Forum Categories Need to be Revisited

  • F H Mughal
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Categories Need to be Revisited

Susana Secretariat:

It is always difficult for me to select a category. My eyes gets jumbled-up, while selecting a category.
I would suggest as follows:

1. Have the category in alphabetical order;

2. Keep line spacing as 1.5 lines, if not double;

3. There are some categories, like Help and Announcements and miscellaneous, which are not clickable. Make them clickable. Do away with headings and sub-heading. All should be clickable; and

4. Do away with WG series. Re-write them as, say, Groundwater Protection - WG 11, Behaviour (shouldn't it be behavioural?) Change - WG 13.

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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Categories Need to be Revisited

We already discussed that last time... and I actually wonder that this hasn't been emphasised in the usability study much.

I still believe that reducing the amount of categories massively would really help usability for contributors and hide less content away in obscure categories.

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  • muench
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Re: Categories Need to be Revisited

Hi Mughal and Kris,

Yes, we have discussed the categories and sub-categories in the past, but we can revisit this. However, I don't fully follow most of your points. Could you both please expand what you mean?

You said:

+++++++++++

1. Have the category in alphabetical order;

--> which list do you mean? I don't think alphabetical would make much sense (they are grouped in alphabetical order already in some of the sub-categories).

2. Keep line spacing as 1.5 lines, if not double;

--> which list ist this? If you mean the list that you get when you click on "post new topic" then I recommend to you to first select the main category you want to post in, and then click on "make new post". That way, you get a shorter drop-down list.

3. There are some categories, like Help and Announcements and miscellaneous, which are not clickable. Make them clickable. Do away with headings and sub-heading. All should be clickable; and

--> this one I don't understand at all?

4. Do away with WG series. Re-write them as, say, Groundwater Protection - WG 11, Behaviour (shouldn't it be behavioural?) Change - WG 13.

--> I also don't understand this way. Are you saying instead of "WG 11 - Groundewater Protection" it should be "Groundwater Protection (WG11)"?

We already discussed that last time... and I actually wonder that this hasn't been emphasised in the usability study much.

--> It's because the panel of 12 people didn't bring this up as an issue that bothered them. Does it bother others? Let's hear from people.

I still believe that reducing the amount of categories massively would really help usability for contributors and hide less content away in obscure categories.
--> what are obscure categories?

+++++++++

Please note when someone wants to search for a previous thread, they can use the search function if they cannot remember in which category it had been posted.

I am always happy to improve things but first I have to understand what's going on, what the problems are, and what a number of users think about it. Thanks.

Regards,
Elisabeth

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  • F H Mughal
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Re: Categories Need to be Revisited

Please see the attached screen shot. I'm referring to that list.

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  • muench
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Re: Categories Need to be Revisited

Hi Mughal,

Actually that long list is not something we can influence in terms of how it looks (e.g. spacing between lines). Remember we didn't program this forum from scratch but are using an existing software called Kunena. It was easier that way but it means we cannot influence every detail.

But if you don't like the long list then please follow this method when making a new post (i.e. when starting a new thread):
1 - Decide which broad category your new thread should fit in (selecting from the colourful circles at the top).
2 - Click on your chosen category
3 - Click on your chosen sub-category
4 - Click on "new post" at the top left; now you will get a much shorter drop down list to choose from.

Kris: could you still reply to my questions as I am trying to understand what you meant. Thanks.

Regards,
Elisabeth

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  • F H Mughal
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Re: Categories Need to be Revisited

Dear Elisabeth,

I have copied your 4 points for future use - thanks

I was just wondering - is there a need for the categories? Isn't the "subject" sufficient?

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F H Mughal

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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Categories Need to be Revisited

muench wrote: --> It's because the panel of 12 people didn't bring this up as an issue that bothered them. Does it bother others? Let's hear from people.

I guess contribution wasn't a strong focus of the usability study, but rather more passive consumption? I know there are technical reasons for not having upgraded the text editor, so lets not get into that ;) But having a list categories so long that printed out it is 12 DIN A4 pages long, is clearly a bit excessive.

muench wrote: --> what are obscure categories?

I can understand the urge to neatly categorizing everything, but more or less all of the 3rd level categories are not needed and most see less than one post in a quarter. And even some of the 2nd level categories could probably be easily combined.
I would suggest as a measure of usefulness of a category, to see how many posts it gets per time-unit, and anything that doesn't get a post at least once a month or so should be integrated into another category.

In general I also prefer the way modern forum software allows selecting multiple categories per topic, so that you don't end up for example with separate categories for "hygiene in schools" and "handwashing->handwashing in schools". But I guess that is sadly not possible with Kuena.

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  • muench
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Re: Categories Need to be Revisited

I agree that having multiple categories for one thread would be useful to have. Probably sooner or later Kunena will also add that, I hope.

I still don't really get what the problem with too many level 3 sub-categories would be. To me it is like chapters in a book and if I was a new person, looking at the table of content of the book, I would be quite fine with being shown level 3 or level 4 sections of the book.

For example, under the category of menstrual hygiene management we have a sub-category on female genital mutilation (FGM). This sub-category has not been added to for a while; according to your suggestion it should be dissolved. But what would we gain? I think we would lose something because someone who is interested in FGM could then no longer find as easily where we have discussed this. Their only other option would be to use the search field.

Or the new sub-catogory on those ISO standards that I recently added under "monitoring". I had noticed that we had more threads on ISO coming up so I thought it would be useful to bundle them together in a new sub-category which is now here: forum.susana.org/iso-standards-internati...-for-standardization

Those thematic discussion threads that we had usually also get their own sub-categories to bundle them together more easily.

How are the many sub-categories problematic (apart from the fact that it prints out as 12 pages)? If someone wants to search for something they have two options:
- Use the search field at the top; or
- Click through to the right sub-category and then browse the threads there

Regarding the User Experience Study, people were asked to show us how they would make a new post (or reply to an existing one) and it seemed that they found that intuitive. I am not saying the categories and sub-categories are perfect, I am just trying to understand what would be the real benefits of amalgamating them.

Do others have opinions on this for one way or the other? Please join our discussion.

Regards,
Elisabeth

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  • JKMakowka
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Re: Categories Need to be Revisited

Maybe it is just me, but I imagine if I was new to SuSanA and was looking for a topic of interest, 12 pages of detailed categories (but mostly no content) would turn me away quite quickly. I would probably click on a few categories at the top of the page, realize that they are mostly empty and then not bother with categories that require scrolling down for 5 minutes ;)

To keep people engaged and interested it is better to have an active range of topics at one glance (SuSanA has that with the recent topics front portal), and then have some relatively general categories that allow easy access. Again SuSanA sort of already has that with the 7 main topic icons at the top. But from then on it breaks down with too much scrolling and micro-subcategories with at most a hand full of (old) topics. Edit: in fact this scrolling problem was less problematic on the old more compact forum layout, but now that everything it so huge and with so much free space, it really also hides away a lot of stuff behind too much scrolling down.

And as Mughal was saying... once you actually want to start a new topic it is quite confusing and difficult to decide what category to place it under, and often there are multiple fitting options.

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  • F H Mughal
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Re: Categories Need to be Revisited

Dear Elisabeth,

While I support your last point - requesting others to join discussions - I'm of the view that even if there is no contribution from others, enough points have been raised by Kris for you to move further.

You know very well, we have been back and forth on this, with you complaining that I have selected incorrect category. Yes, you are right, but what can I do? It is so jumbled-up.

Cheers,
F H Mughal

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  • muench
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Re: Categories Need to be Revisited

I've had some e-mail exchanges with Kris about this topic to understand better what his dislike is of sub-categories. Interestingly, for me a sub-category serves to highlight a topic area (like the topic area of antibiotic resistance here: forum.susana.org/254-micro-pollutants-ph...-chemical-pollutants ) whereas for Kris it feels like a topic gets hidden. I guess it's just about different styles of browsing or searching a discussion forum. The sub-categories help me for browsing, but if someone doesn't like them they can instead just use the search field.

In any case, I took a closer look at the sub-categories and sub-sub-categories and did find messy segments, so I have now streamlined them quite a bit. There is now a clearer structure in my opinion, see here: forum.susana.org/forum/categories

In particular the thematic discussions sometimes took up too much room in the sub-categories so I have now bundled them together and moved them down a level (see e.g. here: forum.susana.org/forum/categories/194-ci...management-processes ).

Whilst I didn't go as far as removing lots of sub-categories as Kris had suggested, I think it's quite a bit better now. His last response to me was "seems like small but good improvements! " so I'm happy. :)

If you don't know where to put a new discussion thread, simply put it under "miscellaneous", and I can always move it from there if needed. It's really no problem as I look at the forum daily and perform mop-up operations (in my role as moderator). What I do like to see is good & clear thread topics. A thread topic called "Name change" is not that clear and people have to click on it to find out what it's about. Better to be clear which is why I changed it first to "Name change: CAWT" and now "Change of Name: CAWT to include water - should SuSanA also change its name?". Just to give a small example.

Regards,
Elisabeth

Community manager and chief moderator of this forum via SEI project ( www.susana.org/en/resources/projects/details/127 )

Dr. Elisabeth von Muench
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