The Future of Your input requested.


HPIC - Hatas gonna Hate
Staff member
Super Mod
Oct 2, 1998
Hey guys!

As you can tell, we're making some changes around here. We're adding multiple moderators to forums, changing the looks of the place and the order, adding, subtracting, combining, and more.

The original concept for was to provide a place for Knife Enthusiasts to talk about their passion and to learn more, or share their knowledge. That concept has since evolved to our current mission: To be the single best location for anyone of any level to meet and discuss all aspects of knives, whether they are a novice or high end collector, manufacturer or custom maker, buyer, seller or anything in between. Our goal is simple: to make into a site where anyone in the knife market can come and take away something that will help them better their knowledge, business or craft.

It is my earnest opinion that we are well on our way in fully realizing this goal. Yes, we've had our setbacks, but along the way we have learned valuable lessons about gathering and maintaining a community. As a community, it seems that we are contstantly striving for future improvement, and to help each other.

We've gained over 3300 members in under a year, and during that time we've seen some familiar faces come and go. We've experienced the sad loss of valued members, and we've congratulated the birth of a new generation of (we hope) knife enthusiasts. We have members from every corner of the earth, on every continent, with one common passion: knives.

In order for anything to survive, it must continue to adapt and grow to meet the requirements of it's environment. The current changes here are a reflection of those adaptations and we hope to continue to meet and exceed your expectations in the future.

These changes, however, cannot work without your feedback. We know we are heading in the right general direction, but we need to know what we are doing right, and what areas could use improvement.

As such, I would like to see what ideas you have to make better fulfill it's mission of knife education.

One crossroad we currently are facing is the forums themselves. In it's current configuration, has nearly reached it's limit on the number of forums that we currently display. Let me clarify that further: both Mike and myself are uncomfortable in adding any more forums to the mix that we currently have, as it would increase the page load times of the main forums page, and as such, would begin to cost us as many members as it would gain.

At the same time, if we want to grow any further, we have to add more forums because there are forums that we could host, but aren't around because of a need for streamlining. As a result, the forums have gone elsewhere: Notice the Wilderness/Survival forum, Livesay, Strider Knives, and some others.

One option that we could explore is turning the main forums listings off, and making the categories into sublistings. So, when you logged into the forums, you would be taken to a list of categories to choose from, with the current forums as subcategories. To better illustrate this, if we enabled this option right now, when you came into the forums you'd see links for:
<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" align="right" border="0"></a>Knife Exchange
Industry Information
Knife Community, and
The Help Center.

Clicking on the link for the Knife Exchange would display the Knives For Sale/Trade, Auction, Store, Trading Post, etc forums. You get the picture.

Should we try this out? This would allow us to add as many forums as needed, without the vertical scrolling considerations that we have now, but at the same time, we may grow too large for everyone to make it to every forum.

Thus, you see some of the considerations we are faced with.

As Mike has previously said, we are also going to be starting a Knife E-zine in the near future as well as having numerous other plans in the works.

But, we need your help to continue on.

Please give us your feedback, and help us in our mission to continue to helping you, and thanks for your continued support.


Kevin Jon Schlossberg
SysOp and Administrator for

Insert witty quip here

[This message has been edited by Spark (edited 12 September 1999).]
I am not fond of change but will go with the flow. I find no fault with way the Forum is set up except that when I order stuff at the Store I forget to click the shopping cart and it tells me I haven't ordered anything yet. I thought the page was broke. Maybe some text to make it more obvious for us slow types?
Anyway keep up the good job and know that your work is greatly appreciated.

I think that would work well. I figure, try it and if it does not work, we can try something else.

The only concern is over-specialization, in other words, I like a General Forum that is brimming with all sorts of topics, maybe even topics that could be elsewhere. That way I am led down paths I normally would not encounter.

But people seem to like an organized way.
Categories which expand into subcategories sounds workable to me. The expanded subcategories would then close back up if you click again on the main category - right?

This seems pretty conventional and is somewhat intuitive. Hopefully users won't be confused by it. You will gain the ability to add subcategories (more forums). That should help keep the size of the display down and help BladeForums expand and grow.

I believe this will work, but want to hear from others before you do your magic Spark. Thanks for asking. I appreciate the opportunity to provide some input prior to changes occuring.
You are correct in that this forum has grown at a fantastic rate in the last year and constant changes will have to be made to continue to expand.The cat./sub-cat sounds like a workable idea.I would like to see each seperate forum stay on topic. Right now there is a forum that pretty much covers everything and with the sub forum idea newer members would be more prone to check individual threads first before just posting anything to the first forum they came to like the general forum.If there is a question whether or not its really knife related at least then there is a better chance of the poster finding the right forum to post on rather then the first one that pops up.When you compare this forum to any other cutlery related forum on the web posting wise and member wise you realize just how large this has become. Looking down the road if it only doubles in size with in the next year, without making strong and needed changes you could very well find your selfs overwhelmed with how to handle the rapid expansion.IMHO new and constant changes are going to have to be met in order to continue to grow into the largest most informative web site for knife related issues. So far the things that have been implemented seem to work just fine an hopefully the future will bring the same rate of sucsess.

BladeForums has become the singlemost useful site for knife information on the net in my experience.

However, as it has grown, I have found it increasingly more difficult to keep up with BECAUSE of the over-specialization, imho.

I, like Marion, (you don't know how it pains me to agree with him
) think that a general forum CAN and SHOULD be used for most issues as it allows the readership to be touched by numerous ideas/topics/events without having to seek them out (read:search)for them elsewhere.

I realize that some amount of specialization is inevitable and (unfortunately) necessary.

My advice would be to keep the branching/splitting to a minimum, rather than offering a cornucopia of disparate forums.

My somewhat less than two cents worth.


Live Free or Die

I think the category/subcategory idea is worth a try. I mentioned it before... I am glad for the success of this forum but am also finding it harder and harder to follow. Some folks posts stuff in forums that belong in other forums, and others post in general and again in the specific forum. It's that much more scrolling. I tend to avoid to the general forum these days and stick to the specific ones. I know doing so means missing some good threads but I don't have the time or energy to go through all. For example, I almost missed the news of Madpoet. That bothered me... I got wind of it, thankfully, in a post in the Custom Forum.


Spark - I was thinking of that before, but didn't think to ask because it was never a problem. That'd be a good idea. That way we could also add a much wanted survivla & wilderness thread that I've been wanting for a while...
If I understand it correctly, I like the new idea.

Luke 22:36, John 18:6-11
Every so often, a member tries to get in touch with another member via a posting because email doesn't work. This happens especially in the knives for sale forum. How about an app that maybe uses cookies which in turn brings up a banner on the Bladeforums screen that the member has a message from another member when he/she comes back to the forums? The banner/message prompt would disappear once it's link has been clicked on and the member has gone to the page with the messages. The message page would be generated by the member trying to get in touch with another member via a "commo center" link in the Bladeforums main page. What do you think?

I would like it very much. When I am trying to do find out about a special knife the information is easy to get to when that company or topic has its own subcatagory.
Spark, let me start by telling you what I think both you and Mike are doing right, namely by ASKING us about what types of changes need made and then actually listening to what we say. As long as you keep this up, I don't see BF having any serious problems in the near future. As to your idea of streamlining the forums, I say give it a shot and see how it works, and if it does, great, if not, we can switch back. Whatever we try, it does need done, because this place is getting huge.

Just because I talk to myself doesn't mean I'm crazy. What's wrong with getting a second opinion?

The idea sounds good to me. There are two problems I can see however.

First, there is a chance that we will all find ourselves visiting a very limited number of forums and become unaware of the larger world in general.

Second, if you decide to go this way and it doesn't work out for whatever reason, it could be hard to undo.

The first problem could I think be dealt with through proactive moderators in each forums that remain aware of the posts in other forums, and post regularly, both in other forums and in their own forum regarding other forums. You and Mike are very good at this now, as is Jim, but it is going to become more of a challenge as the number of forums grow.

I agree that the "General Discussion" forum needs to remain as the backbone of BladeForums. Perhaps it should go into a special category at the top of the list.


I like the direction you've mentioned but wonder if a transition step might not be in order. Specifically, take the existing forum "groupings" you have now and establish a page for each (e.g. manufacturers' forums). Once folks have become comfortable, either subdivide or reorganize further as you've suggested.

I know our current software doesn't support this next concept but my hope is that the next generation of internet forum software will incorporate the feature. That being the automatic use of SQL database inquiries such that a new topic post when drafted comes up for review by the member listing pre-existing threads that contain the keywords the member wants to post about. Perhaps even the words "TOPIC ALREADY EXISTS" might flash at the poster. The member would be able to place his draft in a "pending file" while he links to those threads to see if (1) his question is already answered (2) a modification of his post would fit on an existing thread. He'd then be provided with the options of (1) killing his draft post and going to a pre-existing thread (2) modifying the draft and selecting one of the linked threads to attach his post to, or (3) abort all (as he'd have read and found what he was looking for and has no need of making a comment.

Right now, many sites try to use FAQs or like, go through the painful review of postings and extract key topic information and index them seperately for user access.

The forum software developers would render a great service if this were done obviating cyclical postings of repetitive subject matter as well as eliminating the splintering of topics. Relevant new data would be directed for add on to those pre-existing threads.

This I am convinced would make data organization much improved and result in neater, more "compact" forums. Ultimately I believe this technique would allow for a sane path to supporting additional specialized forums or sub-forums.

I'd ask first for your thoughts, and second to convey this suggestion to the developers who provide and market the software we're using here (which is the best I've seen on the Net so far).

Later on it could be expanded to automatically like folks to BFC magazine articles and the existing FAQs. Think about sharpening or sharpener queries we see as an example and how this would result in fewer postings yet provide the member with all the data they seek. Right now a number of us try to direct folks in the direction that I'd hope refined software would do automatically


I did NOT escape from the institution! They gave me a day pass!

BFC member since 3 Oct 98
AKTI membership pending
VHA and NRA member

[This message has been edited by bald1 (edited 12 September 1999).]
Spark - seems like a good idea (meta-forums w/sub-forums). We can always try it and see if it works as intended. If not, we can try something else.

Go for it!

Your idea for narrowing the hierarchy sounds good and is certainly worth a try. You really should get the search function working again though... The recent idea to scan new topics postings for keywords that are already in heavy use elsewhere is also good, but deciding where to draw the line (is this new topic really the same just because many similar key words are used?) will be problematic, and a good search function will help alleviate the problem at least for those who take the time to search first and post later.
What if you list all of the forum lynx at the top of the page, just one word like Spyderco, Rekat, etc. Then you could have the discription like it is now following them lower on the page. This way we could see them all at once, and the newer members can scroll down to find out what the forum is if they cannot tell by the short name.
I have to agree with MDP and Blues on this one. I think if you specialize to much there will be a lot of subjects a lot of us will miss because it is not in a catagorie we generally look at or because a lot of us don't have the time to look over every catagorie. I vote to keep specialization to a minimum.
If you decide to use Category-subcategory displays, you might want to consider using user display options in each registered users profile. Unregistered users would get the default BladeForums display options.

Registered users could identify which Categories they would like expanded and which ones they don't want to see expanded in their initial display.
Spark, my $.02

I agree with your idea of category/subcategory pages.

I also like db's idea of a quick one-button link, but would replace the suggested link word (ie, Spyderco) with an icon. You could ring the screen with icon shortcuts to speed access for the veterans, and leave the hierarchical access for the newbies or the lost.

Another suggestion: since you support cookies already, maybe there's a way to record user preferences for favorite links/sub-categories. Then present a small icon bar on the main screen with the users' favorite links. No description is necessary since the user hits these all the time.

Last suggestion (unrelated to the forum organization): one that I made a few weeks ago and improved by Cliff Stamp...provide a "50 Most Frequently Read" page to enable valuable reference and tips information to consolidate, rather than forcing users to search for information that we don't really want to lose (like Joe T's Axis 710 sharpening tips).

Well, maybe more than $.02