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Is a reading room a good idea for the Elsmar Cove?

Steve Prevette

Deming Disciple
Staff member
Super Moderator
#11
ccochran said:
Wallace and Jennifer,

Great idea. The monthly article contest ran out of gas, but I think this could be a vehicle for folks who are still interested in writing articles and/or books. I guess we'll see what Marc and others think about it.

Craig
I must admit my supply of past writings is nearly exhausted. I am happy I got my students to submit their paper, and hope folks have liked it and some of the stuff I was able to put here. I know I had fun reading Craig's stuff.

Another option is to solicit ideas for papers and then say - hey - we'll give you $150 if you write that up and "we" accept it. A lot depends on what Marc's business model is for this forum - remember this is a for-profit exercise here.
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#12
I have a Quality Cost Calculator spreadsheet set I can place in The Reading Room if and when it seems appropriate.

It might be useful for Holly's type of challenge in the wood products shop. I find lots of rhetoric involving measuring quality costs, but I have never seen a tool for it until I made one.

It has portions of, and is modeled after my Master Scorekeeper Volume II. It doesn't capture all of the costs of planning quality. I think it is really a better tool for planning and estimating, plus results of course, in production environments. Stealth quality.
 

Marc

Captain Nice
Staff member
Admin
#13
OK - someone give me a quick rundown (summary) on what is proposed to be in 'The Reading Room'.

The following is a bit :topic: but...
Steve Prevette said:
Another option is to solicit ideas for papers and then say - hey - we'll give you $150 if you write that up and "we" accept it. A lot depends on what Marc's business model is for this forum - remember this is a for-profit exercise here.
Well, for-profit is sorta correct, but let's face it - this is not a significant source of income. It is a significant time consumer...

Let's bear in mind what was, in large part, the original idea behind monthly submissions - To encourage people to write something original ('content') and submit it. I could have been a paper, an event or whatever - A study, for example.

As to the 'business model' here - There is none per se. The site started out as what is today known as a 'blog', but I did it in html pages I wrote while I was living mostly in hotel rooms. As the profitable implementation business started to die around 2000 and work was scarce, I started selling some of my files, and some donated files (remember, back then there was no attachment feature of the forum software) because the costs and time involved were continually increasing. We went through a number of phases including, at one time, limiting access to attachments to financial contributors (there were two in February!).

Today the business model is - Well, advertising is doing OK (January was good, February was down quite a bit) and as long as I'm seeing over US$2000 gross a month I'm reasonably happy. I consider a US$3000 gross month good. In that sense, the business model is to increase the number of visitors which in turn will result in more people visiting advertisers. But to take things in context, in the last month alone I spent close to US$1500 to change servers with all the involved costs. But - There is no 'business model' per se. I do think of ways now and again to try to improve the forums and I went through a number of SEO iterations to improve search engine ratings so more people would 'find' the site. Unfortunately, with a business model which is simply income from advertising, income often has little to do with site content - It is more of a function of how well a site is structured to rank in search engines as well as 'incoming' links from other sites.

The 'focus' of the site has not changed - The original January 1996 Mission Statement was, and remains:
Mission Statement said:
A Primary, Personal Information Resource for ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 19011, as well as the ISO/TS 16949 and QS-9000 automotive standards to Quality, Engineering and Management professionals. People Helping People!
I've changed the words slightly over the intervening years, but the substance has not changed. I used to use the words "Information Exchange", but it has always been People Helping People.

But back to the issue at hand... Paying for content. I don't mind paying for content - As I pointed out, that was the reason I started the monthly submission 'competition'. I think we have to look at the reason people come to the site and what they do here and what they expect. I honestly thought 5 to 10 people a month would contribute something in expectation of the potential of making the US$150. Obviously I was way off base. In the beginning several people a month did put in a submission, but that faded fast.

If I understand the above proposal, the difference would be for people to submit ideas for a submission rather than an actual submission, the topics submitted would be voted upon, and then the person with the most popular title / content proposal would write the submission and receive the US$150. I don't have a problem with that. We can easily try it and see what happens.

So - You folks tell me what you want and I'll try to provide it. But - Let's try to be clear on what the content of 'The Reading Room' will be. Submissions as discussed above? What else?
 

WALLACE

Quite Involved in Discussions
#14
I invisage the reading room to be used primarily as a library of e-information.
The room would also be an ideal format for contributors to post their particular work relating to their chosen filed.
I see the potential for actual and potential authors of e-information and publications to use the room to, pre-release and test their pre-published and distributed works for review. Proof reading is an avenue too, that may be advantageous for authors and publishers alike to use a reading room at the Cove.
The Cove and the reputation it currently has regarding, being a valid professional outlet for works that contribute to the greater business arena's represented, would be an asset to publishers and authors alike.
The potential for generating Cove income is evident.
Wallace.
 
Last edited:

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#15
The idea of receiving any amount of money ($150 buys a stock of groceries) is attractive of course, but I am concerned that the process of voting and awarding (with the publication too?) may severely limit the Reading Room's content.

Even humble submissions such as mine could have value to a reader as none other; the forum ought not limit the material available, and we writers can't know our market until we get feedback.

An author's greatest challenge is to get recognized. I feel that feedback would be a service worth a loss of fee. I don't know how hard to push with my materials--I need my customers to tell me if my product is truly good, or if I'm out to lunch, or that it just needs minor tweaks before I try to submit it to publishers. I need this because submitting to publishers is as time-consuming, and carries the same risk of failure as submitting grant proposals. It takes months to hear results, and once you do that's the yea or nay you live with.

So I guess I think an open library would be best, especially if there was a feedback blog attached. This would be a very great value to me.

Of course, to get more submissions it might be a good idea to run a monthly vote on submitted materials, and offer a reward for the winner based on the members' feedback.

This would only be fair if the voting mechanism could be set up to ensure each member could only vote once.
 

Marc

Captain Nice
Staff member
Admin
#16
So it sounds like we could take the current archive of 'user articles' and rename it. The feedback ('blog') would be in the thread started which the attachment is made.
 

WALLACE

Quite Involved in Discussions
#17
Marc said:
So it sounds like we could take the current archive of 'user articles' and rename it. The feedback ('blog') would be in the thread started which the attachment is made.
Sounds logical to me.
I believe the reading room should be allowed to be broader in scope regarding, merely being a user articles forum.
Having said this, it seems we have much potential e-publications to be the basis for the reading room.
Let the evolution of the Cove begin.
Wallace.
 

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Staff member
Admin
#18
WALLACE said:
Sounds logical to me.
I believe the reading room should be allowed to be broader in scope regarding, merely being a user articles forum.
Having said this, it seems we have much potential e-publications to be the basis for the reading room.
Let the evolution of the Cove begin.
Wallace.
Yes, we have had a great many excellent attachments which might also be categorized and found in such a central place, or perhaps simply linked so one is sent back to the message that contained the attachment. This idea is based on my not knowing which is more of a drain: the disk space in having all these attachments entered twice, or the time you spend ('cause I know it's just you--you're a hero for maintaining this site) in making links.

I remember reading that these things are searchable, but I don't know how and I suspect I'm not alone in this. It took me awhile to find out how to fool with quotes!

Perhaps a poster could, as another option, create a link to a submitted piece instead of attaching it in a message.
 

Marc

Captain Nice
Staff member
Admin
#19
1. A broader scope isn't an issue. We can do that. But - Remember that there is a forum titled Book, Video and Web Site Reviews. Would you see it as more 'appropriate' to combine them or choose different names?

2. There is an Attachments Listing. It is the only way to 'index' Attachments and both are 'hacks' (not part of the vBulletin software). If you go to the Attachments Listing, it has links to the thread the Attachment is in. If you go to the Search page, it will give you a link to the actual post the Attachment is attached to. For some details and chat about finding Attachments, see Additional Attachments Browser, Attachments Listing and Searching - Attachments to Posts in the Forum. As I remember there is at least one more thread with more details which I couldn't find quickly. I'll look further and address How to Search for Attachments in the How To in the Forums forum.

There are other potential solutions, including a full blown document control system, but none of them address Attachments to posts in threads.

The biggest problem in finding 'specific' Attachments is the Attachments Listing uses the title the user puts in. If a user attaches a file and names it "my_procedure.doc", that's how it will show up in the listing. I have gone through a lot of posts with ambiguously named Attachments, downloaded the Attachment, looked to see exactly what it was, deleted the Attachment from the post and re-uploaded the Attachment with a file name closer to something that (in my opinion, obviously) that will identify what it is in the files list. But - There are over 2500 Attachments (some aren't relevant to 'business' issues - For example pictures and such in the super-long 'Humour Thread' in the Coffee Break forum).

Just to remind, the Attachment Listing and Attachment Search are 'hacks'. That is, they are php scripts that people wrote as 'hacks' to manipulate the vBulletin forum database, and which they give away free to other vB people (like me). I could probably hire a php programmer to clean these two specific scripts up, or to write a script to my specifications, but - I'm not a big company and it's easy to burn up US$1000 or (much) more to get a script written. For those of you who haven't contributed financially here, please remember this the next time you download an Attachment and are not happy with the software. I'm not a coder and would have to hire someone to do something like this.

In case you're wondering, the below shows the number of people who have thrown in their US$25 since June 2003. Note that a number of 'Regulars' did contribute between around April 2003 when the Attachments feature first appeared in the software and June 2003 when the 'Subscriptions' feature first came in a software upgrade. I don't have the actual number off hand - I could probably figure it out given some time - but those people were 'manually' changed to the 'Contributor's User Group' in the administrator's control panel. That said, those early contributions are not reflected in the 'subscriptions' number.

Contributions_050308.png


A total of 168 people have contributed (~ US$4200) to the site over about 20 months - 130 of those contributed only once and their subscription (this is the vB terminology - a 'subscription' in this sense refers to a contribution) has 'expired'. Most of the contributions were from 'regulars'. Note that over the last 12 months only 38 people have contributed (~US$950).

Remember, at the time (March-April 2003 through January 2004) I required a 'contribution' to be able to download attachments from most people. I opened up attachments to everyone (well, to anyone who registered as is the situation today) for free when it appeared that advertising was going to pan out, and better than I expected. The original intent of the site being free 'came back'.

This is not a complaint - Just a heads up to remind that this is not a 'big budget' site. If it wasn't for the advertisements (started in December 2003), the site wouldn't even be here today. At worst, consider this a PBS style 'fund raiser' interruption.

3. The problem with posting a link to an article (or whatever) 'off site' is you should be relatively sure that the link will not 'disappear in a year or so. I don't discourage links to other sites (I do discourage links to images on other sites, such as 'smilies'), but the more people know about links and how other sites work, the better it is for me and others. I also admit a SEO bias here. That is because most SEO folks believe a site is 'penalized' by search engines when a lot of dead links are found as they spider a site. There is no emperical evidence that I'm aware of, but so says the 'anecdotal evidence'. None the less, I've spent quite a few hours going back through old threads and removing dead links. See Broken Links - If you find a broken link in a post, Please Report the Post .

So - Not a problem, but understand the downside / failure modes.

EDIT ADD: There are some sites that will sue over links to them, especially 'Deep Links'. I'm not concerned with links - even deep links - but be aware there have been, and are currently, lawsuits by some sites over links. I'm NOT saying linking is bad, and I definitely do NOT want this to stop anyone here from linking to other sites, however I want to make sure you are aware that the issue does exist. If I ever get a 'Cease and Desist', I'll do what I did when XXXXXXXX filed the complaint with the Ohio Atty General - I'll let you know in big, bold print and provide a copy of what I get (e-mail, letter or whatever).

4. Disk Space - Is not an issue. I have plenty of disk space and plenty of bandwidth.

OK - Back to you folks.
 

Marc

Captain Nice
Staff member
Admin
#20
I didn't mean to stiffle discussion on this topic with my rather long post above. I just want to ensure that some of the aspects of the current software, including limitations, are understood so that we don't over lap, and so that the cost factor is considered.

I definitely don't mind making changes, but I also need your feedback on what you want.
 
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