Author Topic: Making TAC friendlier for beginners.  (Read 3828 times)

Lumpy Darkness

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Making TAC friendlier for beginners.
« on: February 27, 2015, 09:20:10 AM »
I keep looking at the Start Here forums here on TAC, and find little interaction with real beginners.  I think its something of a wasted opportunity.  Is there a way to better engage them?  There are many who have not become forum members, and but look at the postings.  I'd like to see them engaged, involved, and asking questions directed at getting them out actually doing astronomy, rather than (I assume) reading about it.

TAC used to serve that purpose many years ago.  Perhaps with some better "beginner section" organization, it could again.

Thoughts and suggestions welcome!

buynoski

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Re: Making TAC friendlier for beginners.
« Reply #1 on: February 28, 2015, 07:03:39 AM »
I've tried by posting some general articles, and they do get a number of readings, but you're right that we lack personal interaction.  Besides the general advice "go to star parties" (where one meets other AA's, of all levels of experience) we have no on-going method of engaging the new AA's.  Perhaps we could enlist a corps of volunteers willing to speak to new AA's via the website (i.e. provide a set of links that can be used to send an email to those more experienced AA's willing to answer questions or otherwise give advice).

Koukarine

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Re: Making TAC friendlier for beginners.
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2015, 05:45:29 PM »
I don't think we should outsource the personal help somewhere else directly. This new web site is forum based now, so we should just encourage beginners to freely start new topics on any subjects they need help with with ease it was provided by the former mailing list.

Some of my observations (not all yet):
1. I hope there is no any restrictions imposed on the beginners for starting new topics? Sometimes admins may use such a setting to fight spammers (you cannot start a new thread if you have less than 10-20 posts in threads of others).
2. I see the Captcha below my post right now, that's understandable to me, but definitely not very inviting for beginners as some may not understand why their posts are bouncing back. And trust me that's overly annoying, thus discouraging to post often. Honestly, I often cannot even decipher what I need to enter there (and "Listen to the letters" not working at all, needless to say not everyone knows answers to "astronomy questions").
3. Looking at the Topic Summary I see the very tiny font size there, as compared to the text I'm editing - quite tough even on my not so old eyes looking at not so high resolution monitor (on a modern HD monitor they will be even smaller).
4. New user registration must be instant, with registration mail, but automatic, no confirmation required. Forum moderators should hunt any "bad guys" infiltration manually instead.

I understand, that will allow a lot of spammers on the forum, but we can effectively amend that giving a limited moderator status to every member of TAC, so if someone noticed a mess - he or she could take care of it right away.

Then, the front page. I believe it's not just optional for such a resource. It seems to me there are plenty of Portal mods for SMF available: http://custom.simplemachines.org/mods/index.php?action=search;type=17 for that. The default forum start page as it is now may look too overwhelming for a first comer. Also I remember cool "widgets" John placed at the top once with weather maps and such - it was truly great...

Update:
Tried enter Captcha 4 times for this message before it was accepted - not friendly to anyone at all.

-Alex

John Pierce

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Re: Making TAC friendlier for beginners.
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2015, 08:25:39 PM »
fyi, this board is set to require a capture just on your first post.  I don't see any way to turn that off.