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Magic Flea
07-14-2008, 10:11 PM
Can I make a usability suggestion to the people who run the forums here?

Why not use obvious diavlog titles? If you're looking for the "Eat the Doughnut!" edition, sure, no problem. But if you're looking for the thread on Ponnuru and Chait, you can't find it. And, as a bonus opinion on things: the cute titles aren't funny.

bjkeefe
07-14-2008, 10:36 PM
Can I make a usability suggestion to the people who run the forums here?

Why not use obvious diavlog titles? If you're looking for the "Eat the Doughnut!" edition, sure, no problem. But if you're looking for the thread on Ponnuru and Chait, you can't find it. And, as a bonus opinion on things: the cute titles aren't funny.

Can't you just go to the Search (http://bloggingheads.tv/search/) page or better still, the Heads (http://bloggingheads.tv/heads_all/) page and look for diavlogger names there? And how would a title, in general, be more useful as a search item once you admit that including diavlogger names in them would be redundant, because of these pages? Wouldn't like 97% of the titles, under your humorless prescription, being "Two Guys Talk About How Horrible Obama Is."?

And, to your bonus opinion: I like the jokiness of titles. The more obscure the better, I say -- it helps promote attentive listening. It also enhances the in-on-the-in-joke feeling.

[added] Oh, wait. I just realized you're talking about doing an eyeball scan of the forum listings, aren't you? Okay, forget everything that I said that doesn't apply.

Magic Flea
07-15-2008, 02:54 AM
I think it's possible that everyone else in the world aside from bjkeefe would agree that what I'm saying makes more sense. I actually don't care if someone wants to also give the diavlogs funny names as long as each thread is listed in the forums just as "Bob Wright and Micky Kaus" or whatever. I suppose I could even manage with something like "Bob Wright and Micky Kaus (Low Serotonin Edition)." But the goofy names by themselves make no sense at all.

bjkeefe
07-15-2008, 08:37 AM
I think it's possible that everyone else in the world aside from bjkeefe would agree that what I'm saying makes more sense.

We shall see how many people weigh in.

And anyway, you ought to re-read the last paragraph in my preceding post.

TwinSwords
07-15-2008, 01:36 PM
Can I make a usability suggestion to the people who run the forums here?

Why not use obvious diavlog titles? If you're looking for the "Eat the Doughnut!" edition, sure, no problem. But if you're looking for the thread on Ponnuru and Chait, you can't find it. And, as a bonus opinion on things: the cute titles aren't funny.

Interesting article addressing this question, here:

Microcontent: How to Write Headlines, Page Titles, and Subject Lines (http://www.useit.com/alertbox/980906.html)


.

Joel_Cairo
07-15-2008, 02:18 PM
I think it's possible that everyone else in the world aside from bjkeefe would agree that what I'm saying makes more sense.

Seems like a pretty remote possibility to me.

Magic Flea
07-15-2008, 06:42 PM
What do you think?

Magic Flea
07-15-2008, 06:45 PM
Yes! I think the bloggingheads forum moderators should read it.

Especially the bullet about plain language with "no puns, no 'cute' or 'clever' headlines."

Magic Flea
07-15-2008, 06:46 PM
Are you on board?

uncle ebeneezer
07-15-2008, 07:11 PM
I think the diavlog titles (along with the segment titles) are all part of the charm and effectively reflect the humor of the founding fathers Bob & Mickey. I like the fact that humor is a relatively common thing here on BHTV. The diavloggers crack jokes, tease each other, etc. and I think it makes for a more "human" vibe to the site as a whole. Although I understand the emphasis on precision in straight reporting, I like the fact that BH shows that a little humor doesn't necesarrily water-down the seriousness of the discussions. It keeps it from becoming a sterile, dull Jim Lehrer Newshour type experience. And I think it helps foster an atmosphere where the heads are more willing to concede points, and generally be more considerate of their opponents views. The best example I would point to being Eli Lake, who went from an insufferable ideological blow-hard, to one of my favorite Vlogger's all just by the change in his attitude. I know I'm going far beyond your initial point, but you know, once I get rolling...

But then again, I'm an old-school BH traditionalist and member of the "Green Background Society", so what do I know.

I will agree it can be frustrating searching for something on the forum when i can't remember the title OR the participants.

Magic Flea
07-15-2008, 09:35 PM
Yeah. I don't mean any confusion. The point here is about the diavlog links in the forums--not on the front page or the search page or the diavlog page itself, and certainly not within the content of the diavlog. Can I get some agreement that it would be much easier to navigate if the links listed the names of the participants, rather than the goofy titles? I don't think this is really that controversial; I think people are just trying to start a fight.

As I've said, it could even list both, as I've noticed the XML feed does.

TwinSwords
07-15-2008, 10:03 PM
Yeah. I don't mean any confusion. The point here is about the diavlog links in the forums--not on the front page or the search page or the diavlog page itself, and certainly not within the content of the diavlog. Can I get some agreement that it would be much easier to navigate if the links listed the names of the participants, rather than the goofy titles? I don't think this is really that controversial; I think people are just trying to start a fight.

As I've said, it could even list both, as I've noticed the XML feed does.

Many of us who spend a lot of time on BHTV just know that if you want to find the thread for a particular diavlog, you only need to go to the diavlog's video page and click the link to the forum. That takes you straight to the correct thread.

The problem is that people who spend a lot of time on BHTV are not average users, they're power users, and they have figured out stuff that normal users have not. The objective of good site design is not to make it usable for your top 1% of power users, but for everyone. And there is nothing intuitive or obvious about going to a video page and clicking a link to the forum to find the right thread for a particular diavlog. It's something most people only figure out after clicking around for a while. And, again, good site design doesn't depend on happenstance and random chance for users to find what they are looking for.

All of that said, I tend to agree with what Uncle Eb said about the titles setting a light tone. I like the cutesy titles, even as I recognize the limitations they place on usability.

However, this can be mitigated, as you have twice pointed out, by simply combining the cutesy names with the names of the "heads" in the forum thread titles. This would have the added benefit of allowing users to search for all threads corresponding to a particular head by searching on thread titles on the advanced search page (http://bloggingheads.tv/forum/search.php). For example, to find all forum threads for diavlogs with Robert Wright, you would do the following:

http://img329.imageshack.us/img329/1660/image2bs8.png

Or for any diavlogs with Bob and Mickey:

http://img329.imageshack.us/img329/4052/image4qi8.png

TwinSwords
07-15-2008, 10:14 PM
Hmm.... looks like the forum's search page is broken: Searches by "Title Only" return no matches. ("Search Entire Posts" works fine.)

Magic Flea
07-15-2008, 11:51 PM
Thanks. I think you kind of agree.

I would add three things, though:

1.) Even if you've been here a long time, it would still be more convenient to have the participants' names in the links. Why should anyone have to click around three or four more times to find the right thread? It has nothing to do with how long you've been here.

2.) I'd also note here that in many cases, the "cleverness" cues off of something random that's not central to the diavlog's substance, making it an especially poor guide to finding what you're looking for. To be clear, my point in mentioning that isn't to critique the funniness of the titles, but to say that the fact that they are often purposely irrelevant makes them bad identifiers.

3.) Even if the titles always give you a good chuckle, there's nothing stopping you from reading the titles on the front page or actual diavlog page. And there's nothing to lose at all if you just include the participants' names there with the episode title. I'm completely fine with it to put both. After all, it's already being done that way on the RSS feeds:

Ta-Nehisi Coates & Megan McArdle: The Skinny on Obesity
Michelle Goldberg & Rebecca Traister: I-Told-You-So Edition
Jonathan Chait & Ramesh Ponnuru: Eat the Doughnut!
Will Wilkinson & Bruce Caldwell: Free Will: Hiya, Hayek!

And I think that's great. I just think it would be convenient to also have it done that way in the forums. What's the argument that it's better to just see:

The Skinny on Obesity
I-Told-You-So Edition
Eat the Doughnut!
Free Will: Hiya, Hayek!

?

TwinSwords
07-16-2008, 12:34 AM
Thanks. I think you kind of agree.
I agree with a lot of what you've said.


1.) Even if you've been here a long time, it would still be more convenient to have the participants' names in the links.
Absolutely. I mentioned the power users because (1) they are the most likely people to weigh in on this discussion (they are the power users, after all), and (2) they will most likely be unsympathetic to your observations. They already know how to use the system.



Why should anyone have to click around three or four more times to find the right thread?
Good question. Obviously, they should not. And that assumes they know the magic combination of clicks to find the right thread for a particular diavlog. Users who don't know the magic combination spend even more time clicking around, or just give up (hurting BHTV's traffic).



2.) I'd also note here that in many cases, the "cleverness" cues off of something random that's not central to the diavlog's substance, making it an especially poor guide to finding what you're looking for. To be clear, my point in mentioning that isn't to critique the funniness of the titles, but to say that the fact that they are often purposely irrelevant makes them bad identifiers.
I don't think this is a big deal. It's a moot point if you include the names of the heads.



3.) Even if the titles always give you a good chuckle, there's nothing stopping you from reading the titles on the front page or actual diavlog page.
I would strongly disagree, if you are suggesting that the diavlog titles should be left out of the forum titles. The forum titles MUST include the diavlog titles, or we will have created an even bigger usability issue.



And there's nothing to lose at all if you just include the participants' names there with the episode title. I'm completely fine with it to put both. After all, it's already being done that way on the RSS feeds
That's your strongest argument: they are already doing this in RSS feeds. It proves that someone at BHTV recognizes the significance of the heads' names. It's almost case closed, at this point.



Ta-Nehisi Coates & Megan McArdle: The Skinny on Obesity
Michelle Goldberg & Rebecca Traister: I-Told-You-So Edition
Jonathan Chait & Ramesh Ponnuru: Eat the Doughnut!
Will Wilkinson & Bruce Caldwell: Free Will: Hiya, Hayek!

I would drop the first names, and put the names in parenthesis after the titles:

The Skinny on Obesity (Coates McArdle)
I-Told-You-So Edition (Goldberg Traister)
Eat the Doughnut! (Chait Ponnuru)
Free Will: Hiya, Hayek! (Wilkinson Caldwell)



What's the argument that it's better to just see:

The Skinny on Obesity
I-Told-You-So Edition
Eat the Doughnut!
Free Will: Hiya, Hayek!

?

I can't think of any good arguments why this is better. The best you're likely to get:

(1) The titles are too cluttered when names are included.
(2) I just like it better the way it was before.

bjkeefe
07-16-2008, 12:59 AM
Are you on board?

After reading the follow-up discussion, yes. You and Twin have convinced me -- adding diavlogger names to the titles in the forum listings, a la the feed representations, would probably help some people.

I don't want to see the titles go away, though, and I don't think they're "cutesy."

TwinSwords
07-16-2008, 01:06 AM
I don't think [the titles are] "cutesy."
I feel compelled to agree, since I used the same word in this thread. I enjoy the titles (and the segment titles, too). Whoever has that job has their work cut out for them. Thinking of 6-12 titles every day is harder than it sounds.

uncle ebeneezer
07-16-2008, 12:30 PM
The Skinny on Obesity (Coates McArdle)
I-Told-You-So Edition (Goldberg Traister)
Eat the Doughnut! (Chait Ponnuru)
Free Will: Hiya, Hayek! (Wilkinson Caldwell)

This seems like a damn-near perfect solution. Good work TS & MF for reaching "across the aisle" on this divisive issue.

Now let's talk green background ;-)

bjkeefe
07-16-2008, 01:20 PM
This seems like a damn-near perfect solution. Good work TS & MF for reaching "across the aisle" on this divisive issue.

Second that. Minor additional suggestion: use a slash between diavlogger names to save space, rather than space-hyphen-space; e.g., Brooks/Drezner.

Now let's talk green background ;-)

I am radically neutral on this issue.

TwinSwords
07-16-2008, 02:25 PM
Second that. Minor additional suggestion: use a slash between diavlogger names to save space, rather than space-hyphen-space; e.g., Brooks/Drezner.
I think the space dash space might (might) help the scanning eye pick out individual names more easily than if the text all blurs together. But I have no data to support that theory. It could easily be tested with a handful of users (http://www.useit.com/alertbox/20000319.html), however.



I am radically neutral on this issue.
I miss the ol' green design. But I also like the new design. Really, it's BHTV I love.

So, Brendan and Uncle Eb, do you recall how you first discovered BHTV? And when? I don't, except that it was a long time ago.

bjkeefe
07-16-2008, 02:54 PM
So, Brendan and Uncle Eb, do you recall how you first discovered BHTV? And when? I don't, except that it was a long time ago.

I don't. I wish I did. I wish browsers had a separate history function that would (optionally) permanently record how you first got to a web site. There are so many sites that I wonder about in this way.

uncle ebeneezer
07-16-2008, 02:58 PM
I was reading the old Altercation blog on MSNBC.com and Alterman mentioned that he was going to be on some website that had streaming video style debates. I checked it out and have been here ever since.

The coolest part was when I realized that Bob Wright was that guy who wrote that book I had been promoting to all my friends for several years (The Moral Animal.) So I clicked on one of the Bob/Mickey diavlogs and was instantly hooked.

I came into the community later than most (probably only 2 years ago-ish) but aside from a couple backcountry camping excursions I don't think I've gone more than 4-5 days without my BH fix. Nowadays, I sometimes can't keep up, so I wait until Sat/Sun and watch 3-4 diavlogs to catch-up on the ones I missed.

Magic Flea
07-16-2008, 03:28 PM
I think it would be an improvement no matter what. I don't think you need to commission a study to find out if slashes are better than dashes or whatever.

Brenda
07-18-2008, 05:46 PM
Thanks to everyone for the suggestions and feedback. Adding the heads' names to the thread titles is a good idea. Unfortunately, we don't have coder right now who can do this. I'm adding it to our growing wish list, though.

TwinSwords
07-18-2008, 08:32 PM
The coolest part was when I realized that Bob Wright was that guy who wrote that book I had been promoting to all my friends for several years (The Moral Animal.) So I clicked on one of the Bob/Mickey diavlogs and was instantly hooked.
Wow, cool and interesting detail. I should read his books... I wonder what his next one will be about. I wonder if the last chapter of his new books will be devoted to forum comments.

http://www.spartantailgate.com/forums/images/smilies/novel.gif


I came into the community later than most (probably only 2 years ago-ish) but aside from a couple backcountry camping excursions I don't think I've gone more than 4-5 days without my BH fix. Nowadays, I sometimes can't keep up, so I wait until Sat/Sun and watch 3-4 diavlogs to catch-up on the ones I missed.
Hehe, I'm the same way.

TwinSwords
07-18-2008, 08:34 PM
Thanks to everyone for the suggestions and feedback. Adding the heads' names to the thread titles is a good idea. Unfortunately, we don't have coder right now who can do this. I'm adding it to our growing wish list, though.

Hey, thanks Brenda! And while you're here, let me thank you for everything you and the rest of the staff do to bring the world BHTV.

Magic Flea: Good job. Guess it shows it pays to speak up.



.

AemJeff
07-19-2008, 09:47 PM
Thanks to everyone for the suggestions and feedback. Adding the heads' names to the thread titles is a good idea. Unfortunately, we don't have coder right now who can do this. I'm adding it to our growing wish list, though.

While you're at it... (This may actually be a good deal easier to implement.) That first, blank, comment for each diavlog would be a great place to list the participants and add a summary of some kind.

bjkeefe
07-19-2008, 10:12 PM
While you're at it... (This may actually be a good deal easier to implement.) That first, blank, comment for each diavlog would be a great place to list the participants and add a summary of some kind.

That's a good idea, and you're right -- it doesn't take programming to fulfill.

Plus, there's a bonus! If you're looking at the forum index, say, the one listing all the diavlog comment threads, and you let your mouse hover over the title for a forum thread, the contents of the first comment in that thread appears in a balloon tip-style window (if there is any text in the first comment). Thus, you could have the diavloggers' names in the first comment, and mostly satisfy the request that Magic Flea made to start this thread -- to be able to see the diavlogger names in the list of diavlog titles. It's not elegant, but it's a temporary fix while waiting for a programmer to come in and make the actual modification.

TwinSwords
07-20-2008, 12:50 PM
That's a good idea, and you're right -- it doesn't take programming to fulfill.

Plus, there's a bonus! If you're looking at the forum index, say, the one listing all the diavlog comment threads, and you let your mouse hover over the title for a forum thread, the contents of the first comment in that thread appears in a balloon tip-style window (if there is any text in the first comment). Thus, you could have the diavloggers' names in the first comment, and mostly satisfy the request that Magic Flea made to start this thread -- to be able to see the diavlogger names in the list of diavlog titles. It's not elegant, but it's a temporary fix while waiting for a programmer to come in and make the actual modification.

Good suggestions in the previous two posts.

And as long as this is turning into a wish list, can someone on the BHTV staff also fix the broken image icons that appear in various places?

For example, the Social Club page:
http://img361.imageshack.us/img361/3825/go12ly8.png

And the User Profile pages:
http://img529.imageshack.us/img529/9867/missingimagesvh6.png

I imagine there are some standard images that came with the vBulletin package that didn't get installed correctly. And if you don't have the right images, you could just copy them from another vBulletin site, e.g., http://www.spartantailgate.com/forums/members/enrico-palazzo.html.

Magic Flea
07-20-2008, 05:28 PM
I understand if there are technical hurdles for the time being, but thanks very much for taking notice!