48
   

Are you posting less or more now?

 
 
Butrflynet
 
  4  
Reply Wed 12 Nov, 2008 11:59 pm
I like the overall design. It needs some work and desperately needs an organized tutorial section. But, as a whole, I like it a lot. I urge anyone who is feeling the site is lacking in depth and variety these days to please start some threads on the topics you want to see more of. We may not be seeing the depth and variety because we're all waiting for someone else to do it and the folks who usually did aren't around as much to do so. It's time for others to step up to the plate. One day a week, make an effort to be the entertainer rather than the entertained.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 01:32 am
@Mame,
I'm posting more than before, but less than a little while ago. Been busier.

In a short time there's going to be a big update to the site's navigation. The sorting on the topic grids is going away with individual pages like "new posts" and "new topics" coming back. There's also a big change in looks to improve on the washed out look this current site has, a new logo and a tag listing page to replace the old forum index page.

The layout for this new UI is dramatically different, but still far from perfect. We don't have a graphic designer with us at the moment and have other full time jobs now and can only do so much in our spare time, but it should address a lot of the current UI's deficiencies.

There's a lot that it won't address (like PMs, search, email updates) but those are priorities for us and we will get around to them as we are able.

We haven't posted any updates to the blog because we've been working on this major change, so here's some screenshots of where we are at:

Topic grid
http://img227.imageshack.us/img227/4164/homesk4.gif
Here we made better use of space (that ditching the two column layout gave us) to include a much larger tag cloud on the right of every topic grid. It has related tags displayed as category subtags and is a much more powerful way to browse tags.

Tag Index
http://img118.imageshack.us/img118/8673/tagsxu9.gif
Here's a listing of tags only, where you can browse the tag index like you would the old forum index. Of course the look is very different, we are dealing with a lot more variety than the old forums (that didn't even have subforums) so the display is in the familiar style of directory listings with related tags listed below each tag.

Topic Page
http://img388.imageshack.us/img388/7417/topicxo5.gif
Here's a topic page. With the removal of the side column, there is a lot more information we need to fit into the main content area. So the big change here is the topic headers that contain the information that was in the side column (namely tags).

We're working on this as fast as we can, and these changes and improvements will come out soon as we can make them. I know I say that a lot, but the bottom line is that we put as much of our spare time into this as we can. We have full time jobs now and are working on this at night and on weekends as much as we can (and probably a bit more than we can if you ask our friends and family).

If you don't like it you don't like it, but if your reasons are things that we've already committed to do (like PMs, search, email updates...) then complaining about how we haven't gotten around to it yet is frustrating to us, because those things take time and we are giving it all the time we can afford.
Robert Gentel
 
  4  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 01:49 am
@Dutchy,
Dutchy wrote:
I'm still posting on the trivia threads even though I have absolutely no understanding of the new site. Have noticed traffic has slowed down to a trickly with many regulars missing.


This is my biggest challenge to be honest. Certain microcosms of a2k have atrophied while others have grown. Things like latin questions, water softener questions, crossword questions, and word games are taking a beating.

The big idea I'm working on to address this is to find a way to let users pick from the tags and make grids that either only contain the tags they want or that exclude a couple of tags that they don't want.

That way, if someone doesn't like word games, they can get rid of all of them without voting them down. This is a delicate balance to get right, and I'm running through a lot of ideas on how to improve the balance for these unpopular microcosms.
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 02:02 am
@shewolfnm,
shewolfnm wrote:
It just seems as though the site is not meant for 'fun' anymore.


I think the biggest reason is that people are afraid of the chatty stuff being voted down. Thing is, when it happens it's almost always popular because general chat tends to generate a lot more replies than specific topics when it's interesting enough. I think the fun folk have a bit too much stage fright in other words.

That being said, certain kinds of chat with very small "clique" (for lack of a better word) microcosms were never very well received here but the participants never noticed.

So for example, the old types of threads that used to generate a lot of replies between only a handful of posters (I'm talking very low numbers like 3-8 posters generating over 50 replies) are a kind of use case that I'd agree is less well served right now. A wholly separate question is whether that's a good thing or not, because these things are a balance of conflicting desires in the community.

So the things I think will best address those are some of the social networking features that are to come after our main priorities. Things like groups, blogs, private forums, and maybe even chat rooms and IM are some ideas we are working on to better address the social circles on the smaller scale that aren't as well served on the general forum with folksonomy.

But as the community grows, it will need much more of this to retain the environments the microcosms wanted anyway. If the site tripled in size the nature of the community would change even if the software didn't. The future social networking tools we will release is how you get to create enclaves in the site that have more customizable (and resistant to change) environments.

This is part of the balance of microcosms that I see as my biggest challenge as the software architect and I'm not going to give up on this till I nail the balance I'm looking for but I'm going to shoot straight with you, those things are pretty far away at this point and we have a lot to work out before we tackle the social networking and private group areas we plan to make. But they have always been firmly in our plans. This site's ask an expert focus is mixed with a very heavy dose of community and sub communities. The whole social networking tool set we are planning is squarely aimed at nailing the sub-community needs.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 02:04 am
@Robert Gentel,
Sounds cool!!!


I think most people understand that stuff takes time, you know......the squeakiest wheels just, well, squeak more.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 02:08 am
@farmerman,
farmerman wrote:

So, I resized and cropped my avvie and stuck it up . SO now you can see the hansome devil that is my A2K self.


Halleluljah!!! I've missed that poor fella with the haemmorhoids SOOOOOOOO much.

He suffers so much so bravely.
Dutchy
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 02:17 am
@Robert Gentel,
Thank you Robert Gentel for your much appreciated feed-back. In discussions like these it is easy to sound critical but the opposite is intended, we merely want to voice an opinion, of things we've observed and feel. My world is richer for the people I've met here hence I'm staying around and put up with inconveniences which for others hold no problems.
Mr Stillwater
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 02:17 am
@dlowan,
Quote:
He suffers so much so bravely


I know that feeling.......
dlowan
 
  2  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 02:18 am
@husker,
husker wrote:

I wanna know where the neverending games are at?



Scroll to top of this page.

There you will see a search facility...Google custom search.


I typed in "never-ending" + able2know and found pages of them.

0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 02:18 am
@nimh,
nimh wrote:

I cant believe he spends all of his free time and money on this forum we use anyway, especially since he's only met with a wave of complaints for every change he makes - I know I'd never, ever do it, fuhgeddaboutit!


That thought goes through my head every day these days. If I just let a2k alone and let it struggle under the growing pains it was going to have I'd have money in the bank right now and not be worried about this financial crisis. Instead I have nothing saved and am trying to do this in my spare time while working elsewhere to pay the bills. Sure, a2k would have gone back to the old slow database crashing ways and would be atrophying slowly but I'd be much better off personally from a financial standpoint.

And don't even get me started on time. I'd be able to work on a number of projects where I can actually make serious money (general sites don't do as well as niche sites and forums don't do well in general).

But I've been doing this for years now because it's something I genuinely love to do on many levels. I think the technical part is fascinating and challenging, but this site is also the thing I'm most proud of being involved in. There are days I wonder why, but they don't last long and I genuinely enjoy doing it most days.

It kinda sucks that there are many days where I don't like using the site but that doesn't tend to translate into the work behind the scenes. When people are angry at me because of the website (be it for things I do or about general things on the website that they don't like generated by other users) it doesn't let me use it for personal pursuits much and that's frustrating, but that's just the way it is and the way it will always be and I can't let that kind of thing ruin something that I think is very special.

The why to me is pretty simple, this is something I'm passionate about and that I like for a variety of reasons. I see it as a lifelong hobby and as long as I can pay for it I'll be working on it and most of what I do working on it is aimed at making sure it can support itself.

The old site wasn't going to support itself for much longer (without deleting topics) anyway and we were going to need to change something about it. In any change there are going to be unhappy folk and I see this all as a necessary evil.

We needed change to support the growing site, and the anger comes with the territory. We already do the best we can, so we can only keep at it and try to have thicker skin.

It's a good thing we love our work.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 02:19 am
@Mr Stillwater,
Mr Stillwater wrote:

Quote:
He suffers so much so bravely


I know that feeling.......


Seen it on TV?
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 02:23 am
@nimh,
nimh wrote:

CalamityJane wrote:

Why don't we file a petition [..]. If the majority wants
the old design or something equivalent, then it should be done.

Um ... it's not a democracy. It's a site that Craven keeps alive by ploughing thousands of dollars of his own in it and working long nights of his free time on -- and that we get to use without paying anything or doing anything for it. Seriously, we dont get to present him with edicts of what we demand him to do for us.

I cant believe he spends all of his free time and money on this forum we use anyway, especially since he's only met with a wave of complaints for every change he makes - I know I'd never, ever do it, fuhgeddaboutit!



Bravo!


I still wish I could think up some interesting threads, though.

I believe the evil new A2k has stolen my brain.




Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 02:24 am
@Dutchy,
Dutchy wrote:
In discussions like these it is easy to sound critical but the opposite is intended, we merely want to voice an opinion, of things we've observed and feel.


No worries, I understand that this comes with the territory. I only become upset with people who go out of their way to ruin the experience of others because of the gripes they have. I don't expect everyone to like everything and criticism alone doesn't bother me. If someone decides to be obnoxious about it and goes on ad nauseum it's frustrating but you have nothing to worry about in that regard. It's not the criticism part, but the obnoxious part that's a pain in the ass.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 02:30 am
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:
I still wish I could think up some interesting threads, though.

I believe the evil new A2k has stolen my brain.


From a UI design perspective a2k might actually be partly responsible. The index page can serve as a starting point for such ideas. We'd always planned an index page and were waiting on more tag data to make the one we have now built and it can help with this kind of thing. The current tag listings cut off earlier than the old forum index did, and while searches give you quick access to them an index gives you passive access while the tag search requires more initiative.

The new tag listings show a lot more than the old forum index did (mainly because the old forum software didn't allow any nesting in the information architecture) and may well spur your brain past the writers block.
Mr Stillwater
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 02:34 am
@dlowan,
Quote:
Re: Mr Stillwater (Post 3472540)
Mr Stillwater wrote:

Quote:
He suffers so much so bravely

I know that feeling.......

Seen it on TV?


The mirror, BunHuns. I see it in the mirror....
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 02:40 am
@CalamityJane,
CalamityJane wrote:

hawkeye10 wrote:
And nimh, a2k is not a philanthropy project, as Craven himself has admitted, it is a commercial project. He is in it for the bucks, and the devaluation of a2k hurts him along with the rest of us.


Do you have a link for this, hawkeye?


Hawkeye is full of BS as per usual. What I talked about (don't want to find it without the user-level search right now) was that we made a web development company bringing more help into the mix that now runs able2know.

In the past, it was just me, but as Nick and others joined it's now a company. He's got his axe to grind and wants to portray my motives as greedy but the truth is that a2k has been a net loss of over $30,000 for me in the last year and this is something we do because we like doing it, there are a lot of easier ways to make money than running a forum but they are less satisfying on a personal level.

The reasons we want to make sure to monetize it is because we want to make sure it keeps existing, previously it almost shut down back when I was working for minimum wage and lost my job. I don't want it to ever close so it needs to be self sustainable. A financially healthy able2know is a good thing for able2know's sake.

The company on the whole that we made does a lot more than just able2know, and we are working on it becoming profitable so that we can dedicate more time to this.

Hawkeye is flinging whatever he thinks might stick again and there's no negative thing about a2k that he won't get behind in his crusade whether it's real or not. The site isn't "devaluing" as he's claimed. On other threads he links to online "web site value calculators" that aren't in any way accurate (for example they'll give you a different value for able2know.com than able2know.org even though the com goes to the org, they are just using page rank and a few other stats like alexa to make up a figure as a gimmick) and our traffic has been slowly increasing since the new site launched.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 02:51 am
@Izzie,
Izzie wrote:
PM's BRING 'EM BACK!!!!


We'll bring them back as soon as we can Izzie, we've already said as much and we can't go any faster than we are. This is now something we do in our spare time. Leading up to the launch we worked on this part time during regular business hours but I burnt through all the cash I could and now we have to go back to doing this nights and weekends.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 03:11 am
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

dlowan wrote:
I still wish I could think up some interesting threads, though.

I believe the evil new A2k has stolen my brain.


From a UI design perspective a2k might actually be partly responsible. The index page can serve as a starting point for such ideas. We'd always planned an index page and were waiting on more tag data to make the one we have now built and it can help with this kind of thing. The current tag listings cut off earlier than the old forum index did, and while searches give you quick access to them an index gives you passive access while the tag search requires more initiative.

The new tag listings show a lot more than the old forum index did (mainly because the old forum software didn't allow any nesting in the information architecture) and may well spur your brain past the writers block.




Lol!!!


As you know, I consider you capable of most deviltry.....but I really, really think that my depleted brain for threads has more to do with how much my current work situation draws upon my creativity (not that there's anything wrong with that.....I WANT demanding work) and very little to do with you or Nick.


Still sucks though.
0 Replies
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 03:12 am
@Robert Gentel,
You worry me.

So what?


Indeed.

But....the likes of Hawkeye?

Nobody listens to Hawkeye.


0 Replies
 
Izzie
 
  2  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 05:18 am
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:


Topic grid
http://img227.imageshack.us/img227/4164/homesk4.gif

Tag Index
http://img118.imageshack.us/img118/8673/tagsxu9.gif

Topic Page
http://img388.imageshack.us/img388/7417/topicxo5.gif



Hey....

now that looks much nicer in my opinion Smile

I hope another change doesn't scare off anyone who is waivering on staying around.

For me - I am posting little on the games threads as I miss the ease of the old A2K there...

I'm here daily which makes it easier for me to figure stuff out - but if it's someone who pops by once in a while - it must be quite confusing.

however...

the community here (which I understand isn't what this forum is all about, except maybe to me and the others I talk to) is fantastic. I miss some of those who have left - I hope the others will stay. The Boida, JoeN, Bathy, Tulip, Aging, Mags, Noddy's, Dys, along with my threads and some others prove that this community is thriving - I don't know any other forums, but I wouldn't leave here unless I was kicked off. Even people, whose personal opinions leave me shocked to the core, along with their vehemence at times, sometimes ask for help or reassurance from the community when needed - and they get it even from those who they constantly fight with. That, to me, is the best thing about here. Communication - as opposed to the knowledge base.

So, Robert, Nick et al, thanku, you're doing good in making "my world" an easier place to live in... not "ass kissing" here - but I love this place - and when PM's are back it will be even better.
 

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