Monday, 7 May 2012

The new front page

A month ago I wrote about the ticket system and its limitations. To recapitulate, my complaints were: attending to tickets left less time for my own really new ideas; it's hard to say no to other people's ideas; and the only person who read the tickets was me. Well, a lot has changed in the last month, thanks to two big, related changes. The first is the total overhaul of the front page, and the other is the introduction of ticket voting.

Overhauling the front page has been on my mental list of priorities for a while but I could never quite figure out how to do it. Realising that I wanted to find some way to get tickets onto the front page (suggested by comments on the previous article) was the first step; that would clearly require compressing the other elements, which led to the idea of merging the "News" (announcements from me) with "Happenings" (announcements from player activity), and everything else flowed pretty naturally from there. If someone were designing a website from scratch, it's doubtful they would ever have hit on the old design, which filled 80% of the front page with updates from the designer (updated a few times a day at most) and squeezing everyone else's activity into a narrow sidebar, but these sort of things happen with incremental design. Ho-hum.

The other is ticket voting, which is such a blindingly obvious innovation in hindsight that I feel a bit stupid for not having done it before. But it only really makes sense in a context in which enough people even see the tickets to get a representative vote going, and in which tickets are organised into some larger structure so that people can actually vote on things worth voting on. Both of those are recent developments, so maybe it's not so stupid. But it's clearly been a very popular innovation.

So now, my new ideas can be fed into the ticket system and compete with existing ideas on a level footing, which resolves the first problem. (And in fact, I tend to get more excited about ideas that have had a lot of up-votes, even if I was initially reluctant personally, so motivation is less of an issue anyway.) Bad voter response is a good and equitable reason to reject an idea, which makes it possible to say no; plus it's easier to leave tickets hanging that have had bad or indifferent user response, so that has changed my feeling about the ever-growing list of feature requests. And clearly a lot of people are reading and thinking about the tickets, now rebranded as "discussions", and that addresses the problem of player involvement.

There are some new challenges engendered by this new system; how to deal with popular tickets that are technically infeasible, for example. But it's a big step forward and I'm pretty happy with it so far. Thanks to all of you who continue to be part of this little democratic experiment!

1 comment:

  1. For some reason you're not really winning me over Charlie, sorry