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First revised Peer Directory mock-up

By Jay Garmon Contributor ·
As promised, here is the first Thursday Reveal for your consumption. This link (http://techrepublic.com.com/i/tr/profile_draft1.gif) will take you to a mock-up image of our proposed Peer Directory Profile Page. This is just a rough draft, but we want your feedback on the implied features.

A few things aren't immediately obvious from the image, so I'll elaborate here. The row of grey boxes near the top respresents where a user's Merit Badges would be displayed. Based on certain site activities, users could earn badges that would recognize certain types of expertise or behaviors. For example, the member who had a certain number or percentage of Tech Q&A answers accepted under the Network Administration topic might earn the NetAdmin Expert badge. Clicking on a badge would display a list of all other TR members who had earned that badge, allowing your to commune with your peers (or locate experts on topics you're a little rusty with). This idea is just barely on the drawing board, but it has proven pretty popular in other places.

Also, you'll note that the Technology Supported and Interests fields are filled with hyperlinked items. Our thinking is that any comma-delimited item placed in these fields would be hyperlinked to a "Library." Each Library link would lead to a list of TR members that have displayed the same interest, as well as a collection of relevant content, newsletters, and possibly RSS feeds for that topic.

If you have any questions about any of the other features displayed in the image, please post them in this thread. We're anxious to know what you like, what you hate, and what's missing from our first attempt. Your opinions will directly influence the development of our community features.

Thanks

Jay

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Speaking of problems

by Oz_Media In reply to Looks good to me

JIVE software, arguably the worst and most inept BBS engine available. Why the change? It is so unreliable!

I had tried to post this reponse several time before finally giving up.

The servers or engine are absolutely the most frustrating when you have typed out a response only to have it lead to 'The Page You requested Cannot be Found.'

I have tried from multiple PCD's, utilizing T-1, DSL, Extreme speed Cable and even through a clients PBX connection on Fibre.

This is by far the most frustrating part of TR, day or night, seems to be quite random, the site and submissions just work fine one minute and dead the next.

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Yes That is a problem that does need ADDRESSING!

by HAL 9000 Moderator In reply to Speaking of problems

It's happened to me on numerous occasions and even when I've been in the site you will suddenly for no apparent reason get a "Page not available screen"

That is the one single thing that does need addressing to make it better that it currently is.

Col

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re: Jive

by apotheon In reply to Speaking of problems

Jive is a Java-based server-side database-driven content management system for websites. It combines the blazing fast speed of interpreted code with the ease of quick adjustment and flexibility of executables compiled from C source code.

Actually, I'm not being entirely fair.

No, wait, I am being fair. It really does kind of fit server-side web services that badly. I imagine, however, that there must be some Java gurus at TR, or that someone struck a great deal with the Jive guys. There must be some reason associated with available expertise or financial concerns that prompted them to go with Jive.

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Looks fine

by ozi Eagle In reply to First revised Peer Direct ...

Having been out of the office for a few days I have the advantage of others thoughts and I find that they have covered everything I could think of.

The site looks great. Well done.

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In general agreement

by TheChas In reply to First revised Peer Direct ...

I generally agree with the above comments.

I have some trepidation about Oz's ideas for mandatory information in our profiles.

At a minimum, this will scare off many of the PC users who come here only looking for some help and support.

At worst, too much information being readily available opens the door to identity thieves.

There definitely needs to be some kind of review process for the testimonials section.

On one hand though, is it really needed?
Not that I don't enjoy reading other peoples joyous responses to my efforts to help them. I just don't know how necessary or valuable a feature it would be.

In the interests section, how about a number of non-IT options. Even with the time we spend here after work, some of us have lives beyond IT.
At a minimum, allow us 3 or 4 fill in the blank options for our main hobbies.

Another issue that I personally have in posting a profile is that technically speaking, I am not a "traditional" IT professional.

Sure, I work with computers a lot, and know a fair amount. However, my primary job function is not in any IT category or function.

I build and maintain complex computerized test panels for avionics systems.

My degree and training is in electronics not computers.

Of course, my background is part of why I know so much about hardware. I can design and trouble-shoot a voltage regulator or clock oscillator circuit.

Anyhow, it looks like the site improvement project is off to a good start.

Chas

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Not to be misunderstood Chas

by Oz_Media In reply to In general agreement

When I mean filling out a profile, it does not neccessarily mean with personal information.

YOu have seen the guys that just cruise in, they have an alias, NO job description, certs (if any) listed, nothing. They ask a question, and disappear, perhaps popping in to see if they get an answer but that's it. They post the same question to four other sites, because it's quick and easy.

I think making it mandatory to fill out a profile, whether factual or not, would deter these people who have no interest in being part of a community and just want some free advice, often with not even a mention of thanks or even closing the question. :) Good to see you joined in !

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Only people posting will be need profile

by sMoRTy71 In reply to Not to be misunderstood C ...

Just to clarify, not every person who comes to the Discussions and Technical Q&A will have to have a profile.

Only members who want to post something will need a profile page. The goal is to have everyone qualify themselves a bit (and avoid what Oz describes above). We will try to keep the required fields at a minimum, but we really think that these member pages will be something that members will want to maintain in order to showcase their skills.

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I have no problem with a profile page

by maxwell edison In reply to Only people posting will ...

.
I have no problem with a profile page - in fact, I like it. And it's not that different from what you have now, but just expanded a bit, and something we can fill out as we see fit.

But if TechRepublic wants to know who that person really is, whether or not that information will be made public, you'll get a lot of people who will choose not to participate.

Personally speaking, I don't think I want to provide a name other than my pseudonym, Maxwell Edison (heck, most people probably think it's my real name anyway), at least at this point in time (I could be persuaded otherwise, I suppose); I don't think I want to provide my real place of employment or my real location; and I don't think I want to provide my primary email address, just my generic (and disposable) "Yahoo!" email address ( maxwell_t_edison@yahoo.com ).

This isn't a site like ebay or Paypal or a bank, where a person's real identity is critical. And I don't think I'm not alone in my opinion.

But just to clear up what TechRepublic is thinking about requiring, whether that be made public or kept "behind the scenes" for TechRepublic personnel eyes-only, will you comment on the total scope of your plans in that regard?

For example:

Name: Maxwell Edison (admittedly my pseudonym)
Address: Denver, Colorado (I visit there often)
Phone number: 555-5555
email: maxwell_t_edison@yahoo.com
Company: Yes, I work for one (or, I suppose, I could lie)
Job Title: IT Department (or, I suppose, I could lie)
Interests: Music, Golf, Watching for black helicopters
Certifications: None (or, I suppose, I could lie)
School: The School of Hard Knocks (or MIT, whichever I feel like saying)
Sex: Whenever possible

Will you require anything other than what I listed - regardless of whether or not that will be made "public"?

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Everyone knows you as Max

by Oz_Media In reply to I have no problem with a ...

Just as many know me as Oz, even though people such as yourself do know my real name.

Actually, one US peer who I have emailed quite a bit sice being hee STILL calls me Oz in personal email, so I think you will always be Max and not David, Grant or Rick...

I would like to see certs listed, if any and if not just an honest No certs but 25 yrs hands on.

It would be nice to know what STATE or Province people live in, however obviously company name and address would not be wanted.

A simple:

Name: Bob Jones
Area: Oregon, U.S.A.
Certs: MCSE
Hobbies and other Interests: CSNY
Objectives: To help those on TR who will be able to benefit from my knowledge and to learn from those who hae kowledge to pass on. etc.

Something like that anyway, non-personal information that offers your skillset/interests and explains what you are bringing to the table and what you hope to get back out.

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What we ask for vs. what we require...

by Jay Garmon Contributor In reply to I have no problem with a ...

..is still being worked out. About the only item of data I'm *certain* will be mandatory is a valid e-mail address, if only so we can contact you as necessary (and get you to sign up for newsletters like, say, Geek Trivia) regarding violations of our user policy.

What I *am* certain about is that specific features will be accessible only to those who provide us--not the community at large--with key information. From a liability standpoint, we simply can't give you a blog without knowing your real name, a valid mailing address (though not necessarily home address) and how to contact you. If a user were to go off his rocker and start conducting felonious activities via the blog (terroristic threats, posting links to pirated software and media files, distributing illegal porn), we'd be liable, so that feature simply isn't available to the strictly anonymous.

As to the remainder of Maxwell's suggested fields, yes, they will all be available. We probably won't require any of them besides an e-mail address for base membership.

However, here's our mantra:
Every piece of data the user gives us MUST improve the user experience.

If you tell us you support Windows XP, that volunteered data should return to you a cavalcade of sorted content and features geared around and for people who are interested in Windows XP. Every item of data you fork over should refine and enrich the TR experience. That's the trade-off. We won't make you tell us anything, but we will make telling us worth your while.

Once we get our social networking features off the ground, users will be able to start user-defined groups. The leaders of those group may (and probably will) require that your profile meet certain criteria for membership. It's entirely possible and likely that certain groups may require that members divulge real names. They could also require that you live in a certain geographic region, or that you have a particular cert. If you don't want to admit that, you'd be blocked from the group. So you won't be required by TR to tell us much of anything you haven't volunteered already, but your peers may demand to know it.

Jay

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