Less Topics!

Something you want to see in a LiveCode product? Want a new forum set up for a specific topic? Talk about it here.

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BvG
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Less Topics!

Post by BvG » Sat Apr 08, 2006 1:49 pm

I guess i am alone in this, but the many Topics make my head spin, how am I supposed to read what's interesting if it's hidden in so many categories?
The current setup makes reading the forum tedious, as Ii need to click on a forum topic, then on the topics i want to read.
I also doubt you get that much traffic on the forum, and many "topiccs" won't generate enough traffic to warrant them.
I suggest you have one forum per product, and one for feature request, maybe one for announcements (judging by your announcement's history that's superfluous though). Then (manyweeks later) you can re evaluate the traffic, and adjust with a finer grain.
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Post by Garrett » Sat Apr 08, 2006 8:50 pm

At least with the forum, you can change things up (for better or worse)
like this.

-Garrett

revdan
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More Topics Works Better

Post by revdan » Mon Apr 10, 2006 12:10 am

I've spent the better part of my career designing, building, hosting and evaluating online communities. And while I understand how the innitial impression of a forum laid out like this one might feel overwhelming, the fact is that in the long run and based on that experience, a larger number of better-focused topics is vastly superior to the one-topic-per-product kind of approach.

Why?

It is much more difficult to add new topic categories as time goes on. That is because: (a) adding topics disrupts the routine usage of the forums built up by familiarity over time; (b) adding a new topic in a meaningful way necessitates moving some content to a place experienced users might find it difficult to locate; and (c) there is often much wailing and gnashing of teeth over when and how to split topics.

Also, it is much easier for newbies to find and post information in the right place when categories are fairly granular.

Finally, if you have a general category (like, e.g., RevMedia), it tends to be populated by hundreds of topics over time, resulting in an even greater difficulty of finding what you're looking for.

I think RR has struck a proper balance here and although it will inevitably change over time, I encourage a policy of change only when forced to make it.

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Re: More Topics Works Better

Post by benr_mc » Tue May 16, 2006 6:19 pm

revdan wrote:I've spent the better part of my career designing, building, hosting and evaluating online communities.
Well, I haven't, so I guess I need to bow to your experience. But while I'll accept your wisdom that it's hard to split topics later, my perhaps naive reaction is that the current list could nonetheless be pruned.

I came to the forums tonight looking to post a problem I'm having playing MP3 files on Windows. Should I have posted that in "Rich Media" or "Windows"? To be honest, I posted it in "Rich Media", because having scrolled through three sections, containing 13 different forums, that seemed the most appropriate - I actually missed the fact that two more sections on, there were platform-specific forums. Should I cross-post the question now? I'd have thought a structure which encourages excessive cross-posting is also detrimental, since it lowers the signal-to-noise.

There is another problem with dividing the content up so much (I think there are approx 30 forums!): the audience is spread thinly. This is a problem in one direction for RunRev - it makes the product look less actively used than it really is. But it's also a problem in the other direction for those looking for help from the forums. I won't get any help if nobody reads my post. The use- list is a nightmare because users at every level are asking every kind of question and making every kind of point on it - but there are a lot of people reading all the posts (god bless them) so there's a good chance that someone who can help me will read mine. But few of those people will read every forum.

RunRev is trying to move from a setup of 2 lists, to 30 forums. I appreciate the move to forums, because I do find the use-list just too busy for me - but so far it's clear the community are taking their time about moving. The use-list is running at about 2,000 messages a month; so far the forums show just over 700 posts in something over a month. There are doubtless several reasons for this - but I'd hazard that the number of different forums is one of them.

revdan
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Content Categorization is Always Tough

Post by revdan » Tue May 16, 2006 6:58 pm

I hear you. Figuring out where to put a topic is hard. Having fewer topics makes that somewhat easier but at the expense of being able then to find posts on a given topic. Let's say, e.g., that you had come to the site and it didn't have a separate topic for rich media, but only for Windows and OS X and a few others. You would have probably posted your question in the Windows forum.

Now an OS X user comes to the forum. S/he has experience with rich media and could help you with your problem, but they never visit the Windows forum, so they never see the question.

This problem is true of all kinds of information, of course. How many times have you filed a document and then later gone back to retrieve it only to be unable to remember the category under which you filed it? What seemed reasonable at that time now feels obscure. We can only do the best we know how with what we have available.

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Post by benr_mc » Tue May 16, 2006 8:58 pm

As it happens, my question is specific to rich media on Windows - it's something that works nem con on Mac; so only a person with experience on Windows will be able to help. But I accept that there are other examples.

As regards finding later, that seems to be me less of a problem - that's what search is for.

I don't know what the perfect number of forums is - the current set seems to me too many.

revdan
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Figuring Out the Right Number

Post by revdan » Tue May 16, 2006 10:21 pm

I don't know what the perfect number of forums is - the current set seems to me too many.
That's the trick. It's different for everyone, for different subjects, for different levels of expertise and a bunch of other factors. There's no right or perfect answer.

I find the divisions here a bit too coarse; in other words, I'd like more of them so I could focus more specifically. You would find that more uncomfortable. So there you go!

:)

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Post by Mark » Thu May 18, 2006 10:12 pm

If I were to post a question on this forum, I would probably fairly quickly give up finding the right place to post my question. I think that BvG is right. I really don't want to spend more than 10 seconds deciding where to post my question. Right now, it will probably take me a few minutes.

We really need less categories. Note that people can always start a new subject in one of the broad categories. Also note that it is easier to decide on product categories than on subject categories.

Best,

Mark
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Re: More Topics Works Better

Post by FourthWorld » Fri May 19, 2006 12:13 am

benr_mc wrote:This is a problem in one direction for RunRev - it makes the product look less actively used than it really is.
Agreed. The savvy marketer will recognize this; I trust RunRev will too.

Any activity in any company is ultimately related to sales. RunRev has a *very* active community. Capitalizing on that to its fullest will convey a stronger message than any attempt to merely control it.

benr_mc wrote:But it's also a problem in the other direction for those looking for help from the forums. I won't get any help if nobody reads my post. The use- list is a nightmare because users at every level are asking every kind of question and making every kind of point on it - but there are a lot of people reading all the posts (god bless them) so there's a good chance that someone who can help me will read mine. But few of those people will read every forum.
True. As currently set up, it's a lot of work.

In the last week I've read more than four Thank You posts to the use-rev list from newcomers who were impressed by the wide range of speedy replies there. It may be busy, but with its daily digest you get access to the full community for the low cost of only one email a day.

And with the email verification required for subscription, there's far less spam on the use-rev list than the number of spam posts here.
benr_mc wrote:RunRev is trying to move from a setup of 2 lists, to 30 forums. I appreciate the move to forums, because I do find the use-list just too busy for me - but so far it's clear the community are taking their time about moving.
The addition of the forums seems less of an "either/or" and more or an "also". Some people prefer "push" systems like email, other prefer "pull" like prowling through each forum topic here for new info. With these forums, there's now an option for every taste, but many like the list and will remain there.

The use-rev list certainly isn't going away. It's a vast knowledgebase of the collective experience of its community. In the last month I've gone fishing in the archives for solutions to four sticky problems -- and found the answer to every one of them.

benr_mc
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Re: More Topics Works Better

Post by benr_mc » Fri May 19, 2006 8:09 am

FourthWorld wrote: The addition of the forums seems less of an "either/or" and more or an "also". Some people prefer "push" systems like email, other prefer "pull" like prowling through each forum topic here for new info. With these forums, there's now an option for every taste, but many like the list and will remain there.

The use-rev list certainly isn't going away.
I've been wondering where to post this (sorry, this isn't another 'forums too granular' point - I mean somewhere here, or on the improve list), but now you've said that I'll say it here.

The flurry (that ended in a locked post) that erupted when the forums were announced was completely reminiscent of the flame wars that erupted regularly on another high-traffic tech mailing list I used to subscribe too, on the topic of whether it should go to forums. Finally, the company ("slim devices") unveiled forums - with a transparent two-way interface to the existing mailing lists (although they also introduced a number of more detailed forums, each of which also therefore became a mailing list). Every forum has a 'sticky' post at the top telling you how you can subscribe to this forum as a mailing list; posts sent by email appear on the forums, and vice versa.
http://forums.slimdevices.com/showthread.php?t=13565

Very quickly, everyone shut up and was happy. Some people carried on using the mailing list; some moved to the forums. All the posts sent in either way are completely searchable in the forums. This was a complete solution.

Unfortunately, as we all know, RunRev engineers are extremely busy. But if it was possible for someone to find time to implement this solution (maybe simply ask the folks at slim devices, who are very friendly and helpful, if they'd share their code) that would be excellent. The current situation with discussion split between these two channels is extremely unhelpful, both to RunRev and their users.

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Post by jmellicker » Fri May 19, 2006 5:04 pm

The intrinsic problem with forums like PHPBB is that a message belongs to only one topic.

When in truth, a message may belong to:

rich media
QT
externals


With a forum, you have to choose one.

With a more flexible system, more like a blog, you would "tag" your post so that it would show under all those categories.

Then a response might be tagged with a different set.

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