New forum Wishlist

Post your wishlist items for the user forums (or article comments) here. 1 per post, so people can vote up/down as takes their fancy. I'll start the ball rolling with some things that have been mentioned so far...

This topic was created by BristolBachelor .

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Sir

You double-posted but with different words - that is illogical Captain.

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Coat

Although it could be unreasonable Captain.....

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2000 Char limit

Firstly, how's Trevor Pott to post his long missives now?

Secondly, any chance of a little JS character count at the bottom of the box? Would mean that when I (inevitably) go over the limit I can reduce down without having to continually resubmit!

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I just ran into this issue myself...

... twice.

(I love the sound of my own typing, and I don't tend to edit, or even proofread, my posts if I'm replying as a break between translation jobs.)

JS counter please! I consider not having one a "Class A" showstopper bug. It's literally impossible to tell when I've gone over and I've wasted more time copying and pasting into Word to check.

Alternatively, as someone suggested elsewhere, allow arbitrary length posts, but have a "Read More" link after a predefined limit. In fact, this would probably be more elegant.

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Pint

Firstly, how's Trevor Pott to post his long missives now?

Simple; I go back to “not using the forums", and leave you lot in peace once more. I only really crawled back out of my hole on the other end of the internet because they needed someone to break the thing.

Reg commenters are (on average) fans of the short, emotive, moralistic, judgemental or witty epistle. The witty one-liner. Fans of the lengthy, point-for-point debates exchanging piles of supporting evidence, with rules of logical discourse and so forth?

Not so much.

There isn’t a great deal of “I don’t understand this, can you please explain it to me?" Or even “I think that might be wrong, here is why: <evidence>, <evidence>, <evidence>." Totally different commenting culture from what I enjoy, and one that in no way requires or desires my particular internets-commenting skillset.

This comment is almost 2000 characters long. This would just be enough to list the points I would be about to rebut during a typical deep dive thread.

End of the day? It's a good thing. A 2000 character limit would really target The Register's audience well; it is how commenttards here like things to be. I have given "having a proper debate" a go in a few threads. I have given "explaining things properly" a go in a few more. It’s just not feasible with the existing forum design.

Oh well. I will give it all a try again on Reg Forums v.Next. Until then, I will go back to my regular haunts and grind my “writing about science" skills until I level up a few more times.

Pints all 'round!

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(Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

Re: 2000 Char limit

That is sensible. I will put it on very long to do list.

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(Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

Re: "just not feasible with the existing forum design"

So - for those commenters who want to have a proper debate - how does the current design get in the way?

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Design for a drawn out debate.

Well, the character limit is a big thing, naturally. The other big ones are as follows:

1) Inability to do “tabs” and carriage return issues. This makes delineating lists of points or doing quick point/counterpoint difficult.

2) Lack of a “quote” feature. You can try to do formatting manually, but that gets old quick. What is way easier is proper quotes. On other forums, when I hit “reply,” I get a pre-canned bit of BBCode in my box that looks like this:

[quote="drewc"]Drew wrote all the things![/quote]

Now, this is cool when writing a reference, but critical when chopping up a comment:

[quote="drewc"]Rabbits are evil[/quote]

No they aren't. They are most certainly sent by god. The told plecostomus me so.

[quote="drewc"]As supporting evidence, I offer that they had to be killed with a holy hand grenade.[/quote]

I see your point, but obviously it was a sort of anti-holy grenade as Arthur was able to wield it. If he can't understand the bit about the sparrows, he's obviously an evil chump himself.

And so on. Nesting quotes becomes pretty important as an ability as well.

3) Lack of a "spoiler" or "hidden" feature. This is like "quote," but hides the quoted text in a little JS box that you have to click on to make visible. This allows you to take an obscenely long set of arguments and cut them down to something that doesn't occupy a whole page.

[spoiler] It also serves to hide a related - but tangential - bit of musing away from the main body of the argument.[/spoiler]

These are pretty critical when you don’t have a fully threaded forum. (They mostly go away if you do.) The semi-threaded nature of El Reg’s forums removes the necessity of this from most casual conversation, but makes longer debates in which multiple parties really get going at it a lot harder.

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Honestly..?

Web forums invariably attempt to replicate the USENET format of threaded posts. Unfortunately, they rarely succeed in bettering the likes of Demon Internet's venerable "Turnpike" newsreader app, circa mid-1990s.

The fact is, you're trying to represent a three-dimensional 'tree' in a 2D space. A far better (IMHO) system would be to make the 3D-ness more visual, by having replies to posts displayed as stacked replies. If I want to read that thread, the cards drop open, hiding the other threads at the same time—the latter element has the advantage of reducing the server load a bit as refreshes don't require digging out every post in a forum.

Where a thread branches, you'd have more stacks, and sub-branches would have more stacks, and so on. When I'm done reading a thread (or sub-thread), the cards for that thread re-stack, restoring the previous level.

Or, to put it another way, I'd have written the forums in <a href="http://www.unity3d.com">Unity</a> ! :)

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Pint

Very interesting conundrum.

The new style manipulation abilities bring the El Reg forums up to a far more capable standard than previously. They move from being “comments sections like I find on my local newspaper” to “within reach of forming the kind of commenter communities that Slashdot and Ars Technica maintain.”

Following exactly doesn’t set you apart, and there are design philosophies for the developer, head honchos and so forth that are different from both example sites. (As well there should be, the content is quite different, and I imagine that each site has its fair share of unique readers as well!)

One thing those sites are known for are the long, drawn out threads of ultimate doom that will spawn around any given topic. Not just the comments, but anything under the sun.

If this is the sort of community El Reg wants to attract, then maybe the “unique hook” could be the one thing I wish both those places did, but don’t. Imagine a “split this thread” button. (Or “take off the record?”) Something where a moderator, (or the original poster for a thread of comments) could push “split this thread,” and that whole chain pops out of the story comments and spears in user forums.

Now your story comments goes from 100 comments (50 of which are filled with screaming nerd rage) to 50 comments and one link that says “this thread moved here

And/or, maybe you could “reply as user forum,” where your reply is an href to a completely separate forum where the character limits don’t apply.” Less 8-page nerd rage uber comments under the article, but still the freedom to write comments that deserve to be bound as a hardcover.

There's a few ways to play it, but it might be worth a look. It all depends on the type of nerds you are hoping to attract to the forums!

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Two user names?

Sean, you appear to have two user names. I have upgraded this one too!

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I do? News to me.

Although I have been wondering why the site keeps "forgetting" my login status.

Is it possible to merge the two usernames?

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Nope, there's another reason. I only have 1 user name, but seem to be constantly logging in to vote/post.

Every time that I login, I see a nice little "Remember me" box with a tick in it, but my tick seems to be broken. Oh, it also doesn't help that what used to be "the register" is now also "register", "channel register", "the register", "reghardware" and last but not least "We couldn't think of another name register", and I seem to have to log in to each one separately - ho hum.

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Vic
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Re: "just not feasible with the existing forum design"

> how does the current design get in the way?

It's often difficult to workout exactly what a poster is talking about when he doesn't quote anything from the parent.

It's possible, of course, to follow the "in reply to" stuff - but that's less than wonderful (takes too long on a slow machine, or if FF has been running too long).

Optional grouping of posts by thread and more effective quoting (like a "quote" button on the reply page) would make life much easier...

Vic.

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IT Angle

On a separate note...

... is there a particular reason why The Register's layout still assumes very narrow, tall, screens?

Surely it'd be better to use a variable width layout and lose the ridiculously wide margins that appear on a widescreen display? You already have a separate "mobile" site for those afflicted by phones with terrible web browsers, so why try to cater for them on the main site as well?

This would also make the forum easier to work with as long posts won't end up hogging an entire screen's worth of space.

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Addendum.

A variable-width layout would also let you cram more / longer headlines and / or subheadings onto the front page. (Key articles could even have a short 'teaser' intro. Perhaps some more pictures could be used as well—like the ones you often use for stories you highlight in the sidebar.)

Not that I'm expecting the suggested changes be done right now, but fully half my MacBook Pro's 17" display is empty space when I open the browser in full-screen mode. That's a waste.

Remember, too, that "variable-width" layouts will adjust automatically to smaller screens, so users with tablets needn't worry either. Hell, it might even work well enough on mobiles that you don't even need to maintain a separate site for those.

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Re: Addendum.

Sean,

Of course screens are getting bigger and wider, so we might all have to change our ideas.

We changed over to fixed width in 2008 - to get more control over our design, IIRC (I wasn't involved in those discussion). More recently - those ads that appear outside the borders of fixed width websites - they are called "skins" - have become ubiquitous, especially on consumer sites.

Most sites are fixed width these days, rightly or wrongly. I am not aware of any sites that have changed from fixed to variable - anyone else know of any?

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"to get more control over our design"

And this is the problem: websites aren't <i>supposed</i> to have fixed layouts like print. Graphic designers really do need to get out of this fixation with aping print media.

An example: The Register has lots of lovely articles, but they're all presented in a very basic text medium. Where are the equivalent of box-outs and sidebars that offer background detail or tangential information? In print, you'd have to have physical objects on the page to represent these additional nuggets of data, but on a site like this, it'd be trivial to add some Javascript classes that let users click on a hyperlink to pop-up a suitable box with the information. Accordion buttons could be used to hide a "backgrounder" section that laypeople may find useful, but which users who have set the appropriate preferences can choose to have hidden by default.

There is so much more that could be done with an online news site than simply pretending to be a print site with animated adverts.

The above criticism isn't specific to The Register either: <i>every</i> online news site out there at the moment seems to believe a web-page is just a stretchable sheet of paper that can have a TV or radio player nailed onto it.

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@Sean Timarco Baggaley

Slightly more to it, I'm sure. Now, I'm not an editor or any other such knowledgeable person, but I suspect that there is a magical bit of math somewhere that says “make articles only this long (or only this much on the first page) etc. in order to maximize eyeball time.” Critical, especially in light of the rise of the ADD generation.

Some sites offer the ability to log in with your user and change the “skin” of the site. (Some need subscriptions for this, others don’t.) You can in various cases choose different colour themes (I like black backgrounds with orange or green text,) different layouts, the ability to have “multi-page” articles presented as a single page and so forth.

I suspect that isn’t something that is a “flick a switch and change it tomorrow” modification for El Reg; ever know anyone who could turn an entire CMS around that fast? But all/some/none of these may be valid at addressing concerns.

Maybe you could have a doohicky that “remembers your device.” Facebook seems perfectly able of leaving some wretched cookie on most of my devices that separates them one from the other. (Or rather, it did until I figured out what it was doing and killed it.)

I think it’s important that The Register maintain some control over style though. El Reg needs things that make it unique. Not just the content…but the “little things” that mean when I glance at some random guy’s screen, I know he’s a vulture.

I like The Register. There’s good people here. I want it to have a strong, unique identity that separates it from other sites. But I also see entirely where you are coming from with the design thing, and, well…I think Drew’s in a tough spot there.

I am not a coloured pencil person. I am a professional troll. All gripes aside, the forum upgrades so far are a huge step forward. A lot of work by a lot of people, and it has been well done.

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Not just the content.... but the "little things" that mean when I glance at some random guy's screen, I know he's a vulture

I also find the use of that ingenious term 'twatdangle' is something of a giveaway! Be nice if we could have an icon for that! To keep it clean, you could always go for an obscure reference to it - maybe a pussy(cat) being held up by it's tail?

Most places do seem to use fixed width, but I'd agree it can occasionally be annoying. I'll quite often sit with my littleun in my lap and have a read, a widescreen format means more text will be visible before I have to wrestle my hands away from him to scroll down!

Not looked at how you've implemented the width, but assuming it's a fixed width div, what about a link that runs some JS to change the width to 100%. Those that want to use it can (and should expect that formatting issues may occur) whilst the others can read as is?

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Post formatting options

Please sirs, could you put a handy list of available stuff somewhere (and update it when things change) Oh BTW, when did strikeout become available?

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Sir

Fuckin-A COOL!

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(Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

Re: Post formatting options

I will drum something up. strikethrough was introduce this week.

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jai
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removal of up/down vote confirmation pages

when we click the thumb up/down vote buttons on a post, would it be possible to acknowledge the click right there within the thread, without taking us to another page, from which we then have to click to return from? At the least, have the confirmation page on a 3 second timer that'll automatically return us to the post we voted one.

But better, as the vote seem to take effect instantly now anyway, can't we just visually see the number increment when we click on it, so we know our vote has been counted?

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Megaphone

What he said

I don't need no <i>steenking</i> confirmation.

Plus - blockquote tags would be <b>super spiffy</b>, especially for users who don't display as threaded.

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One more thing

(where have I heard that before)

why doesn't the post appear after posting - i need to refresh to see my finely crafted (if HTML deficient) comments, after i press the submit button.

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Angel

A few additions

I second the no "need to confirm up/down" but it would also help if there was some indication of what you voted for this comment as I have found myself trying to figure out if I already up/down voted a comment already and doing it again just to find out!

And block quotes - yes please.

But of course I am not yet even in the upgraded club yet (sniff)

P.S. And some way to not have to log back in so often - maybe an option somewhere to select "keep me logged in for N days"

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(Written by Reg staff) Gold badge

Re: What he said

There is a preview button - you can check stuff before you hit submit. If your account is upgraded your post containng malformed will be "held" for you to fix up before publication

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Upgrading

How does it work? Why create two classes of user at all?

And thanks for the boost upgrade.

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Why not two classes of reader?

Rewarding longstanding commenters, for one. And making sure commentards don't abuse clickable links for another.

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MJI
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My same as before

Ability to have either a whole blank line between paragraphs, or have one line straight under another for a list.

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AC's and Icons

I liked the change to stopping AC's from choosing an icon, but is there any chance of re-allowing the Joke Alert icon? I do make the occasional joke that, whilst it appeals to my sense of humour, I don't necessarily want my name next to it!

Without the Joke Alert, some can look like trolling and invite a splurge of invective that hurts my poor little eyes (even if it is often well deserved)

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Sir

I usually have javascript disabled so I don't see any of the icons, so I mostly just use a </joke> tag at the end. Inelegant maybe, but it does the job.

Considering Drew just announced the free-for-all on the main forums I think he might be busy for a bit :)

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Yeah that may be the better way round it actually. Otherwise you risk hitting "well if I can use .... why can't I also use ...." from some whiney snivelly A/C (Sorry wanted to insult people test strikeout - certainly beats entering ^H^H^H unless you want to confuse someone with ^H^H^H^H)

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Sir

"^H^H^H^H"

You know you're a techie when you find that funny :D

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Yeah must confess to something resembling a snicker when I typed it!

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Sir

I'm tempted to use it on the main pages to tease people, but it's your idea so I'll let you do the honours.

Only one person has asked me so far how I managed to put a proper hyperlink into my post :)

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I've just been waiting for a suitable thread to do it in, something busy with a lot of trolling going on for maximum wind up potential. Alas it seems to quiet so far today, had thought the Assange thread might attract a few but not too many there yet!

Think I may have been going a bit crazy with b and i but then i used to use underscores a lot anyway!

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Ah perfect

A Google related thread!

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Reason for down (or up) voting

I've seen quite a few posts that were down voted but I never managed to work out why. Would it be possible to allow for down (and up) voting to have an optional comment so that the person being down (or up) voted can get some idea why?

It might be better to have that optional comment visible only to the person being down (or up) voted.

Of course, the last point wouldn't help me work out why the post is down voted but it might help the down voted person change his/her ways ...

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I just up-voted this because...

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Alert

I just downvoted this because...

...you're a clueless idiot.

Now, I don't really think this at all, but I think putting in reasons for downvotes would lead to flame-wars and feuds. This might be occasionally entertaining but on the whole i think the downsides outweigh the upsides.

The iFan/iHate wars, the browser wars, and the OS wars are painful enough as it is :)

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MJI
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Downvotes

Downvotes are easy to get, any non anti (as opposed to pro) Sony in the games area will get you downvotes from XBots (NOT XBox fans - they are normal people, but the obsessives who hate PS3 for no logical reason*).

Anything pro/anti Apple will get you UVed/DVed, both on either. Sky fans tend to get downvoted, also look at the UV DV on any thing related to sex offence threads.

I tend to downvote idiots and upvote good posts, I also defend vote as well sometimes.

However a why down vote would be usefull - small list like/

##########

1) Off topic

2) Just disagree

3) You are an idiot

4) I am an idiot

##########

* Tough poopoos Xbots, your heroes play PS3 as well, just like the heroes of the PS3 world play XBox.

########## See my post about line spacing.

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Joke

With attempts at double downvoting not counting, but automagically registering option 4 against the voter (little tooltip that hovers by their name in the forums for 24 hours maybe?)

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Joke

I down-voted this because I'm having a shit day and wanted to spread the missery around too.

I down-voted this because I hate you and look for all your posts and click the red hate button.

Spot the joke icon; I didn't do either of these things.

Oh and at one time I wondered if I had a stalker because ever single post I did got at least 1 like vote seemingly for no reason at all.

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Post voting

Actually, thinking about this, I like the idea a lot, bit done slightly differently.

Instead of thumbs up or down, a column of icons (maybe 4-8) next to the post, done in typically humerous Reg fashion (i.e. derogatory to at least someone), each one saying what you thought of the post, e.g.

ROFL

Fail

Too bloody right mate!

Is your brain on holiday?

Honorary knighthood for this commentard please.

Then when you view the posts, you see the count next to each icon.

Maybe if this is not possible, then could I ask that if someone keeps posting AC and getting massive downvotes, that TheReg can arrange for them to get an electric shock from their keyboard the next time they login to the site?

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Vic
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> I down-voted this because I hate you and look for all your posts and click the red hate button.

This is real.

On a couple of occasions, I've posted on a contentious topic - and my posts aren't often all that inflammatory. Suddenly, all the posts listed on the first page of my profile get downvoted...

Other fora have limits on how many times you can vote for one individual before voting for others as well. This might be a nice addition, if it doesn't mean too much coding.

Vic.

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Re:

We only count one downvote or upvote per computer. Of course this can be gamed - but we do not think this is an issue. Not at the moment anyway.

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Colouring in

One suggestion to deal with the nested posts issue, which introduces a lot of complications, especially on a fixed width site.

Could you have some sort of colour-coding on new posts. So when I go back to a forum, all the posts newer than the last time I went there, get a yellow bar at the top? Then it's easy to just scan down and spot them. I confess, I'm not sure how hard that is to implement, so it may be a stupid idea.

As an alternative, I think I prefer full nesting of replies. Most Reg forums don't have all that many posts, and I'd be surprised if nesting goes to more than 3 or 4 levels say.

On the same subject, I think it would be nice when I check my posts, to see if someone's replied to my post - as well as seeing the upvotes (obviously I never get downvotes...)

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Happy

I owe me £5

I had a bet with myself that this post would get downvoted... Hooray for the commentards!

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