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Giza's picture
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But, if you're reading this, it means you found our 2018 website, wondered where the forums have gone, and then came here.

As much as I enjoyed running the website on Drupal over the years, the website was becoming more and more unwieldy to maintain, and the lack of mobile support was a real problem. At first, I was going to upgrade this website to Drupal 8, but many of the third party modules we've come to know and love (Private Messages, 5-star voting, user badges, etc.) were no longer supported and not available for Drupal 8. So while we have had mobile support, there would have been a loss of features. It didn't help that the forums were getting less and less usage over the years:

And even things like Private Messages were seeing less and less usage:

"Heaven only knows what happened in 2014"

 

This was very likely due to the rise of social media over the past few years, and its availability on mobile devices. Heck, our Facebook group has 9,800 members, and our Twitter feed has 36,000 followers! I myself field far more con-related inquires over those two forums than this website and email combined.

That said, I did some searching, and eventually settled on using SquareSpace to host our website. It's fast, cheap, and easy to set up and configure. That ease of setup is important, because I am not getting any younger, and should I get hit by a beer truck some day, I need to know that someone else can step in to run the website in my absence.

As for the forums... I haven't yet decided what their ultimate fate will be. They clearly get some use, but that use does seem to be going down over the years. One concern of mine is that this version of Drupal is getting older and older, which does not sit well with me. But I only have ideas at this point, and have not decided on a clear course of action to take. If you've got thoughts, share 'em with me in the comments!

 

-- Giza

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I would ask that we *please* keep the forums.  It's the official Anthocon site, and lots of people use them to find room and ride shares, divulge information, and ask questions about the con itself.

Sites like Twitter or Facebook are okay for quick, casual communication, but with so many people on each site, important questions can get lost in the flood of posts unless someone is constantly watching the feed.  Also, with the forums, the posts with replies stay refreshed at the top of the page, so you don't have to wade through old or un-replied-to posts to get to a hot topic.

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A funny thing happened on the way to the forum... (Sorry, couldn't resist.)

The Forums are still here.  Just change your bookmark to forums.anthrocon.org/recent and things will be as they were.  If you just follow Giza's link, yo go to the front page.

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That's all very well for us old folks who knew the forums were here and went looking for them but what are new folks supposed to do?  There should be a link on the main page.

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BlackJack's picture
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Yes. I thought there would be a link added after a few days and people had a chance to catch up on paperwork. Making the forums (a public tool) hard to find can make it look like someone's trying to cut the usage further and starve out the usage- which is what I'd say if I had less confidence in the AC staff. I think it's more about not catching up on sleep. Still, the persistence of the problem is unusual. We ARE still waiting for a link on the front page.

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> We ARE still waiting for a link on the front page.

 

Um... it's been there since day one:

    

In addition, the following links all forward to forums.anthrocon.org:

I think we have done a reasonable job of making sure that people who want to use the forums still can.

 

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It's too easy to miss down there.  It should be one of the options in that top of the page menu.

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Ron Bauerle's picture
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It (that entire page, not just the link) also isn't not there
if Javascript is turned off in Firefox.

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BlackJack's picture
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Assuming the page is visible, there's a nice big menu on top for all the obvious things- except for the forums. Unless we're trying to make people work to get to them-or actively discourage people from using the fora- I see no sensible reason to leave out a link for them at the top alongside "About", "Events", "Dealers". "Travel", "Recent News", and "Registration." It's almost as if someone's trying to get people to forget about the forums, then later use their lowered usage as proof AC neither needs nor wants them.

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I second.

 

The forums are an important part of the site. I often find myself searching on other convention sites for them and I'm disappointed when I can't find a forum there. What we have here is a blessing.

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I third!

 

I understand some changes are necessary but I'm greatly saddened by this turn. I would most definitely prefer browsing on a desktop PC, but due to current lack of funds I'm forced to use my phone (which is why I haven't been as active lately). The forums are one of my favorite places on the internet, the contributors and staff are attentive and this is even where I met my current mate! I'm not active on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media data-mining network, and I was comforted to have a place to talk where every word I said wasn't being exploited!!

I digress a bit perhaps, but all in all I am nothing short of devastated to see the very site that allowed me to not only better understand who I am as a person but to communicate with the group of people whom I now consider to be my family swept under the rug.

I never thought I'd say such a thing to people I hold in such high regard but to whichever member or members of the Anthrocon Staff who no longer think these forums are important and lobbied to have them pushed aside I say "Shame on you! Shame on you for pandering to mainstream media and the lowest common denominator!"

"All the dogs barking up the wrong tree doesn't make it the right one."

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Please save the Anthrocon Forums. Thank you! <3

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Quote:
I never thought I'd say such a thing to people I hold in such high regard but to whichever member or members of the Anthrocon Staff who no longer think these forums are important and lobbied to have them pushed aside I say "Shame on you! Shame on you for pandering to mainstream media and the lowest common denominator!"

Reread Giza's original post (and PeterCat's follow-up below). He's not lobbying against them, he's just noting their usage has gone down, and the latest software (whether Drupal for this site or (mumble) for the new one) either doesn't support them at all, or breaks stuff if it does.

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I understand and I apologize (I was more than a little emotional when I wrote that -.=.-) for being angry, I just believe there is a better solution out there than merely (whether intentional or not) allowing the site to be supressed to the degree that it has.

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Please save the Anthrocon Forums. Thank you! <3

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Have you checked the stats between Facebook and the forum ? Seems to me this forum is more active than Facebook (even it is buried for death with no obvious menu option on the new page).

Don't even have a twitter account, so I can't compare that one.

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I DO think there's been a push on the internet to change everything- even things that only work sized for desktops or even mini-netbooks- and change them so they display nicer on cellphones. I think that changing the forums so that we can't send private messages or can't find them or log in or post or whatever defeats the utility OF the messageboards. Some people (myself included) think the forums are invaluable and should never be sacrificed. We're happy with the boards serving their purposes even if it means adjusting to new boards with new software. Farming out the functions to Facebook or Twitter sacrifices those jobs the forums serve that neither can- and also at the cost of another company completely owning the content of the posts and free to delete what they want and when they want it.

In other news, I've read that one of the biggest no-no's for a website is to rely on a Flash interface. Some people will refuse to have anything to do with a Flash interface just to read. If the goal is to change things around so that they're more friendly to tiny machines, why in the world add a complication? I know people who are more likely to have Flash turned off on their phone, either as a security or a bandwidth issue.

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Sad to see the forums deprioritized! Where do you recommend people go to coordinate rooms and rides when the time comes?

Edit: Never mind! Found 'em.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/AnthroconRoomShare

https://www.facebook.com/groups/AnthroconRideShare

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If at all possible, I'd really like to ask that SOME version of the forums continue. If it's necessary to move to a new version of the forums for software reasons, then I get having to do that. (I'm willing to cut-and-paste new versions of my stickies if it's made viable.) If there's some new software that we should use instead, we'll adjust as needed.

Please keep A set of forums for AnthroCon. AC needs its OWN forums for itself, and NOT something completely at the mercy of-and dependent entirely upon- a third party like Facebook. Some of us prefer to stay OFF that intrusive thing. And, of course, Facebook can delete AC's info without warning and use it however they wish. If I was told Facebook use was MANDATORY for an AC experience, I'm not sure I would have signed up. If all fora are banished, I'm pretty sure I won't just migrate all my activity to Facebook.

I once saw a furry who moved his data, and discovered too late that he now couldn't control it. When he deleted posts his "guests" found objectionable as Admin, his hosting site reversed it and locked him out! Handing Facebook that kind of power is risky- especially over something so many of us care about! (As it is now, if Facebook blanks everything, AC has all of its own stuff working just fine, but if we farm it all out to them, then we're just trusting too much to them, IMHO.)

If you must have a Facebook page and activity for those who DO want it, that's ok. Duplicating data and some announcements can help act as a hedge against an outage or crash. But please don't put us completely at the mercy of overlords like Facebook.

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I might've posted something about this before (don't have time to do a search),
but the following from the "about us" section of both sites could use some rewording:

Quote:
Only those funds necessary to support the operation of the convention and to make preparations for the following year's convention are retained.

That begs the question of what about the funds that aren't necessary?

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At a guess, I'm thinking that goes to one of the many charities AC supports. But I don't know that for certain. That's how I'd bet if there was a bet going.

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I VAGUELY remember a comment that any "extra" funds are donated to that year's charity.

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Surplus funds are not donated to the year's charity, except in the case of t-shirt sale proceeds at the chairman's discretion.

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Then can somebody clarify or better yet, just remove, the quoted statement above?

Unless I'm the only one who notices such things and wonders that they really mean...

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I'd say this is along the lines of such turns of phrase as "We sell kosher and non-kosher foods".

What isn't spent on expenses for this year's convention, is retained to help pay expenses for the following years' conventions.

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More like "heads I win, tails you lose" Smiling

I like the wording of your last sentence better.

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Note that different results occur with Javascript turned on and off in Firefox; with it off, the About, etc. links show up but don't do anything; with it on, they don't show up till you go to a sub-page (e.g., About us) but work there.

I got in the habit of surfing with Javascript turned off since it tended to crash earlier versions of Firefox, plus I suspect it helps reduce susceptibility to malware, pop-up ads, etc.

Firefox has a nice add-on called Quickjava that lets me turn it on/off with a click on a button;
wish Chrome and Palemoon had that w/o my having to go a few menus deep into the set-up...

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OK, I have to admit I'm one of the old fashioned guys that still prefer to browse the web on a PC with big monitor(s) rather than on my cell or tablet.

I for myself prefer the old menu style, it was way better to navigate. The page itself is pretty static and doesn't need a lot of changes, so if you want to include  mobile devices , just do a check and present two different layouts for either PC/MAC/LINUX users or mobile users.

Also speaking for myself, I think the forums are pretty important and offer functionality (most important search) you don't find on social media sites. (Good luck searching for an old post in the AC newsfeed on Facebook).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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You're not alone. I love having a big screen. I didn't even have a smartphone until 2016 and although I have adapted quickly, it's an entirely different experience.

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I'd support new forum software. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites are great for immediate and quickly irrelevant discussion topics. But modern social media is terrible for long-term evolving topics where preservation and searchability is preferred. I've heard facebook groups referred to as "the facebook bubble" where people who aren't members of the group miss out on active conversations. Then those conversations disappear from the first page after a few days. And searching is difficult.

Forums like this and PHPBB, while not perfect modes of communication, are much better suited for conversations of substance.

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I understand that the version of forums under Drupal (which the "old" site was written) is over five years old and there's no intention of upgrading it.  The software used for the new website doesn't support forums at all.

Some suggestions I would make, now that I've seen the site in the real world.  As said earlier, put a top of page link for the forums.  Put a link there for the FAQs as well.

And, possibly, ask BlackJack to rework his posted "how-to" introductory posts as primers and put them in the FAQ or possibly their own section.

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I've a different perspective on the boards-and it's because I've seen the board as a vital part of the community that is Anthrocon.

When things are going well, there is not quite as much posting, but there's some, and new people often asking the same questions and glad to get personal attention. (Some even follow up with pm's, preferring to thank a poster, apologize, or ask more PRIVATELY than publicly. That means a lot to them even when it only takes me a moment to reply.)

When a lot goes on, the boards get a lot more activity. Keep in mind that a poster may browse with a device when that's handy, just to check there's nothing they need to address- then use a laptop/PC to join a discussion when they have something to add to the discussion or ask a question.

Finally, the community will always have something happen where lots of people will have opinions and want their say. Some will pm about the latest controversy, others will log in and post to their heart's content. Either way, the forums are a voice for even the newcomer, a chance to connect and open communications, a place to pose questions, a place to discuss, to communicate. Some of those roles may be used LESS casually now than before, but their need is no less great.

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Was really surprised at the new site, and I gotta say it just feels so... flashy.. and IMHO thats not a good thing, I've found the site's utillitarian nature  very pleasing over theyears, not fancy but gets its job done. Thats a purely asthetic choice and preference of my own, so no big deal.. 

However, the forums, Took me a while to find the forums as well, really should be part of the menu at least., Even if not used as much it IS important, (I'm sure you have numbers on post views as well as comments) its much easier to keep track of topics in a forum than doing it through twitter where finding old messages/notes/and so on is a pain..  I'll be upfront that the fact that Anthrocon actually has a forum to meet con goers and such before attending is a big help, and i'm disappointed that so few other cons have one despite their size. 

 

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OH DEAR!

Seems like the powers-that-be have decided to phase out these forums, but not by "pulling the plug" but by letting them die a long lingering death.

Anyway...  As Kage is fond of saying:  "Not my Con!  Not my problem!"

I agree with all of the above posts.  But right now I've got my own con to help run.

But in a week or two (after I semi-recover from Furpocalypse) This here intergalactic space-pirate ottAAAR might be give'n' y'all a broadside!  YARRRR!!!

And if, when I return, the forums aren't there anymore?  Thank you to all the friends and esteemed colleagues that I have made here.  You know who you are, and I will never forget you! Smiling

 

Soggy

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Thank you, everyfur who attended Highwing's, Skarlath's, and my Zootopia panel!
Will we do it yet again, next year?
As I said last year: "Only time will tell..."

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Ohh you run that, Another reason to check it out sometime, was thinking this year but "things came up" being a NY fur it wouldn't be to hard/expensive to go up there though

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I'd like to reassure everyone, no long-term decision has yet been made about the future of the forums, it's not solely up to Giza. The recent focus has been with migrating all the main convention information to the new site, and there's still some tidying up that remains with that (for example the departmental FAQ pages). I personally feel the forums are a valuable resource, especially the many years of content already accumulated. But we may need to enlist some additional help to manage it, so this may take some time. Pardon our dust!

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Here's what I am noticing on the main page - "If you are looking for the old forums..." 

 

I figure this implies one of two things: a) there will be a new forum or b) there will be no forum. Maybe they didn't meant to imply either of those, only time will tell I suppose.

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Yay for moving into the 21st century, but I also echo the sentiment that the forums should be kept up. For all the reasons mentioned above, plus Facebook is simply a no go area for some furs because they require RL info. Posts on both twitter and facebook can get easily lost and there is no organization. Here, we have the structure to allow queststions and requests to be seen by all, making it more likely that they will be answered.

Have you considered PHPBB? Obviously, there are some features that would have to go, but it is mobile friendly and fully supported.

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I can understand the need for a new website. But therefore certain things from the old website that do have there advantages (ie forums). Plus I new the old site better than the new one (it has or had more flair to it than the new site). 

 

In my opinion. Don't get rid of the forums. It does help the attendees. But if you do need to do something. Maybe consider cutting down on some of the items (which forums get the most attention). And go from there

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Trying to be abnormal in a normal world

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Hello everyfur, scalie and magical unknown multi-colored Hybrids!!!!

I may be a new face to post since I sit in the back and watch from a distance most times.

So the new Anthrocon site... Let me start by saying that it looks crappy, boring and a little cold... It doesnt make me feel welcomed, and it doesnt make me want to  attend the convention as soon as I get onto the site, it makes me think "well why is this convention so great?" there is no WOW Factor or any purr-sonality to it... It is dull and modern, lets say too mainstream for this fur. I would'nt be the most happy if these forums were to go away and all of my special texts to some special furs were to poof out of exsistance, just because some if not all admin and or moderators were too lazy, and frankly I could care less about those who only have phone and use only mainstream media, but I don't mind the thought of keeping the forums and the old site as a main and maybe giving the mainstream phone users their own way to access (if it could be done). Anthrocon means alot too me even though 2017 was my furst year attending but I was around way before watching from a distance and watching Anthrocon Con Videos before-hand , but the forums were great and I feel they helped a new fur feel more included and in the loop and meet new people.

 

Thank You for reading. (I may post more if I have anything else that I may have fur-gotten hah...)

As a side note facebook is complete crap to any of those that are wondering...

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Quote:
just because some if not all admin and or moderators were too lazy

That's a bit harsh; Giza et al keep this site running in their spare time when they could be doing other (potentially more interesting) things, and I appreciate their efforts, even though I don't say so often enough...

Hopefully the effort required to do so won't hit a tipping point as added "features" of new versions of the software make it harder to support the old ones.

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Slight correction:  although I am a moderator for the forums, I have NO access to the underlying code.  Considering my complete lack of knowledge of UNIX/LINUX systems, this is a good thing.

AFAIK, the ONLY person who modifies the underlying code is Giza.  And if he is paid anything at all for his hard work, it's not much.

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well i guess lazy is harsh now reading it again but for a lack of a better word i will keep it.

 

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Someone asked further up what the stats were on Facebook versus the forum and I'm glad they did, because I have in fact been keeping stats where possible.

This comment is gonna be long and full of data.  I warned ya.

But before I go into that, I do need to mention that comparing stats from different platforms can be a real challenge.  This is partly because some providers don't provide very detailed stats (I'm looking at you, Tumblr) and partly because different sites use different terminology.  For example, Twitter has "retweets" while Facebook has "shares".  

For the stats I'm about to post, I based them on, well... this 2018 website announcement. :-)  Around 4 PM on October 29th, I pulled stats from the following places:

- Forums: This post
- The post on our Facebook Page
- The post on our Facebook Group
- The tweet we made on Twitter
- Our post on Tumblr
- Instagram... I forgot to post on this particular channel, so I got nothing there.  Sorry!

 

Let's start with the "clicks" metric.  Specifically, as per Facebook and Tumblr, that means "how many people clicked on the URL that was given".  Here's what we got:

 

 

Not too bad.

Now let's look at "engagement".  This is a mesure of how many "interactions" were made with the post, and that varies on the service.  For the forums, I took the number of comments on the post plus the number of votes cast.  For the Facebook Page post and the Facebook Group post, it was the number of comments plus the number of likes, plus the number of shares.  For the Tweet, it was the number of Likes, Replies, and Shares.  Finally, for Tumblr, it was the number of Notes left.  Here's what we got:

 

 

Note here that Twitter is almost double the second place channel (our Facebook Page).  The post on the Facebook Group came in third place, with Tumblr and the Forum post in 4th and 5th.

I saved the biggest graph for last, and that would be the number of views.  This metric is exactly what you would expect it is--it is the number of times that the post was viewed:

 

 

The lead of Twitter is even greater here--it is nearly four times as much as Facebook, and approximately twenty times as many views as this forum post received.

Those numbers tell quite a story, namely where people hang out these days.

Going forward, I plan on keeping the existing forums through the end of the 2018 convention in order to have as little disruption as possible.  After that... I am interested in seeing what alternatives are available.  I am open to suggestions--if anyone has paritcular forum software that they feel comfortable with, or even a forum service, leave a comment here and let us know!  Drupal 6 is no longer actively supported (and doesn't render well on mobile), so running it long-term is not an option for us.

Thanks for making it all the way through this post. Smiling

-- Giza

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The only other forums I'm familiar with are the Dilbert blog (Disqus) and the CTC ones (phpBB).

Since I'm not smart-phone literate (don't have one - cable bill's too high as it is), IDK whether either of the above w/b suitable replacements for Drupal.

Rather than rant against kids these days who can't handle "real" web sites, I'll just chalk this up to "nothing (earthly) lasts forever" and thank you for what we had while we did.

I may follow AC on FB if/when the Drupal one goes away but not interact with it much - I've found FB to be yet another place to be ignored. Twitter is too clunky/user-unfriendly to use on real browsers IMHO.

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PHPBB is tried, true, and now responsive Smiling

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Since you're asking (I assume completely in good faith), here's what I have....

I'm aware of another independent board that has upgraded software greatly in the past few years. Their current website runs on "Invision Community." https://invisioncommunity.com/

If you like, I'll ask their moderators what they really think of the software, and its strengths and weaknesses. From my experience as a user, however, the stuff allows for posts and pm's and some other stuff depending on the desires of the "client". What we're using seems pretty reliable. The only quibble I have has to do with the rendering of the image for the user icon/avatar- but I don't know if that's customizable as well- everything else seems to be. (Instead of a square or rectangle, we're getting a round window into the more complete image, and I had to experiment to find an image that satisfied me with what was visible through the window.) Again, since it seems fully customizable, it's probably something where the site selected the simplest option and called it a day. (It's NOT a community of artists.)

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Hello Giza,

Am I correct in understanding that these stats were collected the day the new website was opened and these forums were linked in the new site? Or was it before the launch?

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OOPS!

That was the announcement that the new site was up and that the new forums WERE ALREADY MOVED, with the link for the forums moved from the menu to a tiny link further down the page, and formed a "if you're reading this, congratulations, you found the new location for the forums!" post!

So, naturally, that announcement itself and anything after that would have a drastic downturn in traffic in comparison to the traffic immediately preceding it. Without a "control", we can't see how much, but it's plain the traffic's been strangled since that moment.

Honest mistake, or an intent to juggle the numbers? I'm reminded of when Mark Twain said
"There are 3 kinds of lies- lies, da** lies, and statistics."

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That's the beauty of Excel - You can make any data look good to support your claim.

If you declare it "interaction" and count every like, of course Facebook will win. Data probably looks different if you look at user posts and site visits.

Btw, it's very telling that despite hiding the forums there are still posts here.

One last comment to the new page - I really tried to like it, however (someone already mentioned it) to me it's very uninviting and looks more like an average pick out of a template collection. I guess the days where Anthrocon had great styled pages are finally over :ooh:

 

 

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Thank you BlackJack, that was exactly what I was getting at ^.=.^ 

I've had friends that were former frequenters of the forums but still couldn't find the link to the new site, prompting me to point it's location out to them. If the fate of the forums haven't already been decided, would it AT LEAST be possible to move the link to a more conspicuous location for the time being? Of course the traffic is going to be lower if no one can find the forums.

Thank you

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Ever looked at vBulletin ? A lot of forums run it and it's not too expensive.

https://www.vbulletin.com/

 

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The single most important item that exists here and not on the main site: 

The FAQ listing

While you might get away with losing these Forums, I feel the FAQs must be available from the new site, and in a simple manner.  Perhaps an addition to the tabs at the top of the page that leads to them?

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To avoid problems with parents, read this FAQ and all its internal links before discussing Furry with your parents:

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