This is Frank S, as my user name used to be. We ‘met’ in the thread about the CKEditor behavior in Firefox and Chrome. Due to a failed password reset I had to create a new account, because I didn’t want to wait any longer for the new password being sent to me. I’m generally in a hurry, due to lack of time.
I read your blog and found it particularly well written. My sincere compliments for that. And it generates trust in that the transition will work out well, in principle. But I would have a couple of suggestions for the new format/system, based on my experience with a whole range of forums, including StackOverflow:
- Have the system check for and refuse the words ‘help’, ‘question’, ‘newbie’/‘newbe’ and ‘noob’ in a post’s title. Titles with those words generally poorly indicate what the actual question or problem is.
- Create an automatic check that ensures that first-time question posters understand what is expected of them in terms of writing a well-worded and well-formatted (i.e. codes in code blocks) question. If you would find this idea interesting but wouldn’t know how, I could make it for you.
- Maintain the moderation for first questions. Moderation for first answers would seem much less necessary to me, because I much less see poor first answers than poor first questions.
- If that would be reasonably possible, copy the StackOverflow system of answers versus comments, with their own position and formatting, making them clearly recognizable as such.
Hope this helps in making the new Sitepoint forum a success!
That is perhaps the most helpful feedback post that I have ever read on this forum. Sincerely appreciated. I’ll think on your points and get back to you if I need clarification.
As an aside, would you like me to merge your accounts? If so, which name would you like to retain?
Thanks for the compliments!
And yes, I would like my accounts to be merged. I would like to retain my current account, with user name Frank Conijn.
Looking forward to it
No problem, done.
I would have four more suggestions for the new forum format:
- Do continue to allow signatures. They are an incentive for wanna-be responders to actively engage in Sitepoint. Earning credential points is nice, but they won’t buy us anything, if you know what I mean. Our potential clients are not gonna search web dev forums for someone with a lot of credential points. They probably won’t even know how to find such forums.
A link to our own site does buy us something, in terms of Google ranking. Just implement a signature threshold of having answered at least 10 questions in a basically valuable manner, to ward off folks who just wanna register to be able to post their signature-link-to-own-site. You could even, if you have the manpower for it, implement a signature allowance request system, in which a user requests a signature allowance after those 10, and a moderator reviews the answers given for their value.
- I would suggest to create the option for the Sitepoint user to have the (signature) link they want to post be made a follow or a no-follow link. That may also solve the problem of a number of question askers not wanting to post a link to a client site in development. Which quite often limits our ability to analyze the problem.
- Encourage the question posters to format the code they want to post properly. That is easily done with this free online formatter (formats HTML as well, and is the best I could find).
- Encourage the question posters to make a live demo of their problematic code. The best option for that, regarding simplicity, loading speed, result-pane size and code readability is JSBin.
Again, hope this helps.
3 and 4 are awesome.
I’m hearing you on signatures, but it’s a tricky one. We’ve tried many many different thresholds over the last decade. Creating a post threshold incentivises people to post rubbish in order to make the count, which creates endless work for my moderators. Implementing a timeframe got people signing up and asking when they could have one (over and over). Bottom line is, if they’re here just for a signature then we don’t want them. If they’re here to engage, then a signature should be of no consequence, other than as a way of doing your due diligence on someone, in which case the profile link will do the trick. Clicking on someone’s avatar brings up the link, it’s just not on every post. I hope that compromise works.
Once we’re live, I’d love to continue this dialogue and see what your thoughts are then.
Personally, I prefer CodePen. And one big advantage of using it on Discourse is that you can embed the pens, so that they can be viewed within the post itself.
Your blog post is what inspired me to post here as well as Frank’s comments.
First, kudos to you and your team. I know it can be a difficult thing to pull off a change-over of this magnitude. I for one, hope that it will be worth it.
Secondly, I have been a member since October 2008. Yes, that is no excuse for me having little to no involvement. My post count as of today is less than 10 BUT that is changing.
Thirdly, the Signatures. I would keep them but at a minimum just allow Text only rather than the dolled up versions. Keep them simple and family friendly. Period.
In my niche I am a trainer. I give out tons of FREE help and I do not ask for a nickel. So when someone clicks on my signature and ends up buying into my training program. That makes my time worth it.
I can only speak for myself but I do click on other members profile pages just to see if there is anything deeper to the person. Many times there isn’t but I do fear that totally eliminating signatures will drive away some of your users who are givers to the community because like me there is some payback that comes back to us.
Please don’t take my comments as a gauntlet being thrown down. I will try the new platform but for me even a decent hint at making a buck by way of a simple signature is important.
Thanks for your time and I really do wish success with the new roll-out.
Hey Buddy, thanks for your input. So I mightn’t have been clear enough in my explanation. You will still have the opportunity to have a signature link on your profile, and it will display when someone clicks on your avatar, it just won’t display on every post.
Not to mention once you reach a certain Trust Level (due to being engaged in the community) you can post a dedicated topic to your site (whatever) in a special category that everyone can see, but only certain Trust Levels can post in.
So you’ll gain a full topic exposure by being a part of the community.
I personally think the no-sig thing is awesome. Sigs are outdated and most people don’t read them anyway. Having been browsing forums for years, they are nothing more than visual clutter to me. I didn’t even realize there were sigs on this forum until this no-sig issue came up in one of the earlier announcements. lol
Visual Clutter is bad. Give them the information they want as elegantly and as efficiently as possible. They don’t care about sigs.
Encourage the question posters to format the code they want to post properly. That is easily done with this free online formatter (formats HTML as well, and is the best I could find).
I think this is pretty important. Unreadable code is worthless code. But not only properly formatted, but the right amount. I don’t know how anyone else feels about it, but most of the time I see threads with too much or too little code and I just don’t care enough to either read through it enough for it to make sense or explain how much code is needed if it’s really missing a lot.
Something else I would like to see in the new Discourse is a Meta tag for discussions about the forum itself.
I agree with you there. It is very difficult having to weed out unneeded lines of code because someone doesn’t feel like only pasting the relevant information (or doesn’t know which part is relevant).
I think we have this covered. @HAWK ;, do you recall if this is taken care of (I’m not sure if all of the tags are currently entered right now?
We have a “support” tag, for topics that would have gone into “Forum Support & Feedback” here, so that seems to be covered - although “support” and “feedback” are two different animals.
Nah, nor I. Thank the gods for Inspect Element, though. I just paste the code into a page template and view it in the browser, and the inspector shows up where the issue is—especially with HTML and CSS.
We have a support tag, which is what I figured that would fall under. While we know that Meta relates to the specific platform that you’re on, I suspect it is too ambiguous a term for people that aren’t experienced with web dev, which is a large portion of our audience.
Glad you find 3 and 4 good suggestions. And let’s indeed continue after the new forum has gone live. Then we will know exactly what we’re talking about.
That sounds and looks awesome, Ralph. Like I wrote, I think JSBin is the most user-friendly, but being able to embed a live demo in a post is big selling point.
Well, Meta is pretty popular outside webdev circles. You’ll see it alot in internet based communities in general. I meant it more for things like about clarification on rules or suggestions or things along those lines, rather than asking for help.
I strongly suspect that if we add a “meta” tag, we’ll find it used by people asking SEO questions about meta keywords and description tags, etc.
Clarification on rules, etc., is definitely “support”. Once we see how things go, I’m sure we could add in a “feedback” tag, or something similar, if required, but based on the current amount of feedback and suggestions we receive, I’m not sure it’s justified.