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Discussion in 'Forum Announcements and Feedback' started by Daniel Mosquin, Feb 1, 2010.
I can't find "Plants:Expert Identification". Can you give me directions?
People who require plant identifications have three options, depending on how much she / he has posted and her / his location:
1) If she / he is a gardener / plant enthusiast from the Pacific Northwest of North America, then that set of forums is available to her / him no matter how many posts she / he has. Anyone registered can reply.
2) If not from PNW and he / she has < 100 posts, then the General Gardening Q&A is available to him / her. Anyone registered can reply.
3) If not from PNW and he / she has 100+ posts*, then Expert Plant ID becomes visible and available. The presumption is that someone who has 100+ posts will have had already made a solid attempt at researching what the plant might be and use the forum to present their reasoning and doubts to others for verification. There needed to be a place for threads like: Inula or Doronicum? (though it's not in that section, which is why anyone reading this can see it as an example). Only those with 100+ posts* can start a new thread or post a reply.
* because of the changes in user levels see posting from February 9, some already-registered users in the 40-100 posting range have access as well
(and I know it's overly complicated, but it is what we have to work with for the time being)
How do you know the poster is from the PNW?
Well, I suppose there is a reasonable expectation that people will self-identify. So many questions are location-based that it'd be difficult to cover up forever.
If I suspect something is askew, though, there's always this: GeoIP lookup, a tool I generally use to identify potential spammers before they start spamming.
Are visible and available two different things? Could that forum be visible, but people get an indicator that says "You may not post" in this thread or forum? In the posting rules box, it looks like those rules apply to everything, but it already seems that there are different rules for different forums. I suppose it wards off a ton of questions along the lines of "why can't I post here?" to not have it visible, but you'd think people would like to be able to at least read the postings. The forum description could have the explanation about who can post.
What about just general information on plants????
Hi CP, I think this may answer that:
Well, probably the most unfortunate part is that there isn't really a great place for those with > 100 posts* to post questions -- unless they are from the PNW, or on a science / biodiversity topic, or about maples. * (and note that I changed it from 30 to 100 with the forum restructuring)
So, with the restructuring as it presently stands, the forums become a niche site for those from UBC BG's regional area, for those interested in maples (thanks to connections with the Maple Society), and for those interested in science and biodiversity.
For those who are going to register for the forums and post anyway even if those areas above aren't their specific interests (and there will always be those), there is an area for them too.
I will forward your comments along.
For general reference, here are some facts & figures:
Google Trends of web traffic on botanicalgarden.ubc.ca, nybg.org, kew.org and mobot.org - you'll note that for quite some time, the UBC site has had the highest traffic. When noting this in presentations, I always pointed out it was due to the community that we welcomed (because there isn't a lot of UBC BG-generated content on the site, other than Botany Photo of the Day).
But, here are some budget numbers:
(from their 2009 annual report), Kew has 715 full-time equivalent staff members, incoming resources of 83.9 million USD, expenditures of 72.9 million USD, and reserves of 188.9 million USD
(from 2008 press release on their financials), New York Botanical Garden had an operating budget of 55.1 million USD (and equivalent expenditures), and net assets of 472.5 million USD (a different figure than reserves, I recognize)
(from 2008 annual report), Missouri BG had revenue of 38.9 million USD, expenditures of 40.8 million USD, and net assets of 153 million USD (with 506 staff members, so hmm... 400 full-time equivalents??).
By comparison, UBC BG has a roughly 1.1 million USD operating budget with about 24 FTE.
(more later...have a commitment to attend to)
So, the point I was going to make was that in both a sheer numbers comparison (i.e., staff numbers 15 to 30 times higher & budgets 30 to 60 times higher at other institutions) or in a proportional comparison (for every million dollars, UBC has ~23 staff; for every million dollars, Kew and Missouri have ~10 staff), for UBC BG to take up the slack in an area (online extension) where the others are not participating in the same way is a strain on our comparative meager resources to say the least.
Earlier in the thread, there were suggestions of using a subscription-model to help offset the costs of the forums. There are at least 4 problems with the suggestion:
1) it adds an additional layer of obligation on the part of UBC to provide the service;
2) much of the knowledge on here is contributed freely by non-UBC BG people, and it would be unethical, I should think, to lock that up for the university to benefit;
3) some people wouldn't have the resources to participate, even at a nominal fee;
4) when we did discuss the idea in our meeting a few weeks ago, it was my understanding that even if the forums were providing a revenue stream, it would be invested in the physical garden where our need for funding is more critical.
When the decision is revisited in a couple month's time, if there are any changes (i.e., parts of the forum to reopen), we will have had to find another model to make it work (that is, not a subscription-model). Increasing the number of volunteer moderators might work to offset some of the tasks, but it is not as simple as some have made it out to be, given that a fair proportion of the work needs to be done by an employee (for privacy & security reasons, among others).
As is likely obvious from the first post in this thread, I don't have as much autonomy in making decisions about how the forums are managed anymore.
Noticed this morning that my post count has decreased by 2000 points!!!
Wondering if anyone else's post count is decreasing at all?
Yes, a few days ago when I put the Conversations and Tech Talk forums into the no-new-thread, no-reply Archives, I did the same as I'd done with the old Plant Trading and Sourcing Plant forums: posts in those forums no longer count toward user totals.
Advertising (beyond promoting UBC BG related matters) was dismissed rather quickly by the director as inappropriate to a university site.
Ok, some changes from the original announcement.
First of all, Feb. 23 has come and gone. Though the original intent was to close the Archives forums to any posts from Feb. 23 onwards, I'm leaving the remaining ones open to replies for the time being as there are still some ongoing discussions / questions being addressed. I would consider this a temporary reprieve, though, because I fear it may take up too much of my time.
I've also opened up those Archives forums to being viewed by unregistered members -- in other words, to be reindexed by various search engines. I need to see how this affects my workload so it may not be permanent.
Newly registered forum members now receive a private message informing them of the changes to the forums as of early Feb, so I'm hoping they'll use the open forums instead of replying to the Archives areas. Because of this, I needed to open up private messaging to newly-registered members. If you begin to receive private-messaging spam, you can use the "report this private message" feature to inform admins.
Also, re: Plants: Expert Identification. It is now visible to all, but: only contributors (100+ posts as of Feb 3, 2010 or 40+ posts before that) can start new threads. Anyone can reply, but if <100 posts after Feb 3, 2010 or <40 posts before that, the posts are put in a moderation queue.
I think it's downright unfair, and discourteous of management to decrease a member's post count when they still took time to post here, whether you're making changes or not. Those changes were not in effect back then, so it certainly shouldn't affect my count now.
Again, are there any other members who's post count has decreased by over 2000 points and counting?! It seems everytime I log on it's new number! You decreased it by over half!
It is equitable as it affects all members equally. Everyone who participated in those forums would have seen a decrease in post count. My post count went down by 50 or so.
You can justify how you like...it's not right at all!
I've got more to say...
The conversation posts were made prior to the changes being in effect, so it certainly shouldn't effect a members' current post count. It is so insensitive towards your members to do something like that. Offending and alienating members already with the shutting down of the social forums, and now you're decreasing our post counts too! Wow!
Odd too, that no other gardening forum does this to it's members, whether threads are deleted or not. No member wants to see their post count decrease and have it be different from the last time they logged on. My count hasn't been the same for months! You speak of yours decreasing by 50 points but you've taken over 2000 of mine! I know you're not done yet, either.
Funny too, how your post count did not decrease until I complained in this thread, yet mine's been going down for a very long time now. How much more of a decrease can I expect, I wonder...
Just checked. Mine's actually gone down by 400 since February 20 (see attached).
I don't appreciate your insinuations.
Maybe it has, but the rest of what I said still stands.
Actually, it wouldn't and doesn't bother me. Maybe I made an off topic post or something that didn't pertain to the thread and the post took up unnecessary web space. Some posts, found when searching a topic or plant, have a link that is no longer active and the thread has become useless.
Has your post count actually decreased, Chimera?
Perhaps since your count means so little to you, you might be willing to volunteer to have Daniel set yours back to zero...just to prove a point?
I would like to hear from members too, who have actually had their counts substantially decreased...
right on... the content of the posts are what should be significant, not the count of how many posts someone accumulates.
If this is the case, than why is their a post count at all? Maybe we should get rid of it altogether if it means so little?
Yes, it's decreased some, but I'm not really in the habit of keeping a close eye on it, what for ? Daniel is the forum moderator, fortunately for us it's his choice as to which posts are relevant in the forums to keep them in operation, and my umbilical cord was cut a long time ago.
Why do we have a post count if it's unimportant?