SimHQ’s 2008 Overhaul Page 3

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Forum Changes… Again!?

A Brief History

SimHQ started with it’s forums back in 1999 based on the then very popular UBB Classic product. While the appearance changed over the years, the site had built upon the Classic database, and finally when we had pushed the Classic software farther than just about anyone had ever done (according to UBB themselves), we looked around for another option. But there was an important issue to address. None of the leading forum software had a good transfer program to integrate the Classic threads into their board. So should we split the forums into two boards from two different developers? We decided to stay with UBB and their just released Threads v7, and provided a migration path from the then hundreds-of-thousands of posts. So we started with Threads 7.1. It has now matured to v7.4.1, and while there are still some quirks, it (so far) seems to be reasonably stable.

Here’s a list of images showing how the SimHQ Forums have evolved over the years: 2000200120022003200420052006, and2007.

The forums are optimized for 1024×768 resolution, the same as SimHQ articles and other feature items. That was determined by a poll taken among SimHQ readers this past year.

Let’s go through some of the different features. Some we will bet you didn’t know were available.

Optional Stylesheets

Don’t like the SimHQ red blended background? Change it!

Go to: My Stuff > Preferences > Your preferred stylesheet. Pick from SimHQ_red (the default); SimHQ_dark; or SimHQ_light.

Stylesheet SimHQ_red

Stylesheet SimHQ_dark

Stylesheet SimHQ_light

We recommend you don’t leave the stylesheet setting on “Always use default”, especially if you’re using FireFox v3.03 (and our latest stats say 40% of you are using FireFox to view SimHQ). There is a bug that can make your screen look like the image below. Fortunately, selecting a specific stylesheets seems to correct the problem for almost all readers.

FireFox v3.03 bug

Navigation Side Bar Settings

Some of you wanted an option to move the side bar to the right instead of the default left side. Okay, you can now do that. Go to: My Stuff > Profile > then scroll down to: “Left or Right Nav (0 – left, 1 – right)”. Key in “1” and click the submit button.

The side bar gets the award as the most controversial item added to the site. For those of you who have not been shy about voicing your critical comments, we hope that when you understand the reasons behind the change you’ll be more accepting.

If you recall the previous version of the forums, the navigation was at the top center followed by the new articles then two leaderboard ads. While many of you said it was okay to stack the leaderboard ads, even more complained about it because you would have to scroll to read the initial posts in a thread. Also, the navigation was getting missed. We asked “how many know where air combat articles are?”and too many of you replied you didn’t know. We asked “how do you find out about new SimHQ articles?” and nearly half of you said you learned about them from the scroll that listed 3-4 latest articles. We felt that was unacceptable and that one of the greatest strengths SimHQ has, and has had, is our article content. We hope you find this wealth of information more accessible with the new layout.

The advertisers were requesting more places for their wares than the double-stacked ads on top of the forums, and we felt we should work with them and do what could. Especially since ad revenue drives SimHQ and makes a free for members site possible. Thus we did the sidebars to make the best use of the page space.

While we strive to maintain a good ad to content ratio, without advertisers there will be no site. Most of you understand this. Some of you don’t. Site operations cost money and SimHQ works on a break-even business model. For those of you who block the ads, you certainly have that right, but if you do it can have bad implications for the site. If you want to know how you can support SimHQ, now and in the future, it’s simple: Support our advertisers.

The ads at the bottom of the page are Google AdSense only. Those of you who know their program are aware when a site starts to use the ads you can get some uhhh, “less than preferred” ads. Tuning the program software can help with this, and anytime you see an offensive ad, please get the advertiser name and the URL if possible, and send it to the webmaster. We will address it.

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