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User Hot Tips, Shortcuts and Remedies for Navigating the Remodeled A2K

 
 
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2008 12:45 pm
I'm going to start listing the things I find to be time wasters on the new A2K and the remedies I'm using to eliminate many of them. Feel free to add your own remedies or suggest other ways you've found to accomplish the same thing. The items in green are remedies in the A2K software that would eliminate the user workarounds for the problem. My list of user remedies are the temporary workarounds I've found handy while awaiting for further A2K enhancements.

Time Wasters:

1. Clicking items in the My Topics and My Posts lists to see if they've been responded to since I last checked. (Remedy: It needs the last post date and time info to eliminate the need to click View on everything).

2. Clicking on the last post link in a topic and then scrolling back through several pages to find what I think was the last post I read, and then scrolling forward again through the pages as I read the posts. (Remedy: We need a way of bookmarking our place in a thread so we can return there at the next session. This would also eliminate the A2K system having to track our sessions.)

3. Viewing profiles of people whose posts I like to read every day to see if they've posted anything new since I last checked so I can then click on the topic link in their profile and repeat step 2 above. (Remedy: We need the ability to tag a person's profile so all their posts are listed in our My Tags list or a brand new My Friends list.)

4. Paging through a dozen or so pages of the New Posts List to see what new topics of interest have been added since I last checked and repeat step 2 if it is an active one. (Remedy: We need the ability to collapse a topic without having to vote on it to do so. This would also preserve the voting mechanism for what it is truly intended.)

I wasn't going to participate in any voting, but until the new site becomes more robust, I'm wasting a lot of time and need to start collapsing topics to speed up my browsing time here until I can figure out more efficient ways of using this new set up to fit my needs and time constraints.

My Remedies:

1. Today I started using the voting mechanism to collapse from view those topics that I have no interest in reading and vote up the ones that interest me. It isn't political or spiteful or anything else regarding the topic. It's just one I have no interest in repeatedly having to scan through while looking for others I want to read. It's a survivial tactic to recreate the joy of spending time on A2K that kept me returning on the old site. If there was a way to collapse them without voting on them, I'd do that instead.

2. I've also started tagging those topics I want to continue following with a "Subscribed" tag in an effort to give some organization to what I'm calling "My A2K." I'm using the Subscribed tag in My Tags list for topics I don't post in but want to read religiously. It'd be nice if we could do something similar with tags to profiles of people who's posts we want to follow.

3. If it is a topic I don't have time to browse but might be interested in, I don't vote or tag it so it will act as a bookmark in the New Posts list for future action the next time I return to A2K.

4. There are some people who post occasional topics and contributions to threads that are interesting or constructive while being PITAs in other topics. I don't want to ignore them because I do want to read their posts in some topics but not all, so I'm using the vote mechanism to collapse posts in topics I read so I don't have to resort to a global ignore of the person.

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Type: Discussion • Score: 10 • Views: 3,199 • Replies: 26
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Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2008 01:23 pm
The "Subscribed" tag is really working well for me. I click the My Tags link to get a list of my tags, then click on "Subscribed" in the box with all my tags and that takes me to a list of all the topics I've subscribed to. I sort the list by New Posts and it is almost like the old A2K set up. Here's a screenshot. As you can see, it gives me a lot of info that's missing on other variations of lists.

http://lh3.ggpht.com/Butrflynet/SKcorBcDcsI/AAAAAAAAAHU/YVuArOUGr-A/a2kSubscribed.jpg
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2008 01:26 pm
It works this way for all the tags in your My Tags box. Click on My Tags, click on the group of posts in a tag you want to view and it gives a list of all the topics you've posted in that have that tag applied to them.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2008 01:28 pm
@Butrflynet,
Quote:
The "Subscribed" tag is really working well for me.

What do you think will happen when other users find out this is a good idea, and start tagging threads as "subscribed"?
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2008 01:32 pm
@Thomas,
I don't know. Let's test it. Let me know of a topic you've tagged with "Subscribed" and let's see what happens. Hopefully, it will still list in the My Tags List only those topics that I have applied the "Subscribed" tag to.

That's how it worked when I clicked on the Politics tag in the My Tags box. It only listed the topics that I've posted in because I automatically apply a tag to the topic when I post in it.
cyphercat
 
  1  
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2008 01:57 pm
@Butrflynet,
This is a great idea, thanks for sharing it! Thomas' point is interesting, but it does seem like it should continue to work even when other people tag things with "subscribed," because viewing "My Tags" certainly ought to only show, well, your tags!

The other thing you bring up that's really getting to be an annoyance to me is not being able to return to where you were in a thread...it's kinda time-consuming to only be able to go to either the first or last post in a long thread and then have to guess at where you were, and then keep fiddling around with page #s 'til you find your place. I really miss that li'l' orange page icon that you could click on to return to at least approximately where you stopped reading! Confused Lemme know if you think of any work-arounds for that issue....?
Craven de Kere
 
  2  
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2008 01:59 pm
@Thomas,
If enough people do it, it will make a very useless (for others) "subscribed" tag prominent.

Plus, all the things you tag are "subscribed" in that you can follow them no matter what you tag it, so why not describe the topic's subject with something more descriptive than "subscribed".
0 Replies
 
cyphercat
 
  1  
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2008 02:01 pm
@cyphercat,
Nevermind! It doesn't work that way, at least not that I can seem to figure out. I tagged this one topic "subscribed." I've never used that tag before. Then I went to "my tags" and selected subscribed, and it showed me everything that anyone's tagged subscribed.

edit to add:
*sigh*

Craven wasn't there when I posted Smile
Eva
 
  0  
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2008 04:14 pm
I appreciate you starting this thread, Butrflynet. I'll come back sometime later and read through all of it.

Right now, though, all of this is giving me a killer headache.
Where's my Advil?
0 Replies
 
ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2008 04:18 pm
@cyphercat,
try going to My Tags and selecting new posts as the sort
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2008 08:43 pm
@Butrflynet,
Butrflynet wrote:
I've also started tagging those topics I want to continue following with a "Subscribed" tag in an effort to give some organization to what I'm calling "My A2K." I'm using the Subscribed tag in My Tags list for topics I don't post in but want to read religiously.

There's no such thing as a "private tag." Which is rather strange, since that's exactly how the tag feature was first promoted.
Craven de Kere wrote:
The new site's tag feature is also primarily designed to bookmark threads.

Well, we can see how well that works. As Craven points out, if everybody tagged the threads in which they were interested with "subscribed" or "bookmarked," then the tags would become completely useless as bookmarks. But then that raises the question: wasn't the tag feature primarily designed to bookmark threads?

I suppose one could come up with a uniquely personal tag that no one else would duplicate, like one's user name. For instance, I could bookmark all of the threads in which I am interested with a "joefromchicago" tag. Of course, everyone would know that I had bookmarked the thread, but then everyone would know if I had posted "bm" to the thread as well, so I don't see that as a problem. Furthermore, if anyone wanted to form a mini-community with me, they could just follow my "joefromchicago" tags.

One problem with that, though, is that it appears only 20 tags are listed in the "my tags" section. I don't know if these are the most frequently used tags or if there is some other way that they are grouped. They seem to change for me on a daily basis -- for what reason I cannot tell. And I know that I have more than 20 tags, because some of them don't appear at all (e.g. I tagged a philosophy thread "Friedrich Nietzsche," but that doesn't appear in the "my tags" box -- so much for that bookmark).

I don't know why the tags are limited like that -- there should at least be an option to expand the list of tags beyond the "top 20." The lack of such an option makes a difference if my "bookmark tag" isn't listed in the "top 20." There's no "tag search" feature (yet?), nor is there any way to change the "top 20" box, so as far as I can tell we're stuck.

Now, before I get labelled as a Luddite whiner, let me just say that I am guardedly enthusiastic about the tag feature. As a bookmark, I don't think it works terribly well (at least not as well as promised), but it has the potential to make the site much more user-driven. I like the tags, and I have been doing my part to add tags to discussions that will help categorize those threads and make them easier to search and group in the future. I just wonder if the potential that is there will be fully exploited.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2008 08:57 pm
@Butrflynet,
Sorry I didn't get back to this one, but I guess Craven answered it.

I'm now using your basic idea -- which is a good one -- with a twist: Instead of tagging threads "subscribed", I tag them "thomas". My expectation, which may prove wrong, is that this will be a fairly private tag in practice even though it isn't technically.

As I mentioned in Sozobe's "Annoyances" thread, I really, really miss at thread-by-thread view of "My Posts". The lack of such a view makes it hard for me to see new responses in the threads I'm participating in. To work around it, I'm currently going through the "My Posts" page, open every thread in it, and tag it "thomas". Once I'm done with that, and it might take a few days, I'll be able to check the "thomas" tag, sort by "new answers", and see pretty much what I would see if A2K did have a thread-by-thread view of "My Posts".

I'll report back how that goes. If it goes well for me, it may work for others, too.
cyphercat
 
  1  
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2008 09:06 pm
@ehBeth,
Hey, thanks Beth-- I'd only noticed that you can't sort the "my posts" list by new posts, so I just assumed you couldn't sort the other lists either...that's really good to know!
Chumly
 
  2  
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2008 09:19 pm
Is there some way to:
- get more text on the screen
- get rid of all the garbage at the top
- get rid of all the garbage at the bottom
- get rid of all the empty space on the side, within the post itself, etc
- reduce the size of the green over-sized radio buttons
- reduce the size of the blue over-sized banner above each post
maporsche
 
  1  
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2008 09:25 pm
@Chumly,
I don't think there is, but I like ALL of your ideas.
0 Replies
 
DrewDad
 
  1  
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2008 09:37 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
There's no such thing as a "private tag." Which is rather strange, since that's exactly how the tag feature was first promoted.
Craven de Kere wrote:
The new site's tag feature is also primarily designed to bookmark threads.

Actually, the tagging works just fine for bookmarking. I don't think he's responsible for your belief that they would be private.

Go to "my tags" and you'll see a list of any thread that you've tagged.
0 Replies
 
cyphercat
 
  1  
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2008 09:49 pm
@cyphercat,
Grrrr....I just spent a bunch of time tagging threads I wanted to follow with my name. Then I went to my tags and clicked on "cyphercat"--and only ONE of the tags had actually gotten added.

It's because of this stupid glitch that happens anytime I try to add a tag to a topic that already has tags-- I click "edit tags," add the new tag, and then hit "tag topic" I get the message "tags removed." Craven said it was just a bug where it says that even though that's not actually what it does, but it actually IS removing the tags when I try to add them. So I can't add tags to any topic that already has a tag.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Sat 16 Aug, 2008 09:52 pm
@Thomas,
works like a charm. I have worked back to August the 10th, and for all practical purposes, I can now look at most of the relevant threads "my posts" on a thread-by-thread basis. I'm not sure how far back I want to go with this, but this is definitely workable.
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 12:49 am
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
There's no such thing as a "private tag." Which is rather strange, since that's exactly how the tag feature was first promoted.


I don't say a word about private tags there Joe. So I think you've misunderstood something.

Quote:
Well, we can see how well that works. As Craven points out, if everybody tagged the threads in which they were interested with "subscribed" or "bookmarked," then the tags would become completely useless as bookmarks. But then that raises the question: wasn't the tag feature primarily designed to bookmark threads?


But you can bookmark things without using a meaningless tag. Whatever you use, and it shows up on your "my tags" list. When you bookmark websites in your browser do you name each of them "bookmark" or "subscribe" or do you use useful descriptions? Do you put each in a folder called "bookmark"? All I am saying is that the most useful way to use it is to actually describe the topic. That way new clusters of content is organized for others through your efforts to organize it for yourself.

A tag is a bookmark, and what I've been saying is that the folksonomy we get out of the tagging affects others, so using "bookmark" to describe the topics is not useful to others.

Quote:
I suppose one could come up with a uniquely personal tag that no one else would duplicate, like one's user name.


Why? All your tags are already unique to you. Just like your browser bookmarks. You don't title each website you bookmark something unique to yourself do you? You probably let it use the page title so it accurately describes the link.
Quote:

For instance, I could bookmark all of the threads in which I am interested with a "joefromchicago" tag.


Why? Why not a "politics" tag if it's about politics? The tagging is essentially a relevancy vote, and the topic most tagged politics show up at the top of the politics list by default. Since your tags are already filtered for you why do you need a unique string?

Quote:
Of course, everyone would know that I had bookmarked the thread, but then everyone would know if I had posted "bm" to the thread as well, so I don't see that as a problem. Furthermore, if anyone wanted to form a mini-community with me, they could just follow my "joefromchicago" tags.


Or they could just go here:

http://able2know.org/user/joefromchicago/tags/

They don't need a specific tag to follow your tags just like you don't. So you could organize your tags semantically and you and they can still follow them but the difference would be that they make sense.
Quote:

One problem with that, though, is that it appears only 20 tags are listed in the "my tags" section. I don't know if these are the most frequently used tags or if there is some other way that they are grouped. They seem to change for me on a daily basis -- for what reason I cannot tell. And I know that I have more than 20 tags, because some of them don't appear at all (e.g. I tagged a philosophy thread "Friedrich Nietzsche," but that doesn't appear in the "my tags" box -- so much for that bookmark).


Right now, it's sorted by the ones you most used (and note that your topics were imported with you tagging them the forum name) but you point out one of our biggest priorities: our tag clouds are limited and don't let you page deeper.

We'll make ways you can access all your tags.

Quote:
Now, before I get labelled as a Luddite whiner, let me just say that I am guardedly enthusiastic about the tag feature. As a bookmark, I don't think it works terribly well (at least not as well as promised), but it has the potential to make the site much more user-driven.


Hey, I think it works well as a bookmark and is deficient in all the areas you aren't criticizing it for (except for the cloud, you are right to criticize that and it's the most unfinished part of the live site).

If you tag it, it shows up on your list. It works. You don't need to use these convoluted tags to get the "bm" equivalent. Once you tag it you have a list of your tagged topics that you can sort by anything that you could do on the old "my posts" page and more.

Quote:

I like the tags, and I have been doing my part to add tags to discussions that will help categorize those threads and make them easier to search and group in the future. I just wonder if the potential that is there will be fully exploited.


As long as people keep using useful tags it will work well, when people start advocating the mistaken notion that the tag should be unique to the user instead of describing the topic is when the categorization is being used poorly.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 06:52 am
@Craven de Kere,
Thanks for the explanation, Craven. One slight problem might be for the less imaginative members out there who can't think of an appropriate descriptive tag for a thread. I suppose we could use the standard "totally ******* awesome" tag, but that's not terribly descriptive (and besides, the thread might not be totally ******* awesome). Instead, a user, stumped for an appropriate new tag, can simply duplicate an existing tag as a bookmark. For instance, if I wanted to bookmark this thread, I could tag it "shortcuts." It's already tagged "shortcuts," but it won't be tagged twice if I tag it myself. True, that doesn't add anything to the "folksonomy," but it's probably better than tagging it with something meaningless.
 

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