• entries
    7
  • comments
    11
  • views
    1,546

About this blog

All about the running of Oland!

Entries in this blog

Trekkie Monster

State of the Community – September 2011

Contents:

1. Introduction

2. The Community as a whole

3. Promotion in the ranks! Congrats Sarah!

4. The Message Board

5. The Chat Room

6. The Main Site

7. The Ostomyland wiki

8. Ostomyland at Conferences/Events

9. In the Works for Oland

10. Main Site Stats

11. Main Site's Country of Visitors Percentage Stats

12. Board Stats

13. Records

Introduction

Welcome to the Ostomyland State of Play – September 2011 blog entry. This is a run-down of the various events, achievements and feature updates/changes/launches for Ostomyland in the last year or so, along with details of our aims/plans for Ostomyland in the coming months/year. The last SOTC posting was in June 2010 so I’ve quite a lot to go through, therefore I’ll get right on to it.

The Community as a Whole

Unbelievably its been approximately 15 months since the last SOTC address, and there’s been a lot happening at Oland Towers during this time. We’ve promoted a member of Team Ostomyland; attended our first (and not out last!) ostomy conference event; had a major redesign of the main site along with a huge update to the message board software on which you are reading this very blog message!

And that’s not all, we’ve got plans in place for the future. Firstly, there’s the chat room re-launch next week introducing a new system which we’re hoping will make chatting a whole lot more friendly for our valued members. Speaking of our members, I’m actively looking for a support system which will allow people to seek our help over technical and account problems easier and with less confusion over who to message over which problems. There are some irons in the fire which I hope to keep stoking over the coming weeks.

We've also welcomed a new staff member to the staff room. PaulineNZ's contribution towards welcoming the vast majority of new members and first time posters was both welcomed and valued and she was an ideal candidate to join the mad house of Team Ostomyland.

For the community itself, I continue to be amazed at how great a collection of folks we have on our support boards; people who are willing to help total strangers with the most intimate of problems through the sharing of their own personal experiences. Over this 15 months period the community has automatically steered itself towards the direction of “support” posting, over “off topic” posting. Both are welcome of course, and encouraged, and I hope more off topic posting will develop over the coming year, but I never lose sight of the fact that Oland is here to offer ostomates support for their stoma and pouch issues and I’m very proud of the support our community offers it’s visitors and on a personal note, I’m very proud to be able to call a lot of our “regular” posters as my friend. And I’m sure Kathy feels the same way.

Speaking of everyones favourite coffee maker admin.... Last year I was honoured to be nominated for the Ostomy Lifestyle (UK Charity) Volunteer of the Year award, as part of their 2009 awards. Well, I was delighted to see that in 2010 Kathy got some acknowledgement for all the hard work she does for the ostomy community both on and off line by being nominated for the same award. The winners announcements were made in early 2011, and sadly Kathy did not win either, but she lost to a very worthy winner who is responsilble for overseeing a support group with many thousands of pounds investment from the various ostomy companies every year. Ofcourse, Kathy has to do her part here on Oland with no money at all, so in my eyes that makes her a value-for-money winner. :D hehe

Promotion in the Ranks: Congrats Sarah!

I’m delighted to be able to announce that Team Ostomyland has had a promotion in its ranks. Sarah73, who has been helping to moderate a forum for over a year now, and did us proud by staffing the Ostomyland table at the Colostomy Association (UK) Conference recently, with Kathy also there. It was thanks to Breakaway founder, Julie Bastin (and fellow Team Oland staffer) that we were invited to the show, and for that I’m immensely grateful.

Sarah has been promoted to Global Moderator which means she is co-responsible for moderating all the forums on the Ostomyland board, along with helping resolve member queries, and most importantly, helping us get the Oland invited to more exhibition events, as well as helping staff the table to promote the website, and most importantly the community itself. Effectively she’s been promoted to Junior Management, only one step behind the admins.

I’ve been looking at the staff rankings and tweaked them to accommodate in Sarah’s new position. The ranks are now:

Level 1: Welcome Wagon/Happy Helper – low responsibility, usually chat room members who actively go out of their way to welcome new members and guide them where necessary to the relevant section of the site, or even to other parts of the net where appropriate. Have no moderation or chat op'ing powers.

Level 2: Moderators – Members who have accepted the responsibility of looking after one, or more, individual forums, making sure that all posts in their forums get a reply whenever possible, and passing any problems on to the admins when necessary.

Level 3: Global Moderators (Junior Management) – Sarah73’s new role. Someone who does the same as levels 1 & 2 but over ALL forums on the board, and helps members with any account problems they may have. Also, a GM is someone who actively promotes the website & community out in the real world to help bring new members to the site so that the circle of member evolution can continue.

Image 1: The Circle of Member Evolution - how members grow in confidence and become supportive of others

comediagra.png

Level 4: Administrators (Senior Management) – Kathy and Me. We sit back, let everyone else do the work whilst drinking lots of coffee and watching telly, and reaping all the rewards from the praise Oland gets. Nah, not really! We’re always looking to promote the community offline, and try very hard to make Oland as good as it can be online, considering that this is only a hobby website which started one bored New Years Day after reading a computer mag article on making websites – i.e. we’re not professionals at support or technical stuff. This is not a job, we are not experts in any of this and are followers of the Indiana Jones philosophy – “I don’t know [what I’m doing]… I’m making this up as I go along!”

The Message Board

There’s been some big changes to the message board thanks to Invision’s latest version update to their message board software. Last month v3.2 launched, bringing with it a whole host of changes designed to make the board and its secondary features (blogs etc) as user-friendly as possible. The biggest change however has been in the redesign of the board’s main template theme (its look). The colours have been lightened, and the design brought more in line with current website design protocols. These changes have been very well received, with not one negative comment. In fact, we’ve been getting lots of positive comments from people who would normally not message us, which is great to see.

Obviously, all these changes are nothing to do with us. The message board software is a program created by Invision, so all praise has to go to them and I have sent a message to their feedback department saying how well received this latest update has been received by our members.

From our point of view, theres been very little done to the board’s structure or layout. A few forums have been merged, and some long dead & unused forums have been deleted. This has helped to try to prevent “forum overload” i.e. having a forum for every topic under the sun. In turn this makes the board’s home page seem more concise with a lot less down scrolling needed to browse it’s content.

At the moment there are no real plans in place for the future plans of the board. I’m happy with it as it is, and so I’m going to just continue to patch it when Invision releases their updates, and maybe possibly try to bring some more life to the off-topic section which has gone very quiet. This might be because of the “hidden” member-loyalty-reward forums such as the 150BG getting a lot of the daily member “chit chat” talk these days.

Speaking of the loyalty forums, because of the board’s focus switching more to support these days, post counts are not getting to the target levels for the clubs as quick. I don’t know what to do yet to try to level the playing field. The main choices are either reducing the post count needed to access the current loyalty forums (150 and 500) to maybe 25 and 100 respectively. Or… to open up new loyalty forums for those levels to act as stepping stones to the 150 and 500.

Out of the two, the latter seems the fairest, after all the members in the 150 and 500 clubs earned access to those clubs by reaching those post counts, which is a great achievement. If I opened those forums up by reducing the post count access then it would diminish that achievement, and that would be unfair.

I’m still thinking on this though, so it’s something for the future and not for the present.

And I'd just like to state for the record that just because I've said this, it does not mean I'm unhappy with the clubs. In the past it's been intimated that I was, and thats totally not the case.

The Chat Room

The chat room is finally having an overhaul. We've used the same IRC system with access via mIRC and/or a java based web browser client since year 1 of the site. In fact our weekly meetings we're largely the reason that we became so successful until the popularity of the message board community over-took it.

Over the years IRC has lost its popularity as the main chat format on the net. Nowadays chat rooms which are hosted directly on a website without the need for IRC servers and extra software are the norm. For example, Facebook's chat box among your friends etc. As a direct result of the drop in popularity in IRC the developers of the third party Java-based browser clients we've used has reduced and finally ceased. First our jPilot applet ceased development, and then the pjIRC client (which we're using now) ceased development. This means the devs no longer bought the necessary security certificates for their products, which left their product still able to be used but constantly giving out security warnings, which people had to ignore to connect to the chat with.

This situation was scaring new chatters away from Oland chat. I'm 110% positive of that fact. And so, with the update of the board to v3.2. by Invision, as well as an update to their IPchat product, we've taken the step of announcing the closure of our IRC chat room, and the launch of our new IPchat room! There's a on the board already which covers what this means for all our chatters, be they Java/jPilot/pjIRC or mIRC users, so I wont go into all that again here other than saying the changeover date is September 14th, and from that date there is one way, and one way only to access the chat room, and that will be via the new Chat tab on the message boards menu.

IPchat is powered by Ajax, which powers the Facebook chat plugins. It's incredibly fast loading, and smaller in download size. Most users wont notice it loading Im sure. And whilst it doesn't have all the features of IRC such as Stats pages and Pooh the bot, it has all the important stuff like ops, private messaging, ignore and so on. We had a test of the IPchat about 6 months ago I think it was, and it was very successful, and the feedback from that convinced me that it would help more new blood into the chat, and enable more people to enjoy reap the benefits of that.

The Main Site

The main site continues to play the part of being most peoples first impression of Ostomyland. With that in mind, I felt the site's look needed to look more professional and less bloggy - which is a hard task when i) we're not professional in any way shape or form, and ii) the site is powered by WordPress, the world's best known blogging software.

In July the new look launched, and I'm pretty pleased with it. I'd still like to be able to ditch the over-all blog feel of the site one day, but in the meantime I am very happy with the simplicity of Wordpress for authors/articles writers. If I had the money I would invest in having a professional webmaster write a new look for the site to give it that AAA look and feel, along with a simple CMS entry submission system so Kathy and co can continue to submit articles without needing any HTML or coding knowledge (the #1 plus in WordPress' book, if you ask me!)

Content wise, we've been delighted to welcome some more ostomy related companies to our Manufacturer's section, including Trio Healthcare who's products particularly impressed me personally after trying their samples.

The biggest bug-bear that I have with the main site at the moment is that it's on a separate server to the forums, and more importantly doesnt have the forums built in to it. I've been looking at lots of "portal" add ons for the board which would allow me to integrate the main-site content on to "pages" within the board's package, but sadly either the software was utterly confusing to use, or just didnt do the job well enough and so look terrible. I'll keep looking.

The Ostomyland Wiki

The wiki had a large over-haul just before the launch of the last SOTC post, and since then it's pretty much sat there and done it's job. Because I've been working on other sections of the community I've not had the chance to do any major content additions in it, but it's on the cards as theres still so many pages we could write.

On the software side of things I'd really like to change the Wikkia software to something else more industry-standard such as Media Wiki. Whilst I love the simplicity of Wikkia, and it's overall look and feel, I find it very frustrating that it has no in-built spam prevention measures such as Captcha random-letter-entry confirmation for comments and registrations. Over the last two months especially, the wiki has been victim to a lot of automatic spam-bot spamming, where a bot has managed to register an account and leave comments behind. After trying the only two "captcha" plugins community-authored for Wikkia and seeing that they didnt work, we've been left with no option but to disable user registrations and lock all pages to comments. That does kind of defeat the object of a Wiki, but considering that so far not one person aside from Kathy or myself have joined in with the Wiki's creation process, it's no major loss to the wiki or the site as a whole.

Wikkia does have a v2 update planned for release late this year, or early 2012, so I'll give that a try then and see how things goes. Spam-prevention measures are promised for v2 so I can but hope the dev's deliver on that promise.

All that aside, Im still pleased with the Wiki project. I believe we're still the only Ostomy wiki on the net, but I've not looked lately so I may be incorrect thinking that. But whether thats the case or not I'm still pleased with the 250+ pages of ostomy and bowel related content we have on there, and it makes a nice little side salad to the community forums/website main meal and serves its purpose well.

Ostomyland @ Conferences/Events

Late last year, we got our first ever table at an industry event. As mentioned earlier in this post, thanks to Julie B. and the CA we were part of their industry open day, and it gaves us a great opportunity to raise the community's awareness of our website and brand. Despite the fact we've been online 13 years now, there's many people who do not know of us, and what we do.

Considering our table had to be designed, sourced, created and delivered in a little over a week, I could not have been more pleased with the look we achieved.

Our new GM Sarah was at the event as was Kathy, and they got a taste for it (or maybe for the free sweeties... who can tell?!) So keep an eye out in the near future for more announcements about events we'll be attending as this is part of the Oland project that we really want to investigate further, and hopefully it will help the community grow further still.

In the Works for Ostomyland

Once the chat's relaunch is out of the way, the immediate "to do" planner will be clear again. However, that doesn't mean we havent got plans for the future. Most of them I've already discussed in this post, such as the conference attendance plans. However, one plan I've not really discussed yet, and is very high up the list of things I would like to do for the site, is the desire to have some form of standard contact procedure for people to ask us for tech or account help, especially now that there's more management staff who will be working on this side of things.

The initial idea is a sort of "ticket" service. If anyone has ever contacted a software company for tech support then if you weren't directed to a forum to post, then chances are you created a ticket. The benefits of a ticket is that all level appropriate staff are alerted to the tickets creation. So lets say User A sends a ticket asking for help with tech support on the site, then his ticket would be sent to me and Kathy. If User B were to send a request for accounts help, then the ticket would be sent to me, Kathy and Sarah, allowing any one of us to step in and answer the queries. I'm thinking that this would give everyone a single, prominent/dedicated place to go for help. The ticket system would not be for ostomy support though. As that is peer-to-peer all that would still need to go through the board to the community members, as more than likely we (the staff) would see a huge increase in the amount of queries we had to deal with personally, and chances are we might not have the personal experience required to help that say, another member might have.

So that's one thing I'm keen to try and implement in a way to improve the user's experience of Ostomyland should they ever require tech support on the site, or account support, or need to ask how to do something on the board.

Another project I need to work on is actually nothing to do with front of house stuff, but is instead an updated FAQ section for forum mods and admins on how to do what on the board from the staff standpoint. ie edit posts, move posts, or thread, and rename threads, warn spammers, and so on. A lot of this has changed since v3.2 was installed so all their files need updating too. That will likely take priority over the ticket system project.

Then theres just the main site content to freshen up, and the wiki to write a major update for, and the new chat room to promote around the net again and..... well, you get the picture. We've already done so much, but there's just as much still to be done... if not, more!

Main Site Stats

Oland been online: 4512 days

Current Hits: 6,731,484

Current Average Hits (01/Sept/11 to 08/Sept/11): 4054 per day

Unique Visitors to Site (Avg per day – same timeframe): 1508

Main Site's Top 10 Country of Visitors Percentage Stats (for Aug 2011):

40.8%United States

37.0%United Kingdom

5.8%Canada

2.6%Australia

2.4%South Africa

2.4%Italy

1.2%Sweden

1.0%Cyprus

1.0%Philippines

0.8%Netherlands

Board Stats:

Current # of Board Members: 3308 (8th Sept 2011) – Previous SOTC entries total: 2530 (Jun 2010)

New Members since last SoP Blog: 778 (on 8th Sept over 15mths) – Previous SOTC entries total: 375 (8 months)

Total Posts: 74724 – Previous SOTC entry total: 67816

No. Of Posts since last SoP Blog: 6908 – Previous total 5880

Records:

Most board members online in one day: 74 – 01 August 2010

Most board members online at once: 125 – 23 May 2011 (Awesome!)

Key:

Green = Broken/Increased since last SoP Blog

Red = No Change/Increase since last SoP Blog

Trekkie Monster

Welcome to the Ostomyland State of Play – June 2010 blog entry. This is a run down of events, achievements and feature updates/changes/launches for Ostomyland since the last entry in November 2009, and details our aims/plans for Ostomyland in the coming months.

Contents:

1. Introduction

2. The Community as a whole

3. The Message Board

4. The Chat Room

5. The Main Site

6. The Ostomyland wiki

7. In the Works for Oland

8. Main Site Stats

9. Main Site's Country of Visitors Percentage Stats

10. Board Stats

11. Records

The Community as a whole:

During the six months since the last update, a lot has happened in the Ostomyland community and network of sites, the biggest being the celebration of our 12th birthday online, and re-launch of our Ostomy Wiki. It also saw my nomination for Volunteer of the Year by the Ostomy Lifestyle (UK) charity, and although I didn’t win it brought immense satisfaction just know that people cared enough about Ostomyland and the work all the team put in, in order to nominate me for this award. I only wish it was the whole team who was nominated as they do as much as me on here! Well most do, not so sure about the Jules woman, not much she can do here when on the Naughty Step all the time. :p *ah-hem* Back to serious mode...

The Message Board:

The message board and it’s community have been ticking along nicely since the last update. In fact a number of access and member records were repeatedly broken during the course of this six month period.

I’m very pleased with the progress of the support boards. Nearly all genuine support queries are being answered by numerous members within a very short period of time. Having access to such a reliable, and quick source of knowledgeable feedback is a very important part of some ostomates recovery from surgery, and I cannot thank ALL our members enough for all they do to help and support both old and new members alike.

On the off topic community side of things, we’ve recently started an active campaign to help new members integrate better into our community events and forums, with attempts at creating long running “silly” threads to encourage new members to post more in the community once they have their stoma concerns stabilised. Examples of this are the silly “Five Word Story” and the “My Day in Three Words” threads.

Hopefully this and forthcoming off topic discussions and threads will help encourage members to post enough to gain entry into those elusive, and secret 150 and 500 post count member clubs, as well the hidden forums that accompany each club!

A member map was also recently introduced to the board, allowing all members who wish to stick a pin in our virtual map (powered by Google) to show where they are from. And of course you can also see where all other participating members are from too!

We’ve also transferred our ostomy links resource over from the main site, and over to the board. All members over a 20 post count threshold are able to post their own links that they think are relevant for the Ostomy Community. The threshold has been introduced to prevent Ostomy business from signing up and spamming their links then toddling off into the sunset never to be seen again. This way at least, we know that links are being recommended out of member belief in the services or content of the website linked too, rather than a financial desire to increase their own business turnover.

The Ostomyland Games Arcade is in testing! And it’s proving very, very addictive. The arcade will launch on Tuesday 8th June, with all members of the 500 club and the 150 Bar and Grill gaining a three day, and one day, head start starting on June 5th and June 7th respectively.

Currently standing at over 25 games, the Ostomyland Games Arcade is just a bit of fun for the community. All games have high scores linked to the members accounts/names. The top three scores in each game are attributed a trophy. The members with the top three amount of trophies are the Games Arcade Champions!

Once launched you can expect the occasional competition to see who gets the highest score in a game, and also the arcade software has the possibility for leagues as well!

Finally, IPB 3.1 has launched, and I’ve submitted the upgrade ticket to Invision, so any day now the board will be updated to IPB v3.1. In fact it might well be active by the time you are reading this!

The Chat Room:

Its a busy time for the chat room. We’ve made the decision to move to our own IRC Server so that we gain complete control over the running and operation of the room.

The Jpilot Java Chat program on the main site had to be retired due to the program no longer being in development and the security certificate having expired. Java Chat access to the chat room is still available, but only via the message board for now.

One of the benefits of hosting our own IRC server is that we can control which files go on the server, meaning we can host the Jpilot Java Chat on the same server as the IRC server software. This removes the need for the java chat to have a security certificate as connections via java from files on the same server is automatically deemed secure.

The move to our own server – irc.ostomylandchat.com – will be in the next couple of weeks. Once launched we’ll look into resurrecting the Jpilot Java Client as well! Hurrah!

We've also given @ops to Jules, Rach, Wayupthere and Mauro. Congratulations to all four, and thank you for agreeing to help us run the chat room. I really appreciate it! :)

The Main Site:

Things have been ticking along nicely over on the main site. Recent magazine features about Ostomyland from the likes of Coloplast’s Charter magazine, and the CA Tidings magazine, have all helped increase the site’s profile, hit count and ultimately, our community membership.

I’ve just completed work on hosting video files directly on the site without the need to have the video hosted on You Tube where anyone can access the movie and leave hurtful comments behind. This means the “Ostomyland Video Archive” will be launching in the near future, but until then you can check out the first test video which is Doug’s fabulous Irrigation tutorial. If other members have ostomy videos they would like featuring in the archive then we’d be delighted to host them for them.

Finally, a total update of the lifestyle guide pages has just been completed. Both the online pages, and the downloadable PDF ebook guide has been updated with current information about travel and prescriptions and links etc.

The Ostomyland Wiki:

Along with our 12th birthday, January was exciting time for Ostomyland as it saw the “version 2” relaunch of our Ostomy wiki. Including a complete software overhaul (its now powered by WakkaWiki engine) with a brand new, more user friendly interface, and many more pages of content added. The total page count now is over 225 pages, which is a lot of ostomy content by anyones book, but there are still many more hundreds of pages to write, and as with any wiki the members of the public can write missing pages too! But so far no one has been brave enough, maybe out of fear of breaking something. :)

In the Works for Oland:

I’m please to say that everything I listed as “in the works” in the November 2009 State of Play blog posting has been completed.

Next up on my to-do list is the launch of the board's games arcade, and the moving of the chat room over to our new irc.ostomylandchat.com server.

After this I will likely be taking a break from updating things for a while. But next on my list will be finding someone who make IPB3 themes/skins and get them to make one that ties the main site theme into the board, so that a more consistent look is achieved across all the various sites in the Ostomyland Network.

I’m also going to be looking towards giving the board’s current masthead menu a revamp, and include it on ALL the various Oland websites. This will also help tie things together visually for the new visitor.

Main Site Stats:

Oland been online: 4512 days

Current Hits: 6,302,273

Current Average Daily Hits (01/Nov/09 to 01/Jun/2010): 1,366

Brand New Visitors to Site (Avg per day – same timeframe): 249

Main Site's Country of Visitors Percentage Stats (May 2010):

39.40% United States

37.60% United Kingdom

7.20% Canada

6.40% Australia

6.20% New Zealand

1.40% Ireland

0.40% Germany

0.40% Brunei Darussalam

0.20% Sweden

0.20% Thailand

0.20% Hong Kong

0.20% Russian Federation

0.20% India

Board Stats:

Current # of Board Members: 2530

New Members since last SoP Blog: 375

Total Posts: 67816

No. Of Posts since last SoP Blog: 5880

Records:

Most board members online in one day: 66 – 04 April 2010

Most board members online at once: 52 – 29 December 2009

Key:

Green = Broken/Increased since last SoP Blog

Red = No Change/Increase since last SoP Blog

Trekkie Monster

IPB the company behind this message board software has just launched a preview of their 3.1 update. This new version of the board will likely be on Ostomyland for the summer.

Here's a sneak peak of some of the new features and tweaks coming in Oland Board 3.1 :p

What's New

Link Sharing (User stuff!)

Easily share links from your community to Facebook, Twitter, and more

Status Updates (User stuff!)

Enhancements to the existing member status system in IP.Board to include the ability to reply and more.

Topic Preview (User stuff!)

Preview the first few lines of a topic without loading the entire topic.

View Reputation (User stuff!)

Optionally allow your members to see who gave reputation points on their posts.

Twitter Integration (User stuff!)

Your members can now link their account with their Twitter account!

Improved Facebook Integration (User stuff!)

Further enhance the link between your community and Facebook to drive traffic.

Advertising Code Integration: Part 1 and Part 2 (webmaster stuff)

Easily place advertising code throughout your community with simple settings in the admin area.

Profile Customizations: Part 1 and Part 2 (User stuff!)

Allow your members to customize the look and feel of their profile page.

Skin Upgrader (webmaster stuff)

Upgrading your skin between versions of IP.Board just became a lot easier.

Soft Delete Posts and Topics (moderater stuff)

Rather than actually deleting a post or topic you can now hide it from view to easily restore it later.

Notification System (User stuff!)

An easier way to be notified of all the various events that happen in your community.

Modification Development Enhancements (webmaster stuff)

Great tools for those that create modifications for IP.Board

Hook System Improvements (webmaster stuff)

Improvements to the IP.Board hook system to make it easier for modification developers to expand the functions in the software.

Search Engine Optimization: Part 1 and Part 2 (webmaster stuff)

Allow search engines to better index and rank your community in results.

Search Engine Overhaul (User stuff!)

Search engine rebuilt from the ground up introducing more flexibility and power.

NB The links above take you to the IPB blog. I *think* non-members of IPBs customer base can view these. If not, apologies, my bad. :)

Trekkie Monster

IPB (Invision Power Board) have just launched the new 2.1.0 beta 1 version of their blogging software over on their company forums. Once this update has finished beta it will be installed here on Ostomyland. If you would like a sneak peak of what the new Oland blog pages will look like, and some of the exciting new features that are coming to the blogs to make them easier to use, please check out the following blog posting over on the IPB company forums:

http://community.invisionpower.com/blog/1174/entry-3606-welcome-to-the-new-blog/

I for one am looking forward to it, and for member who have multiple blogs on their accounts it is something you should be looking forward to, as it's going to make managing multiple blogs much, much easier. And the user interface for the blogs is going to be much clearer and better laid out too - so there's improvements there for all out bloggers to look forward to. :)

Roll on IPB Blogs 2.1.0 official release!

[writeletter][smiley_book][thumbs_up]^_^

(Yeah, I just cant help but love the new board emoticons! lol)

Trekkie Monster

Work continues on the Ostomyland Wiki revamp. The new look and homepage is complete, and the existing wiki content has been transferred. I'm now in the process of creating all the "Wanted Pages" that are listed on the wiki. At last count there's just over 200 pages on the new wiki, and I've still got another 30 or so Wanted Pages to add, as well as a number of other pages to add about things such as mucous discharge and so on.

Hopefully the new wiki will launch soon - hopefully before Christmas. For a sneak peak of how the new wiki will look, check out my previous wiki update blog posting at:

Trekkie Monster

As I mentioned in now that the board overhaul and relaunch is complete I'm now focussing on revamping the Wiki. I've never been overly fond of the look of the current wiki. It looks dull and the plain white and black look gives people idea that it's not very welcoming, hard to use and understand and so on. It also didnt help that the software I used for the wiki stopped development and closed down. After some time it started being spammed.

I've been looking at various Wiki programs. The MediaWiki script is by far the most popular wiki script, in fact its near identical to the Wikipedia program. However, the number one thing I wanted to do with the Oland wiki was to make it look more user friendly. MediaWiki is incredibly complicated for a novice. I did run a test installation of the program, and that was a pain in itself, but once it was running it was horrifically complicated. If I used it for the Oland wiki people might have been able to read the pages, but they probably would have been too scared to edit it. No one edited the current wiki other than myself and Kathy. I want to try and encourage people to edit it, and to do that I need to focus on user-friendly environments so people feel comfortable editing it and not worried that they will break something.

Our current Wiki software has since been relaunched with a new development team and its a far better program with a much better interface. After a test, I decided to go with that new software. I've got it set up online, and am in the process of adding content to it. I've transferred over all the existing pages (one at a time as the old wiki doesnt have an export system built into it) and have added worked on the graphical theme a bit to suit Oland. I'm now in the process of adding some of the "WantedPages" for the wiki (WantedPages being pages that are linked to, but dont yet have any content in them so are blank), I'm also transferring over some of the main site information so that the companies have a page on there too.

The wiki will hopefully be relaunching before the end of the year. As a sneak peak of the wiki I'm including these screenshots. As always comments and suggestions for the wiki is always welcome.

The front page of the new wiki.

The text has still to be worked on to make it more user friendly and more clearly explained.

wiki_preview.png

A sample content page:

wiki_preview2.png

The current content categories:

wiki_preview3.png

Trekkie Monster

Contents:



  1. Introduction
  2. The Community as a whole
  3. The Message Board
  4. The Chat Room
  5. The Main Site
  6. In the Works for Oland
  7. Main Site Stats
  8. Main Site's Country of Visitors Percentage Stats
  9. Board Stats
  10. Records

Welcome to a new feature of Ostomyland. A blog dedicated to all the behind the scenes running of your favourite Ostomy Support website. With entries every few months the aim of this blog is to give people more idea about what is involved in running a website like this, and the thought processes that go into the decisions I make which impact on each and every member of the community. It will also form a sort of diary, charting the events and happenings of the website and it's community, along with a run down of the site stats.

2009 is nearly at an end, and the end of the year is always a busy time for Oland with a number of community events in the works.

Here's a run down of all the main features of the website, and their news from the past few months.

The Community as a whole:

We've just finished hosting our 7th Annual Spooktacular Halloween event, with events such as hunting the hidden ghost, and Halloween guess who continuing to help generate interest in the event and the community. As always the event officially closed with the Halloween evening chat room party, which has been a member favourite since we first help it back in 2002. As always people were encouraged to log in under a "fancy dress" nickname, leaving regulars with little idea of who they were talking to and ending up having to play a 20-questions-esque game to work out who was who. Ofcourse the more techie minded of us were able to use the /whois command and internet connection IP numbers to help work out who was who.

Although the event has officially ended we still have the annual "Best Nickname" competition to complete which will launch this week. Everyone who joined in the chat room party with a fancy nickname gets entered. The Ostomyland Team members (Chat Ops, Admins and Board Moderators) then pick their favourite five nicknames from the event, which is then entered into a public poll on the board where the members pick their favourite nickname of the event.

Also, Oland received a huge advertising boost thanks to Julie and Rach of Breakaway who printed off the and distributed it at various Ostomy healthcare events/conferences that they were at to promote Breakaway. Thanks to them! If you want to distribute the leaflet to members of your local ostomy group or ostomy nurse please feel free to print it off and give it to them - that is what its for! :)

The Message Board:

The new message board software launched during late september, introducing a dramatically different look to the board as a whole, as well as exciting new features such as integrated photo galleries, member blogs and integrated one-click access to the chat room.

The halloween event saw the board take another dramatically different look when a Halloween Pumpkin theme took over the board and members whom partook in the Calling All Ghostbusters event were displaying their new signature badges to proudly declare that they'd found the spooky ghost on the main site.

The Chat Room:

Having the chat room integrated into the board has helped to bring a few new members to the chat room ranks, and hopefully over time as new members come to the board they will join in with the chat room too seeing as it's much easier to join now than before for people who do not know mIRC.

Again the spooktacular event took over the chat room on Halloween evening when the annual chat fancy dress party hit the server for the whole evening across the time zones. It even over-ran the weekly meeting as ofcourse Halloween was a Saturday this year.

The Main Site:

Interest in the main site continues from the Ostomy world with a number of new companies asking to be part of the site. I also had one site send a snotty mail disgusted that we hadn't included them in the first place, then demanded a page and would only let me feature the link to their website and the name of their new product saying that the readers would find their way to the products by themselves. So that company now has a pretty empty and sickly looking page representing them, but that is what they wanted.

The manufacturers section has also had an overhaul, with ostomy pouch manufacturers being given their own section, and a new section for ostomy accessory companies getting their own section. This has seen three new companies join in on the main site's Manufacturers feature in the last few months.

With the launch of the new board software, blogs were finally brought to Ostomyland after a number of years of my desperately wanting them on the site. Members soon curiously started their own blogs, and some stood out from the crowd in an ostomy support related way, with one blog in particular charting a young girls journey through the early time of life with an ostomy. Fuzzbutt's Top Blogs feature was introduced to the main site and the first blog featured by our furry mascot was Janet and Charlene's blog.

In the Works for Oland:

Overhaul of the Manufacturers section is completed, so now I can start to look at other areas of the site that need work to help them grow and flourish. In particular I'm looking at the Ostomyland Wiked Wiki which has a load of excellent medical ostomy info on it, but is powered by a rubbish Wiki program. I need to research a better wiki product, maybe even having to pay a license for some decent software, and then copy all the pages over to the new program a page at a time as theres no export program in the software we currently have.

Also on the cards is the integration of Ostomyland.com into Ostomyland.org so that people can log in to the board via the main site and vice versa. A number of people mistakenly create a wordpress account on the main site thinking it will get them into the forums, so that needs to be made clearer with the board database integrating into the Wordpress database. Thankfully, the IPB board has an add-on specifically for this feature, so I'll be playing with that on the Oland test sites and seeing whats involved in introducing it to the public.

Main Site Stats:

Oland been online: 4299 days

Current Hits: 6,075,644

Current Average Daily Hits (Aug 2nd to Nov 2nd): 1,237

Brand New Visitors to Site (Average per day): 252

Main Site's Country of Visitors Percentage Stats:

61.47% United Kingdom

11.82% United States

7.33% New Zealand

6.86% Australia

6.62% Canada

4.02% Unknown -

0.95% Norway

0.47% Oman

0.24% Italy

0.24% Romania

Board Stats:

Current # of Board Members: 2155

New Members since last SoP Blog: N/A (this is the first post! Doh!)

Total Posts: 61,936

Records:

Most board members online in one day: 62 - 29 September 2009

Most board members online at once: 49 - 18 September 2009