Home › Forums › Administration & Support › Website: Bug Reports, Feature Requests, Known Issues, and Changelog › Request: Delete old threads
Aug 1, 2020 at 10:41 am #3667887
I know you’ll disagree, but throwing it out there anyway. I know some of you out there think that all old threads/posts should be kept for … well, for who knows why. 10-15 year old posts simply aren’t relevant and are no longer needed, and only serve to bog down your server and increase your costs. Heck, you could pretty much delete everything in chaff that’s older than a year.
You keep talking about your huge databases and how much trouble they can be (not to mention expense), this is an easy way to alleviate some of that issue. How far back you delete could be a worthy discussion.
And if you feel that you really need all those old threads to back fondly on when you’re old and decrepit, just put ’em all on a disc for storage.Aug 1, 2020 at 11:09 am #3667897Ken ThompsonBPL Member
@hereLocale: Right there
Gear swap must be a huge data hog. Delete that stuff.Aug 1, 2020 at 11:37 am #3667899
We’ve already made the decision to move Gear Swap out of the forums for the new site. It will have its own custom system where sellers can mark prices, sale status, etc. Gear swap threads are typically very short and don’t have a diversity of “voices” so they don’t have a huge impact on database performance. In the short term, we do plan to close old Gear Swap threads, and that will help for those browsing Gear Swap at least.
Chaff is another story. I know that Chaff has a meaningful impact for some of the people that are there, but we are talking about a massive database performance hit for 0.27% of our membership (based on the number of active persons in chaff in the past 90 days divided by our total membership size).
In addition, Chaff has the lowest viewer:participant ratio of any of the other forums by a factor of 30. Which is another way to say that there is a very low number of chaff readers-only/lurkers. It’s a metric we use to measure forum value to the broader community (forums offer a lot of value to readers/lurkers). I just ran a quick query, which I found interesting: the viewer:participant ratio in Chaff (all threads) over the past 30 days is 75 times lower than the viewer:participant ratio of the Gear (general) forum in 2008. This is a compelling reason to (generally) keep old threads that do have value and an SEO footprint.
A substantial amount of advertising revenue comes out of having Chaff, but I’m not sure it’s worth it at this point beyond its ability for a relatively small number of people to develop online relationships through discussion of non-backpacking topics. Chaff has other issues as well (more human ones that have negatively impacted inclusivity, diversity, and community at BPL), but that’s a topic for another discussion.Aug 1, 2020 at 12:29 pm #3667911Rex SandersBPL Member
@rexLocale: Central California Coast
Thoughts on removing old threads:
– I regularly go back to old threads, often along the lines of “Wasn’t that covered already?” and “What changed since the last time this came up?” Many topics never go away, despite rapid (often small) changes in (some) gear and slow changes in skills and trails.
– Threads attached to BPL articles are different. The stories usually have lasting value, and the threads often show corrections, updates, and additions from the community. I’d be very sad if those old threads disappeared.
– If BPL decides to remove old threads (besides Gear Swap and Chaff), I’d like an opportunity to download my own old posts for many reasons, preferably via a BPL-sanctioned button.
– Public BPL Forum threads are not scraped by the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. So once those threads are gone, they’re gone forever for almost everyone.
— RexAug 1, 2020 at 12:35 pm #3667912
Agree with all of your points, Rex. We are committed to preserving all historical forum threads, except Chaff and Gear Swap. Gear Swap is easy for us to sort out, we have a roadmap for that already.Aug 1, 2020 at 1:49 pm #3667917
“I regularly go back to old threads, often along the lines of “Wasn’t that covered already?” and “What changed since the last time this came up?” Many topics never go away, despite rapid (often small) changes in (some) gear and slow changes in skills and trails.”
I’ve also gone back to old threads at times, but 15-year-old threads? No. The vast majority of older threads serve no purpose whatsoever. I knew the argument ‘but some of those old threads are useful!’ would come up, but really, go back to page 3,000-whatever and work backward and see how many threads still remain useful.
“If BPL decides to remove old threads (besides Gear Swap and Chaff), I’d like an opportunity to download my own old posts for many reasons, preferably via a BPL-sanctioned button.”
Yes, that would be nice.
“Public BPL Forum threads are not scraped by the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. So once those threads are gone, they’re gone forever for almost everyone.”
Isn’t that because of a setting on BPL? So couldn’t that be changed?Aug 1, 2020 at 4:12 pm #3667939
2-3 times a month, I’m searching for an old BPL thread. It might be a trip report that I wanted to refer to, or even a post I made myself, if I wanted to check a weight or a spec or a comment I knew I’d written years ago. Googling, say, “BPL Manfred Iceland” “BPL David Thomas Little Vicky” or “BPL Moulder Strip Test” finds it quickly and easily.
Sometimes I extract the info I wanted from that, perhaps cutting & pasting a passage into a new answer to someone and other times I’ll give them the link to the original post and hence all the responses to it. When I do that on Reddit’s r/ultralight, there’s the potential of some Redditers clicking over to BPL.
Old Chaff? Not of interest to me.
Old Gear Swap? Not of interest to me – I get almost all my gear new, but I can imagine someone buying or selling gear would be interested in previous price points. I certainly use eBay’s “Completed Items” prior to some purchases there.Aug 2, 2020 at 6:25 am #3668095Erica RBPL Member
Old threads are a great source of information. Some of them get shiny with age, come start to wear thin. I like to keep them around, even if in the back of the closet.Aug 2, 2020 at 8:50 am #3668119KatttBPL Member
Not sure about forums in general but deleting old chaff posts sounds good to me.Aug 2, 2020 at 1:29 pm #3668167Bruce TolleyBPL Member
@btolleyLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Separate the wheat from the tares and chaff and save the wheat.
Not wait, chaff is bran which is good for digestion and mitigates colon cancer.
But seriously, a critical of the same community members that post on chaff and also the ones that make useful contributions on the other forums. I would think those paying members are getting value for money by posting on chaff.
Storage is relatively cheap so what exactly is saved apart from database performance. And does database performance here mean the speed at which webpages are populated or search performance?
What I find is that overtime the same questions get recycled such as the choice of a Garmin Explorer+ vs Garmin Mini. or how do deal with plantar fascitis on a backpacking trip.
That being said, there are pearls of wisdom in many of the old threads I would hate to lose. I can find them most of the time via a google search of BPL. But sometimes I wish the BPL wiki project had succeeded and all that wisdom was organized.Aug 2, 2020 at 5:02 pm #3668197
Chaff, the Breakfast Club of BPLAug 3, 2020 at 6:22 am #3668511Kevin BabioneBPL Member
I think I’d base this on the forum itself…I don’t think I want any of the trip reports to go away – it’s nice to be able to look at those when you’re looking to do a trip, but for some of the other forums I wouldn’t care.
One related request that I’d love to see…Can we add the date the thread was started to the main forum screen? There are times when I go into what looks to be an interesting topic only to find that it was resurrected from several years ago and I had already posted! Here’s what I mean:Aug 3, 2020 at 2:50 pm #3668650
Delete it or don’t. I don’t see the real benefit here. Text is pretty small stuff from a storage perspective and as mentioned above, storage is cheap.
How Ryan runs his business is, well, none of my business, but it seems like something has changed that doesn’t help out BPL all that much from a web traffic and ad revenue perspective.
Years ago when I joined, if I searched the web for anything backpacking related, BPL would be in my top five hits. I just ran a search for Brooks Range Traverse and Brooks Range Backpacking and I never saw a single BPL hit although I stopped looking after the first three pages. Buck Nelson and Andrew Skurka both had hits on the first page.
I also searched “Wonderland Hike” and “Preparing for John Muir Trail” with the same results although Clever Hiker and Section Hiker had first page hits. “Ultralight Backpacking” yielded a third page hit for BPL.
Whatever is going on with web optimization in the background doesn’t seem to be working. I do realize from speaking with Realtors who spend many thousands of dollars per month to be among the first you’ll find when looking for a house in my town that this can be a very expensive proposition, but I can’t imagine Buck or Andrew are spending that sort of money, although that’s pure speculation.
There’s a wealth of information on BPL in the forums that was put there by members who paid to do so. If you want to delete Chaff, whatever, but it seems silly to pare down old posts on Svea stoves and 2012 JMT trip reports.Aug 3, 2020 at 3:14 pm #3668652
Delete it or don’t. I don’t see the real benefit here. Text is pretty small stuff from a storage perspective and as mentioned above, storage is cheap.
This is true, but it’s not the issue. The issue is related to speeding up the SQL queries required for the forums to run quickly. The larger the database is (in terms of # of posts, not the amount of text), the slower things run.
Whatever is going on with web optimization in the background doesn’t seem to be working.
Yes, the entire way we do search engine optimization is being redone as we rebuild the site. It’s one of the big issues we are addressing this time around.Aug 3, 2020 at 3:17 pm #3668653
Thanks for the explanation Ryan. Best of luck with the optimization.Aug 3, 2020 at 3:43 pm #3668658Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Of course I don’t know what I’m talking about —
Could you archive old posts somewhere else and close them to new comments, and at the same time allow your “search engine” to also search archived posts?
I rarely do a search on BPL, but things like trip resorts or some wonderful data provided by Richard Nisley would be a shame to lose, along with other stuff.Aug 3, 2020 at 4:00 pm #3668663
Just to clarify, we are not deleting any posts from the main forums.
As of today, here’s the (evolving) plan:
Aug 3, 2020 at 5:12 pm #3668672
- Delete inactive Chaff threads older than ___ and move Chaff out of the main forum database.
- Move Gear Swap out of the main forum database into its own section.
- Run a script to bulk-close old inactive threads and install functionality to auto-close future threads when inactive for _ days. This will have a big impact on database performance.
Ian, Years ago, BPL was a much more active forum. Non-members could post a question and although some curmudgeonly posters loved to contribute nothing but “this has been discussed before” the helpful people would answer their questions. And sometimes that discussion would evolve to discussions and debates apart from the original question.
As I recall, it was a response to spam postings that the policy changed to pay-to-post-any-question, instead of pay-for-gear-swap (and the articles).
I proposed at the time anointing many more moderators, perhaps only with the power of deleting spam. We are the sort of people who pick up litter along the trail and would happily do the same online.
Since Reddit exists and lets people ask UL BPing questions for free, where’s the incentive for newbies to pay to ask the smaller BPL community?
BPL still has more of a sense of community (at least to me, perhaps because I’ve been here for a decade versus a year on Reddit) and does seem to engender more long discussions. “A chemical engineer, a botanist, a physicist, an MD and an Aussie
walk into a barget in an argument. . . ” And I see a lot more favors, trail angel stuff, PIFs and hiking partnerships arising out of BPL, but you have to be a member for a while to see that transpire.Aug 3, 2020 at 5:19 pm #3668674W I S N E R !BPL Member
“Since Reddit exists and lets people ask UL BPing questions for free, where’s the incentive for newbies to pay to ask the smaller BPL community?”
As a high school teacher of 20 years that also sponsors a student outdoor/cycling club, I can say hands-down that this affects BPL’s ability to court a younger (and more diverse) demographic. Whether it’s younger friends of mine, students, or ex-students I’m still in touch with, most belong to a demographic that is steeped in social media (ala Reddit) where answers to questions as well as quality content are expected to be had (and found) for free. A younger (27) friend and coworker I backpack with doesn’t see the value of BPL.Aug 3, 2020 at 5:23 pm #3668676
I’m not opposed to opening up the forums to the public again. But that’s not a feasible option until we can (a) solve some of the forum database issues and (b) grow our moderator team a bit.Aug 3, 2020 at 5:45 pm #3668681
Ryan, Glad to hear it. What about a herd of Life Members granted mod privileges (hard-wired or just an understanding) only to delete spam? Seems they could be taken down with a viewing or three.
My son mods a million-member sub on reddit. About math! And kicks out everyone who asks homework questions or whose topics are too simple. (Actually, he politely redirects them to the appropriate other sub). Really, though, most of that is done automatically through algorithms.
I just looked. It’s now at 1,256,755. To discuss complicated mathematics. Seems like “be more comfortable when you hike” could interest a lot of people.Aug 3, 2020 at 5:47 pm #3668682
I’ll be a moderator! Do I get to delete threads? :-)Aug 3, 2020 at 6:00 pm #3668686
Well, maybe not ALL Life Members.Aug 3, 2020 at 6:20 pm #3668688
Aw shucks. Nobody ever picks me….Aug 3, 2020 at 6:31 pm #3668692
I don’t want to be a moderator. I definitely don’t want Doug to be a moderator.
“A younger (27) friend and coworker I backpack with doesn’t see the value of BPL.”
I think that’s the future unless BPL can figure out how to stay relevant in the age of social media. A pay wall isn’t helping bring in people who would otherwise be an active contributing member, especially when they’re wired to be on Reddit anyways.
To be on topic, my guess is that fixing the search optimization and staying the course by keeping all of the old forum posts will help greatly with this because there is a wealth of knowledge here in the forums.
If Doug is going to be a moderator, could his authority be limited to deleting the “use the search function” and “this has been discussed before” comments?
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