Forums: Is it Time?


This post by WildSnow.com blogger  

Hey Wildsnowers, should we install some forum BBS software here on WildSnow.com? Every so often someone requests that we do so. Also, when our comment threads become extensive, the usefulness of the blog type format diminishes and the function of the forum format (such as TGR) becomes more appropriate. To that end, we of course provide our Facebook Page, which can function as a forum if it’s used that way. But Facebook isn’t quite the same as a full-on BBS (though it does have powerful self policing behavior when it comes to spam and flame, which is why I like it).

I just checked out what’s out there, and the existing forums seem to be doing a good job of defining their focus. For example, EpicSki trends towards posts such as “Should I use the chairlift safety bar?”, while TGR, if amusing and useful, is of course known as the place where you sometimes feel like a shower after you scroll through the threads. TelemarkTips continues to sustain with their core group, but really, they’re about telemarking, despite perfunctory efforts to segue into a general backcountry skiing focus. Newschoolers is there and popular, but hey, it’s definitely not backcountry focused. Other options exist, perhaps the field is still crowded? Or should we go for it?

Forums are actually a ton of work due to spam attacks, software upgrades, and the never-ending moderation to defend against alias mischief and forum bullies. But we’ll do it if it seems right. Some days we get upwards of 15,000 unique visitors here, so there must be a few people out there who would do forum posts if we provided the venue.

Your comments? (And please don’t spam us with a bunch of links to other ski forums, we know they’re out there. I’m simply am looking for your opinion on if we should do it here or not.)

Comments

102 Responses to “Forums: Is it Time?”

  1. jpw February 3rd, 2011 9:30 am

    yes, please, & forum search function too.

  2. Tom February 3rd, 2011 9:30 am

    The forums usually degenerate into a few gems hopelessly hidden in a mass of unverified, irrelevant information.

    I read your blog specifically because of the format, I’ll still read it if you go forum though.

  3. Lou February 3rd, 2011 9:34 am

    Tom, if we install forums, that wouldn’t change the blog, though a few people might do forum comments instead of blog comments.

    I do have to say that the whole reason we blog instead of running a forum (which I’ve done several times) is that we like the more focused atmosphere and higher degree of accountability. I’ve been very reluctant to run a forum as you are correct in that is usually degenerates into a bunch of amusing but in the end somewhat useless chatter.

    JPW, if we do install forums, they would of course have a search function. The blog has one as well, which runs through Google, and works super well in my opinion. Search box is in top banner bar.

  4. Mark Sweatman February 3rd, 2011 9:37 am

    I’m afraid I would vote against. I like the fact that it is “your” opinions / comments which keep me coming back.

  5. Lou February 3rd, 2011 9:44 am

    Perhaps forums have seen their day? And we already have plenty of ski forums?

  6. Brian February 3rd, 2011 9:44 am

    Could be cool. I would use it if it stayed focused on backcountry and gear. I also think smart moderation is a must. Maybe have people use their real names like backcountry does for gear reviews. Keeps people from doing shady things anonymously.

  7. eric February 3rd, 2011 9:48 am

    I like your focused format and accurate information, Lou. Forums usually stray away from those two things.

  8. Tom February 3rd, 2011 9:48 am

    Agreed!

    “Perhaps forums have seen their day? And we already have plenty of ski forums?”

    “I like the fact that it is “your” opinions / comments ”

    ” we like the more focused atmosphere and higher degree of accountability.”

  9. John Dough February 3rd, 2011 9:49 am

    Opinions are like A$$holes, everyone has one and they usually stink.

    Backcountry users are some of the most opinionated, arrogant, monday morning quarterbacking, and diverse groups one can come across on the internet. (second only to politics)

    That’s the beauty of it! My vote is yes. But keep it simple stupid.

  10. Dave Hojo February 3rd, 2011 9:58 am

    When I come to your site I’m usually looking for something specific. Those who follow with RSS feed readers probably have a better grasp of the overall content. And since you and your contributers push actual content, the blog format is useful. Also, you categorize your content with the menu structure which helps for someone like me who’s looking for specific info on a topic. I wonder if you can link and reference the message boards when appropriate? You mention EpicSki in the article but it’s not in the Blogroll and links side bar. Could be that intentional pairing might be the trick. Do you post on any message boards? It’s my opinion that message boards work well for coordination of trips and events but really don’t contribute to content issues above and beyond anecdotal info.

  11. Scott February 3rd, 2011 9:59 am

    I seem to recall that Backcountry Magazine used to have web forums (backcountryworld.com) dedicated specifically to this topic before they switched owners/format, and that forum was reasonably useful. I was just getting into backcountry and I asked a few questions there and got good answers, the best of which linked me here and a blog local to me. Of course, there were arguments and name calling and all that, but there was still helpful info in there. I’m not sure what happened to them but that domain is gone and doesn’t seem to have been replaced.

    Many of the denizens there were people I see commenting or even guest posting on here. The knowledge base seems to have transferred over to this site. And, well, the comments section often turns into a forum anyway. I think it would be useful if you think it’s worth the work.

  12. Nick Stayner February 3rd, 2011 9:59 am

    Lou, take a look at splitboard.com too. IMO, one of the best backcountry forums out there.

  13. Ed February 3rd, 2011 10:03 am

    I’d love a well-moderated forum dedicated to BACKCOUNTRY SKIING ONLY. You hit the nail on the head about TGR and TTips. Those forums are fine, but they cater to lift-riders as well. If you do a ratio, it’s probably 20:1 lift-riders to tourers, so that’s what you see on those forums.

    Make it solely about the backcountry and I guarantee you’ll weed out 95% of the idiots on those other forums.

  14. Lou February 3rd, 2011 10:03 am

    Dave, re posting on message boards, I simply do not have the time, though doing so is an incredibly popular and effective way of promoting a blog, and is also a fun way to share.

    You guys keep me hopping full time here!

    You would not believe the backlog of stuff I’ve always got…

  15. Joe February 3rd, 2011 10:06 am

    Lou -

    The blog is great alone and focusing.

    Just keep you coverage broad enough to cover what forum would, and be open minded on suggested topics that a forum might take up but you might not be inclined towards.

    Forums end up being like a vat of manure with a few vitamins tossed in. Something in there is good for you but who wants to hunt for it?

  16. RandoSwede February 3rd, 2011 10:10 am

    No forums, please! Your format is refreshing, direct, simple, useful and most of all… relevant. Forums get hijacked by yahoos and ruin the original integrity.

    And if any or your sponsors read this, me and my friends will not buy any products advertised on a Wild Snow forum type web site! How’s that for motivation! :D

    Seriously… thanks for all of the work. Please keep it real…

  17. Caleb Wray February 3rd, 2011 10:16 am

    Lou,

    I don’t know how many time I have posted links to your site in other forums when folks ask questions like, what AT setup should I get? or what is the best AT binding? and so on. This is the place for that information. Usually their is some fairly uninformed advice offered in other internet nooks. I can’t think of a better place than this for general AT gear information. That said, moderation would have to be a part. And a more focused forum rather than the general childish rants I see in other locations.

  18. Steve February 3rd, 2011 10:17 am

    I vote No to forums. I like having a few recognized expert voices for opinions and advice. I start here for any BC skiing related questions and I get answers from people like you and your contributors who know what they’re talking about. If I’m up to it, then I’ll go over to TGR and find (generally) a bunch of profanity-filled name calling and slander from self-proclaimed experts who are just as likely sitting in a cube in Ohio. Sure, there may be a nugget there but its more like modern gold mining where you get a flake from a giant dump truck load.

  19. Lou February 3rd, 2011 10:19 am

    RandoSwede, you’ve convinced me, LOL!

  20. Frame February 3rd, 2011 10:28 am

    Lou,
    I’d be worried the moderation and background work for a forum would mean you have less time available for the blog. (my issue).
    All that extra time may take you away from skiing. (more of an issue for you, but also for us, a happy Lou is more likely to write blog posts?).

    All that said, you may have someone in the wings to run a forum?

    … i kinda feel like I’m treating your time as a commodity – analysis of pros/cons…

  21. SnowJoe February 3rd, 2011 10:35 am

    -Lou- If I wanted to read forums I would go to them. The reason you are getting up to 15,000 visitors a day is because YOU are voicing the opinion and making the arguments not a kid holed up in his biology class that is on the verge of flunking because he’s skipped too many classes to go skiing.
    Additionally when someone says “He did you read that post on Wildsnow….” I don’t have to second guess them about the truthfulness.
    Honestly I don’t think of this as a blog but a daily piece of news briefing in the backcountry ski world. Obviously you have 15,000 others that feel the same way.

  22. Dave Field February 3rd, 2011 10:37 am

    I prefer your blog as its typically focused and has relevant content. If you consider a forum, maybe a very limited forum where only a couple hot topics were kept going as opposed to the typical morass of infinite repetition, drivel and petty attacks.. I find that TGR and Ttips both take a lot of weeding to track down the informed and interesting content.

  23. Nick February 3rd, 2011 10:41 am

    I’ll read Wildsnow whether forum or blog. You should still maintain comment moderation if you go to forums though.

  24. Simon February 3rd, 2011 10:51 am

    With a forum, this will be the go to ski tour website for all English speakers, 2nd to none.

  25. Tom Gos February 3rd, 2011 10:51 am

    I say no more forums – there are plenty of good ones out there already.

  26. Ryan B February 3rd, 2011 10:53 am

    Perhaps a forum patterned after backpackinglight.com’s (ie real names only etc)? I think most of the existing ski forums suffer from the issues you describe but I’ve been amazed at the consistently high level of discourse and information whenever I look there for info on what poofy coat to buy etc and it have often wished a similar resource existed for ski geeks.

  27. Matt Kinney February 3rd, 2011 11:04 am

    You’re too real to babysit a ski forum. Focus on content under a blog format, because that is what you do best.

  28. Rich H February 3rd, 2011 11:11 am

    bring back rec.skiing.backcountry!

  29. JimmyAwesome February 3rd, 2011 11:16 am

    As many have stated it is nice to read your blog because it doesn’t muddy the waters with other opinions which in many cases are not reliable!

    Sounds like it might be a bit of a pain to have a forum. But if you want it you should go for it.

    You did say that you would keep your BLOG which is my main reason for visiting. So it wouldn’t change a heck of a lot for me.

    I’m not sure if anyone has mentioned this but an additional and useful element is instead of having COMMENTS at the bottom of each Blog Article the author will leave a link to a new topic in the forum where all comments/discussion can take place. An example is NSMB.com, all of the Articles have a link at the very end which takes the user to the article topic on the forum. This could work well for Wildsnow as the format of your blog would not have to change at all.

  30. Jim February 3rd, 2011 11:20 am

    Agree with Randoswede, No forums please unless heavily monitored. Normally a few bad eggs will hijack forum. I like current format.

  31. earle.b February 3rd, 2011 11:24 am

    Yes and ditch this four column layout while you are making changes.

    Check out nsmb.com (North Shore Mountain Bike) for a good layout and forum integration.

  32. Jason February 3rd, 2011 11:25 am

    I prefer your blog Lou. I read it every-time there is a new post.

    However! I see the benefit of having a Wildsnow forum that YOU moderate heavily for very restricted items like just Backcountry Binders, ie Dynafit Q&A, but you already offer that in the blog format, however, you could have the ability for others to share easily… I think focus of the forums is crucial. I don’t think a “Capital Peak North Face” is sick thread inside the “Trip Reports” area would be worth anything to me… there are plenty of those types of forums.

    To me this blog is all about the right gear and how to enjoy using it to get you to the backcountry, and about you and a select few’s jonts into the wild. That is what I love about it. Ditto a lot of the comments for sure… just my 2cents here.

  33. D February 3rd, 2011 11:25 am

    Like JimmyAwesome said, a forum would be a good supplement to the frequent and numerous comments at the end of each blog post. My vote is for a simple forum. If it doesn’t work out how you want it to, then get rid of it. If it is more popular than anticipated, let it grow. Low commitment, nothing lost, plenty to gain.

  34. canwilf February 3rd, 2011 11:26 am

    I have TGR forums and Telemarktips forums and there are others also. I like your format better for this sort of thing.

    So, my vote is NO to forums. That would be boring compared to good articles with passionate comments.

    Lou et al., keep up the great site!

  35. Brenda February 3rd, 2011 11:27 am

    Lou, I really enjoy the format you’ve got dialed here on Wildsnow. It’s got all the relevant content and interesting reading of a magazine, without any of the useless filler articles like top-10 lists. The relevance, open-minded opinion and thoughtfulness of this blog make it an anti-forum, and that’s why I enjoy it so much.

    The only nice magazine-element that this blog perhaps is light on is those full-page photo spread stunners that make you stop mid-flip. Your Denali expedition provided some of those! Often these are provided by advertisers. I wonder if there’s a way to let your advertisers bring us some photo stunnage without disrupting the flow of content too much? Of course, many of your contributors are great photogs too!

  36. JimmyAwesome February 3rd, 2011 11:32 am

    Jim,
    I have to disagree with both you and Randoswede. I think that it is admirable to want to expand into a Forum with the caveat that it be well managed and also follow a format that I mentioned in my previous post. None of us have to read the forum – we can continue to read the blog.

    I don’t know if wildsnow generates much revenue from its sponsors but I would imagine that part of the reason would be to create a larger following and potentially generate more revenue. If anyone deserves to reap a few benefits from the community of backcountry skiers, Lou is definitely one of them.

  37. Randonnee February 3rd, 2011 11:48 am

    Lou I think that if you decide to do it, your Forum would have a good chance of being reasonable. It would require strict moderation, which you are capable. A Forum would require strict rules, and rules followed by all for the sake of free and meaningful discussion. If you decide to have a Forum, I would contribute and support the dialogue in a positive fashion as you direct.

    Is it possible or practical for first-time Forum posters to have their comment approved? And also, no slack, any person violating the clear rules of communication is taken off of the Forum- the first time. And do not nag folks in public, just remove the offending words and let them know of the issue.

    Lou you have the ability to see more clearly the issues from what I have seen. For example, emotions of some Forum Moderators and Administrators cause them to overlook faults of their friends or those with whom they personally agree. Concurrently, some Forum moderators/ Administrators overdo tolerance and let jerks dominate the Forum with cagey implied verbal abuse that keeps civil folks away from contributing to the Forum. For me personally, Forum experience is that strong verbal ability causes more reaction from Moderators than profanity or simple and obvious verbal jabs- the emotional component. These and other flaws allow some Forums to degenerate into gossip groups for keyboard-punks, I believe, Lou, that you could pull it off if anyone can and keep it real.

  38. Bryan February 3rd, 2011 11:57 am

    No. If people want a forum, alpinezone is always looking for members. Like you and many other have said, we come here for your opinions (or your guest bloggers) If I want the collective’s opinon on something, I’ll ask on TGR.

    Many of the articles end up with a related thread on TGR anyways (in fact, that’s how I found out about wildsnow) Let those guys do the grunt-work. Keep wildsnow how it is.

  39. El Jefe February 3rd, 2011 11:58 am

    my vote is for having a forum.

  40. chris blatter February 3rd, 2011 12:11 pm

    Maybe just get a Rocky Mountain section for the
    http://www.turns-all-year.com/
    website that already exists in the Pacific Northwest. I like the format there with trip reports filed by the locals. Provide a link from WildSnow.

  41. Andy_L February 3rd, 2011 12:13 pm

    Lou,

    Put up a forum, but make the theme current conditions and info for skiers in your specific area, partner requests, etc. There’s always a need for that kind of niche. Otherwise, I vote for the one-voice blog approach. Cheers!

  42. graham February 3rd, 2011 12:25 pm

    Lou,

    For my $0.02, the blog is a unique voice in the wilderness. A forum would not be.

  43. Rick February 3rd, 2011 12:32 pm

    I vote NO.

  44. Jon February 3rd, 2011 12:37 pm

    I didn’t read all these posts, so maybe it was mentioned, but I really like the format where the actual blogs don’t allow comments at all, but the forums associated with the blog has a main thread group that is only posts of the contents of each blog entry where comments can be placed there and threads can only be started by an admin. The downside is the lack of anonymous posts, the upside is that you have to be a member to post, so the individual post moderation you do is unnecessary. You can then also have other thread groups for off-topic discussions or discussions started by users. I think TGR actually does a pretty good job of this with all the different topic groups.

    An example of this is the macrumors.com blog where the “comments” link at the bottom of each blog entry takes you straight to the forum post for that blog entry. Very clean and it keeps the actual blog website page much neater.

  45. Nick February 3rd, 2011 12:39 pm

    I would vote NO and echo Bryan’s statement above – I come to WS specifically for your voice and opinions (and the guest bloggers). Let the existing forums serve their purpose.

  46. Feldy February 3rd, 2011 12:46 pm

    Somewhat along the lines of what JImmyAwesome is suggesting (I think), I’d be for something that’s a hybrid between the blog and a forum. For instance (and this is just an idea off the top of my head), change the blog to a forum type format, but only allow bloggers to post new topics. The advantage of this is that blog comments seem to die a few days after posting. An apparent consequence (and I may be mixing up cause/effect here) is that there are random, off topic questions that pop up all the time in current blog posts just because they’re current. A forum type format would bump that topic to the top and make comments on older posts still relevant. Am I making sense?

  47. Lee February 3rd, 2011 1:10 pm

    Nothing makes my blood boil more than 2 people having a seemingly endless argument about something pointless on a forum. I think they attract morons.

    Please stick with the blog.

  48. andrew C February 3rd, 2011 1:17 pm

    and don’t forget about backcountryskiingcanada.com…we have forums too but have a different approach entirely. I think you should stick with your current format Lou. Your “voice” is what keeps people (like me) coming back. It’s a pretty active spot too so it’s not like you are pontificating to yourself. There are few places on the web where experts like you maintain and almost daily, fresh presence. Don’t go changing.

  49. Ben February 3rd, 2011 1:21 pm

    I think a forum could be a great addition that I would view frequently (if done correctly). I personally find some forums very useful. For example, I think mtbr.com can be a great source for mountain bike related information and stoke. I like that there are categories for each state, where specific regional information can be shared, and I like that there are categories for different gear manufacturers, etc. I feel like this could be done without taking away from the original blog experience, and I would certainly be a frequent viewer of a forum!

  50. Tim M. February 3rd, 2011 1:24 pm

    Hi Lou,

    Keep up the good work. A forum seems like a quick and easy way to grow the site, which presumably is one of your goals here, but it also seems like a total junkshow in terms of moderation: total bummer, burnout situation for whoever is saddled with that unenviable task… TGR just doesn’t moderate at all, which pleases most and infuriates others. Perhaps it’s a generational thing, but that seems like the cruxy part of this discussion–it also speaks to this new era of freer free speech that the Internet affords us today, ie., the bad with the good.

    I follow a few ski forums and find interesting, timely news there, not that I like everything about them. And I’m not convinced “forums” are especially bad in and of themselves. Example: The Colorado-based whitewater/paddling site, mountainbuzz.com — lots of helpful info about conditions, partners, beta, etc., and somehow absent the sort of ritualistic vibing and flaming. Can it be done successfully? Probably. Can it be contained and moderated? (Long answer: See Truman Doctrine and Kennan’s Policy of Containment. Short answer: Good luck).

    cheers, tim

  51. Nick February 3rd, 2011 1:26 pm

    JimmyAwesome’s idea is intriguing. Sometimes I’m frustrated with the limitations of the comments area on this blog. Also, I think most people (or maybe it’s just me) tend to miss new posts on old, buried topics. A forum that has topics which are attached to blog posts could be useful and more dynamic than the current comments system. But I’d only want to see topics that correlate to blog posts. Don’t let anyone else create new topics.

  52. gringo February 3rd, 2011 1:26 pm

    Lou I would agree with those woh have said that the opinions of you and your host bloggers is what I look for if asking something. aAforum might be entertaining,but it would not serve as your blog currently does.

    keep up the good work.

  53. Scott Grothe February 3rd, 2011 1:30 pm

    Lou – Wildsnow ain’t “broke”. So, don’t “fix it”.

  54. scottyb February 3rd, 2011 1:40 pm

    go for it

  55. Tiroler February 3rd, 2011 1:56 pm

    The blog is really just fine the way it is. People are coming here for your serious and well-written posts, reviews and tests. The time and energy it will cost you to set up and run/moderate forums will go at the expense of your blog entries. I just can’t see how it could improve this website. Just don’t do it. Seriously.

  56. Lou February 3rd, 2011 1:56 pm

    Just to clarify, I’m thinking of adding forums, not replacing blog.

    Also, time really is the big issue. I feel like I don’t write enough as it is, so if I did do forums I’d have to get someone else to manage them, which might be tough.

  57. Scott February 3rd, 2011 2:16 pm

    Lou,

    I vote NO. There are plenty of forums available. I find most forums are frequented by belligerent vulgar posts that accomplish nothing more than bash on others. I often peruse TGR, really on that forum there are few post worthy of reading, most are filled with arrogance, name calling, etc…

    I appreciate your blog comments, you moderate them to be clean and decent but you allow varying opinions. I too fall into the trap of being snarky when hidden behind my computer, but I truly appreciate the format of WildSnow.

    Besides why add more workload to your plate. I’d rather you skied more and tested out new gear, I find your gear reviews to be top notch as well as your guest bloggers. I KNOW the WildSnow crew is objective and realistic in their reviews, that is why I love your site.

    Either way, I’ll still visit.

  58. NG February 3rd, 2011 2:20 pm

    I lot of people including myself check out this website from work. Websence which most companies use as a intenet filter block a lot of forums. Just make sure I don’t get blocked!

  59. Another Ed February 3rd, 2011 2:44 pm

    If we have a vote on a forum, then I’d vote no – as well as some of the others up above/ earlier.
    This way it seems you choose a topic/ news item, then folks contribute, or not, and if they’re off- topic on that day’s subject I assume you can toss the comments and fin. Some of the threads on TGR/ others frankly end up taking about shoe laces and on and on. People use it like chat.
    This site has been a relief because it is so short and sweet and to the point. Also, with software, I think there’s a lot to say for “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it”. And I have had great success with your search function so far it seems. Lou you’re the expert and we are just your humble readers. There’s lots of other places for other folks to expound, me thinks.
    My two centz . .

  60. Silas Wild February 3rd, 2011 2:52 pm

    Wildsnow is unique in its style and content, please keep it that way. Don’t add administrative work for yourself, ski more and let us hear about that instead! :)

  61. Sam February 3rd, 2011 3:33 pm

    Also gonna vote no. I think there is a healthy – and pretty informed – discussion happening other places where people can be more involved. Your current blog format delivers almost every post. If these individual blog posts were put on a message board, it would be a 5 star post everytime; as such, I see no need to dilute your excellent content.

    Additionally, the forum would be something one would have to wade through to get the information needed. When I visit your site, it’s generally the end of my search. Keep the gospel!!

  62. Brian H. February 3rd, 2011 4:24 pm

    I look at wildsnow daily (this time of year). It works for me just as it is. I don’t see the random tangents that sometimes happen as any big deal… Never has a such a collection of gear junkies (and other freaks) been assembled before…

  63. Tom Williams February 3rd, 2011 4:45 pm

    I vote no too. I would prefer your time be dedicated to the blog. Loved it since the beginning.

  64. Lou February 3rd, 2011 5:08 pm

    You guys are great. I’ll hold off for now and ski more, and write more! We’re doing great thanks to our sponsors, and they’ve thrown their support to what we do — that’s a factor as well.

    I totally agree with every take above on forums. They’ve got their place, but yeah, not here. My main purpose in floating this was that some people had mentioned the idea, as they thought we could do something unique and more focused. Perhaps so, but indeed, I have zero spare time and I’d have to get someone else involved to run things if we did forums. I’ve actually got a lot of experience with managing web forums… and finding someone who could duplicate that would probably be tough as I’d set the bar pretty high.

  65. Scott February 3rd, 2011 5:31 pm

    Glad to hear sponsors are helping pay the bills in the Dawson household. I think what sets you apart from the other ‘backcountry’ bloggers is that WildSnow is a ‘everyman’s’ blog. WHile I admire Greg Hill and Mclean there is no way that have the ability to fund a year of 2mil feet, or trips to Baffin. Climbing/skiing Denali is attainable for me and a legitimate goal.

    I guess do what pays the bills! In this world of job insecurities I’ll support what ever keeps WildSnow civil and informative.

  66. Ben R February 3rd, 2011 6:07 pm

    FWIW I am happy to hear no forums will ensue here.

  67. steve February 3rd, 2011 6:56 pm

    go for it!

  68. XXX_er February 3rd, 2011 7:48 pm

    what I like about wildsnow is the GREAT tech info & pictures which give a great deal of info on boots/bindings/skis , IMO wildsnow is THE reference manual for AT

    YOU control the content ,I like what you put up ,I can post comments (like this one ) and I visit very often

    but do we need another site with people arguing , posting garbage ,asking/answering the same questions that were asked last week and the week before … I don’t think so

  69. TobyG February 3rd, 2011 8:07 pm

    Lou – echoing many others – I check out your site everyday working or otherwise. I think your content is relevant and fresh enough that it answers many questions that readers might ask without needing the forum. If the extra work takes away from that I think you loose what’s so great and unique about your site. I say don’t change by adding a forum. There’s so many other ways to add great content without following the crowd – like the Denali blog. Who else has that? Keep up the great work!

  70. Mr.Bishop February 3rd, 2011 9:38 pm

    Do it!

    The key to making forums easy to manage is the forum software you pick. If you use the good stuff, and integrate it into your site properly its not as bad as you think.

    You seem to have a great group of people here, so spreading around moderation duties would work great.

    Forums are a fascinating beast when you have a good group of people. Its a great mixture to have the blog format, but forums as well so you can get deeper into things you want to talk about it.

    Just make sure to stick to your guns, and have strict policies from Day #1. Don’t be afraid to simply boot (and ignore) those who don’t belong.

  71. Bar Barrique February 3rd, 2011 10:50 pm

    Good thread, as usual. My preference is not to do the forums. I think that your personality comes through in the “Blog”, and, you would risk “diluting” it with a forum format. I appreciate the “iron hand” moderation. I have not posted at BC forums for some time, because; as soon as you post something sensible based on actual experience, somebody will post some nonsense response based on little if any experience. I think that it would be wise not to take on too much work. forums require a lot of moderation 24/7. Hearing about your actual BC related experiences, and, reviews keeps us coming back. Of course there is the fact that you like to stir things up, once in awhile.

  72. KDog February 3rd, 2011 11:26 pm

    Just from a business standpoint I would say don’t do it Lou. The forum always takes over the blog.

    Just look at TTips for example. If you do a Google search on a subject, you’ll get a bunch of forum posting links which the searcher can click and go to directly. They never even see the Blog/Website homepage and the Sponsors ads.

    Also, the TTips web articles are not updated very often, and so there is less and less reason to do anything but go directly to the forum. That’s where all the action is.

    I don’t even know what TGR’s home page looks like, cuz I’ve never been there. Only the forums.

    I think that better indexing of the older Blog posts might be enough here. A forum will kill the blog.

  73. Marty February 4th, 2011 1:53 am

    Hi lou,

    I check out your site everyday from france. I like the fact that it is “your” comments and there is so many different ski forums already present on the web…

    Don’t do it and keep the current format and originality of your blog.
    Thanks Lou

  74. Osquar February 4th, 2011 2:19 am

    I’m quite ambivalent in this question. Wildsnow as it is now is really neat, and I’m used to seeing many references to your articles when there are AT/BC discussions. So you guys already have a super awesome function in the AT skiing community.

    On the other hand, as have been noted, most of todays skiing forums are usually a bit rude and not always the nicest place to hang out, so if you think you have some idea to make a forum that, in some way, keeps a nice spirit and have neat discussions, that would contribute really much to skiing discussions on the interwebs.

    So I’ll go with a blank vote on this one.

  75. Colin February 4th, 2011 3:50 am

    I’m happy to see that when I checked in over here at Wildsnow after the dust settled from the Great Forum Referendum of 2011, that the general consensus seems to be no forum.

    I’ve been an active participant on TTips and TGR for a number of years. They have their place, both for good information (it helps if you hang around a while and learn who is worth listening to) and for good (sometimes great) entertainment.

    But I check Wildsnow every day because you’re the one who runs it, Lou. Your voice specifically, but also the voices of your guest bloggers who are accomplished in their own rights, is something I can trust.

    I don’t think you couldn’t have a killer forum here, but if that takes away, or stops the expansion of, your time spent testing/blogging/writing, I would not be for it in the slightest.

    Shoot, I wish you posted more as it is. :-)

  76. Pablo February 4th, 2011 5:16 am

    Hi Lou!
    I’m from Spain, and here all ski phorums have degenerated in a unique-question post: Which ski is better/should I buy/ I need?.

    I think the blog system empathises on what YOU want to tell us and that’s why we are here every day to read and coment your great entries.

    I hope wildsnow.com continues being such great blog!

  77. Jason February 4th, 2011 8:35 am

    Hey Lou, I just had a thought… what about something like http://www.quora.com or yahoo answers? That would be very different.

  78. Lou February 4th, 2011 8:55 am

    Jason and all, I’m going to look at some of the alternatives. But remember that we’ve got Facebook WildSnow page all set up, and I post a squib for every blog post there. I’m surprised more people don’t use that as a discussion forum, as it works great, though still a bit limited as the subjects are mostly what we choose to put up there.

    Best takeaway from this (besides not doing Forums for now, and also keeping up the struggle to write more and do less back-end work), thanks to all of you, is that I should keep working on organizing what we have. Remember we have 4 or 5 ways of finding stuff:

    1. Search function in top bar.
    2. Categories list, in top bar.
    3. Navigation menus, incomplete but will lead you all over the place.
    4. Ask.
    5. Just spend time reading early posts, you can zip through them pretty quickly using the pages function at the bottom of the homepage blog posts.

    ‘best, Lou

  79. Another Ed February 4th, 2011 9:53 am

    Lou,
    I thought about this blog/ forum thing last night – the format of your site I mean. I guess my take on the thing after more time would be this – there’s lots of places for discussions and comments like TGR which is a great place for info too. Where I see a difference in Wildsnow is this – as a user, this is a site I’d go to for authoritative info from a really experienced practitioner who I can count on for debunking the marketing schmooze and delivering straight goods on a subject. My background is the science field – the counterpart to Wildsnow in that field perhaps would be the scientific review article which assembles and critically discusses current literature on a particular subject, with citations to the original works. So an example today might be Federico’s comments on footbeds on TGR at:
    http://tetongravity.com/forums/showthread.php?t=200054&page=27
    It would be a great thing to have this type of advice collated in your article(s) on blisters and fitting, which kind of happens anyway when you write site content with your expert point of view or do some of your periodic updates for content.
    Over the past years, I’ve sold used equipment to some folks who are just getting into the BC scene and our discussions about avi and where to find advice have usually resulted in a referral to Windsnow to get them going (on Dynafits for example).
    I think this is the real utility of this site – critically reviewed info – which in fact would perhaps make a nice book someday! Keep up the great work!
    Safe weekend everyone!
    e

  80. Alex February 4th, 2011 10:49 am

    A website that I think publishes insightful articles while still focusing on a forum is here http://www.djtechtools.com/

    Pretty sums up your current format sans the forums.

  81. Chris Berry February 4th, 2011 11:53 am

    Hi Lou,

    I agree with Jason – what about a skiing specific Q&A site?

    Forums mix socialising, photos, and good advice. But finding quality information amidst the mix is challenging.

    One of the fastest growing websites right now is http://www.quora.com. It is based on people sharing useful information, and it quickly develops tons of super high quality content (in the niches which are well represented – an increasing number every day) which is easy to search, ask, contribute to, vote on, etc. There is a firm out there that makes software to host a you can host remotely – I think its done by the people who do stackoverflow.com but worth a check.

    Also – there are tons of really good skiing forums right now – tetongravity, snowheads, telemarktips, etc – but no skiing Q&A sites.

    I agree that your site is currently differentiated for its high quality of information – which complements other forums. I wouldn’t want your site to change focus into socialising – a Q&A site would add tons of good content, scale, and interactivity without sacrificing the niche you’ve built (actually- while strengthening that niche)

  82. Terry February 4th, 2011 7:27 pm

    I vote for NO forums also. I read every wildsnow post and go to some of the existing forums if I want that. Some forums are out of control and I like wildsnow the way it is!

    I want to read what you write, Lou, and also some of your guest posters. Skip everyone else :)

  83. Paul February 4th, 2011 10:30 pm

    I vote no. I get valuable info from two forums – turnsallyear.com and cascadeclimbers.com, both of which offer venues for bc skiers to discuss topics. I don’t have enough time to filter through another. Forums are mainly poorly moderated (in my opinion) and full of Internet experts that love to tell you what they think they know and clog things up with unnecessary comments that too often devolve into personal arguments between egos.
    I enoy the fact that here the info is already distilled so I get info much more efficiently. Your site is a GREAT source of valuable information and I trust your opinion. Thank you for what you currently provide!
    If you do add forums I hope it won’t affect the reporting in blog form that you currently provide.

  84. Mr.Bishop February 4th, 2011 11:24 pm

    @paul – the thing is that honestly what we’ve got right now in this discussion is exactly what a web forum is. There’s an initial post that brings up a topic, and then much discussion that follows.

    The moderation thing is the magic key to it all. You can make your forum whatever you want it to be, and a solid moderation team can keep it clean from all the “internet experts” if thats what you want.

    I mean you could argue that there are a great deal of “internet experts” in this comment thread speaking about the negative side of forum threads. However, they may not know what they’re talking about when it comes to forums.

    Oh and BTW – huge props for such a cool thing you guys have going on here. Just found it because I have google searches on for anyone talking about Newschoolers, and I’m absolutely stoked to see the quality community that is residing in these parts!

  85. md February 5th, 2011 5:39 am

    I vote no!

  86. Greg Louie February 5th, 2011 11:10 am

    I’m in the “no” camp as well.

    While I’d welcome better preview and photo insertion functionality in the comments section, I really come here for news and opinion as filtered through Lou’s eyes (as well as certain other contributors whose opinions I trust).

    As for the creative input angle and entertainment value of a forum, most of us can and do go elsewhere. There’s too much potential for forum content to degenerate to the lowest possible level, and it only takes two idiots for it to happen. It’s also a waste of time to wade through hundreds of comments from “experts” who’ve only owned three pair of skis in their life advising others on what to buy . . .

  87. gtrantow February 6th, 2011 7:33 pm

    NO forums please. Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) with (grins).

  88. Mike Bromberg February 7th, 2011 1:46 pm

    I’m sure I would visit Wild Snow forums regularly. I’d say go for it, just keep it simple.

    Please, Please, Please allow full text RSS feed!!

  89. Greg February 8th, 2011 7:47 am

    Arrgh! Another forum… I read several forums, only a few day to day and wildsnow would be a daily for me. I also think it would augment the blog. It offers a different level of interaction and historical reference. Granted, there are forum trolllers but a good hot wax should take care of them…

  90. Lee Lau February 8th, 2011 2:53 pm

    Hey Lou,

    It’s probably a bit late to chime in here but I would vote No

    BUT with the caveat that if you have to put it into place go with JimmyAwesome’s idea ie the very focused forum topic with discussion confined to the topic to which it pertains.

    From a Wildsnow contributor’s perspective I “subscribe” to discussion comments to articles I have written about gear or subjects where I have some expertise (eg heavier boots, Intuition liners) and I’m happy to keep answering questions there. It’s not much more of a stretch to respond to comments via the articles or via a forum.

    But as others have pointed out there are already lots of other forums.

    JMO

  91. Lou February 9th, 2011 9:31 pm

    Lee and all, yep, no forums for now. I agree that we have plenty of choices, my main concern was that WildSnow has developed a unique flavor, and no outside web forums reflect that. So I’ll keep my eye on things and see how it goes. Not that much trouble to implement — just lots of work to maintain.

    And yes, if we ever do install forums, suggestions in this comment thread will be looked at like we are studying the Dead Sea Scrolls for a doctorate.

    Lou

  92. stephen February 11th, 2011 8:26 am

    The only reason I can see to have a forum here would be to provide a dedicated place for people to ask new questions, rather than these appearing in the comment section of some more or less relevant topic as presently happens.

    BTW, the signal to noise ratio is way better here than on any of the forums I peruse, as is the level of civility(!)

  93. Lou February 11th, 2011 9:38 am

    Stephen, that’s one of the reasons I was thinking of forums… but the present system works quite well and the occasional off-topic comment is easy to deal with. Civility is very important to us. As you might have noticed, we keep the profanity level quite low. That alone helps the civility quite a bit, if for no other reason than if you write without resorting to profanity, you end up writing more expressively and with more clarity — and with less name calling.

    Biggest problem with civility is probably the name calling, which I’m guilty of on occasion just as others here are as well.

    A bit of name calling is ok, my main goal with that is to just not let it get excessive, and definitely not personal. In other words, call a government agency names, but don’t call the individuals in that agency names.

    You and others might be interested to know that in terms of moderation, I don’t nix more than about 10 comments a year (excluding spam, of which we get dozens). The comments we end up blocking are so obviously inappropriate it’s a no-brainer. Sometimes I’ll email a comment author about their nixed comment, to see if they can take a different voice. Other times it’s obvious I should just move on.

  94. aviator February 11th, 2011 10:23 am

    There is one MAJOR advantage of not having anywhere to post new questions/topics.
    Here you often see people finding the old relevant thread and bumping them.
    This makes things less repetitive. The collective memory is better here.
    Topics progress over months (years) instead of going round in circles.
    On forums most people don’t bother and just create a “new” thread instead.

  95. Lou February 11th, 2011 10:29 am

    Aviator, I couldn’t put my finger on it but yeah, that’s exactly what’s better about this format.

    Beyond constantly reminding users to use the search function, key is for myself and other admins or heavy users to nudge things along by providing links to previous posts, and also for me to make sure the search function works and that my nav menus and categories are as robust as possible.

  96. aviator February 11th, 2011 10:50 am

    There is a couple of things that could be upgraded:

    -The 30 latest comments roll only reach about 24 hours back now.
    I’d love to be able to browse the comments list at least a week back when I’ve been away for a while. Or maybe an endless comments history page just like with the actual blog posts?

    And less important but it would be really nice:

    -Having the topic title with the comment in the comments roll.

    -A quoting function in the comments.

    -Allowing images in the comments.

  97. Lou February 11th, 2011 11:02 am

    Aviator, I’ll work on first two. As for images, you can sometimes hotlink to something that’s hosted elsewhere, but that’s not nice unless it’s your own server/image and you have rights to both the images and the server bandwidth that hotlinking demands.

    As for uploading your own images to WildSnow to place in a comment, nope, at this point that’ll only happen in a forum.

    FYI, We actually spend quite a bit of time blocking hotlinking of images that are property of WildSnow, both because of server bandwidth as well as wanting to keep control of our creative material. Even so, our images get hotlinked and stolen quite frequently. But that doesn’t mean I want to do that to others.

  98. aviator February 11th, 2011 11:29 am

    @lou
    good points about images, I agree, but:

    -I was mainly thinking about my own pics or wildsnow pics from other posts
    WITH links to the original page.

    -some relevant hot linking of small pics WITH linking to other sites is great promo for them, and they want it?
    to be able to post a pic an accompanying link to the page/site could be required?

    -simply blocking all hotlinking from other domains than your own is quite simple on most web servers, but stamping them with wildsnow.com like you do and let them hotlink them is great promo and probably better?

  99. neonorchid February 11th, 2011 11:53 am

    I’m very happy with the site but often pressed for time with typos and accidentally deleted words flying under the radar when i hit submit. Although more a forum item, a preview post and or 60 minute or so edit option could help there and also when posting via BB’s and cell phones.

  100. Lou February 11th, 2011 11:56 am

    Neon, I might install a plugin for that. Problem is I’ve got too many plugins as it is. They drag the site down as well as being possible security risks. It’s actually pretty strange WordPress (the blogging software) doesn’t have an edit comments function built in.

  101. Jon April 17th, 2012 12:25 pm

    Just following up to see if anything came of the idea.

    I think there’s a strong need….

  102. Victor May 14th, 2013 9:40 am

    I’m new to this site, but I think that a forum would help sort through the clutter.

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Welcome to Louis (Lou) Dawson's backcountry skiing information opinion website and e magazine. Lou's passion for the past 45 years has been alpinism, climbing, mountaineering and skiing -- along with all manner of outdoor recreation. He has authored numerous books and articles about backcountry skiing and is well known as the first person to ski down all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot peaks, otherwise known as the Fourteeners! Books and free back country news and information here, and tons of Randonnee rando telemark info.

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