"The reports and forum are two of the most-popular parts of the Web site, and we wanted to update them and add features to increase the sense of community among the users," LouisianaSportsman.com's Andy Crawford said. "But this release today is only the beginning: There will be other great functionality added during the coming weeks."
The default view for the forum will be the LouisianaSportsman.com "Classic View," which is basically the old bulletin-board style many of our long-standing users have said they want.
However, users can switch to a modern forum view by simply choosing "My Account" and clicking "Forum View" at the bottom of the page.
In either view, users will notice a difference immediately upon entering. Each report will prominently feature user profile photos throughout the threads.
"Each registered user has a profile page, but many don't even realize it," Crawford said. "All you have to do to update your profile page is click on 'View Profile' in the 'My Account' section of the page. You'll then be able to upload a profile photo and build an online identity by including biographical information."
These profile pages, which currently can be viewed by clicking on a user's profile photo, the user alias or "View Profile" in the upper nav bar of each post or comment.
A user directory also is being built, and will be added during the coming weeks.
Users also can now add photos to comments, and embedding of YouTube videos are also an option.
"These two functions are major advances to the site," Crawford said. "Now, users can compare their kills or catches, along with sharing videos about specific topics, within a thread."
Users also can make more efficient use of the forum while on hunting and fishing trips.
"You can now track your trips within a single thread," Crawford explained. "Say, for instance, you head to Missouri to deer hunt: You can post updates, photos and videos in a single thread so other LouisianaSportsman.com users can follow your progress without having to search for multiple threads."
Threads also can be recommended to friends right from the site with a click of a button. Simply click the "Recommend" link, input the email address to which you want a link sent and click "Submit." Now all your buddy has to do is click the link within the email and he'll be taken right to the thread so he can peruse it and comment.
Also, html links now will be clickable.
"This makes it easy to point others to neat stories, videos and photos," Crawford said. "Of course, the one caveat is that we continue to prohibit the mention or promotion of competing Web sites.'
There also are some administrative changes. One of these important upgrades allows threads to be locked.
"Sometimes a thread starts plowing over the same ground, and really loses any real value to the site," Crawford said. "Other times, users bump threads that have lost steam to the top, giving other users a false impression that the topic is still hot.
"We can now lock those threads to keep forum conversations moving."
Administrators also will now be able to post "stickies" that will remain at the top of the individual forums and reports sections.
"This will allow us to make policy statements, contest announcements and other important information prominently visible," Crawford said.
"Although we always do our best to sniff out any problems during pre-release testing, there are sometimes glitches that are only found when the full weight of LouisianaSportsman.com traffic puts the new features through the ringer," Crawford said. "Any of these problems will be addressed and resolved as soon as they are reported."
Other features will be announced as they are added.