Top Listology Requests

  • Make default search not be phrase specific but more like 'search all.' Make an advanced search page for more specific choices such as how to search and what to search.
  • Documentation on 'Listology Hacks' (see post).
  • Fix highlighted text formatting problems.
  • The ability to "dump" all your Listology lists (or, selected ones) to a series of HTML files in a folder on your hard drive - as a backup for those of us who have dozens of carefully developed lists that we don't necessarily already keep backup copies of.
  • Site statistics.
  • Search by 'other' genre.
  • The ability to rename custom genres.
  • A link on a profile page to reveal that user's archived items.
  • Ability to choose timezone.
  • Let numbered lists remain numbered when viewing it under the message post box in 'start new discussion.'
Author Comments: 

I'm sure most of these are on Jim's 'to do' list, I'm just keeping them here for discussion purposes. Many items have been removed from this list since its inception as Jim continues to implement these features!

I think 7-9 would be pretty annoying soon. I think that any time you have something good to say about a list, you can just type a simple "Great list" post or something (and if you're too lazy to do this, then the list must not be good enough to inspire much more than apathy). One might be able to criticize lists more easily with this feature if it were anonymous, but certainly constructive criticism is more helpful than an objective number (and again, if you're too lazy to give constructive criticism, then the list must not be that bad to inspire some form of action). A low rating might just be annoying to the poster of the list, or confusing as to why people don't like the list. Besides, my mother always told me that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

In any case, some lists are more personal, or directed to some people and not others. We wouldn't want to discourage that.

If from #8, you are looking to find the most "popular" lists on Listology, you might want to try the Most Discussed section on the toolbar on the left (though it is largely geared towards games).

I think Jim thought long and hard about a cool Listology logo when designing the merchandise. And I must admit that I like the current logos. If you have the technical expertise to design cool logos, I bet he would take your design into consideration.

For #3, I think Jim wanted to avoid having a toolbar that cluttered up the page too much. It's not that hard to click "all" and "other."

#10 might be cool, though I'm not sure what the statistics would tally, exactly. Did you have something in mind?

#2 might be interesting, but I really don't think there are all that many polls on this site. We might run out pretty quickly. #1 seems logical, but I don't use the e-mail feature, so it doesn't really matter to me. I'm not sure exactly what you mean for #4 and #5. Would you mind explaining?

P.S. to Jim - I spoke for you a couple times in my attempt to come up with a thorough post. If I misrepresented your opinions, I apologize.

Yes, you may have a point with 7-9 - but I'm not quite sure exactly how that would turn out, it might end up being cool. #9 would ostensibly take care of your concern about discouraging personal or directed lists (though perhaps it could be implemented so that new Listology items are unrateable by default, and you have to select for them to be rateable).

The reason for implementing a ratings system for posts is not necessarily to commend or critisize individual posts - that is relegated to posts like you said - it is so that Listology items of agreed high quality can be found and browsed and searched en masse.

The 'most discussed' section is almost all games, and the ones that aren't game aren't necessarily the most popular, only ones where a good discussion got started (I have an item like that where dozens of posts were made on a subject mostly unrelated to the topic of my item).

Regarding logos, I must admit I'm more able to curse the darkness than light a candle here - I suck at graphic design, but I find the current logos quite boring and, well, catholic - there's nothing to set it apart as indicating Listology because it's such a common symbol. It's also extremely simple, which admittedly makes it easily scalable, but it is quite boring in my opinion.

I'm thinking... perhaps a globe with dozens of lists popping out of it? Or something like that which is more representative and identifiable as list-related?

Re: #3 - I do like the way Jim has used space on the site, true.

#10 is apparently something that has been under construction. Natural choices would be # of members, # of items, # of polls, # of lists, # of articles, average # of new items per week, etc.

Re: #2 - there is a huge backlog of cool polls that never got the attention they deserved, and these could be mined during any lapses in new polls. And, of course, Jim and others could always create their own polls to place on the front page.

AJ, of course no apologies necessary - we are of the same mind (or similar minds) on many of these.

lukeprog, as always, thanks for the feedback. Quickie responses because it's late and I'm tired and we have company coming starting tomorrow so I might be slightly more scarce for a week or so.

1. There are several improvements I could make to the notification e-mails, along with this suggestion. I'll think on it.

2. Home page real estate is pretty scarce, and it's true that we don't really have an interesting poll come along daily, and I'm lousy at coming up with polls myself.

3. I don't really want to make that box bigger and push "Highlights" further "beneath the fold."

4. Can you tell me exactly which items you'd like in the top bar? Keep in mind that I don't want to use Javascript drop-downs. I hate Javascript, and use it *very* sparingly.

5. This is more complicated than highlighting when lists have new posts. Probably more trouble than it's worth (for me, that is :-).

6. Agreed! Contributions welcome! I readily admit to being a programmer, not a graphic designer.

7-9. Unlikely, but I will mull it over some more. There was some fuss over the hall of fame and endorsements of individuals, so I'm a little worried about similar concerns regarding rating of individual lists/posts. It's probably a good idea though; everybody does it, and it's very effectively done in regards to Amazon customer reviews.

10. Yeah, I really should get on the ball and do that. I've been promising stats since the site was launched.

Keep in mind I do most of my Listology programming over the winter, so please forgive me if it takes awhile for me to get to these.

Thanks again!

Jim, I've been wondering about something, and I guess this is as appropriate a place to bring it up as any. Thinking back to ancient history, how did you first start Listology? I mean, most message boards start as an extra feature for a pre-existing web site, but Listology is pretty much a self-contained site. I would think it would get pretty boring if you were just sitting here waiting for visitors to come. Did you attract users with some kind of advertisements? Did you tell your friends to sign up and hope that would spark some future activity?

Just thought it up out of the blue. :-) I really didn't like recommendation services that attempted to analyze your tastes, and also didn't really care for lists that are formed by aggregating a lot of peoples tastes (like the IMDB Top 250, which tallys everybodys votes). Those things are fine, but tend to regress to the mean (or some other semi-appropriate mathematical expression of milquetoast). I figured the best way to get recommendations was to find a *particular person* of similar taste and go with what they recommend, and I thought lists would be a fun mechanism for doing that. Then I thought Amazon would buy it and I'd get rich, but that's a story for another time.

As for building the community, I started with family and friends, and had them tell family and friends. I posted on a few e-mail lists, and registered with the search engines. Traffic was VERY light. It has grown slowly and linearly over the past five years, just by word of mouth and the occasional search engine hit. I did get a few lucky breaks. USA Today listed Listology as a "hot site", and I think Yahoo might have given me a plug once too. Unfortunately both those hits came before the site was really mature, so I don't think my retention rate for either of those spikes was as high as they'd be today (I like to think that, anyway).

It's just been a very gradual process, and even after five years Listology is still pretty lightly trafficked, in the great scheme of things.

So tell your friends! :-)

1. If the post being replied to were included with the reply in emails, I would have every message emailed to me and never bother with #5, I guess.
2. Lol, I could come up with millions. You could even do a 'series', like MilkPlus' film canon, etc.
3. The point is, Highlights' links would be moved into the top bar via #4, making room for #3.
4. All the items in Highlights. Of course, the top bar would have to be significantly redesigned. And, #6 might inspire a bit of a site redesign anyway, so #3 and #4 would might be moot at that point.
5. Like I said above, #1 would make #5 a moot point, at least for me.
6. Glad you agree. Any graphic designers out there? I suppose I COULD give it a shot, I've got Photoshop and some ideas of what it could look like, submit it to you, and see what you think.
7-9. I wasn't around to witness the fuss over hall of fame and endorsements, so perhaps history teaches us that rating individual items would be a bad idea...
10. As indicated by this list, I'd think #1 and perhaps #6 are a lot more important.

After this insightful discussion, I would definetely re-order the list, except that it would further complicate the discussion, so I'll leave it as it is. At this point, I'd say #1 is still my most requested, #2-5 aren't that necessary, #6 is sorely needed, #7-9 would be more trouble than they're worth, and #10 would be nice but no hurry.

Any responses to these responses?

Cool. Regarding 6, the new logo would have to either fit in with the larger existing site design, or include a whole new design to fit within.

I'll bump 1 and 10 up my "to do" list.


What do you think of #11 and #12 (new items).

11 we've already discussed (it's been on my "to fix" list forever). 12 would be nice too, but I'm somewhat limited in what I can do based on how SQL Server does full-text searching. One thing you might find handy is searching Listology via Google. Here's an example: Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (which happens to be the movie I'm currently watching).

yeah, that's what I've had to do sometimes, but it'd be nice if Listology could do it. But, I don't know anything about SQL, so I can't help! D'oh!

Just noticed lukeprog's request to make the "recent updates" box have ten items rather than five. I have a related suggestion: configure the categorized recent updates pages to hold more items, even if it means multiple pages.

Ideally, I'd like to be able to go back as far as a week, for those times when I'm out of town, but that may be unrealistic. As it is, you can't look at the past two days worth of movie list updates in their entirety. God forbid you don't check in for a day. Especially when some schlemiel such as myself updates six lists when he's only seen one movie, thereby pushing lukeprog right off the front page. ;-)

Anyway, that's my top listology request for the moment. Thanks as always, jim, for your dedication. Time to click on some Google ads...

Alrighty, you can now go back as far as you want. Check it out. Thanks for clicking on the ads! :-)

Thank you for your tireless efforts to improve Listology!

Say, do you even have any IDEAS about a logo or scheme for a better Listology design? I might be able to whip up something in Photoshop, but I just can't think of what would be better looking but just as economical.

Nope. If I had, that's what I would have done! :-)

Jim, you really are the man! Thanks for your willingness to hear suggestions (and your speed in actualizing them).

:-) You're welcome. And thanks for kicking in great content!

BTW, do you have any information on how Google calculates revenue from ad clickage? Like, do they not count any ad clicks after 50 clicks in one day from the same IP (me) on the same site (Listology)?

Google is very secretive about how they decide how much each click is worth, and how they monitor for "fraudulent" clicks. I hear tell if you end up on the Google blacklist, they'll just cut off your account, which is always a bit worrisome, given they don't tell you precisely what behavior will get you banned (i.e. whether a user doing lots of clicking in a short period of time to help out counts as "fraudulent"). I've always been very careful not to encourage folks one way or the other regarding the ads lest Google view my statements as a means of falsely inflating the clickthrough rate. All I do is point folks to the public Google AdSense FAQ and then let them draw their own conclusions.

In any case though, thanks!

Oh, here's one of the more relevant ones.

Hmmm... 'repeated manual clicks,' kinda sounds like what I've been doing. Stupid Google.

"Moderation in all things", that's my motto (well, along with, "this too shall pass" (and "what's the worst that could happen?")).

jim, something seems to be awry with the categorized recent updates. You can't go back anymore 'cause the text with that link is not there.

On your profile do you have the "Check here to enable 'Expert Mode'" checkbox checked. That dubious feature hides instructional text, which in this case also hides the command contained therein. Sometimes I'm an idiot. I should probably just kill that feature. But in the meantime, if you have that checked, uncheck it. If you don't have that checked, let me know!

How strange. When I looked, it was in fact selected, although I was able to see those instructions when you first responded to my request...and I haven't changed anything since then. Huh. Anyway, thanks.

Weird! I didn't change anything that determines whether or not instructions are displayed. Who says computers are deterministic? Anyway, glad that fixes it!

BTW, re: clicking Google ads. Here's how I do it, in Opera:

Whenever I go on a ad-click spree, I Ctrl+Shift click the ads every time they come up. They load in a new tab in the background. Then, when they pile up (say, 15 of 'em), I just Shift+click them all away, without ever having to even look at the loaded ad page. It's super easy and fast. I'm sure Firefox and several other browsers would allow you to do something similar, though IE is, as always, inadequate for the task.

To make the above conversations follow-able, here's the ORIGINAL list:

1. That emails sent about discussions and replies would contain the post being replied to.
2. The ability for Jim (and perhaps select others) to choose one Listology poll item to feature on the front page each day.
3. That 'Recent Updates' would contain 10 items.
4. That the top bar would be redesigned to include the front page site map links to accomodate extra 'recent updates' items.
5. That new posts could be indicated on the 'post history' page as on the 'my content' page.
6. A great Listology logo (on par with Mozilla logos, for example) for use on the site and merchandise.
7. The ability to easily rate other user's Listology items while reading them (ala Netflix's system).
8. Then, the ability to search posts by user rating.
9. Then, the ability for users to designate certain of their Listology items as un-rateable (so as not to discourage small, simple posts).
10. Sitewide statistics.
11. Fix highlighted text formatting problems.
12. Make search not 'phrase specific' but more like 'search all' (or at least have an option to choose between the two).

Jim, what do you think of #2-#8 (the new ones)?

Look good to me!

oh, and I meant #2 AND #8, not #2 THROUGH #8! Lol!

argh! Actually, I meant #3 and #8. Yeesh, I need help.

That one looks good too, although might be tricky due to Listology internals.

I have an idea: option to choose own timezone? This would save me from wondering how I posted at 3am before realising =D

a great idea! I also recently suggested to Jim in an email a forum dedicated to dicussion of topics that aren't obviously linked to, or don't make sense as, a Listology list, poll, or article.

Re: the original #3. I don't really want to make that box bigger and push *Highlights* further "beneath the fold."

I have a humble suggestion for increasing the utility of the *Recent Updates* section: Perhaps it could encompass the work of the last five (5) members to update. This would eliminate the problem of someone doing mass (and often superfluous) updates which inundate the *Recent Updates* section and wash away everyone else's updates out of the top five (5) and off the page. In my mind this is easier to implement than it is to describe (or even conceive) but the burden doesn't fall to me. Except for the description....

By definition the four (4) people who have most recently updated their content would have ALL of their most recent updates listed after their name while the fifth person (i.e. the fifth most recent updater) would have only their one (1) most recent update listed. Don't worry about Box Bloat, I will tackle that later. What do I mean by "ALL" of the updates of the four (4) most recent updaters? I mean ALL of their updates that have occurred subsequent to the fifth person's single most recent update. This enables a larger (perhaps substantially larger) number of updates to make it into the *Recent Updates* section even as it is still restricted to the five (5) most recent contributors. Again, it is by including the updates of the five (5) most recent updaters, not merely the five (5) most recent updates.

Box Bloat: With so many more updates potentially being squeezed into the *Recent Updates* section it is easy to imagine it becoming too unwieldy to be effective as well as shoving the *Highlights* section down to one's ankles. To avoid this the updates of the first four (4) members (the most recent four (4) updaters) listed should take up no more than three (3) lines apiece. The fifth and last updater would, by definition, take up only one (1) or two (2) lines for their single listed update. There are three (3) ways that I can think of to limit the four (4) most recent updaters to three (3) lines of text-

First is to use only the first word (or first ten (10) characters) of the updated item as the link. In this way vengeance might be exacted on people who lead off their titles with underscores to pop to the top of alphabetized listings, "count" only the underscore (tee hee). (i.e. lbangs: Worst Movi.., The Best C.., Worst Movi..).

A Second way would be to list the title of only their most recently updated item, followed by numbers to link with the rest of their output. (i.e. jim: Trailerolo.., [2], [3], [4]).

Finally, a Third method might be listing their most recent item followed by a *more* link to their personal *recent activity* page. (i.e. AJDaGreat: The Best Current Musical Artists (as of 9/21/04) and other recent entries). Okay, I had to use people's *Recent Activity* instead of *Recent Updates* but I'm typing too fast and not too furious to slow down. Personally I have grown leery of some people's voluminous output and numerous updates even as I am anxious to catch new stuff from those who don't revise often. Perhaps this could balance my concerns with what is hopefully a simple programming conundrum.

Yes, I think this is a cool suggestion, though I'd prefer something like 20 characters for each item with ellipses.

I think that Jim might want to decide if he has the time and desire to do some major changes on his 'to do' list, because many of them might fit better into a site redesign (new logo, changed recent updates box, forums, 'poll of the day,' etc.). Some of the things I've mentioned are in MY to do list, though, not his - I don't have access to his list :-)

I'm just saying it might make more sense to incorporate some of these changes, if he decides to do them, in a site re-launch with a successful site interface redesign.

Suggestions for redesign:

While 'white space' is important, the top frame could be more populated and useful. Below the logo could be a simple text box and 'go' button for searching, with a small 'advanced search' link to take you to a page that would let you choose types, genres, search spectrum, etc. The contents of the highlights box could be put on the right side of the header, probably as graphics (with alt-text to describe their purpose if the graphic isn't quite indicative enough). I believe all this could be fit into the 'ideal width' of 750 pixels (and, naturally, stretched to fit the width of the browser as it is now).

Thus, the 'recent updates' box could take up more vertical space on the left edge of the screen. Everything else could remain oretty similar (though, with minor graphical changes to buttons and borders to fit whatever new logo and color scheme was decided upon).

If forums were implemented, a simple link to them, along with a couple recent topics posted on, could reside where the 'highlights' box is now.

Google ads, helper-text (if used), and articles would be displayed much the same way, as would the footer information.

One consideration is the extra bandwidth that would be consumed by a more useful and graphical header image.

This is all, of course, barring any use of Javascript or Flash menus, which would easily make the site far more economical (in page space, anyway).

My only defense for this egregious site hijacking is that 'I'm only trying to help.'

Jim, thoughts?

Hey, lukeprog, I think that only one of us should be allowed to back up the truck in any twenty-four hour period. To quote Miss Piggy: "Never eat anything bigger than your head." And this all is a meal-and-a-half to chew on.

I pride myself on being a low-maintenance girlfriend and jim treats us like princesses let him... gosh! I'm really pressed for a pea & mattress metaphor. Let him breath, please.

Gimme an "lol" and an "amen", my bruddah....

I'd give ya somethin' if I knew what any one of those sentences meant.

Sorry, what I meant is that such a huge amount of feedback (especially the dry, densely worded kind that we just manufactured) would make it difficult for jim to sort through it all. I know that I would get the yips at so much product and probably flush it all. For a proposal to get a fair hearing it can't be in a flood of material. So I was just suggesting that we both settle down for a while and let him chew his cud. I know that my stream of thought can fill the Augean Stables. [Heracles' fifth labor was to clean the stables of Augeas who had 3,000 oxen and stables that hadn't been cleaned in thirty years. Heracles diverted two rivers so that they flowed through the stables. This metaphor of my stream filling up the stables with my dung spun off of my use of "flood of material" and "chew his cud." ] See? I often get caught up in the sheer joy of writing and I must be reminded to try to make sense and not overwhelm people. I tell myself: "Posting is easy, anyone can do it. It is not posting that shows the finest quality."

Remember, we deserve no less and probably no more either.

You enjoy writing? Will you write my screenplay ideas for me? :-)

If they're good and I get Eszterhas cabbage.

and, I'm not sure if this is what you meant, but if the last 5 updates were by 5 different users, then the first four (nor the fifth, as always) wouldn't have to have ellipses or ennumerations or 'other recent entries' in the titles.

oooooh. DUH! Why didn't I think of this before? How 'bout a scrolling list of links for recently updated items (like several sites do with news, for example this one, on the right side of the page. You could hover your mouse of it to stop it from scrolling so you can click on of the articles, or hover your mouse of some little icon in the corner to return it to the top (MOST recent item). Otherwise, wait 5 seconds to see the updates below the first five. Say, 15 at a time and then it returns to the top.

That'd be ONE MORE way to do it, anyway (though, it's not straight HTML - I remember Jim telling me once he doesn't like Javascript or something).

The day I put scrolling text anywhere on this site is the day you can drag me behind the woodshed and hit me on the head with a shovel until I stop moving.


Otherwise, lots of great suggestions from you and 0dysseus (who I am thrilled to see return! - you wouldn't have been the first Listologist to show up, kick in a bunch of content that I love, and then disappear abruptly and forever). I basically put all these ideas in the hopper and let them stew. I hope you don't think I'm ignoring you by not implementing stuff for months at a time. My Listology programming comes in irregular fits and starts.

cool. I don't quite recall; what do you think of Javascript or Flash dynamic menus?

If you'll pardon me:
Avoids it like Bisquick... sometimes you have to use it, but it feels like a personal failing and you always think it could be so much better.

Exactly. Also, I would never use Javascript for anything essential because even if you can get it to work on all browsers (no small feat), there are people that turn Javascript off. Since it's then reduced to an all-style-no-substance role, I almost never see the point, unless you're coding for a specific browser.

Flash is a much richer environment, and I admire many things about it. But mostly I like it (in principle) for developing full applications - not as an enhancement to predominantly-HTML pages. That, and I don't know Flash well enough to do anything but the most trivial operations in it.

Okay, what do you think of this mock-up (at width of 800: it would stretch if resolution is bigger, just like it does now, so that the big buttons were more toward the center, but the upper right corner would remain in the upper right corner), versus what a page normally looks like at 800 width?

Naturally, all this is in Photoshop with 100+ layers, so I can modify anything you see on the mock-up.

oops, messed up the URLs, so if you get the message via email, visit the page to see the corrected message with correct URLs.

Further explanation:

Naturally, alt-text would pop up over icons, so if people can't guess what the unlabeled buttons do, they'll know as soon as they read the popup alt text or click the link - but I think it's pretty obvious just looking at them.

If it's not, here's what they're supposed to be, left to right:
Member Directory, Hall of Fame, Recent Activity, Recent Posts, Recent Visitors, Most Discussed (same order as in the Highlights box).

Oh yeah, and I just copied and pasted the screenshots of the text for the recent updates box, so it repeats. And, since I just screencaptured it, some links look clicked, other's don't. But I think it helps the mockup to show what it would like like 'in use.'

Obviously, I made no attempt to change the color scheme or the 'title logo' (well, just a LITTLE on the title logo). I also used my own shapes for the check mark graphic, so that's shaped a little differently right now.

The 'recent updates' box now goes down the page the same length that it normally does (it's just that it also takes up the search box's space. So, something else could go below it where the highlights box normally is (for example, future features like a 'poll of the day' or forum post tracking or whatever you want).

I like the look of the icons, and the engraved rather than raised look for the main header buttons ("browse", etc.). The "site map" is in a better spot as well. And I admire you taking the bull by the horns!

That said, I don't really see what we gain of real significance, except for a longer "recent updates" box which, even at double the length, is of limited utility. You gain no horizontal real estate, since the left margin and right margins take up just as much space. The icons, while attractive, are nonetheless not as intuitive as the actual textual links that tell you (without hovering) what you're clicking through to. The search box is less functional, and forces you to click through for more advanced features, which will be confusing for user-specific searches (see the extra search checkbox here, for example).

Yes, it still has a lot of problems.

My intent here was to suggest something different and start working towards something better. Also, to start a dialogue on how things could be better. If you're interested in improving Listology's interface and layout, and don't mind me trying to help, let me know.

It might be helpful to learn how often Listologists use the additional functions of the search box. Myself, I never use them. The point about searching a user's content when on their profile page, if people ever use that feature, is a good one, though.

I think the icons will be intuitative, memorable, and distinctive enough to use easily after a user either clicks them or reads the alt text. It might be useful to take a poll of the Listology community on this as well.

I fully agree that an extra five slots in the 'recent updates' box is hardly a large improvement. My real intention there was to free space for any number of new, implementable features, such as:

1. Forums, which you don't seem to like the idea of.
2. A shoutbox, which has been killed.
3. A 'poll of the day,' which would bring much-needed attention to Listology polls (right now, polls are almost useless, I think, because not enough people EVER vote on ANY poll). One way to implement this would be for a designated person (you or someone else, whatever) to look through old polls that have few enough items to fit and then simply set one up at or a similar (free) service).

I'll wait for your thoughts before I continue.

Just to let you two know someone else is thinking about what you're discussing, I'll add 2 cents to the conversation. Just my opinions and not meant as anything else but simple feedback.

1. While the icons do look good in Luke's version, I don't believe casual visitors will take the time to examine what they are and would simply continue their surfing elsewhere. (If they surf like I do, anyway) If you're looking to hook new members, it might be best to have as many instantly readable items as possible on that first page.

2. Extra slots in the yellow Recent Updates box is an excellent idea for the front page. Tripling the items would fill up all that empty space running down the left side of the screen. Unfortunately, making that list longer would create wasted empty space on just about every other page where that list is displayed. (ex. the New Post page).

3. Advance search techniques are good for searching things like Favorite Movie Lists, Favorite Song Lists, etc... but I use it very rarely (only because I already know what's here.)

4. A "Poll of the Day" wouldn't work because "fairness" would come into play eventually.

good! Glad to see someone else is tracking this.

I have a response to your thoughts, but I'll wait until Jim posts again, because I think I'll be able to combine my responses pretty easily. :-)

Or maybe not. :-) Here we go:

1. I might be able to 'wrap' the circular buttons with the short text descriptions of what they do, so we could get the beauty of the icon and the intuitiveness of English. The buttons would then be 'bigger', but they can easily be repositioned, especially if the search doesn't go in the header bar because people use the additional search options better.
2. I wonder if other Listologists feel this way in addition to you and I, because Jim seems to think more space for 'recent updates' in the left column is too small an improvement to bother with.
3. Again, it'd be nice to know what the Listology community thinks about this, as you and I don't use it but Jim suspects that many people do.
4. I'm not too sure about this. Like when Jim or somebody else chooses to point out a particular list or discussion or Listologist's blog on the front page - I have yet to hear any complaints of 'Hey, how come you didn't link to MY list on the front page?'

I guess I kinda feel like you're putting the cart before the horse. The primary driver (it seems to me) for wanting to make these changes is to free up space in the left margin for other stuff. But I haven't yet heard about "other stuff" that sounds compelling to me. To summarize what's been suggested for that space:

1. Making the "recent updates" box bigger is only an incremental improvement, and will still sometimes scroll by faster than you can keep up, unless you're visiting every 15 minutes

2. Shoutbox: terminated with extreme prejudice, as noted.

3. Forums: I could already put a "recent comments" box over there from the existing discussions, without implementing a separate standalone forum.

4. Poll of the Day: I could always just blog a "poll of the day" to the home page. I think you're overestimating how many more votes this will induce, but maybe not.

It sounds like what you really want is more of a portal page, with information on different aspects of recent Listology activity summarized. I'd be more inclined to create a separate, dedicated page for something like that rather than overhaul the left margin in the ways you've described (so far, anyway).

By all means, keep the feedback coming. At least until you get frustrated with my foot-dragging. :-)

P.S. I'll be gone until Monday.

When you get back:

Well, a portal page might be nice, but what I'm really trying to do is bring more functionality to the front page. Unfortunately for me, you don't like any of the functionality features I have suggested. Do you have some functions you've planned to add to Listology but haven't had the time/space for yet?

I thin a really big step that could be taken now is to poll the Listology community (via the front page) on things like:

1. Would they take part in more polls if they could read the questions and click their choice from the front page (example)?
2. Would they want/use a 'recent posts' box in addition to the 'recent updates' box in the left panel if room was made for it?
3. Do they use any additional parts of the search box beside the text box and GO button?

In addition, I wonder what you think of a sparse but attractive design like this one.

Again, for reference, the list as it appeared on 9/24/04:

1. Make search not 'phrase specific' but more like 'search all' (or at least have an option to choose between the two).
2. The ability for Jim (or someone he chooses) to choose one Listology poll item to feature on the front page each day (polls are simply too unsuccessful on this site, as they are now).
3. Fix highlighted text formatting problems.
4. Forums.
5. A great Listology logo (on par with Mozilla logos, for example) for use on the site and merchandise.
6. Sitewide statistics.
7. A shoutbox.
8. Ability to choose timezone (courtesy of Wezzo).
9. Let numbered lists remain numbered when viewing it under the message post box in 'start new discussion.'

I'm almost afraid to ask, but what in tarnation is a "shoutbox"?

P.S. Your "forums" request is easily accomodated w/i the current system. Anybody that wants to host a "forum" could just create an "About Me" list or article. Then, whenever somebody wants to ask them something, or whenever they want to start a new discussion topic, they just post to that list. You could even put it under a custom genre, and then sort your genres so it appears first on your profile.

Yes, that's true...

But then, there's no way for new topics to appear as such without creating a new Listology article for every topic, which really clutters up your profile page and everything else.

Perhaps this could be solved by creating a new genre (say, #10000? #-1?) called, oh, FORUM or something, and then treating every new item and post in that genre differently.

For example, there could be a recent updates page for 'recent Forum posts' 'new Forum topics,' etc.

Does that make sense?

Because right now, doing it the way you've suggested would be very clumsy to navigate and track, not to mention relatively featureless compared to a typical forum (though my suggestion would be just as featureless).

I wasn't saying you create a list for each new topic (thus cluttering your profile). I was saying you create one list, sort it to the top of your profile, and have all discussion contained in that list. So any time you want to discuss something new you click the "start a new discussion" link inside that list. You thus only have one list in your profile, and it serves as a dedicated catch-all forum.

Yes. I see how this could work, I just don't think it'd take off, and it certainly doesn't have as good of organization or as many features as a regular phpBB forum.

It seems to fit the bill for what you've described though:

1. "So people don't create a whole new Listology 'list' simply to ask a question)."

2. "Could be incorporated into 'recent updates'"

3. "Wouldn't replace the current scheme of allowing discussion over specific items."

Sure, you'd be relying on a behavior change, but perhaps some kind of "Listology Best Practices" should be written. Not that anybody would read it. :-)

As for other forum features, what does phpBB offer that you'd want?

I dunno, I'm not sold on this idea. I'm not giving you "The Big No", but there are so many other features that interest me more, pushing this way out on the horizon.

Oh, phpBB is just the one I see EVERYWHERE. Mostly, it'd be the better, more familiar, easily nagivable interface a phpBB-esque forum would provide that attracts me.

It's like a really simple (for the user, anyway) chat box that updates whenever you type a new message or refresh the page. A good example is the one on the left hand side of this page.

Ugh. I don't often respond with an unequivocal "no" to feature requests, but in this case I'm going to make an exception. :-)

That's fine. I can definitely understand your disgust. For some people it's "way c00l!!!" and other's it's just crap. Removed from the list.

I'm just glad to see 'poll of the day' hasn't recieved the big 'NO' :-)

This post continues a discussion above that was nested too deep. This shifts it back over to the left...

I like the sparse design you referenced (HotPop). In fact, about a year ago I prototyped a new even more sparse design that I was quite proud of, but it didn't fly (and it might look like crap in Opera - I can't remember). I am no longer inclined to take a stab at such a sweeping overhaul when [a] it would be a ton of work, [b] my time is short, and [c] folks seem pretty happy with the site as is. I'm thinking layout changes (as opposed to functionality changes) will be incremental rather than revolutionary.

As you note, I'm also having a hard time getting excited about changing the layout to accomodate features that don't really thrill me. The features that do interest me (being able to mark favorites, for example), don't need more space in the left margin to work.

Oooh... that design IS something to be proud of! It looks good in Opera. Though, perhaps it might've had a better chance had it still contained things like search, recent updates, and highlights, while remaining sparse-looking.

I still think it would be useful to poll the Listology community on a few of these issues.

BTW, how do you know what #XXXXX number to link to for moving within a discussion (for example, this link I copied from your post above. How would I link, for example, to my post that begins "When you get back:"?

Would you be interested in a design that does not greatly change the layout or interface of the site, nor even the 'look and feel,' but is a slight cosmetic update? For example, you said you liked the 'inset' look of the buttons. And I've always thought the major buttons could be a bit smaller. Even on 1280x1024 they're pretty big :-)

Yeah, I had planned on putting more stuff on the home page (as you currently desire) and leaving other pages more sparse to focus on the content (my feeling being that the sidebar stuff isn't really needed on all pages, but makes sense on the home page and perhaps more "summary-type" pages). The home pages was going to be a little flashier. Perhaps it would have gotten off the ground had I prototyped a sample home page along with the sample list page you see there. Live and learn...

Yeah, I do like the inset buttons and would be curious to poll others. Why don't you whip something up that focuses on those (if you want), and I'll do a poll. I'd suggest a bit more space between the checkmark and the engraved circular border, but of course it's up to you.

As for the rest, I will revisit this and poll the Listology community on some of this stuff if/when I can get to some of the other features that the programmer in me finds more alluring.


P.S. The msg_id is also the anchor. If you hover over a "reply to" link, you'll see the msg_id in the URL. Or, if you're using the finest browser on the planet (Firefox), you can install a "show named anchors" bookmarklet to display them (Opera might have a similar bookmarklet, but I don't know about it).

What's the bookmarklet? Cuz, aren't most bookmarklets farely browser independent because they're just Javascript? Or did you mean 'extension?'

Now that you've been explained your idea for the design you showed me, that sounds great (with the content pages more sparse, the home and summary pages having all the navigation links). But there are always people who would like the new design and those who would not.

Here's the bookmarklet to show named anchors. Javascript is often browser-independent in theory, and a pain in the neck in practice. It's a crapshoot. Maybe this'll work for you.

You're right, it doesn't work in Opera. No big deal.

I originally tried to cut the images to simply replace the image files you had on your site already (same proportions), but I couldn't make them fit together. So, I just scaled everything to about the right size, put them all in a single, maximum-quality jpeg, and left it to you to cut up how you like.

I must have a different version of Times New Roman than you do, or something, because the sizes you specified didn't quite work, or even look the same. So, I used Verdana, which is in use elsewhere on the site and looks VERY similar.

What program do you use to make your graphics? I might be more useful if I just sent you my Photoshop file (or if you sent me yours).

But, for now, how does this look? (please be extremely specific)

Looks good! Can you trim it down so it's only showing Go, Browse/Random, and My Weblog? It's wide enough that it's giving me the dreaded horizontal scrollbar. This is just a problem on this list, of course; it's not a design consideration.

I would probably prefer Times since I was looking for a serif font to complement all the sans-serif fonts in use elsewhere (have no idea if it's a good idea to mix-and-match or not). But this is probably pollable as is. If we end up using it, I could probably reproduce your work in ImageStyler, my graphics tool of choice (sadly discontinued by Adobe).

You want me to cut down the image so you don't get a horizontal scrollbar when viewing this list? If so, it's both too late for me to edit my post or the image to which it links. If you are able, you can change the <img src=""> to an <a href="">.

The problem is that, with Times New Roman, 'My Content' does not fit in th white space at the font size you specified, even though my 'white space' is the same size (I think). When I look at it, I can tell that my Times New Roman is wider (more space between the characters) that yours is. This may have something to do with Adobe Photoshop's processing of the text, but even if I apply 'None' as the style (as opposed to sharp, crisp, or smooth), it's still wider. I think I have a different version of Times New Roman, for some reason.

Anyway, I think the Verdana actually looks crisper than the Times New Roman, but that's just me.

I've never even heard of ImageStyler! :-) If it's discontinued, can I assume it won't open a late-version .psd format?

Okay, the poll is up. And no, ImageStyler won't open Photoshop files.

I'd love to see more Listology documentation. There are many features of Listology that are, as far as I can tell, undocumented. For example:

1. That URL trick Jim showed me about how to filter an individual's recent activity page. (Now I can't find it or remember how to do it).
2. You can type to go to a members profile page. This causes almost every link to point to instead of, but everything still seems to work.
3. The purposes of the '&' URL modifiers that don't seem to change the user experience. (For example, adding &b_show_favorites=True does something, but &CFID=242889&CFTOKEN=99463690 seems to do nothing.)
4. This doesn't work for browsing 'other' genres, but this appears to work.

I'm sure there are other useful 'Listology hacks' that members would love to see in the 'Advanced Help' section, as long as there aren't major ways for them to be abused.

Totally unrelated question: any ideas what the huge traffic spike in late January was about?

Yup, more docs would be good. Someday, someday...

Until then:

1. Go to the member directory, check the stuff you want to exclude, then click the recent activity check mark.

2. This is a remnant of thinking Listology might be a good blogging platform. Didn't really pan out. I think it also means you need to login again under whatever URL your browsing under.

3. Those are Cold Fusion variable used for managing sessions.

4. Yup.

No idea about that spike. Interesting.

Thanks again.

I'd like to see a change in the format of "more recent updates in:" part of the sidebar.

I feel that "all" should include updates to lists from ALL genres, not just movies, books, music, and tv. Additionally, the "other" category should come before "all" so that it goes: "movies : books : music : television : other : all".

The purpose to making these changes would be a higher visibility for other genres besides movies, books, music, and tv. That may also help prevent people from putting lists in the wrong genre just so more people see it.

Jim wants to maintain Listology's focus on media content, so that's why "all" links only to movies, books, music, and television content. "all" was placed before "other" to indicate that it was more related to those types of content than the last item under "more recent updates in:", "other". Jim and I discussed all this earlier, I just can't find it now.

There should be some way to access the most popular lists. So, if I want to check out the most popular book list on Listology, I can. In other words, I guess I'd like to see a ranking of which lists have the most visits and which lists have been favoritized the most. Same goes for which Listology members have the most endorsements from others. I know there's a "Rising Stars" section, but that's only for newcomers. For everyone else, you have to search through the directory alphabetically.


One issue with "most popular" lists, users, etc. is the "feedback loop problem." The popular items get showcased, so they get more visitors, which makes them more popular, so they get showcased...

I would like to see an RSS feed so I could see listology "recent updates" on my iGoogle page.