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Thread: A new year and the state of BT

  1. #1
    Administrator/SYSOP Mike Weins's Avatar
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    Default A new year and the state of BT

    I have spent the last couple of days poking around behind the scenes looking at the activity numbers. It's no secret that BT has had a huge decline in activity mainly due to the crash in 2006. Bad blood between members and moderators also reduced the activity on the site. The move from our last server and domain has also lost us a few members.

    Now that we're fairly safe and stable with Dr. Dan Hoch backing BT, however we can't expect him to finance us forever. Past attempts to make BT self sufficient have been less then desirable. We have ideas being kicked around but nothing worth mentioning at this point. For those that are interested, it's about $40 a month to rent the server, and it was $210 (I believe) to purchase the software we upgraded to. David, Dr. Hoch, and myself need to hold a couple of meetings to sort some stuff out.

    We have roughly 100 forums on our forum list. 53 of which have less than 10 threads. It is these forums that will be "cut" from the list. Of course these forums can be added again at a later date if there is enough activity to bring them back. By cutting down our list we become less daunting to new users. I've had a few new members tell me that they are over-whelmed by how large we are. The list of forums can be found at the end of this post.

    The software version we are using is quite old now. I've been holding off on upgrading to a newer version to allow them to work out the bugs and for the guys and gals that make some of the tweaks we use to update the tweaks to work on the newer software. There is a brand new version of VB, which is horrible (in my opinion) that will not be considered at this time. Fairly soon we might be updating to version 4.2.2. There are a lot of changes between that version and the one we're using now. I am going to set up a test forum using the newer version for people to fiddle around on. That way you can provide us with feedback. After all this forum is for all of you and you should have a say in what goes on. Upgrading to 4.2.2 will not cost us anything. if we were going to upgrade to version 5. whatever then we'd have to shell out some money.

    BT's moderator team is doing a great job. There are only three active mods now. Luckily we have the Spam-O-Matic mod to stop most spammers cold, and an awesome community that doesn't need much moderating :) We will be considering some changes to the mod team. We are considering adding a couple of more to the team, and some other changes which I am not ready to disclose at this point.

    Now is the best time to get these changes done. My spring semester starts on the 22nd of January and I would like to have a solid foundation (regarding the software upgrade) in place by mid February. If you can think of anything that you'd like to see done, reply with those ideas to this thread, or send me a pm or email.

    Here's the list of forums on the chopping block (red number is number of threads):

    ALS 5
    Arnold Chiari Malformation 8
    Arterivenous Malformation 2
    Aspergers Syndrome 5
    Dystonia 2
    Encephalitis 2
    Endrocine and Gland Disorders 1
    Essential Tremors 2
    Gullain Baree and CIDP 2
    Huntingtons Disease 2
    Meralgia Paresthetica 1
    Mitochondrial and Metabolic Disorders 4
    Moebius Syndrome 3
    Multifocal Motor Neuropathy 9
    Muscular Dystrophy 2
    Myasthenia Gravis 4
    Norrie Disease 2
    Occipital Neuralgia 2
    Progressive Supranuclear Palsy 2
    Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome 1
    Restless Leg Syndrome 3
    Sensorty Integration Disorder 1
    Tarlov Cyst 2
    Tethered Cord Syndrome 2
    Thoracic Outlet Syndrome 2
    Tourette Syndrome 6
    Traumaitc Brain Injury 6
    Urinary Disorders 3
    Visual Impairments 9
    Autoimmune Diseases 6
    Diabetes 9
    Eating Disorders 6
    Irritable Bowl Syndrome 6
    Lupus 3
    Lyme Disease 2
    Medications and Medication Toxicity 6
    Obesity and Neurological Disorders 4
    Smoking and Tobacco 8
    Vitamin and Mineral Deficiency 7
    Arthritis 8
    Fractures, Sprains, Strains, etc 3
    Osteoporosis 2
    Scoliosis 3
    ADD & ADHD 4
    Dissociative Identity Disorder 4
    Obsseisive Compulsive Disorder 4
    Post-traumatic Stress Disorder 4
    Career Search Support 2
    Coping with the loss of a child 6
    Domestic Abuse 2
    Forget me not garden of memories 7 --- gets a pass this time while I work on other ideas for this sentiment
    LGBT 5
    Survivors of Suicide 3
    Last edited by Mike Weins; 01-05-2014 at 06:16 PM. Reason: there are 3 mods not 2 :D
    Question: Why can't I post links or pictures?
    Question: Why can't I have a signature, avatar, or profile picture?
    Question: What's wrong with my account?

    Answer: You are in the "registered users" user group. This group is very limited in what it can do. This will annoy spammers to no end Just keep posting once you have been registered for 30 days and have made 11 posts your account will be "unlocked".

    It's really easy to put someone on ignore and it's strongly recommended that you do so with people who's posts you don't like.

    Step 1 - log in
    Step 2 - click on the "settings" link
    Step 3 - click on the "edit ignore list" link on the left side of the screen
    Step 4 - type (or paste if you copied and pasted it) the username of the person you want to ignore
    Step 5 - click the "ok" button on the right of the screen

    Easy peasy and will lower your blood pressure. One important note though, this won't hide quoted posts. It's an oversight on the developers part and it's not an easy thing to "fix." So if someone quotes someone you have ignored, you'll see the quote.

    Alternatively when you click on a person's name and view their profile page, underneath their avatar, there is a option that says, "Ignore this person". Click that link and then click the yes button.

  2. #2

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    Well I messed up something with the test forum. That's why there is a warning at the top of the page. Relax it's nothing you need to worry about, it's just telling me that something isn't playing nice with something else

    If you have any difficulties using the site reply here (or pm/email me) with as many details as you can provide.

  3. #3
    Administrator/SYSOP Mike Weins's Avatar
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    Default

    Ok fixed the warning :) Everything should be running smoothly :)
    Question: Why can't I post links or pictures?
    Question: Why can't I have a signature, avatar, or profile picture?
    Question: What's wrong with my account?

    Answer: You are in the "registered users" user group. This group is very limited in what it can do. This will annoy spammers to no end Just keep posting once you have been registered for 30 days and have made 11 posts your account will be "unlocked".

    It's really easy to put someone on ignore and it's strongly recommended that you do so with people who's posts you don't like.

    Step 1 - log in
    Step 2 - click on the "settings" link
    Step 3 - click on the "edit ignore list" link on the left side of the screen
    Step 4 - type (or paste if you copied and pasted it) the username of the person you want to ignore
    Step 5 - click the "ok" button on the right of the screen

    Easy peasy and will lower your blood pressure. One important note though, this won't hide quoted posts. It's an oversight on the developers part and it's not an easy thing to "fix." So if someone quotes someone you have ignored, you'll see the quote.

    Alternatively when you click on a person's name and view their profile page, underneath their avatar, there is a option that says, "Ignore this person". Click that link and then click the yes button.

  4. #4
    Distinguished Community Member agate's Avatar
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    Default

    I really appreciate being informed about what's going on here, and I'm sure others do as well.

    Cutting down on the number of forums seems like a great idea. It seems as if the simpler the better, particularly for people with neurological disorders. I'm not saying we're simple-minded--just that I think many of us do better in a quiet, slow-paced, uncluttered situation, without too much going on.

    ALS and myasthenia gravis seem like pretty major disorders. Is there a possibility of keeping those two? A lot of the others are not disorders you'd find in any neurology book because they're just not classified as neurological disorders--muscular dystrophy, for instance.

    Since you mentioned funding, I wonder if everyone is aware of how easy it is to contribute to Braintalk by signing on at http://www.iGive.com. You just register, and every time you buy anything from any of the merchants listed, a percentage of your purchase goes to Braintalk. There is a long, long list of merchants.

    I see that $75.00 has been contributed to Braintalk through iGive. That figure might be much higher if more people were willing to sign up for iGive. It involves having a small logo appear in the right corner of the screen when you visit one of the merchants online, and you can hide the logo easily.
    MS diagnosed 1980. Avonex 2002-2005. Copaxone 6/07 - 5/10.
    Member of this MS board since 2001.

  5. #5
    Distinguished Community Member Jeanie Z's Avatar
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    :)Thanks Mike. Agate I never put my credit card online and do not order online. I get their address and send a check by mail for any order. If there was an address posted for this board to send donations I would gladly pay for one month each year if i could send a check.

    Maybe PM it to those of us who want to help. Good luck with school Mike. Jeanie :)

  6. #6
    Distinguished Community Member agate's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeanie Z View Post
    This quote is hidden because you are ignoring this member. Show Quote
    :)Thanks Mike. Agate I never put my credit card online and do not order online. I get their address and send a check by mail for any order. If there was an address posted for this board to send donations I would gladly pay for one month each year if i could send a check.

    Maybe PM it to those of us who want to help. Good luck with school Mike. Jeanie :)


    Calling attention to Jeanie's post as I think she's raised an important issue. I can't find any indication on the BrainTalk board or its Facebook page that would help anyone who wanted to contribute directly instead of using iGive. Quite a few people don't do online shopping with a credit or debit card but might want to contribute, seems to me.
    MS diagnosed 1980. Avonex 2002-2005. Copaxone 6/07 - 5/10.
    Member of this MS board since 2001.

  7. #7
    New Community Member bewolf's Avatar
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    At one time there were little adverts at the top of each thread that you could click on to get a few cents for BT. I remember we would try to alter the adverts by talking about something really obscure. Like ... umm... 'Frogs' or something like that and Lo! and Behold ! all the adverts at the tops would be frog related. It was a hoot!. Does this not happen any more?. I know I have not posted here for a while ... but I do look in every so often .
    All the best Wolfie.
    NIL ILLEGITIMUS CARBORUNDUM.

    When they say, "But you look fine", you say --
    "And you look intelligent. Go figure."

  8. #8

    Default

    Cutting the number of forums may help a bit but to be honest, the popularity of forums has waned as social media has taken over and you can't do anything about that if you want to keep the same message board format.

  9. #9
    Administrator/SYSOP Mike Weins's Avatar
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    Agate: yes iGive is awesome, but something is screwy with it lately and we haven't been able to fix it properly. Eventually (hopefully soon) our Paypal link will be working again, and when Dr. Hoch gives me the ok, I will post a physical address for donations. With regards to the forums mentioned, I can see a reason to keep those two for now.

    bewolf: nice to see you again :) We decided against the adds when we moved to the new host. There were more of an annoyance than a help. Besides all that money went directly to JL.

    CPchick: yes social media has put a dent in forum popularity. Now social media is waning a little, especially in regards to health related forum type posts. We are considering enabling the blog feature here for folks to use, and a few other improvements / mods. We're going to keep the same basic forum system (since a lot of members know it, while others may have a hard time using something else) in place. A chat room / box is still an option if I can find one that works, is easy to use, and is secure. I've found many that work but aren't very secure.
    Question: Why can't I post links or pictures?
    Question: Why can't I have a signature, avatar, or profile picture?
    Question: What's wrong with my account?

    Answer: You are in the "registered users" user group. This group is very limited in what it can do. This will annoy spammers to no end Just keep posting once you have been registered for 30 days and have made 11 posts your account will be "unlocked".

    It's really easy to put someone on ignore and it's strongly recommended that you do so with people who's posts you don't like.

    Step 1 - log in
    Step 2 - click on the "settings" link
    Step 3 - click on the "edit ignore list" link on the left side of the screen
    Step 4 - type (or paste if you copied and pasted it) the username of the person you want to ignore
    Step 5 - click the "ok" button on the right of the screen

    Easy peasy and will lower your blood pressure. One important note though, this won't hide quoted posts. It's an oversight on the developers part and it's not an easy thing to "fix." So if someone quotes someone you have ignored, you'll see the quote.

    Alternatively when you click on a person's name and view their profile page, underneath their avatar, there is a option that says, "Ignore this person". Click that link and then click the yes button.

  10. #10
    Distinguished Community Member Earth Mother 2 Angels's Avatar
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    ((((((Mike)))))) ~

    Thank you for all that you do for us. And Thank You Dr. Dan and David for all that you do for us.

    CPchick's point is valid, and we all know that social media is the beast we battle to generate more activity at BT. But I don't think that the message/discussion board format is a dinosaur yet.

    I think that there is still a place for it in cyberspace, and the proof is that we have relatively active forums here, and we do have new members, who post at least once with their problem or question. We might improve their return rate, if we all made an effort to help the new members, or even just welcome them to BT.

    How much effort is it to post, "Welcome to Braintalk?" Maybe add a sentence, "I don't know how to help you, but I hope someone who does posts soon." If more of us did this for new members, they might be inclined to return and post more. But I've noticed a lack of a welcoming committee, and a very low rate of new members returning to post, when they have no or very few replies to their first post. It seems like we're not interested.

    What does Braintalk offer that social media doesn't? Let's do a Global Post and ask our members to answer that question. And let's use the data we collect from that feedback to build upon our strengths.

    We don't need to try to compete with social media, because that's probably fruitless, and we don't want to become them. As much as I love BT (and that's a lot! ), if BT was shut down and moved exclusively to Facebook, that would be the end of my membership. Nothing will ever persuade me to join Facebook. Never say never? I say, Never.

    Donations ~ Where is the iGive button or icon? And is there another way for us to donate, besides iGive? (I'm tired of registering on sites!) How about PayPal? Snail mail, as Jeanie and Agate suggested?

    Perhaps you could provide a Global post asking members how it would be easiest for them to make donations, with a bit of an explanation of how donations are used, operating costs, etc.?

    Let's have a variety of ways to donate. Better chance of receiving donations. And make the options obvious. Put a Donation Link at the top of the page, which then takes us to a page with the information for "there are a number of ways you can donate to support Braintalk:" listing the options. Perhaps have a blurb on the home page about donations, including operating costs. Advertise Donations! It's a reminder, when we see an icon or a link or the word Donate.

    How much of a hassle would it be for us to have BT t-shirts, mugs, mousepads, etc. through something like Cafe Press? Didn't we do that in the old days?

    Removal of Forums ~ Of course, I understand your reasons, Mike, but I have some thoughts there as well.

    First, selfishly, Coping with the Loss of a Child, is very close to my heart, and it's removal will make me sad. I emphasize that I'm being selfish. Maybe it's a good thing that this forum isn't active, but, when it's needed, and it's not there, that will be unfortunate.

    But the same can be said for the other forums on your list. I wonder whether people looking for support for ALS or Norrie Disease might be guided to BT via a Google search, because we have those forums here, albeit inactive. I wonder if there is some way that we can include some of these forums, without being overwhelming to some visitors/members.

    Just tossing out thoughts, and I'll ponder it some more.

    ***Would it be cheating if I posted chapters from the grief book I'm writing, and other materials (like poems, songs, videos) in the Coping forum to elevate the number of posts to 10+?

    Once again, thanks to you, Mike and all the best in your continuing studies (I know you'll ace your classes! ) and to you, David, and to you, Dan, for keeping Braintalk functioning. What it means to those of us here regularly is obvious by our participation, but I would suspect that there are many former members lurking here periodically, who have a fond spot in their hearts for BT.

    Yes, Braintalk still has a valuable and important place in cyberspace.

    Love & Light,

    Rose

    Mike ~ While I was composing this reply, you posted with answers to some of my concerns. A blog feature would be nice.
    Last edited by Earth Mother 2 Angels; 01-05-2014 at 07:13 PM.
    Mom to Jon, 48, (seizure disorder; Gtube; trache; colostomy; osteoporosis; hypothyroid; enlarged prostate; lymphedema, assorted mysteries) and Michael, 32, (intractable seizures; Gtube), who were born with an undiagnosed progressive neuromuscular disease and courageous spirits. Our Angel Michael received his wings in 2003 and now resides in Heaven. Our Angel Jon lives at home with me and Jim, the world's most wonderful dad.

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