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Re: Why is PerlMonks.org still so ugly and outdated on presentation?

by wjw (Deacon)
on Oct 03, 2013 at 05:53 UTC ( #1056722=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to Why is PerlMonks.org still so ugly and outdated on presentation?

I have read through this thread a number of times over the last couple of weeks. Having had some unexpected time to spend here at the monastery has allowed me the opportunity to browse around, try a few things, get a feeling for the usability of the site in general. I conclude that the site is (as it always has been) enormously useful. It is not an eye-candy site, and I do like eye-candy!( Staunch user of e17 regardless of how often it confuses me and it's constant state of beta-we will release someday....maybe ).

However, I don't come here for eye-candy, I come here to learn and to participate. I come here because I think Perl is the coolest thing since the Z-80 micro-processor, and it continues to be high on the list of cool in a world where 3D printing is just beginning to be cool. That is a long way from the Z-80! Talk about sustainability!

  • Are there things about this site that I might consider changing if I were level 40 - God-of-all-Gods? Yes.
  • Would they change the way the site looks? Yes.
  • Would they make the site more usable? Yes(to me...)
  • Would anyone else like it? Questionable.
  • Would everyone like it? Most assuredly not!
  • Will I be disappointed if things don't change? Yes
  • Will I be disappointed if things do change? Yes
  • Will this site diminish in value if things don't change? Maybe

Those last three: A community is an evolving thing, just like Perl is an evolving language. If it don't change, it is probably in rigor mortise. Change is good, sometimes even if the initial result is bad. That is the way evolution works. Change proves that a system is working. It does not prove improvement however. There are two questions which I feel need to be asked when deciding whether to change something or not:

  • What is the compelling reason to change?
  • What is the compelling reason not to change?

If the answer to either or both of those questions is driven by something other than a motivation to address a real problem, then return to question 1 and continue iterating until something breaks loose.

I can almost guarantee that I will be unhappy with some change that is made. I am opinionated, and I have a lousy sense of style. Is that important? No.

There is a difficult balance to maintain when operating in a community like this. PerlMonks is about Perl. But Perl is about so very many things! Web sites, command line tools, GUI tools, bioinformatics, databases, linguistics, ...and on and on. That is part of what makes Perl so cool to me. It is also part of what makes this site so good. It manages to stay focused on Perl without being overtly exclusive.

PerlMonks is a very inclusive site

And there in lies the real danger of resisting change. As I perused various other postings regarding the technical challenges and resource challenges posed by making changes, I was reminded of some of the projects that I have been involved with. Those challenges are very real and very important. I hope that they are not insurmountable, because the value of change is very real and very important too.

I have been using the site on my GalaxyTab 10.1 this last week or so. It took me a fair amount of time to get the site tweaked to where my old farmers fingers could move about the site without the utter frustration of ending up somewhere that I did not want to go. I have finally made a few mods in the "Display" settings which make it a lot easier. I ran into a node somewhere that mentioned an effort aimed at small/touch screens...something about "/bare/perlmonks" if I recall correctly. Frankly, I think that is a darn good idea! It is an effort that addresses a changing environment. Signs of life!

I recently proposed a change to the "Nodes to consider" section. Looking back with what I know now, I may not have made that RFC here. But I did not know then what I know now, and I would not have learned how to "tweak" things if I had not made that suggestion. I would not have been as vested in it if I had not posted. Some of you knew right away that the suggestion has limited value and pointed that out. I still had to experience it for myself to really know what they meant. Along the way, someone pointed out via cb that there was a css mod which improved that section. I would likely not have known about that without posting as I did, and would not probably have been able to make the site work better on my GalaxyTab. My suggestion, as silly as it might have seemed to some, brought value(learning) to me.

I hope that suggestions for change to the site are handled for others the way you handled it with me. That is inclusively.

The suggestion that the site presentation be changed does have value. It may not be itself presented with a great deal of tact, but it is valid. Is it important? Maybe...

Is presentation ever important? Yes.

Is it a compelling issue for PerlMonks? Not yet...

I hope I am still around when it becomes so. I would like to think that this community and (selfishly) I am around to know that we have lasted long enough to require that much change...

Update: fixed unterminated italics tag pointed out by jdporter. Thanks!

Following is what I added to the "Display" settings node to make things work nicely on the tablet...just in case there is someone like me out there still fumbling about...

/* The following locks the nodelet container in place at the top right + of the screen, re-sizes the monkbar to make room for the nodelet nod +e, hides the footer, and makes both the main-content and nodelet cont +ainer scrollable when needed. The nodelet container and main content +both need to be in <div> mode to make this work. The downside is tha +t the cb no longer floats in it's own window, and the nodelet headers + get a bit screwed up in that they are no longer nicely aligned. How +ever, this works really well on a tablet.*/ tbody.nodelet td, td.nodebody {background-color: #C0ADAD;} #titlebar-top {background-color: #A89E9E; height:70px;} #titlebar-bottom {background-color: #B8C1C4;} div {border-width: 1px; border-color: red; border-style: groove;} #monkbar, #titlebar-top, #titlebar-bottom { width: 81%; float: left} h3.superdoc {font-size: 15px; font-family: sans; font-style: italic;} ul.topnavmenu.inline-list { font-size: 11px;} .main_content {position: absolute; top:160px; left 10px; width: 80%; h +eight: 100%; overflow: auto; background-color: #D3CBCB;} #nodelet_container {position: fixed; top: 15px; right: 16px; height: 9 +8%; width: 18%; overflow: auto; background-color: #A89E9E; } span.title { width: 100%; text-decoration: underline; text-align: center; background-color: rgb(108, 143, 143); } #footer {display: none; position: relative; bottom: 850px;}

  • ...the majority is always wrong, and always the last to know about it...
  • ..by my will, and by will alone.. I set my mind in motion

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Re^2: Why is PerlMonks.org still so ugly and outdated on presentation?
by studymonkperl (Novice) on Oct 04, 2013 at 05:13 UTC

    Totally new to this site. I registered a few days back. May be I'm in a better position to review to give some useful feedback on this. Or may be you might dismiss my suggestions as not so significant, for a user who just signed a couple of days back

    Firstly, content and good aesthetics are not opposites of each other. Its not like if your site is good looking, it must have bad content. And if it has good content it must look bad.

    Secondly good usability can be achieved by little trickery. In fact good usability is all about doing little trickery and maintaining simplicity. The total net information on a Perl monks page is simply too much. Lesser we display the better. None of this requires usage of shiny new technology.

    Just some points from my end

    1. Displaying relevant information is very important. And what is important with regards to that is to not display irrelevant information.

    The entire right section can go. Voting booth, Left overs, Find Nodes, Information, Sections, Other Users, Chatter box and settings nodelets. Of all these the only ones I see relevant are 'Chatter box' and 'settings'. Which I'm pretty sure can have their own page. Settings definitely can go in the user profile page.

    2. By looking at the whole site it can probably put into front page, questions, user profile & settings, your questions and comments. And that can go right next to the search box.

    3. Search box can be improved, even better can be pointed to Google. The current search is basically an extended SQL command interface. And there is nothing really wrong with that. A lot of sites do it.

    4. We don't need so many categories and sections. One main one for questions and another for meta questions will do.

    The best site I use these days is Hacker News. The interface is so simple and very relevant to exact purpose. There is 0 clutter. It looks welcoming, intuitive, and very usable right from the very first visit.

    The best part? They don't use any shiny new technology, no heavy page payload. And rarely change the site.

    https://news.ycombinator.com/

      Welcome to the Monastery!

      It is good to hear first impressions I think. I took a look at the site you point out in your post and agree that it is minimalist, almost to an extreme. I like it.

      That being said, hang around a while longer and look at the plethora of things available on this site. There is a lot going on here in terms of content and context. Additionally, there is a pretty long history...amazingly long actually.

      Which is why I would encourage you to take a good long look around. Some of what you suggest certainly has merit, but there are long-standing reasons for them to be the way they are, most of those reasons I can only surmise due to the fact that I have been intermittently involved, and mostly as a consumer as compared to a contributor(If that ain't a run on sentence...)

      I think that part of the reason for there being what could be perceived as 'more info than needed' available at any given time is that the members here are encouraged to be involved in most everything. From posting to answering to suggesting to developing(eventually I guess) to, well whatever else is involved in keeping both the site and the community going.

      This site was transparent before being transparent was thought of as a good thing. We used to refer to it as 'open' as I recall.(we being folks of my age, measured more easily in decades as compared to years).

      The users here are the site. Perhaps it would be better to say that the site reflects the users as a community. Communities are messy things sometimes. Too much polish and the site becomes a slick whitewash instead of a reflection of what it really is.

      The other part of that is, at least in my experience, this site is not a service that is offered. In other words, this is not a client/server application. There isn't a 'they' who provide the service and a 'us' who use it.

      Now that I have said all that: Note that I am just some other monk who happens to hang out here. I don't speak for anyone else let alone the community or the site. So what I say above may be a gross mis-representation of what others perceive as reality. At the same time, others may feel free to verbally kick my stupid/ill-informed a$$ for having spoken out of what they perceive is my turn. That is community...and it is fun and informative as well as messy.

      To wind up this windy post:

      1. Give yourself a bit more of a chance to determine relevancy
      2. As you do so, think in terms of community as well as information dissemination
      3. Look closely and you might find that some of what you suggest is already there..
      4. Categorization and sub-categorization tend to happen when there is depth as well as volume, which means that sometime even the little things are held as valuable(a good thing for me because I tend NOT to do astounding things but I get to feel valued anyway)
        1. Mostly --- Welcome and enjoy!


          • ...the majority is always wrong, and always the last to know about it...
          • ..by my will, and by will alone.. I set my mind in motion

        You can absolutely grow to like a site. This is site has some very good content

        When I first went around the site, I though the collected wisdom on this site could be turned into a book. More like a recipe book for various solutions in Perl. Imagine how valuable that would be, given how many problems and how many amazing solutions have been offered

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