I cannot speak for others but, despite its age, I've always thought that SSC was a very rich looking and colorful site (right down to the unique and colorful icons used) that was years ahead of other sites (and I still think that or I wouldn't be taking the time to write this post). I've seen many other sites and I think them comparatively ugly, somewhat difficult to navigate, and they follow the typical "dime-a-dozen" formatting, which SSC does not.
The meat and potatoes of SSC are its articles (Stairway series included!) and its forums. Those are also the things most in need of help but seem to always miss "making the list".
As I'm writing this post in the "Post Reply" window, I see a set of icons at the top that don't do the things that are available in other forums. Instead, I'm frequently relegated to using the IFCode shortcuts at the left which, by the way, take up valuable horizontal space. If the IFCode functionality could be moved to the Icons at the top of the window, as they are on most forums, I could even tolerate a bit of targeted and NON-MOVING advertising in that space. Swinging the smiley face bar up into the icons at the top would free up additional horizontal space without taking up more vertical space simply because there'd be more horizontal space for icons.
To continue on the forums, when I want to use a graphic to drive a point home, I first have to save the file on my harddisk, manually upload the graphic, right click on it's link marker, copy its URL, add the IFCode for an image, paste the URL into the IFCode, forget about previewing because that won't actually work, and then hope I did it all in time because of the bloody timeout built into the site. This has got to be annoying to new users/posters because it's certainly annoying to this old-timer.
These things aren't new faults. Again, I can't speak for anyone else, but I've made folks aware of these short comings both before and after the RedGate conversion. In fact, IIRC, we(Steve Jones and I) had several conversations about these forum problems as soon as the "great change" occurred long before RedGate came along. These same problems have been around for more than a decade. The only reason why I personally tolerate them is because of the people on these particular forums and the people behind the scenes, like Steve Jones.
Similar problems exist on the "Write For Us" pages. The preview falls well short of WYSIWYG and despite the supposed ability to do a "Word Paste", you still have to upload graphics and then manually position them because they all show up at the beginning of the edit space when you paste them. Since areas of code are converted to HTML, all leading spaces for formatting are lost and you have to delete the code, create a code window, and paste the new code in hoping all the while that something whacky doesn't happen to obliterate a paragraph, headings, or a graphic in the article.
I also understand the color and cost of money and understood that working on a forum wasn't necessarily the best way to spend money. Heh... then I see money being spent on a fixed width and all too narrow newsletter, unimaginative and monochromatic icons, and the promise of more "look" changes but there's no time to even fix the bloody timeout problem or embed the IFCodes in a couple of icons? Yes, like I said, different color of money but if RedGate really wants to continue making "friends" (potential customers) through a couple (SSC and ST) of what I think are the world's best SQL forums, my suggestion would be to change the color of some of that money and start fixing the existing and creating missing functionality instead of messing around with a look that appears to have been and continues to be ahead of it's time.
If Developer time is mostly out of the question, what happened to the "test" forum that some of us took a look at a couple of months ago? That seemed to have all of the missing functionality in it and a whole lot more. If that didn't pan out or cost too much, would it really hurt to spend some money on Developers or Consultants?
And then there's "search" on this site. 'Nuff said there.
As to picking a model for a "new look" goes... anyone that publishes a website about a "new look" with a picture of those prison-cell-looking orange doors on top to bottom window offices (just add the bars for the full effect) like Microsoft did should take a serious look at the difference in the definitions of the words "different" and "attractive".
So here's to the meat and potatoes of SSC. I hope that RedGate understands that we don't need to paint the rock solid, slate covered barn when there's sick cattle in the barn and rotting potatoes in the field. They need to spend the paint money on fixing things.
Of course, it's not my show. I'm just another (albeit, more vocal) user of the site.
Ok... I'm done. All I have to do is remember to copy this post first so that when the site tells me I took too long to hit "Post Reply", I don't lose it all and can repost it. 😉