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Reflectors and Forums History related
#1
I thought I'd add some historical info about my MARC experience with reflectors and forums.  The subect has popped up recently on the reflector and here are my thoughts which I think are more appropriate to print here on the forum, lest I "time out" the reflector.    Been silent mostly on this subject but thought I'd share some info with you.  Regarding  chat rooms, digests, refectors and forums. 

Actually Zoom video conferencing and Internet "chat rooms" are similar but work differently. This article is about Forums, and Reflectors  and chat rooms and the I'll save any Zoom discussion for another time.   

Years ago MARC had a Packet Radio BBS, which was an on the air actual HAM RADIO thing.   That ham radio BBS had it's own chat room, which was accessible 24/7 via Ham Radio on  2 meters.  It was popular back then.  Yes we had an on the air radio BBS with it's own chat room.  It was on the air on 2 meters 24/7.   No Internet needed.   In fact it was featured extensively in the ARRL publication "Your Packet Companion".  Sadly after many years, it was disconntinued. I believe that club Packet BBS was started  somewhere around 1991. That's story for another time.

Some years later. I retired from the computer repair business.   At that time I had a business Internet server with a web site and forum that I shut down when I sold the business. It still had 2 years left on a paid up leased Internet server.  I deleted the web site and forum and used the forum software to create the current MARC forum and kept the server running.   The new MARC Internet  forum was running on that business server for several months and one of it's more popular features was it's "chat room".  
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Later during one of my stints as  the club SAM and guy who was taking care of the club's then new Internet stuff I took that APLUS business Internet account  with 2 years still left on the lease, and had it re-registered to MARC.  I also then set up the w1nrg.com domain for the club and then contacted Mark, K1PU to program the Web site.  The MARC Forum was already installed and had been running for the past year..  

After many years of handling the Web site, K1PU asked to be relieved of that duty and now a few years later it looks like  no one has yet come forward to actually do anything with it.  Lot's of discussions at meetings on that and it seems to be an on-going thing?    I have been out of the loop and my activity has been somewhat curtailed do to medical issues some time ago.  I am the guy who actually brought this club into the modern era with it's own domain and, actual "club owned and maintained" web site and forum and set that all up. And I have not been involved in any of the club's internet projects for some time . However Al, N1API and I still quietly maintain and run the MARC Forum to this day.

The MARC forum has been up and running long before the web site OR any other club internet presence, since the late 1990s   I set up that entire server, web site and forum BECAUSE prior to that,  the club had SEVERAL web sites and other Internet connections and even domains all run on personal accounts or club member's  companies web servers.  And it was a mess.   We had web sites that  "disappeared" when the person who was running it lost interest or lost his internet service or the hosting business account closed the account or in one case the guy handling the web site "disappeared" and in another case became a silent key.  And because of that no one could access anything with those sites. The MARC Internet situation was like a kitchen with way too many cooks all doing their own thing.  The members efforts had good intentions and work was being done by honest people,  but nothing was coordinated or actually in the club control which created some real problems.  

That is why I created the w1nrg.com domain and had it registered TO and BY MARC along with the new MARC "Official" web site and forum owned, paid for, and managed solely BY the club.   And that is how the original APLUS business server came to become a MARC owned entitiy.  

I know something about the Internet, programming and chat rooms, reflectors and web sites and specially a lot about the existing MARC server.  I was owner of a computer service and sales business for many years.   And I know  the differences between an email refector  and an Internet forum based chat room. Both have their own unique operational situations and are both good to have.  But sometimes they are used incorrectly.     

"Digests" were first developed to handle the problem of "too much email" being sent too often by very large Internet email based reflectors.  It was a way to compress a synopsis of all the daily, monthly etc. emails for a given period to ONE email being sent to the user where the user could see a list of messages and browse or pick what to read INSTEAD of getting several dozen emails every day.   That is where a digest is properly used.    

But a forum actually doesn't NEED a digest.  A forum (unlike an email reflector) keeps all it's information available at ANY date or time for anyone to see as long as the forum exists.  Our club "forum" has posts and discussions going back YEARS and anyone can instantly access the main page and right there instantly see a side bar listing of ALL the most recent new posts.

Why wait for an email to get sent with a digest, when you can get a "perpetual on line digest" with one click on your browser's bookmark and access the MARC Forum and instantly see the latest posts right there?  

Yes like I said, both email reflectors and forums have good things going for them, but digests are seldom used for forums (and IMHO they are not needed for forums)  However digests ARE uniquely proper for reflectors.   Reflectors are VALUABLE to use for SHORT and important notes to get to a large audience.  FWIW, a forum can do the same thing.  However, some users don't like to get involved with having to use a browser to get short notes and prefer to just get a short email notice via a reflector.   And that is okay.  So email  works for them ..

But sometimes the reflector is used to start on-going discussion that has a lot of text content, or  has large attachments or fancy HTML graphics.  And all that comes into your email in box sometimes hourly.   THAT is when the reflector is being mis-used and those posts are better handled by a forum.

FWIW, I just now while writing this logged into the MARC forum and have on screen the main page which shows a synopsis on a side panel of the most recent 10 post made to the forum.  Took a total of 8 seconds. Yes I timed it. I can do that any time or day and have instant access to  thousands of posts available listed over the last few years, all  organised and easily searched along with a side bar showing the latest new posts..   

Why would I bother to subscribe to a digest where I'd have to wait for a email, which is subject to malware, and spam filters and other email anomalies or have to READ and delete dozens of casual notes that I  have no interest in?  And I had BETTER be sure to actually check my email offen lest I MISS that ONE reflector post about a cancelled meeting that's somewhere among the dozens of received reflector emails arriving all day long.   .  

Good refector managers try to keep the posts relevent to the reflector gendre but in most cases it is just not possible to really moderate reflector posts easily .  The result is that in addition to a serious important notices about a cancelled meeting,. you have to actually look at all the dozens of incoming reflector emails to find that one important or interesting note among the dozens of general  unrelated musings.   The MARC reflector however is pretty good as most of it's users know it's a "Ham Radio" based thing and they do well to stay "on topic" and self police.   But there are still occassional improper or unrelated  posts on the reflector (usually on-going discussions) that are  better served on the forum.    

And yes as far as the forum goes, I can still "subscribe" to a specific Forum area overall,  OR just a specific forum post individually and the forum will instantly notify me of any new content.   So a forum certainly has some things that work differently than an email reflector.  And sometimes email reflector posts have their use but sometimes those uses can be better served by a forum. 

It all actually depends on the "content" of the post or message as to where it should be used.   There IS a valid use for BOTH the reflector and forum in our MARC world.  

Digests were originally developed for use by email reflectors mostly because of how those reflectors tend to over-load users incoming email in boxes.  And sometimes those reflector users are not using them wisely. I have seen more recently, some "newer" forums that are also beginning to use digests.  Personally I see no advantage to use a digest with forums.  


So that's a little historical background about MARC's club members "messaging" over the years.   

Oh yeah, I've been very active in the past .  In fact my computer store was used to provide a place for all MARC meetings and also Ham Radio classes held there for 2 years in 1988 and 1989.   Soon after that someone offered the Wallingford town civil defense and auxiliary police director our members as volunteers to help when the aux police dept was disbanded and then director Ernie Fratinni contacted him looking for help.   I'll let you guess who that was.  THAT was the beginning of our long relationship with the Wallingford town.   Sorry for the little historical digression.      

73, Rich WA1TRY MARC Historian
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#2
Rich, since K1PU's departure, more than three years ago, I've been editing the MARC webpages. Things like meeting dates and net schedules are kept up to date and the latest issue of Key Klix is listed on the main page. And, Paypal has been added. The current website is being maintained and is up to date.

The never ending discussion that has gone on for more than a year revolves around the idea of replacing the current website with a completely new one.

Dave NZ1J
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#3
Thanks Dave,

I figured someone was taking care of it. I see stuff changing all the time. Sorry to not be more active. Tryng to get more active again but due to some personal issues things are a little difficult for me. I have short bursts of clarity and physical "get up and go" once in a while though although sometimes my get "up and go", got up and went. If you need any help or have questions about the web server don't hesitate to get in touch. I've been active for some time in all areas, and hope I still might be able to contribute something. This thread was started when I started thinking back to when and how this whole MARC Internet stuff started. Lots of water has flowed under that bridge.
Rich - WA1TRY 
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