Remove stars and bookmarks

(Bcguy) #1

I want to request fewer features.

I know that most discourse forums so far are probably engineer / technically focused (at least as far as the admins and I suspect many of the users - if the early beta sites are any indication). The downside of this is that I think Discourse is more complex in some areas than it needs to be for widespread adoption.

Here is the screen shot of my forum dashboard after 3 months of use. My users are virtually all non-technical, at a health-related web site - the type of site that I think is much more representative of the broader user base than the main Discourse beta sites so far.

I recommend Discourse deprecate / remove the features of “Starred” and “Bookmark” because I don’t think many regular users are going to use them and they make the interface more complex than it needs to be (which hurts adoption, and use of the forum software).

I know in startups that there is a strong tendency for feature creep - and that you are continually bombarded by new feature requests, and that the most feature requests frequently come from the more technical users. My recommendation to the discourse team is to try to get in better touch with the non-technical users because success with that user base is what will really drive successful adoption for the platform.

Show favorite star only on hover?
Show favorite star only on hover?
(Dave McClure) #2

There is a topic here about suppressing the star on the topic page where @sam also noted that the star feature is “only used 76 times a week on meta”

I’ve got another thought now, but I’ll add over there to keep it part of that conversation.

(Bcguy) #3

Recommended reading for all Discourse team:

Customers Don’t Want More Features - Harvard Business Review

(Anthony) #4

The end of this discussion is somewhat related. Personally, I think those features should be removed.

(probus) #5

Next on the list: watching/tracking/regular/muting topics. Is there any way to get stats on how often that control is used and how?

(Sam Saffron) #6

That is not going to be stripped while I am around.

(probus) #7

I didn’t say anything like that! Stars and bookmarks aren’t being stripped either…

edit. I suppose I was hijacking the topic, I’m sorry about that. I just got reminded of the defensive attitude around here. That’s enough for me for today, thanks.

(Sam Saffron) #8

Your hijacking the topic, open a new one describing what your problem is and how you would like to solve it.

(Jens) #9

I’m not an engineer and I’m

  • using stars all the time and I’d really miss that
  • following/tracking quite a few categories and do not intend to change this
  • the only thing I hardly ever used is bookmarks (what’s the difference again between stars and bookmarks?)

(Dave McClure) #10

When you star a topic, and you later revisit it, do you want to go to the last read post?

Or would you rather go to the 1st post, or some other specific post?

Most topics I star are ones where I am really interested in the 1st post. So a bookmark would actually work better.

But… as a fan of the star feature, how do you use it?

(Jeff Atwood) #11

That is the crux of the debate, and I am definitely coming around to the “just use bookmarks” idea.

  • It would simplify the topic list a bit (no more star on the left).
  • It would simplify the title of every topic slightly (no more star on the left)
  • We could drop the “starred” top level nav (you can still get there from your user page)
  • We could drop the “star” button at the bottom of every topic (debatable since you might want a control to bookmark the first post without going to the top here, we could just change it to “bookmark” but meh)
  • It reduces the cognitive load of two concepts (star, bookmark) to one (bookmark)

Data shows that both star and bookmark are fairly rarely used, so combining them makes sense. You can still do the things that star implies, so nothing is really lost, and the simplification benefits enumerated above are nice.

The only real downside is that topic selection mode becomes more complex: how do you now enter topic selection mode since that control is over a column that no longer exists? And once you do enter topic selection mode, we have to re-add a column to the left of title again.

I don’t know if I am in the mood to do this before V1 since there is a lot of other stuff to do, and the presence of the stars is not exactly killing children at the moment.

(Dave McClure) #12

I think you could get away with keeping a column there that is wide enough for checkboxes. To normal users, it’d just be margin (the right hand margin looks wide enough). The spacing might look a little crowded when the checkboxes are visible, but I don’t think it’d be too bad.

Meh is right. If I think I want to book mark the first post, make me go to the first post. I can click the little up arrow. That way I actually know what I’m bookmarking.

If its the topic I’m interested in, I can watch or track it when I get to the bottom.


(Rikki Tooley) #13

Yeah, as far as I can tell stars are just an alias for bookmarking a thread… could the usage of stars just straight replace bookmarking? So starring the first post would star the thread (and vice versa).

Also iirc since starring makes you “track” the thread too - maybe keep this behaviour and apply it to bookmarks? I.e. you are notified by replies to your starred posts.

This way you have the same expectations and capabilities (star = track this thing for me), but one less symbol to remember (also “bookmarking” is kind of an awkward feature name).

(Kris) #14

The problem with this is that right now the last post you read in a thread gets a special “last read” bookmark state (and turns red instead of blue)… I think it’d be a bit more confusing if that suddenly became a “last read” star… Bookmark feels more appropriate in the context of that specific use case

(Rikki Tooley) #15

I agree but I think in itself that behaviour is confusing. Though I admit I have used it in the past and it does make sense…

(Bcguy) #16

If a feature is rarely used - why have it?

It clutters the interface, makes the product more complex than necessary (confuses users), and takes engineering / testing/ support (both for Discourse and the forum admins - telling people what it does and why its there) resources that could be applied to more important / more used features (IMHO).

(Jens) #17

@codinghorror please don’t kill the stars.

Now that I understood Bookmarks, I think they’re very useful. Stars is on the topic level, bookmarks on the post level - very useful in long threads. Maybe these features just need a little tooltip explanation or so.

(Dave McClure) #18

I have had about 10 starred topics and 10 bookmarks here on meta.

I’ve recently converted all my stars to bookmarks on the first post to see how it would feel if we lose stars.

I do like the fact that now I go straight to the first post though on those topics, which is what I really cared about.

But the thing I miss is the starred topic list tab.

Not so much because its too hard to get to the user profile bookmark tab (though I think a shortcut in the avatar dropdown would be better), but mainly because I think the UI on the bookmark tab of the user page is a little harder to parse than the simple topic list when you’re looking for something.

(Kris) #19

What if there was a tab that replaced “starred” that listed all the topics you have bookmarks in? then clicking on that topic scrolls you to the first bookmark you made… then you could bookmark the first post and have it work the same way as stars currently do. Would that make sense?

I could also envision replacing the stars with the new/unread status… though that’s a bit tricky because sometimes there’s both a new and unread number… not a fully formed idea yet

(Dave McClure) #20

This sounds like its worth exploring more!

Considering how rare the bookmark feature is used anyway, I don’t think its all that critical to address the mutliple-bookmarks within a topic any more elegantly now. (It could come later if people complain enough to drive its development).

It makes sense. I’m not digging the look of it as mocked up - I think just because of the bubbly blue-ness. If its over there, I’m not sure the light blue is needed anymore to make it stand out. I think you could fall back on a monochrome icon design for new/unread if its placed so neatly in a column.

Sorry for the tangent, but why are there ever both numbers? I don’t understand how that can happen or what it means (though I’ve seen it before). Wouldn’t it make sense to have the unread count trump the new icon?

The other UI ‘gotcha’ with the idea of having a ‘bookmarks’ tab is the overloaded meaning of the bookmark icon. Do we then need to have a red bookmark logo for unread, and a blue one for bookmarks?