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look
12-16-2007, 03:18 PM
Would it be possible to pin the General Comments to the top of the page and then give each diavlog its own forum? That way we could create as many threads as we want per diavlog.

TwinSwords
12-16-2007, 03:34 PM
A lot of the concern about the new forum is simply a result of a well-known phenomenon that "people resist change" and don't like change.

I remember in 1996, my company upgraded to Outlook email from some pathetic mainframe based email. The transition was like from the stone age to the 21st century.

But naturally, there was a small, vocal segment of the population that whined and howled uncontrollably for a long time.

It didn't matter to those people that the new email was better. What mattered to those people was that someone was upsetting the order of their universe. So they assumed the fetal position and whined, expecting everyone else to recognize how badly we had all been victimized.

Today these people are using Outlook without any problems. (People back then predicted failure, too. "We'll be back to mainframe email by the end of the week. We will not stand for this!") LOL.

During the late 1990s, I was addicted to a threaded forum. It was the first internet forum I'd ever seen, and I spent hours on it debating politics. I loved the threaded forum.

But that site died, and years later I discovered vBulletin forums. At first, I had a hard time with the transition. "Where are the threads!" I wanted to know. It seemed, relatively, like a step backwards.

But with time, I got over it, and looking back, I realize that vBulletin was a massive improvement. It may not remind me of how things used to be back when they were primitive, but it does have the advantage that it works better and is easier to use.

Rather than re-redesign the site at this stage, I would suggest that people try to adapt to vBulletin.

look
12-16-2007, 03:46 PM
Rather than re-redesign the site at this stage, I would suggest that people try to adapt to vBulletin.

I'm not suggesting a re-design, but that each diavlog be given its own forum. Now, if that would use up too much server space, or whatever, I understand. Otherwise, it strikes me as a more convenient way to view the subtopics each diavlog yields.

TwinSwords
12-16-2007, 03:57 PM
I'm not suggesting a re-design...

Right, sorry, that was my knee jerking after reading wolfgang and garbage posts.


... but that each diavlog be given its own forum.
That's kind of a neat idea. I'm not sure how well it would work, but it's something to think about. The concern I would have is that after a few months, there would be dozens of forums. But there are probably ways to keep that from becoming unmanagable.

Maybe an alternative yet similar suggestion would be to allow users to create new threads within the Diavlog Comments forum. Right now, we can't create threads in that forum, so all discussion about a particular diavlog must be done within a single thread.

i don't know. I'm inclined to wait and let it grow and then think about how to make it better once we've had some time to settle into it.

I'm afraid that we will destroy vBulletin trying to make three cranky people think they are still using Phorum.

look
12-16-2007, 04:18 PM
[QUOTE]Maybe an alternative yet similar suggestion would be to allow users to create new threads within the Diavlog Comments forum. Right now, we can't create threads in that forum, so all discussion about a particular diavlog must be done within a single thread.

I think that would quickly look junky.

i don't know. I'm inclined to wait and let it grow and then think about how to make it better once we've had some time to settle into it.

It seems worth it to be able to conveniently read titled threads dedicated to one diavlog topic.

TwinSwords
12-16-2007, 04:30 PM
I think that would quickly look junky.
Why?

It's going to end up looking like that anyway, over time. Forums typically have a full page of threads; we don't see that right now, because this forum is brand new. But eventually the page will be a long list of threads.

Here's an example of a forum containing hundreds of threads:

http://www.spartantailgate.com/forums/msu-red-cedar-message-board/



It seems worth it to be able to conveniently read titled threads dedicated to one diavlog topic.
I may be misunderstanding the terminology as you are using it. Your idea was a new forum for each diavlog.

Would you then have multiple threads within these forums?

I think we may be using the terms "forum" and "thread" differently. Forums contain threads. This is how I am using the terms:

Currently, BHTV only has two forums:

—Diavlog Comments
—General comments on Bloggingheads.tv


Each one of those forums can contain an unlimited number of threads. Each new Diavlog will have one new thread created for it in the "Diavlog Comments" forum. (Because the admins have disallowed users from creating new threads in that forum.)

look
12-16-2007, 04:47 PM
TS:
It's going to end up looking like that anyway, over time. Forums typically have a full page of threads; we don't see that right now, because this forum is brand new. But eventually the page will be a long list of threads.But you won't be able to tell which threads are referring to which diavlogs.

Currently, BHTV only have two forums: Diavlog Comments General comments on Bloggingheads.tv
Yes, and I'm suggesting that forums keep being added, one for each diavlog. That way we can create multiple, titled threads in response.

TwinSwords
12-16-2007, 04:55 PM
TS:
But you won't be able to tell which threads are referring to which diavlogs.
That's true. Good point.



Yes, and I'm suggesting that forums keep being added, one for each diavlog. That way we can create multiple, titled threads in response.
OK, thanks for clarifying. It sounds like we are using the terms the same way. It's an interesting idea. My only concern would be having 350 forums a year from now. I don't know how manageable that would be. Maybe it would't be a problem. It's an interesting idea!

look
12-16-2007, 05:51 PM
Currently, BHTV only have two forums: Diavlog Comments General comments on Bloggingheads.tv
Maybe just the top 10 or 15 could be displayed on the first page.

It's an interesting idea!
Thanks, I think it's just crazy enough to work. *wink*

TwinSwords
12-16-2007, 08:14 PM
Thanks, I think it's just crazy enough to work. *wink*

Now that I've had a little time to let this idea sink in, I think you're right.

As we all know, each diavlog covers multiple topics. Let's suppose I wanted to comment on something discussed between 32:00 and 36:00, like an Ann Althouse meltdown. With Phorum, you could start a new thread within the thread for that discussion. Then, anyone who wanted to talk about the same thing could respond on that thread.

But that isn't really going to work with the new forum, because only a fraction of people are going to use the threaded mode. (If everyone could be forced to use the threaded view, we could use vBulletin the same way we used Phorum to overcome this problem.) But that's not going to happen: it's a virtual certainty that most users will use the linear view.

But we could overcome this whole problem by doing exactly what you suggest: Create a new FORUM for each diavlog, and then let users create their own threads within that forum.

I wonder if vBulletin has any limit on the maximum number of forums, or a built-in way to deal with multiple pages of forums. (The way it has built in paging for hundreds of threads.)

garbagecowboy
12-16-2007, 09:38 PM
I have articulated what I think are valid problems with the redesign. You may disagree with them, or call me a whiner, or whatever, but I maintain that my criticisms of the new forum are valid; the fact that some people are using the threaded view and some are not is like a format war; eventually one will predominate. I believe this will be the non-threaded view since the bulk of users (even if not the regular users) will use it. It is also the default view, currently. I think that this is a problem; a non-threaded comment board would be a big loss in functionality. Why this even needed to become an issue is beyond me.

But yes, change is scary! Where's my security blanket?!?! Bring back the green!

garbagecowboy
12-16-2007, 09:41 PM
Another possible solution would be to tweak the forum settings so that people have only the choice of the "hybrid" or "threaded" view so that everybody at least sees that there is a threaded structure to the discussion.

Glad to see that you recognize that this is a problem, though, and (I hope implicitly) not just me being a whiner who hates change just because it is change.

TwinSwords
12-17-2007, 10:44 PM
Another possible solution would be to tweak the forum settings so that people have only the choice of the "hybrid" or "threaded" view so that everybody at least sees that there is a threaded structure to the discussion.
That might work, or it might backfire, making the software and the forum more cumbersome, painful, and difficult. (You guys might enjoy picking through that list looking for posts, but it is unnecessary: there are easier, faster, and better ways, and most people prefer doing things the easier, faster, and better way. I know it's a point of pride for you guys that you like doing it the hard way; you even appear to believe this is a sign of your intelligence. But leaving our personal feelings aside, as a general rule, forcing users to use vBulletin in a non-standard fashion may cause them to be unhappy, and it may drive people away. The threaded version of vBulletin is not the version that became a smash success; the linear version is.

I would submit for your consideration:

— On another high traffic forum, about 88% use the linear view.
— On this forum, in your own poll, 70% have voted that the new forum is better (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/showthread.php?t=1547).

Isn't that something?

So, you might show some respect and/or consideration for the wishes and ways of other people -- especially when it is a majority between 70% and 90%.

Asking BHTV to force 90% of users to use the forum according to the wishes of 10% of users seems like a bad idea, especially when the 10% are brand new vBulletin users who are suffering an emotional loss, may be acting irrationally, and refuse to even try the new software before demanding that their preferences be imposed on every other user of the site.

If you guys really believed your rhetoric about respecting the user, you yourselves would respect the user and let them use the software the way they want to.

I think we can agree that as long as the linear view is the default view, most people will use it. And it sounds like this will cause no end of aggravation for you, BJ, and Wolfgangus. If we don't change it, Brendan is going to rack up three or four thousand posts just instructing people how they should be viewing posts on the forum. Brendan probably enjoys doing that, but other people don't —they don't like being harrassed by know-it-alls who think they own the place. Insisting that people use the forum according to the preference of a few people will drive people away from the site.

The bottom line again is that I just wanted to suggest that you guys should try it the new way for a while and see if you can make the adjustment. Try to let go of Phorum, and adapt to new software with a new design. At no point was it appropriate for any of you to launch into your personal insults and attacks on Bob and his employees.




Glad to see that you recognize that this is a problem, though, and (I hope implicitly) not just me being a whiner who hates change just because it is change.
I do think that a single, linear thread cannot and will not be used the way Phorum was being used. That was a given before the site was launched. Anyone who knows anything about product design and human factors could have predicted this. Systems tend to drive behavior. Human beings develop patterns and habits of usage that are based on the design and constraints of the product they are using. You guys are refusing to make the transition from one product to another, and to top it off, you heap insults and abuse on the people who brought you this web site.

I think pursuing solutions and alternatives in a friendly, adult tone of voice, with respect, is an excellent idea, and I fully support it, whatever the outcome. I'm not wedded to the linear view — I'm perfectly willing to use the threaded or hybrid views if they become the standard (though, I don't know how it could become the standard unless it is forced on people).

Here is my feeling:

(1) Some of your points about the linear vs. threaded forums are valid, even if your behavior (the insults) is reprehensible.

(2) Forcing users to use the software according to the dictates of 3 or 4 angry people who are new to vBulletin would be unfair to the majority of users, especially those experienced with vBulletin who aren't going to have the transition confusion of you, wolf, and BJ.

(3) Solutions are possible. I personally like Look's suggestion the best: Create a new forum for each diavlog, and let users create their own threads within it.


.

ndk
12-17-2007, 11:49 PM
I just got past the password stuff. A user with that email already exists. Yeah no shit, it's me!

I don't get the problem with not being able to create new threads. Isn't "thread" simply another term for a top-level comment. Call it level 1. So you cannot create a new top-level comment. But, you can create new level 2 comments by simply replying to the top-level comment and changing the title. If I'm not mistaken this was also the case with the old phorum software. Somebody entered a first comment and every other comment was a sublevel off that. Conceptually a new train of thought can be started at any level, and spawn sub replies off of it, by simply changing the title.

Somebody wants to discuss the third topic in Matt and Ross's latest diavlog, they can just name their reply such. Right? Am I missing something?

I'm used to the threaded view because it lets the comments organize themselves by topic rather than time. When something was written, as opposed to what topic it is about, seems like an arbitrary means of organization to me. It's like organizing comments according to the first letter of commenters handles. If I can view by topic/subthread I can follow only those of interest to me and ignore the others. Using the linear view to maintain a topic discussion you have no choice but to grab quotes from the thing you're responding to, to maintain any context at all. But in a topic thread you don't have to quote, you can simply reply and your comment will automatically appear in its sensible context.

In any case it's just a matter of preference and since vBulletin allows both, it's moot I guess.

As far as the new format goes, I'm okay with it. Some technical glitches, like replies I've already read are showing up green again. Eh, things to work through, big deal. The vitriol amazes me.

Anyway, fun to catch up. I've always thought the diavlogs serve mostly as catalysts for the comments. (Agree with Wolf on this point.) The comments are where it's at. Maybe one of these days I'll check out a diavlog again. Actually I do watch a few minutes of my favorites, but a whole diavlog, I don't think so!

TwinSwords
12-18-2007, 12:28 AM
I just got past the password stuff. A user with that email already exists. Yeah no shit, it's me!

I don't get the problem with not being able to create new threads. Isn't "thread" simply another term for a top-level comment. Call it level 1. So you cannot create a new top-level comment. But, you can create new level 2 comments by simply replying to the top-level comment and changing the title. If I'm not mistaken this was also the case with the old phorum software. Somebody entered a first comment and every other comment was a sublevel off that. Conceptually a new train of thought can be started at any level, and spawn sub replies off of it, by simply changing the title.

Somebody wants to discuss the third topic in Matt and Ross's latest diavlog, they can just name their reply such. Right? Am I missing something?
Yeah, I think everything you just said is correct. It's funny, because you can still do everything you used to be able to do, plus a whole lot more.

The problem is different users using the site differently (threaded v. linear), and each undermining how the other uses the site. Each group will cause problems for the other -- some people will even cause problems intentionally to sabatoge the other group, like refusing to use "quote" (threaded users), or replying on the wrong thread (linear users).




I'm used to the threaded view because it lets the comments organize themselves by topic rather than time. When something was written, as opposed to what topic it is about, seems like an arbitrary means of organization to me. It's like organizing comments according to the first letter of commenters handles. If I can view by topic/subthread I can follow only those of interest to me and ignore the others.
This is absolutely correct, and the core of the issue.

The problem is that using the threaded view is much more cumbersome and difficult. I don't mean it's hard. I mean it's harder. (Scanning dozens of thread endings looking for new posts is a much slower and cumbersome process than scanning the end of a single thread.)

For this reason, and no other, most people use the linear view.




Using the linear view to maintain a topic discussion you have no choice but to grab quotes from the thing you're responding to, to maintain any context at all. But in a topic thread you don't have to quote, you can simply reply and your comment will automatically appear in its sensible context.
This is true. But don't you still have to use quotes as long as there are users of the linear view?




In any case it's just a matter of preference and since vBulletin allows both, it's moot I guess.
It might be moot. I may be over-analyzing this issue. But it might not be moot if the two groups cause problems for one another.




The vitriol amazes me.
Yeah, no doubt.




Anyway, fun to catch up. I've always thought the diavlogs serve mostly as catalysts for the comments. (Agree with Wolf on this point.) The comments are where it's at.
I agree. I'm a big fan of the forum. But again, anyone running a business needs to know his users and cater to all of them. If BHTV is like the rest of the world, about 99% of users never comment. The commenters are definitely among the most loyal users, but just a tiny fraction of total users.

ndk
12-18-2007, 09:06 AM
I would and do use quote when replying to a specific remark in a specific comment (though I am not doing it here :-)), but would not in cases where I'm responding to the general gist of a (sub-)thread. In the latter case I especially wouldn't do it just so the users of the linear view can maintain context. It's not only an additional thing I have to do that's already handled by existing functionality, but it actually forces a change in writing style and meaning by proscribing discussions into little tit-for-tats between two commenters. Sometimes you want to address the topic generally, so shouldn't need to quote.

Reminds me of the suggestion I have received more than once to use emoticons and acronyms to clarify intent, in cases where god forbid, the satire was too subtle for everyone to get it. Ha ha ha, lol, rofl!

I'm not aware that the threaded view is cumbersome at all. Maybe it takes an extra second or so to scroll down to see what's new at the bottom of each (sub-)thread, but you get a kind of meta-view while doing so, and can avoid long strands of comments of no interest to you.

Personal archeology--I was a heavy user of something called VAX Notes (http://www.kmmagazine.com/xq/asp/sid.45D056BE-8625-11D7-9D4D-00508B44AB3A/articleid.B2324CB0-3AEE-4540-BD65-4A94B1162C02/qx/display.htm) while at DEC in the '80s. (I worked for the author of that article.) Notes conferences sprouted up for every project, as well as non-work topics (ah how I miss the Surfing and Martial Arts conferences!) and were organized strictly by topic. Duplicate topics were moved or deleted. It was the best way of organizing shared project information I've ever seen. At high volume the model breaks down since moderation took some care. But in this case at bloggingheads I think the comment volume is thankfully pretty low.

None of this is a complaint by the way, in case any of comes off as such. Lol!

TwinSwords
12-18-2007, 09:49 AM
None of this is a complaint by the way, in case any of comes off as such. Lol!
Use emoticons!!!

;)

Just kidding. And, good post; you make a lot of good points.

ndk
12-18-2007, 11:26 AM
I tried but I was giving my emoticons noses thus: :-) which don't translate.

I hate this goddam new forum software, you have to use emoticons that don't have noses! :)

TwinSwords
12-18-2007, 11:36 AM
I tried but I was giving my emoticons noses thus: :-) which don't translate.

I hate this goddam new forum software, you have to use emoticons that don't have noses! :)
LOL!

Bob is soooo insenstive to the elite BHTV commentariate. Doesn't he know we must have noses!?

*Sob!*

Oh, it's a marketing thing. Note the BHTV logo at the top of the site? No noses on the blogging heads!

Brenda
12-19-2007, 02:49 PM
I think we can agree that as long as the linear view is the default view, most people will use it. And it sounds like this will cause no end of aggravation for you, BJ, and Wolfgangus. If we don't change it, Brendan is going to rack up three or four thousand posts just instructing people how they should be viewing posts on the forum.

All this talk of linear mode being the default view has puzzled me, because it's NOT the default view in this forum; the default view is threaded.

But I just found out what the problem is. All users whose accounts we migrated from Phorum have linear set as their INDIVIDUAL default view, overriding the forum's default view mode. (Unfortunately, I don't see any way to change this easily.)

Newly registered users will see threaded mode as the default view (unless they change it in their profile.)

TwinSwords
12-19-2007, 06:25 PM
All this talk of linear mode being the default view has puzzled me, because it's NOT the default view in this forum; the default view is threaded.

But I just found out what the problem is. All users whose accounts we migrated from Phorum have linear set as their INDIVIDUAL default view, overriding the forum's default view mode. (Unfortunately, I don't see any way to change this easily.)

Newly registered users will see threaded mode as the default view (unless they change it in their profile.)
Well, that's good (that the default is threaded). This way, at least new users will be aware that the threaded view exists, and can make a decision about what mode they want to use.

Many vBulletin users don't even know threaded and hybrid are options, because it's a feature that was added to vBulletin recently. There are still a lot of forums that haven't upgraded to the latest code and only provide the linear option.

In any event, I'm going to wager that finding solutions isn't terribly urgent, because in fact, I don't think there is a problem. I think this whole thing was blown way out of proportion; we're several days into the launch of the new site, and only a handful of people have even bothered to comment on the threaded vs. linear controversy. That means most people aren't worried about it, and are not struggling to track the conversation. They are happily going about their business commenting and enjoying the new site. And a clear majority of poll respondents are favorable about the fine work you have done.

TwinSwords
12-19-2007, 10:34 PM
Is it possible for you to yank that threaded tree display out of the window it's in and display it above the posts? The thing that makes the threaded/hybrid view slightly annoying is having to scroll around inside that little window, especially since it rests to the top of the tree every time you click on another comment.

So, instead of displaying the tree inside a frame, can you just put it above the posts? That would be almost exactly like Phorum, and some people might like it better.

Just curious.

ndk
12-20-2007, 12:08 PM
I'm not Brenda but I once knew somebody named Brenda. I don't follow what you're saying Twin, about putting the threads above the posts. How can they be scrollable if not in a separate frame? Or you mean that they needn't be scrollable? I also noticed what you mentioned, that it resets to the top of the thread when you click on a comment, rather than staying put. That's annoying.

Also, about two extra inches of screen real estate is wasted at the bottom with that little Posting Rules box. It could be made much wider and only one or two lines tall, and the space could be used to display more of the comment.

TwinSwords
12-21-2007, 02:32 PM
I'm not Brenda but I once knew somebody named Brenda.
Hehe.



I don't follow what you're saying Twin, about putting the threads above the posts. How can they be scrollable if not in a separate frame? Or you mean that they needn't be scrollable?
Sorry, I didn't explain myself very well. But yes, it would not be scrollable, so you'd have the whole thread tree displayed above the individual posts. I don't even know if that's possible with Phorum. And I don't know if it would be better; users might hate it, because a long thread would have a full page or more of thread tree to scroll past before you go to the comments.


I also noticed what you mentioned, that it resets to the top of the thread when you click on a comment, rather than staying put. That's annoying.

Also, about two extra inches of screen real estate is wasted at the bottom with that little Posting Rules box. It could be made much wider and only one or two lines tall, and the space could be used to display more of the comment.
If you are using the linear view, you can go into the Options page (User CP > Edit Options, or use this link (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/profile.php?do=editoptions)) and change the "Number of Posts to Show Per Page" to 20, 30, or 40. I'm using the hybrid mode, mostly, but when I use the linear view I show 40 posts per page.

garbagecowboy
12-22-2007, 01:00 PM
Sorry, I didn't explain myself very well. But yes, it would not be scrollable, so you'd have the whole thread tree displayed above the individual posts. I don't even know if that's possible with Phorum. And I don't know if it would be better; users might hate it, because a long thread would have a full page or more of thread tree to scroll past before you go to the comments.


You mean vBulletin, right? This description, unless I'm misunderstanding you, is the same setup as the old phorum board, where each page would have the tree view as most of the page and then one selected post displayed at the bottom.

I bet vBulletin could do that, it seems highly customizable. I wouldn't mind going back to the old way, obviously. But with a few days hindsight I don't mind the new software, although if people continue to post their replies where they don't mean them to go that will be slightly annoying. There still seem to be some hiccups and bugs or at least things that are not clear to users that are mis-posting. I will be pleased if we can get the old phorum database migrated so that all the old threads are in the vBulletin system, that will be nice when they get it done. Also I still like the idea of at least having avatars and some more or less whimsical user ranking system.

TwinSwords
12-22-2007, 02:26 PM
You mean vBulletin, right?
D'oh, yes! Thank you for catching that. I mean vBulletin.




This description, unless I'm misunderstanding you, is the same setup as the old phorum board, where each page would have the tree view as most of the page and then one selected post displayed at the bottom.
Exactly.




I bet vBulletin could do that, it seems highly customizable. I wouldn't mind going back to the old way, obviously. But with a few days hindsight I don't mind the new software
Glad to hear that. :) Meanwhile, I've been enjoying the threaded and hybrid views.




that will be nice when they get it done. Also I still like the idea of at least having avatars and some more or less whimsical user ranking system.
Yes! I like the postbit on the left instead of along the top. With it on the left, there is less horizontal space for text, which improves readability. Long lines are difficult to read, studies show. So a format that reduces text width (like the postbit on the left) would improve readability.

Sure: We can control width ourselves by shrinking our browser window's width, but that is soooooo much work!

Anyway, i continue to be delighted with the new site; it so teh awesome. I love the new search feature, and I like the scrollable little widget on the main page showing the recent diavlogs.

I initially missed the sea of green when the site was launched, but I have come to love the white with the green accents all over the place.