IxDA discussion forums - why a linear feed and not categories?

20 Aug 2013 - 9:51am
3 years ago
6 replies
4883 reads

Ever since I started using the IxDA website, I've been curious why the discussions are shown in a linear feed vs a more traditional category or sub-forum organizational structure. I have a terrible time trying to find anything here because the only search tools are keyword based (search box at the top of the page and word cloud on the side) which generally ignore the secondary information heirarchy of time, and thus seem to return extremely old, and generally no longer relevant posts. 

Anyone else have thoughts on this? Am I the only one struggling with the usability here? 


20 Aug 2013 - 12:31pm
Dave Malouf

Hi @jcharles00,

First let me say, that the current system is far from perfect, heck its actually not all that great. It wasn't designed in anything close to an ideal product design environment and I can list the excuses from here to tomorrow and it won't really change a thing. Lets just say, "We know!"

That said, we are moving forward. The first part of moving forward was the creation of a team of volunteers to discuss what's wrong, which included examining our GetSatisfaction system and other feedback systems. 

But the real move forward right now is the RFP that was put out in the last month and as an outsider to the process word is we have been in discussions with some pretty cool orgs who want to engage us to get it done.

Now that that is out of the way ... when designing this we put ina stop gap of using tags and allowing ppl to subscribe to specific tags. Boom! categories. Now, did it work? Heck, no, b/c most people (including yourself; and myself) seldom use the tagging system which is a whole other discussion of UI design evaluation.

The point is, yes, a single thread is sub-optimal and this and other issues are being looked at in depth as we speak/write.

oh! and you're not the only one. Fortunately, our volume is pretty low/manageable for a single-thread model.

-- dave

20 Aug 2013 - 12:42pm
Matt Nish-Lapidus

I agree with everything Dave said, and will add that one of the reasons this forum is in this format is that it was meant to mimic the functionality of our old mailman mailing list, which was essentially a flat threaded discussion. When this version of the site was designed the intent was to continue the forum as a mailing list in the existing format.. for many reasons that didn't work.

When we're evaluating platforms for the next iteration of this community things like categories will be top of mind. One of the new discussion platforms that I really liks is Discourse (http://www.discourse.org/), and I hope we'll be evaluating it as a potential solution for the new IxDA discussions.

20 Aug 2013 - 9:12pm

Categorization brings its own perils: you might categorize your post as "Skeumorphism" where I might categorize it as "Icon Design."

Honestly, the mail feed is what makes this place work for me. I scan headings and click on things that seem interesting. Cateogires are easy to skip.

Also: can will kill the word Skeumoprhism already?


21 Aug 2013 - 9:30am

Good to hear some new stuff is in the works!

Penguinstorm - It sounds like you are talking about something more akin to the tags that are already here. By categorization, I just meant like "general forum", "graphic design forum", "UI stuff", etc, etc. there is still certainly an opportunity for confusing overlap, but I think it's at least lessened. 

I guess the reason I bring all this up is because I also use the forums on core77, and they have an IxD sub-forum, but it's pretty low volume. Their forum in general _appears_ more highly trafficked than this one, so I was wondering if I should make one or the other my go-to IxD discussion area and/or make efforts to get other folks on board for more lively discussions. 


22 Aug 2013 - 7:15am
Matt Nish-Lapidus

jcharles00: One reason we've never had topic based categories, and likely won't have them in the future, is because people on this forums do many different things, and they can't be cleanly separated. If I have a question for the group about a design for the UI of an embedded device in a commercial printer and the question is about flow and color.. where would that go? That's why we've favored tags.

That said, our current implementation doesn't work very well. The next version will be a vast improvement on managing the things you're interested in, without forcing people into choosing a category. One of the reasons the IxD sub-forum on Core77 might be low volume is because people don't know that they even have IxD specific questions, so they end up in other categories.

If you're looking for a professional home, I would highly recommend this one. It's completely changed my life, and is the only forum that has regular contributions from this high number of industry leaders, authors, and very experienced practitioners. Our discussions have quieted down a bit in the last little while, but there is some work underway to not only improve the platform but also reinvigorate the level of conversation. 

22 Aug 2013 - 9:33am
Juan Lanus

In my limited understanding, we can have either categories or tags. IMO the latter is the way because of its much higher flexibility, but a mix of both would ba the most valuable approach. Like, if there are categories then really implement crossposting in order for a thread to be reflected in more than one category (skeuo... and icon design).

We currently have tags, and as was said in this thread, they are not working. 
IMO it's because of the feature implementation.
Firstly, the tagging artifact is camouflaged into the right-hand column which ont that's focused in the dialog won't look at. The tagger belongs below the thread title. 
Additionally, the tagging thing is an anonymous good-will task that the harried IxDer might leave for the others. In addition to show the tags just below the thread title, the system should keep track of who entered which and display them below the names. This way one would ba enabled to harash another because he added the skeuo...tag to a thread that's obviously about icon design and we could enjoy some flame  :-)

Additionally, the tags are horrible and need a curator (or perhaps many). Look at this thread┬┤s tags that I just added. There are repetitions, and one is in Spanish (with an orthograpic error, BTW).
The curator(s) should be aware of any nwe additions and be able to merge or relate with other already existing taqgs, like perhaps forums and discussions. A user entering discussion should be told to enter forum instead. And more-or-less automatically merge forum with forums.

This way we the users would get a message that tags matter, and would feel presseddo our homework and rewarded by having done it. There is nothing wrong with the tags concept, the problem are the tags at IxDA.



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