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 Post subject: ANNOUNCEMENT! New discussion Board!
PostPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2001 6:41 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 24, 1999 12:18 pm
Location: Palerang Shire, NSW, Australia
I have written a new discussion board for the Twisty Megasite. I have placed it for everyone to test at:

Twistyboard

Remember, this is for test only (please don't use it for real postings yet), and I would like everyone's opinion as to whether or not you like the way it works and whether or not you even want a new board.

Maybe some of you will decide that if it ain't broke, don't fix it, but it is a chance to have a puzzle board that of our own. That means that based on feedback, I will re-design it to suit our needs.

And at the end of the day, if noone wants it, we'll just stick with the current one.

Wayne
Twisty Megasite


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 Post subject: Untitled
PostPosted: Mon Feb 05, 2001 6:43 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 08, 2000 2:32 am
Location: San Francisco, CA
The current board doesn't seem to facilitate freeform discussion very well, merely topic-based, short-lived threads. Replies to an existing topic will be grouped with that topic and basically invisible if that topic moves off the most-recent-topics page.

That discourages posters from replying to an existing thread unless specifically on-topic, but also discourages posters from commenting an existing topic after the initial discussion period has waned. And since people are perhaps loathe to start an entirely new discussion, the very design of the board leads to less frequent use.

The default scheme used at Flare http://flare.solareclipse.net) seems to work pretty well, as any topic with recent traffic bubbles to the top. On the other hand, the twisty world is not exactly hopping, so even something more akin to an unthreaded (by default) message list might be more inviting to users.

Or maybe there's just no-one with anything to say. Or maybe I have a big "ignore me" sign on my back. Harumph.


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 Post subject: Re: Untitled
PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2001 6:43 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 08, 2000 2:32 am
Location: San Francisco, CA
Ugh, and the title should automatically inherit, or be filled in by default. Lousy design.


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 Post subject: Hmm...
PostPosted: Tue Feb 06, 2001 10:00 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 24, 1999 12:18 pm
Location: Palerang Shire, NSW, Australia
Yes, some of the best Boards I have seen start with a topic and all replies go under that heading. Maybe this is the way to go. At the moment, it takes the current selected message and sees the one it replied to.

I wonder what a better view would be?


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 Post subject: New board
PostPosted: Tue Feb 13, 2001 2:21 am 
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Joined: Sun Dec 19, 1999 3:02 am
Location: Canada
: Maybe some of you will decide that if it ain't broke, don't fix it, but it is a chance to have a puzzle board that of our own. That means that based on feedback, I will re-design it to suit our needs.

I like the layout of it, the colour scheme and the quote from the message being responded to, but I do have a couple of minor quibbles about the new board. First, the quoted text seems to be awfully narrow (40 columns?), and the apparent necessity to keep going back to the previous screen every time you want to read another message in the same thread, even for direct replies. With such a small message base right not it's not such a big deal, but as it grows... Perhaps for the main listings, you could list the primary message header followed by (n replies), and then the submessages in each thread would list the remainder. This would allow for more threads on a single page, plus it would load a lot faster for low speed users. L8r.


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 Post subject: New Board - Ideas
PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2001 5:50 am 
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Joined: Fri Dec 08, 2000 2:32 am
Location: San Francisco, CA
- I'd definitely recomend cookie-based registration as an optional feature. The same web site shouldn't ask me who I am more than once. Fairly trivial to do with a big win in encouraging conversation.

- I'm not sure threading is a big win. In a forum like USENET where the discussion is asynchronous it's handy to have a threaded newsreader so you can tell what message replies to which other message. If you're trying to encourage casual conversation rather than technical discussion, threading makes it harder to read and more intimidating to respond to a message.

- This board, the prototype, and others treat messages with great formality, including headers and thread structure, lists of replies and siblings, etc. That's an awful lot of structure for a simple discussion; I think it's a consequence of everyone's background with email.

As an alternative, I would propose removing threading entirely and also the "header" or "discrete message" notion, and adopting a more Instant Message type discussion style. That is, once a topic has started, replies show up in a log-style.

Sample scenario:

- Albert is a new user; he comes to the board for the first time and sees a list of topics listed by most recent activity - "Twisty Discussion", "Customs", "Auction Alerts", "Solutions", etc.

- Albert clicks on "Twisty Discussions". He is presented with a log of the discussion; it looks very much like a chat transcript, except each message is typically longer (perhaps multi-paragraphed) and is time-stamped (inobtrusively). Only the first 25 messages on that topic are visible on the first page; at the end is a "More..." link.

- Albert scrolls through the list, clicks on "More...", scrolls, clicks, etc until he is done reading all 127 messages.

- Albert wants to add something to the discussion; a text field at the bottom of the list lets him type a reply immediately. Since he hasn't posted before (no cookie) he also sees some registration fields (user name, email address, etc)*. He enters a message and fills in his information, then hits "Send"

- Albert leaves the site and comes back a few days later.

- Once again, Albert is shown a list of active topics. The system knows that in "Twisty Discussions" Albert has read through message 127 (it stored that in a cookie in his last visit), but that there now 142 messages, so the page indicates "15 new messages" by that topic.

- Albert clicks on the topic and is immediately taken to message 128 (the message he wrote**) and the other 14 messages.

- Albert wants to add to the conversation; since the system knows who he is (via a cookie) it only shows him the message entry field, with no name/email fields.

* One of the fields could be a checkbox saying "remember me" - if the user unchecks it, their experience at the site is not as rich, but it is still fully functional.

Why not skip the message he wrote? Someone may have submitted a message between the last he read and the one he wrote. A heuristic could be written to accomodate this, but it's an optional feature.


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 Post subject: Forum types
PostPosted: Thu Feb 15, 2001 5:50 am 
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Joined: Wed Nov 24, 1999 12:18 pm
Location: Palerang Shire, NSW, Australia
Yes, Although mine is threaded (so is this board), I do prefer the type where you have a topic starter and all replied and discussion that goes under it.

Replies to replies are rather complicated and annoying. I might take the board down while it's planned out.


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