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Hey guys,

I had a PM conversation with a member on here about the pros and cons of one master Lambda forum vs separate forums for each model. I explained why I chose the separate forums model, and why I think that's still the right choice. Some of the point against multiple forums are valid, though. The main one is that the same topic often applies to all Lambdas and topics might get covered better in one forum over another. An answer might materialize for Acadia owners that Enclave owners may not find out about, etc.

So in this conversation, I share my "Grand Vision" of what I had planned all along. Here's an excerpt:

I've always had it in my mind that there would be a 5th and final website that ties everything together. Instead of a forum, this final site would be a repository of all related Recalls, Technical Service Bulletins, FAQs, manuals, a searchable/sortable "members database" where everyone could submit their username, location & type of lambda (so that you could find all the Acadia owners on here from your area, for example). Finally, it would contain a "super search" feature that could search all 4 forums at once, then you'd jump to the correct forum once you clicked the link.

I'm not even sure this last part is technically feasible within the confines of the forum software, which means I'll most likely have to write it using the Google API or some other external source. But someday, This will most likely exist and if it does, perhaps it will eliminate at least some of those problems you currently have with multiple forums.


While we're still quite a ways away from that fifth "Lambda Site" being born, the most daunting task involved in creating it - the "Super Search" - has just been done for me in the guise of Google's new "Custom Site Search". This new tool allows you to group multiple websites into a single "searchable entity" and creates a semi-customizable front end to see the results. Other than some limitation in formatting, this is exactly what I was hoping to accomplish! What that means for the non-developers among you is that, with a single search bar, you can search acadiaforum, enclaveforum, saturnoutlookforum and traverseforum and have all relevant results listed together on a single page. While I'm not entirely sure how much of all these forum pages are indexed by Google's spiders, the results do seem to go back quite a ways. It's still a quantum leap forward in being able to find info no matter which forum it's on!

I'd like you guys to give it a test to see how it works. Please ignore the rather lousy formatting for now. I haven't had much time to work on it. I'm more interested in the results you guys get from various search terms. Please write back here and let me know if this seems like a useful tool to employee at all my forums.

To test it out, go to http://www.traverseforum.com/index.php?action=lambdasearch

You should see a "google custom search" bar right in the middle of the page, where the content would normally be.

Thanks guys!
admin
 

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It works great, even for a non-techno person like me.
Thank you for keeping these forums great.
As far as one master forum, please don't do it! I poke around the others, but the Enclave Forum has become a real community worth coming back to.

MRBUICK
 
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MrBuick, I have no plans on merging the forums. I gave it a ton of thought when i first set these up. In fact, before it went live, I actually had a section for each Lambda. I literally thought about how I wanted these forums to function and feel for days before releasing it. Here's a bit more of my PM conversation on the topic...

I gave this a lot of thought when I first decided to set up these forums. I based my final decision on both my internet observations and on my personal preferences. I used to frequent Infiniti G35 forums quite a bit and noticed there were really two camps in the forum world - Those dedicated to an individual model (the way ours are), and those forums that cater to an entire brand or group of models. In my experience, those broader forums tend to be more sterile and to-the-point, albeit fact filled sites. What they end up lacking in personality, they make up for in terse and useful information. In other words, the "wheat to chaff" ratio is very high. Forums dedicated to a single model, however, tend to build much more of a sense of community. You know that nearly every post on there deals with the exact car that you own. You end up with a lot more off-topic conversations, but because of that, you get a more close-knit group of users who tend to stay around longer and form friendships beyond the topic at hand. That's not to say that it doesn't happen on broader sites, it's just not nearly as prevalent.

That sense of community is what I hoped for when I first set up these forums. It has succeeded beyond anything I could have imagined! There are dozens, maybe hundreds, of members on here who have been here almost since the beginning. That's truly amazing for an auto forum, where people usually come looking for an answer to a problem, then move on. A benefit I hadn't anticipated was how truly organic these sites would be. The Acadia forum and Enclave forum have grown in oddly different directions and now have fairly unique personalities about them. I doubt that would have ever happened had I simply created one forum from the beginning.

The downside, as you pointed out, is that topics get repeated in multiple forums, covered better in one than the other, etc. The Lambdas have enough in common that topics in one forum generally apply to its siblings, but have just enough differences that topics aren't universal. Again, I could have gone either way early on, and I would have saved myself a LOT of work by making one forum that covered all Lambdas, but I hope the benefits outweigh the negatives.


So my idea of creating a fifth and final site (someday) is basically a way to eliminate some of the negatives of having 4 distinct and somewhat overlapping forums, while still retaining the sense of community that has grown around them. By using this "super search" so that you can still get answers from all of the forums without having to search each individually (or even join them for that matter), I feel we can overcome the single biggest downside to Lambda owners. Keep in mind that this version is just a test. The real search bar will be incorporated into the search page and, depending on where you search (for you guys, enclaveforum.net), it will keep you here in this site and will look much like the rest of this forum, at least for the results page.
 

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Works very well. Thanks :thumb:

Any way to get Google Advanced search capabilities.
For example, I want info on the 2-way key fob, but only after it became available in April. With Google.com you can say "show results for past month, week, year, etc."

Great job!
 
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Clave - so far, the API seems fairly rudimentary, but then again, it was just released. I'll keep searching for more advanced features. I'm sure they're coming if they don't exist yet.
 
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Ok, it seems to be pretty stable. I can see that only about half of my pages are indexed right now, so I'm building custom sitemaps to help google along in this regard. The more of the forums they can index, the better the search results will be.

Now I need to decide on where to put the search box. The two best options are

1) stick it inside the Search page, below the normal search options (the page you reach when you click "Search" in the nav bar or the little magnifying glass). Basically make another section below it for the Lambda "Super Search"
2) a new Super Search box in the far upper right corner - inside the brown header bar to the right of the forum logo.

Which do you guys think would be better?
 
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