The moderation is excellent. It’s even-handed, non-intrusive, and not overbearing. Keep it up.
This will doubtless come up, a lot, so I’ll chime in. I’m on the fence about opening things up to non-car topics. If you do, I would hope it would be in its own sub forum, perhaps only accessible to people with x-number of posts (to keep non-regulars from coming in and starting political fights, etc). I do think that having a non-car sub forum would increase the moderation workload - there would almost certainly be political, religious, etc discussions, and some (ok, fine, most) could turn heated and require intervention.
I would love to see you ditch Vanilla. It’s clunky, and when it breaks you have to wait around for that company to get around to fixing it.
There are at least 2 robust, excellent free forums available that would suit CT’s needs better than Vanilla while not costing you anything. My personal recommendation is phpBB3. It’s very customizable, has excellent security features, is modifiable for even more customization, and it’s free. Did I mention it’s free? (no, I don’t own it or work for it - I just use it on my forum and find it very impressive).
I’m still not a huge fan of the like/dislike buttons - it’s better now that they’re hidden, but I still believe in the old fashioned idea that if you disagree with someone, you should explain why rather than just hitting a “downvote” button and moving on to leave people wondering. And if you explain why, then you don’t need the disagree button because it’s clear in your explanation that you disagree.
The notifications system is a total kludge. Let’s say you tag me in a post. I get a notification, which appears next to the notification button. If I go straight to the post because I know it’s likely that’s where the notification comes from, then the system should recognize that I’ve seen the post and drop the notification. It doesn’t. In fact, even if I click the notification, and then click the sub-category of notification, it won’t drop the notification unless I click through to the post, which I’ve already read, which is dumb for two reasons: By the time I drill down to the notification, if I’ve either already seen the post that generated it, or I don’t want to bother with it, I still have to go to the post in order to clear that notification. At least when the check engine light goes on and I don’t want to address the problem I can put a piece of electrical tape over it, knowwhaddimean?
How about a more robust profile system? I’d rather know what you drive or what your areas of automotive expertise are than know what badges you’ve collected.
Speaking of what you drive, automatic post signatures are a nice place to put those. If only we had them
Also, maybe put some feelers out there for in-person meetups of Cartalkers. Race events, car shows, etc are good opportunities to get together with fellow car geeks. (BTW, everyone, I’ll be at Road America for the Vintage races in a couple of weeks, if anyone else is going).
Just a few ideas. I will, needless to say, be scandalized if you don’t implement them all, soonest.