What do you want to know first when you come to the forum?

Thursday, June 10, 2010 4:52 PM

I'm doing a little research and need some feedback. What's the first thing you're looking for when you come to a discussion forum? Not necessarily this one, but any forum. What's the second and third thing?

In a related question, what do you expect to see on the home page of a forum you're visiting for the first time? What would help you better understand what the forum is about?

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Thursday, June 10, 2010 5:57 PM

1. Ease of use.

How easy is it for me to navigate my way around. (You have suceeded here!)

2. Are the people posting friendly or are they adverserial? Do they treat n00bs like they have no clue or do they take them under their wing and pass judgement only AFTER they open their mouths (keyboards) up? You have strived to make it so you are the more friendly type of BBS here. Thank you!

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Thursday, June 10, 2010 5:58 PM

The first thing I do when I get to CoasterBuzz is click the "Forums" tab, so I suppose I want to know what has been replied to or updated since my last visit.

Otherwise, I like it the way it is now with the news headlines on the front page.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010 6:14 PM

"Ease of use" is an expectation... it's not what you're looking for really. I also should be more specific in that I'm not talking about the home page of CoasterBuzz... I'm talking about the forum once you get to it, the "/Forums" URL.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010 6:15 PM

I have the "recent" link bookmarked. I need nothing more than that. One click and I know which threads have been active in all the different forums since I last checked.

That's pretty much the most efficient the forum experience can be. It's perfect for me.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010 8:24 PM

The one thing I'd like is access to the last page of a thread from the main forum page. Especially on a phone, one less unnecessary page load or click is optimal!

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Thursday, June 10, 2010 9:36 PM

The first thing I want to know when I come to the forum is, who are the scheduled combatants? Is it gladiators vs gladiators today, or animals vs Christians? ;)

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Thursday, June 10, 2010 10:45 PM

The first thing I'm looking for is updated threads/boards. The next thing is the last post in any thread that interests me. I'd much rather be taken to the end of a thread, when I click on it, than the beginning.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010 10:49 PM

Hopman: You are showing your age. :) (/me remembers BBSing)

tigellinus: Next time you are looking at the forum page, the one with the threads on it, click on the little blue icon with the green "+" on it. Watch what happens. Isn't that cool?

Jeff: Thanks to Safari's automatic top sites feature, I tend to actually skip the forums/ pager and go straight to forums/topics/nn. The bad thing is that I always forget that the recent topics link that Gonch referred to even exists, so for the most part I read the news forum and general, and miss everything else.

All I really care about is what haven't I read in the threads I actually care about. In the absence of a killfile the color coding of active threads is really useful, as it shows me where the last inactive thread I actually read is; I don't bother with the "mark forum read" button because the "jump to newest post" button works so well.

Speaking of which, clearly that feature is not well identified. It may well be the most useful button on the topics page, but it is apparently also the best kept secret on POP Forums, as I've introduced at least three people to it in the past week.

edit: AV Matt, see my advice to tigellinus above. Jeff, make that four. :)

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

Last edited by RideMan, Thursday, June 10, 2010 10:52 PM
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Thursday, June 10, 2010 11:53 PM

After I surf the homepage and any items there I find interesting, I head to the recent forums. So if a "recent" link could be added to the menu bar (or as a dropdown) that would save me one step. I'm nitpicking, sorry.

Since I have to first first go to the forums page before the recent page, I look at the "new posts/no new posts" icons on the Day in Pictures and explore there as needed.

Once on the recent forums page everything I need is there as far as I can see. Like tigellinus suggested, quick access to the last page of a thread from the main forum page would be nice. Additionally, a link that would take you to point in the thread where you last visited. Is that even possible? Tracking all the users and all the threads they visit and then returning the users to the different points in various threads during a later session? Good luck with that.

Warning: more nitpicking. Could the "Search | My post | Recent | Favorites | Subscriptions" links also appear at the bottom of each page in the thread so I don't have to press the home key to get to them.

The forums are great as is. But if you want to make it better, knock yourself out. (And I love the Day in Pictures too).

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Friday, June 11, 2010 12:20 AM

tigellinus said:
The one thing I'd like is access to the last page of a thread from the main forum page. Especially on a phone, one less unnecessary page load or click is optimal!

James Whitmore said:
Like tigellinus suggested, quick access to the last page of a thread from the main forum page would be nice. Additionally, a link that would take you to point in the thread where you last visited. Is that even possible? Tracking all the users and all the threads they visit and then returning the users to the different points in various threads during a later session? Good luck with that.

You guys, that feature already exists. Click the icon to the left of the topic title (I think it's a sheet of paper with the green '+') and it takes you directly to the first post in that thread that you haven't read. (which isn't always necessarily the last page)

Combine that with the 'recent' link and you can easy keep up with things in the busiest of times. That's all the forum tools I need.

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Friday, June 11, 2010 1:49 AM

Jeff, I hope you don't mind me asking, what the reason behind this post is? I for one am intrigued, but the direction of your questions suggest to me that you might have something up your sleeve, would that be a true statement?

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Friday, June 11, 2010 2:12 AM

I'm asking because I've been working on a new version, an hour here, an hour there. Part of the reason is that those of us using Microsoft's stack (not that I'm biased or anything) are quite enamored with a framework that came out last year called MVC. It's based on a fairly old design pattern, but the main point is that it's a lot easier to use and do "neat things" than it is using what we call the Webforms framework that this site is built on. There are a lot more technical reasons, but they shouldn't matter to users at large. The bottom line is that I feel like I can do better. I'm challenging even the most basic assumptions, like what do you do when you get here.

RideMan said:
tigellinus: Next time you are looking at the forum page, the one with the threads on it, click on the little blue icon with the green "+" on it. Watch what happens. Isn't that cool? ...Speaking of which, clearly that feature is not well identified. It may well be the most useful button on the topics page, but it is apparently also the best kept secret on POP Forums, as I've introduced at least three people to it in the past week.

I know. The discoverability on that has always been an issue, and I don't have a good solution for it. I do mention it in the video tour for the forum, but that's not well watched either. I've always been proud of that feature, and really, it does do 90% of what you need in most cases to figure out how much you've seen.

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Friday, June 11, 2010 8:50 AM

Thanks guys for pointing out the "green +" link. It's a great time saver. Off the top of my head I can't come up with any suggestions on how to make it more easily discoverable to other users. Thanks again.

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Friday, June 11, 2010 9:09 AM

OK, I wasn't going to post this because I don't think it's really the question you were asking. But, obviously the thread has evolved beyond that, as many do.

Day in Pictures - I really enjoy this feature. But, there are a couple things that would make it better and based on conversations we had, I realize one of these things is problematic because of Silverlight and not your programing. So lets get that one out of the way first.

1. I believe you told me that Silverlight is the reason that after I upload all my photos, they are completely in a jumbled order. That is really, really annoying. It takes me a good 10 minutes to sort them. I think you said you have no control over that. So, what would make it a bit easier is if you could have a numbered sort. I could number the photos 1 to 40 and with one click, sort them. The drag and drop, though simple in function, just takes forever. Now, if there was a way of keeping it from scrambling it to begin with that would be ideal and I know I would use it more often. Some might say, why bother sorting them. Well. it makes it a lot easier for me to post my comments and tell a story if the photos are in the order that I took them.

2. This is more of a frustration thing that is mainly my fault. But it is related to the first item. Two times in the past week, I spent the time to sort my photos. Upon clicking submit, it reloaded the page because I had not input a title for the topic. Low and behold the photos were out of order again. At that point I almost didn't resort the photos. Even thinking about it now, I sigh. :)

3. There is a red border around the thread and individual photos that haven't been viewed yet. That is very helpful. But, is there a way you could make the border go away once you've viewed the photo? I can live with the thread border not disappearing. But, when I'm viewing multiple threads and multiple posts within threads, it would make it easier to know if someone has responded to a post if the border would "go away" after viewing it.

4. Kind of along the same line, could you have a way of marking an individual group of photos as having been read? You have the "mark forum read" link. But, if you could have the same thing within a group of photos, it would be helpful.

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Friday, June 11, 2010 9:32 AM

Well, I am usually here to check the forums for any news on my favorite parks. Unfortunately some of the parks I enjoy are rarely talked about. Such as Indiana Beach, Michigan's Adventure. and La Ronde.

I also like to check my recent posts, to see if anyone has responded to threads I started, or topics that are important to me. I am happy with the way the forums are set up, but, I sometimes get lost looking for it. And, back-tracking to find a post seems a bit time consuming, especially on threads that have a lot of replies. But, It's not a big deal.

I also like the picture trip reports feature. I had several posts of the crowds at Michigan's Adventure, and a lot of people don't believe me when I say I won't wait 2 hours to ride the Wildcat there, well, now I can prove to them that I am not making it up.

I also saw a few pictures in recent photo trip reports that I found useful. Like the photo of Cedar Points Subway menu....no $5.00 footlongs there. $14.00! oh my god! Lets me know what to avoid like the plague on my next visit. So, it's very useful.

One more thing I think would be useful is to have a feature on which photos in a group received comments, and, have them in order of recent-down. That way if I want to see who has commented on a photo in my MA report, I don't have to check every single picture for comments. It would save a lot of time.

Last edited by Timber-Rider, Friday, June 11, 2010 9:37 AM
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Friday, June 11, 2010 11:41 AM

I don't know how useful this would be to anyone else, but some other forums I participate in automatically subscribe you to any thread you post in. Then the default forum page is a list of your subscribed threads with new posts.

I never knew about the recent thread link that Gonch pointed out and that would be my second choice for a default page.

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Friday, June 11, 2010 12:11 PM

Glad to see I am not the only idiot on this site. How long has that green+ link been around? Never knew that was available.

Now I am an educated idiot

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Friday, June 11, 2010 12:17 PM

Lord Gonchar said:
One click and I know which threads have been active in all the different forums since I last checked.

That's pretty much the most efficient the forum experience can be. It's perfect for me.

I hate "me too"s, so I'll just say that Gonch summed up my experience in this and other (often considerably-less-functional) forums...

Comments on "Day in Pictures" is the only aspect I've found to be less-than-intuitive...

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Friday, June 11, 2010 1:18 PM

Shades said:
Glad to see I am not the only idiot on this site. How long has that green+ link been around?

Can't believe how many of you have been suffering through manually finding where you left off. I'd have left a long time ago. ;)

You know, Jeff - why doesn't clicking the title of the thread just do that in the first place?

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