Improvements/Ideas for the SINGASTRO forum

Have some suggestions to improve the site? Let's discuss it here....Might do some tests here as well
User avatar
rcj
Vendor
 
Posts: 2953
Joined: Sun Sep 28, 2003 1:46 am
Location: Katong

Improvements/Ideas for the SINGASTRO forum

Postby rcj » Mon Nov 23, 2009 8:22 pm

Been thinking long and hard in this, and as the forum matures beyond its decade of providence of astronomy information and service to the community, there are a few areas worth thinking about (and hopefully put into action) about improving the forum. However there are a few preliminary thoughts that is worth looking into why there is a constant need to do this.

As the internet community evolves, there are emerging challenges to sustain the attention and interest of subscribers in keeping SINGASTRO alive, relevant, and well. There are increasingly more forums, more literature centres that subscribers can easily tune themselves into for more up-to-date information, participating in active centres of discussion, relevant literature, and pursuing greater information depth. Will our subscribers prefer to google and search for a related astronomy subject or ask the question in our forum? Will our subscribers prefer to buy/sell their astronomy items in our forum or elsewhere where they could reach a larger potential base? Will our subscribers seek our forum for upcoming events, or go to other alternate sources of information? These questions are not intended to give hint to any emergent fallacy in the forum, but it is always good to be constantly aware and keep ourselves to date with what the local (and of recent, even regional) community wants/desire. If we are to continually keep the forum alive and bustling, it has to be a hive of active activities, both in depth of content, ease of gathering information, and a reliable source to depend on (minimal down time, etc).

The first impression of the forum is always important to the first-time subscriber. As the forum matures, and more people come to know of it, it is easy to overlook the fact that complacency of the thought (of always telling ourselves that new subscribers will remain actively subscribing rather than passively) will lead to subscriber boredom and predictability. The former is easy to understand - the first few days (or weeks or even months) of subscription is always an exciting one, as one runs through the threads, curiosity prevailing, a sense of enthusiasm entails, but as time passes, one will eventually see how the forum is really like, and this leads to the second point - predictability. Successful platforms of exchanges (which are miraculously matured!) on the internet always has an element of unpredictability, to keep subscribers interested and to also have them contributing. If nothing happens, the forums will eventually be a mundane search engine of archival information, and the occasional "look and see if there is any upcoming event" should somebody posts. The forum will no longer be THE source of information, and subscribers will tend to look elsewhere, and just come back to their "home" forum for occasional "peaks". Is this what we really want? That the forum is just an auxiliary tool of information that worse still, lead to the lack of stimulus in veteran subscribers (for example) contributing anymore? Thus it is important to find out what keeps both new and veteran subscribers coming back to our forum, and what it takes for this to happen continuously over time.

What captures our attention?

Is it the always changing face of the forum? Are there any substantial contributors present in the forum that keeps it going? Or do subscribers come back to the forum to look for upcoming events? Or do subscribers simply use the forum to buy/sell their wares? Are there reliable articles that can provide the subscribers with their needs, there are unique to elsewhere on the internet? Perhaps unique in the sense that it is tailored specially for our region (for example, equatorial stargazing, doing constructive things beyond the threat of worsening light pollution, etc). Or even perhaps, the forum has an X factor that keeps subscribers constantly glued to it. However, recognizing the X factor(s) takes time and keen observation (though sometimes a bit of intuition helps).

With this, here are some suggestions and they are not listed in order of importance:

1) We all know that as human beings, everyone likes to buy things at bargain prices, or sell away their equipment quickly and with ease. And as time passes, the forum seem to be having an increasingly heavier buy/sell traffic that it might be a good time to think about organizing these buy/sell data effectively. We could follow like what other forums are doing, separate the astronomical buy/sell section to certain types of equipment (for example, Telescopes and Binoculars, Eyepieces, Accessories, Imaging Equipment, etc).

2) The frontal face of the forum needs to be in constant change and dynamism. This greatly helps to maintain a sense of curiosity and wonder not just for the newbies but have the veterans coming back constantly. For example, if there is going to be a new impact scar on Jupiter, the front face should have this information. Or should there be an upcoming big event in Singapore, it should be made obvious. Take www.spaceweather.com for example, even tough it is not a forum, it is an active source for new celestial events because it has an almost voluntarily base of amateur astronomers ever willing to post new information to the website.

3) Being an astronomical forum, it is good to have "live" information embedded, such as the current lunar phase, solar activity, online almanac display/calculator, etc. This helps to give the local subscribers relevance and also enable them to make plans at "first glance" (such as if they noticed from the forum that it is new moon, they will want to take a look at the events section to see if there is any session on, etc).

4) Articles/Reviews should be kept within the forum website. This lessens the chance of information facing unforeseen/unexpected alterations/deletion and makes the forum full and as complete as possible. It is always a challenge having to find contributors writing new articles/reviews all the time, but sometimes whether they are keen to contribute also depends on the health of the forum. If they know there is a large active audience, they will be more inclined to contribute and have their efforts and time spent paid off. This is a win-win situation for both the contributor and the reader.

5) Live chat sessions. Depending on the possibility of the forum hosting package, having an occasional area for special online live discussions would be an interesting activity for active exchange and bonding between subscribers. This could be in the form of for example, if a notable meteor shower is coming, or if an overseas manufacturer has released a new product that is of great/potential interest to the local community, or simply a discussion about an upcoming local event, etc.

6) A calendar of events located within the forum website area for subscribers to have a "one look" live view of what they can expect in the current month or next to come, rather than to sieve through the Events sections for potential events that may or may not happen (due to last minute bad weather, etc). This is not to say that the Events section is passe, but having a calendar further reinforces the Events sections and provide a summary of event data for the month.

7) Updated links and have them better organized, kept up-to-date as well.

8) This is not really important but it helps to keep the forum face interesting - the top banner should reflect upon astronomical current activity happening locally or globally, such as if this is the year of Astronomy, the top banner should reflect this. This helps to keep the forum (again) in relevance, and create a sense of activeness.

There are still many more to list, but the above are just some areas to keep everyone putting on their thinking cap and where possible (at best) actioned upon. I know it takes time and energy and resources to keep the forum alive, but hopefully the above has given triggered an engine start to keep things going towards a brighter future for our beloved forum - SINGASTRO.

Cheers,
Remus
Photon Bucket
http://www.celestialportraits.com
Facebook page: celestialportraits

User avatar
kingkong
 
Posts: 585
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2004 4:33 pm
Location: Borneo

Postby kingkong » Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:18 pm

remove the ban on talks of politics and religion. that should warm/heat things up... [smilie=meh.gif]

User avatar
fizzy123
 
Posts: 680
Joined: Sun Jan 18, 2004 12:47 pm
Location: Tampines

Postby fizzy123 » Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:52 pm

The ban on discussions on religion and politics should stay. In fact, I do feel uncomfortable at times even talking to my friends with regards to issue like potential life forms on exoplanets, as some of them are extremely staunch individulas that strongly believe that life on earth is a unique creation by an omnipotent being.

Talking about improvements, my attitude towards visitng this forum is exactly the same as what is described by Remus. It is the initial curiosity and enthusiasm that drives me to read through the lengthy volumes of forum exchanges. Overtime, it became more of see what observation events are available for me to participate. When I tried to inspire my friends'interest in star-gazing by referring them to the site, most felt that the site is a little too intimidating for a total noobie to fathom. No doubt there is a beginner section, but the lack of dedicated articles and the rather in depth discussion (e.g. how to boresight finders, algin EQM), have left them bewildered. But I am not criticizing anyone as I know that it takes a lot of effort and commitment to come up with dedicated, original articles.

Some improvements are such that we can create newsflash style of presentation for upcoming events on the first page. E.g. 2 more days to sidewalk astronomy. We can also put the sidewalk astronomer events into a special obvious corner of the webpage, as this is an ever on-going singastro outreach event that is unique to this forum.

User avatar
VinSnr
Administrator
 
Posts: 2302
Joined: Sun Sep 28, 2003 7:01 pm
Location: Andromeda Galaxy

Re: Improvements/Ideas for the SINGASTRO forum

Postby VinSnr » Mon Nov 23, 2009 11:37 pm

1) We all know that as human beings, everyone likes to buy things at bargain prices, or sell away their equipment quickly and with ease. And as time passes, the forum seem to be having an increasingly heavier buy/sell traffic that it might be a good time to think about organizing these buy/sell data effectively. We could follow like what other forums are doing, separate the astronomical buy/sell section to certain types of equipment (for example, Telescopes and Binoculars, Eyepieces, Accessories, Imaging Equipment, etc).

2) The frontal face of the forum needs to be in constant change and dynamism. This greatly helps to maintain a sense of curiosity and wonder not just for the newbies but have the veterans coming back constantly. For example, if there is going to be a new impact scar on Jupiter, the front face should have this information. Or should there be an upcoming big event in Singapore, it should be made obvious. Take www.spaceweather.com for example, even tough it is not a forum, it is an active source for new celestial events because it has an almost voluntarily base of amateur astronomers ever willing to post new information to the website.

3) Being an astronomical forum, it is good to have "live" information embedded, such as the current lunar phase, solar activity, online almanac display/calculator, etc. This helps to give the local subscribers relevance and also enable them to make plans at "first glance" (such as if they noticed from the forum that it is new moon, they will want to take a look at the events section to see if there is any session on, etc).

4) Articles/Reviews should be kept within the forum website. This lessens the chance of information facing unforeseen/unexpected alterations/deletion and makes the forum full and as complete as possible. It is always a challenge having to find contributors writing new articles/reviews all the time, but sometimes whether they are keen to contribute also depends on the health of the forum. If they know there is a large active audience, they will be more inclined to contribute and have their efforts and time spent paid off. This is a win-win situation for both the contributor and the reader.

5) Live chat sessions. Depending on the possibility of the forum hosting package, having an occasional area for special online live discussions would be an interesting activity for active exchange and bonding between subscribers. This could be in the form of for example, if a notable meteor shower is coming, or if an overseas manufacturer has released a new product that is of great/potential interest to the local community, or simply a discussion about an upcoming local event, etc.

6) A calendar of events located within the forum website area for subscribers to have a "one look" live view of what they can expect in the current month or next to come, rather than to sieve through the Events sections for potential events that may or may not happen (due to last minute bad weather, etc). This is not to say that the Events section is passe, but having a calendar further reinforces the Events sections and provide a summary of event data for the month.

7) Updated links and have them better organized, kept up-to-date as well.

8) This is not really important but it helps to keep the forum face interesting - the top banner should reflect upon astronomical current activity happening locally or globally, such as if this is the year of Astronomy, the top banner should reflect this. This helps to keep the forum (again) in relevance, and create a sense of activeness.

There are still many more to list, but the above are just some areas to keep everyone putting on their thinking cap and where possible (at best) actioned upon. I know it takes time and energy and resources to keep the forum alive, but hopefully the above has given triggered an engine start to keep things going towards a brighter future for our beloved forum - SINGASTRO.

Cheers,
Remus


Hi Remus, the above are all very good inputs. However, to do the above, we seriously need a team of very dedicated volunteers who have time to commit to all of the above on a FREQUENT basis.

Do you have any volunteers or even yourself to do the above?

Or are there volunteers from this forum itself?

User avatar
andeelym
 
Posts: 423
Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:01 pm

Postby andeelym » Wed Nov 25, 2009 1:21 am

Frankly, not sure on how IDA is going to support this initiative as LP might not be useful to IDA as an Infocomm Development Authority. Just my 2 cents.

But the LP map idea is good.

User avatar
andeelym
 
Posts: 423
Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 11:01 pm

Postby andeelym » Wed Nov 25, 2009 3:04 pm

croys wrote:Umm... not sure if you're kidding...

I meant IDA as in the International Dark-Sky Association:

http://www.darksky.org/

Cheers,
Stuart


Lol, i wasn't joking, just a misunderstanding of acronyms. sorry.

User avatar
rcj
Vendor
 
Posts: 2953
Joined: Sun Sep 28, 2003 1:46 am
Location: Katong

Postby rcj » Sun Dec 13, 2009 8:09 am

that's a great initiative on the LP project, Stuart. Being previously in the remote-sensing field, it has been a long time since there has been a comprehensive light pollution map of malaysia and singapore.

Vincent, I think we can open the volunteering to others here, or perhaps if there are people out there reading this, do feel free to air your thoughts. Have a few ideas on the drawing board, but with an unreliable internet connection over here, it is hard to get serious coding work done regularly. Will get to these ideas more concretely once the repatriation process is over.

Additionally, I have discussed with Meng Lee and rest about a combined DSO project that we could engage upon with fellow SINGASTRO imagers to take advantage (or perhaps disadvantage?!!) of the precious clear sky time we have, whereby a few imagers can gather data from the same object and do a collaboration composite image, etc. We could also do something like that for a giant mosaic of the moon, something like what Patrick Moore and friends have done lately. Many more ideas flowing, but need to get home first then talk!
Photon Bucket
http://www.celestialportraits.com
Facebook page: celestialportraits

User avatar
Gary
 
Posts: 3790
Joined: Tue Sep 30, 2003 7:06 am
Location: Toa Payoh

Postby Gary » Sun Jul 18, 2010 4:37 am

I think using a Blog will address most of the concerns raised by Remus.

The current homepage of Singastro is quite intimidating for the general public who is visiting singastro.org for the first time. Too many text links too many choices. The most eye-catching info at the center of the webpage is a message about login problems and dated 2008. Not a very attractive first impression. :)

This is what I propose. Power Singastro.org using a blog software (e.g Wordpress). Then, the first impression will be more impressive with the latest articles, announcements with nice embedded photos which is most probably what most users are looking for in the first place. There will be a prominent link to the current forum for users who would like to visit it and find out more info.

A group of senior members can write (ie. blog) regularly. This gives them more freedom and motivation to write more comprehensive and informative articles. The immediate feedback from comments to their blogs will further motivate them to write better articles and engage the reader more directly. The reader does not need to go through a series of steps to register as a forum member just to post a comment or ask a question.

Anyone can submit/email their articles for publishing to this blog as long as they follow certain guidelines (e.g. no politics, religions). No anonymous writers allowed. All must blog with their real names. Over time, this will raise the quality of the articles in Singastro.org. It is also more attractive and professional-looking for the local media to linked to a well written Singastro blog than to a long page of text-only post hidden deep inside the forum.

Widgets can also be easily added to the blog homepage to show updated info - upcoming events, videos, tweets, chatboxes, moon phases, animated slideshows ...etc.

I am curious to find out how many unique visitors we get on a daily basis and on average how long each unique visitor stayed before leaving singastro.org. *IF* we do implement such a blog in the future, we can then compare the same statistics and objectively judge the results of such an implementation. Since adding a blog does not require any change to the current forum, if the blog implementation turns out to be unsuccessful in reaching its goals, we can always remove it and go back to this forum-only format.

Next

Return to Feedback Corner/Test Corner

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests