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Discussion: How can we Improve DonationCoder?

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in keeping with the idea of having nice "VIEWS" into the existing content.

-mouser (April 28, 2010, 02:32 PM)
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Maybe that's the ideal compromise - keep the forums the same - but provide the visitors with a new front end?

Sorta like a hotel or public inn...

Hotels have a general public side (bars, public restaurants, front desk) and a staying guest side (rooms, concierge and guest services, private dining, etc.) which allows them to handle the needs of those who are just passing through, as well as those who have made the place their home away.

I always felt good websites have much in common with good inns. (Actually, I've got a whole chapter written about that point.  :mrgreen:) But maybe this is one way to approach the issue of how to accommodate a new or occasional visitor -  while simultaneously providing that different type of 'experience' the more familiar and active visitor (i.e. "regular") would be looking for.

Just my 2¢ again. (One more penny and you'll have a shiny new nickle! ;D )

i forgot to say.. this thread now officially qualifies as a rare "SKROMMEL SIGHTING" !!

I pretty much like DC the way it is. Not because I'm just used to it and/or that I don't want to change my habits. I've actually rarely been here in the last year for personal and professional reasons, and each time I came back I found what I wanted relatively easily etc. I found the same quality threads, etc.

However, among the things that could either be improved or generate improvement, here's my small take :

1- Someone (40hz ?) mentioned the mission statement. I was going to mention it myself before reading that post.

Everything else should serve the purpose it describes. Refining the mission statement can only improve DC and the decisions about UI, appearance, content, etc.

2- Tags :

It probably takes a new framework, but then we could have tags, clouds, likes and dislikes, Facebook integration and whatnot.
-skrommel (April 28, 2010, 08:41 AM)
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I was never much a fan of clouds.

But to skrommel's point about the "depth of things" in the forums, for once I can see where something like a topic cloud might be a useful addition to a site like this one. The only problem I could see is if it somehow made people feel they needed to introduce topics and frame their comments to coincide with existing tags rather than let them range as far and wide as they currently do.
-40hz (April 28, 2010, 02:19 PM)
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I'm not always a fan of tags, but I'm a big fan of syntactic or semantic statistical analysis.

Without going into details, maybe what I'd find interesting here would be a statistical cloud representation of all the words used in the forum (minus "determinants" ** (???) and other semantically "useless" words). The top 100 or more would be links to all the posts mentioning them. This, I find, gives a better idea of actual content then actual tags.

"Standard" tags could be useful, of course, but they're hard to use and maintain (quickly) in a forum. And since not everybody use them, they don't give an accurate picture of the actual total content.

I'm a big fan of tags ONLY when they're part of a well structured and managed system.

3- UI (minimal...) : there's one small thing that I think could be positioned differently : "show posts". You need to go into the profile, etc. to get to it. Why not place it (also?) at the top of the page with

Show unread posts  (since last visit).
Show latest topics. Show recent posts (full text).
Show new replies to your posts (unreplied topics).
Show all posts by Armando

I know... small thing... But I often looked for it and spent a few minutes wondering where it is.

3- UI : text editor for posts. I like it but wish it'd understand take keyboard shortcuts for common formatting options (Bold, Italic, Underline, etc.) : ctrl-b, ctrl-i etc.

So you see. These are just very small things that annoy me. There might be more, but... I can't think of any at the moment.

As for those who think that DC is declining etc. all I can say is that... Well it's a really subjective perception...  :) I don't think that DC is declining. So there you go. Also : it's damn normal to develop other preoccupations after a certain time and get tired of a certain sites that brought pleasure in the first place. So what ? This happens with everything else in life -- maybe because of "hedonistic adaptation", maybe because of something else...

Sure, you can fight hedonistic adaptation, but it's slippery slope. That said, it's good to change the furniture, makeup, hairdo once in a while... If it still serves the mission statement, if it makes things more fun .... and if it does keep people more interested an enthusiast. Usually, if it doesn't really bring more fun more strength to the mission statement, I think it'S a loss of energy and other resource.

My 2¥...

*** Determinants : probably not the right translation but I only have the French word in mind... And google is of no quick help here.

I don't think dc is declining, but the rest of the world is changing in a way that make it less useful. DC is great to 'find the best software. But nowadays, desktop software matter less than say 3 years ago (I use gmail as my main mail client, for example). I also moved to linux, so most of the software finds don't apply to me anymore. When I have a technical question, other sites (SO for example) are more accurate. For tech news, I use Hacker News. So DC is basically just the watercooler experience now.

For me, the real strength of DC is this forum and the wealth of information that lies inside. The regulars know this all too well but a newcomer may not realize the forum's true potential by a brief visit to whichever thread that got him here in the first place. If a way can be found to harness the forum information it would benefit everyone - regulars, newcomers and the site itself. There could be links to other threads automatically generated at the bottom of each thread, based on matching tags.

Tagging has been discussed more than once and generally been considered a good idea, IIRC, but never actually been implemented so I assume it may not be the simplest thing to do. I suppose people like me could just try and be less lazy and cross-link threads where appropriate for now. Also, I don't know how feasible it is for internal forum links to appear different from external links and possibly have an option to be opened in a popup window containing a thread or just a single post to keep the BS level to a minimum.



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