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ivar

Administrator
Staff member
Donating Member
#1
Hi all,

I am always looking for ways to make the forum a better place to learn and share pilgrimage related information. I thought I would ask everyone, to see if there are things that you feel are missing or that we could do differently/better here in the forum.

Please feel free to reply to this post if you have ideas of thoughts on "What can be done differently/better in this forum?"

Some things that I have been thinking of are:
- Do we need forum rules? (I have not added this earlier, since I think that we are all "Grown up" and know how to behave.... thoughts on this?)
- Too many adds? (I have tried different things, right now non-registered members get adds. Registered members get almost no adds.)
- Anything else?

Greetings from cold (1c this morning) "but looks like it will be a sunny day" (probably around 15-16c mid-day) in Santiago,
Ivar
 

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Janeh

Active Member
#2
Hi Ivar, I think you do a fantastic job and really can't think of anything that needs to be improved. However, I wouldn't like to see rules brought in, as you say, we are grown-ups and hopefully know how to be polite. i was a member of another forum (no longer now though) and the rules there were so restrictive that the moderator knocked you off if you ever gave your posts some personality. It had to be strict facts and no personnal opinions. Very dull. So for my part, please no strict rules like that.
I understand the ads are necessary to help you keep this site going so can't complain about them. At least they are placed in a spot that doesn't interfere too much.


I would like to take this opportunity to all others who read this forum to ask them to consider donating via your paypal button. I recently got around to doing just that - it was something I had been meaning to do for a long time, but you know how things get passed over. So please others, take the time this week to donate some money to help Ivar keep this valuable source of information going. We all spend money on buying camino books, how about donating a similar amount to this forum? :) :?: If you're like me, you've probably learnt more from the people here than you have in any of your guide books. Cheers to everyone and thank you again Ivar. Jane. :D
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
#3
Ivar.... I think the forum is great too. I just wonder whether under the headings for the various routes of the Camino, something specific for the Le Puy route might be helpful.. as quite a few people seem to walk it. But maybe you want to keep it more to the actual Spanish routes.
I have been pleased with how easy it is to use the PM button. Now that I have set a date, I seem to have had more specific conversations with people via PM about specific things of interest to me, and I have found this very helpful.
Margaret
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#4
I was away walking when you had the change over to the new Forum - I think it's great.
One thing I haven't been able to find is the link you used to have to blogs? Is there one that I haven't found? I enjoy reading other member's blogs - especially 'real time' blogs.
 

William Marques

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
#5
I agree with Kiwinomad about the addition of four more subsections for the routes from Paris, Le Puy, Vezelay and Arles. They might not get much traffic but would be very useful to those taking those routes.

Rules - as long as the spirit of the forum stays as it is there is very little need for moderation. Obviously the occasional "character" comes along who needs more watching than most. By its nature a pilgrim group is self selective and the members seem to know how to behave.
 

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ivar

Administrator
Staff member
Donating Member
#6
I agree with Kiwinomad about the addition of four more subsections for the routes from Paris, Le Puy, Vezelay and Arles. They might not get much traffic but would be very useful to those taking those routes.
This is a good idea, but Paris, Le Puy, Vezelay and Arles all end up on either the Francés or Camino del norte, right?

To make things easier, here is an idea I have for one way this can be organized. Let's see if this makes any sense.

Instead of having the link to "The Camino Francés" on the front page, we could have "Routes from France" (or "Routes from the east" or something like that) , and then you click on that and you will see the forums from "The Camino Francés", "The Camino del norte", "Camino Aragonés", the routes from Paris, Le Puy, Vezelay and Arles... and so on... That way the list of caminos gets a bit shorter on the front page and we create a new page that only shows the ones that comes from the east.

Not sure of this same grouping is needed for the other caminos coming from Portugal and Seville, since there are fewer alternatives per route.

If it is possible to understand what I just tried to explain, does that make any sense or does it confuse people more. I am just trying to make the front page shorter and more organized so that it is easier to find what you are looking for when you enter the site for the first time.

Saludos,
Ivar
 

WolverineDG

Veteran Member
Donating Member
#7
I think the forum is great, but what happened to the chat option? I can't find it anymore. I don't mind the ads. I think if you start making rules, then you have to set up some sort of enforcement. I haven't had problems with any of the posters here & as someone else pointed out, we pilgrims tend to police ourselves. :)

Kelly
 
#8
Yes, I too noticed the chat option had disappeared a while back, Ivar.

I think your site is great and easy to wander about in. I have never seen anything on it that I feel uncomfortable with, in fact it is just the opposite, very nice.

With chat, I was wondering if there was a way to always show who was on chat regardless of what page we were on....as sometimes when I'd been reading messages, I'd miss someone on chat that I would have liked to say hello to.

Thank you for everything Ivar!
Clarisa
 

Peter Robins

Veteran Member
Donating Member
#9
re the grouping, I'm not sure adding more groups makes much sense. Whatever categories you have, people are not going to keep to them. If you look at the threads, you find that many if not most range well off the subject given in the title, let alone group, so if you're looking for discussion of a particular subject you may well find it in an entirely different part of the forum.

I would go more with the google philosophy, giving more prominence to search. People should search using some keywords for the subject they're looking for - Vezelay, walking poles, whatever - rather than trying to herd all the cats into some predefined categories.

I also still think it would be good to have the pilgrim wiki as a reference base which people should refer to first before asking questions in the forum (the same questions keep being asked). This does of course depend on people updating the wiki on a regular basis.
 

WolverineDG

Veteran Member
Donating Member
#10
I belong to an unrelated online forum & new members are constantly harangued about either using "search" or wiki first before posting their questions, often as the first response to their questions & never are they welcomed as they are there. :shock: Needless to say, there aren't very many new members & I myself don't go there as often because of that. It doesn't make for a friendly forum if newbies get the feeling they are "bothering" people with their questions. I've got no problem with answering the same questions; heaven knows I asked tons. :D

Kelly
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#11
I agree with Peter that every question that could possibly be asked about the caminos, and the relevant answers, have already been posted on this forum. So, where does that leave us?
You could change Santiago-Today to a google-search site - with no interaction at all.
I have worked in two Advice Offices over the years and for years we answered the same questions, solved the same problems - new face-different day- same problem.
So, I must agree with Kelly. Each new pilgrim needs to make contact with other pilgrims. I think of this forum as a fellowship based forum, as a cyber-albergue. If someone needs a bit of a morale boost or encouragement, they won't get it from a search engine.
 

Peter Robins

Veteran Member
Donating Member
#12
it's not a question of "haranguing" anyone (I would hope I have better things to do), but simply of website design. If you increase the prominence of the search box, it's more likely people will notice/use it. To me, that makes more sense than creating increasingly complicated structural hierarchies, as you know perfectly well you can't cater for all eventualities.
 
#13
A lot of forums have fallen by the wayside because of the perceived barbs sent to newbies by the know it alls. This is double edged as it will throw off the newbies and reduce the forum vibrancy, in the end the forum will not be a pleasant tolerant informative place to visit as it is at the moment.

The present forum is kept active and positive by a handful of sincere persons ready to give their time freely to assist serious as well as casual pilgrims/walkers/turisgrinos/students/grizzled everest climbers, and others. Without these people giving their time so freely to answer and answer and answer and guide and guide we will end up with a critical sterile forum.

I therefore agree with Sil and Peter, not all intending 'pilgrims' have the facility and are computer literate to do their own search. Nothing is more confidence building than to receive a kind reply from a person who is willing to share their experience, be it as a 50km/day walker with a 30 kilo backpack living off the land, or a 5km/day person with physical ailments. To many the Walk is a once in a lifetime experience, let us be patient and guide those who need the help.
 
#14
Ivar (and others)

The forum works well the way it is. I think even for newbies and non-techies it doesn't take long to get the hang of how the forum works. As a relative newcomer to this forum I scanned the topics then very quickly moved to the 'view new posts' link, which I think is the way many people who regularly use the forum operate.

Information architecture (i.e. navigation and categorisation) is part science, part intuition, part personal preference. I think the topics you have here are great - my only comment for an additional topic is 'Travel to and from the Camino' - this could be a general info section - I'm trying to figure out the best way to get from Australia to SJPdP and finding it helpful to read all the various adivce threads on cheap flights, trains etc. Maybe a list of travel links like Ryanair, French/Spanish trains, good accom in Bayonne etc, and advice on easiest/cheapest ways to get to various starting points. I know a lot of this is covered under the route sections but having things all in one place might help people.

keep up the great work
Megan
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Donating Member
#15
I think there are some very good ideas here. It is true that many previous postings hold the answer or part of the answer to many current questions. But I still find the personal and up to date experiences of pilgrims on practical matters - travel, accomodation, equipment invaluable. I think each of us should encourage new people in particular to come back and post their experiences.

I think the forum is a great way for people to introduce themselves to other pilgrims and experience some fellowship before they go - or to sustain them until they go next time!

I also think there is considerable merit in making the "search function" more prominent with more hints and tips on how to get the best of it - postings now stretch back a considerable way.
 

William Marques

Moderator
Staff member
Donating Member
#16
There are many sites where one can find the answers to questions people have about the camino. What is great about Santiago Today and similar forums is the contact even if ony virtual between pilgrims. Real people giving real answers and telling real stories.

On Megan's piont there is already a topic on the forum under "Pilgrim topics related to all routes": Traveling to/from the camino - Advice on how to best travel to/from el camino. How should it be altered
 
#17
I applaud your efforts to improve the site, Ivar, and doubtless there are a few improving tweaks that could be made but I wouldn't obsess about it. The traffic volume says a lot about the success of santiago-today. Lots of people are getting what they need/want right now.

The only thing I would be concerned about is that a handful of people do 90% of the heavy lifting here. If we were to lose Syl or Peter Robins (just to give two examples of the several terrific high frequency contributors) I am not sure who would be willing or able to fill the gap.

-Derek
 

ivar

Administrator
Staff member
Donating Member
#18
Thanks for giving good feedback on this. I think it is important to get some feedback once in a while to see what can be done better.

Right now I am a bit stressed, since I have spend two days at a conference and work has not been done at the office. I hope to find some time this weekend to re-read your feedback and reply more in detail.

Thanks again! :)

Saludos,
Ivar
 

spursfan

Veteran Member
Donating Member
#19
I think that the search could be enhanced so as to move towards making repeated questions better take the form of FAQs - and making it easier for newcomers to find these rather than pose duplicate questions

So that the Forum becomes (even more so) the authentic and trustworthy place to go for information (such as preventing blisters), advice (caution on the first day out of SJPP) and sometimes strongly conflicting opinions (sticks) whilst also covering topics (snoring) that are often ignored in standard guidebooks

As well as a source of real time feedback (weather, diversions, overcrowding, bad albergues) from live pilgrims
 
#20
William Marques said:
On Megan's piont there is already a topic on the forum under "Pilgrim topics related to all routes": Traveling to/from the camino - Advice on how to best travel to/from el camino. How should it be altered
so there is! thanks - completely missed that...doh! :)
 
#21
Not just virtual, we are.... I got the pleasure of meeting someone from Santiago Today while on the Camino. We had apparently communicated once and it wasn't until later that we realized we had done so through this forum. We felt it as Camino magic. Thank you for being here for all of us. On another note..... i like the idea of the FAQ site.... yet it is also nice for a newbie to ask and be answered rather than be sent to the FAQ area. Even if redundant to the rest of us.
With Love
Lillian
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
#22
In 2003 I offered to create a FAQ list for Piers Nicolson's site - Santiago-Compostela.net.
I downloaded over 400 questions from the site and compiled a FAQ list. This was posted on the site under the "Top Tips for Walkers" link, together with 'Wendy's Top Tips". There is a suggestion that your questions might be answered under Silvia's Top Tips. I continued to update the FAQ every six months for 2 years but haven't done so since 2005.
For some reason, within a few weeks the traffic on the site was right down and after a few months, there were only sposmadic posts. Then it became littered with Spam posts and Piers introduced a verification link to get into the Forum. I don't think the site is working well as a Forum anymore (only 10 posts since August 2006) which is a pity because it was quite a busy Forum.
I'm not taking the blame for the demise of Pier's Forum! I'm just trying to show that if you have a comprehensive FAQ link, prospective pilgrims won't need to visit the open forum to post questions and it would be a pity to lose the one-on-one nature of Santiago-Today.
If you decide to include a FAQ list, it is imperative that someone update all the URL's, the timetables, costs of transport etc etc., otherwise it becomes obsolete.
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
#23
sillydoll said:
prospective pilgrims won't need to visit the open forum to post questions and it would be a pity to lose the one-on-one nature of Santiago-Today.
I think that the one-on-one nature of Santiago-Today is the feature I value the most. Especially as my departure date comes closer, I find I am getting some real insights into the Camino from others who have already walked it. Most of this contact takes place in PM... but it started on the open message boards. I truly appreciate all the contact with others I have had via these message boards.
Margaret
 

ivar

Administrator
Staff member
Donating Member
#24
Hi all and thanks again for all your comments.

Some comments on your comments.

Forum rules
Since it does not seem like there is a strong feeling towards needing it, let's not complicate things and add it. So for now I will not add forum rules. We can all get along, can't we? :)

Le Puy and additional routes that branch off/into the camino frances
I have now added several new routes in the "Camino Frances" forum. I know that these routes really are not the Camino Frances, but since they all branch off/into the Camino Francés I did it this way. Is this misleading? Opinions?

One thing I haven't been able to find is the link you used to have to blogs?
From time to time I get e-mails from people that would like me to add a link to their site. If it is pilgrim related, I have no problem with it, but it does take some time to manage all this, and it needs to be updated since pages come and go. I hope that people that have blogs/pages that would be of interest, add their url to their profile (and maybe also their signature? All this can be done in the User Control Panel here: ucp.php ) This way, if you participate in the forum with useful information, your blog/page gets a bit of attention as well. Win-win? As for now I think I will deal with the link issue like this. There are also other sites that has a lot of good camino links and keep them updated. Williams page is one example: http://www.caminolinks.co.uk/

I too noticed the chat option had disappeared a while back
We started to get spam in the chat. Also the participation was a bit low, so all in all I found out that it was best to take it off.

I also still think it would be good to have the pilgrim wiki as a reference base which people should refer to first before asking questions in the forum (the same questions keep being asked). This does of course depend on people updating the wiki on a regular basis.
The wiki is there: http://www.pilgrim-wiki.com but it has not been updated much (I take part of the blame for that.) The idea was that it could hold information that was often asked.

We have a FAQ section of this forum. If anyone has questions/answers that they think would be useful to add there, just post a message in the FAQ section of the forum (I believe everyone has rights to post there, let me know if you can not).

Search box
Search is a bit of a problem. I have tried the google search box for the forum. But google does not index all the posts we have, so it does not search everything. The internal forum search is not perfect, but at least it includes everything. I may have a look at the Microsoft search box again (it has been a while), they might do a better job. The forum database just passed 40MB of just text content, so it is a lot of good information in there. (By the way, the database I have has a limit of 50MB so I need to upgrade to a new database hosting plan. )

The only thing I would be concerned about is that a handful of people do 90% of the heavy lifting here.
This is true, and has been like this from day 1. Without them we could not have gotten to where we are today. How can we avoid this? Not sure, I hope by just "keep on keeping on" that more people with a lot of knowledge of the camino will join as a member, and start helping out.

This leads me to the question of "When will Ivar walk the camino?" Maybe 2008 is the year? ... a short one from Sarria maybe? Hmmm... :)

Buenas noches,
Ivar
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
Donating Member
#25
Enhorabuena Ivar on your decision. Rest assured you might start with a short walk but it is so good it gets addictive! Be sure to post your experiences :)
 

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