# Overall Feedback (soft)

#### Joppy

##### Well-known member
MHB Math Helper
Just felt like posting some overall feedback about this forum and why i don't use it, even though i would like to. Most of it is just my opinion and hence should be taken with a pinch of salt.

• Aesthetics/Clunky

Don't get me wrong, i love how much effort has been made to have as many features as this forum does. But there really is so many features, resulting in the feeling of being cluttered. Simple is better... Take Physics Forums for example. It achieves a great deal of functionality but still remains quite simplistic.

The primary qualm i have with the aesthetics is the theme of the page, operating on a 'notebook' is really annoying. Why not have a more contemporary modern theme. Or if features is such a hit, maybe give users an option to change themes.

• Slow... So slow

This one could be just me and where i am located. But it took me almost 5 minutes to start this thread. Same goes for when i'm just navigating around the website, causing me forget what i was doing or just not bother. This is probably the biggest deterrent for me.

I have a cable connection with 35-40 Mbps connection, so please don't tell me my ISP is the cause.

• Not much traffic

With all the infrastructure and development going on in this forum, why are there so few users? What is being done to popularize it? And why is it not catching on? Or is it that this forum is really aimed at a more refined audience?

I feel the ratio of math 'helpers' (frequenting members) to people who are requiring for help is too high.

Because of this, i feel the only way i could help others out (not that i'm much help in any case) is by constantly refreshing the page and hope to get in first.

• Positives

I wasn't going to add this, but i don't want to give the impression of being too negative or 'hating' on the forum .

While the features are many, for the most part they have been made well, and work well.

Frequenting members are very friendly and helpful.

The weekly problems idea is just top notch. Really really hit the pot of gold there.

#### Jameson

Staff member

1) Aesthetics - This is a matter of taste at the end of the day, so at some point we might just disagree but it's good to read feedback. The current internet trend has moved toward a more simplistic flat aesthetic for sure, which is the kind of look you get at Physics Forums or StackExchange. I think some tweaking could be done to update the skin but we've also received a ton of compliments on our look. Many internet forums that use our software almost use the default vBulletin theme with minor color changes. If you have any specific comments then I'd love to hear them.

2) I've never experienced minute waits on the site when there wasn't a random server crash, so that is a huge issue. I am glad you told me and will try to look into this. If you can PM me the details of your location maybe I can talk to our host about it.

3) Our traffic is definitely lower than I'd like, but we're aiming for quality over quantity. The truth is forums are dying off and being replaced by sites like Stack Exchange and even Reddit, where you can post instantly from your phone and "get it right now". Traffic is down across all forums from what I see. I spent a good amount of money advertising in the past and feel that it wasn't worth the cost. Every year we post an update on our improvements and projects. Here is one from a year where I tried advertising a bit.

Seriously thank you for your comments. We always welcome them. You are kind enough to share your experience of MHB as a new user, which is invaluable.

#### Joppy

##### Well-known member
MHB Math Helper
1) Aesthetics - This is a matter of taste at the end of the day, so at some point we might just disagree but it's good to read feedback. The current internet trend has moved toward a more simplistic flat aesthetic for sure, which is the kind of look you get at Physics Forums or StackExchange. I think some tweaking could be done to update the skin but we've also received a ton of compliments on our look. Many internet forums that use our software almost use the default vBulletin theme with minor color changes. If you have any specific comments then I'd love to hear them.
I'll admit that i crossed the pedantry line there, but it's probably the most noticeable thing when you first visit the site. It stands out, which i suppose is a good thing overall.

2) I've never experienced minute waits on the site when there wasn't a random server crash, so that is a huge issue. I am glad you told me and will try to look into this. If you can PM me the details of your location maybe I can talk to our host about it.
Will do, thanks .

3) The truth is forums are dying off and being replaced by sites like Stack Exchange and even Reddit, where you can post instantly from your phone and "get it right now".
That's very unfortunate to hear. To hell with Stack Exchange! I find the community (or lack thereof) there so unwelcoming. Replies are often vicious or unwarranted.

But the biggest thing for me is that answers given are often taken out of context and don't really answer the users question. They 'technically' answer it, but because of the reputation system, people that provide answers seem to be more concerned with gaining votes and not actually answering the question based on the OP's context and level of understanding etc.

Anyways, this is an aside .

Traffic is down across all forums from what I see. I spent a good amount of money advertising in the past and feel that it wasn't worth the cost. Every year we post an update on our improvements and projects. Here is one from a year where I tried advertising a bit.
Hmm. Well i'd be happy to donate if it could somehow increase website popularity. Something other than advertising perhaps? If such a method exists. Maybe just a different angle on advertising.

Honestly... And i know this may not be a welcome comment here, but i wish MMF and MHB could merge... MMF has a decent amount of traffic, but is a little out dated as far as features are concerned. And on the other hand we have MHB which is up to date with , but struggling with traffic flow haha.

Of course, i can see many users which use both MHB and MMF which is good. But i think most people who frequent forums a lot tend to just stick to one in the end.

Seriously thank you for your comments. We always welcome them. You are kind enough to share your experience of MHB as a new user, which is invaluable.
Thanks for acknowledging them .

#### Jameson

Staff member
I'll admit that i crossed the pedantry line there, but it's probably the most noticeable thing when you first visit the site. It stands out, which i suppose is a good thing overall.
I personally like the concept of our design but think it leans more towards an older look and wouldn't mind an upgrade. It is definitely distinct.

That's very unfortunate to hear. To hell with Stack Exchange! I find the community (or lack thereof) there so unwelcoming. Replies are often vicious or unwarranted.

But the biggest thing for me is that answers given are often taken out of context and don't really answer the users question. They 'technically' answer it, but because of the reputation system, people that provide answers seem to be more concerned with gaining votes and not actually answering the question based on the OP's context and level of understanding etc.

Anyways, this is an aside .
Totally agree. The non-linear fashion of upvotes and downvotes makes the conversation very different. It is all about getting to the top reply and not about the whole conversation. For REALLY long conversations it might be a better way of displaying the best content, so I think the idea is cool just not sure if it works fully yet.

Hmm. Well i'd be happy to donate if it could somehow increase website popularity. Something other than advertising perhaps? If such a method exists. Maybe just a different angle on advertising.

Honestly... And i know this may not be a welcome comment here, but i wish MMF and MHB could merge... MMF has a decent amount of traffic, but is a little out dated as far as features are concerned. And on the other hand we have MHB which is up to date with , but struggling with traffic flow haha.

Of course, i can see many users which use both MHB and MMF which is good. But i think most people who frequent forums a lot tend to just stick to one in the end.
Thank you for your offer! I'm not sure how much money would help the issue. I have spent a relatively large amount on advertising over the last 4 years considering we are a free site and don't think it helped tremendously. What we are facing is the fact that Google favors sites that have been around longer by far. Many of our competitors have spam and inactive admins who just let the site run its course and still get more traffic. I think overtaking them would be very, very difficult. The second problem is, as I mentioned, forums are just dying off in general. I'm not sure it's possible to ever achieve the popularity that forums had in the early 2000's.

MMF and MHF were both bought by the same individual out of the blue. I think he even wanted to buy us at some point. In my opinion we have very different philosophies on what it means to be good to the users of one's site.

Trust me that as the owner of MHB I have thought a lot on this and sometimes still don't get why we aren't more popular. It used to get me worked up! I am just very happy that we have a wonderful team of volunteers and active members who add to the site daily. This isn't to say that I'm passive on helping us grow, just realistic. Thank you for your thoughts and let's brainstorm a way to get some more people!

#### Joppy

##### Well-known member
MHB Math Helper
MMF and MHF were both bought by the same individual out of the blue. I think he even wanted to buy us at some point. In my opinion we have very different philosophies on what it means to be good to the users of one's site.
Yeah, the philosophies are noticeably different. And honestly, i think that a smaller community allows your philosophy to exist better than a larger one. Then again, this video probably sums it up by saying that internet communities generally don't attract a certain crowd provided they are well-moderated.

I am just very happy that we have a wonderful team of volunteers and active members who add to the site daily. This isn't to say that I'm passive on helping us grow, just realistic. Thank you for your thoughts and let's brainstorm a way to get some more people!
Indeed you do.

I'll be sure to keep a neuron out to try come up with something (and so should we all !). Although nothing comes to mind currently... Bit of a tricky one actually.

Trust me that as the owner of MHB I have thought a lot on this and sometimes still don't get why we aren't more popular. It used to get me worked up!
Haha i have to say it works me up a tad also. Despite my complaining, there doesn't seem to be any major issues with the forum. I'm thinking the reason though, as you said, is that forum's may simply be dying. Which... As i have also said would be terrible, because I'm addicted xD.

#### Prakhar

I discussed this unpopularity of Math Help Boards with MarkFL in the past, to which he replied that "it takes time to build content". I feel that we have had enough time after the launch of the site. As of now, someone searching "Math Help" or "Math Forum" on Google will find sites like Free Math Help, or My Math Forum, or Math Forum, or SOS Math, or other sites which are already popular, be listed on the first page. Whereas, MHB is listed at the end of third or fourth page.

What we are facing is the fact that Google favors sites that have been around longer by far.
I disagree with Jameson on this comment because as far as I know, Google doesn't display websites by their age, but it displays sites by their popularity. And for Google, the word popularity is defined as "frequent search of same site or word from different IP adresses". The problem is that people who know our site already, just use the browser shortcuts or the URL to directly visit the site. And, as I've already mentioned, people search for math-related forums and get satisfactory results with the sites listed on the first page.

So, I suggest all our MHB members to start searching for "Math Help Boards" on the main Google page (typing in regional Google will popularize he site in that particular region). Please note that typing google.com in the URL bar will not take you to main Google, as it redirects users according to their IP addresses. One needs to click "Use Google.com" for that.

Once we start manually searching our website's name on Google from our diverse IP addresses, Google will soon notice that this site is getting popular, and will start displaying our site above many others (and might be at the top in future).

And also, not just searching our site's name will suffice, but we also need to search the key words like "math help", or "math forum", then scroll down to our website (in whatever page it lies) and then browse it. This is defined as "browsing through Google" and due to which we see some Google spiders listed in our "Who's Online" page. (Bing bot spiders mean Bing users and Yahoo spider means........you know!).

Not just agreeing and doing it a few times, but we need to make these two things a habit with all of us, as this is the cheapest (free) and most effective way to popularize MHB.

If someone knows how to browse your router's web utility ( http://192.168.1.1 by default), then I suggest changing (or manually setting) the primary DNS to 8.8.8.8 and the secondary DNS to 8.8.4.4 as this will use Google's DNS rather than your ISP's DNS. Then, even if you start searching right from the URL, it will still use Google's DNS. Not just that, but on an overall basis, Google's DNS servers are much more stable and fast than other ISP's.

Further, we have some social media accounts promoting our website (which is nice), but why are the accounts inactive? I never saw a promoted tweet from Math Help Boards. Occasionally spending a small amount of money on this might bear fruit as well.

Even further, I partially agree with Joppy on his comment about the web site's design. I have a new design in mind, so am I free to post it?

#### Prakhar

I wanted to edit my post, but MHB just didn't load for another half hour, as Firefox kept on saying "Waiting for mathhelpboards.com". So I am now adding one last paragraph:

I also feel that our rules and regulations are more of rude warnings or threats and less of rules. Someone reading the rules will only be discouraged from posting here, and given the fact that we already have less users, we'll lose existing ones (which means more loss).

We are now in a do-or-die state. Even after so many efforts, if no progress is observed, then I would suggest Jameson to give up, and move on.

#### Joppy

##### Well-known member
MHB Math Helper
I wanted to edit my post, but MHB just didn't load for another half hour, as Firefox kept on saying "Waiting for mathhelpboards.com". So I am now adding one last paragraph:

I also feel that our rules and regulations are more of rude warnings or threats and less of rules. Someone reading the rules will only be discouraged from posting here, and given the fact that we already have less users, we'll lose existing ones (which means more loss).

We are now in a do-or-die state. Even after so many efforts, if no progress is observed, then I would suggest Jameson to give up, and move on.
I agree with this. The warning message that pops up when i one tries to post on a recently posted on thread is quite of-putting and not very welcoming...

I realize that the only way to have a good environment is to have a controlled environment. That's done here, but maybe a little overdone.

#### Ackbach

##### Indicium Physicus
Staff member
I also feel that our rules and regulations are more of rude warnings or threats and less of rules. Someone reading the rules will only be discouraged from posting here, and given the fact that we already have less users, we'll lose existing ones (which means more loss).
This is a fair criticism; I'm not at all sure that it's had much of an effect on our popularity, but I can definitely see that there is some room for improvement, particularly in motivating users to show how the rules benefit them. As I'm the one who first cribbed the rules from MHF, and then altered them, I will take some time at some point to improve their friendliness.

#### MarkFL

Staff member
I agree with this. The warning message that pops up when i one tries to post on a recently posted on thread is quite of-putting and not very welcoming...

I realize that the only way to have a good environment is to have a controlled environment. That's done here, but maybe a little overdone.
The reason for the popup confirmation when replying to a thread in which someone other than the OP has replied is because some people ignore our rule regarding explaining hints prematurely (Rule #14):

Do not explain hints prematurely. When you see someone already helping a member and waiting for the original poster to give feedback, do not give more hints or a full solution. Wait at least 24 hours for the original poster to respond.

It can be aggravating to see judicious help provided to a user only to see that another user comes along a short time after and provides a complete solution, thereby negating the effort of the first person to engage the OP to be a part of solving the problem.

This has happened repeatedly in the past, and so this was our effort to make people aware before posting help that someone else has already replied within the last 24 hours, and likely this reply has contained judicious help (which most of our helpers do).

Why Do We Need Rules?

A forum without rules and trusted people designated to enforce those rules can become an ugly place very quickly. MHB rules are the culmination of many years of experience concerning what makes for an environment that is conducive to getting and giving math help online. They are designed to make MHB an organized and efficient place in which people can ask for help with mathematics and related questions, give help to others, search for relevant material, or simply discuss mathematics (and even non-mathematics topics in our Chat Room sub-forum).

Enforcement of MHB Rules

MHB has a dedicated staff who are responsible for enforcing MHB rules. We also make available to our members a Report Post feature located at the lower left of every post that enables the reporting of posts to the staff that violate MHB policy. With the exception of asking a user what progress they have made when posting a question when no effort is shown, we ask that any other interactions with a user who has violated MHB policy be left up to MHB staff once reported.

If you discover that your own post is in violation of MHB policy, then we encourage you to report it requesting that action be taken. The staff will view this as an effort to follow policy, hence it will not be treated as a violation.

While we take our rules very seriously, we also try to be as fair as possible when enforcing our rules. It is very important to us that our staff are courteous and diplomatic. If for some reason you feel that an MHB staff member has failed to treat you in such a manner, we encourage you to bring this matter to the attention of a senior staff member. If the staff member in question is a senior member, then we ask that you advise an MHB Administrator (other than the administrator in question if applicable). We simply will not tolerate our staff acting in a rude or demeaning manner to anyone for any reason.

Enforcement Procedure

Each rule is treated separately; a user who has previously violated one rule will be treated as a first time offender for a different rule. If you feel for any reason that you have been erroneously cited, we encourage you to respond privately to the staff member who has cited you for clarification so that the staff as a whole may review the issue. MHB staff reviews all actions taken to ensure that they are consistent with our policies.

Minor Vs. Major Offenses

We categorize a minor offense as that in which no harm was intended by the user, whereas a major offense is easily seen as an effort to be disruptive in some way. Major offenses are dealt with more severely, by the issuing of an infraction or by banning possibly even for a first offense. The following procedure applies solely to minor offenses.

First offense:

A new user with less than 5 posts will usually only be advised in their thread. Otherwise, a staff member will send an advisory by PM.

Second offense:

A warning will be issued by a senior staff member. This warning is not punitive, but does serve as a more formal advisory of MHB policy. A user that has been issued a warning or an infraction will be required to accept the rules again before being allowed to participate further at MHB.

Third offense:

An infraction will be issued by a senior staff member. A first infraction carries with it (usually 5) points that count against a user's record for a period of 10 days. We feel that at this point the user is not taking care to follow MHB policies, and a punitive measure is necessary.

For offenses after that, 10 point infractions are typically issued, and at some point the staff will decide as a group the best course of action to take with a user that is continually and repeatedly violating the rules. The nature of the offense(s) and the general demeanor of the user are huge contributing factors in such cases. For multiple offenses occurring at the same time, there are 15 and 20 points infractions that can be issued, and MHB Administrators may choose to issue whatever number of points they deem appropriate.

A user that accumulates 35 or more concurrent points will be automatically subjected to a temporary banning, lasting 10 days. This is done so that the user has a "cooling off" period in which to reflect on their recent behavior.

For more serious or continually repeated offenses, a temporary or permanent banning can be issued by a senior staff member, regardless of the number of accumulated concurrent points. Unless the nature of the offense makes it obvious that a banning is necessary, the staff will discuss the matter internally first, and decides as a group what should be done. This consensus ensures that we act as fairly as possible.

#### mathlearn

##### Active member
Hmm. My opinion is that

The overall design is fascinating and unique and is designed in a more mathly way, than any other forum I have seen,The top header is really attractive.

So far speaking I have never experienced any technical issues! and I think the site is very light weight.

And always members have been very helpful here!

Also speaking about Google! I came here searching "Math Homework help" I think the site was in the first or second page as I can remember! and the site looked fascinating when compared to other search results.

Speaking of Stack exchange it's unique and this forum is unique by its ways.There are members who would dedicate hours continuously!

So my opinion is It's unfair to compare with stack exchange,which is a massive network! But it's unique here & it's colorful when compared to the black and whiteness.

Many Thanks

#### Joppy

##### Well-known member
MHB Math Helper
And always members have been very helpful here!
Of course, I mentioned this as a positive .

So my opinion is It's unfair to compare with stack exchange,which is a massive network! But it's unique here & it's colorful when compared to the black and whiteness.
I wasn't comparing the two in order to degrade MHB as you suggest. Actually I was degrading stack exchanges 'uniqueness'

#### mathlearn

##### Active member
Ha Ha You made me laugh !

#### MarkFL

Staff member
In addition to helping administrate this site, I help administrate two other vB 4.2.x sites. The load times for the pages here are comparable to the other sites. Of course we won't stop looking for ways to improve our load times, I just wanted to say that it has not been my experience that MHB takes any longer to load than other sites running the same software.

I agree with Jameson that look and feel, or rather the perception of same, is largely a matter of opinion. I will say that we have had several visitors here from vBorg (The Official vBulletin Modifications Site) who have spoken favorably of our custom style. I personally think it looks and works very well.

We have put a huge amount of work into giving our users a set of custom features that set us apart from other math help sites. While I think we compare very favorably with our competition in this regard, we don't seek simply to outdo them, we only wish to make MHB as useful as possible.

We have a dedicated senior staff all working in various ways to make MHB shine, and we must keep in mind that when we started, the math help niche was already well established, if not saturated. So, it's going to take longer than most of us may have originally thought to reach a level of activity enjoyed by some of our competitors, many of whom had been in existence for many years (longer than we have existed now) when we started.

So rather than throwing in the towel and giving up, the best course of action I think is to stay the course.

#### Prakhar

Also speaking about Google! I came here searching "Math Homework help" I think the site was in the first or second page as I can remember! and the site looked fascinating when compared to other search results.
When I searched "Math Homework Help", MHB wasn't listed in the first 10 pages (neither in Google India, nor in google.com)
This means that MHB is popular in your region, or................?

As I said, I partially agree with Joppy regarding the design. The links and shortcuts are very helpful, but they push the sub-forums downwards, so people need to scroll down more and more. There isn't a quick reply option. I mentioned this earlier, but that suggestion wasn't considered. For me, load times are sometimes pathetic. Just like today, I wanted to edit my post, but the site wasn't responding. If it had been MMF, I would not have been able to edit my post.

The rest of the design is attractive (which leads to server-strain).

#### MarkFL

Staff member
Well, we can't really have it both ways...if we include the "+Ask A Question" element at the top in response to complaints that the process of locating forums and starting new threads is overwhelming for millennials, then naturally this new element, placed at the top for highest visibility, will push the other elements farther down the page. If we put it at the bottom of the page, then such users will never see it as they are adverse to scrolling/exploring.

vBulletin does have a quick reply/edit option, but we have opted to disable that.

An attractive more functional design usually means more HTML/CSS to be loaded, but that's a trade-off inherent in all websites.

#### Prakhar

Well, we can't really have it both ways...if we include the "+Ask A Question" element at the top in response to complaints that the process of locating forums and starting new threads is overwhelming for millennials, then naturally this new element, placed at the top for highest visibility, will push the other elements farther down the page. If we put it at the bottom of the page, then such users will never see it as they are adverse to scrolling/exploring.
We can have it both ways, by keeping it at the top, but slightly reducing the size (not too much).
vBulletin does have a quick reply/edit option, but we have opted to disable that.
Any special reason for that?

We have 6 forums, so we can list them in two columns, and click on it to load it. So no more scrolling.
This is just an idea.

#### MarkFL

Staff member
We can have it both ways, by keeping it at the top, but slightly reducing the size (not too much).
The vertical size (height) of that element is determined mostly by the size of the button, which we wanted to be consistent with the large registration button that visitors see. We want it to be very visible.

It is designed to be as "short" as possible by having a horizontal (left to right) layout.

Any special reason for that?
That was actually decided before I was a member of the staff. However, I think it is a good idea for the simple reason that only on the advanced editor pages do we have our set of $\LaTeX$ tools and MHB Widgets.

What's funny is that while having the quick reply/edit disabled makes coding products MUCH simpler in many cases, I still have to code for them whenever I release a product for the vBulletin community at large.

We have 6 forums, so we can list them in two columns, and click on it to load it. So no more scrolling.
This is just an idea.
With the sidebar expanded, having two columns of forums would make everything very cramped I would think.

#### Jameson

Staff member
I like seeing this discussion on how to make MHB a better site and more popular! It's great to get different opinions.

You are correct, Prakhar, that Google doesn't rank pages based on age. I should have been more specific. What I meant is that older sites are more likely to be on the first page of Google searches, which means more people click on them, which keeps their popularity high, which keeps them on the first page... and the loop continues. Once you make it to the first page you have a very heavy momentum that keeps you going. Breaking into that is tough but possible! I worked on a different site 10 years ago that became very popular with much less effort than I've put into MHB. The site just rose up ranking like magic.

I'm still not sure why certain countries and regions are seeing very slow load times. I am still talking to our host about it and will try to resolve the issue.

Thank you all for your feedback. Don't hold back!

#### MarkFL

Staff member
...Thank you all for your feedback. Don't hold back!
Yes, let me second that.

I don't mean to come off like I am shooting everything down...I truly only mean to explain why we have certain things arranged as they are. However, I do appreciate any and all feedback...we have gotten really useful suggestions from our users and I too am happy to see such a discussion taking place.

#### Jameson

Staff member
I think it's great to show our users that we have put a lot of thought into our site design and setup. Thank you Mark for explaining things in full to everyone!!

#### ZaidAlyafey

##### Well-known member
MHB Math Helper
It's a disappointment, to put that much effort and to progress too slow. I hope we have the strength to continue for a long time.

#### Joppy

##### Well-known member
MHB Math Helper
It's a disappointment, to put that much effort and to progress too slow. I hope we have the strength to continue for a long time.
Yep... Even for someone who hasn't put any effort it, it's somewhat disgruntling.

When I searched "Math Homework Help", MHB wasn't listed in the first 10 pages (neither in Google India, nor in google.com)
This means that MHB is popular in your region, or................?
Wow.. I hadn't tried this. Same for me in Australia. Searching "Math Help" gets MHB as the third hit on Google. And typing "Math forum" i can't find MHB within the first 20 pages .

How many mathematicians does it take to popularize a forum? xD

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#### mathlearn

##### Active member
Yep... Even for someone who hasn't put any effort it, it's somewhat disgruntling.
So when a user comes here somehow by searching a math problem , My opinion is that
we must encourage them to register.

The login area and the registration is good and nice . I like the square rules in the top left part of the header In my opinion the site is very fascinating design wise.

I have seen spiders and bots in the 'Who's online' section.

Here's a suggestion to signup the visitors those who come here by searching a math problem. How about a pop up box.

I would like to suggest a pop up suddenly when one visitor arrives,which would highlight 'Free mathhelp' and 'It's free' mentioning the features in very brief because it would be eye catching. Using Your nice colors of the Buttons below the header.

So the visitor might consider signing up.

Many Thanks