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Philforum Focus Group

 
 
jgweed
 
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 05:29 pm
Normally, in any implementation schedule, a few weeks after the change, a focus group is formed to gather user feedback, discuss problems, and make recommendations for further changes. As everyone is painfully aware, the merger with a2k was not normal, and rather than wait until everyone has "settled in," this thread is opened now, as a kind of "focus group" that includes all Philforum Members.

Now we know that certain features in Pf could not be merged here because the current software could not accommodate it: Groups, for example. We know also that the software at a2k is in a process of development, and the plan is to enhance it so that Groups can be incorporated.

What this forum group, or thread, is about is not to provide a place for complaints or sorrowful lamentations, but rather constructive comments from the Pf community about ways to improve a2k and make it more functional for each of you. Some suggestions may apply only to the needs of philosophical discussion, some may turn out to be guidelines to development of the whole forum. Some suggestions will be easy to implement, some will take some time; we must also remember that there are, prior to and independent of any discussed in this thread , projects already underway for other changes, thus ones discussed here will have to be prioritized given the workload considerations.

Bottom line: in your replies, please consider the functionality of Philforum that seems lacking here and describe it and how it was useful to you. Each of you can, by your participation, have a significant effect on the future of philosophy at a2k and of the forum itself.
John



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Type: Discussion • Score: 32 • Views: 7,648 • Replies: 139

 
Arjuna
 
  3  
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 05:46 pm
@jgweed,
How hard would it be to allow customization of the color scheme? I'm squinting here. If it's not hard to do, it would be groovy.
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 05:47 pm
@jgweed,
Things I'm currently aware of:

- Groups: we need the ability to have the private groups and to bring the groups over.
- Blogs: ditto.
- BBCodes and text issues (please point them out to us!)
- Navigation of forums needs a lot of work (want to do a focus group session on our home page?)
- Forum search - we use google and they are subideal for post-level searching.

Please add to this. Especially any minor annoyances that I can get rid of quickly.
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 05:47 pm
@Arjuna,
You talking some skins (maybe one in philforum colors) or the ability to fully customize it?
lazymon
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 06:16 pm
I am not an old guy (28) and I am squinting a bit. I can see a way to change the font in preferences, but it would be really useful to change font sizes too.
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 06:20 pm
@lazymon,
There is a setting there to change font size in the dropdown after choosing a serif/sans-serif font.
0 Replies
 
salima
 
  2  
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 06:33 pm
@Robert Gentel,
questions:
is there a member directory?
will you be adding photo albums?
what is unanswered?


suggestion:
so far what i miss most is the control panel page that showed me which threads i was in had replies so i could go there. having to depend on email notifications is a nightmare. looking at 'recent' posts could be way too much to wade through. likely i wont even remember the name of the thread i just posted in. it also showed whatever messages i had received, when and who sent them so i would know at a glance where to go first.

is there some kind of alpha listing of any subsections of your forum? i see philosophy forum names thrown in all over here and there and other titles which are completely unrelated...

rambling:
my tags, my topics, my posts are of no use to me. new posts, as i said, is rather useless because in a place with so many comments 'new' means within the last few minutes. nothing of interest to me may have been said in the last four pages of recent posts. a lot of things that work in a smaller environment are not going to work here. so i am still looking for the good things or the advantages of having a Bigger Thing.

Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 06:41 pm
@salima,
salima wrote:
is there a member directory?


Not really, and it usually generates huge significant PM spam. We want to implement member search and better social connections though, so that you can find people you know easily.

Quote:
will you be adding photo albums?


Yes. I do not yet know when.

Quote:
what is unanswered?


Currently topic types are not very well differentiated but the idea is to for questions to be for types of topics that need just one answer and then can be considered closed. Unanswered is a list of question topic types that have not yet selected an answer, but the feature is not very good in that we do not do enough to prompt users to select answers and we don't differentiate between the topic types well.

However we plan to expand on this core framework to do some interesting things with new topic types (an example would be we could make a "URL" or "Video" topic type that is customized towards sharing content like that).


Quote:
suggestion:
so far what i miss most is the control panel page that showed me which threads i was in had replies so i could go there.


What about your "my posts" page? It lists all topics you have participated in ordered by latest reply.

Quote:
having to depend on email notifications is a nightmare. looking at 'recent' posts could be way too much to wade through. likely i wont even remember the name of the thread i just posted in. it also showed whatever messages i had received, when and who sent them so i would know at a glance where to go first.


Could you check out the my posts page and elaborate on what is missing? For example, I know it could benefit from some read tracking. What other tricks do you want that kind of topic list to do?

Quote:
is there some kind of alpha listing of any subsections of your forum? i see philosophy forum names thrown in all over here and there and other titles which are completely unrelated...


Because it's open-ended it is generally listed by most use and relevancy, but we are experimenting with some other ways to order and display them. An alphabetical display can work if we put relevancy thresholds (so it alphabetizes a popularity sort).

Quote:
rambling:
my tags, my topics, my posts are of no use to me. new posts, as i said, is rather useless because in a place with so many comments 'new' means within the last few minutes. nothing of interest to me may have been said in the last four pages of recent posts. a lot of things that work in a smaller environment are not going to work here. so i am still looking for the good things or the advantages of having a Bigger Thing.


Making topic grids that work for everyone is critical for us, so we'll nail this eventually. More feedback on where those grids are inadequate can help us nail it sooner.
0 Replies
 
Neil D
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 07:27 pm
I think this site is good as far as web sites go. I wouldnt drastically change anything. This might sound rediculous to some, but if I could change things(aestheticly), one of the things I would play around with is that vertical 3d looking border, to the left that runs the length of the page. I would see what it looks like with a little less 3d effect, or even flat, or like its opposite to the right with the drop shadow. It looks like a table border, but probably isnt. Web design has evolved a bit over the years. Everything now is CSS, and PHP, etc...Back when i was doing this, we used HTML, JavaScript, ASP, CGI, ADO within a c++ project to implement the databases. They were MS Access DBs. I didnt follow any protocols, I did what worked and what I was familiar with. For the most part.
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 07:31 pm
@Neil D,
We are probably getting rid of those drop shadows as they require an image for each color on each side, we want to make the site even faster and will probably avoid dropshadows till support for pure css (no image) drop shadows is more prevalent.

Our next redesign will aim at improving navigation options in the header and improving information architecture to make the topics easier to navigate.
0 Replies
 
Arjuna
 
  2  
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 07:38 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Just the ability to reduce the brightness of the background would be cool. Like when I use Word, I have it set to show a dark blue background. I'm sure this would be a low priority at present.
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 07:40 pm
@Arjuna,
Ok, let me think about what direction I want to go with this, whether we offer our own themes with one or two alternate color schemes or support full customization.

More input would be interesting, but perhaps it should just be a bright/dark type of thing for the basic contrast preferences to minimize the work.

I want to get that kind of thing right, despite what this rough attempt intimates aesthetics in software architecture is very important to me.
Robert Gentel
 
  3  
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 08:07 pm
@jgweed,
Currently we are working on BBcode and text formatting fixes for all posts.

We plan to remove font tags (I believe that the reader should chose and not be faced with a hodge-podge mix). We also will fix the quote tags (removing the old post numbers in them), and the size tags.

Please point out any other broken markup to us, preferably with links to poorly formatted posts so that we can fix all such instances of that formatting.
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 08:20 pm
@Robert Gentel,
I am a freak re the population re eyes, and I like the white background a lot, as at least a potential option. So, one vote for this kind of clarity, though I get others needing reduced brightness. Somewhat not as bright fine too.
0 Replies
 
mister kitten
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 08:35 pm
Chat-A place to relax, share, discuss

How can I see who is online? If there isn't already a feature for that, one would be appreciated greatly.

Different themes would be nice for a layout, but if possible I'd like an entire colour scheme for personalization. Whichever is easier on you, Robert
0 Replies
 
Twirlip
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 09:51 pm
@jgweed,
I'm not sure if this is the right thread for reporting technical problems with the transfer from the old PF to a2k, rather than making suggestions for improvement of the a2k interface. If not, could someone point to the right thread? Meanwhile, I've just taken my first look at a couple of my posts that were imported from the old PF to a2k, and I notice that a passage of text quoted from an external website (URL included) is missing from this one: http://able2know.org/topic/151577-1#post-4165472
Victor Eremita
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 11:12 pm
I second multiple colour schemes.
0 Replies
 
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 11:15 pm
@Twirlip,
Feel free to report them here, we'll do a fix for all those posts soon.

Edit: the character problem that caused that blank post spot has been fixed.
0 Replies
 
Soul Brother
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Jun, 2010 11:36 pm
I have a great suggestion, Make nearly everything the way it was on philforum, no but seriously, I am not whining about it but it really was the most purposeful and practical format, there are literally countless features that are so useful and convenient.

Wait!.... did I really just see an advertisement for scientology or are my eyes deceiving me? Oh my.
0 Replies
 
Butrflynet
 
  3  
Reply Fri 11 Jun, 2010 03:09 am
Hope this helps!

How to Navigate the New Philosophy Forum on A2K

Here are the links to various topics in the new tutorial I just posted so that when needed, you can navigate directly to the information you seek rather than having to scan the entire thread for the info.

Index of the new A2K site tutorial:

The Registration and Login Screens

Anatomy of the homepage

How to use the Filter/Sort Topics Tabs

Anatomy of the Profile and Preferences Screens

How to initiate a new topic thread

How to send a private message to a member, Anatomy of a topic thread, Anatomy of the post composition screen

How to use the Reply and Quote Buttons in a topic thread

Anatomy of a member's profile page
0 Replies
 
 

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