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#1 MtnBrewer

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 02:45 PM

State of the Forum AddressThis is something that the management here would like to do from time to time. We want to let everyone know what's going on, give you some feedback about how things are going, hear feedback from you about ideas we have and just generally build a stronger community by keeping the lines of communication open. Today is our 1st weekiversary and I thought this would be an appropriate time to bring everybody up to speed.A Big Thanks to Our MembershipFirst I would like to say thanks to the members that followed us here. We were a little nervous (well I was anyway) that we'd throw a party and nobody would show up. In reality the opposite happened. We had nearly 100 people sign up in the first few hours after we came on line and there were well over 100 after the first full day. Right now we're approaching 300 strong and still growing. That's a drop in the bucket compared to the Brewboard's thousands of members but keep in mind that this represents nearly all of the active membership at the Brewboard.You guys have also put your money where your mouse is by supporting the Patron sponsorship. For those who are not aware, upgrading to Patron status gets you some additional benefits, including more PM space, the ability to attach files to posts and other features. Please see this to learn more about becoming a Brew Brothers patron. To put this in concrete terms, we have already paid for the next nine months of hosting after only one week. However as we continue to grow these costs may also rise, so this is subject to change.The fact that so many of our friends made the transition with us says a few things. First, it says that we have a real community here that is independent of where the site is hosted or who it's affiliated with. It says that you cared about each other enough to come here and start over completely from scratch. It also says that you trust us to run this place the way it should be run. We thank you for that faith in us from the bottoms of our hearts.Give yourselves a standing O. :(Our VisionFirst and foremost, this is an online community forum created by brewers and winemakers for brewers and winemakers. Our primary mission is to create an environment so that brewers and winemakers can share their knowledge, expertise and techniques for the betterment of the community as a whole.One of the problems that was beginning to surface at the other place is the community was becoming fractured. More and more it was becoming brewers vs. PHers vs. moderators. We have a very strong desire to not let that happen this time. We want to build one big community that includes everybody, not 3 or 4 smaller, distinct ones. I've seen some encouraging early signs of this already. Some of the PH regulars have suddenly gotten re-energized about brewing and are spending more time in the brewing forums than they used to. I've also seen a few of the brewers stopping into the PH. I would love to see a lot more of this. So if you're a brewer that has never (or rarely) ventured into the Public House, I urge you to stick your head in there from time to time and say hi. I know that the zombies in the PH can seem like a bunch of crazed maniacs and there's a reason for that. They are. But they are also the nicest, funniest people you'll ever meet. They are as much of a community as the brewers, if not more. So I'm asking for some bridge-building from both sides. New StandardsTo that end, one of the most important changes you'll see between this site and the old one is that we need to tighten up our standards of acceptable content. The old PH was becoming too crude and rough for some people. We are all adults so some amount of adult content and behavior is acceptable. Where we will draw the line is between risqué and raunchy. Here are a few examples of what we consider raunchy: nudity/see-through clothing, butt floss, bouncy/jiggly animated GIFs, images depicting/suggesting sexual activity (including animations), most of Carlin's 7 words. These things don't belong on a site that is supposed to be about making beer. Regarding language, the occasional shit or piss is not going to cause anybody to bat an eyelash. But from a body-of-work perspective, if you're constantly using crude language, we're going to ask you to rein it in a little. We are not prudes but we also don't want to be bombarded by an avalanche of crude behavior every time we visit the Public House.A major change in the policies centers around group buys. Group buys created an awkward situation for HBA/AB and so the organization of them in the open forum was prohibited. Here, we have no homebrew shop affiliation so you guys are welcome to organize all the group buys that you want.Another problem from the GB is that at times there seemed to be an arms race to see who could push the limits the farthest without getting suspended. We will be looking for this type of behavior and will try to stop it before it starts. However we also ask the membership here to simply avoid that one-upsmanship. Also, since we're promoting this as a community, please help us keep the place clean by reporting posts that you feel may violate the rules. The mods can't read every single post and so we rely on the members to help us out. We're asking everyone to please take some ownership in the place.I'm happy to say that most members have embraced these new standards of behavior. Some however are still sorting it out. That's ok. We realize that an adjustment is necessary and we are not handing out suspensions during this transition period, only verbal warnings. At some point however, everyone is going to have to get on board with the new rules. We didn't put these rules in place to be assholes. They're for the good of the community as a whole. The sooner we accept the new reality, the better off we'll all be.If you feel that you can't go on living without viewing or posting content of the type that is prohibited here, you're in luck. There's a home for you at The Lifeboat. (See below)The LifeboatThe Lifeboat is a site that BigBossMan started up a while back so that Brewboarders would have a place to go during the times when the board was down. With all the "maintenance" that has been going on lately, The Lifeboat's membership has skyrocketed. I'd like to take this opportunity to publicly thank BBM for his kindness, support and generosity. We see this site and The Lifeboat almost as partners. As long as you play nice with others, almost anything goes at The Lifeboat. So it offers us a pressure relief valve and an outlet for those that don't feel comfortable with the tighter restrictions on this forum.Standing O for Marc. :cheers:Current StatusWe were trying to get the board set up and online as quickly as possible so as to fill the void left by the Brewboard's disappearance. Therefore many things were left undone when we first opened the doors. I'm happy to report that most of these have been addressed at least to some extent. Some things are still a work in progress however and that's going to remain the case for a while. Here's a list of some things that we've been able to accomplish so far:
    [*]Forum Organization - We've set this board up slightly different from the Brewboard. For one thing, we've created a Bulletin Board group that contains the Events & Announcements, Classifieds and Group Buy forums. Other than that things should look pretty familiar. One thing that we heard consistently from the members at the Brewboard is that they liked the consolidated format rather than the "forum sprawl" that characterize some sites. So we intend to keep that concept in place. We may add new forums as needs arise but we tend to resist that. If there is a real, legitimate need to add a new forum, we will do so but it's going to require some pretty good justification.[*]Patron Sponsors - Discussed earlier, this is a way to help keep the site running and also get some additional features.[*]Policies - We opened the doors without an official Code of Conduct. I can report that we have rectified that situation and the link to our policies is posted on the banner at the top of the page. And it didn't take us weeks to agree on the wording. :D[*]Smilies - We installed most of the emoticons that you were used to back at the old place, plus some new ones.[*]FAQ - Work is progressing on the FAQ Forum but it's slow going right now. We have the FAQs from the old board but to use them we need permission from the authors. If you wrote a FAQ for the old board and you'd like to give us permission to use it, please PM me. If you'd like to write a new FAQ, please PM me. If you know someone who isn't on this forum (yet) but wrote a FAQ for the old one, please get in touch with them and ask them to send me permission to use it, if they're willing.[*]Thread Ratings - We've enabled thread ratings (star ratings) in all forums. At the moment they aren't used for anything but some day they might be used as the criteria for pruning the database or archiving important threads. So go ahead and get in the habit of rating threads. Keep in mind that what you're rating is the quality of the thread, not whether you agree with what it says (except for reviews - see below).[*]Review Forum - We're trying something new. Instead of a poll in the reviews, we're going to try using the thread rating. In this case, you're not rating the thread itself, rather you're rating the item that's being reviewed. [*]Glitches - There were the usual assortment of goobers on start-up but we've fixed problems in the RSS feed, thread subscriptions and permissions in various forums. If anybody discovers a problem, please report it to us in the Brew Brothers Info forum.[/list]The BrewboardHopefully this is the last time I will have to address this subject. In the last couple of weeks there has been a lot of harsh words exchanged between the members of this site (along with the Lifeboat) and the Brewboard. There's been a lot more drama than is warranted over some internet forums. I urge everyone here to put this episode behind you. That chapter is closed and we now begin a new one that we hope will be better. Let's move on; we have better things to talk about.I know that many of you have no plans to ever return to the green board. However I also know that there are those that do wish to maintain your relationships with the fine folks at that site. We do not see ourselves in competition with our former home. We simply have a difference of opinion and therefore are offering this forum as an alternative. We welcome those who wish to share some time with us here, whether you are a member of the Brewboard or not.Plans for the FutureOne thing that we want to make clear is that we are not in this to make a profit. You guys have been extremely generous so far. Be assured that all of the money that we collect above and beyond operating costs will be rolled back into the community somehow. We are looking at adding some new features to the board (see below) and if anything is left over after that, we'll find a way to pay it back. Here are a few of the ideas we have for moving forward:
      [*]Right now we're being hosted by Invision, which is the company that makes the forum software that we use and the cost of the software is included in the hosting fees. Eventually if traffic continues to pick up, we'll need to move the board over to a virtual server. This means that we'll need to purchase our own copy of the Invision Power Board software. This is a one-time cost of $150 plus $50/yr. for maintenance. Most of this has already been paid for by a generous donation from the Lifeboat.[*]Invision Power also has blog & photo gallery software that integrates with the forums. We are contemplating adding these new features should we have a projected surplus. However we need for you to tell us if you feel it would be a useful addition. We'd rather spend the money elsewhere if this is not going to get used.[*]There's been some discussion of having t-shirts printed, with profit from the sales of the shirts going to support the board. However, that is complicated by the fact that the Blues Brothers image is protected, and we'd prefer not to get ourselves in legal trouble. We're considering making our own image, involving a few of the moderators, shades, fedoras, and some beer, but we're going to need some assistance both with putting the image together and getting the shirts printed. One other major concern is printing costs - we've yet to find a low volume printer that can do it for less than $25-30 a shirt.[*]We are talking about also adding a chat component to the system. If we do, it will mostly be for the purpose of bringing in "guest speakers" the way we used to do during the "Ale Era". There are a number of problems to be worked out before this happens however so it's not high up on the priority list at the moment.[*]We have heard requests for a dark blue skin. It was in our plans all along to do this and it's still on our to-do list. However, this theme works just fine for now and so adding a new one is not a high priority. It's also a royal pain right in the butt to create a new skin. So we'll get around to it at some point but it's not going to happen in the near future. Note that when we do add a blue skin, this one will not go away. We will just add an additional option. We've also heard requests for a dark green skin and.....well, no. :wub:[*]At the Brewboard, we managed to generate a little income through Google Ads. Near the end, we removed them because they were something of a conflict of interest for the ownership. That situation doesn't exist here so we are considering using them to help offset the cost. We are also looking into the idea of not displaying Google Ads for Patron members.[/list]We'd love to hear some feedback from the members about the above ideas, good, bad or otherwise. Of course we always want to hear from you about other ideas that maybe we haven't thought of.Big FinishI'll leave everyone with this thought. Who owns this board? Scott's name is on the hosting agreement so in that sense he is the owner but that's not what I'm talking about. What I'm really asking is, "Who has a stake in seeing this board be successful?" Everyone here came here for a reason. You want to be here. So I submit to you that we are all owners of this board. We are all stakeholders in this little enterprise. We all benefit from this board being here and we would all be a little bit sadder if it didn't exist. Thus I think we all bear some responsibility for insuring that it succeeds.How many times did you hear at the old place, "This is Jess' house, he just lets us visit.", or words to that effect? Well, that's not the case here. This is not my house. This is not Scott's house. This is your house. Please treat it with respect.That's all I have to say. Now I'll open the floor up to questions.

#2 badogg

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 03:09 PM

I'm a little torn on the photo/blog add-in. Part of me says that it would be cool for each of us to be able to blog about beer or something like that. But then I think it would be a useless addition.For the t-shirts, i think it would be a waste. I know I probably wouldn't purchase one. On that note, what is the legalities of using the blue's brother image on this site? Just curious..I wouldn't mind some google ads, even as a patron. That would just be another way for me to contribute to this place to have the google ads there. I say bring 'em on.
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#3 HokieTrismegistus

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 03:18 PM

Well I'm a Patron now.
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#4 DuncanDad

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 03:19 PM

Very nice. This is what I hoped this forum would be.Let me know if you need help with anything concerning the t-shirts, printing or, business wise.As you said, this is our house. It's up to us to make it the best place on the internet to discuss brewing or to support each other.
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#5 reDough

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 03:21 PM

This is a fine day. I can hardly wait to get a few paychecks so I can get a blue name! Seriously, as hard as I have worked you guys the last couple years it's the least I could do. And besides, what better way to welcome our new mod overlords?
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#6 chuck_d

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 03:26 PM

[*]We are talking about also adding a chat component to the system. If we do, it will mostly be for the purpose of bringing in "guest speakers" the way we used to do during the "Ale Era". There are a number of problems to be worked out before this happens however so it's not high up on the priority list at the moment.

Yes! I loved it back in the day when they had the guest chats, which then spurred conversation in the forum. :(
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#7 *_Guest_BigBossMan_*

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 03:26 PM

I see nothing wrong with Google Ads either. Personally, they've never bothered me and I'd be more than happy to support Old Blue here in that way. Every little bit helps. I'm still keeping an eye out for any decent affiliate programs I see.My only question is this: What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
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#8 reDough

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 03:32 PM

I see nothing wrong with Google Ads either. Personally, they've never bothered me and I'd be more than happy to support Old Blue here in that way. Every little bit helps. I'm still keeping an eye out for any decent affiliate programs I see.My only question is this: What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Ads don't bother me either, but given the choice I would rather donate.
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#9 badogg

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 03:34 PM

My only question is this: What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?

Isn't this one of those things that should have been asked on the lifeboat? :(
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#10 ColdAssHonky

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 03:37 PM

I really appreciate such a straight forward approach to this new beginning. Patron here I come.
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#11 badogg

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 03:39 PM

Also, I like most of the smileys over the LB. Maybe some of them would be a good fit here too?
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#12 MtnBrewer

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 03:45 PM

Also, I like most of the smileys over the LB. Maybe some of them would be a good fit here too?

I'm a member of another forum that has gone apeshit over smileys. They probably have over a hundred. We're willing to entertain some suggestions about a few new emoticons but we don't want to fall into that trap that they have. It's almost impossible to find the one you're looking for unless you use it enough to memorize the :code: for it.

#13 japh

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 03:47 PM

All I can say is thank you to those who helped get this board started :(
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#14 ScottS

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 03:52 PM

I wanted to address Mainleybrew's question here too:

knowing your capitalist nature...what's your angle for starting this board? If there really isn't one...that's fine. If it has something to do with your mead venture...understandable.

The angle is simply to provide a new place for the community we had built at the BB. It is entirely non-profit, all income from patronage or ads will be used to pay hosting fees, buy upgrades, etc. Any funds in excess of what we need for those purposes will be given back to the community via raffles, contests with prizes, etc. It is possible that I will want to use the board for advertising at some point in the distant future, but I would expect that to be in the same form as any other advertiser.

#15 BikeBrewer

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 04:10 PM

I really like that you posted a state of the forum; I think it's great to be kept updated on what's going on with the forum. I also don't mind ads even for patrons as I think that revenue from unobtrusive ads benefits us all.Thanks again for starting the forum.
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#16 badogg

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 04:12 PM

I really like that you posted a state of the forum; I think it's great to be kept updated on what's going on with the forum. I also don't mind ads even for patrons as I think that revenue from unobtrusive ads benefits us all.Thanks again for starting the forum.

Yup! I say put them on now and start gettin that revenue.However, the moment I see an ad-banner or a popup ad, you are going to hear it from me. But unobtrusive ads aint a problem for me either.
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#17 Thag

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 04:27 PM

Cliff notes on any further State of the Forum Address?Actually it was a good read.
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#18 EWW

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 04:29 PM

As a patron I have no problems looking at ads, I think we all learn to not pay attention to them in time and I want to see this work for everyone. However, I think the way they work is that if you click the ad the board gets $0.0X, and if you all did go this route we might actually be able to use these to support the board by clicking them every now and again. This would allow us to use the patron support as a buffer if it does in fact work like that. Plus a raffle every now and again sounds great ,because well who doesn't like the chance of winning free stuff.I know it doesn't sound like the chat function is a top priority of the mods, but if we were able to bring in some pros/xyz knowledge source for a discussion this would be a great resource IMO. I know that the chat function on the green side was mainly used for FNDC and the like, but if it had substance (sorry FNDC people I've learned to love you lately) I could see it as a huge asset to the board and draw in many people as the word about the quality of the chats spreads to other. This in turn may bring more brewers to the board and increase both the knowledge base and the potential patronage of the board. I for one appreciate all the hard work it has taken to get this operation off the ground, but more so then the hard work, I appreciate the candor and in your face honesty that the state of forum and discussion brings to this board. The level of honesty and openness is commendable.
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#19 43hertz

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 04:49 PM

I actually loved the Google ads over at the other site--I don't know how easy it is to implement an on/off feature, but I'd just as soon see them as not have at least the option to see them.
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#20 dagomike

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 04:54 PM

Regarding the blogs... Not sure if there's a way, but maybe to just integrate external blogs. Maybe via RSS or something. Photo and blog hosting is free all over. Plus, as first BB crash and recent unpleasantness has shown, I like owning my content. Perhaps look past the forum. Go supernova with a full out community/club. Forum will just be the hub. Collaborative gadgets, experiments, tech papers, recipes, podcasts, etc, etc. You've got plenty of people to help. I've already offered.
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