Good afternoon! I have copied my welcome message to the new Website below, and through this message - my first post on the forum, look forward to seeing how it develops along the lines of our old mailtalk system where we can share thoughts, ideas and discussions on gemology and related matters. As always, it will take some time getting used to, and incorporating any development work for any improvements or changes we may wish to see - but I hope we can make this collectively a real 'goto' place as it was before and provide a great benefit to us in terms of information and collectively sharing our passion for 'gems'
I am very excited to announce the launch of the new Gem-A website. The new site delivers vast improvements on our previous one, and, as we become fully live and operational over the coming months, will be user friendly and inspiring to our many audiences. We have worked hard to deliver an improved interface and provide better access to Gem-A services for our members, the wider gemmological community and anyone interested in pursuing our leading gemmology courses. Please be aware that as with all website launches there are several areas still under construction, but we are working towards delivery of the full website soon. As is always the case with such a complex undertaking we welcome any suggestions for improvement over the next couple of months — please email email@example.com with your comments and feedback.
I am also thrilled to announce that we have launched a web-based global forum, accessible via the new website, as a replacement for the old Mailtalk system. The new global forum will be easy to use and will provide an online meeting point for our collective expertise, questions and discussions — a fantastic resource and service for members. The service will be moderated carefully, but we hope it will develop and flourish as it did before.
I’d like to thank all of the team at Gem-A who have worked hard on this fantastic new development for the Association and hope you enjoy using it.
Welcome, you are our first poster!
Indeed we knew there were some issues that really only came to light testing our system online, so thanks for bearing with us as I know the the team have worked hard on ironing out these 'bugs'. Thank you for posting!
Michael D Cowing here. Just recently found out about this restart of the GEM-A forum. Surprised to see it's been up over a year, and equally surprised to see the tiny participation. GEM-A should advertise to its members the existence of this forum and encourage in the Journal, Gems and Jewellery, at conferences and everywhere it can, the participation by the membership like we had on the old GEM-A forum.
That's interesting, Michael. How was it that you came to find out? I agree that something needs to be done , both to advertise the forum's existence and also to encourage its use. But, ultimately, the usefulness of the forum depends entirely on the contributions (i.e. postings) that members choose to make here.
Maybe a small but highlighted reminder run in every edition for a year in G&J and JoG? In addition to which, maybe our plethora of moderators organise between themselves say one posting a month, of the nature of a short article on some aspect of gemmology, designed to provoke thought and encourage discussion (at least for the first year, until the general level of contribution has risen to the point where ' taking a lead' is no longer necessary).
I really do find it strange that the forum is so little used. Every time one get's together with another gemmo - or more - I never find conversation and discussion to be in short supply Maybe your idea of a little advertisement wil do the trick. I watch the stats whenever I pop in here. Any hour of the day of night, there are almost always a minimum of 40 - 50 'persons' logged in, of whom it is rare that more than one other is a Gem-A member. There's also a high probability that 40 is about the number of 'bots' (i.e. not real people at all but automaton data collectors such as Google) that hoover up all that is put on the net. In other words, not only does virtually the whole Gem-A membership not post here but neither do they, so far, even check in to see what is being talked about. We return to the need for a little advertising campaign....
Good to hear from you both. We'd love for the forum to take off again, it was once a wonderful resource. I think part of the problem is because you can only subscribe to a relevant topic and receive notifications on that one topic. We are looking into the possibility of subscribing to the forum as a whole, that way you would be notified when someone posts and that would give everyone a nudge to check-in, comment, debate. We have a developer looking into this now.
In the meantime, we will try raising awareness of the forum again.
I am reminded of Lotus Gemology's current slogan - let's make Gemology great again! In that spirit - let's make GemTalk great again!
Good to hear your voice. The stats are amazing. 3,000+ users with posting permissions. After a couple of years, only 20 or so voices heard and one of those now banned for reasons unbeknownst It must surely have been a truly horrid sin to merit being thrown overboard from the sinking ship of which she was one of a very few bestirring themselves to keep it afloat. It's almost enough to make one start a 'Free Angharad Now!' action group....
But to return to thinking about your idea re. subscription to all threads. This might help as a short-term solution whilst postings remain at an average rate below one or two a week but, speaking from experience, it can become unwelcome to find one's mailbox jammed with dozens of posts every day when one may have some level of interest in only one or two of these on most days. Except for moderators of course, to whom such a feature is likely to be a blessing as they should/must read all posts every day in the topic area(s) of their responsibility. So perhaps the best solution might be to enable universal subscription as you suggest but also to provide that it can be disabled by those who prefer not to use this facility?
Since we are swapping slogans, how about 'You can lead a horse to water but cannot make it drink'? It seems to me that is pretty much the problem we have. but experience tells us that the horse enjoys drinking on a fairly regular basis - so why doesn't it want to drink at this watering hole? However large the user base is, observation of other forums/mailing lists etc. suggest that only a small minority of users will ever post. And of that small minority as few as 20-30 will post at least once a week and it is this core that creates or stimulates from others the bulk of the traffic. It is this core that the phoenix GemTalk has yet to develop.
There is no easy answer that I can see - other than for those who wish the forum to prosper to post something here not less than once every month. And, even where the general membership lacks the courtesy to ensure that no question or cause for comment put on the forum is left without at least one prompt response, the topic area moderator will pick it up and respond to it in not more than 48 hours. At the current traffic level this level of encouragement of and courtesy to posters is scarcely an onerous task. As the traffic level eventually rises, so postings by moderators become more strictly of just a personal interest and less a duty of care.