Improvise. Adapt. Overcome: properly learn new habits when using new software?
Apologies for the bad meme-esque topic’s name
I know people that stick to old habits for a long time, even when software changes. I am one of them. Hi. .
I had no trouble adjusting from mIRC to Discord. Why? I don’t really know. Maybe Discord, when it was released, had way fewer features than it has now. Maybe I felt comfortable enough for some unknown reasons. Or maybe, as a chat-focused software, everything was simple and straightforward.
But my use of forums is another story. I’ve been using forums for 20 years. Like many people, it was mainly phpBB and vBulletin in this ancient era (I guess they’re still the most used software, but you get what I’m trying to say ).
I learned how to use them, they had a lot of useless settings and features because it was a time when “more” was “better”. I’m pretty sure I didn’t learn everything about how to use them as long as I was able to post messages and pictures, and other basic actions like how to quote, customize my profile, use the available moderation tools, etc.
I used vBulletin and phpBB the same way, and it was also the same with other, less popular or homemade engines. They were all look-alikes anyway.
I have been using Discourse since around 2018. 4, almost 5 years.
At this time, I was looking for a forum software in order to upgrade a phpBB forum. I was wondering: “phpBB and similar software are all the same, they’re not made for today’s use and devices. Are there next-gen alternatives? ”
I looked it up on the Internet. I found nodeBB. Flarum (in beta then), and Discourse. And nothing else (there were probably other contenders, but I didn’t find them then).
Like phpBB and others, these three software looked like each other very much from a user/visitor point of view. I supposed they were also working the same way, with similar features like real-time discussion updates, ease of uploading media, previews of posted links, etc. I chose Discourse (I explain why here).
I learned many things by using Discourse over a span of a few years.
But I recently realized that I didn’t adapt my habits. I was using Discourse pretty much like I used old forum software, on which I didn’t even use useful features.
When I was using old forum software, I never used the features to see new or unread messages. When I migrated a phpBB forum to Discourse in 2018, the current admin said that he always used the “see new messages” feature from phpBB that I never bothered to discover or use. I was sticking to more than 15 years of suboptimal habits.
I didn’t even want to try it. But after thinking more about it, I went to always open another phpBB forum I’m a member of by the
/search.php?search_id=newposts URL. I found it way easier to see the recent activity because the forum wasn’t very active.
But even with this new and really useful and practical habit, it didn’t cross my mind that I could do the same on Discourse, despite the feature being very visible. I mean, it’s in the top menu…
But recently, I had a sudden realization when Discourse’s sidebar was introduced:
In the same way, I recently learned that on a vBulletin forum I’m also a member of, there is an icon to go to the last unread message of a topic. And also an option to subscribe to a topic. And certainly, others that I could find useful as well.
I never looked for such options and I wonder how many features I miss because I didn’t look for or didn’t discover them empirically.
I very recently (a few weeks ago!) started to use the bookmark feature of Discourse.
I don’t use bookmarks on my web browser, it didn’t cross my mind that it could be useful on a forum.
The first time I used the bookmark feature on Discourse, it was a personal message that I couldn’t reply to quickly, and I decided to try the “Bookmark thing” to have an alert the following day. It worked as expected.
I then realized that too many times, I came across useful information that I had trouble finding again after weeks, months or years, and decided to try Discourse’s bookmarks to keep them aside and have easy access to this information.
And indeed, it’s just… Working as expected, as it should, and it helps me very much!
So, after all these sudden realizations, I think I’ll try to adapt more to new software and features, look for them and give them a try, instead of sticking to my old habits by default.
Recently, a friend told me about a new browser (Arc) they started to use on their Mac. I’ve used Chrome for a long time (after using Firefox for a long time too), I’m used to it, and I never really thought about changing again.
But during the Arc presentation they made to me, they showed to me so many little smart features. The same kind of features that makes Discourse better than many forum software - a good example is [fast edit](Fast Edit: a perfect example of how such a small feature can be amazing -. The kind of feature that make you think why it was only never made before (to your knowledge) in similar software. I was convinced, and, in my new perspective of looking to change habits when using new software (or new features) I’ll discover in the future, I’ll try to improvise, adapt, overcome when this browser is released on Windows.
Sorry for the bad meme-esque ending
So, what’s your opinion about this? Do you also tend to stick to old habits? How do you adapt to new software or new features? Did you have a spark one day for some reason that made you change your habits? Did you always adapt from the start?