What a slacker! Can't believe I haven't taken the trouble to write one of these since May
What a lot has happened since then:
Back then we had 383 members - you now number almost twice that (and that is after I've deleted, I guess 50 or more members who hadn't been active for 12 months or more)
We upgraded the forum software and that allowed us to put some more smarts into the self-registration to foil spammers. Since computer software doesn't (generally) know that our fluffy feathered icon is a Kiwi that stopped the spammers dead in their tracks.
Then, in May we ran out of bandwidth on the plan that we had on our existing Kiwi host and had to find an affordable plan elsewhere. We moved to a US host (HostGator) towards the end of May. It's been probably not as fast as the original but should be big enough to last us a few years this time before we need to upgrade again.
In September I finally wheeled out the new web layout, which comprised two main changes: A more extensive and easily navigated web site (outside the forum) and most importantly, space for advertising so that the future of the forum could be made financially secure (in theory anyway!)
One of the additions (to try to satisfy a wish by some for a more informal venue) was to add a chatroom. The success of this has been somewhat underwhelming partly (I thought) because you never knew if there was anyone in the chat until you went there. Finally got that sorted a couple of weeks ago with the notification of people in the Chat at the top of the forum pages - but it may not have been the problem at all as things haven't picked up. Maybe the "demand" for chat was more perceived than real? We'll see what happens in 2010.
And now we have a group of, I think, 8 firms who are supporting us by advertising on the site (as well as two members who have placed ads on the Directory page of the site). I hope you will give them your support in turn, and check out their links, so they see that it is worthwhile renewing their ads when the time comes .
(And now I see that phpBB3 has released an updated version of the forum software: but I'm going to ignore that until we get back from our holiday "up North". Haven't got time, before we go, to fix it if it breaks )
But that's all boring technical stuff and I've probably sent most of you to sleep by now.
Some notable community things happened too:
Ructions occurred about the way the forum was being moderated. I could have handled these better, which may have prevented us losing a couple of valuable members. It became apparent through this and other issues during the year that it would take the wisdom of more than one person to keep the forum on an even keel. In October I invited five of our (elder!) members (in addition to Ray) to lend a hand by offering an ear, advice and ideas to assist in the making of good decisions for the future of the forum. They are Idex, Roamnz, Woodyz, Ross, Zukiwi and they join Ray and myself. I am most grateful to all of these people for their support and input. There is no doubt in my mind that their generosity in agreeing to help (and thus making it a bit of a "job") has somewhat diminished their enjoyment of what was before a recreation for them.
Also in October, I addressed an NZMCA board meeting (with 25 or so delegates and spouses attending) to try to get them to change their stance on preventing us using their publication to tell their members about the forum. I failed in that primary purpose, but did at least get the word out to some of the delegates about us.
Smillie (Roamnz) organised a Traillite get-together at about the same time, down in Christchurch, and the two occasions combined did result in a small membership surge at about that time.
We continue to get some really good quality useful threads going with good information (useful to motorhomers, caravanners and 5th wheelers, alike) from some very knowledgeable people. That's YOU
Thanks to each and every one of you for your contributions to the forum. You are what make it such a success.
All the very best to you and those you love for 2010.
(I hope that we have not almost doubled again, before I take the time to do my next newsletter )
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