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Discussion in 'Site Feedback' started by wellardmac, Apr 23, 2012.

    • Member

    wellardmac Ninja World Traveler

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    I know that there is probably a reason behind this, but I wonder why this forum does not have the ability to remember my login, like pretty much every other forum I visit. Would it be possible to include an option to maintain a login to the site that doesn't timeout or expire?

    Thanks!
    • Member

    MGarrison

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    That was one of the first questions that came up with the switchover to these forums last year, I think the final answer was that it's just not an option - something to do with keeping the forums for members only and a unified login across the site, if I recall. I bookmark http://bmwcca.org/forum and have my browser set to remember my username and password. Then at least getting to the forums' most recent posts is 3 clicks - clicking the bookmark link, click login, and click 'What's New' to show new posts. But, yes, not quite as straightforward as one click taking you to showing the most recent posts.

    The downside to the login timeout comes if you write a long reply, as there is no time's up or logout warning - you're logged out without knowing it. When you click reply, you're thrown to the login screen, and I don't trust the forum software to recall the just-typed reply after logging in. I handle this in several ways - Either write the reply in a word processing app (wordpad, notepad, microsoft word) and copy and paste it, so timing out isn't an issue. Or, if the reply gets long, copy and paste it to a word processing app before hitting the post reply button, just so I know it's salvaged and retrievable. If I hit the post reply button and get thrown the login screen, typically if I hit my browser's back button, the browser will have retained what I type - but I don't trust it to keep it through logging in. One thing that's worked for me is opening a new tab and clicking my BMWCCA bookmark, and logging in on that tab, and then, when I click reply in the other tab, it will post the reply.

    However, any long reply, I at least cut and paste before replying, just in case - I usually won't have the time or patience to recreate a detailed reply if it gets nuked due to flash/forum/browser etc. wonkiness.

    Yup... it's just that simple - easy as pie, eh?

    An additional downside to the logout/timing out, is that it makes the forums less user-friendly, and can be a disincentive for participation or anyone that might want to offer up detailed replies. Losing input that's taken some time and effort to write up hasn't gotten any less frustrating in the last 27 years... back then, it was that the ridiculously basic word processing software for my single 5.25" floppy drive IBM XT (no hard drive) had no automatic backup - it was saved (to the floppy, at that) only when you saved it, and if there was a power outage before you saved something - well, goodbye to whatever it was. Now, it's flash functionality/browser/forum software wonkiness, and no less aggravating for a reply to disappear into the... "cloud" (ugh!).
    • Member

    wellardmac Ninja World Traveler

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    I feel your pain. To me it (naively) would seem simple to set a cookie that times out after 24 hours or a week, that way the forum could be kept for members only, maintain security and privacy AND be user friendly.

    Just a thought. :)
    • Member

    sunnyandrich

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    Hi - Been really trying to use this forum last couple weeks.

    Unfortunately without this feature, I will have to pretty much give up regular participation.

    I understand the trade offs, and I will drop back with a specific issue from time to time.

    That is a shame, otherwise this set up is not bad.

    I'm sure there was some reason this is not set up like every other online forum I am in.

    I'm a little dissapointed, But I'll live with it. Just wanted to add my 0.02. Thanks for the effort, I do appreciate it for the club.
    • Member

    steven s

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    I too would like a remember me function.
    At least remember me until the end of the month to be sure the person is still a member.
    But I will say that login is quicker than it was when we first started.
    While most forums have a remember me function, few websites where personal information is stored keeps you logged in.
    I do realize it's the user's responsibility to be sure they do not check remember me when on a public computer, but I'm sure there are more than a few who walk away from the computer in hotel lobby still logged in.
    • Member

    wellardmac Ninja World Traveler

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    I have to agree. I find myself checking in less frequently than I would if the site remembered my login. It's silly, but it is a barrier (albeit a low one) to people coming back frequently and participating. Even a 2 week cookie that allowed you to get in and out quickly would be an improvement.
    eblue540 likes this.
    • Member

    sunnyandrich

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    First time back since 9 June...:( Really hard to get past the "login everytime" compared to other online forums...
    • Member

    MGarrison

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    It's similar to repeatedly smashing your big toe with a hammer - eventually, it doesn't hurt anymore because you've just gotten used to it and finally have to accept it.
    • Member

    steven s

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    We need to verify who has an active membership each time someone logs in. Yea. A remember me check box would be nice, Or maybe remember me? and left the software verify in the background although there probably would be no way of auto logging the person out if that person wasn't a member. Or maybe check for membership once a month. Any customization costs money. Do I need to remind anyone what the so called forum was like before this one?

    Log in is quicker than it was when first launched but you won't find me disagreeing that it would be nice to have a remember me function but the same login is used for membership information. You can't stay logged in to PayPal or your bank either.

    Do I need to get the hammer?
    toe.jpg
    • Member

    sunnyandrich

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    Ok, I get what you are saying, and thats fine.

    As long as the committee in the sky or wherever these decisions are made are ok with the discussion forum limping along like it does with a half dozen posts a day, and are ok with that, then fine. Really.

    But the fact of the matter is that online sites like bimmerfest.com and m3post.com all have millions (yes, millions) of posts because they make it easy for folks to logon, post and get information. And lest you forget, they don't cost me zilch, nothing, nada.

    I have about 12,000 posts combined on various online BMW web discussion boards since 2003, and I'm not a very uncommonly prolific poster. I only mention that because the situation that we have here is not supportive of the members needs, and I'm a little dissapointed it worked out that way.

    Ok, I don't really want to cause wwiii about the web discussion forum, just wanted to vent a little bit. :)

    I'm done...thanks for listening...

    Rich
    • Member

    sunnyandrich

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    oh, one more thing, why is it that participating in the focum requires you to be a BMW CCA member?

    Maybe you could just allow anyone to join the forum, and if you were a member, allow them to have a special avatar or what not.

    Believe me, the contents of the discussion forum are not that special that they need to be "protected" somehow by an authentication routine on logon.

    Anyways, good discussion, and again, don't take it as being upset, it comes honestly from the heart because I care about the club and want it to be the best it can be.
    • Member

    MGarrison

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    I'm not sure if the various new-forum-format rationale posts got carried over or not, they may be in here somewhere. Steven may be able to point to posts that relayed the issues the national office and staff identified that precluded the usage of the relatively common, if now old & no-longer-supported v-bulletin forum software.

    When they migrated to the new site, the first iteration of the forums that apparently worked in whatever fashion to accomplish whatever they wanted as far as forum/site interface goes, was unworkable - so bad that it was intolerable. That move pretty much wiped out the active user-base we did have. After lots and lots and lots of griping and pointing out everything that didn't work about those forums by those of us that soldiered on, thanks to a lot of work on Steven S.'s part, we got this, which is waaaaay better than the most immediate prior iteration, and at least workable. Not the ease-of-use I'd like as far as quick-access goes, and readability could be better, but it's functionality is good enough that it's relatively straightforward to use. But for the log-in/out timing constraints, my forum look/feel/useability wish-list has gotten down to relatively minor points.

    However, yes, I agree Rich, this setup leaves a lot to be desired in terms of ease of use that would facilitate maximum club-member participation, or creating a really active user-base.

    I've detailed my thoughts about that and highlighted specific comparisons in other posts, some time ago. One of my beefs with the end-result of what we got here, particularly with the forums, but also with some aspects of the site, was the process by which it was done. The National Office had their own useability and functionality problems with the old site, to which virtually all members were oblivious, except for various problems that members would have trying to register for access to the site and/or forums (which, I presume, consumed more of the office staff/web folks time than anyone there thought acceptable). It seemed like once members were able to get registered and access the site and the forums, the useability and access for members was just fine, generally speaking. The forums were v-bulletin, and worked fine, at least for me, and since they were a familiar format to myself and so many, and had basically no-delay one-click access, were easy to access, follow, and use. After being in place for 2-3 years, we had built up a reasonably active/frequent group of participants.

    This whole new website and forums project was initiated, worked-through, and completed entirely within the scope of the National Office, and/or perhaps the board - I don't know all specifics there, as I wasn't involved, but my point is, any input, insight, feedback, or thoughts about a new site and or forums was never solicited from the membership, even the very small subset of club members that were active on the old forums. Personally, I think it's a mistake to IGNORE the membership, or never solicit it's input for something as major as a complete website and forum makeover, when this is a MEMBER-FINANCED club. Could have easily been done in an online poll, or forum topic, or whatever - just ask "Hey folks, we're planning to do this - any thoughts?" Somewhere else I had a really long post highlighting several reasons why doing so would have been a really good thing.

    In any case, it was apparently deemed a no-other-possibility priority that the forums be integrated 100% into the new website, and forum registration be tied to a member's actual club membership, and that the whole thing all work under the same umbrella. So, with whatever it is that the site uses and requires, this is the forum software we have that works acceptably with this site. I think it is unlikely the club's forums are likely to gain the participation or scope of message database of the other really big available-to-everyone BMW-specific forums. The percentage of the club's members who will be inclined to participate here is never going to be large, nor will it be a large number of people - some small percentage of some about-70k+ members is not going to match the number of folks to whom bf.c is accessible. Having to be a member to access the forums is a limiting factor (they're not free in the sense that you have to pay to be a member), and not being able to get to a list of most recent posts with speedy 1-click access is a participation disincentive to anyone used to the way other forums typically work. Also, the club was late in the game in even offering a forum of any kind, and apparently did not view or value the message base built-up by user participation enough to carry it over with two or three new iterations of forums. Whatever all posts any prior forum members posted from the get-go, or the 2nd get-go (maybe even a 3rd, memory gets fuzzy) were ultimately taken offline, and thus, nuked. THIS time at least, ONE PERSON, (Steven), took the effort to migrate most everything from the prior forums into these - I have pointed out before that the club will never build a strong user-base by nuking the forums every 2-3 years. As far as I know, forums like bf.c and so on have NOT done that, and thus, as you mention, have built up a huge message database, which is full of useful information, as long as one can find what they're looking for (weeding through the cr@p is always a problem with message forums, particularly the bigger they get). However, even if whatever content these forums do generate over time isn't something about which anyone might say "Gee, I have just GOT to pay to be a BMWCCA member to get on those forums!", these offer the area where club members can interact, and, thankfully, for the most part, things around here seem to stay a relatively drama-free zone. Not much usually in the way of flame wars and so-on. In any case, I suspect it is likely to be a very long time before the 'CCA online message forums could substantively bill themselves as a big bonus of club membership. If we got to a million messages with tons of tech info on a gazillion topics and/or cars, perhaps. Maybe the club should stick a million monkeys in a room with a million typewriters for a million years and see if we get the desired result. It's always a good day if I get to work in an analogy about a million monkeys for a million years... :p In the meantime, I think all of the reasons that have made the club appealing in the past will continue to be the main reasons why people continue to join, and the club having online forums a primary membership-motivator for relatively few.

    One thing we sorely need around here is for the National Office to recruit, perhaps from the TIPS reps, but, from somewhere, or from the membership, members or folks who are professional mechanics that can offer up their experience and insight in an armchair fashion about the broad range of mechanical/technical issues and questions members post and ask about. People have LOTS of questions, and it's a shame if members turn to the forums and the club forums here can't offer up solutions or ideas for folks, and there's only so much that those of us who do participate around here regularly can offer insight on. Of course with a little digging a lot of people could find stuff, a little googling can go a long way, and the big BMW message boards often have an informed discussion on specific issues, but still, it would be nice if members might be able to get an expert opinion here, particularly if they're not finding answers to their particular issue anyplace else. Would be nice to have another option than suggest calling a TIPS rep (if members even know we have them) or having to suggest looking elsewhere when we don't have any members that can offer up any help here. Fwiw, the access to the forums isn't restricted, just ability to post - I believe anyone can browse or search the forums.

    And, Steven - even if login time ain't gonna be extended, the forums also ain't my bank or paypal accounts which logout for inactivity for obvious reasons; I kinda doubt someone's going to think they're going to gain anything financially for themselves or be able to commit identity fraud by hacking into my car club access... ;) What's the worst they'd do - change my profile pic, and put up profanity-laced posts that oddly enough don't sound anything like me?? :p Btw... No! Not..... THE HAMMER!!! (run away, run away!)

    And, yeah... I ain't ready for WWIII to commence either...! :D
    • Member

    steven s

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    Every forum is different and have their own flavor. I've said it before.
    I have little patience for any of the BMW centric forums.
    The only section I enjoy is the track section on bf.c.
    The content is not protected. I welcome non-members reading the content.
    I think originally it was. I saw no reason to do that.

    As far as I'm concerned, this forum was never to replace those other forums.
    This is ours. While I would like to see DIY articles and tips here, I'm happy that members will point people to other sites for the information.

    We were very late to the game and will never be a big board. That really isn't the goal.
    The forum should be an area to foster comradery.

    As for being a member to post, IDK. It certainly helps control spammers which plague every forum.
    The forum I run have spammers attempting to register every few minutes but with several modifications, few get through. It may not be much of a member benefit, but it is one of them.
    • Member

    eblue540 Fourth Gen Bimmers

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    Here's a thought.

    There is near unanimous appreciation in this club for for the work that Mike Miller does with his tech advice in Roundel. Is there any way to take the now extensive but not-easily-accessed (now which stack of Roundels was that Window regulator dipstick run flat question in...?) archive of the questions members have asked and Mike has answered, and drop those into their own topic area on the Forum?

    If this could not be done as a batch for the existing archive, then going forward, maybe this could be done concurrently with the release of the magazine. Or maybe move the initial exchange between Mike and the mebership from its current E-mail exchange format to a "live" exchange right here in the forum, with a "best of" extract pulled and put into the magazine each month for wider membership disemination?

    This way you would have an easily accessable way to search for and read this priceless archive. And there would be the opportunity for followup, comment and "how did that turn out" add-on posted?

    Talk about something that would drive participation in the forum, if this could be done, you'd really give people a reason to be here and participate.
    cgtompkins likes this.
    • Member

    MGarrison

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    That is actually a big deal - spammers/spamming/spam could make the forums so unappealing as to effectively kill them.
    • Member

    steven s

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    I suggest chatting with the board and my boss at Ofest regarding the forum. I don't have much to say. ;)
    • Member

    SapphireBlackM6

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    I just joined CCA, and registered on the Forum. My browser (Google Chrome) remembers my login for me, so I just click the Login button on the home page, and the login info is already in the boxes. It's just one more click and I'm on the board. Not that big a deal.
    • Member

    MGarrison

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    Welcome to the club and the forums! Yes, most browsers offer functionality that covers auto-inputing log-in credentials of name and password, which helps to make that part of accessing the forums just that much easier and quicker. Although it would be a nice for the site to have a 'remember me' function, browsers pretty much have that covered, just as you've done. The other issue discussed from the initial post is that the site/forums will automatically log a user off after x-amount of time of no detected activity. This can become a bit of a nuisance if one is perusing the forums (or whatever) but moves to other tasks and is logged-off before they get back to where they were, and have to log-in again - or, more frustrating is losing a post/reply because the site logs you off without any notification. I _think_ it may hold your post in memory through having to log-in again, but I've been unwilling to risk it. If a post has taken awhile to write/reply, and I think I may be logged out, I open a new tab/window for the forums to check if I'm logged in or not and re-log-in, and once logged-in again, if I hit the post-reply button, it will post. Sometimes I also just write a reply in a word-processing app. such as notepad or wordpad, then copy/paste it into the reply box, so there's no chance I'll forget about the time and lose it.
    • Member

    Satch SoSoCalifortified

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    Lately I find I just have to hit the LOGIN button and it remembers my name and password. Good thing, too, 'cause I don't!
    • Member

    floydarogers

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    It's probably your browser, not the site itself, that is remembering you.
    Your computer loves you, and is trying to get you to spend more time with it rather than your car.

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