[wp-hackers] GSoC Proposal: Ideas Forum

Jeremy Clarke jer at simianuprising.com
Mon Mar 22 17:53:08 UTC 2010

I've been playing with the Ideas forum lately and really enjoying it,
a lot of these ideas came to mind in the process.

This feedback would apply to anyone proposing to improve the ideas
section, or to Automattic if they ever do it themeselves.

One feature that I deeply want but isn't mentioned here is insanely
obvious and just plain missing: email updates. I REALLY REALLY want an
email to tell me if someone comments on my idea, and I want to be able
to subscribe to an idea. This is not controvercial, this is not
complicated. Install subscribe-to-comments or IntenseDebate and it
would be done. While you're at it do so on the WP Forums too ;)

On Sat, Mar 20, 2010 at 8:41 PM, Justin Shreve <justin.shreve at gmail.com> wrote:
> *Promote/Demote System (Promote/Demote)
> *
> The new Ideas Forum would contain a promote/demote system instead of the
> current star rating system. Users would click a thumb up icon to show their
> support for a specific feature or a thumbs down if they think it is a bad
> idea.

I don't really see why this is better than stars. # of stars + total
reviews gives a pretty good sense of things, and personally i like
being able to give things 2-3 stars as a way of lowering the average
to show that someone thought about this but didn't have a strong
feeling either way (i.e. sounds okay but who cares, or sounds useful
but complex and bug-generating).

Maybe +1 -1 style is more popular and inspires more people to use the
feature, though I'm not convinced the effect overall is a good one
(see: Digg)

> *Visual Posting Editor + Attachments
> *
> Not everybody that uses WordPress knows HTML. A visual editor like the one
> included with WordPress (TinyMCE) would make it easier to add some
> formatting to the idea posts.  Only tags like the ones allowed now would be
> allowed through and the editor would degrade if JavaScript was not enabled.
> The posting screen would also allow users to post some kind of screenshot
> with their posting so they could propose a UI screen or show visually what
> they are talking about.

Very good idea. I had this exact need yesterday when posting a
screenshot of a mockup I made for a feature. Since I turned the visual
editor back on in WP and realized it works now I've lost my taste for
editing HTML directly. If it could be implemented in a simple and
elegant way that also allowed editing raw HTML I'm all for wysiwyg
editing fo comments on extend.

Actually, an awesome theme-capable version of tinymce that could be
activated for comments would be an amazing GSOC project I'd support!
I'm sure there's already plugins for it.

> *Improved Comments System (with Solutions System)
> *
> A new comments system would be included that would allow two types of
> comments:
> 1) A normal comment giving general feedback on the Idea or additional ideas.
> Just text with some possible formatting or link.
> 2) A specific solution to the Idea which would be displayed above regular
> comments. See Ubuntu BrainStorm. A solution would allow attachments and
> would have the ability to be voted up and down just like the main idea.  An
> example use: A user suggests better export/import with a couple feature
> ideas. A second user votes the idea up and has a specific solution in mind.
> They mockup a screen quickly and want to post it as a solution for the Idea.
> Other users can come in and vote this solution up and down or post their
> own.

I like this too. Stack Overflow uses this methodology and I think it
makes a lot of sense.

That said, what is even more important is the ability to modify the
original idea as time goes on. As the owner of an idea all I can
currently do is add a new comment at the end, which is pretty annoying
since people will just see my first post. If I could either modify the
original post or add an update section to the bottom of it to account
for considerations brought up in comments that would cover a lot of
ground. Even better would be some kind of system that allowed other
people to propose edits to the main idea that clarify it. I often find
good ideas that are terribly written by someone who barely understands
the issues, being able to reword the idea would make me much less
tempted to rewrite it  (and start the star count back at zero on the
new  idea).

> *Integration with Trac*
> *
> *Once a ticket reaches a significant amount of feedback, solutions, comments
> or popularity there should be a way to automatically generate a trac ticket
> with a link back to the idea. This feature could be either for moderators or
> for the creator.

I'm not sure how useful this would be. IMHO the trac ticket needs to
be written by someone who understands Trac as well as the culture of
WP trac. If anything this is a job for the moderator to do by hand at
the point when an idea is acknoledged as a version-dependent "task".

That said, I think a field for 'track url' would be nice on each idea,
so that if there is a related/matching ticket in trac people can go
read the technical details and/or vote for the idea in that locale as
well. All it needs to be is a url with the trac logo next to it. This
would also serve to show that the "idea" for this idea is kind of
irrelevant, as trac is where the real magic happens :P

> *Idea Statuses*
> *
> *Currently there are about 10 different types of ideas (implemented, under
> consideration, etc). I propose condensing them into the following:
>   - Latest Ideas
>   - Popular Ideas
>   - Ideas in Development (If they have been finally posted to trac, may
>   have a patch or if a plugin or theme developer is working on it)
>   - Implemented Ideas (For ideas implemented either in core, a plugin or a
>   theme)

Latest and popular aren't types like the others, they are types of
queries. They should be seperate.

IMHO 'under consideration' should not be abandoned. In my use in the
last couple days it seems like it is a curated list by Jane or someone
else who has decisionmaking power within WP and that curation is the
value. I think human-orginzation of the list will be more effective
than any automated heuristics.

> Only a moderator can change a status but users can “suggest a change” if an
> Idea has been implemented but the status is not updated. This is the
> equivalent of adding a “modlook” tag on the current system.


> *Popularity Weighting*
> *
> *The system would take into account the number of up votes, comments,
> solutions and views for a popularity score. The ideas with higher popularity
> would be show on the popular section and home page of the Ideas section.
> If an idea is linked to in a blog (track-back) then the popularity will
> raise.

Sure. I'm sure the heuristics could use improvement.

> Additional Idea: A tweet this option where retweets would be included in the
> popularity rating.

This makes sense. Could also be more of a share this with a few
options for how to share it.

Jeremy Clarke
Code and Design | globalvoicesonline.org

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