Forum Reorganization Thread


Not The Goddamn @dmin
OK, random thought- I'm not sure it would be any better, but for the sake of allowing alternatives, let's at least fire some off. I'm not entirely sure I'm a fan of this either.

So, on the main board page, it shows Categories ("Official Business', 'Fanfiction, Interaactive Games, etc) and Forums (e.g. HP, NGE, Naruto) and the Forums then have subforums (Ideas, Talk, Preview).

This idea would be to keep our Categories, and make Forums generalized (Anime/Manga, Books, Movies, TV Shows, Cartoons, Games etc) and then each subforum is an actual series (NGE, HP, etc), and in each subforum every post is tagged as Idea, Talk, or Preview.

This is assuming that you can, in a subforum, view tags on the topic and even filter by topic.

EDIT: Just checked, neither of the above is true. This wouldn't help anything, ignore this.


Obsessively signs his posts
Staff member
I'm surprised to discover this, but our anti-tag group has a point with regards to discover-ability.

Let's start with SB. Suppose I go there today (as a logged in user) and had the urge to find some Young Justice fanfiction - the only option for me is to use the search bar. But what does it give me? A list of threads. I have to guess from the title what it could be, furthermore because the phrase was mentioned, I find some threads titled "YJ SI". Should I search for "YJ" in the title? Highly doubt if it will be helpful.

Hmm... actually, that wasn't a good example about tags. SB doesn't seem to use them, but it highlights the issue with mashing everything together. So, let's move over to SV where they DO use tags.

Here is the tag page for Young Justice = Admittedly, it IS more useful than SB (and I'm not even logged in!), but something about the UI (user interface) bugs me. Now, let's assume that I feel like searching for Batman stories. Glancing at their tag cloud tells me nothing about batman = However, if I search, I find that there IS a tag called "batman". Which returns me some useful threads.

From that I can tell of the tag system, if you know the name of the tag you want, it's useful. But the tag cloud only shows you the current 100 most popular tags or so. Everything else, gets buried.

Additionally, I've been spending some time searching Xenforo addons. There is NOTHING with regards to tag organization. As in; tags are all global. Assume I was in the Harry Potter sub-section and wanted to find all tags named "harry". I'd get back results from the entire forum and not just the sub-forum I was in. ARgh!@#!@!!!

I'm stumped now. The tag system still feels useful to me, but only in addition to our category/sub-category layout scheme (for lack of a better word).

Not a complete solution, but to avoid nesting would it be helpful if the ideas/previews/talk sub-forums were merged into one?



The Sentient Fanfic Search Engine mk II
Using your Harry reference, it would also likely get you more than Harry Potter... for example, Harry Dresden also comes to mind (while I do not mind the latter, I'd never search the former)... Since both are series on magic, I'd imagine differentiating them would be difficult.

Other searches could be just as annoying... Example: Naru... I've seen that abbreviation used in Naruto stories a lot, but when I see Naru, I think Narusagawa, from Love Hina, whom is also called Naru...


Searching for the six-fingered man.
The problem is I remember hearing similar discussion before about not tags, but links and proper disclosure of such, both in and around 2009 back when it became an argument, and to a lesser extent on the prior move... I do not feel tagging is near as good as actual sections... And the issue of mods being present to fix tags is a poor argument, as with sections that is not needed... I worry you guys are going to be making more work for yourselves...

In any case there is no way you will convince me a general mashup is going to be good for the overall forum experience. The SpaceBattles model has already exposed me to it, and I have no wish to see it also on this forum.
Same. You can convince yourself all you like- tag system is inferior to actually breaking it out. SB has shown everyone it's a failed system, I'm not even sure why there's discussion about this.
Because having a long list of series cluttering up the front page isn't a solution either. While you both have opinions on the feasibility of mash-ups and their effectiveness on SB and SV, the fact of the matter is there doesn't seem to be any great outcry on the respective forums themselves concerning the system they've both adopted. They are both highly active and that doesn't seem likely to change any time soon.

It's also worth noting that both SB and SV go through periodic reorganizations when a particular section/forum isn't working as intended. They're not afraid of change and neither should TFF be.

If we can compromise, let's compromise. Those are usually the best kinds of deals. Ultimately, stagnation isn't good for TFF if you want to see new blood and growth.


(Hardcore) Gamer
And this is why I'm advocating nesting. Given time, I'm sure I can write an addon for tags, but by itself, it's not a viable organizational structure. If we can somehow get tags to play along nicely with subforums, then yes, it could work, otherwise, it'll just become a disorganized shitshow.


Apparently a report-er
Why not kill the most inactive ones, but keep any which still have activity, or at least make them into sub-forums? A combination of methods.


Fic till you drop
I like the idea with reducing bloat, but my issue with replacing forums with tags is twofold.

• Checking for new content would be more tedious. With subforums, you can just look at the most recent activity date to see if anything's changed since you last checked, you don't have to find and then click on the tag and then check the results for new content.

• There's no synonym or meta/subtag system like on AO3. I'm a tag wrangler for AO3, and there is a ton of effort that goes into making tags useful. There are four really useful ways to categorize tags we use which I don't think Xenoforo has:

1) Synonymizing tags. This is the ability to say that "Harry Pottre" has the same meaning as the canonical tag "Harry Potter", so when used/clicked on they should bring up the same results.

2) Metatags/subtags. This would allow you to have a general fandom tag, and then subtags for the different relevant pieces of canon (e.g. Harry Potter books vs movies vs Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them movies). It's also usefull if a tag is used ambiguously (say there's two fandoms using the same abbreviation), since you can subtag the specific/unambiguous canonicals and that way the tag doesn't become useless and the works (or in this case forums) would still be able to be found from the fandom canonical.

3) Parent/Child relationships. Basically, all of the character tags for a series are marked as child tags of that fandom tag, and all relationship tags have a similar sort of connection with the character tags they contain. Where this would be relevant for this fandom is that fandom tags are child tags of their media type. So chronodeku's earlier suggestion of having something like media forums that take you to relevant fandom tags would rely on this.

4) Categories. Someone tagging "Harry Potter" in the character category means something different from tagging it in the fandom category. I don't think this would be as relevant here, because I don't think we're discussing tagging for characters, but I thought I'd mention it.

As you can see, having a useful user tag system is complicated. Without those things, relying on tags to collect all relevant content instead of just showing you some stuff you're interested is not very feasable. You'd have some advantages in that you'd be able to change a user's tags when they use them wrong (which AO3 tag wranglers are extremely limited on), but it would still be a lot of continuous behind-the-scenes time investment.

I do think switching to a tag system would be nice in that users could functionally make their own forums by tagging new fandoms, but I don't think that outweighs the problems with switching to tag organization. Actually, if we're going to be using tags, it would be a lot simpler to restrict them to premade tags, which kind of flows into my idea for a change that could be made:

If we're deadset on reducing forum bloat, maybe instead of clicking on a series forum and seeing the Ideas/Previews/Talk subforums, those could be changed to tags? Or whatever those colored categories are that appear before thread names on SV/SB. On those sites, clicking on them will filter all threads in that subforum to only show you threads with that preface, and you'd be pretty much guarenteed to get a mix of them in front page of the fandom forum to click on. That way, new users would immediately see interesting content upon clicking on a fandom, and those subforums (well, now tags) would be typically the same number of clicks away. I wouldn't mind that.


Not The Goddamn @dmin
That's sort of what I was proposing, but I don't think the xenforo software has enough tag support/filtering capabilities to make it actually work.


Professional Procrastinator
What about something like:

On the front page you have stuff like:


As well as any popular Subforums like Naruto for example.

All the lest popular subforums could get rolled into one of the main forums. Whether or not they keep there own subforum is up for debate.

Then so many times a year, maybe quarterly there is a review on what is popular or not anymore. Things that are no longer as popular get shifted into a category instead of on the front page. New fandoms that are getting popular can then have their own subforum created on the main page.

Fandoms that are dead could just get rolled into a category forum and the subforum deleted. A set time with no posts could be it classed as dead. Maybe 6 months?

The subforums themselves could probably scrap the extra subforums. Preview, Ideas and Talk could get rolled into tags instead of the individual subforums.

That should still cut down on the number of forums but still allow things to at least be organised and not just all dumped into one forum.

Just spitballing here. There may be issues but I didn't think too hard on it while at work.


Well-Known Member
I don't have much of an opinion, but did have a possibly-relevant memory float up just now. A while back, SB added... I think they called it forum aggregation? Basically, users can customise whether (and which) sub-forums transparently appear to collapse up into their parent forum for purposes of displaying threads. Would that make the matryoshka scenario less disastrous?


Not The Goddamn @dmin
The big issue is that tags are literally useless. You can't really filter them, aggregate them, link them, alias them, select them, etc. Pretty much any solution that uses them won't actually work, I think.


Professional Procrastinator
Do they have the ability to be displayed next to the Title of a forum post?

If so I think they would work fine in a subforum for Preview, Idea, Talk. If not then you are correct in that they may be pretty much useless.


The Collector
Naruto Forums, which I believe uses Xenforo, have what looks like tag-based thread filters:

Which can turn this:
Into this:


Obsessively signs his posts
Staff member
We are running off Xenforo v2. By default the tag system is global. It doesn't look like it's possible to limit it to a particular sub section. What that means is, using the earlier example - when browsing the Naruto section if you click the 'informative' tag, you will get results from the Naruto section as well as the General, Harry Potter and anywhere else the tag is used.

Not what most folks would probably want.

I've spent a good chuck of time searching for Tag related Xenforo v2 add-ons, but haven't found anything. If you find something that I missed, we can consider installing it. (heck, if it isn't too expensive we can even purchase it!)

I find myself wondering if it would be helpful to have the forum default to 'New Posts' as our landing page instead of the current show-all-sections view?


The Ero-Sennin

The Eyes of Heaven
Staff member
Yeah. I think that would work well in place of Idea, Preview and Talk subforums.
We could probably tag them to specific series, too.


Not The Goddamn @dmin
Congratulations, you've invented subforums.


Professional Procrastinator
Congratulations, you've invented subforums.
Except I don't need to click into individual subforums to browse them. I click on Naruto for example and everything is there and I can see whats what from tags.

It's hardly a perfect solution but I might see more than I would now because I don't visit the talk subforum for example.


(Hardcore) Gamer
Except I don't need to click into individual subforums to browse them. I click on Naruto for example and everything is there and I can see whats what from tags.

It's hardly a perfect solution but I might see more than I would now because I don't visit the talk subforum for example.
So you want what, tags not for filtering and searching, but tags just to know if a thread is a "talk" thread or a "preview" thread?


KING (In Land of Blind)
Staff member
I guess the thing is, "how easy tags are for users" and "how easy tags are to apply" are inversely proportional.

Like, for example, if you had a whitelist of allowed tags for "Series"-- where you can put "Harry Potter" but can not "Harry Potre" to use Goldenfalls' example -- and it is mandatory that you put in at least one "Series" tag; that would be really useful for search/filter. It would be annoying for the person creating the thread, but it would be easier for the users, and pushing all the Database Hygene Stuff onto the thread-starters pulls a lot of work off the administrators; all they gotta do is add tags to the whitelist. Closer to the way ffnet handles Filters, rather than the way AO3 handles Tags.

(And I'm cognizant that it might be anywhere from "trivially easy" to "nigh-on-impossible" to whitelist tags like that, depending on how xenforo has them set up. And I'm cognizant that, in the first place, sorting / searching / filtering by tags has been described as "very hard" by admin-types.)

But the more effort it takes to start a thread, the less likely people are to start threads. I am especially concerned about people that might have grown into reliable fanfic writers -- pretty much the backbone of this site -- but never posted their first thread because they were just a little too intimidated. Putting a form full of mandatory fields in front of someone starting a thread is... maybe too off-putting?

So I guess where I'm going is,
You need to think not just about how easy it is to consume the fanfic, but how easy it is to set it up. so to speak, it's a little short-sighted to be thinking about how to make it easy to find where things are put, but not thinking about how to make it easy to decide where to put things.

Also, we've got 12 years of content on this board. It's easy to dream up blue-sky designs for brand new sites, but we're in a position where any changes has to be retroactively applied to all those old threads. So the amount of labor we're putting on the admins for any change is high because of that. Well, conversely, having 12 years of old content is also an important strength, because there's a lot of archives for new users to trawl through.


Professional Procrastinator
So you want what, tags not for filtering and searching, but tags just to know if a thread is a "talk" thread or a "preview" thread?
Depending on how the tags ser setup you could still filter by 'Anime Previews' for example.

The big thing would be discoverability. Before say I entered the anime subforum, I would have probably just gone to the previews part, seen if there was anything new and moved on. If it's all in the one subforum then I might see threads that look interesting that are part of Talk or Ideas that I would not have seen before. That might help increase activity if people see more topics they might be interested in.


(Hardcore) Gamer
Depending on how the tags ser setup you could still filter by 'Anime Previews' for example.
Based on chonodekar's post from earlier, you cannot filter by tag and sub-forum.