|04-14-2007 07:37 AM|
|Henry Highrise||I do not really understand the reasoning for wanting to separate the beginning hotrodders from the more experianced....Hotrodding Basics.....Hotrodding General Tech........That just seems like it goes against what this site is supposed to be about. In my mind...the best way for a beginner to learn is to mingle with the experianced folks. Am I missing something here?|
|04-14-2007 02:13 AM|
The sticky problem of 'what is a frame' when monocoque construction is considered had to be addressed. Wrestling with that is what took me to the 5 main categories.
1. Strip everything off that is not essential for it to be an automobile and you're left with "Chassis - Running Gear". (Even a steering wheel is not essential; you can find a rolling chassis in one of the journals with a pair of vise grips clamped to the stub of shaft where a column should be). Thus, if someone is wanting to chop, section, lengthen, shorten or otherwise attack a unit body with a sawzall, that discussion would be here instead of "Body", because it is structural in nature, not just payload hauling.
2. Everything that is used for hauling the payload (people or cargo) goes into "Body". Glass, doors, trim, painting, seats, hood, trunk, etc., as well as any alterations to these land in here.
3. Most automobiles have a complete auxiliary power system that is not essential for it to be an automobile -- "Electrical". This uses tools, techniques, skills, devices and planning that are unique and distinct from all other categories. (Note that the starting and charging systems could actually, logically, belong with "Chassis - Running Gear", but most people seeking help with an electrical problem would look here first).
4. Everybody has to be some place and a garage is a hotrodder's natural habitat. It takes tools to work on automobiles, hence, "Garage - Tools".
5. Even though the above 4 main groups should enclose everything about an automobile and working on one, as sure as there is no miscellaneous category, someone will come up with a question that doesn't fit the four, so "Hotrodding Basics - General - Miscellaneous". The first two parts of that name are there only to tie the forum to its roots as "Hotrodding Basics" and "General Rodding Tech".
I can visualize 5 separate 3D images representing those, used as a navigational aid for Hotrodders.com. Clicking a "site help" link would give the Hotrodders.com logo with 5 line drawing images below it, each a link to the 5 main tech categories. Add a 6th image of guys standing around a table, holding coffee cups, looking over the shoulder of someone sketching a hotrod, for "General Discussion" area.
My thinking there was that the new forum would begin to accumulate new discussions immediately. Until the historical threads could be moved from "Suspension - Brakes - Steering", the search query for the new forum could search all of "Chassis - Running Gear". This would deal with the bulk of historical threads about frames that have landed in various other fora as people looked for some place to ask about repair, design or modification of frames.
(Side-track: "fora" is in several dictionaries, but "forums" seems more popular. Had to check because I used "fora" in an email once and someone thought I was trying to speak Portugese. I'm trying to switch, though).
I'm going to have to think about that more to understand the implications. Webserver redirection can provide the transitioning, by keeping the historical discussions accessible via any old links out there. Search engines will handle the new information just as they do now, regardless of where it appears to members. The actual presentation of the new structure (the most important part of making it self-sorting) and even the database manipulation is not that complex, but I can see there is much more to work on regarding link stability. Somewhere in a past thread, you told me about the database structure. I'll dig that up and chew on it some more.
|04-13-2007 06:56 PM|
|Henry Highrise||All that needs to be done on the Site Suggestions and Help forum is change the Forum title to.....Site Help and Suggestions. Thats my opinion.|
|04-13-2007 06:51 PM|
Your suggested structure seems like it could solve most of the organizational issues at hand. I like the core "Chassis/Body" dichotomy. "Basics/General/Misc" groups the inexperienced and less knowledgeable guys in with the various guys seeking help with a "misc" question that may or may not be "basic" in nature, which I don't like.
When we create a new forum, we need to move all previously-posted threads on that forum's topic into that forum. "Move archived threads at leisure" would mean that the forum-specific search results would be inaccurate until the job was done. That's the unavoidable manual labor task, and it has to be done "up-front", and preferably, not done for a long time again -- not to mention that forum name changes mean url changes, which means that the traffic will have to be redirected to the new urls, so previous search engine rankings will be compromised.
It will probably necessitate the creation of a special interface where the title and first post of a thread are displayed, with buttons to click to transfer it to X or Y forum.
"Site Help" forums have a tendency to attract OT questions (I noticed this in passing checking out similar forums on the Crankshaft Coalition Master List of Hotrodding Forums), although I do think that your suggestion to drop "Help" will ~help~ the situation. Otherwise, we have a decent ratio of proper question placement.
|04-13-2007 06:10 PM|
Not an analysis, but some numbers that _may_ be illustrative:
25 threads showing on the first page of "Site Suggestions and Help", ignoring the 'sticky' threads, as I write this.
1 is spam
10 are clearly not appropriate for this forum
10/25 = 40% mis-posted.
|04-13-2007 03:15 PM|
Good to see you post again, Jon. I was beginning to think you had been kidnapped by a horde of monkeyboys. (Only half joking, there -- was worried that Discovery had tried some legal trickery that was taking all your time. Note that SCOG in SCO v. IBM has managed to keep a case going for 4 years without presenting a shred of evidence of wrongdoing on IBM's part. A sleazy lawyer + a sleazy client can cause all kinds of trouble for decent folks, whether lawyers or clients).
Much of the reorganization suggested requires changing the presentation of fora in, for example, the drop-down selection list. The proposed reorganization minimizes disruption to the existing structure, including the amount of time required to re-sort existing threads.
The way the General Discussion items are presented makes it clear that "Introduce Yourself" and "Off-topic" are part of the "Hotrodders' Lounge". The other General Discussion items, "Hotrod Art", "Site Suggestions and Help", and "The Dump", are clearly distinct from the Lounge. This visual cue helps direct traffic.
Goiing from the existing structure to the proposed would require:
1. Creation of the containing forum "Chassis - Running Gear".
2. Moving, as-is and in its entirety, the "Suspension - Brakes - Steering" forum into "Chassis - Running Gear".
3. Moving, as-is and in its entirety, the "Engine" forum into "Chassis - Running Gear".
4. Moving, as-is and in its entirety, the "Transmission - Rearend" forum into "Chassis - Running Gear".
5. Rename "Transmission - Rearend" to "Transmission - Driveline - Differential".
6. Creation of the containing forum "Body".
7. Moving, as-is and in its entirety, "Body - Exterior" into "Body".
8. Moving, as-is and in its entirety, "Interior" into "Body".
9. Merging of "Hotrodding Basics" and "General Rodding Tech" into "Hotrodding Basics - General - Miscellaneous".
10. Creation of new, empty fora:
"Structure - Frame or Unit - Fuel storage" in "Chassis - Running Gear"
"Tires - Wheels" in "Chassis - Running Gear"
11. Alter menus to reflect the new structure.
12. Move archived threads at leisure, as need is discovered. For example, as a thread about frame boxing is found in "Suspension - Brakes - Steering", move it into "Structure - Frame or Unit - Fuel storage".
Note that this plan _avoids_ a "huge job" of manual sorting of archived threads and actually allows "go[ing] back".
(No, I didn't plan for it to come out as a 12-step program; it just happened. 'My name is grouch and I have a problem with tools and cars.')
The proposed plan of reorganization likewise minimizes the impact on the KB. Depending on how existing fora are moved, some links may need to change to reflect the new parent-child relationship of some fora. This can be automated, with the process being thoroughly tested offline before implementation.
Working out details for the reorganization, in threads like this, will help ensure that it accomplishes its intended mission -- encouraging self-sorting by members -- before requiring the backend and database work that implements the reorganization. In other words, the process of evolving from current structure to a new structure and the new structure itself has to be refined, hashed out, among the members, mostly, with direction from you only occasionally, if it appears to be headed toward an unworkable solution.
If you say it absolutely will not be done, or what is suggested cannot be done, then it's the end of discussion.
On the other hand, if sorting of discussions is to be a grass-roots job, i.e., self-sorting, and if there is a problem with current self-sorting that is significant enough to warrant reorganization, then the structure that is to come out of such reorganization must evolve from grass-roots discussion.
1. There appears to be a significant number of discussions started in the wrong places.
2. The current organization appears to be partly responsible for 1.
3. The proposed reorganization structure intends to help with that problem.
4. Moving from the current structure to a new one must minimize disruption, minimize the work required to implement it, provide for long-term growth and maximize the potential to fix the existing problem.
5. Debate and discussion, by as many as have an interest, of any new structure can help ensure that the new structure makes sense to those who will use it.
6. Our resident marketer spanker and Goliath slayer can help ensure the discussion is not headed down a dead-end street.
(That last bullet point is not as tongue-in-cheek as it may appear. No restructuring, however popular, can succeed if it requires the database and other software to do something impossible or if it requires so much of a load on moderators or other volunteers that it is simply impractical. That determination requires someone with a clear view from the other side of the web interface. Sorry, Jon, but you appear to be the only one of us around here who fits that job description).
|04-13-2007 07:55 AM|
Agreed that we need to re-organize. I have another thread about this same topic bookmarked.
The reason it hasn't yet been done is that it's a huge job, and, once it's done we can't reasonably go back. So it has to be very well thought-out and planned. Re-organization will require moving thousands of old threads to their new categories. This will necessitate volunteer or hired labor, probably in the neighborhood of at least a few hundred man-hours. As a basic example, let's say we split Suspension-Brakes-Steering into 3 categories: "Suspension", "Brakes", and "Steering". Then, we'll need to go into the Suspension-Brakes-Steering forum, read EVERY thread, and place it in its new proper category. Same with any future subdivisions.
Current tasks right now are dealing with Discovery, doing some touchups on the Knowledge Base (mostly SEO work, but it needs to be done -- the KB is becoming a force, with almost half a million clicks sent out to listed sites), launching Youngrodders, taking on 6 new moderators, and analyzing grouch's work on the journal software. Until ALL of that is done, I'm not taking on any significant new projects.
And yes, I realize that once we establish a new organization system, the KB will also have to be re-organized.
I don't want to get too deep into this discussion now. I know that the "chassis/frame/suspension" nomenclature needs some attention, as does the "engine electrical/chassis electrical" division. "Hotrodding Basics" is a another thorny issue, as is any "General" forum. I will say that I disagree with a health/safety forum. I don't see much post volume on that issue, and I think it can be more appropriately handled with a lengthy wiki article.
|04-12-2007 11:34 PM|
Not to rain on the idea too much, but ...
So, to end confusion, we go from 15 forums to 25 forums while dropping all of the General Discussion forums? How many threads would the 15000 - More lamps / clocks forum have in a year's time?
Ford's system is essentially an accounting system adapted to inventory control. It works for its intended purpose of keeping track of parts. It doesn't work so well for a growing body of information about custom vehicle work.
Organizing the information has to consider the state it is in now as well as how it might grow. Using the fine-grained categories of an inventory control system at the beginning will increase the complexity while leaving many categories nearly empty or unused. It begins full-blown rather than growing with the information store. If it doesn't begin full-blown, then it leaves the same holes as the current system, where there are specifics without their parent containers.
Beginning with broad categories ensures that all incoming information fits somewhere recognizable as related to that information. It also allows for more specific categories to be added within those broad ones, as growth dictates, and makes it simpler to shuffle the more specific information from the broader, parent category into the more specific, child category.
Example: If suddenly super-poly-ultra-squirt-a-frame becomes all the rage and 5,000 people a day start posting questions about how to get the hump of their nearly finished 32 replica frame past the rollers in the inkjet, and how many cartridges does it take for a '34 Duesenberg SJ replica, there might need to be a 184.108.40.206. Structure - Squirt-A-Frame subcategory made. At least most of the sudden onslaught would land within the 1.1.1. Structure - Frame or Unit - Fuel storage parent forum, before the subcategory was made, anyway.
(The numbers are there only to outline the structure and see where things fit. They are not intended as part of the name of a forum).
|04-12-2007 10:41 PM|
Here's another alternative...
Good old Henry (Ford) had the best idea for categorizing vehicle components and replacement parts.
All of the Ford "basic part numbers" reflect the category in which they belong.
1000 - Wheels & Tires
2000 - Brakes
3000 - Steering
4000 - Driveshafts / Differentials
5000 - Frame / Spring / Suspension / Exhaust
6000 - Engine
7000 - Transmission
8000 - Cooling System
9000 - Fuel System
10000 - Charging System / Guages
11000 - Starting System
12000 - Ignition System
13000 - Lamps / Directional Signals
14000 - Wiring
15000 - More lamps / clocks
16000 - Fenders / rad supports
17000 - mirrors / speedometers
18000 - Heating system
19000 - Air Conditioning / Accessories
Body / Sheet Metal Components
(prefixed by a 2-digit body code .. ie. 54 = 4 door sedan, 66 = 2 dr sedan, 61 = 3 door hatchback etc...)
00000 - Dash / floor pans
10000 - Rocker panels
20000 - Door & Quarter
30000 - Windshield
40000 - Luggage compartment / tailgate / liftgate
50000 - Roof
I think that was it...
So ... on ALL models (well at least originally ... before FWD, 4x4, AWD)
1190 was a front wheel seal (2WD)
1102 was a brake rotor
3049 was a ball joint
4602 was a driveshaft
5310 was a coil spring
9350 was a fuel pump
See how each "basic number" fits within it's respective component group?
Related parts are arranged in a dealer inventory by the basic number (for the most part anyway) so if you knew the component group, you could run to the shelf to determine a basic number. Mechanics like the concept as well when they get on one of their "seek and destroy" missions.
I know it might be hard for you Chevy guys to handle ... using a Ford system ... but I think it's a workable solution.
(After all, It's worked for Ford for the last 100 years or so.)
|04-12-2007 08:25 PM|
Exactly, Henry! It just took me bucket loads more words to say the same thing.
Wish I had thought of the street signs analogy of helrazr3. We have signs on side streets without signs on the main throughways.
Another way of looking at it: We have a coffee can labeled Screws - Bolts - Nuts and two others labeled Miscellaneous. Somebody comes in with a nail and wonders where to put it. If we had a shelf labeled Fasteners, holding the first coffee can, at least the nail would end up in the same area as the screws, bolts and nuts.
New member comes in, sees "Introduce Yourself", that's no problem. He comes in wanting to know how to identify an engine block, that's no problem. If he comes in wanting to know if he should replace the rotted frame in his 1902 Little, there's a problem, so he has to choose among "Hotrodding Basics", "General Rodding Tech", "Suspension - Brakes - Steering", or "Site Suggestions and Help".
Clearly labeling the major streets and the side streets coming from them should help anyone find their way easier. We're not talking about idiots. Anyone tackling work on a car will be able to figure out if the part causing troubles is (a) something that makes it go, stop, steer, or hang together, or (b) something on the body, or (c) something inside the body, or (d) garage or tool, or (e) none of the above. Help 'em find the right 'block' of the city and they can hunt up the right building from there.
|04-12-2007 04:33 PM|
|04-12-2007 04:29 PM|
|helrazr3||wow, that had a lot of thought put into it. good work grouch. i would agree that things could be reorganized a bit . i also think its important to keep adusting and tweaking things as the site grows. the other side of that is making it a bit to complicated for new users to navigate. you need lots of street signs so people use the right roads.|
|04-12-2007 02:43 PM|
Aha! An opening for debate!
That first box is a big one, so we need smaller boxes in it to break it down.
My basic argument is that we have subcategories defined without the major categories to which they logically belong. Suspension - Brakes - Steering is one glaring example. Those are 3 subcategories of a chassis, but there is no chassis. On the other hand, we have 2 miscellaneous areas.
|04-12-2007 02:15 PM|
Thanks, Henry Highrise and cboy.
No smoke? No flames? I must've done something wrong.
I left out one that I've seen suggested several times: Health - Safety. It could be argued that such discussions are specific to one of the other categories, instead of separable.
The expansion and accumulation of information that almost fits existing categories is what worries me. You can find threads that cover the same topic but which are posted in different fora. Jon's Knowledge Base project attempts to index the growing mass of information, but it shouldn't have required as much work as it apparently took.
Given a basic breakdown of:
1.1. Chassis - Running Gear (things which make it an automobile; things that make it go, stop, steer and carry a payload)
1.2. Body (the payload carrier; things beyond its possible functions as a chassis)
1.3. Electrical (the auxilliary power system; things that handle electrical power that is not used to make it go)
1.4. Garage - Tools (the hotrodder's lair and magic wands)
1.5. Hotrodding Basics - General - Miscellaneous (things that don't fit the above)
It becomes easier to decide where a given discussion should be placed. Making that decision easier also results in better self-sorting. When someone has a question, especially one with some frustration already built up, it should be as apparent as possible where that question should be asked. Ambiguity leads to more frustration, more work for mods, more work to find answers, more disorganization (more miscellaneous).
Using those basic categories, it becomes easier to accommodate expansion. For example, if the Engine discussions start piling up, it might be subdivided like:
220.127.116.11. Engine - Mechanical
18.104.22.168. Engine - Electrical
22.214.171.124. Engine - Fuel - Intake - Exhaust
126.96.36.199. Engine - Cooling
Likewise for, say, Body:
1.2.1. Body - Exterior
188.8.131.52. Body - Exterior - Fabrication
184.108.40.206. Body - Exterior - Repair
220.127.116.11. Body - Exterior - Prep and Paint
Starting with broad categories that are chosen to match the major functions and component groups of an automobile, and then subdividing those, helps avoid large organizational changes as the information accumulates.
Reorganizing due to growth becomes easier because the overflow that necessitates the reorganizing would already be contained in the proper major subdivision.
If hotrodding evolves to mostly unit body vehicles, under the present structure of hotrodders.com, you could end up with thousands of threads about the structural aspects of the body mixed in with thousands of threads about painting, all in Body - Exterior. With the structure outlined above, those structural threads would already be migrating and accumulating in 1.1.1. Structure - Frame or Unit - Fuel storage.
Consider a growth in alternative power hotrodding. If somebody develops a battery today that stores the equivalent energy of 10 gallons of gasoline in the same or even double the weight, you can bet some hotrodder is going to make use of it. In the present organization structure, would discussions of mounting that battery go under Electrical? Doesn't really make sense, but that's where those would probably land. Using the suggested organization, discussions about the mounting of the new super battery would go under 1.1. Chassis - Running Gear, specifically 1.1.1. Structure - Frame or Unit - Fuel storage.
You can't really anticipate where the hobby might be taken by hotrodders, but you can bet that every vehicle that every hotrodder tinkers with and mutates will have to go, stop, steer and carry something. You can also bet that hotrodders will continue to need tools and a place to work their madness.
|04-12-2007 01:45 PM|
having trouble sleeping, eh Grouch?
Ok i can simplify this so that even I can understand....
Make one big category. call it hotrodders.com.
That way you just post everything in one category, and avoid those mind numbing choices. There are already too many choices in life...(coffee or coca cola for breakfast?...did I have the label on my underwear on the inside or outside yesterday?..which hand do I hold the pencil with?..axe or torch? .Milling machine or file....)
It will be easy for me. It'll be organized just like my shop.
Oh but keep the dump seperate..that way all my posts would be in one place.
Nice job Grouch
I think if the suspension forum had frame added or we added a frame/ structural engineering forum for all of those fabrication questions it would be good. ( to me 'frame" is the bare structure and "chassis" is the complete assembly of suspension and steering parts.
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