David Meehan

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8 years 1 month


Stream of Forum Topics

In 50 characters or less... Posted by Post date Last comment Number of Comments # of Comments new to you
Tool Short Description Lengths David Meehan Friday, March 30, 2012 - 12:21am Tuesday, April 3, 2012 - 11:53pm 1
Internet Explorer Problem David Meehan Saturday, March 3, 2012 - 6:58pm Saturday, March 3, 2012 - 11:22pm 1

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David Meehan's picture

I was thinking the same thing about a search function. Users won’t want to have to search through pages of tools to find any given one. As the list grows it will become far too time consuming to find anything. Perhaps one way to help implement this would be to allow the tool’s creator and editors to add tags to the tool’s profile which can then be used as the basis for the search, along with other characteristics such as its stage and type. I’ve also been thinking about what you mentioned with regard to listing tools by stage. That seems like a good default system to list the tools. Perhaps there can also be some sort of dropdown menu which will allow users to select how they wish the tools to be sorted. Various listing options might include by stage, type, name, and creation date(if any such data exists about a given tool). And if tool usage/participation statistics get implemented which can gauge how much activity each tool has in a given time frame, tools could also be listed based on how much recent activity they have. This way, tools which are receiving a large amount of community support will appear at the top of the list.

David Meehan's picture

The stack exchange model seems like a pretty good starting point. It would definitely keep the site from becoming a collection of abandoned projects which in turn may make it less credible as a professional outlet for ideas. Conversely the premise of a lifespan on tools may keep some new users from using the site and disenfranchise users who may have listed a new tool idea which did not proliferate within the community and was accordingly removed. In short, I’d say that the implemented system should be much more sensitive than stack exchange’s. Removing someone's question (like in stack exchange) isn't too big of a deal, but the removal of a tool, its documentation, and forum discussion is much more important, but the core basics can really help keep things organized. The biggest point would be to make sure the metrics were reasonable; it’s better to have a wait time before deletion that is slightly longer than might seem necessary than one that is too short.

I would say that communication would also be vital for such a system to work effectively. Users would need to know that posted tools that do not appear to progress may be removed, so that way there are no surprises. In this instance surprises are never good. Perhaps something like a FAQ or Guide could be implemented to outline the process of adding and editing tools which would also include necessary details about site deletion. Furthermore, it may also be a good idea to send a notification to any user who has a tool which may be deleted soon. Keeping the users informed is vital to maintaining the integrity of the site.

Another thing which came to my mind was that projects at different stages might need different metrics for evaluating. A tool at concept or at prototype level which does not appear to be growing over X amount of time, like you mentioned, may be a candidate for removal. Conversely, tools which have seen more development and are more stable would probably not follow the same metric. For instance, a tool which has become established with large amounts of documentation and has reached the DIY or even more so commercial product level, it would be a bad idea to remove that tool from the site if the amount of contributions on it suddenly slows down or stops for some time. The worst case scenario would be to compromise the reliability of the site by removing tool pages which people may be relying on.

I am not sure how viable (or accurate) any of these concerns or ideas are, but just some food for thought :)

David Meehan's picture

I would say it’s very helpful. The best way to make the interface as user-friendly as possible would be to keep it simple, and based on the way the table of contents works on the example site, it’s quite simple. The fact that it follows the user is great since they don’t have to scroll around to find it. It’s always there and hard to miss. Furthermore it works similar to standard hyperlinks, so it should be easy for users to understand. And if a user happens to miss it, he or she could still scroll through the page regularly and it wouldn’t get in the way at all.

One thing I just noticed though is that the banner at the top of this site does not appear in internet explorer. So I’m not sure if that means that any table of contents that gets added will not show up as well in IE. The table of contents at rasantiago does show up in IE though so it can probably be worked with to allow IE users to still have the feature. Making sure users of different browsers can all access the feature is quite important. I just made a post under website problems, so maybe it’s just my browser in which case this would be a non-issue anyway.

David Meehan's picture

What if the Tool Wiki and the Tool Forum subsections of the page were collapsible and expandable? You could probably add something to the banners for each section to allow it to be collapsed or expanded. And this way, if a user wants to go to the discussion, he or she could just collapse the wiki section. I’m not sure how practical such a thing would be, but just throwing some ideas out there.

The table of contents idea definitely sounds like a good idea though. It would be very intuitive for users and would allow easy access to the content of the page.