After Hours

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What do you think of this discussion/forum format?

By jasonhiner Moderator ·
Tags: Off Topic
Our sister site Gamespot recently launched a redesign:

I like the more compressed format, AND I really like the option to view "Latest Posts" or "First to Last."

I've asked our product managers to look at this as we consider tweaking the format of TR forum threads.

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Voting on articles.

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Voting as a metric

I've frequently asked that the vote button on articles be moved to the BOTTOM, at the end of the content. When I finish a great article, I'm ready to jump right into the discussion. By the time I've read what others say and tossed in a few comments of my own, I've forgotten to go back to the top of the original article and give it a 'plus'. I think the authors would receive more feedback if this button came after the article, not before. Having the button up front is like a waitress asking for a tip before you've ordered your drinks.

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My thoughts on the design

1) I agree with you, you never take away functionality unless that functionality was causing issues (making the UI a mess, making the code impossible to work with, etc.), the functionality was used by an extraordinarily small portion of the users, and the functionality was not a primary tool for the people who *did* use it. That's what Microsoft does with their "Customer Experience Improvement Program", they track what features of apps people actually use, and things like how much "hunting" people do to access features, to determine what stays and what goes. In my opinion, the current TR implementation removed a good amount of functionality that a good portion of heavy users relied upon to use the site.

2) There were a number of changes made to the site that I disagree with. For example, the new design uses something like 25% - 30% of the usable width of my monitor. That's a huge waste of precious screen real estate. It's like they designed the site to work on a smartphone as-is or something. While they made the fonts bigger (which had to happen), there is even less room for content per-line. For somethings, this isn't a big deal. But it has severely impacted the kind of content I write. I've discovered that there isn't a good way for me to include code samples in my articles, for example, which makes it tough to be a writer in "Programming and Development". There's not nearly enough room for tables of information either. I wanted to experiment with my monthly "Patch Tuesday" piece and do a chart to make the information more accessible, but the horizontal space was not available.

3) The changes made to the forum have limited my use of them. The daily emails are far less useful than they used to be (I have to copy/paste the links from one of the emails, following the email links takes me to the post completely out of context, so I have no idea what it is in response to). The editor is too small to let the text breathe and let me review my comments properly. I think that the voting in the forums, for the most part, is a contest of post popularity, not post quality, and as a such has little value to me.

That being said...

I understand the motivation for the work that was done. The big item is that the new backend is much more flexible, which means they can more easily tweak stuff. I haven't seen the site crash or go down since the redesign, if you remember back to from about 4 years ago to about a year ago, it seemed like site crashes were a weekly event. I suspect that the site has a much better foundation for future expansion and growth. My only concern is if the development team turns their attentions to other projects and doesn't come back to TR to make improvements until it's time for another "redesign". I believe that they should be using an iterative approach to constantly tweak and refine the site.


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I guess its a work in progress

by AV . In reply to My thoughts on the design

I have no doubt that the upgrade is a better foundation for the site, but I have the same concerns that you do. TR might not be the highest of priority for the development team. Last on the list may be our fate here, but the bottom line is that TR has dealt a **** to the community that was here. I liked that we were introduced to Brandon and he was going to help, I thought, but he really probably doesn't have the time. I did get to test out TR support through the link he provided though and honestly, it was beyond poor. They had no idea what I was talking about, gave me a crappy answer thats unacceptable and never responded to my follow up email. Here is the link to that.

I can't imagine what a challenge it must be for you to submit your articles like you used to. It really shouldn't be an issue, no matter what you want to post. Thats the purpose of a site like this. Yes, there are always limitations, but not like this.

Well ok, Justin, I appreciate your answer and thank you for your honesty. I'm into an iterative approach too, and want to keep this issue alive so we can get the band back together, so to speak.


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Yes, there were issues

by NickNielsen In reply to My thoughts on the design

The forums had their problems, but the layout made sense, was easy to follow, and it was infinitely easier to follow discussions and peers. The first thing I noticed after the roll-out was not the white space, not the voting, but lack of any effective means to follow my discussions without flooding my inbox or feed reader.

In an ideal world, they would simply have cut and pasted the old front end onto the new back end, then added the "social" features. Personally, I don't understand the fascination with "social media." I think Facebook has done more to make personal interaction less social; you don't have to have a conversation, you don't have to justify your decisions, you just click "Like", all your friends get an update, and nobody thinks to ask why. What's social about that?

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I miss the thumbs up

by markp24 In reply to What do you think of this ...

The voting thing doesnt seem to be used by anyone, and the old thumbs up let me get a basic feel for how relieble the posters answers were. Still not sure how the new votes work in order to show if you answer actually helped the person or not.

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Very good point

by AV . In reply to I miss the thumbs up

There are the voting buttons, but they are thread specific. The thumbs did visually indicate the reliability of the person answering your question and it was very useful for any visitor. They need to put that back or do something like it to indicate what level user a poster is. Some sites just list the level of expertise instead of a visual depiction. I'm going with the visual though on this one, I like the thumbs, too. They convey so much more than just saying "expert". Its folksy.


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I like that better, but I wish there was threading

by jmgarvin In reply to What do you think of this ...

I'd like to see something like reddit or the old style digg, where it is clean and with threading.

Part of the reason I don't comment anymore, is the new system. It is slow and clunky.

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