First and foremost, I think we can all agree that the layout of the forum is very open and spread out, which is probably great for a very large community, but that isn't really TT at this point. That's especially the case after February; the big wipe that sent the forum back into time to November 2013 drove several good members away, and now it's basically just me, Aaron, Andrew, and a few others still standing.
Now, the way it goes on at our side here in TF51 is very straightforward. Our YSFlight forum is, for obvious reasons, based on flight simulation, so we know what we're doing in our selected forum sections. We can talk about things, maybe put up an advertisement-type post for an aerial event, or talk about something else going on in the team. Maybe some new development that our crew is doing for the website. We can all go in that News and Announcements forum. We go down mainly into the gaming section, and we find "General YSFlight", and that's gonna cover, basically, everything. There's no separate section. It all gets in there, so we can talk about "Hey, we're gonna be doing this at this time", and there's screenshots going on, there's questions about what's going on, about organizations, and asking questions like "What do flaps do for me here?"...anything like that. So, it's just a big general area and there's no separate forum. It's just "General YSF", and that's anything and everything to do with YSF. Beneath that, we can do screenshot contests, and I'd like to bring that back. I remember doing that back in 2010. We'd have it once a month on a particular theme, we'd post our screenshots and we'd vote on 'em. It was a great time. There's also aircraft & addon creation, and there's no separate forum. It's just information and questions. You could put tutorials on there, you could ask questions or answer them, and get things taken care of.
The main topic that I want to focus on is the three main pieces of the site: Titanic discussion, general discussion, and site discussion. The Titanic discussion, basically, needs to be one big forum. There is no subforum or separate section. Keep it all in one place. We don't need more than 10 sections dedicated to passengers, crew, exploration, and so forth - some of these haven't even been touched since 2013, which doesn't exactly give would-be members/guests a good impression. At the very least, condense them a bit. I'll delve into a layout idea I have for that later [edit: see below for the rough draft of my plan]. Follow that up by site discussion, also known as the Website and Forum News section. There isn't a ton of it, but there is one big problem I noted in my own topic under the forum: all of the topics in the Website Announcements subforum are threads Andrew has created to advertise books by certain authors. There already is a whole section dedicated to books for this. It's all out of whack, really. Now for general discussion, aka "Cafe Parisien". Now, we all like to talk to each other and about things that are going on that interest us, and I think it's great to discuss that here in this forum, since we're all like-minded people. I'd also like to go to Say Hello, another place that's laid dead since 2013. On our side, introduction and birthday topics are merged into one forum: Personal Messages. This forum is used for welcoming threads, goodbye threads, and birthdays alike. We can congratulate somebody for something they may have accomplished outside of the team. You could say happy birthday, and you know, it's always a nice thing to come onto the forum and see that someone's been thinking "Hey, it's your birthday today, happy birthday" and giving you a nice picture of a cake, of course. I think that's great to have, and I think it helps build our morale in the forum.
It's just that I go on this forum and there's some 10 different forums, and it's all this crap, that I can hardly even check what's going on and see what's going on, and I have all this other crap that's everywhere. We need to step back and stick to keeping it simple. Even take a look at Apple and Microsoft: all their stuff is very clean. This isn't the 90s where we have lightning bolts on everything and...well, whatever, you get the point. We need to keep things very clean and user-accessible.
The point here is that we've become too messy with our forum, and that's not exactly helping our very diminished user base. I think we're looking to build ourselves, but we're looking too far away, and I think the objective is to enhance what we have here for all of us, and that's what's gonna bring us here, because I can go back in my mind and think of the first couple of times I was on the older TT forums: I would go and check it every day. I got home every day, and I enjoyed seeing what was going on. Virtually all of the old folks that are long-gone or still hanging around, it was neat to be with them. We need to go for a very simplistic idea and we need to enhance that. I think it's not too late to do that. We can do that right now, and I think we can make this better. I think we can get this to where it needs to be.
As for what I was saying with my plan of reorganizing, this is how I think the forum should be restructured. It's worth nothing that the Task Force 51 YSFlight forum operates on IP.Board, and as such, it has the advantage of its forums being able to be made into sections. Because of this, we have game discussion, general discussion, and site discussion all in their own boxes. If I remember correctly, phpBB3 also supports this. The pre-2011 edition of TT had this boxing layout going on as well (see here: http://web.archive.org/web/201104271951 ... com/forum/
Keep in mind that I wrote this plan up on a whim. I'll probably go back and change it later on.
Quick key for what the parts of this mean:
Single * = Section
Double ** = Subforum
*RMS Titanic (merge with Salvage/Trivia/White Star Line/H&W)
**Passengers, Crew, & Officers (merge of Passengers/Crew & Officers)
*Titanic Media - temporary name
*Maritime Matters (merge of Maritime Matters/Titanic & Maritime Sites)
**Personal Messages (expansion of Say Hello)
**Whatever else may be felt to be necessary. I know that right now, we have several subforums of CP.
*Site & Forums News
PS: That problem with new members having the forum's template code break the website for them is still happening. That could be why we aren't getting much in terms of new member activity.