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Message Board Usability

This topic contains 180 replies, has 39 voices, and was last updated by  Vannevar 1 yr, 3 mos.

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Steven

Private Message

Feb 19 2013 at 11:53am #

This morning the yellow dots were on about a third of the threads with unread posts. They weren’t on most of the ones that should have had them (including this one).


Ahlir

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Feb 19 2013 at 9:38pm #

I appreciate how things are evolving during this real-time development cycle and I don’t mind being a part of the user testing.

I like the solution to the search field problem. Better than my suggestion.

Here’s a couple of more thoughts:

1) Can we reduce the vertical spacing? I can’t quite eyeball it but maybe at least 10px? The current scheme makes it harder to work with if you have limited vertical height on your device.

2) Thank you for the “Help” link! One suggestion; also include a line that demonstrates the effect produced. People might find it useful to be able to look for the effect they want. The current info speaks to html initiates.

3) Add “align” to <img> properties? Pretty please? That’s really the only reason I earlier asked for <table>: to be able to run text next to an image using “align=top”. It really improves layout and readability.

I read the board from either a desktop or from a notebook. I haven’t tried it from my “smartphone” (or maybe “superphone”?; it’s an N4) or from a tablet. I expect to use it from a tablet soon (given that my $99 HP Touchpad died during an update attempt; no more HP for me…).


Benzo

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Feb 20 2013 at 4:18pm #

When I look at my profile (or anyone else’s) I can’t see the username as it is blocked out by the bike-pgh logo. Also, the drop down menus seem to be all messed up on that same page, can’t click any of the drop down items.

Chrome and IE on win7.


Erica

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Feb 20 2013 at 8:28pm #

Yeah, the yellow dots seem to appear on threads I haven’t read at all, but there’s no indicator of new posts in a thread I have read.

anyhow, the reason I came in here is because I tried to add an event to the cycling events calendar, and got this “Page not found” page:

http://bike-pgh.org/events/calendar/tell-us-about-your-cycling-related-event/


erok

Private Message

Feb 21 2013 at 12:08am #

Erica-

go here:

http://bikepgh.org/calendar/tell-us-about-your-cycling-related-event/

that should have forwarded to the new site. either way, i fixed the link


stefb

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Feb 21 2013 at 7:26am #

It still logs me out every time I come here.


Benzo

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Feb 21 2013 at 8:05am #

Awesome, pinned threads are back, I dig it.


Benzo

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Feb 21 2013 at 8:06am #

And profile pages are fixed as well.


cdavey

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Feb 21 2013 at 8:54am #

This was discusssed somewhere earlier but I can’t find it. Maybe on the other thread about the new board. Anyway, I keep losing the formatting of messageboard threads once the thread page loads. Home page seems to be holding the formatting OK.

IE8 and Win 7 Pro Plus.


nathan

Private Message

Feb 21 2013 at 9:08am #

If there is some cross-reference between paid BP membership and what pops up on the list, it isn’t working. I guess it really doesn’t matter, and I guess I do long for the old distinctions among

There wasn’t, and honestly I’m not even sure where that “Member” thing is coming from, but it’s definitely not tied to who is a paid member of BikePGH or anything. I’m looking into it but for now I’ve removed it all together.

@Drewbacca & @Steven & @everyoneelseonFirefox – okay the cut off text caused by too big images should be fixed. Please let me know if you see any other issues with this!

I’m not sure at what resolution this starts happening, but if my firefox window is small, the website and forum lose all menu options at the top of the page. All that shows is the search bar. Also, at the small resolution, the avatars are super small. Smaller than the text.

This happens at resolutions smaller than 1000px, you’re getting the mobile version because your screen is small enough to warrant it. Slide it open a bit and you’ll get everything “desktoppy” again.

This morning the yellow dots were on about a third of the threads with unread posts. They weren’t on most of the ones that should have had them (including this one).

I brought this up with the fine fella who has been wonderful enough to create this functionality for us, but I am guessing that it’s a result of us updating that functionality to also allow for the new blue stars (which I just added about 10 minutes ago vs. the plugin update which happened the other day). So @Steven you shouldn’t see this again but let me know if you do of course!

When I look at my profile (or anyone else’s) I can’t see the username as it is blocked out by the bike-pgh logo.

Fixed.

Yeah, the yellow dots seem to appear on threads I haven’t read at all, but there’s no indicator of new posts in a thread I have read.

Again just to double clarify, the blue stars are now threads you’ve never read, the yellow ones are those you’ve read and which have new replies since you last dropped by.

Anyway, I keep losing the formatting of messageboard threads once the thread page loads.

I have noticed this on IE a few times and am currently trying to troubleshoot it, very strange behavior and I honestly think it has something to do with how that browser was raised. I know I went over to its house as a kid and I could tell right away that, while mom clearly kept the cabinets stocked with plenty of Kraft Mac & Cheese and everyone loving referred to their soda as pop, there was something off about the way dad was. I don’t think he ever said I love you, thus the acting out nowadays.

I’ll let you know if I find otherwise.

___________

And again, I’ll be back in a few days to see what new adventures in Nathan’s f*ck ups have arisen.


StuInMcCandless

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Feb 21 2013 at 9:14am #

Excellent explanation, esp at the end!
*tries not to snort too loudly at work*


jonawebb

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Feb 21 2013 at 9:36am #

If you’ve ever been in a meeting where someone explains the shenanigans they have to go through to get something to look the same on different browsers you’ll understand what Nathan means about the way the browser was raised. It’s all like, well, the standard says this, and Firefox does it right, except for that, but Microsoft did this in IE 6 and then this completely different thing in IE 7 and in IE 8 they do this, which is more or less right, etc. And then there’s Chrome, not to mention Safari, and the turf wars between the different companies. It’s far more complicated than anything in the “real” world, something like you have to design a derailleur which is compatible with Shimano, SRAM, or Campy, and which would automatically adjust to fit any derailleur hanger or shifting system.


erok

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Feb 21 2013 at 10:04am #

test


Steven

Private Message

Feb 21 2013 at 12:33pm #

Firefox big-image bug is gone, thanks!

On Firefox there’s no longer a focus rectangle around a link you’ve just middle-clicked on the list of topics (either a time or topic name). This makes it harder to scroll through a list of topics and middle-click the interesting ones, since you can no longer see which you clicked last. (I think it’s a general problem with the focus rectangle on links, not confined to middle-clicking or that particular page.)


Erica

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Feb 21 2013 at 3:45pm #

Thanks for fixing stuff, it really did help!


Benzo

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Feb 22 2013 at 7:49am #

Iphone5 with chrome

Can’t see pinned threads and new topic button floats over the subject text of the first post.

Iphone 5 with safari

Can see pinned threads, but the 2nd pinned thread subject is cutoff, and pinned threads seem to float over some of the lower topics. I’ll try to add pics.


Benzo

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Feb 22 2013 at 7:54am #

Chrome

Safari


jonawebb

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Feb 25 2013 at 8:48am #

Minor point — on the login page, I don’t think tab order is set correctly for the anti-spam textbox.


salty

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Feb 25 2013 at 9:14am #

Kind of funny, on android/chrome I see something similar to benzo’s safari pic, the line obscures the first unpinned topic.

And, on desktop (Linux/chrome) I see something like his chrome picture, no pinned topics at all.

Also, I am not a fan of having to captcha every time you log in (if indeed that is the case as it appears to be), and I can’t recall any other site that does that.


rice rocket

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Feb 25 2013 at 4:43pm #

Too many damn web (non)standards.

And I thought Netscape/IE was bad!


Steven

Private Message

Feb 26 2013 at 12:14am #

The link from the list of threads to go to the last message in a thread isn’t working properly on two very long threads: Tag-O-Rama and Play Wheelset of Fortune. The site links to the first page, using a fragment ID from a different page.

Incidentally, it would be nice if the link to an individual post didn’t have to include the page number, and the board could look this up. For instance, right now the URL to a post in this thread ends with

…/topic/message-board-usability/page/3/#post-264654

It would be nice if you could use a URL like

…/topic/message-board-usability/post?264654

and this would redirect to the actual link, adding in the correct page number.

Advantage: permalinks wouldn’t break whenever the number of links per page changed, or whenever messages moved from page to page for other reasons. (This happened regularly on the old board.)


Drewbacca

Private Message

Feb 27 2013 at 1:36pm #

@nathan, I’m getting the cut off text thing again starting with the third post down on this page http://bikepgh.org/mb/topic/a-moderately-safe-way-to-get-to-the-oval-highland-park-reservoir/

Currently on most recent Chrome for MacOS 10.8


Jack

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Feb 27 2013 at 4:07pm #

Having to do captcha on every login is far more annoying than the occasional spam I used to see. Especially when the text input box requires scrolling down.


buffalo buffalo

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Feb 27 2013 at 4:07pm #

+1. Especially annoying when logging in via phone.

(I use the stock Browser on one of the cheapest available Android Phones, so I acknowledge this may be an equipment issue. But it’s nevertheless obnoxious.)


Mikhail

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Mar 3 2013 at 7:25pm #

Hm, search soes not work at all. I know I was talking about gloves for Marko82 at one thread. Search for “gloves” returned something in 2011 and older stuff.

Enforcement of the 4-foot Law by Nick D 14 6 mins by Vannevar whith URL _http://bikepgh.org/mb/topic/enforcement-of-the-4-foot-law/#post-265016 opens topic at the first message and the last message is from Steven with URL _http://bikepgh.org/mb/topic/enforcement-of-the-4-foot-law/#post-265005


Vannevar

Private Message

Mar 3 2013 at 7:36pm #

Just entered a new thread on what seems a new issue, it wouldn’t let me add a comment to the thread you described Mikhail.

There was a URL in the thread. When I removed the URL it accepted it first time. Here’s examples of what did and didn’t work

go figure? Firefox on XP, logged in under my username.


Swalfoort

Private Message

Mar 3 2013 at 7:58pm #

Ok, while I totally respect and appreciate Nathan’s hard work, I absolutely HATE the new message board.

The message board appears to load nicely, but I have the same third thread cut off issue identified above.

The minute I click on a thread, and sometimes before, I get dumped into some format that almost resembles something dos based. I see avatars, but the links at the top of the page are just word based hyperlinks – no graphics at all.

Then there is the scroll issue. When I try to log in on my cell phone, the text rolls with every sway of the bus. On a good day I can read the first message in a thread. Nothing beyond what fits on my initial screen load. That just rolls up, rolls down, and makes me seasick in the process.

I’ve used Chrome at home, IE at work, and my phone is an android. All behave more or less the same.

Could we OPT to go back to the old format? My board utilization rate is down about 50% since the new format. I just can’t use it unless I am at my desk, and then I can only look at it for so long.

Sorry, Nathan. This is not directed at you — just at technology in general, I think.


Swalfoort

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Mar 3 2013 at 8:02pm #

Oh, also frustrated by the lag before a post appears. Sometimes seems like 10 or more seconds pass before you know if your comment has been posted or not.


Mikhail

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Mar 3 2013 at 8:28pm #

MB just swallowed pretty big message to”Riding in casual cloth…” :(


salty

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Mar 3 2013 at 11:28pm #

I haven’t seen the lag, or at least that is no different than the old board… Sometimes it’s slow and people make double posts all the time as a result.

I’ve seen the “dos” formatting too. I’m not really a web expert but I think sometimes the content loads before the style sheet (which specifies the formatting). I don’t know why it happens, although it doesn’t happen to me very often. Maybe some caching issue?

I have not seen the scrolling behavior you describe (on android) – that is weird. Maybe try installing chrome if you’re not using it?


salty

Private Message

Mar 3 2013 at 11:41pm #

I had a really bad experience with search.

- as noted before, search finds individual messages not threads. This should really be a search option, but if I can only have one threads is more useful.
- once you’ve found a message, the link takes you only to that message and there is apparently no way to get back to the thread that message is a part of. It looks like a “breadcrumb” at the top but you can’t click on it.
- OK, so I gave up and searched on Google to find the thread I wanted. But, when I clicked on the link, I was no longer logged in to the board so I can’t reply.
- so I click the “login” link at the top, and after I log in it doesn’t return me to where I was, it takes me to the front page of the forum.
- well, at least I’m logged in now, so I can just use my browser’s back button to go back to the thread, right? No, when I do that I’m not logged in again, even if I reload.
- so, let me copy the URL for the thread to my clipboard, log in again, then paste in the URL to get back to the thread. Inexplicably, I’m not logged in on the thread page. Wtf?
- repeat some variants of the above then give up.


salty

Private Message

Mar 3 2013 at 11:50pm #

I think some of the above is due to a general tendency of the board to not keep you logged in. On the old board I had to log in once every couple months, which is in line with most other sites around the net. Now I have to do it a few times a week, or maybe even multiple times in a day. In fact if I type “bike-pgh.org/mb/” into the URL bar, it seems that I am always not logged in. I always check the “remember me” box when I log in. Is there something wrong with how the site is setting cookies or something?


Steven

Private Message

Mar 4 2013 at 12:46am #

Going to bikepgh.org, not the one with the dash, mostly fixed the not-logged-in problems for me.

Salty, when you searched on Google, did you use site:bike-pgh.org? If so that might explain the program you had while searching too. Always omit the dash (until Nathan fixes this, anyway).

I haven’t seen the DOS-like formatting, but I’m guessing it’s because the new site uses a very large number of external stylesheets (at least one of which uses a bad URL, so it’s just pointlessly clogging things up). A browser isn’t going to be able to retrieve all 8 stylesheets, 12 external scripts, etc. all at once. Every browser has a different number of maximum connections. Go over, and the browser will wait until it’s finished retrieving some items before it starts on the rest. Sometimes sites can combine and simplify external pages to fix these issues.


salty

Private Message

Mar 4 2013 at 12:57am #

Ah… indeed if I type “bikepgh.org/mb” I no longer have the login problem… And that may indeed be the cause of my searching issues and other login nonsense. Thanks for the tip.

bike-pgh.org should probably just redirect to bikepgh.org if they really want to kill the former. Actually the front page does, but not /mb/.

When I see the formatting issue (maybe once a week) it just shows up like that for a fraction of a second and then fixes itself… So that fits with your theory.


Vannevar

Private Message

Mar 4 2013 at 7:32am #

Swalfoort wrote:Ok, while I totally respect and appreciate Nathan’s hard work, I absolutely HATE the new message board.

Could we OPT to go back to the old format? My board utilization rate is down about 50% since the new format. I just can’t use it unless I am at my desk, and then I can only look at it for so long.

Sorry, Nathan. This is not directed at you — just at technology in general, I think.

Completely agree with Swalfoort’s preference – can we please go back to the old format? This is no good. It doesn’t work at all on my cellphone.

Can we quantify what site users want with a survey?
Choose only one:
A. return to old format with minor tweaks
B. stay with new format and continue tweaks
C. no preference

(I am NOT asking people to answer these questions, I’m just suggesting that if the web forum is “for the users”, then let’s quantify what the users want and get on with it.)


jonawebb

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Mar 4 2013 at 8:21am #

I disagree. I think the new board is an improvement over the old, particularly with regard to search. It is true there are still some formatting issues, and it doesn’t seem to hold on to login very well, but I can live with that. Plus, since I’ll bet a lot of the underlying infrastructure is changed, going back to the old board isn’t really possible anyway. Nathan’s been very good about fixing the remaining issues; I think we can live with what is up right now, and keep suggesting tweaks to fix the remaining problems.


edmonds59

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Mar 4 2013 at 8:25am #

IIRC, was this a change necessitated by a change to bbpress or something and not an optional change by choice on the part of Bike Pgh?
So, going back may not be an option.
Having said that, what swalfoort said^
I haven’t commented on this issue, being not well versed in the innards of these things, and generally tending to work around things.
But the perception is that the general bugginess of this thing seems to have driven down use, and seems highly unlikely to encourage mildly interested uninitiated newbies, and that would be a shame.
If this change was something necessitated by forces outside Bike Pgh, I would be ripping said outside forces new asses.


JaySherman5000

Private Message

Mar 4 2013 at 9:11am #

+1 for believing the new board is better than the old board.

I think the new board is still experiencing growing pains, but Nathan has been very open to bug reports (via this thread) and pretty good about fixing things where possible.

That said, here’s what I like about the new board:
1) Pagination buttons under the thread titles at the main page

2) ability to embed youtube videos!

3) direct uploading of photos (even from my phone!)

4) html hints where I can see them

And here’s a list of ongoing usability issues I’m still experiencing:
1) When I login, instead of returning to the page I was viewing (e.g. this thread), I’m taken back to the main page. This is monumentally annoying, especially when trying to reply to an older thread.

2) unstyled page in IE9– I saw Nathan’s post about this earlier in the thread, so for now I am patiently waiting for it to be fixed. I only use IE9 at work (because we all know that IE is only good for downloading a real browser), so really it’s not even an issue for me.

3) persistent page sizing issues when viewing the site on my phone (Firefox on Android 4.1.1). I still see text that gets cut off by the right side of the screen with no way to scroll horizontally. I’ll try to send screencaps later.

Finally, a feature I would like to see:

the ability to reply to a thread without bumping it. Some threads I find tedious, repetitive, and generally not useful to anyone, but I still want to leave snarky comments (e.g. any thread about Lance Armstrong). However, I’d prefer those threads not take priority over threads that are actually useful and interesting (e.g. making the Waterfront into Biketopia). So, having a way to reply without bumping (sometimes called “sage-ing” a thread) would be useful.

That’s the end of my new-board vs old-board diatribe. I think the new board definitely gives a more feature-rich experience, but it still needs refinement. Keep up the good work!


Mikhail

Private Message

Mar 4 2013 at 9:29am #

salty wrote:I’m not logged in on the thread page. Wtf?

Used to be bike-pgh.org and I believe google finds references to this domain. Now it’s bikepgh.org. These are two different domains and cookies (especially login ones) are single domain only. Cross domain cookies are considered as a hole in security.


StuInMcCandless

Private Message

Mar 4 2013 at 9:50am #

My residual irritations:
* Having to Ctrl-End, PgUp, PgUp, on every re-visited thread, then repeated PgUp until I get to the last unread post. I visit the board at least four times a day, so this is almost second nature, but it’s annoying to have to, when the old board simply “knew” where in the post to go.
* Captcha on logins. I guess if that’s what we have to do not to get spam, OK, but it’d be nice not to have to do this at all. I think if we need to get past a captcha to post the very first time, or to get an account in the first place, fine, but not on logins of known users.
* I am not convinced that searching is better. I tried to get to the breakaneuring thread earlier, and had to go to Google to get a link to the thread I wanted. But at least I learned about Miriam Makeba, today’s doodle.
* Page 2 of the thread list still jumps from a week old to a year old, nothing in between (see reference above to the breakaneuring thread).

This morning, I hit all four of those.

* I still lament the loss of account info for many people. Did we ever figure out why that happened? So many old posts just say “anonymous” where there used to be a name.

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