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.
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!
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.