I understand the need to make a business decision. I hope we won't lose the flexibility that the new format permits. Either way, I will adapt to whatever changes you make because the content is why I keep coming back.Here's the thing, though: We're getting slaughtered on subscriptions. If it was just an issue of page views and unique visitors being down, and the attendant drop in advertising, then we would suck it up for a while.
But we're seeing a 20% drop in subscriptions since the change. That is HUGE money, and we can't go on like this. It's pretty clear that a large portion of our user base has taken one look at the boards and gone, "Blech. I'm done."
So we're going to be very aggressive with making the new boards look and function like the old boards, in threaded mode. I have sent a list of formatting changes to the programmer, and he's going to mock things up on a test mule, so we can tweak and tune things before bringing them over here.
The changes to threaded mode will include:
1.) On the home page of a board, threads will be sorted by "Thread Start Time", not "Last Post Time." This will enable people who are familiar with the old format to see the scrolling threads that they had grown to like. Look for the return of "Great shot!" and "Well, that was dumb. **" and "SIR: Perez-Means to tight end", as well as "Germans Bomb Pearl Harbor."
2.) Within a message, the body of the post will appear at the top, followed by the thread, followed by Reply capability. The scroll bars on the thread display will be removed. This will look more like the old board. (Currently, inside a post, the thread -- with scroll bars -- is at the top, followed by the message, followed by the Reply capability.)
3.) In threaded mode, each click of a post will result in a new page being loaded. This will enable users to glance at the index page of a board and see what posts they have read, and which ones they haven't ... like the old board. (Currently, the subject lines don't change color in threaded mode, because of the preloading of posts that occurs within a message.) Linear mode and hybrid mode will still load multiple posts.
4.) TSL Host icons will appear next to my name and Chris's name in threaded mode. I have also requested special icons for gurus, CVillehoops13, bourbonstreet, Raleigh Hokie, etc.
I have requested that the programmer investigate making all of these changes, and I hope that all of them are possible and relatively easy.
These will all be changes to threaded mode only -- linear and hybrid won't change. I don't know how we're going to resolve the "Reply With Quote" issues, so linear users won't wind up totally befuddled by threaded users talking back and forth to each other. What linear users will find is that after a little time, they're the only ones talking to each other in a thread, because it will have scrolled off the page for threaded users.
Sorry, I know this is going to be confusing to have people use the boards in two completely different modes, but we simply CANNOT sit here and take a 20% hit in revenue, and just smile and say, "People will get used to it." We're getting killed here, and I've got a family to support, as do the other guys in this company (except for CC, who's got a Mustang to support).
I had hoped that our user base would adapt to the changes, but they're clearly not, and they're voting with their wallets. So off we go, to make vBulletin function like our old boards. It's disappointing, because I really wanted everyone to transition over to topic/linear mode, but I have been surprised at how much of our user base just .... can ... not ... do it. This isn't a criticism or a judgment; it's just a fact.