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Copywriting 101, or does you wife (hubby, mother, granny) understand?

TomTesterTomTester New
edited April 2007 in Vanilla 1.0 Help
"Filters", "Whispers", "Sink", "Text-only mode", "Block category" As a 'v-noob' I must say they are mighty confusing at times, especially for non-technical users or even more experienced 'bulletin-boarders'. I know and appreciate the feature to customize the labels for Vanilla and add-ons, but perhaps Vanilla could benefit from a slight rewrite so they don't *need* changing and we all get a more unified installed base (and shared UI). My test for tech features is usually, can I explain it to my wife/mother/ granny (all M/F of course, I just happen to be straight and married) Some of the terms used here even confuse me... Examples: [bitch mode on] "Block user" (top right) which does not mean "ignore" user, but "block all HTML in comments by this user" "Block comment" does not hide the comment, but rather blocks all HTML in this comment?!? "Permalink" has no explanation "Small input" is a toggle but appears as a tab (and what is an INPUT anyway?) "Discussion Filters: o Participated Discussions o Bookmarked Discussions o Whispered Discussions o Whispered Comments" What is a fiter, why repeat the 'discussions' if the header already includes 'discussions' What are whispered discussions (they are not actually discussions between whisperers, but discussions where you left a whisper, why is this not a Whispers tab, so we get back to the private messages) "Text mode is OFF" I thought this was like vBulletin's 'text-only mode' aka light mode so I assumed it was broken, yet that also prevents HTML? [bitch mode off] I love it all... don't get me wrong, but I do think a little re-think of the interface would help.


  • MarkMark Vanilla Staff
    We're open to suggestions.
  • I think Filter, Whisper and Text-only mode are quite self explanatory.

    I do think that the Block Category would be better changed to Hide Category which is slightly more obvious.
  • While i agree 'block user' and 'block comment' may not be the best use of the word 'block', if you could think of another single word which summed up 'dont show any html this user writes' I'd be quite impressed. That's what alt tags are there for afterall... Permalink probably has no explanation because mark didnt write that extension and the author didnt think to add an alt tab. It's simply enough done. What's an input? I think something went wrong with your wife/mum/grans education if they dont know what an input is. Would you prefer big box? I guess that could work...fair enough. Filter is a fairly common word to use in software. Since it filters down the content of your discussion page I really believe it's a more appropriate word than 'search' (which is a common alternative). Any other ideas? Whispered discussions are discussions whispered between users..? Whispered comments shows discussions you've whispered in. I wont go into the theory of a 'whispers' tab because that's not strictly to do with copy and it's been discussed many times before. Text-only....hmm...i suppose in the spirit of things this should be 'block' mode. Or perhaps the block comment/user should be changed to text-only comment/user? We are open to suggestions here. It's a great community. We have a few arguments and disagreements but even Wanderer tried to get away and couldnt and now he's back causing fun as ever :D It's also pretty uncommon for *everyone* to be *perfectly* happy with vanilla. Infact very few people are but it's still a damn site closer to being perfect than many other forum softwares...in my view. I tell you what we do prefer to statements though, ideas!
  • These were off-the-cuff examples, not criticism towards any of the developers. My point in 5 words: <b>good copy helps the interface.</b> Check out http://www.copyblogger.com for example. Mark did an AWESOME job creating forum software that works differently than the other stuff out there and seems to promote participation over LURKING. New features (e.g. live filters & ignores, whispers) implicitly require explanation. Simple changes in copy and UI could help (tooltips! haha topic of the day). Re: ACTION vs TALK I will get back with ideas (or actually the link to the vanilla site I'm building, which includes changes in texts, add-ons, etc.) Rest assured that I will discuss that site exhaustively with my wife/mother and grand-mama! TT PS I still don't 'get' the "block HTML" thing. Is it that the user will be IGNORED (as in the "IGGY" button on IMs) or will this person be able to add TEXT but not MARKED UP HTML text?!?
  • @ Ben I agree re: HIDE vs BLOCK category. I've changed the text and my CSS to hide the category from the list (display:none;visibility:hidden;). I've customized the Categorylist Add-On to be moved from the discussions page to the categories page (tab) This provides a user visual feedback on available and removed categories. A forced a page-refresh ensures the two stay in sync.
  • I like the terms Vanilla uses, they are different. Every other piece of software out there uses the same exact wording, that is so mundane. A simple FAQ for the terms used in Vanilla would do justice I think, if there is not one already.
  • I have nothing against new terms, as long as they're indicating something new. (Better than old familiar terms for new/different features) That said: there is tremendous power in 'familiar' interfaces. I remember the time when everyone was inventing/using a new 'interface' on their corporate web site (97-00). Ultimately the most common interfaces that were easy to understand and somewhat consistent across several sites won out. This is also what made most blogs templates (and sites) look alike... simply more usable or just more familiar than the rest.
  • Maybe we can meet in the middle. A modified language/definitions file could be made, one that has somewhat more "normal/typical" terms used instead of the default Vanilla ones, and uploaded to the Add-ons site. Then one could just download that file and voilà.
  • Innovation in design is overrated. The reason terms are popular is because they're easy understandd, you should embrace conventions.
  • @Krak: I know it's possible. Just wanted to discuss it. @c-unit: hear hear! (with some exceptions, but very few) related: funniest of all is designers trying to improve on nature. totally counter to the general (i.e. non-biblical) principle of evolution...
  • edited November 2006

    "Block user" = "Hide user HTML" or "Show user HTML"
    "Block comment" = "Hide comment HTML" "Show comment HTML"
    ... brings the relevant concept into play (HTML), otherwise label veils the feature purpose and misleads; the function hides and reveals HTML, doesn't block users.

    "Permalink" tooltip = "Don't worry about this unless you already know what it is in which case you won't need a tooltip anyway. Comment permalinks are useful but totally impossible to explain in less than 200 words so we will now delete this tooltip and return you to your regularly scheduled program. Thanks, HAL." Gee, a chance for self-modifying code ;-).

    "Small input" = "More text" and "Less text" or "Text +" and "Text -". Small input means nothing to me intuitively in this context; less to Mom. Or Dr. Tom.

    Discussion Filters = "Saved Discussions" (this is what they are in clean analogy with Saved Searches and even Mom will understand that):

    Participated Discussions - ok
    Bookmarked Discussions - good
    Your Discussions = "My Discussions" (they are MINE, not 'yours') or "Started Discussions" (this is awkward but very clear)
    Whispered Discussions - nasty but nothing better
    Whispered Comments - ditto
    .... so long as whispered comment are included in this group, can't eliminate the word 'discussion'.

    Text-only mode is off = "HTML Mode is On" or "Text-Only Mode Is On"

    And the title Searches should be 'Saved Searches'. The adjective makes a (subtle) ton of difference. What kind of searches are these? Saved ones ... maps to what we do to 'get them visible there' (e.g., we save them).

    This is tough stuff because passions run highest over the details of any UI. Hope it is useful grist for Mark's mill ....
  • KrakKrak New
    edited November 2006
    I would have agreed with the changes all the way if I was reading this at the beginning of my Vanilla journey. But after using it for so long (what I feel like is "so long") I have become accustomed to it and would find it odd if it were changed. Not saying that changes are bad (even though I fear change, lol jk) just that I myself would go, eh what?, if it was not how it is now.

    Edit: Actually, I do like the changes for Less/More Text, and Hide/Show HTML. It does make a little more sense.
  • Yeah, me too actually. OTOH, Vanilla is at the beginning of its growth curve so we could try to be considerate to all the soon-to-be noobs ... in six months, it really may be too late due to momentum but not yet.
  • Personally, I like things less wordy. Ome of te first things I did with Vanilla was editing the language file, then promptly forgot to use it. cllick here to go to discussions => view discussions whisper your comments to => whisper to enter your comments => comments format comments as => format etc.
  • @ Wall agree (less is more) @ Krak, I'm not concerned about your perception (or that of experienced users), I'm concerned about new visitors to my board. @ Russ, thanks, agree with most, though I fail to see why I would want to block the HTML (I'd prefer to block the user) Actually, I use BBCode, so does this block BBCode boldface too? If anything, a simple STYLES ON/OFF or FORMATTING ON/OFF seems clearer. (though HTML as a term is known, so HTML ON / OFF would work and is shorter) Thanks.
  • You may want to block the html if that poster posts some offensive content. Or if they do something which messes up the display of the forum. Generally as a less drastic measure to the text only mode. It can prove quite useful. Back to the first topic, I'd be surprised that your gran knows what HTML is but doesnt know what an INPUT is, dont you agree?
  • Maybe we should make some "clouds" with explanation for "newbie users"?
  • @Minisweeper - touche about HTML and INPUT ;-). But don't you think 'Text +' or 'Text -' (or equivalent) is clearer even for me, let alone Gran? The difference is that the point to one of the toggles really is to hide HTML; while making the textarea larger or smaller is exactly what the other toggle does ... why introduce the word input which is a more abstract geeky word if we don't have to?

    I admit I'm not sure why I would want to block the HTML rather than the user either ... it seems needlessly subtle. If a user posts bad stuff, whatever it is, I would block the entire comment ("COMMENT DELETED"), warn them and then ban them if matters weren't corrected by some 'x' point.
  • You realise, i assume, that the blocking is on a per user-user basis? I do see what you're saying...it's just one of those functions that's always been part of marks forum software so i'm used to it. I think it's an extension though? Or probably will become one.
  • What do you suggest for the permalink's alt tag? "Permanent link to this comment"? Thanks for any input. ;)
This discussion has been closed.