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DPic [PersonRank 10]

Wednesday, February 13, 2008
14 years ago14,148 views

So much discussion! Would it be worth having an 80% forum and a 20% forum? That way things don't get driven down the page as fast.

Zim [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

You mean something like "Googlesphere" and "Other topics"?
I wish we had a "suscribe to this thread" function :)

DPic [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

> You mean something like "Googlesphere" and "Other topics"?

Yeah, exactly. And Old threads marked with "[OT]" could automoatically be moved to the 20% section or something

> I wish we had a "suscribe to this thread" function :)

Well, we'd all need logins for that

Zim [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Nope, we don't need exactly logins... There's a wordpress plugin (hang on, I know this is NOT wordpress!) that lets you subscribe to new comments on that post. When you receive a mail, you get a criptic URL to manage your subscription. From there, you can select to unsubscribe from certain threads you don't want to read anymore, change your mail (so you don't need to subscribe again to all the threads you were following) or simply block any future subscription to your mail (if someone uses your URL and you don't even know what is blogoscoped, you could ban these mails forever).
We don't need login because your email address won't be associated specifically with your nickname. Indeed, you can reply or create a topic but don't subscribe to it (or maybe you need to enter a valid email address to create threads so spammers get out?).

David Hetfield [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

I wouldn't suggest two forums guys.

I can say i hardly check the second blog (Google blogs. Check the "more" button above). So another forum would be useful. (to me of course).

But it's up to Philipp.

DPic [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

[put at-character here]David, you confused me..

> I wouldn't suggest two forums guys.
> another forum would be useful.

hm?

Mrrix32 [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

I considered suggesting a separate "Off-Topic" forum before but thought there would be controversy on what was "on topic" and what was "off-topic".

Over all I think it would be a good idea, but not bothered about whether it happens or not

DPic [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

> Over all I think it would be a good idea, but not bothered about whether it happens or not

Same here. If Philipp wanted to, he could outline what constitutes for the 80% section and what goes in the 20% section

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

At the moment, both blog and forum are indeed mixing 80/20%. It's a bit meant so you can reach the same people without having to always strictly stay on-topic. A little bit of freedom I guess. And if you want to read the stuff, you don't need to visit two separate places. But it comes with a price of potential irrelevancy/ noise.

I'm curious: are certain posts in either the blog or the forum confusing you/ you wish you wouldn't have to dig through them all the time?

DPic [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

[put at-character here]Philipp

> At the moment, both blog and forum are indeed mixing 80/20%. It's a bit meant so you can reach the same people without having to always strictly stay on-topic. A little bit of freedom I guess. And if you want to read the stuff, you don't need to visit two separate places.

Yeah, now that i think about i can see that i might now like having two separate forums. It's just that as Google grows, theres constantly more things that are new and being discussed at once, and discussions are falling to "the dead zone" much faster. I have no problem with off topic discussion, i make those posts myself, it's just that the life of a discussion on the front page is becoming more and more short-lived. I'm not sure how that can be fixed, though

Bill Mac [PersonRank 9]

14 years ago #

^^^ Ritalin.

Bill Mac [PersonRank 9]

14 years ago #

Actually, to add something to the discussion...

I think two forums might be too much separation. How about a filter option at the top of the forum? Any thread titles marked [OT], or the like*, would show in the "Off Topic Only" mode, all else in the "On Topic Only" mode and "Default" would show what we see now.

*Could use rules-based heuristics so the filter gets smarter. Or just add an admin-only feature to mark a thread as [OT].

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

I could make it so a parser looks for certain Google-related keywords: "google", "gmail", "picasa", "search", "youtube" etc. (perhaps even "yahoo" to include direct competition). I do something similar for the blog posts: every blog post with the word "google" receives a special tag, theoretically useful for filtering tools (http://blogoscoped.com/rss.xml). Then, posts not matching any of those keywords could be receiving a more gray link or an icon or something. I will have to ponder this, balance the pros and cons (added complexity in the interface is a con for newcomers).

DPic [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

[put at-character here]Philipp, well doing that will make the off-topic posts less popular.

Maybe just doing something as simple as reducing the space the title of a thread takes up would help.

DPic [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

^ Vertical space, i mean

Mrrix32 [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Building on what Bill Mac said, how about 3 radio buttons above the submit button, one "On topic" one for "Off topic" and "Not taged" Perhaps with icons next to the posts indicating this and the ability to view only posts with each tag*.

Default view should still be all posts, and I think "Not tagged" should be the default option.

*Or Label or whatever you want to call them

DPic [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

[put at-character here]Mrrix, that's not a bad idea :)

Tony Ruscoe [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

I don't like all this talk about off-topic forums and the like. For a start, everybody uses [OT] differently. Just check this query: http://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Ablogoscoped.com%2Fforum+intitle%3Aot

What one person considers off topic, another might consider to be right on topic. And vice versa. Besides, since this blog and forum is 80% Google + 20% anything else, surely that means that *nothing* is off-topic? (In my eyes, "off-topic" only really applies to a comment within a thread that doesn't actually have anything to do with the topic of the thread.)

I have no problem with allowing posts to be tagged or categorized though. In fact, I'd fully support that. And the same goes for blog posts actually. It would then be possible to filter the blog or forum based on those categories / tags. However, automation of this – no matter how good it is – will inevitably return some incorrect results. The only way is to allow manual maintenance – and then you've got a problem with user error, unless the categories are absolutely clear.

Having said all that, I'd definitely agree that the forum thread titles could take up less vertical space, making it easier to scan them and possibly mean you can fit more on the page.

What I would like more is a better search facility for the forum. So many times I go looking for a thread only to not find it. Before, our profile pages used to list all our posts but that was removed because they were getting too long. That was incredibly useful in finding threads I *knew* I'd posted to before though. Google doesn't seem to do such a brilliant job of indexing all the forum threads, so it makes the search functionality quite weak.

/pd [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

m 2 cents – DONT FORK ANYTHING!!

DPic [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

> I have no problem with allowing posts to be tagged or categorized though. In fact, I'd fully support that. And the same goes for blog posts actually. It would then be possible to filter the blog or forum based on those categories / tags. However, automation of this – no matter how good it is – will inevitably return some incorrect results. The only way is to allow manual maintenance – and then you've got a problem with user error, unless the categories are absolutely clear.

> Having said all that, I'd definitely agree that the forum thread titles could take up less vertical space, making it easier to scan them and possibly mean you can fit more on the page.

I think we are all in agreement on this :)

> What I would like more is a better search facility for the forum.

Yes! I know that the Wine App DB uses Google custom search (http://www.google.com/coop/cse/) on their site (http://appdb.winehq.org/) which seems to work well so maybe that would work here?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

None of Google's searches find everything, so I will have to support a real database search added to the Google search one of these days. Agh, if only the Google SOAP API would still work (I mean for every search, not just every second) this would be rather easy to do on the server side. Handling the Ajax search API 1) requires you to also switch to Ajax for anything else, as you need to get Google's JS snippet to communicate with your server-side database, and 2) brings with it loads of accessibility/ usability problems, at least when using Google's default search code (example? search here for [foobar]. Click on the top result. Realize it's not what you want click the back button. The search query disappeared from the search box).

David Hetfield [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

http://blogoscoped.com/forum/123469.html#id123481
Sorry..
I meant : Won't be useful :)

Mrrix32 [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Would it be possible to used Google Blog search? I can find posts on it easier than the normal Google Search.

Niraj Sanghvi [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

I think if you're going to do anything to create a separation/filtering, you could add 3 links to the bottom of the forum page. This way you wouldn't confuse newbies and you could have links for "View All" (the default selection), "View only Google-related", and "View Off-topic" and the latter two would just be filters of all posts.

This way if someone wanted they could bookmark a filtered version of the forum, and newbies wouldn't get as confused by the new/additional functionality. And the filtering could be automated and even if it wasn't perfect you'd still have everything under "all".

Zim [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Yep, that ^ it's a nice idea; but changes may be simple! I like the ease of use of this forum as it is right now.

George R [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Perhaps we can experiment adding our own unique keywords to the forum threads. A thread originator could manually end his post with one of the below two keywords.
   [google80]
   [nongoogle20]

If a branch deviated the poster could use different keywords.
   [branchgoogle80]
   [branchnongoogle20]

Once the forum is crawled and indexed we could use that search engine to search. Because we can do negative searches, we do not need 100% compliance.

We could try for a few months and see how it works.
This would take no effort on Philipp's part unless he wants to do the same for the blogs, for which I would suggest different keywords.
   [bloggoogle80]
   [blognongoogle20]

After the test period, if this seems to be useful, Philipp might optionally do one thing with a slight amount of effort He could install a filter, similar to the e-mail address filter, to modify the keywords restricted to the blog or thread originator so other's don't use them. Perhaps it could force them to the branch versions or to images.

I have already used all the keywords here, so we will have to begin on another thread.

One problem might be that once we get too many such threads, the search engines might not list them in a convenient order. Putting the month and year in the search may help. If we get more than 1000 in a month, some may be harder to find with Google.

Ianf [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Tony Ruscoe [ http://blogoscoped.com/forum/123469.html#id123510] has the right AINT BROKEN DONT FIX idea.

Still, a forum, even a nice low-volume, kindle-gentle-hum as this one that doesn't evolve may lead to stagnation.

I'd therefore support some kind of self-tagged submission [ie. radio buttons for (•)80% ()20% – or even just the latter, a single radio button to nullify the default "80%" tagging-- as part of COMMENT posting form], and, additionally, an advanced NEW THREAD form with automatically-created checkboxes for most frequent tags in use @Blogoscoped [ ie. such as "Yahoo;" M$haft; IBM; Apple; iPhone; China; Privacy; Hi-tech; Humor; etc] --OR-- if the new thread is first reply to a story, tags automagically *inherited* from that original content (ie. these added there by author Philipp and other Demi-Gods[tm] of Our Docuverse).

Unlike other blog threads/ comments implementation, where sometimes a multitude of tags loiters at end of each and every post, I'd propose that these tags not be rendered after each post, but a larger, clickable "all tags present on this page" filter item be attached to each served forum page. This would allow the advanced/ stressed readers to select, ie. filter, just the items bearing the tag of their interest. For this simple onClick-links would do, no need even for action radio + Submit buttons.

In time, when the accumulated list of all past tags would grow large enough to warrant further "tool-foolery", and if Philipp *really* wanted[*] to make a difference, offer us something unique in blogosphere – let the bottom "all tags on this page" listing become a multi-choice form (ie. checkboxes "[x]" rather than "(•)"), which would allow us to explore the comments in new, non-linear, new-correlative-linkage ways.

This clear enough?

[*] 'course he does. Doesn't he?

Philipp Lenssen [PersonRank 10]

14 years ago #

Ianf, I like your thinking, though I also wanna keep the forum as automated (easy) as possible. To me, the words contained in a comment itself would be the ideal basis to put additional features like tag clouds on, as that would mean no extra work on all of us members here. That would be one of those "80% good" solutions like most of the rest of the forum features – there's a 20% (2%?) chance things go wrong or are missing (i.e. maybe someone would want to include advanced HTML right in the comment, or maybe someone would want to have a hierarchical forum with topic groups like "AdSense", "SEO" and so on...), but due to this lack of perfection, the forum is also rather quick and easy to use 100% of the time with little learning (caveat: the blog + forum interconnection CAN be confusing, because it's so rarely seen).

So right now theoretically you don't need any advanced forum knowledge to create your profile page, you don't need to register, posting YouTube videos is automated and so on. But yes, that comes with the 2% (20%?) chance someone's profile homepage link is wrong here. Sort of like a trade-off: easiness vs precision. (On the other hand, the profile homepage link also has a good chance of auto-adjusting itself once your homepage changes – as it's based on the top Google result – again with no effort on your part...)

However, I also realize that sometimes the mere existence of a "tags" box will ensure people use more useful words to base tag clouds on! It definitely does have a merit. If we ever go for something like tags or other options before submitting, I'd probably put it in an "advanved" link that would dynamically expand more options below your comment, to keep it simple.

Right now, http://blogoscoped.com/calendar/ contains a quasi tag cloud. It is just connected to a Google search, though sometimes one containing more words, like the "tag" "Google Product Search" is connected to the search [Google Product Search | Froogle].

One of the first next steps that I think are definitely needed is to give this blog and forum a better search. Perhaps it's time to try if the Google SOAP API works better once again (it often randomly returned empty result sets for a long time). Then I can merge the Google search results with the (always real-time) database results, remove duplicates, and serve as one, with additional accessibility benefits due to lack of JavaScript (the current search by Google is based on JS). Some forums do a pure database search, but I find it never keeps up with the quality of ranking and flexibility of syntax a Google search does.

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