Will the free flow of unified threads be retained, with successive posts filling the entire width, and with simple forum lists of threads, or:
A) Are we going to be put in boxes with forum member information to the left and possibly buttons to the left/right/bottom, so the flow is broken up and takes up far more space?
B) Will the threads be branched, so everything may become fragmented, and so subjects deserving their own threads will be buried deep?
C) Will the forum lists of threads be furnished with dividing lines and possibly arranged by subject rather than latest posts?
I believe those are the most fundamental question about the new forum; most other issues can be solved within the right frame, if needed.
Several times, strong pleas for mercy have been raised concerning threats A) - C).
It is so nice to easily find and pick a thread with new posts in the forum list, and then to run/read through and partake in a coherent and focused thread of successive posts, without things fading away in different directions, without the disturbance of having to cross unnecessary lines and perform unnecessary scrolling because of disturbing information, which might as well be reached by clicking the poster name or some popup button next to it in the line containing the poster name and time of posting.
Question(s) asked while anxiously waiting to see a preview.
A Hybrid. Yes, there will be more user information and some shaded boxes. Just a reply button below/between the messages. Width of the content will be similar to what we see now. There will be some navigation control over on the right side.
B Default is linear discussions like it is now. I'm not sure if there will be an option to view as threaded discussions. I know that some people really like threads. But I find them difficult to navigate and easy to skip messages (by not ever noticing them) or read them out of sequence, causing confusion. I like a forum to read like a live conversation. One person speaks, then the next, then a reply, in sequence. Private messages could be used if you need a sidebar conversation with someone.
c Topics listed by date/time of last post in the discussion. No lines between the items. I don't see how sorting by subject could work. Everything would be lumped together in "how do I..." and "help!" and "My Adobe stopped working" and you wouldn't be able to find new or relevant discussions.
The topic list will have more info than you have here. Author, Subject line, number of views, number of replies, and the date/author of the latest reply.
It looks like there may be an option/preference to show threading by indenting messages in threads. But this is a personal option and can be changed back and forth once you find the one you are comfortable with.
I'd like to make the suggestion that the CSS be made freely available (rather than having to root it out) for anyone who might want to GreaseMonkey their way to a page view that they might prefer and for parameters which can't be set through user control panels.
I've only looked at the first two of these, but they are all on the same platform. Perhaps some compare and contrast is in order...
Intel wanted to optimize their engagements with end users, so they worked closely with Jive to develop and launch the Intel Open Port community. Intel is now actively learning from their 22,000+ registered users, experiencing over 10,000 page views per day.
Visit the Open Port Community http://communities.intel.com/index.jspa
Nike utilizes Clearspace Community to provide activity- and event-based communities to enthusiasts. Nike's 500,000 members have logged 50 million miles of runs and generated over 200,000 new ideas.
Visit the Nike Plus Community http://nikeplus.nike.com/nikeplus/
VMWare uses Clearspace Community to power over 20 product and event communities. VMWare recognized immediate results, including accelerated product innovation, lower cost of customer support, and great visibility into their user base.
Visit the VMWare Community http://www.vmware.com/communities/content/
Electronic Arts uses Jive to support their online gaming communities. After launching the community, EA experienced a 1,600% member growth in under 9 months.
Visit the EA Community http://forums.easports.com/mboards/index.jspa?sls=2
Has there been a beta test of the new forums? One with users as well as Adobe employees.
I know that when the last change took place, I left those worthless forums, and didn't come back until several weeks after they had been rolled back to the old version. I know other long term users did the same.
I am sure that things will go better this time, but dammit, I am still nervous about this.
That's not really a very informative answer...... and it's not terribly reassuring....
> I know that when the last change took place, I left those worthless forums, and didn't come back until several weeks after they had been rolled back to the old version. I know other long term users did the same.
They were disastrous. Please, please..... not again..... not again....
No preview yet, but it will be available when it's set up.
One of the big grumbles that people have about this version is that it doesn't have all the stuff they are used to seeing in other forums. Not sure how to bridge the difference. Simple is better in my/our eyes, but that means we have to pare down what others consider "normal".
> Even similar is a step down in my view. The current Adobe Forum look is quite simply the best I've ever seen. Has everything we need and nothing we don't. Very clean and useful.
Why mess with that?
Probably because the Macromedia forum people think the same thing about their fora. They need consolidated and they both need a feature refresh. It should not take 5 drill downs to mark a forum read for example.
Im all for new fora with current technology. There will be nashing of teeth. Push through it.
That said; Adobe better manage this attempt a lot better than the last attempt. The last time they tried was a disaster; not from a technology standpoint, but from a planning/execution standpoint.
I am pretty much responsible for the current look and feel we have here. Back in November 1999 we had major issues with a forum provider and needed to make a fast move to another system. Myself and two programmers locked ourselves away for three weeks and came up with these forums. My main motivation was to make it work as closely as we could to CompuServe with a text-based interface little clutter. I think that worked out well. But it also locked us down. Shortly after that forum project the two programmers moved away and left Adobe. Over the years Web Crossing updated their software. But we were working with templates based on an older version (which was current when we launched) and we didn't have the folks who wrote the template code around anymore. But the forums worked. So we left them that way.
Since the start, though, we've had people looking to update the interface. Make it handle things like code snippets, embedded graphics, better text formatting, proper CSS, etc. But most of those attempts came to naught because of the spaghetti code.
For folks like myself and a number of the people replying here who have been using this system for almost 10 years it is going to be a big change. Painful in some places. But I hope it is also refreshing in some places.
Forum participation has fallen. People in and outside of Adobe are looking for updated features and a new look. I felt that the last two attempts to update the forums would fail. And they did. This time around I'm feeling much better. A completely different team of people worked on the new system than worked on the last attempt at updating forums.
Right now I'm willing to accept some shading around the messages in return for much better search, the ability to easily embed an image in a message (which is not available at all on the Macromedia Forums), a consistent overall look between all the forums, one sign-in ID for all of Adobe.com, etc.
Here are some of the things I'm looking forward to:
* Search - wildcard search, boolean operators, phrases in quotes, fuzzy terms (foam~ will find foam and roams), proximity ("new car"~5 will find matches where new and car are within five words of each other), and weighting (black cat^4 will weight cat higher in the results versus other words appearing near black in text).
* You can also search subject lines. You can search the entire site (currently not available in the Macromedia forums) or individual forums. You can select the individual forums no matter where you are, you don't have to go to that forum first. You can select time periods to search (yesterday, last 7 days, 30 days, 90 days, This year, last year). You can search for individuals.
* Private messages will be enabled (currently available in the Macromedia forums, but not in Adobe Forums).
* Just about everything in the system will be available via RSS. Some examples: You can get feeds for individual users you want to follow, for entire forums, for special announcements, for discussions, for threads, for unanswered threads.
* Threads can be viewed as Flat or as threaded with indentations for conversations. My preference is flat, like a live discussion. But many prefer the threaded mode. Either is available as a personal preference.
* There is a single link to find all the discussions that you started. And from your profile you can find all discussions you have participated in and are subscribed to. For forums you are subscribed to you can post messages from your email client. You can even start discussions via email.
* When posting messages you will be able to easily embed code samples and raw HTML, XML, SQL, and Java. You can quote the message (or parts of it) that you are replying to if it helps maintain continuity in a busy thread. A rich text editor will make it easier for users to format messages and include links and photos or videos.
* When reading messages you can click on Print Preview and see the discussion without all the other elements around it. You can add a reply from this view, too (threaded to the initial discussion topic).
* There is also a PDF view with even less formatting for printing, saving, or sending to someone else.
* There is the ability to email a discussion to someone. And the options there include linking to the discussion and/or including a PDF of the discussion topic (not the replies yet, but I have put in a feature request).
* The system will generate a list of similar discussions to the one you are reading (waiting to see how effective that really is).
As a forum "old timer" there are things I'm not quite as accepting of yet, but I'm getting closer. Avatars and points, for example. I'm starting to like avatars. Used well they do give a better sense of community. I would encourage people to use real photos of themselves. Custom avatars would have to be OKd before acceptance. So I hold out hope there.
Points... If I don't look at them as competition, I think I will find use for them. Points will not be assigned for simply doing things like posting questions or replies. So there shouldn't be an onrush of "me, too" pointless posts. Points have to be assigned to an answer by the person who started a discussion if they find the answer correct or helpful. Seeing how many points are awarded (not necessarily who has received them) will give some gauge as to how helpful people are finding the forum experience. Some users may take them as a challenge to get out there and provide good answers. That should be a good thing, too. Points are not shown in the basic interface, you have to hover over or click on someone's name to get their points total. So it isn't all that "in your face." Just a status icon (1 to 5 bars) will show under their names.
Adobe employees, Community Experts, Certified Experts, etc. will have icons to identify them in place of the status icon.
As part of the Points system, a person who asks a question can flag the question as answered. You can then look specifically for answered (or unanswered) questions in the system. The current Macromedia forums allow a message to be marked as the answer, and this marking should carry over into the new system when the old messages are imported. And yes, we've worked out bringing in messages older than 12 months.
There will soon be a tryout version of the forums. I encourage folks to take advantage of that and try them out. I remain hopeful!
John, thank you very much for opening your heart to us. It's comforting to read that (as we have always known) you are at our side. It takes courage to write what you did at this time, and I congratulate you for it.