I just entered this suggestion for the Blogsphere team on the OpenNTF site. I call it the "Burger King Response Presentation" in honor of an advertising campaign many years ago in which the Burger King fast food chain told everyone that they could "Have It Your Way". That's what I think we need to do in order to address the fact that, well... the presentation of responses in most blogs really sucks! Since most people are used to the way it sucks, however, I'm not saying that Blogsphere should just be "different but better". My old blog, which was based on FreeDom Blog, was that way, and to be honest, the extra clicks required to navigate the response hierarchy probably dissuaded some people from reading them.
The point of my suggestion is that the Blogsphere template should let readers select the way they want to see responses. Responses should be stored as a hierarchy, but the default should be to display them in the flat and hard-to-follow method most blog readers are used to. A radio button, however, should let readers switch to either an indented view that shows the text of all responses in the hierarchy, or a view that just shows the top level responses and thread maps below. A checkbox labeled "Remember this setting" would let frequent site visitors save their preference in a cookie. In Domino we're fortunate to have a database that makes storage of a hierarchical response thread a very natural. If we can develop a flexible user interface, that is familiar to all blog readers but which encourages them to look at things a little differently, we might even gain a bit of respect for the fact that our community is able to share the potential benefits of our long experience with collaboration but isn't trying to force our ways on anyone either.
Read the post on OpenNTF for further details of the idea. And of course, if other blog template developers out there happen to like this idea, feel free to take it, run with it, and improve on it.
1. Stan Rogers02/11/2005 05:53:09 PM
It wasn't JUST the extra clicks -- there was a significant time component involved as well, and nothing to indicate whether the links might have been worth opening. This becomes a particular problem when you have a large tree consisting of nothing but "RE: Original subject repeated" branches. A largeish title value for the links should probably be considered de rigeur for a collapsed tree display on the web. A better option might be a DHTML expandable display.
Doing the indented version is relatively easy (using padding-left and @DocLevel in CSS) -- but it can quickly run out of room on a long thread.
So a flat display sucks, but it merely sucks differently from the way the other options suck. I like the Burger King idea, but I can't imagine why anyone would default to a collapsed tree on purpose
2. Stephan H. Wissel02/11/2005 10:16:47 PM
@Stan: The DHTML option sounds like a promising approach. Or some XMLHTTP magic?
3. Alan Bell02/12/2005 06:25:54 AM
rss being XML is eXtensible. How about adding an attribute of a story which uniquely identifies it (lets call it the UNID) and another attribute which people could add to their stories if they directly refer to a story on someone else's blog (lets call this one $ref (can you see where I am going yet )) same again for comments on stories. This would be way cool once bloggregated.
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