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New problem append/insert split commenting is confusing

By Christian Scheuer @chrscheuer2019-04-18 17:32:34.155Z

I'm not sure the split of the way problem commenting is an improvement. It feels very confusing to me the way the buttons are laid out. Is there a chance you could make this feature opt in?
I'm aware it may just need some getting used to it, but that's the whole thing, if a design is not intuitively feeling right for you, I'm not sure the design is right for a forum. A forum should be easy to use for any type of user since it's often open to all sorts of people who may not know the forum well.
For example, I keep hitting the Reply (append) button, not understanding what "(append)" means and then it's put in the wrong section. You are introducing a lot of concepts - append, insert, discussion and progress and it's not super clear that hitting Reply (append) will add to the progress and not to the discussion. IMO this design is not ready for release and needs more work before it's applied to all existing forums.
I also feel like the "Change" button came too soon. For instance when I select something on the Change menu, that menu stays open.

If you want to split problems between discussion and progress, maybe the progress part should not come up before you actually mark something as being in progress. And once it is in progress, leave the discussion section readonly?
In any case, I don't think we'll want to use this distinction unless it's foolproof for users, which it isn't right now - so right now it's definitely not an improvement in our workflow.

  • 29 replies

There are 29 replies. Estimated reading time: 16 minutes

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    Christian Scheuer @chrscheuer2019-04-18 17:37:14.318Z

    This is how an empty entry looks now. If I click the blue button it will get logged in the Reply (append) section. But we're still in the discussion phase. That's the primary thing that doesn't make sense.
    But please note that splitting comments into section is generally speaking such an unfamiliar concept to forums that I am not sure it's right to even have it at all. Especially not if it can't be turned off.

    If you do want to stick with the split sections I would suggest:

    • Only show the Progress section once the problem is marked as in progress
    • Once the problem is in progress allow to or automatically close the discussion part
    • The blue button should refer to the actual phase, so blue Reply should be inserting into the Discussion now, not appending to the Progress.
    • Drop the "(insert)" and "(append)" naming. Call it Reply (discussion) and Reply (progress) so it's more clear what it refers to. Don't introduce 4 concepts for what is really just 2 concepts.
    1. CChristian Scheuer @chrscheuer2019-04-18 17:38:09.815Z

      Also if you stick with the split there should be an option to move your comment to the right section if you got it wrong. I've had to copy paste a lot of comments since this feature was introduced because I constantly hit the wrong buttons.

      1. KajMagnus @KajMagnus2019-04-26 04:10:21.150Z

        I like the ideas above, about having one main section active, at a time. And yes like you write here and elsewhere, people are unfamiliar with this, so the default everywhere should be that this split-discussion-progress layout, is turned off.

        Sorry that you had to spend time copying comments between sections. Now afterwards, feels as if I ought to have realized that I shouldn't have introduced this new split-discussion layout everywhere that suddenly. But instead I should have tried this out for a while, only in this forum. (And thereafter, opt-in only.)

        1. CChristian Scheuer @chrscheuer2019-04-30 14:08:00.373Z

          Seems like a good takeaway :-) In any case, thank you for the quick fix.

    2. C
      In reply tochrscheuer:
      Christian Scheuer @chrscheuer2019-04-18 17:39:38.956Z

      It also doesn't make sense to me that the "Reply (insert)" button is now above the Discussion posts. Feels counter intuitive.
      I think this whole thing might be overengineered. Remember that without this feature, people can still do these things just by creating seperate topics for discussion and progress if they wanted to. But forcing this methodology onto people will be limiting to all those circumstances where something in the logic is not a 100% match.

      1. CChristian Scheuer @chrscheuer2019-04-18 17:40:15.049Z

        To add to this, the "Reply (insert)" is above the comment I just made, but the comment gets "inserted" below (appended).

      2. C
        In reply tochrscheuer:
        Christian Scheuer @chrscheuer2019-04-18 17:47:41.689Z

        Maybe call "Reply (append)" something like "Add progress note" or something like that. You're not replying to anything if you're adding a comment about progress. The progress reporting also should possibly be limited to specific members who are allowed to do that IMO.
        But again it comes down to that this split severely limits the way people work. It might work well for the cases where you have say an API discussion and once you've completed the discussion and have decided what needs to be done, you can get into work mode. The progress reports would then typically be made my community/project owners I suppose.
        I can see that this works well with how you're working on Talkyard, which seems very structured.
        Our approach is a lot more scattered and dependent on how users will react to a subject. We'll often have users ask separate new, but related questions inside the same threads, which we need to allow them to do. Questions and solutions often spark new questions, and new solutions to those questions. Same goes for problem solving. By enforcing the split, this becomes either impossible to do now, or the "progress" section risks getting filled up with discussion too, and/or you'll have discussions of several topics, and now progress on those same topics in a seperate section, but unlinked to their parent discussions.

        1. CChristian Scheuer @chrscheuer2019-04-18 17:49:40.050Z

          But again, if the buttons were more intuitive and the "Reply (append)" would be changed so that "Reply" was for discussion and "Add progress" was for progress, it might be ok to stick with the new design for us too. Just - something's off, and trying to come up with ideas of how to make it less off :)

        2. C
          In reply tochrscheuer:
          Christian Scheuer @chrscheuer2019-04-18 20:21:15.177Z

          FWIW our users can't figure this out either. So right now we have topics where the "progress" part is already filled with discussion. This is indeed very messy... Hope it can get rolled back quickly until the feature is more solid.

          1. CChristian Scheuer @chrscheuer2019-04-18 20:24:00.063Z

            It also appears that you can't actually Reply to progress related comments. Instead of nesting like normally, they'll get appended with no hierarchy information which also makes it less well structured than it was before.

        3. C
          In reply tochrscheuer:
          Christian Scheuer @chrscheuer2019-04-25 08:00:08.913Z

          When using the new "Change..." button (I really liked the old "Close" and "Reopen" with their corresponding icons). Made it feel so good to close a problem that way. Anyway, when using the new Change... button it doesn't close the popup when I choose a status. This may be by design but IMO it doesn't feel very fluid, it feels more like a mistake, leaving me to think I'm not sure if the Close got registered.

          1. KajMagnus @KajMagnus2019-04-25 08:33:48.085Z

            Ok thanks for the feedback. This was by design — I somewhat often change both say category and topic type, or maybe topic status. And if the dialog stays open, I can do all changes at once.

            It seems more important though, that people don't think it's broken, or are unsure if the changes took effect or not. So I now have in mind to close it, after each change, instead.

            1. CChristian Scheuer @chrscheuer2019-04-25 08:36:25.718Z

              Thanks! Maybe keep it open if you hold down a modifier when clicking?

              1. KajMagnus @KajMagnus2019-04-26 03:48:22.973Z

                Hmm that seems like a useful shortcut later on, in various cases for power users :- )

                For now I just made it auto close, after each change. Actually maybe I sligthly prefer this auto close behavior, me too. (Will be incl in the next version.)

          2. Progress
            with handling this problem
          3. KajMagnus @KajMagnus2019-04-19 03:11:26.316Z

            make this feature opt in?

            Ok yes I'll do, and I'll change the default in your community, back to how it was before.

            (I'd think there're communities who, for problem and idea topics, want the default to be 1) threaded discussion (like you), or 2) flat (like phpBB etc), or 3) like I did now with a split threaded discussion section + flat progress section below. So probably needs to be cofigurable.)

            If you want to split problems between discussion and progress, maybe the progress part should not come up before you actually mark something as being in progress. And once it is in progress, leave the discussion section readonly?

            Yes, I imagine that'd work better / cause less confusion. I can look into that a bit later.

            I'll reply to the other comments above in a while (all of which I agree with b.t.w. and think are good ideas) .... First I'll start making only-threaded-Discussion the default again (in your community, and perhaps I should contact other communities and ask if they want me to revert this, for them too).

            1. @KajMagnus marked this topic as Started 2019-04-19 04:32:24.585Z.
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              Christian Scheuer @chrscheuer2019-04-20 02:33:00.455Zreplies toKajMagnus:

              Thank you. Can we revert for existing threads too? We have quite a few threads that are all messed up right now.

              1. KajMagnus @KajMagnus2019-04-20 05:32:45.789Zreplies tochrscheuer:

                That should work, if I run this SQL update:

                update posts3 set type = 1  -- normal threaded reply
                where site_id = ...
                  and type = 4              -- flat progress reply
                  and created_at > timestamp '2019-04-18 02:00';

                I can try on localhost first and see if the results look okay, if you send me some topic URLs I can have a look at?

                There's no undo for this SQL update. ... Or, hmm, well, I could first do a select and remember the posts ids that will be updated, in a list.

                1. KajMagnus @KajMagnus2019-04-20 07:46:33.477Zreplies tochrscheuer:

                  I had a look at some topics over at the forum, and I'm thinking it might be better to leave things as is? Because looking at:

                  seems to me people have noticed that the discussion at the end of the page, was flat, and then replied with that in mind. I think when switching a discussion that was flat, to threaded, it'll fairly likely become a bit werid, because people use the Reply buttons differently, when the layout is flat, vs threaded. Maybe better to leave the discussions from Thursday, Friday, and today Saturday, as they are? And then tomorrow or possibly later today I'll update the server to the new version that restores how-things-were-before.

                  1. KajMagnus @KajMagnus2019-04-21 03:08:01.789Zreplies tochrscheuer:

                    Now I've reverted the layout back to threaded. Things should now be back to normal.

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                      Christian Scheuer @chrscheuer2019-04-22 15:07:19.925Zreplies toKajMagnus:

                      Thanks @KajMagnus!

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                        Christian Scheuer @chrscheuer2019-04-22 15:11:42.326Zreplies tochrscheuer:

                        I noticed you changed some of the labelling/buttons/design too, makes much more sense now - thank you. I guess the last remaining part of this feature would be to be able to move a progress note to the threaded section. I guess it remains to be seen how big an actual problem that will be, hopefully the design changes will make it something you don't need to do very often.
                        Note: I tried using the "Move" function for this, but either I'm using it wrong or moving from flat to threaded section isn't supported yet.

                        1. KajMagnus @KajMagnus2019-04-24 05:45:44.936Zreplies tochrscheuer:

                          the last remaining part of this feature would be to be able to move a progress note to the threaded section
                          Note: I tried using the "Move" function for this

                          Yes you're correct, it's not currently supported. I'm adding support for that now. Initially, for simplicity, it'll be possible to move only top level replies, between different sections. And then their replies, replies to replies, etc, will be moved, too, to the other section (so, one moves a whole "sub tree" at a time).

                          1. C
                            Christian Scheuer @chrscheuer2019-04-24 15:12:56.523Zreplies toKajMagnus:

                            Makes perfect sense to do it that way - thank you!

                            1. KajMagnus @KajMagnus2019-05-02 08:19:57.065Z

                              @chrscheuer — Now I've implemented the [move between Discussion and Progress sections] button. It's in the Move menu, for top level posts only, and entitled Move to discussion section. (or "progress section")

                              (That is, one clicks the hamburger menu, to the left of each Reply button, for a post that replies directly to the Original Post. And then click Move.)


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                                Christian Scheuer @chrscheuer2019-05-06 04:29:05.192Zreplies toKajMagnus:


                                1. KajMagnus @KajMagnus2019-05-08 05:45:29.243Zreplies tochrscheuer:

                                  I'll close this topic then and mark it as done. Thanks for reporting all this + the improvement ideas

                                  1. @KajMagnus marked this topic as Done 2019-05-08 05:45:35.087Z.
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                                    Christian Scheuer @chrscheuer2019-05-10 06:23:18.632Zreplies toKajMagnus:

                                    I noticed I could move stuff around now :) That's great. But on this one I can't for some reason:

                                    Can I only move my own posts? As an admin it would be nice if I could also move other's posts. (I can click Move, but I don't get the Move to discussion section option on this particular comment).

                                    1. KajMagnus @KajMagnus2019-05-10 11:15:49.982Zreplies tochrscheuer:

                                      That post (I logged in as superadmin and had a look) cannot be moved, because it's not a top level post: it doesn't reply to the Original Post, but to your post with the text "This appears to have been fixed in 3.0 preview 56. Please comment/re-open if it re-appears".

                                      (And since your post is in the Progress section, the software requires all replies to your post, to stay in that same section.)

                                      (You'll know which posts are not OP replies, because they have a "... replies to (username)" text. )

                                      (If you move your post (the one with "This appears to have been fixed ..."), then the post you couldn't move, # 24, will get moved, as well, automatically, + replies to it. The whole "sub tree".)