Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Redoing ET's front page

by Carrie Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 02:12:47 PM EST

No, this is not about firing all the front-page team and replacing it with a new batch of people, however much some people may wish that were done. It is also not ultimately about the front page, though that is a good way to focus the debate initially. Sven Triloqvist writes:

... we should think about the content and priorities of the Front Page to better lure in journalists. And the many diaries that are in these themed lists could give a consistent 'instant' profile' that show the depth of the community on particular expert issues.

I understand the necessity also to attract new members, and the FP is important for that purpose. But the raison d'être for this community is change. We can do it one member at a time, write LTE's, goad the EU bureaucracy, or appear on soundbite TV. IMO giving new narratives to turnable journalists is a very good way of reaching a lot of people fast. Our FP is not narrative based. If these journalists do visit, they need to find a narrative or two fast. As I've said before - one has about 2 seconds to 'capture' a visitor to a website. What does our 2 seconds look like?


It seems to me that regular users refer primarily to the recommended diary list and the recent comments page, and rarely to the Front Page. I know I do, but Frank Schnittger posted a comment confirming that it is the same for newer users:

As a new user I must say I find that I never use the front page and am a bit unclear as to why there is a separate Front page and Diary section.  The Open threads and European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch are the sort of more informal stuff you would expect to find in a diary section.
Sven Triloqvist then gives a useful taxonomy of visitors:

The audience concerns we have to address IMO are :

  • Visiting media. These will be hit-and-run journalists who have seen ET mentioned in some form elsewhere and come to check it out. They need to get an instant FP feel for the key themes, and the depth, quality and richness of the content if they stay to explore. But they need to find the main narratives very fast. The visual 'imprinting' has take place in 2 seconds. They are uninterested in community. But we are very interested in them.

  • Visiting experts. They come because of a particular interest (eg Wind Energy) via a link or a story elsewhere. They need to find links to their subject quite fast. They are also not interested in community because they probably have a specialist community of their own. We also need to link expert communities together for finer grain resourcing, so making contact is important.

  • Visiting bloggers. These visitors know how blogs work. They will sample content and if they like it they might stay. Our increasing use of visuals is IMO a good way of increasing visits. The number of members/page views is not important in the short run, but does build the reputation of ET. However the number and richness of comments is important on a daily basis. The New User Guide is important for them.

  • Lurkers. I believe most long term lurkers remain because of the content. But ET can be a forbidding place in its intellectual intensity, and make it hard for some to join in. I doubt if we can do anything about that. Changing the look and feel of the site is not going to influence them.

  • Members. Some are occasional, some regular, some go off on sabbaticals ;-) The uniting factor is the desire for change in the RW and some pride in belonging to a community that promotes change.

There are subsets of members, but the FP is not an issue.
So, the question is how we can change the content and layout of the Front Page to maximize its appeal to different categories of visitors, in particular to influential visitor who we wish would come away from ET infected with our narratives.

Please go read the entire thread, which starts with the top-level comment by Sven that I started this story with. If you feel it is appropriate, you can also cross-post here a comment of yours from the other thread.

Display:
Frank Schnittger:
Otherv features which would be of interest is on-line stats of page hits per day, who is currently online, number of unique users per day etc. because otherwise it is hard to tell whether it is a site for a couple of dozen inveterate hobbyists or a serious and widespread community.
Do people agree or disagree that the "who's online" box should be enabled?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 02:15:17 PM EST
No.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 02:21:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You disagree?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 02:25:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes.
by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 02:58:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ditto!
by Fran on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 02:27:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've often wondered why it was not. Is there in fact a rationale for not having it enabled?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 02:25:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It feels like Big Brother is watching you?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 02:26:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not in my opinion. We pick these usernames and litter them all over the place anyway.

How would it influence the size of the page and the loading time?

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 02:35:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Would be nicer if it was on. Not a must have though.
I presume it comes complete with the privacy features of instant messengers (users can choose not to be seen, plenty of filters, etc...)

Pierre
by Pierre on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 06:01:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there a check box saying - yes, I would like to be listed in "who's online"? Individuals could then opt out?
by PeWi on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 05:12:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do a survey!
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 02:32:41 PM EST
On what?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 02:39:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the site. An online survey. "Please take our survey" I'd recommend setting it up for 5 to 10 minutes.

(Obvious filtering questions: How often do you visit ET? How do you know ET? How long have you known ET? Are you a member? What is your occupation? How often do you read blogs? How many blogs do you read? -- and then move on to questions on the design)

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:02:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with the idea of formatting the front page to make it a more "occasional user-friendly" one. It would greatly serve our goals.

If we want to have "products" that are attractive and credible for Sven's two first categories, we should try to separate the informal/humorous exchanges and digressions from the more "on the point" comments in the thematic diaries. However, we must preserve the spontaneity.

And we must take into account that the community is also the "production tool" of ET, which means:

_ it is a community based on collaborative thinking, so the "product" and the "process" are the same thing unless there is a summary made afterwards. That means  a new architecture should not hinder the dynamics of exchange and the conviviality of the community.

  • we are working on a voluntary basis: we write diaries and comments according to what motivates us. That means we should not let the "marketing" lead our reflections/exchanges.

  • maintaining and developing the community is essential. The Open threads and European Salon de News, Discussion et Klatsch are the place where the community create bonds that are a prerequisite for the quality of debates.


"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 02:36:30 PM EST
I agree on all points. Having an express route to the meaty lists for visitors means the lighter diaries can stay as they are on the FP, and preserve the spontaneity.

I also suggested a short (max 50 word) 'in-a-nutshell' descritpion of the site to go under the logo, and that I will draft a suggestion for this in the next couple of days. The key words I am thinking about are expert, community, Europe-focused, political change, energy and finance, secular. If you have any of your own, then toss them in - I'm still thinking...

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 02:47:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sven
I also suggested a short (max 50 word) 'in-a-nutshell' descritpion of the site to go under the logo

I second that. That's the sort of information that needs to get through during the two-second attention window.

You're clearly a dangerous pinko commie pragmatist.
by Vagulus on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:51:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A progressive, European, expert community blog.

That's 5 key words. Expand each of them to 10 words and you're done.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:52:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You may be right, but there is something as cold as indices about it. I'll look for the nine warm words in each case ;-)

Actually 50 words is max. The classic format is a 5 word title and a 20 word subhead. The shorter the better, but it has to be intrguing also.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 04:11:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European Tribune, a progressive, European, expert community blog...

...have we emphasized that we're a progressive, European, expert community?  A virtual town hall where brilliance is the norm, expert is a given, the community thrives with both warmth and snark, and the European perspective on crucial global issues is the respected hallmark.  Sometimes with graphs!  And as we're a blog, you can add your own brilliance.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 06:27:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As the twank said, careful with the head... Humility is something that oughtn't be forgotten altogether

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 06:31:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i humbly submit that the above comment accurately reflects what goes on here, but that it serves no purpose for enlightening future journalists to also note that we can be also be blind idiots.  Though i also humbly submit that no one here has actually writen a novel where the lead character is the "Global Village Idiot."  Dizzy Dean said "It ain't bragging if you can do it."

So i think ET already does it.  That i use marketing tactics based on my lifetime in the US of A should not be held against me, even though i would like to adopt the ingrained cultural stance of kneeling before the king, or when not, rebelling against him.

Actually, the Sven's 50 Words i wrote was just a first attempt at saying why i lurk here, so others might be so enticed.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 07:45:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm a bit uncomfortable with the "expert" bit - not that I doubt that many of you ARE experts, but that we are also trying to attract participants who may not feel particularly expert in anything.  I would  hate to think I had to be an expert before I could venture my thoughts on a topic either in Diary or comment form.

Let's face it, there are scholarly and specialised professional or academic journals in many of the areas we discuss here - we're not really trying to compete with them, are we?   Isn't there also something about the accessibility of our writing styles and the interactivity which goes on here that distinguishes us from the turgid tomes of academe?  Would "alternative" be a better term?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 08:06:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Good comment.

  1.  i was just riffing on Mig's comment above.
  2.  If you have trouble with expert, you would also have trouble with brilliant.
  3.  So what do we do when that's an accurate description of the site?  Perhaps we invite all to uplevel their understanding by participating here?  i know i continue to be amazed at what goes on here, and i only want to grow the site.


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 08:23:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem with the words "expert" and "brilliant" is, although many are of the first category, and most are sometimes of the second, if we want to grow the site these words make it sound as "newbies not welcome here".

And it's certain that marketing based on self-congratulation is much less current in Europe than in the US...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 03:23:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed on virtually all points, especially the self-pomposity imported from Silicon Valley.  No defense other than it was well past midnight during a holiday.  Here's a morning version:

A virtual European town centre where interesting and informed people gather to discuss some of the crucial social and political issues of the day, as well as arts and letters. The community thrives with both warmth and snark, photos and music, and even charts and graphs.    Input welcome.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 03:43:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Much better, and pretty good... Starvid would better hurry up with his suggestion...

Maybe agora instead of town center ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 03:47:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Two points about agora:

this is the first time I hear it in a Western context. What does it mean. Might be necessary to explain it.

I know it as a Sanskrit word used in Tantra Yoga with a mystical meaning - don't know if we want to go there. :-)

by Fran on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 03:53:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agora is the Greek equivalent of forum - originally, a large, open space in the town center used alternatively as market, and place where the citizens would discuss about current affairs.

Maybe not a great idea to replace town center, finally...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 04:03:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Zut, should have know better from the word Agoraphobia. :-)

Why not simply call it a Forum?

by Fran on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 04:39:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Quick question - do german young study ancient Greeks in history ?

One of the main remains of the era of Nations is that "basic history" is still founded on the mythical national narratives (witness the Antilles descendants of black slaves learning "our ancestors the Gauls"); in France it includes the Greeks traditionally, but does it in Germany ?

For example Charlemagne is included in the national narrative both in the French and German schools, although French people have no idea that Charlemagne was a probably more Germanic than Roman...

 

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 05:00:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I did, but then Latin was my first non native language (start with 9) and Greek my third (start with 15)...
by PeWi on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 05:20:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agora. Often used to symbolize a place of discussion or debate, like forum.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 04:13:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree with you. Although there is a lot of expertise in this community, ET is not about expertise.

Besides, using the word "expert" supposes to specify in which fields we pretend to be "experts"

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 08:33:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd like to reinforce the point there.

If the Front Page is a primary landing point for "outsiders" then it may seem that "outsiders" might be journalists or experts and so should be presented immediately with "weighty content."

But "outsiders" are also "new visitors from other blogs" who need to be given every chance to interact with the community and join in. As such they need to be presented immediately with "salons and open threads" to give them a place to dive in.

I'd remind everyone that our Salon, chatty as it may be is also still a selling point for our community as it's one of the better single collations of interesting news from a Euro-centric angle out there.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:01:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Obviously we don't want to make the whole thing too complicated, but another idea would be to allow members to tag themselves (under user info or settings) under a number of headings - e.g. EU, Politics, Energy, Sociology, Management.  This would create special interest groups of members interested in - e.g. EU - who would could have their own discussion area/debate area/ collaborative writing space, and who would be notified if a diary/story with that tag is published.

I find that there is a lot of stuff going through ET (and other sites) and to avoid info overload you have to be selective in what you look at. Titles are sometimes misleading and you can miss stuff you would really have been interested in.  Obviously your tags wouldn't preclude you from having access to other stuff as well (and people without an EU tag seeing EU stuff if they want to) - it would just be a way of selectively channeling content your way and building specialist sub-communities - important as the user base gets bigger.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 02:44:27 PM EST
It seems ET is slowly growing up to a size where this would be useful, indeed. Being away for a week means taking quite some time to catch up on what has been written in the meantime. It would be useful to have a rather limited list of tags (to avoid tags explosion) and to allow adding tags to existing stories/comments thread (there is a lot of content in the comments !)

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:45:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Theory, keywords solve that problem allowing information to be automatically found and retrieved no matter where it resides in the knowledge structure.

In Practice, not so much -- as evidenced by user frustration with Google, et.al.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 04:02:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree, that tags, if introduced, should be very limited and be built around a pre agreed set of words.

Additions ought to only happen on an administrative level, to avoid traps -> tags that refer to the same or similar things (Demokrat, Demokrats, Demokratic, demokrat, democrat......)

by PeWi on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 05:53:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
this sounds like we need a second site, which would be the repository of the "wisdom" created on ET, ie finished products:

  • diaries that aim at synthetizing earlier discussions (which may have taken place over various diaries and over long periods);

  • letters to editors, articles, etc edited via ET.

Which brings us back to our discussion about the thinktank and Et-stamped publications, ie to approval and/or vetting process.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 02:45:45 PM EST
IMHO the software should be integrated. Think of it as rather like wikipedia's articles and their attached discussion pages, etc.

There can be layers of content and not everything on the site needs to be an article with comments, though it doesn't hurt if it is. The same article and the same comments can be presented visually in different ways. In fact, each ET diary and each comment are stored separately in the database, which links them logically and allows them to be displayed on the same browser page. The possibilities are endless when it comes to content and its presentation.

Personally, I think if content (including comments) could have a revision history and multiple people able to edit it, we'd go a long way towards achieving the flexibility we need for cooperative work.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 02:50:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think a Wiki here is the right solution to the wrong problem. And I don't think the software should be integrated, because we'll probably send so much time trying to integrate it that we won't get anything else done. (qv language localisation for Scoop.)

J is right - we need a separate press arm/think-tank sending out press releases and papers.

The front page is more or less irrelevant as far as journalists are concerned. I don't see a problem with that, because reachable journalists need to be reached actively. We can't assume they'll come here just because we want them to, and I don't think we should retool a page that's doing a different job to try to attract them.

The work-in-progress Wiki idea doesn't solve the problems we need to have solved. Wikis are fine for subject-specific knowledge bases, but PR and journalist outreach has to be done differently - you can't just say 'Look at our excellent Wiki!' and expect anyone to be interested.

So the front page is not the place for sound bites. If it's there for anything it's to demonstrate the ET brand, and the rather chaotic nature of the front page is fine for that. It's no more or less coherent than a newspaper, and I think that's how it should be.

The narratives should be distilled into regular dated op-eds and formal papers and placed into a repository. When we have an interesting point to make, we turn them into a press release with one or two soundbites, attach a PDF of slightly more detailed key points, and include links to one or more papers with background information.

Papers can be Wikified, but more as a collaborative tool than as a developing database. Wikis aren't ideal for position papers or op-eds, but they're good for evolving background histories and glossaries.

Finished papers should probably be stored in fixed form as a historical record of points made and not considered a work in progress. That way we can always point to them and say 'We told you so' - which is rather harder with a straight Wiki.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 06:34:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When a journalist needs info she uses google. If ET is in the top five, English language, she comes here.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 06:50:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A key question is how we drive internet traffic to ET via google searches etc.  Wiki always seems to come up near the top whenever I google something and I generally go to it because it has a familiar format which I can navigate quickly to find what I want.  Is ET content indexed by Google and do we have any expertise in optimising our google rankings?

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 08:17:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ET has made Google page one on occasion.
by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 04:38:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now as to who will write the polished papers...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 06:52:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
on your own topics of interest.  

Others have been doing it too--that is, writing articles that are at a high level of editorial quality.  

That is, if I understood this right, the idea was to gather and archive good articles into their own place on the site.  Final editing is just that.  Not rewriting.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 05:35:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but it's hard work for both drafter and editor(s)...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 05:56:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I've come round to the view that it is better to keep it here - if Scoop can hande it. I have suggested other software in the past for workshopping and I don't give up that dream, but the site as it is seems to be producing good content and it is fairly friction free in maintnance.

What we are talking about is tweaking to gain momentum, without radically changing the nature of the beast.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 02:52:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about a second site, that's up to them wot pay the bills.  :-0  

There is a nice little cleavage between ET-as-Blog and ET-as-Information Base.  The latter is essentially 'static' and Write-Once.  From an IB design POV the internal interconnections 'twixt and 'tween can be easily handled with the standard GUI keeping the long term storage costs to a minimum.  

(Pointers are Your Friend.)

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:33:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm all for a EuroTribopedia. The problem is, that's what the ET Wiki was supposed to be and it fell flat. What allows wikipedia to thrive is, in no small measure, that the discussion pages and the user and user-talk namespaces provide support a community not unlike a community blog.

There should be a single site with shared logins, because asking people to maintain separate accounts and log on to the separate sites would totally defeat the purpose. Also, the community lives on the community blog in our case.

Ideally, the "static" content would be another "section" of the ET site.

It is already possible to organise the same information in more than one way. For instance, look at

http://www.eurotrib.com/section/Diary

and

http://www.eurotrib-com/user/Migeru/Diary

As I said before, we don't need a more complicated database except possibly for revision history and multiple authorship of content. The way the database is displayed is up to our imagination (as illustrated by the "general" vs. "personal" diary views above).

See also

http://www.eurotrib.com/section/News

http://www.eurotrib.com/section/Debates

http://www.eurotrib.com/section/Indices

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:46:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ack the problem with ET Wiki.  I can think of a couple of ways to hack around the problems. All of 'em require the source code needs to be hacked or intensive human effort.  Neither approach is realistic.

How easy is it to hack into the Scoop User Interface code?  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 04:30:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh gods, goddesses, and all the ships at sea; Scoop is written in Perl.  

I keep repressing that fact.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 04:37:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some basic points:

  • Think about phrasing. 'Indices' is technically correct, but it is unclear to a first time visitor of what the indices are. 'Running Series' might be better (suggestions?)
  • Compare with bigger blogs. As a rule, people who come here for the first time are likely to have already seen one or two community blogs (e.g. Dailykos, MyDD, Booman, My Left Wing, Open Left)
  • Corrolary: Do Not Make Up Your Own Norms. Redesigns are great, but the fundamental organisation of the site should remain basically the same, and thereby the same as the larger blogs.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 02:56:53 PM EST
I thought about abstracting the "Table of Contents" from the title of all the stories in the section.

"Occasional Series" would be good, too. DoDo has collected the links to all his train blogging, as well as his Hungarian history diaries ans much more.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 02:59:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'd also recommend harmonising the chronology (I'd prefer new to old). Also, I think this kind of list can make sense on the left side of the page...
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:12:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm thinking we should have only one list on the left side of the page, not two lists.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:29:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed. Right now it's a break between reccd diaries, debates, and recent diaries.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:33:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some more comments:

The menu is a bit long right now. Do we still need the 'Advertise' button? Can the google search function be integrated on the main search page? The links to the wiki categories could be deleted since their functionality (what remained of it) will largely be taken over by the indices/series/resources bar.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:46:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If we are going to provide old discussions for people outside the general user base, would it make more sense to convert them to Static pages?  Serve them from a static front page, with the actual discussion board being a link off the static front page. (possibly convert the individual groups of Diaries into PDF based documents so that they are easily downloaded)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:58:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Strictly PN point, but the standard plural of index is indexes (indices being more specially tech/math/stat). Ie one would say "book indexes" rather than "book indices".

But something along the lines of "series" as suggested, would probably be better.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:17:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Agree and disagree there.

The vast majority of European blogging types are mostly familiar with things like livejournal and typepad, which aren't easy to imitate the norms of in scoop.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:02:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
oh, and blogspot, of course... [nozem  ;-)]
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:06:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And movable type.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:07:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
True enough :-)

Actually, this reminds me... Jon Worth did another survey of the Euroblogs recently (well, August, but he's keeping it up do date), said he didn't get the point of Eurotrib. I guess for someone not coming from a community blog (or: usenet) it can be a bit chaotic.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:21:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, my experience with scoop sites is that a lot of people don't get it. (It's like marmite, love it or hate it?) Largely because the URL "www.eurotrib.com" doesn't replicate the universe of one blog, but an entire blog hosting system. In essence, eurotrib is technorati+blogger on a smaller scale. (Although livejournal is closer to the functionality than blogger.)

Also, Jon Worth is not a blogger, he's a politician. For him the point of blogging is largely advocacy, so online communities are bound to confuse him.

Incidentally, seeing that post reminds me, have you looked at http://www.mypacis.eu/ at all?

Also:

http://www.economist.com/blogs/certainideasofeurope/

?

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:35:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Jon Worth is/was also a web designer :-) and there is some advocacy here, besides the light stories and heavy analyses...

Didn't know Myspaciseu, thanks! Certain ideas of Europe, certainly. Got it on my blogroll.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:51:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Even worse, the average web designer understands nothing about web communities... ;-)
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:59:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps they should read This book then

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 04:01:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Looks like a good place to start.

To qualify all my ranting so far:

a) Most web designers aren't great with "community" concepts because being a designer has largely been more about designing communication artefacts than communities in the past, so why would they be expert in such things, given a traditional design education?

b) As a result (and this is why I classify Jon Worth as having a politicians view of web communities) they don't really understand the notion of "building a community" and for them, blogging is an experience by which they "do their stuff" and the community "just happens." The politician in Jon Worth goes a step further and says the point of "doing your stuff" is to advocate, rather than just pontificate...

c) The key point is that the purpose of ET is largely, well, to be ET. There's a lot of hope for the future and people join because it helps them do things they want to do (publish articles about peak oil, or whatever floats your boat; or develop and refine their own understanding of various issues). In a way this whole diary is about how to begin to pull out elements of the content generated and turn it into something for advocacy.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 04:10:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger wrote (in the previous diary):

Obviously we don't want to make the whole thing too complicated, but another idea would be to allow members to tag themselves (under user info or settings) under a number of headings - e.g. EU, Politics, Energy, Sociology, Management.  This would create special interest groups of members interested in - e.g. EU - who would could have their own discussion area/debate area/ collaborative writing space, and who would be notified if a diary/story with that tag is published.

I find that there is a lot of stuff going through ET (and other sites) and to avoid info overload you have to be selective in what you look at. Titles are sometimes misleading and you can miss stuff you would really have been interested in.  Obviously your tags wouldn't preclude you from having access to other stuff as well - it would just be a way of selectively channeling content your way and building specialist sub-communities - important as the user base gets bigger.

Caveat:  I don't know much about the innards of Scoop.

Giving the writer the ability to 'keyword' their diary is a good idea.  I suggest we also give any Trusted User the ability as well.  

This will give the Information Base a much larger number of retrieval paths to the specific bit of information.  Which will help 'solve' the problems inherent in the 'keyword' centric retrieval methodology.  [See for comment]

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 02:59:45 PM EST
Just to note that there is some "tags" capability in the modern scoop codebase, although it may not do everything we need, we may not have to start from scratch.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:05:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At this point I should point out that Colman has been thinking about 1) reimplementing (cloning) ET; 2) developing ET 2.0

Both projects would likely take place on a Ruby on Rails platform. Any people out there who would be willing and able to work on those projects?

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:11:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
FYI:  the development team for the NLUS will be in the same state (hurrah!) in a couple of weeks and we plan to start programming beginning of March.  My intention is to get permission to use ET as the Real World testbed for  QC, QA, and Functionality verification when we have something more than vapourware.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:22:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am out of procrastination and probably about to start working on this, I think.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:42:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds interesting. Let me know how I may be of service. I know something about how to hack together crappy code, if this should be of any use.
by someone (s0me1smail(a)gmail(d)com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 04:23:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Supervised by someone, I may be able to add some value.  I would have to learn Ruby/on Rails first, but that is something I have wanted to do for a while, and this would be a great project to get started on it.

Truth unfolds in time through a communal process.
by marco on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 11:29:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I want to throw Jerome's comment from the other thread in.

This is a good base to work on. And I understand that your goal is to find a way to make the front page more friendly to the first two categories, and to "hook" them convincingly. and i support that goal, obviously.

One idea I'm throwing here would be to have a box (maybe called "resources") with a small number of items, which would link to specific pages - either a diary if a comprehensive one already exists (like the one on the French economy written with afew), or a series of selected diaries, ideally with a short summary there. I can think of the following headline topics (in bold a shorter selection)

    + on European energy
    + on relations with Russia
    + on Iran
    + on NATO and Atlanticism
    + on the Anglo Disease
    + on "reform"
    + on bubbles Greenspan
    + on Peak Oil
    + on energy technology
    + on inequality
    + on unions
    + on object blogging (train, clock, bridge, wind farms)
    + on the European Union
    + on the media
    + on election coverage
    + on sustainability

(not a preferred list, or a complete one, just things that come to my mind and presumably reflect my interests rather than that of the whole community for now, so to be updated)

A separate box could be the one suggested by linca above, with the same for topics of more interest to the community (photoblogging, etc...)



She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:12:51 PM EST
Migeru:
Scoop has sections and topics.

Sections include Diaries, News, Indices and Debates. Only Frontpagers can post things other than Diaries (called "Stories"), but that can be changed with a clich of a mouse, so it is open to debate. New sections can be created. They can also be eliminated and all the existing content added to a existing section. Sections can be nested. Right now they are all top-level but they needn't be.

Topics are selected in the story/diary edit form. They include Everything, Diary, Economy, Energy, ET Community, Europe, International, PDB and USA. Topics can be added or eliminated as well. I believe PDB is an old occasional series written by soj back when they were a frontpager.

People could select an appropriate Topic for their diaries or we FPers could do it. This way of classifying content has been superseded by tags in more modern blogging practice, but that's the way SCOOP works.

Boxes can be made to display the latest N stories in any topic/section. A box could also be created with links to the various sections or topics.



We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:17:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We could have 'inherited' topics, i.e. a wind farm diary is also automatically tagged as 'energy' so that it's appear in both sections, RSS feeds, etc... and would help solving the big/small topic problem. Can we have a dozen "main" topics, and one or two "good" diaries to showcase under each one ?

The good diaries need not be synthetic and written specifically for the box : the idea is maybe to give a "feel" of the place rather than conclusions that would have to be updated too regularly (and thus wouldn't be done...)

The main topics could be :

Sustainability/Energy (Wind Power, peak oil...)

Economics/Finance (Anglo-Disease, bubble...)

Inequality

Labour relations/Unions

Geopolitics/Wars

Country Specific/EU

Country Specific/World

Society (Religions, etc...)

Object Series

Miscellaneous/Fun

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 03:57:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Annoyingly, unlike Sections which do support nesting, Topics do not.

I hate SCOOP.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 04:00:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So that'll have to wait until ET 2.0...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 04:09:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
These could also be the basis for a limited set of tags

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 04:00:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
linca:
Country Specific/EU

How about instead - Country Specific/Europe - would allow to include non-EU countries.

by Fran on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 04:03:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, where do we put Russia and Turkey ? (and yes, obviously)

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 04:09:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, we get diaries about all sorts of places (e.g. recently, Pakistan). We can either go geographical using some offical definition, or "European Neighbours" for the close ones like Russia and Turkey.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 04:13:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Were would you put Norway and Switzerland?
by Fran on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 04:17:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, that's the beauty of the ambiguous phrase "European Neighbours" they could fit in there.

However, as a Euro-centric blog it probably would be useful to have an EFTA category?

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 04:31:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, but the Swiss are not European neighbours - we are Europeans, as are the Norwegians, though we are EU neighbours and thats different. Actually Switzerland is the heart of Europe if you look on a map.
by Fran on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 04:39:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The joy of English is that you can read a phrase in more than one way.

European Neighbours = Neighbours of Europe (Russia, Turkey)

European Neighbours = Neighbours in Europe (Switzerland, Norway)

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 05:08:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Also Fran, I don't have any problem in labeling Switzerland and Norway as just "Europe" but then it might be good to have the "EFTA" label or something for diaries that involve issues specific to their position as not part of the EU. Likewise the UK needs a term to highlight that it's not in Schengen for some diaries.

I get the feeling you're trying to turn my ramblings about possible ways to tag diaries geographically into some statement about what "Europe" consists of, which wasn't ever my intention and feels a bit unfair.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 05:16:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps we should also avoid having too many tags ; we don't want to go to the point where a tag fits only one diary, do we ?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 05:27:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for explaining these nuances to me. Amazing how to letters can make a difference.

And no, I didn't want to turn your "ramblings" into anything (your comment below). Your explaining the term solved the meaning for me. :-)

by Fran on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 12:42:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Amazing how to letters can make a difference.

Oh, come one. In german there isn't even two letters' difference as you use the genitive.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 05:42:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, are we a EU-centric or a Euro-centric blog.
by Fran on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 04:40:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You (Switzerland) chose to stay out, you deal with it...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 04:55:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
so is it now EU = Europe?
by Fran on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 04:58:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At this point I have to ask everyone to take a step back, read What is Europe, anyway? and look at the Flag and list of member states of the Council of Europe.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 05:46:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Any other remarks/omission/error in that list?

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 05:28:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I find the search function here slow and often incomplete if it doesn't go altogether into freeze.

If you have a professional who's here through a link and wants to know more, he's likely to give up.

I opt for functionality over design. Get the basics working fast and efficiently.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 06:10:32 PM EST
" Lurkers. I believe most long term lurkers remain because of the content. But ET can be a forbidding place in its intellectual intensity, and make it hard for some to join in. I doubt if we can do anything about that. Changing the look and feel of the site is not going to influence them."

Yes, we retarded lurkers can't stand your intellectual heat.  So how's that ego doing?

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 06:11:15 PM EST
A number of people have written (either on occasional psots here, or by email) to say they were intimidated by the existing content and did not feel they had anythign to add. We do encourage them to believe otherwise but, justified or not, it appears to be a reasonably widespread thing.

But the fight against complacency and arrogance is a neverending one.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 06:55:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For those of you with fast connections, if you would like to check out the state of the art website technology, please go to qaswa.com.

This is Gui squared, but very simple.  Shows what can be done with simple mouse fingers.  We're of course very limited in our presentation technology, but if we have this in the back of our minds, we can dream a bit of what Scoop doesn't provide.

Though we don't need this Flash, it's good to know what's possible.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 06:42:21 PM EST
A second row across the top of the front page, of running series, which main examples showing up, and "more running series" going to a running series page. The running series page should be some well-tested model that scoop handles well.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 07:59:40 PM EST
Right.  We've discussed overall re-design objectives, mission statements, target users, attracting user traffic, desired functionality, usability, information architecture, content tagging, user tagging, technical constraints of scoop etc.

The bit that's missing for me is the overall graphic design and look and feel of the site.  I'm not suggesting we should go all flash - that would be too much of a culture shock for lefty, nerdy types (I'm joking!!!!!) but the overall graphic design has a very important psychological effect in giving new users a sense of what we're about.

I'm also not aware of the technical constraints of scoop so what follows may be a bit academic.  Neither am I a graphic designer - so what I am suggesting may be hopelessly off base - but at least I want to introduce the topic for discussion.

Too me lots of white space divided by thin black lines, HTML code and blue text is cold, antiseptic, overloaded with text and slightly intimidating.  The buttons at the top of the page should look like buttons.  Daily Kos has a bit more design/colour but I don't like the dirty brown orange which is much too dominant.  

To me there isn't enough of a visual contrast between the navigation menus at the left and content pane in the centre.  The colours are too stark, and there is insufficent use of shading.  There seems to be a lot of potentially useful space unused on the right below the logo, and the key pages - Home, Diary, Comments, user pages should probably be subtly colour coded so you know intuitively where you are without having to figure it out.

Overall the sense is of a wordy content rich site, but there is no visual sense of warmth, conviviality, fun, community, who's knocking around for a chat.  Nothing flashes at you if somebody has responded to your comment, you don't get a round of applause if 10 people recommend your diary....

OK the above isn't entirely serious, but you get what I mean - there is no use of sound, little use of colour shading, or animation, few visual navigation cues, and there is no sense of sitting in a warm welcoming sitting room where you can see who's around looking for a chat, with books on the shelf, drinks in the fridge,  and a ticker tape of new diaries at the bottom.  The site should look like what we are...

Am I of the wall?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Dec 30th, 2007 at 09:36:13 PM EST
I do like the light on the eyes design. And I may not be the best to comment ; I have been using scoop since 2001, so I'm quite used to it.

Too much shading, different colors, could get tiring and annoying - the trap is overdoing those. Subtle is the keyword...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 03:37:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the site could be more welcoming, but we should also keep it sober.

A feature which tells us when a comment has been replied to would be very useful.

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet

by Melanchthon on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 04:23:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A feature which tells us when a comment has been replied to would be very useful.

Yes!

by Loefing on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 07:31:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe a user page displaying not the latest user comments but the latest replies to a user's comments would not be too hard to code.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 07:36:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It would be useful because, when you feed the Salon, a lot of last comments push the previous ones out of the page and you have to go back several pages to find them... The ideal would be not to take into account the Salon's comments because the replies are not aimed at you, but comment the article you're linking to...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 08:28:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's actually (once again) something in later versions of scoop. At hulver's site for instance, there's a little space in the column on the right where you get links to all new replies to your comments.
by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 01:46:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm for keeping the same colour scheme, by and large. The same blue, at least. The lines could be a bit softer.

What would be good is an integrated top-level banner design, which most blogs have (e.g. if you look at DailyKos or MyDD, you have a banner that is integrated with the top level design, which still provides some functions).

Use of fancy design elements (especially: sound, animation, video) will cause the site to load slower, which is bad for the people using it the most. I'm for a clearer design, but against using large elements that only have a design functionality.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 08:48:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
OK I'm reading the words subtle, sober, softer and a generally conservative approach to design change.  I don't have a problem with this, but felt that any comprehensive site design review had to include a consideration of the graphic design elements - even if the decision is to keep things more or less the same.

The fancy bits - sound, animation etc. should in any case  be capable of being switched off by users who don't like them or have a slow connection.

Can I ask a REALLY STUPID QUESTION?  Who funds ET -apart from all the voluntary effort?

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 09:51:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The cost of hosting the site is pretty low and it has mostly been defrayed by Jerome, though we have had a couple of fundraising drives, mostly to do with settling a perceived debt to the people who set up the site originally (it differs considerably from what SCOOP looks like out of the box).

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 10:10:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Personally, the designer in me tells me that there may be room room for compromise between a 'Whistles & bells' approach and a 'Soft, subdued look'.

What is vital, imo, is that the FP have a logical, easily navigable presentation, which, most members seem to agree, is lacking in its present state.

I agree wholeheartedly with the observation that a first-time user may find the FP confusing, between the variety of entries in the wide central column and the diaries in a tall right hand column, followed, way, way down, by the blogroll and front-pagers. I also find the presentation lacking in warmth, generally speaking.

The comment about making a more legible, representative banner is very important, imo. Notice the banner on The Oil Drum, for instance. Aesthetic considerations aside, it's efficient, providing good visibility to essential parts of the site at a single glance. -- Imo, the ET FP relies too much on links that are situated 'below the fold', in both the left and right hand columns. Additionally, the Menu box in the left column contains a few redundancies in relation to the menu at the top of the page. I think most of those options, FAQ, Home, About, Search, should be grouped together.

I'll leave my comments at that, for now, and will see if I can't grab the time to make a list of what I would consider structural and design improvements, taking into account what is being expressed, here.

I'd just add that this is a very important discussion, in my view. ET is full of content that is as superb as it is unique ... as well as fun. As it stands, the site is great, but it could be greater still through a more coherent structure, and with perhaps a dab of additional warmth.

by Loefing on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 09:45:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Graphics affect download time.  The average human response expectation is 5 seconds.  (Really.)  As more fluff-n-stuff is added to the Front Page, initial site access area, the greater the likelihood of frustrating and turning-away new or new-ish users.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 12:55:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
See Jakob Nielsen: Response Time: The Three Important Limits
The basic advice regarding response times has been about the same for thirty forty years [Miller 1968; Card et al. 1991]:

  • 0.1 second is about the limit for having the user feel that the system is reacting instantaneously, meaning that no special feedback is necessary except to display the result.
  • 1.0 second is about the limit for the user's flow of thought to stay uninterrupted, even though the user will notice the delay. Normally, no special feedback is necessary during delays of more than 0.1 but less than 1.0 second, but the user does lose the feeling of operating directly on the data.
  • 10 seconds is about the limit for keeping the user's attention focused on the dialogue. For longer delays, users will want to perform other tasks while waiting for the computer to finish, so they should be given feedback indicating when the computer expects to be done. Feedback during the delay is especially important if the response time is likely to be highly variable, since users will then not know what to expect.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Tue Jan 1st, 2008 at 11:36:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would be very surprised if any use of shading, revised colours, visual cues etc. had any impact on response times whatsoever.  You are talking about using templates into which the content is poured.  I'm not technical enough to explain the process, but with a well designed - even glitzy - site page file sizes need not be an issue.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Jan 1st, 2008 at 08:02:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds do ; Flash do. It is at those elements that lengthen page load times. Overuse of graphic buttons rather than pure text also does - and limits accessibility.

After that there is the matter of taste ; graphic designers and typographers recommend limiting font use to at most three on a single page...

And the more different elements are incorporated into a page, the harder it is to do tastefully, too. Simple design avoids horrible results - and it seems we are a bit short on professional designers here, halas.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Jan 1st, 2008 at 08:10:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wouldn't want flash, sounds are a nice to have optional extra which should be a user preference if it is there at all.  I don't like multiple fonts and programmers doing graphic design.  So I guess we are stuck with what we have!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 05:57:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wait time frustration is cumulative, as well.

 

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Sat Jan 12th, 2008 at 11:46:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is important, and needs to be worked on by someone with visual design talents and skills.  

But I disagree, personally, about motion and sound.  I hate motion and sound.  Not only do they slow things down (on my clunky computer), but they distract from content, rather than supporting it.  

I think graphic design should be subliminal:  Pleasing and visually telegraphing the concept of ET, but not standing out separately from the content at all.  

We think we are a substantive site (if fun), we should communicate that, and not appear flashy or glitzy on first sight.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 06:10:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The is not enough white space actually. There are too many explicit dividing lines. These could be done away with if unrelated items were more properly separated.

For example, there is no need for an explicit line between any of the three columns, since each of those parts content is aligned to its margin; an implicit line appears anyway.

Similarly there is not enough contrast in sizes; headlines could be twice as big (char. size), and intro texts half as long (content size).

Something needs to be done about the logo. Either have it done properly by an artist, or replace it with pure text.

I'm not a graphic designer, but I have worked on UI for some time now.

If I have time I will whip up a mock-up, and even a custom CSS.

A 'centrist' is someone who's neither on the left, nor on the left.

by nicta (nico@altiva․fr) on Sun Jan 20th, 2008 at 08:01:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a rough draft. Need more space to breath, character sizes are off, etc.




A 'centrist' is someone who's neither on the left, nor on the left.

by nicta (nico@altiva․fr) on Sun Jan 20th, 2008 at 10:37:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]


You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 07:26:32 AM EST
"Amateur" has a strong negative connotation.  "Expert and Informed" says it all, or enough.

And you ain't got no main verb in the first sentence.  ;-)

c/b:  thinking, writing, reasoning ...?

Second sentence: Why add the "many" to "vital?"  "many vital issues" is weaker than "vital issues."  

"appear on the media radar" -- c/b: become common knowledge, become common problems, hit the mainstream,  become common concern, hit the front page, go prime time, come to common awareness, sit in your living room, scream for attention, demand action, demand attention, require action/attention, become total fucking & flaming disasters, plug your toilets.

(Ok, those last 2 are silly.)


She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 12:35:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Since people don't like "expert", just say "informed" instead of "expert and informed amateur".

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 12:57:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
'Expert' describes several regular diiarists, albeit in many different areas. It is not boasting. For journalists - at whom it is aimed - expert v informed is an important distinction.

I would also like to see photographs of series diarists (the key archives for journalists) that, without using names or other identifiable detail, include an short outline of their qualifications.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 01:27:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't write on the topics on which I am "qualified" to write. Maybe I'm alone in that, I don't know.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 02:32:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Restricting our writings to topics in which we are "qualified" -- receiving the USDA Stamp of Approval from an institution of higher learning - would quickly grind ET to a halt.  

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 04:26:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He meant competent, not certified.  

The Fates are kind.
by Gaianne on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 05:40:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was writing it for media people. Dropping verbs is common practice in corporate pithiness.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 01:28:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're the Pro from Dover.  Just my 2 cents.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre
by ATinNM on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 01:40:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, it is important to get input, but in the end it shouldn't be too compromised. The only way to really know if it works is to test, get feedback from the intended audience etc. We often fine tune stuff in different iterations of websites etc on that basis. As I often point out to corporate execs - don't give me a personal opinion because you are not the intended audience. "Your personal reaction is unimportant, except in determining the honesty of the statement - in which you are expert"

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Mon Dec 31st, 2007 at 02:53:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
to induce an action.  The verb should be in the imperative tense.  

This is silly (also manipulative), but it works, even on people who should see through it.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Fri Jan 4th, 2008 at 05:43:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The most common use of this grammatical device is in corporate slogans eg 'Connecting people' (Nokia), but it is spreading out into ad copy headlines. To me it is the normal evolution of living language. Thou understandeth?

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sat Jan 5th, 2008 at 07:17:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm in favor of a forum type layout. The top level shows the major categories that stories get posted to. Opening up one of these links shows the most recent stories by title and has some other useful data such as number of replies, viewers and date of last (and first) comment.

Here's a site that seems to do a good job, although access to forums is duplicated and the color scheme leaves much to be desired. The comments interface also allows for the use of a gui to embed HTML which I think would help those who aren't experts.

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/

(click on the "forums" link at the left to see the full list.)

FIFO is not good for discussions which may span an expanded period of time and the "Debates" item on ET is not an adequate substitute.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 12:42:18 PM EST
What is the default numbers of Diaries showing in the recent diaries box ? I set it to 99, which is plenty enought for the discussions to die down before they scroll out... Indeed, discussions lasting longer are perhaps better restarted in new diaries, if only because of pageload times...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 01:39:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
mine started at 20 - I upped it to 50

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 01:49:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
my problem with forum software is, that it is based around comments or questions, not a discussion initiator (Diaries, Stories, etc - in Eurotrib code) and its subsequent discussion.

On this site (and what makes it so superior to forum software - in my opinion) it is the initial story that is the centre of the focus.

Our problem might be, that the comments sometimes provide equally good, if not better, content. But surely the focus is on the "discussion initiators"? We only have to find a way to extract the better content from the comments. This however, does happen as well in the writing of new, subsequent diaries.

Forums also tend (in my limited experience) to be less focussed. Older threads are being refreshed more often and huge gaps between communications can appear, making continuous communication more difficult.

Only advantage is they usually have a superior serach algorithm...

by PeWi on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 05:48:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is anybody compiling a "wants" list arising out of this discussion?  I.e. things to be considered/deleted/prioritised when the project plan is being put together?  Are we putting together a project plan?

e.g. I have a "want"

When you go back to a thread after a while thre are 50 new comments on top of the 50 when you last looked at it.  You want to be able to selectively read the new 50 - which is fine whilst they are still market red(new).  However if you reply to one of the 50 the others 49 suddenly get unmarked and you can no longer pick them out from the 50 you have read.  I don't know what the best technical solution is as the new marker is removed every time the page is written to or refreshed.  Perhaps an "update" event like posting a comment should be removed from the refresh events that would normally remove the marker....

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 01:30:51 PM EST
Surely put your wants around ; this thread will be reread when enhancing ET...

But for a more immediate solution, Ctrl+click on the Reply to opens the reply page in a new tab, keeping the [new] marks around... At least if you have a recent browser.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 01:36:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the workaround.  Unfortunately I already have 10 tabs open!!!  But its a good idea

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Jan 2nd, 2008 at 01:41:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think we should add buttons like:

digg it, or using these linky things including trackbacks

firedoglake.com is an example ("share it" button and "spotlight" features when in comments "mode")

by PeWi on Mon Jan 7th, 2008 at 05:58:07 AM EST
Digging is a bad idea. We got dugg two weeks ago and the server crashed.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jan 30th, 2008 at 08:20:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Interesting... I'm still kind of bumbling along for the moment and must confess I'm still on the intitial learning stage so; the suggestions are very helpful.
by The3rdColumn on Thu Jan 17th, 2008 at 07:44:45 PM EST


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