ITKE Community Blog

Oct 30 2013   6:06PM GMT

New features: Discussions, Answer Wiki improvements and commenting upgrades

Ben Rubenstein Ben Rubenstein Profile: Ben Rubenstein

Later today, you’ll notice some significant improvements to the design and functionality of our community. These enhancements are the next step in a site-wide upgrade that we’ve been telling you about over the past few months, with new features that facilitate in-depth discussion, help you to discover new content relating to your areas of interest, and make interaction with questions and blog posts easier than ever before.

Discussions

The first big change you’ll probably notice is a tab on the homepage and on every tag page called ‘IT Discussions’.

IT Discussions link

This is different from the old Discussions tab, which showed recent comments made on questions. In this new section, you’ll find open-ended questions where you can provide your opinion about a range of technology topics (for specific, technical questions, you’ll still want to use the main Q&A section).

You might find questions about which cloud computing providers are best, or how to best prepare for a certification exam. To begin, these discussions will be started by editors within the TechTarget network (eventually, you’ll be able to start your own Discussions about whatever topic you choose). You can start participating in these discussions now by replying on the page just as you would in a comment thread.

Sample discussion question

Another type of ‘Discussion’ you’ll see is directly related to a piece of content published somewhere in the TechTarget network. Here, you’ll see a title and summary that explains what the article is about, along with a link to the original piece.

Sample editorial discussion

You can comment, and read others’ comments, on these articles. All comments will show with your name and avatar both on this page and on the original article page, which means users around the network will get to know and interact with you. You’re now no longer just an expert on ITKnowledgeExchange, you’re an expert in the TechTarget network.

New Question/Answer Page Design

You’ll notice that the Q&A pages look different (and hopefully, you’ll notice that they look better.)

We’ve removed the boxes from around the question, answer and comment sections to allow the page to flow more easily.

We’ve also rearranged the question section, so the question itself is allowed to expand to the full width of the content area (with the user information dropped below).

Sample question page The Answer Wiki section has gotten a major upgrade; in addition to improvements to the buttons and overall design, there’s now more space given to the answer itself, and less text used to display answer contributors and history (that information is still viewable by clicking the appropriate links). We’re also no longer showing avatars in the answer wiki section.

New Answer Wiki

Commenting

We’ve also made significant improvements to how comments work on both questions and blog posts.

Below any question or blog post, you’ll see a new, less cluttered commenting section which includes clear instructions for adding your reply. You can also sort all comments based on the time they were posted. You can also flag any comment for review by our team using the Flag icon at the far right of any comment – this will start an email that will be sent directly to us so that we can take a look.

Question discussion

Blog post comments

That’s all I’ve got, for now. Feel free to start exploring the new community and, as always, let us know what questions or comments you have.

A lot of hard work has gone into these new features in an effort to make this community as useful, and usable, as possible. Many of you have already helped us out a lot by offering feedback and suggesting features, and we’d love to hear more so we can continue providing a great experience for you. Thanks again for your participation on ITKnowledgeExchange!

13  Comments on this Post

 
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  • TomLiotta
    The 'Show Source' widget is gone today. That's extremely useful for getting around some idiosyncrasies, especially after a copy/paste drags unexpected formatting along with text. I probably use it one out of every four comments. -- Tom
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  • Ben Rubenstein
    Hi Tom, you're referring to the 'Show Source' button in the comments? We had some issues with the functionality of that (was not displaying things properly within the new design, which kind of defeats the purpose), so it was temporarily removed. Our team will be working on that issue - appreciate the feedback that you used it regularly. Hopefully with other formatting updates we've made that shouldn't be as much of a need (tried to clear out most of those 'idiosyncrasies'). 

    Any other thoughts on the new design?
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  • TomLiotta
    Answers can no longer be completely removed with 'Improve This Answer' button. I noticed that on a "spam" answer today. You're now required to enter some actual text.
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  • Ben Rubenstein
    Thanks - hadn't noticed that, but I will look into it. We can always clear out an answer on the back end as well.
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  • TomLiotta

    One particularly irritating problem is "lost comments". I add some text and click [Reply]. The text quickly disappears, and the [Reply] button is replaced by text saying 'Processing your reply...' with a rotating thing beside it. (I.e., visually "rotating".)

    After a second or two, it stops rotating and nothing more happens. The added comment doesn't show up. It just disappears. In the past, I'd expect it to happen if the comment contained links, but lately there's been nothing that seems relevant. In a few cases, the comment has shown up hours later, making it seem that perhaps a form of moderation is done. But most often it's just gone.

    For whatever reason, once it happens for a given question thread, it doesn't seem possible to add any new comment at least until someone else adds a comment. The behavior repeats no matter what the comment contains.

    The particularly irritating part is that the text in the comment box is gone before the page freezes its activity. It's lost. When it's lengthy, a lot of thought and typing is also lost. If the typed text was somehow retained longer, it might at least be possible to copy/paste for saving. (Probably not easily done.)

    Currently using FF 25.0.1.

    Tom

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  • TomLiotta
    Also, mostly a curiosity... Maybe a third of the time, entry fields for MemberName and Password show up under the 'Answer' and 'Replies' entry areas. Usually they don't show up. I haven't seen a pattern to it. -- Tom
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  • Ben Rubenstein
    Thanks for these, Tom - I'll check in with our development team on these issues to see what's going on. 
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  • TomLiotta
    I've been reminded a couple times lately why the 'Show Source' button was so useful. Most copy/paste actions bring text from another web page. E.g., I'll copy/paste a topic heading like "
    ACCEPT Statement - Format 4 - Local Data Area" into a comment, but the paste brings all of that formatting along with it. If it's pasted into the old 'Show Source' format, it's pasted as plain text. And something like pasting 

    "Format 4 - Local Data Area" makes a real mess. It used to be easy to clean up. -- Tom

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  • Ben Rubenstein
    Ok, so you mostly use this to strip out formatting? As I mentioned this tool was actually causing some issues, but we're looking into how we can bring it back.
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  • TomLiotta
    Hi, Ben. I don't know about 'mostly'. Those font or style changes were just two examples that came close together. They had me think to supply them as "use cases". Showing examples might help motivate some developer. If the squeaky wheel gets greased, I don't mind squeaking. -- Tom
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  • TomLiotta
    The 'Search' function is almost unusable still. I just searched for [ as400 refresh display ] and got exactly two results back: Excel - Automatically Publish graphs to Intranet and performance tunning (about Oracle tuning). -- Tom
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  • Ben Rubenstein
    thanks - I got the same issues with that search. We did just work on the search function to make sure it would pull in discussions, blogs and questions, and try to improve the results. I've gotten accurate results for other searches, but there do seem to still be some problems. I will talk to the team. 
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  • TomLiotta
    I noticed that blog posts, etc., would be pulled in, and most definitely noticed that there was no way to exclude them. When search results include many items, it's almost always little more than almost unrelated blog posts. Some selection of exclusions would be very useful. -- Tom
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