12-17-2012, 12:26 PM #1
User concerns: merging threads and article/forum integration
Starting to dig Twins Daily, but I have a couple concerns from a user/reader perspective.
1) The big one is probably the number of topics with duplicate articles and threads. Right now there are two fairly generic articles about Mike Pelfrey on the front page, both linking to their own respective discussion topics in the Twins Talk forum, plus several other generic user-created discussion topics on Pelfrey in the same forum. The problem has been even worse for earlier signings and trades. It's a hassle to navigate and read, and it's probably stifling discussion -- I can't believe that I am alone in asking, where exactly am I supposed to post on the topic of Mike Pelfrey? Did I just pick the "wrong" thread to post in?
From a user perpective, I'd love to see some thread merging to solve this. Yes, that's work for an administrator or moderator but it really should be done. Otherwise I have no real confidence posting here. And front page articles with generic topics like Pelfrey should be pointing to the same forum discussion thread -- there is no reason why Seth's announcement of the Pelfrey signing needs a separate forum thread from Nick's analysis of the signing a few hours later. The discussion will be essentially the same -- point them both to the same discussion.
2) On another related note, I really dislike clicking on a forum thread for an article, and then being required to click through again to actually read the article. Not only is it an inconvenience for users, it prevents article content from being searched by the forum search tool. (For example, searching for "Baseball America" in the main site header search box brings up Nick Nelson's recent Mike Pelfrey article -- in two duplicate places, no less -- but searching for the same phrase in the Twins Talk forum does not return that article or its discussion thread at all, even though the discussion is ostensibly in the Twins Talk forum.)
If the article text was reproduced in the forum thread, that would obviously help. And if we are merging threads like my first suggestion, you could do some kind of top/permanent post for any articles linked to that merged thread. (I fully grant that featured author content should remain featured.)
Also, maybe the forum search tool should default to the same site-wide search parameters used by the main site header search box?
Hopefully this all makes sense. Sorry if any of it has been addressed elsewhere.
12-17-2012, 01:26 PM #2
Thanks for the feedback spycake. This is good input. Some of these issues result from from limitations of the platform we're using, but we'll look into ways we can address these things.
12-17-2012, 01:42 PM #3
Page views baby. Page views.
12-17-2012, 02:04 PM #4
We try to merge forum posts quite often... You just don't see it. In the case of the Pelfrey signing (and other "big moves" by the team), it's just not a smart thing to do. By the time a moderator reaches these conversations, each thread will have 30+ entries in them and merging them would break both conversations and create a jumbled mess. If I can get to it quickly enough, I'll merge them. If both threads have become hydra heads going in two different directions, I leave them be and let both conversations continue. Is it annoying? Yes. Is it better than confusing active participants in both threads by merging their (usually quite different) conversations? I think so.
As for articles not being listed in forum topics, that is an SEO thing. There are plug-ins to make the articles visible in the forums but I have chosen not to install/activate them for searching purposes. Sorry.
12-17-2012, 02:29 PM #5
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Brock, I agree with the OP, more thread merging would be great, but I understand your view also. Hopefully posters will actually start looking for threads before creating them. Do you send a note to people that create duplicate threads, encouraging them to look first?
Also, some duplicates result from us posting something, then you all writing articles about the same topic.....
Have you considered closing the older thread in that case,a nd asking people to post in the new thread?
Also, off topic. Since the software switch, if I post in a thread from the mobile version (which is awesome, btw), I cannot hit "back". I need to go to the overall forum.
As always, the main message is you guys do a great job.Lighten up Francis....
12-17-2012, 03:12 PM #6
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I think the multiple redundant threads is just a function of online message boards. Any other active message boards I've ever used have the same problem.
In the case of the Pelfry signing, it makes perfect sense to me that there are two threads. Seth started one to break the news, and Nick started one (or did he write an article?) with more analysis of the move. Yes, the comments may morph them into general reactions to the Pelfry signing, but it makes perfect sense to me that when one of the major content contributors what to write an article or post on something, they should be able to do so even if the comments move to something more general than the actual article content. In fact, if Seth (or Parker, or whoever) wants to make another post/article with another angle on the signing, he should be able to do that too even if it means a third thread that morphs into general Pelfry reactions.
12-17-2012, 03:32 PM #7
I usually don't message people if they create a duplicate thread. Honestly, it's more effort than it's worth. I usually merge the threads or just ignore it... One of the threads will usually drop off the first page in a day or so. Trying to chase down duplicate thread creators is like playing a pointless game of Whack-A-Mole. Nobody listens and somebody else will just do it the next time interesting news pops up... We'd be chasing our tails if we spent too much time doing that kind of thing.
As for the mobile skin, I don't use Android (which I assume you do, having referenced a back button). Are you using the physical back key or the browser-based back key (is the back button on your phone or in your browser window)? I usually just use the built-in nav so I haven't noticed this issue at all. The vB mobile skin is kind of half-baked. I'm hoping that we'll see a more full-featured version with the install of the next release (which I'm hoping to do mid-season sometime).
12-17-2012, 03:42 PM #8
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12-17-2012, 04:00 PM #9
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To be clear, I love the mobile version, that tiny key board really helps this old guy work on his dexterity....and creates some great typos. I do use Android. The back button I hit is the "physical" back button, not a browser back button. This only changed in the last two weeks or more recently....
Love the site. You do a great job.Lighten up Francis....
12-17-2012, 04:16 PM #10
Thanks Brock and others. I assumed there was some SEO considerations about the articles. That's not really a big deal anyway.
But duplicate threads are definitely more annoying. When I see there are three identical discussion topics about Mike Pelfrey going on, including two identical ones featured on the front page, I'm more likely to ignore all of them. It's a safe bet that none of the three is going to attract the attention and thought that one combined thread would.
Breaking it down further, can multiple front page stories be tied to the same discussion thread in the forum? I get that regular users like me are always going to be a little dumb and post duplicate topics from time to time, but there really shouldn't be any excuses for featured authors doing that too. (I like your featured authors, and I have no problem with both Seth and Nick having front-page articles about Pelfrey, but honestly, the original articles were not different enough to warrant two separate discussion threads in the forum. It's Mike Pelfrey, for heaven's sake!)
As for dumb users like me, perhaps the most elegant solution would be auto-suggesting existing topics -- basically, if a user tries to submit a new article or topic and it has a title keyword match (probably just player name) with an existing topic (i.e. Pelfrey), suggest that the user simply post in that existing thread instead of creating a new one. Maybe make posting in the existing thread the default option for such scenarios, particularly for regular users such as myself, so it would take some user effort to get around it. Then, the new article or topic just becomes a new post in that existing thread, continuing/steering that conversation rather than starting a parallel one. Not sure what platform you're using, but I have some experience coding an AJAX auto-suggest feature if I could be of help.
For example, say that user howeda7 posted the first Pelfrey thread Saturday night. It accumulates, say, 50 posts by Sunday night, when Seth posts his Pelfrey article which becomes post #51 of that original Pelfrey thread. Post count is up to 60 when Nick posts his Pelfrey article, which becomes the 61st post on the original thread. No merging/jumbling/locking necessary.
12-17-2012, 04:55 PM #11
That's a good idea but the required coding would be pretty substantial. I'll poke around and see if there's anything available that recommends threads.
As for shared threads for multiple front page articles, that is a limitation of the software. If I merged article threads, the software will automatically re-generate another thread for each article. It's how the entire comment structure is built... No way around that one.
12-17-2012, 08:07 PM #12
That's cool. I know the limitations of software, far too well!
Thanks for all the work you guys put in -- it's nice to have a go-to Twins community again.
02-15-2013, 09:37 AM #13
A related question: when re-posting a user's blog post to the front page, is it possible to copy over the comments too?
I commented on the Ron Davis post when it was first posted on the author's blog here, then a few days later it got re-posted as a front page article, which is great (more people see it) but the comments started at zero again. Not that my comments on the original blog post were that insightful, but sometimes I might put a little research into them, and it certainly makes me less interested in participating in non-article discussions in the future if I know that conversation could get superseded at any moment by a duplicate front page article.
02-16-2013, 09:53 AM #14