I'm A Grumpy Cat: An open letter to Alex



  • (Oh Jesus Fucking Christ, I found two bugs just posting this. Lucky i don't have the energy to harp on them).

    Okay, so this one's going to be a bit long, but I hope you'll stick through it, because while it will be my last post on this topic, it also most likely be my last post on this forum. So please read. Especially you, @apapadimoulis. I've been thinking about this all weekend. I lost sleep over this. I spent two hours writing these thoughts. It's my last free time before a solid week of dance rehearsals and then a show. I can't commit any more time or energy to this. Please, if everyone else fucks off halfway through, please, Alex, read this.

    (Editor's note: I wrote this, gave it a quick one over. I'm not proof reading it. I apologize for the spelling and grammar mistakes, or anything that could have been said with fewer words)

    First, the tldr. Alex: don't implement Discourse in its current form. Straight up, don't.

    Don't pull a Phantom Menace.

    One thing that's been talked about a lot is how someone who made something as great as A New Hope could make something as awful as Phantom Menace. And one simple point comes up over and over. You see, there is a ton of behind the scenes footage from both movies. For A New Hope, he had people all around him helping him, guiding him-- and most importantly advising him on when he was wrong. A feedback mechanism for gauging what would and would not work. Many eyes, etc. They couldn't have come up with Star Wars, but he couldn't have made his vision a success without people to keep it on track.

    The behind the scenes footage (and lots of interviews) show that on Phantom Menace, there was none of that. It was just Lucas, and what he believed everyone wanted, and no one to say "no". And so we got Jar-Jar. And podracing. And a plucky young Anakin. And metachlorians.

    TDWTF is your New Hope. It is your vision of a site, shaped and formed by people close to you, users, a decade of feedback. You have people like Mark taking the editorial reins, a legion of writers to churn out great content. You have hundreds of commentors making jokes, pointing out spelling errors, posting likes, keeping Paula alive. There's praise for good stuff and calls for more of it (OMGWTF contest). You know pretty quickly when something isn't going to take hold (Worse Than Fail). It's been working for a decade.

    Discourse is your Phantom Menace. You have a perfectly valid vision-- a site redesign, new features, streamlined commenting and forums. All worthy goals. No one else can have them, no one else can see them like you can. But Discourse-- okay, think of Phantom Menace for a minute. How cool would it have been if it had spent way more time on epic light-sabre battles between Jedi and dual-sword wielding Sith? Cause that part was pretty cool. And what if, just what if, Jar-Jar had been toned down, made more relatable, given less screen time, been competent, and not annoying. He might have been a perfectly fine character who enhanced the movie. But instead, he was given top billing, none of his negatives were worked on despite feedback from the creative team, and in the end, it completely overshadowed the epic swordfights.

    So yeah, while Discourse does have a few epic light-sabre battles in it, you're never going to get away from the Jar-Jar of infinite scrolling + the handful of other anti-features. As it is right now, Discourse is your Phantom Menace.

    And we're desperately trying to tell you how to fix it so you can still have your light-sabre and salvage Jar-Jar.

    And I'm not just saying this because I'm saying it. Read the three threads about Discourse on the old forums. #1 thing said, "no infinite scrolling". See the poll about Infinite Scrolling. Last I checked, there were only 4 people who voted "the only way to go"-- I'm assuming Jeff and Sam, so ignore that. I'm assuming Ben L., because he's Ben. And I'm assuming you, even though your opinion in this matter is worthless. (And yes I will stand by that, and yes I will explain it, and yes this is the case). Of the remaining 70+ votes, all say it should be optional. It's half and half for "I won't use it". No one said "There should be no infinite scrolling". Allow me to repeat that, no one said "There should be no infinite scrolling". But every single one of your users said it should be optional, and half of them said they won't use it, period. This isn't the "vocal 1%" bullshit that people like Attwood will asspull to justify dismissing detractors. This is nearly every single member of your community saying "make it optional", and half of your community saying "do not want".

    And I will not accept the bullshit canned response of "we only represent 1% of the whole Discourse userbase". First, Discourse doesn't have a userbase. It's a fledgling, struggling platform desperate to take hold. Sure, maybe if you only count as users "people who haven't gotten fed up with its infinite scrolling and left", then of fucking course the remaining people are higher in number.

    And even if we're a vocal minority, we're the fucking experts. We're all developers here. We've got centuries of combined experience. We know what we're talking about. I honestly don't fucking care if you get some fanbois saying they like infinite scrolling, and some people who are "just haters". Maybe they just don't know how to vocalize why they hate it, they don't have the expertise or experience or technical knowledge to express why it's bad. We do. I do. I've told you, and I'll tell you again below. So fucking listen because the opinions on this forum matter and carry weight. You could have a thousand people try your caramel. Some like it. A bunch spit it out and say yuck. It doesn't fucking matter how many of those taste testers you have. All you need is one Alton Brown to tell you to put a dash of salt on that caramel. He fucking knows what he's talking about, and can scientifically explain why. One informed opinion matters more than an infinity of feelings.

    And EVEN IF it were true that the majority of every person who uses Discourse loves infinite scrolling, it still doesn't matter FOR THIS COMMUNITY. Because we have said so. Over and over and over and over and over. Quantifiably. Infinite scrolling without the option for paging is not wanted. If Discourse can't provide that, then it is the wrong tool and you should abandon it. Period. Put down the rock and go get a screwdriver.

    And that brings me to the reason your opinion on Discourse doesn't matter, and what is quite possibly the most saddening and disturbing thing you've ever said, Alex. That you decided on Discourse and went way into the project lifecycle WITHOUT EVER HAVING USED IT.

    You never-- once-- fucking-- used this piece of software. I could understand if you used it and fell in love with it/got brainwashed by Jeff. I could understand if you spent dozens or hundreds of hours on it, finding and fixing bugs, learning it's quirks and hidden features, becoming a power user, and came out the other side a Discourse expert and could show us all the way to a forum experience beyond our imagination. I wouldn't agree, but I cold understand it.

    But you NEVER. FUCKING. USED IT! I mean, for fuck's sake Alex, I know Jeff's a friend and you walk to talk up his software-- but, I consider you a friend, and I talk up BuildMaster all the time-- but only because I've actually fucking used it! I installed a demo version. I ran a couple projects on it. I'm sad I've never been in a shop with enough of an open mind to take on BM whole hog, though I will still tell anyone who utters the phrase "looking to better our build process". I can have an opinion about BuildMaster, because I've used it.

    But you never used Discourse! You don't know it's faults, or learning curves, or quirks, or what has to be sacrificed to make it work, or how it fits in with the forums. FFS, you don't even post on the forums! You aren't a stakeholder in how the UX works, and you can't even be a champion because you never used it!

    You never used Discourse. It instantly invalidates all your opinions about it. You aren't picking it because it's good, or worthy, or will fit your needs. You're picking it because of nepotism. How is this any different from the countless "the boss' nephew" stories that went on the front page? How is it any different from the "highly paid consultants" who are only hired because of buddies and buzzwords that you rail against? Why is this okay for you to inflict this on your users/stakeholders, and just shrug your shoulders and say "fuck, I don't know, I've never used it".

    Which brings me to my next point-- you can't even support it. It's written in a language you don't know, using a dev environment you can't install, with a backend you have no way of interacting with, with a plug-in framework that you have no documentation for. You can't install it, migrate it, support it, maintain it or develop for it. And you don't have anyone who can do it for you. It's great that Moderator is trying to do a migration. I'm sure Ben L. might have the time and knowledge to start to learn it. But otherwise, you're completely fucked. At least CS you once had the option for source code. You could still modify it's fairly simple js and css. The backend was MSSQL. It ran on IIS. Easy. But you've just taken yourself out of the fire and put yourself into an even bigger fire, when you were trying to avoid fire all together.

    So instead you take this thing that is missing features, full of bugs and UX nightmares, and just dump it on the community and say "I have no time for this. You guys fix it, or you have to live with this shit". We all work for a living, just like you. But we come here for fun and to relax. You just threatened us with work. You gave us a deadline to complete a stressful project for which no one is qualified to do, with the dis-incentive that if we don't we lose something valuable. It's amazingly demotivating. And to top it off, even if someone could get an install going, and figure out the codebase, and write a patch or a plug-in-- there is literally no way of knowing if it will just be summarily rejected by you or Jeff. Or a revision will be made and the plugin will stop working because Sam broke the API and refuses to even say what changed (see his post about the plug-ins example). Or Rubby on Rails updates and breaks the plugin. Basically, even if someone's willing to put in all that hard work, it may be for naught, so why bother?

    Actually, before I forget, a question specifically for Jeff. Jeff, depending on how this all plays out, I still might need to do a local install of Discourse. I need to put in a requisition for a server. I need Ruby at least 1.9.1, right?

    And yet, tons of us are still trying to put in feature requests and bug fixes. Basically, rather than coming to the forums to have fun and joke around, we've been put to work for the past week doing Jeff's QA that he's too lazy or incompetent to do. And yes, I mean that, because there's shit we're finding that shouldn't be in a production release. Yes, all software has bugs-- but shit like not being able to select text? Quote functionality not being right? Post counts being wrong? Basic, basic, BASIC stuff that something that's been production ready for a year shouldn't have. We were supposed to be doing UAT, not QA. So instead there's been, what, 10-20 people who have put in a week's worth of QA time for Jeff, for his benefit, not ours. How would you like it if you went to your favorite bar, and were told instead of having a drink, you had to take a line tester and make sure all the wiring is right? For fuck's sake, Alex, you've hired programmers and testers. What's 10-20 man weeks of time worth? Sure, we're all stakeholders in this, and we do get the benefit of a working forum and our "hangout" back-- but here's the problem.

    We aren't. We're doing free QA for someone who have no relationship with, to fix his software-- and we're being told we can't have the software we want, and in fact the software we want is wrong and we're bad people for wanting it. So we get FUCKING NOTHING out of this.

    And don't even fucking start with "but Jeff and Sam are so great here they are on the forums fixing bug". Do they want a fucking cookie, too? Programmers don't get commended for fixing their bugs. They're expected to, because they broke shit and now it isn't working. That is the bare minimum expectation. Programmers fixing bugs is the reason to dump a piece of software. It is the reason you are dumping CS!

    Sure, it's great that they're doing it-- insomuch as if they weren't, you should have jettisoned Discourse a long time ago. But no one is going to commend them for it, because the bugs being found are ones that should have been found already. None of them are edge cases, or difficult to reproduce. 99% of what's being found are because Discourse is a buggy, unstable, pre-Alpha platform that isn't ready for production. The other 1% is because of misconfiguration when it was installed.

    And 99% of the bugs being reported are ignored, are WONTFIX, or we're just being told straight out "your holding the iphone wrong". No, scratch that, it's being told that not only are we doing things wrong, but that we're wrong for wanting them. And these things are things we already had, that already worked, and that each and every single person has a legitimate reason for wanting to continue to work this way.

    And those tiny issues piled up and up and up. It wasn't just that the quote was broken. It was broken, and so was new post count, and so was email notifications, and so was saving drafts, and so was search, and so was behavior after a new post, and so was on and on and on. And the solution for most of those is "you're doing it wrong, here's how to relearn how to do this simple task in 7 easy non-intuitive steps".

    Yes, CS had and still has its bugs. But y'know what, they were all pretty fucking obvious, and very easy to work around. You get used to the annoying erase two spaces. And new users figured out pretty quickly there was no WYSIWYG. People had to do maybe one thing to work around the quirks. But here's the thing-- those were work arounds for FAULTS-- not because a feature was hidden behind bad UX. Like, the workaround is to correct a fault-- not because the software has decided the common way of doing things is wrong and arbitrarily changed it.

    Compare and contrast: you post in CS and it shows up non-WYSIWYG. You got instant feedback, seeing your post. Edit, do it in HTML, you've learned. Done. In Discourse you post a message while in the middle of a thread, expecting because it's all Ajaxy to stay in the middle of the thread. Fuck. You can't click back like you would on a traditional postback forum. You're just lost. So you post to complain, and get told by Jeff You're Doing It Wrong! Instead find the grey arrow on the grey background that looks like the icon everyone uses for "Collapse" and click it and it will take you back unless you didn't quote a post in which case you're fucked. But this is how people SHOULD be posting with Discourse so you're doing it wrong.

    Hey, here's a quick question for you. You're in Visual Studio. You want to save and build the file you're working on. Do you click the save icon? Click file-save? Alt-f, s. Ctrl-S? Save it, then go to a command line and type a build command? Or a batch file that builds? Or press the up arrow to repeat the last build action? Or do you have a macro? Is it assigned a hotkey? Do you have a custom icon on the toolbar/ribbon?

    If the answer was anything other than the way I do it, you're doing it wrong, Alex. I'll just update your Visual Studio for you so that the way I do it is the only way remaining so you can do it properly like me. You don't need the Output window, I just put a small ball bearing on your hard drive so that you can hear it spinning up the spinning down so you know when it's saving. Just don't save to the cloud, because file belong on a file system not a godawful cloud. Or FTP server. And don't do more than one thing with your hard drive at once. I know you used to be able to, but not with this new Audio Feedback ball bearing. I'll stop this stupid analogy now, but you get the point.

    There's more than one way to do everything. A good piece of software is discoverable and flexible. There's more than one way to do something. And if everyone tries to do something, and expects the same result, the software better fucking change to their expectation, or it's bad software. Period. Forum software was never really designed, per se, so you could read in one tab and post in another. But it works that way, and that’s how people use it, and that's their expectation, and if it doesn't work that way, it is broken. Discourse doesn't work the way your users expect it to, so it is broken.

    And as "great" as having Jeff and Sam here to do bugfixes and implementation is, their fucking attitude is doing way more harm than good. There is no such thing as The One True Way for software. It's a WTF of front-page proportions. And yet, if we don't see things their One True Way, we're wrong, and stupid for wanting it, and what we want is stupid. If it works. Even if it has worked in all other software. Even if it works and their solution doesn't. Even if their solution is so scientifically and demonstrably WRONG that it cannot ever work. Even if their solution may be correct, but only if it enhances existing functionality instead of replacing it. A GPS in a car is great, but not if it takes up the whole front windshield.

    They're telling us what we should like, how we should act, that we're "doing it wrong". Fuck that.

    Fuck analogies, I'll bring this shit up again instead: infinite scrolling. In fact, I'm going to go into (and possibly over) all the deal-breaker issues I've brought up before. Let me be clear again, these are deal-breakers. In all the cases, my solution is "make this configurable, so users who want or need it have it, those who want to try the other way can, and everyone's happy". Keep in mind Jeff's response is to make a polarized "religious" war. Fuck that. I'm invoking science. The science of biology, of neurology, of human behavior. I'm going to bring up facts, not feelings. I'm going to explain in great detail why the UX changes Discourse bring to the table are Jar-Jar-wrong, and why they need to be dropped or made configurable, because otherwise it's unusable. This isn't "I believe" or "I feel". It's "I know" and "I can prove".

    Infinite scrolling is broken. It doesn't work. Never has. Maybe never will. Maybe there is some magical way it can, but not in Discourse, not in a browser, not with the way its designed. Scroll bar. Mother fucking scrollbar. I already pointed out before WHY a scroll bar works, and why it is fucking industry standard. High contrast, easy to recognize, predictably placed, and it works if you look at it or not. Oh, and here's another reason why the scrollbar is great: it's always in the same spot, at the edge of the screen. Find the word "biology" in the above paragraph. You probably found it pretty quick. But if you did an eye-map, you'd see you were bouncing and forth around the paragraph, narrowing down to a few lines, then scanning back and forth until you finally settled on Biology. And that's after your brain just read the paragraph. Now find the scrollbar on the side of the screen. BAM, you find it. Eye-map it, and you'll see you fly right to it and stop. Why? Because it's at the edge of the screen. You don't have to look for it. Your eye just goes until it hits the edge of the screen-- a target the size of everything in your field of vision that isn't a screen. No pattern recognition. No overshooting. BAM, done. Biology. Neurology.

    That fucking green status bar, however, you can't jump right to it. It's a small target, much smaller than "everything that isn't the green bar". It's floating away from the edge of the screen. So it will be in a different position on every screen on every browser on every device in the entire world. You have to hunt for it. It takes more brain power to process what you are seeing rather than going on a combination of muscle-memory and edge detection. Finding the green bar is literally more exhausting than a scroll bar. It makes the forum harder to use.

    A scrollbar also both simpler in the information it presents, and way more accurate at the same time. It's one box inside another box. But the bar is always the same size, no matter the content. So a quick glance at the box tells you how much content you are about to deal with. Large box, less content. Small box, more content. And everyone's seen enough scroll bars that they don't even have to think about it because the visual feedback instantly gives them what they need to know. Is this post really short and I'm almost done? Is it very long and I'm only half of the way through? No math, not figuring out, no hunting. Quick, easy, no thought or training required. For fuck's sake, you usually don't even have to look over to see it. Edge detection, periphery.

    The green box technically does present much more detailed information, only insomuch as it has actual numbers in it. But ironically, it makes it more difficult to get information from. I've already addressed how much harder it is to do division on arbitrary and odd numbers to figure out how far along you are. Jeff mentioned that the green bar fills. Well, bullfuckingwhoopdie shit. That's a horrible interface. The green bar fades away when you aren't looking at it. At best, because it's in the edge of vision where there are few color cones. At worse, because it actually falls into someone's Blind Spot. I guess fuck those users, they were born wrong. So I only ever see the green bar when I'm at the bottom of the posts anyways-- after I've read the thread-- when it is already full-- so that's a feature I had to literally be told existed. It isn't discoverable. And even if it was, it still is poor feedback. On all the monitors I have, I can't even see the light grey background. I can't tell the green is filling something. Top that off with light green on light grey on white all blends together. No dark or contrasting borders. Makes it hard to see the thing. AND EVEN IF I COULD, there still remains that the green fill IS NOT ACCURATE INFORMATION. It doesn't tell me how far through reading I am like a scrollbar does. Why?

    Take a thread. There are two posts. One posts is 10,000 words. The other is just "lol". I'm 2000 words into the first post. The scrollbar shows me I'm about one-fifth of the way through. The green bar shows me I'm still 0% of the way. I finally reach the second post. Scrollbar shows me I'm nearly at the end. Green bar shows me I'm 50% of the way through.

    On MIGHT be able to argue the green bar is useful for mobile when you don't have constant on screen scrollbars. First, fuck mobile for doing that. Second, no, it isn't. Because either it's still fuck-off huge, in which case it's a hindrance to reading, or the green bar is responsive and becomes tiny or hidden and is useless for mobile.

    The scrollbar is a perfect tool, or at least perfect enough. It doesn't need to be replaced. The only reason it is replaced is to accommodate infinite scrolling. It's replacement does a poorer job. Fully functional UX is being replaced by useless UX solely for the benefit of inferior UI. Oh, and fuck you if you are viewing with alternate colors or high contrast mode. Because fuck the visually impaired, right? They're using their eyes wrong!

    Next up is post count. I and others have asked many times for post count to be restored. It's a feature that was already there. It's a feature on every forum in the entire world. Jeff tells us some buzzword laden bullshit about that we shouldn't want it, conversations, blah, blah, blah.

    At it's most useless, sure, perhaps post count is a bit of vanity. But you know what? That's just fucking fine. It gives some people a thrill, who the fuck are you to take that away because you feel they shouldn't have it? But it goes way beyond just being a bit vain.

    It does identify more active posters. People who post more tend to say more useful things, if only by Poe's law. It is a useful metric for gauging how trust or respected a user is.

    On the contrast, it helps to identify less than useful users. Sometimes the difference between a spam bot and a person making a weird joke or recommending an odd product is a post count. If there's a paragraph of text that seems weird, but it's posted by a user who has 5000 posts, I might read it. If it's by someone with 1 post, it probably triggers a spambot alert and I know to ignore or flag it.

    It's also a UI/UX indicator for "read more...". Someone made a good post, and they have a high post count. Well, that might be an indicator that they've posted other funny, interesting, insightful stuff in the past. Why not click that number to get their post history?

    It's an indicator to be far more welcoming to newbies. Someone makes their first few posts. Maybe they make a common mistake. Maybe they didn't read a FAQ. Maybe their question is answered elsewhere. They'll be given much more leniency, help and guidance if people can see they are new. "Welcome to forums. Just so you know, the wysiwyg doesn't work right". Versus if someone like Blakey says something stupid, we know he should know better.

    Conversations and memberships aren't constant, either. Let's say you do have a trusted or vocal member. He goes away for a while. Maybe he got sick, or was on vacation, or got married, or something. Enough time passes that he's out of current memory. There's new users who might not even know his name. He shows up and posts something-- perhaps advice, or something sagely, or even perhaps something moderator-like. That 10k post count means what he's saying has more weight, even if you don't know him by name or recent interaction.

    Post count is an important feature, and like so many other things that have been requested-- it isn't that it's not TECHNICALLY possible to have this. It already exists in all forums ever. It exists in Discourse already, since it's in the database, in the user profile. The one and only reason it isn't part of the user widget is because of Jeff's religion. We're told we're bad people for wanting it, and that it doesn't facilitate conversation. Bullshit, see above. It facilitates many conversations. We've even had conversations about post count.

    And he also says having a postcount means people will just post things to get a higher count. Again, total and utter fucking bullshit. Maybe this would have been a valid concern going form a system with no post count to one with a post count. Maybe if people got paid per post. Maybe, lots of theoretical maybies All fucking bullshit. Because we had a forum with a post count on it, AND PEOPLE STIL HAD GODDAMN CONVERSATIONS. We posted. We replied. Independent of the "score". Either Jeff doesn't understand how humans work, or he's lying to justify his design decision. In either case bull bull BULL boiled bull shit. I want to see everyone's postcount by their username, and fuck you for telling me I'm wrong.

    And hey, speaking of humans, yeah-- there is a bit of pride and joy and jealousy seeing post counts and achieving levels and giving more emotional weight and respect to those who have a higher one. Maybe in an ideal Discourse world, everyone is just efficiently having "conversations" in the most perfect and accurate way. But guess what? Humans aren't fucking emotionless robots. Stop trying to sterilize our interaction to conform with your ideals.

    And to save some typing, I'm going to say "all of the above" for "last activity date" being right under the post. ACTUAL FUCKING USECASE: Someone posts "I'll get right to that". They haven't been online in two weeks. SHIT SOMETHING IS WRONG! When someone was last active is just as important as what they said.

    Fuck, WHEN something was said is just as important as what was said, because it gives context. Which is why the braindead design decision of "hours ago" needs to be gone, also. Actually, I take it back. It isn't braindead. It's designed assuming users are drooling idiots who are braindead-- but in actual fact, it requires more brain power to use this information. Case in point: as of whenever you are reading this, when was three days ago? I need your answer accurate to the minute. Please keep in mind that the system that generate "three days ago" rounds to the nearest day. I don't know if it rounds up or down.

    Right, it's impossible. Information is lost. And not just time information (though it is), but context. "I just had the best whiskey". Was that posted at night, so the person is having a night cap? First thing in the morning, so they need to go to an AA meeting? In the middle of the workday, so they work at Inedo? Context is lost. You are intentionally destroying information.

    Even when it's "Hours ago" or "Minutes ago", context is lost AND it is harder to figure out when someone posted something. Sure, if it's 11:47am, and something was posted 58 minutes ago, know it was posted 10:49am. But only because I stopped reading, looked at my clock, and did the math in my head. And I had to do it multiple times, because subtracting minutes into a different hour is hard. It takes brainpower, something the "stupid" users (who you think exist) don't have. And I might be wrong, I had to check my math twice to be sure it wasn't 10:39am, I might be wrong.

    SO THAT IS YET ANOTHER FEATURE THAT IS HARDER TO USE. That's yet another thing piled on top of yet another thing that taxes the user's brain more than the system that was only in place. I mean, if the post said "Posted at 10:49am", you know how long it would take me to figure out what time it was posted? NONE. No brain power. The answer is there. Because computers do math better than people. Fuck, why not just combine it if you feel really strongly about it? "Posted at 10:49am (58 minutes ago)". It's almost like doing things in more than one way is better!

    Instead, it's literally harder to use Discourse. It's harder on the eyes. It takes more physical effort. It takes more eye movements. It's harder on the brain. It takes more focus and concentration to find and hit targets. You have to focus, concentrate, do math over and over, just to get information that is being hidden from you that shouldn't be. User interactions take more clicks or keystrokes. Using Discourse, compared to a standard forum, is LITERALLY a chore. It's a chore. I have to do extra work just to read a forum. The onus is on me to do things that should be done by a computer, or that should have UI/UX that makes me not have to do them. This isn't laziness. This isn't being picky.

    This is science. It's biology. It's neurology. It's psychology. It's physiology. It's human behavior. It's the fucking science of user interface and user interaction. I don't want it to be that hard because it shouldn't be... and it shouldn't be because THIS IS NOT HOW HUMANS WORK!

    Let me repeat: Your software is designed contrary to the way that human beings work. You're trying to make us use a trigger with our pinkie. It's possible, but it's fucking hard work. It's painful. It takes more calories and effort and concentration. Why can't we use our thumb? Because you came up with a new handle that fits better into a palm. Great, can't you design a bit more and put the trigger back on the thumb so we can do both? What do you mean "why do you want to use a thumb when you could be using a trigger?" What kind of non-answer answer is that?

    <continued, because there's a 32000 char limit>



  • So I'm going to stop here, because this thing is now 5400 words, and 10 pages in Word. I spent two hours writing this. Those two hours were the only free hours I have between now and my dance show on June 3&4. I had to write this, because it's been eating at me how quickly this community can be destroyed by bad software. I had to. I would have rather spent that precious free time writing a front page article in my queue, or wasting time on the forums. But nope, Discourse is way more important. More important than having conversations.

    So here's my line in the sand: feature request. Pagination in addition to (but not instead of) infinite scrolling. Easily discoverable user option to toggle the two. (I would dare say on by default, but whatever). In the core code before the forums go live.

    Otherwise I'm done. I've done my due diligence. I point this out to Alex, and he tells me it's Jeff's software. I point it out to Jeff, he ignores it, then says its Alex's decision. I honestly don't give a fuck who is to blame. Fix it.

    If this had actually been a beta test months ago, when the topic was first brought up, this would be different. If Alex and Jeff had first posted with "we've read your concerns on the thread and will address them", this would be different. If Jeff hadn't made this a religious war, this would be different. If Sam hadn't been an arrogant insufferable prick to the people here, this would be different. And if critical user feedback (remember, 90%+ want this) hadn't been summarily ignored and the users told they're doing it the wrong way, this would be different.

    But it isn't. This is my line in the sand. Fix these, or I'm done with the forums. I refuse to aid and abet horrible UI like this. I refuse to support arrogant developers who think they know what's best for their users, when their users say otherwise. I'm tired of being told how to use something "the right way". I'm tired of change for the sake of change. I'm tired of scrambling to put patches in place just to restore functionality that was taken away for no good reason. This fucking design attitude of "progress is measured in change" and "developer knows best" is a cancer that needs to die.

    What's going on here is yet another textbook case on how not to change UI. Don't take massive leaps. Don't remove features. Don't ignore or marginalize users. I've told you how to fix it in 5000 words, and a hundred forum posts. I'll say it now in seven words.

    Pagination, or I'm done with the forum.

    • Lorne Kates

    (Okay, there are THREE bugs I found. Posted long post. Opened topic. Pressed end. Screen flashed "loading" then reloaded at top of post. Did not go to end)


  • Banned

    @Lorne_Kates said:

    I'm assuming Jeff and Sam

    Polls are anonymous, for the record I did not vote on that one.



  • Thank you for putting all the time, thought, and energy into writing this. If I came across as dismissive before, it’s because I generally am dismissive of what I see as rants, whining, and bitching... especially when it seems profanity-laden and non-constructive. But, this note was not. For the most part. So, again, thank you for putting the time into a serious and (mostly civil) post.

    While my reply won’t be as long, rest assured I did put time and effort into it as well… and like you, those are both quite limited for me at the moment. I also want what’s best for this site/community. If we can continue this tone of… forgive the pun… discourse, I will make an effort to respond accordingly.

    Maybe we can have this be our "reset" or something?

    Firstly, you’re right, I’m not a “true” member of this community. Even if I had become a poweruser on another Discourse forum, it wouldn’t really matter because I’m not a good judge of what’s a good fit for this community. I’ll conceded to that.

    But you are not right about why I felt Discourse was a good choice. It’s not favoritism, but popularity. Not just as open source project, but the fact that Boing Boing, Canonical, and several other organizations picked it. The fact that @codinghorror is behind it is an awesome bonus, but it wouldn’t have been a consideration if it weren’t for the year of field testing on Boing Boing. I’ve explained other reasons elsewhere.

    I disagree with your characterization of the UI/UX as fundamentally broken, but I’m not going to defend it and argue specifics. Personally I liked the software better than CS when I tested it way back, and I prefer it now. Hopefully we can agree that these are subjective preferences and, ideally, many of these would be exposed as user or admin options.

    That said, I get it. I’ve been a Windows user since 3.0, and felt Windows 8’s metro thing to be absolutely preposterous. When Steven Sniofsky and his followers proclaimed that I was simply wrong, and didn’t get it, I seriously considered just rage quitting Windows. Of course, that would mean I’d have to go full luddite, because I sure as shit am not using Linux and fuuuuuuuuuuuck me, not a Mac. I know that’s not a great analogy because there’s Stardock, it’s an OS, etc., but believe me, I’ve been there.

    Now moving away from analogies… y’all know I don’t do TDWTF for a living, this is just a hobby for me (and all of us), and that I’m making it up as I go along. I just installed Community Server one day as a way to handle blog comments; I never set out to build a community, but I’m delighted that it happened.

    If there are any books for “how to community”, I haven’t read them. I’m not going to lie and say I’m doing my best… but I am actively trying to not completely fuck things up, as is hopefully evidenced by this reply. As I said in another reply, I really didn’t think y’all hated the software (well, more than you hate anything else), and that the switch would be fine. Except for @tufty (who has hopefully fucked off by now), I would love to keep this community going.

    So, please bear with me and cut me some slack. Well, a lot of slack. Don’t forget, I’m also the guy who thought Worse Than Failure was a good idea.

    I’ve put a lot of work into setting up Discourse already. Work I don’t enjoy doing, and work that I’m sure as hell not getting paid to do. In return, all I ask is that you indulge me in this.

    Please, let’s try Discourse. Just give it a few weeks. Actively use the software. Learn how to work around the quirks, the bugs. Seems a lot of us have already done that. In the mean time, I’ll send comments from a couple front-page articles as a test, and maybe stream the sidebar from both CS and here. CS will stick around, and we can review it from there.

    Fair enough?

    I should have posted this before, hindsight, all that. But again: cut me some slack.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @apapadimoulis said:

    Hopefully we can agree that these are subjective preferences and, ideally, many of these would be exposed as user or admin options.

    This, a thousand times this.

    You guys love infinite scrolling? No one's asking you to give it up! But put an elevator in beside the escalators so us old fogies can get our walkers upstairs.



  • @error said:

    But put an elevator in beside the escalators so us old fogies can get our walkers upstairs.

    That's actually... the perfect metaphor. Well done, sir.



  • @Lorne_Kates said:

    This isn't "I believe" or "I feel".

    Yes it is.
    If you wrote all that, it's no longer possible to deny how much you feel, and to be honest I am surprised. It's not possible for forum software to inspire such a massive essay.

    It's just a forum. You can post.

    Post.



  • @Lorne_Kates said:

    And I will not accept the bullshit canned response of "we only represent 1% of the whole Discourse userbase".

    This doesn't matter at all - maybe we represent 1% of the Discourse user base, but we represent 100% of thedailywtf community, and half of us want the scrolling fixed.



  • This post is deleted!


  • Okay @Lorne_Kates, if you're losing sleep over this maybe you need to take a step back, take a deep breath and contemplate on the important things in life.

    @Lorne_Kates said:

    Post count is an important feature ... The one and only reason it isn't part of the user widget is because of Jeff's religion.

    I agree with this. Post count is an important proxy metric for trust-ability and important on forums. Similar to reputation on stackoverflow (yes, rep is way, way better, but it simply isn't available on forums).

    @Lorne_Kates said:

    "Posted at 10:49am (58 minutes ago)"

    +1. Another one of those things "hip and cool" projects do not because it is necessarily better, but just because it is different.



  • @Lorne_Kates said:

    we're just being told straight out "your holding the iphone wrong"

    @Lorne_Kates said:

    the solution for most of those is "you're doing it wrong, here's how to relearn how to do this simple task in 7 easy non-intuitive steps".

    @Lorne_Kates said:

    And as "great" as having Jeff and Sam here to do bugfixes and implementation is, their fucking attitude is doing way more harm than good. There is no such thing as The One True Way for software.

    Everything Lorne says and, in particular; all of that above. Jeff and Sam are making the situation worse, not better - in the UK, the railways implemented leave-catchers to allow the trains to run in the Autumn (aka Fall). Then the trains were stranded because "it was the wrong kind of leaves".

    I come to TDWTF to relax and have a bit of fun and I don't need the software-equivalent of Scientologists to be telling me that I'm reading the wrong way, or that it is the wrong kind of leaves.

    As a diversion, one of Alex's stated aims was that he wanted to move away from CS to a "maintained" platform, well Discourse is not a maintained platform - it's a closed platform open only to the manic "vision" of Jeff and Sam. And if, as seems likely, the while idea turns out to be a disaster that nobody wants then it will end up being a dead platform.
    Alex also said (and this from memory, so excuse the paraphrasing) that he didn't want phpBB because he knows nothing about the platform or PHP. Well, it appears he knows nothing about Discourse and the technologies that it is written in either.

    So is the decision to dump us all here nothing more than doing a mate a favo(u)r?

    Alex; dump this platform and, while you've got the support of many on here, use that support to get the forums moved over to something that is supported, well-understood, and vanilla. In other words, phpBB. Then we can get on with taking the piss out of everyone else's software instead of the goddamn software that the actual forum runs on.



  • Because I am reading this thread the same way as normal humans, one post at a time, I read Alex's response after I had posted my reply to Lorne.

    Alex; it's wake up and smell the coffee time, I'm afraid. I'm sure that even in your wildest dreams you didn't expect the dislike to be this strong after what, less than a week? Honestly, what do you think will change if we "bear with it for a few weeks"?

    You say "Actively use the software. Learn how to work around the quirks, the bugs." - we are, we have, and it's horrible.

    There is absolutely zero reason that I (we?) can see for you to continue down this path. Let's stay with CS for a few months until the people who have offered help (and I'm happy with Linux, mysql and phpBB to help too) migrate it to a platform that just allows us to discuss.
    Do a quick scan of some of the front page TDWTF stories and you'll see the recurring cast of characters and fuck-ups appearing all over this particular story.

    I've been a happy lurker of the forum for ~5 years (only registered when I had something to say, last year), reading the forums mainly every lunchtime, seven days a week. But I'm done, too, if the forum stays here. 75% because of the platform and 25% because you appear oblivious to the genuine level of unhappiness of the TDWTFers that have made it over here.



  • @apapadimoulis said:

    Please, let’s try Discourse.

    We have. Lorne speaks the truth. The time you've put into it is a sunk cost. Learn from that and move on; if you don't, many of us will.



  • Also, Lorne is your best writer, hands down. It would be deeply stupid of you to piss him off any more.



  • @dtech said:

    Lorne_Kates said:

    Posted at 10:49am (58 minutes ago)

    +1. Another one of those things "hip and cool" projects do not because it is necessarily better, but just because it is different.

    Actually I don't agree: I don't give a rats *ss if that was posted at 10:49am or 10:39am. First: were I live we use a normal, easy system called a 24 hour clock. So for me am/pm requires mental power. Second: I just don't care, what I do want to know however is: was this long ago or recent. Today or yesterday? Are we talking about hours or minutes ago? I don't wan't to know exactly when ... that way I don't have to look at my clock and/or calender to figure out what day & time I have now and then do some calculations and judge if this counts as 'not long ago' or 'long ago'.
    Even SharePoint does this now and I wouldn't call that hip or trendy. It's just more in line with how normal people think about time: not absolute like a clock but more with descriptive categories. If you ask someone the time you most likely get a response like; around a quarter for 11 or a bit for 11 and not 10:39.
    What's more: if you hover over a time indication you get the exact date and time. So if you really want to know if the post was made during lunch brake or at night you can still find out.



  • That's one very small point, Luhmann. What's your position on the larger argument?



  • The 12-24 hour clock obviously should be a user preference, as it is in every forum in existance (scratch that: Jeff might just decide that 12-hour clock is the one true way).

    For very small granularity (minutes-hours ago) the "ago" view is fine. However, it quickly becomes too innacurate in some circumstances:

    • 4 years ago: is that before or important event x that happened 3,5 years ago?
    • 2 days ago: is that in the morning of evening?

    What's the problem with 23:11 01-02-14 (3 months ago)?


  • :belt_onion:

    @dtech said:

    What's the problem with 23:11 01-02-14 (3 months ago)?

    Still leaves confusion between US and EU formats (is that DD-MM-YY or MM-DD-YY)?

    Personally, I'm using YYYY-MM-DD hh:mm:ss everywhere - from largest to smallest time unit, unambiguous, works.



  • @dtech said:

    What's the problem with 23:11 01-02-14

    It's commending that you managed to produce an example that is almost 100% ambiguous from every possible interpretation. That should tell you "what's the problem"



  • @Onyx said:

    Still leaves confusion between US and EU formats (is that DD-MM-YY or MM-DD-YY)?

    @dhromed said:

    It's commending that you managed to produce an example that is almost 100% ambiguous from every possible interpretation. That should tell you "what's the problem"

    Like I said earlier, I assume the date format is a user-preference. This is not about the different date formats, but about the timestamp + rough interval combination, instead of presenting only the rough interval. If only a rough interval is given you lose information.


  • Banned

    @skotl said:

    it's a closed platform open only to the manic "vision" of Jeff and Sam.

    Sorry, but the facts are not supporting you here.

    Go to: https://github.com/discourse/discourse/pulls?direction=desc&page=1&sort=created&state=closed

    Paginate through this list, as god intended us to paginate.

    And tell me, how many of these PRs have been rejected by the team on contentious ground.



  • @Onyx said:

    Still leaves confusion between US and EU formats (is that DD-MM-YY or MM-DD-YY)?

    The dreaded phpBB lets you set the format in your user profile.



  • @apapadimoulis said:

    Fair enough?

    I think so. I was a bit grumpy (nothing like @Lorne_Kates) at first, but I'm pretty happy overall. I think my biggest gripe now is losing markup whenever you quote (and not being able to properly have multiple levels of quoting), but there are other pluses.

    This is no where near Windows 8 level of user hatred. Maybe more like the ribbon.



  • @skotl said:

    Discourse is not a maintained platform - it's a closed platform open only to the manic "vision" of Jeff and Sam.

    TDEMSYR.


    Filed Under: Enjoying the new keep me here after I post feature



  • So you're telling me that you are open and willing to accept our suggestions? Not sure that's what I've seen so far...



  • @skotl said:

    So you're telling me that you are open and willing to accept our suggestions? Not sure that's what I've seen so far...

    They've added several things based on our feedback. They haven't caved yet on our demand to cripple what they see as their killer feature. I think that's going to require someone else to develop and get included.

    If you guys step back from the blakeyledge, I think you'll see that they're really trying to work with us. I was skeptical of infinite scrolling to begin with, but I'm pretty comfortable with it right now. I think I may change my mind when I decide to go searching back through a particular thread (I'm not real comfortable with the context you get from a search, but we'll see), but from a regular reading perspective, it's mostly fine, and the jumping to where I stopped reading is, frankly, awesome, and a huge win.


  • Banned

    @skotl said:

    Not sure that's what I've seen so far...

    There is only 1 suggestion that has been flat out denied by @codinghorror , traditional pagination.

    That said I care dearly about Discourse extensibility and think that a plugin ought to be able to achieve something like this.

    Except for that @codinghorror posted a quick summary here:

    http://what.thedailywtf.com/t/some-proposed-discourse-improvements-for-tdwtf/365

    We already fixed 2 of the issues.

    I am personally open to adding a user preference that allows you to control time format. It is already changeable in a plugin.

    Except for the elephant in the room, what other suggestion have we denied?


  • Banned

    @boomzilla said:

    I'm not real comfortable with the context you get from a search, but we'll see

    I could not agree more, our search needs to get WAY better here.



  • @boomzilla said:

    I was skeptical of infinite scrolling to begin with, but I'm pretty comfortable with it right now

    I'm not against it as an idea, but it's not exactly well implemented in its current form.
    It irritates me that it fills my History with an entry for each post that I've scrolled past, and it properly annoys me with how much it screws with the scrollbar. I've never used any implementation of infinite scrolling which does either of these things. Rather than trying to reinvent it, maybe just do what everyone else does.
    And then provide the option for pagination if people want to use it, which clearly they do.



  • I wouldn't say that I love the never-ending scrolling. There are downsides to it and expect that they are heavier for frequent users/contributors but as far as reading/lurking goes it seems to be working for me. After I created an account, configuring my settings and got used to it. I can track what I read and what I didn't read.



  • @loopback0 said:

    It irritates me that it fills my History with an entry for each post that I've scrolled past,

    Since it doesn't affect back/forward browsing, I suddenly don't understand why it would add every post as a history entry. What point does it serve?



  • @dhromed said:

    What point does it serve?

    It means that if the user refreshes the page or closes their browser, when the page reloads, they'll be where they left off. If the URL didn't update as you scrolled, a page refresh would take you back to the location you were at on the initial page load.



  • Ok, I get that.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @loopback0 said:

    It irritates me that it fills my History with an entry for each post that I've scrolled past, and it properly annoys me with how much it screws with the scrollbar.

    I can understand being irritated by those, but the first one sounds like an out-and-out bug (and doesn't happen for me). Which browser are you using?

    The fact that the scrollbar shimmies around is the bit I don't like (that and the fact that in-page search isn't yet as good as that built into the browser). I can understand why these are awkward to fix, but even approximate fixes (well of the scroll-shimmy problem) would help; using some divs with values guessed at from the content length would help a lot (and I suppose you could “crowd source” the accurate measurements by getting browsers to send that info back once they've got it for real).

    Got a WTFy problem on a WTFy forum? Use a WTFy hack of a WTFy solution, of course! :smile:



  • @dkf said:

    I can understand being irritated by those, but the first one sounds like an out-and-out bug (and doesn't happen for me). Which browser are you using?

    At the moment Chrome 34.0.1847.137m on Windows 7. That's all I have access to here at work other than IE8.
    Each time it updates the URL, a new History entry is added, despite the behaviour of the back/forward buttons not changing.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @dkf said:

    (and I suppose you could “crowd source” the accurate measurements by getting browsers to send that info back once they've got it for real).

    That's… a really interesting proposition, actually.


    Filed under: [Some users might have user CSS or DPI settings that add some noise, but >80% should be on stock settings.](#tag)

  • :belt_onion:

    @loopback0 said:

    At the moment Chrome 34.0.1847.137m on Windows 7. That's all I have access to here at work other than IE8.Each time it updates the URL, a new History entry is added, despite the behaviour of the back/forward buttons not changing.

    From what I gathered, that behaviour is intended.


    Filed under: WONTFIX



  • @skotl said:

    There is absolutely zero reason that I (we?) can see for you to continue down this path.

    I know, but I'm asking you to. Nicely.

    I've been listening to all the feedback here and I've already changed plans as a direct result. I haven't shut down CS forums, but I am asking you to keep trying/using these forums over the next few weeks.

    I don't ask y'all for a lot of favors, but this is one.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @sam said:

    the elephant in the room

    BIG

    :elephant:

    ELEPHANT


    Filed under: [Aw, I can't have a big big big big big big big big big big big big big big big elephant?](#tag)

  • Banned

    Edited cause its not fair to break this topic

    Filed Under: So happy I am getting the hang of kbd shortcuts


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @sam said:

    Edited cause its not fair to break this topic

    Huh, on my screen it only went up to three bigs and it wasn't very big.


    Filed under: [That's what she said.](#tag)

  • Banned

    I was unable to interact with the topic

    btw, will sort through any avatar issues tomorrow. just deployed a non-ghostery version of avatars, but we may have a few rough edges.



  • @sam said:

    will sort through any avatar issues tomorrow.

    An issue you may not have considered but I would be wiling to bet will affect your new avatar system in the next few weeks: a person or persons using said systems to spell out naughty words using their avatars. Also the spam which will result from such efforts.

    TL;DR Avatar Scrabble.


  • Banned

    @dfcowell said:

    a person or persons using said systems to spell out naughty words using their avatars.

    Awesome idea. I also need to rebake all posts now so they stop pointing to Gravatar's central surveillance machine (keep in mind gravatars only cache for 5 minutes).



  • @dfcowell said:

    That's actually... the perfect metaphor.

    Well, I'm not so fond of the "old fogies" bit (hits a little too close to home), but other than that, yeah.@sam said:

    just deployed a non-ghostery version of avatars
    Hurray! Thank you. Ghostery still says it is blocking Gravatar, but I'm seeing avatars for people that had empty whitespace yesterday. I'm seeing some broken image icons in some places, but I suspect that's related to the "rebake all posts" you said later that you need to do.



  • Hey, this is TDWTF. We have a user whose avatar is a penis and sack styled in the CS default avatar grays.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    I would “like” your post, but “like” is probably the wrong word… “Indicate approval for you saying what you have said” would be better. But way windier…



  • @dkf said:

    I would “like” your post, but “like” is probably the wrong word… But way windier…
    Yeah, because liking that would be pretty twisted.

    Filed under: homonyms


  • Banned

    For the record Lorne,

    We were not consulted before the go live date. I got a link from, I don't know where, saying that you started using Discourse and wanted to check stuff out.

    I understand your position, you are used to doing something a very particular way, you have done so for many years. Stuff has changed now, without you being consulted, and you are pissed off.

    Fair enough.

    It is not my fault, it is not Jeff's fault. It is just the way stuff goes sometimes.

    My motives are quite simple:

    I want Discourse to be awesome and I want communities to be happy because they use it. You can't be going all apeshit at me cause I am not being all Buddhist when people are throwing Feces on my digital face, in a room where tossing turd is the norm. I feel it is unfair.

    I am not borg, I do not share all of @codinghorror's opinions, that, in my humble opinion helps make Discourse better.

    I am ready to concede that Discourse may be a poor fit for you personally, it would make me sad if you gave up on it, but building a antonov a-40 did not seem to pan out in the past for others:

    I am here to listen to feedback about the software and "synergize" it or whatever into improvements to the software. As an added bonus the software is open and we are very open to contributions.

    I may sound like a prick to you with the whole scrollbar thing, but I am honestly trying to figure out what particular use cases we are missing out on and improve on them. Chucking all the topics in pure html form in the stream is impractical, traditional paging is a problem we set out to solve with the product.

    I concede that search within a topic is not spectacular, I concede that certain modes of navigation can be improved. I understand the concerns about history loitering and really want to get it fixed.

    But, I want to take the time and figure out what the best things are for the product within the technical constraints we are operating within.

    I would be more than happy to help guide people, when it comes to writing a plugin to do pagination. I would be happy to look at prototypes. I can not invest time in building a paginated view, instead I would like to focus making the stream view solve more of the problems the paginated view solved.

    Bottom line here is that I am visiting here to learn about real world use of our software and hopefully make the community here enjoy using it a bit more, improving the software along the way.

    I am sorry you are so frustrated


  • Banned

    @HardwareGeek said:

    I'm seeing some broken image icons in some places

    This should be a bit better now, I built a system that rebakes old posts today for these cases.


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