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Forum Moderators: rogerd
I've learned quite a bit today from the postings on this forum and am wondering if I can get some opinions on which display works best.
We're an association of international educators and are in the process of designing a discussion forum for our members.
Which view seems to work best for forum members, flat or threaded? Thanks in advance for your thoughts. Al
The approach mentioned here:
seems simplistic, but really works well in practice. Consider applying some of the principles if designing your forum software from scratch.
I'm curious - why design from scratch?
[edited by: rogerd at 2:19 pm (utc) on Mar. 25, 2005]
[edit reason] No links/URLs, please... [/edit]
1) I suppose that if people seek out the kind of forums they are comfortable with, you'll find that most WebmasterWorld members prefer a linear display.
2) From what I've seen, a small but vocal minority of forum participants prefer threaded displays because it lets people reply to specific posts.
3) I think that big threads in a threaded-mode forum can get hard to read and also have a tendency to ramble off-topic. Take this advice with a grain of salt, though. (See #1 above. :))
In linear forums, you can also decide whether to display newest or oldest posts first - that's another area of dispute, and is somewhat dependent on the nature of topics. Q&A threads work best when read from the first post; "new info" type threads (e.g., latest bird sightings) that run for a long time work best when the newest posts are displayed first.
Some forum software packages allow various types of display, and even user-selectable modes.
One thing I never liked about threaded forums, as in the old wwwboard-style, is that their main page is such a mess. So when I built my own, I had the main page only show the first post of each thread...so that part looks like a flat forum, but when you click, within there is the tree of replies.