Feature proposal: Groups page shows topics in group-secured category

Continuing the discussion from Guide to Groups:

I’d propose the following change to the Group page:

Before

After

  • “Topics” is a new tab, and is the default

  • The category selector lists all categories secured by the group, and allows switching between them

  • The above topic list ought to be shown to users who are not members of the group, provided group access is public:

  • If the user is not a member of the group, and clicks the “new topic” button on the group page, it is implicit that they wish to join, so they should be added automatically to the group.

  • For access-controlled groups (where “allow users to join the group freely” is disabled), the topics list is replaced with an informative message encouraging the user to request access.

21 Likes

I really like this proposal, @awesomerobot / @codinghorror what are your thoughts. I really like that it gives a very clear place on the forum for a group to interact and a much easier transition from facebook groups.

15 Likes

I think this is a great idea.

Your mockups also have a tracking dropdown, which would be useful for forums I’ve seen (mostly games) that have a “dev tracker”

I’ll mock this up tomorrow, but I think we should probably shuffle some things around if we want to better follow the topic list patterns

On topic pages we have

Category > Subcategory > Tags > Latest/New/Unread/Top

If we follow the same convention for Groups we’d potentially want

Group > Category > Subcategory > Tags > Topics/Posts/Messages

right?

Groups are kind of a hybrid of a user and a category. At the moment they’re using the UI of user pages, but this would bring them closer to a category…

9 Likes

I like this :arrow_down:. And we can have a setting to control it (similar to top menu site setting).

Group
======
Category > Subcategory > Tags > Latest/New/Unread/Top/Messages/Activity
3 Likes

This definitely starts to get a bit crowded for admins, but should be OK for normal users

one possibility I looked at because group names are redundant in the title and the breadcrumb, was making the title a dropdown…

2 Likes

I’m a little confused as to what I am looking at here @sam … so this is a weird tab on Groups, that shows… what?

  • topics from secured categories that only this group alone can access?
  • topics from secured categories that this group can access, along with other groups up to and including everyone?
  • all topics where someone from this group posted a reply?
  • all topics started by someone from this group?

I am very very confused :exploding_head:

1 Like

I interpreted it as making the Activity tab the default when you visit a group’s page, and restructuring the group page to generally be more focused on activity.

The current group activity tab has all topics started by someone in the group, as well as all posts by group members and group mentions. This wouldn’t change that, but would reorganize it (unless I misunderstood something myself!).

4 Likes

Oh I see, if we are not adding a new behavior then that is fine. Carry on!

It very much depends on how access control is implemented on categories as to whether this ends up the same as OP:

If that means see all posts in categories secured to that group, but two groups can create/reply, then is the goal to see everything anyone in that group can interact with, which I took @ChrisBeach to mean? Or just filters topics based on category that people in the group have already interacted with, which is more akin to filtering what we know as activity today.

1 Like

Maybe I misunderstood this topic :face_with_monocle:. As far as I understand

It is list of topics in secured categories where the group have explicit access to see.

4 Likes

For my “opt-in categories” use case, the current group “activity” model doesn’t make sense. So what I’m proposing above is different - the “topics” tab would list all topics within categories that are visible only to group members.

2 Likes

I think the fundamental problem here that @ChrisBeach is trying to bring up is.

Currently, the groups page, eg:

https://meta.discourse.org/g/translators

Is a place you go to basically stalk the translators and configure the translator group. As a translator you have very little reason to go there. It is not:

  1. A place for people to go to try to become translators and request access to the group.
  2. A place where translators interact with other translators on translator specific categories.

Our current design is very geared towards reading, and not interacting. Even in the messages tab can use some overhaul.

What @ChrisBeach is basically trying to say is

Can you let members of the translators group use the group page as their home? A place to talk

This is a fundamental change and I am super happy @codinghorror raised the question about this.

There is 1 non controversial, excellent change we can take:

Messages tab can be improved a fair bit with the tiny change of moving the new message button down


The fundamental question though which we should talk through is

When should translators have a private category where they interact VS when should they use group messages?

In the facebook world category == group, they are the same thing, 1 thing. This is how a lot of the world reasons about this.

In the Discourse case we have significant more flexibility, we can have a private category for a group, or for multiple groups, or messages.

Why did @ChrisBeach choose to go with a “category for a group” vs “messages between group members” ?

I think we need to explore this and think about it.

The OP here was asking to show all the secure categories the group has access to (to group members and admins) and allow them to interact on this page as well (just like they can today in the case of messages - which they can either author in the profile or in the messages tab on the group page)

I think allowing for a single page for the group to interact with other group members (either in secure categories or message) has merit. But … the other side of the coin is … are we setting us up for a bomb here? If they also see the same content when they hit the front page, are they not going to be somewhat scared?

This is a tricky problem, but my (1) and (2) should definitely be done, cause they are clear wins. Going for a full page refactor here focused on making this a home for group members to interact in secure categories requires a bit more thinking.

5 Likes

On my forum, I wanted the homepage topic list to include topics from opt-in groups I am a member of.

“Opting into” groups means tailoring and enriching the standard forum topic list.

So in that sense, group messaging doesn’t make much sense, and as far as I know, people are not using the group messaging feature.

1 Like

I guess I need a bit more context here then, why is it a problem for groups to simply interact via the home page? Why go to a interstitial space for this interaction?

2 Likes

Showing topics on the group page would:

  • make the group page a “one stop shop” for members (at the moment they would have to manually navigate away from the group page to see posts in the group)
  • advertise the group content to non-members and encourage them to join
  • allow search engines to index group content

I am not sure about these points, even a group that accepts free membership to unlock content, requires users be logged on to join a group.

Search engines can only see content that is available to anon, and secure categories will not meet that.

The, let me see what is on the menu prior to opting in problem is interesting, but in general our approach has been, show everything and allow people to mute categories they do not care about.

Super happy we are talking this through, we do not want to rush anything

2 Likes

In my case, the group discussions are busy, esoteric and very distracting from the core purpose of the forum.

My forum is about a small area in London. Discussions can quickly get derailed (and sometimes turn nasty) when people discuss national politics, or more general issues.

The opt-in groups work very well to “contain” this discussion away from the homepage, leaving only topics that are relevant to our core purpose.

Reflecting our core purpose on the homepage topic list is important because it is the public face of the forum and, as such, defines the forum to first-time visitors.

We have loads of opt-in categories, and our forum would look very ambiguous if their content was visible to everyone on the homepage. Also, from a UX point of view, it’s not intuitive for a new, non-technical user to mute categories, so we cannot rely on them knowing to do so.

4 Likes

I see what you mean. Hmm. Yes, my proposal needs finessing.

3 Likes

Honestly, I think we should put this on ice

I feel what @ChrisBeach was really after was Favorites - select your favorite categories , this whole discussion needs a reboot and start with the problem vs the solution

8 Likes