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#1 doctorfrog

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Posted 01 October 2014 - 11:01 PM

As a fairly inactive member, I hope I'm not out of line for starting a discussion about this.

 

To start with, I want to recognize and appreciate the following:

  • blackbox4windows will never be a huge community (and it doesn't need to be!)
  • the people who run and contribute to this community do so out of love
  • the effort spent in creating and maintaining this site is very evident
  • the platform upon which this site is designed may not be the easiest to tinker with
  • it may not be the desire of the site runners to have another boxshots.org, and they like the current setup just fine

I myself have been using blackbox on Windows since around 1998. I will continue using it until I have no choice. I love the shell and how easy it is to customize and style around, and how it is so very, very unlike other "innovative" user interfaces that we have no choice but to adopt, year after year. I've contributed a handful of styles to boxshots.org, and look up to some of the greats that have either stayed with this great shell or have moved on.

 

In short, I love the shell, I miss what the community was, recognize that the universe has moved on, and fully embrace that we're roughly the equivalent of a WordPerfect fan club--and that's still kinda neat. And I personally want to thank everyone who is keeping it alive.

 

That said, I feel as though this site can be more welcome to new users, better show off the capabilities of this shell, and better show off the current work of stylers, tinkerers, and those who have taken up the gauntlet and continue to push the shell forward.

 

Today's Issue

 

I'm going to add more to this in the future, but to start with, I want to bluntly address what's immediately obvious when I visit this site: there are entirely too many choices, and not enough of them are "interesting" to myself or, I imagine, new users. ("Interesting" being of immediate interest, or related to a reason why someone would come to the site.)

 

Let me put it this way: this community has around 1000 users, who post an average of 0.02 times a day. And on the front page, there are over twenty individual forums to choose from. That's too many, especially for a shell that's most appealing to minimalists. Some observations:

 

  • We have a forum called "Welcome!" with one post in it.
  • The most active and important thread on the forum, on bbzero development, is in a protected forum that users must register to view.
  • One of the most pertinent questions one might have, "What is Blackbox?", is the seventh forum down, well below the fold.
  • The first post in that forum is "AutoHotKey." The last post in that forum is "What Blackbox Is and Why You Should Use It." 

How to Fix It:

 

Collapse much of the less active, less "interesting" topics and forums into subforums. It is very tempting when creating a forum to make dozens of categories, but I feel that this spreads discussion out far too thin. It is better to have a cluttered, but vibrant list of discussions, than a broad and spacious desert.

  • Delete the Welcome forum, and move the post as a pinned post where it is most useful.
  • Think about what new and returning users are most interested in and make sure that stuff is very quickly and easily available to them, as close to the top as possible.
    • For new users, this is access to the safest/easiest builds, VERY brief "What Is" type information, and pictures of the shell in action, as well as a snapshot of the hottest discussions. And probably off topic chat. Don't make them register to get any of this.
    • For returning users, this is most likely newest styles, conversations about the latest builds. And probably off topic chat.
    • Everything else is still important, just not as important. It can live below the fold or in subforums. The above stuff should be no more than one click, and no scrolls, away.
  • Rename "Community News" into "Off Topic" or similar discussion and move it to the bottom.
  • Take every forum that hasn't had posting activity in a month and move/archive its content. Again, this is the principle of concentrating content and conversation into smaller areas to better facilitate discussion.

If it isn't clear, I want to make it so: I offer this criticism humbly, and with a real love for the community and the shell. Heck, I took an hour to write this, I wouldn't have if it wasn't important to me.


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#2 pitkon

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Posted 02 October 2014 - 05:05 AM

Thanks so much for this, doctorfrog. I KNOW all this is out of love for the community because I know YOU - you've been around about as long as I have and I always liked your styles. A handful? Make that around 40. But since 1998? Nah, make that around 2001, Blackbox 4 Windows wasn't around then :) Damn, I used to use Litestep and IceSphere back then :D

About the community: I disagree about halcyon days being a thing of the past. There is a renewed interest for the shell and the community. Remember that lostinthebox and bb4win, at their peak and before they went down had about 4,000 members within 8 years, of whom about 1,000 were spammers (me and snkmchnb had a hard time deleting them in an effort to keep lostinthebox afloat back in 2010). On Blackbox4Windows.com we have over 1,000 members (no spammers among them, so far) within 10 months, which I consider a good start and a promise for the future.

Now, about the site: I tried to combine characteristics from all three demised (or abandoned) BB sites, boxshots, lostinthebox and bb4win.org. all of which I had the honor and pleasure to co-administer.  Each site was its own self and users knew what each site was - boxshots for BB styles and screenies, lostinthebox for the forums and bb4win for news and builds. It's not easy to merge all three sites into one with the restrictions of the IPB script. And, like you said, what I did I did out of love and out of my pocket :)

I do agree with you that most of what you've written is correct and inspiring and I do plan on making certain changes. Two things I don't think I'll change is the Welcome up there (it's like welcoming people to your home, or rather the community) and the Community News title (anything else sounds impersonal to me). So, thank you for this topic, it's a niche for ideas for the site and since this IS a community, everyone is welcome to add their ideas and suggestions.

It would also help, doctorfrog, if you posted here, or PMed me, a site tree the way you envision it. Thanks!


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#3 diabol

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Posted 02 October 2014 - 05:31 PM

[...] fully embrace that we're roughly the equivalent of a WordPerfect fan club [...]

 

that made my day


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#4 KillingSpree

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Posted 03 October 2014 - 04:47 AM

Proposed Revision for Forums

 

&

  -

  -

 

&

  -

  -

    --

    --

  -

    --

    --

    --

    --

    --

  -

  -

Legend

& Indicates Main Directory ( Currently there are News, Forum, Uploads, and Downloads; to clarify)

- Indicates Subdirectory

-- Indicates Subdirectory Below - .. ect

/ indicates Single Topic inside above directory

*1 *1 indicates where Topics should be moved to/from

 

&News (Removed Welcome, Interviews,Featured Artist/Themer*1, How It All Began*3)

-Community News

/ Featured Artist/Themer*1 (One Topic which is maintained by someone, or allow comments and frequently update first post)

-New Builds

 

&BlackBox Window(Removed What is BlackBox?*2, How to Install BlackBox, Linux Speak, Ideas and Requests, How to Add Pictures to your posts)

 -General Discussion

 -Help

  /What is BlackBox*2 *3 (Consolidate a good explanation as well as History into single topic)

  /How to Install BlackBox From Source(Only necessary Install tutorial, all others should be explained in release post for build)

  /Basic Usage tutorial

  --Style Tutorials

  --BB Interface Tutorials

 -Customization

  /Plugins

   --Styles

   --Themes

   --Icons

   --BB Visual Enhancement

   --Linux Utilities Skins

 -Blackbox Builds

 -Developers Corner

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Hope you like it! (Not sure if your forum allows subdirectories as mentioned above but it would be cleaner.)

 

Cheers!



#5 pitkon

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Posted 03 October 2014 - 05:17 AM

Thank you, KillingSpree, both for your time and for your suggestions which I find very useful. Yes, the site allows for sub- sub- and sub-directories and I like the structure you propose. Hope we'll be hearing more from other members as well :)


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#6 doctorfrog

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Posted 03 October 2014 - 08:21 PM

I'll whip up an idea this weekend when I have time for site structure. Nothing too world-changing. Do we have the capability of putting one or more "featured" images near the top, like we have on boxshots.org? Something that can rotate once or twice a month, and highlight community activity.


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#7 pitkon

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Posted 04 October 2014 - 05:17 AM

I'll whip up an idea this weekend when I have time for site structure. Nothing too world-changing. Do we have the capability of putting one or more "featured" images near the top, like we have on boxshots.org? Something that can rotate once or twice a month, and highlight community activity.

Not sure if we can do it here, will have to ask adni18 about that. Looking forward to your suggestions! :)



#8 E-xecutive

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Posted 07 October 2014 - 05:23 PM

On the main page (recto) we see the names of users who last posted in threads. It's an ordinary thing for any forum.

And what is illogical here: we go to first page of the thread when clicking on its ticker.

Such action is normal for the left side where the forum sections are listed. But if we look for the last post in a thread, it would be correct to show us the last post or the last page in one click, I think  :blush:


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#9 Liquid

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Posted 18 October 2017 - 07:12 AM

I know this is an old thread, but I noticed it's been pretty quiet here. So, I thought I would add something - since it's an ideas thread.

 

I am a moderator on a music forum, that is centered around FL Studio, (which is software for music creation). We have a number of different boards/ sub forums for other music related posts. But the board that has the most posts, by far, is an off topic board named  "Everything Else".

People post whatever they like on that board. It is wide ranging in subjects, from ordinary observations, to funny stories, latest movies, games, interesting YouTube videos etc. Sometimes it's what keeps people coming back, to read, or post,themselves. And while they are there, they often post in one of the other "on topic" boards.

Just a thought :)


keescg.png

 





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