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First, a big thank you to LauraN who appears to have taken on the massive task of imposing order in this huge forum. And to aMcKinnon, who is obviously going to be moderating most of the forums. The forum is without a doubt a vital resource for both long-time OMSers and newcomers and I am sure I speak for many of us when I say how much we appreciate the time and effort you are putting into keeping this lifeline functioning smoothly.

Having said that, I do have some concerns about the ongoing redesign, and a suggestion. First for the concerns:

Browsing
- for newcomers. I am sure I am not the only person to have visited the forums many, many times before joining, and to have spent ages browsing and learning from the posts, especially in the 'Diet' forum (diet often being newcomers' first concern?). The wide variety of topics covered meant I learnt about lots of things I would not have guessed I needed to know about. A newcomer wanting to repeat my initial learning experience would have to - at the last count - work their way through 24 separate forums, some (like 'Oils') with further sub-divisions.
- for long-rime users. Time & energy is doubtless an issue for a huge number of us. It used to really quick and easy to visit the index page and skim over the dates to check for new posts. The index page has now become much 'busier' with the addition of a moderator name for each forum and (to my eye, distracting) use of bold font. And if there is an update in the popular 'Diet' section there is the added need to browse through a whole separate page of forum headings to find out where the updates are. (I tend to visit without logging in so the 'View new posts' & similar options don't help, and would in any case bring up 'new' or 'unread' posts in forums I don't follow on a regular basis).

Maybe I would get used to this new, more complicated set-up in time but at the moment, at least, I find it rather time-consuming and, as a result, tend to visit less often :(

Posting
My real concern about the new forum layout is that it may be less intuitive for newcomers to post. Many newcomers are in a state of distress, may be suffering brain-fog, may be unfamiliar with Internet forums, may have a mixed bag of questions or may basically use a few questions as a pretext to establish a connection with others in the same boat? If their questions are diet related they now face choosing one of the 24 categories before they can post. I worry that this extra obstacle may deter some newcomers?

At the moment, the 'old' Diet forum still exists below the 24 new categories and it is still,possible to post there, but people may have given up by the time they get that far? I know I did Initially - I thought all the old posts had been wiped out.

My suggestion, for what it is worth, is to revert to a default view where the 'Diet' page shows all the posts that fall under the Diet heading but to offer an option to filter and just see posts about 'Dairy / Dairy alternatives', 'Gluten' etc. The filter would make use of all the hard work that has gone into tagging all the old posts. People uploading new threads could be asked to tick one or more categories that best fit the content once they are ready to submit their post? If they don't tick any categories, their post could be tagged 'Miscellaneous' by default?

It is perfectly possible that it is just me who is struggling with the new forum set-up. I'd be interested to learn what others think?

These comments are offered very much in the spirit of constructive criticism and I sincerely hope they will be received as such.

With best wishes,

Jette
The Gut Microbiome is KEY to optimal health.
The OMS site & forum are brilliant! Thanks, everyone! :D
No Jette it's not just you, finding it different, and less instinctive.

Separate sections can be useful in a fast paced forum, and posts that are outstanding, can often be pinned to the top of each relevant section.

I'm aware of the difficulties of planning, running and moderating a forum, the bold notification for the moderator is a distraction, IMO!

The difficulty and amount of work involved to search, group and collate the threads into sections, makes me sweat just thinking about it. But it can also make finding posts difficult until the sections sort themselves out.

Forums like 'Location' need to be sectioned logically, (as they are), but IMPO to section every forum often feels excessive to start off with. The good news is that once sectioned appropriately, and then used often, the system sorts itself out.

I would look at the Diet forum, and limit the number of subsections, that contain other subsections.

e.g.
Diet
--Diet Information
----OMS site Information
----Other MS Diets
----Fasting
----Vitamins
----Weight Management
--Cooking Methods
----Baking
----Blending
----Dry Frying
----Raw Foods
--Fats/Oils
----On the Diet
----Not on the Diet
--Ingredients
----Bread/ Gluten
----Cocoa/Cocao
----Dairy/Alternatives
----Eggs/Alternatives
----Fruit
----Legumes/Nuts/Seeds
----Sugar=Alternatives
----Vegetables
--Protein
----On the Diet
===---Plant based
--==--Fish/Seafood
----Not on the Diet
------Lean meat/Chicken
------Red Meat/Game meat
--Miscellaneous

So instead of the Diet Forum having 24 sub forums, it would have 6 sub forums that contained all those other sub forums. The posters could be encouraged to post in the "Correct" sub forum, but the 'Miscellaneous' forum would work as a catch all for newbie common questions, and allow regular posters to guide them, if not answer the questions directly.

Just my 2 cents,

Thanks to LauraN and aMckinnon for all the work they are doing on the site, to improve and help everybodies experience here!
Be well, live long and prosper!
Hi Jette and Farrier,

Thanks for the feedback - it is useful to hear from long-time users. We can assure you that posts aren't being deleted but rather sorted in to further sub-categories.

As an organisation, we have found that less and less people are using the forums each month. We have also had feedback that the forums are difficult to navigate and that the sheer quantity of posts can be incredibly overwhelming for newcomers. Secondly, we are working towards optimizing our forums for Google (so that if people search for info on OMS, they can find relevant forum topics around their search terms).

For those reasons, we have decided to re-organize the way the forums work. This is a bit of an ongoing process as each topic has to be moved one by one manually - all in all, it will take us over a month to complete. These categories are by no means the 'final' categories and we are definitely open to any feedback and suggestions from long-time forum users.

We do understand that change can be unpleasant and for a while, things may seem a bit messy but we really do hope that in the long run, we can encourage more users to come to the forums and find the wealth of information that they contain.

If you'd like to send me more feedback on the forums, please do send me an email on laura@overcomingms.org and we can chat further.

Thank you again for raising your thoughts with us - we do really appreciate it.

Kind regards,
Laura, OMS Web Editor
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