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look and feel of coderanch  RSS feed

 
David Davidson
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I must say that the design of this site is extremely unprofessional. The design is not consistent, the positioning of all the links and the navigation is awkward and very hard to use. This is by far from an elegant design, and should be changed. The design also looks very dated too. Sites like StackOverflow are extremely well thought out, with a clean user interface that balances access to content with ease of use and aesthetics. This site however, is very unprofessional. I really don't understand how this forum can persist through because it doesn't have anything special going for it. I think it still exists simply because it got lucky since it was created at an early date.

Not trying to be harsh, but other sites simply are so much better designed.
 
Tapas Chand
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David Davidson wrote:I think it still exists simply because it got lucky since it was created at an early date.

Welcome to the ranch !!
For other statements moderators can comment.
I would like to comment on the above statement.

It still exists because
  • it helps people to set their basics right
  • it is not a code mill like SO
  • people are nice here, not a hostile environment like SO

  • Moderators may add more reasons why it still exists.

    If you stick around, you will soon find the reasons yourself.
     
    Stephan van Hulst
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    Thanks for your comments David, and welcome to CodeRanch!

    Your criticism is appreciated, but it's not constructive. Please tell us what things you would do to improve the site.
     
    Brian Tkatch
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    I think the David should use the site for a little bit to appreciate the atmosphere here, and only then, when he has a feel for the site and its community, comment on it.

    I do not like the way StackOverflow looks, nor do i think it fits the mood here. The same sort of comment comes along to perlmonks from time to time, that is, people complain the site is using a design from the 90s. It is, and when on the site for a bit of time, you get the feel for it and realize why. If SO feels better to some people, by all means they should use SO, as it is probably a better site for them. But please, do not homogenize all sites to look like what some people want, right now, as that would remove the variety that makes Internet forums so much fun.
     
    paul wheaton
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    David,

    Perhaps you have some suggestions? One or two things that we might Implement to make things better?
     
    Tim Holloway
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    StackOverflow is a site that allots entirely too much space to telling people that their questions are redundant, non-conformant, or otherwise failing to meet their high standards. I personally find it irritating and that's when I'm simply searching for what others have already asked and trying to find an answer amonst all the (sometimes overbearing) admonitions. I haven't actually logged in as a contributor in ages.

    The JavaRanch puts its emphasis on comfort. We don't care (much) if 20 people have asked the same question already, if their question is ill-formed or if someone promotes a specific product as a solution (as long as it's not Blatant Advertising - we have a home for that).

    Sure, the look and feel are not winning many awards, but then "modern" isn't all it's cracked up to be. What I call the "Drupal" look has been the standard for too long on too manyy sites and it's characterized by an enormous non-scrolling masthead, another bar at the bottom and a tiny slice in between to contain original content. It brings out the worst in today's TV-letterbox video screens, which are already much wider than they are tall (and I really resent the fact that it's almost impossible to buy something with a more traditional aspect ratio anymore).

    New is nice, but sometimes the favorite piece of furniture turns out the be the old ratty sofa with the stuffing leaking out the arms. Just as long as there are no springs poking out.

    I've made my own criticisms about the Ranch, but one thing I never want to see it become is a StackOverflow clone.

     
    Piet Souris
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    Well, I find the SO design a pain to the eye too. But looking at OP's remark, this is very personal and OP is of a different opinion.

    I certainly do not like the sometimes very harsh (not to say very rude) replies at SO.

    That said, whenever I google some question for an answer, in 90 out of 100 I end up at SO, where I usually find a solution. Much, much less do I end up here.
    So, in that respect. SO is great.

    And make no mistake: JavaRanch is certainly not Utopia. We too can be, from time to time, impolite and rude, albeit in a much more subtle way.

    But my main point for this reply is: I find it appaling that everyone whose reply is in favor of this site is granted one or more cows, but OP is not. All reactions are still a matter of personal judgement, after all.
     
    Tim Holloway
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    It's true. When I want "the answer", SO is often where I find it. I just often end up grinding my teeth because of the baggage.

    Tapas has the right of it. We'll provide "the answer" here, when we can, but we're not just here for the HOW, we're here for the WHY. The problem resolution is at the bottom of the chain, not pushed to the top and quite a bit of discussion may have preceded it.

    SO is an invaluable resource for those who just need to "Git 'er Dun!" with a minimum of time spent on side issues. But the danger in just applying recipes straight from the cookbook is that you may never gain enough knowledge to be able to cook on your own. You may be more productive in the short run, but if you never spend any time on understanding, you'll just have to run back to the cookbook every time you need a problem solved. And if you only understand practical applications and not the theory, it's going to limit your ability to create entirely new and more effective solutions.

    We see a lot of stuff like that here. People have "solved" a problem and can't get the solution to work and we have to work back until we understand what the actual problem was. Which often has a much simpler and more elegant solution when you are well-informed.
     
    S Fox
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    I looked through a lot of forums and this one really is the best for java. To be honest the theme at first made me think it's only for absolute beginners here, but it's not the case at all, there's lots of advanced topics here too. Stack overflow is really oppressive, everyone that posts there gets downvoted and their topic closed, I only go there if a search for an error brings their site up.

    To improve this site I would really only suggest 3 things:
    #1 put a link to the forum index on javaranch.com, just make "Java Forums at The Big Moose Saloon" a hyperlink to the index. That way someone that just wants to see the forum can do it quick without trying to figure out what all those pictures are.

    #2 make the post button take you to the login page, because it's a pain to have to scroll all the way back up top to log-in again

    #3 the auto-logout time is pretty quick, i'd say increase it a bit.
     
    Brian Tkatch
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    Piet Souris wrote:I find it appaling that everyone whose reply is in favor of this site is granted one or more cows, but OP is not. All reactions are still a matter of personal judgement, after all.

    I don't think the bovine awards were for a particular subjective opinion. Rather, because they pointed out that it is a subjective opinion.
     
    Brian Tkatch
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    S Fox wrote:I looked through a lot of forums and this one really is the best for java. To be honest the theme at first made me think it's only for absolute beginners here, but it's not the case at all, there's lots of advanced topics here too. Stack overflow is really oppressive, everyone that posts there gets downvoted and their topic closed, I only go there if a search for an error brings their site up.

    To improve this site I would really only suggest 3 things:
    #1 put a link to the forum index on javaranch.com, just make "Java Forums at The Big Moose Saloon" a hyperlink to the index. That way someone that just wants to see the forum can do it quick without trying to figure out what all those pictures are.

    #2 make the post button take you to the login page, because it's a pain to have to scroll all the way back up top to log-in again

    #3 the auto-logout time is pretty quick, i'd say increase it a bit.

    *cough* classic view *cough*
     
    Paul Clapham
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    My observation is this: David's comment relates mostly to the look of the site. However many of the replies are talking about the site content, particularly as opposed to the content of SO. I'm in agreement with all of those remarks about the content, but the content could certainly be displayed in a wide variety of formats. It certainly wouldn't hurt to look at changes to the site, although I expect that it takes more than dated design to drive people away.

    But having said that, I don't have any suggestions of my own. Interface design isn't one of my skills. Suggestions from David would be appreciated, I'm sure, but so far we don't have any.
     
    Stephan van Hulst
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    Piet Souris wrote:I find it appaling that everyone whose reply is in favor of this site is granted one or more cows, but OP is not. All reactions are still a matter of personal judgement, after all.

    Everyone who can give cows can do so at their own discretion, for any reason whatsoever, even if it was just because they agree with the opinion and not necessarily with the spirit of the message. There's nothing appalling about that.
     
    Henry Wong
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    Agreed. Cows were not meant to be a moderator carrot feature. It is a perk for senior ranchers -- and it is actually possible for non-mods to get cow granting rights. The ranch does not have an official set of rules on what, when, or how much, cows are to be granted.

    Having said that ... When I saw this topic a few days back, my first thought was ... "Cool. Let's see how this discussion leads to improving the ranch, or at least, leads to a good discussion about improving the ranch". Unfortunately, I think the OP just used the phrase "Constructive Criticism" just to introduce the complaints. To be "constructive", there needs to be a suggestions for improvement. I didn't see any from the OP -- so, I couldn't grant any cows for it...


    And to Piet Souris... If you felt that the OP should have gotten a cow for the original post, then why didn't you grant one? You do know that you are one of the senior ranchers, with the cow granting ability, right?

    Henry
     
    Jeanne Boyarsky
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    For example, S Fox provided constructive feedback and got a cow.
     
    Piet Souris
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    Henry Wong wrote:And to Piet Souris... If you felt that the OP should have gotten a cow for the original post, then why didn't you grant one? You do know that you are one of the senior ranchers, with the cow granting ability, right?

    Henry
    i
    I do not think that OP's opening post deserves a cow.

    But my point is: anyone who reacts in a positive way is granted a cow. And that was my point. It gives me the impression of: "o dear, someone is ciritcising us! Close the ranks, all for one, one for all!" mentality.
    This side is so big, a little critic is no reasom for a cow-festival.

    PS: I have no idea how to give a cow. Is there a button I should press?


     
    Winston Gutkowski
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    Piet Souris wrote:I do not think that OP's opening post deserves a cow.

    Well I do because, critical or not, and incomplete or not, it's sparked some lively debate; so I've done it for you.

    But my point is: anyone who reacts in a positive way is granted a cow...

    I quite agree, and I've tried to work with the "spirit" of Jeanne's post of a couple of months ago about giving out more cows - and NOT just to posts I agree with, or to other mods.

    @David Davidson: It would be very useful if you could tell us what you would do to improve things. I know full well that I'm years out of date when it comes to screen design (luckily, I'm also not involved with the site design here); so maybe you know stuff that we don't.
    One thing I do like about SO is the "relevance" grading for replies - although I don't know whether it's adjudicated by the OP or by site moderators.

    However, as has already been said by others: the reason I came over here from the OTM site about five years back, and have stayed ever since, is this site's ethos.
    We want to help people, not spoon-feed them, or show how clever we are (although, I have to admit, I do still fall into that trap on occasion - but far less often than I used to).

    And for that I can put up with quite a bit of "clunkiness".

    Winston
     
    Henry Wong
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    Piet Souris wrote:
    PS: I have no idea how to give a cow. Is there a button I should press?


    There are actually a few ways to do it -- but to give a cow on a particular post then ... To the right of the report button, there is this little triangle thingy with horns and eyes. If you mouse over this small button, it should say "give one Cow".

    Henry
     
    Brian Tkatch
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    Henry Wong wrote:To the right of the report button, there is this little triangle thingy with horns and eyes.

    I wish i had one of those. Even if it only said, "moo". :P
     
    Liutauras Vilda
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    David Davidson wrote:I must say that the design of this site is extremely unprofessional.
    Thanks for opinion David.

    By the way, to which look you are referring to? At the moment Ranch has two - one is so called old look and the other new look. Those can be changed at the top of the website (still for some time).

    I agree that being consistent is very important, that fits to a term professional - but site developers working on it everytime they get some spare time. Bear in mind, that everyone who is contributing to this community in one or another way is a volunteer, it is not a standard profit organization, where you can draw the line next to the highest industry standards as you would for a commercial product. Here is different, website is growing together with community.

    After all, in case you are referring to new look, which I call cozy village style - personally myself I really like it. But as far as I understand, you're refering more to functionality - well, for that personally myself I'm not so picky too - I'm more interested in discussions content, but I do understand your concerns.

    Anyway, features and functionality always changing, things getting improved/fixed on the fly, and are being given to test to the whole community (as we are all volunteers here, remember ) - so you're contributing too by giving your opinion. Also you have an ability to give suggestions, isn't it that cool, ah? You can influence its look, functionality.

    After all, everyone is so different, personally myself I don't like SO at all, not sure why, probably because they have different ideology in terms of discussions. Regarding the look, I don't see any design or website soul there at all, mainly plain text, but again, for some it is just enough.

    Your suggestions are very welcome
     
    Henry Wong
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    Brian Tkatch wrote:
    I wish i had one of those. Even if it only said, "moo". :P


    No... but you do have pie, which comes with perks. And you have given away some slices too, which is arguably, more generous.

    Anyway, here are a couple of slices. Feel free to find some deserving posts to be generous with...

    Henry
     
    Liutauras Vilda
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    David Davidson wrote:I really don't understand how this forum can persist through because it doesn't have anything special going for it.
    Here I disagree with you, David. I pressume you are fairly new here, in this matter you might not appreciate philosophy of this site as you haven't got chance yet.

    The idea goes along with my top post about the favor of content...

    I see this site as a site with the genius idea behind, how the problem solving techniques being presented. When you mentioned that you don't understand how this forum can persist, ironically enough, but this is exactly what this forum is teaching about - how to persist on your own when you face the problem you need to solve.

    If you go to the job interview, you most likely will be asked to think out loud about the given problem and provide the reasoning why you think that way and not ther other, this is exactly what people here are trying to help on.

    Your programming career or hoby is your made decisions, your own ways to approach the problems, so it is important that solutions would be yours too, but not someone else's. You can learn those things here.

    Don't know who said that phrase initially, but I like it, and I think it fits here well next to your thinking about the Ranch - "Don't judge the book by its cover".
    Wikipedia wrote:It is a metaphorical phrase which means "you shouldn't prejudge the worth or value of something, by its outward appearance alone".

    After all, some of the design things which might are not so optimal - are fixable
     
    Winston Gutkowski
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    Liutauras Vilda wrote:Bear in mind that everyone who is contributing to this community in one or another way is a volunteer, it is not a standard profit organization, where you can draw the line next to the highest industry standards as you would for a commercial product.

    That's true; but IMO, it's no excuse for "shoddiness".

    Some of the best code - and products (even if we take some of them for granted) - have come out of the open-source, not-for-profit, and "volunteer" communities - including Java itself. One only has to look at protocols like ssh and ftp - and of course www (or http) - to discover a whole layer of infrastructure that has been given to us by "volunteers", or non-profit organisations.
    And where would we be without OSI? Probably all running on MS networks and paying Bill a pile of dough for the privilege...

    "Professionalism" has more to do with codes of practice - and generally, practice in the workplace - than quality. My dad was a member of more than one organisation that said he was a "professional" engineer. The fact that he was a damn good one was incidental to his membership (although it probably helps).

    When I say I'm a "professional", I mean that I have been a professional - ie, been employed as a programmer - for 35 years; and that I have never knowingly done any business I worked for any harm (despite temptation), and have also never knowingly done anything illegal.
    And that's what you get when you get ME - You do not get a sheep who simply does something because he's told to, you get an ornery sonofabitch; because I believe it's my professional duty to be one (and I've been fired for it more than once...generally to my great relief).

    Perhaps IT will come up with a "code of professionalism", in the same way that doctors and lawyers have, but until then we do the best we can, and I regard the word "professional" with a pinch of salt.

    Winston
     
    Liutauras Vilda
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    Winston Gutkowski wrote:That's true; but IMO, it's no excuse for "shoddiness".
    I really like the way you think about being fair to your profession (kudos to you Winston, cow), as you work and assess your work if you were have some extra unwritten quality meassure policy rules.

    I agree, that from the Ranch perspective it wouldn't be an excuse if would have been said "nah, it is good as it is, we're volunteers...", surely I expressed myself earlier in an ambiguous way, but we don't say that, other way round, everyone is up to improve things AND that is why the new look born in the first place I believe. I see it as a step forward, not backwards.

     
    paul wheaton
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    The subject line read "Constructive Criticism for this site: Unintuitive, dated, unprofessional design"

    Posted by a person where this was their first post under what looks like a suspiciously fake name.

    The criticism struck me as non-constructive.

    I am updating the subject line.

     
    Winston Gutkowski
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    paul wheaton wrote:The criticism struck me as non-constructive.
    I am updating the subject line.

    Good idea. Whether we hear from David again or not might confirm your other suspicions, but I'm sticking with my cow; because this has been a good thread.

    Winston
     
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