The Sledgehammer!

Call the tune - Talk about whatever!

Re: The Sledgehammer!

Postby WaterPig Master » Fri Jan 27, 2012 3:56 pm

Considering the indifferent feedback I've had for this suggestion in the past, I feel a bit silly peddling it again, but I still think it would benefit ED.

Using a wiki engine for the information side of ED (teachers, makers, events, and so on) would make sense for the following reasons:

  • Ease of maintenance — software is well supported and would take some of the pressure off the site admins
  • Consistency of UI (and backend) across the services
  • Repeatable blocks could be set up to help people easily create entries for makers, events, teachers, etc
  • If used for TAB storage, it could easily encompass tune history, which would pull people from non-dulcimer backgrounds in
  • All the information currently hidden away in the forums would have a place to live as a first class citizen, not threads of discussion

The last point has been contested the most — "the forum already has a search engine, and that's that". Yes, and the forum is a discussion forum — perfect for talking, not so for finding immediate information. Many various little bits of knowledge have been repeated in many different forms and places over the years.
A use case to illustrate:
A beginner comes to ED. They've got an instrument and they're not sure what gauge strings to put on it, or what tuning to try. If they're web savvy, they might search the forum for 'tunings'. They'd get approximately 3250 results. Confuddled*, they start a topic about it (which, knowing us, degrades into a DAD/DAA argument ;)).
Same goes for choosing an instrument, judging second hand instruments, etc.

My view of the optimum way for this to work is for the forum and the wiki to be interlinked — so that when information in the wiki sparks discussion, any interesting results are injected back into the wiki.

Anyway, I've written all this before. Just thought I should voice the idea again, now that Bruce is doing restructuring.

Many thanks,

* I tried to write 'c o n f u s e d', but the forum tried to replace it with a non-existant smiley.
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Re: The Sledgehammer!

Postby folkfan » Fri Jan 27, 2012 5:17 pm

Barnaby, Perhaps the idea of a wiki engine hasn't taken off because you've got people like me who go "wiki what" when the topic has come up. I know that the wikipedia encyclopedia is sort of an edit as you go type of site, which is why I'm always double checking facts when I read it, but I have no idea as to how it is handled or done. If the discussion group ended up like the wikipedia articles, I probably wouldn't bother adding to them or editing or anything. :oops: :( Maybe others have the same reaction. I don't know and here is confused :? :? :? :? :? :?
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Re: The Sledgehammer!

Postby buffalogal472 » Fri Jan 27, 2012 5:45 pm

Bruce, I have been accessing this site since you started it some years ago. I like the information about festivals, song tabs and history, and the discussions.
I won't miss the facebook part at all. All of you have done a great job so far. God bless ya!!
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Re: The Sledgehammer!

Postby bruce » Fri Jan 27, 2012 5:52 pm folks are the BEST around. I really appreciate the outpouring of support. I'm humbled.

I've been working, over the last couple of days with the company that peddles the community software that runs a lot of the non-discussion portion of the site. Let's just say they have been essentially non-responsive. This means that either (1) they are clueless or (2) that have so many folks needing support that they can't get to me. Either way, it's bad. So that, coupled with the outpouring of support from all of you, I think we are going to nuke that portion of the site in a week or so.

In fact, I'm of the mind to leave this entire content management system (CMS) - MAYBE! CMS' are great for some sites, but for sites with high content volume of different kinds of content, like ED, they quickly lose their luster. As add-ons have been installed over time, this increases the potential for conflict and very hard-to-sort-out issues. To wit, I'm a skilled programmer, and I haven't been able to get to the bottom of the current issue, and these things normally take me minutes.

When Dan took over the stewardship of ED, he and I BOTH thought the current system was the way to go. And, it might be still. The concept behind a CMS is wonderful! I guess it's like being a kid...when I was a kid, I thought the grown-ups had all the fun, 'til I became a grown-up. Now I yell "Get OFF my lawn" just cause I'm jealous of all the fun they're having! (Jenn says I'm getting more curmudgeon-y every day.) The problem was that there's no half either have to use the CMS or not. However, unlike growing up, we can go back to something more manageable. DAN AND STEVE HAVE DONE A GREAT JOB! This community and CMS software is tricky to make work flawlessly and I commend their very hard work! When you see them at a festival, shake their hand and TELL THEM THANK YOU! (They might even need a hug!)

Again, I'm not going to do anything quickly, and I'll spread the word before I do anything. I understand how frustrating it is to come to a site and have to re-learn how to get around.

The important thing in all of this is to preserve all this great data. My focus will be on preserving and making the following as accessible as possible:

- The discussion...No plans to mess with or move this! So, let the discussion be your anchor!
- Tab!
- Dulcimer events
- Our articles...
- Dulcimer people (builders/performers/teachers/vendors)
- Club listings

...I'm probably forgetting something...

I'm going to attempt to tie content items to your current usernames and passwords! That way as things need to be changed, you'll still have access to them.

With the exception of the tab and discussion, nothing is quick and easy here. This will take some time and will have to be accomplished a section at a time. My time is tight these days, but I'll give it what attention I can.

It is my prayer that in such a conversion, I don't lose the good will of YOU. This is a great online community and I want it to stay intact!

Thanks all and I welcome your comments.

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Re: The Sledgehammer!

Postby bruce » Fri Jan 27, 2012 6:03 pm

Barnaby, I like your idea of a wiki, but here's the rub...we have gigabytes of fantastic data that would have to be integrated into it to make it worthwhile. If we had the budget and staff to do it, it's not insurmountable, but given our resources...well, you get the idea. Wiki's are definitely cool!

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Re: The Sledgehammer!

Postby Heidi » Fri Jan 27, 2012 7:45 pm

Bruce, I think you hit the nail on the head. Keep it simple. - I would like the boards to stay up as much as possible, (cuz' I'd miss you all, terribly without it) but besides that, I say go for it and take all the time you need!

What do I use on ED? Forums, Events, Articles, DPN archive (which I understand has left the building), Club Listings... I think that's about it. I did like the contests. I never did win a darn thing, but it was still fun.

Oh, and Classifieds. I haven't used the pictures and videos area, but it seems like a nice thing. I would think the data size would be problematic, though...
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Re: The Sledgehammer!

Postby Marc Mathieu » Fri Jan 27, 2012 10:51 pm

First of all... Tnx SO much Bruce for all the countless hours you've put in to !!!

Thinking back when I discovered sometimes in April or May of 2003, (I'm still wondering why I only joined up in October...) it was a simple site to navigate - nothing fancy -but everyone seemed to have a wonderful time participating. I spent hours on end - sometimes into the wee hours of the night reading & replying to posts. The photo gallery was nothing fancy, but always a joy to see new photos from members posted now and then. Back then, we had to submit our photos to you and you posted them for us, often shortly after we forwarded them off to you ! was the "talk of the town" at festivals. From 2004 onward, when I was leading workshops in NC, VT and MN, I used to encourage my students to visit Many of them had never heard of it.
I was quite pleased when suddenly I'd see that one of them had joined and was an active participant!

Oh yeah...then the chat room showed up a little later & that was fun too !

Times have changed today and I think people are expecting "fancier" features... can still be kept simple while being somewhat modernized to meet today's expectation.
Too many options and choices lead to confusion...

The discussion boards are one of the easiest and most logical ones to follow & keep track of, and I think should stay "as-is".

I can't say that I've uploaded a lot of pics myself, but I have friends that do on a regular basis and I think this option should be remain available to the members.
Same goes for videos ...

The TAB page -> a must !!

As for linking to Facebook, if it's causing conflicts with the current system, probably best to drop it.

This is only my 2¢ ... but often, less is more !

Keep up the great work Bruce !
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Re: The Sledgehammer!

Postby bruce » Sat Jan 28, 2012 12:34 am

Hi Marc!

To be clear, linking to FB isn't causing a problem these days. Its the software that drives the ability to post pics, videos, form online groups, etc on ED (What I referred to as the Facebook-like parts of the site). This is just the problem-of-the-day, however. The complexity of the data we serve, and the added burden on our systems (human and machine) when we try to do too much on the community/social media front that has overtaxed. So, the idea is to reduce the complexity of the community side while maintaining the core dulcimer related items and of course the discussion.

There are really good sites that can warehouse videos and pictures and I think we should leverage these (e.g.,,,,, etc)

Anyhoo, that's the current thinking. Between you, me and the fence port, I intend to make it look and feel as modern as anything, easy to get around, contribute to and maintain. You see, I have songs to write, recordings to make, festivals to teach at, etc. It'll be a work in progress for awhile.

Thanks for helping me get the word out.

Remember, Feb 3, the video, pics and other community aspects will start disappearing, so if anyone has something to take off the site, they will need to do it by then...

Thanks Marc!
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Re: The Sledgehammer!

Postby JoeBesse » Sat Jan 28, 2012 10:00 am

Hi Bruce,

You have done a great job. I hope you get the club listings up soon, since I need to change a few things on 2 of our Louisiana club listings. Keep up the good work good buddy.
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Re: The Sledgehammer!

Postby dholeton » Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:18 am

Thanks Bruce
This makes it very clear that pictures are going to go away. I have a couple of sets of pictures here and I think I input the ED link on one or two of my Youtube videos to come here to ED to get more information. I may have input one on my Facebook account also. I'll be planning to edit the info on my Youtube videos and Facebook profile that refer to those links. I'm saying that here also as a reminder for others who may have input ED links on their websites so they will be aware to make appropriate changes.

I'm surprised there was space being provided for those functions. Pictures can take up a lot of drive space. I have copies of the pictures I have uploaded and it's okay to delete my pictures per your schedule.

But, along the same lines, the upload pdf and mp3 file function within the forum discussion area has been used often. I'm one of the biggest sinners (of late) in this area. Will this function be going away also and will pdf's and mp3's be deleted from old threads? I think it's okay if it goes away for future use (we can find other ways to share this kind of data) but if they become unavailable for the discussions where they exist in the past I might want to go edit my discussions where I've uploaded pdf/mp3 files in the past. Maybe it will be just to add a note about the file not being available or maybe my email address for a copy of the file.

Thanks Again
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Re: The Sledgehammer!

Postby Carla Maxwell » Sun Jan 29, 2012 6:45 am

I appreciate all the work you do (and have done) to maintain ED.

I enjoyed using the facebook-like section of this site. However, I understand that there were big problems with that side of the site, as sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn't. I support your ideas for reducing ED to the discussion forum plus the tab, articles & events, etc. I wonder about the blog section, though. I posted a few blog entries that were similar to articles, but I don't think I have copies of all of them. No worries if they are deleted, but, if possible, it would be nice to see them again.

Again, I appreciate all the work that you have done (and the work of Dan Landrum and Stephen Seifert) keeping ED running for so many years. Thank you!
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Re: The Sledgehammer!

Postby starter » Sun Jan 29, 2012 1:01 pm

I started with playing the dulcimer a little over 4 years ago. I quickly discovered ED. You all gave a lot to me and I think to many others. You need to take the sledgehammer pledge and go where none have gone before.. As an olde tme computer user I am a TRUE believer in the kiss principle. So hammer away. The history has been great for this site. Like a good vine for wine grapes you have to trim it to produce. Hammer on!
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