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  #1  
Old Fri 22 April 2011, 10:55
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Facebook, Digg, Twitter, Myspace, etc..can they enhance or replace a forum like this?

Believe it or not, the www has been around for less than 20 years. It is something that is still evolving. Discussion forums have been around for more than 10 years, and havn't changed that much.

I am wondering if a project like MechMate is best served by an "old-fashioned" forum, or if things like Facebook, Myspace, whatever could be doing a better job? Please discuss . . . .

(The reason for my question is because I personally have not embraced these newer "media" and wonder what I should be doing for my new project liftlogger.com)
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  #2  
Old Fri 22 April 2011, 11:24
bradm
Just call me: Brad #10
 
Somerville(MA)
United States of America
It depends on what audience you are trying to reach, and what type of communication you are looking for. Here's an axis to consider:

Twitter - IRC - Facebook - Email - Forum - Wiki - Magazine - Book

Towards the left the messages are shorter, faster, less private, and less organized.

Toward the right, the messages are less immediate, but more likely to have long term value and relevance.
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  #3  
Old Fri 22 April 2011, 11:39
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
People talk of "social media" . . . .

I like that a forum is open to a social crowd, more so than e-mail, Wiki or book (from that line in Brad's post). I suppose a Wiki is as open, but it is too intimidating for those with poor communication skills.
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  #4  
Old Fri 22 April 2011, 11:53
bradm
Just call me: Brad #10
 
Somerville(MA)
United States of America
Social media seems to fill the same niche in internet space as pop music does in entertainment, tabloids in journalism, romance/science fiction/suspense novels in literature, etc.

It breaks down barriers to entry and encourages mass participation, sometimes at the expense of deeper thought. And since it has mass participation, there is an intimate relationship with marketing, which inevitably follows (or leads) the crowd.

Want to market an idea to a broad audience? Social media makes lots of sense. Want to have an in depth, long running technical conversation on a topic? Less so.
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  #5  
Old Fri 22 April 2011, 12:05
danhamm
Just call me: Dan
 
Williams Lake B.C. Canada
Canada
My "other" put our project on facebook, [url]www.facebook.com/.../http://www.facebook.com/pages/Burning-Impressions/107304665958314 It started slow, it gets befriended, and slowly creates a life of its own, if your circle of friends are the ones you want to connect with, then you can point the message to them when wanted, as when you post something new they get informed, its cheap. easy to keep up and a lot of decision makers in office towers spend a lot of time on facebook...cheers
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  #6  
Old Fri 22 April 2011, 12:11
rayditutto
Just call me: Robin
 
Victoria
Canada
Send a message via MSN to rayditutto
to add to Brad's "axis of information density", as you move to the right the information is more "curated"
I suspect that one reason a Mechmate wiki has not appeared is that Gerald (now Mike) has maintained a high quality of the discussions on the forum (ie curating the content). Also to be considered, a wiki is more like a working document than a discussion.

Twitter content for anything with substantial information content usually is a shortened url to the actual content - consider it a "pointer" service.

Facebook is about persona/image which makes it a good method for disseminating information to a wide audience from a single entity - think of it as the face of Mechmate


cheers
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  #7  
Old Fri 22 April 2011, 14:37
isladelobos
Just call me: Ros
 
Canary Islands
Spain
Send a message via MSN to isladelobos Send a message via Yahoo to isladelobos
The Social Networks is like... i go to the school party.
The forums are like... I go to the School library.

you speak "old-fashioned". im thinking in a different method for explain for example one forum like Cncforum with hundred of sections and subsections with organization.

The two systems are welded and im thinking, the new social networks change quickly when the new technology arrive.
we can see one Forum ranking and the quantity of people use this normalized system.

About your new project, im thinking a forum not is the best way. your new web is more like a product faq zone.

Last edited by isladelobos; Fri 22 April 2011 at 15:03..
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  #8  
Old Fri 22 April 2011, 18:36
aussie_mick
Just call me: Mick
 
Nowra
Australia
Never ever get rid of the forum. This is a place where you can review comments and update pages. You can read what you are interested in and bypass what doesn't.

With Twitter/Facebook once you like/subscribe you will get every posting that is made. going back and looking for something someone said is very time consuming .

Setting up a facebook page for your own area/country would be a possibility to keep some people informed on proceedings with your machine .

Just my thoughts.

mick
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  #9  
Old Fri 22 April 2011, 20:42
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
My mind is a bit clearer on what I am trying to ask:

If we have a product, be it a MechMate, LiftLogger, widget, which web applications should we be using today for communicating between the people around the product. Those people are primarily the users of the product, but also includes the designers, developers, production & support personnel.

The big distinction for me is that the product is central and the people aspects are secondary. Which explains why social media has a poor role.

But, forums are the dinosaurs of the www . . . . surely there is something newer that can be used for product support?
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  #10  
Old Fri 22 April 2011, 21:13
bradm
Just call me: Brad #10
 
Somerville(MA)
United States of America
Gerald, part of why I placed that initial axis in this conversation was to notice that there is a really important balance that is struck between initial ease of use and long term value.

Forums, for better or worse, place just enough of a barrier / require just enough personal effort and investment to make the results valuable, especially if they are well curated (Robin's point).

So, if you are looking for a modern replacement for a forum, you want to find something that requires it's participants to be motivated to use it, serious about the results they get from it, and offered sufficient ongoing reward to use it. There is nothing that inherently prevents social media platforms from doing this from a technological perspective, but there are some complications.

I note that forums have had the same complications; it's difficult to get a critical mass and a cultural style around a forum to make it resonate. There have been many more failures than successes.

I bet you could successfully curate an email list and make it thrive. Might be more effort that you want. You could do the same with yet another forum. Probably won't work with a wiki, because it's just too intimidating for non-technical users. And I'm sure enough curation can make a social media platform work too. The question becomes whether the extended reach of the social media platform is worth the significant extra curation effort to control the conversation.

My personal opinion is that the social media platforms don't work well for product support. It's almost impossible to support a customer that isn't willing to put in some effort to solve their problem - as we've seen here in MM land, and many other places. So the tools you choose for communication should be tailored to reward those do put effort into solving their problem - " ... helps those that help themselves" - and raise barriers to those that want to abuse the commons due to laziness.

Maybe forums aren't dinosaurs; perhaps they're actually the pinnacle of www development, and we haven't recognized it yet. (unlikely)

Hmm... that turned into a ramble. I yield the floor to new thoughts.
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  #11  
Old Fri 22 April 2011, 21:40
danhamm
Just call me: Dan
 
Williams Lake B.C. Canada
Canada
I don't think Gerald is talking about doing away with the forum, he is talking about a medium to connect -with the folks that may use his product, or want his product or should know about his product in some way..
The Mechmate forum and the shopbot forum have made the machines sucessful, without the forums neither would exist for very long..Facebook and Twitter are becoming advertising mediums, polititions, movie stars, singers and many businesses are using there sevices, "example" the 4 big Internet providers in Canada were going to start throttling the heavy internet users...because they could... within hours the word went out on facebook and over a million facebook users joined the cause...the big four backed down...the medium works..
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  #12  
Old Sat 23 April 2011, 03:19
Jan de Ruyter
Just call me: Jan
 
Pretoria
South Africa
There should be a difference between a post (valuable information) and a remark or a comment. The forum is full of IMHO useless chatter that needs to be weeded with very valuable information here and there which should be kept in the forum, as this is the right place for it.

The weeding will make it:
a) Easier to locate the valuable stuff
b) Frees up acres of forum space

I also observe that the forum has reached maturity. The emphasis recently is more on what people make with their machines than new machines being built.

To me the test is simple: it the information is only shared between two people, there is little need for it, if it is of use to more than two people, it should be kept.
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  #13  
Old Sat 23 April 2011, 06:23
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
I used to delete those remarks from the "technical" threads after they were cold and nobody was looking.
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  #14  
Old Sat 23 April 2011, 06:36
MetalHead
Just call me: Mike
 
Columbiana AL
United States of America
I think where Gerald is going would be a blended format and I feel the maturity of this forum has just begun. I am reviewing new technology at the moment that will greatly enhance the platform. We may be to a point where we go in a few different possible directions that I have yet to talk about. The Mamaba is a mature machine and you do need to have time to find its info.

The real question you get to is what would you pay to get your time back?

As a forum matures people wander in and out as they know the forum exisits. I think the Forum format is the stable information hub on the net. Becuase it is moderated and can be focused in on the product. As you mentioned we are talking about things being built with MechMates and even a few folks are moving on. But many are still coming into the fold just not needing to ask questions becuase they are already buried here and they read enough to know that they need to read first then ask questions.

A true product support system could be create using this platform (Vbulletin) blended with the associated website content. It would (as was mentioned) take time, money and effort to keep a core knowledge team on the ready to support the flow of the support requests.

Hmmm .... ideas I love this forum. Stirs the pot. So coming back to Gerald's original question. I think as the world matures the forum based platform, better analytics and searches need to be developed and way to access the content.

I will start looking at updating the forum version, to its latests offerings since we are a few years old now. I think if we are up on the latest rev of vbulleting we could add mobile features that allow field support questions.

The real driver in this I think is to free poeple from the keyboard while still giving them the content control they need. I think the technology is there to allow this we just need to turn it on. I know I increasingly want content on the move and answers. So I use my mobile device to get it.
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  #15  
Old Sat 23 April 2011, 20:48
PEU
Just call me: Pablo
 
Buenos Aires
Argentina
I don't use facebook, my wife does. A few months back a journalist of mine friend asked me why I don't join facebook, that it would help promoting the machines I sell. So I let him seat at my chair, we were in my office, and asked him to show me who would be interested in CNC machines.

After trying to find an audience, or group, or something CNC related in Argentina for a while he finally agreed with me, the people that consumes the machines I sell are not active at FB.

BUT, I told him I'm not giving up, sometime in the future I may join FB, I think there is customers to be made at FB but more in the lines of what Danhamm posted, for end products: signs, crafts or whatever that can be shared with friends as a cool/nice/fancy thing to purchase.

I use twitter, but for reading about stuff I'm interested and every now and then to interact with the ones that generate that stuff, for me its far less time consuming than other networks, maybe because I don't use twittter to socialize, I use it more like a two way RSS feed.

My 2 cents (of peso)


Pablo
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  #16  
Old Sun 24 April 2011, 01:15
Jan de Ruyter
Just call me: Jan
 
Pretoria
South Africa
I agree with Pablo, I'm not in the least interested in someone's horoscope, whether he had a good breakfast or if he is constipated. This is unfortunately what FB has devolved to. It should be a pull system: if you are looking for the information, it is easy to find, but don't carpet bomb me with junk that I'm not in the least interested in.

Everything in life is relative, what is a major event in someone else's life is absolutely boring to another person.

I would clean the forum of chatter but retain useful information.
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  #17  
Old Sun 24 April 2011, 07:51
danhamm
Just call me: Dan
 
Williams Lake B.C. Canada
Canada
I agree with the face book summations, but disagree with stripping the chatter from the forum, I came here years ago looking for info..and found a lot of thought provoking ideas.. which made me come back time after time, I have followed a lot of "convers" filled with useless chatter to find that one "gem"...so if you remove the chatter you will "gut" the character of this forum..."my opinion"..
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  #18  
Old Sun 24 April 2011, 09:48
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
I think we have a good "policy" here; Personal vs Technical threads - Personal threads allow free for all chatter, while Technical threads are kept "dry". I used to spend a lot of time copying bits of posts out of the chatter and placing them in the appropriate technical thread. I wish there was a web service that could automate that!
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  #19  
Old Sun 24 April 2011, 20:04
MetalHead
Just call me: Mike
 
Columbiana AL
United States of America
Now that I agree with for sure. Some multi million dollar systems will do what is called perculation . You weigh the answers. We have all seen, "Did this answer help you?". The more people click yes the more weight that answer gets and comes up more when people search and other stuff ages out. But these are expensive help systems.
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  #20  
Old Mon 25 April 2011, 17:51
lumberjack_jeff
Just call me: Jeff #31
 
Montesano, WA
United States of America
Social media is impermanent. It helps to generate buzz, but little more.

Discussion fora like this one is much more useful for information which benefits from being cataloged.
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  #21  
Old Thu 28 April 2011, 20:26
kbmyers
Just call me: Kent
 
Torrance, CA
United States of America
Hi - I'm new here, but I've been spending a lot of time on this site coming up to speed and deciding if I want to build a MechMate.

A forum is absolutely the best way to tap into the deep community knowledge that only a group of like-minded owners/builders can provide.

That being said, I feel this site could benefit from a Wiki. Similarly to how some posts have been marked as sticky threads, a wiki could be used to gather all the "truths" about building a MechMate into a more accessible format. For example, instead of pouring through a dozen messages titled "will xyz motor work?" you could have a single Wiki entry "Recommended motors and suppliers"

I've still got a lot of reading to do before I feel like I've got a good handle on what goes into building one of these, but so far this looks very exciting.

Thanks for a great site,
Kent
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  #22  
Old Thu 28 April 2011, 22:24
Red_boards
Just call me: Red #91
 
Melbourne
Australia
As a marketer from way back I say, consider your target market first. If, like Peu describes, they are not using a particulr medium, then use the one that they are using. If you want to create a bubble of excitement, then videos posted online can do the work. When combined with email or other avenues, online videos can spread quickly (viral is the term we've all heard). If you have constant updates that are likely to be interesting to the audience, then combining quick, content light media with more stable, information intensive ones can work. But business users are not kind to messages they regard as spam.

PS Good luck with liftlog.com. It looks like an interesting product.
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  #23  
Old Fri 29 April 2011, 05:54
quadtech
Just call me: Prasad
 
Hyderabad
India
One very important consideration when using third party sites - I
understand that many social networking and similar sites have a
policy of retaining the copyright to any pictures, text etc posted there.
This may not be a problem immediately, but one never knows.
Also, we have all seen websites close down - geocities for example.

I think there is no real substitute to a forum of this kind.
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  #24  
Old Fri 29 April 2011, 09:15
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
Prasad, a forum does not give a guarantee that it will always be available. ANY website can disappear in an eyeblink.
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  #25  
Old Fri 29 April 2011, 10:51
rayditutto
Just call me: Robin
 
Victoria
Canada
Send a message via MSN to rayditutto
there are archeological tools that are useful when sites do disappear

eg. the "wayback machine"

it won't get everything but there will be a trail of clues

cheers,
robin

Last edited by rayditutto; Fri 29 April 2011 at 10:59..
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  #26  
Old Sat 30 April 2011, 17:04
beckj
Just call me: Jim
 
Sugar Land, Texas
United States of America
Robin,
I just took a look at that site, very interesting.

I have been looking for some information for over a week now and with the "wayback Machine" I was able to pull up a archive and get most of what I was looking for.

Way-Cool!!
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  #27  
Old Fri 13 May 2011, 20:32
danhamm
Just call me: Dan
 
Williams Lake B.C. Canada
Canada
I see Shopbots going modern, about 3 different facebook pages!!!

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/...434334571&ap=1
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  #28  
Old Sun 22 May 2011, 20:33
zumergido
Just call me: Fernando
 
BS AS
Argentina
may be .. iam on the net since 1992 .. from bbs to internet. from irc chat to icq. i got bored from all that. now iam looking for the puntual information.
if you go to masive will be many lurkers, many people asking random questions and active and experienced users will go away since they are not free support or selling team.
well maybe iam wrong as many times..
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  #29  
Old Mon 23 May 2011, 16:26
kb18951452
Just call me: kb18951452
 
Sunnyvale
United States of America
I think there is a happy hybrid between the wiki and the forum. On posts where information is being gathered, and ideas are being developed, keep the first post updates with whatever was "concluded" from all the folowing posts discussions. So, if your talking about a modification (say a z plate) keep the first post as a one stop shop for the new person, to get "the goodies", and let all the following posts be the discussion.
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  #30  
Old Tue 24 May 2011, 00:23
Gerald D
Just call me: Gerald (retired)
 
Cape Town
South Africa
That is what I was trying to do in the beginning (see selecting motors thread), but it is a big job.
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