User Forum is Terrible

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 718992

    OK, let me address a few things for you.

    1. Are there other admin only features? Possibly. I'm sure there are some, and some aren't likely to be released because they're admin things, but we often do test some things as admin only. The development really slowed down last fall with some other internal projects, and we were due to get some more time when the pandemic caused issues. Right now our internal devs are busy with other, higher priority things. I did make a case this week with my boss for more time, and someone did start to look at color coding again. That got paused and never restarted for some reason.

      The only good way I have, or others have, now is to dig around and look for things that might be set to admin only. I don't have a good feel for how to do that with WordPress, and limited time, but it's something to investigate a bit and see what's "staged" and not released.

    2. The forum feels like a step backward. I get you feel this way. I know Jeff and a few others do. You have a very, very limited view and opinion on what is forward and backward. So do I, and paraphrasing Battlestar Galactica, so say we all. The original forums were old school, very 90s looking. We moved them from ASP to ASP.NET without a lot of changes. They went to nHibernate with a few changes, but not many. Now we've moved to bbPress, which is themed more like Stack Overflow or many modern sites.

      I have listened to complaints from hundred (not dozens) of users over the years on the UI and useability. The old forums were routinely brought up by many casual users. Not those of you on here every day, but people that mostly get the newsletter, read an article and once in awhile post a question. For every complaint from you, Jeff, and others, I've gotten literally hundreds from community members. Most people, and I say this from experience aside from my own, find the old version of the forums clunky and hard to use.

      Re:this layout, I would say the complaints v praise is about on par. I'll note that in my experience of nearly 20 years here, more people complain than praise, but when I hear praise, it's usually in person.

    3. no manual or instructions - we didn't have that before, though instantforum did have some faq stuff. I never thought about it, honestly, because I've just wandered around and looked for things in most forum software, often I use very few features, and it appears most people do the same. Or they ask a question as you have. I was stunned to look at the BBPress site and find dozens of people asking for a user manual, as you have. That's on me, and I need to build some content to address this.
    4. There are more capabilities here, and there is more flexibility to make changes. Getting resources is an issue, because this isn't the highest profile thing in the company. At the same time, it's not the lowest, and I need to make some better arguments. Things do work here, and we get lots of questions and answers, so it's a hard argument, but I will do more of that. We've let things go too long since the cut over, so we should get some things fixed, like color coding. I think the editor is also a little clunky in terms of formatting. That is surprisingly hard, as I got back and forth across the 3-4 WP experts.
    5. Addressing your issues. I am happy to address specifics, but "a step back" or " It was terrible, trash-ware, and we all knew " is a very general, useless from a software design perspective. When we have engaged users with specific complaints, they are often as emotional and irrational as helpful in finding real issues. too often I've dug into a complaint across hours, only to find it isn't nearly as big an issue as someone makes it out and they're more upset about their specific thing. If you have a specific, this doesn't work well, I do encourage you to post specific issues in this forum (not this thread/topic). I will respond and give a reason or status on them
  • YSLGuru

    SSC-Insane

    Points: 21517

    Are there other admin only features? Possibly. I'm sure there are some, and some aren't likely to be released because they're admin things, but we often do test some things as admin only.

    The point here was not to request admin like features but to ask if there were things that non-admins should be seeing/accessing but are not for whatever reason and if so then maybe that could help explain why the forums appear good to go to you but not to at least some of the non-admin users. I am assuming that the thing missing for Phil as shown in his post is not an Admin only thing.

    Addressing your issues. I am happy to address specifics, but "a step back" or " It was terrible, trash-ware, and we all knew " is a very general, useless from a software design perspective. When we have engaged users with specific complaints, they are often as emotional and irrational as helpful in finding real issues. too often I've dug into a complaint across hours, only to find it isn't nearly as big an issue as someone makes it out and they're more upset about their specific thing. If you have a specific, this doesn't work well, I do encourage you to post specific issues in this forum (not this thread/topic). I will respond and give a reason or status on them

    Of the points you made this is one that I'm going to have to correct you on. I never called the SQL Server Central User forum trash-ware. I listed a personal example where I refereed to software I had to use at a previous job as trash-ware and that was in regards to a story about the issue with needed change not happening because of employees  fear of being accused (by management) of not being a "team player". I was hoping that something like that, a resistance to needed change for fear of being labeled "not a team player" was not happening with this website.

    You say that you've moved to bbPress, which is themed more like Stack Overflow or many modern sites but if you look at stack-overflow and then compare it to this forum they look nothing alike. Stack-overflow is a rich user forum that has a clean setup. There are many options (although I don't see a preview mode/option) and the layout is tight and easy to follow.

    When you compare sqlservercentral.com to Stack-Overlfow its a lot easier to see the problems. In short,  the user forums at sqlservercentral.com looks more like a simplified forum designed for end users working on mobile devices where as stackoverflow's forums looks like its meant for the workstation warrior.  If sqlserevercentral.com's user forum looked and worked like stackoverflow you'd still have some problems but it would be a far better and more dev-user friendly website.

    If I didn't care I wouldn't bother taking the time to tell you about any of this and I imagine the same can be said for Jef Moden.  The bottom line is that the current user forums for this website is lacking in the kind of features/functionality you;d typically find with a more developer savvy like website.

    Kindest Regards,

    Just say No to Facebook!
  • barsuk

    SSChampion

    Points: 12165

    Hello,

    I wonder if there is a way to print the whole topic, consisting of multiple pages in 1 shot. This option used to be available in the prior version of the forum. I sent this question few times to webmaster@sqlservercentral.com in the last  3-4 months, but no reply.

    ty

  • Jeff Moden

    SSC Guru

    Points: 996436

    @Steve...

    No... this is not like stack overflow especially not when it comes to publishing code nor in rendering previous published code (how hard would it be to overcome the quadruple spacing of old code? I suspect it's a search and replace of Cr/Lf with just Lf).  I get that you wanted to "improve the paint job" on the forum but the project was stopped way short in many areas (which I'd prefer to not regenerate the list for... you already know what they are).

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not".

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)
    Forum FAQ

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 718992

    There isn't a print feature for the whole topic. We haven't had enough call for printing to implement that.

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 718992

    Re: SO, If I look at the two sites, I don't see a ton of difference. They are more tag based, while we are forum based, but I'd like specifics. The comments are still general, not what thing or what specific feature you think is implemented poorly or incorrectly.

    As an example, their home page:, the right side is ad stuff, so I've ignored it

    2020-05-13 09_10_23-Newest Questions - Stack Overflow

     

    Here is ours, a similar view in the active threads

    2020-05-13 09_16_01-SQLServerCentral

    It's different, but is it not very similar? If you think not, what things do you think would be different. Kerning/spacing is a very arguable point. If you look at an individual question/topic, I'm not sure I see substantial differences. I see differences, but they are both very minimal layouts compared to most forums.

    I didn't mean to imply that you were calling SSC trashware. I apologize if that was the case. Rather, that comment or description of a problem with software is unhelpful. It's an emotional or a disparaging remark without detail. Too many of the complaints or comments I've gotten are without detail. I'm not picking on you, or Jeff, or anyone specifically, but most people generally. It's helped me to realize how often I've been upset with customers giving me work and not realizing how hard it is, or how much work it can be to accurately describe what you mean and communicate clearly an issue.

     

  • Jeff Moden

    SSC Guru

    Points: 996436

    Correct... it doesn't look much different.  It's when you try to use the forum and related functionality.  Their stuff works better than ours do.  Sometimes, ours doesn't work at all.

     

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not".

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)
    Forum FAQ

  • Jeff Moden

    SSC Guru

    Points: 996436

    p.s.  I'm probably a minority here but I hate the look of StackOverflow and similar sites.  Everyone has gone that way to support mobile (i.e. smart phones) and so don't expect to be heard there because the herd thinks otherwise.

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not".

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
    How to Post Performance Problems
    Create a Tally Function (fnTally)
    Forum FAQ

  • below86

    SSChampion

    Points: 11343

    I made it clear I wasn't a fan when SSC went to the new version, but to me it is still light years better than SO.  IMHO 🙂

    -------------------------------------------------------------
    we travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us
    Don't fear failure, fear regret.

  • x

    SSC-Insane

    Points: 23563

    I think we have to suck it up with this "mobile first". Obviously the smart move would be to serve up a mobile site when a mobile useragent presents itself and furthermore, I would guess that a website for SQL people would lean toward the desktop because SQL folks do not spend their day running big servers on a flippin iphone LOL

    But techies aren't in charge, theres probably a marketroid at redgate that thinks all we do is look for "hot singles in our area."

    At least we don't have "infinite scroll" man I hate that concept.

     

  • Steve Jones - SSC Editor

    SSC Guru

    Points: 718992

    The marketing and SEO do matter. Engagement is a part of what is needed and mobile has been a constant request over the years. This also affects search results from Bing/Google/etc. Certainly that was part of the decision to change.

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