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Posted on Jan 8, 2009 | 11 comments

Lunch in a Box forum launched

I’ve just launched a new reader forum about bento and packed lunches, and wanted to invite everyone in to kick the tires and inspect the engine. Care to take a look?

One thing that’s always struck me about Lunch in a Box readers is how willing you are to jump in to and helpfully answer each other’s questions. I’ve felt that there should be a better infrastructure for people to tap into the knowledge of our tremendous reader community, like we did with the Bento Store Locator. So I’ve been toying around with starting a packed lunch forum since last summer, and have had early versions on lunchinabox.net/forum and /forums since July.

New year is a good time to start new things, so I’m throwing open the doors now. But with all of the different online lunch communities on my Lunch Links page, you might ask, “Why another?”

  • Flickr is great for sharing photos in its bento and packed lunch groups, but the group discussions are all lumped together, making it difficult for me to track and find relevant info. I do like that the most recently updated discussions float to the top of the list, and that discussions are searchable.
  • The bento communities on LiveJournal are excellent for sharing daily lunches, but it’s difficult for me to locate other information without wading through numerous posts that aren’t always relevant. If I just want to find speed tips or recipes I have to hope that the poster used the appropriate tags (which I often forget to fully utilize).

The new Lunch in a Box forum is pretty straightforward in terms of internet bulletin boards; it should feel familiar if you’ve used these sorts of boards before.

  • There are different sub-forums where you can do things like trade tips, recipes, show your own lunch, introduce yourself, discuss equipment or kid-specific lunch topics, or even just chat. As the forum grows we can add more sub-forums, but I wanted to limit the number at the beginning. In the weeks to come I’ll be adding information in each of the sub-forums to help point out existing resources. Feel free to add your own tips and info!
  • The forums and sub-forums are organized, with new activity pushing topics to the top of each sub-forum. This should make it easy to see the latest at a glance without reading through unrelated posts.
  • You can do things like subscribe to specific threads or sub-forums, send private messages to other board members, mark messages as being read or unread, search within specific forums, upload fun avatars, create a signature file, keep a tally of your posts, etc. You’ll need to register to post on the forum, but nothing special is needed just to read.
  • The forum software I’m using (phpBB) is widely used, with extensive documentation. If you have a question about how to use the board, odds are good you’ll find your answer in their helpful technical FAQ and won’t have to wait for an answer from me. No need to reinvent the wheel!
  • Feel free to leave feedback and suggestions here or at the Suggestions topic on the forum.

This is an open forum, and posts will not be moderated before appearing on the board. BUT there are a few guidelines (described here on the forum in greater detail).

  1. Be Nice!
  2. Respect the Intellectual Property of Others
  3. Don’t Flack (don’t post commercial links for personal gain except in the Marketplace forum, and declare relevant commercial affiliations)

I used to be a volunteer moderator on Chowhound.com way back in 2000 (before that was a bad thing), and realize that as the forum grows I may need some help moderating to make sure the board stays spam-free and friendly. If that sounds like something you’d enjoy, shoot me an e-mail at lunchinabox (AT} gmail (DOT] com and we can chat.

FURTHER READING:

11 Comments

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  1. Ooh this sounds like fun! Can’t wait to try it out.

  2. Hooray! Have you seen JustBento’s new forum as well? I’m about to go over there and check hers out as well as yours :)

  3. @2 from Yvo: Yes, just checked that out! I was actually inspired by the German-language bento forum BentoSüchtig — similar concept (but of course my German isn’t good enough to fully understand the posts).

  4. You rock, Biggie!

  5. Are you aware that you and Maki from Just Bento have launched a forum at the same time? Maybe it would be a good idea for you guys to fuse…

  6. hi, this is hari. it’s a nice thought of launch the new reader forum about bento and packed lunches.

    hari

  7. @5 from Darina: Well, I do now! I have to admit that merging forums sounds complicated. I do think there’s room out there for more than one forum, though, and wish Maki the best of luck with hers!

  8. This is such a cool idea. Off to check it out!

  9. I love the forum! Thanks for connecting us all, Biggie!

  10. Hi Biggie –
    I tried to sign up the other day, but never recieved an e-mail to activate. When I tried to log in again anyway, it tells me I need to activate first. Can you help?
    Thanks so much!!

  11. @10 from stephanie: Have you checked the spam filter on your e-mail account? The activation e-mail is from [email protected], and is titled, “Welcome to “Lunch in a Box Forum”". I just went into the admin panel and activated all inactive accounts just to make sure there’s no one hanging; if anyone else has the same problem please just shoot me an e-mail and I’ll activate your account manually. Thanks, and see you on the board!