Why This Forum Format?
There are other forum formats available. This
one is old and other formats are often used now. Why do you still
use this one?
This question gets asked over and over, typically every few months
and by newcomers who aren't yet familiar with our site. To avoid
repeating the response on the web board, we have placed this item
in the FAQ. This response is adapted from a response to the question
posted in May 2007.
There are a lot of forums using the format we use. They are generally
hosted on the owner's own web site, such as ours is. The so-called
"new" formats offer pretty much the same features, but they are
reworked so the pages can hold updateable advertising, so they are
favored by companies that will give you a free site and then pester
your users with advertising. Some of those forums can be obtained
to run on your own web site, but the difference in features from
this forum's format is minimal - they are mainly cosmetic.
The reason you've lately seen a lot of those forum formats is simply
that many people go the easy route and submit to the commercial
advertising gods. We certainly aren't going to go down that road.
We don't want some corporation telling us what we can or cannot do.
We longhairs own "mlhh.org", and we can take it wherever we want,
and without changing its web address. Having our site with someone
else's name in the URL is a leash we will not slip around our necks.
Could we obtain a different software package for mlhh.org? Sure,
we could. But the BASIC features of all packages are mostly the
same. We've added a lot of features to this package, and if we got
a different one, we'd have to add a lot of features to it. We'd
also have to strip some features that we don't like out of a new
package. We've already done that with the package we now have,
and the work has been done spread out over many years. Why would
we want to re-do all that work just for changes that are mostly
In January 2007 our site celebrated its tenth anniversary. We
have extensive archives, and they are all in the present format.
The desire to maintain consistency throughout the site also must
be considered if a change in format is to be undertaken.
Our users are also accustomed to the present format.
The tech guys here always look at other forum formats when they
are suggested. Besides looking at them as possible replacements,
we also look at them to see if they have features we'd like to
add to our existing format. Truthfully, we've never seen a
forum with a feature we wanted to add to our own format, except
those we happened to have added on our own to the original package
Available alternatives to the present forum format vary, but the
following can be said about most of them:
- They don't offer photo upload from your own computer. This
is a very popular feature of OUR forum because our topic is one's
personal appearance. Many other forums aren't, and they don't
rely so much on photos to convey the user's ideas.
- They often don't give up the whole screen for user photos.
Photos are important to us as just said.
- They don't offer deep threading. It is natural for people in
a conversation to sometimes split it in several ways where the
subject may drift off into something else. Without deep
threading, forum software will impede the users' desire to
do that. We opt for user freedom to let their conversations
drift as they may.
- They either make everyone register, make everyone get moderated,
or are highly vulnerable to spam. We'd rather let users post
without a need for registration and without for the most part
ever getting moderated.
- Oh, they are pretty! But they are the same version of pretty,
over and over. Soon it just becomes annoying wallpaper on the
wall, wallpaper that must be continually reloaded, slowing
down users' getting to the meat of the site, which is "content
provided by the other users".
- They incorporate features which are not friendly to dialup
connections, older web browsers, or some security features
users might implement. We want access to our site to be
hassle-free to everybody.
- They do not have an integrated users' directory and chat room.
We feel these give each of our users a site-wide identity that
makes him more recognizable as an individual. Longhairs value
- They make users come to the site to pick up any e-mail other
users send them. We think you'd rather get your e-mail where
you get all your other e-mail - at your e-mail address.
- Their moderation back end is grossly deficient. Ours offers
different levels of access so those with different levels of
proficiency can all participate, and it provides us with the
tools needed to protect the site from those who would abuse it.
A few of the features of these other packages that you may think
you want will not work with all users, and that is why we've never
implemented them here. If we obtained one of those packages, we'd
just have to strip those features out, so what you'd end up with
would be something that was just cosmetically different from what
you have now. It takes time to apply cosmetics, and truthfully,
we think our site visitors would rather be spending that terminal
time looking at HAIR.