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VeganOstomy
(@veganostomy)
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March 24, 2018 12:49 pm  

I want to share some of my plans for the website/forum but would like feedback from you all before I make any changes.

Problem:

I get a lot of comments on articles, many of them are questions that I believe would be better handled on the forums, but it's very difficult to ask/convince someone who's posted a comment to register on the forums and then post it again. 

Possible Solution:

I have access to a plugin that would bridge the gap, so when I create a new article on the website, a "duplicate" will be posted on the forums for discussion.

When someone comments to either the forum post or the original article, their comment will be on both the forum and the comment section of the article. 

The would allow any forum member to reply and their reply would show up in the article comment section (and vice versa). 

This would allow for the most interaction and engagement among members of the forum and people posting comments (who may not be forum members). 

A few caveats/observations:

I've been experimenting on my side to see what options I have. 

My biggest problem is whether to make it mandatory that someone log into their user account before posting a comment in an article or if they should be able to post a comment as a guest with just a name and email (as it is right now).

  1. If registering/logging in is mandatory, it may be a barrier for someone commenting in articles. At the same time, if a new user wants to comment to an article, they'd be required to go to the registration page, fill that out, then go back to the article and comment (or comment on the forums if they know where to look). This is obviously a little inconvenient for a new user. 
  2. If users do not have to register to post a comment in an article (as it is now), their comment will still show up on the forum (likely as a guest... this not tested until I purchase this plugin), but future interactions may be broken as they won't have a forum account and lose the benefits of having one (i.e. creating an avatar, having a history of your comments, etc.)

Slight inconveniences aside, a few major benefits to logging in to comment are that:

  • Your questions will be better answered and follow up on by other forum members (i.e. your article comment will be more visible to others who can answer these questions). 
  • Your username will link back to your forum profile.
  • You'll have full access to the forums like other members do (allowing you to interact on the forums, rather than in the comment section of an article). 
  • Allows more social features to be accessed, like private messages, signatures, and future features.
  • It will help to prevent spam in the comment section (which is currently being managed quite efficiently, but it still takes up a lot of my time to make sure "spam" is actually spam). 

 I know there's a lot here to consider, but I've been working out these scenarios for many days, and ultimately I need any plans/changes to benefit the community.

Your questions and feedback about these plans are welcome! 

Just your friendly neighborhood ostomate.

~ Crohn's Disease ¦ Ileostomy ~


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john68
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March 24, 2018 2:04 pm  

Hi Eric, My thoughts are, ARTICLES- I have always thought they don,t get enough debate on the forum!! the solution you suggest that they would appear on the forum and some issues could be answered by a member would take pressure of you and open up more questions for debate! CAVEATS/OBSERVATIONS-I See the point you are making, Having to become a member keeps a lot of spam as you say of the site and if any one could post at will it could lead to an unwanted/ hurtful rely! On the other hand could it be possible say a non-member posts a comment more than 2/3 times they are granted membership! until that happens they appear as you say under the title GUEST. Keeping an eye on the site for spam etc it is up to all members to help out by reporting to Eric any unwanted unhelpful posts! Thank you for the hard work lad and giving us the chance to be part of some thing very important!!

ileostomy 31st August 1994 for Crohns


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VeganOstomy
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March 24, 2018 4:19 pm  
Posted by: john68

On the other hand could it be possible say a non-member posts a comment more than 2/3 times they are granted membership! until that happens they appear as you say under the title GUEST. 

Thanks for your feedback, John. 

This would not be possible as membership  requires that a password be created. 

Based on observation, most people who comment in articles do so more than once, so they've been back and have interacted enough to have a user account. 

I'm still exploring ways to perhaps make registration and logging in easier, and that would alleviate some of these concerns. 

 

Just your friendly neighborhood ostomate.

~ Crohn's Disease ¦ Ileostomy ~


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john68
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March 24, 2018 5:31 pm  

I get the drift, One thing I have noticed this pass while is the number of new faces on the forum which is great to see! Looking forward to any future plans. Cheers Eric.

ileostomy 31st August 1994 for Crohns


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Dona
 Dona
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March 24, 2018 5:33 pm  

Eric,

These are good questions and I am thinking about these issues. I am not techno savy though.

A question:

The member numbers listed at the bottom of this page ( today its 618). Are those people who have registered for this forum and created passwords?

If so I sure wish there is a way to encourage more people to participate. And to have more of them post introductions. I think it would really add to our discussions to know more about who we are.

and a big THANK YOU for keeping the dreaded spam at bay!

Onset of severe Ulcerative Colitus Oct.2012. Subtotal colectomy with illiostomy July 2015; Peristomal hernia repair ( Sugarbaker, mesh, laparoscopic) May 2017.


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john68
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March 24, 2018 6:05 pm  

Hi Dona, I agree with yer observation, I know that a lot of folk/ostamates are watching and learning form the site and some may be shy about posting. but everyones story and experience can only help and encourage!

ileostomy 31st August 1994 for Crohns


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VeganOstomy
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March 24, 2018 6:47 pm  
Posted by: Dona

The member numbers listed at the bottom of this page ( today its 618). Are those people who have registered for this forum and created passwords?

Great question. These seem to be registered users with name/password (I get an email when a new member signs up), but I don't know why they register and then don't participate since you don't need to register to see the forum content.

It crossed my mind to make certain areas viewable only by logged in members... this is an entirely different topic and I'm torn between the implications.

  • It would limit access to people who are simply looking for help/information.  I want to open up access, not restrict it. 
  • It would significantly increase membership, although the ethics behind this type of walled garden is debatable. I personally hate when I have to register somewhere to just access more information, but it's a very effective strategy for building newsletter lists, membership, etc. 

I was going to do a mass purge of inactive users, but then I discovered that many who are registered and have not participated in the forums have commented on articles.  It's actually one of the reasons why I was looking into this cross-post solution between the comments and forum.

Just your friendly neighborhood ostomate.

~ Crohn's Disease ¦ Ileostomy ~


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john68
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March 24, 2018 7:25 pm  

If a member joins and never posts a comment it is a real shame! BUT if that member has gained just one bit of information that makes their life better VO has achieved its goal. We have a number of active members who post on a regular basis including myself! this may be a good influence or it may be putting new members off! What I mean is it like being the new kid at school or starting a new job! it takes a while to find yer feet.

ileostomy 31st August 1994 for Crohns


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Dona
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March 24, 2018 7:30 pm  

Yes, I get the whole problem with the 'walled garden' approach too. We need to encourage participation.

I guess you could think about WHY people are here ( as I am sure you have done).  for my part I came because I needed help. Now that I have gotten that help and support I wish to give back by adding any information I can that might help those that need it. ( and of course, I could need more help in the future that this forum would be invaluable for).

I have also given this website info to other people who need help ( a couple of neighbors and my GI doctor who was going to pass it on to the ostomy nurses).

I for sure benefit from hearing people tell their stories. I had no idea how varied a bunch we are ( all to the good).

also, I have been remiss I think in not reading the comments on your articles!. I think I just read the posts on this forum. 

Funny thing about ME  ... the very day I signed up here to participate here on the forum I had to go to the ER ( overnight... the dreaded NG tube)) for my hernia and didn't even post my first comment or introduction for about three or four weeks. So some people that have signed up my just not be ready yet?

Onset of severe Ulcerative Colitus Oct.2012. Subtotal colectomy with illiostomy July 2015; Peristomal hernia repair ( Sugarbaker, mesh, laparoscopic) May 2017.


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VeganOstomy
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March 24, 2018 9:20 pm  
Posted by: Dona

Yes, I get the whole problem with the 'walled garden' approach too. We need to encourage participation.

 

I think people do want to participate (lots of comments in the articles), but I want to bridge that with the forums so there is more visibility among members and more questions can be answered. 

The problem is how to go about the whole membership requirement - or non-requirement. 

Technically, I could just implement the cross post feature and see how things go, then adjust as needed. Personally, I'd rather plan it out so I don't run into any "oops" situations where something hasn't been thought of and it negatively impacts the user's experience. 

Funny thing about ME  ... the very day I signed up here to participate here on the forum I had to go to the ER ( overnight... the dreaded NG tube)) for my hernia and didn't even post my first comment or introduction for about three or four weeks. So some people that have signed up my just not be ready yet?

Yes, I believe that. I see many people who register but don't post for a while after. I'm totally fine with that, too. 

Having forum and comments talk to each other could stimulate more discussions and engagements. 

I may bite the bullet and purchase this addon, test it behind the scenes and decide from then if it's worth using on this site. 

Thank you both for your feedback and thoughts. 

Just your friendly neighborhood ostomate.

~ Crohn's Disease ¦ Ileostomy ~


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Erin
 Erin
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March 24, 2018 10:04 pm  

Hi Eric, hi everyone.
 I'm actually one of those new users who have posted comments on articles/reviews but just tonight registered so please don't purge me!

I actually decided to register so I would have consistency; I wasn't sure if I had commented under more than one name and I gave up hunting around looking for past comments! So that's a pro to registering for me.

I'm also one of those people who prefers to find answers via already existing threads than posting their own, and many forums/threads are public so registration is unnecessary. Honestly when I first found Vegan Ostomy if I had to register to comment/question I wouldn't bother. So yes I think with this new plug in if you made registering mandatory it will deter certain people who don't plan on interacting regularly with the forums.

On the other side though, registering would make interacting with someone easier as you stated since the username will be consistent  (which is why I registered).  It's possible too that the people who were originally deterred will eventually register once they interact with the site enough.

  I'm a bit of an introvert and don't keep up well with social sites which is why I'm not on a lot of them, but I made an account on Vegan Ostomy finally because I wanted to start exploring the forums. I also like that it's not just a forum site so I can keep interacting with it how I mostly do (reading/watching product reviews) but I have the option of popping onto the forums if I have a question or to see what else is going on with the site,etc.  

So ultimately , I think it would be worth testing out a registration only approach for commenting, while keeping the content publicly visible. Would it be possible to add a 'quick register' mechanic under the comment box so people could register without leaving the page they're on? I think that would encourage people to register more.

Hope my input is helpful and thanks for a great site :)

~Erin

Female, 30's
UC Survivor.
Emergency ileostomy surgery Nov 25, 2010
(Happy Thanksgiving<_< )


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VeganOstomy
(@veganostomy)
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March 24, 2018 10:37 pm  
Posted by: Erin

Hi Eric, hi everyone.
 I'm actually one of those new users who have posted comments on articles/reviews but just tonight registered so please don't purge me!

Welcome to the forums, Erin!!

I promise not to purge anyone! :) 

I actually decided to register so I would have consistency; I wasn't sure if I had commented under more than one name and I gave up hunting around looking for past comments! So that's a pro to registering for me.

I'm also one of those people who prefers to find answers via already existing threads than posting their own, and many forums/threads are public so registration is unnecessary. Honestly when I first found Vegan Ostomy if I had to register to comment/question I wouldn't bother. So yes I think with this new plug in if you made registering mandatory it will deter certain people who don't plan on interacting regularly with the forums.

This is very insightful. Thank you.

On the other side though, registering would make interacting with someone easier as you stated since the username will be consistent  (which is why I registered).  It's possible too that the people who were originally deterred will eventually register once they interact with the site enough.

I think what might end up happening is that people will see the value in registering after forum replies answer the questions they leave in the comment section. If some don't, no problem, but I think there's value for those who do register. 

Would it be possible to add a 'quick register' mechanic under the comment box so people could register without leaving the page they're on? I think that would encourage people to register more.

This is something I'll have to research and test. That is my goal, and if I can do that, I think most of my concerns will be nullified! 

Just your friendly neighborhood ostomate.

~ Crohn's Disease ¦ Ileostomy ~


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Zvitusk
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March 25, 2018 1:51 am  

Hi Erin, welcome to our forum. I hope you would feel comfortable with us. Tell us about yourself.  Don't be squeamish. 


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Robert
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March 25, 2018 2:03 pm  

Hello All  . I agree with John its a shame if somebody joins but never posts a comment but if they can learn something here like I have then its all good . Like Dona said with the members list growing if everybody was to post something it would be hard to read them all . Which would surely keep you busy Eric . But I think to many comments could detour people from trying to learn and get information from here . I also agree with Z in the information about yourself on your profile just tell us a little about yourself maybe it would help to make people a little more comfortable as far as not being sure what to say or being squeamish ! New members tell it like it is we've all been there in one way or another .

And Erin welcome to the group .

Subtotal colectomy and Proctectomy , Ileostomy , Ulcerative Colitis


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VeganOstomy
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March 25, 2018 3:43 pm  

Ok, so I've purchased the addon and have been working on this pretty much all day to see what features and options it gives. 

I'm also testing a new commenting system (for articles) that's made by the same people who developed this forum, and it offers more flexibility over the previous (default) commenting system. 

One of the new features that I'm testing is the ability to send new users who haven't commented before to a "new user welcome" page after they post their first comment. This only happens when a guest posts for the first time and will not affect users who are logged in.

This welcome page would highlight some of the benefits of registering as a VeganOstomy Community Member, and I'm hoping it's a reasonable approach. Members who already have a forum account can use that to log in and comment normally - I will likely have a log in button or widget somewhere on every page on the site to make that easier for registered members.

Does this idea sound ok? There's really a fine line between keeping the comment/forums open to guests (without needing to register), inviting new users to register, making it convenient for current users to log in, and balancing all that so it's not overly complicated or redundant. 

The only other alternative would be to make registration mandatory to post comments, but I already know that will prevent shy/new users from posting a comment, so this is not my favorite option.

Just your friendly neighborhood ostomate.

~ Crohn's Disease ¦ Ileostomy ~


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john68
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March 25, 2018 4:46 pm  

Evening Eric, I am by no means computer savvy! but I can get where yer going with this! Making the forum more accessible to new or shy members is really important and will help VO offer more help and encourage more questions and debate. Really looking forward to what it brings!!!!! Ye have my vote.

ileostomy 31st August 1994 for Crohns


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Zvitusk
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March 26, 2018 12:03 am  

My inadequate knowledge of what is best for us shames me. I am too much of a newbie to give you intelligent advice.

Having said that,  from what I can hear and see, the main danger is from spamming  and abusive practices . What's the solution or solutions. How do others solve this problem?  At what cost? Who pays ?

Is the website too much for Eric to handle as a hobby? Since there is no revenue stream, he must be paying out of his pocket. Is this righteous? 

Maybe, it will be worthwhile to explore the situation further .


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VeganOstomy
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March 26, 2018 12:19 am  
Posted by: Zvitusk

Having said that,  from what I can hear and see, the main danger is from spamming  and abusive practices . What's the solution or solutions. How do others solve this problem?  At what cost? Who pays ?

Actually, I have some fairly reliable and sophisticated spam controls in place - but unfortunately, like with an email account "spam folder", sometimes the wrong stuff gets in there and I do manually check to make sure that legitimate comments aren't being blocked. 

For those who are interested, nearly 1000 spam comments are automatically blocked each month. 

The new commenting system I have in place will reduce that significantly as I have one of those "enter the code" things for unregistered users.

Is the website too much for Eric to handle as a hobby? Since there is no revenue stream, he must be paying out of his pocket. Is this righteous? 

I used to pay for everything out of pocket (several thousands a year) to keep things running, but I've been fortunate to have donations come in and some money through speaking engagements I do from time to time. 

I'm hoping that some of these new comment/forum reply implementations can help make things move along more smoothly. I don't mind spending time helping people or creating new content, but I don't want to spend time fixing problems that shouldn't happen. 

With that said, the cross-post plugin and new comment system is running, but I'll be testing more before I roll it out at full speed :) 

Just your friendly neighborhood ostomate.

~ Crohn's Disease ¦ Ileostomy ~


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VeganOstomy
(@veganostomy)
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March 30, 2018 11:44 am  

UPDATE: 

I've started linking a few articles to the forum - this one here is filled with comments that were posted under the original article, but can be replied to from the forum :)

https://www.veganostomy.ca/community/ostomy-products/are-pouch-liner-flushable/

On a side note, since I've implemented the new comment system (which requires a "captcha" to be entered when a new user posts), I've had exactly zero spam comments posted (not just spam comments filtered, but spam comments posted at all!).

So far, this looks like a good decision :) 

Just your friendly neighborhood ostomate.

~ Crohn's Disease ¦ Ileostomy ~


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Dona
 Dona
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April 2, 2018 1:53 pm  

Eric, whatever you did I think its GREAT that we are getting more guest posts now. It has really added to the forum to have more voices. Thanks.

Onset of severe Ulcerative Colitus Oct.2012. Subtotal colectomy with illiostomy July 2015; Peristomal hernia repair ( Sugarbaker, mesh, laparoscopic) May 2017.


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