As you may be aware I’ve been looking at revamping the sites for a variety of reasons, not least user requests, and for the last few weeks I have left the sites alone while I watched and gathered information to help me make my decisions.
When I started the site a few years ago I had a clear mission statement that I was going to provide information to anyone who was interested in prepping no matter what their skill level, I was going to provide a site giving them informative data with a files archive and a forum for them to discuss any prepping related items that they needed help with. These sites to have a UK bias to aid by having a common understanding of the situation and issues. I also wanted to provide a facility to enable people to meet each other in an OPSEC friendly way and build up any relationship that was mutually beneficial.
To meet these requirements I configured, tweaked and built three distinct sites which I funded. I also wrote the code for the contact database and the code for the file download site, as well as hundreds of articles and many, many hours on the phone or on the road. This is as well as my day job and my family life.
I think I achieved my objectives for the site with the long delayed file section going live and so it was a good time to review my requirements and the sites mission.
The forum has been the most contentious area which was only to be expected as people have different opinions and most of us are alpha males. It makes us think outside the box and not follow blindly like sheep. However, this has it’s downside in that the discussions turn into arguments and it takes a lot of time to manage. However changes needed to be made. It cannot continue how it was going.
So I asked for input via the forum and I got several replies, some on the forum and some in private via email, and I will respond to each one with what I am going to do about it any why I made that decision. From what I can see from the feedback there are very few comments on the other SUK sites, everything is based around the forum so from that I guess everything else is OK.
I need a starting point for the review and the mission statement plus the feedback is sufficient to enable me to consider options. After a little thought I consider that my mission statement has not changed. I still want to provide the wide scope of helping all.
So to review the feedback. One comment at a time.
Comment : I’d quite like to see a topic opened to discuss the latest article on the main site. A lot of the articles are brilliant, but I’m a little hesitant to start a thread about it, incase people just start adding links to the main site topic
Answer : Not all posts on the main site need to be discussed on the forum so an automatic topic is not viable. A topic will need to be opened by someone to start the discussion. If you don’t do it and nobody else does then clearly nobody wants to talk about it. People will add links when they have not read the question correctly. Nothing I can do about that.
Action : No action.
Comment : Also, bring back the ‘rating’ and ‘thank you’ buttons. I have a reputation of 30, and there are many others whom should have higher reps than me.
Answer : The rating system is still there. However, it will be changing. I have monitored this and at the moment it is used as a means of punishment when it is meant to be a guide to other users. I will be changing it so can only rate people once. If I can’t do that I will disable it. The Thanks system was disabled when we were having performance issues. I will reenable it and monitor the performance to see how it goes.
Action : Modify Rating system. Restore Thanks system.
Comments : A more “neutral” background would be ideal. I only log in from work, all this green and blue stands out!
Answer : It is a theme. It is designed to be easy to read and does the job. If you want to make changes suggest some and provide screenshots and palette details and I’ll have a look and see but I don’t have the time to sit adjusting colours. Sorry.
Action : User to provide screenshot of some palette changes.
Comment : The only thing I can think off, though not sure if it is needed, is the addition of a ‘Closed Forum’ where only members with a certain number of posts can view/post which would allow more sensitive issues to be discussed away from an open/publuic forum.
Also another section could be ‘Member Benfits’, again only open to members with an agreed number of posts to their names, where other members can potentially post discount codes they have found (or negotiated) or proposals for group buys etc.
Answer : Sensitive issues are as much of interest to new preppers as old ones. Limiting access by amount of posts just results in posts that say nothing except acknowledge the previous post. Everyone will be able to achieve the count and thus it is pointless.
Action : No Action.
Comment : I participate in a few different (non-prepping) forums, and also like a closed forum which only members can view.
Answer : For OPSEC reasons I do not require anyone to register for access to the sites. They register for the forum as it is necessary to validate users to keep spammer scum out. I am against members only areas because 1) It created elitism. 2) Keeps the new starters out which defeats my mission objectives and 3) creates work for myself to maintain the membership details.
Action : No Action
Comment : Apart from that, I always wondered about the pic at the top of the site. For a site which emphasizes prepping and bugging-in more than outdoor survival, those pics of the dude catching a fish and what is either a huge compost mound or a debris shelter are a little out of kilter with the site’s content.
Answer : Why does no one like my debris hut? Hidden, secure and so OPSEC friendly that seasoned preppers don’t see it for what it is. To me an ideal header. As far as the logo goes I had to steal one because I’m no good at arty things. I’m not tied to either of them but I can’t be bothered looking for something else. If you want to change them then I’m open to suggestions same as the colour scheme.
Action : Users to contribute new header pics and/or a suggested logo.
Comment : How about not only closing the forum to non members, but make them sit an entrance test first, Smile SERIOUSLY we desperaytely absolutely do need a graded membership based on skill, experience, or something similar.
Answer : 1) This does not fit in with my mission statement. I want to help all levels. 2) Who will administer this bureaucratic membership system? I don’t have the time nor the inclination. 3) What questions can we ask that people will not be able to find out the answers from Google and gain access?
Action : No Action.
Comment : As it is Survival UK couldn’t we just keep it to people from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland? cant see the point of having members from elsewhere who don’t understand anything about the UK.
Answer : Well, we could do that but there are other issues where topics are not specific to the UK and the more input the better. We get some good input from our foreign members. The site already has a strong UK bias which aids in understanding and it is not like any topics are being dominated by non UK residents.
Action : No Action.
Comments : How about a participation based grading system? The more you contribute the more you can take out….
Answer : This means that new preppers, who have little to contribute are unable to gain their knowledge at the sped they can process it. For all we know an event could happen anytime and we are limiting the access for people whose eyes have just opened because we feel like they are leeching off us. That goes against the mission statement. New preppers don’t contribute because they have little to contribute. We will simply get inundated with beginning prepping stories as that is all they have.
Action : No Action.
The next few are cut down from a comment which is worth reading. Go to the post and read it in full.
Comment : We’ve got into a vicious cycle where the threads are specialized because newbies don’t post, and newbies don’t post because the threads are specialized.
Answer : Not a lot I can do here. Newbies will simply need to ask questions. We ask ours they need to ask theirs. Nobody is going to answer questions not asked.
Action : Users need to ask questions of the knowledgeable members. It is the only way to learn.
Comment : The current postings seem mainly slanted to the survivalist end of things, but not everyone is that kind of prepper. I’d really like to see a few on the more mundane, everyday things, which could appeal even to those who are prepping for major floods or power cuts rather than TEOTWAWKI. I’d start a few threads myself, but am nervous at the prospect of being laughed at or just ignored.
I also think there is real value to even some of the apparently frivolous stuff – eg little mechanical ways of saving time post SHTF, ways to make food post SHTF that actually taste good, ways to keep your house clean to keep up morale. They may seem like trivial luxuries, but there is nothing macho in being uncomfortable when you don’t need to be. We all know that time and mental health will be even more important post-SHTF, and it would be good to discuss some of these things too.
Answer : On the other sites there is a variety of posts. On the forum though the posts are biased by the person asking the question. You must ask questions in the areas you are interested in. I can’t make people respond to you but I’ve not seen anyone laughed at yet.
Action : Users need to ask questions of the knowledgeable members.
Comment : Much of what we post here is highly discouraging to a big chunk of the potential membership. Not everyone is young and fit. Not everyone lives in the country. Not everyone has the spare money to prep as much as they’d like. Not everyone has the clean record they’ll need for even a shotgun licence. Not everyone even has a supportive partner. Yes, we all have our own ideas of the ideal survival plan, but I’ve seen a newbie told bluntly ‘they’ve got no chance’ because they live in London with a young child. One member even had a sig line effectively saying that everyone in the Home Counties was doomed. I think that was actually NR and am sure he was joking – but it isn’t going to encourage people to post, is it?
I also disagree with the philosophy behind it. In a way, both prepping and survivalism are about a ‘back to basics’, minimalist approach, and we all like those games of ‘you have only a penknife and a piece of string, how will you survive in this situation?’ But there are harder, tougher games than that, and a very different kind of minimalism. What if the game was – ‘You’re in your fifties with chronic asthma, you live in an inner city flat with drug dealers across the road, you’re out of work and can’t afford much extra food or gear. Now – how will you survive?’ There are people facing exactly that kind of situation, but history tells us that time and again that some actually survive it. There are other skills than bushcraft, and some are equally valuable. That’s prepping too, and the kind that really deserves respect.
Answer : Sadly this is a snippet from life. People beef up what they do and belittle others efforts. They force their views in. Although I accept that it puts people off there is little I can do about that. People will have to take on what is said but try and ignore these negative people. They trive on emphasising these negative aspects.
Action : Users to use their ignore lists more and don’t feed the trolls.
Comment : Not everyone does, and I totally sympathize with NR’s long post about wasting time helping those who are only ‘playing at’ prepping – but I still don’t think we should try to drive them away. It’s quite true that the sort of person who’s stashed a few tins of baked beans and a nine-pack of toilet roll isn’t a prepper – but he’s someone who’s taken the first step to becoming one. If we tell him ‘You need 500 times that, mate, and your batteries won’t last so you need to convert your house to solar and get a wind turbine, and when are you getting your ham licence and have you got your FAC yet?’ then he’s going to tiptoe quietly away, and the next time he’s a bit short on the week’s supplies he’ll eat his stash of baked beans. That’s a prepper lost.
Sometimes we can give the impression that this is a good thing – that there’s all the more for us. But I disagree. Apart from general decency, every single prepper in my area is one less person for me to feed, one less person for me to fight away from my own supplies, and also one more potential ally. We can’t have too many preppers.
Answer : Totally agree. I’m doing my bit though. I can’t hold every hand. They should start at the main site, which I encourage and them move on to the forum when the basics are sorted but everyone pops straight into the forum where they get hit by all the bad news.
Action : New users to accept that they are just starting like we all did and avoid the forums at first and experienced users to treat the new preppers as new and not frighten them away. Everyone has to start at the beginning.
Comment : Of all kinds. SD has always said that all are welcome here, and I’m sure that’s still true. What I think we need to do is make sure that’s coming across – and maybe that means being a little kinder and more encouraging to those who are less advanced.
Answer : Everyone is still welcome here providing they keep to my simple rules. However, in every walk of life the experts play on their knowledge and this is no different. Good luck on getting some of these people to be kinder and encouraging.
Action : Experienced users to be kinder and encouraging to new users.
Comment : But it also means the rest of us need to pull our weight more. If things have got slanted one way, it’s the fault of people like me for not contributing more in other directions. It’s hardly fair to leave all the posting to a loyal handful of members, and then complain that it all feels the same.
Answer : Well no need to answer this one.
Action : Users to contribute and make the site what they want or stop whining. Nobody owes them anything and they need to accept that and move on.
Wow! A few very good points. Moving on…
Comment : LL’s comments are completely on track if the objective of SUK is popularity, and that you define popularity by the numbers of hits on the site and the number of enrolled members.
What is your vision for SUK, what’s the objective, and how do you define success?
Answer : My vision and objective is that I provide help and advice for as many as want it. I have no interest in popularity, number of hits or number of enrolled members. In fact I’m having a cull of members and will be deleting everyone who has zero posts. I define success by the number of people I see getting help on the site from newbies to those with significant experience.
Action : Remove members with zero posts.
Comment : A couple of things have been keeping me quiet of late though. One, is that, it seems to me, so many threads just break down into pointless wandering, entrenched opinions and personal attacks. I want nothing to do with that and would much prefer to see everyone’s views respected.
Answer : This goes against the rules I have set up but many people get round that by flying very close to the line with smileys and other means. I’ve left the forum unmoderated for a week to see what happened. Several threads turned abusive and I’m not happy with that. I’m going to ruthlessly enforce the no argumentum ad hominem rule with a warning followed by a one week ban and if it happens again a permanent one.
Action : Moderate the forum to stop verbal abuse and set up the warning system.
Comment : Oh aye correct me if I am wrong but I believe P2S is the UKs most populated forum with the most active members, and I also believe it has graded membership systems in place.?
Answer : Perhaps but I was a member of P2S. I didn’t find it informative at all and with the graded subscriptions people were writing crap just to get to the next grade. Plus I’m not after a big list of members.
Action : No Action.
Comment : I believe SB in the US has extra closed access forums for its paying members and it rocks.
Answer : The US is different from the UK. First there are 10 times the number of people there, and second they are only a generation away from the biggest group of self reliant doers on the planet. Third, they are only just now, over the last few decades, being rotted away by socialism. We are well down that path. Four, they have plenty of spare cash for luxuries and their hobbies. I would be lucky getting five people to pay for access to a SUK closed site. That would make for some boring reading. If you disagree I’ll await the cash to come through. Just contact me and I’ll give you the account details to pay into. If more than five people send me the cash, whatever that US site charges but in £ rather than Disney money, then I’ll set up a closed forum for all those that have paid.
Action : Await cash and install forum if necessary.
Comment : Let me be ABSOLUTELY clear about this issue, what I want for SUK is the same as I want for ALL UK based prepper forums, I want people to get stuck in, participate, learn, thrive, improve our preps TOGETHER, COOPERATE in driving up standards in our plans, kits, resources, publications.
I want to see all the forums rocking with discussion, debate, news, feedback, tips, ideas, concepts, plans, pertinent targeted adverts, fdeals with suppliers for members etc.
Look to everyone from my heart and with respect to all but WE the UK prepper community are bloody 25 years BEHIND the Americans and Aussies, we are still pissing around at 1990 levels of development. We must do better and its both selfish, wrong, parasitic and immoral to leave ALL the hard work to half a dozen forum owners, moderators and about a two dozen motivated contributors.
Answer : I’m with you there mate although I don’t think our community is as far behind as you imply due to lethargy. We just don’t have the spare readies or the time in this mickey mouse country. Now how do I get forums rocking. I don’t see any thriving sites out there that are not offering some sort of financial reward for contributions. Most of the US sites are sponsored and those that are active in the way you describe are sponsored to the tune of thousands of $ per month.
Action : Find a rich sponsor.
Comment : Perhaps a section explicitly for “Help” in any given topic ie specific queries regarding a project? Also a section for people who really do want to discuss world news and events. This could help others in understanding what’s actually going on by those who have a better insight? I know SD is against news waffling, and I can see his point of view but I still think a section dedicated to news stories is not necessarily a bad thing, after all, it’s the media that ultimately may give us the warning we need.
Answer : Almost any topic can be put under a section somewhere and then there is the catch all ‘An Open Box’. What else can I do there? However, seeing as so many people want a News section I’m going to reopen the one we have subject to these changes, it must be prepper related, have a link to a news site and avoid conspiracy theories and the like. Seeing as that leads to the most numbers of arguments that coupled with my ruthless enforcement policy should cull quite a few members.
Action : Set up News section.
Comment : When a new person to the forum comes along, participation is what should be expected of them. Joining in discussion and contributing where they can.
With all of the various subject headings I’m sure most people can find an area where they have knowledge that they can share.
Answer : I’m with you there. However, not everyone has anything to contribute. It is a fact of life they have lived their lives watching TV, drinking and playing games. Now they have woken up they are at the bottom of the ladder. We are here to help them up and all contributions are accepted but they really have nothing we are interested in. Even experts in specific areas can find that they can’t contribute because someone already here is better than them in that subject.
Action : Users to look at their experience and identify areas they can contribute.
Comment : I’ve been on some forums that have, in the user options section, the ability to put different schemes in place, so a user can pick one from a list. If you could add a black and white one in that’d be grand
Answer : I have seen that option on some forums. I will look at it for you.
Action : To look at adding a monochrome colour scheme on the forum.
Comment : First of all the friendliness has taken leave of many people, I would hazard a guess that many people new to prepping would be scared to death to even voice a question on this forum for fear of being shot down as many people have before…. some people are damn right aggressive and rude, unless people agree with them,.. but they continue to be able to do this unchecked….. its mentioned that there are so few posters,… for me its not hard to see why
Answer : I agree and although I can’t make people friendly I’m going to police them being rude and aggressive.
Action : To moderate the forums more.
Comment : I know that the title of the forum is `Survival UK`,.. well to my way of thinking, there is a great deal of difference between prepping and survival,… `surviving` is prepping `survival` to my thinking is more to do with bush craft,.. and much of what takes place on the forum now falls into the bush craft pot not the prepping pot
Answer : When I started it was all Survival, the US sites are survival and Survival is recognised as what we are doing so I stuck with what I knew. It has recently been watered down to prepping probably because it sounds less militaristic and our namby pamby society likes that. The site is about Surviving and how we prepare for that. With my knowledge now if I was setting off I would consider something else but I am where I am.
Action : No Action.
Comment : I dont think that the forum is run well enough, SD is the only law on the forum, and SD is the first to admit that he is away a lot, so when something goes wrong nothing is done,… until SD returns when he closes `x` number of threads,.. the damage has already been done by that stage,… it would make sense to have at least one moderator to keep an eye on things.
So for me,… unfriendly and too gun ho,…with very little practical advice,…and far too much un moderated arguing
Answer : Like when the schoolteacher leaves the kids pick on some poor sod. There are moderators but one over moderated and deleted whole threads and the others don’t do any moderating at all and as I’ll be spending even less time in future on the sites so I’m looking for a few moderators to take this on. I’ve a few people in mind and I’m talking to them now but I am a control freak so they must follow my rules so it is difficult. I’m not as easy going as it looks.
Action : Set up some new moderators.
Comment : I wonder why ‘newbie participation’ has become the big theme as it seems to me there are long time members here that seem really unhappy to let other members discuss anything at all! These people choose to dominate all threads. These people attempt to engage with every utterance made even though they usually have nothing to add to further a discussion, they like the sound of their own voices a little too much happily repeating themselves ad infinitem! Guess what? When you don’t let people get a word in edgeways, when you don’t play nice … nobody wants to play with you at all! AND THAT’S NO FUN IS IT?!!! Ha! Ha!
Look at this thread … who’s full it? Get rid of the wind SD and you may yet regain a vibrant site where people are keen to chat and exchange ideas!
Answer : I too get fed up with the meaningless comments and the constant negative comments. However, they are valid comments and most need to be said, just not so many times and in every thread. It needs to be brought under control so to this end I’m asking people to be specific about what they ask and the moderators can delete comments that add nothing to the thread. That is already in the comment rules. That is a bigger step than it sounds as about 50% of the posts would have disappeared if we enforced that policy now. However, it would make the threads easier to read and understand when someone visits them later.
Action : Task moderators with tidy up tasks.
Comment : The thing is, people want an open discussion. I appreciate TOF’s input, I appreciate BM’s input. I seek out LS’s input, and when TH isn’t hunting, I get his input too. I appreciate nearly all input. But the thing is, a lot of threads get derailed, when they should really be made into new threads, to stop information getting lost, e.g. when I asked about BOL Camo, then started a thread about Roaming Bugging Out, because Dev gave a new perspective I’d not explored before.
Answer : The thing is the forum is not designed for storing information long term. The main site and the files area are. So revisiting a forum and find a specific bit of relevant information is not so easy. This is because the forum is not being used correctly if the intent is to pass on information. Informational posts, of which there are a few are being lost. They need to be posted on the main site as a post or on the files site as a document.
Action : To move relevant posts on the forum to the main site as they are generated and edit the thread to remove the bulk of the text and leave it for comments.
Comment : People, especially new members, want their posts answered and not derailed with different things. For an example of how quickly stuff can be derailed…If someone asks about input on what a Gerber Machete is like, the replies will be stuff like “I don’t want to use a machete post SHTF” or “I love my Mora” or something like that. As great as those things might be, it doesn’t answer the question, it just increases a post count. The same with guns, where someone will ask about that, and the discussion goes about how awful guns are and how you’ll get out of ammo before you’ve even fired a round, and how awesome bows and arrows are. Instead of derailing a thread, start a new one! Or, better yet, why not answer the question being asked. When I asked about how to camo a BOL, it took nearly 2 pages to get an answer to my question!!! REALLY?!?!? TWO PAGES OF CHAT BEFORE THE QUESTION WAS ANSWERED!
So, I think answering the question and being positive about other input, or even disagreeing nicely, would really help newer members a lot more.
Answer : It isn’t just new members. This again is in the rules. It just need moderating and people to actually read the question. I can’t make them read it properly, I’m a prepping site not a ‘Understanding Linguistics Site’ so I’m back to simply enforcing the rules.
Action : Task moderators with tidy up tasks.
Comment : A Gallery section??
Answer : There is already the capability to upload pics in the forum.
Action : No Action.
Comment : As for the moderation, a light hand is better in my opinion as we’ are all adults and if we can’t deal with a bit of stick every now and then on an internet forum, how the hell are we going to cope after an event when dealing with real (and desperate) idiots face to face!
Answer : Good point but you will be surprise how many people have sent me email and have left because of comments left on the forum. It cannot continue, this site must be a place where people don’t get insulted for a difference of opinion. Even thin skinned people have good ideas.
Action : Task moderators with monitoring bullying.
Comment : How bout thumbs up/down instead of a thanks button?
Answer : I’ve seen this on other sites and it leads to people stopping posting. I’ll be restoring the Thanks button. Positive reinforcement. You can tell the helpful posts by the Thanks while the others are just quiet. Let’s see how that goes.
Action : No Action.
Now my comments.
Comment : I’m fed up with driving the posts on the main site myself. It’s me or a few posts from a couple of regulars. I’m now only going to post things I want to and not because I have to do so many a week. I’ll be taking some articles from the forum as well but now is the time for you to contribute. Many have talked about it but few put finger to keyboard.
Answer : Users to contribute some posts for the main site.
Action : Users to send me some articles I can post.
Comment : I have a full time job, a family and still manage a site. I’ve notice the forum, after an initial boiling over, has settled down a bit. I want to do a light touch but it requires the users to follow the rules.
Answer : I’ll only be on rarely and probably as an enforcer. I don’t want to ban people so be good. I’ve also reviewed Sunna’s ban and decided that I over reacted to the post about W**nker of the week. I’ve apologised and extended an invite back. However, not because the post was right but because many got away with worse while I left the sites for nearly two weeks and one person shouldn’t be picked on.
Action : Unban Sunna and send an invite to return.
Those who sent me an email or PM with comments will receive a reply and thank you for your comments.
If you have commented then thank you for your input. It may appear that in many instances I’ve ignored your input. Nothing could be further from the truth. I have listened and considered every comment but I think I have explained why I am not implementing those that I have put down as ‘No Action’. I hope you understand and I’ll make the changes over the next few days.
My actions then are;
- Modify ratings System
- Restore Thanks System
- Delete all zero post users
- Set up a Warning System
- Set up a News Section
- Recruit some moderators
- To look at adding a monochrome colour scheme on the forum
- Invite Sunna back
- Behave in interaction with others
- Follow the site rules
- Send me some articles to post
- Send me a new logo and header for review
- Get involved
For those of you reading this then remember that I have always said the sites are only as good as its members. You have to put something in to get something out. If you want to get involved then contact me and we will see what you can do to help. Don’t get involved and the sites will stagnate and die.