Forum Organization Paradigm -- Need your thoughts

Discussion in 'Forum Suggestions' started by Classical Anglican, Nov 14, 2014.

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What forum organization paradigm do you prefer?

  1. Main page column organized conceptually like a library; no variation in prominence of threads

    1 vote(s)
    50.0%
  2. Main page block organized by varying prominence of threads based on voting on threads

    1 vote(s)
    50.0%
  1. Classical Anglican

    Classical Anglican Active Member Anglican

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    All,

    I'm really passionate about this so please bear with me and this somewhat long post!

    I'm new to this forum, and just want to open up by saying I love the way it is stylized, and love the level of discourse that occurs here. That being said, I was thinking about how to take it to the next level. I'd like to humbly submit a few thoughts to you that I had about the way the main page of the forum is organized, and how reordering it may help facilitate easy access to buzzing, active discussions and help project the reality of a lively community.

    My thoughts on the way things are organized on a screen, in principle, have evolved over the years. I began by having a strong preference for conceptual orderings. By this I mean I preferred icons and individual visual units that represented *concepts.* But now my preference is for visual orderings that prioritize frequency of use and intensity of community activity.

    On my PC desktop, way back when, I had only the standard default windows icons (my computer, trash can), if any. My activities always began at the start menu, where things were organized conceptually and alphabetically. As the years went by, I noticed Windows caught on and started making the start menu content be organized by frequency of use. I initially resented this shift, as it broke up my beautiful conceptual ordering. But then I grew to appreciate it.

    You can even see this shift in email. Gmail was a big paradigm shift because there was no folder structure, meaning one couldn't organize email into neat little folders titled with beautifully pertinent categories!

    As I got into smart phones, I started (and have remained) an iPhone user. Here I have had the same evolution. I started out with treed app icons that represented concepts, within which many apps belonging to that category lived. So I had only one page of icons, and only two rows of icons. It was a beautifully conceptual ordering. As time went on, I grew tired of going through several layers to get at what I wanted, and began to instead prefer no conceptual or alphabetical ordering. Eventually I ordered my app icons by frequency of use, without any tree structures.

    In the internet world of forums, I have also seen an evolution. Every forum software package I've seen (including this one), orders its discussions by concepts/categories on the main page. It's like a library--as soon as I enter, I need to know where, conceptually, I want to go. Now, mind you, here there is a little box on the right that sorts discussions by most recent activity, but this is not at all prominent. What's prominent is the main column that has everything organized by concept.

    Now the radical departure from this internet forum paradigm has been something like you find in reddit.com, where discussions are voted on, and their sub-comment threads are also voted on. In this community, the main page is organized by the discussions that have received the most "up votes," so that instead of entering a library, it's as if you enter a community and the first thing you're hit with is the loudest sets of discussions. The conceptual ordering isn't eradicated, it is just made much less prominent. I have come to love this because I'm more interested in finding the most buzzing discussions, and less interested in finding the right book!

    So, what do you guys think? In my humble opinion, I want to have and project to others the experience of entering a lively, buzzing community; one that demonstrates this, upon entering it, by hitting you with the most up voted discussions. This (and most) forum currently gives more of an impression of entering a library. As such, the discussions appear to be tucked away in back rooms; if I want to get to them, I need to go to the right square on the bottom, and dig a little deeper.

    Ultimately, the paradigm I'm suggesting will more efficiently get a user to the most active discussions, and give the visual impression of a buzzing community. Perhaps it's just me, but currently I get more of the library impression, and this is less conducive to frequenting the forum. I don't know about you, but I don't go to a library to have lively discussions! I go there when I want to find a book.

    My suggestion (as seen in the image below) is to swap the conceptual ordering column with the "recent threads" block on the right.

    AF Snapshot.GIF

    Please vote your preference!
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2014
  2. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    Would such a layout lead to low-effort participation?
     
  3. Classical Anglican

    Classical Anglican Active Member Anglican

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    I don't think it would necessarily lead to low-effort participation, though that's definitely possible. The quality of the posts that rise to the top would be driven by a voting system, and like with any good voting systems, should be associated with a limited franchise. That is, not everyone gets to vote!

    Places like reddit I think allow anyone with a username to vote. What would be ideal would be a user badging system wherein people are differentiated by meeting certain criteria like signing onto to statement of belief for example. These distinctives would tie into who would be granted voting power.

    In this way the candidate threads that rise to the top are voted on by a body of people that are held to a certain standard. I believe this would protect the quality and content of the threads that get voted to the top.
     
  4. Admin

    Admin Administrator Staff Member Typist Anglican

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    Can you find some examples where what you are saying really works, among Website Forum software?
    Unfortunately we are not able to replicate functionality of non-forum sites like reddit.
     
  5. Classical Anglican

    Classical Anglican Active Member Anglican

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    For the smartphone experience, one example is this site:

    https://forums.oneplus.net

    Like the simple and clean thread listing. Don't like truncating thread titles and adding ellipses, however. Need to include comple thread title.

    For a browser experience, I like this look:

    https://xenforo.com/community/threads/new-style-feedback-please.33100/#post-378029

    Finally, if you must have categories on landing, I like this really clean listing without all the detailed thread information.

    https://www.avforums.com/forums/

    Overall I love the beauty in simplicity.
     
  6. Phoenix

    Phoenix Member Staff Member Anglican

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    If you would give us a clearer idea of what you have in mind we'd know how it relates to our plans. we've been working on our own forum restructuring plans as well.
     
  7. Phoenix

    Phoenix Member Staff Member Anglican

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    Ah I see it now, thanks. We will get back to you on that.
     
  8. Phoenix

    Phoenix Member Staff Member Anglican

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    A version of this idea has been in the works and will be implemented.
     
  9. Classical Anglican

    Classical Anglican Active Member Anglican

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    I look forward to this with bated breath!
     

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