8
   

Request for Timeline.

 
 
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 03:16 pm
@yitwail,
Yitwail wrote:
(it's what Sozobe told me to do initially, thinking the whitespace would vanish)


No, I just misunderstood what you were getting at -- I thought you were complaining that one-word posts and LONG posts took up the same space. That you had to scroll through long posts instead of seeing them all at once. So I explained how to set the default to "expand all posts." That's not what you meant, though.

I get what you're talking about now, though, sorry for the red herring.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  5  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 03:25 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Quote:
Please don't confuse constructive criticism with some sort of attack.


With very few exceptions, I really don't. But if you read frustration into my posts I readily admit to being frustrated. Not because I feel I'm being personally criticized but because I feel that the right thing to do after this change is to answer as much as I can.

And that's been a bit rough for me, I have spent much more time on a2k than I would like (I even have a deadline of Monday from the girl to get back to a normal life). I'm tired of being here, but feel it's important to be to help through the transition.

I'm just tired, and bored as hell of answering the same things. Some of the member's have gotten on my nerves but it usually takes being mind-numbingly wrong to get me there (e.g. claiming over and over that something doesn't work when it does) and then decide to be an ass about it. That's only happened a few times and all these other posts I am merely fatigued and frustrated by, and not personally irritated by.
Quote:

Dude, that is a timeline. It shows that there is understanding of some of the issues which have been raised by long-time users and a willingness to address those issues. I don't need you to write 'we'll have everything solved by Nov. 1st,' or anything like that; it's enough to say 'we're working on it.'


Well I've said "we're working on it" many times. I would not be surprised if I have said it up to 100 times in the last 6 months between announcing that we'd launch rough and work on it and the days I've spent on the site after launch convincing people (some of whom simply don't believe me).

I don't think it means a timeline, but yeah, we are working on it!

Quote:
BBcode should be automatically on or at least given an option to be automatically on. I know that you have discussed changing this, I'm just making a list of stuff that takes more work then it used to.


This was a spec before the site launch, and will be that way when Nick get's to it on his list (part of the initial tweaks I am talking about).

But yeah, I've already said I'd change it. And I could certainly do more to communicate it more effectively (e.g. a help page, a site blog etc) but just haven't had the time to build the mediums.

Quote:
I used to be able to post politics topics without HAVING to add tags. Now I have to add them if anyone is to see them. This is an extra step.


But you had to pick the forum before, which was more and longer steps. Now you don't even have to tag it, someone else will if they like it. Or, you can navigate to the tag and do it that way without typing. Sure, it's harder to get to it now but I don't agree that this is fundamentally worse, just that tag navigation sucks right now.
Quote:

In order to do orderly nested quotes, it takes 5 steps where it used to take 1. I know opinions differ on the usefulness of this but the fact remains that it is a feature which was removed.


Sounds like you read my discussion where I eventually posted what kind of solution we'd put in place. In short, I will address this in two ways:

1) a javascript feature on the posting page that helps insert the quotes. it may be as simple as clicking to quote the whole thing or as complex as highlighting the person's post and inserting preformatted smaller quotes.

2) a preference to put a "quote" button on the topic pages, so that the clutter (it's just clutter to all but power users) isn't there by default but accessible to everyone who wants it.
Quote:

I can only see 8 topics at a time, I used to be able to see 20 or more. Extra scrolling time = less time spent reading and writing.


I think you are wrong. I put a LOT more content in the viewport than before. Remember the bigger header? Remember the leaderboard ads?

Now you may mean once you already scroll the grid items are too tall, and while I think they are a bit too tall I think the smaller table rows were a lot less usable.

This is something I want to tweak but I don't think I'll get it as small as you want. Incidentally, I prefer small.
Quote:

Only 20 topics per page means I have to change pages constantly to see the newer stuff which has been posted. Extra clicks don't help the usability of the site.


I personally prefer 50 but there are a lot of factors that will influence this. For example, there are a lot more things that will eventually be added to the pages and how much is in the left column might affect how long we let the right one get. But the biggest factor will be clickstream analytics. I'll look at the way people navigate and find ways to improve it. 20 was a simple boundary that we will push as long as we can make it useful and fast.

Quote:
Lack of topic review in the 'posting' screen (other then the one you are replying to) is a definite feature loss, I know this has been discussed before in other threads so I won't go deeper into it.


Yeah, and this is a very simple problem with a very simple/complex solution. We'll do something about it if we can come up with something great. But it's tied to quoting and the reply page because of how we put the post you are replying to below your textarea.

I think that post is very useful, but it's in the place where the iframe of new posts used to be. I have ideas on how to tackle this but they are quite complex so it's one of the bigger UI challenges.
Quote:

Avatars are too small to see and aren't accurately reflected on the user info screen. I have to click through to see what anyone's picture actually is and that's an extra annoying step.


This is a mixed bag, and I think this needs to be a preference. Big avatars make the site less usable, but more interesting for the people who like them. I like them too, but think the ideal would be even smaller.

In either case, we hadn't planned on launching with avatars at all, till Nick suggested the gravatars, and we implemented the feature in 10 to 20 minutes. It will be better with more time, but I'm not sure how it will be just yet (avatars aren't a huge priority for us right now).
Quote:

Navigation buttons should exist at both the top and bottom of the screen, or float in the manner of the side buttons. Every extra scroll or click required is wasted time and it's really not that difficult to replicate link buttons at the bottoms of pages.


Navigation needs a lot of work. I have long maintained that a website's quality to the user is defined by navigation and graphic design. The graphic design is merely cosmetic but the navigation is big.

This navigation needs a lot of work, and even some personalization options. To give you an idea of how raw it was, it went through a complete site-wide overhaul in the weeks right before launch when the beta testers were already testing it.

I won't give specific commitments because I may not go with the specific recommendations but I think this is an area that needs a LOT of work. Do also note that the navigation is being built with future areas of the site in mind (e.g. blogs, social networking, user groups, wiki....) so there's a lot more to the challenge than what you see so far.

Quote:
I think part of my frustration comes from the lack of warning about the site changing. Now, I know that you had many topics on the upcoming change and that it was discussed in length; I didn't see any of those topics because I never visit any other forum besides 'politics.'


I'm sure I can find ways to work harder to communicate to users, and even tools to do it more efficiently. But to be perfectly honest this isn't a big company with a lot of money and everything comes at the cost of personal time and money. I can think of a lot of ways to do a launch better, and have done so when I had more resources but right now the level of communication I've given is about all I am willing to sacrifice of my time and resources because it's about all I can.

Quote:
Why was there not a general email sent out to the user list warning of the upcoming changes?


There has always been an email planned, but there are two things holding it back:

1) I want to wait for the main bugs to be fixed before sending a bunch of dormant members to visit the site.

2) It takes time to setup such a mailing. And won't be as simple as you sending an email. I estimate that this will take an afternoon of our work to do.

Could it be better? Sure, but I have a limited amount of time and money to spend. That afternoon is going to cost me about $200 at the very least and I spend $500/week minimum out of pocket on this and I can't spend more right now.
Quote:

I regularly link to A2K posts in many of the other places I visit on the web and every one of those links seems to be dead now, which I gotta tell you really really sucks.


Actually all forum and topic urls are redirected well. Just the individual post urls haven't been. That's because the old url structure for posts would require us to run a database query to get the new topic url. I'm not sure if we want the extra overhead for those, as I can't even find many such links on the web (as opposed to millions of the topic/forum urls we could easily redirect)

Can you give me examples of offsite links that don't work? I'd have to make a judgment call on the difficulty/worth of making the redirect for them.

Quote:
It seems that in an effort to address certain problems that users have, you have created a whole new set of problems for other users, and we are now concerned about it. I understand your position; it is analogous to a cabinet-maker, working very hard on a new piece of furniture, only to be told that the new designs have significant problems that didn't exist in the old design.


Actually, I forsaw these problems for years and talked about them ad nauseum on the old forum. You guys don't have the full picture.

You guys see a "perfect" (in rosy colored nostalgia) old site replaced by an unfinished and imperfect new site.

What you didn't see or don't remember is that I struggled for years just to keep the old site online because of it's absolutely horrid codebase. The search feature that is now gone crashed the site several times and was already corrupted and ready to take the whole site down (it used a table matching every work ever posted to every post that ever used it and was just not built to get that big and work well).

So yeah, it's easy to look back and think all was well but it wasn't. And a2k's viability was at risk a few years ago and was on path to be at risk again. This new site is fundamentally better. We aren't doing stupid unscalable stuff. But you don't see those improvments because they are all on the backend.

You don't see that some pages on the old site could stop the whole server if you hit them a few times. They were doing things like queries the whole database of topics without limits (the new topics page on old site) and it just wasn't tenable.

I spent years putting bandaids on a dying site and the site had had no innovation for 3 years. Sure, this is rough with a lot of surface imperfection but that's because the core we launched was mainly meant to address fundamental systemic imperfection on the old site that you didn't see.

Now we have a platform we can build on. The last one was a time sink just trying to keep it online. This core platform is better, and it's fundamentally better and the UI and looks will be much much better.
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 03:26 pm
@mushypancakes,
Thanks mushy..!

CJane, I know what you mean. I think that "legitimate" is exactly the rub, though. Hawkeye is an example of someone who I think is making flat-out illegitimate complaints. Cycloptichorn definitely makes some good points. I think some are a bit stretchy though -- he's complaining about having to type one more word when he posts a politics topic? That's it -- it's not a different page or anything. He sets his bookmark to here:

http://able2know.org/tag/politics/

, then he clicks "start a discussion," then he types the body of the discussion plus ONE word -- "politics" -- in the tags field. Immediately after the text area.

This is so much more difficult then setting his bookmark to the Politics forum, clicking "start a new topic" there, and then typing the body of his post? One word?

That kind of thing.

But yeah, legitimate stuff there too. I just seem to have reached my personal "grr" threshold. Since I've addressed it though, I'll stop. Onward, upward, all that. Smile
Craven de Kere
 
  2  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 03:35 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Quote:
Untrue. I directly linked to the A2K politics forum every single time, for years. I haven't seen the front page of the old A2K in forever, I don't even think I could tell you what it looked like. Just clicked my bookmark.


Still true. The old bookmark should take you right to the politics tag page, and clicking the topic start tabs from there will give you a form with politics pre-filled in the tag.

Still not more work.

Quote:
And I can still do that. I still link directly to the politics forum just by updating the bookmark.


You don't even have to do that. Your old bookmark works.
Quote:

That part is perfectly cool. But in order to post, I have to type in the 'politics' tag or it won't end up where I want it to! It IS an extra step. You re-wrote my complaint, but didn't actually address the extra step that I have to take.


No, you are just wrong about it. Try it. Go to your bookmark. Click the "start a discussion" link. It will have "politics" pre-typed for you in the tags.

Quote:
I most certainly was not 'wrong.' It takes me more steps to do what I wrote about then it used to. I know this because I counted the steps on both sites that it took to make a new post. And when you make comments like this, you are coming off as a jerk. These concerns I am raising are real, they are not spurious and they are not empty bitching just because things are now different. For you to casually disregard them in this fashion, to simply pronounce me 'wrong,' isn't really confidence inspiring.


I don't know how to be all sensitive about this either, so I'll just repeat: you are wrong. If you'd try what I told you you'd see it. You don't need any extra steps to do what you claim takes extra steps.

Quote:

Well, what is happening is a failure of the topic list design is being exposed. I sort by 'new posts' only, because I could really care less what other people think is or is not popular.


Those threads dominate that sort as well, so I still don't get the claim that you can't find them easily.

Quote:
I find the whole thumbs up/down concept to be a time-waster, for what it REALLY does is ensure that those posts which are the most contentious are the ones on top; those of us who like to post in esoteric topics will find ourselves increasingly isolated, as less and less new users will ever even SEE those posts.


That's why you are using a different sort I guess. Makes a lot of sense.

Quote:
It in time will serve to dumb down a2k. And I know that it pisses people off, for as much as you would like to pretend that there is no emotional attachment to seeing a bunch of thumbs down on one's post, there most certainly is, and people don't like that.


I don't think it will dumb down a2k, but I'm not interested in getting into a lot of speculation about it right now. This is something that's not going away. It will be tweaked and changed but I'm not going to argue it incessantly with the people who don't like it. We'll have to agree to disagree here.

Quote:
I did end up putting Able2know as a tag; but what if I hadn't known to do that?


The world would go on. On the old site, members used to post to the wrong forums all the time. And one of the handful of moderators would have to move it. Here, anyone who tagged it able2know would have essentially performed the same task.

So it's the same problem as before with better solutions.

Quote:
Is it really clear that this is the right thing to do? If I didn't know to hit the A2K tag on the left - that is, assuming I'm patient enough to find it - would I find these posts and topics? I'm not sure.


I'm not sure whether you would have problems finding it. But I'm pretty sure that you wouldn't need to have problems finding it. And that's even before the navigation improvements.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 03:37 pm
@yitwail,
That's what we had in mind, and after the change to the default behavior more changes were planned. In either case I can't commit to this specifically but it was my original plan.

But seriously, I'd rather stop talking about this and just do it. In a few days I'll not be around answering anymore and will spend my time coding.
Craven de Kere
 
  2  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 03:41 pm
@sozobe,
Quote:
he's complaining about having to type one more word when he posts a politics topic? That's it -- it's not a different page or anything. He sets his bookmark to here:

http://able2know.org/tag/politics/

, then he clicks "start a discussion," then he types the body of the discussion plus ONE word -- "politics" -- in the tags field. Immediately after the text area.


Would someone, anyone just try it? You don't even need to type it.

http://able2know.org/tag/politics/

Go there and click start a discussion. It's no extra work. Not just one word to type but no extra work. And if you consider coming from the home pages of the respective sites it's a lot less work.

Come on guys, give it at least one try before you say how it works!

Edit: that last sentence is really for cyclo, who has argued that it doesn't work that way more than it is for you soz.
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 03:47 pm
@Craven de Kere,
Whoops. Overlooked it -- actually went that far. Not sure how I missed it.

So, not even one extra word.
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  2  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 03:48 pm
@Craven de Kere,
Okay, I did try it and I see that you are correct; but I know that it wasn't doing this a few days ago, unless I'm taking some sort of crazy pills.
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 03:49 pm
@Craven de Kere,
Let's try being clearer:

From every site page (unlike the last site where you had to go to the forum first) there are general reply buttons or links where you can type any tag.

From the tag pages, clicking the buttons to start a topic will have the tag pre-filled.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 03:50 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Yes it was. That was around for a long time pre-launch. It doesn't work that way if you aren't on a tag page as I explained earlier and that's probably what you saw. From the home page it's not like that.

But on the old site's home page, you'd first need to go to the forums, then go to the specific forum and then click new topic.

Here, from the home page you click the button and type the tag, or just click the tag and it's pre-filled.
0 Replies
 
OCCOM BILL
 
  3  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 03:57 pm
If anyone gives a rat's ass about my opinion:
Mine and others I've spoken with's initial reaction was a definite yuck. But, the simple truth is, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of people here who's input I enjoy reading, so it isn't terribly important to me if the site isn't as useable as it once was. (To me, Craven, I heard and understood your point about newbies and learning curves.) The consensus me and my favorite fellow poster came to in short order was: we may use the site less frequently during the transition phase, but we have faith Craven will work out the bugs. Most of the glaring annoyances I've had so far, were simply a matter of my own ignorance as to how to navigate the site. (I didn't sign up knowing how to use the old one either.) Most of those remaining, Craven has already explained will be addressed in due time. Shrugs.

Conclusion: While I don't yet like the new version better, if it is advantageous to Craven to enable him to keep providing the service he does, I'm all for it. And the simple fact that he believes it's better tells me that in the very near future I will probably agree. I do like disappearing word games and asinine posts for instance!

Note to Craven: Were I you; I’d lose not one second’s sleep over threats to leave. No one is really married to the old format; we come here for each other.
Craven de Kere
 
  2  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 03:59 pm
@OCCOM BILL,
Quote:
Note to Craven: Were I you; I’d lose not one second’s sleep over threats to leave. No one is really married to the old format; we come here for each other.


I try not to worry about them individually, but during this transition I'm responding to them to avoid a critical mass where they become reasons themselves that the site sucks.
OCCOM BILL
 
  2  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 04:06 pm
@Craven de Kere,
Long day, that... but I suppose it's a good idea to do some damage control. Don't kill yourself. :wink:
0 Replies
 
yitwail
 
  1  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 04:27 pm
@Craven de Kere,
Craven,

thanks for replying to everything i wrote, and i look forward to whatever improvements are upcoming. Wink
0 Replies
 
OCCOM BILL
 
  1  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 04:39 pm
(So that's where the emoticons are hiding! Embarrassed )
0 Replies
 
shewolfnm
 
  1  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 04:49 pm
Before I say anything else, I want to thank you Craven and all the others busting their ass to make this site work. You are keeping us... anonymous best friends together no matter if we like the boat we float in or not.

It really is appreciated.


Having said that, I too agree that the lay out is uncomfortable, and the amount of work that has to be put into posting is hard. But, I complain about everything. Please take my annoyance with a grain of salt. Just gotta say how I feel.
Iknow things will change. And I will keep peeking in to see the changes too.
But until I either -
A) get used to the new lay out

B) see a new lay out that is easier

my posting will be minimal. But , for reasons other then changes in A2K , my postings were going to be minimal anyway..


ehh..
A whole long post about nothing Wink
A-typical fashion for moi..
0 Replies
 
FreeDuck
 
  3  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 07:01 pm
I have been holding my tongue because I want to a) give them time to fix bugs and b) give myself time to get used to it.

About usability... what is intuitive to users is what they are used to. Not surprisingly, those of us who have been on A2K a long time will find the new site less intuitive to use than before. We will complain that this site is more difficult to use in vague terms. These complaints do not need to be rebutted or debated. Just accept that it is true for that person at this time. We will not wade through all of the very explicit and helpful How To Use This Site threads. Those are equivalent to user manuals which no one ever reads.

Quite simply, what will make this site more usable for us (aside from the new features designed to make it more usable) is to use it more. The more familiar we become with how it works the more comfortable we will be. I know it is true for me. I am more comfortable already and even find myself thinking things like -- hey, I really like the new header color and graphics.
0 Replies
 
cicerone imposter
 
  0  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 07:08 pm
Testing only. Embarrassed
0 Replies
 
Eva
 
  3  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 07:42 pm
Well, I feel the same way as mushypancakes. Only she's being a bit more diplomatic about it than I can manage at the moment.

This is a huge pain for me. I always operated out of forums. Unlike soz and others, I DON'T enjoy having to figure things out. I want it simple. I want it obvious. I want my A2K time to be entertainment, not computer education (work). I don't want to have to spend extra time creating tags and voting up & down...that's time I could be spending reading & posting. Bottom line: I don't want A2K to take up MORE of my time. I want it to take LESS!

I suppose I will grudgingly adapt. (grumblegrumble) Eventually. This change didn't come at a good time for me, personally, as I really don't have a lot of extra time to figure out all of this right now. So if I'm not around much, it's not because I don't want to keep in touch. It's because this is all more than I can handle right now.

One last gripe: I REALLY wish we'd been given advance warning about the changeover so I could have retrieved valuable information from my PMs.

Grrr. I'm going to go take some more Advil.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  3  
Reply Sun 17 Aug, 2008 08:07 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Quote:
I mostly want to hear the words,

we're working on it!

Well, Craven and Jes have only said that about 30 times in two dozen different threads (rough estimation). How many times do you want them to repeat it? Do they have to repeat it in every thread where someone new might pop up who hasnt bothered reading the other "updates/info/instructions about the new site" threads? Seriously... {annoyed}
 

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