Improving Groups

Adam Taggart
By Adam Taggart on Wed, Sep 12, 2012 - 11:33pm

Welcome to the Test Kitchen! 

If you particpate in this Group, you can expect to receive one to several emails per week from me asking for your brief input. Sometimes I'll bounce ideas we're planning off you, sometimes I'll ask really general questions to get inspiration on where we should focus next. At other times, I'll invite you to beta test a new feature before we release it publicly on the site. 

If all this sounds interesting to you - join this Group! (click here and then click the 'Join Today' button)

At the top of our priority list right now is improving the Groups product. It's been very well-received, but has some notable handicaps at present. A big issue is that it's simply too "out of sight, out of mind" for most folks right now. 

There's an immediate-term list of improvements I'm exploring with our IT team. In 1-2 days, I should have a good sense as how quickly we can delploy them. I'll then ask you your opinion on them (I'm just going to wait a few days first, so this new Group can build up an audience).

In the meantime, I'll post a poll about our new drop down menus in the site navigation. Had you noticed them?

30 Comments

Travlin's picture
Travlin
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 15 2010
Posts: 1322
Good idea

The test kitchen is a good idea.  I noticed the drop down menus a couple of days ago, and really like them.  But they seem incomplete.  For example, "Prepare" tab doesn't list WSID Guide and WSID Blog.  Are you still adding to them?  Also a tab saying "What" hangs down all the time.  The navigation bar also gets covered up sometimes -- "Home > Group > Etc."  These tabs greatly improve navigation.

Do we have a spell checker in here?

Travlin 

Addendum  "For example, "Prepare" tab doesn't list WSID Guide and WSID Blog."  Well it didn't from where I composed this.  But it does from where I read this post.  I guess it depends on how many layers down you are.  But at the highest levels the more the merrier for easy navigation. 

FreeX40's picture
FreeX40
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 6 2008
Posts: 6
Blog Article Ranking

Hello PP team,

I was wondering if you might look at adding a simple 5 star rating mechanism to each forum post / article.

About 5% of all community posts are worth reading in full, but the daunting task of wading through the other 95% of general noise commentary looking for these nuggets means I don't visit the forums much anymore.

The frustrating part is that I know many other readers have already performed this laborious filtering task ahead of me and could have left a set of ratings behind them as they trolled.

These ratings would leverage the community in aggregate, allowing the cream to naturally rise to the top as well as simultaneously providing a real time pulse for the community when it comes to various ideas.

Regards,

FreeX40

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 1657
Good idea, FreeX40

Added to the list.

Hope you'll join the Test Kitchen group. More input like this will be welcomed.

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 1657
Browser issues?

Travlin -

It sounds like you're browser may not be rendering the drop down menus correctly. The experience you've described is not what's intended.

Feel free to PM me or email me to help address. I'd like to resolve for you and others may be having the same issue.

ckessel's picture
ckessel
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 12 2008
Posts: 411
Homework

Adam,

This test kitchen is a good idea. As I'm sure you have noted, the Sonora area has not yet created a group which is due to the huge amount of work going on behing the scenes to establish some key programs which we hope will carry us forward during the next (obvious) leg down.

We are kind of on a "let's get er done now while we still have $100/ bbl oil !"  Just yesterday I was attending a 10yr anniversary of a local business which installs PV systems and I was approached by no less than three people who separately asked me when we were going to begin the next Crash Course Series because they and several friends want to attend!

I have been neglecting the dissemination aspect of our mission in favor of preparation and support for on the ground real GDP! 

Coop

thatchmo's picture
thatchmo
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 14 2008
Posts: 259
just me?

Man, I hope I'm not the only one feeling this way, but if so, so be it.  I am lost on the new site(s).  Even though I visit and spend at least an hour a day on PP and RL, I haven't got a grasp on navigating the sites.  It seems I just guess at where I want to be and start clicking things.  It seems to take me many tries to find a previously viewed conversation.  Very frustrating.  I pretty much had mastery of the old site, but this new site has me flummoxed.  Is there a navigation chart or primer for the site?  Thanks for starting this conversation Adam, I've been holding this in for a long time.  Aloha, Steve.

rhare's picture
rhare
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 30 2009
Posts: 1264
Groups are just plain confusing.

Sorry, but I (like I think others) find the group concept a bit on the confusing side.  Here is why:

There should be a clear separation between groups and the discussions within groups.  Currently on the main group page you can add comments to the group directly.  Why?  The commenting method is different than that in discussions since it doesn't allow for a subject and has a different format.  I think all comments should be only within discussions.

There should be away to get rid of the "XXX joined the group".  Most people don't care when others join the group and you can always check the membership page if you care.

The discussions page should be the main tab when you enter a group - particularly if you get rid of commenting on the "group" directly. (see suggestion #1 above).

I also think the discussions page should look much more like the "My Account, History" tab which shows a list of discussions, author, and last updated, and number of new posts.

Bottom line - consistancy!  Commenting on groups should be the same as commenting on article postings, and right now they are (or seem to be) a different kind of beast.

Perhaps I'm just old, but the "Facebook" style of toss everything up on a single page I find incredibly confusing to follow.  Perhaps it works well when your friends are sharing what they are having for dinner, but I would prefer a much more orderly "group" experience when following serious topics.  Perhaps this is why you are getting comments about people being confused by groups?

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 1657
thatchmo

Steve -

Specifics will help greatly here. What are some of the most common examples when the current navigation breaks down for you?

OITW's picture
OITW
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 17 2012
Posts: 28
Comment order

Perhaps I just missed the switches, but I would prefer to see all comments in chronological order, and not have the highest rated comments appear first.  Is there a way to select that?  Thanks.

rhare's picture
rhare
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 30 2009
Posts: 1264
Heirarchical versus Facebook (social networking) views

rhare wrote:

Perhaps I'm just old, but the "Facebook" style of toss everything up on a single page I find incredibly confusing to follow.  Perhaps it works well when your friends are sharing what they are having for dinner, but I would prefer a much more orderly "group" experience when following serious topics.  Perhaps this is why you are getting comments about people being confused by groups?

I've given this a bit more thought, I think the problem may be us old farts who view things hierarchical like the old forums.  You had a forum, then you had topic within a forum, and posts about that topic.  The equivalent in the new system is Group, Discussion, Comments.  However, the new system does a "Facebook" style display where you have a single page that blends content from below together.  For example the "My Account, profile" or the "Group, mygroup, select group" pages.  I personally find that display method very very confusing.  I know that the system allows both methods/styles of displaying information and intermingles them.  I think that is where most of your confusion originates.

Perhaps a poll or look at the logs to see how people view content.  Do many people use the "My Account, profile" page?  Or do they do like I do and simply click on the "new" links on the front page or use the "MyAccount, history" tab?  I think if you look at my recent comments, they are centered around enhancing the "hierarchical" paradigm so that it more closely resembles the old forum system.

thatchmo's picture
thatchmo
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 14 2008
Posts: 259
Hmmm, just old....?

Adam, the reason I hesitated bringing my concerns up earlier was that I have a hard time articulating exactly what the problem is besides "I don't get it".  Navigating just seems complex and non-intuitive for me.  rhare might be onto something for me- maybe I'm just "old" and don't relate to what he describes as a Facebook style system.  I've never been to Facebook so....'Bout all I can say is I got along fine on the old site.  But I'm not giving up and I'm not going anywhere else!  Aloha, Steve.

pinecarr's picture
pinecarr
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 13 2008
Posts: 1543
What rhrare and thatchmo said!

Adam + Chris-

What rhrare and thatchmo said.! I am not comfortable on the new site (re, navigation and layout do not seem intuitive to me, even after this amount of time).  I think the concept of a separate "Prosper" and "Prepare' page are fine.  But overall, I do not feel comfortable or grounded on the site anymore.  Maybe rhrare has it figured out, per his comments above.  

Also, some pages -particularly the home page for both the "Prepare" and "Prosper" sections, just have way too much stuff on them (my opinion).  I find the crowd of topics in rows and columns confusing, each with something different going on.  Too much.  I know there had been concern, when doing the redesign for the site, about using the real estate on the pafe more effectively (making more/better use of the space).  But I think what has happened is that more is on the page, but at the cost of being less effective (less clear, less intuitive). Maybe it is an old fart thing (with me being the OF)!

I tried to go to other sites that I still feel comfortable in, to figure out "what was different" on theirs vs PP.com.  One thing I see at sites like ZH is that the page has ONE main focus.  You might have links to other good stuff in a narrower column on the left, and something else in a narrower column on the right.  But the overall feel is very intuitive: you see an article summary in front of you, and scroll down to see other article summaries below it.  Very simple, very straightforward,and very intuitive.  I feel "grounded".

I love the content on the site, and was also very hesitant to say anything, and come off as sounding critical.  But I was happy to find a place (the Test Kitchen) where some of the posters I know had already started giving constructive feedback, and where I felt more comfortable (and welcomed) to do so.

Best as always,

pinecarr

Wendy S. Delmater's picture
Wendy S. Delmater
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 13 2009
Posts: 1402
the Complaint Department

I'm sorry. I know this is going to sound harsh. I understand how it's going to make you feel and I will say it anyhow. I've been where you are with a new site (at abyssapexzine.com) and our long-term readers gave us feedback. Our new site was prettier, too, but reader reaction was not all postive, and after all the hard work we put into Abyss & Apex's new look, I admit the criticism stung. But it was good for us, because following the feedback gave us more traffic.

Problem # One - ease of navigation. My time is limited. As OliveOilGuy remarked, I do not just burn the candle at both ends, I break the candle in half so I can break it at FOUR ends. Therefore, the time it takes me to read the same comment over, and over, and--in some cases--over again is annoying. Very annoying, to the point that I now avoid the forums. Before opening each forum topic you used to be able to see that there were, say,  100 comments, and ten new comments. But now, in the new format, if I click on that "ten new comments" link I am not certain which ones are new unless I read a little of each one, getting more and more frustrated as I read.  I could go by the numbers of the comments, if I remember to, but that's not intuitive. I liked the chronological order of comments. I could find things. I could ignore what I'd already read, unless I wanted to go look it up. I don't want a popularity contest! I want to find my information and keep up on the newest posts.

Problem # 2 - For-Pay Groups. Now I understand that you need to cover your costs and make a profit. Believe me, I know. But rule number one of digial media is that the internet should "feel free." Putting vital content behind a paywall never works. We learned that at Abyss & Apex with trying to sell subscriptions to our archived stories. Not only did we spend more on the monthly fees to cover PayPal taking credit cards and such than we took in, but our readership slipped and a lot of our content (older stories were left up at the discretion of the authors) was pulled by the authors. Plus we had a lot of angry blowback on acess to a story that had become an internet meme ("Wikihistory", by Desmond Warzel). Horrible public relations came from putting that behind a paywall.

And if you do have items that need to be for pay, they had better be priced to market. Amazon has done studies on ebook pricing for example, and digital content must be significatntly cheaper: $2.99 for an ebook is where the Laffer curve gets you the most profits. It's what the traffic will bear. Expect a HUGE drop-off in Group interactions once it goes to $10 a month. I've got a close friend who does internet business consulting for IBM and this goes against everything he's ever taught me. Your groups subscribers are not "acredited investors" - for the most part they will look at that and say, "I can get three jars of peanut butter for that much money! Pass." If it were, say, $3/mo you'd get more folks and more overall revernue. It's tyhat Laffer curve again. Why not run a poll and see what people will pay?

Don't get me wrong - there is much good is here in the new format. But these issues are going to drive traffic away.

Travlin's picture
Travlin
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 15 2010
Posts: 1322
Don’t apologize

Children enjoy chaos and excitement and go out of their way to create them.  As we get older, with pressing responsibilities and limited time, we value order that lets us quickly find and evaluate information.  We have to make judgments and decisions, and need to “cut to the chase”.  Years of experience have taught us this, often at painful costs.  We should always be open to new ideas.  But there is no need to apologize for having obtained maturity and a bit of wisdom.  And no need to encourage things that make our tasks harder.

Travlin

Oliveoilguy's picture
Oliveoilguy
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 29 2012
Posts: 313
Comments in Chronological Order

I agree with Safewrite who said: "I liked the chronological order of comments. I could find things. I could ignore what I'd already read, unless I wanted to go look it up. "

Juli B's picture
Juli B
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jan 28 2009
Posts: 86
Comments on Chronological Order and the New Site

Hello Adam and Chris,

Yeah, what they said. (Safewrite, OliveoilGuy, rhare, thatchmo, etc.) Guess that puts me squarely in the camp of  'old people', but the issue of time required to find and read relevant comments/discussions while suffering through cognitive dissonance around my perceived confusion makes this site not feel user-friendly anymore (and I freely admit I do not "do" social media sites, so this may play into how I navigate).

There is value to community, though, and the "community" of this site has been as valuable to me, if not more so, than the information I rely on everyday here. (Play a few bars of the old Mastercard commercial..."Information, costly but worth it--Community, priceless!")

Having said that, I continue to rely on this site and you all, and each and every member here to contribute to what I process, which leads me to either make some sense of this crazy world or dance in the bliss of shared insanity in reaction to it!

cheers all,

juli

catherder's picture
catherder
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Nov 17 2010
Posts: 26
Another unhappy camper weighs in. . .

Well, I guess I'm old at 58 - I used to enjoy the old site, and I really dislike the new site. The groups stuff does not make sense to me; I can't even find the group I set up most of the time, and if someone joins it, I never know. The comments on forums are all over the place - I can't figure out why the same comment is repeated on the same page. The whole thing makes me feel like giving up. To make matters worse, it seems like there are a lot fewer comments than there used to be. I'm never sure whether I simply can't find things, or if they are just not there at all. It's getting harder and harder for me to justify spending time on this site. I got more out of the old site. At least I knew what was happening and where to look. (I'm someone who spends about 2-3 hours/day online, and I do not usually have these issues with websites.)

joesxm2011's picture
joesxm2011
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 16 2011
Posts: 240
popular comments at top - I don't like

I would prefer to simply have the comments in the order they were entered with the ones that I have not read marked as new and a way to jump to the first new comment in a thread.

I also do not like the concept of contributing content to the group discussions and then having the content locked down and available only to paying customers.  It is one thing to pay for content written by Chris and guest bloggers, but it is another to pay for reading your own content and content shared by other normal forum members.

The Enrolled Members forum is OK since it gives paying customers a place to post without risking noise from the general public, but the point is that putting content in there or not is a decision made by the poster.  I suppose we could also decide to put everything on the threads in the General Discussion section but that seems extreme to have to opt out of the groups section completely.

Macs's picture
Macs
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: May 27 2011
Posts: 39
Another vote

I'd also like to add my vote to removing the 'popular posts' at the top of the comments. It adds nothing, in fact I think it detracts - I always scroll straight past them, and on a big page that's loading slowly this is a right pain in the neck. Let's just get straight into the conversation and have a flag to show the popular comments.

Jim H's picture
Jim H
Status: Diamond Member (Online)
Joined: Jun 8 2009
Posts: 1363
Agreed on "popular posts" comments...

I don't want to have to read the popular posts twice as I go down the page.. once at the top, and again in the natural time order.  It's fine to have the popular posts at the bottom of the home page to allow them to bubble up that way.. and like others have said, I can see the popularity ratings as I go down the page and hence get a sense of how the community is receiving them...  

Denny Johnson's picture
Denny Johnson
Status: Gold Member (Online)
Joined: Aug 13 2008
Posts: 322
Jim H wrote: I don't want to

Jim H wrote:

I don't want to have to read the popular posts twice as I go down the page.. once at the top, and again in the natural time order.  It's fine to have the popular posts at the bottom of the home page to allow them to bubble up that way.. and like others have said, I can see the popularity ratings as I go down the page and hence get a sense of how the community is receiving them...  

Me too.

JRB's picture
JRB
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: May 17 2009
Posts: 149
I guess I am in the old folks

I guess I am in the old folks category.

How I navigated the old site:

Check for new content.
Check for new posts several times a day (maybe).
Check the DD.
Check out a couple of forums.
Sometimes searched for posts with usually little luck.  Searches were usually a bust.

Left feeling time was well spent.

..

How I navigate the new site:

Check for new content.
Look for new posts (when clicked do not seem to always go to the indicated post).
Usually forget to check DD since all articles are not shown and main page is so busy.

Usually do not check groups.  Seems to be another layer away.
Get frustrated and go elsewhere.

..

Additional comments:

Groups seem to get in the way.  I do not seem to navigate to/through them easily.
Popular comments in forums/groups/whatever are really a pain.  
Popular comments on main page is a waste of space.  Would rather have the DD titles by 100X.
Probably defeats the idea of groups, but would like to have the option of increasing the number of new comments displayed (from the main page).  I find that I end up looking at the headers and looking for members names that I know that post worthwhile reads.

Really need to have a guide to suggest how the site is designed to be navigated.  Not - you can do this, you can do that, you can do this other, but here is a suggested path through the site.
Love the increased content, but navigating member's input has become a chore.  

I find that I am not as inclined to post as I was before, not sure why.  Perhaps it seems less interactive.

- Jim

capesurvivor's picture
capesurvivor
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 12 2008
Posts: 937
Too confusing

Afraid I'm with you, JRB.

It is just too difficult for me to navigate this new design and I find myself avoiding it, unfortunately.

CS

Ready's picture
Ready
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Dec 30 2008
Posts: 896
me too

capesurvivor wrote:

Afraid I'm with you, JRB.

It is just too difficult for me to navigate this new design and I find myself avoiding it, unfortunately.

CS

I have removed this ite from my bookmarks and stop by once every month or 2. Used to be several times daily. Along with all the technical changes, the tone of the site has changed. 

Some times moving from piecemeal to production kills the product and the brand. Certain products just can't bear the load of becoming commercialized.

Good luck to all at CM, I hope you find the rudder control to right the ship. With all the feedback I have read this evening, if it is not apparent that there is a directional problem here, I'd say the sleuthing skills have become a bit numb.

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 1657
Crossposting

Crossposting a link to my response to the feedback received so far:

http://www.peakprosperity.com/discussion/79649/improving-groups

(Ready - I'm truly sorry to see you go. If you're willing, I'd be happy to talk with you live to learn more about your perspective. If interested, PM me.)

JRB's picture
JRB
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: May 17 2009
Posts: 149
Really happy to have found....

I have posted this elsewhere, but am rather excited to have found "Unread Posts in My Groups", so I'll repeat it here.  Try

http://www.peakprosperity.com/groups/myunread

Really changed my viewpoint on navigation.  Wish the link were a button next to my inbox!

It did take some time to click-all-the-buttons and check all the menus and tabs until I got there though.  Not so intuitive.  Try it.

I wish there were something comparable for articles and voices.

- Jim

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 1657
The 1st (of several) important update to Groups

As you may remember from earlier discussions, we introduced Groups in beta form when we launched the new site. Now that we've (mostly) recovered from the site launch, and received a lot of constructive feedback from our readers, we're working on making Groups as intuitive and useful to use as possible.

A very basic problem with Groups to-date is that it hasn't been clear how to create a new post.

Well, we think we've fixed that.

We've introduced a (hopefully) prominent & convenient panel for creating new Groups content: whether a Discussion (aka, a post), Event, or Poll. This is the panel highlighted in red below (a sister panel appears in the sidebar, highlighted here in orange):

We've also added a 'Groups Help' module in the sidebar, which links to short video clips showing step-by-step instructions for how to perform the most common tasks in Groups. We're still rolling those clips out, so be patient with us for the next week.

Hopefully this is a nice step forward in making Groups easier and more enjoyable to use. Please let me know any feedback you may have by commenting here or emailing me.

There are more important improvements to Groups coming in the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

cheers,
A

Jim H's picture
Jim H
Status: Diamond Member (Online)
Joined: Jun 8 2009
Posts: 1363
getting lost in groups...

I have not spent much time trying to figure things out.. but my experience is this;

I am in PP and see a post I want to read along the bottom.. I click on it and get to the (obnoxious) screen  telling me that I will eventually be charged extra for this... then I click OK and sign in (again?).. then... then comes the frustrating part; I end up at some kind of JimH personal screen that has nothing to do with the post I originally wanted to see.. and I don't see anyway to get there.. so I go back out to Mozilla and reload the main PP page.. THEN, and only then am I allowed to click on the post and get to it.    

Adam Taggart's picture
Adam Taggart
Status: Peak Prosperity Co-founder (Offline)
Joined: May 26 2009
Posts: 1657
Another interface update to PP Groups

This morning we released an improved interface to our Peak Prosperity Groups.

We've added modules for "Recent Posts" and "Recent Comments", so it's now much easier to see past Group posts, as well as keep tabs on recent comments made within your group.

You can find them on the main page of any Group, located below the latest post (noted in the example below by the red box):

You may recall we used to have a Facebook-like "wall" in that spot before (called the Activity Stream), which was a default module that Groups came with. Based on our experience and your feedback, it wasn't providing enough value -- and we felt it more important to make it easier to find the core post/comment content.

We will continue to listen to your feedback in making our Groups as useful for you as we possibly can. Please keep it coming

JRB's picture
JRB
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: May 17 2009
Posts: 149
Good move!

I like this change.  Still looking for the most efficient way to navigate the site, but this may help.

- Jim

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or Register to post comments