Featured The Extreme Complexity of Online Forum Quoting

Discussion in 'Managing an Online Community' started by Sal Collaziano, Nov 28, 2017.

  1. Sal Collaziano

    Sal Collaziano Womanizer

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    Is it only me or do other administrators have to correct broken quotes more often than they should? Is it only my forum users that can't figure out the quote system on any of the software I use?
     
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  2. skrinkle

    skrinkle Cat Mom

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    I see it happen everywhere and I have no idea why lol
     
  3. MarkFL

    MarkFL La Villa Strangiato

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    Yes, I also see it on many forums. I can understand how mistakes might happen, but what I really don't get is why these chuckleheads don't edit their posts and fix it, when they see their quote (or other formatting) is broken. Most forums allow users to edit their own posts, at least for some reasonable time. Perhaps most do, but the ones who don't stand out like a sore thumb. :)
     
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  4. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

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    I see it all the time and on all platforms. I don't understand it either.
     
  5. Sal Collaziano

    Sal Collaziano Womanizer

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    Yeah, and it irks the hell out of me when they don't fix it. I must fix it! I just can't let it go... :p
     
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  6. MarkFL

    MarkFL La Villa Strangiato

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    Same here...I'm very OCD about post formatting (and thread titles). I always leave an edit reason so the OP can see that someone had to fix their broken post. It's my passive-aggressive way of scolding them, not that any of them seem to notice.

    It was the main reason I developed an add-on to create a drop-down menu of predefined edit reasons for users and an additional list for moderators. :)
     
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  7. LeadCrow

    LeadCrow Apocalypse Admin

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    Sometimes I leave it. Users can get defensive if they see their posts edited.

    As for why it happens, multi-quote can be troublesome. I still use the oldfashioned way of replying to a whole post. It's technically an annoyance since it duplicates the source text but thats a limitatin from the linear sorting of replies, compared to threaded display.
     
  8. haqzore

    haqzore Habitué

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    Agree with the statements here, but the problem isn't with quoting. It's driven from the flat discussion layout.

    Flat layouts suck. They're a hassle. You're forced to scroll through every single post and reply and image and repeated worthless signatures, etc etc.

    And it's honestly one of the reasons forums just don't work like they used to. The process is too manual and cumbersome to get to what you want.

    It's far easier to reply and browse in a threaded layout. You don't have to quote. You don't have to check formatting of someone else's content in your own post. And you can easily collapse what you don't want to see.
     
  9. LeadCrow

    LeadCrow Apocalypse Admin

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    Forums had threaded replies since long ago, linear ordering seemed like the more logical approach to default to.

    Or at least when discussions were generally sequential and karma systems were used to score users rather than posts.
     
  10. Nev_Dull

    Nev_Dull Anachronism

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    I don't think it's so much about not being able to understand the quote system. It's more about not caring. Most people can't be bothered to go back and look at what they've written before they click the Post button. I suspect very few of them have ever used the Preview option. And, not to poke at that particular cheval mort too much, this trait seems even more prevalent in mobile phone users.
     
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  11. haqzore

    haqzore Habitué

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    I know threaded has been around, but it amounts to squat when nobody uses it.

    Flat layouts have issues even when discussions are sequential. A big, big part of what we're used to scrolling past is just fluff. From "lol" to "i agree" to answers that are days/weeks/months old, and others...

    Both layouts have issues, but it's more user friendly (for me) browsing a site like reddit. It's immediately obvious what people are replying to. I can collapse part of the thread when I want with a simple tap/click.

    And to be transparent, after saying all of this... None of my sites use threaded layouts :p
     
  12. Karll

    Karll Adherent

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    Let's face it, BBCode in 2017 is LOL. Tags are just too complicated for today's generation of Internet users.

    We need Markdown or something similar. The mark-up language should be a user preference.
     
  13. LeadCrow

    LeadCrow Apocalypse Admin

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    How so? BBcode is already structured across scripts as a simple way to apply text manipulations without enabling unchecked use of HTML on forums. I doubt BBcode could be widely abandoned, unless a superior alternative coexists. The simplest text manipulations are at least no longer necessary with WYSIWYG editors now the norm in nearly all modern scripts, with limitations like clean copypastes.

    Users do spend too much time figuring out the syntax when they submit content. A classic submission would include quoting, spoilers, doing selections, multiple copypastes and more complex.
    A fairly ok procedure when you're using a desktop monitor or a writer, but on SN and mobile, discussions can be initiated just sharing a link with a plaintext commentary and cute emoji. No complex syntax needed. I wonder if forums shouldnt simplify their experience similarly so discussion there becomes more instantaneous.
     
  14. Karll

    Karll Adherent

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    Yes, there are WYSIWYG editors, and yes, BBCode is better than HTML, and yes, established forum softwares probably can't abandon BBCode overnight. However, BBCode has cumbersome open and close tags, much like XML, and let's face it, this is wayyy too complicated for your average Internet user in 2017. We need something simpler. Markdown is now starting to become more common, and is much easier to use / learn than BBCode. I think this is where we're headed with forums as well.

    Absolutely. I said this years ago on the XF forum, and other users called me names :) Well, they were very quick to invent reasons why this was a stupid idea anyway.
     
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2017
  15. Pete

    Pete Habitué

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    Except there's like a dozen flavours of Markdown and none of them totally consistent with each other. Not even the "common Markdown" is the most prevalent.

    As for making it a user choice, that's actually probably more confusing. But the flip side of that coin is the HTML meets Markdown meets BBC approach Discourse uses. Which is the worst of all possible worlds.

    The problem is that there are things you can do in bbc that you simply can't in any other of the formats, like quoting where you want to be able to properly connect back to the source material. NodeBB sort of gets this right but it's more fragile than what, say, XF does.
     
  16. Karll

    Karll Adherent

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    The most common features, i.e. what most users use, are the same. Not a biggie.
    Just hide it in the user preferences. Then the option is there for the interested user, so they can't complain.
    Details, details. This is a problem for the developers, not for mere mortals :)
     
  17. Pete

    Pete Habitué

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    What do you call the "most common features"? Heck, I've seen three different takes on strike through. Multiple variations on lists. Quotes are also inconsistent, almost as bad as bbcode really.

    You say the equivalent of "not my problem" but on some level it is yours because you're saying you want all of the benefits of the ease of use, plus all of the perks of doing things like quotes with attribution, but none of the effort. There is no solution that gets it perfectly right, and somewhere you need to pick.

    Having it as a user choice just means no one will use it unless they're told about it and from experience of being a forum dev, even that will be rare. Then you have the maintenance headache of having both a bbc parser and Markdown, and then you'll run into the people who want to use Markdown but just have that one bbc that's really convenient. Then you end up with Discourse and its "do all the things in a single post" approach that is a nightmare for everyone.

    This isn't based on speculation, it's based on observation of what real users actually do when confronted with these things. The users who don't care, still won't care no matter what system you use, it'll just be a different set of confusing mess.
     
  18. MarkFL

    MarkFL La Villa Strangiato

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    Exactly. Users who care somehow manage to conquer the insuperable complexities of posting well. :)
     
  19. Ramses

    Ramses Adherent

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    QUOTE="Sal Collaziano, post: 1108325, member: 4"]Yeah, and it irks the hell out of me when they don't fix it.[/QUOTE

    Hate this too.
     
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  20. Nev_Dull

    Nev_Dull Anachronism

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    What a load of old tosh.
    There is no evidence users are becoming less intelligent or competent than they were ten or twenty years ago. What is true is more users are using mobile devices which are poorly designed for creating or consuming longer, well written content. The result is a decrease in reading comprehension and an increase in user frustration. It's much more difficult for users to create lengthy posts or well thought out replies because the technology hampers them.

    Business sites can accommodate those users by creating bite-sized content for consumption on a phone because most content flows one way. Popular social media sites welcome the short, superficial discussion, punctuated by emoji and images because the content doesn't matter to them. Forums, on the other hand, live and die on content that has both depth and breadth. We need those long, detailed discussions, full of nuance, point, and counter point.

    We don't need to make it simpler for users to post three words and a link or some pointless animated gif. It is useless and misguided to try to become more like those social media sites. We will never win. What we need is to place forums in their own, unique niche. What we need is to establish and adhere to standards in the quality of the content on our forums. If that makes it harder for some users post, perhaps they'll spend a little more time considering what they say before they post. And yes, there are some users who will leave because they can't be bothered reading all that text, or it's to difficult to type a proper response on a small device. That's okay too. Those who remain will benefit from the quality of the content our forums provide.

    -- Yes, I'm feeling idealistic. It's Wednesday and I got my recycling cart out before the truck arrived.
     
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