Whats Next for the Forum?

Discussion in 'Forum News & Updates' started by JmpMster, Jun 16, 2016.

  1. JmpMster

    JmpMster Have a question? Message Me Staff Member Forum Owner ADMIN

    Just wanted to share a few thoughts here about the forum and what to look for in the next 6 months. Has been nearly 6 months since we started the project of modernizing and upgrading the forum for real- We actually started it about a year ago - and got the platform changed over somewhat and started to look at ways to modernise, but in the last 6 months we have
    1. Fully implemented the new forum base
    2. Completed the overhaul on the search optimization so we could be more easily found again and found by people searching for suicide, depression, and mental health issue as opposed to just searching forums (though completed the overhaul does not mean finished- just have fully implemented the plan and it is working well- but it is a never ending project to stay relevant in search engines).
    3. Gotten the article/resource section started which has been an instrumental part of the process of making ourselves relevant in the eyes of the search engines.
    4. Substantially upgraded the hardware/server platforms and overall performance of the site, as well as greatly enhanced security and encryption processes we utilize for greater securty of site as well as member information.
    5. Changed and completely customized the chat room so it can be used by virtually all systems but also has the emotes and other things that it was lacking at first.
    6. Restructured staff to bring on more staff and allow greater participation by members in staff roles and training for senior staff positions.
    7. Implemented recognition system for members that want to contribute more with writer, artist, supporter, etc banners to encourage and recognize members that are willing or desire to do extra things to help out (and to try to give the feeling of joint ownership to the forum- it is everybody's forum- not just run by a few - all can contribute how they like).
    8. Integrated facebook for member sign in as well as began an actual social media presence.

    Probably a few other minor things - but as you can see, it is a lot of things we have done in a relatively short time. It hasn't all been easy and has caused more than a few issues on the path, but everything seems very stable now and participation levels are still all historic highs. In addition to membership numbers there are more active users each day/week/month. People are finding us, we are helping people that need help- that is the goal and it is working well and has been well received.

    Now for "what's next" =

    1. Butterfly had pointed out and I think is key- while forum is getting larger, and more active members- we need to stay "small friendly feel". Even if can't know everybody anymore, all should feel like they know some. Need to interact on personal level as well as about problems so people feel at home on forum. This is vague and not a specific, so clearly needs to be fleshed out on the hows.

    2. I want to add games back to the forum. I have looked at a lot of different ones- and think may have found a package. They will be put it in the front part not the forum and include the silly games, but also to allow for interactive like checkers/chess/ backgammon/ cribbage/ card games so members can play game with other members if choose while chatting on chat system. I also want the regular one player "distraction" type games, for members and non members to use. If non members want to chat is easy to join forum so they can chat as well.

    3. Increase rate of resource articles published- to 2 a week at a minimum. Hopefully we can find others that can/will as well write an article on occasion. This is needed to maintain relevancy in search engines and to target sectors by posting articles of interest to specific sectors and increase membership that way in those sectors (older adults, teens, veterans, single parents/ whatever) so thta all that join can find other members with similar backgrounds or relevant life experiences and issues to talk to.

    4. Expand social media presence- get regular daily posts/updates/tweets on social media platforms and work on really increasing facebook followers to make facebook and twitter free, no questions asked interactive offer of support to any and all.

    5. Look for further way to increase opportunities for member participation as more than "just a member" - make it more clear that all here are members and staff are here as volunteers and any and all contributions are welcome . My goal is for all members to feel like it is "their forum" (within parameters of rules pro-life and basic ethos). If a member wants to contribute in any additional way to allow that opportunity.

    Any ideas or feedback on this welcome and appreciated. This is YOUR SITE - please feel free to make suggestions. While it is impossible to do everything and there are restrictions based on tech abilities and requirements , any idea is worth sharing. It may be easier to discuss ideas at length by posting the ideas in the "ask the staff" or "Letters to admin" sections. If something is no implemented it doesn't even mean is not a good/valid idea- simply that cannot do "everything" and sometimes we have to look at things as what works in conjunction with other thing or doesn't stray too far from regular goals- or what I )or other members that kindly volunteer) are able to do technically, or what our platform can do (that is a BIG limiter).

    We use all donations to run the monthly costs of the sites- including bandwidth and hosting fees, security certificates, and a package of site maintenance and managed hosting for security updates, sorting out any issues that come up, and ongoing expenses. If there are any extra donations over the monthly amount we use those for increased social media spending, purchasing additional software packages or paid assistance in installing packages that need custom code work, and paying for annual licences renewals for the software we use here.

    The expenses for these other things (as well as monthly costs if not collected in monthly donations) are paid by some staff members and others members here that donate anonymously on an as needed basis. A limiter in what additional things we do is always the initial cost plus any additional ongoing expenses caused by the additions in order to keep it affordable to keep the site advertisement and commercial interest free, and to ensure that the site expenses can be covered even if donations do do not come in to cover ongoing expenses. We have had many members that are very generous with their support of the site in this way, and by keeping costs down plus the generosity of those members that can and do donate.
  2. Unknown_111

    Unknown_111 Forum Buddy Staff Alumni SF Supporter

    I am to continue making a monthly contribution to cover any cost required. PM me if you additional funds. I happy to help as much as I can whilst I still alive everyday. It's only thing I can do as this site saves my life everyday. It's my vocation in life.
    Brian777, Petal, Freya and 1 other person like this.
  3. Petal

    Petal SF dreamer Staff Member Safety & Support SF Supporter

    we appreciate you so much @Unknown_111 I am also happy to donate whenever needed. Just feel free to ask, it's not begging, all of us depend on this site for various reasons and I would only be happy to help.
    Unknown_111 and Brian777 like this.
  4. Petal

    Petal SF dreamer Staff Member Safety & Support SF Supporter

    I'd just like to say I have had a proper look at some of the articles on the homepage and my favourite would have to be the animated anxiety ones. Well done @Freya for producing some marvellous work. If I was able to do those sort of things for SF I would but unfortunately I don't possess those skills (yet, never say never). Thank you for a wonderful homepage!