Hey, all. There's been some recent discussion in the forums about the Recent Forum Topics menu, and ways it was and was not meeting the needs of the community. Bob Day has been busy over the last few days working on finding a solution that will keep us all happy (as if Bob wasn't busy enough already, right?) He's come up with a temporary fix, which I think we'll all be happy with.
Our current module keeps track of new topics, exclusively. As a new topic is generated, it gets posted on the main site. That function has some utility, as it allows everybody to see what the most recent topics are. However, what it doesn't do is keep people connected to the pulse of the site. I've received numerous complaints after merging a thread because "nobody reads topics once they're off the front page". That shouldn't be. The front page should showcase the most active topics, not just the most recent.
Here's what the new menu will do: it will list the threads where the most recent posting activity has taken place. If that happens to be a new thread, it will show up on the front page; if it's a pre-existing thread that is particularly active, that will show up. If a user clicks on the title of the thread in the new menu, it will take that user to the most recent post made in that particular thread.
Now, by installing this new menu (the "Latest Topic Posts" menu), we'll be losing a few of the features that some of you may enjoy. They'll no longer be a place on the front page to see a listing of the most recent posts made; if these posts are active, they will get front page exposure, but if they generate less discussion, they will disappear more quickly. Also, the current version of the menu will no longer have an icon next to those posts that are new, like the current one that is installed. Also, we'll no longer be able to see how many members have posted in a thread before clicking on it.
These are small prices to pay for a better functioning menu. Also, for those who aren't familiar with them, you should check out our Recent Posts and Updated Topics options, found in your Members Menu after you log in. The Recent Posts menu shows all threads that have received a new post since you last viewed that thread (ie, a thread won't show up if there has been no new activity since you viewed it); the Updated Topics menu does the same thing as the Recent Posts feature, but only for those topics you have previously posted in. These are powerful and useful features; if you haven't discovered them yet, do so now. Also, if you use the Latest Topic Posts menu, make sure you scroll back and read all the posts in a thread; this new module only takes you to the last post in a thread, and if you don't read what came beforehand, you're missing out on a lot of good stuff.
Please keep in mind, we're still testing this module; consider it beta testing. If you see any bugs, please point them out politely, and Bob will try to take care of them. We'll be tweaking this as we go along, and hopefully adding additional features in the future that will maximize the enjoyment of everybody. Also -- and I can't stress this enough -- when you get a minute, I'm sure some further recognition for everybody's favorite webmaster would be well received. It would be impossible for me to overstate the amount of the hard work Bob Day has put in around here over the last couple months (and it has been months) in getting the new site ready for launch, and for hope I can speak for everybody in extending him a hearty thank you.
Update: Looks like Bob has the new menu up and running. I hope you all find it useful and enjoyable.