What's up with the new forums?


#1

OK I’m totally lost, had to create a new account, the new forum to put it plainly, sucks. Can’t find or see or follow anything easily. Lots; fo wasted space, no simple display of threads, takes up too much room on my screen and less information.

I sure hope this isn’t the style that the new Omnifocus SW is or I’ll be really upset. What happened to a clean simple easy to follow forum structure?


#2

Hey Oogie! Give it a little bit of time — there’s a whole lot here in Discourse to like.

It is totally separate, though, so a new account was necessary. Sorry about that!


#3

You might think there is a lot to like, I see change for change sakes only with insufficient added features to warrant the hassle. It’s spread out and hard to navigate.


#4

These new forums are incredible. They will take a little adjustment. I’ve been using them for a couple months for the OF2 test, and this what I’ve grown to love about them.

(1) Live previews while composing
(2) Composing stays active while browsing
(3) While composing, possible posts popup showing you what you may be looking for to avoid posting an existing topic
(4) Using Like instead of always replying with “Thanks” or “Awesome”. This cuts down on the thread count when people simply want to agree
(5) Using the @ to address someone
(6) Seeing the number of posts remaining with a status bar while reading towards the bottom-right
(7) A notification center that shows you who replied or liked your followed posts at the top-right
(8) When reading replies, quickly read the entire thread in relation to that response
(9) Fading background colors for new posts and to give a sense of location on the forums
(10) The look fits into Omni’s flat/modern design IMO


#5

I’m not a fan of the new forums. Don’t care for seeing user icons on the topic lists (too busy with really no functional benefit), and how are the topics sorted? Doesn’t seen to be by last activity for some reason.


#6

@OogieM and @applejosh - the navigation issues and other things you find confusing are great things to point out. One nice thing about Discourse is that it’s easier to tweak than the old forums were. I’ll talk to some folks about this. I can’t promise that we’ll be able to fix everything instantly, but we are paying attention and we do care.

About thread sorting - it’s a combination of several factors: recent activity is one of them. The forum also pays attention to which posts are being “liked” by the community, which embedded links are being clicked on, and some other things. Rather than just sorting threads by time, it tries to elevate the most important or engaging topics.

Discourse also pays attention to which topics you personally spend time reading and tries to show you similar threads it thinks are of most interest to you. Over time, the forum will figure out which stuff you don’t care about and won’t bother you with them. The old forums had nothing like that capability.

User icons - I’ll check and see if the visibility is configurable, as well. They aren’t just there for decoration, though. They also serve a social engineering purpose. For the first week we were trying Discourse out, I was mystified as to why such an attractive forum had chosen such unattractive (to my eye, at least) default user avatars. Then I figured it out, and I was really impressed.

Posts with faces on them are less likely to encourage the sort of unthinkingly rude behavior that forums have historically been afflicted with. Put a human face on a post, and suddenly, you’re not responding to a forum; you’re responding to a person. People behave differently under those circumstances, and it improves the conversation.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the default avatars are relatively unattractive by design - to encourage the folks that care enough to stick around in the community to replace them with something better. It’s really clever.

There were also additional factors that were probably completely invisible from the outside. For instance, we were really unhappy with the amount of time - from multiple people - keeping the old forums going consumed.

They were so trivially easy to spam that we’d spend hours every week scraping it off. Eventually we managed to reduce that: we let folks set up accounts automatically, but required them to email us before they could post. That stopped the spam problem cold, but it still meant spending multiple hours authorizing new accounts and explaining why it was that way.

We could spend those hours in much better ways. We could be posting, helping community members, working on the website, or doing any of a million things that would be of more benefit to you. Switching systems gave us all that time back, and that’s just one example of how it’s done so.

We were so dissatisfied with the old forums in so many ways that the question we were asking internally wasn’t “should we switch to Discourse or stick with the old forum?” The question was “should we switch to Discourse or should we shut down the forums entirely?”

Anyways - I hope that information makes the change a little more understandable, and in retrospect, I probably should have posted some of this on the old forums and had this conversation over there. To be honest, it wouldn’t have changed the outcome, but it would have made the transition more understandable. I’m sorry that didn’t occur to me.


#7

To be honest I really like the new forums. I find it clean, quick and modern. In my opinion it better matches the products provided by Omni Group and is a good fit for the company and it’s users.


#8

I would love to see a way to turn off the tag colors. There is some irony that this thing is full of tags and I can’t get them in Omnifocus


#9

I don’t mind user icons in general; I just consider showing them on the list of discussions to be a waste of space and adding to a cluttered view. Keep them in the actual discussion threads, but I’d prefer to have a less cluttered looking page for the discussion listing.

I understand the concept of trying to “rank” the discussions in the discussion thread list, but I think it just makes it more confusing. We’re used to seeing things in a timeline. If there was an option for sorting, then that might be a compromise. Most times, I really don’t care if something has received 642 likes. I want to see about issues reported most recently (like after a new maintenance release comes out, e.g.). Plus, sometimes I don’t want to rely on what others "like"or the number of replies a thread has gotten. Chances are I’ve already seen it. I want the latest discussions at the top, regardless of “ranking.”


#10

In case it helps, Discourse does include a “Latest” view which you can bookmark.

(And note that the category switcher on the left can be used to restrict that view to the ones you care about, as well.)


#11

Just to clarify, the colored labels are not tags - they’re categories and subcategories. A topic can’t be in more than one subcategory, so they are in fact analogous to OmniFocus contexts.


#12

Any way to turn off the colors so it doesn’t look like my kids art?


#13

BTW, the other topics seem to have multiple categories, which would imply tagging. For instance one of my other threads has “OmniFocus” and “OmniFocus for Mac” at the top of the thread. That looks like tags to me, but maybe it’s just an invisible hierarchy.


#14

This post is a great example. A huge pro to these forums is being able to click 2 Replies (now 3) and see the replies to Brian’s post. It’s more streamlined and faster to see the responses then scrolling down or paging over to find blocks of quoted text to piece the conversation together.

In terms of likes, I’d rather see 600 likes rather than 600 individual posts of Thanks, Awesome, or I agree. That leaves room for the open discussions to build on the topic. This is a huge space saver and prevents clutter making the forums easier to browse. Following these posts allows you to see these updates in the top-right in a quick fashion.


#15

I understand why Omni wanted new forums but I am one who does not like the new format. I especially dislike the “accident in a paint shop” look which throws colour all over the page. I’m sure that GUI design day one states that colour should be used sparingly for emphasis. Also I personally find it very distracting to have popup windows appearing and changing their content while I type, especially as the live search results do not seem to be of much value. Lastly it seems to me that there is a lot less activity on the new forums than the old.


#16

Here are some more specifics about the forum UI:

  1. When I write a reply such as this I expect by convention to see a
    button marked with “post” e.g. “post” , “post reply” and “preview
    post”.

  2. The icon for going to another topic is not as useful or obvious as a
    breadcrumb trail of hot links

Just my two pennies worth.


#17

(11) Uses responsive web design to make it look good on all screens, including mobile devices.


#19

Can anyone tell me how to see just topics that have had new posts since my last visit?

The Latest view doesn’t; it forces me to remember how long ago my last visit was and then look to see which topics have later posts.

The New view just shows me new topics since my last visit but using it I miss existing topics with new posts.

Not impressed with Discourse at all.


#25

Same problem here, I can’t see the latest view :/


#26

You do this in your account settings under the Notifications tab. You can set how the forum identifies new topics and unread topics