Managing A Forum of Worldwide Participants

Discussion in 'Blogs' started by Mike, Nov 30, 2010.

  1. Mike

    Mike Windows Forum Admin
    Staff Member Premium Supporter

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    In this entry, I’ll give some insight into how a daily day on the forums takes place. At least on my end. I hope to provide this insight into those who are interested. Although we have come a long way, I believe so much more can be accomplished here at Windows7Forums.com.

    As we approach our official forum staff meeting on Skype, tentatively scheduled for December 4th, I am left to think about how our once small website has become an important place for information exchange, and hopefully, a nice place for people to enjoy. We have had two full staff meetings to date, one of which has been placed online, with the other going unrecorded due to time constraints after technical issues and time zone misinterpretations created some delays.


    The forum staff meeting is an official way to communicate our thoughts, as administrators and moderators, over, quite simply a phone call. Of course, this is just not just any phone call. We can conference in over up to a dozen people, which is just enough for our staff needs. The VoIP client Skype, allows us to share our screen, if we need to, as well as perform video conferencing, which we haven’t done yet. But best of all, just by maintaining a Skype username, our forum staff from around the world can communicate with each other either one-on-one or in a large conference call.


    Sometimes, the exchange of information and ideas, especially for decision makers who live all around the world, is not enough to put in writing. Our meetings are based on different themes. The website has existed for a long time, and these were not our only two meetings on Skype. The idea to use Skype arose out of administrative chats that took place nearly every other day from around mid-to-late 2008 and onwards. These discussions involved a lot of hot topics that the forum was debating at the time, and always have had an impact on the direction the forums went in. These discussions have come to an end, at least for now, after Ross Cameron (kemical)’s removal as an administrator, and Michel Myles (whoosh)'s resignation due to family obligations. This leads me as the last administrator, but I am not without Skype meetings.


    These days, I discuss forum topics frequently with Randy B. (Trouble) and Mitchell A. (Mitchell_A). As a young moderator turned public relations volunteer, Mitchell provides unique insight into forum policy, and as an experienced veteran, Randy excels in candid assessments of forum issues that I rely on, and never take for granted. The two of them form a core. I find myself able to see the forums from the eye of the average user with Mitchell, who frequently displays to me his prowess in technical issues. More often, however, in confidential discussions, I can rely on his ability to see the forums from a new member’s perspective while always keeping his eye on the big picture. When I discuss issues with Randy, these are usually about decisions that would have a far reaching impact on the website for a long-term period of time.


    We discuss issues in our private Staff Forum every day, but these are usually the run of the mill problems. Spam and other rule violations are issues we have always dealt with. There, we process reports, warnings, and other activity as a central hub. Occasionally, announcements are made to clarify rules that have been set forth, or short-term plans are discussed in greater detail so that the staff can weigh in on the issues and also be aware of a situation that’s in progress. I have always taken the advice and candor of the rest of the staff as something important. Sometimes, quick and decisive action is necessary, but there are many times where debate is very important, and essential, to keep the website the way it should be.


    On days when I know that I will be using the forums heavily, I try to address issues posed in our staff forum. There are days where I will set an agenda, and that will either involve working on implementing new features, dealing with a serious problem, posting to the forum to help, replying to Premium Supporters and answering e-mail queries, or planning. So I often find myself prioritizing different goals and setting an agenda. I split the agenda into: Programming, Conflict Resolution, Correspondence, Content Development, or Feature Planning. Nearly all days will be a mix.


    For instance, we recently have a problem as we uncovered that a very well-known and prominent Windows 7 site has been using signature links to advertise their website here using spam tactics. This has apparently been from an outsourced company we were able to trace to Mumbai, India. After immediately e-mailing the website’s management, I now have to look into contingency plans, including considering blocking new signature creation for new users until they reach a certain threshold. While the spammers were banned, we need to decide whether we will make it harder for these people to do their dirty work. A similar, but more serious development took place another groups a few months ago. The matter was resolved by leaving the spam accounts banned, as other Windows 7 forum sites have done. One way or another, we will confront this new issue, but with increasing concern.


    This is just one day, or one night, of issues I deal with as an administrator of this site – and owner. This type of work is business, and I try to make sure not everyone on our staff has to deal with it. It should be my job to work it out. But increasingly, Skype has become a great tool for us. I have started using Skype to exchange ideas with one of the website’s primary business partners, besides Google. I have met this affiliate in New York, but now we have the opportunity to communicate from one side of the globe to the other. And on December 4<sup>th</sup>, if we have a good showing, we will have a great conversation about the latest forum issues with the entire staff. The most exciting part, for me, is the knowledge that our entire website will be able to access this discussion, and provide feedback, if they so choose. An enormous staple of Windows7Forums.com involves including members and sometimes letting them fill in the blanks.


    We have made remarkable progress over the last several months. We have reintroduced translation services, but this time with more refined and professional code. I have developed a new primary theme for the website which we will eventually branch out to other designs. In December, we will launch our winter seasonal theme. My YouTube videos encompass many tutorials and I’m proud to say so many of them were complete in less than a years’ time with a relatively good reception.


    Changing our services to a new datacenter has been instrumental in allowing us to build more features. My works, and the contributions of others, are never complete on the forums. What I have witnessed has been the careful evolution of a community that supports itself – through helpful answers and provocative ideas. I have watched what would be considered a pretty boring post get 100,000 views overnight, but have never seen one incredibly written and detailed never not be seen. The forums have become a unique place to find an answer to Windows 7 problems, and that is something I am proud of. But, I also realize that at the same time, pride doesn’t make the site better. Working with people, whether they be new members, established ones, certified or self-taught, is what it is all about. Making contributions that are universal to understand is something that is key to keeping our website relevant, as well as preserving the information we have for what it is worth at all times.


    Fighting off the hordes of spam and the challenges that every social networking site has to face is a challenge that keeps us alive on the forums. Delving into computer security issues and keeping appraised at all times about the prospects of a new Windows operating system.


    I believe that these characteristics are needed. And so as I find myself welcoming what could become the next generation of our forum staff, I am very excited. Zvit and Captain Jack bring a lot to the table that is inspiring and reminds me the forums are built to last. With that, I look forward to continuing to maintain Windows7Forums.com and expand it to encompass new versions of Windows as time goes on. I look to find better ways to bring new members to the table, and give them an opportunity to share their knowledge. I am grateful to know that an entire community of individuals exists that is based on helping others – not for money – but for the simple gratification of knowing a problem has been solved.


    In the future, I will continue to update this blog with new content, as I have in the past. Until then, take care. I hope this has given you some insight into how work is accomplished that keeps us on our toes and makes your forum experience that much more exciting. In essence, our focus, as a team is:


    Your satisfaction using Windows 7 Forums
    The retention of information for preservation, archival, and problem solving
    The successful introduction of new features
    Our ability to communicate ideas to all visitors
    Properly representing an open discussion forum for technology which is unbiased
    Maintaining a website that is not only technologically legitimate, but entertaining


    As always, this is a work in progress. Take care, Mike
     
  2. Mitchell_A

    Mitchell_A Excellent Member

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    Very, Very Candid entry, Mike.

    Your dedication has been noticed - if only we could somehow re-imburse it all!
     
  3. DanDan

    DanDan New Member

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    I am always amazed at the devoted within forum communities. Your work is impressive.
     

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