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Forums Discussion

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NOTICE: The new SeattleEVA Forums software, "Simple Machine Forum", has been deployed and is ready for general consumption at

This page was used to discuss and vet the implementation of new Forums services for SEVA.

May 29th, 2008 - Meeting Agenda

SEVA Forum Ideas / Topics of Discussion For Meeting 7:00PM THURSDAY MAY 29th at MOSAIC COMMUNITY COFFEE HOUSE. Meeting Goals:

  1. Discuss all open concerns & ideas by all parties present, and all comments submitted by email.
  2. Come up with a mission statement / forum goals by popular vote.
  3. Form official panel of 3-5 to get the forum up and running.


  1. A forum is a good idea and we will make it happen. It is an addition to the exisiting SEVA community, not replacing anything.
  2. The SEVA maillist will still operate the same (but with a greater focus Announcements and Events – Steven Lough will still call the shots on what is appropriate or off-topic).
  3. The Wiki Site will still operate and continue to add new content and be the main online presence of SEVA.
  4. Security, administration, and desired functionality will be available in the solution chosen, and community members will help moderate and support the forum as needed.

Big Decisions to settle before moving forward:

  1. I think we need to define – or at least get something close - what we want to get out of this, sort of like a mission statement (but with a little more info) something we can bounce the future decisions of off. An example could be:
    “Provide a venue for local EV enthusiasts to openly discuss all issues pertaining to EVs, in a candid yet considerate manner. Uphold the SEVA mission statement to ‘Educate, Demonstrate, and Proliferate electric vehicle’ by building a searchable knowledge base, created, maintained and supported by local members. Support the wave of newcomers to Electric Vehicles by providing FAQs, links to resources and tools – both commercial and hobby, and of course, answers to specific questions.”
    The above is a quick (and I mean quick) jotting down of my thoughts about how I envision the forum being used. This is only a suggested starting point, for ideas. Please add your comments / feedback. We’ll shape it into something most people can agree with, and go from there. With something like the above to bounce our ideas / plans against, we can make all other decisions based on whether it supports the mission / goals.
  2. Decide on a panel / committee to get the rest of it done. It will go much smoother if a handful of people work together to get the rest of it done (based on majority agreement of what we want out of it). I’m thinking between 3 to 5 people would be plenty – too many folks and it gets hard to meet and get things done. The panel would work with other members as needed (like recruiting Moderators or soliciting feedback at certain junctures).
  3. Host with existing site, or separate domain / host? Mostly a technical decision – we will have to click on a link from the Wiki Site to get to the forum anyway, and a link is a link so it will be essentially transparent to members where it is hosted. Considerations here are expense, reliability, redundancy, scalability (bandwidth & storage), and platform.
    Once we decide to host with site or externally, then we can determine which software platform to use. Originally I originally wanted it to be tied closely to the wiki, but the more I think about it, the more I am seeing the advantages of having the forum be hosted separately. For one, if they are on different servers, if one is having problems (even if just network congestion) then the other is unaffected. Not having all eggs in one basket so to speak. Also, if we host externally, we have more choices of platform / software, etc.
    In regards to software selection, it is first dependant on the platform (most servers are unix / linux based, but all are configured a little different). I would recommend the most common servers – linux /unix based with php & mysql support. That is what our current Wiki runs on, and since it’s (mostly) open source, it’s free – or close to it for related services, such as hosting.
    I think most popular bulletin software packages will have all the features we require, and most all of them we want.
    Some considerations are:
    1. Security / Privacy
    2. Administration – powerful enough, but not too difficult to maintain site
    3. Moderators roles / rules
    4. Members roles / rules / Access rights (Should local members have more rights ie, be able to post pictures, have auto signatures with links, etc.? Do we want to allow members from every country?)
    5. Can we tie it (via database / xml / rss) to Seva /Wiki or Seva mailing list? In any way? Do we even want to?
    6. Ease of Searching the forum?
    7. Are there any costs associated with using the software – Licencse fees, recurring fees, etc?
    8. How about advertising support (hosting ads for other sites)…do we even want this feature?
    9. Is the software search engine friendly (in other words when people google “Seattle Electric Vehicles” or something, will the forum pop up in the search results.
    10. Do we have the tools to keep out spammers ie ban by ip, have ability to “earn” right to post links (such as you have to post 10 times before posting links, etc)
  4. Content / layout
    1. Categories / topics
    2. Default layouts, theme, colors, basic navigation & forum behavior
    3. Stickys outlining what goes in which topics, and what goes in off topic category
    4. Who will be responsible for creating the content that is not a forum post – such as naming the categories / topics, blurbs explaining different pages, etc.
  5. Implementation – to be completed by Forum Panel

--Aviken 13:24, 29 May 2008 (CDT)

Member Comments

These are some maillist comments from SEVA members regarding the implementation of a new Forums system for SEVA. These comments may be moved to a more appropriate location like the the Talk (discussion) page at some point. Remember to sign your comments with the signature toolbar button. Please sign in if you have an account, and if you don't then consider requesting one. You can however participate anonymously if you like. Finally please remember to write a summary of your edit and to preview your post before saving...

Ken Hunt <>

Steven & Ryan & the Forum Folks -

I have gone through all the responses so far, and compiled there comments here. I've also added them to this thread, so please click reply all on all further correspondence regarding the forum idea.

Please let me know if I added you by mistake (like you just wanted to comment, but don't want to be on this thread).

Ryan - I know you are busy with the migration and certainly other things, so don't feel as though you need to address everyones comments right now. I expect this to be an open email discussion, where thoughts, suggestions, comments, complaints, etc can be advanced - and we'll then see if this has the legs to take off.

As other people email me I'll add them to the list, with their comments, probably one at a time from here on out. I grouped these because there are so many too add at first.

I love the idea of a forum. I have considered leaving the group because I cannot keep up w/ the emails. A daily digest-type thing would work much better for me. Thanks for gathering opinions! (Skip Montanaro)

Rather than risk segmenting the EV discussion space more than it already is, why not ask the above folks [1] to add a section for regional forums? Here's an example of a forum site which provides that facility:

You can subscribe to forums. I get emails about posts to the USMS forums (the link I provided earlier) as well as new posts in several forums on the 914world and 914club sites. My only regret is that you can't simply reply by email.

count me in.... Chuck mentioned he liked getting daily mail just to keep tabs on goings on without having to go to and login to a forum. I do too. but I also thought I saw someone say you can "subscribe" to a forum topic and get all the mail from that topic. true?? (Brian Hughes)

This is a good example of an EV-related forum. We could model ours after this one, but with local-to-seattle topics as well. (Norm and Peggy Baker)

Usually I am a lurker but I have to admit I really like the idea of a forum if for nothing more than archiving all the information so newbies to EV's, like me, can access it without undue burden on the regulars. Please do the forum.

Also, I find most of us interested in EV also are interested in electric bikes. In fact, many of us need and use both bikes and cars - electric or not. I wonder if extending an invitation to Seattle electric bikers would be a good idea - especially to participate in area car shows. At this point I am not aware of a Ebiker group group in Seattle that meets and participates like the SEVA group does on cars. It is clear from my subscription to to SEVA, that Seattle needs some sort of incentive to get an electric bike group going. Ebikers participating at car shows and EV shows would be a good thing and possibly start such a group (Alan Thompson)

Please add me to the list.

I've been contemplating dropping off SEVA due to so much off topic conversation.

I learned more in five minutes from the site Brian suggested than I have for months of reading SEVA. (David White)

Let'er rip Ken - I agree completely. The volume of mail is substantial and I can hardly keep up. The forum should be hosted and be part of our own website, that way you don't have to wander too far. Plus it will let those you need and want to pontificate on all things green without bogging down the EV issue. Our Webmaster should be able to handle it without any problems.

We need Ryan Fulcher (webmaster) to give us his comments on this and tell us what needs to be done. There's lots of ways to do it, it's relatively simple from a software standpoint, but someone will need to administer and moderate the users. Any volunteers?? (Dona)

Guys, I haven't written yet, but I have really enjoyed reading all of the messages that have been coming to my inbox, since I joined the email list. I want to have "forum" clarified for me please. First, I'll say what I think it is, then you can agree, or clarify please.

To me, a forum is a place on the web where people can post messages, ask questions, or what have you. If somebody stumbles upon a forum message through doing an internet search and wants to post an additional thought or two, it would be necessary to "join" right? Do forums include options for messages to come to a member's inox? I belong to several yahoo groups and if my idea of what a forum is determined to be correct, then yahoo groups would be similar to forums, with some added options. (Chuck H)

It looks like it's an advertising site, but it is more organized. I guess there would be no way to recieve the daily chatter on your email without going to the website? I'd miss the daily postings as to what's going on.

Most of the postings are news, current events, energy info and personal EV problems. Not the kind of stuff that needs to be archived. Can't we just do a better job of labelling in the subject line so people can delete the stuff they don't want to read?

Ryan Fulcher <>

Well, I would like to hold off on adding any new services for a few weeks as I'm in the middle of migrating the server which hosts the seva website and maillist to a brand new and faster server.

I like the idea, but the solution unfortunately is not as easy to properly vet nor implement as apparent by some examples below. I'm definitely not opposed to the idea, but I also don't want to start something prematurely just to have it fail or get out of control. The problem is users, they rarely use tools the way they should, they want more, they want less, they abuse, and they are put off and go away...


The nwbiodiesel list is as ours a simple maillist:

The EVDL is a high traffic list and the center of gravity for EV talk.

There is already another official EVTech list at:

These simple maillists are the easiest way to discuss ideas and do not require accounts or web browsers, etc. The EVDL has attempted numerous times to move to a more modern form and has failed each time because users habits are not easy to change. The major flaw of these lists however is that they are not easy to search. Ours happens to have a yahoo group archive, which can be read in a threaded manner, which is good, but it's search functions are far from great. I also have a local archive, while it's search function is fairly good, it is very slow and does not deal well the discussion threads. I would like to create a good way to properly index all of the above maillists, and perhaps that would solve some of the issues and allow people to use RSS and rapidly search the archives of these lists...


There are numerous examples of very popular forums, for example

The problem with these are that they generally require yet another user account for the person to remember. They are web browser based so they must be kept compatible with everyones software. They may be difficult to follow or overwhelming to non-technical users, Even I find many of them just as overwhelming as high bandwidth maillists like the EVDL. Urls within a forum should be kept short, so people don't have trouble linking to them or need to resort to tinyurl.

In the end I've used a number of these and am not particularly impressed by any of them. But I'll begin looking into some of the open source forum packages and perhaps we can try out some to see how they work. Ultimately I'd like to see something that integrates into the wiki... But in the end (I'm told) that the MediaWiki software we use is not a CMS (Content Management System), nor a Blog, Forum, nor List Archiver. It is however IMHO a very nice piece of web editing and collaboration software that is feature rich, with a clean look and easy learning curve.

Anyway, it's a good idea but with no clear and simple solution.

Steven Lough

OK... have to put my President hat on

uhh..... uuhh.... GOSH it still FITS ! Head not too swollen yet...!

I like the idea of these Forums as well, for specific segments of our little SEVA World. i.e.

  • EVents
  • Technical Problems and Solutions
  • EV Racing
  • Political and Environ Action
  • Slightly OT ( Bio, Solar, etc. etc. )
  • Other stuff...

I would also like to Keep our Web Site as a general reference to all the above and so on...

However, I would not relinquish the SEVA e-mail system, for I think it would serve us well for General Announcements, and a simple way to "reach out and Touch " the whole membership at large... in ONE simple e-mail transmission...

Seems there are at least a half dozen ways to skin this Cat. Slightly different formats, different programs, etc. I would suggest that all interested parties form a committee and meet to hash it all out in person-to-person, rather than days or weeks of e-mails going back and forth...

That would be my 2 cents...

So Ken, Alan, Ryan, Chuck, Stephen, Brian, Dave, others... Some one STEP UP and set a date, time and place.... -- Steven S. Lough, Pres. Seattle EV Association