ATTENTION: You are viewing a page formatted for mobile devices; to view the full web page, click HERE.

Special User Sections > Site/Forum Features

Discussion: How can we Improve DonationCoder?

(1/18) > >>

In a recent discussion thread of our NANY (New Apps for the New Year) event, i was a bit harsh on someone who had some negative things to say about the general trajectory of DC lately.  While I don't think that thread was the best place to talk about such things, I do think it's a discussion worth having.

So the question for this thread is, how can we improve DonationCoder?

Can I just request some ground rules -- it's fine to point out problems with the site and ways it hasn't lived up to it's promises, etc., but please try to frame your comments in a way that they inform how we can make the site better.  Part of the problem I think we always have is that this site is different things to different people, and the main goal of the site has to be to be as good as it can be for it's members.  We aren't like a typical business whose goal is the simple maximization of "profit".. We're not looking for ideas that will make the site bigger or more popular per se.  It's a bit more subtle and circular than that.

In a very real sense, the question has to be, keeping in the spirit of the site, what are things we can all do to make it more useful to all of us? And what can I and others that are willing to put in the work do to make it work better for the rest of you?

i was a bit harsh o[/i]
-mouser (April 22, 2010, 07:27 PM)
--- End quote ---

If you were harsh, I'm not sure what the appropriate adjective would be for their comments. :-\

I'd been meaning to join in the thread about why we came to DC. For me it was the big reviews. I read one (& more) and was impressed by the detail & impartiality. Over later months I had to try to remember what that site was which I thought had reviews that helped me to think about what issues I should be interested in, so I could check whether there was a review on my latest area of interest. Eventually discovered it again, even more eventually found the Forums and stayed. Of course, the big reviews appear to have ended. Not liked to mention it before since the obvious response is "Why don't you do one?" and I know I don't have the time - and can't and don't expect anyone else to either; it clearly was a major effort for anyone to have done one, let alone more. Finding a way of getting closer to that end would be good though: even with regular reading of nearly everything, having a clear idea of the current views on any area of software is difficult, and there are often so many threads now that it can be quite time consuming to track down a particular discussion that I remember reading.

I feel that, since we all seem to like one another, we should try always to encourage input from newer members. That way we'll have even more of us to like. It's difficult to like someone who has no voice here.
The more topics, and the more contributing points of view, the better.

This very sentiment is often expressed here and in the newsletters. I do think that, by and large, we are fairly welcoming but are there more ways to encourage new voices?
I don't know if particular people are specifically tasked with welcoming new members but not many of us seem to say 'hello' when a newcomer passes by.

Some of our major contributors are remarkably good at launching topics that attract wide interest and participation.
I wonder if more of us can initiate thought-provoking threads?
Speaking as one of the intellectually bankrupt, I always enjoy the chance to feast on crumbs from the clever members' tables.

The question was: How can we Improve DonationCoder?
Experience indicates that a structured approach usually assists in encouraging a diverse group of people to collaborate in answering general questions - questions to which there could possibly be complex and conflicting answers.

Here's a suggested approach: (to help make the most of the probably not inconsiderable potential thinking power of the DC "Brainstrust.")

1. Definition of the question: (objective is to remove ambiguity and improve clarity of purpose)

* Define the purpose of the question - i.e., exactly what information is the question intended to be extracting, and WHY?
* Review the question and rewrite it, as necessary, to better reflect the purpose.
* Define the question more rigorously, or restate it in terms that can enable rigorous definition.
* Define any terms used in the definition.
2. Define requirements for the forum to provide answers:
Define the required structure and rules for answering the question. For example:

* Brainstorm: This implies that "anything goes" - opinions, POV, structured reasoning, daft ideas - with the rule that all critique of the answers must be deferred until all the ideas are in, whereupon evaluation of the ideas can commence.
* "The Emperor's new clothes": Only allow answers with a positive or non-critical spin. (Implies never discussing "the elephant in the room".
* Critical thinking: Answers to be demonstrably the product of rational thought as opposed to beliefs or "opinions" or ideas off the top of the head.
* Or some mixture of the above (but always define them.
If you did something more like this (and you have already started to try and lay some rough groundwork for the forum of responses), then you would be more likely to be able to gain some measure of the results - e.g., those answers that met whatever criteria you had established for them in the first place.

If you did not do something like this, then, as likely as not, you will probably get a completely random result. This would be chaotic, by definition.

So what? Well, you may be able make the most of your potential audience:
(a) People who may have worked hard to learn to discipline themselves to structure their thinking and to apply a rational critical thinking method could be more likely to put effort into contributing that thinking and to respond to a well-structured questioning process (as above). However, they could otherwise tend to be turned off and unlikely to contribute. After all, what would be the point if it was only likely to add to a chaotic mess? (Rather like the majority of business meetings.)

(b) People with unstructured thinking skills or irrational thinking habits (Edward De Bono suggests that that could probably be the majority of us) could probably tend to contribute regardless, because they would have no reason for similar reservations. This would be where you would be likely to get most of the rationalised POV and beliefs from.

wow, talk about over analyzing a question :D Honestly, putting that much words in how fancy and thought in how fancy the question and it's replies have to be, makes me scared to even reply anything at all, as my inferior brain is not worthy :)

Anyway, from the top of my head, here's one suggestion which may have been touched upon before iirc:

In order to make people feel more valued and involved with DC, have a page with links to their software (eg: on the Software/releases.html page, or a dedicated page) - including the many programs people host on the member server, and others that are hiding in the forum.

As it stands, outside of the nany stuff and other contests, it seems to me only a subset of software developed by dc members is mentioned under the software section, which may not very encouraging to people that forked out the effort to work on coding snack or program.

I'm not sure if there's some reason but I find quite a few coding snacks in the forum that didn't make the software page. I'm not sure if there already is some kind of submission process or not, but there probably should be an easy to find software submission web GUI thingie...

Not only would this encourage development, but it would allow users to find software they need more easily. (There could be a keyword based search engine just for software, for example)

Then, when a program is submitted through the web gui, and accepted after review, it could be automatically listed on the appropriate software page. Then perhaps automatically assign a 'dc software developer' badge or something to the user.
With a semi-automated process like that you could do all kinds of neat stuff, like making an smf mod which will list all software made by a user in their forum profile - or automatically create a blog post for newly submitted/accepted software.


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version