Let's modernize dgrin

BaldyBaldy SmugMug co-founderMountain View, CaRegistered Users, Super Moderators Posts: 2,853 moderator
edited August 20, 2014 in Dgrin Forum Support
Hey everyone,

It's amazing how much traffic DGrin gets, considering that it's confusingly named so people have to be told about the association with SmugMug, the software that runs it is a decade olde, and we've been—ehem—not as active supporting it as we should be.

So what's to do to make it a better experience for you? Here's what I'm thinking:

1. Since a lot of the traffic is SmugMug support, starting Monday we'll put 3 heroes on call to watch the forums and see where they can jump in to help. We're starting this with an 8-week rotation, meaning 3 heroes get it one week, 3 the next, etc., and then they are 7 weeks on the helpdesk and not on dgrin. We'll monitor the load as we go and see if we need more (or less).

2. I will spend what time I can over the next few months on dgrin while we look for a new person to put in charge of it as dgrin community manager, now that Michael Bonocore has left (sad for us).

3. I will get engineers and product managers involved in threads like I have the last couple of days by getting Mike Diaz to post in the tools thread and Sam to start a mobile app for IOS thread for the recent 2.1 release.

4. We can direct more SmugMug customers here to join the party.

The problem with 1-4 is I ended up having to protect them against the trolls to get their participation, which is a pretty time-consuming thing for me and you'd really rather I was working on improving SmugMug rather than managing trolls.

Which makes me interested in more modern forum software that enables the community to float the best stuff to the top. That could be a very big, disruptive change, but no pain in this case probably means little gain. So far the software that has me most interested is from http://www.discourse.org. Here's why:
  • The community can vote things up or down
  • Users build a reputation
  • It works on mobile
  • The notification system is great. You can notifiy them with an @ sign
  • We can set it up to use logins from facebook, twitter, SmugMug, etc.
  • It has great search
  • You can paste images
  • Links auto-expand so you can see what they're about
  • Real-time updates without refreshing like on facebook
Etc.

With the voting and reputation systems, mindless posts tend to get out of the way and the good stuff gets noticed, so trolls end up having to post useful stuff to get noticed instead of just personal attacks.

So... What think ye?

Thanks!
Baldy
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Comments

  • denisegoldbergdenisegoldberg Major grins North Andover, MASuper Moderators Posts: 13,488 moderator
    edited August 8, 2014
    Baldy -
    I would love to see more participation from your team in the forums, great move!

    The one thing that jumps out at me about dgrin right now is the very low number of people participating, let alone helping. Your plan to put 3 heroes on call to watch the forums sounds very good to me. I think having more participation (or maybe I should say more constant participation) from folks on your team would be very helpful.

    In addition to answering questions I'd like to see some feedback in both the Bug Reporting and the Feature Requests forums. Sometimes threads are mis-posted there and need to be moved, but there are many items in those forums that at least some of us would like to see either fixed or added to the product. I understand that you do not pre-announce new features and I don't expect that to change. I think it would be helpful to see acknowledgements from smug on feature requests and bug reports. That hasn't happened much recently.

    While switching to Discourse sounds like it would give us a nicer environment I don't think it will solve the participation problem. We need to get folks talking to each other - and I agree, the conversations need to be civil. (I have to admit that there are some people in the forum who I stopped trying to help because of their negativity.)

    --- Denise
  • BaldyBaldy SmugMug co-founder Mountain View, CaRegistered Users, Super Moderators Posts: 2,853 moderator
    edited August 8, 2014
    While switching to Discourse sounds like it would give us a nicer environment I don't think it will solve the participation problem. We need to get folks talking to each other - and I agree, the conversations need to be civil. (I have to admit that there are some people in the forum who I stopped trying to help because of their negativity.)
    Yeah, it's a chicken/egg thing. We won't get good long-term participation from either our team or our customers until the troll situation is under control, and what turns some people into trolls is lack of participation.

    It's a very common thing with forums as they age and scale. You either have to up the moderation as we did in our motorcycle forum, which is huge, or you have to go the way of many big forums and do a karma vote up/down thing. The trouble with heavy moderation is that can be frustrating for a lot of users too.

    How to keep up with feature requests... We're thinking about that. That one is very difficult because it's a torrent, only some people are really in the know about it, and they are very busy, and it gets us into trouble when we post about it.
  • slpollettslpollett Major grins Registered Users Posts: 1,110 Major grins
    edited August 8, 2014
    I don't know if I'll be much help, but I'll throw in a few random thoughts...

    How do you measure participation? I visit dgrin at least once per day, sometimes more often. I don't always post a comment, especially if I don't feel that I have anything different to say. I really don't post images very often since I rarely get feedback anyway. I do always look at 'how to' questions that people ask and I always read the answers. I rarely know the answer, but will post if I have something to add. I have learned a ton just reading through those posts. I also read through posts concerning smugmug customizations, finishing school, and mind your own business. I have learned a lot there also. So, even thought I don't post very often, I get a lot of useful information from reading. I would hate to lose that. So, I 'participate' often, but as a reader more than a poster.

    I have also found this community to be very helpful whenever I do ask a question. I have always received excellent (& much appreciated) responses to any call for help.

    Could the forum stand some updating? Probably yes. Would I like every change? Probably not, but as long as the information continues to be easy to find and easily accessible, then I'm good with whatever works for everyone. The information is more important to me than the ability to post images more easily.

    I appreciate the work you do.

    Sherry P.
  • JtringJtring Major grins CaliforniaRegistered Users Posts: 630 Major grins
    edited August 9, 2014
    Let's modernize dgrin
    A couple of thoughts.

    My first response when I read your post is that it’s a technology fix aimed at a people problem. That rarely works. Negativity and attention-getting are wonderfully adaptive behaviors that can find expression anywhere. At some point, off-line “back-off” comments, moderating posts from some individuals, or inviting folks out the door may be the only answer. (If Discourse allows individual-user moderation and the current Dgrin does not, that is plus for moving, though.)

    I’d also note that while I’ve seen some of the problems you cite, it hasn’t seemed *that* oppressive except for a short period last winter. But then I have the luxury of not following some threads and not reading some people’s posts. Insufficient gratitude for help does seem to be a pervasive problem, but that one’s not going away. (And I hope you haven’t perceived my posts as negative when I’m raising issues. We all get frustrated. When that happens, some phrases may not be perfectly posed ... or perfectly poised.)

    That said, there’s plenty of room to tune up Dgrin. This forum servers a variety of functions: getting help with basic questions, problem reporting, feature requests, discussing interface oddities, asking for feedback on one’s site, customization questions, announcements of customization tools, API issues, and lots more. There should probably be a revisit of the forum functions – both current and potential – before setting up the Discourse categories.

    Finally, I’m just a little concerned about moving the emphasis to “popular” threads. It depends on how it’s done. You (Baldy) commented some time back – I’ve not looked up the specific post – that Dgrin users are not representative of the larger SmugMug community because they exercise SmugMug’s customization features more heavily and do relatively complicated things. The net effect is to push SmugMug’s capabilities. That situation is bad in that Dgrin doesn’t engage a lot of the user community. But it’s good in that you get what amounts to free testing in all sorts of odd circumstances and exposure to use cases you might not have imagined. No developer likes to hear their latest push had problems and no QA person likes to hear of a problem they didn't find, but the company really should want to hear that news fast. If you can collectively ignore the simple griping and chase out those selling paralyzing negativity – people problems – you’ve gained support in a way a small company can’t do itself. So go slow in moving too much to the center. At least leave room for your 1%.

    I hope this doesn’t come off too negative. It’s just that my sense is that any structure or platform can do well or poorly. It’s how it’s managed that makes the real difference.
    Jim Ringland . . . . . jtringl.smugmug.com
  • AceCo55AceCo55 Aussie Grinner Registered Users Posts: 945 Major grins
    edited August 9, 2014
    slpollett wrote: »
    I don't know if I'll be much help, but I'll throw in a few random thoughts...

    How do you measure participation? I visit dgrin at least once per day, sometimes more often. I don't always post a comment, especially if I don't feel that I have anything different to say. I really don't post images very often since I rarely get feedback anyway. I do always look at 'how to' questions that people ask and I always read the answers. I rarely know the answer, but will post if I have something to add. I have learned a ton just reading through those posts. I also read through posts concerning smugmug customizations, finishing school, and mind your own business. I have learned a lot there also. So, even thought I don't post very often, I get a lot of useful information from reading. I would hate to lose that. So, I 'participate' often, but as a reader more than a poster.

    I have also found this community to be very helpful whenever I do ask a question. I have always received excellent (& much appreciated) responses to any call for help.

    Could the forum stand some updating? Probably yes. Would I like every change? Probably not, but as long as the information continues to be easy to find and easily accessible, then I'm good with whatever works for everyone. The information is more important to me than the ability to post images more easily.

    I appreciate the work you do.

    Sherry P.

    I agree with all of this. I love the idea of heroes actively monitoring the forum. Could I suggest that there is some way to EASILY identify who actually works for Smugmug. There have been instances of visitors "having a go" at people like Denise/Allen/Mike/ etc thinking that they were employees.

    I'm feeling very positive about the future of Smugmug.
    My opinion does not necessarily make it true. What you do with my opinion is entirely up to you.
    www.acecootephotography.com
  • kimbomackimbomac Big grins Registered Users Posts: 99 Big grins
    edited August 9, 2014
    I am also a constant lurker. My browser automatically starts two tabs in DGrin - one on the bugs thread and one on the new features thread and I check them out every day. I only post when I have a question or something to say.

    I have no experience with discourse, and will continue to monitor whichever forum thread management thingo you pick, but I agree with others that twits will exist no matter which one you use, and to some extent, it will be difficult to filter them out.

    But please continue to do what you do. I agree with your comment that I would rather see you guys work on stuff that makes Smugmug better. That's why I pay my subscription fee every year with a smile on my face!
    Kimbomac

    (FeaturePhotography.net)
  • leftquarkleftquark Former SmugMug Product Team Registered Users, Retired Mod Posts: 3,776 Many Grins
    edited August 9, 2014
    Baldy,
    This is wonderful news! Not only is additional support fantastic but the new forum software should be super helpful. A couple thoughts:

    Having support heroes monitoring the forums will greatly help answer easy questions and issues fast. My first thought though was "what about the hard questions?" The CSS coding questions specifically, of which I think are the most popular based on my months of trolling the forums. All too often I would see a post start with "the heroes sent me to dgrin to ask the community." If the heroes couldn't help via email they still won't help on the forums. I mean there must be a reason why Michael (Bonocore) came to me for his CSS questions and not one of the many Support Heroes (there were many late nights coming up with custom tweaks for Chris Bukards site, for example). Solution: having your technical guys pop in! Wonderful idea.
    You're going to have to come up with a process for how often they check the forums... It almost became a full time job for me, helping people with code, and one of the reasons why I made my Customizations website. Perhaps your engineering team only gets called to the forums when a support here is stumped and calls them in for additional help?

    The bigger picture item here, in my opinion, is that SmugMug is still too hard for the normal person to use. The questions people are asking are difficult coding questions that require deep technical knowledge of CSS, specifically. You touted the New SmugMug as "code-free" (and it's a good start) but I have hundreds of lines of code just to do simple things (like change fonts, hide sections or put borders around areas). It's coming up on the year anniversary of the new smugmug and it hasn't improved as drastically as it should have. Where's an easy WYSIWIG text editor to change fonts, colors and sizes? Where are simple toggle switched to hide keywords from being displayed, where is a navbar look and feel customizer?

    Improving the ease of SmugMug will decrease the level of technical skill needed and allow for increased participation by the normal person.

    So please, while these forum changes are wonderful, don't let it distract you from engineering the site to where it needs to get!
    dGrin Afficionado
    Former SmugMug Product Team
    aaron AT aaronmphotography DOT com
    Website: http://www.aaronmphotography.com
    My SmugMug CSS Customizations website: http://www.aaronmphotography.com/Customizations
  • leftquarkleftquark Former SmugMug Product Team Registered Users, Retired Mod Posts: 3,776 Many Grins
    edited August 9, 2014
    Another thought: perhaps some type of real motivation for continued participation would help.
    You instituted a "refer a friend" program for getting people to sign up that reduces people's annual cost - why not something similar for helping you guys keep happy customers? Perhaps the recognized forum posters get discounted SmugMug pricing? Recognize people like Lamah, smugocity, Allen, Mike, Denise, and others who spend hundreds and hundreds of hours helping people with tough questions, all for free. I spent hundreds of hours here coming up with cust CSS code for people (without receiving anything except wonderful gratitude), and quite frankly, as soon as my site was in a place I was happy with, my participation has dropped from hours a day to a few minutes a month. I certainly would be around more if it was going to help reduced Smuggy costs :)
    dGrin Afficionado
    Former SmugMug Product Team
    aaron AT aaronmphotography DOT com
    Website: http://www.aaronmphotography.com
    My SmugMug CSS Customizations website: http://www.aaronmphotography.com/Customizations
  • BaldyBaldy SmugMug co-founder Mountain View, CaRegistered Users, Super Moderators Posts: 2,853 moderator
    edited August 9, 2014
    slpollett wrote: »
    I don't know if I'll be much help, but I'll throw in a few random thoughts...

    How do you measure participation? I visit dgrin at least once per day, sometimes more often. I don't always post a comment, especially if I don't feel that I have anything different to say. I really don't post images very often since I rarely get feedback anyway. I do always look at 'how to' questions that people ask and I always read the answers. I rarely know the answer, but will post if I have something to add. I have learned a ton just reading through those posts. I also read through posts concerning smugmug customizations, finishing school, and mind your own business. I have learned a lot there also. So, even thought I don't post very often, I get a lot of useful information from reading. I would hate to lose that. So, I 'participate' often, but as a reader more than a poster.

    I have also found this community to be very helpful whenever I do ask a question. I have always received excellent (& much appreciated) responses to any call for help.

    Could the forum stand some updating? Probably yes. Would I like every change? Probably not, but as long as the information continues to be easy to find and easily accessible, then I'm good with whatever works for everyone. The information is more important to me than the ability to post images more easily.

    I appreciate the work you do.

    Sherry P.
    Thanks, Sherry! Very interesting. That's exactly the kind of engagement we're looking for. I'm glad you spoke up and hope the changes make things better.
  • BaldyBaldy SmugMug co-founder Mountain View, CaRegistered Users, Super Moderators Posts: 2,853 moderator
    edited August 9, 2014
    leftquark wrote: »
    Another thought: perhaps some type of real motivation for continued participation would help.
    You instituted a "refer a friend" program for getting people to sign up that reduces people's annual cost - why not something similar for helping you guys keep happy customers? Perhaps the recognized forum posters get discounted SmugMug pricing? Recognize people like Lamah, smugocity, Allen, Mike, Denise, and others who spend hundreds and hundreds of hours helping people with tough questions, all for free. I spent hundreds of hours here coming up with cust CSS code for people (without receiving anything except wonderful gratitude), and quite frankly, as soon as my site was in a place I was happy with, my participation has dropped from hours a day to a few minutes a month. I certainly would be around more if it was going to help reduced Smuggy costs :)
    Hi Aaron,

    Great to hear from you. You've really done a nice job with your site, and I've always loved your photography. It's a pleasure to visit it.

    I spent a few hours this morning looking at Amazon's Vine Program for their most trusted reviewers, and it has some parallels to what you're suggesting. In their case, vine reviewers sometimes get free products before they're released to the public.

    That's one reason I'm so eager to fire up a trust system. Amazon's Vine reviewers are selected from their reviewer ratings by other Amazon customers. If the trust system works as it should, then Lamah, smugocity, Denise, Allen, etc., will gain lots of trust and we can reward them based on it.
  • BaldyBaldy SmugMug co-founder Mountain View, CaRegistered Users, Super Moderators Posts: 2,853 moderator
    edited August 9, 2014
    leftquark wrote: »
    Baldy,
    This is wonderful news! Not only is additional support fantastic but the new forum software should be super helpful. A couple thoughts:

    Having support heroes monitoring the forums will greatly help answer easy questions and issues fast. My first thought though was "what about the hard questions?" The CSS coding questions specifically, of which I think are the most popular based on my months of trolling the forums. All too often I would see a post start with "the heroes sent me to dgrin to ask the community." If the heroes couldn't help via email they still won't help on the forums. I mean there must be a reason why Michael (Bonocore) came to me for his CSS questions and not one of the many Support Heroes (there were many late nights coming up with custom tweaks for Chris Bukards site, for example). Solution: having your technical guys pop in! Wonderful idea.
    You're going to have to come up with a process for how often they check the forums... It almost became a full time job for me, helping people with code, and one of the reasons why I made my Customizations website. Perhaps your engineering team only gets called to the forums when a support here is stumped and calls them in for additional help?

    The bigger picture item here, in my opinion, is that SmugMug is still too hard for the normal person to use. The questions people are asking are difficult coding questions that require deep technical knowledge of CSS, specifically. You touted the New SmugMug as "code-free" (and it's a good start) but I have hundreds of lines of code just to do simple things (like change fonts, hide sections or put borders around areas). It's coming up on the year anniversary of the new smugmug and it hasn't improved as drastically as it should have. Where's an easy WYSIWIG text editor to change fonts, colors and sizes? Where are simple toggle switched to hide keywords from being displayed, where is a navbar look and feel customizer?

    Improving the ease of SmugMug will decrease the level of technical skill needed and allow for increased participation by the normal person.

    So please, while these forum changes are wonderful, don't let it distract you from engineering the site to where it needs to get!
    Thanks, Aaron. I pretty much agree with everything you wrote, like making SmugMug easier, changing the forum software, and getting more expertise from us on the forums for hard questions.

    Which brings me to the question of the day: what does Hire Me mean on your bio page? Does it mean you'd have the skillz to rally the community, deploy the software and engage the experts if only we hired you? You certainly have the technical background, the location, the photographic knowledge and the passion...
  • BaldyBaldy SmugMug co-founder Mountain View, CaRegistered Users, Super Moderators Posts: 2,853 moderator
    edited August 9, 2014
    kimbomac wrote: »
    I am also a constant lurker. My browser automatically starts two tabs in DGrin - one on the bugs thread and one on the new features thread and I check them out every day. I only post when I have a question or something to say.
    Oh, boy, Kim... I'm a little bit afraid to go in the bugs thread for fear of what I'll find...

    We have a good process for chasing bugs that the heroes report to us, primarily from emails we get on the desk. It takes a lot more people than you'd imagine because the QA team has to verify the bug and figure out how to replicate it, and whether it's our bug or something that Chrome, Safari, Firefox or IE has introduced. Then it goes to product management and engineering to figure out what the fix is and whether we can/will fix it and the timeline, and what to say back to the customer.

    Since the hero/QA team and engineering involvement on dgrin has been lower I suspect that process is in need of some love. When the three heroes on dgrin start their shifts on Monday, I'll talk to them about that.
  • BaldyBaldy SmugMug co-founder Mountain View, CaRegistered Users, Super Moderators Posts: 2,853 moderator
    edited August 9, 2014
    AceCo55 wrote: »
    I agree with all of this. I love the idea of heroes actively monitoring the forum. Could I suggest that there is some way to EASILY identify who actually works for Smugmug. There have been instances of visitors "having a go" at people like Denise/Allen/Mike/ etc thinking that they were employees.

    I'm feeling very positive about the future of Smugmug.
    Good suggestion. I'll get everyone from SmugMug to put in their profile that they are from SmugMug.
  • BaldyBaldy SmugMug co-founder Mountain View, CaRegistered Users, Super Moderators Posts: 2,853 moderator
    edited August 9, 2014
    Jtring wrote: »
    A couple of thoughts.

    My first response when I read your post is that it’s a technology fix aimed at a people problem. That rarely works. Negativity and attention-getting are wonderfully adaptive behaviors that can find expression anywhere. At some point, off-line “back-off” comments, moderating posts from some individuals, or inviting folks out the door may be the only answer. (If Discourse allows individual-user moderation and the current Dgrin does not, that is plus for moving, though.)

    I’d also note that while I’ve seen some of the problems you cite, it hasn’t seemed *that* oppressive except for a short period last winter. But then I have the luxury of not following some threads and not reading some people’s posts. Insufficient gratitude for help does seem to be a pervasive problem, but that one’s not going away. (And I hope you haven’t perceived my posts as negative when I’m raising issues. We all get frustrated. When that happens, some phrases may not be perfectly posed ... or perfectly poised.)

    That said, there’s plenty of room to tune up Dgrin. This forum servers a variety of functions: getting help with basic questions, problem reporting, feature requests, discussing interface oddities, asking for feedback on one’s site, customization questions, announcements of customization tools, API issues, and lots more. There should probably be a revisit of the forum functions – both current and potential – before setting up the Discourse categories.

    Finally, I’m just a little concerned about moving the emphasis to “popular” threads. It depends on how it’s done. You (Baldy) commented some time back – I’ve not looked up the specific post – that Dgrin users are not representative of the larger SmugMug community because they exercise SmugMug’s customization features more heavily and do relatively complicated things. The net effect is to push SmugMug’s capabilities. That situation is bad in that Dgrin doesn’t engage a lot of the user community. But it’s good in that you get what amounts to free testing in all sorts of odd circumstances and exposure to use cases you might not have imagined. No developer likes to hear their latest push had problems and no QA person likes to hear of a problem they didn't find, but the company really should want to hear that news fast. If you can collectively ignore the simple griping and chase out those selling paralyzing negativity – people problems – you’ve gained support in a way a small company can’t do itself. So go slow in moving too much to the center. At least leave room for your 1%.

    I hope this doesn’t come off too negative. It’s just that my sense is that any structure or platform can do well or poorly. It’s how it’s managed that makes the real difference.
    Hi Jim,

    No, not negative at all. I agree with almost all of it.

    I do know we'll have to warn, ban, etc., as every site has to do to bad actors, trolls and spammers. But I am very encouraged by how successful software innovations have been to help forums scale, from defriending at facebook to upvoting on places like Amazon, Reddit, Quora and Stack Exchange.

    i-Q3WP9Xm.jpg

    The guys who wrote Discourse, btw, are from the team who wrote Stack Exchange, which we love.

    As for dgrin not being representative of our larger customer base, that is true on many issues, but we still get good feedback, as we did on the tools thread. But I think we can make it more inclusive so that it becomes more representative if we pour more love into it, as a community. It will take all of us, but I'll take the lead and see how far we can get.
  • sarasphotossarasphotos Major grins Augsburg, GermanyRegistered Users Posts: 3,115 Major grins
    edited August 10, 2014
    Hi Baldy,

    Like slpollett and kimbomac I check DGRIN every day, particularly the support and new customization forums. - I do a lot of reading but not too much posting. The challenges, gear and "how-to" forums don't interest me too much.

    I came to the forum shortly after I joined SM (a year ago) and found the SmugMug HelpCenter to be incomplete and geared for a much less technical user than me. A couple of times I sent questions to the help desk but was unsatisfied with the quality of answers I received, so for quite some time I've just stuck to the forum. One of my first e-mails to support was asking for documentation of the CSS styles - had there been a downloadable SM CSS class description, it would have saved me many hours of hit-and-miss trying and forum-reading.

    It would be my preference that instead of spending personnel resources on installing and programming forum software, that these resources were directed toward better technical documentation so that I wouldn't have to spend hours searching a user forum trying to find the answers to questions that would be contained in well-organized technical documentation. Leftquark says that the SM is still to hard for the average person to use - I'm not sure that it's too hard, but it's certainly not complete. We wouldn't need to be searching here for answers when the fairly straightforward options that we need already existed in the customization interface. (And just as an aside: why oh why no javascript?)

    Having SM support "heroes" read and respond to the forum is a definite plus - and please oh please (as already requested) could there be an indication under the person's avatar that they are a SmugMug EMPLOYEE a special logo, perhaps? I really want to know if I am "speaking" to an employee or to a helpful volunteer. And the term "hero" is meaningless to me - does it really mean employee or can it be any volunteer who helps a lot?

    I can't wait to see what happens next!

    Cheers,

    Sara
  • BaldyBaldy SmugMug co-founder Mountain View, CaRegistered Users, Super Moderators Posts: 2,853 moderator
    edited August 10, 2014
    Hi Baldy,

    Like slpollett and kimbomac I check DGRIN every day, particularly the support and new customization forums. - I do a lot of reading but not too much posting. The challenges, gear and "how-to" forums don't interest me too much.

    I came to the forum shortly after I joined SM (a year ago) and found the SmugMug HelpCenter to be incomplete and geared for a much less technical user than me. A couple of times I sent questions to the help desk but was unsatisfied with the quality of answers I received, so for quite some time I've just stuck to the forum. One of my first e-mails to support was asking for documentation of the CSS styles - had there been a downloadable SM CSS class description, it would have saved me many hours of hit-and-miss trying and forum-reading.

    It would be my preference that instead of spending personnel resources on installing and programming forum software, that these resources were directed toward better technical documentation so that I wouldn't have to spend hours searching a user forum trying to find the answers to questions that would be contained in well-organized technical documentation. Leftquark says that the SM is still to hard for the average person to use - I'm not sure that it's too hard, but it's certainly not complete. We wouldn't need to be searching here for answers when the fairly straightforward options that we need already existed in the customization interface. (And just as an aside: why oh why no javascript?)

    Having SM support "heroes" read and respond to the forum is a definite plus - and please oh please (as already requested) could there be an indication under the person's avatar that they are a SmugMug EMPLOYEE a special logo, perhaps? I really want to know if I am "speaking" to an employee or to a helpful volunteer. And the term "hero" is meaningless to me - does it really mean employee or can it be any volunteer who helps a lot?

    I can't wait to see what happens next!

    Cheers,

    Sara
    Fascinating, Sara. Thanks! We can get into JavaScript on another thread, but the big concern is security. We have a JavaScript block, we just haven't deployed it for security reasons.
  • leftquarkleftquark Former SmugMug Product Team Registered Users, Retired Mod Posts: 3,776 Many Grins
    edited August 12, 2014
    Quick perusal through the forums today and I noticed the Support Heroes are doing a great job of keeping up with the questions. There wasn't anything for me to answer today that hadn't already been answered by a SM Hero! :)
    dGrin Afficionado
    Former SmugMug Product Team
    aaron AT aaronmphotography DOT com
    Website: http://www.aaronmphotography.com
    My SmugMug CSS Customizations website: http://www.aaronmphotography.com/Customizations
  • Hikin' MikeHikin' Mike Walkin' like a Penguin! Atwater, CaRegistered Users Posts: 5,272 Major grins
    edited August 12, 2014
    leftquark wrote: »
    Quick perusal through the forums today and I noticed the Support Heroes are doing a great job of keeping up with the questions. There wasn't anything for me to answer today that hadn't already been answered by a SM Hero! :)

    I noticed that too. Good for Smugmug, but bad for me....I get bored. rolleyes1.gif

  • AllenAllen "tweak 'til it squeaks" St. Louis, MoRegistered Users Posts: 9,940 Major grins
    edited August 13, 2014
    I noticed that too. Good for Smugmug, but bad for me....I get bored. rolleyes1.gif
    I'll second that. Guess I got'a get a life. :D
    Al - Just a volunteer here having fun
    My Website index | My Blog
  • moose135moose135 Major grins Long Island, NY, Charlotte, NC and points between...Registered Users Posts: 1,368 Major grins
    edited August 13, 2014
    Allen wrote: »
    I'll second that. Guess I got'a get a life. :D
    Go out and shoot some pictures...
    rolleyes1.gif
  • AllenAllen "tweak 'til it squeaks" St. Louis, MoRegistered Users Posts: 9,940 Major grins
    edited August 13, 2014
    moose135 wrote: »
    Go out and shoot some pictures...
    rolleyes1.gif
    Love to, just got rare bird alert but contractors here and can't leave. :D
    Al - Just a volunteer here having fun
    My Website index | My Blog
  • SmugSamSmugSam Big grins Registered Users Posts: 94 Big grins
    edited August 15, 2014
    Howdy all,

    For what it's worth - I thought I would share a couple of my observations in regards to Dgrin, as someone who is a (relative) newbie to Smugmug (joined Dec '13).

    My background - this was my first time setting up a photography website. I have a techy background, but not as a dev. So I maybe have a decent grounding for customisation, and potentially more (too much?) curiosity/confidence to try things out than, say, a non techy person.

    My observations:
    • When starting, it was very confusing to understand what the support lines were for SM. The Heroes/Help Desk function was clear. The pages by individuals on customisations that I found my way to (smugocity, Aaron's, etc) were less so. Dgrin's role was a mystery. I couldn't tell if it was for Smugmug, by Smugmug, an informal fan forum that had been invaded by SM users, or what. I didn't understand why part was Smugmug oriented and part was for general photography.
    • It was impossible to tell the difference between SM staff and strong contributors. Not only did this add to the confusion in my first point above, but it also lead to a lack of clear 'authority' on subjects/topics. Someone voicing a strong opinion is not necessarily correct, but if you think they are actual SM stuff you will tend to believe them more.
    • There was no clarity around whether posting in Dgrin would actually yield a response. Maybe the community would respond, maybe not. Maybe a SM staffer would jump in, maybe not. And there is no way to 'bump' a message for attention if there has not been a response. So I would often post in the forum and raise a Hero call at the same time. That may lead to a duplication of effort. If I had greater confidence that I would get to an answer/responses through the forum, then I would use that for the less important, non-time critical issues I have, and just use the Heroes for big/obvious problems.
    • The *big* contributors I came across (Aaron, Denise, Allen, to name a few) sometimes got thanks, and sometimes not. I saw when help had been given and the original poster just went silent, so one assumes their issue was resolved. I also see many responses to these contributors that were blunt and demanding, as if it was the contributor's fault it wasn't working and also their responsibility to fix it (ties into point 2 above).
    • Thanking/giving recognition to contributors could be easier. When I launched my site, I gave a shout out to Aaron and Denise (and maybe others). But I have no idea if those guys ever saw my gratitude. As I had used information from a whole mess of threads to solve my problems along the way, I gave thanks in my 'unveil' post to the big helpers I had relied on, rather than going back through the the individual threads to say 'thanks'.

    My thoughts (some have already been raised by others in this thread):
    • A SM forum should clearly be a SM forum. If Dgrin is being replaced, either move it all to a SM look/branding in the process, or split out the SM stuff from the general photography stuff and make the SM stuff look/feel like it is actually part of SM.
    • Related to above: Having an SM account should give you access to the forum. Having to sign up to a seperate, differently named forum adds confusion to new users, and I would suggest there is a large percentage of the SM community that has never joined Dgrin. (I thought twice about it when I joined SM as I didn't understand the connection/need.)
    • Identifying SM staff from wider community would be great.
    • Having technical team as well as Heroes dip into certain threads would also be fantastic. But I don't know how you manage that from becoming an informal 'can you write this code for my site please?' situation. Perhaps a triage from the other Heroes first.
    • Tagging/naming people in posts would be useful, so that people can link between threads that are similar, call attention to other community members, give thanks more easily, etc.
    • Easier way for community to recognise contributors. Thanks/voting on responses.
    • Recognition from SM to big contributors. Something like top 5/10 contributors by responses/votes get their subscription for free.

    Hopefully you made it through all that!

    I am slowly becoming an addict to SM (and Dgrin) and am excited by some of the changes already suggested. I really think a modern, clear "Smugmug" forum, for the entire community, led by SM staff and recognising valuable contributors will go a long way to re-engaging people and re-enthusing the forum situation.

    regards,
    Sam
    regards,
    Sam
    ______________________________
    SmugMug site - samuelmcdowell.com
  • BaldyBaldy SmugMug co-founder Mountain View, CaRegistered Users, Super Moderators Posts: 2,853 moderator
    edited August 17, 2014
    Hi Sam,

    I not only made it all the way through, I admired every photo on your SmugMug and facebook sites. Great customization, wonderful photography, and I pretty much agree with everything you wrote.

    Which is one reason I'm on so passionate a hunt for forum software that will allow single sign-ons. It would be great to rebrand dgrin as SmugMug Community and let you use your SmugMug credentials to sign in. It wouldn't be exactly like Flickr, where if you're logged into Flickr you are logged into their forums too (they write their own forum software). It would be like sites who let you login with your facebook credentials. Once you click an agree dialogue, from then on it's one-button sign-on with either your SmugMug credentials, or facebook, twitter, Google, etc.

    The other thing is we use software called Slack at work. It's both public (within SmugMug) and private chat, with link expansions like facebook has so you know what someone's link leads to, notifications, a lightbox, etc. We have a chat room just for cool photography stuff where we share news about cameras, cool photos, etc. We should be sharing that on dgrin but we don't because this software is not as cool as Slack. Gotta find some that is.

    Thanks,
    Baldy
  • SmugSamSmugSam Big grins Registered Users Posts: 94 Big grins
    edited August 18, 2014
    Thanks for the feedback, Chris - both on my SM site and on my comments. Much appreciated.

    I agree with not going down the Flickr path, and I would MUCH prefer it if you guys didn't spend your valuable time building your own forum solution! ;) I think a 'shared' login like you described, along with common branding/look/feel would be a huge step forward. Anything to make it FEEL like you are still in SM land when participating in these discussions.

    I am scratching my head for examples in other products that I use. If I have a suggestion you will hear about it!

    regards,
    Sam
    regards,
    Sam
    ______________________________
    SmugMug site - samuelmcdowell.com
  • AndyAndy Bicameral New YorkRegistered Users Posts: 50,154 Major grins
    edited August 18, 2014
    Allen wrote: »
    I'll second that. Guess I got'a get a life. :D

    lol3.giflol3.gif
  • julianlamjulianlam Beginner grinner Registered Users Posts: 6 Beginner grinner
    edited August 19, 2014
    Baldy wrote: »
    It would be great to rebrand dgrin as SmugMug Community and let you use your SmugMug credentials to sign in... Once you click an agree dialogue, from then on it's one-button sign-on with either your SmugMug credentials, or facebook, twitter, Google, etc.

    NodeBB SSO can do this! You'd just need to build an OAuth endpoint on your end, and a corresponding plugin on our end hooks up to it.
    Baldy wrote: »
    The other thing is we use software called Slack at work. It's both public (within SmugMug) and private chat, with link expansions like facebook has so you know what someone's link leads to, notifications, a lightbox, etc. We have a chat room just for cool photography stuff where we share news about cameras, cool photos, etc. We should be sharing that on dgrin but we don't because this software is not as cool as Slack. Gotta find some that is.

    We do a whole bunch of link expansions already... youtube, vimeo, github... oddly, not flickr, but that can be rectified.
  • BaldyBaldy SmugMug co-founder Mountain View, CaRegistered Users, Super Moderators Posts: 2,853 moderator
    edited August 19, 2014
    julianlam wrote: »
    NodeBB SSO can do this! You'd just need to build an OAuth endpoint on your end, and a corresponding plugin on our end hooks up to it.

    We do a whole bunch of link expansions already... youtube, vimeo, github... oddly, not flickr, but that can be rectified.
    Yeah, I haven't tried the plugin someone wrote for Embedly for your site, but it sounds very promising.
  • AllenAllen "tweak 'til it squeaks" St. Louis, MoRegistered Users Posts: 9,940 Major grins
    edited August 19, 2014
    All this is nice but how about the support forums where we post code, CSS and HTML examples
    in [code][/code] tags? Will all that transfer? And how would this be done in any other type forum?
    Al - Just a volunteer here having fun
    My Website index | My Blog
  • BaldyBaldy SmugMug co-founder Mountain View, CaRegistered Users, Super Moderators Posts: 2,853 moderator
    edited August 19, 2014
    Allen wrote: »
    All this is nice but how about the support forums where we post code, CSS and HTML examples
    in [code][/code] tags? Will all that transfer? And how would this be done in any other type forum?
    Good point, Allen. I just tried it on Xenforo and here's what I got:

    BB Code Tests

    Here are the options it gave me in the editor:

    2014-08-19%20at%205.16%20PM%202x.png

    When you choose Code, it gives you the choice of php or html.
  • AllenAllen "tweak 'til it squeaks" St. Louis, MoRegistered Users Posts: 9,940 Major grins
    edited August 19, 2014
    I guess I'm not familiar with php, is it just text? Or is there another selection for CSS which is just text?
    Also will this block remove white space so it would be difficult to indent lines?
    Al - Just a volunteer here having fun
    My Website index | My Blog
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