[CentOS-devel] Talk about existing forums
memilanuk at gmail.com
Mon Dec 14 17:54:22 UTC 2009
On 12/14/2009 3:15 AM, Karanbir Singh wrote:
> On 12/12/2009 03:29 AM, M. Milanuk wrote:
>> Any updates or summary of what was covered?
> Yes, I will post those later today - been out of the loop for the last 3
> days ( and offline! )
>> Monte (a very frustated forum user)
> Do tell, why so ?
Hmmm... well there are a few things. Generally speaking, I spend a bit
(probably too much) time on various online forums for this (computers +
Linux) and other hobbies, and I am a moderator on one of those. My
point is that while I don't spend a lot of time inside the back-end of
forums, I use them enough that I believe I have a reasonable set of
expectations for how a forum should behave and present itself to the
user. Whatever it is that CentOS is using for the forum software
doesn't meet those expectations, in my opinion.
First off... appearance. I like the clean white background. The rest
of it... well, the mauve is a bit on the 'high contrast' side, but
livable. The 'View Options' menus with white text on light grey
background are nearly unreadable - I have to lean forward and squint to
make them out. As far as I can tell, there are no options for users to
apply other skins or themes, and even if they were, the 'default' needs
to be something a bit more usable. Most of that is cosmetic, as you can
tell. But it is also a 'first impression' sort of thing.
Whats the single biggest thing forum regulars tell new posters? "Use the
Search, Luke" What is the single most broken thing on the CentOS
forums? Thats right, the Search.
If I go in to the tip-top level of the forums, do I see a 'Search' near
the top of the *forum*? No. There is the site-wide one in that
header/menu that is still up at the top - and it does allow some basic
searching of the forums, granted. But if I want to use the forum
search, where is it? Three screens down. Not exactly where you would
put it if you expect users to actively utilize it. If I go into just
the 'CentOS 5' section, again, where is the Search? Down at the bottom
- admittedly not near as far this time, but not top-front-n-center.
Now for the real fun... lets say I try using the Search, and don't quite
find what I want the first pass. So I try using the 'Advanced
Search'... look at the list of Forums on that page, and tell me that
isn't some kind of joke. After 'Search all forums' the only consistent
thing seems to be that there *is* no consistent order in which the
forums are listed. If I want to search all the CentOS 5 forums for
something, I have to hunt and Control-click and scroll and
Control-Click, etc. etc. Even if I have a narrow search topic, one that
should just fit within one forum, and I go to the Advanced Search from
that forum... most normal forum software would have that forum already
selected in the Advanced Search interface - here I have to go hunting
for it. After about the second time of that nitwittery, users just
start going 'Search All Forums' as it is at least where it should be -
at the top.
Now for the next bit of frustration. Lets say I have a broad seach
topic, or just one that has a lot of returns. Like more than one page
worth. As an example, just use the Advanced Search, enter 'dnsmasq' as
the text, select 'Search All Forums', and 'From the Beginning' for time
period. You'll get a slug of returns... when you get to the bottom of
the returns, where it says 'Next >>', take a close look at the date/time
of the thread immediately above it. Then click Next. Don't those
threads look *awfully* familiar... like the ones you saw on the last
page? Don't believe it? Scroll down and look at the date/time of that
last thread again... exact same one. It doesn't seem to matter where
you search *from*, what you search *on*, or what time period you select,
if there is more than one page of results, you aren't gonna see more
than just the first page. Very handy.
I've been grinding my teeth about this forum for some time. Honestly,
it's been one of the biggest barriers to me wanting to use CentOS over
other distros, as I feel like it lacks in so many basic ways compared to
the software used by other competing options. I posted about it in the
'CentOS.org Website' forum, where it got effectively ignored. Okay, it
got 464 'views' but zero response from the management, not even a "Yes
we're aware of it and working on it". A few weeks later someone else
posted another thread about the forum software and theme, and the sole
response was that a number of things were being looked into. It might
be worthwhile for whomever is in charge of the forum layout,
administration, etc. to maybe keep the general membership appraised of
whats going on, whats being looked at, etc. *through the forum itself*
rather than give the impression that it is languishing for lack of care.
I'm not saying make it totally democratic - lord only knows what
rabbit hole that might lead down - but at least give the appearance of
something being done.
Sorry if I got a bit... carried away there. Given the recent... issues
with the control of the site, etc. from what I've read around the 'Net I
can appreciate that things are probably still in a state of turmoil, so
I'd rather things get done 'right' than 'right now' - but a little
feedback to the users would be nice.
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