BBS Review: One year on?

Hello,

The only thing I find annoying is not being allowed to close your posts by signing your name. I understand that one of the “rules” of the BBS is that since everyone has a profile which can be viewed by clicking on their name that this means there is no “technical” reason to sign posts. However, putting a signature to what one has written online has never been a technical issue to me, but a social one; e.g., when engaging in polite written conversation, one begins with a salutation, and ends with a closing signature.

It seems to be that making a rule such as this in a modern day forum seems rather arbitrary (not capricious, but just arbitrary) to me. It’s not an issue of storage, since I doubt this forum is running off of floppy diskettes like the BBSes of yore, nor are we talking about the signature blocks that made alt.fan.warlord fun to dip into on occasion in the pre-web Internet. Rather, simply about signing one’s posts, which I felt have added a bit of civility and of decorum in an age where digital communications seem to be ever more impersonal and ephemeral.

Regarding signatures, see:

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Hello,

Oh, I’m familiar with signatures on forums. And while those are great for telling people your system specs, what guild you’re in, or how many of your moggies are of the Persian, Siamese or ICanHasCheezburger variety, I think that putting one’s closing salutation there, well, takes it away from the message one is trying to convey.

Signature blocks on forums serve a similar function to having your company’s logo and contact information printed on stationery, in a sense. Despite having the same name, It’s not the same thing, or at least, it isn’t to me. I do know that if someone sent me written correspondence and the closing and signature was printed onto the stationery, I’d be livid. That’s the kind of behavior I expect from politicians and marketeers (not that there’s too much difference between them these days, anyway) and other people who are insincere for a living.

OK it’s maybe a little more than a year now, but we just officially released Discourse V1:

So perhaps an appropriate time to introspect on the use of Discourse here at Boing Boing?

  • What could we do better?
  • What has improved?
  • What has continued to grate?
  • Why is Discourse so ^$&@*# awesome?

Or, you know, add your own bullets, like I did!

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Also, the suggested topic suggestions are just plain bad. Not yet had a useful one.

Pls get the images to display when embedding tweets

Stability.
Decreased friction.

search interface for topics, persons, and posts. A proper advanced search page, please.

The team’s approach to iterating off of community feedback.

I’d read bb for more than a handful of years, but not commented prior to bbs. I quite like most of discourse, and am sowing the seeds for a application of the platform in my day job.

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Honestly I am just surprised at how stable and quick (performance-wise) things are. I personally am doing a bad job at documenting and reporting some very, very minor quibbles (mostly a few things in the mobile version), so I will work on doing a better job at that.

All in all, without more thought, I have very little in the way of “boulder” features or even “rock” features, just a little bit of “sand”.

-edit-

okay, this is purely a style issue, and i suspect what i am going to bring up has been discussed.

when i am at bbs.boingboing.net, i feel like i should still be at ^boingboing.net$, and the upper left at all time should take me back to the main site and not the bbs. my personal workflow is, “read article, peruse comments. read another article, peruse comments”. and the way I have been trained to do that, if i am ‘mentally lost’ is to hit the ‘home button’ in the top left.

but that is only opinion, and really has nothing to do with the awesome job Discourse has done.

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Going to echo the calls for improved search and a “load all comments” option.

What has improved?

Lots of things, but the progression has been so smooth, it’s difficult to pick just one. Overall stability, probably.

What has continued to grate?

More to do with the way it’s implemented here than the actual platform itself. Needs a better user guide for newbies, perhaps. Not that people would read it, but still…

Oh, and my Microplane. That’s continued to grate brilliantly.

Because it’s powered entirely from upcycled unicorn farts. (Is that the right answer? Did I win?)

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What’s up with all this positive feedback? Where’s the angst? Where’s the RAAAAAGE?

Disappoint.

Well, Suggested Topics is not very sophisticated… it basically works this way:

  1. Show any unread topics you are tracking
  2. Show any new topics in the same category (newest first)
  3. Pick any non-closed topics from the same category at random

It relies pretty heavily on random selection after going through the new stuff in the same category. It’s not actually trying to select similar topics or anything like that, just prioritizing “your” topics.

Where are you specifically seeing newbies have problems? What are you observing?

We hear the requests for an advanced full page search loud and clear. Will probably get to that this year. Note that we fixed a particularly heinous long standing bug with search recently so you might have gotten significantly poorer results in the past. Long story…

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We’re only being nice to troll you. :wink:

In the drill-bit thread, a new sign-up wanted to post a snap of a drill-bit, but uploading images is (IMO quite rightly) restricted for TL0 users, causing them some confusion. This isn’t exactly common, but it’s not the first time I’ve seen that complaint.

I’m not familiar enough with the new-user experience to fully understand what can and can’t be done by them along with what’s needed to go from TL0 to TL1 so I went looking for the info. Now got a relevant thread bookmarked, but perhaps a link or an explanation in the “Welcome to BB” sign-up message would be handy? Unless that’s been updated since I got one. :slight_smile:

Edit: And it has been updated, having just tested it, which makes my suggestion moot. So it’s down to a new user not reading the info. Not sure what can be done about that. :frowning:

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Sorry, I meant the widget that suggests topics for new posts. The ones I’ve been presented with have been far afield. Prolly related to search.

Rage is so 2013.

I also may need to implement a community discussion platform in the near future, and I find crow to be quite delicious.

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Bad sample. If you truly want negative feedback and rage, ask the people who haven’t logged on for months because they couldn’t stand features x or y.

I’ll have to see how it’s changed, but last time I looked I was still unimpressed with the system of reply as new, moderators moving and splitting topics, and how those interacted with the people who were trying to follow a conversation.

And I still think it’s backwards to show not-logged-in users the top stories from this year, guaranteeing that new users are mostly going to see locked threads that they can’t participate in. This month or this week would allow for a nice mix of popular threads of the past and conversations currently ongoing.

Oh, and I just noticed this now when double-checking the Top feature. When you go to the /top page, it is unsortable by topic, category, posts, views, activity, etc… However, if you change the time frame being displayed the topics become sortable, and sorting them seems to select from the entire BBS during that time frame instead of just those top 50 posts.

@sam is working up some interim improvements to search. We think you will like it.

@funruly point taken about new topic suggestions, but how many new topics are created here?

@fiddlingfrog yes, topic splits could use some improvement. As for /top , there is a bug there @eviltrout is working on where an unwanted duplicate layout is shown. But the range shown to new and long absent returning users is based on either the last time we saw the user (for long absent returning users) or overall activity level of the forum (for new users we have never seen before).

Could you give us back Ctrl-F and have an option (like the one to load the original article) to load all comments?

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I like running the entire body of comments through a markov engine to get to the “real essence” of what’s going on.

Granted, it’s usually gibberish, but in political threads it usually leads to something more comprehensible.

If I could get the entire body of comments. :frowning:

Also: link to search results. C’mon - it’s 2014. Non-linkable javascript crap is so 2004! You might as well be coding in Flash.

+1 to load-all-comments and native browser ctrl-F.

If comments were all loaded, native ctrl-F would be a significantly better way to search through comments: instant finding in-context, faster, etc. Without the comments all loaded, obviously this was broken, but the solution (though technically advanced) feels like a hack to deal with the fact that the comments aren’t loaded.

Hacking my ctrl-F really grates. Overriding a piece of native functionality breaks a user’s workflow as much as if the site had broken the back button, or the url bar.

Keep the search button, by all means. But let me access it when I intend to.

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I’ve come around to it.

I’ve long loved threaded discussions because of the context they provide, but I’ve gotten used to Discourse’s model, and I have to admit that it handles particularly large and long (and contentious) discussions more gracefully.

Another thing that bothered me was that I had a number of forums I posted to handled by Disqus, and it was nice to have everything under one roof. Since I’ve kind of lost touch with the others, so the point is now moot.

The last was not seeing comments on the same page. You know, another site I frequent always had comments under the article, but it was a political site, and I loathed having to read a news piece and then without being able to avoid it, at the end having my blood pressure spiked by the cretins (on my “side”) and trolls who dominate such discussions. Then they moved to Discourse and the problem was solved!

Beyond those design decisions, I find it to be robust and user-friendly: a nice piece of code. Probably the one problem I have with it now is that for some reason Swype flips out when I try typing a comment from my phone: cursor jumps around and it insists on capitalizing every word. Not sure what that’s about.

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You can press ctrl+f twice if you want native browser find in a topic. But be warned, only about 20 or 30 of the currently visible posts are loaded in the browser at any given time.

And @othermichael you can link to any post using the link/share button or the timestamp at the upper right of each post. Not sure what you mean with search links exactly?

It is my own fault that I still have a Gingerbread phone, but it is a bit unfortunate that it doesn’t work on that at all.

The system works great to me, no technical complaints whatsoever. Moderation has looked good to me as well.

I’ve had some philosophical differences vis a vis “meta” (“talking about the article’s subject is a fine contribution to the conversation, but any opinion voiced regarding the article itself is disruptive jerkery to be filed away to the very special whiner thread”) but since that only seemed to happen in the series recap articles it’s not much of an issue anymore.

I do think the higher barrier to entry combined with the off-page comments combined to make commenting feel subjectively less important overall and objectively just plain less frequent. Maybe the moderator load was unbearable or something, but it did feel like there was a whole lot more commenting going on, good and bad.

Now it seems comments on non-hot-button topics can tend toward ‘ghost town’ much more frequently than when everyone who read the article had a good chance to at least glance at the comments already there at the end. Or is it just me?

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