Non member users and BOTS

A forum for the discussion of railway related topics
Ian Prince
Posts: 115
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2016 6:42 pm

Non member users and BOTS

Post by Ian Prince » Mon Dec 05, 2016 1:30 am

Whilst diversity of users is desirable, should the forum be ideally moderated to prevent non members and BOTs operating within our forum?

Sure there are advantages to diversity, but if access by non members is allowed, then the advantages of paid-for membership are reduced surely? Far better to create a 'members only' section on the forum if excluding them altogether is not possible? It is done by other Societies and is most useful and very effective if done correctly. It also potentially increases the number of members too!

Similarly, I can understand some of our less IT conversant members might be concerned about BOTs appearing on the site. Whilst I recognise the reasons why they might be there, I can also see the reasons why their presence might concern some members. Their presence and access to the site can be directly and automatically limited by admins and mods, and as such may reduce the need for any heavy moderation and reduce risks of nefarious bots being present.

One for the forum admins and MC to consider very carefully.

windsor_lad
Posts: 55
Joined: Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:38 pm

Re: Non member users and BOTS

Post by windsor_lad » Mon Dec 05, 2016 9:34 am

As a less IT conversant member can someone please explain what a BOT is?

Ian Prince
Posts: 115
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2016 6:42 pm

Re: Non member users and BOTS

Post by Ian Prince » Tue Dec 06, 2016 12:34 am

Does this help?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_Bot

shows at left hand base of index pages as to 'users on line', which gives names of guests and forum members at any particular time. Quite common to a lot of forums, depending on their restrictive policies for accessing their sites.

D3796
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2014 12:33 pm
Location: BY (1E)

Re: Non member users and BOTS

Post by D3796 » Tue Dec 06, 2016 8:22 am

Ian Prince wrote:Whilst diversity of users is desirable, should the forum be ideally moderated to prevent non members and BOTs operating within our forum?
Whilst I understand your reasoning, with just 155 Members, any further reduction in members would render the Forum surplus to requirements.
Regards

David - D3796 (08 629)

Ian Prince
Posts: 115
Joined: Wed Apr 20, 2016 6:42 pm

Re: Non member users and BOTS

Post by Ian Prince » Wed Dec 07, 2016 1:55 am

D3796 wrote:
Ian Prince wrote:Whilst diversity of users is desirable, should the forum be ideally moderated to prevent non members and BOTs operating within our forum?
Whilst I understand your reasoning, with just 155 Members, any further reduction in members would render the Forum surplus to requirements.
My reasoning is exactly the opposite to your assertion.

I am looking to entice existing members who may not be online to have the confidence to contribute and use the forum. BOTs and non members are not members of the Society and do not contribute financially directly to the site or Society costs. (Ok Bots could be said to widen its scope in some respects, but as has been asked here, many are not aware of what a 'BOT' actually is).

They may however deter some members from joining in; fear of viruses and of being 'watched', is a well known paranoia amongst those who fail to use the web regularly. However, once they gain confidence, 'Silver Surfers' as they are sometimes known, can be a major benefit to the forum, as well as contributing added diversity, especially if disability prevents them getting out as often as they might like.

I know of many such examples where physical constraints can limit individuals outdoor activities but they can retain an active connection online. It is a particular theme that is currently being actively pursued by many organisations, to prevent 'discrimination', and allow those who otherwise would not be able to see aspects, to however see/experience them online. Now being a 'charity', such considerations cannot be ignored.

Rather than looking at 'the forum being surplus to requirements' (what ever that means(?), then surely recruitment and active promotion are surely the ways forward. There is little point in hiding our 'light under a bushel'. Active promotion and an interesting discussion forum must be the correct direction to pursue? Otherwise how did other web forums and discussion boards develop so effectively?

There already are some extremely good threads on the RCTS web forum. I see these as being a means of enticing others to join, and more importantly, to avoid members allowing their membership to lapse.

MisterC
Posts: 101
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2015 8:51 pm

Re: Non member users and BOTS

Post by MisterC » Wed Dec 07, 2016 10:54 am

Thanks to Ian for his explanation.
The BOTs that I see most frequently are Google, Bing and Yahoo. Is this not their way of updating their search engine algorithms? If yes then we need them to read the discussion forum so that it comes up in future web searches.
More generally, I'm concerned that the forum only has 155 members, though of course many more RCTS members may be reading the forum and only register if they feel the urge to post something.
In the 21st century a lively forum on the web is one of the indicators of a thriving organisation, and part of our advertising pitch to potential new members. I agree that the low level of activity should be seen as a challenge to improve on not that it is "surplus to requirements". The age profile of the membership should not be seen as an obstacle here: the LNER Society, for example, has a thriving forum, which, although I'm not a member, has given me some useful research leads.
In the short term I think that it is up to us the existing forum members to create some more lively discussions. In the medium term I hope that the new website project includes a plan to increase membership use of the website and the forum should be part of that.

Peter Hall
Posts: 268
Joined: Tue Nov 18, 2014 11:51 am

Re: Non member users and BOTS

Post by Peter Hall » Wed Dec 07, 2016 10:11 pm

At a meeting of the Society web-committee two years ago those present were asked to stoke the forum with some interesting topics. This I have done although many might think mine are far from interesting! This post is actually my one hundred and seventy second which makes me top poster. In fact my nearest rival, the RO Editor only has 58 and only another two have more than twenty five!

Today I have had a very interesting and enlightening discussion about forums on other railway enthusiast orientated websites. This bore out exactly what MisterC says that "In the 21st century a lively forum on the web is one of the indicators of a thriving organisation". I am aware of several that are very active but had not appreciated how many others there were that were as much so if not more. Thus, if we are 'Britain's Leading Railway Society' as we claim to be why is there so little activity on our forum?

D3796
Posts: 34
Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2014 12:33 pm
Location: BY (1E)

Re: Non member users and BOTS

Post by D3796 » Thu Dec 08, 2016 8:16 am

Ian Prince wrote:
D3796 wrote:
Ian Prince wrote:Whilst diversity of users is desirable, should the forum be ideally moderated to prevent non members and BOTs operating within our forum?
Whilst I understand your reasoning, with just 155 Members, any further reduction in members would render the Forum surplus to requirements.
My reasoning is exactly the opposite to your assertion.
Surely "preventing non members operating within our forum" would reduce the 155 Members, and depending on how many non-member Forum Users there are, could see the number substantially reduced, that was my point.

The Forum has been running for a number of years now so you would have thought that any RCTS Members that wanted to, would have joined the Forum by now.

My surplus to requirements comment was basically "use it or lose it".
Regards

David - D3796 (08 629)

windsor_lad
Posts: 55
Joined: Tue Sep 09, 2014 10:38 pm

Re: Non member users and BOTS

Post by windsor_lad » Thu Dec 08, 2016 12:43 pm

At a meeting of the Society web-committee two years ago those present were asked to stoke the forum with some interesting topics.

Interesting topics?

Are these interesting?


Are the new initiatives from the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling just another change that the railway does not need?

What is going to happen in the Southern dispute - will customers just desert the railway?

Why were the Class 508 units moved from the Southern Region to Merseyside?

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pdeaves
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Re: Non member users and BOTS

Post by pdeaves » Thu Dec 08, 2016 5:38 pm

windsor_lad wrote:Are the new initiatives from the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling just another change that the railway does not need?
I'd say "yes, but...". Despite all the sensationalist headlines and hyperbole, in practice I think not much will happen. All this stuff about 'NR stripped of powers', etc., is nonsense in the form proposed. It's more a matter of making an effectively new railway outside of NR's remit. All the existing stuff remains with NR. There are already (or have been) deep alliances; I think much of the rest of the proposals is just alliancing under a different name. We all know what happened with the SWT alliance, though. Maybe that should be a clue as to how well the concept works.

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