What the forums search can do for you

This time i would like to write about a very underestimated feature of the KDE Community Forums, because i am pretty sure most of you don’t even know what it can do for you.

Let’s take a look at it first:

Yes, pretty boring. But let’s see what it can do for you.
First you have the usual search options, like searching for a keyword, an author, and you can of course decide which area of the forum should be searched, or if the whole posts or only titles should be searched. Lastly you can decide the form of the output.
That is the most basic stuff you will find everywhere, still boring.

But some of you might already have noticed, we provide some additional modifications to phpBB.
First, we provide a tagging system. You can assign tags to your topics which then can be searched, either directly on the frontpage (use the tagcloud on the bottom) or in combination with keywords etc. in the search system.
Also, you can mark a certain post as the solution to your problem, which is quite handy, as you can directly jump to the solution from the topic list. But you can also nail down your search results to those topics who provide a solution.

Let’s paint a scenario. I want to have a list of all topics where our insane topscorer administrator/sysadmin Ben Cooksley (bcooksley)Β wrote something. Result for now 9442 matches. (Soon worth a congratulation btw πŸ˜‰ )
Let’s nail it down to the tag “system settings”, as he maintains it. There we already are down to 16 entries, 46 if you use systemsettings as keyword instead of a tag. That is mostly because the tagging system is not used as much as it could be. It gets powerful in combination with the search. Consider that next time you visit a topic. Anyone registered can tag.
Anyway, we could now also nail down the above example to solved topics (4 hits) or search in certain areas.

So why could this be powerful?
Well, first, it happens quite often a topic lands in the wrong place, and those who could help won’t find it or it gets overlooked. Having it nicely tagged helps to find it later.
And i don’t need to tell you how much easier searching can be if there are only solved topics shown.

But this is not all. I know the lazy devs, who don’t like websites or forums at all and probably miss important information due to that. Those also can be helped.
See the link in the top bar, which leads you to the rss area. And soon you will notice it is the same interface as the search page. Actually it IS the same, we separated it to make it easier to find the new rss functions.
So everything you can think of you want to search can also be outputted as rss feed. No need to open your browser to get updates, just set up your search and copy the resulting search feed url into your feed reader or irc bot (our does use it already).

Why do i even tell this? Because as you can see it can be really powerful. But to be really powerful both tools, the tagging system and the solved system need to be used more efficiently. Sidenote: Tagging a topic inside the Plasma area with “plasma” is a bit senseless πŸ˜‰
So go ahead, tag threads and make users aware to mark their problems solved as soon as there is a solution!

Do us a favour and make this search system really powerful

Cheerio

1st Birthday of the KDE Community Forums

As you maybe already read here, we are celebrating the ending of the first year of the KDE Community Forums.
But let me add some personal remarks.

We once started it with 2 people because we just felt the need for it rising (apart from us being just a sort of website guys). We just started from the ground and hoped it would rise to something really helpful for the users AND the developers.

Soon the first contributors showed up, willing to help out in the team. Some of them users, some of them developers. That was already great step for me. And along with the new team members there came a lot of new ideas. What could we provide, how can we improve both, the user experience in the forum AND in KDE.
First idea, klassrooms (don’t discuss with me the obligatory K in it, please πŸ˜‰ ), they went well. But after some of them we just ran out of manpower, as also other ideas showed up.
Yes, Brainstorm. It was probably the biggest addition we ever did, as it feels for some users as a real different area (Note: as of know it just feels like it, but it isn’t, for the technical interested folks).

I guess you get the other additions from the dot post. But what impressed me most over the time, that we somehow managed to have gotten aware by the developers. Over the time we contacted by developers of specific applications if they could have their own area. Hell yeah, sure you can! πŸ™‚ And they all also integrated well as moderators of their own area.
For those of you not knowing it, this is not taken for granted, especially for OSS forums.
So let me give a big kudo to the developers being active in the forums, although they could stick to mailinglists only.

Summary:
It was a great year with the forums, as it was with KDE, big improvements in KDE over this time, many of it even making our work as supporters easier. So, devs, keep up the good work, and so will we. πŸ˜‰
But apart from that, still every volunteer welcome to do maybe a kourse, or provide some feedback, or even give us some new ideas.

Extended search in the forums

Lately there have been some additions to the default search system.
First, we switched the backend to a much smoother one, so we now finally can search for common words like “plasma” again… πŸ˜€

Along with that we integrated the feed system into the search. What does that mean? You can now put search results into your feedreader. Let’s say you are interested in topics containing the keyword “crash” and “plasma” (to stay at the last example) you can keep updated in your feedreader about every new post or topic containing this criteria.

Now you are not tied to feeds for special forums anymore. This opens many new possibilities.
But this will not be the last change, so stay tuned.

Krita on the KDE Community Forums

We can now proudly present a very own forum area dedicated to Krita.

After we included the forum for Amarok some months ago we were now contacted by the Krita team with the wish to have its own area.
Well, that makes us proud in 2 ways:
– Another app drives now its own forum with us
– The developers took interest in it

The latter is a very special point, which shows not only end users are interested in the forums, we also get attention from developers. And that makes conversation in the community much more fruitful than just a forum where users help users.

So, if you are a Krita user, and want to discuss or even share your artwork done in Krita, visit the Krita Forum.
I am sure the Krita team is happy to have your feedback.

Featured phpBB for August 2009: KDE Community Forums!

This is a great honour for me and my mates in the forums team. See this:
http://www.phpbbhacks.com/features/phpbb.php
Quote for why sites are chosen:

They are the standard in which phpBBs should be measured by. The pride of phpBB.

Wow, that is far beyond my expectations.
And that reminds me of something i should have said even earlier in public:
Thanks to all the team members to form it, and also to all the users using it. The atmosphere overall is a really nice place, what else can you wish as an admin for a forum.

New Idea again…

Most of you know behindkde.org. I always enjoyed reading about the persons behind KDE.
That made us think we could do something like that on the forum. And Nightrose extended this idea a bit (thanks for that).
Maybe some of you know about digg dialogg. It is a place where you can submit/vote on questions that will be asked to an important person. So it is basically a community driven interview. I really like that aspect.

So what is it technically? It is a threaded display of all possible interviews, where commenters can be voted.
We are a forum, so we have the threaded display. Also, thanks to Brainstorm we already have a voting system in place. All we would need to do is change the topic voting to a post voting.

So, if we find a KDE contributor that is willing to be interviewed we could set up a new topic in this new area and the users can post their questions to this person. After a (yet undefined) time period we close this topic and the 10-20 (?) most popular questions will be handed over to person that will be interviewed.

That’s about it. Oh, i forgot, we found a possible name for this new Area: “KDialog *gearhead = new KDialog;” πŸ˜€

So, my question: Users, would you like such thing on the forums? And Contributors, would be willing to get interviewed in such a way?

Please tell me your opinions.

KDE Forums – Something big is about to happen

>Lately there has been a lot of activity in the KDE Forums IRC channel, #kde-forum on freenode. neverendingo, one of the forum admins, also said something interesting this evening:

neverendingo: finally… nightmares from conditional html code…
neverendingo: and bubbles, i see them everywhere…

Now you might wonder, what has bubbles to do with the forum? Unfortunately I can’t give you an answer, but it seems to be related to this picture that has been floating around:

One thing is for sure though: we will find out more in the not-so-distant future.

KDE Forums – News and what to expect

>The forum is now nearly one year old. And after some discussions in the team (and the not so far away release of KDE 4.3) we decided to do some major changes. The most obvious one will be a layout change. The old one served us very well, right, but as time goes, i would like to have a new one. And along with the really great looking AIR theme from the oxygen team i invested some time to do a new design. I can’t post screenshots yet, as i have no internet connection (at an internet cafe right now) but these will follow soon. Just stay tuned πŸ˜‰

Right after our major upgrade we want to introduce the “KDE Forums house kleaning day”. This will also happen shortly before the 4.3 release in July.

What does this mean?
We invite every user of the forums to discuss with us
The forum structure
Maybe you are not sure if the structure of the forum is really good enough. Suggest something else.
Unanswered posts
Yes, unfortunately there are still posts that weren’t answered. And we’d like to have an answer on nearly every question. So this is your chance to get involved and help people with their problems. The “Solved” button is there for a reason πŸ˜‰ .
Topics not in the right place/already solved etc
Sometimes it happens that topics land in the wrong place. This is no big problem, but to give new users the chance to find what they need we should have them in the right place. Find these topics and give us a hint to where they should belong. Also, some topics could already be solved but aren’t marked as such. Tell us. Same for the brainstorm area. Maybe some of the items are already in bugzilla, or already implemented.

The day in question will be shortly before the 4.3 release and we will announce it in time to give everybody the chance to get involved. Discussion can take part in the “Feedback” area, and also in our irc team channel at freenode, #kde-forum.

So for everybody who would like to give a helping hand, join us.

>forum.kde.org release party – success?

>After our record attempt our 24 hours lasting thread about congratulations to the KDE 4.2 release is slowly coming to an end. Did we meet our target of 2000 posts? No… As of now we are at 370 posts… Well, we still have it open to finally come to 420 posts, that would be cool.

But let me sum up:

– When i first time entered the forum yesterday, i noticed people already trying to do posts in this particular forum… (it was ~10:00 UTC). Luckily we decided to wait with opening it till the official release announcement arrives. πŸ™‚
– Unfortunately we found out that the new Dot is hosted right on the same server with us… That made us a bit worried about server load etc, since the new Dot as well as our Release Party was meant to arrive at the same time. And both are known for high traffic on such days. Well, as most of you probably saw… it put the server to it’s knees. Some issues were tested out before by us: First, we really need a better caching system for the forum! Second, we also found some possible performance issues on the Dot, that also gets the server to its knees. This will be examined.
– Our normal user visit statistics were ~50 users on the forum. Since the beginning of the day it kept increasing and was already twice the normal when the release announcement came out.

So how did it go:
– Overall impressive, there really was not much need for moderation since all comments were very positive (actually i remember only one comment that was more some sort of a trolling than constructive). And I swear, we didn’t cheat Wink We have logs to prove that! So developers, visit the thread and feel warmly thanked by the users.
– Some users even stated they waited the whole day just to be the first one to congratulate… Nice, i love this community!
– Although we set up the congrats thread to allow posts from guests, we noticed a slight increase in user registrations.
– But we topped it all when someone from our forum team finally wanted to “stress test” our poor server so OhReally slashdotted this event… πŸ˜€ That was the point where the server REALLY went on it’s bloody knees… Happened to be the moment when i just restarted my DE on my main account to the shiny new release, what took me about 2 minutes. And returning to the forum showed me 200 users online… short after that 500 (~150 before being slashdotted). Finally we hit a new milestone with 651 users simultaneously online.
– Did i mention that this thread needed only 1 hour to have over 500 visits?
– Now after the day we have topped every other thread so far. Most replies (370 in 24 hours), most visits (>24 000 since it started), and user load still higher than normal. Really really nice.
– Putting that on Slashdot also gave us more than 380 comments over there.

Ok, we are far from our supposed number of 2000 posts but it was worth a try. And after it now settled down, we should again concentrate on the Klassrooms. New contributors are waiting.

I am wondering what we can do for the KDE 4.3 Release… πŸ˜‰

>KDE 4.2 release event

>Maybe everybody already heard about the shiny new 4.2 release, and maybe even more people are already using it in the RC version, like myself.

But this event needs to be celebrated even more! Unfortunately not everybody of us can attend one of the release parties all over the globe. So we, the team of the KDE forum, decided to add something to the release parties…

We believe that this release is a milestone in KDE development, so we decided to open the forum (at least in a part) to the whole world. Yes, you read it right, not even a registration is needed. We will open a thread just the day 4.2 will be released and it will be open for 24 hours. And there you can write whatever you want to write about the new release.

Of course, to overcome some sort of trolling, we will moderate very new post, but of course every constructive criticism is welcome.

NOTE: This thread will be ONLY about the 4.2 release, no talk about present releases.

And along with that we want to crack a milestone: Can it be possible to have 2000 posts in one thread in 24 hours on this forum?
We believe it is possible πŸ˜‰
So please stay with us and show us it is really possible, that this release will be the most talked about release ever!