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Designing User Friendly Internet Forums With Tags  

:: Tuesday, April 18, 2006 ::

Forum software usability is different for everybody who uses it. We're pretty well stuck with traditional forums that are pages-long, must-scroll lists of categorized topics. These topics are summarized with forum titles that we hope everyone will understand, relate to or pertain to something they are seeking information for.

Inside those blocks of topics are discussions, or what we call "threads". They lead off with a subject title and, if interesting or juicy, can go on for pages and pages of "conversation." Figuring out the best place to ask a question, make a comment, or even post spam, takes a few minutes to review the whole forum to see where post placement makes the most sense.

If you visit forums, some are alike in appearance because the software is the same. But, no matter what forums you call "home", you still have to find hot topics, topics of interest, discussions from the last time you visited, and all the little gems that are hiding inside.

It bothers Adrian Lee, Site Administrator for Cre8asiteforums, that finding things that matter to us inside forums is still ridiculously hard to do. He's been thinking about ways to change forums design to be more user friendly to a more global set of visitors. As a forums owner, I can vouch that we often hear from our Community with ideas for making their forums experience a happier one.

Adrian gathered up his thoughts and started a thread in the "backroom" of Cre8asiteforums with just the moderating staff. What resulted is a full-blown article called Ideas On a New Style of Forum. He feels that tagging is the key.

"Taking a leaf out of the folksonomy book, if, instead of the rigid tree structure, we attach descriptive words to each thread, you get the possibility of tagging one thread with multiple topics."

The article is now the focus of discussion by the Creative Community in Forum Software - Problems with Hierarchy. Please feel free to join us there.

:: posted by Kim Krause Berg on 4/18/2006 04:37:00 PM

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