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What is the "categories" tab supposed to do, really?

edited February 2007 in Vanilla 1.0 Help
I mean, all the categories are found in the pull down menu in the discussions tab already... And if I go to the categories tab and click a category, I'm back in the discussions tab again anyway? Very confusing! It's like walking in to a house, and see a couple of doors, and when you open one and walk in you're suddenly in a completely different house! Shouldn't each house keep its own doors to its own rooms? I was confused by the relation between the two tabs before I understood that one of them really doesn't do anything. At first I didn't pay attention to the fact that I was sent back to the discussions tab when I clicked a category... and I thought the discussions tab was only used to get an overview over recent posts in all categories.

This is not good from a user perspective imo, since spontaneously I think you expect each of the main sections of a site to have rougly the same importance. And it also clashes heavily with the "stripped down" idea of Vanilla, don't you think?

Surely the single one function the categories tab serves, which is to list all the available categories and show their descriptions, could be incorporated into the discussions tab interface...?

I think it would make more sense if the following five links were grouped together to make the top level navigation menu for the forum, as they each send the user to a new interface: Discussions/categories, New discussion, Search, Account settings and Sign out. If they were placed together and styled similarily, it would be much cleaner and give new users a very quick overview of how to navigate the forum. Less confusion, I think.

I know I will get five replies saying that "this could be made as an add-on" but that's not my point, I think that if the clean installed version of Vanilla wants to be as straightforward as possible, it should not incorporate features that don't do anything.


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    First things first, the categories dropdown in the panel is an addon, not all forums have it.
    Secondly, do you realise that if you go onto the categories tab, click a category, the discussion list it takes you back to only actually contains discussions in that category?
    Thirdly, the category list allows you to do category management things such as blocking categories (blocking a category prevents discussions from that category from appearing on the all discussions list)
    Fourtly, categories are one of the things that (i believe) *may* come out of vanilla as an extension in future releases - emphasising the stripped-down ness. A lot of people couldnt live without them though.
    Fifthly, making 'start new discussion' into a tab would be very simple indeed. Whether you prefer it as a tab or on the panel is purely personal I'd imagine. I guess on the panel it kinda stands out more as being functional rather than the other tabs which are navigational. That said, adding tabs is easy enough and if you prefer your forum as you described then feel free to design it as such. It'd be interesting to see how it goes.
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    I think the big picture is the categories tab should show active when you are viewing a category, just like the search tab is active when you are viewing a search. Same thing with the account tab--it is active only when you are viewing member accounts, it doesn't matter if it is your own account or not. In other words, categories are a more specific subset of Discussions, so it may be more appropriate to show the categories tab when viewing discussions from a category.
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    That seems fair enough to me.
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    Thanks for your comments.

    Yes, what wallphone suggests would be another solution to this problem, although I personally think it would be better to omit the categories tab completely and have the category filtering right on the discussions page some way, sort of like the current pull down menu but a bit more versatile. I didn't know that was an addon btw, I guess that puts the whole thing in a slightly different light! Maybe the whole issue is that with that extension, there are two different ways of achieving the same thing, rendering the more cumbersome one rather useless (one page load extra, no one wants that).
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    Well in that case all you'd need to do would be to add a $Menu->RemoveTab call to the category dropdown extension to stop the tab being loaded..
    Personally the only time I ever pay any attention to categories is when I'm making a discussion. Other than that i mentally blank out pretty much anything other than the bright yellow lines on the all discussions page :)
This discussion has been closed.