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Socoder -> Mini Challenges -> Design : Forum

Posted : Sunday, 09 May 2010, 09:46
JL235
Internet forums are old, but good. However most forums use very similar designs, so have we reached the peak of forum design? I hope not.

For this design challenge think up ways to improve such an archaic piece of web technology. How could changes improve anything from administration, to community building, to just making it cool.

Any thoughts?

-=-=-
PlayMyCode.com - build and play in your browser, Blog, Twitter.
Posted : Sunday, 09 May 2010, 10:20
Phoenix
The question is too general. StackOverflow has tailored the forum concept to their own needs, and as a Q&A site I think it really excels at what it does due to its deviations from the norm. It would however not at all be appropriate for a site such as SoCoder. If you're targeting a more casual discussion forum, like SoCoder, there's a couple of things I've thought of in the past which could be slightly cool to have.

Sometimes a topic fits into many categories, and sometimes it doesn't fit in anywhere at all. On most forums the off-topic one is the largest one, which renders the category system a bit pointless. StackOverflow solves this nicely by using a tag system, which is a lot more flexible, and solves the problem of too specialized tags using moderation of the tags. I'm guessing (hoping!) that most people use the list of recent topics to browse the forum, so the current simple categorization feature is useless anyway.

Another useful thing, although not quite as radical, with the AJAXification of the web, would be auto-updating topics themselves as you reply, so that you don't miss when someone posts while you're typing in your post.

I'm not entirely against "thread necromancy," but it is easily missed when there has been a gap in time between posts. Adding some kind of eye-catching marker between posts which differ a significant amount in date of posting would fix this.

|moan| And I wouldn't mind being able to delete notes from the notepad! |moan|
Posted : Sunday, 09 May 2010, 10:47
JL235
To clarify, this topic isn't aimed at SoCoder but just forums in general.

Phoenix Another useful thing, although not quite as radical, with the AJAXification of the web, would be auto-updating topics themselves as you reply, so that you don't miss when someone posts while you're typing in your post.

There are several forums which will warn you if someone else has posted whilst you were writing your post, and show you the updated topic.

Phoenix Sometimes a topic fits into many categories, and sometimes it doesn't fit in anywhere at all. On most forums the off-topic one is the largest one, which renders the category system a bit pointless. StackOverflow solves this nicely by using a tag system, which is a lot more flexible, and solves the problem of too specialized tags using moderation of the tags. I'm guessing (hoping!) that most people use the list of recent topics to browse the forum, so the current simple categorization feature is useless anyway.

I really like the idea of using tags rather then sections. The worry is that you might end up with millions of tags, where as catergories are often a nice way to dip into new forums.

-=-=-
PlayMyCode.com - build and play in your browser, Blog, Twitter.
Posted : Sunday, 09 May 2010, 11:13
CodersRule
Google Wave.
Posted : Sunday, 09 May 2010, 11:15
Jayenkai
A way to Thread the posts, without completely screwing it up would be nice!

Usually with threads I have to check every damn post, to be sure I haven't missed something new, halfway up the page!!


The AjaxTopic thing was first suggested by, either Stealth or maybe Scherererer (when he was still Instinct!)
basically you sit on a thread, and new posts just popup at the bottom.
When Phoenix resuggested it, I half did it, but stopped when I realised the similar Preview was already knackered!! It's on the list

-=-=-
''Load, Next List!''
Posted : Tuesday, 11 May 2010, 04:47
JL235
I had two ideas,

First to be able to block users from indevidual threads. Often you get users who are only out of line in one or two topics. I personally hate it when admins lock topics, so this might be a good alternative (block only those who took the topic into disrepute).

Second would be to make the forum visually as a giant tree or graph. It would be in the old style news forums where there are no topics, everything is a post, with posts being able to link of existing posts. There would also be a single root post at the centre of the forum. So every new post would have to be a child of either the root or an existing post.

But what makes it special is that it would all be represented in 3D as a giant tree (although you'd only look at it always from the front side). The user could drag themselves around the tree, following links from one post to another, to see visually how discussions flow. Perhaps posts could also be a child of multiple posts so you could see where bits of information also converges.

-=-=-
PlayMyCode.com - build and play in your browser, Blog, Twitter.
Posted : Tuesday, 11 May 2010, 05:06
Jayenkai
If you block X user from Y thread, they'd typically end up ranting about it in a newer thread, especially if there's still a conversation ongoing that they're no longer a part of.
I imagine that'd just lead to much more of a "Our Club" attitude.
Better to just say "Stop", and have done with it.


Additionally,
Having to do that in 3D!?! Yikes!!

-=-=-
''Load, Next List!''
Posted : Tuesday, 11 May 2010, 05:11
JL235
Visualizing data always looks cool.
Posted : Tuesday, 11 May 2010, 05:12
CodersRule
Perhaps posts could also be a child of multiple posts so you could see where bits of information also converges.

That would make lines crisscross all over the place and mess with people's brains. No want that.