New Forum Issue - Poor Usability (w/ Analysis)

This forum upgrade has been painful all around, and it's frankly pretty infuriating to longtime readers.  But instead of flying off in a rage, I've decided to start writing down a more constructive list of what's wrong.  This is something my wife and I do for a living, so I'm inclined to be unforgiving with this kind of thing.  Character and design style is one thing, but poor usability is another.

To be fair the previous forum had horrible usability problems, too.  And I know that Parallax isn't building this software themselves, so they're not in total control here and just trying to work what they've got.  That said, this system is so bad I have to either get this stuff off my chest, or simply abandon these forums and in turn Parallax.  So I criticize because I love, and I want this forum (and Parallax) to have exemplary UI/UX ("user interface"/"user experience").

I've attached a screenshot of what I see in my browser, which is Firefox on MacOS 10.10.


Threads are automatically sorted by votesI missed Chip's update on the P2 in the "Prop-2 Release Date..." thread!  I only knew of it because of the replies which were at 0 and therefore sorted by date.  If I wanted to see his update (votes==2), I'd have had to go to the first page.  Amazingly unintuitive, and kinda unforgivable.

This is not reddit.  Sorting by vote doesn't make sense in a linear forum context, which is what I think most users will expect.  More generally, sorting by vote doesn't make sense with pagination.


Left/right paddingYou're giving up a LOT of screen real estate and cramming the entire forum into a pretty small space with the large padding on the left and right.  No padding would be bad, but crunching everything together is worse.  I can make my browser thinner if I have to, but I can't make it wider than the screen.


The thread listing is very clutteredThe cognitive overload of the thread listing page is terrible, and it's a result of poor UI/UX and design choices (or not choosing).  Ask yourselves: "When a user is looking at this page, what is the #1 thing they want to see?"  To me the answer is obvious, that they want to see what threads are updated since their last visit, but I'll concede that there is no right answer to this question.  Whatever the case, it doesn't appear that this was considered.

* The navigation breadcrumb trail "Home > Microcontrollers > ..." is some of the smallest text on the interface, it's gray, it has no whitespace around it, and it is unaligned.  Despite being a critical navigational element, it's almost as if you want people not to see it.  One of the most important questions a UI can answer for a user is "Where am I?"  How this is answered should pervade the UI and should be one of the most accessible and immediate pieces of interface.  This also applies to the forum description above the list of threads (light gray text, disappears into the background).

* The number of thread replies and thread views is the heaviest and largest text on each thread listing, but it's likely the least important piece of information a reader will want to know.  Replies is more important than views as it gives an indication of where the other forum participants are communicating.

* The entire "Views" column can go.  I'm sure it's of interest to the handful of people at Parallax who monitor the forums for interest and engagement, but I'd argue it's mostly irrelevant to the hundreds (thousands?) of forum participants.

* The "Started By" column can also probably be removed, or at the least moved to a reduced size byline under the thread title.  What is clear is that it isn't such an important characteristic of a thread that it needs to be the second column in the table.

* In the "Started By" and "Most Recent" columns the user avatar, the user handle, and the date are not aligned.  I'm not sure it's meaningful to have those three pieces of information together, but right now it's very difficult to visually scan the column for thread freshness.

* The star function is unclear.  I assume that marks a thread as one of my favorites?  You're basically creating a bookmarking system that only works on this site, and will likely get lost when you upgrade forum software again in a couple years.  Is this a feature that you guys think people are clamoring for, or was it done because it seems like every other software interface has this these days?  Also, long thread titles overlap with the star on Firefox.


The entire left column can goThe left column has a bunch of trendy information that is of dubious value.  Worse, you're sacrificing 25% of the screen real estate for these things.

* "New Discussion" is the most visually prominent thing in the UI.  It's bright red, has large bold text, is the only interface element with white text, is the only interface element that has centered text, is the only interface element with a depth (3D) treatment, and has more padding than most interface elements.  Is it really the one thing that users will be doing more than anything else?

* Why is "New Discussion" in the left column, anyways?  The left column is given entirely to navigation, except that.  Also, when you create a new thread it's created in the context of the forum you're in, so if the left hand column is for things conceptually "above" threads, why is a call to action there?  Creating a new thread should be visually associated with the thread listing.

* What is "Popular"?  Is that threads that have the most views?  Replies?  Within what timeframe?  Popularity is a very loaded term when it comes to forums, and I can't see why it's of use to most users.  Maybe for the forum admins that's golden, but I can't imagine users coming to this forum with an empty head asking "let's just see what's popular and go from there"

* Why do I need a "Categories" link if all the categories are listed right there?  I guess it gives you a birds-eye view of all the forums, but for the link that takes you to the top level to be tucked between "Popular" and "Recent Discussions" is non-intuitive.

* What is "Activity"?  Is it all posts listed in order of submission?  That's useless.

* Do I need a "My Discussions" link to show me what threads I've started if I can see that from my profile?  I do believe that finding your own threads is an important forum function, but it's available elsewhere and doesn't need to be on every single interface.

* Are "CATEGORIES" the same as forums?  It appears that way, but how would a user know without comparing the results of clicking around?

* Users are notoriously ambivalent about tag clouds, generally tuning them out as visual noise.  They were the rage 10 years ago but quickly wore out their welcome, there's a reason you almost never see them now.  Tags as a navigation tool aren't terrible, but they don't need to be so prominent.

Ok, so there's nothing really of value on the left-hand column, so why not get rid of it and have more room for actual forum content?

...more...

[edit: formatting]
1924 x 1388 - 566K
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Comments

  • 55 Comments sorted by Date Added Votes
  • jmgjmg Posts: 9,261
    edited July 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down

    Threads are automatically sorted by votes


    There is a list of reported issues, but no sign of priority ordering.Given the plainly stupid vote-sorting affects all new arrivals, one would hope it has a real priority higher than its place in the list.

  • bartgranthambartgrantham Posts: 67
    edited July 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Authoring toolWhen starting a new thread ("discussion") or making a reply the text window isn't resizable.  For a long post like this one, it's very difficult to work with.

    When working with long threads (like this one), there can be warnings that the thread is too long.  But this warning only happens on autosave, which can take up to a minute.  Virtually every other interface for this does this on the Javascript keyup event so that the user has immediate feedback.  Otherwise the author has to cut text and wait for the autosave to let them know if they cut enough.
    The interface adds a lot of invisible control characters when you try to use the authoring tools.  For example, I tried to make my bullet points above properly formatted bullet points.  It looked terrible, so I cut and pasted them back, but the forum had inserted phantom newlines I couldn't get rid of.
    Why aren't we using Markdown like the rest of the modern internet?  The arcane nature of this authoring tool is giving me flashbacks to ActiveX authoring widgets from 15 years ago.

    It looks like we can only add tags when initially authoring (or editing) a thread/discussion.  That's a very limited use of tags.  What if the forum participants wanted to tag this thread "bozo" or "long-winded"?  That should be up to them, not me as the original thread author.
    The tagging interface is TERRIBLE.  Truly terrible.  as you type it does a round-trip to the server to query for existing tags, then pops up a select box than you arrow through to select the tag.  And if you hit "Enter" before arrowing down to  sure that select box has focus?  It submits the post.  This is a textbook case of bad interaction in a UI.

    The preview modal hardly looks the way the post actually comes out.  It's marginally helpful for seeing basic formatting, but otherwise it's uesless.  Also, there's no preview for replies.

    General issuesAuto-saving of drafts is a good feature... except that there's no "cancel" button for abandoning a draft reply!  I have to go into my profile page, then navigate to drafts, then hover and then hit the little "X" button.  That PITA is triggered if someone accidentally hits "Quote" or accidentally starts typing in the reply box. (there is a cancel button when drafting a NEW thread/discussion)

    When you consolidate thousands with "K" it visually confuses number magnitude.  For example, "Announcements" has 713 posts, "Propeller 1" has 25K.  But when your eye scans them the 2 and the 7 line up, giving a visual illusion that "Announcements" is the more popular, when it's only 1/35 the size.  I'm skeptical in most cases that users even care how big a forum is except to know if it's relatively popular or not, and that's more of a function of recent activity, rather than the mass of posts.

    Speaking of rounding, why "25K" vs. "60.7K"?  Are you dropping the ".0" from "25.0K"?

    If you insist on both showing this number and rounding, you should align the least significant digit of the numbers vertically, and if there's a unit (like "K") it should be in the margin to the right of the number.  Even that solution isn't that great.

    - - - - - - - - -

    I could go on, but I'll stop here as my laptop is running out of battery life.  Maybe I'll pick back up later, because there's still a lot more to say.

    I apologize if I've come across as harsh but as a UI professional this forum has issues all over, and there's little excuse for it considering how far the internet has come in making forum software usable.  As I said at the top, I criticize because I love.  I want this forum to be awesome and addicting, not frustrating.
  • From the very first instant I saw the new forums I've hated that left side column. It's an absolutely useless waste of space and it clutters up the overall look.

    Hello boys and girls, can you say Howdy, Stranger

    ? !!!!
    - Rick
  • bartgrantham 
    Thank you, you have clearly expressed a lot of things I wanted to say about the general style, formatting and, well I don't know "flow" of the thing, but did not find words for.
    When it comes to usability there is so much more that is busted. This post edit box is a disaster, there is no way to wrap a cut and paste of some ones text as a quote. There is no way to include code snippets sensibly. Finding a way to reference a particular post is not obvious. The whole post sorting thing is nuts. It's full of bugs anyway, for example allowing total corruption of the page the post is in.
    Why have a full up HTML editor as a enty box for posts anyway when all the world is familiar with Markdown, BBCodes and the like? It's just asking for trouble.
    Grrr... 
       
  • @jmg : Yes, that one misfeature has caused and will continue to cause immense confusion for everyone.  They should reset everyone's preferences to "date sorting" of all threads, and make sure that's the default for new threads and new profiles.

    @Heater : I figured we'd be on the same page here. :)  Markdown FTW.  I have no idea why an authoring tool like this still exists today.

    One more thing: the decision to roll out this forum upgrade the week before the July 4th holiday was a novice mistake.  I've done dozens of system migrations like this forum endured this week and it's clear that it wasn't sufficiently tested.  Even if it had been adequately tested, it should have been done on the Monday after the national holiday, not the Monday before.  Things always go wrong, and sometimes it's an all-hands-on-deck situation.  By doing this this week they've basically ensured that nothing will be fixed for 3 full days over the Independence Day weekend.
  • Also wanted to note this one from the other thread:

    * Apparently the record of who has read what thread wasn't migrated, so as far as the new forum is concerned nobody has read anything yet.  This results in UI fail because the visual design only works if most of the threads have been viewed (normal-weight text for the thread title, grey vertical swatch on the left) and only a handful are unread (bold-weight text in the thread title, color vertical swatch).
  • Bart, it was even worse as far as scheduling:

    6/29 - migration day, forum down most of day
    6/30 - forum up, natives restless, Parallax busy with ALL HANDS annual inventory and cleaning day
    7/1 & 7/2 - forum discussion, defense and repairs
    7/4 thru 7/5 - Parallax closed, asylum left unattended with the new forum for 3 days

    7/6 - ?????
    MOV OUTA, PEACE <div>Rick </div><div>"I've stopped using programming languages with Garbage Collection, they keep deleting my source code!!"</div>
  • What? Are those lazy Yankees on holiday again? It's always Thanks Giving this and 4th July that with those guys. 
  • Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi)Phil Pilgrim (PhiPi) Posts: 20,725
    edited July 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I think it would be helpful if Parallax could at least admit publicly that they screwed up with this roll-out. We all make mistakes, and that empowers us to forgive those of others. Just a simple mea culpa would work wonders for our psyches, like, "Yeah, we really botched this one, but we're working to make it better," would help immensely more than forging ahead unapologetically.
    And they ARE working to make it better -- to the extent that it can be, but just not this weekend -- as Heater finds more ways to subvert the DIV tags for whatever counterrevolutionary ends he has in mind. Hey, Heater! We won the Revolution centuries ago. You're too late, man, with that HTML mischief! :)
    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • Heater.Heater. Posts: 18,615
    edited July 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Phil,
    I'm very sure a they want to make this  work. I just pray that it is actually possible.
    I'm done with div subversion. Trying to be a good "netizen"  and point out potential issues is one thing. But people have gone to jail for less than what I achieved here.
    You lost the last revolution by the way. Forever condemned to live in the outback as you are :)

  • GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 2,926
    edited July 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I wouldn't worry about the DIV stuff. You already demonstrated the forum parses out JS and iframes, the two most common (and destructive) things people put into hidden DIVs. The mischief, if there is any, would likely be limited to using the forum for spamming, specifically search engine blackhat SEO. It's "damaging" to Parallax because Google, Bing, and other SEs might treat the forum as "bad neighborhood," and thus reducing its link authority.
    That's especially true if someone sneaks in a hotlinked image from a site listed as malware. Now Google will show links to the forum as "This site may harm your computer." Oh, brother! Being in a hidden DIV, it would be very difficult to spot, or one of us flag as an inappropriate post.
    So you see, THIS is why people do beta tests. These and other issues could have been noted before the forums were switched over, and before any damage could be done. Yes, they would have had to dealt with curmudgeons like you, me, and Phil, but that's the price of putting out a solid product. (I am all the more gobsmacked -- yes, gobsmacked! -- over this, as Parallax NEVER would put out a hardware product that wasn't thoroughly tested.)
    I promise I won't challenge you to another find-the-exploit; given the state of this forum, you'll probably find it!
  • koehlerkoehler Posts: 539
    edited July 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I think it would be helpful if Parallax could at least admit publicly that they screwed up with this roll-out. We all make mistakes, and that empowers us to forgive those of others. Just a simple mea culpa would work wonders for our psyches, like, "Yeah, we really botched this one, but we're working to make it better," would help immensely more than forging ahead unapologetically.
    And they ARE working to make it better -- to the extent that it can be, but just not this weekend -- as Heater finds more ways to subvert the DIV tags for whatever counterrevolutionary ends he has in mind. Hey, Heater! We won the Revolution centuries ago. You're too late, man, with that HTML mischief! :)
    -Phil

    Phil, I believe Ken has done the the obligatory apology tour.
    Sorry, my bad. No, we're not going back (per Courtney).

    My til now unspoken thought has been along the lines of if this is how bad a simple forum change can be messed up, should my expectations for anything else Parallax does likewise be lowered?  
    The P2 maybe not, but the basic tools progress as mentioned recently by many, maybe.
    ---- This space available for rent ----<br>
  • GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 2,926
    edited July 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down

    My til now unspoken thought has been along the lines of if this is how bad a simple forum change can be messed up, should my expectations for anything else Parallax does likewise be lowered?

    This was my main concern in starting the "Seriously consider" thread on bringing back VB until this forum could be brought up to standards. It didn't take more than a day to see that the transition wasn't going well. I had hoped it as a way for Parallax to save face.
    I see Parallax always following a more robust product development cycle for hardware, and I assumed the rollout of the forum would be along similar lines.
    In the end (and I hope he excuses my bluntness), Ken is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the company, so the responsibility of the forum -- win, lose, or draw -- falls to him. He's already said they will bring back the Robotics category, which had been a show-stopper for me. I think they will make the changes that are needed, but my worry is that it may not be fast enough for some of us. During the fix-it period, I worry about the reputational fallout.
  • A significant influence on said fallout lies with us.

    I said my bit, and Parallax said they misjudged how everyone would deal with a live change as opposed to a more pre announced and tested one. They also said they want to use this software and are willing to make it work for everyone.

    Frankly, I'm with Roy in that the basics I really need are here and work fine. It is time to work through getting this to an optimal state.

    And for all of us, this is a simple what is worth what discussion.

    To me, Parallax enjoying my support and communications with my friends here are worth more than some user interaction preferences I have.

    How this plays out is up to all of us. I'm inclined to help it play out well because that is where the value is and the end game on that is good times.

    Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball! @opengeekorg ---> Be Excellent To One Another SKYPE = acuity_doug
    Parallax colors simplified: http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?123709-Commented-Graphics_Demo.spin<br>

  • I'm not so sure, does Roy speak for himself, or in some part the company?

    Insulting everyone who's had a complaint as a olde time stick in the mud Luddite, who the forum would be better off without strikes me as rather the height of arrogance.

    Really, one of the very few things Parallax HAS going for it, is its forum community.
    Without that, Parallax would not be a company of 40.
    Its bad enough making every mistake in the book written a decade ago on a simple forum upgrade, but to then have quasi-official people telling everyone to suck it up or leave?
    Parallax seems to be focused on the 800 hours spent trying to build this thing.
    I think reverting back to VB would allow them to staunch the blood flow now, rather than in weeks, as potentially more people leave as they are told they are feeble-minded, or small enough developers to be humiliated and pushed to publishing public apologies....
    The forum has jumped the shark.

    ---- This space available for rent ----<br>
  • I speak for myself. I am not an employee of Parallax. I have done some contract based programming work for them. Many of the people complaining here are in similar relationships with parallax, including some of the people I was referring to.
    I didn't insult everyone that had a complaint.  My intention was to insult the people that were being insulting and rude and childish. There were several, but obviously not everyone complaining was doing so in childish ways. You might think of me as childish or wrong for doing that, but I don't care. I don't think I was...
    I have my complaints about these forums, but I also trust the Parallax folks to continue working on these new forums until all the issues are resolved to their satisfaction. It'll likely be fine for most folks, but I am sure some people will never be happy, but that is true with everything.

  • bartgranthambartgrantham Posts: 67
    edited July 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    @GordonMcComb: "During the fix-it period, I worry about the reputational fallout."

    This is what I'm worried about, too.  The forum redesign is somewhat more kid-friendly, which is important for educational buyers.  But the image it projects to the current generation of hardware hackers who are accustomed to github, Markdown, reddit, etc. is not flattering.

    @potatohead, @Roy Eltham

    Frustration with the forum change is understandable and should be forgiven, IMHO.  There's a limit to how far people should go in venting, but this forum really did take a leap backwards in usability (I hope my list at the top is persuasive in arguing this).  I sympathize with people who are sensitive to usability issues, I'm one of them.  I was so frustrated by the change that I couldn't even write out my observations for a couple days until I cooled down.

    Now that I have a calmer mind, I'm trying to channel my frustration constructively.  Either we (I) can spit venom at Parallax and each other, or we can clearly enumerate the issues we see and hope that Parallax has the capability to address them.


    FWIW, let me make a case for "usability" in this forum:

    The ROM monitor in the previously published P2 images?  That was awesomely usable.  The Spin programming language?  Great usability.  Maybe it's a poor choice of term, but having a system be logical & accessible, everything-where-it-should-be is an important design criteria.  As important as speed, or price, or anything else.  The "principle of least surprise" is a cardinal rule of great engineering, one that reduces cognitive load and allows our minds to be free for solving problems.  I don't need to convince you guys of that.  But that principle applies to websites, too!  Even if they resolve the superficial interface issues I've listed above (or we just get used to them), this forum will be surprising as hell for people coming from almost any other system.

    If you're happy with it, that's very good.  But for anyone who isn't, I believe it's always worthwhile for people to speak up constructively when then they observe a problem.
  • I'm all for the "principle of least surprise". Life goes easy when things work as you expect, either through some logical reasoning on your part or just because that is how you have learned how things work from similar systems.

    I have often heard this is a cardinal rule of engineering, but actually it is nothing to do with engineering, it's all to do with the human psychology.

    Here is a classic case: When I was to take my motorcycle driving test back in the 1970's my Yamaha had broken down, I was offered a bike to take the test with, an old British BSA. Oh boy, the gear and brake peddles were opposite sides. Not only that but the gear peddle worked upside down, press down to change up! Total confusion. Amazingly I still managed to pass the test.

    Engineering was the same in that case. Surprise almost defeated me.

  • potatoheadpotatohead Posts: 8,512
    edited July 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Yep. We all can work to maximize this and carry on.

    Again, the basics I need are there and my various devices perform. That is a workable baseline. Gets better from here.

    As for surprise... yes and no. Older people coming from just about anything will be surprised.

    However, this software does employ trendy new ideas. Younger mostly mobile people will find most of it familiar.

    Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball! @opengeekorg ---> Be Excellent To One Another SKYPE = acuity_doug
    Parallax colors simplified: http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?123709-Commented-Graphics_Demo.spin<br>
  • The forum seems usable enough now. The sort-by-vote thing has to go, of course, but that's a policy issue -- not a bug -- and may require persistent persuasion to get fixed. I think Parallax is making good progress dealing with the recognized bugs. My biggest concerns at present are the security implications that Heater pointed out, due to allowing unfettered HTML. That Parallax has gone this route really surprises me, too, since they were so adamant about not allowing HTML tags under vBulletin. The sudden about-face makes me wonder if Vanilla even supports BBCodes, or if HTML is the only show in town for this forum.
    -Phil
    “Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away. -Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  • jmgjmg Posts: 9,261
    edited July 2015 Vote Up1Vote Down
     My biggest concerns at present are the security implications that Heater pointed out, due to allowing unfettered HTML. That Parallax has gone this route really surprises me, too, since they were so adamant about not allowing HTML tags under vBulletin. The sudden about-face makes me wonder if Vanilla even supports BBCodes, or if HTML is the only show in town for this forum.



    The effect whereby emoticon faces = 8 )  appear suddenly in code postings, shows how little testing was done. That, and the primitive editing, underlines that this forum code is quite widely separated from technical forum use.
  • bartgranthambartgrantham Posts: 67
    edited July 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    @potatohead: "Older people coming from just about anything will be surprised."

    This comment, like Roy's comment "I am sure some people will never be happy", doesn't help anything get better.  If you either of you have no problems with the change, that is great!  But it's unfair to be dismissive of the very loud and vocal reaction from so many people because they are "older" or "will never be happy."  I caught up with the other thread and saw some of the invective being thrown around over there.  I'm not sure where that nastiness is coming from, but I know it isn't helping anyone.

    @potatohead: "However, this software does employ trendy new ideas. Younger mostly mobile people will find most of it familiar."

    This is simply not true.  This forum has many of the hallmarks of systems 10+ years old.  The authoring widget is exactly like ones I was integrating into sites in 2001.  Younger people will come here and wonder why Parallax is so old fashioned.

    As for me, I'm not THAT old (40) and I'm definitely surprised.  I'm surprised by how antiquated it feels, compared to what has been popular for the past several years.  I mentioned it before, but I'm flabbergasted that redditors!) are growing up with Markdown as the standard markup system for the internet.  This forum will feel weird and buggy and clunky, and maybe a bit hostile.
  • jmgjmg Posts: 9,261
    edited July 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
      I mentioned it before, but I'm flabbergasted that source), github hosts that nicely formatted version for free with one of their beautiful templates.  That was from 3 years ago, and it was old hat then.  That's what people expect today.  


    Looks simple and clean, and easy to follow.
    How does it cope with multiple programming languages ?
    There seems to be no implicit code tags, and better forums these days have code highighters.
    IMO, Parallax should be looking hard at a forum tool that can support OBEX, across all the Prop languages.
    The present broken code support, is light years from that,
  • ercoerco Posts: 17,435
    edited July 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    @Bart: Thanks for the most objective and thorough critique of the new forums yet. Your professional experience is most welcome, and you articulate so well the frustrations that many of us are feeling. You clearly spent considerable time evaluating the forum and presenting your findings. Job well done!
    "When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

    - Pablo Picasso
  • TorTor Posts: 1,654
    edited July 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    I have some observations (some mentioned elsewhere) about limitations of this forum which prevents it from scaling to the activity level we have had at the Parallax forum.
    • There is no 'view unread posts' option. Already read threads are intermixed with unread threads. Big problem if you are away for a bit and try to catch up by reading some threads and posts now and then. Everything will soon be spread out over a large number of pages.
    • I like to read a few posts of unread threads when I have a break, and continue later. That does not work here, because reading posts from a thread sets the whole thread to 'already read'. So the next time you access that thread all the pages of unread posts in between are marked 'read'. You lose it all unless you always read either nothing or everything. Having to page back and try to infer from the date and time where you last left off is very tedious indeed.
    • If somebody updates a post, say, the first post, #latest now points to that post! If somebody posted something between the last time you read the thread and when the post was edited, you lose it. When you have an active thread and a few pages of posts have been added since your last visit, if the OP edit the first post then suddenly #latest will be there and you have no idea where to start reading. #lastest should not be updated if a post is edited. And it didn't, in Vb. When somebody updated a post they would add a new post about it ("First post updated", or "Post #xx updated"), and everything works as it should.
    As it is now I don't see how I can follow the forum the way I used to. I'll have to just start reading bits and pieces here and there and know that mosts posts I won't be aware of.
    [As for new, free, open forum software, I (as have others) wonder why simplemachines.org wasn't selected. That's what Jeff uses for his propellerpowered forum, and it works perfectly. It has none of the issues I have with the vanilla forum. Android, PC editing, perfect. Viewing unread posts, perfect. Keeping track of unread posts, perfect.]

    -Tor

  • bartgrantham is right. This forum is a throw back to the year 2000 or so. It has had some tweaks to try and make it "hip". Like the vote non-sense. But that's like putting a hoody on my grandad.

    Statements to the effect that "older people will be surprised by change" are basically insulting. Firstly young and old alike will be annoyed when things are broken. The young may be quicker to assimilate change and find work arounds but the surprise is still there.

    I am an older person and I'm always checking out new and different things. Here is a forum I signed up to recently that is full of surprises, all pleasant. The beautiful resin.io forum http://talk.resin.io/
  • Bart, now the discussion gets more complicated.

    I drew a line on age based on an assumption about forum use. But did not add enough context to be useful.

    Let me do it this way.

    Experienced forum users non experienced mobile and desktop.

    I am quite experienced, and have used UBB code, markdown and it's flavors, word press, rich editors, and some customs, slash, you name it. Also Quora, which has a great editor that shares a few things with this software.

    I am increasingly mobile too.

    My older peers, experienced or not, are mostly desktop and some are mobile or going there.

    My younger peers are mostly mobile and will use desktop when it suits them.

    Some of my younger peers will wonder where the Parallax App is, seeing a browser as antiquated or inefficient.

    This software works well on mobile, requiring few interactions and zoom ops to communicate. It has a text box that grows as the content does and it has notifications and some well placed hot spots. Works well, sans-serif the input issue and that is common on mobile, requiring an experienced user to get better input features and or hardware to resolve.

    It resembles Quora in some basic UX ways.

    My objections are centered around the folksy look and feel as opposed to a more tech oriented one on mobile and general crappy look and feel on desktop.

    On can break this down in a number of ways and arrive at groups of people and expectations.

    My other objection is those expectations were not set and managed.

    Truth is, if Parallax believes this sort of not so tech look and feel is an advantage, fine. If Parallax believes it is best to just jump in and start working through the mess, fine.

    Just tell me that, and I'm in.

    I see a lot of our demographic being surprised due to what software and platforms they are most likely to have used, and their experience level with forums is a big part of that.

    I had almost zero problem using this one. Seen it before. Clearly, many of us have not.

    I don't like it on desktop, but I mostly do on mobile.

    All of us sharing our experiences will help Parallax improve and maximize this software.

    I did not mean to dismiss or marginalize UX discussion with the distinctions I made. I did try to provide some perspective.

    Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball! @opengeekorg ---> Be Excellent To One Another SKYPE = acuity_doug
    Parallax colors simplified: http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?123709-Commented-Graphics_Demo.spin<br>
  • Our old forum software was a throwback to 2000 or so, just FYI.

    The clash here is largely due to what tools people have been using and where.

    Forums are increasingly seen as throwbacks themselves. Think about that.

    An app or more task focused, feature limited, or social based mode is seen as the dominant thing these days.

    What those people do not understand is having a discussion VENUE as forum vs comments or other well targeted tasks.

    This tool is not generally seen in technical circles, and it lacks both presentation features and style. We can get at a lot of the style fixed, though that does tend to put us on another island again...

    This software is for more casual users, put another way. Something like InVision is for more adept users.

    Most notably, we are missing blogs and project tools, development logs, etc...

    We shall see how that goes.

    Personally, I think those feature omissions are more of an opportunity lost than fixable and user learn able UX issues are. I have had projects on InVision and have had participation on them for years. Great tools.

    More recently, I have done the same on software similar to this, and Facebook, etc... not so great tools.

    Simple dialog works well though.

    My prediction is we will fix this up and chatter will return to normal. Most of us will setup on some other tools we can link here.

    That is what I will do personally.

    The opportunity lost is focus here and consistent workflow. Parallax is moving to GitHub for developing issues, for example. Discussion can happen there, and the feature omissions here may well mean less tech discussion here.

    Maybe that helps to clarify what I'm seeing and how it will impact us.
    Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball! @opengeekorg ---> Be Excellent To One Another SKYPE = acuity_doug
    Parallax colors simplified: http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?123709-Commented-Graphics_Demo.spin<br>
  • potatoheadpotatohead Posts: 8,512
    edited July 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    And maybe that is desirable to Parallax.

    Again, http://www.atariage.com is a great community. It has grown to take on nearly all classic computing and gaming. It has done so on strong community software with advanced features, and reasonable presentation.

    That takes an experienced community manager to do, not just software.

    Does Parallax want that, or does it want it's users spread out among lots of tools, it's own burden to manage community lower?

    I honestly expected the former, not the latter, and to me, that was the biggest surprise, again not so much fixable UX matters.

    Personally, the crew here is top notch and should be a center of gravity and has been over time. I do not see this software feature aligned with that goal.

    Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball! @opengeekorg ---> Be Excellent To One Another SKYPE = acuity_doug
    Parallax colors simplified: http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?123709-Commented-Graphics_Demo.spin<br>
  • potatoheadpotatohead Posts: 8,512
    edited July 2015 Vote Up0Vote Down
    @Heater. Yes. That one is sweet. Very nicely presented on mobile.

    I find comparing that one to the InVision one I linked above very interesting.

    Your link is employing newer, more advanced presentation on mobile at least. It is superior to the mobile presentation on the one I linked for sure.

    I'll have to dork around with features when I get home and can give it an hour, but I suspect it's on par with InVision.

    The demographic on mine trends older, though there are under 20 somethings showing up regularly and they do fine.

    Our software is lean on features and semi advanced on presentation, as I see it.

    The biggest distinction I see is community management in play. Where somebody has that focus, a community can grow strong on almost any software. No joke.

    Where it is lacking, the growth and robustness is more up to the participants.

    The former is more expensive, but lower risk. The latter is cheaper, but higher risk.

    That should explain one of my other posts. How this goes is up to us. I am going to continue adding value here and I'll do that I. The hope we remain the strong group we are.

    It would be great to see a CM type helping, but it is not necessarily required.


    Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball! @opengeekorg ---> Be Excellent To One Another SKYPE = acuity_doug
    Parallax colors simplified: http://forums.parallax.com/showthread.php?123709-Commented-Graphics_Demo.spin<br>
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