British Trams Online Survey: You said – we respond!

A huge thanks to everyone who completed the recent British Trams Online: Have Your Say survey. Whilst a lot of the results actually told me what we already knew the open text responses have made some interesting points and as promised I have now been able to respond to some of those, if only to show I have actually read each and every one!

What the survey has told me is that Blackpool is by the far the most popular system we cover and that unsurprisingly of those who completed the survey (which was only linked from the News & Features page) all but one reads the News & Features page! Some of the photo articles are more popular than others and we’ll be taking stock of the results of those responses for the future to make sure what we add to the site remains relevant and popular.

And now to those all important open text responses – I’ve tried to answer the majority of points below where it seemed a response was needed to explain my thinking. Thanks to those who just responded to say they were happy with what we do at the moment – its gratifying to know we make some of the people happy some of the time! Its not always easy to bring varied content which is both relevant and interesting especially when it seems one system has no news for weeks and then suddenly five news stories in a day but to know many of you are happy with what is added to the site must mean we are doing something right.

More articles by people who remember or have researched our first phase tram systems

  • A great idea! Unfortunately, apart from Blackpool all first phase systems were closed well before I was born so this has to go out as an appeal to anyone reading this website. If you remember any first phase tram system and would be willing to share reminiscences, please let me know and we will see what we can put together.

Picture in Time is most interesting when there is a then and now contrast

  • 15 Years Apart will be returning again this December where we take a look at trams as they were in 2022 and 2007. We also have plans for a new Then and Now series looking at locations on Manchester Metrolink before the tracks were laid and more recently – coming soon!

Too much trivial material is uploaded such as Stop by Stop and endless pictures of road works

  • I don’t expect anyone reading the website to enjoy every single feature we add to the website but we are aware that Stop by Stop is one which divides opinion quite sharply. This is one of the regular series we are reviewing for the future (it will continue as is in its Sunday teatime slot until we reach Fleetwood Ferry as I don’t want to leave something part way through). The web stats we have switched on for news articles also suggest that the photos of construction works are some of our most popular articles. Personally I feel documenting work to extend systems or replace existing infrastructure is a crucial part of the “tramway story” as it shows the work which goes into opening lines and their popularity in views seems to suggest others agree.

You could do with a literate sub-editor

  • I will be first to admit that some of the articles could do with some serious proof reading before publication but its all down to time (I’m not sure whether my fingers work quicker than my brain or vice versa but I know I often notice later missing words in sentences). As I’m sure most of you are aware the putting together of this website is a solo effort and whilst I am indebted to those who send material in, I do then have to collate this and write the content to go alongside it. This website is done in my spare time as I have a full time job as well which does mean I can’t polish things as much as I would like (and there are so many “nice to haves” I would love to do with the site). No money is made out of British Trams Online so the chances of finding some willing to be a sub-editor as a volunteer seems quite remote but I take your comments on board and will try and do a bit more proof reading in the future so all articles make some sort of sense. As always if anyone ever notices anything which doesn’t look right, I am always happy to hear from you so it can be corrected for the future.

When culling Photo Galleries hang on to the some of the best stuff or possibly condense into one best of gallery to save space

  • Certainly something to explore. We haven’t quite reached the point where I need to delete material from the site although it is likely to happen later this year. As I write this we have used 238,862 of 250,000 available files so there is some leeway but its just something I will keep an eye on and make decisions when needed.

Historic London Underground would be of interest

  • Whilst I will never say never to any new content it is highly unlikely we will feature anything London Underground related. The amount of information to do this justice would radically increase the content needed for the website and as always it comes back down to available time and there are many other sources for info on the London Underground.

Post more links on Facebook so the community can be grown

  • Its something I always mean to do but never get round to it! Even when I do the amount of “hits” we can as a result is relatively low but I’ll try to be better at it again in the future!

Some photo features are repetitive featuring the same trams in exactly the same locations as in previous photo features

  • I take this on board and will try and give more variety in features. It is sometimes difficult to remember what we have featured and where and when so some will always slip through and there are only so many trams and locations which can be included so there will always be some repetition, but I will try and improve the variety for the future.

Stories of trams that were rediscovered, rebuilt (how this was done) and where they can be seen now

  • Thanks for the idea. I will see what can be done. As with all suggestions for new features I am always happy to hear from someone who can write anything for the website or just provide information/photos so I can.

Feature trolleybuses home and abroad

  • Its something I have toyed about in the past but its comes down to two main factors: time (again!) and my own lack of any real trolleybus knowledge. However, its something which is still in the ideas for the future box and I will keep reviewing it to see if it will be possible

More focus on future development of modern tram systems, less on heritage

  • I try to give a good mix of both but appreciate this doesn’t always happen and that I could give more coverage of certain aspects. Its worth noting that heritage tram articles are usually more popular but I will try and strike the balance between both heritage and modern to ensure everything is covered.

Info on timetables and routes/route maps

  • Another “I’ve thought about it” answer! I do give regular updates on when timetables change (especially over the past couple of years!) but have considered having a “guide” page per system which would give more information which you can do at any time with details of timetables, ticketing and maps. Unfortunately, it does come down to time once more and the lack of it.

Archives go back to 2004 and the About section is way out of date – could they be deleted to free up space

  • Certainly something to consider although I know I still rely on some of the older articles myself when writing some articles so the archive news does occasionally help

Live webcam at Talbot Road Blackpool when new extension opens

  • Not a bad idea but I don’t have the technical knowledge to be able to set something like this up – with or without a shop along the route agreeing to the camera being place in their premises.

Might be interesting if some of the running staff from any tramway could give time to explain problems or features

  • I would imagine most employees of tram operators are restricted by the terms of their employment to saying anything publicly but if anyone does want to comment please let me know through the normal contact details

Remove the log-in requirement to leave comments to get more people getting involved

  • A big part of the reason for putting that requirement in was the large number of spam comments we were getting and after only registered users could leave comments these reduced significantly. However, as an experiment I have removed the need to register to leave a comment to see what happens. This doesn’t mean that all comments will be approved as I still want to try and keep things as harmonious as possible.

Ticketing options for visitors

  • Would fall into the “guide” page mentioned above. When I have time…

Different overhead styles

  • Something else I would have to throw out to others as I have no technical knowledge (my technical know how extends about as far as being able to change a light bulb – on a good day!)

Oral histories

  • Not something I’ve previously considered but if anyone thinks they would like to contribute please let me know and I will see whether something can be done.

If you made any comment in the survey and you either don’t feel its been included above or I’ve misinterpreted your point please let me know and I can answer you directly. Hopefully these responses explain some of what goes on in my head when making decisions about British Trams Online!

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6 Responses to British Trams Online Survey: You said – we respond!

  1. Anonymous says:

    Just to say..whatever others may write, thank you for all your efforts, they are much appreciated ! N-J-S

  2. Robert Whitham says:

    I agree with the earlier comments, from Anonymous, that this is a great website and thank you for your endeavours, Gareth. I wouldn’t (whilst respecting what others think) want to change a thing. The website is so informative of all aspects of tramways, both preserved and modern, that it has become my daily go to site for news of the latest developments. Long may it continue, and a massive thank you from this enthusiast !

  3. Big G says:

    As some-one more famous than me once said (sort of): “You can please some of the people all of the time. You can please all of the people some of the time. But, you can’t please all of the people all of the time”. Unfortunately I do not have a literate sub-editor either, so this will have to be taken ‘as written’!

  4. Geoff, IoM says:

    May I please heartily endorse the comment by ‘Anonymous’. My response to the person who wrote, “You could do with a literate sub-editor” is “You could do with learning basic politeness!”. Ignore any naysayers, Gareth – the rest of us think you’re doing a great job.

  5. Chris Callan says:

    Unenviable task and one of the few blogs/websites active actually left. I think considering you are a one man band doing it completely for free you are doing remarkably well all things considered.

  6. Gordon Casely says:

    ANONYMOUS says it all, Gareth.
    Thanks greatly for what yuou do, and how you do it.
    Your great work is MUCH appreciated.

Comments are closed.