I was wondering if we could move the forum up on the main page and place it where now find the Groups page. At the moment when people enter the site they face the Groups page, and then beneath it a static announcement about the Wiki page, the first of which is quite inactive and the latter completely so.
I think it'd be better to make the forum more visible and prominent as (a) it is the site's logical meeting point, (b) its content is renewed more frequently, so that you've got some novelty to look forward to when revisiting the OAC's main page.
Five stars for trying, John. I am not sure what this has to do with OAC help. It's more of a policy issue. You may be right about the Forum, but so far you don't seem to have won over many takers. We have to acknowledge that this is the black hole of summer when activity levels are generally low. It may be that discussion levels in the Groups are currently quite low, but the number of variety of them are quite striking and people often respond by starting one of their own. I think this is a sign of the OAC's vitality. Paul put a lot of effort into creating the Wiki and we have been disappointed by the low rate of take up. A good part of this may be fear of the unknown. But it is something that the administrative team are keen to develop, hence the prominence on the main page. In general, I am not worried about the level of activity at present. even if the majority of members are sleepers, we have come a long way in a short time and there is room for lots of green shoots after la rentree.
I've been away for a while, so I'm not sure if this discussion has been taken up elsewhere, but it looks like it hasn't gotten much attention.
Keith is right, the groups draw the attention first, which shows that there is lot of interest in concentrated discussion. While this is therefore is not a bad feature to have on a network with well over a thousand members, I also agree that it separates and masks some interesting discussion from the entire community. And, as you mentioned, the module placement of the groups and wiki announcement pushes the forum threads out of sight.
It has been difficult to know if shifting page elements will make things more confusing instead of helping to better organize the site, so your input is much appreciated. If there can be some further consensus on making a change, I don't see why we shouldn't try it.
Here's one layout option which moves the group list to the left sidebar and the photos to the right, concentrating the center of the page on forum threads and blog posts.
I'm very sorry about my slow response, I've been busy catching up on some writing...
The layout alternative that Francine proposes sounds worth trying out, should other admins and members support this experiment. To me the principle of giving pride of place to the more active areas and to those of general interest within a website is crucial, whether this is a news site, a collective blog or a coop. When you revisit a site you want to see what's new straight away, and if you've got time then you may proceed to more specific interests and perhaps find out about earlier developments, e.g. in one or two groups of interest. It could well be, though, that other users navigate this site very differently.
@Keith, just to clarify, I wasn't making a comment about the OAC site and its overall levels of (in)activity at present, during the summer season, but rather suggesting that we may wish to consider rearranging the homepage so as to draw more attention to the site's main forum.
Thanks for getting back to me on this, and it'd be good to hear from other site users!