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Stickies features that will especially help matters

    General discussion

  • I've been reading some back and forth about whether stickies are needed in addition to announcements -- hope I'm up to speed. Let me make a proposal.

    1. In addition to stickies, there should be a search box feature that enables users to see only those results labeled helpful. This will vastly streamline troubleshooting. And it will improve people's willingness to use the "helpful" tag in posting.

    2. Stickies (which are used by people needing to troubleshoot) should be separate from moderator announcements (which are used by moderators to update frequent visitors).

    3. Stickies should proliferate. The more stickies, the more solutions. This does create screen real estate problems, but there is a way around this.

    4. Best to move stickies to a separate subforum. One forum should be for existing solutions, another should be for troubleshooting and discussion. This will make search more effective. Every subtopic could be divided in that way, or, if you prefer, the forums could exist in separate locations. 

    5. When a solution is discovered, it should be rewritten as a new thread in the "solutions" subforum, in as clear a way as possible, so that the only posts to that thread from then on are for clarification, fixes, or improvements, not "help."

    6. I recommend against Wikis. The reason is that the most likely to add to the wikis are the most technically savvy users -- and they will be the ones who will complexify or compress the explanation to such an extent that the solution becomes unusable by less savvy users. Wikis would, of course, be a very helpful way to organize the threads, but if you do so, the first "please read before posting" announcement should be: "If you do not understand the procedures described in this Wiki, please post your question to the discussion tab, so that we know what edits need to be made. A moderator will reply to your question as soon as he or she can."

    Thanks for taking this on board!

    a.k.a.
    Wednesday, December 10, 2008 6:31 PM

All replies

  • Let me add another important point:

    Be very, very, very careful if you are thinking of succumbing to using "linking" as a way to direct users to stickied / helpful / solutions posts, either in the way you structure your forums, in the way you try to conserve above-the-fold screen real estate, or in the way you write your posts as moderators.

    Generally, that's a disaster.

    Most enterprise CMSes these days are using dynamic URLs, and users don't have an easy way to permalink the addresses. We can only assume that in a few years time, the forums will be overhauled / moved in some way again -- but the troubleshooting solutions will still be the same. The links will break.

    The only systems that make effective use of permalinks these days are ones that deliberately separate the dynamic address bar URLs from the permanent page ID link. Check out how it's used  on the World Bank's site (check any WB page out). You'll find a dynamic URL in the address bar, and a permanent URL at the bottom of the page.

    Unfortunately, I don't see evidence that MS is implementing that on an enterprise-wide basis.

    So, stickies will have to be in the form of full posts, not links to past posts.

    Thanks!

    a.k.a.
    Wednesday, December 10, 2008 6:49 PM