Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Bold topics.

Some topics in this discussion forum will now appear in bold in the main list. Topics which appears to be particularly interesting or valuable or which create some really interesting discussion will get flagged by one of the elves and will appear in bold.

Joel Spolsky
Friday, December 19, 2003

The elves appear to be deleting too <grin> -- I was replying to the "What the <strong> ... " topic when it was deleted.

Sgt. Sausage
Friday, December 19, 2003

just pressed refresh and thought something was wrong with my browser!!

Looks great I think.

Aussie Chick
Friday, December 19, 2003

Geesh...flashbacks of grade 7 gym class.

"ooh ooh pick me pick me!"

Dennis Forbes
Friday, December 19, 2003

Unfair! How do we know the elves are objective!?

We must allow every thread to stand on an equal basis.

:-)

Bored Bystander
Friday, December 19, 2003

Can the elves also mark trolls in red, flames in green, outsourcing in magenta, linux vs windows and oss vs commercial in italics ......?
Just kidding.

Alexander Chalucov
Friday, December 19, 2003

Don't forget 'VB vs. C#' and 'Should I port to dotnet?' in white.  So we can't see them.....

:)

Rick Childress
Friday, December 19, 2003

flames should be in red imo :)

Alex
Friday, December 19, 2003

is it just me, or do the bold/underlined entries make it harder to navigate the list by eye? 

FullNameRequired
Friday, December 19, 2003

"Topics which appears to be particularly interesting..." To whom?


Friday, December 19, 2003

the bold topics of the  moment are "hiring directly over phone" and "compression algorithm suggestion" which suggests that the algorithm for bolding topics is fucked up or else the bolding elf needs to get out more.

_
Friday, December 19, 2003

You can "spread" the topics apart by holding down one of the Control keys and rotating your mouse wheel.  This might help to make them easier to read.  I'm not sure if there is a keyboard shortcut for this or not.

Dave B.
Friday, December 19, 2003

Whoo hoo! Yee haw!

THANKS!!!!!!!!!!!

Dennksi Atkins
Friday, December 19, 2003

If I were to choose I wouldn't change it to this.

I find it a little harder to read or adapt the vision :P

Dewd
Friday, December 19, 2003

"Elves".  AKA, Thought Police.  They can't delete every post they deem "un-interesting" or "not worthy" (as they would like), so they've figured out another way to seperate the haves from the have-nots.

I'm so excited about bold topics, now I get to find out if I'm interesting.

Wayne
Friday, December 19, 2003

Thought police?

Joel Spolsky
Saturday, December 20, 2003

Elves -
An acronym for Emissions of Light and Very low frequency perturbations due to Electromagnetic pulse Sources; extremely bright extremely short (less than a msec) electrical flashes forming a huge ring (up to 400 km diameter) in the ionosphere

Wordweb definition

Sunish
Saturday, December 20, 2003

ok, this is getting ridiculous...

if _(nearly)everything_ is going to be important couldn't you minimise the boring stuff instead of highlighting the interesting stuff?  all this bold/underlining is reducing the readability and kind of pointless if everythings going to be treated the same way...

FullNameRequired
Saturday, December 20, 2003

Man, I gotta find a new career or something.  Y'all are a bunch of whiners.  If I had an ex-wife, you all would remind me of her.

anon
Saturday, December 20, 2003

Heh, the first step towards karma points. Interesting how the forum developed during the last 1-2 years.

More people -> more trolls/offtopics -> moderation needed -> highlighting selected topics -> karma whores (my prediction).

Martin
Saturday, December 20, 2003

Strange, but I really don't find the interests of the elves coincides with my interests.  Oh well.

i like i
Saturday, December 20, 2003

"You can "spread" the topics apart by holding down one of the Control keys and rotating your mouse wheel.  This might help to make them easier to read.  I'm not sure if there is a keyboard shortcut for this or not. "

You've changed the display font size (in IE it's View->Text Size). Since this websize has fixed font sizes, the fonts don't change as they should. But the line spacing still is affected, thus separating the topic titles.

I hope the next improvement is properly non-fixed font sizes :)

David Fischer
Saturday, December 20, 2003

Don't blame Joel for bugs in your browser.

(Every browser but IE has no problem resizing fonts...)

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Saturday, December 20, 2003

Joel,
  Maybe a better idea would be to break the forum down into a few major topics:
  Professional Issues (hiring/interviewing/offshoring etc.)
  Technical Issues (How do I.../Anybody know a good...)
  Design/Architecture (the things that are getting swamped out here!)
  Linux vs. MS Rants (a write-only area)
  Social/Political (flames galore)

Of course I don't know if the topics would be respected, but post deletion might be easier.

sgf
Saturday, December 20, 2003

Bold topics are a step backward.

Before 'Bold topics', items were categorised by "Date/Time Posted", "Item Author" and "Number of Comments".

Joel has now added a new categorisation which only has two stated "Premier" or "Normal". By making the "Premier" items Bold it is now much harder to scan the other categorisation views and gives too much prominence to this new simplistic attribute.

I guess that the purpose of this change is to save people time when they want to keep up with board activity. It will allow people to choose to monitor the "A-List" of topics rather than have to trawl through the "B-List".

It would be more honest and usable to introduce an interface that allows the users to choose how they want their topics list presented. Perhaps some people would like to see just the "A-List" topics and nothing else. Others might like to see all the topics that have more than 10 comments and none of the others until they hit that threshold. Someone else might only want to see topics that contain comments mad by Bella.

'Bold topics' is a poor solution to the problem of topic management. It would be much better to explore the problem in more depth and come up with an elegant solutions that doesn't annoy people, rather than just implement a flawed solution just because it seemed like a good idea and only took 10 minutes to implement.

You should only change your interface after a great deal of thought and not do it on a whim.

Chris McEvoy
Saturday, December 20, 2003

Putting the words "mad" and "Bella" so close together must be some kind of Tuftean Slip.

Chris McEvoy
Saturday, December 20, 2003

By Joel's own definition, shouldn't this thread be deleted now?

Philo

Philo
Saturday, December 20, 2003

So we spend a year and a half asking for small but important improvements in the forum and at the end of it we get none of them but something we don't want and didn't ask for.

Joel ought to come to Saudi; he's got the talent to be a real Saudi manager.

Incidentally, how do we know they are elves, and not evil hobgoblins?

Stephen Jones
Saturday, December 20, 2003

Geesh.

Are the bold topics really that offensive to your eyes? Is it really hard to see past them if the topic doesn't interest you?

Such petulance.

Mark Hoffman
Saturday, December 20, 2003

I think the unhappiness is at being reminded that we're all just subjects in Joel's great social experiment. [grin]

Philo

Philo
Saturday, December 20, 2003

Damn! They noticed!

I hope they don't notice the subtle changes I have been making using radio waves to their DNA.

Joel Spolsky
Saturday, December 20, 2003

That's why the email hosed my Outllook search :)

Stephen Jones
Saturday, December 20, 2003

But seriously: as the number of posts on this forum has increased, the absolute number of good posts has decreased, thus drastically reducing the overall signal to noise ratio. This is not a surprise. It always happens when communities grow. See Clay Shirky's article, "a community is its own worst enemy."

Usenet deals with this by mitosis (new, increasingly narrow subgroups). I'm resisting that method because I feel that all that would accomplish is to have 10 small groups with a bad signal-to-noise ratio, of which 5 are ghosttowns.

Slashdot deals with this by karma, but this results in a kludgy UI and threads which seem completely disjointed when read from top to bottom. And the "everybody is an editor" feedback system does not result in talented editing. It results in a peculiar form of editing that either attracts stupid posts or at the very least creates the illusion of stupid posts. If I wanted slashdot I'd use slashcode and we'd be done with it.

A previous idea I tried of regional subgroups did not quite work; New York didn't hit critical mass.

Anyway, if there was another forum somewhere that had all the qualities I wanted it to have, I would go there instead of making my own. So here we're going to have to invent something new. Not radically new. I'm just going to try tweaking a few things here and there to see if it steers things in the right direction. Bold topics is a first step in that direction. Some other ideas I've been considering: moving bold topics to the top; featuring bold topics on the JoS home page; requiring registration; charging a nominal fee; removing the link from the JoS home page to try and reduce the crowding. But for now I'll try the bold topics thing.

Joel Spolsky
Saturday, December 20, 2003

Most of the screaming here seems like a variation on "But, but, but...why isn't *MY* topic bold?!?!?!?"  The megalomanical hubris of programmers will never be stifled.

I think this experiment (in most cases) really just helps make it easier to do what everyone already does anyway (consciously or not) which is to scan the topics for the ones with the most replies (which are often full of flames) and dive into those first.  I'm not saying this is necessarily a good thing, but it certainly seems to be the trend.  Once topics hit a "critical mass" of comments, they seem to grow much more quickly, whether they seem particularly insightful or not.

Seems like the interesting part will be to see if the boldface type makes a difference with topics that weren't getting much traffic to begin with...Will EVERY topic endorsed by the "elves" get high double-digit replies, or will there be a backlash where the advice of the little critters is ignored...?

Tim Lara
Saturday, December 20, 2003

>>So here we're going to have to invent something new. Not radically new

If the goal is simply to make it easier to spot active/interesting threads for the rest... why not just add the number of times a discussion was clicked on (and hence, read), or prepend an icon before each link, changing the color depending on the number of times it was viewed or contributed to (blue, green, red)?

It's available in a bunch of forum softwares, and might just do what you aim to achieve?

Frederic Faure
Saturday, December 20, 2003

That method almost instantly causes a bad feedback loop. Stupid threads that happened to be clicked on start moving up in rank and then more people click on them *because* they are higher ranked, so they rapidly spiral up in popularity without any connection to whether they are any good or not.

Joel Spolsky
Saturday, December 20, 2003

the idea of 'interesting-according-to-joel' is a good one.
however, the actual use of bold text doesn't work very well because it makes it very hard to scan.
perhaps something less distracting-- star on the left, different color for the 'number of replies'. basically anything not in-line with the 'primary key' itself (topic title).

this is a hard problem because you want to draw attention to topics without drawing attention to them.

mb
Saturday, December 20, 2003

Maybe associate a rank with each thread.  Before (or even after) it is posted on the board you review it and rank it according to what you think is appropriate for this forum.  The topic list would then be arranged and separated by rank (draw a line in between them or something).  The rank would not have to be displayed but would be implied by the order in the list.  For example 10 - 15 topics each in a ranking system of 1 - 5 or 1 - 3 might be better.

The board structure would remain the same, you would just have to add another field to the database, and the topic list would be arranged by the ranks.

Threads would rated on how on topic they are for the board, how well they are written, etc etc...

for example:

( Rank 5 (Best) )

Topic 1
Topic 2
Topic 3
Topic 4
Topic 5

--------------------------------------------------

( Rank 4 (?) )

Topic 1
Topic 2
Topic 3
Topic 4
Topic 5

--------------------------------------------------

( Rank 3 (Good) )

Topic 1
Topic 2
Topic 3
Topic 4
Topic 5

--------------------------------------------------

( Rank 2 (Ok) )


Topic 1
Topic 2
Topic 3
Topic 4
Topic 5

--------------------------------------------------

( Rank 1 (Poor) )

Topic 1
Topic 2
Topic 3
Topic 4
Topic 5

--------------------------------------------------


Just my $0.02 cents.

Dave B.
Saturday, December 20, 2003

>>That method almost instantly causes a bad feedback loop

Right. Mmm.. What about adding a "Vote for this thread" button to let users mark this thread as interesting, just like is available on Craig's List?

http://www.craigslist.org/about/best/

Sure, the trolls will always abuse this, but the law of big numbers...

Frederic Faure
Saturday, December 20, 2003

I think I will have love-hate relationship with this feature.

I love it when I come to board to 'READ'. I would simply love to read topics which are 'interesting' (to someone, hoping that our taste matches!) . Earlier, I used to click on topic with most replies to read the message and then decide whether to continue or not. Now I have a better way!

I will hate it when I have posted a technical question which I really need help in but it is not really _interesting_. I know there are lot of smart guys lurking here and I will feel bad to know that they are not going to look at my question! :(

Hm... what's the way out?
JD

[There is one more JD who has turned up lately. But I do provide my email, s/he doesnt! :)]

JD
Saturday, December 20, 2003

Joel, I would think the quickest, easiest solution would be to add a "No bold text" link that sets a 30-day cookie.

My thoughts on the intent - instead of Joel or Joel/elves having a simple boolean, go with a moderated scoring system. Joel, his elves, and certain nominated (but anonymous) readers get links on each topic page for: "Score: 5 4 3 2 1 0". The moderator clicks a link, and the thread's scored. Then the topics look like they always have (no bold):

  - (4*) Is Linux better than Unix? (23)

The board defaults to the same ol' sorting by date, but there are options for:
- Sort by score
- Hide all less than [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

And once again, 30 day sticky cookie.

As for the moderators, I would go for a total of ten scorers total, with the goal being 5-7 people scoring at any given time.

Criteria for scorers:
- Must be active JOS posters
- Must have been active for at least [x] months
- Varied background, not just "people I like." You need to make a strong effort to pick at least one person that's simply a wild card.
- Scorers choose their own replacement if they leave

Now mind you - I am violently anti-moderation. But given what you're trying to do here, I think this type of thing is the best middle ground.

I think registration and fees will kill the board.

My $.02

Philo

Philo
Saturday, December 20, 2003

Sometime in the next few days I will post a very long post on this in a new thread. However here is a quick thought.

The basic problem with the bold system at present is that it doesn't seem to have been too well thought out. "Interesting according to Joel would be fine; we accept individual quirks". But interesting according to an anonymous committee of elves/hobgoblins is a different matter. At the very least it causes ill-feeling.

What is happening here isn't, as Joel suggests, a decline in the absolute number of posts. If you look at posts from a year or two back you will find the same mix and 150 post long rants about the evil of outsourcing; they may have appeared better the first time round, but the actual quality of posts is the same as it is with the twentieth or so repetition we are on at the moment.

What is happening is that general discussions on software design formed a greater proportion of the posts; the number of considered posts on these topics are the same as before, but they are surrounded by other things. As the forum has become more popular people have started to use it as the water cooler, which of course is what online forums are for. And so we are getting people asking for advice in labour relations, asking for technical advice when really they should be going to a specialized forum, moaning about the lot of programmers, attacking open source as the worst threat to programmers health since ebiola or galloping gangrene,and so on. Also of course the same topics get repeated every couple of months so even though the quality of the posts is the same the feeling is that things are getting worse.

Now bolding is an excellent idea for the occasional reader of the forums and the person who is comint to them for the first time. But it must be done by topic. By all means bold those discussions that deal with software design in general, but to bold technical questions because an elf finds one particular question interesting or to bold a thread on telephone interviews because Joel has posted there is diluting the purpose of bolding.

So keep the bolding for general discussions of software design, and just possibly the occasional thread on another subject that takes off and the chief elf feels shouldn't be missed out on.

Another thing to look at is something which was suggested in jest. Color coding. Joel is quite right to go against the idea of splitting the forums up; I have seen communites collapse because somebody thought this was a good idea. However color coding has the advantages of splitting the forums up without the disadvantage of taking immediate access away from those who are not primarily interested in one topic. At the very least it would give a pretense of order and Joel's high aesthetic standards would be less obvioulsy offended :)

Stephen Jones
Saturday, December 20, 2003

Somebody wrote that bold topics make it "very hard to scan."

Very hard? Really?

Elves = currently consist of myself and my friend Michael Pryor, creator of TechInterview.org and cofounder of Fog Creek. We meet in a back room filled with cigar smoke and negotiate corruptly over bold posts. I had to trade Baltic Ave. to get that Linux post bolded. The other bold posts were based entirely on personal favors done to us by a secretive international "fellowship" and we'll just leave it at that...

Joel Spolsky
Saturday, December 20, 2003

I have been subjected to a variety of forums over the past 15 or so years, starting with BBSs and Usenet on up through the "modern" web-based forums.  Most of them have been adequate; a few have sucked; and a few have been good.

What I most want in a forum is to be able to quickly and easily view new posts in threads I've previously browsed and to quickly and easily view new threads in topics I'm interested in.  JoS is actually pretty good at most of that.  It's pretty obvious which threads are new; it's usually fairly obvious from the thread title what the topic is; and my browser colors previously-visited threads a different color, helping me remember what threads I've previously viewed.  The only thing it really doesn't do is show me which threads have new posts since the last time I visited. 

I'm guessing that adding this would require another cookie ("last-date-visited"), a query to count new comments since last-date-visited, and a bit of .asp code to show something like (35,10) on the thread page (where 35 is the total number of comments and 10 is the number of new comments since last visit).  It doesn't sound too difficult -- but of course that's easy for me to say, knowing nothing of the code behind JoS :).

Whaddya say, Joel?  This would sure make me happy.

-Thomas

Thomas
Saturday, December 20, 2003

Perhaps you could actually get Mike to put in the answers to the tech questions. There are more posts on crazy guy on the airplane than there are on outsourcing to India!

I'd start thinking about some way to color code posts, and also have people decide on the view. I know it's work but the present scheme isn't scaling too well, and spiltting the forum up would be a disaster. Also it would solve the problem of the ghost forums; let the New York forum show up on the main forum if people choose to let it from view options.

Frankly you could probably sell the idea to recoup the time spent. The problem of being either too crowded or completely empty applies to forums just as much as it does to discotheques and cafes.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, December 20, 2003

So apparently, once we've cut Joel's bolding finger from his hand in a mighty battle, a band of us will have to venture across the foreboding landscape of the foggy creek to get the bolding finger back to the eldritch fires within which it was forged.

Enroute we will face the Boldwraiths, trolls, and a faceless army of misbegotten typists that seek to wrench our hearts from our chests (yea, and they shall be known by their battle cry of "NOOOOO OUTSOURCIIIIIIIING!!!!")

We must beware factions and fractures. Remember the ancient screed:
"One board to rule them all,
One board to find them
One board to bring them all,
and without boldness bind them"

Mount your horses, we ride!

Philo Baggins

Philo
Saturday, December 20, 2003

Thomas,
              If you've seen a thread before it changes color. However if a new post has been added then it goes back to being blue, because each time a post is added the URL changes. It's very simple and neat, unless you regularly acccess the forum from different machines.

Stephen Jones
Saturday, December 20, 2003

"The only thing it really doesn't do is show me which threads have new posts since the last time I visited."

This should work - the links have the number of posts in the URL, so if a thread has new posts since you've last visited, it'll be blue instead of purple (assuming default browser colors)

The only time this is a bit twitchy is when you post to a thread - the addition of your reply will change the count, so when you return it's blue due to what you just posted. But a minor twitch in a fairly good system.

Philo

Philo
Saturday, December 20, 2003

"The other bold posts were based entirely on personal favors done to us by a secretive international "fellowship" and we'll just leave it at that..."

Man, I knew it!  Joel is in a secret society, probably the Knights Templar or the Bavarian Illuminati, and the JoS message board is just a small part of a vast international conspiracy to bring the software industry to a grinding halt by getting developers to spend more time whining about outsourcing, job interviews, etc. than they do on developing software.  They're in it with the aliens too.  Oh, and Joel knows who killed JFK, but he's not telling.

Conspiracy Theorist
Saturday, December 20, 2003

First off, despite what I say below, the font change is not that big of a deal. If you don't like it, give it a week or two and you'll probably adjust.

But, I do agree that the bold text makes it harder to scan. I rank bold right up there with ALL CAPS for poor readibility. As I scan down the list my eyes have to adjust for the different fonts.

Although it would worsen readily further, I wouldn't mind it if you added a third font for topics that are complete noise. After someone's created their 5th topic that gets ranked as noise, maybe they'd get the hint.  (And http://www.usabilitymustdie.com/ could rank posters by signal and noise.)

After all, the problem isn't identifying the signals - it's reducing the noise.  Too many good topics drop off in discussion volume once they get down into the "you have to scroll down to see it" range.

Nick
Saturday, December 20, 2003

This isn't the greatest forum software, but it's also not the worst, and let's face it.. I'm here and I'm not somewhere else... Well I am somewhere else, but I'm also here.

One problem I see with this, besides the more difficult time scrolling through topics (which is already getting kinda difficult due to the high voume) is that your signal is my noise, and v.v.

An alternative would be to use cookies to allow posters to choose which topics they wanted bolded. Then they'd be able to quickly scan for their own bold posts, and ignore the others. This IMHO is an improvement over "the topics I'm interested in are purple... unless there's activity there in which case now they look just like the topics I'm not interested in."

However, this is a moderated forum, so let's say which topics get labelled will always be chosen by an elf. It might be easier to scan if you simply asterisk'd interesting topics. E.g.

Bold topics.  Joel Spolsky  (47) *

This way all topics have approximately the same weight, yet highlighted topics are easy to find.

If you really want to follow Clay Shirkey's advice, an eBay esque "Featured topics go to the top AND stay in line (but not bold)." This would create a true "inner sanctum" of posts, and further prevent people only interested in the wheat from having to scroll through the chaff.

Lastly, you can feature topics on the JoS homepage.

Though, the more you feature specific threads, the greater the chance that that thread's signal to noise ratio would go down the drain. They'll get more hits, and more posts from more viewers.

www.MarkTAW.com
Saturday, December 20, 2003

OTOH... it was very easy to find this topic again because it was bold.

www.MarkTAW.com
Saturday, December 20, 2003

Bold does make it easier to remember posts, also other non-bloded *interesting *posts can be remebered relative to the ones already bolded.

How about having a link to Chris's site (usuabilitymustdie) on the main forum page where he could *group* the topics by outsourcing, buying a laptop, CS bashing, headphones, interview stuff.....

Prakash S
Saturday, December 20, 2003

Categorizing seems manual and prone to breakdown.

My problem with Bold topics is let's say you arrive at JoS on Monday after a long weekend away and all the top 50 topics or so are new. As you're scrolling through the topics, the bold topics distract the eye and you have to refocus to catch any meaning from the other posts. Maybe this will change as I adjust to it, maybe not.

www.MarkTAW.com
Saturday, December 20, 2003

_why_ is everything underlined now?  thats just painful to look at...

FullNameRequired
Saturday, December 20, 2003

Another advantage of bold is that it craetes a light-dark pattern on the page that enables me to much more quickly find the non-bold article I am looking for - it's 2/3 between those bold ones with a lot of space between them, for instance. I don't even think about it but it just happens I can find stuff easier. I guess I'd call it finding stuff by landmarks and it's a good thing.

Dennis Atkins
Saturday, December 20, 2003

In the mean time, for those who prefer to go back to unbolded titles, install Privoxy (http://www.privoxy.org)and the following filters:

{+filter{jos}}
discuss.fogcreek.com

FILTER: jos
s|<strong>(.+?)</strong>|$1|sgi

Frederic Faure
Saturday, December 20, 2003

It's a Bold experiment.

Sorry, I just had to say that...

Realist
Saturday, December 20, 2003

The bold topics don't bother me.  I am already filtering it out, since I typically choose which topics to read based on the topic title.

What does aggravate me to no end is trying to find out where I left off reading a topic when I come back to it, especially in a high frequency thread (like this one). 

pile on!
Saturday, December 20, 2003

pile on, I agree, finding the new posts is a pain, especially on a popular thread.  I'll add to my previous comment about adding something like (35, 10) and request that the '10' be a link to the new posts.

Philo and Stephen, about the bit about threads going back to blue when a new post/topic is added: That would be great if I could always remember which topics I've viewed, but my memory isn't that good :).  And since I don't read every topic it's sometimes hard to distinguish between the topics I've read that have new threads, and the ones I haven't read because I'm not interested in them.

So I still want to see (35, 10) showing me the total number of posts and the number of new posts since I last visited.

Finally, as for the readability of the bold subjects, I am tentatively inclined to agree that this is a little less than ideal.  I think putting a little "-->" graphic in front of the subject instead of bolding it would be a good compromise: the text would stay non-bold, but the thread would clearly be marked as interesting.  (Put the graphic in the 'left margin' so it doesn't blend in with text.)

-Thomas

Thomas
Sunday, December 21, 2003

Thomas, that would be super !

Dewd
Sunday, December 21, 2003

It´s the category silly.

Seriously though, I think the noise can be filtered out if we know what category a topic fell in.

A drop down box in the Add New Topic form with a few categories... force category to be selected.

So if want to avoid the watercooler threads, and the please do my homework for me ones, you can

LoveByte
Sunday, December 21, 2003

I have added a Premium topics list to my JoS Stats.

You can now see the most recent 200 Premium (or A-List) topics on one page.

http://www.usabilitymustdie.com/jos/Premium.html

Chris McEvoy
Sunday, December 21, 2003

Finding the last place in a long thread is easy. Just reply to it, no matter how nonsensical your reply. Then you can CTRL+F search for your own name in the thread. Of course, if everyone does that the signal/noise ratio also goes down the tubes.

Joel is never going to implement a (35, 10) thing for reasons he's already stated. Perhaps you can CTRL + H (in IE) and go to your history to see what the URL of the thread was last time you saw it.

www.MarkTAW.com
Sunday, December 21, 2003

Each post could have an anchor associated with it.  Thus when you visit a thread, the last post's anchor is stored in a cookie.  Now when you click on that thread again the web page is automatically positioned to the last post you read.


Sunday, December 21, 2003

I only read about three quarters of this thread, but just wanted to add my vote.
I think this is a great forum, there seems to be some quality people here and I enjoy listening to them and reading the discussions.
I love the simple style of the forum, and the fact that the only user input that I ever ever have to do is when I decide to add a response to a post.

This is Joel’s forum, and his moderation (albeit it heavy handed) has done well to shape the forum into something worth reading and not let it turn into a bunch of people chatting about anything (ie have not seen one ‘look links to photos of my new baby’ type post yet).
I am glad, this is a great forum, keep up the moderation if it does this.

The bold topics are good, because they have nothing to do with what I (or any other poster) thinks, they are purely based on the opinion of Joel (or his appointed elves) and thus we don’t get invaded by bikers and become the local biker hangout, so to speak (apologies to any bikers!). S owhen I see a bold topic I know what type of stuff this forum is about.

I love someone else’s suggestion of rating posts (although perhaps a ‘nicer’ way might be to rate 1-10, but display a ‘<5’ for any of the lower posts, less of an ego jab). It is a great way to steer the posters toward saying ‘hey this is what we want to read, and this is not so close’.

I too skim past the (seemingly) enormous amount of posts that have a ‘I hate my job/managers are evil/I cannot find a job/Everything is outsource’ unsolvable issues (admittedly some of the more well written, less whiny ones are very interesting). Plus I would hate to see the forum turn into a ‘hey you guys are all top of your field, help me with my problem’ forum (again admittedly I have posted one of those topics).

So ratings are good, I mean we can all just leave if we don’t like it!!

(my $0.02…..Joel shouldn’t need to charge any fees, look after all the pennies in this post, and for sure the pounds will look after themselves!!)

Aussie Chick
Sunday, December 21, 2003

I agree with Aussie Chick. This isn't Slashdot (read: community driven) this is the JoS forum (read: J driven).

www.MarkTAW.com
Sunday, December 21, 2003

The bold binary nudge might not be the end all nirvana of board steering, but as far as I am concerned it beats all the other suggestions in this tread, as well as the examples given form other forums (fora?).

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, December 22, 2003

Yeah, now that I'm used to it. Bold definately seems in line with the 'philosophy' behind this board.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, December 22, 2003

I really like the anchor + cookie idea. It's smart, and transparent, and useful, and doesn't impact the usability of the site.

Brad Wilson (dotnetguy.techieswithcats.com)
Monday, December 22, 2003

First, this type of useless, pointless meta-discussion is what makes this forum's dB/noise decline constantly.
Now... To contribute to the conundrum and void my own point:
This reduction in interesting discussion by doting and droning on the trifle has a direct effect on knowledgeable, insightful posters drifting away -- as they usually would not have the time to sift through the crap to get to the gems.
This is a feedback loop obviously, as it directly decreases the signal to noise ratio and leads to... guess what... more of the valuable posters not-coming-back.
I think that this type of discussion is specifically for those who have nothing better to do than hear themselves speak. Go to Slashdot.

Tal Rotbart
Monday, December 22, 2003

---" I think that this type of discussion is specifically for those who have nothing better to do than hear themselves speak. Go to Slashdot. "----

As this thread was started by Joel, can we presume that you are telling him to go to Slashdot.

Do you post meaningless trolls there as well?

Stephen Jones
Monday, December 22, 2003

Any post on the mechanics and politics of this board as an open invitation to criticism and pie-in-the-sky wish listing.

www.MarkTAW.com
Monday, December 22, 2003

Look ma, that girl has pointy hair...

GuyIncognito
Wednesday, December 24, 2003

I'm afraid I'm not liking bold as the means of indicating interesting threads any better now than I was a month ago.

Breandán Dalton
Tuesday, January 20, 2004

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