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SteveH-VSS

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Reply with quote  #1 
Greetings folks,

There has been talk in a few different threads about the issues associated with Needlebar and ISMACS.  These discussion range from "what happened to those sites" to "We need to incorporate all of the old info from both of these sites in VSS"

I am opening this thread to discuss how the member would feel about the VSS site expanding. The features we are talking about would involve a complete re-write of the VSS site and would most likely involve moving the site to my GoDaddy hosting account once it is fully programmed.

Some of the Features in discussion are:
  1. ISMACS type Serial number lookup tables, but for all brands we can
  2. Properly organized and maintained Documents section (Manuals, Ads, Letters, etc)
  3. Needlebar Picture Library style photo record of all known makes/models
  4. Attachments documentation and use instructions
  5. Manufacturers histories compiled
  6. Section for new members to "catch up" and feel less intimidated about asking Q's 
  7. Functional tools for arranging "Pony Express" machine transports.
  8. More formalized How-to section.
  9. VSS sponsored gatherings (when appropriate)
  10. Mobile app support for all of the above

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Madmurdock75

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Reply with quote  #2 
That all sounds fantastic. Is that going to be a huge pile of work for you, though? It sounds like a monumental undertaking.
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Reply with quote  #3 
Steve, I know I'm a newbie here and I like the informality of this site but  having the resources together in one place sounds terrific.  What would be the downside to expanding as you've laid out?

Dan

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SteveH-VSS

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Reply with quote  #4 
Oh no.  Should this happen, crazy volunteers from here or a professional will be paid to do this job.  I have WAYYY too much on my plate to take this on.

Newbie means nothing to me.  Once you sign up, you're all the same to me...

Some downsides I see is that if we did this expansion we would be most likely driving a increase in traffic. 
That could lead to this site losing some of that "small town corner store" kinda vibe we work to maintain.

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Chillin in NC

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Reply with quote  #5 

VSS doesn't have to lose the small town flavor.

I have another interest besides sewing machines that keeps me occupied and has me belonging to several other forums, 2 of which I frequent more than the others and 1 of the 2 is my primary go to at least once a day if not more. The site I visit most often has well over 200,000 members with 6500 plus being active and many from other countries. These numbers do not include non registered visitors. I use this site for info gathering, buying and selling and generally just hanging out. I've befriended some wonderful people that I've never met in person and some that I have met through trades or sales or the symposiums that are held annually around the country. But I've never felt swallowed up by the size of the community.

I think it is possible to grow without losing that small town feel. But it does take work!


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SteveH-VSS

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Reply with quote  #6 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chillin in NC
  I think it is possible to grow without losing that small town feel. 


Totally agree.  It is the people of this site that make it what it is.  If I had to personally police the site it would be frustrating, but the folks around here do a great job of "neighborhood watch"

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Jim/Steelsewing

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Reply with quote  #7 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveH-VSS
...crazy volunteers from here


*raises hand*

To me, it seams as if we already do certain things, like the history of this model or that machine. Or what attachment fits which model change. One could almost sub-group some of our discussions. So it's as if we are already doing what ISMACS or Needlebar or even some of our own individual blogs are already doing. The topics are here, it just takes some noising around to find them.

If I had the resources (which I don't) I'd love to be able to do a webpage describing some often overlooked 1962 Kenmore* model, with photos and a description and a pic of the attachment box, and a list of what should be in that box, or which cams it came with along with the free pdf manual.

*can substitute Morse, Necchi, New Home etc. for Kenmore

A sort of illustrated guide to sewing machines of the 1900s... lol.  But it's impossible for one person to do. Having the ability to begin something like that, and have crazy volunteers jump in to complete incomplete pages, well that would be super, and sometimes that happens here. I'm not sure if VSS really wants to become Sewipedia, but it's always fun to think about. =)

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Reply with quote  #8 
Ohhhh, to have something like the NeedleBar Picture Library info back, but updated in many areas.  And a section on manuals and attachments.  I know I'm trying to scan several manuals I have that show layouts of tins and others that show attachments supplied with machines, etc.  I'm always looking for that info, so #s 2-4 are a big area of interest for me.  And, you're right that it would be helpful for many newbies to have "articles" written that provide some info to get them up-to-date without feeling like they have to post a question to get general info.  Of course, the NeedleBar site had quite a few articles that members wrote that were very good.  I don't know if many of those members have joined this group and could post their material here or if some of it would need to be re-produced.  I know I contributed to at least one of those articles, but I wasn't the author, so I suppose we would have to investigate how some of that could be reproduced.

And I think if the number of members grow, it doesn't mean that the site somehow becomes something less.  It should become something more so long as we continue to have a "neighborhood watch".

My only concern would be whatever additional workload might be put onto your shoulders, Steve.  I know that people here are willing to help, but it will still likely mean more work for you.  I'd love to see an expansion, but I also don't want to burn out the Administrator, like what seemed to happen at the NeedleBar.  From what I understand, the NB Picture Library is still in existence on backup drives, but incompatible with the new service that Alan had to move the site onto.  I don't know if Alan would be willing to allow that info to migrate here or not.  I know the attachments section was badly in need of updating, but nothing I sent in went into the Picture Library, just into my personal Wiki page.  I think it hadn't been updated since 2010 or before.  But, it would be a good place to start if something could be worked out.  If not, then we start from scratch.

Ericka



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Zorba

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Reply with quote  #9 
This all sounds fantastic, except for #10. Please, PLEASE do not compromise the usability of this site for the sake of "devices". Please? The darn things are ruining the Internet!

I also cast a rather jaundiced eye towards anything to do with godaddy, but that's your call. The crash of the needlebar PL is a horrid loss, I don't suppose you could expect any help from them though...

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SteveH-VSS

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Reply with quote  #10 
I would also definitely dedicate a section for the JA/JC numbers.

While I understand (disagree)your aversion to smartphones, there's no reason that the nature of the site would need to be compromised to support them.

Other people have done a lot of stupid things that we won't reproduce.

With some of the resources we have available, recreating a variant of the needlebar site would be a lot of work but within reach. I suspect that if a site became available that was a reasonable facsimile thereof that the powers that be might be more willing to share archives.

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jplowrey

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Reply with quote  #11 
Any value in allowing members to “register” serial numbers of their machines, regardless of make, to document what’s still in circulation? Granted, this list would be dynamic, as machines change hands from time to time... just a thought...
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SteveH-VSS

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Reply with quote  #12 
I have given thought in the past to putting together a database log of every single sewing machine serial number we can find evidence of whether it's on a machine or on a piece of paperwork. Being able to match the to would be exceptional, but the information gathered could still be very valuable. The fact is any time somebody lists for sale a photograph of a document that has a serial number and a date, saving a copy of that image for the database would be sufficient. Typing the information into a database would make it truly valuable. (as long as the photo was also in the database as evidence.)

I had delusions at 1 time of linking that with the singer serial number database so any time you looked up a serial number on the chart if there was information about any of the numbers in that group it would link to a photo of the machine or document.

Nahhh, I haven't given this any thought....

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Zorba

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveH-VSS
While I understand (disagree)your aversion to smartphones, there's no reason that the nature of the site would need to be compromised to support them.

That's good to hear. I simply do not understand why people want to see the world on such a tiny, and very much crippled device. I've seen entirely too much web design catering to these things that ruins the desktop experience. Stupid, big icons that look like they came from a Commodore 64, search result pages that only show a very few results at a time, narrow portrait mode pages, etc, etc. I like to say that I've been using, programming, building, and even designing computers since long before most people ever even saw one or knew what it was - and "this (smartphones) ain't it". Yea, I embrace my inner curmudgeon!

OTOH, I do do some light web design from time-to-time, and I recently designed my very first "responsive" site that works on everything we've been able to throw at it, without the childish flat icons, square corners, and other nonsense - so I know its possible. CSS is fantastic!

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Chaly

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Reply with quote  #14 
One of the main functions of a forum like this is sharing information.  Secondly, of course is the camaraderie and support.

An expansion plan is very likely needed based on what's out there now - especially related to Needlebar and ISMACS info.  Having a more or less one-stop site that is organized, usable, and supportive would be a dream.

How best to accomplish this would take some good planning and this would be a different discussion in my way of thinking.

This site is a great resource for me and requires that I keep up frequently or important information that is shared will be difficult to retrieve at some future time.  So the organization/interface of the data would be a top priority for me.
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SteveH-VSS

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Reply with quote  #15 
NOTE: the two deleted messages were taking this off track.  I want to stay focused here on feedback and suggestions.
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SteveH-VSS

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Reply with quote  #16 
Couple of thoughts.

1. I realized in a message reply to someone here that I am thinking about this project like restoring a 140 year old machine.  I plant to conserve the very best I can and make sure it is designed and set up so that it will outlast me

2. I sent most of this to Jim but wanted to share the thoughts here.

The key is not data entry but database design in this case. There is a lot that can be done and a LOT of cross referencing if a db is set up to hold all of the data.  there may be benefit to designing a structure, posting it, filling it, THEN making it public.  i.e. Make it available to a select group of folks who can seriously contribute to the data and get a lot of the initial stuff done, then make it public and attach the chatboard to it.

One of the reasons Needlebar works was very careful control of photos and data.  it became trusted.


Mike has talked about publishing a book with his years of amassed photos of amazing machines and history.  I hope to capture as much of that as he will let me. 

MaycBaby's knowledge and photos of attachments should be captured and expanded upon.

A consistent series of how-to videos for every attachment and machine with good lighting, fabric and thread choices and no babble....

Research like the 101 knowledge.  I feel that the structure NEEDS to be set up so that any person looking for 101 info can find the photos, documents, receipts, manuals, case options, nuances of evolution, etc, etc, etc....


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Zorba

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Reply with quote  #17 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveH-VSS
One of the reasons Needlebar works was very careful control of photos and data.  it became trusted.

I will point out however, that NB also got QUITE the attitude as a result. I like the site for the same reasons everybody else does, but the (sometime) attitude gets tiresome.

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SteveH-VSS

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Reply with quote  #18 
Luckily I have folks around me like you and the rest here to make sure that does not happen, right?

A little ego maintenance never hurt (too much)

My short experience with Active needlebar stuff was mostly very positive.  
I do see where the "attitude" came in.  Again, we are not those people.

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pgf

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Reply with quote  #19 
Quote:
The key is not data entry but database design in this case. There is a lot that can be done and a LOT of cross referencing if a db is set up to hold all of the data.  there may be benefit to designing a structure, posting it, filling it, THEN making it public.  i.e. Make it available to a select group of folks who can seriously contribute to the data and get a lot of the initial stuff done, then make it public and attach the chatboard to it.


There's a lot to be said for this.  You've touched on the reason that many wikis are complete failures -- they might have some good information, but poorly organized, with no clear guidelines on how to add to it.  For the scope of what you're talking about, organization is key.


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redH

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Reply with quote  #20 
I'd love the site to be more 'mobile device' friendly. (Sorry Zorba!) My only internet connection at home is my cell phone and it's interesting to try to read threads. I used to keep up at work but CV19 has squashed that for now.
All the other improvements sound excellent too, just #10 caught my attention the most.

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Son of A Singer Man

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Reply with quote  #21 
"Let the sleeping dog lie"....
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Reply with quote  #22 
Steve,
 
Expanding VSS sounds wonderful and you have obviously put a lot of thought into this.  This site is already a fantastic resource, and I do enjoy the conversational nature of it.  Though it does make it hard to find specific information sometimes, on the flip side I often learn things I didn’t even know I needed to learn.
 
Expanding the scope of this site would not only potentially make it possible to preserve information from previous sites/endeavors. But could be a valuable tool to folks seeking to expand that knowledge. There appears to be several folks here doing some interesting research into different aspects of the vintage sewing machine world.  It is exciting to think that this could be a place not only to publish, but to get assistance with their research.
 
Something that I have been thinking about lately, is how do you make a community site sustainable?  Needlebar was basically shuttered before I got into vintage machines, so I have no idea what happened there.  But I do have experience with a weaving site that floundered and a tremendous amount of valuable information was lost.  Honestly the site was always technically challenged, but some of the most knowledgeable folks in the weaving community answered questions and contributed information.  And it is heartbreaking that all that work and knowledge is no longer available.  So I think designing an operational scheme is as important as the technical design of the site.
 
My CMS/web design skills are more than a decade out of date, but I would like to contribute in anyway I can.

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SteveH-VSS

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Reply with quote  #23 
Thank you all for providing such great feedback!

Tammy's comment reminded me that I wanted to post a request.

If someone has web or database programming or development experience and would like to be part of the team that would actually do the work, send me a PM so we can discuss it. 
We still may end up hiring someone to do this, but if we think we can do it internally we may give that a try.



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Olaf

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Reply with quote  #24 
Exciting project, Steve! 
It is a growing problem that well established websites suddenly close down, or remain unmaintained for some time. There are many reasons for such things happening. I have been a member of a Linux forum for 10-15 years, and it suddenly collapsed because the guy who hosted it for 16 years, suddenly died. The age of the owner also often prevent updates. I have for several years downloaded such complete websites, which I understand is slowly going down, just to have all that info myself. Many are no more to be found. An example from UK, with lots of photos of rare and beautiful sewing machines, last updated in 2010:  http://dincum.com/

Do you know if there are other websites with lots on information about sewing machines, that are running with none, or minimal maintenance, that could also be included?

Olaf

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Julie Q

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Reply with quote  #25 
I haven't been here much at all, so just my two cents.  It sounds like a grand plan.  I'm for it, not being snarky.
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Reply with quote  #26 
I'm late to the party and, frankly, not very tech savvy nor 'up to date' on electronic devices etc.  I just love sewing machines and all the paraphernalia that goes along with 'em and all the other people who love 'em like I do.  I always (somewhat naively) expect the best of everyone and am occasionally disappointed, but that's life and human nature, lol.  If VSS gets more sewing machine info, manuals, pictures, knowledge, etc.....I'm for it!  I trust Steve to make good decisions for us as he's always done.  Sorry if I sound simplistic, but I'm pretty much just a simple hands-on farm girl/gardener/OSM collector, but I want to support this lost art, for sure!  (And I really enjoy all my invisible friends, lol!)  [smile]
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macybaby

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Reply with quote  #27 
Something like that might even revive my interest in vintage machines.    I've collected a lot of information,  but I'm tired sharing the same information over and over again,  so I rarely post anymore.   Having that information collected and in a database form so others could research it would be great,  and I'd be willing to help populate the data.   

I'm also planning on dumping my photobucket account.  And a lot of the pictures I've posted have been linked so when that goes, so does all the linked pictures.  I'd rather upload them into a database and add the information that goes with them than just post the pictures and add text in a thread.   

I'm also wanting to start sending a lot of my collection down the road - and it would be nice to document and save it before I do.  I collected a lot out of curiosity.  


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kewpiefrog

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Reply with quote  #28 
I love the idea! It was very disappointing when Needlebar hit the dust as it did. Most people had no idea what happened. I still don't.

I love the idea of linking serial numbers with photos of the machines and the decals. Especially since some people are sandblasting and repainting some of them. If I ever (not likely) bought a hot pink Featherweight, I would like to be able to see what it was supposed to look like. 

Then there are the badged machines. While research can be fun sometimes, there are times when I want to have a readily available and reliable source to identify the manufacturer and who the machine was badged for. I have a Mundlos handcrank that I had a really hard time finding anything about. Google Translate led me astray on that one. There is an Arlington for sale locally that I've been watching (tempting myself with) for a couple of weeks. One vintage ad I saw indicated it was a Cash Buyers machine. I'd like to know more about them. 

Internet searches don't always bring up reliable information so it would be wonderful to be able to have a reliable source.

I'm sure I'll think of other advantages as the day goes on. It would be easy for the project to get complicated.

I would hope there would be a good back up system so all the valuable info isn't lost in the event there is a crash, or like with Yahoo, groups are disbanded and if the information isn't transfered quickly, it will be lost. I'm somewhat concerned that might happen with ISMACS as it is.

Liz


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SteveH-VSS

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Reply with quote  #29 
One more level of "preservation" that I am considering.

I may make VSS a corporation so that there is a process in place to manage everything that is not solely "Steve" based. 
If we made it a corporation it could be set up to be self sustaining non-profit "forever"


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Mavis

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Reply with quote  #30 
Steve, you're one smart cookie.  Looks to me like the future is looking good for this type of forum.  Change can be scary, but change in life is necessary.  I, too, am in the camp of believing you will do right, whichever way you choose.  
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kndpakes

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Reply with quote  #31 

I think this is a terrific idea. Many of us have special interest areas and it would be amazing to pool all the info in one place. My web skills are basic and self taught, so I would not be of much use for programming, but I would volunteer to help with organization if that would be useful.

One thing I wish was available for identifying machines that I have never seen anywhere is an album of treadle irons to help identify the manufacturer.

Like everyone else, I really miss the Needlebar photo library, but it was hard to find an unknown machine there. This is probably too over the top and complicated, but I would love to see an index of machine features to help narrow down what manufacturers to look at to ID a machine.

Kelly in PA

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SteveH-VSS

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Reply with quote  #32 
Let's talk about the basic form.

Looking at the structure and layout of the new site from the top down there are a few options I see.

Main page Options:
  1. Main page is a listing of Makers etc and all Chat is in sub folders/pages
  2. Main page is Chat and Maker pages etc are sub folders
  3. Main page is a combination of Chat, Maker, and any other category Links with no direct activity

Key Categories:
  1. Should the Maker pages be the top level where Maker Pages have the History, SN lists, and Photos, and Machine specific stuff for that maker under it
  2. Or should Photos, SN lists, attachment lists each be separate combined areas at the same level as the Maker pages and Maker pages only have the History under it

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Chillin in NC

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Reply with quote  #33 
I like both number 1's especially under the Key Categories.  Not having to search info separate from the Maker page.
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pgf

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Reply with quote  #34 
All info for a given maker should be in the same place.  (Manuals is another category for each maker, along with SN lists, history, etc.

Where "chat" goes is interesting.  I think there's value in having a bit of chat available for every category.  For instance, in the current forum, manuals are each in their own locked thread.  I've thought in the past that it would be nice if those threads weren't locked, since sometimes it would be good to be able to say things like "This is a dupe of this other manual over there", or "This manual is missing pages 13 and 14", or "includes attachments".  Same for history -- I don't know how "history" will work in the new world, but it would be nice to be able to add questions/comments/corrections right nearby.



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OurWorkbench

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Reply with quote  #35 
I like the "locked" manuals, particularly for the way I like to do research. If they were open it makes it more difficult to sort through to find pertinent info.

I do have a question about badged machines.  Will there be a cross reference?  I know there  were five "Minnesota A" machines made by three different companies. 

Janey


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Ericka

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Reply with quote  #36 
Where would attachments info and questions go?  Some attachments are specific to machines, others are more generic and be used on many different machines.
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Chaly

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Reply with quote  #37 
I think of the main page as showing the top most view of the organizational structure - so the main page would be main category links, such as makers, manuals, attachments, chat, etc.  

How the search function works and any cross references to categories may be a consideration for some of the organizational structure.

ETA:  For your Key Categories I like your option 1 but there would need to be cross referencing to any generic information - such as Ericka pointed out with attachments.
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kndpakes

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Reply with quote  #38 
I vote for the main page having all the categories (option 3) and the categories should be organized by makers (option 1). I'm hoping information can be tagged so it is easy to find when it is in multiple categories, so in Janey's example, a search for Minnesota A would bring up Davis, Domestic and White. People are bringing up great examples of things to think about.

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SteveH-VSS

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Reply with quote  #39 
remember the underlying idea currently is a database of all of the info and the site presents that data in the correct area.  cross referencing is the very core of that process.

In "My world" the Maker is the company who made the machine, not the badged name.  i.e. There would not be a "Macy" maker listing, but it would show up in searches as a badged name made by the maker Riccar (my (ex) Supre-Macy machine in example)

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Jeanette Frantz

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Reply with quote  #40 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveH-VSS
remember the underlying idea currently is a database of all of the info and the site presents that data in the correct area.  cross referencing is the very core of that process.

In "My world" the Maker is the company who made the machine, not the badged name.  i.e. There would not be a "Macy" maker listing, but it would show up in searches as a badged name made by the maker Riccar (my (ex) Supre-Macy machine in example)


Steve, I agree with you 110% about cross referencing.  I worked in the legal field (as a legal assistant/legal secretary for more than 40 years, the last 30+ of those years working for the same attorney.  In the legal field, cross reerencing and checking cross references  regarding legal matters, even if it's just a property transaction, is critical.  Representing two  clients in matters where the interests of the clients is adverse, one to the other, can easily be a conflict of interest, which would be a violation of ethical rules governing the practice of law.  Cross referencing in the legal field is absolutely critical, and failing to cross reference can result in an attorney losing his license to practice law, or at the worst, resulting in the former attorney being sentenced to prison.  I am 75 years old and my health is not the greatest, but I think I'm still sane! lol!  I'd be happy to contribute in any way I can!

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Reply with quote  #41 
Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveH-VSS
In "My world" the Maker is the company who made the machine, not the badged name.  i.e. There would not be a "Macy" maker listing, but it would show up in searches as a badged name made by the maker Riccar (my (ex) Supre-Macy machine in example)


That will certainly get 'interesting' by the 1900s: ie: is it a Minnesota/Davis or a Davis/Minnesota?  The Domestic/Franklin? or the White/Domestic/Franklin, let alone the 1950s.. Maruzen/Kenmore? Soryo/Kenmore? or Gritzner/White, let alone the Pfaff owned Gritzner designed and manufactured Kenmore contracted by White... and this is just the easy stuff!  I don't even wanna attempt the Bristish Company that contracted a German manufacturer to make a Singer 12 copy... aaah!

*runs for the hills, remembers they're on fire, runs the other way*

**Does anyone know who made some of those 15 clones?



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SteveH-VSS

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Reply with quote  #42 
With it set up as a database there's no reason you shouldn't be able to sort it by your choice of maker, badge name, factory etc.
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Olaf

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Reply with quote  #43 
I think that an updated, alphabetic list of known brands, badged or whatever, would be the first place a novice would look to find their sewing machine. A list would be a simple static html page, a script for searching a name is far more vulnerable. The simpler, the better. A listing for Kenmore could contain just links to known makers.

A future wish: I have always missed a site where I could find some basic rules for the identification of old sewing machines, based on details in their appearance. Types of beds, frames, bobbins, shuttles, crank mechanisms, stitches, etcetera.. It would be a Sherlock Holmes type experience, eliminating details one by one, until you find some possible makers.

Olaf

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Ericka

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Reply with quote  #44 
Olaf, I used to find the Sandman-Collectibles site of great help to ID Singer machines when I was starting out.  It goes through a variety of questions that you answer to lead you to the model you're trying to ID.  AFAIK, that was only for Singer machines, but the same principles might be applied beyond Singer.

Ericka
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ttatummm

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Reply with quote  #45 
My absolute favorite identification guide is Rain's, A Visual Guide to Identifying Singers from Crappy Craigslist Photos.  This helped me so much when I first started. Expanding these kinds of tools to machines besides Singer (and older Singers for that matter), would be of great benefit.

A side note:
A response I receive from Jim to a question I asked about a machine he was interested in, has convinced me more than ever that Steve's idea of expanding the site is important and necessary.  It was a veritable encyclopedia article. More easily accessible information would save a lot of machines from the scrap heap.

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Rocketeer

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Reply with quote  #46 
Happy to help and be one of those "crazy volunteers." My knowledge base is mostly Singer pre-1970.

Matt
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denaliskyfire

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Reply with quote  #47 
I love this idea! One reason there are forums and groups is to share ideas with like minded people, and friends old and new, even friends from afar you've never met. I am very happy to have found you and learn from your knowledge.

I have, in my researching, run across many of those 'other' sites mentioned. (I LOVE the Sandman and the Rain "crappy Craigslist photos" ID guides!) Guffaw if you will, but sometimes research can be fun.

This would be a big project, but a very valuable one, and I vote YES!
  • I would agree with all Features of the OP.
  • My opinion: I think Main Page option #3 and Key Categories #1 would be the clearest setup.
Naomi

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Katrene

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Reply with quote  #48 
I've been following this discussion with my jaw kinda hanging open.  Steve, the concept is awesome.  To everyone who has contributed so far wow and thank you!  Not sure where I fit in but in I am wherever I can help!

Katrene
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