Table Of Contents (T.O.C.):
1. What is the BikeGremlin forum?
BikeGremlin forum is, well, a forum like any other, and you can find it at the address:
If you don’t know what a forum is:
A forum is like a social network (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter etc.), but it is not owned by a huge corporation that sells your data and censors you if you write about ISIS bottom brackets (that’s just one, most recent example of a “pearl” from the social networks’ world that I came across).
You register an account – just like with any other social network (you can even register using your Gmail account), and then you can write posts – starting discussions or asking questions (posts are called “threads,” as in “conversation threads”).
Forums have topics/categories for threads & posts, so it is easier to browse and find the information and answers. It’s not all just piled up as is the case with social networks (including Facebook groups).
They often are mobile-friendly, but usually don’t have a classic app like the social networks.
BikeGremlin forum does have a sort of an “app,” and you can see the instructions for installing it when you open the menu on a smartphone and click on the “Install” button:
SEO ninjas will probably crucify me for having placed the forum on a whole new domain (bikegremlin.net), instead of having used a subdomain of my existing sites (like forum.bikegremlin.com), or even better a subdirectory (like bikegremlin.com/forum).
In my opinion, this decision makes sense in the context of flexibility, security, and logical structuring of data, including data search – data is useless if you can’t extract any information and knowledge from it (usually by using search and analysis). I am aware that I won’t be “top-ranked on Google,” nor make a lot of money.
2. Why did I make the forum?
However, there are many people who wish to hear my opinion in particular (which is perfectly OK and understandable). That’s why, for about a decade now, I’ve been answering questions on my websites and YouTube channels (a list of the BikeGremlin websites and YouTube channels).
I like sharing knowledge and helping people (when I’m in a position to do so). To reduce the number of “urgent” help/advice requests (stats for the time I spent answering questions), I had created a portal for paid priority support.
That didn’t feel right. There are people who really haven’t got any money (or can’t pay via the Internet), but really need help and advice. There must be a better way to “filter” requests! That is where the extra 5 minutes needed to register and post a forum question come in.
Having said that, if you think what I’m doing is good and helpful, and you are in a position to help, please consider supporting my work with a Patreon donation:
stay online & independent
This website is educational, free, objective, and not commercial
(sponsors don’t enjoy paying if you mention all the product downsides that you notice 🙂 ).
If you find this site to be good and helpful,
and if $5 per month is what you can afford to set aside,
please consider supporting my work with a Patreon donation:
Current support in total: $30.00 per month
(Patreon support: $21.04
YouTube subscription: $4.29
Other platforms: $4.67)
Of all the people who post questions on social networks (Instagram, YouTube, Facebook etc.), only about 1% bother to register and post their question on the forum. That’s a great way to filter those who really want to hear what I have to say, so I don’t mind taking the time to do it.
Another problem is that both YouTube and the platform that runs my sites (WordPress) handle comments quite poorly, especially in a situation where there are several related answers and replies to them. YouTube often blocks and censors even legit comments, while WordPress looks like this when over fifty coments pile up:
Bicycle tyre sizing and dimension standards (go on, scroll all the way to the end of that page, don’t “cheat” 🙂 ).
There are articles with over 100 comments, and their numbers keep growing.
Those are usually logical questions with high-quality answers. That should be preserved. The questions that are repeatedly asked deserve separate articles to explain in detail. Only, I think that should be placed on a separate platform – and a forum sounds like a perfect fit.
With a good structure (by categories), and a good search software, BikeGremlin forum makes it easy to find questions and answers – for aynone with a similar problem/question.
The forum should help consolidate all the questions on one platform (instead of having to check the comments for the sites and YouTube channels separately).
In an ideal world, many independent experts would join the forum to share their knowledge, help, and give advice. I’ve even made sections for articles (educational or tutorials), should forum members wish to write and publish them.
I don’t expect anything of that – but I think it’s wise and good to give people the opportunity to pleasantly surprise you, because then it often does happen. We’ll see.
If the forum gathers enough high-quality members, it might start a life of its own, apart from being a BikeGremlin questions & support platform.
I plan to answer all the emails, Instagram & Facebook messages and YouTube comments with questions by auto-replying with the following pre-formatted text:
For any comments, questions, or advice, please use the BikeGremlin forum on the web-address:
3. How did I make the forum?
All the details are in the article:
“XenForo forum installation, securing, and configuring“
- I’ve used the XenForo software, which is probably the best forum software (at least in my opinion, based on my experience).
- I’ve implemented a smart Google forum search so you can easily find all the existing answers (I expect that most frequently-posted questions will be answered there, though I’d recommend you do a BikeGremlin website search before posting any questions).
- There is a solid security and anti-spame protection (guess we’ll see over time if it holds 🙂 ).
- I put a lot of effort into making the registration process as simple as possible by configuring Google and GitHub (for now only those two) account registration.
The list of categories will grow over time, as new questions are posted.
A problem (or a “challenge,” as the modern managers like to call those) I still haven’t solved is the translation of the user interface to work in my native (Serbocroatian) in addition to the existing English interface. I’ve made a Serbocroatian forum section, but the interface translation will have to wait for a year or logner (unitl the XenForo version 3.0.1 comes out, as I expect drastic changes compared to the current stable 2.2.13 version, and I hate doing the same huge job twice in a relatively short amount of time).