New posters


#1

It may be just me but it seems that the kind of people posting on this forum has changed in recent months. There are now more would-be developers and a lot more newbie end users.

Having lots of new developers suggests we might see a new flowering of extensions written for SU. Bring that on!

New users must also be a good thing and is perhaps related to the new online version of SU. Although it is very irritating that however often you tell people that they need to upload files to get help, they resolutely ignore the advice. And that’s even when they must know their written English is poor. When we succeeded recently in getting the grey advisory text in the comments box to include an invocation to upload files, @Box responded by saying that he thought it would make no difference. Seems like he was right!


#2

I think the placeholder text with instructions is just annoying. It is not where you look for this type of information. As soon as you have identified the text area as a text area and start write it disappears. UX design isn’t about giving users information, but about giving users the right information at the right time, and this is, IMO, not it.


#3

First time I got introduced to programming for SketchUp was in 2008 by watching Google I/O 2008 - Advanced Ruby Scripting for Sketchup and I was blown away by how Scott Lininger demonstrated a simple side-scroller game. He shared the code and that enabled me to edit it and try to figure out what did what.

I guess that what I am trying to say is that it would be awesome if SketchUp was used more & more in other fields not related to architecture.


#4

I’m inclined to agree with you but it seemed to be the only thing that could be achieved at the time.

If people had to search for the invocation, it would surely be even worse. By their nature, people are lazy (and I include myself in that criticism). They won’t look for anything if they can get the answer more quickly another way. So you get questions on this forum regularly from people who must have just launched straight into using SU without reading anything or watching any tutorials.

I am not enough of a programmer or developer to know what is possible. Maybe there should be a large and glaring popup that appears as soon as you start typing saying “Have you uploaded a file yet? Why on earth not?”, or something like that!


#5

Pop-ups are distraction and rude. It’s a bit like shouting into someone’s face, spitting saliva at them. Also it makes no sense to shout at people to upload files as it is irrelevant to many topics.

I think the placeholder text should be reverted to just being an inline label, not an instruction, without adding the instructions for uploading files anywhere else. People either have to find it in the menu or ask others, just as it is today.


#6

OK, so here’s another idea.

When you reach the forum, there is really nothing much to tell you about how best to make use of it. The “Welcome to our forums” post that stays at the top is useful (though not very successful) at getting people to fill in their profiles. Perhaps there could be a second static post there to do with things like uploading files, using quotes, upload limits, etc.?


#7

The key to conveying a message like is not to add information or make information scream louder but to remove information that isn’t relevant, to make the relevant information stand out more. It’s really the same as in UX design or graphical design: if you make all important elements big an noisy people can’t see anything because of the noise. Instead remove what isn’t necessary, put less used options inside of menus, use progressive disclose etc to make the important be more noticeable.


#8

That makes sense but I am not sure if you are saying that what exists has it about right, no “improvement” necessary? If so, then in terms of encouraging people to fill in their profile and upload files (something which regulars like @DaveR continually has to say), it ain’t working, is it?

As Groucho famously said, “I have principles. If you don’t like them, I have others.” Maybe we need others.


#9

My dad had a saying; You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him think!

I agree it would be awesome if everyone who visited read the rules and learned to use Discourse. The fact is, that information is available to those who are looking for it. I think that many new users DO adhere to the recommendations of the forum and follow suggestions of other users. Others, however, do not and (in some cases) will not.

I think that it is great to brainstorm on the best way to cut down the number of times we all have to say “please post a file so that I can help you,” but I think we should step carefully into change requests, in this case. Remember that there are thousands of existing users for every new poster who does not know what they are doing. A solution will only work if it will help the new poster without annoying the existing.

NOTE: This was written 100% as a forum user and NOT as a SU employee. I love it here and have to throw my own personal $0.02 every once in a while :wink:


#10

Since I got pinged, I’ll just weigh in a little.

I’ve been helping other users learn how to use SketchUp and troubleshoot their models for more than a dozen years. For nearly 20 years I helped medical staff in the operation of critical life support equipment like anesthesia machines and ventilators. And before that I ran a photography store where a lot of the interaction with customers was in the form of helping them learn to use their equipment and figure out what to change when things didn’t come out the way they expected.

In all of those there are some folks who try to make it easy by supplying useful information and there are others who seem to resist at every turn. Those people remind me of the old cheapskate talking to his friend in the diner one morning. He said, “My car broke down about 10 miles out of town. I had to have it towed. The tow truck driver charged me $50! I made sure I got my money’s worth, though. I kept the brake on all the way.”


#11

Btw, do new users even have access to upload files or is it something you are granted after posting like 3 or 4 times? That would explain why people don’t find it at first and suddenly it is there. If I remember correctly there were limitations on how I you could tag or message people as a beginner on the forum.


#12

New users are limited to a single uploaded file per each post. They are able to submit additional posts to their thread and each one can have an uploaded file accompanying it.

This restriction is removed soon after they have placed several posts.


#13

I feel that the answers (help) for new forum users is hard to find for the newbies.

There is extra space on the screen, perhaps below the right column timeline for some help links.
Or in the left column to the left of the thread posts ?

There is a link called “FAQ” (which really is the guidelines,) but it is on the “hamburger menu” which the newbs don’t realize is a menu.

So basically I agree with Aaron, the user must want help and go looking for it.
But the Discourse system could make it easier to find help. (Ie, provide system admins with custom link abilities, and/or custom help menu.)


#14

I am an experienced forum user and I don’t even know how to find that! "Course, that could say more about me…

I didn’t understand what @TheOnlyAaron meant when he referred to Discourse and I’m still none the wiser. Again, just me…?

This thread started with an observation that there seemed to be a lot more newbies posting than before. Not sure if that is right but if it is, the balance between the experienced and the inexperienced may be changing. I do agree with Aaron’s point that you should not change things every five minutes and maybe this is not enough of an issue yet to warrant a change. But as he also said, it’s good to discuss it even in advance and so be prepared. I have decided on a short term fix where I use a bit of autotext that simply says “Please post your Sketchup or Layout file” as a first response to relevant posts.


#15

Discourse is the name of the softwareplatform.


#16

Cheers, Mike.


#17

The most appropriate way to deal with these ignorant new users is to first see if you can answer their question from the info given. If not, ask them to supply a model, or at the very least a screenshot to make it more possible for other to help them. It wouldn’t hurt at this point to mention the upload icon, the one which is magically the 7th from both right and left, or even mention that you can drag and drop files into the message window. Sometimes you might want to point out that by filling in their profile correctly we can often spot problems more easily.
But mostly it is important for them to explain their problem as best they can.

This is a forum, as such it has users of many different experience levels and attitudes. There are some of us that spend far too much time here, there are others that should spend far more time reading here. There are many, many that come here, search, and find their answer and go away. And then there are a few that come as totally new users, lost in every sense of the word and just want an answer to the thing that has been driving them crazy for hours. They don’t want to learn how to use a special breed of forum software, they want an answer to why the farque doesn’t this work the way I think it should!

We, on the other hand want them to follow the etiquette of our particular forum and ask their question in the correct way in the correct sub category with images and models and a complete profile including my graphics card whatever the f that is. Bollocks to this who are these twats.

We all tend to get a bit possessive with the forums we enjoy and can bite at times, I’m one of the worst offenders. And I’ve been doing my best not to react any more, some still slip through though.

So as @DaveR mentioned, having been pinged one needs to comment.
My comment would be,
read the forum with your early days in mind, think about what was difficult for you.
Be clear, concise and to the point with your replies. Offer constructive suggestions and explain how, when necessary.
Don’t get upset when someone moves your towel off the sunbed and sits on it.


#18

Having written all that, the last few posts out there in the threads have left remembering that in space they can’t hear you scream.


#19

In the early nineties (of the last millennium), I moderated several “Electronic Forums” hosted on a BSD Unix system. Over several years, myself and the other moderators periodically moaned about the fact that the “newbies” (as we called them then), never seemed to be able to follow the most basic instructions regarding where to post and how to properly continue a threaded conversation. While its text-based format may have been archaic by today’s standards, it had various categories and sub-categories that allowed people to post their thoughts and questions and to reply to the comments of others. Other than the GUI and the inability to upload binary files, it was functionally the same as any modern forum-style software today (such as Discourse).

For more than five years, I spent quite a bit of effort trying to simplify instructions as much as possible so that a newcomer could, in only a minute or so, understand how to proceed constructively and not get flamed right off the bat by the veterans of the forums. My takeaway from that experience is that there will always be people that don’t read the instructions before ripping open the package, no matter how brief and concise they may be. And, of those that do read the instructions, not all of them are always able to understand what to do if the instructions are not clear enough for them.

New posters don’t usually ask a question unless they need help with something in the first place. If it’s their first time (or two), some hand-holding is warranted, IMHO. Also, bear in mind that not everyone is equal in their understanding of geometry, nor are they all here for the same reason that you or I might be here. And some may have learning disabilities (as I’ve discovered) and not understand what you’re trying to tell them. As has been discussed before, helping them to use the forums is a part of helping them to use SketchUp in the first place. If you find someone annoying, filter them out and move on. With seven-plus billion people on the planet, not everyone that wanders in here is going to be like me or you.

As for tweaking the UI to help ameliorate the problem, this is not a technical issue, but a basic quirk in some of us humans. Good luck with fixing that :wink:


#20

I think since the Discourse system has a flagging feature, it could also implement a less drastic sister feature (one without threats of disciplinary action) called “tipping”, where 1 or more knowledgeable members could trigger the system to anonymously send “newbs” a tip on how to do something correctly, rather than publicly chastise the new user (which just wastes threadspace anyway.)

Ie, they get a notification that says …

Hello <username>, 3 forum members have sent you a tip on “Posting to the correct category”

… or …

Hello <username>, 1 forum member has sent you a tip on “Posting Ruby code in a forum thread”

… and if they click on it they get a matter of fact lesson and a link to the offending post, so it can be corrected.

Since it looks like it comes from the system, and would contain no member names, the newb could not start a flame war as some do. (Ie, some new users are frustrated and angry when they come to ask for a solution, and are just not in the mood to be corrected nor to learn to post correctly. And they get snotty …)

@sam