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more improvements

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libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04

I am thinking of making some further improvements to the presentation of the site, in order to increase usability.

I'll start with some block placement issues. Do you think it would be better to place blocks showing recent posts and topics above the user navigation block (named after you)?

How does the "newest forum topics" section on front page serve you so far. It is displaying latest forum topics.

What do you think of the overall layout and design of the homepage and rest of the site?

Please tell if you have some bad annoyances on this site so I can try to fix them!

I am intending to implement an easy way for new users to ask questions on forums, a sort of a quick shortcut being linked from top of the homepage via an attractive button I am going to design for it. This "shortcut" may feature a couple or so quick and easy to understand steps to help new users get started with the site right away.
This does bear a practical question. Should I enable anonymous opening of topics on forums to make it easier on new users and get more people asking questions? It would make these "quick steps" guide much easier to follow if it wouldn't absolutely require registering to post.

If new user finds the site helpful they'll eventually register anyway. Maybe we should follow the "try before you register" approach on Nuxified.org and just make sure we do a good job at filtering anonymous spam that doesn't get caught by the so far excellent akismet spam filter. Smiling

Thank you!
Danijel

ariadacapo's picture
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Joined: 2006-07-13
re: more improvements
libervisco wrote:

I'll start with some block placement issues. Do you think it would be better to place blocks showing recent posts and topics above the user navigation block (named after you)?

Personally I find it good the way it is, but this is no big deal.

libervisco wrote:

What do you think of the overall layout and design of the homepage and rest of the site?

Please tell if you have some bad annoyances on this site so I can try to fix them!

To me, the links on the top right are misleading. At a very quick glance, it's hard to tell which of the two lines (Contribute Goodies Link Contact IRC) or (Forums Blogs Polls Shots Tips Home) is the main one. Maybe the second line should have bigger characters or be put forward in some way.
This, however, is the only comment I can think of. The rest of the homepage looks very good to me. Always something to read and well-organised.

libervisco wrote:

I am intending to implement an easy way for new users to ask questions on forums, a sort of a quick shortcut being linked from top of the homepage via an attractive button I am going to design for it. This "shortcut" may feature a couple or so quick and easy to understand steps to help new users get started with the site right away.
This does bear a practical question. Should I enable anonymous opening of topics on forums to make it easier on new users and get more people asking questions? It would make these "quick steps" guide much easier to follow if it wouldn't absolutely require registering to post.

If new user finds the site helpful they'll eventually register anyway. Maybe we should follow the "try before you register" approach on Nuxified.org and just make sure we do a good job at filtering anonymous spam that doesn't get caught by the so far excellent akismet spam filter. Smiling

This sounds excellent and I like the button very much.

The anonymous post thing is dangerous in my opinion. It sure encourages users to post, but also discourages them to post correctly (with a proper title, in the right forum, and with a tiny search before). This quickly becomes hard to manage, as I found out in a different forum (about photography).
The spam issue very much depends on the filters and the quickness of response by the community - I can't say much on this.

But the "newcommer welcome" and the orange button are perfect so beginners feel welcome.

All in all this sounds very good. Keep up the good work.

Olivier.

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
ariadacapo wrote: To me,
ariadacapo wrote:

To me, the links on the top right are misleading. At a very quick glance, it's hard to tell which of the two lines (Contribute Goodies Link Contact IRC) or (Forums Blogs Polls Shots Tips Home) is the main one. Maybe the second line should have bigger characters or be put forward in some way.

Maybe I should add more emphasis on the second line of links, which is a main line. I though that a different styling and special hover would do, but maybe I was wrong. I'll try to think of ways to better that. Thanks for the comment. Smiling

ariadacapo wrote:

The anonymous post thing is dangerous in my opinion. It sure encourages users to post, but also discourages them to post correctly (with a proper title, in the right forum, and with a tiny search before). This quickly becomes hard to manage, as I found out in a different forum (about photography).

That's a good point, but then again it may depend on the site and how easy it is to choose the right forum for posting something. We have a way of posting that doesn't require going to the forum index and reading reviewing all the forums to post to. You just click on that button and have all forums in a drop down box. I have also enabled anonymous posting only on GNU/Linux and "Other Free OS's" forums, so not on introduction, "questions & suggestions" etc.. which makes it a bit easier for anonymous user to select the right one.

So yeah, I enabled anonymous posting for now at least to see how it goes. We can change back if it doesn't work or if most of you believe it's ultimately a bad idea. I'm just thinking that, if it will work, it would be a nice way to differentiate from many forums. It would practically make asking a question on Nuxified.org the easiest to all other forums around. Smiling

But we'll see.. Call it a test run for now. Smiling

Anyway, thanks alot for your input Olivier!

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
On IRC onlinebacon and

On IRC onlinebacon and freezombie have made some good additional points against allowing anonymous users to start new topics. Concerns are not only spam related, but that some users would probably then just ask a question and leave, no matter if we respond or not. Although the benefit of having that topic for others to read is present, we don't actually gain a new member this way.

I'm still not sure what would ultimately be best. One answer to the above concern would be that even if they register it is not guaranteed they'll come back and stick with us, so why not allow for a lower entry barrier and at least get more posts..

I would really like your opinions on this. As stated my goal is to make it as easy as possible for a newcomer to get help on Nuxified.org, to make it a straightforward process that they would all not only be able to complete, but possibly find attractive compared to other sites.

The ideal stuck in my head is for it to be "click a button, fill that easy form and you're done" where the button is completely obvious on the homepage. And I would like to advertise this simplicity further. My intent is to then put together an article about better community support in the GNU/Linux world citing Nuxified.org as a credible example. Besides the anti-rudeness (anti-RTFM) policy, low advertising and friendly community we also need simplicity. Then we just need more attention, but we need to get that attention in a way that wont be construed as spam or blatant self promotion where it doesn't belong...

Thank you
Danijel

dylunio's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-20
Why not experiment with

Why not experiment with anonymous topic starting? See what comes of this, if it's a failure (doesn't increase topics, increases spam etc.) we don't need to carry on with it, we can revert and say "this method doesn't work".
Also we could try and fix problems we have e.g. if there is a lot of spam why not have a simple box where the poster must put the answer to a simple question to post?

Experiment and see what happens.

dylunio

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
I could add captcha again,

I could add captcha again, but the last time we had that it was quite buggy and was sometimes screwing things up even for registered users for which it wasn't even enabled.. I could give it a second try though, it might have improved.

But to be honest I'm not so much worried about spam at this point because akismet is really doing a nice job with that. It has unpublished most of spam comments on sight leaving it to the mods to only see them and delete them, but no harm was actually done. A couple here and there get through, but that's not something we can't handle. Of course, at some point if we grow alot bigger and more active and if spam posts increase in frequency we may reconsider and disallow anonymous posting.

But onlinebacon and free-zombie may have a good point and that's what makes me a bit vague and unsure about it. Also, maybe registered members don't like to be meddled with anonymous users? Maybe allowing anonymous posting of topics, in addition to posting comments, would seem a bit unfair or something? I suppose I should study other forums to see how people react.

dylunio's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-20
One problem with having anon

One problem with having anon users which I've just thought of is this: we will not know who the users are when replying. That is AnonA might start a thread and then AnonB might hijack it and we wouldn't know, and get very confused with these two different stories that we read from what we suppose is the same person.

dylunio

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
Hmm indeed that's a good

Hmm indeed that's a good point as well.

tbuitenh's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-21
Why not replace anonymous

Why not replace anonymous posting by a form that looks like this?:

Subject: [blah     ]

Message:
+------------------+
|yada yada yada    |
|                  |
|                  |
+------------------+

Choose a username: [penguins-R-cute   ]
Choose a password: [**********        ]

So with your first post you automatically get an account. I don't know if this is difficult to implement in drupal, but it seems the most sensible way to be as friendly as possible to newcomers and still make abusive anonymouses stay away.

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
I'll have to check for ways

I'll have to check for ways of doing that, but that does seem like a great idea and the best way to solve this..

If there are no existing modules which make such a modification to the submit form, but only for anymous users it would require me to write my own or have someone else do it.

I'll check.

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
Some progress has been made.

Some progress has been made. Smiling

While there doesn't seem to be an option right now for what tbuitenh described above and I'm not fit to implement it myself, I have used an existing module for another rather straightforward "scheme".

Anonymous users are presented with a bit different button on homepage saying: "Need help? (1) Register > (2) Ask away!". That apparently illustrates two steps towards starting a new topic. Upon clicking on that button the user gets a registration page. He only really needs to fill in the desired username, email address and password. After submitting, the user is presented with a simple welcome page with a big button leading to the topic submission form. Alternatively, the user can follow a link to forum index or homepage.

At this point the user isn't fully activated, but is in the "intermediary" user role. He needs to click on the activation link he got via email to fully activate and gain full access to other site features as other full members. There is a reminder of that on every page.

So in summary, after clicking a button the user...

1) fills a registration form and submits
2) clicks on the new topic button to "ask away!"

After that he can activate for full access.

I think that should be fairly quick, simple and straighforward. And this way we don't need to have allow anonymous users to start new topics. Anonymous are so far only allowed to comment (reply) and submit an article which goes to the moderation queue. Eye

What do you think?

michuk's picture
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Joined: 2006-08-20
good job

I like the "Need help? (1) Register > (2) Ask away!" thing. It is the first thing you see when entering the page and should encourage people to register and ask questions, and this is what nuxified.org is about. Good job.

tbuitenh's picture
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Joined: 2005-12-21
It needs a few more clicks

It needs a few more clicks than my idea, but it should work just fine. I like it.

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
I'm glad you like it. Let's

I'm glad you like it. Let's hope it gets us some more users.. I might write an article as I described in an original post to possibly attract interest for Nuxified.org itself, not just one page on it (as is with other articles we published).

Now I should look into that main menu issue..

Any other suggestions? They're always welcome.

Thanks for your feedback! Smiling

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
about main menu

OK, I made the font of the secondary menu not bold so that the primary main menu looks more important. That is to address the what ariadacapo said above. Hopefully that looks better now.

I'm not sure what else could I do without making a more significant design change. I personally think this should be ok.

Thanks

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