1 - The new forums should encourage the participation of new members, both to feel encouraged to seek help in the first place, but also to stay and become long-term contributing members of the online community here.
2 - The new forums should alienate the existing users as little as possible, as there's no point in having questions with no answers - though equally there's no point in having answers with no questions. A tricky balance to strike.
3 - Response of the forums should be no worse, and hopefully better, than typical performance here in recent months. If that means beefing up the hardware to accommodate the demands of more graphic-intensive software, so be it.
4 - The forums should look not unlike the majority of typical modern internet forums. This will not be favoured by those familiar with the sparse appearance of the present forums, but incoming new members expect to see something that looks more contemporary and familiar in style, even if there's a modest performance cost.
5 - They should function not unlike the majority of modern internet forums, in terms of the user interface and usable features. If you've got your first problem with Adobe software and you arrive in the Adobe forums for the first time, you don't want then to be confronted with something that looks like another problem and which takes time and effort to understand. The learning curve should be absolutely minimal. There should be a very low turn-away rate (potential users taking one look and backing off before participating or even complaining).
6 - The search function should be state of the art. If you have a good manual for the product software, a good user interface for it, and a good search engine for the knowledgebase and forums, the number of questions needing to be asked should be significantly lower.
7 - To support the regular participants it should be possible to list the discussions which have unread posts in any given member's selected forums, and within those discussions it should be possible to go directly to the unread content without scrolling around to find it. It should then be possible to go to the next unread post in the next unread discussion without first going backwards to the overall list.
8 - NNTP access, though a mystery to me, seems highly valued by some, and providing it does not seem to mess with what the rest of us see (setting aside the quoting problem), so let's have it.
9 - An effective mechanism to enforce the forum rules by restricting access by individuals who persistently break the rules should be provided - and there should be no simple way round it. Failing that, provision of an inbuilt method for users to ignore posts by other specified users is necessary.
10 - There should be a properly functioning list of banned words.
#1 Be able to identify, instantly, new posts, new threads, go straight to the last post I read in any thread. For instance, one forum I use has a button for all new posts since last visit, or all new posts in subscribed threads - and you're automatically subscribed to any you post in, till you unsubscribe. Although I prefer this system.
#2 Excellent search function - but not over-complicated. Did I read something about 'fuzzy' searching? Keep it efficient but simple.
#3 I do NOT want to see unnecessary autoquotes from Newsreader readers. If you can achieve NNTP access, very good - a lot of people will see this as essential - Len Hewitt for one, I believe? But don't let it clutter the forum interface.
#4 Minimal but clear identification of Adobe forum hosts/employees vs regular users.
#5 Clearer road-map for newcomers so they can find the forum they need straight away.
#6 A way to ban incorrigible abusers - wielded by Oz! or a small select band of equally reasonable people, NOT the power-mad few. Even a 'vote-off' mechanism?
#7 Don't need avatars, don't want signatures except minimal signalling, as above. But if you must ... keep it tiny, don't devote one or more columns to reams of non-essential stuff like the last attempt, so a one-line post can take up a lot of vertical space, just because of the fluff.
#8 Easier text formatting for those who can't get their heads round <b> etc.
#9 Allow uploading of images, again for those who can't easily work out how else to do it. Automatic expiration after about 2 weeks?
#10 No unnecessary decoration, keep it as clean as humanly possible, allowing maximum space for the actual text of the posts. It's like Flash intros - it might look very impressive first time you see it, by the second visit it's an annoyance.
#11 If possible, css rather than table-based to keep the code load down, improve speed. cf most blogs.
Why does the Vertical space for the avatar need to be so large? A standard avatar is converted to a gif image and should be no more than a 1" - 1.5" wide at the most length determined by aspect ration of the Photo used. The width and length of the box for the avatar should not be a set size but grow or shrink to width and length of avatar, and avatar should not be so large That its length is larger than the window of the Message, unless the message is less than 5 lines.
And if there is no avatar, the window for the avatar simple does not show-up.
If the reply is no more than four or five lines then the window should only grow to the length of the avatar. If strict regulations are given to size of avatar submitted Then it should not cause any undue white space.
If someone is smart enough look at how the PHPbb Forums are setup with avatars. maybe they can get a clue how to set them up in the adobe forums.
As far as I'm concerned the design wastes far too much space from the very start. Look at the width of the screen occupied by real information versus the total width of the image. There is too much useless eye candy.
When you have an image on a website (image.extension) on a website (yourdomain.topdomain), you can link to it by copying/writing this into your message (folders are optional, .extension may be .gif, .jpg, etc.):
That's right, NNTP users can't see images, that's why some of them complain about us posting them. Just a direct link to the image is best for them, as dave explained. If I know there's a newsreader-user in the conversation, I try to remember to do both.
I honestly don't care whether NNTP users can see images or not. If I make a reply that is helped by posting images, I will continue to do so, as I've always done. NNTP users know they're available in the browser UI. I think part of the reason they use NNTP in the first place is so they don't have to spend the time and bandwidth to load images.
If they want to see them, they can fire up a browser.
That way people that are interested in viewing and posting avatars and signatures can, and those that don't set so they don't.
If anyone frequents Apples Forum almost longtime members use some type of Avatar. while only the new folks don't. If you notice I've been a long standing member since March 24, 2005. Actaully its been longer, But they went through a major design change about that time and lost all that information in the redesign. I see they have gone through another redesign since that period because for several years I didn't visit because of the original change. I original Joined about the same time I got my G4-500.
I suggested the preference option about a week ago. Turning off avatars and signatures (and allowing the column to shrink to 0 as a result) would satisfy me and leave them as an option for those that love those things. If I have to deal with all the wasted space, I will likely quit visiting the forums. I just don't have the time to waste scanning things that have always been visible in one screen, but are headed to 2 or 3 screens because of the space waste.