Hitting the limits of weather forum taxonomy - A discussion

Discussion in 'Daily & Chat' started by Richard, Dec 18, 2019.

  1. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept Administrator

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    The weather moderators and I are increasingly finding issue and limitation with the post-weatherzone geo-based segmentation of the weather forum topics

    Specifically this is manifesting as spreading the same fundamental conversation across multiple forums - a pertinant example of which is the current heatwave/bushfire conversation which is spread across multiple threads across the various topic categories.

    There's two parts to this issue.

    Bur first, lets set some common vocabulary

    Topic/Topic Categories means the separation of weather into;
    Alpine & Southern
    Eastern & Marine
    Topics & Cyclones
    World & General

    Weather Events means;
    Cyclones, Tsunami, Floods, Fires, Quakes, Drought

    Thread/s means
    A publicly visible conversation thread within a Topic

    I'll add to the above vocabulary if necessary as the discussion evolves.

    So.... two parts to the issue.

    Issue 1.
    The interests of the community and participants in this forum are not restricted to just Australian Weather - even as this forum attracts a 95% Australian audience - this is a legacy of the site fundamentally being a community of Australian's who participate in snow sport.

    I'd ask that those of you whom have migrated here from Weatherzone hold that thought for a moment because it's primary to the tensions a geo-segmented approach to the Topic Categories is creating - vis a vis the legacy of the weatherzone forum which was primarily interested in Australian weather only and for which a geo based segmentation of Topic Categories made sense.

    The issue is this, geo-based segmentation does not scale nicely - perceptions of geographic boundries differs greatly and is hard to communicate - plus a significant Event such as floods, bushfires, drought invariably has crossover between topic categories separated based on geographic location.

    Issue 2.
    For the forum to grow it needs perform well in organic search to attract more new visitors - search is invariably driven by 'event' based search keywords with geographic keywords. Plus, my personal UX opinion is that the current Topic Categorisation is not sufficiently clear, not the 'perls of clarity' it needs to be which is vital to engagement within the first ten minutes of any new visitor if they are expected to be converted to a regular visitor that registers and contributes.

    More new visitors means more registrations which grows the community and a small percentage of that become subscribers and so the place remains viable - it's one of those 'circle of life' kinda things.

    -----------------

    Now, most of you probably have not noticed the issues and certainly only a few would be thinking about how that all plays out such this place is still here for you tomorrow - but I have (it's what I do) and as such, naturally I have (almost) fully formed ideas on where we need to go.

    My suggestions are that around mid January we have a re-org of the Forum Topics into the following;

    Snow & Alpine
    Snow Forecasting and Alpine Observation threads for snow sport regions.

    Surf & Marine
    Swell & Wind forecasts for coastal areas.

    Day to Day Observations
    Regional & local observations, (non-snow) forecasts and technical discussion. Plus general weather chit chat, Q&A, weather photography etc.

    Major Weather Events
    Cyclones/Hurricanes, Floods, Fires, Earthquakes, Tsunami, Drought.


    At the thread level, geography can get it's necessary taxonomy through appropriate freeform thread title by the thread starter - PLUS a suite of common geo-based pre-fixes which further enables automated categorising and filtering of threads based on geography.
    Similar to how prefixes are used in the Gear Swap forum to segment clothing from hardware etc.

    Now.. this is where those of you with ideas and insight get to help shape the end product - we will talk about this for the next few weeks with implementation mid Jan. Plus - because I have a dev server set up for XF 2.0, I can use that to implement there as a dry run and in that way we will get a good feel for what the proposed changes actually mean prior to cutting over.

    and go...

    (last edited Fri 20 Dec @ 17:30 to reflect feedback)
     
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  2. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept Administrator

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    The proposed structure would mean that Surf & Marine would be the least active as it currently stands - but, imho, it would also provide a clear 'home' for the surfers/wind-surfers and thus the necessary conditions for a small surf community could grow.
     
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  3. teckel

    teckel Pool Room Ski Pass: Gold

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    How are earthquakes "weather events"?
     
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  4. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept Administrator

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    stop it..

    (always, there's one, right!)
     
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  5. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    Why wait? makes so so much more sense considering the way its developed. Especially from a menu sense.
     
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  6. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    sounds pretty sensible, especially with the suggested addition of prefixes. these could possibly mirror the existing geo categories, or not.if they are used then I doubt that perceived functionality would be lost - other than time to adapt. the people who wanted more geo spaces may even be happier if prefixes allow that without compromising the vibrancy of the topic categories

    are you posting a link to this in the various geo weather forums to get feedback from people who only hang out in one?

    BTW There will always be spill over. eg in good faith on 24 Nov I started a thread in backcountry to let people know about track closures after some lightening strikes near mt bogong. those fires are still burning are the thread broadened into discussion of those fires. Maybe in such cases there is no alternative other than for a mod to move and rename.
     
  7. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    does this mean that you will be cutting over XF 2.0 at the same time? or have I added 2 + 2 and got 37?
     
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  8. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept Administrator

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    Too much going on with the XF 2 upgrade (long delayed)

    Plus, just doing it is not how we roll, (as you know), plus the community is the proverbial ocean liner that can't turn on a dime. Changes need to be communicated and have time to be digested.
     
  9. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept Administrator

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    yep, prefixes scale much more easily than topics, and can be added ad-hoc as required without disruption - plus folk can free-form new regions as suits in thread titles and thus appropriate new prefixes would organically reveal themselves.
     
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  10. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept Administrator

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    yes, I'm creating a 'notice' for the other weather topics which will link to this thread.
     
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  11. Donzah

    Donzah Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    I was being facetious ...all good.
     
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  12. Jellybeans

    Jellybeans not woke enough Ski Pass: Gold

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    Another thought to consider... are the BBQ threads still a useful concept, with the day to day regional threads?

    Going through the summer one, it’s mostly snow talk from the start of the month which could have been an event thread, and a collection of random observations, that could probably go other places.

    Just thinking out loud.

    As for what @Richard described, I think that would be a workable solution, particularly with geo-specific prefixes. I like it.

    But it is of course important to be gentle, and I’d wait for some of the posters in the Day to Day threads.

    And I assume the non-snow related international weather discussion would go to the Day to Day subforum?
     
  13. Trail Blazer

    Trail Blazer Part of the Furniture

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    There will be challenges to making this change. Prefixes could be the answer.

    As an example, non-resort snow events, like the BMs and Northern Tablelands in NSW.. I'd say that most people who would participate in a thread on that topic today may never go to the resorts and, for the most part, are interested in all kinds of weather but only as it relates to where they live.

    If people can set regional and other prefixes up as a default, and these filters can straddle different forums, it could offer the best of both worlds and let us old Weatherzones stuck in our ways to maintain a region-based view of everything. I'd personally want to filter for anything NSW and/or snow related. I would then poke my head in other areas from time to time (eg I had a look in the SA thread today because of the heat over that way).

    To that end, we would need to be educated on how to use prefixes and filter by them to get the view we want. Mods would also need to help tag threads appropriately, because you can't expect the thread creator to always get it right. I don't think prefixes are well understood yet.

    I understand how event-based, and more centralised, make things easier to find for a newcomer.

    My final request would be that as forums consolidate, the number of stickies could ramp up. Too many of them makes event threads harder to locate. I'd save the stickies for the truly important stuff, and let day-to-day threads move up and down in the pecking order based on activity.
     
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  14. Billy_Buttons

    Billy_Buttons Que Sera, Sera Ski Pass: Gold

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    Loving the adoption from WZ. Looks like a 2nd Forum in the making.
     
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  15. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    The distortion in rocks during an earthquake can produce a piezoelectric effect, and on a large scale, can produce large electric field potential differences, which enable earthquake lightning to occur. This is an atmospheric phenomenon.
     
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  16. Billy_Buttons

    Billy_Buttons Que Sera, Sera Ski Pass: Gold

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    Big volcano activity.....can....bring lottsa snow into the future.
     
  17. Wavey

    Wavey One of Us

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    Totally agree with this point. Most of the time I don't really care what the weather is doing in other states unless it's extreme and interesting.

    I'm happy for there just to be a dedicated day to day type of thread like Richard suggested but I also feel like the current system is working quite well- perhaps that is just the WZ type familiarity. Would be interested to know if there have been obvious changes in the number of registrations though? It is summer after all so on a site like this you'd expect numbers to drop at this time of year anyway.
     
  18. Wavey

    Wavey One of Us

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    Thanks Billy Buttons, I enjoy it here too. There's certainly a lot of weather discussion here now which I think is great.
     
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  19. Trail Blazer

    Trail Blazer Part of the Furniture

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    I think the objective is to make this something like the Whirlpool of weather forums, but the current regional subforums dilute the first impression and SEO. Is that what you're trying to solve Richard?
     
  20. piolet

    piolet Better make it three Ski Pass: Gold

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    Thanks for keeping things evolving
    The wx area is certainly getting diverse on the local side of things

    Could we include cold frontal threads as an 'event' across a broader area vs last winter it was contained in general to the mountains (for example) but still affecting Sydney and other places and I found the discussion split around

    Mind you I'm a wx punter with only a passing interest
     
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  21. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    One of the strengths of ski.com.au over the years has been a willingness to continuously evolve and improve over a long period. Something I have not seen on any other forum across a range of subjects I have ever looked at.

    The only forums I have seen any changes in have been sponsored / owned by commercial interests and the changes were never for the users benefit only the owners.

    Weather folk would benefit for embracing this aspect of ski.com.au to have a real opportunity to have a say now and I'm sure in the longer term future.

    The trade off is paying subs. But it is seriously cheap compared to say a paper magazine subs.
     
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  22. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept Administrator

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    Yes, being rational with the volume of stickies is a goal. A topic dedicated to Day to Day's would negate the need to sticky any of those threads.
     
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  23. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept Administrator

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    yes, that's a big part of it.

    The current nomeclature and grouping is just too nuanced and requires familiarity of a regular to know which way is up. It's basically not good UX - if you have to pause to think where a new thread might best be created than that means it's simply not clear enough categorisation.
     
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  24. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept Administrator

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    I think yes, BBQ threads are all about community and simply checking in. Imho they are their own unique beast to this forum and do not detract or dilute from any other conversation. If anything they provide great daily energy that helps activity across all topics and threads.
     
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  25. Seabreezes

    Seabreezes One of Us

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    So if I understand correctly, threads would be distributed into four different subforums like the following (a couple of threads I've made up :)) :

    Snow & Alpine
    "7-10th November Polar Blast Obs"
    "20-24th Sept - Trough followed by Cold Shot"
    "Snow prediction accuracy thread"

    Surf & Marine
    "The Surf Thread"
    "Sydney to Hobart yacht race discussion"

    Day to Day
    "(Day to Day) NE NSW / SE QLD weather"
    "(Day to Day) NSW / ACT weather"
    "(Day to Day) Melbourne & VIC weather"
    "Challenges with floods & forecasts Brisbane SEQ, NENSW"

    Major Events
    "NSW/ACT Widespread heatwave- 18th to 22nd December 2019"
    "SEQLD/NENSW Thunderstorms - Dec 10-14 2019"
    "VIC Bushfire Crisis - February 2020"
    "Tropical Cyclone Esther - QLD - Feb 21-27 2020"
     
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  26. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept Administrator

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    yep,

    that's pretty close to how it would be

    good example. thanks
     
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  27. Retired Weather Man

    Retired Weather Man One of Us Ski Pass: Gold

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    Although I paste my daily obs, manually obtained, which I try to make high quality ( and more obs if the weather needs it ) in my local thread, the same obs are sent out to Facebook's " Weather Obsessed " run by the ABC, which of course goes all over the country. I often get comments regarding how different the weather here is from they are living, how many could not stand the humidity here etc, and also where is Wynnum North. None realize it is an eastern suburb of Brisbane on the shores of Moreton Bay, hence vastly different weather to the City only 15 km away and are interested in these different areas other than their own. I also occasionally make comments on the position of the Monsoon Trough etc. At my ripe old age of 71 ( and ex BoM ), I am not a computer nerd, and ploughed through the above discussion. I gather there might be just a national obs reporting thread for all to see like Weather Obsessed. If so go for it. Whatever the end result the simpler the better for me.
     
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  28. POW_hungry

    POW_hungry Part of the Furniture Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Keep doing 'you'. It's appreciated.
    There will always be space for yours (and other national) wx obs.
     
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  29. Flowin

    Flowin One of Us

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    I like the idea @Richard , but would say maybe "day to day weather" may be a better description than "day to day observations". In addition to observations, we often discuss the forecasts, or particular characteristics of the weather, or impacts of the weather, and occassionally I've also posted characteristics about the status of catchments as well.
    Hope that we can continue to encourage the same diversity of discussion under the general intent of it being related to weather related for periods of time when it is not worthy of specific "event" thread.
    Anyway I think the idea has merit.
    The discussion of cyclones and tropics weather is a weather topic that would also be nice to have a home for when there aren't any events happening.
     
  30. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept Administrator

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    Yep

    In fact the title will likely just be Day to Day. And I’ll likely drop ‘weather’ from Major Events

    The top level Category Group is ‘Weather’ and so there is no need to repeat the word ‘Weather’ at the secondary Topic level categories.
     
  31. Flowin

    Flowin One of Us

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    Just a thought.
    Would there be merit in themes of:
    1. Day to Day
    2. Tropical disturbances
    3. Polar disturbances
    ??
     
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  32. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept Administrator

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    I see tropical & polar as prefixes. What I do know is that you can’t have a topic category for too many things else energy is diluted and activity will atrophy.

    Our Aust resorts section is a case in point. Outside the five majors and Selwyn, BawBaw, Ben Lomond etc are ghost towns - the separation was created so we presented as being equatable to the local Industry but it does not work. (And ten years on, as I write this I think I will clean that up in this reshuffle as well).
     
  33. Budgiesmuggler

    Budgiesmuggler A Local Ski Pass: Gold

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    That requires some knowledge of the differences. Don’t see why it can’t all be together
     
  34. skimax

    skimax Old n' Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    All good Richard , the only challenge might be stopping snow obs occuring in nearly every category
     
  35. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept Administrator

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    Obs (v’s forecasting) may be an issue. Posting snowfall obs in a day to day thread for say the Blue Mtns would be fine and unlikely to dilute the 20+ year momentum of the snow forecast crowd.

    Either way, guidelines should be more clear and moderator actions less subject to debate.
     
  36. Trail Blazer

    Trail Blazer Part of the Furniture

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    I’m not sure the split predictions/obs threads are necessary outside snow systems. Perhaps if we had all the WZ tropical people it’d suit cyclones too.

    For instance there’s one at the moment in the Eastern & Marine forum for Christmas weather and it’s a bit nothingy IMO. A single thread evolving into obs would be fine for something that isn’t so obviously system-specific.

    The main difference in my view is the amount of ‘predictions’ content. A snowfall might have hundreds of posts over a three week period but a Sydney storm outbreak might only have a fraction of that over a couple of days before the obs kick in. In those cases, I think more threads = more confusion and the objective here is to centralise things a bit (I think?).
     
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  37. Bone Dry

    Bone Dry One of Us

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    Is there any chance of having a Spaceweather forum of some description. Considering the inclusion of an amount of solar forcing now in CMIP6, I think it's worth considering.

    ETA. Forgot to mention the additional inclusion of Cosmic Radiation.
     
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  38. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Out of curiosity and I know very little about the subject except it exists, is this cutting edge or well established?

    edit
    PS my father was talking about sunspot cycles influencing weather and or climate 35 years ago.
     
  39. Bone Dry

    Bone Dry One of Us

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    "is this cutting edge or well established?"

    Both.

    This isn't the thread for an appropriate response though, I'll have to ask a moderator if it is it ok to make a thread about it, which I was thinking of doing anyway. The problem is that the subject matter can attract CC fruitcakes, and that doesn't go down well. I also don't want to spend days, or possibly longer, putting a thread together only to have it trashed.
     
  40. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Ok, go for it..... we'll see how it goes.
     
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  41. currawong

    currawong Old but not so Crusty Ski Pass: Gold

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    you can make whatever threads you like providing they fit with the scope of the sub forum. i would have thought that spaceweather would be well within the scope of general (& world) weather :)
     
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  42. Bone Dry

    Bone Dry One of Us

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    "Ok, go for it..... we'll see how it goes."

    I'm cool with that so long as, in the case of a hijacking event, the OP is not deleted. I will compile it offline, sans images etc, and submit before it goes online. I suspect it'll be quite long and I'm not sure if you have a post size limitation.

    Looking forward to some very interesting discussions.
     
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  43. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept Administrator

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    So, in order to provide confidence, should you create such an interesting OP and thread, I can vouch that it would never have the OP removed. That’s not how we roll.

    Plus I’m sure you would have the full support of all weather mods to keep it on topic, you have my support fully so always feel free to PM me with concerns or issues.
     
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  44. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept Administrator

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    As to my OP

    I’ll be commencing changes to weather structure next week.

    A notice will appear whilst the ‘roadworks’ are in progress.
     
  45. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    I recollect a discussion about earthquakes, they appear to be all lumped into one thread.

    Any reason we don’t do a thread per big quake?
     
  46. Sandy

    Sandy Dark Sith Lord of the Pool Room Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    It's easier to do MOST quakes in one thread, but you can create an earthquake thread for a big one.
    The key, I guess, is that the average quake is special interest (so is in the Weather Forum), while big quakes have more general interest, so if it's big, just post in Convo
     
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  47. skifree

    skifree A disciple of the blessed avi giraffe Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Gotcha, OK :thumbs:
     
  48. Richard

    Richard Maintenance Dept Administrator

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    I’d rather they stay in one of the Weather sub topics (what is currently General & World) - for SEO reasons.
     
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  49. Adaminaby Angler

    Adaminaby Angler One of Us

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    I am genuinely enjoying this forum now, but one issue still haunts me...the bloody "new post" thread notifications failing to register. I just keep on missing new posts, despite having those threads on watch (which I always double-check).
     
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  50. Majikthise

    Majikthise Sage Moderator Ski Pass: Gold

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    Probably scope for aurora alerts in there too.
     
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