned this site must look to young people. Climbers in their late teens probably don't even know what text-based smileys are...
Not sure about this. :/ It certainly wasn't very long ago that you had to type smileys in on Facebook, and you still have to on some phones when texting. :)
You can (and I do) turn the flashy crap off on most of the newer forum software and have it as near enough plain text.
I am sure Mick loves being described as camp ;-)
> This site is full of people posting from work - just look how the postings die down out of office hours... It has to look slightly workish...
This is a very important point for me, and why I don't use UKB
I think that a like button is a very simple way to visualise the poopularity of a comment, argument or point. Many people simple read the debates that go on here in the forums but dont reply, because writing "I agree with..." is not a simple or effective way of displaying your opinion.
It can only be a positive thing, however if you were to introduce a dislike button. That would be silly now wouldnt it.
This is despite ukc sending an email, following removal of the 2nd post, saying that they would supply an explanation if requested which I did (on Monday) and still nothing.
*I made a general comment about the presence of errors in Rockfax guidebooks following another user's query about one of the sample pages from the North Wales guide. This was deleted as were 2 further posts on the subject.
My comments were very mild, based on broad experience of using guidebooks and some experience of the production process.
You're STILL on with this? Sheesh... Go get some fresh air or something!
> I think that a like button is a very simple way to visualise the poopularity of a comment, argument or point. Many people simple read the debates that go on here in the forums but dont reply, because writing "I agree with..." is not a simple or effective way of displaying your opinion.
I really couldn't give a monkeys whether my comments are popular or not. It just allows people to brainlessly think 'like' rather than do any real thinking.
And I also like the simplicity of the layout - definitely at least one up on every other forum I've ever used. It's quick to load (useful for if they do a mobile forum app?), easy to scan, and you can focus easily on the topic and discussion at hand rather than get distracted by someones ridiculous animated avatar and endless unnecessary embedded media. I reckon it leads to better discussion too (heated or otherwise!), which is why we're here isn't it?
Am I getting old already?!
Wasn't one of those threads a link to UKBoudering and that thread in itself was basically criticising aspects of UKC?
If so, that thread has been locked on UKB.
Censorship gone mad...
I don't see that it's so unreasonable to expect a sensible response from UKC.
> You can (and I do) turn the flashy crap off on most of the newer forum software and have it as near enough plain text.
So you can - thanks. I genuinely didn't know!
I'd like something similar, but for logging a thread for reference later. There's often topics I think might be of use or interest later, but then can't remember the title of to look up later (see people's issues with 'search' previously) - usually ones about technique, owls or boiling kettles for tea.
But is easier to ignore than countless posts that just quote the original and put "+1" at the bottom
> I don't see that it's so unreasonable to expect a sensible response from UKC.
It appears that you've not been following the other threads...
> Nobody is doubting that over a long period of time you have accepted a great deal of material which is critical of UKC/Rockfax on this forum.
> But by your own admission it is also apparent that sometimes you have not.
The removed threads in question are totally different to critical discussion.
In this case the removed threads and posts were started by a person who works, or worked, for V12 which is linked with Ground Up. They essentially promoted GU guides and denigrated RF guides on a PRODUCT NEWS thread which was announcing the new RF guide - Rockfax being an advertiser ion UKC. In the past we have let these run to avoid stinks like this, our new policy (which I am seriously re-thinking) is that we won't allow them anymore. We have never allowed them with all other advertisers.
I didn't really want to mention this since I have no beef with GU, and I am sure that the person was acting independently, but I think I do now need to state this to at least clarify the debate somewhat.
Bottom bit is me from another thread, top bit is Ian.
Just to explain myself, the main two reasons I've been annoyed at UKC / Rockfax..
1. The inclusion of Dali's Hole in the new Guide.
2. I had read KSJS's thread before it was pulled, and as Keith says above it was vey mild, the only explanation we've had is that Keith had previously worked at V12 which has a vague link to Ground Up!
Many people commenting had not even seen the pulled thread which is frustrating to those of us who have. Maybe Alan would be willing for that thread to be shown to all?
Please let's not reintroduce likes on here, it works on FB, but for some reason just made the place untidy here. Sure it stifles debate too, much as photo voting stifles the leaving of comments.
I too like the simple layout here, endless layout changes to metoffice, BBC sites etc were hardly met with universal approval. I can't help but think that if some youth if put off of a web forum because it doesn't look 21st century enough, then they might not have much of value to contribute anyway.
Would it be possible to introduce a 'recently logged' button to crag pages, so we can see what's been done in recent days at any given crag?
This would help to ascertain conditions of rock climbs (particularly useful this time of year) in much the same way is done for winter routes during the winter months.
To avoid getting bogged down with this on Monday, can we agree that this thread that was removed was just a 'where has it gone' thread about a one line post. Maybe it was mild but we have been removing 'where has it gone' threads for the last 10 years, that is standard policy which is clearly in our guidelines. If people want to question that policy on Monday then fine, but let's not try and make out that this was any huge cover up here - it was a dig at Rockfax from someone pretty much employed by a rival guidebook producer.
If I went onto the V12 blog under an assumed name and said that GU guides were rubbish, full or errors and you should buy Rockfax instead, I think it would be perfectly understandable if they removed that and especially so if they found out it was me.
UKC *is* a commercial enterprise.
Oh and stick with text faces :)
> Martin's 'lost posts' could be dealt with by a thread notification system*, that you could opt into, or, as he suggests, a personal 'latest replies' page to show replies to threads you've posted on.
There are no lost posts, that page exists, its called your profile page. There are however lost replies. That's easily the biggest thing I would like to see, being made aware that someone is replying to you isn't high tech gibberish, its just common courtesy.
Please no no no to "like" buttons, emoticons, avatars etc. otherwise I and many other members are likely to throw our toys out of the pram and head over to UKBouldering
> Please no no no to "like" buttons, emoticons, avatars etc. otherwise I and many other members are likely to throw our toys out of the pram and head over to UKBouldering
... where they have all of those things.
> ... where they have all of those things.
ha ha yes!
> Would it be possible to introduce a 'recently logged' button to crag pages, so we can see what's been done in recent days at any given crag?
> This would help to ascertain conditions of rock climbs (particularly useful this time of year) in much the same way is done for winter routes during the winter months.
>...Now what's the emoticon for 'grumpy old codger'?
When you find out, please let me know, I need it. Thank you.
PS, maybe it's
> Ah yes...tis mushroom season.
I found a lovely big clump of fly agaric last night. Have you ever experienced their psychoactive properties?
Hello. I do have a question about how UKC loads itself on my laptop. It seems I have one screen superimposed on another, and two scroll bars on the right hand side. This suddenly started about two months ago. All very odd. Is there an easy fix?
No more mushrooms for you.
"this thread was pulled because of <reason>" on the list of threads
"this reply was pulled because of <reason>" on a thread &
"this user was banned because of <reason>" on their profile
so that we can see where and how the site policy has been abused - this would also show us the extent of censorship which would probably remove a lot of people's fears when they see the (lack of) extent of it.
But I can live without these if necessary :-) (and without emoticons etc)
If UKC starts to look like that I'm afraid I'll become an "out of necessity only" user. The forums layout is so cluttered, too many colours, fonts, boxes within boxes etc. It looks really messy and those stupid dancing bananas and the like would drive me up the wall.
There's too much surplus info in every post, I don't need to see profile info in every post and stupid mottos and proverbs etc are just really irritating.
UKC has the clearest layout of any forums I've ever seen and the highest quality of debate to go with it. OK sometimes it isn't as high as it could be but when you see what passes for debate elsewhere on the net you realise how high it is overall.
On another note, some notification of replies to your threads/posts would be useful and a mobile app must be due?
And I'd give it a massive thumbs down. If you can't be arsed to express what you think using language, then it isn't worth expressing.
> There's too much surplus info in every post, I don't need to see profile info in every post and stupid mottos and proverbs etc are just really irritating.
Absolutely. Trouble with all that crap (inc. thumbs up/down) is that is turns the forum into a game of "look how funny/obtuse/popular I am", and one that requires no effort if you want to play it. At least on here, if you want to show everyone what a massive arsehole you are, you have to bash out a few words on the keyboard.
thumbs up to both of those posts of yours Jon
Not interested in avatars or "like" buttons but the forums do need to be more useable on mobiles and tablets. Getting to the end of a long thread currently means a lot of scrolling, it just needs a "go to last post" button.
There isn't much cruft on these forums but they do need a bit of work.
In summary: It isn't broke so doesn't need fixing
> it just needs a "go to last post" button.
It needs a 'Go to first Unread post' button!
I have no agenda as a result of having worked in V12. My dislike of the lazy approach to guidebooks embodied by Rockfax is based solely on a desire for guides that are produced by climbers with passion, art and attention to detail such that magnificent climbing areas get the profile they merit. And, in some naive way, I would also like Rockfax to grab the bull by the horns, take ownership of their shortcomings and start doing something about it such that they produced guides commensurate with the areas being covered.
I remain confused about why my suggestion that Rockfax guides contain a significant number of errors was removed rather than refuted in what I think could and should have been a far more professional response. I am bemused at how you seem to be satisfied with or oblivious to a business whose quality too often falls short of what it should be.
I posted this earlier in the year under the discussion about Rockfax's approach in the context of Pete Harrison's North Wales Limestone guide, it illustrates exactly why I made the remark that was deleted:
"Yellow Wall is one of the easiest, most obvious and best known (non-LPT) walls around yet:
- Cornhollio gets a trad grade despite being a sport route (it's even 7b in the UKC logbook)
- there is no mention of wires (useful on both Pirates and String of Pearls for example)
- the description for String of Pearls utterly fails to capture any of the essence of what is the classic of that wall; from what the description says you'd think it was a wall climb and while it sort of is, its nature is more that of a slab with a steeper finish
- the line is wrong for Badger Badger
- there is no FA for Badger Badger or Cornholio
This is one small section, a section Rockfax choose to release as a sample yet there is so much wrong with it. This says everything you need to know about the level of effort Rockfax make, virtually none.
This is why Rockfax has zero right to undermine Pete's work / the definitive. Rockfax should also be ashamed at the level of basic errors in their production. This is a recurring theme and the apparent attitude of 'pile em high sell em cheap' falls very short of what the area deserves and the level of inspiration genuine guidebooks attain.
None of this even touches on the potential damage to North Wales Rock's market. Another guide produced with a level of detail and passion that Rockfax, based on all the evidence I've seen, can't come close to."
And just where is Ctrl + end on a phone or tablet?
On the 'For Sale/Wanted' forum it would be good if you could sort the topics by clicking on the column headings e.g. Topic', 'Newest Post', but also by the date it was originally posted. It would be handy if you could choose to see only For Sale or Wanted, and if the OP could mark the thread as closed i.e. all items sold/bought.
The site Search facility is rarely any use and needs improving.
I would like a free choice of avatar, reflects peoples personalities, rather than a limiting recent photo.
Not a big issue, but would be a bit more fun.
Thanks for the questions so far. I'll start going through them.
A few are about smilies/avatars/emoticons. These were incredibly unpopular in our Readership Survey earlier this year - http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=229507 (bottom graph).
Of the things we asked about in the survey, I think the top three are improvements we will consider.
> A simple table of threads started/replied to, with last reply/date might work?
We have a plan to introduce a new individual user forum which will contain your threads, and threads you have marked as following. Not sure exactly what this will look like but I think it will satisfy the thread tracking requests.
That sounds like a problem specific to your machine. Can you report this using our Report a Fault page here - http://www.ukclimbing.com/general/email.html and we can take a look.
I preferred the 'No more mushrooms for you' reply...
> "this reply was pulled because of <reason>" on a thread &
> "this user was banned because of <reason>" on their profile
> so that we can see where and how the site policy has been abused - this would also show us the extent of censorship which would probably remove a lot of people's fears when they see the (lack of) extent of it.
One of the reasons we have our policy of not regularly discussing moderating on the forums, is that it tends to always create significantly more work for us, and very small things get blown out of all proportion. We know this because we did discuss moderating more openly in the past and then we stopped.
The introduction of the features you mention would be quite likely to fuel this I think. Of course we could do them on closed threads, but then we would still have the questioning threads spawned. It is worth thinking about though if only to stop giving the conspiracy theory fans fuel for their rather tiresome threads.
Having done an analysis of the removed threads last week, it was 90% FS Forum Abusers and Spam so it might get a bit boring. Then again we could make it an optional feature for the moderators.
I would be very reluctant to announce when people are banned. We have lots of auto-bans to protect against spam which often get false positives for example, but also I think it would just encourage some people. The current way we deal with banned users works fine in my opinion.
That is a pretty obvious simple addition which would be very useful for people on tablets. We do have a Top of Page link at the bottom but not the other way round.
I'll definitely put this on the list since I think it would take a minute or two to implement.
I don't know if this is an issue with my computer but I used to be able to link the climbs I did with my facebook page.
I cannot get this to work.
FB do it all the time using trial servers
i asked for this a year+ ago, and was hinted it would be easy and soon. I reckon
a last post at the top of the page but also on the main forums page (it would be trivial
but increase the page data) - two links to each thread
Can we move the page back to the left hand side of the computer screen as it used to be? I remember when you centred the page, it was like the end of the world!
I'm happy with UKC just the way it, keep up the good work. Den
As previously mentioned, I don't want to get into a debate about Rockfax and guidebooks on this thread. I will do a QandA about that at another time. So here I will stick with the moderation issues.
As explained several times already, we don't allow 'where has it gone' threads. This is a consistent policy which has served us well over the years. This was why your threads were removed.
The original post that was removed was a one line comment in a thread announcing the book. In threads titled PRODUCT NEWS we will normally remove this type of comment since these are advertorial posts. This again is a standard policy we have had ever since introducing Product News to the site. We have applied it for every brand consistently except Rockfax where we have been more reluctant to over the years. Our recent decision is that we will now apply this same level of moderating to Rockfax Product News threads.
There is nothing to stop you posting somewhere else on the forums, and not having your thread removed, as you have done ad nauseum over the last few days. You even quoted above another post above critical of Rockfax and blatantly obviously still there. Perhaps, in the face of the overwhelming evidence that has been presented in front of you, and by you, over the last week you could acknowledge the fact that UKC DON'T remove criticism of Rockfax as a matter of course.
On the topic of conflict of interests:
This is actually a much more important point. Getting the balance between free editorial and advertising is incredibly difficult for any site funded by advertising. We want to be able to publish real critical comment and not lose advertisers. In the main, this isn't a problem since the majority of our advertisers are extremely responsible about this and happy to accept constructive criticism acknowledging that it is the downside that makes praise on the same site carry more value.
However, integrity is vital in this and readers need to accept the fact that they are in a powerful position which brings with it responsibilities as well. Conflicts of interest are all about perception. As a hypothetical example, an ex-employee of DMM would look bad if they came on a thread about Black Diamond and started criticising their krabs. How much worse would that look if the person didn't disclose their previous position as an employee of DMM? How much worse would it be for us if the post was a PRODUCT NEWS part of a paid advertising package from Black Diamond?
Readers have shown time and again that they want integrity and clarity. They don't like underhand behaviour.
> a last post at the top of the page but also on the main forums page (it would be trivial
> but increase the page data) - two links to each thread
Forgive us for not responding to everything. Please take a moment to look at all the features that have been requested on this thread, and the other one I started last week about the Logbooks, and then remember that we only have one guy implementing all this stuff.
We will be taking action following this thread, and we already have a new version of the forums on a test site that we have been working on for some time. It is not a major change, but it will have some nice new modifications.
This isn't a forums thing. Facebook broke our Facebook app and we have had to start again from scratch. Unfortunately this hasn't been a very high priority for us.
You need to add your id number to the end
So this would be your threads - http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/rss.php?id=15?id=30441
However I do realise that RSS feeds are a bit geeky and not really useful for most users. For example, Apple discontinued support for them in Safari some time ago and moved it over to Mail which kind of killed them dead as a useful feature for Mac users.
Obviously the mobile friendly thing was top of the wishlist in your readership survey, any word on how you might respond to this?
Are we looking at a bespoke app? An off the shelf app? A mobile friendly web-page? Something else that I don't know about...????
Is it true?
Are you focusing more on the site content and less so on the forums?
Hi Calder, it would be taking the mobile friendly (responsive) design approach. Work is already underway on this.
We'd might consider doing a jQuery mobile/Phonegap style app version in the future but it's not something we have time for at the moment.
> That is a pretty obvious simple addition which would be very useful for people on tablets. We do have a Top of Page link at the bottom but not the other way round.
A [bottom] link has been added to the top left of the thread page.
> Is it true?
Not really. Our detailed stats don't go back that far but our record number of posts was in April 2013 of 11,049. Our record for threads was in Feb 2012 of 1,322 although we have had more than 1,000 most months this year as well. The record for weekly forum views was in Jun 2013 and was 617,013.
It is possible that these stats were eclipsed years ago although I doubt it mainly because the one stat that is definitely greater is our registered users which is currently at 66,711.
2006 - 16,000
2009 - 47,000
2011 - 58,000
It may be true to say that we now have many more readers posting, but they, on the whole, post a bit less per person.
We have been focussing on site content for the last 8 years since the site was essentially a forum with a bit of content before that. New items do tend to get far more direct views than the corresponding thread which is a change to how it used to be. i.e.. people go direct to the content rather than be directed there from the thread as they used to.
In terms of focussing on the forums: well we have occasional burst of activity on different areas of the site. The forums probably are due a bit of care and attention now, as are Logbooks.
Your reply will be a good link to use for when people ask.
This is the only forum I use that's based on homegrown software. All the others use commercially available or open source software like php or simple machines.
To avoid UKB bitterness you could compare instead to BikeRadar where features include smileys, inline media, avatars, signatures, user information on every post etc. I think that these features allow a much richer type of discourse and one that is unique to fully featured internet forums.
That these things are so resisted here suggests that it will eventually devolve into a self selected bunch of grumbly old farts criticising each other's grammar.
can there be a quick link to people profiles. So when you click on their name on a thread it will link to their profile as well as their email.
Just makes things easier when people request partners
can there be a quick link to people profiles. So when you click on their name on a thread it will link to their profile as well as their email
Have you tried clicking on the 'Question Mark (?)' icon?
don't you click on the ? in the black circle just after their name?
I think the stats I have posted above show that exactly the opposite actually happens.
As pointed out, the ? icon does this. In the new version of the forums we have changed this to be the name which links to the profile, with an envelop to link to email.
Well i never knew that ! Thanks
For what it's worth: one of the main reasons I've been on here for the last 13 years is the clean design and absence of avatars, signatures and other faff.
Keep it simple, please!
That is worth plenty and you are not the only person to say that.
Why on earth do we need it "every post"? They just get annoying and in the way when you've seen them oodles of times already. You can click on someone's profile if you want to learn about them, where they can out their avatars, signatures, user information, witty quotes and all the other stuff.
I look at UKC often and think it's informative & entertaining - I like the layout as it is (without all the smileys, etc) - as others have said, the lack of a 'like' button encourages people to communicate their thoughts with words, which is a good thing (in my mind, anyway!)
I'd also like to say well done for responding to so many of the criticisms so calmly & professionally, although i imagine it sometimes feels like a witch-hunt!
yes definitely, keep it simple...
When will we get the facility to add graphics in posts? For those of us that discuss technical matters the inability to insert tables and diagrams/drawings is a major hamdicap, so much so we just link to other forums where this is possible or don´t bother to answer. Restrict to the normal graphics formats and the bandwidth must be minimal.
Avatars and signatures are for kids going through puberty and bored housewives craving self importance.
Isn't it about time that a single bouldering grade was used for the logbooks? Preferably font grades, due to it being more logical in the lower grades, and doesn't have the V8+ problem, but I'm guessing a single combination grade could also be used e.g. 7A+/V7.
Let me start by saying that this is actually the first time anyone has asked this.
I can see the problems you face however I am not sure that starting a young person's forum would necessarily achieve what you are after. For example, it would be impossible for us to actually check that people were the age they claimed to be which obviously opens the system up to mis-use.
Assuming we were able to do that then I think we would then struggle to police it. Also, would we block young people from seeing other forums? We could do this, especially the Pub where moderation is much less strict, but it would need some system to monitor when the young person was older, for example.
Also, we don't operate 24/7 operation in fact much of our moderation comes from readers alerting us since we simply don't have time to read every thread. This makes it impossible for us to guarantee a particular forum was free from unsuitable content. We can move it but it may be in place for a while before a moderator became ware.
All in all I think it unlikely that we would be able to ever offer sufficient moderation to allow a child-safe forum. We can point children at the starting out forum where any we do undertake to remove inappropriate responses, but stopping a child then browsing the other forums is beyond our capabilities I think.
I'd be interested to see what others think about this. I suspect the general feeling will be similar to the feeling about avatars etc. although I can see that it would make posts clearer.
Whilst you say it is essential for technical discussion, of course it wouldn't only be used for this, it would be used for EVERYTHING hence I think the impact on bandwidth could be much greater than you imagine. A single photo is bigger than a very long thread so it would have a major impact on loading time for threads, and a huge impact on our overall bandwidth use.
This may become less of a factor though as we move over to 4G networks and better broadband connections.
> Isn't it about time that a single bouldering grade was used for the logbooks? Preferably font grades, due to it being more logical in the lower grades, and doesn't have the V8+ problem, but I'm guessing a single combination grade could also be used e.g. 7A+/V7.
This is logbooks really. We are trying to address this with the Peak Bouldering guide and this will have an impact on the way the grades are covered in the forums.
I'm sure this is controversial, and been discussed before, but geographical breakdown of things like winter climbing would be quite useful. Scotland kind-of is a topic all on its own. I’m sure people in Wales and Lakes sometimes wish they could quickly get to stuff relevant to them too. I imagine this could have all sorts of downsides with silly games like Scottish Independence being poked around, but some of us would find it very useful to cut to the chase without searching through endless threads about areas we aren’t in.
> That these things are so resisted here suggests that it will eventually devolve into a self selected bunch of grumbly old farts criticising each other's grammar.
Hoorah! That sounds great to me. :-)
So are you suggesting a Scotland Forum? (and maybe other area forums).
If so then I would have thought that finding threads in that about winter routes and conditions would be harder than finding them in the current Winter Forum wouldn't it?
I don't think that there is any such thing as a child safe forum? If I was a parent of a young child, I would get them to use the internet where I could see them (in a sitting room) and I would also talk to them about the amount of information that they put online about themselves, and also about judging information that they see online. How can you tell how reliable information is? Is a person really who they say they are? Who is copying and redistributing your writing or pictures? Do you know?
I guess it is just like them going out and about in the world on their own, and they need to learn a similar set of skills.
> Whilst you say it is essential for technical discussion, of course it wouldn't only be used for this, it would be used for EVERYTHING
Yes. Never mind the bandwidth, it would just get annoying as people fill the forums with their "hilarious" sketch cartoons etc. Maybe allow people to use their "photo gallery" to store technical sketches. I know that then has the "photo approval" lag though.
I've always wanted a link at the bottom of each thread to that particular forum, rather than just forums latest. I have off belay and the pub NOT in my forums latest, so that they don't dilute it all, and then read them separately. So I end up doing a lot of scrolling up...
I don't think you've commented on improving the search facility.
> Yes. Never mind the bandwidth, it would just get annoying as people fill the forums with their "hilarious" sketch cartoons etc. Maybe allow people to use their "photo gallery" to store technical sketches. I know that then has the "photo approval" lag though.
I'm not generally in favour of the use of comedy photos and lolcats and all that stuff as a substitute for conversation, but I do occasionally think that this forum cries out for this one:
> So are you suggesting a Scotland Forum? (and maybe other area forums).
> If so then I would have thought that finding threads in that about winter routes and conditions would be harder than finding them in the current Winter Forum wouldn't it?
Not during winter. Or likewise, in summer (mostly rock talk).
Time pretty much sorts out the type of climbing currently discussed in the "hypothetical" Scotland forum. Perhaps not for the other locations. I don't know, general location has always seemed the most sensible high-level breakdown to me. And Scottish Winter climbing in particular seems almost a high level discipline just as rock or expedition...But...???!
Alan would you care to respond to the following allegations:
1. Your next forum upgrade will include a filter that detects the words "Rockfax" and any negative phrases in the same sentence, inputs this into an algorithm that detects any likely input on sales, and automatically deletes the post (or deletes any post by ksjs or pete harrison).
2. Following this you have instructed Nick Smith to "bring down those smug scum at UKB" with a series of DDOS attacks.
3. Jack Geldard has been given a selection of chalk balls laced with bubonic plague to scatter around Parisella's cave to eradicate most of your enemies in the North Wales Limestone scene.
4. You have indoctrinated all Rockfax employees with a policy of kicking kittens and pushing old ladies in front of traffic.
5. Under the guise of "guidebook checking" your guidebook writers spend most of their time pouring fertiliser and grass seeds down unpopular routes to ensure only Rockfax-covered select routes are actually climbable.
6. You actually hate almost all forum users as "banner ad-ignoring parasites" and the only enjoyment you get from the forum is banning Pylon King for swearing yet again.
Me too re YES to clean layout, NO to avatars signatures and emoticons. I've been posting and reading here consistently for years.
> I don't think you've commented on improving the search facility.
Sorry. Can you clarify what you want it to do that it doesn't currently do?
Apologies if people have already covered tis higher up.
In what way would you like it improved?
Is it the forum search or site search (top menu bar) you're referring to?
> Forgive us for not responding to everything. Please take a moment to look at all the features that have been requested on this thread, and the other one I started last week about the Logbooks, and then remember that we only have one guy implementing all this stuff.
not a complaint more a statement about projects and managing improvements, Im not that fussed as i think the forums are excellent and realise your budgets are not great :-)
i would like to see a forum focused on improvements and suggestions
eg for logbooks etc so we don't continually have the same debate and ideas can be generated and discussed, it would keep it it of the mainstream forums
(pub, off belay etc)
> Time pretty much sorts out the type of climbing currently discussed in the "hypothetical" Scotland forum. Perhaps not for the other locations. I don't know, general location has always seemed the most sensible high-level breakdown to me. And Scottish Winter climbing in particular seems almost a high level discipline just as rock or expedition...But...???!
One thing I have always been aware of is forums that have too many different discussion boards. These tend to make things less clear since people struggle to find the right home for their post. They also result in significantly less exposure for developing threads.
For example, imagine a thread about a route on a Scottish crag that developed into a full-blown ethics discussion. This would be invisible to all those people who had decided not to view Scotland which would inevitably deprive the thread of the exposure it probably deserved.
Sometimes using 'and' instead of 'or' searches is better. At the moment is offers you:
Which Forums? dates
Authored by? or
Find by Topic? or
> eg for logbooks etc so we don't continually have the same debate and ideas can be generated and discussed, it would keep it it of the mainstream forums
That is an interesting idea although it would be difficult for us to promise it the attention it deserved. keeping away from repeated debates is a good thing though. Being confronted with traceable posts of people asking for the same feature which we haven't managed to do for ages is less attractive.
Overall though, a decent idea I think.
> That is worth plenty and you are not the only person to say that.
> I think the stats I have posted above show that exactly the opposite actually happens.
Not necessarily - are the users signing up for general website content, for the logbooks or for the forum features?
The filter is much more sophisticated than just the word 'rockfax' and the two posters you refer to.
UKB and me are happy chummy friends now. All love and peace here.
Not sure you need to lace the chalk balls with nasty viruses in Parisellas, they are probably already there.
Almost correct. We kick the old ladies and push the kittens in front of cars.
This is part of the 'Rockfax-accreditation' scheme where decent routes have to apply to be included in our books. Successful accreditation results in coverage in the books, an increase of one star from the perceived norm, an increase in grade by one notch in order to become a well know soft touch, and full support of our online resources. All this is achieved for a one-off fee of £99.99/route with funds going to directly to the bolting of that route with a solid lower-off. Any route resisting the accreditation scheme will be given the treatment you describe.
Almost correct. I enjoy banning Pylon King for any reason, not just his swearing.
Have you considered having a dedicated "Conditions" forum, possibly with permanent threads for each area, such as Peak Grit, Peak Lime, Llanberis, Pembroke, Rest of the Country etc...
The idea would be for people to post simple reports such as "Cheedale - everythings wet" or "Midges bad on Stanage".
There's a really useful MTBing feed on twitter called Keeper of the Peak (@KoftheP) who does something similar - gets people to send in tweets regarding conditions and then retweets them.
Thank you, very informative, kitten-murdering bastard :O
(ideally that would be a much more informative shocked and appalled smiley)
> This may become less of a factor though as we move over to 4G networks and better broadband connections.
Surely you don't have to host the media here, just show it inline. Then users can use their own stuff hosted on flickr etc or anything they happen to find lying around.
Uses their bandwidth not yours???
> The filter is much more sophisticated than just the word 'rockfax' and the two posters you refer to.
I know this to be true ;-)
</stealthy beta tester>
The stats also stated that our record figures for forums have been in the last two years.
Up until last year we actually allowed unregistered posters in most forums. Since then we have limited it to the Starting Out Forum, the BMC Forum and the Lost and Found forum. This has helped cut down spam hugely and made spotting unregistered posts much easier. It has also kept the place open to one-off posters in the three forum areas mentioned.
We are incredibly unusual though in having this approach since the vast majority of forums have required you to register first for many years. I think it has helped us a lot to get readers, especially in our early days. Now that people are far more used to registering, it is less of an issue.
I do feel very strongly though that the characteristic of a bunch of old farts listening to the sound of their own grumbling that was painted above is exactly the opposite of reality. In fact I find most other forums initially quite daunting to enter with their slightly cliquey ratings, very public posting records, nick names and sense that everyone know everyone. In the end these things can become a strength in that, once in, you are part of the gang.
We don't always achieve that on UKC. I regularly hear/get emails from people who discuss 'UKC'ers' as if they are a separate entity of people. Checking their posting history often reveals them to be very active posters. The truth is that if you post/read/upload on UKC then you are part of our community.
> Surely you don't have to host the media here, just show it inline. Then users can use their own stuff hosted on flickr etc or anything they happen to find lying around.
My assumption was that jimtitt was suggesting something on here that does not rely on the poster having a flickr (etc.) account.
I think the way to do this is to use the Logbooks rather than a forum. Again, a good idea, one we have had before, and one we may one day get around to doing.
I'd like to see a thread platform introduced on the forums, so I can hide the discussions that don't interest me. It would also make reading replies much easier to find.
As for my question - do you see the website evolving in the next 5 years? Would you be concerned if you do not make changes to the platform and UKC is left behind as a result of sticking to the same format the majority of it's users demand?
Larger websites (e.g. Facebook, BBC and Google) are continually updating and changing their platform. This is initially met with a knee-jerk reaction from regular users, who dislike the new look. After a short period it's accepted and then eventually viewed as a change for the better.
An intresting article on redesigns here :-
> Uses their bandwidth not yours???
Like we do with videos, yes, but that wouldn't make it faster, in fact it would make it slower since it would need another look up to a different server.
The idea we are working on for a unique user forum with your threads, and threads you are interested in following, would solve this I think. This would be easier to manage than hiding threads you aren't interested in (loads of those probably) and just selecting threads you are interested in. It might even be able to be automatic by just selecting threads you have replied to, or looked at. However, I would add that I have made the above statement without consultation with the technical department so it may not be as easy as I suggest.
Well, I think this thread is indicating that the majority of users do appreciate the simplicity of the forums. That isn't to say that I will be complacent. We do regularly make changes and, as mentioned, have some tweaks to roll out soon. We do need to address the mobile issue for sure since more and more people are looking at the forums via a mobile device or tablet
Last month visits:
Those lower two figures are much greater than only a year ago.
I am not sure I agree that they are continually updating. Yes different sections change from time to time, but then so do our pages. I think BBC news has changed twice in the last 10 years in terms of major changes. UKC home page has probably matched that.
I do agree that initial knee-jerk against reactions should be ignored.
I would also like to point out that Facebook. BBC etc. are massive organisations with departments dedicated to this sort of thing. You are better off comparing us with comparable organisations and in many cases there redesigns are disasters. PlanetFear comes to mind as a site that had a good user base and functionality, it then killed itself with a redesign, before being bought out by its current owners who have successfully relaunched it as the online shop it now is.
Thanks for that link.
> I think the way to do this is to use the Logbooks rather than a forum.
"View recent ascents on <crag>" would be a great addition to the logbooks (sure I've suggested that in the past), but not quite the same thing
On the 'For Sale/Wanted' forum it would be good if you could sort the topics by clicking on the column headings e.g. Topic', 'Newest Post', but also by the date it was originally posted. It would be handy if you could choose to see only For Sale or Wanted, and if the OP could mark the thread as closed i.e. all items sold/bought.
Hi Alan. There's a feature which I for one would find very useful - the ability to view all recent ascents at specific crags. It's something I've brought up once or twice in the past; apologies if it's been covered in recent threads.
The FS forum is an area that we have plans to do a lot of work on. It is poor to navigate, difficult to use for both buyers and sellers, and desperate to find suitable gear easily. Despite this it is incredibly successful and a great place for selling gear.
It does though create more than 50% of our removed threads and could definitely be improved. To make it better though will be a big job so isn't going to happen straight away. It will almost certainly mean re-designing it as a specific trading place rather than as just another forum. This may mean using an off the shelf auction system.
Until then. some of your suggestions might be helpful as a stop-gap.
This has been briefly mentioned. I don't think this is a forum feature, more something for logbooks. We will be including stuff like this in future work on Logbooks.
Re the FS forum. I've been trying to sell a few guide books recently. I've sold one of them. If I then post that one has been sold but the others are still for sale does it bump my post to the top like other forums or does it remain down somewhere where no-one will see it?
Hi Jon, it will get bumped to the top like any other thread.
Just tried to download a photo from my own gallery and it seems to have been set up to prevent this. How come ?
Apparently we'll all be barred from posting here, listening to Radio 4, eating cucumber sandwiches and we'll have to barter porridge for hard currency.
Hi Shark, there isn't anything in place to prevent downloading images. If you continue to have trouble please submit a bug reports here - http://www.ukclimbing.com/general/email.html#fault
> I'd be interested to see what others think about this. I suspect the general feeling will be similar to the feeling about avatars etc. although I can see that it would make posts clearer.
> Whilst you say it is essential for technical discussion, of course it wouldn't only be used for this, it would be used for EVERYTHING hence I think the impact on bandwidth could be much greater than you imagine. A single photo is bigger than a very long thread so it would have a major impact on loading time for threads, and a huge impact on our overall bandwidth use.
> This may become less of a factor though as we move over to 4G networks and better broadband connections.
Restrict the use to Rocktalk and Gear, put a single image restriction of say 50kB and no JPEG and they won´t use it for everything. A bit of savage moderation and you´d be sorted!
> Hi Shark, there isn't anything in place to prevent downloading images. If you continue to have trouble please submit a bug reports here - http://www.ukclimbing.com/general/email.html#fault
Managed it now - sorry
> Hi Jon, it will get bumped to the top like any other thread.
Thanks Paul. Another couple:
Alan says that most thread removals come from the FS forum. Is this due to abuse or because things sell? What would constitute abuse - going over £100? When I've sold everything or I no longer need the ad, how do I cancel it?
> You need to add your id number to the end
> So this would be your threads - http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/rss.php?id=15?id=30441
That still doesn't tell me about replies specifically to me, just replies to a thread I have posted on. Unless I'm missing something? Hmmm, I wonder why this text is greyed out?
It doesn't work like that I'm afraid. no Jpeg - not sure what other format you are suggesting.
50K limit only causes problems with people not knowing how to make smaller images and then complaining when their image gets blocked.
It still has a huge impact on bandwidth if we host them and load time even if we don't.
heres an idea for FS that may well be very easy/trivial to implement in css,
but would require an extra field in the database...
people often ask for items that are sold to be updated, if the title could be crossed out
strike style we wouldnt have to view them. Of course the FS software would
a) need to now the status and
b) the owner would have to update the posting status
maybe too big a change before a re write..
Always abuse or accidental abuse. Sometimes people don't understand but many times they just try it on. However few try it on twice so people do get to know the system. The ways people go over the £100 limit are quite ingenious. FS: One Left Boot - £75, then on another post FS: One Right Boot - £75
Threads are not removed when things sell, they just drop down the stack and are deleted after 6 months. This is to preserve trading record for people to be able to check recent seller/purchaser activity. Just reply to a thread when the item has sold to close it.
i am sort of with Jim on this one, ive often crafted a little image to support a post and
hosted it on my server and posted a link (which is easy enough but not so great as a
the sorts of people creating images *should* know how to make < 50k (or whatever)
bandwidth i understand, load times not that bad surely? I guess one could foresee a
thread with many many images on it - then it would be slow... but for the sort of post
Jim is envisaging I think it would be worth it (especially with local cacheing)
I appreciate the enquiries /moans you get if people don't understand how to do it but links/help
pages on the upload might help keep them to a minimum (plus other users are always
willing to step in and help advise)
> It still has a huge impact on bandwidth if we host them and load time even if we don't.
You can put code in place though to resize it once uploaded. Yes, a huge image will be slow to upload, but once re-sized, the smaller one could be served up.
I'm not advocating images in forum posts, just that it should be possible to do a resize to help bandwidth when a page is viewed. You could allow users to select whether they see images in forum posts or not (in their preferences), which could appease those who do not want to see images. Of course, if a user chose not to see images, they might not get the context of the thread...
There are two solutions to this, one would be to add that as a feature in the My Threads forum that I mentioned above, the other would be to send an email when a reply was made.
Would people want an email every time someone replied to their thread? Or an option for an email to be sent?
an option on the User Options page would be good
My preference would by a webpage based solution, a my threads type thing. I was amazed that email response was so popular in the survey. I predict its because some haven't realised that you don't necessarily have to do it that way.
kudos for Taking Questions bud.
just a Thought.
As well as a report button, a support button, might be a good idea?
I have issues which can make Accessing the forum difficult, pure Other people do, or Prevents them posting in the first place?
I would be happy to be a Volunteer support contact.
Well we do all this with the photos system, so the software is already in place. 50K is frankly tiny and wouldn't work since the majority of the time, the image would be crunched down so small that important detail would be lost. It would have to be at least 250K to be worthwhile. Even with our crunching system in place we still get lots of problems but it is workable I think. This of course would still have the bandwidth problem.
> My preference would by a webpage based solution, a my threads type thing. I was amazed that email response was so popular in the survey. I predict its because some haven't realised that you don't necessarily have to do it that way.
Agreed - I'd get fed up of reply emails very quickly (and I don't even post a lot), much more useful/logical to be webpage based IMO - as you wouldn't have to jump from your email to UKC each time.
I think you are right. I suspect most people would rapidly get annoyed about receiving emails every time someone replied to their post. This is a very useful feature on technical forums where you only visit when you have a question, but a pain on forums like this where people post more regularly.
It could still be a useful feature for some occasional posters though. I think an 'opt in' one rather than an 'opt out'.
I've noticed you have a strange way with capital letters.
> I've noticed you have a strange way with capital letters.
Top Marks for Observation.
Thats the Straight dope Right there. I do. So what? My posts are still Legible arent they?
Do you mean alongside our 'Report Abuse' button at the base of the page?
What sort of things would you be suggesting people reported on this?
Could you describe the particular problems accessing the forums you are referring to?
I could, but i wont.
Forget i said anything.
I'll leave it as an ongoing QandA for tonight and maybe into tomorrow so keep the questions coming.
Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far.
The <cough> knitting forum that I frequent has a really good way of managing reading threads and tracking replies. As you read a thread it tracks where you get to, and if you leave that thread and then come back to it it automatically takes you to the next post you haven't read. If someone replies to me on the forum it appears at the top of the main forum page, along with a link to take me immediately to that reply. Not sure if that's something that could be implemented? They also have a great in thread tracking system where you can see how many people have replied to a specific post and immediately jump to those replies, as well as tracking back to a previous post (not sure if that makes sense).
The other thing that the site does is have a great database function. It's a knitting site so there's a big database of knitting patterns, similar to your routes database. I can link a pattern in a forum post using some kind of tag - when anyone looks at that pattern on the database and goes into the 'forum posts' tab it will automatically link to all the threads that have mentioned that pattern before. It's a really clever search function and actually means a lot of potential duplicate threads don't get posted.
> It could still be a useful feature for some occasional posters though. I think an 'opt in' one rather than an 'opt out'.
I like this - some of the posts on here are quite technical (that's one of the great charms of UKC, you never know what you will learn).
When I say "quite technical" I don't mean "do I use half ropes/twin ropes/double ropes" of course!
I'm so glad that the consensus is NO! to avatars,, likes and other nonsense.
What about the ability to tag a thread.
Allows the thread to develop since new tags and be applied and also allows for some sorting within the main boards?
Some fora are so cluttered and full of flashing graphics they're frankly migraine-inducing. Please don't go down that route.
A good sign maybe as fewer people than expected want any major changes to what is a brilliant resource on the web??
I have a couple:
In a parallel thread, I asked your sometime contributor 'TobyA' the following question:
"Suppose a '[Product news]' thread is moderated to remove all negative comments about whatever it is that's being advertised. In other words it becomes pure advertising puff - despite the appearance of a normal conversation. Would you consider that fair? A reasonable thing to do?"
And he replied:
"Alan said that he has removed some posts which he reason to believe were for example competitors dissing a product - no problem with that. And if it was removing negative posts on only the Product News threads, no, I wouldn't be that bothered about that either. If Petzl pay to advertise their head torches that way, I'm not that bothered if negative comments were cut from those threads."
TobyA's answer (in particular his final sentence) seems to come pretty close to sanctioning advertising puff pieces which are masquerading as neutral comment. But that would contravene the ASA codes as I read them. So:
Can you clarify your own official position on this?
Can you also clarify whether or not your advertisers pay for the 'Product News' threads, or merely for the separate 'announcements' to which these threads refer?
> Like we do with videos, yes, but that wouldn't make it faster, in fact it would make it slower since it would need another look up to a different server.
Easy to get round that one, add a link like the following to the head section of the page:
[link rel='dns-prefetch' href='whatever']
Replace the  with angle brackets and obviously put the correct URI in there. What this does is tell the browser to do the DNS lookup a little earlier than it would do otherwise so that by the time it needs the IP address it should already have it.
Thanks for the "bottom of page" link/button BTW.
> It doesn't work like that I'm afraid. no Jpeg - not sure what other format you are suggesting.
> 50K limit only causes problems with people not knowing how to make smaller images and then complaining when their image gets blocked.
> It still has a huge impact on bandwidth if we host them and load time even if we don't.
As I said, to allow tables, graphs and diagrams you use things like bmp, png, tif, gif, eps or (god forbid) wmf. A typical Excel graph as .png is around 30k.
Resizing? Well other forums manage as well as my email program so where´s the problem?
Want to save bandwidth then dump the flash adverts, not as if I buy anything anyway:-)
A useful step forward for all that would simply be to allow ASCII art - i.e. to honour the HTML <pre> ... </pre> tags in postings.
"I'll leave it as an ongoing Q and A for tonight and maybe into tomorrow so keep the questions coming."
Good as I was busier than expected at work today! More comments than Q&A from me.
Firstly I think things overall are broadly about right but the departure of some wise heads to places like UKB or elsewhere is to be regretted and is a concern to me. People will come and go though.
I don't see the number of deleted posts as being exceptional or especially problematic (I asked you last week if I could have an independant view on these and having seen what you sent for the last few months I agree with your broad position on this, even if I might have dealt with some of the very few 'grey area' cases slightly differently).
I would like to see more (gentle) advice on forum etiquette tailored for the specfic forums and I think this might encourage more (and more reasoned) debate on the climbing related forums. Simple stuff like: imagine the person is next to you in public; try to be polite, if annoyed count to ten, these posts will stay much longer than your inebriation, etc. You say posts/views have increased but I suspect they havent really on volume of quality on the main climbing forums like Rocktalk, I suspect growth of that is mainly due to extra forums and links to news/features (which I think work well btw). It must also be said that I think the best threads now are as good as they ever were, so like in real life the 'children' know to keep their heads down when something special is happening in the 'adult' sphere. Although I think it's great you get loads of traffic for stuff like 'down the pub', this is really a bonus... I'd like the site to keep trying to find ways to improve the key bits that really help the climbing community.
John Hat (I think) mentioned somewhere the nastier personal end of postings could really be dealt with more strictly and I would agree. This will also help protect the site from more serious complaints. It is possible to disgree with someone without even being rude, let alone some of the unacceptable attacks I've seen (and yes the worst were zapped and yes I'm guilty at times of inperfect behaviour). I recognise this is a grey area and those people regularly parading their politics (or similar) are maybe more fair game than others for some borderline flack in return. We obviously need forgiveness for the occasional slip (continue to zap and warn in these cases until it becomes too common).
On the big 'site' related controversies, say Rockfax vs NW limestone, I think you would benefit from slightly wider discussion here on UKC (so if something important on similar topics is posted in the wrong place, maybe move it yourself, or state you are making an exception to stop a misunderstanding re censorship). It can't go much further though without risking potential legal implications. I also think you are wise in being more generous in allowing Rockfax/UKC critics a bigger say on UKC than critics of advertisers (it's your site and you can better answer directly, and unless you suddenly turn into Dr Evil there will always be many ordinary posters who will support the UKC/Rockfax position).
All this stuff about embedded images and avatars and smileys and the like are picked up in the user surveys: some people want it but UKC is fine for the majority and has some key advantages over 'off the shelf' forums (UKC2 stealth stuff etc). I think you need to be careful possibly a 'little dated' for some (for good reasons) doesn't become an 'ageing gated community' but evidence doesn't indicate anything like this is happening yet.
It sounds like knitting sites could teach us something and thanks for your post Fiend, it made me laugh.
> A useful step forward for all that would simply be to allow ASCII art - i.e. to honour the HTML <pre> ... </pre> tags in postings.
Hmmm, even my graphics program won´t support that. ASCII.txt is as far as it goes in that direction.
Well, I suppose it's not too surprising to find that a knitting forum has a good way of managing threads.....
On a more serious note, let me add one more vote for keeping the style of the UKC forum simple and free of gimmicks. There's a proportion of uninformed and sometimes disrespectful comment on here that I could do without, but, in general, this is one of the best forums I've come across for serious informative debate. Keep it up!
I meant tables, diagrams, etc. done essentially *by hand* - see e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASCII_art
Crude - yes - but effective in certain cases.
Crucially though, it requires the broswer to render the material in a fixed font, rather than a proportional one. The only way to force that on the web is to use the <pre> tag - which this forum deliberately filters out (along with most/all other HTML markup.)
> The filter is much more sophisticated than just the word 'rockfax' and the two posters you refer to.
> UKB and me are happy chummy friends now. All love and peace here.
> Not sure you need to lace the chalk balls with nasty viruses in Parisellas, they are probably already there.
> Almost correct. We kick the old ladies and push the kittens in front of cars.
> This is part of the 'Rockfax-accreditation' scheme where decent routes have to apply to be included in our books. Successful accreditation results in coverage in the books, an increase of one star from the perceived norm, an increase in grade by one notch in order to become a well know soft touch, and full support of our online resources. All this is achieved for a one-off fee of £99.99/route with funds going to directly to the bolting of that route with a solid lower-off. Any route resisting the accreditation scheme will be given the treatment you describe.
> Almost correct. I enjoy banning Pylon King for any reason, not just his swearing.
Keep the forums as they are, not too simple and definitely not over fussy and bogged down with like buttons, smilies etc etc.
Your scenario is difficult to give a definitive response on simply because I can't recall it happening. You have to define negative comments then you have to decide which of those are acceptable and which aren't.
For example, imagine someone on a thread saying, "this gear is crap since it is all made in China". If it turns out that the gear isn't made in China, then I think it fair to remove that comment. If it is made in China then we probably would still remove it from a PRODUCT NEWS thread. It would be a pretty dubious comment anyway since it assumes that all gear made in China is crap, which it obviously isn't, therefore the reason given for it being crap gear has no real substance.
If, on the other hand, someone said, "there have been problems with some of this gear owing to a bad batch from China". We probably wouldn't remove that, even from a PRODUCT NEWS thread (assuming it was true which would be established by alerting the manufacturer/importer to the thread). In this case Toby was probably not correct in his answer but, once again, I can't recall it happening so it is all hypothetical.
As for advertisers paying for Product News threads - never really thought about that. They pay for Product News items and all our published content has threads associated with it, so I suppose they do.
If you think all PRODUCT NEWS threads are cleaned as a matter of course then you are mistaken in that - check a few - we don't moderate to that level, hence you could never call them advertising puff pieces.
I'm a forum user just like you. I some times write gear reviews for UKC on a volunteer basis, I've never been paid anything by UKC or Rockfax, so I have absolutely no power to sanction or nearly sanction anything. You asked for my opinion and I gave it, I have no idea what Alan thinks about the issue and he may completely disagree with what I said in reply to you.
You kept going on about the "ASA", I had to google to even know what it was you were referring too. You could perhaps link directly to the code of conduct so Alan can see what rules you think UKC is breaking. I had a quick look at their website and couldn't spot an obvious link to the code.
I expected more comments on this today. It is one of the hardest areas for us to deal with since we are often asked to moderate vast long threads that we haven't previously had anything to do with. Inevitably there is more to the threads than meets the eye on a quick glance but I'm afraid that we simply haven't got the time to unravel it all. A consequence of this is some stuff gets zapped that possibly shouldn't (had we looked a bit more closely) and vice-versa. This is something readers need to accept as an inevitability on a forum like this. Have your moan afterwards by emailing us by all means, but don't bear grudges and keep harping on about some thread that was removed six months ago as if your human rights had been violated.
Yes, I realise that. My question above wasn't an 'attack' - I merely thought it sensible to explicitly refer to what's been discussed recently on a parallel thread, since I regard this as a discussion continuing from that.
Sorry - I was not trying to be obscure:
The ASA is the 'Advertising Standards Authority', the accepted independent regulator for advertising in the UK. See http://www.asa.org.uk/
The 'Committees of Advertising Practice' (www.cap.org.uk) write and maintain the codes of practice which are applied by ASA. These codes can be found at http://www.cap.org.uk/Advertising-Codes.aspx
A specific section of the codes I might refer to in this context is 2.4 of www.cap.org.uk/Advertising-Codes/Non-broadcast-HTML/Section-2-Recognition-of-marketing-communications.aspx, namely:
"2.4 Marketers and publishers must make clear that advertorials are marketing communications; for example, by heading them 'advertisement feature'."
A carefully 'filleted' thread on a discussion forum which was turned into an advertising 'puff piece' for the thing under discussion might well be viewed to have contravened that guideline.
Ok - you're probably bored by now. My central point is that very well-known and accepted guidelines for advertising do exist. Hence my question on policy - which Alan has now answered.
(PS: The Forum s/w is *not* allowing me to give the full URL for either www.cap.org.uk or www.cap.org.uk/Advertising-Codes/Non-broadcast-HTML/Section-2-Recognition-of-marketing-communications.aspx - its filters are incorrecly claiming that those URLs don't exist. You might want to bug that to your developer.)
> Sorry. Can you clarify what you want it to do that it doesn't currently do?
> Apologies if people have already covered tis higher up.
Re the search engine.
It could do with accepting wild card characters and being able to search on more than one criteria.
At the moment for example I might want to refer back to a humorous post about cheese made by someone called anonymouse, or maybe anonimouse or maybe it was even gavingibboncock. I'd like to be able to ask to find a thread by anon*mouse OR gavingibboncock AND about cheese but I can't do that. I can only search on one criteria and if I get a name wrong (even I think, if I get capitalisation wrong) it just tells me it can't find anything.
I'm sure my English cousins sometimes have problems trying to find a that thread on Gearr Aonach or some other Welsh or Scottish crag with a less than obvious spelling.
For the avoidance of any doubt: by 'You', I meant UKC (e.g. Alan James), and not TobyA.
Yes, apologies if I hit a Nerve, I was just curious.
Any thoughts on re-introducing "photo gallery of the day"? Loads of great photos get posted these days, but most quickly fade to obscurity unless they get enough voted in the first few days to make it into the week's top photos
OK. That's clear.
Do you ever get given *gear* (which you then test and give an independent view of, obviously), rather than money?
I've tried to find a way to ask without it sounding like an insinuation. I think I've failed. I just want to be clear in the round.
I'd like an on the site notification if someone has responded to me in a thread but do not need to know if the thread has grown.
Unlike the many that find the news via the website I find them through the forums. It might be an idea to have news forum posts at the top like with premier posts.
Please not too many widgets.
Re-introducing? Did we do that before - I can't remember?
One problem here might be that photo moderating is too sporadic and some days it doesn't get done simply because no-one gets round to it.
This is a good point and probably an example of us getting it wrong on this occasion (although I can't remember the specific thread TBH).
"It is one of the hardest areas for us to deal with since we are often asked to moderate vast long threads that we haven't previously had anything to do with....... I'm afraid that we simply haven't got the time to unravel it all. A consequence of this is some stuff gets zapped that possibly shouldn't (had we looked a bit more closely) and vice-versa."
I'd hope you continue with this attitude... too much time spent on this isn't helping anyone. It's the posters I'm urging to behave differently to cut the need for you to look and zap in the first place and the site could help more with this by extra advice on guidelines (as I suggested). You could maybe get one of the site regulars to write an informative but humerous article on how to post to dodge the zap gun and link this in the guidelines section. I think it would help to be explicit about politically offensive language. Racism only gets a mention under dodgy links and homophobic postings (where the site does occasionally have issues) is missing. It really doesn't matter what some idiot user thinks about 'political correctness gone mad' when there are laws around this.
"This is something readers need to accept as an inevitability on a forum like this. Have your moan afterwards by emailing us by all means, but don't bear grudges and keep harping on about some thread that was removed six months ago as if your human rights had been violated."
As a liberal type even I'm amazed how upset some folk get about trivial crap. I understand how someone can get heated about stuff getting zapped on a thread around a real controversy in climbing but on an off-belay or pub thread on a climbing site?? History and human psychology tell us that grudges won't go easily though.
I take your point but there is a slight contradiction between your first paragraph, which tries to attribute empathy, logic and reason to people when they post; and your second, which acknowledges that many people don't always have empathy, logic and reason when they post.
The main point of trying to make people appreciate that this is a public place and as such should have a certain standard of behaviour is a good one though.
Best online forum I have used bar none. Simple....simple...and did I say simple? Simple to use, simple to follow, simple to post, simple to read, just such a joy compared to all the complicated crap out there...
You can always say this should be done, or this shouldn't be done, but it's all just tweeks....
Do what you do well...and let it be...if people don't like it they can go elsewhere..
And UKC does do it well...very well indeed....All support.
Not intended. I guess I'm suggesting we encourage the former and recognise the latter and deal fairly with it, as per your second paragraph.
The law as it relates to discrimination and libel applies to forum posts but you don't say that explicitly in the guidelines (even though in practice anything of that type is obviously included in what is said and would get zapped). Some people are learning the hard way about this on places like Twitter.
Thank you, and thank you to others who have offered their support on this thread as well.
> Thank you, and thank you to others who have offered their support on this thread as well.
And I'll add mine a simple uncluttered interface and by far the fastest site to load on slow/erratic connections,
You make an important point here about slow/erratic connections....I live in rural Scotland and my connection speed is at best o.3meg, (that's when it works)and yet UKC site loads fast no problem.
The fact that the thread has been relatively quiet is because UKC is superb as it is and needs only minor tweaks. There are a tiny minority who seem professionally dedicated to winding themselves up about aspects of UKC but they are plainly utterly unrepresentative. Please don't let them get to you and please don't waste too much time on them.
The best thing about UKC for me has been the numerous superb climbing partners I have met through it.
Really you should be thanking everyone, critics included. One of the negative perceptions of UKC/Rockfax is that due to their 'fan base' they don't take critics seriously enough.
> For what it's worth: one of the main reasons I've been on here for the last 13 years is the clean design and absence of avatars, signatures and other faff.
> Keep it simple, please!
> Not really. Our detailed stats don't go back that far but our record number of posts was in April 2013 of 11,049. Our record for threads was in Feb 2012 of 1,322 although we have had more than 1,000 most months this year as well. The record for weekly forum views was in Jun 2013 and was 617,013.
> It is possible that these stats were eclipsed years ago although I doubt it mainly because the one stat that is definitely greater is our registered users which is currently at 66,711.
> 2006 - 16,000
> 2009 - 47,000
> 2011 - 58,000
I stand by my analysis here http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=566156&v=1 that forum activity is declining as the number of weekly new messages, topics and authors is reducing and has been since the beginning of 2010, which is as far back as I've been to look. This is based on an analysis of the weekly data published on UKC in the Top 40 poster list. The reduction in number of weekly new messages is greater than the reduction in authors and topics. There may be other ways of analysing forum activity but with this dataset this is what is happening. Its a pity I cannot post the graphs as its quite clear there.
Linear regression slope 2010-to date
New messages -17.06 ± 1.657
Topics -1.566 ± 0.1371
Authors -1.664 ± 0.1957
Slope is significantly non-zero p<0.0001 in all cases.
As Alan says users are going up it implies they are using other features on the site and not using the forums.
Even if this isn't strictly true, with the real growth of the rest of the site and extra forums and the increasing popularity of climbing the forums should be noticably more popular. I certainly never used to get into the top ten posting the number of times I post. Just because the forums are good it doesn't mean we should stop striving to make them better.
Doesn't seem to agree with the figures I have hear - http://www.ukclimbing.com/images/dbpage.html?id=229781
Autumn is always our least busy time.
Just noticed the same graph twice in that lot. Now corrected, but refresh to see it.
Do the weekly numbers in your graph include posts to the pub? Also, same question, does the weekly data include The Pub?
Can I just say whoever suggested the 'bottom of page' link deserves a pint from me.
Yes - pita on my phone and tablet.
Otherwise no changes please.
> Can I just say whoever suggested the 'bottom of page' link deserves a pint from me.
Ta, I'll have a best please :-)
> I stand by my analysis here http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=566156&v=1 that forum activity is declining as the number of weekly new messages, topics and authors is reducing and has been since the beginning of 2010, which is as far back as I've been to look. This is based on an analysis of the weekly data published on UKC in the Top 40 poster list. The reduction in number of weekly new messages is greater than the reduction in authors and topics. There may be other ways of analysing forum activity but with this dataset this is what is happening. Its a pity I cannot post the graphs as its quite clear there.
> Linear regression slope 2010-to date
> New messages -17.06 ± 1.657
> Topics -1.566 ± 0.1371
> Authors -1.664 ± 0.1957
> Slope is significantly non-zero p<0.0001 in all cases.
> As Alan says users are going up it implies they are using other features on the site and not using the forums.
For someone who appears to understand something about stats, that's a pretty shonky conclusion from the data you've used!
The top 40 posters are simply that - the 40 most prolific people - not any defined proportion of the total.
Total posts could easily be much higher as number of users increases. I guess in the limit, any one poster only has so much time to waste - so I'd expect the top 40 to be a decreasing proportion of the whole.
> Ta, I'll have a best please :-)
Good man. I'll email it and you can print it out with one of those 3D jobbies.
As I said earlier it is likely inaccurate in detail (and for all sorts of reasons) but not by that much on the area measured by the top-40 and so almost certainly gives a pretty good indication of what's important for climbers like me who use UKC. That is that the climbing forums on the site are not clearly growing and as such they are falling behind the rest of the site (which is). I don't care a jot about the pub (turned off) other than it improves site stats that provide resource for the important bits. I think this could do with looking at and my suggestions were about tweeks to make a very good site better.
> For someone who appears to understand something about stats, that's a pretty shonky conclusion from the data you've used!
> The top 40 posters are simply that - the 40 most prolific people - not any defined proportion of the total.
> Total posts could easily be much higher as number of users increases. I guess in the limit, any one poster only has so much time to waste - so I'd expect the top 40 to be a decreasing proportion of the whole.
If I understand correctly what you are getting at I'm not sure that you are correct. The data I've used for the analysis, each week since the beginning of 2010, is given in the weekly Top 40 posters mail and has the following format, for this example from 06 Jan 2013 '7,737 new messages posted in 1054 topics by 1672 authors this week'. My interpretation was that this is the total activity in the forums for that week and not the Top 40 posters activity. If I'm wrong on that then obviously the conclusions are wrong. Perhaps somebody from UKC could clarify what those numbers actually are ? You make a good point though in that its important to understand the data going in before you can understand what comes out.
A couple of suggestions:
Firstly, crafting a proper reply is a pain in arse as you can't refer back to the thread. I often end up opening a new tab, and navigating back to the thread. Can we either have a 'quick reply' box at the base of the thread, or the option to view the thread whilst on the post reply page please?
Second, as others have said, the ability to post images inline. As really feel this doesn't need justifying, it's simply a basic function of every other forum I've used. The UKC thread will still load in the same time, it will just take a while to populate if image-heavy. Whilst on the subject, allowing UKC hosted images to be posted elsewhere would be nice, I'm sure it would drive more traffic to the site in the long run.
Not fussed about avatars etc, I usually turn them off. On other forums I can also hide posts from people who annoy me, which has its uses.
I'm sure some form of like/ dislike system would make life easier for you, it allows the forum as a whole to self-moderate. Likewise emoticons have their uses, they would help avoid many of the ambiguous sarcastic posts on UKC. Again, on other forums these features can be turned off/ hidden if you don't like them.
I still think a feature whereby routes, crags, possibly even users can be tagged in posts would be useful, particularly for being able to find discussions about a particular route later. Yes, there's the 'search' box, but how many Raven Crags are there and how many Ordinary Routes?
Emails, SMS all communication mediums that have remained fairly simple and still continue strong today. I am glad that most people don't want flashing smileys, the ability to input images. There are a few forums that have caught me out with NSFW content and smiley overload.
I really just don't get this point? It's quite easy enough to use text based emoticons if you want them? :-)
FWIW as a step-parent of a teenager and a teacher I think that a simple workable solution would be offering a membership login type for anyone between eg 10 and 16 to log on to the forums but not access the pub and maybe have a different coloured name so we can all see who is a kid. This would be a reasonable compromise, there are many many parents Scout leaders etc on here who would keep an eye on things and deal with any issues without needing moderation, and UKC is hardly the worst thing that kids can be doing on the internet. Parents need to be ultimately responsible for what their kids are up to, and most climbing parents are better than your average parent at understanding this.
Oh and please can we have a religion/athiesm sub forum so it can be turned off!
If someone wants to bypass they can with ease though. kids already do it on social networking sites and the likes. "What age are you.... click 25".
> On other forums I can also hide posts from people who annoy me, which has its uses.
ive often considered building a kill-file filter which filters the output of UKC and
hides/deletes posting of people i don't want to see, never got around to it, so id support that.
also something that bugs me (but is of little importance!) is the left hand menu, i've no idea
who dreamt up the order they appear in but i'd like to be able to customise it and
reorder/hide them. Its one of the newer 'web2.0' (remember that :0) style functions i do like
When a mate of mine was involved in Bike/OutdoorsMagic they stumbled across a feature where you could ban people and hide them from other users... but not from each other. So the habitual trolls would be left winding each other up and wondering why nobody else was rising to their bait. I don't know if it's urban legend, but it's the sort of thing I'd like to be true :)
I disagree with the removal of reasonable posts in advertising threads. I accept that 'reasonable' is subjective but I believe my comments were entirely reasonable and in line with the objective evidence. If you're putting a product into the market and using forum based websites then consumer comment is part and parcel of that environment.
I feel I didn't post 'ad nauseum'. I posted 3 times, excluding my initial post on this thread. Once was the original one line post, the 2nd time was on the same thread later that day (surely it's entirely reasonable to ask why my first thread was removed?), the third time was I think either in the Off Belay or Rocktalk forum yet despite your assertion that posting elsewhere wouldn't lead to the post being deleted it was. As such it was a logical step to post on here. In between that I responded to an automated email from UKC, this email asks users to request details of why posts have been deleted. That's what I did but hadn't, at the time of my first post on this thread, received a reply to my email. 'Ad nauseum', really? More like fairly understandable.
I don't get what you don't get! The post I quoted was my post from earlier this year illustrating precisely why I made my original comment on the advertising thread. An excessive number of errors on a popular roadside crag that demonstrates as clearly as anything that the notion of doing a proper job is an anathema to Rockfax. Like I said why isn't there some ownership of and explanation for why the Rockfax guidebook production process often seems to include not actually climbing the routes described and an inability to fact check or proof read? You seem to insist on talking about me and abstract points rather than dealing with the specifics.
You say Rockfax doesn't remove criticism yet the fact that my 3rd post (which meets your stated criteria of being in a non-advertising thread) was removed suggests otherwise. As mentioned above it is hard not to be compelled to restate the same information in light of the fact that there never seems to be a constructive or adequate response.
Lastly, the notion that there is some conflict of interest is nonsense. I am just a random climber with a love of guidebooks and a deep belief that if you're going to do something you do it well, recognising that we all make mistakes but through an open and mindful approach knowing there is always opportunity to do and make things better. Why this attitude to learning and being is so lacking at UKC / Rockfax is a mystery.
The most sucessful businesses welcome criticism.
It's better that one customer finds fault, which can be rectified, than a dozen or more silently put up with said fault whilst forming the opinion that the product is crap.
By the time a product gains the reputation for having faults it's almost too late. Unless they have a monopoly.
Doesn't that mean that some threads will cease to make sense when people are posting replies to your hidden posters, or in response to issues brought up by them?
Only if everbody used them, otherwise it would self moderate on the basis of an unrepresentative minority (most people don't want them)
If people post on the basis that you'll understand what they're implying because of the emoticons they've used and you've got them turned off you might get the wrong end of the stick anyway.
Totally agree with you here. It's laughable when people say UKC is a horrible place to be, or that it's full of unpleasant comments and terrible people. As you say, UKC is one of the tamest websites out there.
You're coming over as a bit obsessive about this though. I'm sure you are right that there are some mistakes in Rockfax guides, but then there are in I guess all guidebooks. Any of us who have followed these threads have seen you post about their failings many times, so you have got your point across (something of a victory considering you've done so on a forum owned by the company you are intent on criticizing) but I guess you need to accept that hundreds of people use Rockfax guides each week and are perfectly happy with them, and get plenty of value out of the experience. There aren't piles of bodies at the base of crags due to the criminal incompetence of a guidebook writer; and I doubt Rockfax profits are being invested in Albanian people smuggling gangs or animal testing laboratories; so why not quit while you're ahead? Otherwise you're gonna end up like that stalker guy who chases that American Kellogg chap around the internet, or that bloke who thinks all mountain guides are in league with the Illuminati or whatever it is.
What people in UKC say that?
I shudder to think of what you regularly look at if you think UKC as an activity based website is that exceptionally tame.
> ive often considered building a kill-file filter which filters the output of UKC and
> hides/deletes posting of people i don't want to see, never got around to it, so id support that.
This isn't too hard (at least if you use Firefox) - I knocked one up a few years ago.
> What people in UKC say that?
> I shudder to think of what you regularly look at if you think UKC as an activity based website is that exceptionally tame.
I'll be honest and say I can't find any examples, but have definitely seen posts along the lines of 'I stopped using UKC because of all the vitriol' and 'UKC is one of the most unpleasant forums I use'.
I also shudder when thinking of some things I regularly look at. :)
I was just showing my kids an old Nirvana video on YouTube, first comment out of hundreds - "I'm glad he killed himself. Pussy. Waste of air." The comments didn't get much better further down.
Youtube comments generally make me despair for the future and I'm generally a pretty positive type of person. UKC debate can be vigorous, but is rarely mean spirited and never nihilistic.
"UKC debate can be vigorous, but after the zap gun is rarely in breach of guidelines." ;-)
I don't like that sort of thing either, but if you will look at comments from the general public about a music video!
Absolutely, the most innocuous videos attract complete bile; it's incredible.
There were some vigorous opinions being expressed, but nothing particularly scandalous I don't think. If the zapping was due to my suggestion that Franco should build a large papier mache extension to his, ahem, 'tradness', I would a) like to apologise to others who were following the thread with interest and b) appeal that the suggestion was meant solely in homage to Mr Redhead's art, and hence was "cultural" and not childish or silly in the slightest.
Not zapped, it's in the Pub now. So semi-zapped I suppose.
The new system we are working on should take account of this form of moderating and leave threads moved to invisible forums visible for you, if you have a reply on there.
I've had this happen to me as well and blamed UKC moderation without thinking first and just plain lost threads and done the same: so repeat apologies for all that. Just because you are paranoid it doesn't mean they are out to get you.
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