7 Replies - 1247 Views - Last Post: 19 July 2014 - 10:27 AM

#1 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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WTF is up the daily wtf and "discourse"?

Posted 17 July 2014 - 07:57 PM

Fans of thedailywtf.com - what do you think of the redesign of the comments area?

Not to put too fine a point on it, for me it's a sort of combination of everything that is wrong with web design today, which makes it a useful case study in failure, but it's unfortunate that it had to happen to one of my second-favorite web sites. And I'm sorry if anyone here is a fan of Jeff Atwood's product, unfortunately called "discourse", but this is basically a diatribe against that particular abomination.

The Elements of Failure:

- infinite scroll. Always the wrong thing to do. Dropping the user into a bottomless well of content with no signposts or markers is kind of like the old toilet-paper layout that we hated so much in the '90s, only much more horrible since IT NEVER ENDS. Any time you're tempted to do infinite scroll, stop, shoot yourself in the head, and then do something different. Preferably in that order.

- colorswatch buttons. Yes, there are lots of colors in the world. You don't need to use all of them. And I'm sorry, but if all of your buttons are just borderless colored rectangles. and those blobs of clown vomit are scattered randomly across your page, you have no design at all. Your have a horrible accident that could have been prevented, and should have been prevented, and would have been, if you weren't a horrible person.

- useless data. Just because you have numbers doesn't mean they're interesting. They certainly shouldn't occupy the top center of the screen. Number of views? Who cares? I'm here to make fun of bad ideas in programming, not to score your article in some race you're running.

- mouseover mania. Yes, the mouseover is a cool idea. And sometimes it's even a good idea. But if every element pops some action when the mouse hits, then your page is a minefield.

- semiotics-o-rama. Arrows are a pretty well-understood indicator. If there are one or two arrows on a page, it's usually clear what each of them means. Likewise plus signs and speech bubbles and whatnot. But as these signs start to accumulate, it gets harder and harder to determine what any of them are trying to communicate to me.

- too much is a bad thing. A basic principle of user interaction: Everything you add, takes away. Just because every user has a pet feature doesn't mean you have to put them all in. At some point you have to stop, and that point is well behind us in this case. This is a failure that breeds failure - as you add more features, you have to put them in the UI somewhere, and that means more mouseovers and more graphics that you hope will communicate something to the user but don't, and generally, more awful.

- stop using ordinary working nouns as your fucking product name. I hate discourse-the-horrible-piece-of-software. I'm rather a fan of actual discourse. Fuck you very much for appropriating a perfectly good word and tying it to a perfect constellation of failures.


tl;dr: I'm very sad that a very smart programmer (Jeff Atwood) has made a very bad piece of software that has been used on one of my favorite sites and made it completely unusable. Thank you for enjoying my rant. I'm done now.

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Replies To: WTF is up the daily wtf and "discourse"?

#2 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: WTF is up the daily wtf and "discourse"?

Posted 17 July 2014 - 08:08 PM

Heh. I just saw this article, which is even more of a rant than I was able to come up with. And at the bottoms there's a little counter saying "24 people like this. Like it too."

And I would, only I have no idea which UI element to press in order to like it...
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#3 depricated  Icon User is offline

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Re: WTF is up the daily wtf and "discourse"?

Posted 18 July 2014 - 03:45 AM

Jon, ILU

I've been dabbling in web design since the 90s - I got into it back when tables were the gold stasndard for layout. I've read countless books on the topic of page design and layout. One stands out in my mind right now, I forget the author and title, but in it the guy named "the worst designed page on the internet" - pepsi.com, which at that time was fucking terrifyingly bad. They had latched onto every new, popular design 'feature' and integrated into this terrible amalgam of a page that was just...cringeworthy.

I mean, here's what we're talking: You load the page, there's a pepsi logo with a <blink>blinking</blink> title. Javascript had just come out, so the menu was built into the image - click it to expand the menu! Not that you'd know that from looking at the page - you would land on the page and just scratch your head because it had a blinking title, the logo, and started playing some Coolio. Going through the site wasn't much better. I'm pretty sure it's one of those cases where the owner got his son, who "knows how to do all that computer shit," to do it while shrooming.

That's how "discourse" makes me feel. It's like the modern day equivalent to that. All it's missing is a half-opaque page overlay with a talking ad (I'm looking at you, DIC).
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#4 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: WTF is up the daily wtf and "discourse"?

Posted 18 July 2014 - 05:45 AM

I haven't been to the site in years.. just went there.. it looks like the site I remember.. am I not in some sort of special 'beta' look and feel mode, or what? Nothing you described is there.
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#5 depricated  Icon User is offline

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Re: WTF is up the daily wtf and "discourse"?

Posted 18 July 2014 - 05:52 AM

click a comment link
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#6 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: WTF is up the daily wtf and "discourse"?

Posted 18 July 2014 - 06:42 AM

Aaaaaaah.. okay. I was going to say.. the main page was the same.. clicking on an article was the same.. ah.. the comments have changed.
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#7 Lemur  Icon User is online

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Re: WTF is up the daily wtf and "discourse"?

Posted 18 July 2014 - 10:19 PM

I really don't see the problem with discourse. It's a much better way of managing forums in my opinion.

The categories being different colors helps to easily differentiate between different ones. It takes a glance.

Personally I enjoy the more whole look at the activity on the site, and being able to drill down into categories as I want. If I recall, you can even set up filters to only show certain categories on load.

There are place markers on the topics showing which comment you're on among other things.

To me it's a good design and it does tend towards keeping it simple. I really don't see half of the issues you're talking about, most of them are easy enough to bypass even at that.
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#8 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: WTF is up the daily wtf and "discourse"?

Posted 19 July 2014 - 10:27 AM

View PostLemur, on 19 July 2014 - 12:19 AM, said:

most of them are easy enough to bypass even at that.


Well, yes, it's very easy to bypass the issues that discourse presents. But I don't have access to thedailywtf's servers, so I can't revert the site back to a usable comment system.
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