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  1. #1
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Everyone? Please Read.........

    Ladies and Gentlemen of the Forums. WE have a problem, and WE need to address it while we still can. This post may get me kicked off the Forums. If so, well, I guess that will prove a point. Here's the story: As you know, Dave Iannone and Chris Hebert founded Firehouse.com and led it to become THE premier Fire/Rescue/EMS operation of it's kind in the world today. That's the good news. Now for the not-so-good news. As you know, Dave left FH.Com a few weeks ago. I've known Dave for quite some time, and as is noted in the Forums, I have a great deal of Respect for him. My thanks to Dave for what he (and Chris) have done for America's Fire Service is public, and is posted on these Forums. I have not seen or spoken with Dave since he stated that he was leaving FH. Dave's business is Dave's Business, and I'm not asking questions since it's none of my business. BUT out of concern for where this site seems to be heading, I'm voicing my opinions here. This evening, I was advised by a credible source that Today was Chris Heberts last day at FH. With Chris departing, we have lost all connection with the Founders. Why is this a problem? Well, a lot of you have noted your concerns about poor service on the entire FH.com site over the last six or eight months, or more. I agree. The downward spiral seems to be traced back to when Cygnus Publishing acquired FH Magazine and FH.Com, and the cold hard facts are that Cygnus is milking America's Fire Service personnel for every dime they can get. This website is no longer dedicated to helping America's Firefighters, it's now dedicated to lining it's owners pockets, at the expense of everything else. So what can we do about it?? I will be contacting Cygnus direct to express my concern, along with my request that they hire more people and address service problems immediately. IF I get a hard time from Cygnus, OR they just tend to ignore me, I'll start contacting those firms who advertise here and ask for their help. No Media organization, regardless of Format, can survive long without Advertising Revenue. Thanks for hearing me out. Harve

    Please Note: FOR THE RECORD: I have absolutely no problems with anyone at FH.com or FH Magazine. Both are staffed by really great people who honestly do care about us, but they are hampered by those in the "Home Office" who only care about profit.
    Last edited by hwoods; 01-27-2007 at 12:23 AM.
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
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  2. #2
    MembersZone Subscriber Dickey's Avatar
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    I totally agree Harve!!

    The serviceo on FH.com has be crap. Just now, in the last week I can make new posts. I couldn't for oh, about 6 months. I can reply all day but couldn't make a new thread.

    I do not know Crhis or Dave but have read several pieces written by them and they really are experts in their field. I hated to see Dave leave and now Chris?

    Hmmm.....makes me think they couldn't see eye to eye with the new owners and decided to bow out. I have noticed changes in the magazine as well that I'm not sure if I like or not. Guess I'll have to wait and see.

    I got yer back Chief!!
    Jason Knecht
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  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber Ladder8's Avatar
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    Dittoes Harve!
    Be safe y'all!
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  4. #4
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    With Chris departing, we have lost all connection with the Founders. Why is this a problem?

    Well, a lot of you have noted your concerns about poor service on the entire FH.com site over the last six or eight months, or more. I agree.

    The downward spiral seems to be traced back to when Cygnus Publishing acquired FH Magazine and FH.Com, and the cold hard facts are that Cygnus is milking America's Fire Service personnel for every dime they can get.
    This website is no longer dedicated to helping America's Firefighters, it's now dedicated to lining it's owners pockets, at the expense of everything else.

    So what can we do about it?? I will be contacting Cygnus direct to express my concern, along with my request that they hire more people and address service problems immediately. IF I get a hard time from Cygnus, OR they just tend to ignore me, I'll start contacting those firms who advertise here and ask for their help. No Media organization, regardless of Format, can survive long without Advertising Revenue. Thanks for hearing me out.
    Chief:

    Sadly, this seems to be "the way things go" when individuals start a good website, and are bought out by some large corporate interest.

    Speaking from personal experience, the exact same thing happened when Military.com was bought by Monster, Inc. Monster wisely waited some time before beginning to exert their influence, but once they did, the site quickly experienced the same "downward spiral" you speak of. The site ceased to be Military.com and became more like AdvertisersandCivilianTrolls.c om.
    Many people wrote to Monster, Inc to express discontent, which pretty well fell on deaf ears, and eventually there was a decent-size exodus from the site by many of its highly-respected veteran members. A few other sites with the same theme were started, and many disgruntled former members went to those sites...however, the new sites never (and still have not to this day) began to compare to what mil.com was even in its infancy.
    Military.com is still the largest, most well-known military site on the web, and still generates massive amounts of ad revenue for Monster, Inc. (remember: corporations care about the bottom line, not people or principles)
    The only thing that's changed is that the site is now populated by trolls, posers, wannabes, and "PX Rangers" who as active membership outnumber the military people the site was created for ... because all that matters now is the number of people who're creating hits for the site to generate ad revenue.

    What's the end solution? Who knows? Writing letters might help--more likely than not it won't. For every person on here who expresses disapproval, the site has 5 other members who will sit quietly...for every one who leaves, there will be 9 who stay.

    In the end, it's pretty doubtful that anything will change. I guess it's a lesson for the future: when such sites as this and Military.com are created and grow to this size and popularity, the founders should simply refuse to sell their site or allow the involvement of any outside corporation, and not give up their creative and strategic control.
    My opinions might coincide with someone of importance's POV... I wouldn't know, since I never bothered to ask. My policy is: "Don't ask, don't care."

    IACOJ--West Coast PITA

  5. #5
    Forum Member RspctFrmCalgary's Avatar
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    When Dave told us he was leaving I thought to myself "uh huh, it's all starting to make sense". Before his announcement, I had asked myself, "How can a website that won such accolades go through such abrupt changes in such a short period of time, from winning awards to falling apart?"

    Now with Chris leaving and the info Harve has provided, it really is all falling into place. What a shame if this site goes further into the toilet.

    Shades of what happened to Mark. I'm NOT suggesting any wrongdoing on the part of Cygnus/FH, just drawing parallels to a good company going downhill after bringing in "new blood".

    Excellent post, Harve. Even if it does leave a bad taste in one's mouth, it certainly explains a lot.
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
    IACOJ CRUSTY CONVENTION CHAIR
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    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

  6. #6
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    Respect--you have a reply in the "Contacted the Webteam" thread in FH Site Comments section which may address some of the issues that are being brought up here.

    Long story short for the rest of you: the problems you're talking about (especially those mentioned in the other thread) aren't really solveable by the licensee/operator. Those problems stem from issues with the software code itself, which can only be modified or fixed by the original vendor of the software.
    Of course, if someone from FH.com administration happened to log on and see all the tech issues that're being brought up, they could contact their vendor for bug fixes...however, speaking from personal experience as a former Military.com Moderator, the general way things work is the vendor makes a patch/bugfix, which fixes the original bug, but then causes two other problems.

    Obviously I don't have access to the forum stats, how many members per day are coming on, peak usage, posting stats, etc, but it may be that the site traffic is exceeding the design limitations of the software. Not many vendors supply forum software that is designed to accomodate large-scale usage such as this site appears to have on a daily basis.
    The simpler solution in the long run may be to simply change forum software vendors...that was the way we ended up going when I was at mil.com, and it worked marvelous wonders for us.

    Anyways, just my 2Ę of insight as to what may be going on...

    EDIT to add: according to the "currently viewing" stats at the bottom of the main page, at 3AM PST (right now) there are 262 people viewing the forums. That's a pretty decent number given the time of night, and about 65% of a typical showing this time of night on mil.com, pre-exodus.
    I'll wager the software is the same stuff they used back when there were 26.2 people on every night.
    \Using that same software now would be like putting a 300 gal tank, 250GPM midship pump, and a full complement of tools on a Ford Ranger pickup and calling it a Quick Attack. *LOL*
    Last edited by the1141man; 01-27-2007 at 06:16 AM.
    My opinions might coincide with someone of importance's POV... I wouldn't know, since I never bothered to ask. My policy is: "Don't ask, don't care."

    IACOJ--West Coast PITA

  7. #7
    Forum Member DeputyChiefGonzo's Avatar
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    I contacted the webteam two weeks ago about a question I had.

    I am still waiting for an answer.

    My request was to change my screen name without having to go through the registration nightmare that everyone who has come aboard for the last 6 months has gone through.

    I know it can be done, on a few car detailing sites I frequent, I asked for a screen name change and it was handled with no problem whatsoever... I even kept my post counts!

    Firehouse.com uses the same forum software and format as they do.

    To the webteam: check the post counts of those who are on this particular thread. Some of us have been here from the the birth of FH.com.

    Also, why not do an anaylsis of your database. Many people have registered and have never posted Some registered after a tragedy, like the W6 fire and 9-11, made one post and have never posted since. They are using up bandwidth and space on your servers.

    If you are using the number of regisiterted forum particiapnts in your advertising pitch for placing an asd on FH.com, many of those people your advertisers think they are reaching are not being reached.

    You can restore firehouse.com to it's rightful place as a leading source of news, information and a place to exchange ideas. Please do it.
    Last edited by CaptainGonzo; 01-27-2007 at 08:41 AM.
    ‎"The education of a firefighter and the continued education of a firefighter is what makes "real" firefighters. Continuous skill development is the core of progressive firefighting. We learn by doing and doing it again and again, both on the training ground and the fireground."
    Lt. Ray McCormack, FDNY

  8. #8
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    Also, why not do an anaylsis of your database. Many people have registered and have never posted Some registered after a tragedy, like the W6 fire and 9-11, made one post and have never posted since. They are using up bandwidth and space on your servers.
    That's not quite true...actually a single account takes up a minimal amount of space on a server, and takes no bandwidth unless the user is logged in and viewing pages or making posts.

    If you are using the number of regisiterted forum particiapnts in your advertising pitch for placing an asd on FH.com, many of those people your advertisers think they are reaching are not being reached.
    Now that's exactly why "commercial" forums admins don't delete old or inactive accounts. You never delete a banned poster's account simply because if you do so, you lose the ban, and they can immediately sign back up with that same account name and start creating havoc. But to keep years-old accounts that have no or few posts to their name, and the user has not logged-in in ages, well, that's just "padding the numbers".
    My opinions might coincide with someone of importance's POV... I wouldn't know, since I never bothered to ask. My policy is: "Don't ask, don't care."

    IACOJ--West Coast PITA

  9. #9
    Forum Member RspctFrmCalgary's Avatar
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    3am PST is a peak time because that's when the Easties are wakin' up! At least, that's what I've noticed over at IACOJ when I get up in the middle of the night LOL

    Now, 3 hours later .... 469 (64 members and 405 guests) are online.

    I don't know how long you've been around before you registered, 1141. But the fact remains, the oldtimers who have been here for 5 or 6 years or as Gonzo said, since the birth of FH, have definitely noticed a difference, and the problems aren't all software related. The site has been going steadily downhill in a number of areas.
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
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    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

  10. #10
    55 Years & Still Rolling hwoods's Avatar
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    Post Stats??...........

    1141man, you can access some stats. For example, click on Members list, then click on Posts. (at the top of the column of post counts) You get who has how many posts, in descending order. D/c Gonzo is right on the money (no pun intended) about the huge percentage of folks who read, but don't post. There are currently 148,178 members, and 652,764 posts, but the top ELEVEN posters have contributed 68,949 (more than 10%) of those posts.
    Never use Force! Get a Bigger Hammer.
    In memory of
    Chief Earle W. Woods, 1912 - 1997
    Asst. Chief John R. Woods Sr. 1937 - 2006

    IACOJ Budget Analyst

    I Refuse to be a Spectator. If I come to the Game, I'm Playing.

    www.gdvfd18.com

  11. #11
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    I have also steruggled with unanswered PMs to WT. I also asked about changing my handle once upon a time, and never got a reply after repeated queries. But I can see that my messages were being read.

    I recently upgraded to subscriber, but unless something changed overnight I expect my username will again appear at left without my avatar, without my signature, without my post count, etc. I wrote them, it was read, no reply as yet.

    Gonzo, I run my own discussion forum with IPB software, and I can confirm that it is a painless 15 second job to change a username. This is probably true on any decent forum platform.

    I have also been around a long time, this is my third handle so far (also RLFD14 and before that fjbfour). Not like I have been a prolific contributor, but I will also raise my hand and say I've seen the slide. Disappointing.

  12. #12
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    Oh yeah, and I can't edit my own posts, either. ("steruggled" ??, bleah ) Another symptom of not being flagged as a subscriber even though I did that and can access other subscriber features? Or is it some other mysterious broken thing?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by RspctFrmCalgary View Post
    3am PST is a peak time because that's when the Easties are wakin' up! At least, that's what I've noticed over at IACOJ when I get up in the middle of the night LOL

    Now, 3 hours later .... 469 (64 members and 405 guests) are online.
    However, most people don't immediately log on first thing in the AM as soon as they wake up...

    I don't know how long you've been around before you registered, 1141. But the fact remains, the oldtimers who have been here for 5 or 6 years or as Gonzo said, since the birth of FH, have definitely noticed a difference, and the problems aren't all software related. The site has been going steadily downhill in a number of areas.
    First rule of forum posting etiquette: lurk for a while before making your first posts. I was popping in for 3+ months before actually deciding to register and post.

    As for the site going downhill in a number of areas not software-related, well, all you have to do is look at my first post in this thread to see that I understand what you're talking about, and have had and seen a similar experience to what you guys are going through now...I can completely sympathize with your feelings, and I "get where you're coming from".

    That's why I chose to make my statement about corporate forums vs private forums before saying anything about the actual functionality (or lack thereof) in forum software.

    In the end, it does all come back to the people running the site--as I said last post: when the software (Infopop) wasn't adequate to the task anymore at mil.com, we switched to another provider and software platform that was. Failing to do so would've been providing bad service.

    Ironically enough, once Monster, Inc started leveraging its control over mil.com, the "customer service" attitude took a similar dump... to wit, the Admin basically said: "This service is free to you and costs us money to run, so you either like it the way it is, or STFU."
    Then they sit and wonder why hundreds of very active posters left the site. Hmmmmm....

    You get who has how many posts, in descending order. D/c Gonzo is right on the money (no pun intended) about the huge percentage of folks who read, but don't post. There are currently 148,178 members, and 652,764 posts, but the top ELEVEN posters have contributed 68,949 (more than 10%) of those posts.
    This isn't a very surprising statistic, Chief. Pick any random "major" forum on the internet, and you'll see a similar dynamic. You'll have a vast majority of lurkers who read, but don't post (especially on forums where registration is required to even read the threads), a decent margin of those who post occasionally, and then a small slice of the population who posts very frequently. Mil.com had at least a million "unique" members, however the active posting population numbered only in the low thousands.

    Also, another factor: both at mil.com and FH.com, the forums aren't the sole functionality of the sites. Both sites have a wide variety of sections: news, job searches, classifieds, etc...the forums comprise but one slice of the whole pie of the website.
    Membership on mil.com was required to access a number of functions besides just the basic news articles, likewise I believe one must register here at FH.com to access a lot of content. That would also account for a high number of "dormant" users that you see.

    Again, I'm not arguing or disagreeing with anyone here--if anything, I completely understand what you guys are saying, the concerns you're bringing...from my POV, failing to answer questions and assist members in a timely fasion is bad customer service and completely unprofessional.

    Administering a site is a full-time job, literally. There're too many fires to put out, especially with a site of this size, for a single person to run the show by themself.
    My opinions might coincide with someone of importance's POV... I wouldn't know, since I never bothered to ask. My policy is: "Don't ask, don't care."

    IACOJ--West Coast PITA

  14. #14
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    For me the biggest problem is this stupid website keeps dropping my password. Though in my opinion, I think FH.com as well as FH Magazine has gone down hill since being bought out. Case in point, I renewed my subscription for FH Magazine, and the next day I receive an advertisement to renew my subscription again. Course I only want one copy of FH Magazine not two or twenty just one. So in my opinion things aren't as good as they used to be and yes I do see the owners trying to milk me for everything possible to be on this forum, renewing my subscription and registering for the expo's numerous times.

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    But the fact remains, the oldtimers who have been here for 5 or 6 years or as Gonzo said,

    Try 8 years

    I know they were up in '99.

  16. #16
    Forum Member RspctFrmCalgary's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dalmatian190 View Post
    But the fact remains, the oldtimers who have been here for 5 or 6 years or as Gonzo said,

    Try 8 years

    I know they were up in '99.
    Yeah, but you cut half my post off in your quote, Dal!

    But the fact remains, the oldtimers who have been here for 5 or 6 years or as Gonzo said, since the birth of FH,
    September 11th - Never Forget

    I respect firefighters and emergency workers worldwide. Thank you for what you do.

    Sheri
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    RAY WAS HERE FIRST

  17. #17
    MembersZone Subscriber Diane E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dalmatian190 View Post
    But the fact remains, the oldtimers who have been here for 5 or 6 years or as Gonzo said,

    Try 8 years

    I know they were up in '99.
    Actually, December 1998!

    I sometimes have trouble posting new threads or editing ones I've submitted, but I always thought it was my computer at work...I do just fine at home with less "security"...LOL.
    "When I was young, my ambition was to be one of the people who made a difference in this world. My hope is to leave the world a little better for my having been there."
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElectricHoser View Post
    Gonzo, I run my own discussion forum with IPB software, and I can confirm that it is a painless 15 second job to change a username. This is probably true on any decent forum platform.
    In a coincidence for the ages, I just got an email request from one of my CUSTOMERS asking for a handle change. This doesn't come up very often. so the timing is providential. I started a timer. I correct my above quoted estimate. It took 30 seconds to do, BUT I also counted the time it took to log in and get to the right admin page.

    WT, is it really that big of a deal?

  19. #19
    IACOJ BOD FlyingKiwi's Avatar
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    I agree.
    (just posted to see what my join date was, to early on a Sunday modning here)
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  20. #20
    Forum Member firenresq77's Avatar
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    I think we've all seen the downhill slide of FH........ That's why I've taken a couple "breaks" from here..... I still come in and look around, but I don't do nearly as much as I used to.......

    It's sad...... There is so much information available on here and so many things to learn from others, but it gets held up by the lack of support from the WT, which isn't necessarily their fault. If they don't get the backing from their bosses, there's nothing they can do........

    Please get them some help!!!
    The comments made by me are my opinions only. They DO NOT reflect the opinions of my employer(s). If you have an issue with something I may say, take it up with me, either by posting in the forums, emailing me through my profile, or PMing me through my profile.
    We are all adults so there is no need to act like a child........
    IACOJ

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