I’ve been asked this multiple times during the last few days. The color has changed and the Associated Content pages are gone. It’s pretty simple. It’s a protest. Not that I think I have some influential blog, but I have to walk the talk.
If you saw my post on 30 Aug 2008, you know I’m none too happy with how AC handled their new forum rollout or the forum design itself. I pulled my AC pages including the many tips, I’ve blogged over the last many months. I took the AC orange off as further disassociation. The phrase of the week is “guilt by association.” I ain’t havin’ none. To all who accused me of being an AC cheerleader in the past, this is the real me. True to myself.
To their credit, AC made apologies to their writers/community. They asked how they can make it better. They incorporated a few minor, easily executed changes. I know a re-vamp of the overall navigation design will take some time, but therein lies my trepidation. I’ve seen this before at AC. I’ve seen AC offer many words and platitudes without any follow-through. I’m still in “believe it when I see it” mode.
There are a few bright spots. The staff is a bit more engaged. I say “a bit” because it is no where near the involvement needed to moderate such a forum. The mind-boggling thing is that with all the new sub-forums, all with their ridiculously minute themes, the AC staff itself is dumping most of their posts in the General Forum when the thread topic clearly matches one of the subs. The only reason I can think of is AC knows that everyone goes to the General Forum and no one will see their announcements if they really posted them in the Announcements Forum.
Then there are still the silly AC Connect forums. Previously, we all got along well with one Non-AC Forum and one Just For Fun Forum for a catch-all. Now there are things like Health and Wellness and Pet Lovers. I predicted they would become dump-and-runs for article links of shameless self-promotion and it has already started. The amusing thing about this is one newbie-spammer already figured out that no one was reading the sub-sub-sub forum and reposted his self-promotion in the old Just For Fun forum.
The newly participating AC staffers are trying to post their own starter threads to guide these buried forums, but fighting foo is hard. The aging “last post” timestamps on those forums are telling. Some only have one thread, the sarcastic protest thread I posted on day one, in them. Unfortunately, those forums are there to stay, no matter how or how often they are used.
I’m still hoping they will take all of our feedback and make the navigation easier. The suggestions from the community are almost identical so AC has a template. The only positive feedback I’ve seen was from a couple of people who keep to very few threads. At least AC made following only one or two threads easy. Yea…no wait…that leads to isolationism. People end up only following threads they start or a couple started by their friends. They never get the big picture and miss so much freely-offered information.
In short, hope is still only hope. AC staff participation is still low (I only saw one complaint addressed today, but several new announcements.). Navigation remains impossible. Communication from the staff about the progress is still the sound of one hand clapping. One the upside, I’ve had time to explore some other forums and sites that I’ve been meaning to parse. Let AC deal with the disinformation trolls. They’ve already started coming out of the cracks.