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Brainstorm idea: addition of “visual roundtable interface”

  • I have not been a huge forum user in the past, but since I started, I came up with this idea that would seem to have helped with the usability of forums in general, especially for me, a visual noobie.

    The idea has to do with changing the layout from a linear conversation format (with replies sequentially down the page) to a round format (with individuals’ avatars or colors in a circle, above the fold, as though they’re around a campfire). Let’s say there are five “discussers” on a forum topic. The PHP would generate five shapes around a “campfire”. Each would have its own color, and if an avatar is available, there would be an avatar in the shape. Also within the shape would be a (series of) number(s) separated by commas. The numbers represent the post number. For example, the first user would have a 1. and a 3. and the second user would have a 2. and a 4. because they’re talking back and forth.

    At the bottom right of the screen would be a “forward” button and a “back” button.

    At the bottom (or, if there’s room, in the middle of the “campfire”) would be the actual comments of one of the users. The comments shown would depend on how far you have progressed through your reading of the forum by having pushed the “forward” and “back” buttons. Only one comment would show at a time. As you progress, the individual’s shape whose post you are reading will be highlighted or glowing or otherwise visually apparent. It would be even user-friendlier if you could also click on any number (within someone’s shape) and go directly to that particular post.

    Are you getting the vision? I think this is a really cool idea. Yeah, it would be some pretty intense coding. bbpress is a wonderful app, and it would be awesome if it paved the way for a new way of presenting forums.

    (I understand that if too many users posted onto one topic, things could get hairy. Perhaps the PHP would stop once the threshold limit is reached, and then below would resume the traditional linear forum layout from then on in that topic.)

    What do you all think?

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  • chrishajer


    I think you could do it with a plugin and a template, with no changes to bbPress at all. I get the vision and I think it’s pretty interesting.

    I would love to do it, although I’m a novice coder at best and don’t have time at this point to devote to it. But if anyone’s interested in doing, I offer it as a “free” idea. My meager contribution ;) . Who knows, maybe I’ll do it if I still like the idea in a year or two.

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