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Side note: The goal of these blogs is not to criticize anybody/ anything. I only want to tell the whole story about the things I think about and thing we could improve on Idea Place. These blogs should be more descriptive than the Ideas descriptions on IP and should help you understand why I suggest things and if it makes sense to implement them or not.

In the third part of the series (What we could use on Idea Place, part 1, What we could use on Idea Place, part 2) I would like to discuss a structure of the current Idea Place. What are the weak points of the structure. What kind of problems we face or can expect to arise soon. What operations with Ideas we could use/ may like to be able to perform.

We can expect the number of Ideas to rise. Rise sky high soon (don´t ask me to tell what “soon” means, but I do think so). So the structure of the whole site will decide about the success or failure, very much about the usability as well. I would like to split this topic into two parts:

  • Ideas relationships/ Site structure changes
  • Navigation within the defined structure (linking, listings etc.)

Operations with Ideas

Let me concentrate on the site structure changes first, because it is not that important to name more and more lists and we can continue with this part later (following blog maybe).

What I would like to talk about today is about: (posted on IP as: Operations with Ideas)

  • Merging ideas – situations will arise, when we will need to merge ideas into one.
    • Example: two ideas are very similar and could be merge into one (something like deleting one idea but moving the useful comments and rates to the second one)
    • Example 2: two ideas deal with different aspects of the same issue. So merging them would make the resulting idea deeper in both aspects.
    • Example 3: we can expect that same ideas will appear. The search is neither 100% complete nor 100% reliable, because two people can use different (key-)words and tags for the same things. So this will occur many times (by the way: I am sure some people don´t do a deep search on existing ideas before posting their own or – like me – search, but find themselves alittle lost sometimes…).
    • Side note: This “issue” is mentioned in Idea Place FAQ as: Can I link my idea to other ideas? But “mentioning other ideas in your idea description” does not work very well.
  • Splitting ideas – even if the initial descriptions of the Ideas are often very short a deep problem can be hidden behind the short title. So it might be useful to be able to split an Idea into multiple sub-Ideas (of course there must be a visible linkage between the parent and the children).
  • Linking ideas – Ideas could work better in a wider context, they don´t have to be merged, sometimes alinkage could work better. The idea is already posted on Idea Place as Allow to specify related ideas to my idea. Or there is another one like this: group/link ideas This could work very well with the Idea: “Similar Ideas” pop up before submission. By the way, who would vote to have these (mentioned) Ideas merged or at least linked together? I would!

Example/ “Typical” issue

Please have a look at the Idea called Visualize the number of people following the thread. In a thread I ask for some kind of visualization of the people who are following a piece of content. Something like Mark Finnern asks for Idea place: More Transparency: Show who voted what!. I would like to be able to see who follows a piece of content so I would be able to talk to these people, because it is very likely we have something in common, a common interest in that piece of content at least.

Please have a look at the comment by Harald Boeing below my Idea (by the way, thank you, Harald, you helped me described this problem). I understand why Harald objects about my Idea and how to “fix” this.

What the problem is: I have seen more demands about visualizing the “followers”. It is possible that the way I described the Idea could cause some privacy issues, I agree. But somebody else could rephrase it and offer a variant of the Idea that would be more acceptable, would use a different approach which would cause less or no issues etc.

Example: Some people would like to be able to see a number of people following a piece of content (just a number, not names or contacts etc.). That would bring some more information about the content and would not cause any privacy issues. Now the question is: What kind of relationship is between these two Ideas?

The author of the Idea, me this time, could change the Idea description to make it more acceptable for the voters. But some votes were already made. Ok, change of the description of the Idea would send a notification. But: would people come back and change their vote? Would they even notice the Idea description changed? What are the prerequisites for a user to receive these notifications? He/she does not receive the notifications by default. One has to subscribe to receive it, right? So not everybody would be notified about the change, right? And very little people in my opinion would vote again/ change their vote. So how should we approach this? Or should other people, who have similar (like less conflict) Idea, post their own versions of the Idea? Or should we maintain the variants of the Idea in a single Idea “thread”?

The pros and cons are obvious: complex threads versus many similar Ideas. Even reposts of the same Idea? Re-launches of the Idea? I cannot imagine all the possible outcomes of the options now.

Maybe I should add a “Versioning ideas” operation to the list above? How this could work? Maybe people could create separate versions/ descriptions of a single Idea within one tread and collect votes for the variants within the super-Idea instead of simple voting on the Idea? Would that work?

Hope this is an example you could believe and helps make it more obvious we need to think about this and have the “operations” with Ideas implemented.

Navigation

Let´s check out the Idea Place homepage. Concentrate on the list of “sessions” and “topics” below the picture. I understand how it works now, how it helps market the “topics” a little more, but this will not work for long. We can expect to have dozens and dozens of topics coming to Idea Place, and this “kind of navigation” will not work in that situation. So the home page navigation should better get prepared for the volume of Ideas and Topics and Sessions (sorry, I don´t remember all those key-words) coming soon.

I posted this suggestion on Ideas place as: Prepare the home page navigation for the volume of topics.

Hope there are some points, dear reader, where we can agree with each other. Please comment on the weak points of my ideas, suggest your own approach etc. Also visit the relevant Ideas on Idea place.

Otto

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