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This 83 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 83 ( 1 [2] 3 > >     
New "homepage thread" format

 2:52 pm on Mar 6, 2006 (gmt 0)

I noticed last week that threads featured on the homepage now have some large red italic text to that effect at the top of the thread, and all posts beyond the first one are inset quite a bit from each side of the page. Does anyone else find all that pretty distracting? I've given up on at least three homepage threads I was interested in just because it was too hard to read.

The red text is one thing - but could we please have the same layout format as in un-featured threads? I'd sure appreciate it! :)

Thanks for listening,




 6:02 am on Mar 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

It looks worse. Maybe at max, have a *little* 'Feature thread' image next to the header. The huge border around post 2-25 doesn't look good at all.


 1:34 pm on Mar 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

Why not have an option to turn this feature off in the control panel? i.e. leave it on as default, but then give users a chance to turn it off.

Look back in 6 months and see how many have turned it off...

I prefer WebmasterWorld Classic.


 2:35 pm on Mar 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

I like the current un-italicized blue much better. I also like that the indent has been made much smaller, although the extra space between the first post and the following posts seems to break up the flow of the thread to me. I lean toward "to be simple is to be great." The blue text is apparent, but not shocking or intrusive. I'd leave it at that, with no layout or format changes at all. That would fit best with WW's theme of simplicity, yet still give extra attention to the fact that the thread is (or was once) considered especially important.

I also agree with grelmar:

More than once, I've gone to a thread that got home-paged not because of the value of the initial post, but because of the value of the conversation it sparked. Highlighting the first post in a thread in such cases might be a bit misleading, putting emphasis on the wrong part of the conversation.

It might be a good idea to somehow emphasize whatever post in the thread first caught the attention of a moderator and caused it to be featured on the homepage. Often, the very first post in a homepage thread is nothing spectacular, but someone else a few posts down will make a killer point. So they're the ones who should be "rewarded" with extra notice, IMHO. (This might also encourage people to write better replies instead of just encouraging better topics, since I assume a higher quality of content is what you're after with all this in the first place.)


 2:37 pm on Mar 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

The blue looks a lot better than the red - but I wonder whether there should be some background shading. I think it may be the large area of white that upsets me - like having a light bulb without a shade.

<edit>How about the light blue shading already on the page as a background to the new title - it might tie the page together</edit>


 2:55 pm on Mar 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

before lengthy discussing if red, blue or pink dotted with fancy ornaments:

leave it as it was before the change. there is simply no need for style gimmicks. one main feature of ww is its simplicity and understatement in design. we all like that. don't improve away. stay classic! :)


 3:13 pm on Mar 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

> I assume the huge red letters were just to
> get our attention so we can give feedback.


> let folks know the thread is on the homepage.

There you go. Many people only read the home page, and some times they only want to participate in those threads.

> Not a bad idea, in concept.

Ya, a bit too bold of a test eh? hehe

> Maybe just make it a bit more subtle.

Smaller fonts - no italics - passive blue text instead of anger red and a little less indent... ahhhh. much calmer now, but the point remains.

I kinda like the idea of a graphic - but then you'd have to choose a graphic...lol

> because of the value of the conversation it sparked

Absolutely - that is the way it is with 75-80% of the threads in the supporters forum. It is about the discussion and not the starter. (see next)

> special to highlight the "the first message
> of a homepage thread"... why do it at all?

There was something about that original post that sparked the discussion. That original poster deserves a smidgen more notoriety than a message deep in the thread. That is what I am trying to accomplish here.

One of the most desirable things about WebmasterWorld, (other than the high level of information one finds here), has always been its uniformity, its lack of gimmickry, and its simplicity of design. Look at some of those other boards --boxes popping-up on mouse-over; things beeping; no thanks.

Nicely said JK. What we are trying to address is the need to continue to support the homepage. A good portion of our traffic comes in via the homepage. That is via rss or via the actual home page itself. People follow the homepage regularly to check for updated homepage threads. I would guess 30% of the sites daily uniques come off the homepage. Those people do not go any further than those threads. Many, go no further than the first msg in a thread.

So, homepage listed threads are vital to the continued health of the site and community. It is a high priority for us to have the home page regularly well stocked with new, fresh, timely threads. Some will be of news significance, and others will be of tutorial/educational difference. We know it is the later (educational), that sets WebmasterWorld apart from all other forums on the web. It is rare you run into a thread like this [webmasterworld.com] on other forums. In order to maintain that quality and the best signal-to-noise ratio on the net, those quality threads need to keep getting highlighted and the posters rewarded and in encouraged to continue. In the past, that reward has been straight away the referrals they see off their profile, the notoriety in the community, and the contacts generated. In many cases, posters have been able to put a dollar amount on those posts.

Content is important to people and takes time and effort to generate. Rae put a great deal of effort into that post - as well as GoodRoi's "team of link monkeys" post in the supporters forum. That content could easily have went on another site or their own blogs, but they choose to share it here for the good of the community - to give back some of what they have learned here and grown from here.

Stocking and maintaining the homepage for the health of the community, takes time and alot effort by alot of people. It is one of the most challenging things we do. It takes daily and constant effort.

If you look around some other sites in the tech space, you will see some interesting patterns emerge. Look at Evolt. I love the design of the site, but at the end of the day, it is basically a blog. So, what did they do that is different from other blogs? Are they paying posters? (not that we are aware of), Are they sending out flowers, chocolates, or other perks to posters? (not that we are aware of). Yet, that site has some good posts from time to time. Other similar sites are AListApart and SitePoint. Although I know Matt does take care of his writers over there monetarily - there is more to it than just that. (and let me mention - what a good job he has done with SitePoint). Another good example for the old timers is the old Fork-in-The-Head model that got all the w3c jockies talking up a storm. Or even the numerous backroom tech email lists out there that are going strong.

What moves people to post and participate in forums, email lists, or old BBS discussions?

That is the question I have been living with for 22 years - it is the question that built WebmasterWorld. In 1984 I asked that question when I saw one of my first BBS's that had hundreds of messages, while another bbs I thought was better only had a few.

The answer to that question is multifold and every changing. In the 80's the question wasn't so much about posting, but more of a metaphorical tap on the monitor "IS THERE ANY BODY OUT THERE?" than it is today. Today's modern web and our instant ever present communications tools from cellphones, pagers, to ipods we are much more honed to the business aspects than our personal aspects. Our motivations for posting and participating are radically different today - however, the question remains the same.

So...that's where we are at this test - trying to encourage quality posting - rewarding quality posts - and letting people know they are in a significant thread... tweaking is on ongoing thing.


 3:48 pm on Mar 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

Brett, here's some measurement statistics to mull over while we discuss this. I'm measuring from the top of the browser window to the forum topic title.

05px - Top Margin
90px - Logo Header
05px - Margin
22px - Breadcrumb Trail
02px - Margin
16px - Forum Charter
80px - Forum Heading
46px - Featured Home Page Thread
42px - Message Stats
30px - Topic Title

Total of 338 pixels before getting to the meat of the content. I typically like to design where the important things are above the fold. And, if I can't get them above the fold, then I start looking at vertical space to see where I can trim any unwanted space.

Instead of adding more vertical space and moving things further down below the fold (BTF), could you do something with the existing layout without interfering with the above the fold (ATF)stuff? Do you have to add another 46px of height?

P.S. I'll assume that the Forum Heading of 80px is that way for a reason?


 3:55 pm on Mar 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

I like the idea, especially when landing on the page from a Google search. My suggestion is adding a small img next to the New Post image or date - this way it doesn't matter which page or post you are on, it draws your attention. I agree that the layout should not change.


 4:14 pm on Mar 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

So I think the and i quote (lol)

Featured Home Page Discussion testing...

In the blue is better, nice adds some colour to the place but I feel that the space under the OP is to big. Try half that space and add in an Orange (yes orange) 1px dashed hr.


 4:51 pm on Mar 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

I noticed that the red, indented format is also applied to Library items.

How about green non-italizied, non-indented for Library? Blue for home page.

It's nice to see that the thread you're reading has particular importance - but usually I got to that thread (either through home page or library index) already knowing it was special. :)


 7:20 pm on Mar 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

Blue beats red - and the change of discription is better too. Not QUITE right yet though...


 10:17 pm on Mar 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

Just the
Featured Home Page Discussion at the top is fine (and I like that).

I do not like the indented thing at all. I almost posted a bug report!


 10:18 pm on Mar 7, 2006 (gmt 0)

hmm, I am not a big fan of this, however if you really want to reward members for homepage threads why not add a line in the userprofile with a homepage thread counter above post rank?



 12:12 am on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Ahhhh, blue. So much nicer, so relaxing.

Oliver Henniges

 12:41 am on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

> What moves people to post and participate in forums, email lists, or old BBS discussions?

vanitas, vanitatis (f)

From a paranoid point of view I thought you were simply testing some finetuning on highlightening thread-topics one graph away from the homepage. I always thought webmasterworld was one of the best-established resources on SEO. So plz tell us what's your basic idea behind it, and why you think this is useful in detail.

From a usability point of view I always find it quite annoying that it takes me at least two clicks (instead of one) to get from the homepage (which I put to my favourites) to the forums INDEX; compared to that, highlightening thread topics that way is rather marginal.


 12:45 am on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hmmm... I never read the home page.

As soon as I get the home page, I click on "recent posts".

Maybe you need to make that link more prominent, and obvious.


 1:34 am on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

<<Those people (uniques) do not go any further than those (Home page) threads. Many, go no further than the first msg in a thread>>

The problem is that the real meat of WebmasterWorld is buried within the last 2-3 years worth of posts, and unless a first-time visitor does some digging, they aren't going to find the really cool stuff. Educational posts like...

"Short guide to include RSS on your website"
"Text that Surrounds Ads: When do they Violate the TOS?"
"CSS in IE7 -- What's Fixed, What's Not, What's New"

...would grab the attention of a WebmasterWorld first-timer much quicker than anything else, I would think.

So, I'm wondering if the current Home page "Highlighted Posts" section shouldn't be swapped out with a modified and cranked-up version of the Library section. By "cranked-up" I mean add in lots more stuff --make it "The Best of WebmasterWorld."

Take the top [200, 500, 1000]? posts and put them in a loop that updates once a day. 20 different posts on the Home page everyday, and all the while adding in new quality posts to the loop.

Just an idea.


 5:12 am on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Interesting that many people start at the homepage. I have my favorite webmaster forums linked from my opening page that I've set on my browser and I only occasionally look at the homepage.

The idea of letting us know about threads that made the homepage helps remind people like me to take a look at the homepage more often.


 5:23 am on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

As I see it, the issue is not with highlighting the first post. There is no problem with that.

The issue is that the subsequent posts are harder to read, principally because of the border / indentation.

Robert Charlton

 6:32 am on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I almost posted a bug report!

Precisely.... This is probably the worst audience there is for this particular layout, because, for anyone with much experience in html, it looks like a table alignment problem.

Beyond the alignment, I think the space distracts more than it helps to highlight the first post.

I'd vote for the idea of a small graphic or icon. Choosing it couldn't be nearly as difficult as making this test setup work.


 6:40 am on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I don't know if this has been put forward yet, but I think it would be nice if in the the posts list in any of the forums have a special icon indicating that its a home page thread, just like the exclamation mark icon you can see if you have participated in a thread.

Robert Charlton

 6:52 am on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

It appears that the indentation and space under the first post have been removed. I'd vote for a smaller font, perhaps preceded by an icon, for "Featured Home Page Discussion," and I'd tone down the blue just a bit.

...I think it would be nice if in the the posts list in any of the forums have a special icon indicating that its a home page thread, just like the exclamation mark icon you can see if you have participated in a thread.

outrun - Great idea if it doesn't interfere with the exclamation mark.


 6:59 am on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I guess it is all down to personal preference?

Personally I never look at the home page. I type in the domain and then click on recent posts. So, I would like to see "recent posts" as the home page, rather than those topics someone else thought worthy of discussion!

Another possible solution would be to display the current "highlighted home page topics" as a bar either at the top or down the side of pages outside of a specific discussion.

If the topic is truly interesting then I assume people will find it and post. Therefore the majority get to influence the "recent posts", whereas the minority get to influence the contents of the home page.

IMHO "Recent Posts" is a good democratic feature.....it reflects what people are interested in. The current homepage only reflects what someone else says you should be interested in.......WebMasterWorld is not PBS, or the BBC,......it should listen to its users and let them determine what is important :)


 3:31 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

Brett, I understand totally your reasons for doing this.

The current indentation - detachment from the thread still looks broken to me (and a waste of space).

Someone suggested improving the "library". I think that is a must. There are tons of gems in WW that are almost impossible to dig...


 4:11 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

The indent and gap after the first post confused me. I thought the page hadn't loaded correctly. Then when I saw the words 'testing' I thought something was wrong with the page, but I should ignore it as it was being fixed.

The title 'Featured Home Page Discussion' doesn't bother me, but I don't think it adds any value either. Perhaps a little icon would be better.


 5:49 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

The more I read the opinions, the more I see that the whole thing needs to be more subtle. So...

The Blue should be the same shade of blue as (at least one of the) other parts of this site, like the dark blue I see as I post this reply.

The Indent and gap just seem surplus to requirements from the sound of it.

Also - the LIBRARY THREADS are still in red. Red denotes danger - warning - error - do not proceed. Let's save red for error messages - we can't change our own psyche.


 6:01 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think the new format looks a little better except I still dont like the bright header. It is distracting. Maybe if it was a little darker....


 6:12 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I understand the purpose and intent of this excercise but the problem is the homepage threads all look busted, like you need to try it in another browser to see what's wrong.

I think a graphic or simple text in the thread that just says "Featured Headline Topic" would be sufficient but where you're really missing opportunity is in the forum thread lisitngs as there is NO CLUE that the thread is featured.

Case in point todays hot topic in the directory forum:

Can you tell it's a featured story from that listing?

Missed opportunity.

I would sort out the last 4 or 5 featured stories per forum and keep them at the top of the heap so people visiting that may just bookmark the AdSense forum for instance would see at a glance the most recent hot stories and everything else beneath.

Something like this:

1. story 1
2. story 2
3. story 2
4. story 4
5. story 5
Click here for all headline topics in this forum...
(nice way to see signal without noise)

All other topics:

and so forth...


 6:21 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

This "testing" seems to have infected the library threads also.

If I understand this, the idea is to foster higher quality posts/threads. Apparently the reward for starting these high quality threads is to have the thread tagged as such.

If that's right, I think you are probably treating a symptom of a larger, more serious problem, rather that treating the root cause.

That would be unfortunate, and possibly counter productive.


 10:48 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

I think incrediBILL's last post is right on target.


 11:03 pm on Mar 8, 2006 (gmt 0)

>The issue is that the subsequent posts are harder to read

Bingo! To the point that when I see this "broken" format I hit the Back Button pronto - not the desired effect at all.


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