As announced earlier, this forum with it's respective web address will go offline within the next days!
Please follow the link to our new forum
and make sure, you readjust your link button to the new address!
I apologise if I step on any toes here, it is not my intention to do so, raise hackles or be revolutionary in any way, so here goes!
During the time I have been reading, supporting, submitting to, asking questions of and enjoying hugely the contributions, opinions and collected wisdom of the contributors (however misguided and ill-informed ;~)), it has been apparent how much the Forum is valued and what a priceless resource it represents. I am not privy to the backroom workings, machinations and intrigue that may or may not be ongoing in the darkened corridors of power, but I do know how much I would miss the opportunity to read about the A7 world and its daily progress. The site obviously has a cost and requires upkeep and forward planning to keep it in good health. This has I think been carried by the inestimable Mac Bonar and Jason, to whom we owe a great debt of gratitude.
The past alarms and excursions regarding hosting of the site and recent rather protracted announcement of changes and the present unhappy circumstances of picture hosting make for worrying times about the future of the resource, for me at least. Perhaps it is time to suggest that in the interests of the Forum, web site and the value of the resource back ground a different way of hosting and funding the site should be found.
I am sure there are ways this could be done and indeed I and many others have in the past offered to subscribe to the funding, offers which I think have been refused or possibly ignored. This may be because ownership of the material is considered to be commercially valuable or susceptible to pressure of commerce.
I have a suggestion to make which might answer some or possibly most of these concerns. The Austin Seven Clubs Association has during the last year, in my view, managed a quite remarkable feat in organising and making available the archive it had collected over many years and in the process dragging the organisation into the present century. There are apparently funds available in the Association for which there is no foreseeable use or need other than its present activities. If the present custodians of the Forum site and the A7CA could be persuaded of the value to its contributors/members perhaps the future of the site and its resource might be in safe hands with enough financial resources to safeguard and organise the past and future contributions, both written and pictorial. What a project it might be, photos, information, opinion and above all practical advice and assistance, without which many owners would struggle and we would all be the poorer.
I have surely missed vital points and problems, I may have caused offence and misrepresented some of the facts, for all of which I apologise and sincerely regret. I hope however that by raising the matter and my head above the parapet, there might be discussion and a way forward which will satisfy the majority and ensure the continued use, addition and future trawl of the back numbers for the benefit of the contemporary owners and fanciers of our beloved Austin 7s'.
In Herbert we believe!
Location: Shower Cotswolds
Well done for speaking up Jack, I think your post is well put and I for one largely agree and would support further investigation of your suggestions. It is obvious we have recently lost some valuable information on the forum and something needs to happen, I don't know the answer but support all positive moves to resolve the current issues. As you suggest the management may be in the throws of working through what may be quite a challenging problem
I too wholly commend Jack's statement about the Forum and I couldn't have made it so comprehensive and agree that something has to be done about the Forum especially regarding funding of the management and making photos more easy to display and more permanent. I think we've lost a huge amount of historical data due to this and sadly, being amongst the older contingent of less computer literate users/contributors, think that is a large part of the problem. While promoting 'Ulster Blueprints' earlier this year I received some fascinating data as a result of this and I'm sure some of its original sources would've posted it if the process had been more simple or they had had some assistance. Maybe some kind of local 'buddy' system could be worked out with a younger member ?
It is important to emphasise that I don't think we can continue to escape the issue of funding the management for their efforts. I for one don't know who they all are but know but the list of people extends beyond those who Jack mentioned, one prominent exception being Ruairidh Dunford who has helped me out of trouble on repeated occasions. Sadly one person Jack mentioned, Mac Bonar has fallen by the wayside due to illness and I'm sure everyone would extend him their good wishes and I think that it's really appropriate that the new Practical Classic's publication mentions him and has photos of him in his better and more colourful days.
Location: Ferring, West Sussex
As I keep on saying I am happy to donate server space to the cause, I have lots of it doing very little.
We can / should also implement a backup system for the data / images in case of any disaster!
Apart form that there is nothing that "costs" actual money, software would be opensource / free and time would be small / donated, (as it is at the moment.)
Location: Buxted, East Sussex
I am nothing more than a SPAM remover James, I will help anyone (who is nice) in any way I can but I am unable to help further with this particular issue, other than with encouragement and time.
I am full of admiration for the many people who over the years have contributed their time and expertise to the management of this site and also the A7A Archives project. For me, the continuance and possible enhancement of this forum is absolutely essential if I am to keep my beloved A7 on the road. Over the last few years I have received invaluable help from, inter alia, David Cockroft, Ruairidh, Reckers and most recently Andrew Fallon. I have also trawled extensively through the archives.
Thanks to the retreating German army in 1944, there are very few pre-war cars in this part of France. There are even fewer people with relevant mechanical or electrical experience. Thus I am reliant upon the goodwill of so many users and contributors to this site.
Unfortunately, thanks to the plunge in the value of the £Stg post referendum, I am not in a position to make a significant financial contribution to the running costs of the site. A modest sum could be made available if an updating plan so requires.
My sincere thanks once again to all in the A7 world. I like to think that we all bring a sense of proportion and a perhaps a little humour to this otherwise troubled world.
Location: Central France
Previous Forum posters have identified many important issues.
I for one have found the Forum invaluable both for technical and social reasons, not too mention sales and wants.
The recent Photobucket debacle though has shown the weakness in the current set up and this issue of secure image sharing and permanent accessible archiving of Forum type information needs urgent attention. This is not in any way a complaint about those unsung heroes who keep the wheels of he current Forum turning.
Perhaps the Austin Seven club association could host a Workshop to bring interested parties together to work up ideas for what resources would be need to set up and maintain a secure home for images illustrating Forum posts.
With reputedly 10,000 Austin 7's still extant , and with many new restorers and Drivers each year, the Forum resource is a treasure trove.
As an older computer manager ( I can remember when there were only 4 computers in Glasgow!) I set up large image databases at BBC TV in the 1980's, but then they filled a room , now they would fit in an iPhone in your pocket.
Happy to help if I can.
Location: Scottish Border
The problem is not just the past archive.
Since the period of 'wondering what's going on' it effectively creates an elephant in the room.
Conversations previously taking place on the forum may be taking place in group emails with those we have closer links to, just because it's easier at the moment, and we are worried about loading more valuable cargo onto a ship with a hole?
I am not party to why there doesn't seem to be a visible forward plan to users, but now might be the time to get to the bottom of it, please? IF it is not the right time for one of the visionaries who set the thing up, then there needs to be some transfer of trust into another volunteer or group to get things started pdq, for their own peace of mind as well the forum users.
As others have said, its not a costly process with the offers of data storage and intellectual input/knowledge extended, just a lot of human effort.
If we don't get to the bottom of a reasonable timing for a forward vision, then I can see a new Austin 7 forum just occurring anyway. In practice, the vision will set the future useage. If something good and simple and with charitable intent emerges, then it will quickly get users - if it is easy to post, post pictures, and search past posts.
Perhaps the biggest question for me is whether it IS essential to have cherished suppliers financial input for forums as we see occurring, in this day and age. I sense nobody is doing anything new because everyone is worrying about doing what is 'right'.
Please, valued forum guru, just give us a vision statement - or ask us all for assistance to ease your burden.
Hear, hear JonE. Well said.
I have nothing but huge regard and a vast amount of gratefulness to those who set up and run this forum but it really is time that we clearly knew who they are, what they plan, and what we can all do to assist in whatever ways are required.
We all value this forum as a wonderful resource and there is an almost boundless well of willingness to ensure its long term survival.
But we can't help if we don't know what is needed, or what is intended.
Location: North Herts
Many of us are increasingly using Facebook groups, I'm a member of five or six groups. They're easy to use and post pictures to but they are hopeless to search. I like this forum, despite the problems. JonE's website is brilliant but only covers Nippies/65s.
Location: Isle of Wight
I completely agree about Facebook; each time I look I find different things, but I find it impossible to follow a thread on it, or some times to find the thing which a friend has told me is there. I am sure it is there, so why do I not see it? Facebook is totally frutrating!
I think it is only right at this stage to advise everyone that we here at the A7CA are not sitting back but are carefully monitoring and noting the comments in this particular thread.
We must remind people, however, that the Friends' website and forum is a private enterprise, freely available to all, and one which we have no intention of interfering with.
As with others, it is our wish that the owners are proactive in quickly establishing it on a different platform and hopefully be able to reinstate the large amount of valuable information which has been lost.
Location: Melton Mowbray
I'm bumping this back up as clearly changes are under way with regard to the actual forum.
All good stuff I'm sure but I'd like to repeat my request for some more info please about who is actually running this site and what the plans might be. I'm perfectly content if, having given that info, the ManAgement disappear back into the shadows and quietly carry on their good works but at the mo we seem to be in a state of change without anything to tell us where we are going or indeed what is changing.
Do tell me if I am being tedious with this and I'll retreat back into the garage...
Location: North Herts