Request for A Beginnner's Board

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  DenisL on Fri Apr 06, 2012 2:43 pm

So, I have been following this thread for days. I like it and I also think that people are civilized in this forum, there are a few emotional comments, but hey what are we if not humans? I think someone said it best when they stated it is about "teaching and learning". I have been reading these forums for only a few months now. I have gathered a HUGE amount of information from here. I print posts, I print pictures and I file them in a binder for quick reference - soil, wiring, watering, fertilizing, etc...

However, I choose which ones I think are good material to have as reference and which ones are not. Like someone else said the: "I attended a wokshop and now I am a master and can give you advice" posts, I read and sometimes have a good laugh and move on...

Most of the new ideas are great. I usually read all the posts that are new after I click the "review new posts since last visit". In all topics. This forum is very good.

I posted a couple of questions before and I was politely told to go ask local guys because they are in the same zone and can help me better. Ok, I accept that.

Most of the time I simply lurk and read. The only reason to post now, in this thread, is to make this one suggestion, even if some people may think it is a bad one:

What if the members were given an icon next to their avatar or their name, where moderators, or other (specific) people in the forum could either vote up or down based on what the person has contributed and the value of the content, so that new people would clearly see that this person's advice should be take with some weight, versus not? Or any type of variation of this similar to number of successful transations on ebay, of +/- votes in other forums?

Again, I am happy to be a member, and I am happy to have such a number of valuable resources available to me. All of the members that have been growing and training Bonsai for tens of years that offer free and great advice make this forum what it is. It is just a suggestion to attempt to streamline the do and dont's or do at your own risk advices.

My 2 pennies worth...

Onward and forward and to the moderators - thank you!!

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  coh on Fri Apr 06, 2012 3:03 pm

fiona wrote:Think of this: I am suggesting in my example that we split Bonsai Questions into two sub-forums. If we do that, then unless we name the sub-forums carefully, someone has to go through the existing threads and allocate them to a new sub-forum. Otherwise we lose them. Only moderators can move topics so that makes for a heavy workload for someone. It gets even more hazardous if you take the very traffic heavy Bonsai forum.
Can it be done in phases? In other words, if you decide to implement 2 new sub forums under "Bonsai", can you then create a temporary third subforum, "Archive" or whatever name you want. In that forum, you just leave all the current threads (or move all of the current threads at once - does the forum software allow that to be easily done?) that are under "bonsai" - allow users to still add posts but not new threads. Then all new threads go into the 2 newly created forums. If it doesn't work...then it might be much easier to go back to the old format by just moving the new threads back to the "archive" forum with all the old stuff. If it does work, then the "archive" threads can be moved later.

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  Poink88 on Fri Apr 06, 2012 3:06 pm

Voting/Rating is good (and a great idea) if people are objective. Problem is pack mentality...once a group singled you out, you are out of luck.

Another problem is having a person who shares 100s of mixed great and so so ideas vs one who shared one great idea...who will get a better rating? As the member matures in the hobby/art...how will his rating during that journey affect his current status? Just looking at the possible down side but as I said, a great idea, just need to be thought of more before (if ever) implemented.

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  Poink88 on Fri Apr 06, 2012 3:09 pm

coh wrote:
fiona wrote:Think of this: I am suggesting in my example that we split Bonsai Questions into two sub-forums. If we do that, then unless we name the sub-forums carefully, someone has to go through the existing threads and allocate them to a new sub-forum. Otherwise we lose them. Only moderators can move topics so that makes for a heavy workload for someone. It gets even more hazardous if you take the very traffic heavy Bonsai forum.
Can it be done in phases? In other words, if you decide to implement 2 new sub forums under "Bonsai", can you then create a temporary third subforum, "Archive" or whatever name you want. In that forum, you just leave all the current threads (or move all of the current threads at once - does the forum software allow that to be easily done?) that are under "bonsai" - allow users to still add posts but not new threads. Then all new threads go into the 2 newly created forums. If it doesn't work...then it might be much easier to go back to the old format by just moving the new threads back to the "archive" forum with all the old stuff. If it does work, then the "archive" threads can be moved later.
Or can you recruit temporary helpers to help you sort them out then let them go once the project is completed?

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  Orion on Fri Apr 06, 2012 3:17 pm

First I want to say thank you to the moderators who are doing an outstanding job in dealing with tons of information, suggestions, gripes, etc. on a daily basis; you guys keep the ship running well.

I'm sure that whatever transpires from the plethora of suggestions will work, and in the end we'll get used to it. My hope, at least, is to see the "Bonsai" forum become more catagorized even as simple as "Deciduous", "Conifer", and "Tropical"; at least not as many posts will be lost in the daily deluge.

Much has been said regarding the input and participation of the more experienced members, yet many are still silent. Personally, I don't think there's much anyone can or should do to encourage their input; if they haven't been doing it by now chances are a restuctured format will not change that. Maybe at one time they did, but maybe at that time the pool of membership was far smaller and possessed, generally, more skill and knowledge and redundancy wasn't an issue nor as many "sticks-in-pots". Sometimes too, success breeds hubris.

I teach History at a university and I learned very quickly that it's quite a culture shock to go from instructing a seminar for History majors to a History 101 course with over 30 Freshmen and Sophmores. More times than I can possibly count I answer the same questions again and again and again; that just goes with the job. The "experts" here have no participatory or instructional obligation. My only hope is that they will think back and remember the time when they were the doe-eyed novices asking the same juvenille questions, lacking in skills and tugging on the tails of their idols in their attempt to make themselves better at this craft. For those members of bonsai skill and fame who do exhibit the patience to teach the Barbarians at the gates, my hat goes off to you; your knowledge is invaluable and thanked.

John

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  fiona on Fri Apr 06, 2012 3:26 pm

I think the phased idea has significant merit and I have mentioned it over on the Moderators' board as a possible direction to take.


I'm never attracted to a "Rating" system for the reasons already suggested. The eBay comparison falls down because there is a much more tangible "measure" against which to give feedback - a seller either did or didn't provide good service, and a buyer either did or didn't follow the procedures for buying etc. One thing I've seen on another forum is use of the avatar area to provide more info along the lines of stuff I'm suggesting for the Introductions new forum. I'm not really interested in how old someone is, but I would be interested in what type of trees you prefer, how many you have etc. It's not foolproof as someone may have 100 rubbish trees and someone else has only three but they're all Noelanders Trophy winners and so on. I'll have a look and see if we can incorporate more meaningful info in the avatar section.

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  Billy M. Rhodes on Fri Apr 06, 2012 3:34 pm

Also concerning the E Bay system, don't dare try to give a negative rating to a seller. Remember E Bay's customers are the sellers, not the buyers.

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  fiona on Fri Apr 06, 2012 3:35 pm

Orion wrote:Much has been said regarding the input and participation of the more experienced members, yet many are still silent. Personally, I don't think there's much anyone can or should do to encourage their input; if they haven't been doing it by now chances are a restuctured format will not change that. Maybe at one time they did, but maybe at that time the pool of membership was far smaller and possessed, generally, more skill and knowledge and redundancy wasn't an issue nor as many "sticks-in-pots". Sometimes too, success breeds hubris.

I teach History at a university and I learned very quickly that it's quite a culture shock to go from instructing a seminar for History majors to a History 101 course with over 30 Freshmen and Sophmores. More times than I can possibly count I answer the same questions again and again and again; that just goes with the job. The "experts" here have no participatory or instructional obligation. My only hope is that they will think back and remember the time when they were the doe-eyed novices asking the same juvenille questions, lacking in skills and tugging on the tails of their idols in their attempt to make themselves better at this craft. For those members of bonsai skill and fame who do exhibit the patience to teach the Barbarians at the gates, my hat goes off to you; your knowledge is invaluable and thanked.

John
Thanks John. That pretty much sums it up. I too teach, and maybe I am just a bit more altruistic (or even naiive?) and have little time for the "I give all that advice/teaching and get nothing back" gripe that comes across. I also have some sympathy for beginners with sticks in pots who don't know that this is what they have. If I encounter a student who writes a poorly constructed sentence, it is my job as an English & Communications lecturer to teach them how to do a better one, not decry their uselessness. I have always gone on the basis that if my students don't come out at the end of the year knowing more than they went in with then I have failed. And if they do, then surely just surely that is what I "get back from it". And if along the way I inspire them to take my subject and go do something with it in their life, then that is payback big time.

Anyone got a hanky - I'm gettin' maudlin here?

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  fiona on Fri Apr 06, 2012 3:38 pm

Billy M. Rhodes wrote:Also concerning the E Bay system, don't dare try to give a negative rating to a seller. Remember E Bay's customers are the sellers, not the buyers.
Haha. Actually, the thing that gets me about eBay is if you take out a case against a buyer who has not paid or in some way has defaulted on the purchase, you cannot then give them a negative rating. I know this from hard experience. Anyway, all this is an aside, except for the fact that such ratings systems always involve "appeals" and I for one have no intention of spending my life refereeing ratings appeals on IBC. Very Happy Mad

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  Rob Kempinski on Fri Apr 06, 2012 3:47 pm

The more you split the boards into subboards the harder it is to track. I'm a busy person and I usually click on the bonsai forum only and that's it. (I had to get pointed to this thread by Fiona's post about it on the bonsai forum). If you make more forums it gets too hard for busy people to check regularly. I like the simple flat structure now - there are plenty of other means to identify people and galleries such as Facebook and blogs. If someone posts a twig in a pot - big deal it either gets a comment or two or quickly supplanted by the more recent postings.
Remember the KISS principle.

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  Oliver Muscio on Fri Apr 06, 2012 4:22 pm

As with Denis (Javaliman), I usually check the "New since last visit" posts for topics that interest me, rather than going through each forum individually. As a consequence, I don't think it will really make a big difference to me how we divide things up into subforums, but have no objection. I do like the idea of an "Introduce Myself" personal forum.
Oliver

(And thanks to all the Moderators, including especially Jim. Although I have never been a heavy contributor and lurked a lot, like Jim I go back to the era when IBC was a mail-group, and I know he has been a stalwart supporter of IBC the whole time.)

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  lordy on Fri Apr 06, 2012 8:46 pm

JimLewis wrote:
Oh for goodness sake man! Fiona has embraced this idea, as have others. ...CLEARLY. Do you like just being antagonistic about everything; or is there a slim chance you might just agree with someone about something about anything??

Apologies to Fiona for a thankless job. I'll keep further "discussion" on this for the Monderator's board, so the nitwits won't get angry at me (again).
This kind of tone keeps me silent more often than not. Why would I try to answer someone's question in a thread when I should expect to get hit over the head? No thanks. Egos get in the way too much on forums. I recall one particularly well-known bonsai practitioner depart from the topic and berate someone for how he photographed the subject of the thread.
People who come to these internet sites are here to get information, and see other examples of their interest. If they knew it all they wouldnt need to come here for info. The result is that the know-it-alls, not particularly adept at diplomacy, assume the questioner knows what the expert answerer does. Then begin the fireworks, and you have a newer member who gets insulted. Right or wrong, most people dont like that, and go silent and lurk. The experts dont like answering the same beginner questions so they leave too. Not sure what the answer is, but it sure starts with some tact from the heavy users of the site.

I'll go put my fireproof suit on now, I'm sure it's coming. And Fiona, and other mods, thank you.

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  John Quinn on Fri Apr 06, 2012 10:30 pm

"What if the members were given an icon next to their avatar or their name, where moderators, or other (specific) people in the forum could either vote up or down based on what the person has contributed and the value of the content, so that new people would clearly see that this person's advice should be take with some weight, versus not? Or any type of variation of this similar to number of successful transations on ebay, of +/- votes in other forums?"

There was a system in place in a now defunct bonsai forum whereby anyone could 'rate' another's post...it ended up being seriously misused to the point of individuals repeatedly rating their own posts using multiple screen names. I don't know if a system could limit such ratings to certain individuals.

Fiona has devoted an inordinate amount of time to this pursuit in recent days and is to be commended, as many already have. As Rob K pointed out, life goes on, and many folks, moderators and administrator included, have busy lives and sometimes just keeping up with routine posts becomes difficult. I am sure there will be some changes made in response to user input, but the KISS principle should be kept in mind.

We do appreciate everyone's feedback! Cool

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  fiona on Fri Apr 06, 2012 10:59 pm

To be honest, the more I assimilate what people are saying, the more convinced I am that any changes need to be as simple as possible - easy for the members to follow (multiple forum boards make that very difficult) and easy for us poor moderators to administer. That's the tack I am taking.

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  Ingvar Nilsson on Sat Apr 07, 2012 12:02 am

I think that some sort of "knowledge base" where a library of informative threads could be collected could be useful. I also think that the "bonsai"-forum should be about finished and almost finished trees. No change to the questions-forum is needed. Of topic should get it's own place and for all other discussion, show and tell, progressions, "here's my stick-in-a-pot"-threads and travelreports (shows, digs, shopping...) can be in "general discussion".
Simple changes.
Upgrading "general" to the no 1 forum and saving the collectives greatest threads in a "best of". That's all.
(again, typing on my phone and english is not my first language)

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  fiona on Sat Apr 07, 2012 12:15 am

Ingvar Nilsson wrote:I think that some sort of "knowledge base" where a library of informative threads could be collected could be useful. I also think that the "bonsai"-forum should be about finished and almost finished trees. No change to the questions-forum is needed. Of topic should get it's own place and for all other discussion, show and tell, progressions, "here's my stick-in-a-pot"-threads and travelreports (shows, digs, shopping...) can be in "general discussion".
Simple changes.
Upgrading "general" to the no 1 forum and saving the collectives greatest threads in a "best of".
Ingvar, you are pretty much reading my thoughts here. Very Happy ThumbsUp

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  JPhillips on Sat Apr 07, 2012 6:56 am

Hi all,
I am one of those "stick in pot" people, a newbie if you will. I have only been actively pursuing bonsai for the past two years and honestly don't have much to show it aside from a ton of books and some trees that I have collected from here in Nebraska which, as you can imagine, doesn't have the best opportunities for collecting or buying decent material.
Im 20 and I am so in love with this art that I take any source of information or advice that I can, however, books are expensive and the local club I belong to only meets once a month. Thus, this forum has become a life-line for me. I check it almost daily and post much much much less frequently(or when I feel I have something possibly relevant to say which isn't often).
The opportunity to see people's work from all over the world and them to someday see mine is not one that I take lightly and I will try to retain the quality of the bonsai presented on this forum by doing my best not to clog up up the forum with threads on twigs with no potential. I could see that getting old pretty quick!
I guess what I'm trying to say is "Thank You So Incredibly Much!" to all of the moderators and members who share their hard work with hooligans like me, and I hope to be considered a valuable member of the international internet bonsai community in the future.
Thanks once more for good measure,
Jake Phillips

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  JMcCoy on Sat Apr 07, 2012 7:02 am

I agree with Rob and others that the simple approach is the best. Subdividing everything makes it easy to miss some great threads, as most of us are creatures of habit and usually only check a few forums regularly (I know I do). One thought - is it possible to enable a drop-down list of topics next to the title of the thread when entering it? This way, we wouldn't need a different forum category for techniques, show your trees, conifer, deciduous, etc., but rather just have a sub-title which would tell more about what the thread contains. It may make searching for a topic easier as well.

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  stavros on Sat Apr 07, 2012 12:27 pm

taking the opportunity from another thread, another discussion going on (http://ibonsaiclub.forumotion.com/t9691-ready-for-orscholz-german-federal-exhibition).......

A member shows picture of his/her trees and some members give suggestions on the design. The member posting the tree's pictures might just want to show the tree/skills OR want critique/ideas. Would it be possible to have a category just to show our trees and have the critique/suggestions/ideas in another category? I am just suggestion this because some people might get offended if someone makes a suggestion and for them it would be easier to post at the "show your trees-no critique".......

Personally i feel that there is room for improvement for almost every tree and suggestions should be welcome but some folk might feel uncomfortable with this, as possibly with the thread mentioned above (no offence).


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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  Ingvar Nilsson on Sat Apr 07, 2012 4:40 pm

stavros wrote:taking the opportunity from another thread, another discussion going on (http://ibonsaiclub.forumotion.com/t9691-ready-for-orscholz-german-federal-exhibition).......

A member shows picture of his/her trees and some members give suggestions on the design. The member posting the tree's pictures might just want to show the tree/skills OR want critique/ideas. Would it be possible to have a category just to show our trees and have the critique/suggestions/ideas in another category? I am just suggestion this because some people might get offended if someone makes a suggestion and for them it would be easier to post at the "show your trees-no critique".......

Personally i feel that there is room for improvement for almost every tree and suggestions should be welcome but some folk might feel uncomfortable with this, as possibly with the thread mentioned above (no offence).


Stavros, I don't think thats necessary. If a poster gets offended that easily he/she shouldn't have posted here in the first place. I think this particular thread arguement was more about how a tree should be styled. I rarely see the reason to make a "virt" if all youre doing is edit out all trunk down to the last few cm and paste a green smurf-hat on top but that's just me. I guess someone with a lot of time to waste can entertain themselves with such things.

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  fiona on Sat Apr 07, 2012 4:56 pm

Thanks for taking the time to post your suggestions, Stavros and we will of course take it into account. I can see how some posters might be put off by people giving unsolicited suggestions for improvements. My own personal thought is that the original poster could easily make a comment on his/her post stating if they want or don't want critiques/suggestions. I have usually asked for comments on my own threads and have been given some good suggestions - some of which I have ignored and some which I have taken on board. If comments are given as positive criticism then they should not offend.

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  marcus watts on Sun Apr 08, 2012 2:29 pm

linked to the aforementioned German thread you will find the Gallery feature will let artists show their work, trees and ability without recieving critique. This will allow the sensitive souls to put up pictures and not recieve potential improvements. I know basically every tree posted on the boards can be better in some way and it is part of posting our work here to not only show where we are as bonsai artists but to make use of the wealth of experience from around the world that pops in for a look. I am greatly amused by the members who dont put their trees up though, it makes you wonder if some can dish out critique but not take it in return, or dont have a tree as good as the ones they criticise maybe???

Basically this forum is excelent, has a very positive group of active members and on the whole has many helpful individuals - there are a few prima donnas of course - usually 'old school', usually financially connected to the hobby in one way or another, and always only interested in their own threads, events or their customers. Luckily this is in the minority here and you only need to be a member a few months to work out who is helpfull to all comers and who is in a little clique..............

I think the personal section is an excelent proposal - 2 sections - who we are and hi, and personal tree gallery - one thread per person, pictures only etc - if someone sees a tree they are interested in in someones gallery pm them with questions - or start a thread in questions linking to the gallery picture.

I think a section for proven / advanced methods & techniques will save a wealth of excelent advice from being lost and buried by other posts. If a thread from another section turns into a gem it can be moved in after it develops.

It doesnt make any difference if sticks in pots, stumps and 'bonsa' in proper pots all stay together in one section as they all will benefit from similar work and the gallery will be the place for just looking at peoples 'finished' or developing works anyway.

and if human nature means some knowledgable users go elseware we'll have to fill the gaps with new blood.

Personally i think a for sale section would be good too..................or allow prices on trees in galleries and leave it to pm

cheers marcus

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  fiona on Sun Apr 08, 2012 2:41 pm

Thanks, Marcus. We're nearly there with things and I will be putting a more formal proposal to the other Moderators tonight. What we have to remember is that any changes bring work for someone - principally Kev as only he can actually make the bulk of the changes. The suggestions made by Chris (coh) to do things incrementally is most likely to be how we will do any changes. The system is also a limiting factor and some of the good suggestions people have made may in fact just not be do-able at all.

We're also working on a much improved Search facility which in itself will be a big help.

Onwards and hopefully upwards, with thanks again to all who have contributed.


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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  will baddeley on Sun Apr 08, 2012 2:52 pm

Other threads and forums have been discussed before but to no avail. I suggested a specialist techniques section well over a year ago but some mods thought it would be better to have a recomended book section. I think a page per member to show progressions or gallery, is an excellent idea though.

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

Post  fiona on Mon Apr 09, 2012 12:25 am

The witching hour has come and gone and I have now put a proposal to the other Moderators as to some changes. we'll be making a decision on Tuesday as to what we'll go with and set a timescale for implementing them - possibly on a phased basis. I'll put up a post with the exact details of what is going to happen once we have a consensus.

Thanks for all the great suggestions that have come in - they are much appreciated. Watch this space for the decisions, but in the meantime can I draw your attention to the Home page. Just below the Welcome message you should see a Google Search box. This is a google site search facility and is something that John Q suggested and Kev has now experimented with. It seems to give a significantly better search that the in-built system search does. A couple of people have tried it and given good reports back on it. Give it a go and let us know your thoughts. NB the first couple of results you get will probably be references to external things. These are generated by the site sponsored google ads. I've only ever got a couple on any search and just skip past them. don't let them put you off.

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Re: Request for A Beginnner's Board

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