Participation Drop

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Woko
Woko's picture
Participation Drop

I've noticed a drop in the Birds in Backyards participation rate lately. Is this due to the problems people are having in posting photos? Or perhaps it presages the direction of interest rates. Holly, can you give us an update on what's happening in this regard? Personally, I've threatened to use Photobucket again (I did once) but the thought of having to do so again fills me with dread as I find Photobucket so confusingly convoluted.

Or are people finding it difficult to devote time & energy to participation now that Dancing with the Stars is invading our homes again?

Perhaps the fine weather down south has taken people outdoors. But this doesn't explain why lots of people in the north of our great nation are sitting on the sidelines.

Another reason might be that it's taking a long while for pages to load. At least they do for me. Any comments?

And here's another possibility: people are finding that they've had enough of forums & are looking for something new. I hear that Facebook is losing adherents. The fad may be drawing to a close. Is Birds in Backyards facing the same situation? It'd be a pity if it is because Australia's birds go on regardless - for ever hopefully.

But maybe I'm wrong. Perhaps all of Australia's birds have died & there's nothing to report. That can't be right tho'. I swear I saw one today.

I've visited a few plant forums lately & have found that several of them have suddenly died with last posts over a year ago in 2 cases. I'd hate for Birds in Backyards forums to head in that direction as I've enjoyed reading & seeing what people have been doing in the bird world. I've also been challenged to think about a variety of issues. Not only that, but I've been stimulated to research information about birds so my knowledge has been expanded or it would have been if I could remember anything. I'd miss all that.

Potential posters out there I'm lending you my ears!

Araminta
Araminta's picture

I agree with everything you say Woko! You know, I'm a very persistant person, I 'm not one to give up quickly, but the way posting photos has gone (down?) lately, is very disappointing. It started off by taking a very long time to appear on the website, then it stopped working. Now there are photos that never show up.

I'm very glad Laurius explained to me how to post with Flickr, that works very well, although I would prefer not to use it. But because I like BIBY I will persist.

Like Woko, I would like to find out, what other members think, please?

M-L

soakes
soakes's picture

Woko,

I was going to post a similar thing.  There is no doubt that the continuing frustrating problems with this website are slowing people down frm contributing.  I am getting tired of looking at posts only to find the photos don't show up.  There are other issues too (slooow loading, poor layout, and more), but that is the main one.

I don't know what else to say.  Perhaps one day the problems will be sorted out and this will operate as a normal forum!  I hope so.

- soakes

soakes
Olinda, Victoria, Australia

Araminta
Araminta's picture

What I find most frustrating in all of this, we keep asking "why"?, but never get any response, unless I have missed it??

I don't know what else to say anymore? Sometimes , if things are explained, people can be patient because there might be solutions to a problem in the wings, so to speak?. But otherwise I have great doubts members will hang in there and not give up. 

M-L

Holly
Holly's picture

Hey guys

I don't really know what to say. I haven't noticed a drop off in overall membership - in fact it is increasing. I find that forums tend to wax and wane in general.

Similarly, I dont know if photo issues are stopping people from posting? I can't seem to win with that one. I would have thought that the old way was MUCH more difficult to use and that was more of a deterrent. I have asked for an answer to the issue of the delay in the photos appearing with the web guys and I am waiting for that answer (I have followed up again). 

Soakes - what layout issues are you having?  

I don't think I have been told of page loading issues before (I could be wrong) - I wasn't aware there was a problem. That may be a server issue??? 

I have tried to keep you all updated when I can, I am sorry if I haven't been doing that well. As I have explained before - I have to divide my attention between the website and 'off site' BIBY activities and I am aware that I can sometimes 'disappear' as I have other deadlines. I am trying my best to get things functioning but I realise that that excuse is getting old :( 

 

Sorry

 

Araminta
Araminta's picture

Hi Holly, you know me, I don't mince words, and I'm not going to start now. So I will get right to the point .

First I have to say, yes the old way using Flickr looked complicated, but at least it worked, and it's the only way working right now.

Don't ask me why nobody has complained about the way the uploading of photos doesn't work now? But trust me, that's the reason why nothing is happening on BIBY right now. We all know you are busy, but you should have noticed that people have posted photos that have NEVER surfaced? At the start of the problems the posting took  more than an hour from time to time. But the last few days photos NEVER appeared on the forum.

The only way working now is Flickr. and only I and Laurius have used it so far.

Everything else is so slow, as I said before, I click onto something, go have a drink and do some other work, come back and it still hasn't connected. My worries are, people are not submitting anything because of that. I just wish they would speak up???

I can go somewhere else to show my photos, no boubt about that, but I do value the way this forum was. You could discuss other topics and communicate with members, I would miss that very much. But not much of that is happening either. If there are more members than before, where are they? I haven't seen them post anything. I ask everyone to speak up and contribute , let's make this work.

But, for this forum to work, we need the posting and uploading of photos to work .

I want to encourage members to voice their opinion, please.

M-L

Holly
Holly's picture

Hey ML

I agree 100% - the posting of photos has to work. I knew there were issues with delays of a couple of hours but wasnt aware of a day or more. I am usually on and checking at least a couple of times a day (even if I don't post) but this last couple of weeks I haven't been on much as I have had offsite work and I apologise. Please let me know guys if there is something you want to bring to my attention!

Similarly noone has commented to me previously (that I can recall) about the whole site being slow to load and I havent experienced it, it has been loading up straight away for me, but now that I am aware, I will have the web guys look into it. 

They are aware of the issues and I have told them again tonight (and they have responded that it will be investigated). I think we will find it is a server issue, the number and size of photos being uploaded is just too large so the options may be to either limit the file size of photos to be uploaded or remove that option altogether and only allow Photobucket or Flickr to be used. The whole site being slow is a new one for me but again, I have drawn it to the attention of the web guys tonight and hopefully they will have an answer for us soon.

 

I absolutely want to get more activity on the forum. Membership on the whole site is increasing but that doesn't automatically mean more people are going to post - it would be great if that happened though and hopefully if these issues get ironed out it will...

 

timmo
timmo's picture

Personally, my own participation has been limited lately just through being away and having a lot to do for uni...

I'm really hanging out for a bit of a break to play a bit more with my new birthday present (a Canon 60D) and share the photos with all you lovely folks.

I do find that the slow photo loads are a bit of a hindrance, and they seem to be taking longer over the last few days.

In the meantime, I will go back to using photobucket to post photos...

Cheers
Tim
Brisbane

Woko
Woko's picture

Hi Holly. Thanks so much for the update. I look forward very much to the web guys doing their thing. Have they given you a date by which they reckon they'll be able to attend to the two main problems, i.e., no photo uploads & slow page loading? I appreciate the problem with the website may be unfixable within an hour or two but I'm confident that a date on which they'll start their work would re-assure many of us. It might pin them down, too.

Maybe one of the problems is that people like me tend to voice their concerns on several of the forums but don't address a post directly to you. I need to do this in future if I think something needs to be brought to your attention. Perhaps I assumed you've been reading everything in a timely fashion rather than my being fully conscious (many have complained about that) that you are away from the site from time to time. Is there any way your absences can be covered or is this beyong Birds in Backyards' current resources?

It does concern me that this website, which has so much potential for increasing the interest of people in Australia's birds, is experiencing a decline in participation if not a decline in membership. A couple of months ago I was marvelling at the number of new posters, many wanting to satisfy their curiosity about birds' indentities. A number would be once-offers, no doubt, but I would have expected a number to stay on, especially those who expressed their excitement about finding Birds in Backyards. As you say, Holly, forums wax & wane (Ms Woko attests to that) but I don't think the waxing & waning isn't  helped by photos not downloading at all. I'm certainly looking forward to being able to post photos simply & quickly rather than having to go through the convoluted gyrations of Photobucket or Flickr.

Holly
Holly's picture

Woko wrote:

 

Hi Holly. Thanks so much for the update. I look forward very much to the web guys doing their thing. Have they given you a date by which they reckon they'll be able to attend to the two main problems, i.e., no photo uploads & slow page loading? I appreciate the problem with the website may be unfixable within an hour or two but I'm confident that a date on which they'll start their work would re-assure many of us. It might pin them down, too.

Maybe one of the problems is that people like me tend to voice their concerns on several of the forums but don't address a post directly to you. I need to do this in future if I think something needs to be brought to your attention. Perhaps I assumed you've been reading everything in a timely fashion rather than my being fully conscious (many have complained about that) that you are away from the site from time to time. Is there any way your absences can be covered or is this beyong Birds in Backyards' current resources?

It does concern me that this website, which has so much potential for increasing the interest of people in Australia's birds, is experiencing a decline in participation if not a decline in membership. A couple of months ago I was marvelling at the number of new posters, many wanting to satisfy their curiosity about birds' indentities. A number would be once-offers, no doubt, but I would have expected a number to stay on, especially those who expressed their excitement about finding Birds in Backyards. As you say, Holly, forums wax & wane (Ms Woko attests to that) but I don't think the waxing & waning isn't  helped by photos not downloading at all. I'm certainly looking forward to being able to post photos simply & quickly rather than having to go through the convoluted gyrations of Photobucket or Flickr.

 

 

Hey Woko

The web guys will be back to me tomorrow with a time line for things - I have given them quite a few issues that need to be dealt with but these ones are a priority. I am hoping it is an easy fix as we have only a certain amount of support hours available to use before I need to find funding for more!

Yes please address a post directly to me - I used to be able to get all posts emailed to me on the old site so they would appear in my email and I could quickly skim through to check all was OK - that feature doesn't happen now so I have to actively go into every thread to read every post and, whilst I would much rather spend time on here and look at lovely photos etc, I just can't :(

As you can probably guess, we are stretched for resources but the small team is growing and I hope to have some very good news on that front soon. At the moment it is me *almost* fulltime, and I have 2 project officers on specific projects, one just starting, one just winding up (grant funded). Finding funding is always challenging. Having mods on here will help too but there is a few things that need to be done on the site so I can set that up (I am hoping for a 'website day' tomorrow).

re participation - whilst the forum has slowed down a bit lately, the use of the site as a whole hasn't. People are still looking up fact sheets, using the bird finder and submitting surveys etc. (we get between 1600 and 2600 individual users on the site each day) I can guarantee that when I send out the next e-Newsletter there will be a spike in forum usage too. Ultimately we want to get many more people using all areas of the site and definitely get the forum more active. There are still a few hurdles to cross but I am confident we will get there... as a first step of course we need to solve these ongoing forum issues.

Woko
Woko's picture

Thanks, Holly. I used to work in a non government youth organisation (so long ago it was probably before my time) so I can appreciate the amount of time that goes into securing funding to do the things the funding pays you to do. The important thing for me is to hear from you fairly often about progress in solving the problems encountered with the new site. Having a context for your work is also helpful, too, I find.

Holly
Holly's picture

Thanks Woko - will definitely update you all more

soakes
soakes's picture

Speaking as a word-mincer, the only reason I am vocal on this forum is because I want everything to work well and I think my feedback can probably help with that.  The main layout issue I have is the total waste of space.  Considering the amount of words that are typically posted in a thread (this thread is an exception due to the relatively lengthy messages) I have to scroll a lot to read the entire thread due to the fact that each message takes up a fairly large minimum size no matter how short it is.  Also each "Top quote reply" line takes a lot of space and there is a *lot* of gumph below each message before you find the "Save" button (which should be renamed "send" but that is being pedantic.)

The main issue by far is the photos not appearing.  I cannot think of a reason why there would be a delay in them appearing.  If there is a lack of space on the server that would result in them failing to be submitted - not in a lengthy delay before they appear.  Something is very weird there.  Personally I am happy to use flickr to post photos, but it would be better to have the photos hosted on this site.  It is not a difficult job to resize submissions as they come in, if necessary.

The site generally is slow, but that is not a major concern.

- soakes

soakes
Olinda, Victoria, Australia

Holly
Holly's picture

soakes wrote:

 

Speaking as a word-mincer, the only reason I am vocal on this forum is because I want everything to work well and I think my feedback can probably help with that.  The main layout issue I have is the total waste of space.  Considering the amount of words that are typically posted in a thread (this thread is an exception due to the relatively lengthy messages) I have to scroll a lot to read the entire thread due to the fact that each message takes up a fairly large minimum size no matter how short it is.  Also each "Top quote reply" line takes a lot of space and there is a *lot* of gumph below each message before you find the "Save" button (which should be renamed "send" but that is being pedantic.)

The main issue by far is the photos not appearing.  I cannot think of a reason why there would be a delay in them appearing.  If there is a lack of space on the server that would result in them failing to be submitted - not in a lengthy delay before they appear.  Something is very weird there.  Personally I am happy to use flickr to post photos, but it would be better to have the photos hosted on this site.  It is not a difficult job to resize submissions as they come in, if necessary.

The site generally is slow, but that is not a major concern.

- soakes

 

 

Yes I do look at the 'save' button and think it is a bit strange but I think we are stuck with that one!

 

As I said, I hope to have a handle on what the problem is with the photos uploading tomorrow so hopefully there will be answers and solutions soon.

 

Feedback is good! I need to know how others view the site. I hadn't considered those layout issues as they looked ok to me, but that obviously isnt the case for everyone - similarly, I haven't had trouble with the site being slow and I am on various sections of it every day - obviously suggests something is going on there...

 

pacman
pacman's picture

I am a relative newcomer - 2 months & 5 days

I think that this is a great Forum, however I am not a varied Forum participator, my only other Forum is a Motorcycle Forum (it's a long story but it is important to have varied interests)

I have not posted any pics recently for 2 reasons - 1) I was reading that the upload was slow and 2) it seems to have been raining since I arrived in Port Macquarie at the start of March.

However, I have posted a few comments and uploaded some pics this morning and I had no great diffilcuties with either. The page upload times seem to be slow but that was the same with the other forum and eBay last night so I assumed that it was a local rather than Forum issue.

I note that I always compress my pics to less than 1 Mb.

Edit insert - this pic also posted immediately

Peter

Woko
Woko's picture

That's interesting, pacman. No doubt there'll be a rush of people trying on uploads of 1 Mb or less for size. I might be one! I know that the other sites with which I'm registered all require a limit on uploads.

Holly
Holly's picture

Woko wrote:

 

That's interesting, pacman. No doubt there'll be a rush of people trying on uploads of 1 Mb or less for size. I might be one! I know that the other sites with which I'm registered all require a limit on uploads.

 

 

I am working out how to limit upload sizes today (and waiting to get confirmation if it is the amount and sizes of uploads that is the issue). If it comes back that that is the problem then we will look and limiting file sizes as the first solution and see how that goes...

 

RogerM
RogerM's picture

A couple of points in case they are of use, I size my photos to 1024x768 pixels, seems to fit nicely and compresses to just 250-350kBytes.

A recent post to the identifications section took some days to upload the images, but they did get there.

I have also had times when pages did not load when selected. My most recent ID post loaded the image virtually instantly.

It seems that an over taxed / slow server may be the problem, maybe when it is running slow or under pressure it has a bit of a senior moment and just gets lost? I have not been receiving notifications of posts but I did get a notification when Holly sent me a message reply.

Stick with it everyone, I'm sure no one wants members to get so frustrated that they leave. I spend most of my BIBY time learning things from members and only a small amount on the finder etc.

Holly is doing a great job working towards what will be much superior to the old site once the wrinkles are sorted out.

If I go absent, its not because of site problems, just busy at work etc.

Bye. Regards Roger

Holly
Holly's picture

Slowness of pages/sections to open should be fixed now - let me know if it happens again. A waiting confirmation of the size restrictions on the image uploads now. Once that is all confirmed I will post the 'how to post photos' section I have written yes

clif2
clif2's picture

Hi all,  The photos used to load very slowly for me but lately I haven't had much of an issue in this regard even though I haven't posted a lot in the last couple of weeks, A thumbnail comes up fairly quickly when I upload, so not an issue for me, YET!  If I want to choose "best photos" then the page loading time is miserably slow and a put off. I have noticed that the file sizes for uploaded photos is now 500Kb or less not the previous 5Mb and this might be why my photos are loading faster. I have been on other sites where the file sizes are even less, so I gather from this that it is a server issue or bandwidth problem for the site. I hope this gets sorted soon as I have a cuppa when trying to view photos and waiting for them to load, so if I look at 6 photos, then 6 cuppas, I start to get the shakes from caffein overload. I don't know how these forums operate but would it make any difference if a lot of the older posts were separated and put into an archive section so they can be viewed if need be, which may free up the more recent listings.

Regards

               Shane

Holly
Holly's picture

Thanks for the comments Shane - yes we had to reduce the file upload size because the server was struggling. Are you still noticing the photo forum is really slow to open? We were hoping that this was fixed but may need to look into it again.

I had thought about archiving old posts but I will need to look into it in more detail to see if it is a viable option.

Beef
Beef's picture

Seems to be loading much faster thanks!

clif2
clif2's picture

Thanks Holly,  Today I am having no trouble viewing topics or posts, so good on you, for this.

Regards

               Shane

Amateur

Personally I would say it is due to a drop in regular active posters who used to frequent the forum.

Araminta
Araminta's picture

Hi Amateur, think you are onto something, there are a few missing. They might come back, now that everything works well. If only someone would tell them.LOL

If you have any ideaenlightened , send me a private message, now that we can do this. wink

Nice to see you here, missed you.crying hope you can hang around for a bitlaugh

M-L

Qyn
Qyn's picture

I think most "regulars" are still dropping in anyway and will soon see that there has been noticeable improvement with loading times and access. It is a wonderful forum and there is no real competition for this particular forum or for those people who make it so special.smiley That is my opinion anyway!!

Alison
~~~~~~
"the earth is not only for humans, but for all animals and living things."

birdie
birdie's picture

I realise I am a bit late with posting on this topic but I have been a member here for more than 3 years and throughout that time it has waxed and waned regardless of the format.  Now it seems that the uploading time to bring up the page and pics is sorted and for me it is working fine. I prefer to use Flickr anyway as we have changed to a lower allowance on our new wireless system and by uploading once it saves me from having to reload if I want to use the pics anywhere else. Remember the silent majority is alive and well and there are doubtless plenty of members browsing and grazing here but who would not speak up because it is not in their nature. Also I think those of us into photography do tend to forget that there are other forums here. Not everyone wants to post and share but many just want information. While I have illness as an excuse for lack of participation over the last year or so I have to admit that even I got bored with it all for a while. I am a big facebook fan and use it a  lot as you know Marie-Louise, and it does satisfy  the bloggers need for me lolsmiley   people are fickle and will come and go always.

I would definitely agree with Soakes that the format does not lend itself to a quick flowing catch up of the flow of conversation.

Holly you are doing a great job in a tough situation, and as far as the forum goes with participation , I think it is as it has always been...sometimes busy and sometimes slow.

I believe if you have a genuine interest in making and keeping this forum successful and the site generally so, then we need to encourage participation in the other end of the forum ....... list and engage discussions, share the website with your friends , post topical articles etc.  I listened in to Holly in an interview she gave on the local Noosa Community radio the other day and it reminded me of how there are many interested people out there  .... who just don't know we are here. it was an enlightening interview and made me rethink my participation and sharing of this interesting part of my life

That is my two cents  worth anyway

Cheers

Adrienneyes

Sunshine Coast Queensland

Woko
Woko's picture

Good one, birdie. The variety of views & needs on this site never cease to amaze me. What spicey lives we lead!

Platypus
Platypus's picture

Since English is my second language and I'm not quite the computer wiz, I'm kind of weaving my way through the new website learning as I go. And yes Holly, the SAVE button was one of my obstacles as it didn't quite make sense to me when I actually want to SUBMIT (not save).

With the forum, would it be possible to have the most recent messages (of a topic) on top of the page instead of at the bottom?

In regards to sending in surveys, I always have a few ready to be typed in but hardly find the time to do so. I probably have to get better organized myself and have my own form that is in the same order as your surveys so it takes less time for me to fill these in on your website.

Question: Having played a part (as an observer) in the creation of the New Atlas of Australian Birds for Birds Australia I'm wondering, are my surveys automatically shared with BirdLife or would I have to enter my surveys parallel?

platypus

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