BikePGH!

Rant – this message board is absolutely awful.

This topic contains 65 replies, has 29 voices, and was last updated by  scott 1 yr, 7 mos.

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mrosswog

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Apr 26 2013 at 9:40am #

There’s something to be said about donating web development to a charitable cause, but there’s also something called “do something well or don’t do it at all”. I’m a web developer… I would know. I’ve made plenty of mistakes in my time. Perhaps it’s time for bikepgh to hire someone (not me – I just want to use the site) who is going to be able to support the online community they are attempting to build.

First off, the search function isn’t working. I’m trying to post in the Hilly Billy Roubaix thread and the only way I can find it is through google search.

Since I wasn’t logged in (I can’t tell you how many countless times I’ve logged into this thing), I got myself logged in and was redirected to the bikepgh.org home page, not back to where I was.

So here I am, needing to leave the site again to search for the thread I wanted to post in.

I figured, just page through the message board and find it that way – it’s not too old. But when paging through the board from the bikepgh.org/mb page, you are then moved into the “advocacy and safety” forum page two which has threads that are over a year old.

This web board could be a great resource, if it was usable. There are plenty of fully functional, open source web forums out there – why they’ve chosen this one baffles me. Forget about the cutesy graphics and focus on usability, because right now, this site is barely functioning. The low amount of forum traffic should be an indicator of this.

On another note, I have mind to start a new message board altogether and one that focuses more on riding and racing bikes, which is what I want to chat about on a cycling message board. Not wasting my time calling attention to issues that should have been QA’ed before rolling out the new site.

Rant over.


edmonds59

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Apr 26 2013 at 10:11am #

Whew, I thought this was going to be about content, not function.


mrosswog

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Apr 26 2013 at 10:14am #

LOL, that’s another thread, and not one I have the gall to start.


Mick

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Apr 26 2013 at 10:42am #

I want to say that content-wise, this is about the sweetest place I’ve seen on the internet.


byogman

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Apr 26 2013 at 10:56am #

My reaction to the redesign has been some irritation and a lot of meh. Not enough of a problem to interfere with message board addiction or make me want to post elsewhere, though.

But I will add that I’ve had a surprising amount of difficulty getting the board to accept my posts lately. I guess stale session, but that should be a redirect through login and land you back on the same page with the post content you’ve already entered, not act like a post that succeeded except… your post isn’t there.


rachel_ding

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Apr 26 2013 at 11:15am #

This is a very interesting tactic for advertising web development services.


mrosswog

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Apr 26 2013 at 11:16am #

rachel_ding wrote:This is a very interesting tactic for advertising web development services.

You must have missed the part where i explicitly stated that I’m not interested in getting hired to help.


rachel_ding

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Apr 26 2013 at 11:19am #

I didn’t miss it. You missed my sarcasm.


scott

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Apr 26 2013 at 11:58am #

Thanks for the feedback. We’re trying to fix.


chinston

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Apr 26 2013 at 12:12pm #

I agree that what should be a simple basic board has seemed pretty badly broken since the redesign.


RoadKillen

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Apr 26 2013 at 12:15pm #

Let me just say that as a totally -FREE- resource of information, this message board is great and the following is just some anal nitpicking (analpicking)

When my browser window is too narrow, all of the links at the top of the page disappear.

I’m not sure why, but sometimes the text in the message board will turn a red/pink color that “vibrates” with the light blue color and it becomes very hard to read. This red/pink text is also pushed up above the baseline of the other text. Very distracting.

I also have the issue of being automatically logged off every time I leave the message boards. This didn’t happen in the older version of the website.

One thing that I really like about this board is that there are no obnoxious advertisements between posts and “key words” that open up and advertisement when you scroll over them.


bikeygirl

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Apr 26 2013 at 12:26pm #

chinston wrote:I agree that what should be a simple basic board has seemed pretty badly broken since the redesign.

Agreed….
As much as I don’t want to offend the designer who volunteered to do all this free work for BikePgh, the new website and message boards has been very meh….. personally, all the info and graphics could be reduced a font/size down for sure….

just my 2-cents

PS: The people and content on the site is fine, although most-definitely have seen a descend in people-variety of people using it.


Drewbacca

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Apr 26 2013 at 1:01pm #

When something works, why change it? It’s been a frustrating experience for all of us while Nathan and bikepgh work through the bugs.

I don’t look at the site as broken, I look at it as a work in progress in which we are all invited to contribute and give feedback. I don’t worry about offending Nathan because, frankly, he is paid in that he has the opportunity to build his portfolio and learn from the experience.

I think that in the end, Nathan is a better programmer with a great addition to his portfolio. In the end, BikePGH has a great custom forum that isn’t like every other forum using PHPBB or vBulliten or whatever.

I question the point of the transition… but I’m willing to suck it up and help it along.


Nick D

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Apr 26 2013 at 1:48pm #

I think one question that should be raised is why should BikePGH be responsible for hosting a forum of this type. To the extend that the board has grown, does it fit into the orgs mission? Has the message board outgrown being part of BikePGH’s website? Is the biggest reason it’s hosted by Bike PGH becuase it draws a ton of traffic [which I am sure helps the websites SEO and helps non-board users find other content about biking in Pittsburgh much easier] or maybe just because of tradition.

Could someone else do a better job? Though if they could, why hasn’t anyone? It really wouldn’t be hard to set, perhaps even monetize an independent message board.

I don’t know, but with all of the usability issues, I think they are questions that should be raised. Either way, I agree that it could be a lot better. I’m also not one to settle for something just because it how it has always been.

I think if the message board is important to Bike PGH strategically for it’s web presence that should be known as it would be an incentive not to make an independent message board.


stefb

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Apr 26 2013 at 5:00pm #

I agree. Terrible. And Nathan should be embarrassed.


StuInMcCandless

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Apr 26 2013 at 5:40pm #

There are some long-standing bugs I wish could/would be fixed. Threads falling off the first page, never to be seen again until someone goes hunting for them, is my biggest gripe.

I’m not a web designer, but I sit 25 feet from a half dozen of them. Making stuff work on a crapton of different platforms and browsers is a real chore. My employer creates a product set that’s an order of magnitude more complex than a message board, but still, stuff just doesn’t work the same way on everything, and every fix to one platform breaks something else.

I’m still willing to cut Nathan a break. He’s only one guy. But please fix the just-beyond-65-posts problem.


mrosswog

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Apr 26 2013 at 6:59pm #

Web browsers work better and are more compliant than ever before. That being said, The whole cross browser/platform excuse isnt even applicable here. this isn’t an issue of bad CSS or page layout (Although they are broken as well, those things should be tolerated and put aside until the fatal flaws pointed out above are addressed).


Vannevar

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Apr 26 2013 at 7:25pm #

As somebody who does web work may I offer a different perspective and a very different conclusion?

The rush to assign blame and shame to Nathan is unjustified and without evidence. When i see a site gone awry I’m inclined to think, terrible client.

Coders are competent. Clients aren’t. They’ve all got gifted nephews and better ideas and lots of changes. Its just as likely this snafu is bad client as bad coder.

Nathans other sites all work well. Hes bright and clever. I don’t think Nathan is necessarily the issue.

The only conclusion i can draw from this extended goat-rope exercise is that bikepgh isnt that interested in fixing it, and by extension isnt that interested in the 45 people that routinely visit. Although it’s important to us, they’re just not that into it.

Final question: who do you write checks to? Nathan?


ericf

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Apr 26 2013 at 9:10pm #

@mrosswog,
Still sounds like you are looking for a job to me. Very passive/aggressively IMO.


cburch

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Apr 26 2013 at 9:20pm #

Blaming clients is the ultimate cop out. Even more so than the “but it was just pro bono work” one that actually got pulled out several times. If a client leads you down a bad path it’s your job as a professional to guide them back. Or at the very least mitigate the damage. Also, clients don’t write code.


Vannevar

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Apr 26 2013 at 9:43pm #

From the outside, it’s black box. Projects go wrong because of coders, and projects go wrong because of clients. There are bad clients that coders can’t fix.

I’m suggesting that nobody has evidence (that I’m aware of) to be dogging Nathan. The rest of his work suggests he knows what he’s doing; there’s evidence supporting his skills.

I’ve never met Nathan. Don’t know him. I’m just pointing out, it might not be his bad so perhaps people shouldn’t be assigning fault.

I admit it gets my hackles raised when people who don’t know what’s going on inside a project (like me) start blaming the geek.

Either way, accountability for the web-board lies with BikePgh, not with any sub-contractor. We send membership checks to BikePgh, and they don’t seem very interested in fixing this anytime real soon.

Also, I’d like to say- I do agree with the functional critique, the legacy design worked better, and here in week number- what, 10? – the legacy design is still better. IMO.


Mick

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Apr 26 2013 at 9:53pm #

… the legacy design worked better, and here in week number- what, 10? – the legacy design is still better. IMO.

+1


mrosswog

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Apr 26 2013 at 10:35pm #

I’m not looking for work and I’m not blaming Nathan. All I want is a functioning message board. One that can support not 45 but 450 or 4,500 active visitors, which is what could happen with a good online community.


cburch

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Apr 26 2013 at 11:11pm #

and then we get hilarious word filters!


Drewbacca

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Apr 26 2013 at 11:35pm #

hilarious ******* word filters ftw!


ericf

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Apr 27 2013 at 6:49am #

@mrossowg,
Functionally, I agree with your critique. Instead of creating a new board, would you consider putting some of that effort into fixing this one?
@Nick D,
Good questions. It seems to me, that in good working order, this board is a tremendous asset to the org and should be treated as such.


edmonds59

Private Message

Apr 27 2013 at 7:58am #

Is that really what it is, 45 “routine visitors”? That’s kind of sad.
So this is kind of like the smokey back room of Bike Pgh!, with the guys with the cigars and suspicious packages and the facial scars. Someone occasionally pokes their head in looking for something then whoa, GTFO!
In a way I suppose that’s good, with the fully idiotic exchanges that get posted occasionally. That can get embarrassing.
edit: Also, goat-rope – LMAO.


Drewbacca

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Apr 27 2013 at 11:46am #

I know web statistics are available for each individual domain, but I’d be curious to see the break down for message-board vs the rest of the site to see the number of unique one-page viewed via referrer visitors. I imagine that the forums turn up in more websearches than the rest of the site’s content.


buffalo buffalo

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Apr 27 2013 at 5:51pm #

Drewbacca wrote:I imagine that the forums turn up in more websearches than the rest of the site’s content.

This has been specifically mentioned as the rationale for splitting the search functions on the site itself and making the messageboard search harder to find.


Drewbacca

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Apr 27 2013 at 7:56pm #

hmmm I would have thought it a good thing that attracts additional traffic to the site… *shrugs*


byogman

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Apr 27 2013 at 8:39pm #

I’m going to cast a vote for a simple search that is independent of it being page content, blog content, or message board content and for everything staying under the bike-pgh banner and site. The message board is what brought me here. It’s the beating heart of bike-pgh as a grassroots organization. And for the other stuff, why exclude? Also a preference for the simplest possible interface.

I think the mishmash of elements is a desirable thing both in terms of content and in terms of community. I’d much rather see more racing content here than a separate racing board. Or a separate any other form of riding board… The larger point is that there’s crossover potential on many conversations in terms of content and community, sometimes in unexpected ways. I’d rather not see that potential slip away.


scott

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Apr 28 2013 at 11:32am #

Accusing us of not caring? Really!? We have emails out the wazoo to prove we’re interested in fixing the issues with it. I can’t believe I’m reading this stuff. How about this, if anyone reading this can step up and help us fix this message board raise your hand and we’ll put you to work immediately.


AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe

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Apr 28 2013 at 12:35pm #

Seriously. There are more constructive ways the OP might have pursued his “critique” besides opening a thread like this.

If OP was really interested in improving the function or any other feature of the web site, he could have emailed BikePgh directly and handled it professionally. All of those folks on the other end of those email addresses are real people just trying to do a good job. They’ll get your email. They’ll take your call.

So, poor form, OP. I’m afraid the suggestion that you are passively drumming for business might have some merit. However, this is a sadly ham-handed effort.


Mick

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Apr 28 2013 at 5:33pm #

@ edmonds59
Apr 27 2013 at 7:58am # Is that really what it is, 45 “routine visitors”? That’s kind of sad.

I did a litttle count and came up with over 60 names that I consider regular posters.. But yeah, like with any other forum, there a relatively small number that post. No big thing.


salty

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Apr 28 2013 at 9:14pm #

BTW, search actually works way better on the new board than the old board – but you have to use the “Search the Forums” box on the right and not the “Search” box at the top, which is confusing. It would be better if there were one search box, maybe with a radio button for forums/non-forums (defaulted depending on where you are on the site… and maybe another option for “everything”?).

My biggest issue with the new board is still the text formatting, on my tablet there are lines that don’t wrap properly, so there are cut off words and I cannot find any workaround – it’s unreadable. On my chromebook or PC, at least I can read all the text but I think the layout is way too narrow. Using the stylebot extension quizbot suggested I’ve made it a lot wider. But there is still a lot of formatting weirdness, like how the first paragraph is wider than the rest, and line breaks after URLs and @ tags, etc.

Personally, I think I first discovered bikepgh through this board and it’s still the main reason I go to their site. I’ve met a lot of great people here and unlike most forums I’ve subsequently met many of them in person as well. Whatever the number of regular posters is, those people are also pretty active with bike advocacy in general and organizing rides and events. Of course, there’s always room for more posters – we should definitely try to get the introductions thread going again. I’ve found the people here to be tremendously friendly and accepting of new people.


mrosswog

Private Message

Apr 28 2013 at 9:34pm #

AtLeastMyKidsLoveMe wrote:Seriously. There are more constructive ways the OP might have pursued his “critique” besides opening a thread like this.

If OP was really interested in improving the function or any other feature of the web site, he could have emailed BikePgh directly and handled it professionally. All of those folks on the other end of those email addresses are real people just trying to do a good job. They’ll get your email. They’ll take your call.

So, poor form, OP. I’m afraid the suggestion that you are passively drumming for business might have some merit. However, this is a sadly ham-handed effort.

I’m not interested in improving the function or features of the board, I’m interested in contributing content, which is exceedingly frustrating to do. The post was a rant, nothing more. In fact I would delete the thread completely, if I could figure out how to.


scott

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Apr 28 2013 at 10:34pm #

Only admins can delete threads. That’s actually fairly standard for message boards.


steevo

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Apr 29 2013 at 6:19am #

If there is a thread to complain about content, it may just refer back
to this thread.

Talk is cheap, put your time and energy where your mouth is. Obviously you have the free time.


edmonds59

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Apr 29 2013 at 6:34am #

Nothing personal but IMHO the prominent location of the “quote” button has resulted in the massive over-use of excessively lengthy quotes. Esp painful on a mobile.


Drewbacca

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Apr 29 2013 at 12:35pm #

There is a thread to complain about content… but I can’t find it now. :(
Clicking on “page 2″ of forum discussion still jumps back over a year instead of showing the next page in chronological order.

The text is starting to fall off the page again due to a photo within a quote in one of the threads (http://bikepgh.org/mb/topic/iain-a-boy-hit-by-a-car-while-cycling/#post-270559)

I hate the new quote feature, there is no reason for the font to be so eff’n big.

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