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Motley Fool has the best message boards

I think it's great that Joel has built these message boards and allows us to use them free of charge, but I would vote for the Motley Fool message boards as the best on the Net. 

Problems with Joel's implementation:

1. If you are a semi-frequent visitor to a message board site, you don't want to wade through each topic to see what's new.  It's better to have all the new posts near the top of the screen.

2.  Who cares if the conversation meanders off the topic?  That's how conversations normally flow.  Somebody throws out an idea and the community runs with it.  With Joel's board, there are a bunch of topics with replies that nobody reads. 

3.  Not being able to reply to a particular post sucks.  I want to be able to talk to a specific poster sometimes.  When I want to talk to the community at large, I'll start a new topic.

4.  Joel needs some kind of "recommendation" feature so people don't have to wade through reams of crap to find the one post that is worth reading.  Most people have neither the time nor the desire to read stuff they aren't interested in.

I agree with Joel that the other sites he mentioned in his e-mail suck, but it's not because they are threaded and put new posts _near the top/on the first screen_, it's because their implementation sucks.

Joel, I think you have a successful message board here, because your other content is so good, not because you've nailed the message board format.   

Craig Sullivan
Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Have you read Joel's article http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/BuildingCommunitieswithSo.html yet? It explains away most of your complaints. BTW, if you want an off-topic conversation, either start a new one or use another forum instead of suggesting 'improvements'. This one has clear objectives.

Rob
Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Yes, I just finished reading Joel's article and I'm disagreeing with it.  Joel didn't mention anything about a board cop that decided which posts were on and off-topic.  Thanks for your efforts.

Craig Sullivan
Tuesday, March 04, 2003

I don't even believe that Joel engineering this message board this way from the start because he's some sort of expert on how message boards should work.

What I think he did was create the most simple message board possible, in order to save time and effort, and it just happened to work. Now he writes a massive article about how he's created the perfect message board.

Either way, his board is decent for this kind of discussion, and it's easy to use.

Super
Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Well Joel did say that in designing this board: "Two hours of work (ASP, Microsoft Access, and VBScript) and I had banged out a system that did pretty much everything I wanted (which is not much!) "

But in his defense he did look at lots of more full-featured message systems that he didn't like before he resorted to writing his own.  You can read the story here:

http://www.joelonsoftware.com/printerFriendly/articles/fog0000000008.html

Herbert Sitz
Tuesday, March 04, 2003

The Motley Fool boards are *horrible*! Since they switched to membership even to *read* the boards, they have become a total ghost town (as have Raging Bull and Silicon Investor; whereas Yahoo stock boards have a singl/noise ratio very close to zero).

Here's another idea for a budding entrepreneur: create stock message boards with the right balance of active discussion and high signal/noise ratio. If you charge, only charge to post. Be careful about charging, though. One major advantage to not charging is that anonymity is required to get some of the best postings.

pb
Tuesday, March 04, 2003

This is a great interview question.  Ask the candidate whether motorcycles or racing cars are better.  No hire to anyone who has an immediate, unshakable belief in one over the other.

Tj
Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Joel's orginal BB was Greenspun's LUSENET.  I think he kept the straightforward function of LUSENET and didn't implement email alerts or categorization.  I like the way it turned out.

I use LUSENET for a completely different kind of community.  We use it to report high school events such as sports scores and academinc competition results.  I'm fortunate to find 5 or 6 folks we are willing and able to post the reports.  Email alerts broadcast the reports to several hundred students, teachers, and parents who read email but never surf (includes my wife).  This isn't quite the same type of community as the JOS crowd.  We need slightly different functions from our forum.  (It takes all kinds of animals to make a farm.)

tk
Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Regarding quoting (or the lack thereof), in an email list or a usenet group where the entire thread is not necessarily visible or available, quoting helps place the follow-up in context.

One or two people I exchange email with regularly have their email software set to *not* automatically quote the original message in the reply; I find this somewhat irksome as my original message may not be top-of-mind any longer and having it immediately visible is handy.

On this type of board, though, where the entire thread is always visible, quoting becomes redundant and distracting. I think Joel made the right decision there.

PizzaMan
Tuesday, March 04, 2003

Just because your mail software is so braindead it can't show your sent mail as a reminder doesn't mean the rest of us should suffer through tons of quoting in email.

Outlook is probably the number one contributor to this problem.  In fact, it really isn't email software, it's just software to create incomplete copies of a discussion thread.

smm
Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Tj, that would be a very stupid question. People have likes and dislikes, you know.

Passater
Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Note that I didn't define the context of "better."  I think if you look closely at some interview questions, a version of this is asked, where you're penalized for having a bias that stops you from seeing the alternatives' merits.  One should at least consider the point of things he dislikes.

If you can't see what's good in others, what good are you? ;)

Tj
Wednesday, March 05, 2003

Oceanic Food & Fuel in the pacific ocean including biospheres hydroponics and open orchards.

A safe secure digital currency that increases in value gradually over time
and can be divided as infinitely as allowed within computing power potential
set up to transfer into quantum environments of the future.

A self organizing coalition of collectively intergrated groups to increase productivity and wealth for everyone expecially members, also to organize resources to benefit a way of life that reduces use of currency and increase global wealth for all.

Daniel Hazelton Waters
Friday, May 28, 2004

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