A couple of suggestions involving forum signature bars
A couple of small suggestions - Club or forum branded signature bars, and adding a fuelly signature to fuelly forum posts.
Firstly ... Club or forum branded signature bars.
A lot of recruitment to fuelly happens via club forums or general forums (for example, tdi club).
If there was some way to 'brand' the 500 pixel signature bar so that a logo for the club or forum appears as well as the other details, then it would encourage recruitment for other people using that forum. There would have to be some simple way to add the 'branding' so that it does not make it harder to add a signature (some people who aren't familar with BBCode or forum signatures already struggle with this).
The clubs & forums are usually vehicle or manufacturer specific. So this could be used as a filter if the user has to pick from a list of them.
* Recruitment advantages
* Keeping it within 500 pixels could mean that you need to shrink other elements
* Maintaining database entries for clubs / forums and their icons ...
* People already struggle to understand how to add signatures, so you wouldn't want to make it more complex.
Adding a fuelly signature to fuelly forum posts
While people can add fuelly signatures to their posts on other forums, they can't add them here.
* People wouldn't need to click through the user id to find the user's vehicle.
* Since fuelly knows the viewer's units preference, it could show them all in that unit, rather than seeing one person using us mpg, another person using uk mpg, and so forth.
* A lot of big signatures might make the thread harder to read. Perhaps the small signature instead.
* Since some people have multiple vehicles, a way to select between them would be needed.
Great suggestions. One issue that comes to mind is using other forum logos and things. We'd need to talk to each forum owner individually and get their permission. They might not want their brand attached to an outside service. That makes it look like a partnership/endorsement. So we'd definitely need to set up that partnership/endorsement behind the scenes.
And we can think about adding signatures here. The vast majority of activity in the Fuelly forum is talk about Fuelly itself. So there's not as much incentive to show your personal fuel economy, because there's not as much personal talk going on. Or even fuel economy talk. There is a bit, so that's something we can think about. But as you mention, the design here is pretty sparse and adding more weight might detract from the discussions themselves. I think signatures are right for some environments—I'm not positive they are for this one.
I have a feeling that if you moved the forum to a traditional style forum rather than a blog style, you would see plenty more traffic here, with people asking for advice, etc more than stuff about the site itself.
Of course, that does require some additions, such as moderators, forum setup/conversions, etc.
That could be. We feel like so many other places are already doing that well, and we want to focus on Fuelly as a place for tracking fuel economy. Our day job is over at MetaFilter where we have several moderators and round the clock discussion in a similar weblog-style format. So we know this format can work well for discussion, but we also know it's different from BB-style forums that many people are used to.
Another small suggestion - like the ones above, there are both pros and cons.
After entering a fuel-up, the system currently displays a 'these are the figures, you can edit if wrong' section at the top of the page. My suggestion is that this can be extended to also encourage them to enter the fuel type & transmission type.
Something look off? You can [edit this fuel-up].
If you like, you can [specify whether you have an automatic or manual transmission].
The above line would only appear if the data has not already been entered against that vehicle. There would be a similar line for Diesel vs. Petrol.
Pros: The quality of the data stored against vehicles would be quickly improved.
PPS another suggestion. I do like these simple forums, given the low volume of posts here.
However the one key feature that is available on the phpBB/vB boards, and not here, is the ability to edit your own posts. Invariably after posting I spot either spelling mistakes, bad layout or additional points that I would like to fix in my original post.
Given that it can be confusing if people edit posts after someone has already posted a reply, the 'edit' link should perhaps only appear if there are no replies to a post (so you can keep editing, until someone replies, and after that point you will need to add a new reply).
I'd like to suggest that there be no signatures in posts at all. I think that it looks unprofessional, for one.
Personally, I find that it detracts from the overall usefulness of the forums. The signature bars break up the flow of the posts, and I find that jarring. Additionally, it detracts from the true usefulness of the forums - the information you are posting on/providing. Remember, what is important is the information you are posting/providing, not some customized representation of yourself. Perhaps you could include some of that on the sidebar under the user/date/time field (provided it fit there).
However, I do like the idea that you should be able to edit your own posts. Finding spelling/grammar errors in my own posts that I can't fix drives me nuts.