Ever since the reincarnation of the forum after months of being down, we're not getting nearly the same traffic the old forum used to. In particular, the sub-forums that deal with specialist programming topics are seeing very little use. This marginalises their benefits and increases the relative weight of their costs. Therefore, I submit this FEP (Forum Enhancement Proposal) for consideration by the admins and other members of the forum.
In short, we have too many sub-forums. This that mods have to constantly direct users to post in the appropriate forum. This takes up mods' valuable time (which is already taxed by protecting us from the ever-looming wave of spam). It also discourages new members as they feel like they are being reprimanded for not following some arbitrary rule when all they want is to get some help.
Get rid of "GUI", "Game Development", "Networking" and "Web Development" sub-forums, merging their existing content into "General Coding Help". I haven't included "Project Euler" in this because, to my mind, it is different as it deals with a specific set of problems and lies somewhere between "coding help" and "in depth discussion". Though given that we've had no real posts in it, maybe it should be ixnay'd as well.
Arguments Against the Proposed Solution
The following arguments may be presented in opposition to this proposal:
- Sub-forums facilitate getting specialist help by filtering relevant posts (e.g. those not qualified to give help with GUI development can just ignore "GUI" forum).
- We have the "Read This First" topic that explains how to use the sub-forums.
- They make it easier to search for help with specific topics by providing logical sub categories within which to search.
- They encourage posting more in-depth questions.
- They make a good place for topic-specific stickies.
- They make the forum look more substantial.
Most of these can be addressed by pointing out the fact that we simply don't get enough traffic to justify the segregation. If, at some point in the future, this changes, we can always re-add the sections (e.g. we suddenly start getting a lot of web-related posts).
To address specific arguments:
- People often post in an inappropriate forum, which defeats the point.
- Yeah, but lets be honest, nobody actually reads that before posting.
- There is a search box in top right corner that conveniently searches for what you need. And most people use Google rather than browsing posts anyway.
- Possibly, but the flip side is that people post questions that too in-depth (e.g. networking questions not related to Python).
- True, but we also have the tutorials sub-forum .
- Not really. Plus, if we remove those sub-forums, the remaining sections will fit on one screen without needing to scroll down.
Some Unnecessary Data to Further My Point
Note: the following numbers were accurate at the time of writing; obviously, they may be different by the time you read this.
This is the summary of all topics/posts for each sub-forum:
- Code: Select all
General Discussions 51 251
Tutorials 26 91
Completed Scripts 15 29
Jobs 2 2
General Coding Help 108 607
GUI 9 29
Game Development 4 4
Networking 2 4
Web Development 4 17
Project Euler 1 1
Suggestions 7 47
Bar 13 98
Total 242 1180
The four sub-forums this proposal suggests are removed contain 19 topics and 54 posts or only 7.8% and 4.6% of total posts respectively (Of those, the majority are in 'GUI', which out of the four has the strongest case for existing).
The superfluous sub-forums exert a cost in terms of maintenance overhead and baffling and detracting potential new members. We should therefor "optimize" them out of the forum.
P.S. In case it's not clear, the format of this post is intended to be taken with tongue stuck firmly in cheek (but the underlying proposal is genuine).
P.P.S. Yes, I get bored at work...