From the President..Your thoughts and ideas? (Forum/website)


#1

To any and all interested IAA Forum users

I promised (in the current IAA journal) to post a thread to see if I could instigate some frank discussion about the IAA Forum and IAA home page/website.

What ideas, desires, needs to you perceive for this Forum and/or the IAA home page ?

(“ain’t broke…don’t fix it” ???)

We certainly know that many (if not a majority) of Forum users are not IAA members. So why, or why not aren


#2

In my opinion:

One of the reasons that this forum is popular is that it’s open to non IAA members, this does allow more questions and more knowledge to be shared.

I joined the IAA on the strength of the old (and this) forum. On the grounds that as I was starting to use it more and more I felt that I should support it.

(The IAA journal and this forum is well worth the cost of IAA membership)

I think that this forum is good as it is and really doesn’t need changing.

The IAA home page looks dated. Although what the home page does is fine.


#3

Speaking for myself, I don’t care how “dated” the IAA website looks. I am far more interested in content than in format. However, I believe that the menu strip at the left side of the opening page needs updating more often.

Also, there seem to be at least one hang-fire project, the headstamp list, and it would be nice to see, soon, the opening “shot” of the glossary of ammunition terms in foreign languages. I know that is actively being worked on, but if it can be easily added to later (??? - I don’t know these things, truthfully), it would nice to get a starter list up on the site. It might even help in adding to it.

For instance, it still shows the 2008 St. Louis show, even though when you click on it, there is some advanced news about the 2009 show.

Many articles have the proclamation “NEW” on them when they have been on the site for more than a year - in some cases, more than serveral years. I think the word “New” should be removed after about six months. It isn’t new anymore.

In the case of the great index for the IAA Journals, I think the word “New” should be removed, but in its place couud be “NEW - Updated thru Issue ###” with a change to the posting everytime Chris updates it.

It should be examined once in a while to see if anything needs to be removed from the site. I am not saying there is - just that it should be checked once in awhile to see if there is anything so dated it is of no use anymore. Perhaps that is being done, and there is nothing that needs to be renewed. I honestly don’t know. If so, forgive this portion of my note.

I hope some of the contributors who are not IAA Members tell us why. I have no objection at all now to non-members using the Forum under the current guidelines. However they are missing a lot, if they truly are interested in ammunition, in not belonging to IAA. It would be interesting, and perhelps helpful, if they would tell us the honest reasons why. I cannot believe it is financial now, when one can have an electronic membership for US$25.00. Few even moderately scarce cartridges at shows now are less than 25.00. “Buy a cartridge, learn about one cartridge, buy a book (membership), learn about hundreds of cartridges.” The price of membership equals dinner for two at a fast-food restaurant! Anyone who can afford the computer to use this Forum can afford an IAA membership, the second cheapest organization to join and remain a member that I belong to, and I belong to a lot of them.

IAA membership by the way, means more operating funds for the IAA so that they can improve the Forum, the Journal and other activities and services for the members. No one makes a dime off of IAA - it all goes to expenses of running the organization (NO SALARIES) and bring “stuff” back to the membership that supports it, and collectors that don’t, in the case of the Forum. Don’t read that as an indictment of you guys who don’t belong to IAA. It isn’t. Everyone contributes here as they want and as they can, and all participants are valuable to the Forum. I know that everyone has their own reasons why they do or don’t belong to an organization. It would be great to hear those reasons though. Maybe something could be done to change minds.

Not sure the Forum needs improving. Pretty good the way it is. I would like to see it easier to post pictures - permanent pictures that would not go away after a time, like some seem to be doing. Of course, perhaps my desire for that is based on my total ignorance and stupidity in not being able to figure it out myself. Could be som prejudice on my part. It points out one of the great things about this Forum - everyone’s eagerness to help out. I have Joe Jones, my Forum partner. Without him, probably wouldn’t hardly take part. I hardly knew Joe and when he saw I had a problem (mental!) he jumped in and took over the job of posting my pictures. What a guy, and there are many others on this Forum. I see offers of picture-posting help, literature, etc. all the time. Great bunch. An honor to be part of it.

I think because of its very nature, the Forum was destined to over-shadow the entire rest of the website put together, and I am not sure that is not just the natural thing. A website, after a time, always becomes sort of a static thing. A good, well-run Forum (kudos to all the Forum Managers and webmaster John Spangler) is a living, vibrant exchange of knowledge, ideas and, yes, opinions. Sometimes things get a little far afield, but that’s o.k. - so we learn something a little outside of the realm of cartridges! Nothing lost there. It is good that it usually remains “spot on” of course, too.

Well, pardon my lengthy reply. You all know I am not noted for brevity of word.


#4

I second the motion on updating the “new” tags on the main website for the various links. It’s not a huge deal or anything, just an upkeep issue. As far as the forum, I find it just as useful and functional as any other forum, and I appreciate it more because it actually seems to be more professional since it isn’t bogged down with animated banner ads and links, and there isn’t tons of animated junk like “smileys” and other embedded things. Also the ability of non-members to post in the forum is a good thing I think since you never know when somebody might post something concerning a rare item of interest. To encourage more people to join, maybe a pop-up window for non-member forum users should come up when they try to post, reminding people of all of the benefits of membership, and if they still don’t want to join, they could just click on a “don’t join” button. So it could keep prompting and reminding non-members who want to post in the forum, but ultimately allowing them continue if they chose not to join. I also wouldn’t mind the idea of an image avatar icon ability, but mostly because I’m so used to seeing them on every other forum that is out there. On the one hand it can be funny and interesting, on the other hand, it does add to the serious sort of professional tone of the forum by not having them maybe.


#5

I also think the headstamp guide could benefit from some updates. I have found out many headstamps from this forum that are not included in the guide at present.


#6

Something that I think would help is to have the style be consistent among all of the pages (same masthead at the top, same main navigation menu on all pages, etc.). To the casual visitor, it might not be clear that all of the pages are part of the same organization.

Perhaps we could create drop-down menus on all pages that contain the same links that are on the home page, i.e. on every page you would have a “Reference” link at the top, and when you click on it it would expand to show “Ammunition Glossary”, “Headstamp Codes” etc. This would make it easier to navigate the site.

I have to disagree with DK on the pop-up windows encouraging non-members to join. I do think it’s a great idea to encourage people to join, I just think that pop-up windows might irritate more people than they would attract. How about having a “Join the IAA for just $25” link on every page, in a prominent but not overbearing location?

I would be more than happy to help out with any of this!


#7

I think the part that needs the most change is the Headstamp Guide. As an Admin. I can tell you there has been a LOT of discussion off line on this topic on just what should be included and how detailed and what format, copywrite problems, etc. I would like the Guide to be as comperhesive as possible, others see it as only a list of companies, not headstamps. But, it is clear something should be done. There are quite a few mistakes, typos, etc. in the current list, not to mention MANY, MANY new headstamps since it was last updated. One of the factors in the past was Server space, but that has largely been addressed now. We have the software and people with the ability to impliment a VAST improvement, including drawings and/or pictures of the headstamps so that the style of the Font or layout can be shown. This would go a LONG way to alleviate the problem of multiple headstamps that currently look the same on the Guide (Like more than one “A” headstamp). Especially for novices, they have NO idea which “A” they have so the Guide does them no good. A simple drawing or picture would solve that.

The subject of allowing Avitars has been discussed and rejected. We started the new Sub-Forum where people could post their faces, but it has seen little use.

Lots of people wanted a Buy/Sell/ Trade Forum. So we started one. Again, VERY little use has been made of it.
Part of that is because it is restricted to IAA members. This was done originally to encourage people to join the IAA. But, I really doubt if it has much of the desired effect.

Then there is the problem of why more of the IAA members are not using the Forum. We currently have more non-members active on the Forum than we do members. We really only have about 20 or so Forum members who post on a regular basis. WHY??? Think how much better this Forum could be if more of our IAA member experts were posting. I have been collecting for over 50 years and have been an IAA member since 1967, but I have learned more about cartridges from this Forum in the last 3 years, that I did in 45 years before the Forum. We need to address this non-participation issue and somehow get more of the members involved.

We currently have screen real estate on the left side of the Forum that is going to waste. I think we should add a navigation side-bar there to encourage use of all the information in the Homepage part of the site. I think it is not often used because new Forum members don’t even know it exists. Look at how many Headstamp ID’s are requested that, even in its current wretched state, are easily answered just by going to the Headstamp Guide.

The Book list on the Homepage could use some work also. Even though it was updated not too long ago, it should be updated more often. Plus, I think an clickable Alphabet bar at the top should be added so you don’t have to scroll down hundreds of lines to get to a listing you want. Although I know it means more work, I think a listing by title, not just author would be nice. There have been numerous times when I knew the name of a book, but not the author. As it is now the only way to find that book is to page though the list.

Well, enough complaining about what is really a pretty good web site and Forum. People who have joined the Forum since we changed to the new format can not really appreciate how much better it is than the old format. Can you imagine NO PICTURES on the old site.


#8

I still think that the pop-up window for non-users who want to post is a valid option, mainly because of this: If non-members want to constantly come into the forum and post topics and photos asking a million questions, and basically use the forum (which is facilitated by the IAA member-funds) as a free identification and information guide, then they ought to be at least politely prompted to consider joining. I don’t think it would upset anyone to the point of disliking the IAA, or not using the forum, but I do think it might ultimately generate some memberships. I know that I found the IAA forum plenty useful and beneficial enough that I had no problem wanting to join, even though I didn’t have to, and $25.00 for the digital version is cheap. I sympathize with those who think it is a bad idea, because I know how it is when you want to cruise through a few forums, and do a “drive-by” series of posts asking a few questions, or soliciting info, and once you get what you need, you leave the forum never to return. But that sort of reinforces the idea of pop-up suggestions since, if they only ever come in to post a couple times, then they really shouldn’t mind one little pop-up window. But if they post every day, or every week, then they had probably ought to be pestered to be a member, so as to cover their fair share, but still they wouldn’t necessarily have to join.


#9

Regarding Ron Merchant’s point about getting more members to use the forum: How about a training session at St. Louis and/or other cartridge shows? I know table space is probably at a premium, but maybe we could set up a laptop and give hands-on demonstrations to people who are interested?


#10

Chip - I personally think that is a great idea!


#11

I agree that the Headstamp List needs updating. During the 2007 SLICS I requested somebody to head that task. Nobody offered. Chip Orr has updated the Access database so that updates are easy. I told Pepper that I would take a shot at updating it, but frankly am overwhelmed as some of you know who are waiting to do other things I have promised.

Is there anyone out there who is willing to take on the headstamp list/database. Actually we need a number of people.

  • Small caliber CF headstamps
  • Rimfire headstamps
  • Shotshell headstamps
  • Large Caliber headstamps
  • Other (Pinfire, etc)

Also someone to provide overall supervision/management of the database and list. Chip has upgraded it so that we can include photos/drawings of the symbols, Arabic letters, Hebrew letters, etc and can add those to the database and list. It is really an excellent database and one that can be used for many things! All we need it the people who have the time and interest to update it!

Are you interested, let me know and I can give you a lot more information. Send me a PM or email or post here!

Cheers,

Lew


#12

One possible way to increase forum participation with a larger percent of IAA members is to make a bigger deal about it in the printed and electronic Journal? I bet many members rarely if ever visit the Home Page much less really know how great the forum is as a learning and networking tool?

The forum needs to integrate itself into the journal more by the having contributing authors mentioning it in their articles more. For example, if I was writing a bit about the history of rare Hungarian, steal cased, 9MM Hypersonic Invisible Hollow Point Pre-Fragmented sub-machingun ammunition and had a unidentified head-stamp ID’d, buy someone hear in the forum you could give, “Forum Credit”, to it, mentioning the information was learned on the forum. This way more Journal readers will have the “forum concept” in their face making them go, "What’s this forum all about, I better check it out. This is more a suggestion of those who submit articles then for the IAA Execs.

I also think the forum should be 100% accessible to everyone. I was told about the IAA and Forum by a friend and joined the IAA because as a novice I was blown away by the high caliber (pun intended) of the information and contributers to this forum. Since joining, my knowledge of all sorts of ammunition has grown a GAZZILLION times over and I have met the coolest and wisest collectors and researchers in a wide range of ammunition related expertise. I was instantly blown away :-)

The forum not only hooked me on its quality but is also getting indexed on Google which is bringing allot of outsiders and potential interested new members in like crazy! I have had 7 or 8 people contacting me directly from the torpedo thread and aircraft ammunition thread saying they were fascinated by this or that claiming they were going to now join the IAA. Have no clue if they really did or not, but lots of people are discovering the IAA for the 1st time via random Google ammunition related searches. Hopefully this will equate to new members.

Sorry for the late night ramble! :-)

Jason


#13

I like that idea Jason! Here’s a thought: in some of the computer magazines I read, they have a section where they post excerpts from their on-line forums and blogs along with links back to the forums/blogs. I wonder if we could have a section in the journal with a few paragraphs from recent forum entries, ending with “read more at iaaforum.org/forum2/”?

If people think it would be useful, I could write an article for the journal with instructions on how to register, how to post, etc., along with screen shots of each step.


#14

I agree with Jason and two_az. The Journal needs to include information about the cartridge forum. Perhaps a column that rehashes one of the more interesting threads from start to finish. We have had a number of discussions that pulled some really great information from sources all over the world. If these discussions are meaningful enough for some of us to print a hard copy of to file away, they should certainly be of interest to the membership as a whole. Such a column might encourage some of those who have resisted the PC revolution to take the plunge.


#15

You just read my mind Guy! I was just thinking it would be cool to have a column in the Journal called, “The Top 10 Things I Learned In The Forum Recently”, or something like that! If people would e-mail me a 1 or 2 sentence e-mail highlighting a single obscure interesting fact or highlight of interest to them, I would love to put them all together into a list of random cool forum facts. It can be endless, not limited to 10. We could optionally give credit to both the submitter and the forum participant that supplied the fact, even including their IAA membership status if desired, just an idea. I just doodled a few cool things I learned recently on a piece of paper near my computer. For example:

[i]- Their exists a 30MM APFSDS-T bullet designed to be fired at submersed sea mines as deep as 300 feet from a helicopter mounted gun. The projectile cavitates upon entering the water creating a air pocket over the entire projectile allowing it to have a stable trajectory underwater.

  • I was amazed to learn in great detail that their were special purpose projectiles designed during WW1 to destroy balloons. Evil looking projectiles with barbs!

  • Ect

  • Ect

  • Ect[/i]

It would just be short, to the point “Forum Fact Teasers”, column /page

Just an idea :-)

Jason


#16

Hi

I am not an IAA member, I am a member of the Dutch NVBMB. NVBMB has their own magazine and I have all the issues since 1979 at my bookshelf. But, to be honest, I always read the newest one, and put it on it’s place at the bookshelf. And there it is, years later, on the same place. (Yes we have got them digital on a DVD too now) Finding an article is possible by an index, but personally I prefer Internet. I find a lot of info on, for example, the NVBMB forum, ECRA-forum, WW2Forum, Municion and, of course, since a few months, at the IAA forum.
A forum on the internet is much easier, and when I want to know find out a specific item, just ‘search’ and (mostly) after a few seconds I got it. If not, I ask and within some time I’ve got an answer.
I (think I) am a serious collector, try to study ammo, but not as fanatic as some others. (With respect for them!!!) For example, I don’t go to other countries for meetings. Maybe when I am retired I have time for such trips…(-:
Membership:
I am (yet) not a IAA member because there are much more ‘organisations’ all around the world for ammocollectors, and I cannot be member of all of them. Beside that, I have some more interests/hobby’s and I unfortunatelly I have only 24 hours per day, from which I always have to spent a part on working.
But, I wrote ‘yet’, because I think it’s good became member of IAA. So I think I will became member within a few months, after I have my new house and adress…

Grtz
Jaco


#17

Jaco, I’ve been a member of both the IAA (back when it was the ICCA) and the ECRA (back when it was the ECCC) since the late 1960s. I have been a member of most others off and on over the years, but for my interest (military cartridges) and my collection (9mm Para) the IAA and ECRA have proved to be the most useful.

Consider an electronic membership in the IAA. It is $25US/year and comes with full membershiip benefits including the guide to collecting and a membership directory. The IAA eJournal is identical to the print Journal. The lastest one (Sep/Oct) just went out this past week. Good value and lots of interesting information.

Good luck


#18

Actually, the RAMICS uses the 30x173mm Mk 44 Bushmaster II, not the 25x137mm M242 Bushmaster.


#19

Can’t agree more. I joined the IAA recently after being an ECRA/NVBMB member for some years now.

This forum has given me more information in a couple of months than I got from other locations in years. Although I’m mainly interested in the history of the Loewe/Quandt related arms and armament companies in Western-Europe, and not a ‘real’ ammunition collector, I find the info (and the people providing it) more than enough reason to join up.


#20

I stand corrected! Thanks so much Daniel! I will go edit that!

The point is the same, the Journal should try to integrate the forum into it by dropping “Forum Tease BOMBS” here and their. :-) Something to bring the forum to the attention of members that are not aware of the forum or how awesome it is becoming.

The forum is probably the biggest tool for introducing the largest number of potential NEW members to the IAA I would think as Google is bringing in tons of non members to the forum just by their searches. Just add up the number of times all off these threads have been viewed. A bunch of threads have been visited more times then their are IAA members by a long-shot with the vast majority of those threads being visited by people totally unfamiliar with the IAA. The forum itself in my opinion, does more for exposing new interested people to the IAA then any other format. It really is awesome :-)

J