BPAL Madness!: Happy 2011 (and some news and updates)! - BPAL Madness!

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Happy 2011 (and some news and updates)! (a few days late)

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 11:32 AM

I don't know about you, but 2010 was a crazy year across the board for me - personally, professionally, and here on the forum - and full of many highs and many lows.


Looking into 2011, I wanted to let you know of some of the things that we have been working on, and some of the things we are planning to work on.


The Forum Updates Blog. Morrig, SV, and I have a new blog on the forum (linked to the left), though I'm the primary person who posts to it. Some of you have already seen it - I've been linking to it from our facebook page (which pushes it up to our twitter). There's presently no RSS feed for it, specifically, and I've been working with Invision to try to figure out how to make one. I do have it set up to notify me of comments, so please - comment away! I know there's been some discussion already, but you're definitely encouraged to keep the comments hopping :)


Skins. We will be announcing our skinning contest soon! We want YOU to design our next skin! You don't need to know anything about how the Invision templating system works - we'll be paying someone to convert from images (or PSP/PSD files) or from HTML/CSS (with whatever images necessary). You're welcome to get started now, and you'll be allowed to submit up to three skins. One word about images: they need to be PG13 and either your work, public-domain, or royalty free (with the source). So, for instance, many of the Lab's Beardsley images would be fine to use, but their CD/Neil Gaiman/Hellboy/etc images would not be.


Feedback Center. In June, we lost our feedback system unexpectedly when the forum was upgraded. In some ways, it was not a huge loss - it was super slow, it was picky, there were many people who couldn't leave feedback (or get feedback) -- but having no feedback system in its place was terribly. I am so very sorry at how long it took me to put up the new system, because I was trying to design it in a way that made more sense. In any case, in December, I was finally able to bring back the personal feedback pages - but without statistics. One of the things I am presently working on is returning the statistics. I have no ETA for them at this time.


The Unresolved Swaps Center. WIth the feedback we've gotten from it, and the way the feedback system has been created, I have come to the conclusion that Unresolved Swaps is really redundant, and I will be removing the link and contacting those that have given reports to ask that they leave feedback (if they have not done so). Our old feedback system didn't allow multiple transactions, didn't really allow for me to configure it to have "non-ratings", and so forth, and with that system, a separate unresolved swaps area made sense. Instead, I will try to add something to feedback, to allow you to readily pull out certain kinds of feedback -- similar to the way Amazon allows you to only read the 1 star reviews.


The Stash Manager. Our newest little gizmo, I love it to pieces. I suppose this serves as the forum announcement for it - I have talked about it a little in the "How do you keep track of what you've tried" topic, and announced it on our blog a few days ago. What's the Stash Manager? It's a tool that will allow you to keep track of what BPAL you've tried, how well you liked it, whether or not you've bought it/kept it/sold or swapped it, and your personal notes about it. It's as private as PMs are (or, perhaps, more private - you can't currently share any of it). I've got some cool long term plans from it (recommendations, making cloud tags of your loved and hated notes), but it'll take time because I have to educate myself on data mining. If you have questions, comments, find bugs, or that sort of thing, please post them in in this topic!


The Scent Database. This is the database that runs, among other things, our Stash Manager and our Price Cap Database. Recently, we requested volunteers to help us add some of the missing scents to the database and got an outstanding result - nearly 50 people volunteered! We were only looking for a handful of volunteers for adding scents, and will be getting back to you later this week -- while not everyone will be selected for adding scents (so many people can be very hard to manage), those who aren't will be tasked with helping to go through the various forums, to double check that the links are correct, the release/discontinuation dates are correct, and so forth. Even if you didn't volunteer to help out, I would really appreciate it if you would use the Report button to let us know when you see things that are wrong or missing.


Links to Member's Posts in Forum / in Topic. I think I know how to do this now, though not as prettily as it used to be. I don't know when it'll get done, though - the new hovercard makes it kind of hard to add it in a pretty fashion.


View your own invisible topics/posts. Still broken, and the guy I talked to that thought he knew how to fix it wanted an obscene amount of money to do it for us :( It's probably a fair amount, but way more than I'm willing to spend.


Retail Therapy. The experiment still continues. We're continuing to evaluate your feedback (both what you've been telling us via PM or in the topic, and what you're telling us by your posting and traffic patterns).

One of the things that has been mentioned many times is the lower traffic in Retail Therapy since the changes. This prompted me to take a closer look at the traffic patterns - not just from within 2009, but for the last five years. When analyzing the traffic patterns, however, I found a statistic that is absolutely puzzling. Normally, Retail Therapy experiences a significant drop in traffic from October to December. Typically, it's a 25-50% reduction in traffic, and is the biggest drop of the year. Traffic trends on this forum are, for better or worse, fairly consistent year-to-year, and have a cycle within the year. This year, there was a drop of 47% and has already started to recover (5 days into the year and there's already more posts than we had at this point last month). The puzzling part to me is that it was not the worse drop that Retail Therapy experienced last year -- between February and April 2010, the traffic was cut in more than half and never recovered.



The Guidelines. We have been meaning to rewrite them for years but never quite found the time to do so, and just kept adding things and adding things via announcements, pinned topics, and announcements, and not necessarily in places that are convenient - for you or for us! - to find what we want. We are going to move the guidelines into a different area, one that's easier for us to categorize and link to, so you can more readily find what you want. We're going to get rid of things that are out of date and (hopefully) going to simplify things - including the dreaded swaps area.
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