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By Jeff in Provo, UT on 1/28/2007


Please let us know what you like and don't like about the forums.

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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 2/1/2007


Jeff

Is it possible to create folders or sub-menus within a forum section? I can see the green building section looking like the miscellaneous section pretty soon and no-one will be able to find anything. So they will start a new thread, making it worse.

Dale

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By Jeff in Provo, UT on 2/1/2007


Personally, I would prefer that forums be more of a Q&A kinda thing.  Where someone creates a new thread to ask a question, and then a few people try to answer the question.  Maybe not quite to the extent of Windows Live Q&A, but maybe something like Joel On Software's discussion groups or Community Server.

I think that the deeper people have to look for something, the less likely they are to find it.  Take the Product Reviews Forums for an example.  Those are allowed to go as deep as you would like, but I think that the only posts that were ever made are the ones we originally pulled from the General Forums.

Having said that, this is just my opinion.  If you and a few vocal others can convince Mark of a better way, I'd be more than happy to implement it.


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By Michael Penn in Dripping Springs, TX on 2/12/2007


Seems like it used to be this way: I think it would be better if the new posts to the forums would be at the top, so that you can quickly go to see new activity on the forum (instead of being buried down in the middle of the list, maybe several screen pages down if it's a longer forum list).
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By Tom in Stroudsburg, PA on 2/13/2007


I have to agree with Dale, it would probably be a good thing if you clicked on green building and some type of sub menu popped up like wind, solar, geothermal, etc. The moderator should be able to create the sub lists that suit their forum. As for the miscellaneous stuff your accumulating now, boot it to where it belongs.

As for the new scrambled layout of the forums, it's dam annoying for us that check in often but I can see how it would be of benefit to a newbie. It should help reduce the redundant questions. Maybe there could be a selector tab in our profile section that could leave a layout selector cookie so we could choose to see most recent posts first.


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 2/13/2007


I think Tom and many others who do not "subscribe" to every forum will agree that cruising for a new post that may be of interest is frustrating.

Generally I like to see what else is going on without clogging my email with a notification of every posting. And finding a new topic under Miscellaneous is a chore.

But it is giving me ideas on how I want to organize the forums I moderate. When I pitch the new concept to Jeff and Mark it should be a solid, workable approach. Either that or let the moderators put their personal stamp of organization on their bailiwick..

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By Michael in Cave Creek, AZ on 2/13/2007


I think organizing by topic and then subtopic would have value. For example, the construction forum could be organized by trade.

The idea of most recent first in each subtopic should be considered.


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By Michael Penn in Dripping Springs, TX on 2/13/2007


I think that's a fabulous idea to have subtopics within the existing forums.  I know it would be a major chore to rearrange the existing forums that are so voluminous, and I know that there would be lots of nearly unclassifiable outliers.  But it could make the forums so much more accessible, and easier to use for research.  Also, I think it would open the forums to more contributors, because more people would be able to "get a handle on" where to find the info or topic they're interested in, and maybe participate in the discussion.

"if you clicked on green building and some type of sub menu popped up like wind, solar, geothermal, etc. the moderator should be able to create the sub lists that suit their forum"

" I think organizing by topic and then subtopic would have value. For example, the construction forum could be organized by trade."

 


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By Mark in Provo, UT on 2/14/2007


One thing that you can currently do in the forums is change the "Filter By Date" selection from "Forever" to  "Last 7 Days" or  one of the other choices.  That way only the most recent items appear on the page.

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By Bob in Philadelphia, PA on 2/15/2007


Thanks Mark, that helped immensely.
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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 2/15/2007


"Filtering by Date" is great for those of us already here and familiar with the site, but a newbie will either search for something specific and miss much of whats here or be overwhelmed by the quantity of info.

Right now its like wandering in to a major university library and not knowing there is a reference room let alone the card catalog (whether in print or on-line). The internet points someone to the building but the building directory is somewhat lacking.

For example, currently there are discussions (that I am involved with and aware of) related to tankless water heaters and solar water heating going on in Green Building, Florida and Arizona. Maybe they should be easier to find or combined under Green Building........

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By Mark in Royal Oak, MI on 2/16/2007


Overall, the forums can be very informative, I give it a an A-.  Indirectly though, what I notice here is a slower server response speed.  It needs to have a quicker response on searches and moving from post to post. It is frustrating sitting and waiting for a screen to a appear time after time when you are looking for information.  Keep up the good work.


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By Dale in Richland, AZ on 2/25/2007


This really irks me some days, especially if I am short on time, spell check gives me the word number but on a long post that is  an almost impossible reed to find word 214 of 1287. Can we have a contextual look at the "misspelled" word? Yore dictionary does not find Anne problems. Bee that as it May its find with awl of us. Mae be ewe thing differently.

Without some context it difficult to fix errors that may be grammatical as much as spelling. Like is their weather here or is there whether hear?

Dew ewe/wee understand? :-}

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By Kristen in Snowflake, AZ on 4/4/2007


I think it would be very helpful that when one does a search that those exact posts that have the information pertaining to the search are the only posts that are listed instead of all the forums that have some of that information.  For myself, when I do a search for something like PEX and I get a result with six forums with over 7000 posts to look through that's too much to wade through for me.  Now if there was a way to program the site where one does a search for PEX and only the posts that have the word PEX in the post are listed that would be a BIG help.
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By Bryan in Reynoldsburg, OH on 7/12/2007


I love this website, it is incredibly useful but I have had it w/ the incredibly slow server speed!!! It takes well over a minute from post to post. I am done w/ the site until it's fixed. Sorry if it seems harsh but it's true.
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By Jeff in Provo, UT on 7/12/2007


Just as an FYI, the new server was ordered last night.  It will take some time for it to be configured, shipped, and installed.  But at least there is a light at the end of the tunnel!

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By Brian in Dexter, MI on 7/27/2007


I like this site, but I don't like the forum software you are using. Please don't take it personally, I think you are putting on a great effort, it's just my feedback. The serach button doesn't work, and when it does it doesn't tell me anything more than the title of the subject. Also the email responders don't seem to work.

I would visit and post a lot more if newer board software was used, similar to what is on ICFWEB.com.

 

Brian


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By David in Fredericksburg, VA on 10/20/2007


Something that I have done is use Google to search the site.  In the search field enter "site:ownerbuilderbook.com PEX" for example and it currently returns 366 page hits.

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By Grant in Blacksburg, VA on 8/14/2008


As a newbie here this one REALLY strikes a chord!  I've found myself going to google and limiting the search to the OBB domain to find what I want, because the site search is almost (perhaps completely) useless for finding older threads with information I need. 

I believe Google has free code that you can embed in your website to provide such a "google" search box right on your own webpages.  (Actually I decided to go find the info and here it is if you are interested: google.com/coop.)

In my opinion, adding this search capability would really help newbies like me search for specific posts based upon specific keyword combinations.

Regards,

Grant


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By Grant in Blacksburg, VA on 8/14/2008


PS - On one website I helped my company create, we had one search box for the whole website.  One for primary info pages.  One for FAQ entries. Etc.

I'm grateful for whatever you provide, but if I can share my preferences...  I'd love to see a search box for the whole site, a search box for the Forums, a search box for the Journals, and a search box for "tools" within the website such as resources and books.

Regards,

Grant


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By Mark in Provo, UT on 8/14/2008


Grant:

    As one who searches the site for something most every day, I find the existing tools very adequate. Click on Advanced Search below the search box on every page to get the sophistication you need. It lists the top search combinations used at our site, very interesting, and provides a guide to building Boolean word searches:

Find items that contain at least one of the two words. apple banana
Find items that contain both words. +apple +juice
Find items that contain the word "apple", but rank items higher if they also contain "macintosh". +apple macintosh
Find items that contain the word "apple" but not "macintosh" +apple -macintosh
Find items that contain the word "apple", but if the item also contains the word "macintosh", rate it lower than if item does not. This is softer than a search for '+apple -macintosh', for which the presence of "macintosh" causes the item not to be returned at all. +apple ~macintosh
Find items that contain the words "apple" and "turnover", or "apple" and "strudel" (in any order), but rank "apple turnover" higher than "apple strudel". +apple +(>turnover <strudel)
Find items that contain words such as "apple", "apples", "applesauce", or "applet". apple*
Find items that contain the exact phrase "some words" (for example, items that contain "some words of wisdom" but not "some noise words"). Note that the ‘"’ characters that enclose the phrase are operator characters that delimit the phrase. They are not the quotes that enclose the search string itself. "some words"


For instance, in the OP's example of a PEX search, you can narrow down to +PEX +tankless or +PEX +radiant +heat, or +PEX +manifold or any combination you are researching. It's very powerful.

As to providing separate searches for Forums, Journals, Interviews, etc., the search results page breaks out into all of the above sections to narrow your search. Note that the first section is "Bookstore" on most searches. We have distilled the information from our site into numerous reports, books, strategies, and DVDs that are the result of years of sifting. Those publication may save you time and give you the benefit of editorial analysis.


Mark
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By Tyler in Ashland, OH on 9/23/2008


One item that irks me on the forums is that when you are searching through each category and go back to the main forums page all of the categories re-order themselves. I wish that the categories would remain in a certain order.


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By Grant in Blacksburg, VA on 9/23/2008


I don't particularly like this "feature" either.  To keep from losing my place regarding where I've already read, I right click and "open in new tab."  This leaves the original category list unchanged.  A somewhat clumsy workaround, but it works.
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By Jeff in Provo, UT on 9/23/2008


Thank you for the feedback.  I'll talk to Mark about it on Wednesday and reply with the decision.

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By DCG in Lago Vista, TX on 9/25/2008


My recommendation would be that you guys implement a more industry standard forum.  The "simplemachines" forum is what I'm most familiar with.

The interface here, while adequate, and perhaps serving the purpose to promote the varous books and media offered -- is more than a bit clunky. 

Messaging other members is difficult.  I'm sure that betwen being clunky and difficult, it's somewhat limiting to your user base.

The "edit"/moderate function seems to be used a lot and for perhaps trivial reasons.  I moderate other forums and the only things I touch are personal issues or things that could result in liability.  It is somewhat concerning to see my posts being changed, even minor things...

Good site though. Good resources. So despite being a bit rough around the edges, I'm glad it's here.

 

 

 


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By Joe in Hermiston, OR on 10/5/2008


Mark,

I notice that the "Product Review Forum" is seldom used, but new or recommended products are mentioned all through the Construction Journals, General Forums, and Local Forums. Is the any way to pull the recommendations from elsewhere and post it in the Product Review Forum? I don't know if it could be done automatically of if the moderators would have to copy them over.

The reason I ask is someone could post a review of product I'm planning to use in the New Hampshire Local Forum for example and I would never see it because I don't check the New Hampshire Local Forum.

It's still a great site and I can't wait until I can start my build (several years out).

Joe


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By Tom in Stroudsburg, PA on 10/17/2008


Tried to add a .gif to a post today is this possible.
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By Jeff in Provo, UT on 11/7/2008


Sorry it has taken so long to get back to you.  I thought I had replied, but apparently not...

We've looked at going with more standard forum software like phpBB or any of the other more popular ones - I'll admit that I hadn't heard of Simplemachines until your post.  Though normal users cannot see them, there are a lot features integrated into the site that help Mark aggregate and learn from the information in people's posts.  While adding these features to another package is certainly an option, it would take time that we just don't have.

That said, if you have any specific recommendations for improvements, we would love to hear them.



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By Brian in Dexter, MI on 11/9/2008


I think PHPbb is the most popular and common one out there, and it's very featured. You can probably hire someone cheaply at guru.com to setup a test copy of the forum and write a script to import all of the data from this forum. If the test goes well, then you just pick one night and switch over. I think it would be a great investment and yield more traffic.

Brian

 


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By Jeff in Provo, UT on 11/9/2008


A switch to phpBB (or anything else for that matter) is not going to happen.  Please read my post above.  If you have any particular features from phpBB or anything else that you would like to see, please let us know.

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