About our forum layout
Everything about the site at ninja250.org is purposeful and intentional. Our admins have been tweaking it for the past eight years. It's exactly as we like it. It isn't going to change.
You may have noticed that we do not have the same layout as other forums. We use tree view; we believe it provides a conversational feel and a sense of camaraderie.
It's easy to follow threads because they are organized as trees, and browsing through them is easy as long as people come up with meaningful subject lines. If you don't write a subject line, there is no guarantee that anyone will read your post.
The clean board design, without avatars or signatures, is also deliberate. Kids who dream about blinking avatars and video signatures (and God knows what else) don't post on this site. Too bad.
How do you expect to grow with such an old-fashioned format?
We do not encourage growth of the community for the sake of growth. We value quality more than anything. There is enough garbage on the internet as it is.
We are, first and foremost, a club. We exist for the benefit of our members. We always welcome people into the club, but they have to understand that there are certain ways of doing things in a club. Some people catch on and enjoy the spirit here; some don't.
For example, there are people who find it normal to come in and start (sometimes from their very first post) making requests for changes to this and that, instead of doing some research and figuring out what this community is all about. We tolerate those folks, but we like to slap them a bit to see if they can figure out what's wrong with the way they behave. If they can't, we are more than inclined to kick them out. There are other Ninja 250 websites that might be better suited to those people.
Imagine a guest coming into your home and immediately telling you that they cannot stand your furniture and color scheme, and insisting that things would be much better if you changed to what they were more used to. Would you consider them a gracious guest and find their suggestions helpful, or would you instead find such behavior a bit rude, even irritating?
OK, but why can't I see the whole thread at once?
We used to have an option to enable the “more-normal” flat view, but it went away because of people who would complain that they couldn't follow conversations, while at the same time using flat view and responding to incorrect posts. Our forums work in tree view. There's no way you can tell what is going on any other way.
If we allowed some people to use flat view, replies would be misplaced no matter what. We all like the context a tree gives; it allows a topic to branch off into different aspects, and it becomes easier for an administrator to grab a thread-jack and make it a stand-alone topic - or for anyone to ignore it outright.
If you want to see all the responses in a given thread, look at the username in any post. Right next to the name is an icon that looks like lined writing paper. Click on that, and it will take you to "View all posts in this topic". Be aware, however, that you will still be required to post in the right place in the thread. If you don't, your response may not be understood and may be deleted.
Using thread view
It's very simple: Click “Post a Response” at the bottom of the post that you wish to reply to. Your reply will be threaded directly below the post you replied to.
People who reply to your post will see their replies under yours. Later replies to the original post (not yours) will be above yours. That way other people can reply either to you or to the original poster. It looks like this:
So, why do other boards use flat view?
Some of the reasons that flat view is popular today are:
We find, however, that flat view is more difficult to post one-liners in ("2.5 turns out, 2.25 at high altitude (n/t)") more difficult to visually filter (6 pages of off topic crap!??!?!) and more difficult to branch (6 pages of unrelated but cool stuff!).
Threaded views also offer the advantage of being able to summarize a great deal of information in a compact display, enabling frequent/heavy contributors to quickly scroll through and actively contribute in areas where they're interested and see a need.
Unfortunately, BBS (forum) formats are a lot like pop music: you tend to like what's around. We're a persnickety bunch here. We buck the trends on all kinds of things -- we hate wheelies, loud pipes and flat view. We like gear, stock exhaust, and our users, but in this case we're going to make you drink the Kool-Aid and at least pretend to like it.
If you don't think you can live with the way things are 'round here
Here you go: