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Forum usability enhancement?
Reseting new messages indicator

 1:45 pm on Apr 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

I maybe blind or tpo lazy to notice an existing solution to this.....

Would it be possible to have a "Reset Last Read Pointer" beside each of the forums (preferably the leftmost column).

I think if the new message indicator is red it should be turned into a link that resets the last read pointer for the appropriate forum.

There are some forums which generaly i am not interested in (asia etc.) but the new msg indicator can be distracting. To turn this off i currently have to go into the forum, click "Reset..." and then go back to the main page again.
If there was a quick way to reset it from the main page it would help me out a lot.

Just a suggestion.......



 8:38 pm on Apr 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

Many similar requests to yours have been asked. I've been working on a new system to address it.

At the heart of the new system every thread is given a unique serial number. At the bottom of each post will be new options:

Message Pointers: "catch up", "next", "previous", "read next new".

The "catch up" will replace the "reset msg pointers" that we have now and will act global across all forums.
The "next" will go to the next highest message number.
The "previous" will go back to the next previous highest message number.
The "read next new", will go to the next post you have not read.

On the main menu bar at the top will be a new option "read new" to start with the next new message.

That should address just about everyone concerns while keeping the board overhead low.

Any suggestions?



 8:51 pm on Apr 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

will have to digest that to get a handle on it but it sounds like ti will cover all the bases......


 9:17 pm on Apr 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

I was thinking it might be nice to link the infamous red balls to a user's flagged threads... if you have a thread flagged within a specific forum, or you choose to flag the whole forum, that forum & thread would show the red ball whenever your flagged area had a new message, etc...

That way, if you're not interested in apecific topic areas, you just wouldn't flag them.


 10:24 pm on Apr 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

Speaking of flags, for those of us who have many threads flagged it would be great eventually if you could select/check flags in a group for deletion.


 10:37 pm on Apr 4, 2001 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure if this is covered in the new system, but it'd be nice to mark a thread as 'read' without affecting the other threads in that forum - I often follow certain threads avidly while leaving others for later perusal.


 3:21 am on Apr 5, 2001 (gmt 0)

That's where it gets tricky SugarKane. With the new system I'm doing this:
serializing all threads (not messages) with a serial number (time since oct 1 1999 + random number as a string). So, that whole set of pointers goes into a flat file as "serial string¦forum number¦thread id". When a thread is updated with a new message, the old line is pulled and updated. The whole thing is then just a lifo stack. (at currently 8k'ish threads on the system, it comes out to abou 80k) - not to bad to load in to an array in one fell swoop and should scale for atleast a year.

After that, each member gets just one pointer as a "last msg read" pointer that slides along the stack. That keeps the overhead very low - which is so important on a system like this. Overall, I think it will speed up the board for most people. The cookie overhead with the current system is over 150 bytes per post. That may not seem like alot, but delete your cookies and then try the board - it is noticeable.

The only addition to the system, is that I might add another last read pointer for each forum.

Rookie, that is in the works (folders for flags with options for selection just like StickyMail selection - same routine actually).


 6:16 am on Apr 5, 2001 (gmt 0)


While you are at it, can you keep a setting that gets rid of the descriptions of each forum on the main page. Or an alternate page that does the same. Those of us who have been around a while know what the forums do and it would save scrolling around so much in that window. A two column listing would also be nice.


 6:12 am on Apr 6, 2001 (gmt 0)

I've considered many different options for the home page Xoc.

1) Moving the forums down to just links under each category with a category description and link. The link would lead to a homepage for that category with each forum expanded there.

2) Adding an "collapse" and "expand" option next to each category to "fold up" or "roll down" the forums under it - as done with pure html/cgi as opposed to some jscript solution.

3) Going to a more traditional home page.

Thus far, everyone who has seen some of the proposals has vetoed each of them.

It is a balancing act between usability, branding, and promotion. There is also the fact, that I like the way the home page is now - a bit large for my tastes.

I set some one year goals in June of last year and we passed those in early dec(?), so we are way ahead of my initial game planning. I'm partially surprised the system has scaled so well this long.

I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the home page; but I agree there is something that needs to be done in the not to distant future if we are to continue to grow at this rate. However, we have branded the site fairly deep, been so succesful with the current unique look and feel, that I resist messing with the success.


 8:43 am on Apr 6, 2001 (gmt 0)

just wanted to say that you should not get too downhearted with the amount of suggestions your getting here.
The site is fabulous and well designed. I just made my suggestion in order to help tweak it into the *perfect* forum.


 5:19 pm on Apr 6, 2001 (gmt 0)

Yes jimmykav, I agree. The forum board is already close to perfect as is. Great design overall.


 5:51 pm on Apr 6, 2001 (gmt 0)

2) Adding an "collapse" and "expand" option next to each category to "fold up" or "roll down" the forums under it

Personally, I think that sounds like a great idea... but hen I only *very* rarely even go to the home page, so I don't figure my opinion on it should hold too much weight. ;)

All in all, I think the forums work great as is, and the look is nice and clean. But, knowing my own propensity for always wanting to tinker with things to ge them 'just so' and 'just a *little* better', I'm always thinking ofthings for *other* people to do too! :)

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