My top ten criteria for the new forums

Explorer ,
Feb 21, 2009

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This is my view on what the new forums should provide. This is what I'll personally be measuring the new forums against when we have a fully testable beta version.

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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.

=================================================================

That's my top ten list of criteria - though in five minutes I'll probably think of some key stuff I have left out.

What's yours?

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My top ten criteria for the new forums

Explorer ,
Feb 21, 2009

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This is my view on what the new forums should provide. This is what I'll personally be measuring the new forums against when we have a fully testable beta version.

=================================================================

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.

=================================================================

That's my top ten list of criteria - though in five minutes I'll probably think of some key stuff I have left out.

What's yours?

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Feb 21, 2009 0
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Enthusiast ,
Feb 21, 2009

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the new forums should have a way to ban offensive posters.

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Feb 21, 2009 0
Enthusiast ,
Feb 21, 2009

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and they should be fast.

everything else i can adjust to.

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Feb 21, 2009 0
Advocate ,
Feb 21, 2009

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Trouble is, how do you achieve #1? Or know how to set about it?

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Feb 21, 2009 0
Advocate ,
Feb 21, 2009

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Mine (in order of importance):

#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.

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Feb 21, 2009 0
Advocate ,
Feb 22, 2009

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Yes, but look at the vertical space imposed by the avatar and personal details. Get a lot of one-line posts and that would really add up.

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Feb 22, 2009 0