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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Update News: Question about Community Features

I’m trying to hash out some of the community features for my update? Not including Facebook and Twitter, what are the best online communities you visit regularly? If you have time to add why you like the site, please add the info to your comment, especially if you feel it’s a unique feature. Thanks!

Jim Furtado Posted: March 14, 2012 at 09:12 AM | 85 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 14, 2012 at 10:47 AM (#4080491)
I like SB Nation. It depends on the fansite, but for whatever reason they seem to have more educated, sophisticated fans that are sabermetrically-inclined and are often quite hilarious, not your typical fanboy. Royals Review, Lookout Landing, McCovey's Chronics, and Beyond the Boxscore are great examples.

I don't know that there's anything unique about the site that we could transfer here. I suppose it would be fun to be able to posts pics in comments, but it could also drag down some browsers. Maybe streamline comments so that you could reply directly under someone else's comment? This helps when people get into a back-and-forth and I just want to skip it, I can easily scroll past their conversation.
   2. Greasy Neale Heaton (Dan Lee) Posted: March 14, 2012 at 10:57 AM (#4080506)
SB Nation is hit-or-miss for me. I find some of the members in some of the fansites to be overbearing and obnoxious, even when I support the same team. When it's good, it's really good though.

I spend a bunch of time lurking at bigsoccer.com as well.
   3. puck Posted: March 14, 2012 at 11:22 AM (#4080527)
There's a couple of nice features about SBNation sites:

1) Game chatter: their threads allow comments to refresh without having to re-load the page. So they have actual game chatters. That may not be worth implementing at BTF at this point, though.

2) User-generated content: there's a mechanism for users to post their own content. BTF more or less has that, though SBNation generally shuttles this stuff off to a different section. I'm not sure who moderates these submissions for total tomfoolery, spam, etc. (The mods, I guess.)The articles seem to be posted as soon as the user submits them.
   4. Jim Furtado Posted: March 14, 2012 at 11:57 AM (#4080559)
I visit SB Nation as well. Their Diaries feature is interesting but I don't like how they implement it. I also like how they have team specific areas. We have a couple right now but I am not satisfied with how they are set up. In the redesign I hope to address the issue.

As I've mentioned a few times, everyone will essentially have their own blog at their profile page. There will be two types of entries that will be able to be submitted, News and Commentaries. News is what you currently see on the Newsstand blog. Commentaries are what you commonly see on Sox Therapy, the Transaction Oracle, etc. The site will have a main submission page where members can submit either a News item or a Commentary. Both types of submissions will be tagged by subject (Red Sox, Economics, Steroids, etc.). Items will also be automatically tagged with the username of the submitter. Additionally, the submitter may also add the submission to any Clubs that he is a member of.

Clubs are one of the new additions to the site. Initially, all the team-specific blogs well be converted to Clubs. Unlike the current set-up, all members who join the club (with the approval of the club creator/editor) will be able to share both Commentaries or News posts that they feel are relevant to the Club.

To use Sox Therapy as an example...

At the present there are only a few people posting. They do a great job but, from my emails and reading the site, I know there are other members who could also do a great job posting. With the current set-up, it is time-consuming and cumbersome for me to add more editors. With the changes, everyone will be able to easily write and submit their opinions/research (Commentaries) into the system. They will also be able to easily categorize and submit their Commentaries to the appropriate sections of the site. Members of each club will also be able to easily share any News or other Commentaries they like to the Club page. Most importantly for me, most of the process will be automated. So, if Joe Smith wishes to create a Diamondbacks-related Club, he simply fills out a form, selects whether it's private or public (and if he wants it themed, uploads a related graphic and selects the appropriate colors), and then waits until I approve it (which will usually take less than 24 hours). Upon approval he can invite other members to join his club. If it's a public club, other members can join. Additionally, the Club creator/editor will be able to add relevant content to the sidebar. Initially this will include content tagged with the related material and a blogroll of related sites. Eventually, though, I hope to offer a variety of related content.
   5. Jim Furtado Posted: March 14, 2012 at 12:02 PM (#4080564)
Puck, I was writing my comment when you posted. The spam/moderation issue is important. With the upgrade, a new member class will be created...Trusted Primates. Although I won't release the full criteria to make it harder for spammers, Trusted Primates will be able to submit their content directly into the system. New Primates will still be able to submit new content. However, they will have to wait for moderators/editors to approve the content before it displays on the site.
   6. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: March 14, 2012 at 09:03 PM (#4081049)
I also like how they have team specific areas. We have a couple right now but I am not satisfied with how they are set up.

It's Mets...Just Mets - big disappointment or biggest disappointment?
   7. Mike Emeigh Posted: March 15, 2012 at 08:08 AM (#4081223)
I don't spend a lot of time on baseball-related Web sites other than this one. I used to spend time on Minor League Ball (the John Sickels site) but there isn't the give-and-take that there used to be, and I have found that to be generally true throughout the Web.

-- MWE
   8. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: March 15, 2012 at 09:56 AM (#4081265)
I'm a big fan of SBN in general, but I'd hate to see pics or gifs being posted to these threads. Not only would it slow things down, but it would invariably lead to bad jokes, smut, and a lower level of discourse in general.
   9. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: March 15, 2012 at 10:12 AM (#4081270)
I'm a big fan of SBN in general, but I'd hate to see pics or gifs being posted to these threads. Not only would it slow things down, but it would invariably lead to bad jokes, smut, and a lower level of discourse in general.

I agree, especially since we can already use the <a> tab to link to pictures anytime we want. Much better to have an opt-in for viewing these pictures than to have dueling images cluttering up a thread's visual field.
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 15, 2012 at 10:27 AM (#4081281)

I'm a big fan of SBN in general, but I'd hate to see pics or gifs being posted to these threads. Not only would it slow things down, but it would invariably lead to bad jokes, smut, and a lower level of discourse in general.


Good point. The thing I really like on this site, rather than SB Nation, is how clean and sleek it is with very few graphics save for the ads. SB Nation is very clunky with just too much content on one page.
   11. puck Posted: March 15, 2012 at 10:50 AM (#4081302)
#8 and #10 make good points. I didn't want to imply that SB Nation is all that...just that there's some nice features. But there's definitely some annoying ones, too. The long threads also push an old computer fairly hard w/all the javascript.

Jim, thanks for the info on the new features.
   12. Barnaby Jones Posted: March 15, 2012 at 02:47 PM (#4081541)
Not sports, but I've always liked how reddit has implemented to basically an infinite number of sub-reddits, while only auto-subscribing you to the main ones (and allowing you to unsubscribe from them if need be. You have a lot of control over what is presented to you when you enter the site.
   13. Jim Furtado Posted: March 15, 2012 at 03:54 PM (#4081610)
@Steve Parris, are you talking about pictures posted within comments? I'll reply when I know.

@Royals, I'm not looking at adding very many graphics. I have been thinking about running avatars next to comments because it assists in helping people quickly identifying who is comments. I'm putting off a decision until I get to do some tests when the update goes into beta. Besides worrying about adding visual clutter, I'm also concerned about the impact on web server performance.

@Barnaby, I've spent some time looking at reddit as well. By default people will see the main page (essentially what you see now at the Primer Newsstand blog) which will consist of editor selected links (including member submitted links and Commentaries). They will also have a customized homepage available that is one click away on the homepage. (Of course, a person can bookmark the customized homepage and go to it directly.) Their customized homepage will contain all the content a member has subscribed to. At this point, subscribable content will include all tags, site blogs, and the other members of the site. (For example, you could subscribe to the Red Sox, Steroids, Dan Szymborski, Chris Dial, the Hall of Merit and/or to any other member of the site who has posted a News item or a Commentary.) I am also toying with adding subscriptions to the writers of the linked content.

On the home and member homepage, the editor selected
   14. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: March 18, 2012 at 07:59 AM (#4083427)
Jim, you're on the right track. While I am a minor contributor to this site I must echo the other suggestions and comments here.

lean and clean - I can't tell you how refreshing it is to load up this site, even the home page, nearly instantly over my narrow DSL link precisely because it isn't laden with tons of graphics and scripts to do fancy things that don't impress me. Content (the written word) is king here. Keep it that way. See Baseball-Reference.

avoid Balkanization - I like the relative lack of compartmentalization here. It's a controlled free-for-all and self-selects people of mental capacity able to sift through the chaff to get to their own wheat. Countless times a headline or comment fragment has caught my eye and led me to an article or thread that enlightened me. Tucking away worthwhile discussions into dark corners reduces the value of this site, so that feature should not figure prominently in my opinion.

blogs - You have a blog? I don't blog. Nobody listens to me.

SB Nation - I see no need to duplicate what SB Nation already does pretty well. I go there for in-game chats (only for those teams whose fans make it worthwhile) because of the automatic refresh and the local fans' insights into their own teams; I could do without the inline images. I come here for in-depth analysis and commentary that can't be had elsewhere, but outside of game time. This site goes great with my morning cup of coffee.

tags - nice feature, expand as needed.

I think the site is great as-is, so you don't need to deviate from the established course.

And, thank you.
   15. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: March 18, 2012 at 11:26 AM (#4083475)
1) Game chatter: their threads allow comments to refresh without having to re-load the page. So they have actual game chatters. That may not be worth implementing at BTF at this point, though.


There are a variety of utilities that allow live chats. Visitors enter their name and can post comments in real time; there's an audible noise when a new comment is posted. CoveritLive is one that's used by a lot of sites and has an easy interface. I don't know how hard it would be to use for all game chatters.
   16. cardsfanboy Posted: March 18, 2012 at 11:41 AM (#4083479)
Avatars could be a nice idea, provided it doesn't slow it down by much. I agree with the posters that don't want pictures in thread. I like the look and feel of this site and I'm not sure it would be the same with more clutter. Game Chatter, I personally love and haven't found one I like for the past couple of years, but I'm not sure there are enough regulars for each team to have it work well. When I'm game chattering here I bounce around to some of the more active other games just to see something being posted.

The customized home page sounds like a great idea.
   17. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: March 18, 2012 at 12:10 PM (#4083482)
I don't know that there's anything unique about the site that we could transfer here. I suppose it would be fun to be able to posts pics in comments, but it could also drag down some browsers. Maybe streamline comments so that you could reply directly under someone else's comment? This helps when people get into a back-and-forth and I just want to skip it, I can easily scroll past their conversation.

Boo! Boo! BOOOOOOOOOOO!
I hate that style. It makes threads completely disjointed and unreadable. Plus it's impossible to easily figure out what you have read, and what you haven't. You are going to to work through a 30 page thread to figure out if somebody has replied to any of the 15 tangents you care about? Really?

It's a horrendously awful idea, and if it gets implemented, I will make a post under every post AG#1F makes, saying "The original poster is worse than Hitler". Don't make me do it!
   18. cardsfanboy Posted: March 18, 2012 at 12:16 PM (#4083485)
Agree with post 17.

Comments work best when you have the oldest comment at the top and it works downwards by time. Do not use the cracked method which has the most recent comment at the top or other popular methods that destroy the conversational nature of this site by having responses directly underneath the 'relavent' comment.

The way this site works, is BY FAR the best method. (at least for commenting---navigation currently sucks, but that is something we've lived with forever)
   19. Jolly Old St. Nick Still Gags in October Posted: March 18, 2012 at 12:26 PM (#4083488)
Comments work best when you have the oldest comment at the top and it works downwards by time.

God, yes. For a nightmare version of the alternative, see the Washington Post's "comments" sections. Not only are the "comments" almost totally incoherent in terms of content (the bad has all but driven out the good in that regard), but it's almost impossible to follow whatever discussion there is from beginning to end. This current format is an absolute gem of user-friendly simplicity.
   20. tshipman Posted: March 18, 2012 at 12:57 PM (#4083502)
This current format is an absolute gem of user-friendly simplicity.


Yes. Everyone can understand timestamp posting. It's simple, it's easy to understand.

The only other sites I frequent regularly are Reddit and news sites. I don't think karma is necessary with this small a community, or that it adds anything.

My two suggestions for the site would be a better way to import/define tables and to move the "code" button away from the "quote" button. It seems like two or three times a week someone breaks a page by those being next to each other.
   21. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: March 18, 2012 at 01:07 PM (#4083510)
Just want to add my support to #17, 18 and 19. Frankly I think the customizable home page sounds like a phenomenal advancement.
   22. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: March 18, 2012 at 11:50 PM (#4083980)
Agree with 17-20 also. I thought threaded comments sounded like a good idea until a site I read went to them, and I found out it's miserable. You can't find new comments, and it's impossible to follow a discussion if there are any branches. Stick with linear.
   23. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 19, 2012 at 12:10 AM (#4083989)
It makes threads completely disjointed and unreadable. Plus it's impossible to easily figure out what you have read, and what you haven't. You are going to to work through a 30 page thread to figure out if somebody has replied to any of the 15 tangents you care about? Really?

It's a horrendously awful idea, and if it gets implemented, I will make a post under every post AG#1F makes, saying "The original poster is worse than Hitler". Don't make me do it!


You are worse than Hitler!

The Nolan Ryan/Vietnam thread is really interesting to me....except the digressions on grammar. I'd really like an easy way to bypass all that and just read the posts on Nolan Ryan, the Mets and/or Vietnam service, but its difficult to do so in this format. Its especially problematic in the epic threads or the NBA threads, particularly when I don't visit the site for days and want to catch up.

As for "what you have read, and what you haven't," SB Nation highlights new posts since last time you visited. I don't know how difficult that would be to implement here.

I'm not totally wedded to the idea, but I think it works really well on SB Nation and I do get discouraged from reading some of the longer threads on here if I haven't kept up with the conversation and there are 5-6 different discussions about different topics.
   24. base ball chick Posted: March 19, 2012 at 12:16 AM (#4083991)
no threaded comments PLEEEEEEZEE - it's hard enough to deal with The Lounge and i WANT to go to the lounge

please PLEEEZE do not turn primer into anything that even resembles SB nation

the customize stuff sounds difficult and complicated. are we going to be able to sign in and comment on a thread without having to go to this homepage thing first? what is wrong with just not clicking on stuff i don't want to read without having to subscribe?
   25. tshipman Posted: March 19, 2012 at 12:16 AM (#4083992)
The Nolan Ryan/Vietnam thread is really interesting to me....except the digressions on grammar. I'd really like an easy way to bypass all that and just read the posts on Nolan Ryan, the Mets and/or Vietnam service, but its difficult to do so in this format. Its especially problematic in the epic threads or the NBA threads, particularly when I don't visit the site for days and want to catch up.
I really don't understand this POV. Those digressions are what make the site interesting.
   26. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 19, 2012 at 12:47 AM (#4083998)
FWIW, I agree with Andy about not having embedded pics, and I agree with Andy and Shipman about not having threaded comments.
   27. Dog on the sidewalk Posted: March 19, 2012 at 01:13 AM (#4084011)
I really don't understand this POV. Those digressions are what make the site interesting.

Sometimes I find them very interesting. Other times, not. Personally, I'm not interested in the 50th grammar battle or the 600th immigration flamewar. I don't really mind the current system though. If a thread heads in a direction that I don't like, I stop reading it. Sometimes it can be difficult to navigate when there are multiple conversations going on in one thread, only one of which interests me, but I think I prefer the current system over threading.

I don't know how doable it'd be, but I think I'd like it if, instead of making multiple threads within threads, discussions could be moved and totally separated. Say an article about Clay Bellinger being inducted into his high school hall of fame was turning into a discussion about the best restaurants in southern Nebraska, it'd be nice if a new discussion titled "Best restaurants in southern Nebraska" were listed. Then, not only would people actually know what the conversation was about in a given thread, but it would help keep the original discussion alive as well.
   28. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 19, 2012 at 01:39 AM (#4084019)
Sometimes I find them very interesting. Other times, not. [...] If a thread heads in a direction that I don't like, I stop reading it.

This is probably the most difficult thing about the site. The comments often have little or no relation to the original headline within the first dozen comments. It's easy to miss interesting discussions because what one thought was a five-page discussion of X actually became a discussion of Y after the first 40 comments. (I don't know what the cure would be; just a general comment.)
   29. Dr. Vaux Posted: March 19, 2012 at 03:49 AM (#4084043)
Say an article about Clay Bellinger being inducted into his high school hall of fame was turning into a discussion about the best restaurants in southern Nebraska, it'd be nice if a new discussion titled "Best restaurants in southern Nebraska" were listed.

Or just if the name of the thread was changed to the prevailing topic.
   30. Jim Furtado Posted: March 19, 2012 at 07:22 AM (#4084058)
Just to be clear...I am not talking about allowing pictures to be posted within comments. I am considering having member avatars right next to the member name. I have found having the pictures makes it easier to identify people participating in the conversation. I'm not sure how it would affect overall site performance so I am waiting until I do some testing when the beta goes live before I make a decision.

Threaded vs. flat comments is a real tough one. Although there are some benefits to having the conversation threaded, there are also some problems. How the threaded conversations are implemented makes a real difference. There are few systems that work better than others. I toyed with the idea of allowing members to select which view they preferred but after doing some research it just isn't practical. I'm leaning toward keeping our discussions flat, at least for this update because, frankly, I'm focusing on other this which are far more important (like improving the site's navigation for one).
   31. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 19, 2012 at 08:19 AM (#4084065)

I really don't understand this POV. Those digressions are what make the site interesting.


I'm not saying I don't like the digressions. Some are quite interesting or fun. Some are not though, and I wish it was easier to skip over those. I seem to be in the minority position though, so I'm comfortable going with whatever direction Jim wants to take it.
   32. Jim Furtado Posted: March 19, 2012 at 10:19 AM (#4084121)
I've been playing around with different options regarding off-topic stuff. I originally planned on creating a mechanism to flag conversations as off-topic and then let members select whether they want see the off-topic conversations in Hot Topics or not. The problem with that approach is it's not very granular. I'm leaning toward a different approach. Instead of removing all flagged content, members will be able to hide individual threads from both their frontpage and the Hot Topics using an Ajaxified link, like is currently used to bookmark threads.

I'm also creating other snapshots of the site's content. Currently there is only Hot Topics. Within the redesign there will be other snapshots available. I'm still working on them and want to test a few things when the update goes into beta. My goal is make using the site as simple to use as possible and to make finding the stuff people are interested in much easier than it is.
   33. AROM Posted: March 19, 2012 at 10:47 AM (#4084156)
Agree with the comments here about mostly keeping BTF the way it is. Add all the java and apps running that you see on SBN and the load time will be too great. Comments here are done the way comments should be - chronological. I can't keep track of threaded comments, and my reaction is to generally avoid them.

One suggestion I have is to add something basketball related to the blogroll. We've had the monthly NBA threads for what, 3 years now? And they are very popular. But once the month rolls over it is very difficult to find those. It would be great to have a blog you click on from the front page and then see the old basketball posts.
   34. Jim Furtado Posted: March 19, 2012 at 06:47 PM (#4084685)
@Arom, you will be able to subscribe to all the tags/beats including specific off-topic content. You will also have a longer personal Hot Topics. The additions are geared to making the site easier to use and find and keep track of the stuff you are interested in.
   35. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: March 19, 2012 at 08:36 PM (#4084735)
I agree as well. I like Football Outsiders' content but their layout is almost unreadable. I read a discussion once and once only because if I were to want to read what's new I'd also have to read over everything I had read before to see the latest individual responses.
   36. Eddo Posted: March 19, 2012 at 09:38 PM (#4084772)
I agree as well. I like Football Outsiders' content but their layout is almost unreadable. I read a discussion once and once only because if I were to want to read what's new I'd also have to read over everything I had read before to see the latest individual responses.

To be fair, if you are signed into an account at FO, all new comments are highlighted.

That said, BTF's setup is much better. I would prefer if FO did not have threaded comments.

Personally, I prefer no images, not even avatars. I'm a big fan of the aesthetics of the site; blue, linked usernames and black text on a white background looks really clean. If you were to add avatars, I'd hope they're very small, so as to keep load times low. If possible, could you have the personal option to turn off avatars?

Anyway, 99% of everything here is done right. Keeping the layout and threads the same would just be lovely.
   37. Joe Kehoskie Posted: March 19, 2012 at 09:54 PM (#4084785)
Personally, I prefer no images, not even avatars.

Agreed. The site seems much more responsive and stable since Jim started the upgrades. Loading up to 100 avatars per page might be a step backward.
   38. Jim Furtado Posted: March 20, 2012 at 09:15 AM (#4084959)
I just checked out Football Outsiders. I agree that their comment layout is too busy. I don't get the reason for Subject. It just adds additional visual clutter. I also don't like how the threads are styled. The threaded systems I find most useful are the most clean. Simple. If done right, they can enhance the conversation, especially when there are a lot of comments. It's a balance though.
   39. hokieneer Posted: March 20, 2012 at 09:26 AM (#4084972)
I'd hope they're very small, so as to keep load times low.

While I'm agnostic towards avatars, I'm not sure they would add that much of a load time. I assume Jim is talking about small, 20x20 35x35, etc; images. If they are small, and slightly compressed, each one would be in the 500B range. It's not like each thread would have 100 different ones to load, a lot of people post many times to the same thread. Factor in browser caching, and I'd imagine load time would be minimal.

Now I'm not a mobile 3G/4G browser, so I can understand the concerns there.
   40. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: March 20, 2012 at 07:39 PM (#4085607)
Personally, I prefer no images, not even avatars. I'm a big fan of the aesthetics of the site; blue, linked usernames and black text on a white background looks really clean.

I agree with this and in fact it brought to mind the #1 change I'd like to see in terms of aesthetics - a work-safe mode. No ads, no graphics, not even the banner on top. Super plain text. I'm already overdue to contribute to the site but I'd pay good, good money for that particular enhancement.
   41. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: March 20, 2012 at 08:20 PM (#4085625)
I'd like to echo #40. Seems like work safe mode should be a "premium feature".
Beyond that, I'm with those that like flat commenting, clean design, etc... (17-22?) That's part of what drew me here initially...
   42. Jim Furtado Posted: March 22, 2012 at 07:33 PM (#4087097)
As hokieneer mentioned, the avatars that I might be adding wouldn't have much of an impact on performance. Since I am placing such a high focus on mobile with this update, the avatars have to be something I can easily avoid downloading in the mobile version. I know it's doable, whether it's worth doing is what I'm still considering.

I've also been playing on providing a few optional items for people who donate. Some people have been kind enough to donate to support the site, I'd like to thank them for doing so by providing some type of enhancement to the site. An ad free version of the site seems to be one way of doing that. I also have a few other ideas but I encourage everyone who has donated to forward a wish list to me. Just so we are clear, I don't have any plans on charging people for content. The content will always be free. But doing stuff like viewing the site without ads, getting to choose how many comments per page get displayed, and other enhancements that consume more server resources seems like a good place to start.
   43. Jim Furtado Posted: March 23, 2012 at 09:19 AM (#4087358)
Regarding avatars, mobile, and viewing content...a few options I'm playing with are lazy loading images and using an infinite scroll to display content on the page. Lazy loading essentially only loads the graphics as you view that part of the page. Infinite scrolling is what Facebook (and a lot of 2.0 sites) do; you don't paginate content you load additional content as people move down the page. It really enhances usability as users don't have to load a new page.
   44. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: March 23, 2012 at 09:23 AM (#4087362)
Lazy loading essentially only loads the graphics as you view that part of the page.


Would this slow down scrolling around a page? Right now everything loads then I move around the page freely, would I have a delay as I scroll down? My non-techie thought on this is it would be a real problem for tablet/smartphone users (and I use my iPad almost exclusively at night).
   45. Jim Furtado Posted: March 23, 2012 at 01:29 PM (#4087600)
Jose, again it's just something I am playing around with at this point. My experience is, it depends on how much is initially loaded onto the page and how soon the trigger is activated. With enough entries on the page, and a sufficient trigger in place, it's not noticeable unless you drag the side scroll really rapidly from the top to the bottom. The main benefit is you don't have to load additional pages, though.
   46. Mom makes botox doctors furious Posted: March 23, 2012 at 02:32 PM (#4087655)
I'm loving this site the way it is, but i've more or less felt that way during the last 13 or 14 years, rolling with the changes. I'm still finding it odd, though, that pictures and even videos adorn some news posting.

Infinite scroll would be a nice-to-have, very convenient, user friendly, time friendly
Avatars - wahteve'
Ad free content for the fee of a donation - very hip
Repoz - keep him

all the best

   47. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: March 23, 2012 at 03:17 PM (#4087703)
I toyed with the idea of allowing members to select which view they preferred but after doing some research it just isn't practical. I'm leaning toward keeping our discussions flat, at least for this update because, frankly, I'm focusing on other this which are far more important (like improving the site's navigation for one).

I'd also like to add that I think threading comments is not a good idea. On the sites I've been to, it doesn't work. People respond to in-thread comments with a new post a lot and you can't figure out where the conversation is. Also, non-threaded may not keep threads on topic, but it tends to make sure that there's only one conversation going on at a time (obviously there are exceptions). I like the non-threaded way.

Instead of removing all flagged content, members will be able to hide individual threads from both their frontpage and the Hot Topics using an Ajaxified link, like is currently used to bookmark threads.

I like this much better than having topics that you subscribe or unsubscribe to. While I'm frustrated that the NFL and soccer threads clutter up the sidebar a lot, there truly aren't that many threads that I would want to ignore. So when I see the off-topic NBA thread, just give me one click to ignore it an I'll be fine. I'd hate to miss a discussion because I was ignoring the topic altogether. I think that would lead the the site being more fragmented, which IMO is not good. I thought that the lounge was a good idea, but now I don't like it. Apparently there are several long time posters who hang out in the lounge and never come to the "main" site. Which I think has made the site worse. Automatically ignoring sets of comments would lead to more of that, I think.

   48. Petunia inquires about ponies Posted: March 23, 2012 at 03:40 PM (#4087726)
To be clear, I'm not suggesting a simple 'ad-free' version. The ads themselves don't bother me in any meaningful way. Just for those of us who mainly view the site from work, the fewer graphics the better. Cf. TMQ's 'Boss Button'. (Tho since TMQ is a once-a-week page load, a single boss button works there, whereas here I'd like to see a separate viewing paradigm keyed to username/login that could be toggled from the home page or something like that, rather than loading each thread and THEN clicking thru to a different 'clean' view every time.)

Posting my #40 actually did move me to throw a few bucks at the site (something I've been meaning to do for a long time), so now I feel I'm extra entitled to suggest specific options, as insignificant as my personal contribution represents in the scheme of things.
   49. villageidiom Posted: March 23, 2012 at 04:07 PM (#4087749)
Jose, again it's just something I am playing around with at this point. My experience is, it depends on how much is initially loaded onto the page and how soon the trigger is activated. With enough entries on the page, and a sufficient trigger in place, it's not noticeable unless you drag the side scroll really rapidly from the top to the bottom. The main benefit is you don't have to load additional pages, though.
The infinite scroll of Facebook is both good and bad. It's good that you don't have to load much on the page, and for that matter if you track it well you can have it load just whatever has changed since the last visit. The bad is that I'd think you'd need to reverse the flow of threads here, with most recent post appearing at the top of a page rather than the bottom, to make it work. If you're going no-thread, reversing the flow would make things much worse IMO. It's fine for a succession of Twitter-sized posts, but it doesn't work for reading, for example, #47 and this post. Scroll down within a post, scroll up to get to the next one, scroll down to read it, scroll up...

The other bad thing, at least with how Facebook has set the trigger, is more of a user-specific issue. When I scroll on FB, often I just click and hold on the scroll bar, moving the mouse as I read. This allows me to vary my scroll rate instantly. But once it hits the page-load trigger, causing the page to expand, the scroll bar changes to reflect the new page content and I'm sent hurtled away from what I'd been reading. For example, if I'm halfway through a page and it suddenly loads so much more content that what I was reading is now only 20% of the way down the new page, but I'm holding the scroll bar at halfway, FB will put me halfway down the new page. I've suddenly skipped from what I was in the middle of reading to posts several days earlier, by doing almost nothing. Then I have to scroll back up the page to find where I'd left off. It's damn irritating.

Yes, I know, I could solve this by not scrolling the way I do.
   50. Eddo Posted: March 23, 2012 at 05:35 PM (#4087843)
The infinite scroll of Facebook is both good and bad. It's good that you don't have to load much on the page, and for that matter if you track it well you can have it load just whatever has changed since the last visit. The bad is that I'd think you'd need to reverse the flow of threads here, with most recent post appearing at the top of a page rather than the bottom, to make it work. If you're going no-thread, reversing the flow would make things much worse IMO. It's fine for a succession of Twitter-sized posts, but it doesn't work for reading, for example, #47 and this post. Scroll down within a post, scroll up to get to the next one, scroll down to read it, scroll up...

I agree with this blurb entirely. I think infinite scroll has a place on the web, but I'm not sure the place is here. In general, it works great when people are browsing material that can be identified with a quick glance, like images and one-sentence wall posts. The most relevant items, whether that is most recent or most popular or most closely-matching your search, can be placed near the top, while lesser items get scrolled to.

On BTF, though, users are trying to comprehend and absorb the material. The newest stuff is the most important, but comment threads, which evolve based on previous entries, should not be ordered newest-to-oldest. The threads flow chronologically, and should be read that way. As such, users will often scroll to the very bottom first; with infinite scrolling, on a thread with hundreds of posts, this will take a non-trivial amount of time, and will frequently result in the user overshooting their target by a good amount.

Basically, I like the hundred-posts-per-page setup BTF has now.
   51. Jim Furtado Posted: March 30, 2012 at 05:25 PM (#4093318)
Thanks for the input on potential comment systems. In the next couple of weeks I will begin testing some simple home page and discussion page templates. If anyone is interested in being part of the process, go to the forum and volunteer for our beta test program.
   52. manchestermets Posted: March 31, 2012 at 07:33 PM (#4093928)
Two suggestions:

1. The ability to skip to the first comment in a thread since the last time I read it.

2. A "show this comment" ajax link on ignored users' comments or possibly the ability to ignore/unignore users by thread. There are people I ignore for their contributions to the political threads, but I might want to read what they have to say on baseball issues.
   53. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: April 26, 2012 at 05:03 AM (#4116620)
Jim, your latest update screwed up all the post numbering. It seems to start counting from the page number. I.e. The first post on page 1 is #2, the first page on page 2 is #3, the first post on page 9 is #10 etc.
   54. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: April 26, 2012 at 05:06 AM (#4116622)
Also, the Hot Topics bar is empty within threads, although it seems to be fine on the front page...

Also, if I try and edit a post, nothing happens when I hit 'save'.
   55. Lassus Posted: April 26, 2012 at 07:58 AM (#4116636)
Concur over here, things are borked.
   56. Accent Shallow Posted: April 26, 2012 at 08:13 AM (#4116637)
Same as Fancy Pants and Lassus. I also had to login again this morning on two separate devices.
   57. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: April 26, 2012 at 08:21 AM (#4116640)
No hot topics! Not even on the Newsstand.
   58. Ron J Posted: April 26, 2012 at 09:41 AM (#4116685)
#58 Ah good to see I'm not insane. I've found the hot topics on the home page. Only there. (as noted by #55)

EDIT:Testing Edit for me (since I seem to have super-duper Edit powers). Either post #1 is gone in every thread I've looked at (not many, but ...) or there's a bug and every thread is starting at 2.

EDIT2: Well first Edit worked.
   59. zonk Posted: April 26, 2012 at 09:53 AM (#4116693)
Occasionally on threads, I'll see the edit pop up on the post before or after mine -- but no edit on my post. Sadly, it appears I can't save edits to other people's posts... that would be fun.

EDITED BY Ron J: Yes indeed it can be!

EDIT2 BY Ron J: I swear never to use my power for evil though. Admittedly your definition of evil and mine might not be the same.
   60. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: April 26, 2012 at 10:26 AM (#4116722)
No hot topics! Not even on the Newsstand.

Oh, I thought that this baseball season had been cancelled. Glad to see it's just the latest update to the site that is causing this anomaly. "Me too" on all of today's posts.
   61. UCCF Posted: April 26, 2012 at 10:53 AM (#4116741)
OK, just making sure I'm not crazy. I'm not getting post #1 either, and I've had to log back in repeatedly.
   62. JustDan Posted: April 26, 2012 at 10:59 AM (#4116745)
It seems that the page numbers are getting mixed up with the post numbers. eg
page 1, post 2,3,4,5...
page 2, post 3,4,5,6...
etc

   63. The Essex Snead Posted: April 26, 2012 at 11:00 AM (#4116748)
It looks like the post numbering is off for every page. Instead of starting w/ 1 (or 101 on the 2nd page, etc.), it's incrementing the post count on each page starting w/ the page number. So the 1st post on the 1st page of a thread ends up as #2, while the 1st post on the 16th page (as on the NBA thread) is #17, and so on.
   64. JustDan Posted: April 26, 2012 at 11:00 AM (#4116750)
BTW, all the posts are shown, just mis-numbered
   65. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: April 26, 2012 at 11:08 AM (#4116753)
I'm guessing the post number is supposed to be calculated: (page number - 1) * 100 + post number, where the post number is only for that page, not overall. And instead it's just page number + post number.
   66. Jim Furtado Posted: April 26, 2012 at 11:10 AM (#4116755)
I am looking into the issue.
   67. Ron J Posted: April 26, 2012 at 11:21 AM (#4116766)
Jim, we seem to have hot topics back now. Post numbering is still hosed but that's not critical. Does make for some difficulties in responding but that's probably manageable through quoting.
   68. Ron J Posted: April 26, 2012 at 12:12 PM (#4116816)
Also Jim, Hot Topics can count properly. It's only the on page numbering that's screwed up.
   69. Jim Furtado Posted: April 26, 2012 at 12:18 PM (#4116821)
Ron, I'm still not sure what messed up Hot Topic but I was able to get it working again by deleting and rebuilding the underlying template.

I am a little flummoxed by the count problem. EE's code seems to be OK. I'm doing more research.
   70. Nasty Nate Posted: April 26, 2012 at 12:24 PM (#4116828)
Editing is still wonky
   71. Ron J Posted: April 26, 2012 at 12:42 PM (#4116840)
Editing is still wonky


I suspect it's a permissions issue. I have super-duper editing power and can not only edit my posts, I could edit yours.
   72. smileyy Posted: April 26, 2012 at 01:47 PM (#4116884)
Apparently, I'm not allowed to post comments.
   73. Fancy Pants Handles lap changes with class Posted: April 26, 2012 at 02:34 PM (#4116924)
Apparently, I'm not allowed to post comments.

How the hell am I reading this then?
   74. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 26, 2012 at 02:45 PM (#4116931)
How the hell am I reading this then?
You're not.
   75. Jim Furtado Posted: April 26, 2012 at 02:56 PM (#4116941)
I am looking into the editing issue as well. I patched the last version. They rewrote the section and I guess I need to go back in and fix it again. Ugh.
   76. smileyy Posted: April 26, 2012 at 03:40 PM (#4116985)
The posting permissions issue appears to be sporadic. Am I being excessively throttled?
   77. smileyy Posted: April 26, 2012 at 03:40 PM (#4116986)
Is it throttling? (testing)
   78. Ron J Posted: April 26, 2012 at 04:16 PM (#4117029)
smileyy I'd bet serious money that you're being silently logged out. It happened to be earlier today and when I logged back in I checked off the "log me in automatically" box.

I'm pretty sure that if you're doing anything clever with cookies (rejecting them, timing them out quickly, whatever) you're going to have problems posting.
   79. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: April 27, 2012 at 12:17 AM (#4117307)
Hey, Jim, a problem I had before seems to have returned. I am logged in on my laptop and it works fine, but when I go to my home computer and log in there, then the next time I turn on my laptop I have to re-log in on the laptop.
   80. Ron J Posted: April 27, 2012 at 12:23 AM (#4117311)
Minor issue, but for multiple page threads you now only get the choice of 3 pages (plus first or last). No biggie, but something has changed.
   81. Ron J Posted: April 27, 2012 at 06:26 AM (#4117357)
OK Jim, both the post numbering problem and the page choice issue (reported above in #80) are fixed.
   82. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: April 27, 2012 at 08:32 AM (#4117370)
OK, maybe it's not the same problem as before for me (post 79). I was on my laptop last night and had to log in, and this morning I'm on my laptop and I had to log in again.
   83. smileyy Posted: April 27, 2012 at 02:08 PM (#4117740)
[78] Yeah, I just came to that conclusion. None of my logins seem to persist. Is it an issue with logging in from multiple devices, as hinted at by [79]? I use at least three devices interchangeably throughout the day.
   84. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: April 27, 2012 at 02:11 PM (#4117743)
Yes, the login problem seems to be back.
   85. Jim Furtado Posted: April 28, 2012 at 12:05 PM (#4118448)
I've changed a few things in the login process to correct things. Try logging out, clearing your cookies, and logging back in while selecting the keep me logged in option.

Please let me know if you are still having issues.

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