Drabblecast Forum Improvement Suggestions

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Algernon Sydney is Dead
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Drabblecast Forum Improvement Suggestions

Postby Algernon Sydney is Dead » Sat Oct 19, 2013 3:44 am

normsherman wrote:So, we're trying to take steps to redo our layout to make our website more readible, user-friendly and idiot-proof.

Get your grandma or random strangers to navigate our page and see what they think or what they have problems with. What do they read first? Can they subscribe easily? Are they overwhelmed? Underwhelmed?

Any feedback is appreciated! Thanks!


We should fix the forum first. It's the second point of contact and many people get the episodes from whatever feed; they never see the main site.

The Nielsen Norman Group site has a bunch of spot-on recommendations and the science to back them up.

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Re: Drabblecast Website Suggestions

Postby Varda » Sat Oct 19, 2013 11:20 am

Another suggestion specific to the forums: if at all possible, please require site login in order to view the short story forum. Leave a note or a section of the forum visible so that people know it's there, certainly, but I think it's not the best thing that people have to choose between sharing their writing with fellow forumites and keeping their First Rights.

Granted, 99.9% of the stuff posted may not be publishable anyway, but the point's more to protect new writers from what they don't know. Even in the short time I've been around, I've had to inform more than one person that by posting their story on the forum, it just became less marketable (perhaps unmarketable), and that seems to defeat the purpose of the forum to begin with. If it were my call, I would go so far as to sticky a Read-Me to the top of the forum explaining the general rules regarding First Rights and posting on the internet, as a friendly PSA to folks who are new writers stopping by for a crit.
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Re: Drabblecast Forum Improvement Suggestions

Postby Algernon Sydney is Dead » Sat Oct 19, 2013 11:59 am

That seems to be a common feature of author-oriented websites -- a protected forum for their stories. Should be easy enough (easy for me to say since Tom has to do it), but might complicate Google searches.

Varda wrote:If it were my call, I would go so far as to sticky a Read-Me to the top of the forum explaining the general rules regarding First Rights and posting on the internet, as a friendly PSA to folks who are new writers stopping by for a crit.

You write it; I'll post it.

(And BTW, I haven't forgotten about these edits. ETA Halloween.)

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Re: Drabblecast Forum Improvement Suggestions

Postby Varda » Sat Oct 19, 2013 12:21 pm

Algernon Sydney is Dead wrote:You write it; I'll post it.

Aye-aye, Cap'n! :) Might be a day or two, but will get it done.
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Re: Drabblecast Forum Improvement Suggestions

Postby tbaker2500 » Sat Oct 19, 2013 3:38 pm

Let me get final approval from the man, and I'll dood it.
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Re: Drabblecast Forum Improvement Suggestions

Postby tbaker2500 » Sun Oct 20, 2013 1:45 am

Okay, I've run it by the boss, and implemented protected Short Stories.
Now, where's that text?? :-)
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Re: Drabblecast Forum Improvement Suggestions

Postby Algernon Sydney is Dead » Sun Oct 20, 2013 2:34 am

I don't think you should protect/hide ALL short stories!

This should be a separate forum, maybe, or better-yet, an option that the author can select.

How often is a story page, the landing page?

How often is a story page viewed, for more than 200 seconds, by an unlogged-in user?

I'd like to think that some stranger would search for, say, "Haribo Gummi Bears" and stumble upon the DC sites. Soon he'd donate lots of money; Norm would commission the greatest cephalopodic rock-opera, ever; and we'd all be singing Kumbaya to our graves! :)

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Re: Drabblecast Forum Improvement Suggestions

Postby tbaker2500 » Sun Oct 20, 2013 2:38 am

We can have this debate. I just run the site.
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Re: Drabblecast Forum Improvement Suggestions

Postby tbaker2500 » Sun Oct 20, 2013 2:42 am

Okay, Tapatalk is now supported by this forum.

PLEASE let me know if you ever come to the forum, and it asks you to download Tapatalk. I've theoretically disabled this. It happens on a bunch of other forums, and I hate it.
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Re: Drabblecast Forum Improvement Suggestions

Postby Algernon Sydney is Dead » Sun Oct 20, 2013 2:56 am

This forum uses an "Information page" which is completely useless except to block certain, accidental, double posts.

This page has an annoying 3 second delay. Get rid of it. The forum should be as responsive as possible.

That is, for every bit of code like:

Code: Select all

<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="3; url= ...


Change it to:

Code: Select all

<meta http-equiv="refresh" content="0; url= ...

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Re: Drabblecast Forum Improvement Suggestions

Postby Algernon Sydney is Dead » Sun Oct 20, 2013 3:09 am

tbaker2500 wrote:We can have this debate. I just run the site.

Can I put up a poll in the story forum?

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Re: Drabblecast Forum Improvement Suggestions

Postby tbaker2500 » Sun Oct 20, 2013 3:11 am

Can you be a little more descriptive of this "information page"? When does it appear?

Yes, there is a limit to no more than 1 post per 3 seconds. Is there an legitimate time where you want want to post more often than every 3 seconds?
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Re: Drabblecast Forum Improvement Suggestions

Postby Varda » Sun Oct 20, 2013 3:22 am

Re: the stories forum - yes, it needs to be protected from search engines if we're fixing the problem. That's the point. Otherwise authors lose their First Rights. I can't think of a situation where anyone would want to post a story specifically for it to be available all over the place if they have the option not to. This is important especially for the younger/newer writers who stop by who haven't had it explained to them that "indexed by Google = published".
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Re: Drabblecast Forum Improvement Suggestions

Postby Algernon Sydney is Dead » Sun Oct 20, 2013 3:27 am

tbaker2500 wrote:Can you be a little more descriptive of this "information page"? When does it appear?

Yes, there is a limit to no more than 1 post per 3 seconds. Is there an legitimate time where you want want to post more often than every 3 seconds?


It appears mainly after posting and/or logging in.

And no, I don't need to post faster than every three seconds. (Also, I don't wait that long. A userscript has been short-circuiting that refresh for me personally, for years, but you haven't seen me rapid-fire posting have you? ;) )

BUT, a meta refresh delay is NOT the way to rate limit users (which doesn't seem to be a problem here anyway).

The point of killing that delay is to increase the perceived responsiveness of the site and not force users to stare at a junk page instead of payload content.
Lack of responsiveness is a big web no-no that drives away users.

I don't have the exact study handy, but this and this are related.


The gold standard is AJAX-like performance with all actions less than 300 ms, and if you rate limit, Explicitly make it clear that you are doing so (except when limiting for security concerns, like at login) and don't interrupt content or flow to do it.

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Re: Drabblecast Forum Improvement Suggestions

Postby tbaker2500 » Sun Oct 20, 2013 3:54 am

Aha! I know the page you are talking about. It's quite annoying. Let me look into it.
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Re: Drabblecast Forum Improvement Suggestions

Postby tbaker2500 » Sun Oct 20, 2013 6:03 pm

Okay, try this. It removes the Successfully Posted message. It does not kill other information screens, there is no universal way to do that. phpbb is pretty steadfast in their belief this is the right way. Let's kill one at a thyme.
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Re: Drabblecast Forum Improvement Suggestions

Postby tbaker2500 » Sun Oct 20, 2013 6:05 pm

Okay guys, what else?
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Re: Drabblecast Forum Improvement Suggestions

Postby Algernon Sydney is Dead » Mon Oct 21, 2013 12:29 am

tbaker2500 wrote:Okay, try this. It removes the Successfully Posted message.

So far, so good. Thanks!


tbaker2500 wrote:Okay guys, what else?

Did you get that list I emailed Norm?
It has a bunch of things, but I think priority would be readability and usability.

But...
There are some kick-ass new forum engines out there now. (Sales pitch by Jeff Atwood (If you don't know who he is, start reading his stuff))

Check it out. It's a lot easier to use, to track and find info. It's AJAX fast and is built responsive/mobile-supporting (although the stock demo isn't quite as small-screen friendly as various implementations of the platform, like boingboing.net's).

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Re: Drabblecast Forum Improvement Suggestions

Postby tbaker2500 » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:14 am

No, I haven't seen that yet. I'll look at Discourse. Thanks
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Re: Drabblecast Forum Improvement Suggestions

Postby tbaker2500 » Mon Oct 21, 2013 1:31 am

Finally somebody is building a new forum platform! I tried any number of forums last year, nothing was good enough to switch away from phpbb. Especially the amount of legacy content we have. I does not yet look like there are tools to migrate from phpbb to Discourse.
While the shared hosting plan we use right now can do rails, it doesn't do rails WELL. We'd see a performance hit if we went to it right now, you'd really need something like Heroku. And that's not in the budget.
Requiring IE 10+ is admittedly ambitious. Like they say, it's the forum for the future. I think in 1-2 years, we'll be moving to something like that. Can't wait!
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