How to make the forum better for novices?

There was a recent post from @MrLucky. It now seems to have disappeared, but one thing he mentioned was that he found this forum too “technical” (I’m going from memory here, having only read it once). I wanted to follow up on this and find out how we might have failed to help him and how we could improve on that.

Anyway I can’t find his comments but thought it might be worth initiating a discussion about ways to make people feel more comfortable about asking for advice and help here.

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It seems I started this commotion, which is fine, and by looking at things, I might be creating more commotion soon cus I have loads of tech tutorials to post, but unlike the last one which I thought wasn’t techy, the ones I will be posting now would be written as is (I won’t be needing to come up with some really simple ways to simplify things) but I would still make them readable and hopefully understandable.

One thing I failed to understand is the “technical” bit of the previous comments, there is a reason we have categories, tutorial cat, support cat, general cat, and the likes. If you feel like you don’t want to see threads in a certain category, you can mute them, period. oh, you can mute a member too :wink:

Uhm, I remember when I first posted on this forum, everyone was lovely, I was guided, and I founded a solution to my exact problem. This was my first post, Is someone spamming the forums “Klein” moved the post here Fighting with JS code for a theme port, and got the solution to my problem here: How do I resize an app generated from Javascript

Looking at that transition, I wouldn’t say people aren’t comfortable enough about asking for advice, have you asked for the advice and no one helped? isn’t the forum super comfortable for enough?

Okay, I get it, it is a bit technical! what do you expect, this is a classicpress forum, and it revolves around technicality (CP is not a social media platform). No one is stopping anyone from posting any stuff on here, my first post was really off-topic and still, people helped, common guys, we can’t agree with one another, this is like going to Wordpress forum, and saying, it is technical.

p.s: I am a novice myself, oh, we have a lounge section too!

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I do think when you first land on the forums it is quite a bit to take in. Sadly, I don’t think there is any real way around that though.

Taking support for example, there are going to be less technical questions as well as very technical ones - I don’t think it makes sense to hide those from the home page though because anyone visiting may have an answer or 2 cents to provide.

On the flip side, I think like @Horlaes, once you ask your first question or post your first comment you start to realize it isn’t super scary like you may first think.

All that said, I am 100% open to making changes to make it friendlier and happy to try different things out to see if we can make it inviting for first time visitors :slightly_smiling_face:

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Yh, it doesn’t. I actually meant, individually, you can hide a certain category on your profile page.

Yh, unlike the WP forum!

Sure!

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Well I could try to explain again but seems a bit of a waste of time if my previous post seemed to be deleted with no explanation. Which is rather ironic as I first came to this forum due to my posts mysteriously vanishing from Wordpress.

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Posts are never deleted, we didn’t even allow people to mass delete their posts when they decided they wanted to leave the community. Your post and the rest of the thread lives on here: Discussion around constructive feedback

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Going back on topic… what changes would you (anyone reading this) recommend we make to make it more friendly for novices?

  • We can reduce items from specific categories from showing up in latest, but as I mentioned above I don’t think this would be ideal.

  • We can change the layout of the categories.

  • We can adjust the landing page to not include the “latest” stream.

Just a couple of ideas I can think of off the top of my head.

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That’s weird. That thread has now reappeared for me. I don’t know why I couldn’t find it before. I guess that actually highlights one of the navigation problems.

Interesting idea. Is it possible to show new or unread topics (or some indication that there are new or unread posts) under the category headings somehow? The problem with the “latest” stream is that you read something there, and then you can’t find it later because you don’t know where it “lives”.

The “latest” stream is useful for dedicated forum followers who want to make sure they have read every post in every category and not missed anything. I don’t see it as being useful for casual users, who might only ever look at one or two categories. For those users it just makes the home page look much more confusing and daunting.

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PS Things were changing there for a minute. I like the one with the boxes. :smile:

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Yup, sorry I was testing them all!

Okay so here are our options!

Current Layout


Only Categories


Categories & Top Topics


Categories & Featured Topics


Boxes & Subcategories


Boxes & Featured Topics

Just to add to this, you can also change your personal home page as well by going to your settings and changing the Default Home Page

Can you explain what “top topics” and “featured topics” are?

“Featured Topics” from my understanding is first showing pinned topics in that category and then the topics with the most recent replies.

“Top Topics” are based on an algorithm, basically correlates to views/comments/likes. If anyone has noticed, when a topic gets a ton of traction the number of “replies” will start to change colour too. For more information you can refer to the code here.

Expanding on that, take a look at the colour of the number of replies:

Is there an option to show a certain number. It’s 3 at the moment, but could it be, say, 4 or 5?

And I assume it shows which ones have been viewed and which you haven’t read yet?

To me, the “Boxes and Featured Topics” is ideal. But I’d be very interested to hear what others think.

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Re the certain number, I can’t find a setting for that - but I will keep looking :slight_smile:

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I don’t have a preference for the global setting. On this end, I’ve set my view to “Latest”, so, all the latest-interacted topics are kept on top.

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I’ve only just realised this was possible after Wade mentioned it above. And I have been using the forum for well over a year!

So, if it’s possible for more experienced forum users to tweak things to the way they prefer, then I think we should be looking to make the initial forum experience as simple and clear as possible for first-time users. To me, this means going with something that resembles a more “traditional” forum look, so they can immediately feel some familiarity with the structure.

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Ha! Discourse has more controls than a NASA command center… it’s super easy to miss things. I’m also still finding new features all this time later. :slight_smile:

That’s what I was going for… the “Latest” view is how I’m used to using forums.

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I’m hoping @MrLucky can join in at some stage. I’d be interested to hear his views on the various possible options.

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