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ArticleId: 1505 Written: 2006.05.10 by: Robin Tivy

A number of important contributors have asked for more "community features". See the previous discussion, which also covered other things. One suggestion was having "comment forms" below photos. I think the idea is that you post a picture, and then people comment on it. So I guess it is worthwhile to look into it. First thing is to figure out how such a thing is actually used. I've implemented a lot of features in Bivouac that are barely used, but which various important people thought were a good idea. I've spent the past 2 weeks trying to sort thru them all. Right now there are over 200 database tables in Bivouac, and less than 1/3 of them are core. Problem is, a lot of them are seldom used, so I think we should be sure of what we are doing before racing out and implementing some more.

So what I'd like to get is actual case studies, where the comments I see on other sites are acually accomplishing things. Right now, we have a recommendation system, and you can email anyone who posts a recommendation, so in that way you know who likes what.

And there is this discussion mechanism. And a thing to post "Proposed Trips". So what's needed? When I look at the other sites, all I see are a bunch of comments that are fairly useless, such as "Nice Picture", and it seems to me that the recommendation system accomplishes the same goal.


Comments

#707 - 2006.05.26 Robin Tivy - Thinking of "Additional Info" comments attached to Trips and photos
Maybe what would be good would be a "bulletin like" feature such as "Additional Info" below trips and photos. I can see it would be interesting if someone could provide some additional info about a route that someone writes up. Right now I'm desperately trying to fix all the things wrong with the existing design, so it may be some time before change is made. I can't even answer my emails, it seems...

#704 - 2006.05.21 Jordan Peters - Discussion forum separate from the encyclopedia
Sandra says: " . . . but am less keen on a standard bulletin board set up as Jordan suggested (earlier in this thread), as this bulletin board section of Bivouac has been here for a while and doesn't attract much discussion."

  - I think the reason why this discussion forum doesn't attract much activity is because the "blank page" nature of it is so goddamned boring. Categories and threads that don't DISAPPEAR after 7 days seem to get a lot more involvement over time.

Sandra says: "I wouldn't want to lose the "encyclopedic" value of Bivouac (for want of a better term). I find TR's on the other bulletin boards are either short on detail or inaccurate (the party thinks they were on the south ridge but were actually on the west ridge or describes the route as 80 degree snow when it is 40 degrees) - and this limits the usefulness of those TR's for information to repeat the route."

  - In no way am I suggesting, or have suggested, that a forum should include spots for trip reports. The strength of bivouac lies in the pretty "bulletproof" data that accompanies trip reports and it would be downright silly to have trip report forums in any discussion pages. Greg notes that current BC hiking discussion boards are choked to the gills with bullshit. If you are referring to clubtread, Greg, then I would certainly agree. This current articulate and healthy discussion is evidence that a bivouac.com discussion board would be much meatier.

My initial and continuing concern lies in the way that BC climbers don't really have the same community equivalent that has arisen via cascadeclimbers.com. Yes, a COMPLETELY different site, but I think we've got to realize that forums attached to gripped.com, alpinist.com, and summitpost.com are definite attractors for people to participate and get involved, and in no way do they compromise the other objective and precise parts of the websites (ie. the encylopedia of bivouac). An example of a forum that is well-run and full of information posted by knowledgable people is the live-the-vision.com message board which covers the Canadian Rockies: http://www.live-the-vision.com/cms/index.php?option=com_simpleboard&Itemid=41

#703 - 2006.05.21 Greg Jones - Just a few notes
I have been talking to a few regular contributors to the CAJ that are bivouac members as well. I have volunteered to help out their contributions to this site, as their input would be extremely valuable. It seems the process is still either too difficult or time consuming for first time authors. I don't know how to address this, as it seems to be a "once you do it...." kind of thing.

Jordan says: "Having categories such as: General Discussion/Questions, Trip Ideas, For Sale, etc. would be a better way of generating participation than just the general "Discussion" banner. I guess the Summipost forum would be a good example of a site that is somewhat legitimate, yet still has a community forum attached to it."

This is a good idea. I am not going to lie, I hate message boards! The ones that are out there concerning mountain travel in BC are likened to wading through fecal matter for me. I think a bivouac message board is necessary, and would transcend the others as far as content and value.

Scott says: "I think a comment system would be more useful for trip reports, especially if you want to prompt the author for more information. Having the recommendation system in place will reduce the amount of useless "nice photo" type of comments."

Agree. But I would like to be able to delete responses that I think are either irrelevant or unnecessary on MY essays.

The thing('s) that attract me to bivi is that it is an encyclopedia and it is devoid of useless banter or opinionated/boisterous behavior. I don't add data so that I can get others opinions on what I do in the mountains....I don't care.

Ramsay makes some great points on the other thread as well.

PS We need a way to see the thread (the responses) that we are commenting on, whilst we are in the "Insert Comment" window. Ie. I have to open up another IE page to refer to the thread that I am contributing to.

#702 - 2006.05.21 Sandra McGuinness - Like Vida's idea re comments with trips/photos but for subscribers only
I like Vida's idea in the other thread , but am less keen on a standard bulletin board set up as Jordan suggested (earlier in this thread), as this bulletin board section of Bivouac has been here for a while and doesn't attract much discussion. Also, it seems like duplication with the other boards. Somehow, you need to weed out the chitter/chatter a little bit as it is tedious to read 3 pages of "kewl trip" etc. I wouldn't want to lose the "encyclopedic" value of Bivouac (for want of a better term). I find TR's on the other bulletin boards are either short on detail or inaccurate (the party thinks they were on the south ridge but were actually on the west ridge or describes the route as 80 degree snow when it is 40 degrees) - and this limits the usefulness of those TR's for information to repeat the route.

There is still the proposed trip section of Bivouac but as it doesn't appear when you click "What's New" I think most people miss it. Perhaps it could be somehow linked up so if someone posted a trip it might show up under "What's New."

However, perhaps rather than those of us who already contribute commenting, we need to hear from the people who don't contribute. Would having a bulletin board feature "break the ice" and encourage people to put up their trip reports? Do we need some volunteer editors to help people get their first one or two trip reports up?

#697 - 2006.05.12 Chris Nott - My $.02
I find that many comments on Flicker or Clubtread tend to be of the "Good work", "Awesome", "Neato" variety. You have to dig thru a lot of crap to find any questions or additional material actually related to the topic. Hopefully, the tone of bivouac will discourage non-topic-related comments. Or comments could be categorized as topical or editorial (or something). Also, comments posing questions encourage a response in the form of a comment as opposed to updating the original article so to get the full details you are forced to go thru the comments. I prefer to keep the discussion separate from the article a la Wikis. Don't think we can go the full Wiki edit-everything route since Wikis are informational while the bivouac content is both informational and experiential (and therefore unique to the writer and shouldn't be editable by others).

#696 - 2006.05.12 Jordan Peters - Discussion Forums and Comments
I think the first thing we should all agree on in any venture towards a more "community-oriented" set of features is that they must not degrade or somehow cheapen the encyclopedic "primacy" of the site. Everyone, I am sure, wants bivouac to remain a mountain encyclopedia.

The two types of features as I see them would be to, 1) Have a flickr-type set of comments whereby someone can ask a question about a photo or trip report without having to email the author. The advantage of this is that there are many questions and answers that would be illuminating to all readers. If we are concerned about the appearance of all these "nice photo!" type of things clogging up the visuals of the site, then I think the appropriate thing to do would be to have the comments under a link so that they aren't visible until you click on them.

2) A discussion forum. Yes, these are everywhere, but I think having a small one attached to bivouac under the "Discussion" would be quite useful. Having categories such as: General Discussion/Questions, Trip Ideas, For Sale, etc. would be a better way of generating participation than just the general "Discussion" banner. I guess the Summipost forum would be a good example of a site that is somewhat legitimate, yet still has a community forum attached to it.

Anyway, just some ideas.

#693 - 2006.05.11 Justin Brown - Comments
I agree with Robin that the recommendation system does accomplish roughly the same porpose as a comment saying "Nice Picture", and such comments are kind of useless in benefitting the encyclopedic value of things. However, I feel that in benefit to the encylopedia, it is rewarding and encouraging for the author to recieve comments and adds the element of human personality. It has, on other sites, and could lead to constructive and informative discussion about the subject's photo essay or trip report among members. Might be something worth looking into.

#692 - 2006.05.10 Vida Morkunas - Moderation is key
...as in Moderation in our posting of 'hey, nice sunset!' type of comments, and Moderation as in assigning a volunteer to ensure that proper posting etiquette is followed (though I believe that little moderation will be needed)

A quick announcement about the Comment feature, and a reminder to use the Recommend function in lieu of a 'nice photo' comment should suffice as introduction.

I would like to see Comments beneath photos as well as in TR's, if only to point out relevant features within a photograph. For example, a person may post a clear photo of their past weekend's objective, but a Bivouac visitor may also be able to name the mountains behind this objective. When searching for cover photos I look at many, many photographs on this site, and wish that some of them had better descriptions. I've contacted a few of the authors with requests for more information, yet some photos remain undescribed. Perhaps our community could help out.

#691 - 2006.05.10 Scott Nelson - Comments for trip reports
I think a comment system would be more useful for trip reports, especially if you want to prompt the author for more information. Having the recommendation system in place will reduce the amount of useless "nice photo" type of comments.