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Old 04-13-2007, 03:15 PM
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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).

Originally Posted by Jon
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.
Such a division and the resulting manual search-and-move _might_ be necessary someday, but the suggested reorganization doesn't require it. The idea is to nudge people into self-sorting the information while providing for the need to subdivide even more in the future.

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.')

Originally Posted by Jon
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.
(You're gonna need lots of help analyzing that code. Don't be expecting me to pay for your therapy afterwards; you knew I was in over my head from the beginning).

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.

Originally Posted by Jon
And yes, I realize that once we establish a new organization system, the KB will also have to be re-organized.
This is part of the process that has to be refined. The impact on the KB has to be considered, but I think the process I've outlined imposes the least changes on the KB for the benefits anticipated.

Originally Posted by Jon
I don't want to get too deep into this discussion now.
I think you know me well enough now to not be offended when I say, frankly, we don't want you too deep in this right now. (Even if you didn't already have a full plate to deal with). As the one on whose shoulders the eventual implementation work will heavily fall, and as chief cook and bottle-washer, your most valuable input is in heading off any stampede toward a cliff.

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.

Originally Posted by Jon
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.
Those are the issues which require debate among the hotrodders to resolve, IMO. The input of the various engineers (formally educated and 'skinned-knuckle' educated) as well as input from 'newbies' can help make sure the end result is clear to all and thus self-sustaining. The number of discussions that end up in completely inappropriate places every time there is a growth spurt at indicates that there is a problem that needs resolution. That resolution needs to be hammered out with as many eyes and heads as possible.

Originally Posted by Jon
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.
That makes sense. Much of the health/safety discussion seems to come up as tangential comments within threads about specific tasks. It is very likely best to keep warnings and advice like that very close to the job being discussed, anyway. A wiki article would be very handy to point to "for more information".


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).
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