The Community as a Whole
Kathy Celebrates a Decade as Team Ostomyland’s Senior Admin
Ostomyland on the Social Networks
The Main Site
The Message Board & Community
The Chat Room
The Ostomyland Wiki
Ostomyland at Conferences and Events
In the Works for Ostomyland
Main Site Statistics
Message Board/Community Statistics
Unbelievably it’s been twelve months since the last State of the Community blog entry in this supposedly bi-annual run down of all things Ostomyland to show the members what we’ve been up to since the last post, whether we’ve been successful or not in those plans, and what ideas and projects we have coming up for the future.
So without further ado let’s get started with a look at the community itself.
Unlike previous SOTC blog postings, in this entry there are very few huge updates and changes to discuss. The only major project launch has been the complete redesign and rebuild of the main site – re-designed from the ground up. You can read more on that in the Main Site section of this address.
On the community message board side of things there’s been an announcement about the ‘secret project’ we’ve been working on which we hope to launch later in the year if the developers can get the software finished by then. And of course we must not forget that our 10th Annual Halloween Spooktacular event will be happening on October 31st as always.
The “help” ticket system which we talked about in detail in the last SOTC blog’s “In the Works” section has launched and been pretty much trouble free. It’s helped to streamline all member help requests so that they can get the help they need quicker.
Ostomyland member favourite and team member, Sarah73 has had an exciting year. Firstly she was nominated for the Ostomy Lifestyle 2012 Awards, in the “Volunteer of the Year” section. She won first runner up which is a huge achievement. Then, after that, Sarah became part of the admin team of the (UK) Colostomy Association’s Facebook Group, a role which she’s taken to with her usual gusto and the group is thriving with over 500 members in less than 9 months online. An indication of how successful and well-run the group is can be seen in the fact that not all the group members are also CA members .There are numerous IA and UA members partaking in the group for a community experience when is not achieved on their own associations Facebook pages.
Speaking of the O’land team there has also been a major milestone reached with Kathy celebrating her tenth anniversary as part of the team. Very few admins of any forum online (be it ostomy or non-ostomy related) can claim that they have been managing an online group for a decade.
If you’d like to leave a thank you, or congratulations message for Kathy please check out this forum topic. http://www.ostomyland.org/ostomyboardipb/index.php?/topic/7948-ty-kathy-shes-celebrating-10-years-in-team-oland-or-is-that-contemplating-lol/
Over the last year a concerted effort has been made to promote Ostomyland and her community within the world of social networking. Although we’ve had Facebook and Twitter accounts for Ostomyland for many years now, we’ve never really made a focused effort to wring the most promotional ability from the pages.
All news posts on the main site are now mirrored automatically to our Facebook O’land Support Group which is coming up to its 400th member, and the Facebook Ostomyland Network Page which deals with “brand”/network related news postings and is mainly used to promote us. They are also tweeted on to our Twitter page (@ostomyland).
We’ve also made an attempt to make Ostomyland-related postings more “share-able”. We’ve done this by creating “The Fuzzbutt Adventures” aka Fuzzbutt’s Fuzzbook Page. This is a Facebook page dedicated to our furry mascot and pal, Fuzzbutt. In it there are just a collection of photos of the O’land Fuzzbutt bear in everyday situations. It also includes some videos too. We’ve seen similar such projects prove very popular on other pages, and of course with imitation being the most sincere form of flattery we thought we’d have a go at this too. 😀
Ostomyland’s Brand/Network Page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ostomyland
Ostomyland’s Facebook Ostomy Support Group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/ostomyland
The Fuzzbutt Adventures (aka Fuzzbutt’s Fuzzbook Page): http://www.facebook.com/ostomylandfuzzbutt
Ostomyland on Twitter: @ostomyland
Ostomyland Community News on Twitter: @olandchat
As mentioned in the Community as a Whole” section the main site has had its second re-design in as many years. This time around though, the layout and look of the site has been totally changed to leave behind its “blog” look.
We’re still using WordPress to power the website, and the database on the previous site design has been kept, so all content has remained despite the new look.
With the re-design I’ve had two main aims.
1. Make the site – and therefore Ostomyland – look a bit less blog-ish, and ideally more “professional”.
Obviously we are an amateur group here and have to make things up as we go along as there are no company manuals on how to deal with certain situations but we do try to do our very best for all visitors, and the previous site looked very Web1.0 which didn’t reflect what we try to do here.
With the re-design I’ve opted for the now-fairly-standard rolling showcase for site promo items/articles in the future, along with “spotlights” on certain pages or features underneath it. All of this can be easily changed by just making a new post in the correct category. The main content of the site has also been cleaned up to give a more professional look to it.
2. Better navigation.
If there was one thing I hated about the old design, and I mean HATED, it was the navigation being split between sidebar and top of the page. This has now been changed, all content is now linked on the top bar menu, and the sidebar menu is only used on content pages to link to direct sections of the site, rather than linking to all the pages individually and leading to a scrolling nightmare.
There is also now a “back to top” link at the bottom of every page! Welcome to the 21st century Ostomyland Main Site! lol
This was just a redesign really, with the focus on the look rather than the functionality of the site. However, there is one new feature on the site which I’ve been asked about for many years and have finally found a way to integrate it in an appropriate way. That is a “Print Page” feature. This gives you an ink-friendly version of the page to print, as shown below. But thanks to the WordPress plugin I’ve started to use it also gives people the option to save the print-friendly version of the page as a PDF file, or to email the content to someone. Have a play with it by clicking the blue “Print this button” on the bottom of every content page.
The WordPress comments system is now gone. Comments can be made on all pages (except some company pages, by company request) via a Facebook comments box. This was quite a popular feature of the old site, and to be honest, most of the comments that did come in via the WordPress comments system was all spam for fake handbag stores etc and got caught by the Askimet spam catcher, or got moderated out by me after being flagged as suspicious.
Work is still on-going on the site. I’m looking into ways to integrate the board’s member database into the WordPress main site so that people with accounts on the board can login over on the main site, leave comments with their member account, even register for the board over there too. But that’s a work in progress that’s proving a bit of a pain to get going due to the fact the two databases for the main site and board are located on two different servers/URLs. That makes things a bit more complicated and I can’t seem to find a plug that bridges that gap successfully.
The message board community has been chugging along nicely. With so much focus on the main site and the “secret project” this year there’s been very little in the way of changes on the community itself.
The software has been updated to Invision Power Suite v3.3, and the v3.4 update will be coming before the end of the year all being well which will bring a few changes to the gallery and blog’s sections, but nothing major. The majority of update 3.4 is for the administration and community-running aspect of things.
So whilst there hasn’t been a huge amount of time spent in overhauling the community side of things, a few changes and announcements have been made.
This is a third party modification for IP.Board which attempts to bring a more human face to our community by displaying member avatar photos on the forum home page, along with a more personal greeting to new visitors whom have not registered to be a member yet.
2. The Secret Project Announced – ‘Social Groups’
We talked about this a bit in the previous SOTC address but as a thank you to everyone helping us reach 400 Facebook likes we have announced what the “secret project” is that we’ve been working on over the last 6-8 months for the community. It’s called “Social Groups” and if you think Facebook groups, but on Ostomyland then you have an idea what it’s all about.
It gives members the ability to create their own “group” on any topic (within reason) for which they will be administer-ally responsibly. They could post their own news, have their own “home” page, a dedicated forum, control over the membership of the group, add content pages, and more besides. We mocked up a few example groups to give an idea of what could be achieved at this stage of development, with an adhesions group, and twilight fan group being used as the examples. You can read the full announcement post here:
It should launch by the end of the year, all being well, however we’re waiting for the mod’s author to complete the project, or at least find a way around a current bug in the script which prevents people creating more than one extra page. Once that is fixed the groups can launch as far as I’m concerned
3. Help Ticketing System
A dedicated help ticket system has been introduced into the community suite software, thanks to IP.Nexus shopping add-on. Whilst the store side of the add-on is not utilised on Ostomyland it has allowed us to have a more integrated donation system, and most importantly the support ticket system.
Members can contact the whole admin team for assistance, and therefore hopefully get help quicker than if contacting a specific admin or mod who may be away or poorly and unable to answer.
Direct contact options are also available for specific roles within Ostomyland such as webmaster contact, or for contacting specific admins – i.e. Trekkie Monster or Kathy_From_England.
The system has also been incorporated into the main site for any folks whom may in need to contact the team to request tech help with the site, or to report any problems.
Membership of the community is not required to use the ticket system, only an email address. However, members have the added benefits of being able to keep a history of their previous tickets. As with most ticket help systems it is possible to update your ticket direct from any email notifications you may have received during your ticket’s communications.
The Ostomyland Chat Room – which is combined in with our community message board system – has been ticking along nicely over the last year. Thanks to a sustained reminder posting campaign by Kathy the number of people attending the Saturday chat meeting (8pm UK time – approx. 3pm Eastern US, depending on daylight saving.)
Numbers for the chat meeting did dramatically drop over the years as Facebook took over from many forums. This isn’t just Ostomyland that’s been affected by this phenomenon but most other communities too. Hence the reminder campaign, which as I’ve mentioned has been successful in bringing some numbers back into the chat room.
There was a number of reports of random disconnections from the chat room over the early months of this year, and with this giving out a standard message of “You have been kicked from the chat room” it did cause a lot of confusion for members who were puzzled as to what they had done to deserve being kicked out of the chat room, which in turn lead to some understandable anger towards the admins for “kicking” people out, when we actually hadn’t.
After lengthy communications with Invision (the board/chat creators) we did manage to tweak things to make this a less likely occurrence, and I believe that it’s largely stopped (at least if the number of complaints about it are anything to go by as I’ve heard nothing new about it for several months now). Invision has also promised to change the wording of the dropped connection message so that it is clearer and less confrontational – the benefits of that being two-fold: 1. Members have a clearer understanding of what problem has caused them to be disconnected from the chat room, and 2: Admins are not going to be incorrectly, but understandably, blamed for kicking people out for no reason.
Ahhhh, the Wiki. Every year I seem to make some promise or other that the wiki will be revamped and re-launched over the coming months as soon as the latest version of the WakkaWiki software is available. However, this much promised update has yet to arrive, primarily because WakkaWiki has not been updated itself.
At the moment the Wiki has had to have its public editing facilities disabled as it was getting hammered by porn spam bots, which were leaving some highly dubious and inappropriate porn spam on practically every page, and editing the pages to make them clean again was becoming a full time job.
Although a small update patch has been released for WakkaWiki it seems the much vaunted 1.5/2.0 release is nowhere in sight. Anyone who read the last SOTC blog posting might remember that I was going to re-launch the wiki when that update came to the software as it would resolve all the problems we were having on it. As it’s still not been released yet, and seems to have no near-future release date I’m going to have to start looking at alternative options for the wiki.
I have two ideas in mind at the moment.
However, again, that would mean a total re-write and re-post of over 200 pages of content. All of which would likely need reformatting for the Wikia (or MediaWiki) software. It also means I’d be moving something away from the Ostomyland home again. That’s something I wanted to avoid. When you start splitting things up it makes it harder for people to find way around the whole site. It’s bad enough having our forums on a separate hosting account and domain name to the rest of the main site etc. as it can get confusing for newbies to Ostomyland to get their head around and we risk losing their readership.
So, I’ve made the decision that WakkaWiki has until the New Year to get this new version out. If nothing has arrived by then, or if no near-future release date has been announced by January then I shall start working on the Wikia move.
Sadly due to illness amongst Jason and Kathy, and Sarah being heavily committed with the Colostomy Association at events now, we’ve not been able to get people out and out as much as we’d have liked in 2012 to date – also to be honest, we cant afford it. It’s costly to travel around the country, stop in hotels overnight in preparation for the conference’s early start times etc.
However, we have made appearances at both the Breakaway adventure weekend breaks and the Diversions Family Support events to hand out leaflets, chat to people to tell them about us, meet some of our existing members, and of course to give people a chance to meet Fuzzbutt (he’s very popular you know! And very cuddly and soft! The ladies love him!)
There has not been any Colostomy Association (UK) open day this year, sadly, so we’ve not been able to repeat the biggest exhibition event of last year for 2012, but we’re very optimistic that there will be one in 2013 and that we’ll have a presence there to plug the new look site, the more professional look and the great community base which we have here on Ostomyland.
Speaking of the UK’s Colostomy Association, Jason/”Trekkie Monster” will be attending the Colostomy Association’s Facebook Group Meet & Greet event in Birmingham on November 10th, 2012. So, if you’re an Ostomyland member/reader be sure to say hello to him. Fuzzbutt will also be attending the evening meal for photo opportunities for his Fuzzbook page and no doubt because the bar will be open he’ll be hoping for some free drinks! 🙂
We’ve got our eye on two digital projects for Ostomyland over the coming 6 months, both of which have already been discussed in this SOTC blog posting, and we’re also looking at some real world projects too.
Oland been online: 5345 days
Current Hits: 6,731,484
Current Average Hits (01/Aug/12 to 31/Aug/12): 10443.52 per day on Main Site / Ostomyland.com pages (does not include community hits)
Unique Visitors to Main Site for Aug 2012: 5768
Main Site’s Top 10 Country of Visitors Percentage Stats (for Sept 1st 2012, to Sept 14th, 2012):
48.20% United States
32.40% United Kingdom
Current # of Board Members: 4029 (14th Sept 2012) – Previous SOTC entries total: 3308 (Sept 2011)
New Members since last SoP Blog: 721 (on 14th Sept over 12mths) – Previous SOTC entries total: 778 (15 months) (NB: Record broken when average monthly member registrations are calculated, as there has been 12 months since the last SOTC blog posting, compared to 15 months at the time of the previous posting.)
Total Posts: 82628 – Previous SOTC entry total: 74724
No. Of Posts since last SoP Blog: 7904 – Previous total 6908
Most board members online in one day: 74 – 01 August 2010
Most board visitors (guests and members) online at once: 201 – 20 July 2012 (Totally beyond awesome! We’ll never beat that, surely! I’m amazed the server didn’t crash as it’s only a shared hosting account! That shattered the previous record of 124 by 77!)
Green = Broken/Increased since last SoP Blog
Red = No Change/Increase since last SoP Blog
This Website & Lifestyle Guide & Community
© 1998 - 2014 Ostomyland
All rights reserved.
Thanks for your continued support! :-)
RSS Feeds: Entries | CommentsProudly powered by Wordpress & Gantry | Google+ | Sitemap | Admin