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Why Forums Suck

  • information is there, but often woolly, that is, in "paragraph" form with bad writing or in response to something, or several, several pages in
  • they all look awful, with tacky ads everywhere
  • the "date joined" timestamp is often more prominent, or in a place I don't expect it to be, so I dismiss the timestamp as being too old when in fact the comment or post was recent
  • the URLs are unpleasant and the forum hierarchy is almost always unintuitive
  • long, repetitive signatures ON EVERY COMMENT are annoying.
    • there's an article to be written, however, on the history of the "accomplishment signature." You know, like in mobile forums, people will list which phones they have or have had; system administrators will list which distribution of Linux or kernel they prefer; and even transportation buffs will list which cruise/rail tour they've taken recently. Especially if the signatures are dynamic, this is a compelling look into the currency of what people consume even if the forums they've commented on/posted to is old.
  • forums are usually open forever, with stupid people asking for an update or stupid followups
  • this is how forums are designed. They are designed to suck!

Changing Forums

The Internet is designed to route around information failures, right? So let's build a Greasemonkey script/user style/Firefox plugin that:
  • collapses poorly-written forum comments like the YouTube Snob extension (maybe using Mollom for Websites?)
  • removes "date joined" from view altogether (or collapsible as well, as it's data used to evaluate the comment poster, but rarely useful alone)
  • make them look nice
    • make them look like blogs? Which look nice?
  • a web service to make RSS feeds of comment threads
  • encourage a culture of gardening and summary wiki pages with tasteful ads
  • help build forum software that uses dynamic signatures, or short signatures with no images, or no signatures at all
    • socially punish signatures manually pasted in to each post