Here are my reasons for why it has been losing its appeal over the past 6 months
- Loss of knowledgable and regular members
- Antiquated Forum engine
- MS Trolls are tolerated by the moderators
- People move on
1. Loss of Knowledgable and regular members
Gone are the days where we can exchange code snippets and discuss the details of the CLI, with a healthy mixture of jokes in between. Kahfui seems to be preoccupied with his new job, and Tim seems to be galavanting the region. Derek is still around, but his one liners are to few and far between nowadays. Firedancer has decided to do her dance down south.
Of course it takes an interesting topic to stir things up, but what is more important is a stable of reliable posters who would respond to things. The newbie posts are tolerable but really, we should have better quality questions, puhlease.
2. Antiquated Forum engine
The Forum engine looks old and feels old.
- There are no 'Edit Posts' feature which is not a problem for me, but evidently quite a problem for other users.
- It doesnt scale. After a while, the forum slows down to a crawl and refuses to work, until the admins have to lob off old posts to let it return to an acceptable performance level.
This is a good workaround, but its terrible as a forum, because we would want to have a more permanent record of posts, otherwise issues would be raised again and again. Having a track record is quite important. Currently it goes back to 2003.
There has been much talk on converting the server over to Community Server, but I heard that a year ago. People say, give 'em some slack, since its a volunteer effort. ... Fine, but isnt Microsoft paying for something? (MS sponsors MIND in a way, as they provide the meeting space, and they fund INETA which MIND is part of)
3. MS Trolls are tolerated by the moderators
Couple of months ago, some members decided upon themselves to post up attention grabbing, controversial but totally misunderstood posts. Because these persons was suppose to be 'well respected' in the community, and the posts were very pro-Microsoft (MIND sponsors), moderators found themselves caught in whether to moderate the posts or not. In the end, they didnt, they allowed a subset of posts to go through, which brought alot of antagonistic feelings in the community.
I'd be the first to admit it that I was involved in a few heated exchanges, as I felt that misinformation is best left to mainstream newspapers and government controlled TV stations. However I kept discussions open and tried not to sink below bridge level.
The MS Trolls have since been quiet but since their departure, they left a rank stench on where they've trodden. Their acceptance by the moderators mean that certain thoughts would be condoned, no matter how illogical they may be, just because of the 'politics' with the sponsors. As an engineer, merits on logic and reasoning should be the determining factor on whether a post is moderated or not.
4. People move on
Peoples interests and job requirements change over the months and years, and ultimately their communities change. We cant expect the same cast of people to remain at the forums; greater and better things are always attracting their attentions. Its the community which should make contributers feel that they get much more out than what each puts in.
Lately Im hanging out at #myoss, the Malaysian Open Source community via the IRC, and there is an exciting buzz to it. I dunno, but perhaps thats where I should help develop instead. People there are knowlegable, friendly, openminded and helpful. Just like the old MIND I used to know ...