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 From:  sk2k
833.1 
Hi,

i do not want to step on Michaels toes :) but i think the MOI website still needs a better forum software. The current one looks like salad to me, tutorials there, videos here, pictures there, etc. It's not easy for newbies to find particular informations. A better organization of the posting is really needed. The forum needs adequate sections like tutorials, help, bugs, gallery, etc.

This are my thoughts. What do you think?

MfG
sk2k
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 From:  Michael Gibson
833.2 In reply to 833.1 
Hi Tony, I definitely agree that there needs to be better organization, particularly some links to FAQs like tutorials. But I probably won't really concentrate on this until after V1 is wrapped up.

I don't think that it will require entirely new software though, there are several things I can do using the current software - add multiple folders instead of just "General", put some sticky posts up (always shown at the top of the list), and also add more information and links to the start page, the one that right now just says "Welcome to the Moi discussion forum".

It will just take a bit of planning and organization. But I think that the full documentation will have an impact on this (especially for tutorials), so I would rather get that finished up first before really doing any kind of web site overhaul.

- Michael
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 From:  Mike (MIKESCHN)
833.3 
Why not put up a copy of phpBB. It's easy enough, every one is familar with the interface, and it doesn't cost anything...

Mike...
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 From:  Michael Gibson
833.4 In reply to 833.3 
Hi Mike, there are a couple of reasons. The biggest one is since phpBB is so popular it is a frequent target for automated attacks by spammers, I'd rather not have to deal with that if possible.

Also I'm not really a fan of the whole "single page" type layout. With phpBB the list of topics and the discussion thread itself are on their own individual pages. That means you have to navigate back and forth quite a bit.

That's rather annoying, it is nice to have the list of topics in its own frame on the left so that it is always available to browse through and click on any particular topic without navigating back and forth.

- Michael
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 From:  JDonner
833.5 In reply to 833.4 
You shouldn't allow your personal preference to guide you which forum software to use. It's quite obvious when you visit tons of forums that millions of people are quite happy without having a list of topics on one side.

"The biggest one is since phpBB is so popular it is a frequent target for automated attacks by spammers"

I don't think you have informed yourself all that well. PHPBB might be a frequent target, but that doesn't mean that it suffers from these attacks with the latest updates. And no, I'm not running PHPBB on my two sites, so that's not the reason why I'm saying this. I use SMF and I"m very satisfied with it, no problems with spammers ot hackers whatsoever.

And if you really want to use a topic column on the side, then make one. In SMF this is not even difficult to do, because of built in extensions/modules that are easy to use.

What you now have is out of date, difficult to use and most important not very helpful, since things are not well organized. This is something that shouldn't be fixed after you release the product, you should have done this from the start. Now you're stuck with tons of old posts that are probably difficult to convert once you decide to use other board software. So basically you will continue to struggle with this forum.

Don't underestimate the importance of a good forum, because that's what I'm sensing right now. Get rid of this, excuse me for saying this, junk and get yourself something that is more useful for your future customers, they will appreciate that a lot, trust me on that one.
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 From:  Michael Gibson
833.6 In reply to 833.5 
Hi JDonner, thanks for your feedback.

Certainly tastes vary, and I'm sorry that it feels like junk to you. I have had other feedback with positive comments regarding the forum as well. I have noticed that negative feedback has often come from other people who run their own forums.

The current forum here is rather spartan and utilitarian, which makes simple operations like signing up or posting a message really easy to use, there just isn't much other junk to get in your way for those basic actions.

So I don't quite understand why you consider it difficult to use. Is there anything in particular that you can pinpoint?


I took a quick look at the SMF forum, and it looks nice, especially the graphic design is very pretty. But a quick glance over it didn't really reveal anything in particular to me that seemed especially easier to use than this forum. If there are any areas that you think are done particularly well with SMF, please let me know so I can check them out and I will keep that in mind when I get a chance to tune up this forum.

Don't get me wrong, I don't underestimate the value of a good forum - quite the contrary. But I believe the true value in this forum is more about the content rather than the graphic design, that's why I have put a lot of effort into answering messages here and not very much on making it look pretty yet.

- Michael
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 From:  Mike (MIKESCHN)
833.7 In reply to 833.6 
Michael,

I give you a lot of credit for adding lots of valuable content to your forum. I know how time consuming that can be... Sneak a peak here if you want to see what I have to keep adding content to... http://www.mikenchell.com/forums

My only argument against your forum is that it's too hard to browse. If I know what I am looking for I can search, but with all the new words and new methods, I'm not really sure what I am looking for.

But your content is wonderful! :-)

Mike...

P.S. Take a look at this MOI shot I just added...
http://www.mikenchell.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=244598#244598
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 From:  Michael Gibson
833.8 In reply to 833.7 
Hi Mike, right now you kind of have to try and use the forum as a replacement for the non-existent documentation.

Once there is some actual regular documentation available, that should help out a lot, you'll be able to take a look at that first to get an overview of each command for example. That will also help out as an intro to stuff like terminology.

There will be several things that I will do after V1 is finished to tune things up here in the forum as well. A few simple organizational things like a FAQ, a list of links to frequently referred to posts, and a couple of additional folder categories would make some good progress.


> P.S. Take a look at this MOI shot I just added...

Cool!

- Michael
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 From:  WillBellJr
833.9 
I wouldn't quite say the forum is junk either - I had also suggested that Michael use VBulletin (which I own a license) or perhaps PHPBB (I've been recently playing with an install of v3 RC4 and I'm loving it!)

I could appreciate his wishes to keep the forums simple. However only time will tell how this forum holds up over time especially when MOI is released and folks sign up in droves.

My only argument would be that millions of msgboard'ers are familiar and proficient with VB and PHPBB already so (surprisingly) that does mean it will take getting used to using this board when they comes here.

My only other concern is - right now I have the board set to "Unread discussions" - what this means is for one, way down the line, say a year from now, ALL of these discussions will pretty much be gone in the wind - VAPOR!

I've tried searching for recent threads - usually dealing with tutorials or keyboard shortcut scripts and I've rarely found what I was looking for, especially easily finding it.

So my only standing argument would be that (IMO) the common format lends itself to "historical perusal" since the theads are laid out in categories and subjects. (Though I have to say I don't think I've ever seen as many categories and topics like on MIKESCHN's board!??!!)

I can appreciate the ability to have the topics on the side while viewing each post - you CAN do this with the other software when you switch to threaded mode (which is a user option) it's just in those cases, the topics are on the top while the msg body is at the bottom.

Yes a MOD or hack can probably be developed to emulate what Michael desires but that's definitely some development time for sure.

I also agree about the spam and protection; VB and PHPBB are about as secure as you're gonna get and if setup properly (using the verification images and login attempt lockouts and/or even admin approvals).

The one good thing about being attacked so often is they have to be on top of there stuff - if a hacker took a fancy to this software since it's not all that common, they may find all kinds of exploits to hammer on that hasn't come to light yet!

Using CGTalk as the standard, I definitely miss the thread tools; being able to subscribe to a thread that contains really good information for example, and other standard features (being able to see at a glance what topics I have posts in, etc.)

Yes I can save favorites here to meaty threads and I guess I should start! But that ends up clogging up my browser favorites and if I say switch to FireFox, then all of those links need to be ported over from IExplorer etc...

-Will
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 From:  Michael Gibson
833.10 In reply to 833.9 
Hi Will, it's possible that there may actually be a decrease in activity for a while with the V1 release, since MoI won't be free anymore a bit after that.

The combined factors of being freely available plus no documentation has probably made this current time about the most challenging.

Search is definitely one of the weakest areas of the forum currently.

One quick tip for now - the forum is actually indexed by Google, so I think that you will actually get a better search if you use Google instead of the current built-in forum search. Just add the directive "site:moi3d.com" as an additional keyword to your Google search and it will then only search through stuff on moi3d.com including the forum.

- Michael
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 From:  Mike (MIKESCHN)
833.11 In reply to 833.10 
If I may offer a suggestion... Offer two levels of MoI once you release it. A free, or nearly free version... ($29?) Which doesn't have any export functionality, and the regular version at the regular price ($200?) which has export.

I know the users on my forum balk at spending a lot of money for a modeling or a CAD program. A lot of users use sketchup because it's free. A lot of users also use CADstd because it's only $29. That gets them in the door. The serious people then upgrade, either to a full blown version of the product, or a full blown version of someone elses product.

Liberty Basic does the same thing.

That way you won't lose all those people when the beta expires. The economy is tough right now, and people are hanging onto their money (at least here in Michigan) But your interface has the opportunity to win a lot of people over... see this comment from my forum...

Mike, what software are you using for designing the ET? How hard is it to use (for a newbie)? It looks like it has a good graphical user interface, and I'm a visual learner.
_________________
Steve B.


Anyways, I like MoI. One can become really prolific using your package. The simple interface translates into speed. You need to be well rewarded for your achievement.

Mike...

P.S. I can offer suggestions for version 2.0, if you are interested, from a Unigraphics or Turbocad perspective. Let me know. And if there is anything else I can do, let me know.

P.P.S.WillBellJr. LOL!!!
So my only standing argument would be that (IMO) the common format lends itself to "historical perusal" since the theads are laid out in categories and subjects. (Though I have to say I don't think I've ever seen as many categories and topics like on MIKESCHN's board!??!!)

EDITED: 23 Aug 2007 by MIKESCHN

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 From:  WillBellJr
833.12 In reply to 833.11 
Actually in fairness Mike, I believe CGTalk.com >may< have as many topics as your board but I have the ones I don't read often collapsed so they aren't all displayed like your board. :-)

I have discovered the source of this forum and I see there are many more features that aren't being used here yet. I guess it would boil down to how easily it is to skin these forums - docs on modifying PHPBB and VBulletin are entrenched in human history; tracable back to scrolls found in Egyptian pyramids! ;-)

Again, I feel this is a better venue compared to a regular blogs since it makes it easier for people to reply OR sign up and contribute - blogs which typically only allow responses to your original posts can sometimes lead to sparse conversations or responses...

-Will
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 From:  Michael Gibson
833.13 In reply to 833.11 
Hi Mike, thanks for the suggestions! I have thought a little bit about doing what you describe there - have a free version that saves to a proprietary file format and has no export capability, and then have the regular version that can save to other formats.

There is some business risk in this approach, because for example with a corporate office where there might potentially be many customers, it really makes sense for them to have most people using the free version and only have one or a small number of the full version. When someone needs to export, they would just send the model to the one guy who has the full version. This is commonly done for SketchUp, and that's fine - it makes sense if there is a free version to make use of it like this.

Google is able to tolerate a loss of business revenue in this way since they don't really care very much about making money off of SketchUp.

I have actually already made a big effort to keep the price very low - at $195 the price is already severely reduced from the typical cost of Industrial Design software.

Ultimately I am just more focused on customers who will use MoI to solve some kind of problems in doing their design or art work.

But I will have a demo version so that people will be able to try it out first.


> P.S. I can offer suggestions for version 2.0, if you are interested, from
> a Unigraphics or Turbocad perspective. Let me know.

Definitely! Once 1.0 is fully wrapped up I will be focusing in on a bunch of new stuff, there will be a new beta at that point open to 1.0 customers and I'll be taking feedback and suggestions for it just like I did for version 1.0 .

- Michael
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 From:  Mike (MIKESCHN)
833.14 In reply to 833.12 
Will,

CGtalk has me beat by a long shot.

My forum is a very niche forum, and I'm amazed that the catagories all have activity.

But CGtalk has a much bigger audience, and can easily support all those categories!

Mike...
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 From:  tyglik
833.15 
Hi,

I am still convinced that McNeel's approach to sharing information among users is one of the best. It is based on a simple text forum with possibility of loading an attachement and this is the primary place for sharing anything - troubles, wishes, links, scripts, good or bad news... and in addition to this forum, there are the Wiki pages to save valuable information well-arranged for reference.
Morever, users can particiate without forum membership. I guess this is very important in case the novice has a troubles to use her/his new software and needs prompt reply (registration is very easy into the MoI forum, though).
The Rhino user community itself seems to behave like a huge search engine - there is always someone who can satisfy your need to find whatever you are looking for.

Petr
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 From:  Boatbear (CS)
833.16 In reply to 833.15 
My two cents worth on the forum. I do find the forum a bit difficult to navigate and find that having to download attachments to view examples quite off-putting (even when the pics are stunning).
One of the other forums I frequent is the Wooden Boat Forum (WBF) http://www.woodenboatvb.com/vbulletin/upload/index.php , which uses Vbulletin. It is divided into 6 sensible categories, and even includes a sort of social category, “the Bilge”, where anything can be discussed, within reason.
Images must be posted elsewhere (Picturetrail, Flickr, or the like) with links added within posts so that the image is right there on the screen without clogging up your server. The interface is intuitive; particular threads can be followed easily, and use is made of ‘sticky’ topics, as required. If a thread has a new post, its heading is printed in bold so it is easy to see where you’ve been.
New members are welcomed by experienced members and questions are answered by members, rather than by moderators – could save you a heap of time, Michael. I know that happens here to a small extent.
Obviously, the wooden boat community is quite different from a community involved with a new software package, but there are similarities too. Check it out when you get the chance. I love MoI, by the way.
Best regards
Charlie
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 From:  Zafar Iqbal (R4PTOR)
833.17 
Hello,

Sorry to bump an old thread, but I didn't want to create a new one with the same subject.

I'd like to add my 2cents regarding the forum. I say it really needs to be changed - preferably to a forum system that already exists such as vBulletin or phpBB. Security will always be an issue with popular software, but it would be worth it.

I registered some years ago, but didn't get too much into MoI. I can't remember the exact reason, but my guess would be that I wasn't ready for CAD at the time. I'd also go as far to say that the forum as it was and still is, only made it easier for me to ignore MoI. I'm much more interested in MoI these days, and have been doodling with the trial for a couple of days. I have tons of questions, and normally head for forums to find or ask for answers - the threads here are just one long list which I can either go though, or do searches. Going over the threads will be very time consuming and searching is difficult when I'm so new to CAD/MoI. It's also much more difficult to stumble upon threads with info that you weren't looking for, but proves to be helpful.

Michael, don't take this the wrong way or think I'm an arrogant prick, but this forum is completely backwards. I find it to be more frustrating than helpful, and think about how many others may have thought the same and never gave MoI a chance. The info around the web is limited and that makes it that more important to have a good forum, where the community can gather and share information, WIP's and whatnot.
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 From:  Michael Gibson
833.18 In reply to 833.17 
Hi Zafar, I guess I don't understand what specifically you think would be better with a different forum system...

You mention that you don't want to go through a lot of threads.... What would you suggest that I do about that, delete old threads or something like that?

Even if I had another kind of forum system (which I'm not planning on since the other style forums that you mention tend to be more clumsy than this one since you are forced to do a lot of back and forth navigation all the time), there would also be a lot of threads in that one as well.


There have been very few problems or negative comments about the forum for quite a long time now, even people who are complete computer novices have been able to figure out how to use it which is a good sign!

Of course everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I'm glad that you have shared yours but my own opinion is the opposite and everything I have seen for quite a while now indicates that the forum is working quite well.


If you could give some more specific feedback about what you don't like about the forum, that would probably be more helpful.

- Michael
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 From:  Michael Gibson
833.19 In reply to 833.17 
Hi Zafar, do you perhaps mean that you'd like to have the forum segmented into a bunch of different categories?

The part that I don't like about that is that frequently people will post stuff in the wrong category and that then brings a bunch of "administration overhead" to the whole discussion, with posts about "you didn't post in the right place", etc...

If there's just one category then that issue is completely eliminated.


It's actually possible to have multiple folders with the forum that I use now, but I have intentionally avoided doing that kind of fragmentation.


Also I'm not really sure what kind of categories that I would create that would not end up with the vast majority just in one general area.

That's something that I see quite frequently with other forums that are split up into a whole bunch of sub categories - often times all the action just happens in one "misc" or "general discussion" category and the sub-categories just languish with nothing much happening in them. Occasionally moderators try to force people to post to the proper sub group and then that creates that kind of additional "meta discussion" (as is happening now, a discussion about how to have a discussion) that is nice to not have at all.

Although possibly in the future I may attempt to have a separate "WIP" category, that's something I've considered.

- Michael
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 From:  Michael Gibson
833.20 In reply to 833.17 
Hi Zafar, just one more note - at the time of the previous comments in this thread the forum was in a somewhat different and even more stripped down state, I made a pass through and upgraded various parts of it (the styling, image attachments mechanism, some various other stuff) after v1 was released.

- Michael
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