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Rethinking the "board index"

The board index has been there unchanged for eons.
But... is it really still a nice solution nowadays?

Last time we added te option to swap the BI with any other controller configured to act as main page, but IMO this is not nearly enough.

In this morning without much sleep I found myself thinking about it.

Apart from the obvious easy way of integrating Simple Portal directly into Elk, I was looking more into what should actually be the home page of the forum.

BTW writing and formatting the text from a mobile is still a pain in the valley of the shining sun.

Looking around at what any site that is not a forum does, you can see a clear trend, and one that should hardly be dismissed as "forums are something else", and I mean dashboards.
The BI works somehow well for guests that need to be guided through the sections, though for a registered user, more than staring at the list of sections the forum is composed of, it would probably be more interesting to see other stuff: who answered my topics? Did anyone countered that argument we are having in that other topic? Did I receive any PM? Did anyone react to my stuff? Was I writing something I did not post yet? Is there anything that needs moderator/admin attention? Ect.

The "busy" life of the user may be made a little simpler and more appealing by providing him/her what is actually important.

Thoughts anyone?
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Re: Rethinking the "board index"

Reply #1
Those are all great ideas. One thing potentially worth considering is a list of recent replies, structured more like social media sites. Perhaps the index might show a few recent posts, topic expandable by ajax, with a quick reply text only box. One major advantage social media sites have is the lack of complex navigation. People are inherently super lazy....

Re: Rethinking the "board index"

Reply #2
Hi,

all great but,

it's early, isn't it ?  there are currently 267 open issues

+ version 2 hasn't arrived yet
sorry for my bad english

Re: Rethinking the "board index"

Reply #3
a lot of commercial sites are using Disqus. - it gives even less than your mention.
allows no attachments at all
very small ava
no msg or mails at all.
just a comment w up/down votes which may or may not work
pretty scant on any other stats

basicly, bare bones comment blogging.

Re: Rethinking the "board index"

Reply #4
Disqus is not a forum software but a comment system hosting for websites ;)
sorry for my bad english

Re: Rethinking the "board index"

Reply #5
Flarum and Discourse should be among the latest style and design for forum. Plus we already have an addon for ElkArte home page to look like flarum which could be a good start in redesigning it.

Re: Rethinking the "board index"

Reply #6
it's early, isn't it ?  there are currently 267 open issues

+ version 2 hasn't arrived yet
No, early is not at all.
It's never early, it's always late no matter what.

Actually, if something worth comes out of a similar discussion, 2.0 is quite a good spot to fill it in since nothing has settled yet (and actually I am working on something related to this that made me wanted to start this discussion :D ).

Flarum and Discourse should be among the latest style and design for forum. Plus we already have an addon for ElkArte home page to look like flarum which could be a good start in redesigning it.
Yeah, that could be a start, though I would really like to try to go a bit further.
But let's start with them.
As a reference I'll use the corresponding communities, since I'm not so familiar with them and I don't know many sites using tìhem either.

Flarum
https://discuss.flarum.org/
X
First impression: looks like a ripoff of gmail.
Spoiler (click to show/hide)
That doesn't mean I dislike it, just trying to "categorize" what I'm seeing.
I like the "start a discussion" button and probably also the "reply" button that may be where the "log in to reply" is when logged in and inside a discussion.

Discourse
X
Quite minimalist.
It took me a few seconds understand what "top" was about, at first I thought it was a button to bring me back to the top when I was scrolling, but since it disappeared when I moved down I realized it was something different.
The "categories" page is a mixture of an old-style board-index and flarum (boards with description on the left and latest topics on the right).

These indeed are different from we have now, sure, though they are not really that much different, in a way. I mean, it's both basically a "recent topics" page instead of the board index (that you can already do with base 1.1 from the layout page), of course a little nicer (that may not be so good with just tweaking the CSS of the above mentioned view).
What I'm thinking here would be something more substantial, not only a view, but also a change of features presented to the user.
TBH, when I wrote about it the first time, I was looking at linkedin "home" page, but probably what would be more similar to what I had in mind would be twitter:
X
that doesn't mean I would pick everything they have there and just replicate it.
Though, a ripoff of twitter home page seems more "forumish" to me than Flarum at this point: a central  "stream" of most recent posts, a trends area, something else "to do" (if you like and if someone could figure out what that else could be xD). Heck, even the menu on the left could be an interesting solution to explore, even though that would mean break quite a bit more than what I was proposing here... but who cares at this stage, collecting ideas is different from making them reality anyway. :D

Those are all great ideas. One thing potentially worth considering is a list of recent replies, structured more like social media sites. Perhaps the index might show a few recent posts, topic expandable by ajax, with a quick reply text only box. One major advantage social media sites have is the lack of complex navigation. People are inherently super lazy....
Yep, people are really lazy.
I'm wondering: would it be better posts or topics? You mentioned both, and in fact I would be unsure myself.
Posts seem like a good way, though it could make sense also topics, in that case I guess a badge with the number of unread messages since your last visit would be a nice touch.
Actually, the answer may even depend on the traffic of the site, looking at discourse and flarum, I have the feeling that if the site is kind of busy, you may keep getting these "new post" thing quite frequently if you are not fast to catch up (well, okay, nowadays it's less of a concern, though let's consider possibilities while we dream :D ).

a lot of commercial sites are using Disqus. - it gives even less than your mention.
allows no attachments at all
very small ava
no msg or mails at all.
just a comment w up/down votes which may or may not work
pretty scant on any other stats

basicly, bare bones comment blogging.
Yeah, as both you and @radu81 said... Disqus is just a comments platform as a service, not really a "forum".
Truth there are shared features and a forum could act as commenting solution for things, though two different planets, really.
I'd be tempted to consider the up/down voting part, and probably that would be more interesting as a sort of "reactions" that could give more freedom of expression (e.g. in some less-confrontational communities, someone maybe be scared of straight downvote someone else's post, though he may be good with a less direct reaction (e.g. a frown or a shrug), but these  could be used internally to up/down vote posts anyway without people actually realizing O:-) ).

Another wall of text. LOL
Bugs creator.
Features destroyer.
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Re: Rethinking the "board index"

Reply #7
Twitter homepage is somewhat similar.to Facebook in my view and as I recalled, many oppose facebook style when it first become a popular social media while we were SMF, the idea of which is too much different from a traditional forum.

Frankly speaking I liked the opposed idea but it was difficult to achieve by people limited knowledge and skills, plus I also recalled loading of such homepage is said could be very heavy for any shared hosting which many are using.

In any event a draft in a form of an addon like flarum addon wouldn't hurt. Looking forward to see and test one.

Re: Rethinking the "board index"

Reply #8
Those are all great ideas. One thing potentially worth considering is a list of recent replies, structured more like social media sites. Perhaps the index might show a few recent posts, topic expandable by ajax, with a quick reply text only box. One major advantage social media sites have is the lack of complex navigation. People are inherently super lazy....
   Yep, people are really lazy.
I'm wondering: would it be better posts or topics? You mentioned both, and in fact I would be unsure myself.
Posts seem like a good way, though it could make sense also topics, in that case I guess a badge with the number of unread messages since your last visit would be a nice touch.
Actually, the answer may even depend on the traffic of the site, looking at discourse and flarum, I have the feeling that if the site is kind of busy, you may keep getting these "new post" thing quite frequently if you are not fast to catch up (well, okay, nowadays it's less of a concern, though let's consider possibilities while we dream :D ).
 
 
Sorry eman, that was poor wording on my part. Maybe this will be better: recent posts that expand by ajax into the topic, or some portion of it. Think of it as a preview maybe? Perhaps it expands into the user's unread portion of the topic rather than the entire topic. Or some other abbreviated portion. Then the user would be able to navigate into the full topic if desired. And / or the quick reply could be switched to a full reply without a page refresh.

 

Re: Rethinking the "board index"

Reply #9
Okay, seems what I have in mind is not really that distant from what you have in mind too.
I've never really liked the BI, but at some point I may have thought it was okay, now I'm thinking to change something and... oh well, at some point I may have some free time. :D
Bugs creator.
Features destroyer.
Template killer.

Re: Rethinking the "board index"

Reply #10
The "busy" life of the user may be made a little simpler and more appealing by providing him/her what is actually important.

Thoughts anyone?

I suggest looking at some implemented ideas about "what the user needs" in the forum engine (plugin) wpForo.
Thus, if you watch the experiments of other forum developers, you can reduce the time for your experiments. And not repeat their mistakes.
Of course I'm talking about ideas for the forum, but not about forum plugins WordPress.

X
Community of forum owners on any forum engine (сообщество владельцев форумов на любом форумном движке) https://forumovod.ru

Re: Rethinking the "board index"

Reply #11
I've never really liked the BI, but at some point I may have thought it was okay, now I'm thinking to change something and... oh well, at some point I may have some free time. :D

Such a thought about the future forum engine:

Forum users don't go to social networks, they go to messengers. To understand this, just watch their messages on the forums. Nick has been actively used for the exchange of information instant messenger instead of the forums. I think we should look at the forum engine, which will have an extension that performs the functions of a messenger. Then users will continue to communicate on the forum.
Community of forum owners on any forum engine (сообщество владельцев форумов на любом форумном движке) https://forumovod.ru

Re: Rethinking the "board index"

Reply #12
Well, yeah.
I'm not entirely sure, though, how you could blend a "messaging" into a forum.
If you have something slack, yeah, basically is already a forum with some more direct messaging and less administration.
But, the downside is: to have such a thing you need something different in terms of reactivity and flexibility, and I mean server-side: I doubt PHP is the right choice for something like an instant messaging app.
Bugs creator.
Features destroyer.
Template killer.

Re: Rethinking the "board index"

Reply #13
Actually, building up on your comment @forumovod , you could already see slack as pretty much a forum: it's an app that is basically a browser showing an HTML interface, it has "channels" (boards), it has threads (topics, even though they are fudge nuggets as heck to use), it allows attachments, it has permissions control, direct messaging and any other feature that I can think could belong to a forum.

Problem is: the main difference between a forum and an instant messaging is "how" the two are tied to the users: a forum is tied first and foremost to a website, where the users can register and the interact with other people that know that website and are registered.
An app is tied to their users. Stop. You don't need to know the website to contact a person, you just need the phone number or the nickname in the app and you are on.

I don't think the basic interaction is that different: write a message, post a message.
What is different (and defines the difference between a forum and a messaging app) is how the app gives freedom to the users to interact with whoever they want and how the forum, instead, gives freedom to interact only with a certain sub-group of people.

And this brings me back to my old idea of a kind of decentralized authentication system that could allow to interact with anyone that is registered basically on any other website. Though nowadays it would conflict with lots of the privacy rules that are in place and even think about it seems a bit useless.
Bugs creator.
Features destroyer.
Template killer.

Re: Rethinking the "board index"

Reply #14
@emanuele
I am not a programmer. I am the admin of my forums. I see how users leave the forums for messengers and I can't offer them anything on the forums.
Therefore, I reported here about a function that could keep users on the forums. You don't have to completely try to embed the messenger in the forum. Maybe there is an opportunity to do something on the forum that will partially satisfy the needs of users.

My opinion: the developer of a modern forum engine should observe the needs of real users, he should understand why and where users go from the forums.
It is a mistake to make forums as social networks, because users go from the forums not in social networks.
Community of forum owners on any forum engine (сообщество владельцев форумов на любом форумном движке) https://forumovod.ru