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Site upgrades

7459 Views 52 Replies 24 Participants Last post by  Pauls MDX
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Well folks, we will be hitting 50,000 posts any time now, which made me think that I should start planning on doing some serious work on the site. Just to update everyone on my thoughts, this is what I'm planning, in order of priority:

Updates in <b>bold</b>.

1. Move site to another server. This server has serious bandwidth issues, so I need to find another hosting company.
<b>(Company found. Testing in progress)</b>

2. Upgrade forum software.
<b>(Upgrade in testing)</b>

3. Develop a new integrated tool to assist members with group buys.

4. Posting dealer ratings should only be open to members.

5. Revisit Knowledge Base and fix some known issues.

6. Update the look & feel of the site to add more spark.

7. Investigate automating the process of allowing dealers to post ads. (thanks theWorm) <b>(Deferred)</b>

8. More intuitive links to PMs. (thanks rflagg). <b>(Done)</b>

9. Integrate with IMs, MSN Messenger, AIM, Yahoo, ICQ (thanks theWorm) <b>(Deferred)</b>

10. Revisit the home page and make it more informative. <b>(Done)</b>

11. Investigate the usage of blogs on this site. <b>(Deferred)</b>

12. Make SEARCH functionality more visible on the site. <b>(Done)</b>

<b>(Currently in beta testing)</b>

I'd like to get everyone's input on this, so if you have any ideas, speak now.

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You are right on target. These are some of the issues I thought could be done better. Looking forward for these changes.

Congratulations on maintaining this excellent site.
I think your post got truncated -- the part about paying the moderators is missing ;)

1. Speed = good.

3. Great idea!

4. Sounds fair. Should add a "date posted" to the text commentary. I think we need to allow multiple posts -- for example, I posted when I purchased, then posted again when I went for 1st service; my purchase score and commentary were auto-deleted. Ditto for follow-up visits and comments. Can always take away the capability if it gets abused. Not sure on whether to identfy the poster (publicly) as some of us may want to remain anonymous to our service depts if they happen to be lurking.

6. Spark is nice, speed is better! I kinda miss the "pic of the week" but a "thread/post of the week" (or month) might be fun. People come up with some great (or hilarious) stuff. Maybe a button in the thread/post to vote, then the mods can review @ month-end and pick "the winner" from the top 5 or so. Gets posted on the homepage.

Other ideas:
I receive occassional emails re: why commercial posts aren't allowed. I also delete a fair number of commercial posts violating the site policy (many of which are misleading or omit the "true" costl). I think in its current state, the policy should stand. But what about this: create a "dealer only MDX availability" forum. Charge the dealer a monthly fee or per-post charge ($25? $50? $100? I dunno) to post stock availability. REQUIRE detailed information re: models/colors/cost and accessory requirements in the posts. No refunds and subscription canceled if they violate the rules. Also reserve the right to suspend/terminate participation if feedback from members is negative. Could be a nice way to steer people agonizing over the wait to available cars; you make $ on the deal.

Alternately (or in addition) you might consider automating sale of the banner ads. This site has an example/explanation. Probbaly easy to code yourself, too, I bet :)
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A couple of suggestions.

1.) Group Buy Link
2.) More intutive way for users to access their PMs.

My .02 cents worth!

Oh....couple more...

One cool feature that and have (both use vbulletin) is that next to poster's names it indicates if they're online using MSN Messenger or AIM (and, if online, you can IM them). Not sure whether this is part of vbulletin's package or a hack.

Might check into who's hosting -- that seems pretty speedy to me, w/4k members, 30k threads, and 342k posts.

(edit: oops on the acura-cl hosting service...I see on their homepage they use, which filed Chapter 11 yesterday)
Shameless plug for my employer, you could move the site to for your bandwidth problem. We have plenty of excess bandwidth. We currently have 5 OC-12's (622mbs each), currently they run around 12 to 15 % utilized. I am one of the Network Engineer's and bandwidth is not a problem. We can do whatever you need, dedicated server, high Availibility load balancing, firewall, whatever you need. Take a look!

Greg in Atlanta :)
By the way, this is a great site and the one I visit more than any other.

Two suggestions:
1. If possible, stay away from pop-up ads (major annoyance)
2. For new members (and experienced ones also?), post a "suggested reading" or "helpful hints" section or link that gives helpful tips on the site (how to post pics, how to PM, use guidelines, etc.) including a prominent notice about using Search feature (I have noticed lately many threads being opened when existing threads contain lengthy discussions on a topic).
I think that in general, once the forums become of certain size they should be used as search engines for new users. I will seriously take that into consideration.

Updated my list.


A2MDXer said:
By the way, this is a great site and the one I visit more than any other.

Two suggestions:
1. If possible, stay away from pop-up ads (major annoyance)
2. For new members (and experienced ones also?), post a "suggested reading" or "helpful hints" section or link that gives helpful tips on the site (how to post pics, how to PM, use guidelines, etc.) including a prominent notice about using Search feature (I have noticed lately many threads being opened when existing threads contain lengthy discussions on a topic).
I totally agree with A2MDXer's comments. This is already a great site, but the changes offered by the tried-and-true members can make it even better.

Go, admin!
Ditto, ditto ... ditto & ditto ...

... but what the heck is a blog?
Blog is short for Weblog. Here is a good explanation of what it is:

Mega dittoes to A2MDXer

I totally agree with your comments. I'm about ready to quit going to the several forums I visit regularly on YahooGroups because of the irritating inline and popup ads. I know you need to generate revenues to support the service, but if it runs people away, it doesn't do that. Banner ads are fine.

I recently realized why so many of us started new threads on old subjects. Most newcomers don't notice that the default options for displaying the threads in a forum includes only the last 30 days. When we don't see what we want, we post a new thread. Now that I know about Search, I know to look back further (although sometimes the info needs to be updated in a new thread anyway). When you provide more info on searching, be sure to point out the options for sorting and selecting the display of threads, also.

BTW, one nice search tip that isn't obvious is that the Search 'button' at the bottom of a post searches for all posts by the author of that message. A great way to find other pearls of wisdom from someone you respect (or who has the same color you have -- a very good indicator of intelligence and taste:D ).

- Conrad
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The only comment I can make that has not been addressed yet is stay away from Java applets whenever possible.

I just came off of a 133 mhz machine to a 1.6 ghz. It was miserable at every site while you waited for Java applets to be processed. In the end you really wonder what all the fuss was about as CGI or Java Script would have been just as effective.

Good comments on the "search" function. I think an introduction or "call to attention" of the search function should take place during the registration process.

Perhaps changing the default "# of days" dropdown in individual forums could be changed from 30 to 60, too.

Popups are evil but I'm sure our fine host knows that :) I think what's even worse than the popups/popunders are those "interim" ad pages Microsoft is using on the MSN network. You click on a link and get a full page ad in the browser window -- and have to scroll all the way to the bottom and click "no thanks, take me to my link". Arrrggh!
efficiency . .the postings are getting out of hand

12 Great suggestions!

Posting Management - Is there any way to eliminate users from posting redundant discussions??

Often I see the same discussion topics created by users. For instance, I posted a forum regarding the 15K service...Since then I have seen several NEW discussion threads created with the same topic.

It is rather annoying giving me the indication users do not perform a search or lookup on the keywords before posting.

Though the forum is an "free for all" site to be able to post anything regarding our experiences with the MDX, it would be more efficient if the postings were managed properly.
Perhaps a simple solution would be to launch a pop-up remind to the person who is creating a new thread to search the forums first for like or similar topics.

But then again, the search functionality will need improving to....
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2 ideas

I had trouble attaching pictures because they exceeded the memory limit. If the attached file capacity could be expanded, that would be great.
Also, eventually a "race experience" category would be great to tell stories of how we leave the ML, BMW3.0x and RX300 in the dust. That would be good for feeding our pride and ego.
I heartily agree with PolyTat

Duplicate/Redundant threads are a big waste of resources.

As we speak (write:p ) there are several active threads in maintenance asking about oil changes. How many times has Premium vs. Regular gasoline come up?

One thing I was impressed with by the moderators over at Edmund's (while I was researching the X purchase) was the elimination/consolidation of redundant threads. They would simply combine posts into a single thread when appropriate.
Old vs New

I believe the reason for dupe threads (and maybe why us old-timers notice) is the crop of new users coming onboard. All the people that have or are waiting for 2002's and discovered this site. I know people will say "search" but that's not always feasible or members don't realize the power of the function. Another reason and I would fall into this group, is why should I care about old discussions about 2001 MDX's when I have a 2002. Those of us with 2001's know there isn't much different but I don't expect the owner of 2002 too necessarily know this or care. I belong to for my 2002 Toyota Tundra and I read the posts and discussions about 2000 and 2001 but when the posts are about 02’s I really get interested…. but I also realize not much has changed between the 00's and 02’s. Just my 2 cents. :)
True ...

... and a very valid point; I just want to keep things as simple and streamlined as possible without causing undo aggravation and cost.

I also frequent the forums for my Acura TL-S. They recently started charging a fee to use all the sites capabilities such as custom avatars, signatures etc. Anyone can read and post for free but only have the basics accessable for free. They charge $30 per year to use a custom avatar and signature.:(
I pay....

for my tundrasolutions. It is $12 a year. The 12 bucks get you into the technical forums (their garage area). At first I didn’t like the idea but there is some neat stuff in there…definite ROI. :)

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