discuss Digest, Vol 34, Issue 12

14 Jul 2006 - 3:21am
8 years ago
2 replies
420 reads
Amnon Dekel
2005

Hi
Having been part of this list pretty much from day 1 it became public I keep
asking myself how we can make it more usable. As it is now it takes some
serious focus and eyestrain to scroll through it and keep up to date. It's
un-usability seriously hurts the effectiveness of it's utility. How about we
open a small discussion on how to make such list digests more usable (and we
all know that the problem I am describing exists in most (all?) digest
systems. I'll start with some relatively simple suggestions for "fixes"

1. Add hyperlinking

Make the menu at the top link to the articles themselves. Simple HTML
tagging will do that.
Once that is done we should add a link back to the Menu after each article.

2. Add visible signifiers between posts:

Simply adding a wide line + a line break makes browsing much easier
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
<br>

3. Use more vertical spacing inside a post:

Posts now are difficult to scan. There vertical structure is:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Name <name at domain.com>
To: name <name at domain.com>, etc
Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2006 16:03:18 -0700
Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] on research.
message body

Just adding vertical spaces in the same format would make this more
readable:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Name <name at domain.com>
To: name <name at domain.com>, etc
Date: Thu, 13 Jul 2006 16:03:18 -0700

Subject: Re: [IxDA Discuss] on research.

message body

4. Add item numbering:

Adding numbers will make it easier to return to a specific post if you get
sidetracked.

Comments?

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:::........::::...::......:::....::::...::............:::::
Amnon Dekel
Cell: +972 54 813-8160
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Comments

14 Jul 2006 - 9:02am
Dan Saffer
2003

Complaining that the digest version is hard to read is like
complaining that it is dark at night. :)

This issue comes up on every mailing list and the answer is the same:

Don't use the digest version. Use a threaded email client and get the
individual emails instead. The digest version is cumbersome and
inhibits participation in list discussions.

Certainly, the digest version could be improved, but its basic format
of all the day's mails at once will remain the same as it has been
for the last 15 years.

Dan

14 Jul 2006 - 10:35am
Luke Ball
2006

> its basic format of all the day's mails at once will remain the
> same as it has been for the last 15 years.

True. But so is the general listserve format of email for group
communication and collaboration. I know newer mail clients have
helped this with threading, etc. But the format as a whole is still
relatively antiquated. I don't feel like online forums are that much
more modern or usable (arguable worse).

(caveat: I'm working on a related problem. replying to this is
contributing indirectly to user research)

Let's "pretend it's magic" a little bit... in a dream world, whether
online, or in your email (or some other application), what sort of
things might improve the group communication/collaboration
experience? (some obvious "web2.0" ideas might include tagging,
wikis, and rss...)

As a whole, I see the problem as breaking down into four main behaviors:

1) Monitoring. viewing incoming information. This is what Email (and
rss) do very well.

2) Retention. If you find something you like, can you get to it
again? I personally get very frustrated searching past emails for
that-one-I-think-talked-about-this-about-four-months-ago.

3) Discovery. browsing and surfing content. Listserves are very very
bad at this.

4) Contribution. Posting back is also pretty easy via email. But if
you widen this to "Collaboration", email is pretty limiting, and
forums are no better.

Any thoughts? Fresh ideas? I know I'm sort of rehashing a topic from
a few weeks ago, but I was on vacation when it happened! (another
problem of email lists - it took a while to catch up!)

Luke Ball

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