Reorganising & improving our forum

The send new trust level 1 users a welcome message setting is enabled and I’ve checked the mail logs for the last three Discourse accounts created on this forum and one email appears to have been sent to each email address associated with each account without an error, should people receive more than one email when they create an account?

Thanks for checking, @chris . Maybe then there’s some confusion about what’s the Welcome mail: today when I signed up with another email address, I got exactly one mail: the activation email, with this subject line and body:

[forum.meet.coop] Confirm your new account

Welcome to The meet.coop Forum!

Click the following link to confirm and activate your new account:

If the above link is not clickable, try copying and pasting it into the address bar of your web browser.

Is this really the Welcome email?

I think that is the account activation email and perhaps the welcome message is a private message from the @discobot ?

Screenshot 2021-12-09 at 18-06-03 Greetings - The meet coop Forum

See this post for how to customise this message.

Hi! To find out what I can do, say @discobot display help.

Sorry I’ve not been able to join you in this necessary conversation. Please do prompt me on your next hangout, and I’ll try to be there, thanks.

yes, if there’s no “welcome email” really, then we can edit the discobot welcome message indeed.

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1 Links in the header is good thanks. Not exactly prominent, but that’s just the Discourse house style, not modifiable?

2/3/4 Seem good.

3 Having polls that are useful would be REALLY useful.

PS I’d never seen the YouTube help video before, that’s linked from the Greenlight page on the server(s). Very neat and informative. We should put this more up front? @osb @melissamcnab is this kind of assistance prominent in the website - I recall that some help videos had got ‘lost’.

PPS meet.coop web homepage (accessed from forum link above) still doesn’t read cleanly viewed on a mobile device, white text overlaid on white background.

Some discourse forums use graphic icons per category. I think that is nice as it helps people identify where to go. For ex https://forum.holo.host/ Is that something we would like to have/do for our community?

Looks good @ holo. Is there a standard library of icons somewhere? Are the holo icons meaningful for us, could we steal them?

Website is looking clean, and working well on clicking :smiley: Nice on the iPad too (Firefox).

In my laptop browser (Firefox, MacOS) the background graphic in title page is offset, only left-hand half is in view in my browser, windmills are missing. But OK on the iPad.

Are there some BBB help videos to be posted somewhere in the site? Not accessible via FAQ right now.

@osb @wouter @3wc @melissamcnab This is about public UI/UX design in general (eg handbook-type enquiries) but relates to this discussion about our Forum . .

MayFirst has a Tech Infrastructure group which is working on the redesign of their information resources to support their platform of tools/services. Here’s a current post in that thread which is worth looking at. https://comment.mayfirst.org/t/borrador-estructura-documentacion-documentation-structure-draft/2216/5

In the thread they’re seeking to engage with the fact that there are “several valid ways to organize documentation for different readers coming for different reasons and from different places” [my emphasis] - something we also need to be able to handle well, here in the forum and also in our website and Handbook.

[Reposting this in Protocols for documentation]

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@melissamcnab and I chatted yesterday about improving UX in our forum and handbook (aka navigation; also aka filtering), and ‘landing’ in meet.coop generally. My own thoughts below, with various question marks in code format. Please do chip in . .@chris @3wc @Hakanto @wouter Three topics:

  • Structure and navigation
  • Forum landing page
  • Stronger visual dimension

I keep some general notes on UX in Discourse here: https://hackmd.io/wAOP\_m\_sS\_We8ltW6AK14A?view

Structure and navigation

Threads in the forum are currently being recategorising and tagged. Categories/subcategories map content/structure, tags identify modes of enquiry or frames that a user might want to adopt in filtering content, across categories.

  • Categories are limited to one level of nesting, fine for forum threads but perhaps not sufficient for the Handbook. There’s a sidebar plugin to display levels of headings within a post, effectively created many levels of nesting. See here for an example https://meta.discourse.org/t/administrative-bulk-operations/118349. But this is poorer than an overall site view that nests, say three levels deep? @chris can you identify this plugin? And install it for us?
  • Visual representation of structure is essential? The current text view of categories https://forum.meet.coop/ is poor on ‘geography’ and not great for dyslexic or visually oriented people. So we should should install the [Table of contents plugin], which at least gives a visible spatial-logical dimension to structure. @chris can you install the plugin for us? Thanks.
  • Visitors to the forum should be offered an overall view of structure on a landing page. Presumably TableofContents? What then is the role of the https://forum.meet.coop/ view, and where does it sit?
  • Tags currently are these: https://forum.meet.coop/tags Organised under six tag groups: Circles (operational areas in the coop), Commons principles (purposes and commitments of the coop), Decisions (outcomes and pending), Members (user, operations, Board, general public), Spaces (platform, media, venues) and Timeframes (right-now, ongoing deliberation, lasting stuff like FAQs). Hopefully, if folks are offered these frames on a forum landing page, it may help them filter across a number of categories, for enquiry-relevant content?
  • Tagging in our forum is an admin function, not a user-configurable framework. It would be lovely if individual users could tag content. But Discourse doesn’t offer the flexibility of distinct systems of admin- and user-tags. On this basis, a display of **tag clouds** probably is not relevant?

Forum landing page

  • As noted above, a landing page should display both an overall structure map (as visually as possible. Better than ToC would be ideal - still quite textual - but probably not easy) and a number of ‘frames’ for filtering content across categories.
  • To create a custom landing page, as visually helpful as possible, we should use the website, edited thro Jekyll. Thus the website would become the default way into the forum and the handbook, as well as the coop’s marketing (eg videos), public information (eg vision/mission statements) and guides to membership and accounts. A proper coop landing page?
  • This would require https://forum.meet.coop/ to redirect to the website - perhaps https://www.meet.coop/forum
  • SSO will eventually allow us to identify the user, and might be incorporated in the navigation approach.

Stronger visual dimension

  • Icons to highlight categories, or perhaps graphics on categories’ header pages? Yes in principle. @melissamcnab will send links to icon libraries. Sorry mel, I lost the link you gave me :frowning: Mel also will invite colleagues who may know more about configuring Discourse than we do.
  • Not terribly useful below the level of main categories, gets confusing at subcategory level.
  • @wouter posted esrlier on icons Reorganising & improving our forum - #13 by wouter I’m not convinced that the Holo icons are brilliant - too fine-detailed, won't scale well? Hopefully, Mel’s library/ies will give us what we need.

I think the BBB tutorial videos are still not linked from the website. For example, not signposted from FAQs. Are they to hand? Can they be posted @melissamcnab

And it will be great to have https://www.meet.coop/videos/ included in site navigation. Perhaps at the top level? Or top level under ‘About’?

Just a note: the website has been edited by Jekyll in the beginning of meet.coop, but with the help of Oli and Mel we migrated to WordPress. That CMS allows us to maintain the website content without technical knowledge, other then finding your way in WordPress.

I’m trying to understand why you would redirect people from forum to web and then back to forum? create a forum landing page on the website. Cause the forum itself has already got its own dynamic landing. What do you want o explain in this extra landing?

It would seem acceptable to create a landing in the website which links to the forum landing page (Discourse), so website visitors new to the community forum get a special introduction. But I don’t see the need to redirect, that distracts people unnecessarily? Also let us learn from other more successful Discourse forums. I have never seen something like this…

my 2 cents

Maybe we can keep the website as minimal as possible and post links to these videos in our FAQ section?

that’s easy, if we agree on the top level category to be created where they can go underneath? Maybe “marketing kit” or so? And then underneath About? We’d also include also a page with the slide decks.

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@wouter and I have discussed how navigation in the forum/handbook might be more visual bcos some people work better on visuals than text. The existing landing page (main categories plus recent topics https://forum.meet.coop/) is very text-y, with just tiny dabs of colour coding. And you have to scroll a lot to get the picture, which even then looks linear, not branching.

In principle it would be good (?) to have a landing page that is as visual as possible. This might contain a Table of contents (admittedly, text, but with nesting of elements (categories) shows structure visually). Might also offer tag-based routes into the forum/handbook (purpose-oriented filters on content). In Wordpress we also have greater scope for graphic design of a landing page, where visual form and colour play a greater part?

Whatever . . We’d need to experiment with ToC plugin and with tag-based navigation b4 switching to any another kind of landing than the one we already have. In principle though, a better presentation of ‘ways in’ and overall structure may be possible?

@melissamcnab did you find any designer colleagues with knowledge of Discourse . . who might help us unravel these questions of design-for-fluent- navigation in the forum?

Also: what icon library(ies) might we be able to draw on, to increase the visual dimension of the forum? I’ve seen Fontawesome but am far from convinced it’s the kind of thing that helps a lot in this context. Forum navigation isn’t quite the same as website graphic design? What 'd’you think?