Tags - The Built In Alternative to Subforums
So it's not uncommon for us to see a regular stream of requests for new sub-forums. I understand that sub-forums allow for easier organization - and organization is key for being able to access, store, and recall information efficiently and effectively. The problem is that sub forums require maintenance and some mild form of policing - i.e. it eventually has to be someone's job to make sure that stuff posted in the Dutchware sub-forum is actually about Dutchware, otherwise the organizational structure breaks down and the whole benefit to having them in the first place is lost. This is often why I would think the mods decide against creating new sub forums. The need does not justify the extra work it will create (caveat - just my personal view of why they do what they do - I don't pretend to speak for them).
It just so happens that there's already a way for us to categorize any and all posts, regardless of sub-forum. And the best part is that we don't have to choose just one sub-forum at a time. Ever had a time when you wanted to talk about a Warbonnet Superfly, but couldn't decide whether your question belonged in the Warbonnet sub-forum or the weather protection sub-forum? Well wonder no longer - you can do both!
From the FAQ/Help File of the forums:
What are tags?
Tags are a useful way to search for threads with similar subject matter and content. This complements the normal search system, which searches only for certain words or phrases and/or posts by specific users.
To use tags, you add words or phrases to threads to help describe the content. For instance, if the subject matter is 'photography' then you can add the tag 'photography' to the tag list. But you could also add tags like 'digital image', and 'camera' (depending, of course, on the nature of the thread).
This will categorize this thread with all other threads that have matching tags, whether or not they have the word 'photography' in them.
Who adds the tags?
Tags are initially added to threads by the user who started the thread. Other users may also be able to add and remove tags.
How do I use tags?
Tags are displayed in a box near the bottom of a thread page. Clicking on a tag will allow you to view other threads that have the same tag - and which may be related. Clicking on the word 'Tags' in the top of the box will take you to an overview page with a 'tag cloud.'
This cloud allows you to see which tags are the most popular - the larger the word, the more times it has been used on threads within the board. There is also another tag cloud on the advanced search page that shows you the tags that have been searched for (or clicked on) the most.
The only problem is that people actually have to use them. Doing a quick scan of random posts from random sub-forums, I'd guess that 90% of people don't add any tags to their threads when they start them. It only takes an extra second - about as much time as it takes to decide which sub-forum to post it in. But then from there it makes searching and organizing so much simpler.
Say you write a post about how you just tried using dutch quilt hooks to keep your Hammockgear Phoenix centered on your WBBB, and it worked great and kept things in place, keeping you nice and warm all night long. You could post this in the Dutchware area - that would be the logical choice. But it also deals with Hammockgear, Warbonnet, Bottom Insulation, Winter Hanging, etc. And to further complicate things, unless you title your thread with a very obvious and plainly descriptive title, it makes finding it via search much more difficult. If you title your thread "This worked great!", no one will ever find that thread in a search once it's moved off the first page or two of new posts within that particular sub-forum. So instead you tag it - you could use hammockgear, dutchware, warbonnet, underquilt, wbbb, quilt hook, bottom insulation ... the possibilities are endless, and all of them relate in some way to the post. The more tags you use, the more chance people can find your post depending on what they were searching for.
It's late, my wind-down-for-the-evening glass of scotch is starting to make me sleepy, and I'm probably rambling, so hopefully you get the point. The forum has a bunch of features built into it, to allow us to do what we want without making the mods lives more difficult by creating more rooms they have to keep clean and tidy. If we all start making a conscious choice to start learning about them and start making use of them, we may find that we don't need all that other stuff after all. :D