Author Topic: The State of the Forum - October 18  (Read 2474 times)

Online DragonLady

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The State of the Forum - October 18
« on: October 03, 2018, 04:30:23 PM »
It's been a couple of months, so I figured I should pop in and let everyone know where we are in the galaxy. :)

First up: things are working very smoothly overall.  We do still have a couple of members reporting ongoing problems, but they're the exceptions at this point.  Now and then pages fail to load, and sometimes I get a heart-thumping message the database has failed to connect, but for the vast majority of the time, all is working well.

Our current hosting will finally expire next month.  So I have to decide if we're going to commit to moving, or stay for another term.  I'm on the fence, as I'm still not very happy with way we've been handled, but am glad the problems are finally being resolved.

I'm still waiting for the new upgrade to become available as a release candidate, but I do see that quite a few other admins have taken the plunge and upgraded, despite the "beta" status.  I'm a lot more cautious by nature, but I have to admit I'm becoming antsy.  The new version has some features I really like, although I don't think the new "Sketchzoo" theme will work (I haven't tried yet, but so much is changing that almost none of the current 3rd party plugins will translate over).

Mudcat has told me she will coordinate this year's SWAP contest again, so let's all give her a big "Thank-you" in advance!

The Fray is off and running...I, for one, hope to see a bunch of lively challenges and contests in the coming weeks and months to keep everyone on their toes and expand all our sewing horizons.
 
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Online DragonLady

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2018, 02:32:51 PM »
I'll be making a full backup of our site -not just the visible parts everyone interacts with, but also the programs and tools that run in the background.

This will probably slow everything down today, and may cause the site to go down at some point while SG's vitals are copied.

This will make things much easier if we move to another hosting company, and will also help ensure we won't have any issues restoring things once the SWAP contest rules are up and our traffic spikes.
The road to our success is always under construction.
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Offline grandrivergirl

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #2 on: October 05, 2018, 08:22:26 PM »
I've been on the fence about subscribing, as I do miss interacting with several people here.
In all honesty, I don't observe much improvement to the site since going to subscription.
Am I missing something?  Where are the changes that necessitated a paid format?

Offline Lisanne

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2018, 09:54:14 PM »
What. . . necessitated a paid format?

Someone has to pay for the facilities we run the site on.
DL used to pay for it all herself, as well as spending much time for free doing the work behind the screens to keep the site running - hardly fair. . .

 :heart_smilie: to DL for all she does for us
- as in spending huge amounts of time ensuring we will be able to cope with all the changes that will be imposed from outside during the next few months, so we can maintain our services and our huge database of past messages, when the company that provides the facilities our site is run on changes their system.
Does this bring you joy, calm, confidence  :D  if not, try something else.

https://sewingplums.com - comments on wardrobes, patterns, style, fit
https://uk.pinterest.com/sewingplums/ - style images
https://aimforquality.wordpress.com - good basic sewing techniques
https://easyjackets.wordpress.com - no need for tailoring, unless you want to
https://helpwithsewingpatterninstructions.wordpress.com/2017/03/01/first-blog-post/ - Peggy Sagers sew-alongs

Offline tazzie

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2018, 11:57:18 AM »
I've been on the fence about subscribing, as I do miss interacting with several people here.
In all honesty, I don't observe much improvement to the site since going to subscription.
Am I missing something?  Where are the changes that necessitated a paid format?


Lisanne summarized the need for fees well.  That being said, the site has taken a definite hit in terms of vibrancy and volume of conversation since going to subscription mode.  Those who don't subscribe cannot post: They can read but they can't post.  In other words, for the many, many people who prefer to lurk, there have been no changes whatsoever except the content to read has dropped dramatically in spite of the efforts of a valiant few trying to keep it going.  I may be egged for speaking frankly but I suspect the site will suffer from an even fewer number of subscriptions next year and perhaps have to fold. It's really unfortunate because this site was truly magnificent but I liken it to the storefront that has noticeably less & less inventory until eventually one the day the doors are just locked.

Offline sliderule

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2018, 12:37:40 PM »
In my view, the $35 per year cost is roughly the same as a magazine subscription, but I find the site much more rewarding.  I'd like to add  my :heart_smilie: to Dragon Lady as well.

Offline Melinda_B

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2018, 12:55:58 PM »
In my view, the $35 per year cost is roughly the same as a magazine subscription, but I find the site much more rewarding.  I'd like to add  my :heart_smilie: to Dragon Lady as well.

Could not have said it better!
Melinda

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Online DragonLady

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2018, 01:42:09 PM »
Thank-you, everyone, for your support.

I do love SG, and am trying to do what is best for the board for the long term.

I sincerely hope we're still running SWAP contests, sharing our projects, and discussing our favorite subjects  for decades to come.  :heart_smilie:
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Offline sewvt

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #8 on: October 06, 2018, 01:59:51 PM »
This question has come up before and it seems to follow the same path each time.  Someone has a question about the current structure or suggests that it may be decreasing the formerly high volume of traffic.  There may be some agreement and then invariably others jump in to defend either the cost of the subscription or the administrator.  At that point, the conversation gets…  testy… 

Is there no way to have an actual conversation about this topic without all the defensiveness?  I think we’ve all noticed the drop in volume and diversity of traffic.  I’m one who has supported the forum’s need for financial support even before the subscription structure.  I certainly value and support the administrator’s and moderators’ hard work for many years.   That said, this possible outcome was raised before the change to subscriptions.  From my spot on the fence, it has turned out just as predicted by some:  fewer posts, fewer topics, less variety and many valuable contributors leaving.

I understand the need for financial support and I’ve been willing to give it all along.  I’m not complaining about the subscription rate itself.  I would be happy to pay that if the forum were as busy and diverse as in the past.   I’m just wondering if there are any viable options for increasing traffic at this point?  Please understand that this is simply a question about possibilities and in no way an attack on DL’s decisions or the need for financially supporting the forum.

Offline tazzie

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #9 on: October 06, 2018, 02:11:59 PM »
I understand the need for financial support and I’ve been willing to give it all along.  I’m not complaining about the subscription rate itself.  I would be happy to pay that if the forum were as busy and diverse as in the past.   I’m just wondering if there are any viable options for increasing traffic at this point?  Please understand that this is simply a question about possibilities and in no way an attack on DL’s decisions or the need for financially supporting the forum.


sewvt you are so much more eloquent than me - thank you for  intuitively flushing out the unspoken part of my post.

Online DragonLady

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #10 on: October 06, 2018, 02:25:03 PM »
Quote
I’m just wondering if there are any viable options for increasing traffic at this point?


To be 100% honest (and if I sound testy, I'm not; I've just been awake all night caring for an abandoned kitten), the best way to increase participation is to increase YOUR participation.


Start a topic.  If you don't know what to talk about, go find a news article or find an old topic on SG classic and make a thread about it here.

Invite your sewing friends -or those who would like to learn- to join one of the sewalongs or the SWAP contest.

Post to the existing topics.  I know there aren't the thousands here that are on SG Classic, but I'm sure if you look around you can find something you have an opinion about, or some small tip or trick to share with us.

Post a challenge in The Fray.  Just about anything goes, so with a bit of thought I'm sure you can come up with something.
===Challenge those who are interested in SWAP (joining or not) to post their ideas for a collection
-----Challenge everyone to make a Christmas toy for Cops Who Care
-----Challenge those in your area to do something of local interest (local flower pillows? flag quilt?)

The more topics there are, the more people who will have questions to ask or something to say.

It takes a few days for a new topic to appear on Google search, but if there is lots of new things going on here, it will be indexed more often and that will keep us closer to the top...which will bring more traffic.



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If you should have any trouble with any aspect of the forums, just email me: dl@artisanssquare.com

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Offline AnnetteB

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #11 on: October 06, 2018, 05:16:43 PM »
In my view, the $35 per year cost is roughly the same as a magazine subscription, but I find the site much more rewarding.  I'd like to add  my :heart_smilie: to Dragon Lady as well.

Well said and I totally agree!!!!
Annette
Queensland Australia

Offline sewvt

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #12 on: October 06, 2018, 07:47:36 PM »
Oh my – abandoned kitten duty is about the same amount of work as a newborn.  As a cat lover, thank you for rescuing this little one!

Quote
the best way to increase participation is to increase YOUR participation

I don’t think you’re being testy at all and I appreciate your willingness to consider this discussion.  With all respect for all you do, I also have a limited amount of time to spend on forums.  I post when I feel I can add something.  I’m not a joiner of competitions or sew-alongs or challenges.  It’s just not what turns my crank.  I really loved the sponaneous discussions that developed due to larger numbers of people on the forum, from all areas of the world, with all kinds of experiences, and that is what feels more limited now. 

While I’m willing to do what I can, there’s also a part of me that says - I’m paying for the privilege of posting information that many others simply read.  That doesn’t seem equitable.  It leaves subscribers carrying the load both financially and, if you will, creatively.  If that is truly the only option, then it is what it is.  I’m raising the issue in the hope that we can perhaps come up with a solution by putting the hive mind to work.  Obviously, whatever is suggested would have to work for you as well.  And maybe there is no good solution.  It just seems that we won’t know if we don’t talk about it.  If others prefer not to, I will accept that.  I'm not trying to create issues, just see if there are other possibilities to consider.

Offline sdBev

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #13 on: October 06, 2018, 09:45:14 PM »
Do we have a topic always open for  new ideas, suggestions? (Either I missed  it or have forgotten it exists?)   I understand the desire to discuss this especially since subscriptions will be due in the next few months, but Id rather not rehash over and over the same thoughts.

At one time, I made an effort to at least post all my projects here.  What I really wanted was to see more people sharing their own projects. I thought if I contributed more, others would be encouraged to share.  Didnt happen, or ar least I didnt notice an uptick.  However I am grateful for the individuals who respond to me when Ive had questions, even off topic questions; and a recent discussion of mold in the washer was quite enlightening. Even changed my laundry habits.
sdBev
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Offline Saashka

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #14 on: October 06, 2018, 11:40:20 PM »
At least two other forums are structured such that anyone can read and post, and financial contribution is optional, but defined. I think the problem we had here before the subscription system was established is that people were willing to pay but didn’t know how much. And for most people it’s not an easy question to ask. It may be worthwhile to do a trial for a few months to see how many lurkers would be willing to pay. Though I’m afraid that ship has sailed. Once I write off a website, I don’t return there to see if they changed their policies.

Online DragonLady

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #15 on: October 07, 2018, 01:04:18 AM »
Quote
I’m paying for the privilege of posting information that many others simply read.  That doesn’t seem equitable.

I don't really have time to write the whole explanation out right now (will try to do that another time), but it is what it is for a reason.  I am slowly changing it over, but it's not a straight forward or quick process and some things simply can't be done halfway. Ideally, we'll end up with a hybrid forum where some areas remain open to everyone, but others are only available to subscribers. 

Quote
It may be worthwhile to do a trial for a few months to see how many lurkers would be willing to pay

We tried that version for three years.  The first  year was great -a few people stepped up and donated very generously, and carried the whole site for months.  A few other people sent what they could, and it was very handy whenever tech support was needed or when we exceeded our CPU quota and had to pay a bit more.

But the second year only a few people came through -mostly the same people, and the third year I had to admit there was simply no way to sustain things the way they were going.

Switching to a subscription model isn't about fancier buttons  or "premium" content.  It's about whether SG stays alive, or SG disappears into star dust. 


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Offline sewvt

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #16 on: October 07, 2018, 03:14:43 PM »
Quote
At least two other forums are structured such that anyone can read and post, and financial contribution is optional, but defined.
Quote
Ideally, we'll end up with a hybrid forum where some areas remain open to everyone, but others are only available to subscribers.

That seems like a better solution to me, geared to increase traffic overall.  While I don't know how well the various subscription types work compared to each other, it seems intuitively that lower cost would increase volume.  Eg: 10 people at $25 will bring in the same income as 100 at $2.50.  It seems that 100 would generate more conversation than 10.  Is that how it really works from the admin point of view?  Is the cost of administration significantly higher for the 100?  I have no clue, just wondering how numbers actually impact the site.  And thank you for having the patience to explain.  :)

Online DragonLady

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #17 on: October 07, 2018, 03:56:08 PM »
Quote
Is the cost of administration significantly higher for the 100?


Yes; every extra person increases the resources required.  I tried to include everything when I calculated how much I would need to collect from each person. 


If we go down to a dozen subscribed people, the hosting bills I've already paid won't be refunded, but it won't need to be renewed at the same rate, either.

If we go up to a thousand subscribed people, every subscription fee will include the costs to increase the hosting to make room. 

While a dozen people on a forum isn't the exciting and lively place everyone is hoping for, it will be a paid for place, and I will continue in my role.

But if SG is as valuable as I believe it to be, as valuable as everyone has claimed it to be over the last decade, and those lurking / reading think it's a great place to visit, then I'm respectfully requesting everyone to purchase a subscription so it will be here for many years to come.



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Offline Saashka

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #18 on: October 08, 2018, 12:29:38 AM »
Quote
It may be worthwhile to do a trial for a few months to see how many lurkers would be willing to pay

We tried that version for three years.   

When did we have a defined contribution? I remember it as being up to the member. Am I misremembering?

Online DragonLady

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #19 on: October 08, 2018, 02:37:49 AM »
Quote
When did we have a defined contribution? I remember it as being up to the member. Am I misremembering?


No; I did not define an amount.  If I had, those who sent the larger donations may have only sent the defined sum, and those who sent the tiniest might not have bothered. 

There was only one WRONG amount, which was exactly what most readers sent.

Now, we do have a defined amount.  $35.00 per year.  Anyone who wants to contribute may do so via PayPal, and I have a nice gift for those who do: unlimited posting ability and continued access through all the changes which will be taking place in the future. :)
The road to our success is always under construction.
If you should have any trouble with any aspect of the forums, just email me: dl@artisanssquare.com

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Offline Judith

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #20 on: October 08, 2018, 05:43:15 AM »
I must admit that I’m guilty of posting significantly less. My sewing has changed drastically since retirement and now, although I do make some quilts, my joy is longarming. There’s not a lot of conversation about that. That’s my change, and only coincidental to SG’s. Seems the less I post, the less I come here, and the less I have to say here. Viscious cycle

I do think I might be more active if it was simpler to post photos. Or maybe it is, and I haven’t been paying attention?

I’m going to try to be more active.

And, by the way, the washer continues to be stink free.  And it’s been about a month. Yippee

Judith
People are generally as happy as they allow themselves to be. Abraham Lincoln

Online DragonLady

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #21 on: October 08, 2018, 06:31:25 AM »
Quote
I do think I might be more active if it was simpler to post photos. Or maybe it is, and I haven’t been paying attention?

The attachment directory is working, so you can upload photos to a thread now.  Also, the gallery is working fine, so you can post photos there and use the BBC to link to them in your posts.
The road to our success is always under construction.
If you should have any trouble with any aspect of the forums, just email me: dl@artisanssquare.com

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Offline Meg

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #22 on: October 08, 2018, 10:42:41 AM »
Judith, I’m glad your washer is free of unwanted smells!  That’s great. 

Now that you’re long-arming, may I suggest that you start a new thread regarding your adventures?  I’d like to hear about it.  Thanks.

Offline kowgiirl.up

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #23 on: October 08, 2018, 01:02:53 PM »
^^^^^ Ditto what she said  :)
Theresa

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Offline indigotiger

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #24 on: October 08, 2018, 04:10:29 PM »
what is "long-arming"? I tried google, and it wanted to sell me some kind of special quilting machine??
The Things that Make us Happy Make us Wise.

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Offline Linda75142

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #25 on: October 08, 2018, 05:10:25 PM »
what is "long-arming"? I tried google, and it wanted to sell me some kind of special quilting machine??

Yes, it is quilting on a long arm machine.

Offline Judith

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #26 on: October 08, 2018, 09:35:39 PM »
Okay. Will start topic and see if anyone joins. Yes, longarming is a step in quilting, attaching the three components (top, batting and backing) using a machine that is mounted on a frame to create decorative patterns. I look at the process as “piecing” describes the process of putting the top together while longarming is the actual quilting.
People are generally as happy as they allow themselves to be. Abraham Lincoln

Online DragonLady

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #27 on: October 10, 2018, 04:58:24 PM »
I promised I would explain a bit about why the forum's permissions are set up the way they are, so that every registered member can read all the topics, but only subscribed members can post to most of them.

There are really several reasons, so I'll just try to touch on each one a little bit, in no particular order:

--- The forum's "subscription" plugin is intended to be all-or-nothing.  It's not a very popular part of the forum software, and it doesn't get a lot of attention from the developers.  When you first turn it on, everything becomes subscription-only by default.  Which also means no one can see what kinds of content we have, until they pay for it.  It also means search engines can't spider the content, so there's no "peeking" behind the curtain.  Eventually, most of the forum will be subscription only -no pay, no play; but some of it will remain open to everyone, so I have to tweak all the settings to work several different ways for several different levels of access without crashing the board or allowing some hacker to have a field day if something becomes insecure.. 

Hybridizing every function takes time and effort, so it's slow-going.  Those of you with science backgrounds know: change ONE variable at a time.  Change ONE thing, give it tests and time, make sure it's working as intended, then back it up and change ONE more thing.  It's far more fun to just dive off the bridge, and of course the results are instant and exciting, but that's also when all the problems surface, and there's no clear way to figure out what caused those problems -and the only way to fix it is to restore everything exactly as it was 'til the problem is found. In the meantime, nothing works for anyone.

--- This iteration of the forum is going to be trash very soon.  That is, all the changes I'm making here are going away.  There's not much point or purpose to attempting a major overhaul of the way a lot of it works here, just to toss it all into the ether and begin again when we switch to the new version. So some things are just going to stay the way they are for now, and if they still need work when the RC of the new version comes online, I'll cross those bridges then.

--Finally, some things are the way they are because people asked for them.  You all wanted SWAP to remain open for all, and it is; which means that section of the gallery also has to work.   You wanted the Yard Sale to remain open, and it is; hence private messages remain available so members can exchange contact info even if neither one are subscribed. 

I have to move this party indoors; but I'm trying to do it so that no one is left in the cold, and everything -every topic, every post, every image is here for all those who wish to join us. 

When I'm done, the front page will show those topics that are open to everyone, registering will make a few more available, and subscribing will give one complete access.  It's taking time to do it right, but I am working on it.  :heart:


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Offline Lisa Laree

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #28 on: October 10, 2018, 05:04:02 PM »
Quote
I’m just wondering if there are any viable options for increasing traffic at this point?

To be 100% honest (and if I sound testy, I'm not; I've just been awake all night caring for an abandoned kitten), the best way to increase participation is to increase YOUR participation.

Start a topic.  If you don't know what to talk about, go find a news article or find an old topic on SG classic and make a thread about it here.

I'm one of those whose posting has dropped considerably of late; not really since the subscriptions kicked in but probably going back well before that.  Life happens...things get busy...I'm not sewing as much...my own sewing blog has suffered from a lack of posting as well; I just haven't had much to talk about.

But I'm starting a wardrobe building plan next year so I do have a blog topic and, after waffling about it and then seeing the 'Start a topic' encouragement, I started a thread just to see if any one else wants to do something similar.

I haven't been intentionally quiet...just...not intentionally participating.  So I guess I need to be more intentional. 

Offline bessiecrocker

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #29 on: October 13, 2018, 09:01:53 AM »
I need to admit to a really "duh" moment (long  moment) on my part...and perhaps this explains some of the  reduction in posting recently.

I knew the site was "under re-construction" so I expected changes and temporary loss of whole sections. What I did not figure out was that when the sections got re-configured I would NOT automatically see them. Because I haven't been seeing much to post on (only the public  sections) I have not logged in for awhile now and did not know that much (most?) of the site is back...but visible only if you are logged in!

admittedly, I am horribly un-techy, but maybe this needs to be stated clearly somewhere for those of us who are "challenged" by modern doo-dads.

Online DragonLady

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #30 on: October 13, 2018, 01:34:42 PM »
Yes; most of the site is only visible if you are both registered and logged in.  As time goes by, more and more will only be visible if you are subscribed, registered, and logged in. 

The road to our success is always under construction.
If you should have any trouble with any aspect of the forums, just email me: dl@artisanssquare.com

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Offline fzxdoc

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #31 on: October 14, 2018, 12:08:23 PM »
I need to admit to a really "duh" moment (long  moment) on my part...and perhaps this explains some of the  reduction in posting recently.

I knew the site was "under re-construction" so I expected changes and temporary loss of whole sections. What I did not figure out was that when the sections got re-configured I would NOT automatically see them. Because I haven't been seeing much to post on (only the public  sections) I have not logged in for awhile now and did not know that much (most?) of the site is back...but visible only if you are logged in!

admittedly, I am horribly un-techy, but maybe this needs to be stated clearly somewhere for those of us who are "challenged" by modern doo-dads.

I wondered what had happened to you, bessiecrocker. You were missed!

As a subscriber, logging in is key to seeing the whole site. I'm glad you're seeing it all once again.

Kathryn
My blog: I Made This! at http://imadethis-asewingblog.blogspot.com/
Flickr Photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/72428033@N00/albums

2018 Dress a Month count:

Offline bessiecrocker

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #32 on: October 14, 2018, 02:09:04 PM »

I wondered what had happened to you, bessiecrocker. You were missed!

Kathryn

Very sweet of you to say that. I may disappear again for awhile. I have health issues (...it's been a bad year.) Not sure yet how much I may be out of things...think my own sewing may be limited for the next few months, but will try to read and post, if nothing else.

Seems like a good opportunity to plan a swap, maybe?

Offline kowgiirl.up

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #33 on: October 14, 2018, 02:42:36 PM »
I need to admit to a really "duh" moment (long  moment) on my part...and perhaps this explains some of the  reduction in posting recently.

I was wondering where you had been.. I’m glad you figured it out and are back. I hope that next year will be better for you & your health issues  :)
Theresa

Runs with scissors

Offline sdBev

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Re: The State of the Forum - October 18
« Reply #34 on: October 14, 2018, 04:02:23 PM »
Bessie
Hope you have enough energy to read SG.  Get well soon as you can.
sdBev
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