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2 Level-Announcement-System & Announcements in discussion view

phreakphreak Vanilla*APP (White Label) & Vanilla*Skins Shop MVP

Hey,


I recently ran into the problem that users tend to start new discussions on some topics that have already been discussed more than once. Instead of using the Vanilla search (they usually avoid) and before running through several pages they tend to start a new thread. Vanilla feels like a fast forum (communication wise) if the discussion view is in use, so i thought about how to avoid nummerous threads.

I basically have 3 different kinds of threads.
1.) Regular discussions by users
2.) Announcements by admins and mods (special topics on forum issues)
3.) Discussions that are in a general focus and could stay on page one (Funny Videos, Netiquette, Introduce yourself, etc.)

The problem is, that those of category 3.) are too many to add them to the announcements (more than 3 announcements on top kill the beauty of the discussion list), also the are not so important, so that they need to appear on top. Moving them just to appear in categories also won't help, because users of my board are just using the discussion mostly.

It just came to my mind that the announcement-system could be improved by the possibility to add some of them also to the bottom of the discussions page. There could be those topics that tend to be created more than once by users (like Badges and Reactions ins this forum ;) ). This would create an interesting 2 level announcement-system.


The 2nd idea was that it could be of use to let announcements also appear in the discussion view. A lot of users are coming in through Google searches and so it might be of interest to show announcements also on top or on bottow of the discussion view.

What do you think?

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Tagged:
DirtyDog

Comments

  • Good ideas although I'm not sure whats best. I've been working on a featured discussion plugin that allows users of any group allowed access to mark a discussion as featured. That discussion then gets styled differently in the discussion list. Also a separate discussions view shows only featured posts. Maybe something like this could serve to draw attention to threads you want people to post in?

  • hbfhbf wiki guy? MVP

    sort of related comment...

    i'd like to see a plugin which adds footer boxes which show 'similar' discussions and 'recent posts' to catch the interest of googlers.

    i get about 50% of my traffic coming in off of google and most read the thread they came in for and then bail. likely because there is nothing on the page that draws them to something else specific on the site, and if they are searching specific topics, they are unlikely to dig for other interesting topics. but if something were put in front of their face... well i'd expect at least 30% to stick around.

  • phreakphreak Vanilla*APP (White Label) & Vanilla*Skins Shop MVP
    edited December 2012

    @DirtyDog: Thats sound really good. Can we support you in any way regarding that plugin. I'd love to test if it integrates in the userflow of my forums.

    @hbf: Also a good idea, for example three footer-boxes below could generate more interest. I have the same problem as you described with Google incoming users. Modules like "Related discussions" based on text matching the title or the comment text would be great (and can be found in many CMS nowadays). If we could give a bycoming user more option to find what he or she is looking for, this could really push the percentage of registrations and pageviews.

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  • @Phreak I'm making a suite of plugins to create a Vanilla-based CMS. I haven't discussed it much as people around here seemed to scoff at the idea and I think it will be best to demonstrate a functioning product rather than talk about my plans in depth. That said, what I can tell you is that the featured plugin is 90% done but I'm waiting to finish some of the other plugins before finishing featured discussions so I can finalize how I want them to work together. If I distribute any of it, it will likely be donation based as I have considerable time and money into the project. All plugins will only be for 2.1 unfortunately.

  • phreakphreak Vanilla*APP (White Label) & Vanilla*Skins Shop MVP

    @DirtyDog: Great keep up the good work. :) You can count on me regarding donations.

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  • Count on me too

  • The Phoenix Search plugin gives a list of suggested existing topics when users create a new topic.

  • hbfhbf wiki guy? MVP

    @Anonymoose said:
    The Phoenix Search plugin gives a list of suggested existing topics when users create a new topic.

    that could be useful in the development of a 'related discussions' plugin.

    but i think you are referring to the sphinx search, and while i haven't attempted the install/configuration, it's my understanding that it is not simple. if i were to create a plugin for related discussions it would not be reliant on a 3rd party application sphinx and/or a separate plugin. to do so would make the plugin exceedingly complicated to administer.

    at any rate, i dont know when/if i will do this unless someone is willing to sponsor.

  • Yes, sorry. Sphinx search. It is easy to install and guides you through the installation.

  • peregrineperegrine MVP
    edited December 2012

    @hbf said:

    if i were to create a plugin for related discussions it would not be reliant on a 3rd party application sphinx and/or a separate plugin. to do so would make the plugin exceedingly complicated to administer.

    without sphinx, i would think it would take a bit of a performance hit with searches to provide related discussions. unless the related discussions only popped up after you chose something like "see related discussions" rather than automatically appearing. I don't think it would be too hard to do with some sponsors footing the bill.

    I may not provide the completed solution you might desire, but I do try to provide honest suggestions to help you solve your issue.

  • @peregrine said:
    without sphinx, i would think it would take a bit of a performance hit with searches to provide related discussions. unless the related discussions only popped up after you chose something like "see related discussions" rather than automatically appearing. I don't think it would be too hard to do with some sponsors footing the bill.

    A better way to do it would be to cache the results in a table and update them via cron, rather than having a new query with every page load to generate the related discussions.

  • phreakphreak Vanilla*APP (White Label) & Vanilla*Skins Shop MVP

    I like the idea of a "Related Discussions" Plugin. Would be great if forum admin could choose if the comparison goes along with the discussion title, the discussion text or the tags added to the discussion. Maybe there is another option, but these three would probably fit a lot of community use cases.

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  • peregrineperegrine MVP
    edited December 2012

    @phreak said:
    I like the idea of a "Related Discussions" Plugin. Would be great if forum admin could choose if the comparison goes along with the discussion title, the discussion text or the tags added to the discussion. Maybe there is another option, but these three would probably fit a lot of community use cases.

    I could see related keywords in title matched against other discussion titles with reasonable performance, but beyond that. I would install the sphinxsearch plugin, otherwise you are re-inventing the wheel, probably in a less than optimal way.
    It would still most likely require contributions (amounts included) for any reasonable attempt.

    I may not provide the completed solution you might desire, but I do try to provide honest suggestions to help you solve your issue.

  • peregrineperegrine MVP
    edited December 2012

    another "less expensive" idea.
    with clickable search links for keywords in discussion title. This would require no caching, no sphinxsearchplugin (although the best option) and no performance hit, and no need for an extra panel. Downside searching only on one word per search. Formatting and underlining etc. could be added.

    in this example user could search on any of the:

    bonk
    error
    debugging
    Smarty compile
    exist

    words like "the a shows got" and what ever could be weeded out.

    I may not provide the completed solution you might desire, but I do try to provide honest suggestions to help you solve your issue.

  • peregrineperegrine MVP
    edited December 2012

    or something like this (each click on word in relating to: produces the standard search results of vanilla search box).

    Be the first on your block to sponsor for a small contribution (you name the $ amount). I'll let you know if it is doable for the offering price. Or if you have another idea (name the spec and offer amount).

    I may not provide the completed solution you might desire, but I do try to provide honest suggestions to help you solve your issue.

  • phreakphreak Vanilla*APP (White Label) & Vanilla*Skins Shop MVP

    Great idea also @peregrine. But i'd prefer a real, related discussions module that could for example show 3+ related article titles below the initial thread of a discussion.

    But for your example: How do you determine which words are taken? Are those taken that appear in other discussion titles... how do you deal with words like "the" or "a". With a whitelist or blacklist, with a minimum of letters?

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  • peregrineperegrine MVP
    edited December 2012

    @phreak said:

    Great idea also peregrine. But i'd prefer a real, related discussions module that could for example show 3+ related article titles below the initial thread of a discussion.

    It's certainly doable. The main issue is performance, ( sphinxsearch is the best option and creating a cache seems like recreating the wheel), otherwise for performance sake - the speediest is to match a word in title to the 3 most recent discussion that have that word in the title. Or try combinations of two words, but that would be a bit more performance consuming. If you need to search the body of discussion that would be even more performance consuming. On a small site it would probably be fine, but on a large site, I don't know how it would scale.

    But for your example: How do you determine which words are taken? Are those taken that appear in other discussion titles... how do you deal with words like "the" or "a". With a whitelist or blacklist, with a minimum of letters?

    array of words that are ignored (blacklist).
    that you could add to.
    number of letters for keywords in title could be increased from default of 3

    standard search for "sql and its limitations". depending on search engine 3 letters is min - there is documentation how sql searches work on the mysql site.

    I may not provide the completed solution you might desire, but I do try to provide honest suggestions to help you solve your issue.

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