ExplorOz improvements

Submitted: Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
ThreadID: 2234 Views:2289 Replies:34 FollowUps:56
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David and I often find things discussed in our Forum that we think are either 1) already answered within our Preparation topics, Hot Topics, Features and Trek Notes or 2) are blatant free plugs for other websites that take readers away from our site.What we want to know is how can we improve ExplorOz so that it has all the answers?Please answer here and tell us specifically the ideas you have for new site features - eg. do you want us build new forums for detailed discussions such as one for each vehicle type, one for camper trailers etc.
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Reply By: Melissa - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Hi Michelle/David, Personally, I love ExploreOz.com just the way it is and that includes the current Forum strategy. Please don't build new forums for different topics. I've seen this approach taken on other web-sites and personally I find it cumbersome, a pain to navigate and generally too much trouble to bother with. Also, it is interesting to read posts that may not specifically relate to say, my make of vehicle, but still have some relevance or interest. I wouldn't worry about the blatant plugs for other web-sites. Most people, including myself, may visit other web-sites or group sites but with along with ExploreOz, it is just a knowledge/interest base. ExploreOz is good enough to stand on its merits...users will come back again and again.

Regarding people asking questions about topics already covered on this site...does it matter? Every new post creates interest and interaction between readers. It also promotes an exchange of fresh idea's and alternative views. Only other thing I can think of is to make the Site Search function more visible.

Hope my comments are of some help. Keep up the good work. :-))) Melissa
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Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - Michelle - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Ok, that's fair enough.Mainly we have some reservations about the forum overtaking use of our paid business listings (our only true source of income from the site) and so we get concerned about protecting this chuck of vapour ware if you get my meaning. If people had any idea of how costly this site is to provide and how little money we actually make then you'd understand why we get a little protective at times. None of it would be an issue if the advertisers were flooding in! We don't want to implement anything that will affect users on the site, but the more users we have the more complicated the interaction process. As more and more people demonstrate their html knowledge it becomes apparent that there are some restrictions that we should consider implementing to protect the site from vandalism and abuse of our terms of use.
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Follow Up By: Member - Ian - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
i couldnt agree more with melissa its a great forum every question is different in some way and you can allways search back to compare different answers ,its nice and simple please keep it that way ,,,,
ian
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Reply By: truckster - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
An editing feature of your posts, lots of times you post something and would like to add, or change something you posted

Also the fact that hitting the ENTER key doesnt come out in posts as a line break, which causes large posts to come out as one paragraph, making it a pain to read...

People posting links to other sites helps others out, if people find this place useful, they will come back, same as any site. Personally I like this place as theres no arguing and bleep stirring other members, while also having a good wide variety of knowledge and ages...

There is no such thing as a site with ALL the answers. If there was it would be impossible to keep up to date, and current. Thats why there are multi sites, with their own speciality.
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Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - Michelle - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Looks like you worked out how to get the paragraph break though - its just html code, anyone can do it, just typethe break row code once or twice ie. but David says he's try to introduce this as an automatic code for when you hit the enter key.
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Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - Michelle - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
didn't show - try again...

<:br>:
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Follow Up By: Truckster - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
for those that dont know, to create a line break its

with no spaces....
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Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - Michelle - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
thanks - I couldn't get it to show properly!
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Follow Up By: Truckster - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
:)


What is the limit to HTML here, can you show an Image ??

Aussies Most photographed Service Station!
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Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - Michelle - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
No, you can't show pics - pls don't even try.
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Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - Michelle - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
The forum was never intended to include upload of pics and at the moment we don't want it until we can pass each image through a checking process to standardise what's uploaded. Even though you've found out how to load pics, I urge you not to please.
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Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - Michelle - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Effective now, all users can simply hit enter to format a line break.
As I've just done now.
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Follow Up By: Old Soldier - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Hey Truckster, Just out of interest mate - where is Aussies most photographed service station ???? regards Dennis
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Follow Up By: Melissa - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Let me guess...Woods Point, Vic? Yep, got my own photo! :-) Melissa
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Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - David - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Truckster,

Enter key facilities updated.

Photos and other html code will still work however I have looked at Melissa's feedback furthur down the thread and I like the idea of photos and link features to Members. So I suspect that in time I will have to implement a HTML allow/disallow tools and have a list of valid HTML tags to be used. In the mean time they still work however we would ask that if you wish to publish photos that only people experienced with html code should do so and that you must must ensure that the photos do not have a large byte count (around 30K max) and are also not large in pixel size (no greater than 400 pixels wide - please). These rules would be for the screen layout and system performance aspects as an <a href= without the correct fields such as height= and width= will cause the page not to be shown until the image is loaded etc. I will work on this soon to make the upload and install easy for Members and turn off these html tags when complete.

Editing of posts yes I think this is good however I must be carefull in when the post is submitted and the email generated to advise the person who put in the post. Remember the system auto emails as each reply or response is received hence when is the post valid and the email sent. Any thoughts on this?

Thanks for the feedback
David
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Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - David - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
I must be having a Michelle incident as I was showing example html tags in the previous post and managed to stuff up the paragraph and colours. I would think that I understand the HTML pretty well and I still managed to stuff it up so please please please be carefull or do not do it at all.
David
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Reply By: steve - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Team please don't try to be everything for everybody. Keep doing what you are good at and allow others to specialise in their expert way. On the other hand if you have the time and inclination that's fine but why reinvent the wheel?

For what it's worth

Steve
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Reply By: flappan - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Yep agree.

You cant be everything to everybody. This is a good forum don't mess with it too much.

the editing idea though would be handy.
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Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - Michelle - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Yes, but I'm not talking about just the forum and that's my point. The site is more than just a forum - isn't it?????
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Reply By: Truckster - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Michelle
What things do YOU think are missing, or could do with improving on this site?
may give others better Ideas on what your thinking, and what direction to head
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Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - Michelle - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Just looking for feedback... the sky's the limit with what we can provide, I'm working on all my ideas and they will happen anyway. But it's always good to look "outside the square".
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Reply By: voxson - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Michelle, Perfect as it is. Who wants to even know how to do line breaks. I know i dont. Keep it simple.
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Reply By: Melissa - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Hi Michelle,Me again! Yes, this site is more than a forum. Much more. When I was on holidays the other week, two people on separate occasions mentioned ExploreOz.com as a great source of info. Both referrals were completely unsolicited. That's gotta be confirmation that you're on the right track! Melissa
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Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - Michelle - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Sure,
I know that our user base is very strong. The stats and membership show that. Our mtly sessions is always growing and we're recording over 70,000 sesssions for October.
That doesn't worry me, as the only way we generate income from users is if they buy membership or on the small margins we make from shop orders (and certainly not everyone buys from the shop).
The main thing is getting more industry operators to advertise! With all the readers here you'd think it would just happen automatically. The site is setup to handle online advertising setup, but people just want to get something for nothing and I get worried when people with strange screen names start plugging something in the forum.
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Reply By: Old Soldier - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Hi Michelle, i would like to suggest that any topic that is is still being subscribed to, not be allowed to fade into the archives. In other words, As a reply comes in on any thread, it takes that thread to top place in the current list of topics. That way natural attrition [and not date of original posting] will occur as people eventurally lose interest in the thread. While there is interest and active postings it stays on page one at the top of the list. Does that make sense? :) :)
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Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - Michelle - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Interesting - yes it makes sense but is sort of what already happens for members. So that is a feature of being a member. You see they get a list with direct link of all qns that have received an answer since their last session plus all new qns. So when members use the forum they only see the active list.
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Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - David - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Old Soldier,

You can view the current response items by using the Sort Resp button at the top of the forum index screen. This will sort the active forum questions by latest responses. The only draw back is that it will place forum questions that have no answers on the last page of the active forum pages. Anyway, this may be of help to you.

David
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Follow Up By: Member - Greg - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Hi Michelle
I don't think this site needs much improvement..I think it is great..From your point of view I think you have to get more members ie paying people..We don't need a lot of adds etc this is like the ABC of forums simply the best ..unfortunately not enough revenue..I don't know what the answer is [nor does the ABC] but you are doing a wonderful job.. Regards Greg g
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Reply By: Rick - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
David & Michelle

It's a good site as is, now that I know how to do a line break! As Melissa says, you can't be all things to all people. If you get snitchy about competitors or other links, it will detract from the appeal. We all have competition; your site is more useful than most, so let it stand on its own merits.

I belong, as do some of those who post here on this forum, to a few other groups/chat sites. We use them for specific queries, so there is no need for you to be more specific. There is enough variety here on the ExplorOz forum to keep us visiting. When it's quiet I look at the other sections of your site, but once they have been read twice, you get the gist and don't need to revisit.

Regards

Rick.
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Reply By: Melissa - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Okay Michelle,

Having read your replies and those of others, would it be fair to say that most regular visitors actively use the forum? As Rick says, this could be because once we've all checked out the rest of the site, the only regularly updated feature is the forum which is live and interactive (great!).

I'm not for a minute criticising how often other features are updated. Noboby could keep coming up with new trip notes, articles etc without a huge team of personal. Look at 4WD mags for instance, they just keep rehashing the same stuff. And the quality of what you put up is pretty good so we wouldn't want to see that slip just for the sake of more regular updates, so it's a matter of compromise. I can understand your protectiveness about site, particularly when strange names pop up. I'm in a campertrailer group and all memberships are vetted for the same reasons...to avoid soliciting, spam etc.

Maybe the answer is to encourage membership to make the site more user pays, without discouraging visitors. Here's a few suggestions:

Encourage membership by increasing member-only features. eg. people want to post photo's, trip notes etc...give them the facility but make it members only. That way, user pays. Also, regular visitors will get more regularly updated articles and think of the variety of topics and trips that you'll get.

What about hosting member-only get togethers or trips. If you're already spread pretty thin, don't try to host them yourselves...appoint volunteers you can trust. Maybe you could involve some of your advertisers which would give them direct one-on-one access to a pool of customers and perhaps make advertising a little more attractive.

Limit the number of free posts on the forum in a 12 mth period, then request membership. If people value access to the site, they'll pay.

For all those reading this who aren't member's, think about it. Only $30 intial 12 mths, then $20 following years.

Just a few idea's. :-) Melissa
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Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - Michelle - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Thanks Melissa,
That's the kind of feedback I was looking for. You mention some of the things that we have been tossing around in our heads for some time, but we are always wary of forcing people to pay for fear of losing site users (our drawcard for the advertisers). I would be interested to hear more support for this - user pays.

I like the idea of a limited number of free post per year as a non-member and yes, I'm always looking for new features for members only to keep membership an incentive. If all our users were members then we'd have big smiles on our faces and could finally resolove our lack of resources problem!

Keep the ideas rolling in - thank you!!
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Follow Up By: Member - Jim - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Melissa

Set the trend, sign up

Regards
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Follow Up By: Melissa - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Already a member Jim! With every intention of renewing when the time comes. Your turn...balls in your court. :-)Melissa
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Follow Up By: Melissa - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Mmm...actually, having had another look I can see why you made the challenge Jim. Michelle/David, why isn't my name preceeded by "Member" as with other members, even though I'm logged on? Can see my name in Current Users under Members. HELP! Melissa
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Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - David - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Melissa,

Easy pezy. Hit the Edit button in the Members Red toolbar and on this screen you will see ScreenName - This is the name that appears by default on all interactive sections.

Let me know if this works.

David

PS: If you missed it earlier in Michelle's post you can now format the screen by just hitting the Enter Key.
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Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Thanks David,

Problem fixed...duh!

:-)Melissa
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Reply By: clay golledge - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
I am a member and think this is a great site indeed. I would go further though and make the forum available for members only. It is such a small price to pay for very valuable information. If people won't shell out $30 they shouldn't benefit from the discussion......discussion that may, in fact, save them a lot more money with better equipment and trip planning.
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Follow Up By: Member - Tony - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
G'day All (and especially Michelle and David!)

I think the site is great. I like what you've done recently to the 'Traders' section and really I've enjoyed reading about Michelle & David's adventures (providing some inspiration to 'get out there'). I've made purchases from the shop, read some of the Trek notes (and even provided feedback!). What I enjoy most is the forum, with it's wealth of knowledge and contributions from enthusiasts out there. All in all, ExplorOz is a very versatile, informative site.

Although I see where Clay is coming from, I think you've got to keep the site open to allcomers. Perhaps you could restrict parts of it (I'm not a tech whiz, so I don't know if that's possible). I found out about it through 4WD Monthly mag, and I proudly display the sticker on my 4Runner, and mention the site to friends. If they like the site as much as I do, they'll join!

Cheers, Tony
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Reply By: Jono - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
I like michelle's suggestion of even more features for members only, such as the ability for members to post photos and links. I also like the suggestion to co-ordinate trips/events for members only, i know i would volunteer for some stuff if i could. Having said that, i do understand the problems that you would face with having your name associated with something you are not in direct control of.

I don't like the idea of limiting the number of posts you can make in a year. I think people would simply leave after they have used up all their free credits, and another site would soon open up offering unlimited free posts on a forum. This would be counter productive.

I know i make plenty of spelling mistakes, usually simply because i type fast and cant be bothered correcting them, so how about a 'spell check' facility?

Can't think of anything else at the moment, but i'll get back to you if i think of some more.

Cheers, Jono.

I'm not a member yet, but will be soon.
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Reply By: bruce.h - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Gday guys
as a person who has just found your site it is all new to me but imust say from what i have seen it aint broke so dont fix it.as to getting advertisers i am not a sure how long you have been up & running but having been in business for many years i have found that customers will come of their own accord,slowly at first but as your reputation builds & numbers grow the quality of what you offer to them is what keeps them advertising & only numbers of buts on seats ie sales of the advertisers products will keep them interested. once one suuplier starts getting sale via your site others will be keen to keep up & not miss the sales opertunities. i guess what i am saying is concentrate on the site & the sale will come
regards Bruce
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Follow Up By: Bruce.H - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
just thought of a couple of ways to help add value for advertisers,dont kow if it is posible but you could have advertisers logos & details apear down the side of the forum q & a pages& if posible make them appear on the side of the q&a's relivant to that companies products also you could add the advertisers to a email list so that when a question relivant to their products is posted on the forum it gives them the opertunity to respond to that question thus making use of the forum without having to charge fees to join in, it also gives acces to professional advise to all who take part in this forum.value add never restrict or remove
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Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - Michelle - Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00
Bruce - that sounds like an extension of how the logo links work in the trek notes. I suppose that's possible... thanx
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Reply By: Member - Cruiser1 - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
I find the Business Search Engine very cumbersome.
As an example, I looked for 'suspension' in Melbourne. Only options are East or West Victoria.

I selected 4WD parts & accessories, typed 'suspension' - No Result'

Now, I don't know whether that's because nobody in Victoria is listed as a business which does suspension work, or sells bits, or whatever. So my options are to try every single location to see where I might get work done or order bits.

To make the site more transparent, I would prefer to see some kind of business listing. At the moment I don't know who is listed, or advertising, or what might be available. Lose interest after a while.

Similarly, I might be an impulse buyer. Don't always know what I'm looking for until I see it advertised or until I see a company name I might want to explore further.

Other point: the right-hand column on the screen advertises your shop items. Could this be offered to advertisers (at a premium of course). We don't need to see every single book in your shop to know you sell them..
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Follow Up By: Member - Cruiser - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
OK, just found that by not selecting a region, you get all businesses listing that product nationally so that answers one question. Would still like to see a list of all advertisers though.

I like everything else about the site, especially Treks section. Must agree with others about other sites. I visit several and often see this site being recommended on other sites. Only fair to see it happening in the opposite direction, not necessarily 'plugging' other sites as they offer different mix.
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Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - Michelle - Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00
Cruiser1 - good to get constructive criticism, I have no problem with that. People pls don't be afraid to say what you feel. Sure I take it all to heart sometimes (hey, I'm only human with a vested interest in this you know) but I do need to know what you see are the limitations/issues.

Your suggestion to make advertising available in the right hand column where we are putting the shop products has long been available to advertisers, but no one has taken it up yet. Oh well...

Something someone told me once was: show them the working example before you try to sell it, so that's why we've put our stuff there - and guess what - its does work.
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Reply By: Brian - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Have just read all the replies with great interest. I do not own a 4WD (have nothing against them though) and find this website and forum of great help. I have towed a camper trailer behind a Commodore all over Australia and have got heaps of info from this website for planning trips, etc and have also got heaps of excellent advice from other forum users. I am the first to admit I have not paid up for membership but now will as I can see where David and Michelle are coming from. I guess for $30 a year it is a small price to pay for such an excellent supply of information.(Only the cost of a carton of beer). As I said I am not into 4WD's but I read every question on the forum because it is suprising how something you might think would be of no interest to you will contain some info that will help you out as an individual. I would like to congratulate David and Michelle on a great job and to all the users who take time to supply information to all us Aussie travellers.
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Follow Up By: Truckster - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Good point Brian came up with, I only thought of 4wders using this site...

But with the large amount of caravanners around these days, could be another untapped market there...

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Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - David - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Yes Brian,

We agree that is why we have spent advertising dollars in the major caravaning mags as well as the 4WD mags. Hopefully we will get more vanners on the site as every little user who visits makes a difference. Hopefully they will also use our membership system and the online shop as well every now and then also.

Thanks for the positive feedback.

David
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Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00
Hi Michelle/David,

Been thinking about attracting caravaners to the sight. Maybe you could come up with some treks or reviews specifically related to caravans. Even though you've got a lot of generic stuff on the site (ie. under Rescources, Preparation etc) the slant is definately towards 4WDing. Although we don't have a caravan ourselves, many of my family do and I've spent most of my life hanging around this scene. I think it would be a fair observation to say that some might find the 4WD slant of this site a bit intimidating (despite many actually owning 4WD's - but rarely go offroad) or write the site off for this reason without giving it a good look over first. So, maybe give caravaners their own category and put a picture or something on your home page that immediately signals that your sight has good stuff for them too, not just 4WD's.

Just a thought, Melissa
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Reply By: truckster - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
I was on another forum that limited the # of posts by people, and that forum is now gone!

As for making the place user pays, thats all good and well for people who know what is here, but if you came here for the first time, and 75% of the site was userpays, all the good links are members only, cant see anything, Im betting that 90% of people wouldnt come back. Ive done it on model train boards and sites. But then you have to make it so people WANT to pay the membership, its a hard medium. I dont envy anyone having to make those decisons from the boards point of view.

There is another serious offroading forum, running on EZboard, they are trying to make userpays, well, the members have just opened a NEW forum on a NEW site, thats free.

Some are willing to pay, and others not. Viscious circle. You want people to check out the advertising and keep sponsors/advertisers happy, and to do that you need fresh people all the time. If Ive been to link as someone else said, I dont need to go back to it all the time. Same with sponsors/advertisers, you need to be able to show them value for money. A membership of ~500 compared to 75,000 hits is a huge difference.

There are dozens of forums, and sites, and boards, but this is THE best one for touring and travel info bar none. Lets keep it that way.

I like the place here. I was in a hit and run 3 yrs ago, and am really stuffed up still, one arm that dont work well, and one leg really cactus, having had a knee reconstruction 2 weeks ago, operation #28 in 3 yrs. http://bird.users.fl.net.au/injuries.htm (norty words there, but pics of my injuries)...


I would think some sort of page with a little bit of info on members would be handy, like what sort of travelling, what truck they have, etc would rock.. Maybe click on the users name and come to a small page they can edit to give their info out to the limit they want people to know about them.

Finally on that page, a section where users can list the trips they have done and when, so if Im planning a trip to XYZ, and some users have been there recently, I can ask them what is there to see, and conditions etc..

OK enough from me.
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Reply By: truckster - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
I was on another forum that limited the # of posts by people, and that forum is now gone!

As for making the place user pays, thats all good and well for people who know what is here, but if you came here for the first time, and 75% of the site was userpays, all the good links are members only, cant see anything, Im betting that 90% of people wouldnt come back. Ive done it on model train boards and sites. But then you have to make it so people WANT to pay the membership, its a hard medium. I dont envy anyone having to make those decisons from the boards point of view.

There is another serious offroading forum, running on EZboard, they are trying to make userpays, well, the members have just opened a NEW forum on a NEW site, thats free.

Some are willing to pay, and others not. Viscious circle. You want people to check out the advertising and keep sponsors/advertisers happy, and to do that you need fresh people all the time. If Ive been to link as someone else said, I dont need to go back to it all the time. Same with sponsors/advertisers, you need to be able to show them value for money. A membership of ~500 compared to 75,000 hits is a huge difference.

There are dozens of forums, and sites, and boards, but this is THE best one for touring and travel info bar none. Lets keep it that way.

I like the place here. I was in a hit and run 3 yrs ago, and am really stuffed up still, one arm that dont work well, and one leg really cactus, having had a knee reconstruction 2 weeks ago, operation #28 in 3 yrs. http://bird.users.fl.net.au/injuries.htm (norty words there, but pics of my injuries)...


I would think some sort of page with a little bit of info on members would be handy, like what sort of travelling, what truck they have, etc would rock.. Maybe click on the users name and come to a small page they can edit to give their info out to the limit they want people to know about them.

Finally on that page, a section where users can list the trips they have done and when, so if Im planning a trip to XYZ, and some users have been there recently, I can ask them what is there to see, and conditions etc..

OK enough from me.
AnswerID: 7958

Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - David - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Thanks again,

Do not worry the full user pay system does not work and that is why almost the entire site is available for free. We work on the hope that people will find that the small membership fee will easily cover the information that we have on offer. Yes about 500 compared to the reported 75000 users per month (about 3million hits) is a big difference and we would love to be able to convert just 25% off these. Anyway we will keep working away and hopefully one day it will all pay off. Do not worry we will not be making radical payment required functions just looking at more ways to offer better facilities to paying members.

David
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FollowupID: 3712

Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - Michelle - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Truckster, sorry to hear about your accident and injuries!
You mention the idea of a members area where there is more personal stuff about them and their vehicles etc. I had this idea a while ago and have been developing the idea. I have a few people in line but input hasn't been forthcoming yet - agreed it isn't an automated process (time to develop it!) so was going to wait to see the volume of input - but so far zip!

So I'll revisit this idea, as I like it. Members stay tuned for newsletter about it.
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FollowupID: 3716

Reply By: rickwagupatrol - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
hiya michelle and david. well this is quite a discussion you got going. as a visitor to this site, and not yet a member all i can say is. Great site.!!!
more info than you can poke a stick at, heaps of tips and idea's, and a good range of experienced user's, with ideas and thought's to share. the other specialized sites dont have this, in fact alot of them get repetitive very quickly. leave it as is please and expect my $30 soon. rick
AnswerID: 7965

Reply By: Russell - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Hey Michelle
You might remember me, Im the "grumpy old bastard" who got a bit narky over delivery time for the 250k map CD. Well, I'm still grumpy (though not really old) and as my wife says (lovingly) "all men are bastards" so I can't get rid of that tag either.
However, you can count me as one of your biggest fans. I don't, unfortunately, get the time to visit your site as often as I used to but I can say that everytime I do, I see improvements. For what it's worth I agree with those who advocate paying for the forum. It has to be one of the most varied and valuable sources of info, even for experienced 4wd'ers (which I don't claim to be, by the way).
"Nil Illegitimus Carborundum", Michelle. (don't let the bastards grind you down)

Regards
Russell
AnswerID: 7968

Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - Michelle - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Russell, I do indeed remember you! :-) and I'm soooo glad that you're still out there. Thanks for keeping in touch.
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FollowupID: 3719

Reply By: ExplorOz Team - Michelle - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
May as well give everyone a link to buy Membership from here while you're reading this thread then :-)
AnswerID: 7969

Reply By: Member - Melissa - Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00

Monday, Oct 28, 2002 at 01:00
Michelle/David,

Boy, didn't you create a bit of interest!!!

Just another idea to increase membership. What about offering rewards to members for referrals of new members to the site. Nothing major, just a token reward and not necessarily monetary. eg. say for every 5 referrals a vehicle feature spot or a free stubbie holder or member money...that kind of thing. :-) Melissa
AnswerID: 7970

Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - Michelle - Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00
Already go that one - its called . Click the link for more info.
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FollowupID: 3720

Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - Michelle - Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00
As you can tell, I'm not the HTML genius (and typing code on the fly without testing it is not my forte), anyway I meant to say "its called Member Money.
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FollowupID: 3721

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00
Yep, found it! Great minds think alike...LOL. Pretty generous too. We members will have to get to work. Hi ho, hi ho...

:-)Melissa
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FollowupID: 3722

Reply By: Member - William - Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00
Michelle and David,

As many have already stated, you guys have put together a fantastic site. Adding an edit function for posts, a spell checker and a member profile section for individual specifics would be appreciated.

I would also suggest adding a section for individuals to post notes and other pertinent information regarding trips they have taken. The information that the both of you have shared is detailed and very informative. However, as they say, VARIETY is the spice of life. Different viewpoints/perspectives would be beneficial to all.

In terms of membership costs, I agree with most that requiring a membership fee to access the site would be counter productive. Again, as some have mentioned, I strongly recommend providing some type of valuable information for members only or somehow restricting certain access to parts of the site to paying members. I think this would at least provide some incentive to pay the membership fee.

The many positive replies to your post are testimony to the fact that you are doing a lot of good things with this site. I hope that all the additional information shared here will prompt more individuals to purchase the nominal membership fee and help keep this site on going and informative for all.
AnswerID: 7976

Reply By: truckster - Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00
Ok Another suggestion!

I just logged on for first time today, and looking at the forum, the new threads are at the top. Now scrolling down the page checking dates on when things were answered last. Some were yesterday, some the day before, but then go down more and some others were answered yesterday after the one 2 days ago... Dont know if its me, but I think if there was a way to sort the forum by date or time the last answer/thread was posted?

EG. If I go back 3 weeks and answer a thread, it comes to the front page and to the first message at the top.. Maybe sort it by date.

It is a good and bad thing to do to a Forum, but stops you reopening threads you have read several times that day, and if nothing has changed or been added then...

The bad thing is that things may go to the bottom of the list unanswered, and *some* people dont take notice, although I wouldnt see that being a problem around here.. Personally, when I first found this place, I went back thru the list about 3-4 weeks to see what people had been discussing.

Just a thought people...
AnswerID: 7982

Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - David - Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00
Truckster,

We already have this function on the forum. At the top of the screen you will see a Sort Resp or Sort Post button.

Sort Post - is the default and is how the system sorts generally.

Sort Resp - sorts the posts by response, however unanswered posts will go to the end.

I could not think of a good way to sort by responses without having to put unanswered items at the end. Also if you use search and put in a start date of say yesterday you will only see posts that have been updated since yesterday (or today/whatever you enter).

Does this help at all.

David
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FollowupID: 3736

Follow Up By: Truckster - Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00
Sweeeeeeet.....
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FollowupID: 3740

Reply By: Member - Sam - Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00
Geez, you only need blink and there is another new feature or another 20 odd posts to the forum (each with at least 15 replies). I would like to echo the idea of Member Profile pages to allow other members to access more personalised details about other members (even contact details). Also to maybe share trek/route/map files from OziExplorer etc etc. One way to encourage people to pay the small $30 fee to become a member. $30 is less than a tank of fuel (for me at least).

One other thing I would like to see is maybe a "time of last post" and or "time of last reply" for each post to the forum. As a member who will visits the site multiple times each day, i often forget how many posts/replies there were on my return to the forum. However, I do understand this could represent a problem given the different time zones (unless this could be built into the cookie to determine the last time of login and base the calculation on the users time zone - maybe an additional detail to add to a user/members details)

I believe I am one of the people who offered to pass on some of my trip info to you Michelle. I have been extremely lazy in getting this sorted out, and for that I apologise. I'll endeavour to get in done in the next week or so.

But as I have said before. The site is the best resource for outback/4wd travelling and travelling australia in general, that I have seen. Keep up the fantastic work David and Michelle. Hopefully more users will realise all the hard work you put into the site and support you by becoming members. It only serves to benefit all concerned. Same goes for advertisers.

cheers, Sam.
AnswerID: 7988

Follow Up By: Member - Sam - Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00
The ability to edit ones post would be a nice feature aswell. I just realised there is some very poor grammar (and no doubt poor spelling as well) in the above post of mine.
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FollowupID: 3739

Reply By: bruce.h - Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00
hi all
just been to have gander at the membership sign up page
was glad to see that you have all the diferant payment methods otherthan the credit cards , nothing is mor frustrating to we few not sucked into the credit trap than tring to purchase on line. could i also sujest it might be helpful if we could see just who offers discounts to members & what they are offer,those of us who struggle just to make ends meet & have to watch $$ ,can then decide if it is worth the extra stretch
ps only found tihs site on sunday & i am already hooked
AnswerID: 7990

Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - Michelle - Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00
Bruce,

See the Members Rewards Page on the Home menu at the top. Hover over Home and go to Member Rewards everything is shown there.

Also note we offer Member Money and the new shopping award is starting to take off. We offer Member Money for every purchase in the shop plus a free freight award. This makes most shopping purchases of say $60 + end up with about a 10-15% discount so members shopping on ExplorOz will find most items cheaper here than in the local shops. You can also get Member money from refering new members at $5 per member referal.

So if you are a bit strapped you will be able to recoupe your membership not only from the savings you will make by using the information on the site (and I am sure the details here will save you the $30 anyway) but from the ability to earn the member money on your standard 4WD map, book and permit purchases. We are also adding some 4WD accessories to the shop in the next few weeks so keep an eye out for these.

David
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FollowupID: 3741

Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - Michelle - Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00
Doh again,

I wish I could get this right all the time the link above takes you to the members home page area the rewards page is here

David
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FollowupID: 3742

Reply By: Steve - Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2002 at 01:00
This is the best site I have found and have used it every day for over a year or more and hope I contribute information that is of some use from time to time..
Reckon if you put a charge on the site you would last no time at all, as the 'new ' visitors would not really want to pay upfront...

Feel you may be able to deal with tyre companies or other expensive equipment suppliers, eg fridges, through a referal system and receive some commission/ advertising revenue .... they would need to use your site to advertise their goods and special offers to site visitors who would receive exclusive offers available only to this site ?

Its a great site.. don't get too excited about changing it and am sure that if and when we get brainwaves, we will let you know, having been alerted to your willingness to effect change.
AnswerID: 7996

Reply By: Mart - Wednesday, Oct 30, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2002 at 01:00
I thought i'd give a few comments :)

I'd like to see the forums split up into different (but very broad) categories - that way a lot of repeat questions (and answers) can be found quickly. Broad categories like Tyres, Suspension errr.... and obviously there a lot more.

Someone above also suggested context sensitive advertising in the forums - I think thats a great idea. If a post about suspension displayed some suspension-related ads - I'd click on them all! The same thing applies to the hot topics section through linking to it from relevant discussions. Categorisation of the forums would help with this sort of content cross-pollination :)

Your advertisers should be made aware that most people will do a lot of research online before buying at a store - that's the way I tend to do things (of course, unless there's a much better price online).

The forums are (I'm guessing) one of the most popular sections because of their interactive aspect - it is definitely what has kept me coming back. Exploring is about experiences, people have experiences, and thats why we come here!

Perhaps you could boost advertising income by granting advertisers access to the forum interactivity with their own 'special offers' forum - i.e. a separate paid membership for advertisers who can only post to that forum.

I also think you should make your electronic mailing list sign-up compulsory unless a user pays. Then your paid members have the choice of getting the occasional advertising offer (filtered and distributed by ExplorOz of course) sent to them. Non-paid registered users will get the messages by default. Its a small price to pay - and its not spam as long as its cleared up during the signup process! ;)

I'd also like to see more photography in the treks section. This is something that users would probably need to submit to (and perhaps even maintain?)

A members profile page for paid users is a good idea too. It would let people boast about their 8" lift suspension with photographic proof etc ;) Perhaps members could write a paragraph or two about themselves and have a couple of small photos that they could maintain. Other aspects such as being able to view all the forum posts made by that particular member could be valuable too.

I'd also like to see an business directory rather than a search - as mentioned in an earlier post too.

Hope i've added something constructive here :)

-Mart

AnswerID: 8009

Reply By: Member - Cruiser1 - Wednesday, Oct 30, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2002 at 01:00
Just thought of another one! No, not trying to make life difficult for David, honest! Just trying to be constructive.

After pressing the 'Reply' button, the only message visible is the original post. This means that when trying to respond to several comments in a thread at once, you need to remember who said what or reply via follow-ups to different posts.

Would be nice if you could scroll down and see ALL posts on a thread while compiling your response.....
AnswerID: 8010

Follow Up By: Truckster - Wednesday, Oct 30, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2002 at 01:00
I fix that by right clicking on POST REPLY, and then OPEN LINK IN NEW WINDOW.

Then Press the ALT key then press the TAB between the 2 windows.

I regularly have 6 odd windows open and its a good way to get around quicker.
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FollowupID: 3756

Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - Michelle - Wednesday, Oct 30, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2002 at 01:00
Ahh - someone that knows how to use windows! :-) Clever.
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FollowupID: 3773

Follow Up By: Member - Cruiser1 - Wednesday, Oct 30, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2002 at 01:00
Hey, thanks for that, Truckster!
The things you can learn on this site. Marvellous!!!!
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FollowupID: 3776

Follow Up By: Truckster - Thursday, Oct 31, 2002 at 01:00

Thursday, Oct 31, 2002 at 01:00
When Im working I work in IT... Network Admin, 2nd/3rd level Support, Lotus Notes, etc etc

When Im not working and recovering from Operations, i sit on this flammin thing most of the day to pass the time..

Usually doing a few webpages for clubs Im in, or playin games, or downloadin...
things ;)
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FollowupID: 3800

Reply By: Truckster - Wednesday, Oct 30, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2002 at 01:00
Another one that nobody has mentioned, I regularly when I find a good site, I post it to the other forums im in, like the Patrol and the Melbourne lists.

I have posted about this place to spread the word, as Ive said, this is about THE best site for touring information around. Some know about it, others dont... Word of mouth is around the best way to spread the word..
AnswerID: 8017

Follow Up By: Truckster - Wednesday, Oct 30, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2002 at 01:00
There, the word is spreading

Hi Bruce,

Good site! I'll have to explore it at lunchtime.

Thanks for the URL.
Cheers,
Michael.

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FollowupID: 3760

Follow Up By: Member - Melissa - Wednesday, Oct 30, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2002 at 01:00
Michelle/David,

FYI I posted a URL to this site for my campertrailer group only last night. We already have ExploreOz.com in our general links, but a thread came up that related to something discussed on this forum recently so I thought a referral was in order. So, it's not all one-way traffic. :-) Melissa
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FollowupID: 3762

Reply By: ExplorOz Team - David - Wednesday, Oct 30, 2002 at 01:00

Wednesday, Oct 30, 2002 at 01:00
Thanks everyone,

We were not complaining about the way the forum and links work we were just trying to see if there is anything that we can do to make our site even better (OK the constant links were starting to concern us a little and we decided to post this thread to see the reaction). As most of you out there will now understand we sit and work on this thing all day. We like all other people in small business want to make money and be able to do what we love for work. If we can make it better we will be glad to do so. Some of the feedback posted has been excellent and we will we certainly be looking to introduce some of the more complex features down the track.

As for the spell checker, I have looked into it and found a solution however at nearly US $200 for the license of the software I need to work out how to cover the cost. The rest of the site I have written myself and only costs my time generally (and lots of it mind you).

Post edits I am still trying to work out as the issues of when the post is valid are a little complex - I really cannot let it be edited for ever and the handling of the email notifications needs to be addressed. Still thinking on this.

Please keep the feedback coming and we will endeavour to keep build the site that you the users like the best. BTW: The Feedback form is generally the best place if there is no active thread lodged by Michelle or myself as we do not always read the forum.

Thanks again
David
AnswerID: 8026

Follow Up By: Truckster - Thursday, Oct 31, 2002 at 01:00

Thursday, Oct 31, 2002 at 01:00
Spell Checker for $400? I can think of LOTS to spend $400 on!

Dont bother... Its not that bad, people make mistakes spelling but you know what they mean. If it bothers you that much, type up your message in MS Word, spell check it, copy and paste it in here!

To me its a nothing, for that $400, take the team from here out to dinner for a job well done. I dont think there is anyone who would argue that they deserve it.

Or you could try astlavista for a crack to it ;)
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FollowupID: 3799

Reply By: Member-Allyn - Thursday, Oct 31, 2002 at 01:00

Thursday, Oct 31, 2002 at 01:00
could we get rid of that annoting button that pops up when selecting "sort resp".
That and the ability to edit a post for correction/further addition is all that I need from you guys.
Other than that you have a fantastic site - the advertisers will come in time !
AnswerID: 8049

Follow Up By: Exploroz Team - David - Thursday, Oct 31, 2002 at 01:00

Thursday, Oct 31, 2002 at 01:00
Allyn,

The message is for the people that hit the button for the first time. You should only get this message once per session. As once the system is sorted by resp it will stay that way until your session times out (this is set to 20mins of inactivity).

I also suspose that I could store the last used mode in a cookie but had not thought the requirement was really that important. Maybe it is. Any other user comments on this would be good.

Post edits - working on it will let you know.

David
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FollowupID: 3797

Follow Up By: Truckster - Thursday, Oct 31, 2002 at 01:00

Thursday, Oct 31, 2002 at 01:00
it takes .000001 of a second to click it to clear it.. ;)

Id worry about other things!
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FollowupID: 3798

Follow Up By: Allyn - Thursday, Oct 31, 2002 at 01:00

Thursday, Oct 31, 2002 at 01:00
Dear Truckster - the question was asked and I answered.
I see you've well and truly put your two cents worth in so why can't I ?
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FollowupID: 3809

Follow Up By: Truckster - Thursday, Oct 31, 2002 at 01:00

Thursday, Oct 31, 2002 at 01:00
Dude its a free world!

Cry from the highest mountain....
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FollowupID: 3810

Reply By: Lyds - Thursday, Oct 31, 2002 at 01:00

Thursday, Oct 31, 2002 at 01:00
As folks have stated, this is a very useful site.

My suggestion is to not change anything for visitors, but the improvements and some of the finer features (like post-edits, etc) be only available to members. Its a bit like the "E" lanes on the motorways; members get a great run (mostly) but visitors can still get through.

Cheers,

Stuart

AnswerID: 8078

Reply By: Robert - Friday, Nov 01, 2002 at 01:00

Friday, Nov 01, 2002 at 01:00
Dear Exploroz Team

People putting links to other sites is what makes your web site that much more useful and interesting, keeping other sites (which I suspect you see as competition to your site) out of the picture would be a big negative. What makes any web site good is not necessarily that it has all the information, but most importantly that it can point you to where that information can be found. Links to other sites aren't a threat to your site, they just help enhance it.

Regarding payment in order to access your site/forum I think you may lose a lot of people if you do, especially considering that what really makes the forum great is people's input, which is being contributed freely. I appreciate that you need to make a profit, after all why should you host this at your expense but I don't think charging access to the forum would be a step in the right direction - I think the forum is your main draw card. People have said $30 joining fee is value for money, but that depends on what the individual gets. To some the information is invaluable while to others this information may be interesting reading only, also as some one else pointed out $30 is very little to some of us whereas to others $30 to join is too much to justify or afford.

I'm not sure what to suggest in order for you to generate an income, I suspect there may be a reluctance for retailers etc to advertise on your site for fear of exposing themselves to unfavourable comments when people are not happy with their service or product??

Perhaps you could have an area (members only) where members can place their trip reports etc or plan get togethers etc. for those so inclined.




AnswerID: 8098

Reply By: Member - Trevor - Saturday, Nov 02, 2002 at 01:00

Saturday, Nov 02, 2002 at 01:00
Hi Team. Just a small thought on a worrying topic.
I understand your problems. I’m in a similar business where the advertisers want everything for free and so do our clients. It’s rough at times!
Maybe the advertisers should look at how their products are “spoken” about on the forum. I looked up UHF radios on your site and checked out the GME TX3400. I bought one through my local dealer at a far higher price than I could have obtained one over the net. I like to support my local retailers and I like to be able to get some hands on service. But the fact of the matter is I got my initial information from you and from comments on the Forum. Now go and tell them that! Incidentally the TX3400 has a range of about 200km at night in flat country south of Alice – so much for line of sight. I wasn’t using Duplex because I haven’t learnt how to use it yet.
I could make some comments about the long range tanks I have but I didn’t make the initial contact for these on the net. In your independent appraisal I would agree with your comments which I think must be a good way of advertisers to show they have faith in their products even though they may not do exactly as claimed. Trev
AnswerID: 8124

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