They say that Rome wasn’t built in a day. And yes, they’re right! But they can say the same about our miniature painting forum! It took us some time to make it what it is now, and we felt it was time to change some things!
Chest of Colors miniature painting forum
Most of you surely know that one of the features of Chest of Colors is our miniature painting forum. For some of you it’s the central part of the website, and it’s great that they feel this way. The forum is the meeting place for our community of miniature painters, pretty friendly and active. It’s also where quite a few members of our team were spotted, appreciated for their contributions to our community and invited to the group.
The first posts there date back to April 9th, 2005, which is about the time that the Headblast Design forum was abandoned and a new home for its community was needed. During the time a nice community of painters gathered around our forum, thousands of posts were written and many painted miniatures were presented there. Sure, we may be smaller than the biggest miniature painting forums on the internet, but still many people choose our forum and praise that it feels more friendly, more personal and more helpful than most other forums – including the biggest players in the game.
Why change anything?
During all the years much has changed. Some users disappeared, some new ones joined us. Groups of users formed, reformed and ceased to be. Sections of our forums became more or less popular. Manufacturers of miniatures came and went. Game systems saw their glory and decline. And finally: our site underwent some serious changes.
The first serious change happened when we had to separate the forum from the old green website. Many people knew only the forum and were surprised to know there was also a website to accompany it. Both parts of the webiste had different layouts and they felt like totally separate things. This state lasted for a few years until we managed to rearrange and re-launch our website in its new form.
We had some long discussions about the forum and the shape it should have. Some most frequent users of our forum talked about the sections which grew to be more popular than we expected and others which happened to become abandoned and almost dead. We felt that things would better be rearranged for improved usability and for more enjoyable experience of spending time our forum.
We managed to give the same consistent look to the website and the forum again and to integrate them partially. The integration is still not complete because logging in to the forum and to the main website is still done separately, but we may change it one day. We will see if it’s necessary at all. And when it was done, it was time for the changes we discussed!
The pub you visit
Yet before the changes were introduced, some of our members started a nice thread with thanks for the work we do to make Chest of Colors a homely place for us all. It was so very encouraging to see that most people liked the way I felt about the forum:
I always think about our forum as an old pub that you drop into one day.
You know, there are many of them but you stumble into one and see people chatting on topic and off topic, giving each other ironic comments and sharing private jokes. First you may feel strange and not quite fitting there. But then you spend an hour or two. Listen to the guys there and then find the courage to stand up and say “hello, I am new here”, and then you’re a part of it all. Then their jokes are yours, their place is yours, and you feel at home there.
That’s what I always wanted this place to feel like for fellow fans of miniatures.
It seems it does. Thanks to the people who spend their time here. The site is not about the computer code, servers, layouts, etc. It’s all about the people. Just like a pub is not just the walls – it’s the people who create the atmosphere.
Are the changes drastic?
No, they aren’t.
What we did was:
- removing rarely used sections and merging them to more active ones that they would fit in
- reorganization of some sections (like creation of a complete Rules, FAQs and technical help section on top of the forum) and moving topics and sections to places they belong more than to their previous locations.
- adding guidelines to showcase and WIP sections
- adding a new method of posting images to our forum, so they don’t break the website’s layout
- adding a medals system to award users for their achievements and contributions
- improving the system of reporting posts and threads to moderators, so users can help us keep the forum clean and in good order
- rewriting our forum’s rules and answers to frequently asked questions
- marking Polish forums in a visible way, so people know which part of the site is the international one and which is the Polish one
So it’s more of tidying the place, cleaning it, and trying to put things in better order. We hope you like the new order of things better and that it’s more natural and obvious for our miniature painting friends. We know that our users will need some time to get used to it, but we believe it’s not too much of a problem.
Is this all?
Well, honestly speaking there’s still a bit of work to be done. Some smileys need to be added, some old duplicate threads and posts need to be taken care of, some dead links have to be located and fixed. But we hope that with your help (which is so much easier now) we can do it and our forum will become an even nicer place for us all to hang around.
So if you haven’t done it yet, pay us a visit at the miniature forum, take a look around and see how things are organized now. Do you like the new order of sections? Do you think the whole place is more enjoyable now? Do you feel anything should be improved to make it the kind of forum you want to spend time on?
Share your comments, they’re the best source of insight and inspiration we can get, because we want you – miniature painters – to enjoy the place!