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Old 09-07-2011, 10:47 PM
bjkeefe bjkeefe is offline
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Not Real America, according to St. SaŽah
Posts: 21,798
Default Re: Forum Server Software

Originally Posted by unhandyandy View Post
Slashdot has refined its superb message board server software over the past 14 years, and (of course) it's opensource: Slash.
Open source good.

I don't know why Bloggingheads felt it had to reinvent the wheel, but it's now saddled with a hideously clunky forum.
Bloggingheads did not feel this reinventing way. They elected to use vBulletin, which while not open source is certainly an established platform. This was a change from the original decision to use Phorum. After about three days, I felt the term upgrade was spot-on. I have since come to appreciate vBulletin a whole lot more as I have learned more about it. I find it the farthest thing from "clunky." I think it is responsive, smartly designed, quite flexible from the regular user's perspective, and nicely supportive for admins who don't have tape on their glasses and don't want to.

1. It's often extremely inconvenient to be unable to view more than one message at a time.
Try using linear mode. Also try a first scan through the comments by scrolling down on the video page (which is about the same as viewing the forum itself in linear mode).

If you vastly prefer threaded mode, as I do, you might do your first look through a given thread by clicking the Next button. This is what I do -- it steps you through the thread in the order that the posts appear in threaded mode, while highlighting the active post in the thread view.

2. A separate scrollable window for thread titles fails GUI 101. Sometimes I want to scroll the message and accidentally scroll the threads, sometimes vice-versa.
My immediate thought is that this sounds like a case of PEBKAC more than anything else. More considerately, I would encourage you to contemplate the thought that forum software is rivaled only by email software in its likelihood to provoke a feeling of THIS SUCKS among those finding themselves using something other than what they're used to.

Moreover the thread window has almost 0 utility because

3. Users hardly ever define titles for their messages. The result is that a typical thread has a 150 messages all with the exactly the same title. This, for a change, is easily correctable: On the message composition page, move the title entry field below the text style tools. Because everyone assumes fields above the tools aren't editable.
While you win a Lambchop for your "everyone assumes," I will agree that the post titles could be used more intelligently by more commenters. I am not at all sure that this is the fault of the forum software, though -- seems to me that the Title: field is as obviously editable as is the comment field itself.

I think that, generally, regulars here tend to have their various posts and interactions fresh in their mind, and find little point in changing the default post title when they go to post a comment, especially if it is a reply in an ongoing conversation. It also seems to me that the number of comments is small enough in any given thread that the titles of posts are about 95% superfluous -- I suspect that to the extent that people can't keep a placeholder in mind or don't feel like they can read the whole thread as described above, they mostly look at the other usernames if they feel a desire to read only a subset of the comments in a given thread.

4. Another easy fix: Move the "Next" (message) button to under the message, because that's where your eye will be when you want to click it.
Apologies. I did not realize, above, that you were aware of the Next link.

Your suggestion is not without merit. I would say, however, that (1) if you're using the Next link, you're probably skimming the messages and are unlikely to read the longer ones to the end and (2) most messages are short enough that the Next link stays visible.

In any case, your recommendation is better directed at vBulletin than it is at Bh.tv.

The "Next Thread" button should be moved out of the way, since you almost never want to click it. If there are 100 messages in a thread you're more likely to click the "Next" (message) button 100 times before wanting to click "Next Thread". Anyway, does anyone actually use the "Next Thread" button? There isn't even any indication of where it takes you.
There's a "Next Thread" button?

Maybe I'm the outlier and you're not, but I've been on this board since they started using vBulletin, and I've participated on ~ten other vBulletin-powered sites, and I cannot visualize that button.

I feel better.
So you got that going for you. Which is nice.
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