Follow the thread

8th October 2004 at 01:00
Bill Hicks takes a weekly look at the hot topics in the TES chatrooms

Well, what a time we have all had of it. The last time I was here, we had just relaunched the TES website. We had problems, but it was afloat just long enough for you to deluge us with complaints before we winched it up the slipway and back into its shed.

The tarpaulins were hastily removed from the old website, which was given a final and unexpected three days out on the open seas, while we worked feverishly to effect some of the changes to the new forum you had so kindly suggested.

And then, on Tuesday - to the dismay of all the vociferous conservationists at staffroom - we finally managed to get the new site back up. This time, everything went smoothly.

Three days on, there are a dozen threads devoted to the new site. Upholding our tradition of objective reporting, I can reveal that 84 per cent of comments were negative. In other words, a rather better reaction than we had expected.

The conservatives remain entrenched in their love for the old. Kitcat, for example, does not hold back: "It stinks, in every way. Typical; if it's working, let's screw it up."

We have stopped counting your variations on the "if it ain't broke..."

cliche. The fact is that it nearly was broke, and we really did have to fix it.

More alarming were the number of comments about our colour scheme. Impis says: "Maybe it's blue to calm the raging beast that takes over some people when they come on here."

Phasmid replies: "If that's the case... it isn't working!"

Some claim the bluegrey shades induce migraines, and that it's "well known" that sufferers favour yellow-lens specs to filter out the blue light.

We immediately set up a hue and tone sub-committee to investigate. In the course of our research we visit the Migraine Action Association site: blue text on a loud turquoise background. What does this tell us? Not much, but our quest continues.

That's a dozen threads followed. What about the other 500-plus that have got going since the big switch? If I put my ear to the ground I hear the hum of conversation, just like before. Historians are wondering why their forum is overrun by primary teachers every summer. In ICT, there's an exchange on the virtues of different laptop bags. In personal, a lonely teacher is making new friends.

You might think the new forums stink: but you have to admit, they work.

Bill Hicks is editor of the TES website

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