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Frontpage/UI Improvements?

by vroom (Pope)
on Jul 27, 2000 at 20:55 UTC ( #24701=monkdiscuss: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

Right now The Monastery Gates is admittedly too long. Many of you surf from Newest Nodes which is your prerogrative. What I'm curious about is how any of you think we could better arrange the frontpage and keep the size down.

One option is Read More... type of links to shorten long posts. Problems with this include breaking HTML without having editors manually choosing spots for the links.

I'd like to hear any ideas that any of you might have to improve the interface for unfamiliar users. (especially the default page)

vroom | Tim Vroom |

Replies are listed 'Best First'.
RE: Frontpage/UI Improvements?
by reptile (Monk) on Jul 27, 2000 at 21:45 UTC

    Just to throw out an idea, perhaps letting the moderators write a short summary of the question (and others) when they approve it for the front page, and displaying that with a read more link. It wouldn't be so good if the question or discussion etc. aren't clear enough to summarize, but the unclear ones don't really deserve the front page anyway, do they?

    I think there should be anchors on the front page too with links at the top somewhere to the different sections of the front page. Or perhaps redesign the front page to be more, um, slashdot-like so instead of different sections show them all mixed together, newest first, with the section displayed clearly on each entry. Just a few ideas of course. Feel free to disagree.

    local $_ = "0A72656B636148206C72655020726568746F6E41207473754A"; while(s/..$//) { print chr(hex($&)) }

      Just to throw out an idea, perhaps letting the moderators write a short summary of the question (and others) when they approve it for the front page, and displaying that with a read more link. It wouldn't be so good if the question or discussion etc. aren't clear enough to summarize, but the unclear ones don't really deserve the front page anyway, do they?

      reptile, in principle, this is a good idea. However, it's my experience that we the moderators don't go through the un-approved entries as often as we should. I try to make a pass through at least once a day, preferrably twice. The problem is that when working from the Newest Nodes page, you don't know there are un-approved entries present. One must go to the actual section, and scroll to the bottom to find them. As such, adding additional overhead to the process of approval is likely to cause them to get them done less often.

      I like the idea, but unless the approval process is re-vamped, I don't think it's going to integrate well.


      e-mail jcwren
        I'm as guilty as the next at not checking for unapproved message, and it'd take an armed holdup to convince me use the Gates instead of Newest Nodes. But perhaps NN could include the approval information as well, say by appending (unapproved) to the title. It would also help to have the ok and frontpage boxes on the node itself, though I suspect this would take a tad more work.
        As pointed out this can become quite a task, my idea
        is simple, the poster make a short summary of the topic,
        question,whatever, no more than $n lines, and this summary if approved can
        then be posted in the frontpage, the pluses are, 1.) the monk will,
        or should think hard before posting. 2.) the load for the moderators
        is less. 3.) we can decide if we want to look at it.
        Of course this has disadvantages, but it's just an idea.
Simplify Frontpage
by gryng (Hermit) on Jul 27, 2000 at 21:02 UTC
    Why not just make the front page not include the body of any of the nodes shown, rather just the titles?

    It's simple, clean, and I'm not sure why you would want to see that many nodes at once anyway.

    My 1.83^(pi/e) cents,

      Titles-only for all posts could be a little too sparse.

      Here are a couple more possibilities:

      1. title-only for posts of n lines or more, yet complete posts if less than n lines.
      2. title-only for typically longer Snippets, CUFP, and Code posts, with complete post for all others.

      I found vroom's recommendations on what gets approved for The Monastery Gates.   I don't mean to sound critical here friends, but I'm unclear on what qualities sent this node and this node to the Front Page.   No offense intended to Spickachu or vnpandey.   Shoot, there are only a couple of my own posts I'd care to see there   :^)
(kudra: break automatically, or (better) no posts on front page) RE: Frontpage/UI Improvements?
by kudra (Vicar) on Jul 28, 2000 at 11:38 UTC
    If samples of each section remain on the first page, I think that in most cases, breaking automagically at the first <p> or the first <code> would work (for the long-winded, a maximum character limit might be needed). If someone can't describe what's going on in the first paragraph (with supporting evidence and examples to follow), what hope is there that the rest of the message will get to the point?

    This applies more to questions and discussions than replies, of course, because a reply must first address what was said before getting--in the case of this post, in paragraph three--to the substance.

    Examples of each section are wasted on the front page because it:

    1. creates the expectation in new users that that is the appropriate place to look for their posted question, and
    2. is not used to the extent that Newest Nodes is by regular users (see the source of unsubstantiated evidence). Does any frequent user actually look at the front page for anything other than quest announcements?

    Given that the people most likely to view the front page are new users, it seems an ideal place to shove site how-to information. An example, freely stolen from Where should I post X?:

    Seekers of Perl Wisdom
    When you need an answer to an actual real life problem fast you're probably going to want to post your question here.

    Categorized Questions and Answers
    These are more general questions. If you post a question to Seekers of Perl Wisdom but think other people might benefit from the knowledge you might want to rephrase it in more general terms for this section. This is also a good place to look for answers before you post to Seekers of Perl Wisdom

    And so on.
      If that's done, the titles of the last few approved posts could be listed with the number of top-level replies. That would solve a couple of issues.

      First, it does as kudra implies, and immediately imparts good usage information into the minds of new users.

      Second, it guarantees the page size for The Monastery Gates will be kept low -- both in file size and in scrolling size.

(jcwren) RE: Frontpage/UI Improvements?
by jcwren (Prior) on Jul 27, 2000 at 21:06 UTC
    I like the ability to touch up the Subjects, but I'm not sure I like how's it being used. For example (and not just to pick on gryng), I don't care for the way the subject was changed to the follow up to your initial post. It's not clear in the Notes and Replies section where it belongs. Whereas when the threads all have the same subject, I can safely ignore the whole brouhaha about Camel 3.

    Update to gryngs reply below: I'm certainly not advocating 12 RE:s strung out on a row, either. I'm sort of fond of the RE: (4), to indicate it's a 5th level posting (the very first being 1, without a RE:).


    e-mail jcwren
      No 'picked on'-ness taken jcwren. I change the subject because RE:'s make me nauseous. As for making where my post is comming from clear, I suggested something earlier: For Newest nodes (or where ever), order newest nodes by the root node that they are a child of. Also group them up so that you have the root node's title at the top of a little section and all the new nodes it has under it, something like:

      Camel 3 Protest: RE: Camel 3 Protest Changing the subject... It Rules! UI Improvements: Simplify it! RE: UI Improvements ...etc...

      You could even indent the new nodes by the distance to the parent node, if you really want to (though I do not feel the need to include the option of showing all the nodes between the parent node and the new node!).

      Anyway I'm going to keep changing the subject when I can remember, cause it's what I like to do (no disrespect to jcwren and the majority like him), but I do hope that the Newest Nodes section would have that option I just described above -- because I have the same problem with posts that don't have RE:'s. I just would rather kill RE:'s and live with having to figure out where a post came from :) .


      While the "RE: " x $n form is quite hideous. I mainly don't like the idea of RE: in general, I would rather people put more thought into their posts.

      My belief is that if you take the time to make a subject line to your post thoughtful, your post will be more thoughtful too.

      That's why in my original post (the one before the one before ..pause.. right!), I suggested removal of a default subject line, and the requirement of a non-blank subject line before you are allowed to post (perhaps even a minimum char limit of 4-5 to keep people from hitting space)


      p.s. but simplly getting rid of your "RE: " x $n syndrome would make me significantly happier. I just don't think that will solve all problems beyond eye-happiness. :)

RE: Frontpage/UI Improvements?
by nivlac (Scribe) on Jul 28, 2000 at 17:17 UTC
    Instead of having only one text area for each post have two.
    The second area would be used strictly for the referenced code.
    Then next to each post, if code has been included, place a link
    to the full atricle including the code. This way the poster's full
    question can be read, and monks can determine for themselves if they
    wish to read the code or not.
RE: Frontpage/UI Improvements?
by ArthurDent (Acolyte) on Jul 28, 2000 at 17:58 UTC
    One thing to do IMHO is take any long code snippets and not show them on the main page. Sure it might make navigating a bit more difficult, but you only have to see the code that you're interested in rather than all of it.

    Maybe any code segment over 5-10 lines is not included on the front page but if the user is interested they can go to the full node?

    Just a thought

    One other thing: I hate having to put html BR commands in my posts to put whitespace in them. Is there a way around that? Sorry for going offtopic.

      Yeah, put your text in <code> tags, except then they'd only appear on the main page if you're short-winded ;).

      I think the ability to format my post is better than displaying everything as preformated/code-ish.

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