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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 "", 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 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 cosmetic?

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 already.

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 individuality.
  • 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.

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