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New CR4 features

08/08/2007 4:55 PM

Hi Folks

I am pleased to announce the release of a number of new features for CR4. Many of the changes were the result of feedback from the community, so keep those ideas coming.

We made two big changes to the way comments are displayed. First, you can now "collapse" (and "expand") comments to make it easier to skip comment threads that do not interest you. Click on the little magnifying-glass icon on the top right of each comment to see what happens.

Second, we added a Comment Rating system. We looked around at the different ways this has been done and also at the (very helpful) feedback we received here on CR4 and came up with what we hope will be a useful system:

  • Comments can be rated as "Off-Topic" (meaning not really related to the original forum thread), or they can be rated as "Good Answer" (relevant, insightful, or really worth reading).
  • Each registered user has a limited number of "rating votes" that they can use per day.
  • Comments that get enough "Off-Topic" votes will be shown collapsed by default (but you can disable that by editing your User Profile).
  • Comments that get enough "Good Answer" votes will be displayed with a special icon so they will stand out.
  • When you create a new comment there is an option to say that your comment is off-topic; we're hoping that people will use this option so others don't have to vote as much.

We are not planning on moderating off-topic posts any more than we already do, so checking the Off-Topic box won't get you into trouble. Also, we have no immediate plans to reward Good Answer posters, but we'll be watching.

Some other features/changes:

  • There is a new link below each New Comment in a Subscribed Discussion that takes you to the next New Comment so you can quickly view all new comments without a lot of scrolling.
  • We added a "Tell a friend about CR4" link to the top of each page – so you can, you know, tell your friends and colleagues what a great place CR4 is!
  • There are now "cc" and "bcc" options in the Private Mail system.
  • You can now bulk-delete your Private Mail messages.

The last change I have to announce is the addition of a new forum called "CR4 Feedback" so we have a dedicated place for you to make feature requests and bring up other CR4-related topics.

Thanks,
- Mark

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#1

Re: New CR4 features

08/09/2007 4:26 AM

Good stuff.

Maybe a way of rating the thread/question as well ? Would this help identify of some of the nonsense (or off topic...spammy) ones?

Someone has been berating people for being intollerant...I don't actually agree as any post with a semblance of sense usually gets reasonable replies...

Ok there is some good natured joking...but often with some valid pithy idea or observation in there.

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The Architect
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#5
In reply to #1

Re: New CR4 features

08/09/2007 8:54 AM

Hi Del

There already is a way to rate threads... above each thread is a "Rate This" link.

Thanks
- Mark

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#7
In reply to #5

Re: New CR4 features

08/09/2007 9:04 AM

....errr, yes...Iknewthat..just testing ..

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#2

Re: New CR4 features

08/09/2007 6:15 AM

All the new stuff sounds really great, though it will take a while for it all to filter into my brain. At present there is only 1 question;

"Each registered user has a limited number of "rating votes" that they can use per day. "

How many ? I'd sooner save my votes for 'positive' use if the limit is low. All in all, I think you've done another excellent job Mark. For now, I'm going to amuse myself for ages just collapsing Del up and down (revenge for all the times he's collapsed me with laughter )!

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: New CR4 features

08/09/2007 6:31 AM

Ouch..oooch..ouch...oooch..

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#14
In reply to #3

Re: New CR4 features

08/10/2007 11:23 AM

You know I love you really and we'll alw............

sorry,Del. I fink i've just let slip.

I'll compress myself in shame.

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#6
In reply to #2

Re: New CR4 features

08/09/2007 8:58 AM

Hi

The number of votes is over 15. I hesitate to give an exact number because the system's defintion for "a day" is a little weird (8 hours of inactivity), and we may tweak the limit if it feels necessary. There is no "harm" in hitting you limit, and we (the admins) can give more votes to people if they prove to be good, reliable "pruners". (We may not notice any one person being especially "good", so anyone, feel free to ask for more but expect us to examine your prior votes.)

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- Mark

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#4

Re: New CR4 features

08/09/2007 7:23 AM

Thank you guys,

Excellent job (as always...)

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#8

Re: New CR4 features

08/09/2007 3:41 PM

Mark -

Those are all really excellent features! THANKS!

I wonder, is there a way to mark some posts as "read" rather than using the "mark all posts as read" button?

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#9
In reply to #8

Re: New CR4 features

08/09/2007 4:23 PM

Yeah, I know what you mean, but we can only keep track of so much. I'll put it on my list but don't expect this one any time soon. Sorry!

Thanks
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#10
In reply to #9

Re: New CR4 features

08/09/2007 4:25 PM

Can you make it dispense coffee when I press 'ctrl C' please?

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: New CR4 features

08/09/2007 4:52 PM

Hmm... I'll give that some thought too.

And BTW, I wasn't thinking of you when I added the user profile setting to show off-topic comments in "normal" fashion. I mean, it's not like you post off topic much, right?

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#12
In reply to #10

Re: New CR4 features

08/10/2007 2:48 AM

LOL. It's like the joke about the person of non-described height,age and gender who thought the cd tray was a coffee cup holder. CR4 finally have a heuristic feature to teach me what 'off-topic' means.

I wonder if 'off-topic' just refers to the original question/post. In some long threads, things go off course, but it's sometimes very good quality discussion (eg the UFO thing).

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#13
In reply to #12

Re: New CR4 features

08/10/2007 8:59 AM

> I wonder if 'off-topic' just refers to the original question/post. In some long threads, things go off course, but it's sometimes very good quality discussion (eg the UFO thing).

This is a good point... some comments that are not directly relevant to the original thread are of "good quality". I figure the community will come to terms with this eventually, and we'll tweak the software to facilitate. One suggestion I have heard is to change the self-vote for OT from "5" to something less than that, so it would take fewer votes from others to cancel the OT rating. A balance of "3" OT votes are required to make something officially OT, so it takes three people voting "Not OT" to cancel a self-declared OT comment. Maybe the initial self-declared rank should be "4" or even "3" instead of "5"... time will tell, but feedback on that is welcome.

Thanks
- Mark

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#15
In reply to #13

Re: New CR4 features

08/10/2007 11:39 AM

You've clearly put in a lot of work to introduce these new features. So far I think it's all pretty good. As you say, time will tell. Personally it takes me a fair while to get used to things when any system is changed. The facility to post a new comment and collapse it myself (at time of posting) is great. CR4 is not short of jokey banter (which I view as a good thing), so the instant collapse thing should please all. The bulk mail delete is also very useful. Being able to view threads as either entirely straight or as 'off-topic-and all' is something I've not seen anywhere else on the web. It makes CR4 user friendly to all types of preference.

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#16

Re: New CR4 features

08/10/2007 7:19 PM

few sites are daily updated ..... i think we are whitnessing a well built and organised site , a place where every comment has its effect ............ keep on the good work .... hope we can help a much as we could..............

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#17

Re: New CR4 features

08/13/2007 3:56 AM

I go away for a week ... and all this happens! I seem to remember that the last upgrade happened when I went away. In future I'll post warnings! This is looking good...off now to play with it all, I reckon we should be able to collapse all of Kris's comments!!

Thanks Mark and team for all the hard work.

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#18
In reply to #17

Re: New CR4 features

08/13/2007 5:51 AM

Did you seriously think I wouldn't see my name pop-up ! Yes, it's true - 99 % of my input will have to be ticked by myself as 'off-topic'. Irony can be so cruel. The benefit is that I get a very nice 'thank-you' from the editor screen each time I do so. The amusing part, is that you will have to click the expand button each time you want something silly to read. Ha !

It will be interesting to see how everyone finds the new system. So far I think it works well, though I think a lot of people (moi included) are a little fuzzy on the exact workings of it. As Mark (mgaulin) pointed out, it's a case of 'see how it go's'.

I'm still pondering the new blog by IEEE, and wondering how many more hours I'll be tempted to spend here as a result ! Just this once, because I'm almost on topic, I shall not check the 'off-topic' box. They say 'you can't keep a good man down' , so I have a feeling that CR4 could find itself full of 'jack-in-the-box's'.*.

What the hey, I will collapse myself, just to see if anyone tries to vote me back up !

Cnosufedyl,

Srik

* I have no idea how I wound up with the link, but I know you like retro.

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#19
In reply to #18

Re: New CR4 features

08/13/2007 6:44 AM

New IEEE blog...can anyone see it? Perhaps we could get the IMechE to improve theirs (and then I might use it LOL!)

PS
Spooky - CR4 has already decided this comment is OT....[cue cellos throbbing menacingly]

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#20
In reply to #19

Re: New CR4 features

08/13/2007 7:17 AM

Well , not exactly 'new', but in my time frame it is.

The default editor is fairly savvy about reply comments methinks. My Latin is going very strange right now. Cello, thank you, goodnight. LOL

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#21
In reply to #20

Re: New CR4 features

08/13/2007 7:22 AM

Ta - I found that by accident earlier (but after my post here...)...I'll shut up now.

Please vote this so far off topic that it vanishes into a sigularity.

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#22
In reply to #21

Re: New CR4 features

08/13/2007 7:38 AM

I just cast a vote to resurrect you ! By mentioning singularity and inviting discourse on it's meaning, you illustrate the slight difficulty with 'off-topic'. For now I am interpreting it to mean banter/joking. Many threads could be classified as gibberish from the onset, but the conundrum lies in the fact that they also diverge into serious (and frequently very good) discussion about science and Engineering. This point is possibly 'on-topic' and worth trying to clarify, but having yabbered a fair bit on it, I will minimize myself to give others a chance to opine.

Possibly handy feature for when Mark has time : something to highlight posts made in response to an individual user. To clarify, If I'm away for a week and want to catch up, it would be handy to know which of the posts in a thread were in reply to my own. That way I could address direct questions and comment first. Just a thought. I suspect Mark wants to evaluate the current changes and have a well earned break.

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#23

Re: New CR4 features

08/16/2007 6:53 AM

Is there a way that the comment is mailed to the subscribers?

Would save us some time.

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#25
In reply to #23

Re: New CR4 features

08/16/2007 7:20 AM

I'm not quite clear on what you mean Gwen. Is it 'can a reply comment in a thread be copied as an e-mail directly to a user' ? I don't know the answer to that, but it does sound interesting (maybe a bit complex to arrange ?). Being able to forward Private Messages to myself as e-mail would be useful, I can't see an easy way of retaining copies outside of CR4 without cut'n'paste via word.

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#26
In reply to #25

Re: New CR4 features

08/16/2007 7:29 AM

Perhaps Gwen is thinking of the Yahoo Groups option - where you can elect to receive each post as an email...rather than a notification which then requires you to go to the site to read the post.

I don't think I'd use it for threads, but for PMs, it would be useful. Of course we could just use email ( give Kris my email address!! Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo)

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#27
In reply to #26

Re: New CR4 features

08/16/2007 7:52 AM

Being able to forward Private Messages to myself as e-mail would be useful..

...... leaving the cat-flap wide open would be insane,,,,,

< hey, who told you about subscripts ! he he hehheheheh>

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#24

Re: New CR4 features

08/16/2007 6:57 AM

Mark,

I have a suggestion for anyone to comment on.

Threads occasionally get "closed to further comment" when they go off the rails too far. Perhaps this idea could be extended : If a thread has lain dormant for (say) 1 month, why not close it to further comment. The original participants have presumably lost interest and would not notice new comments. Anybody who found a closed thread and was interested in commenting could always initiate a new thread. Duplication of thread topics happens anyway, so I don't think there would be a loss. I think people tend to notice new threads more than those they have previously participated in. Discussion would remain fresh, since the closed (effectively 'archived') thread could be referenced. Comments anyone ?

One other point - maybe posts that are checked as 'off-topic' by the person writing them should have some form of display added to indicate this. Readers may then be clearer about why particular posts are seen collapsed. I've noticed some confusion on this issue.

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#28
In reply to #24

Re: New CR4 features

08/16/2007 9:41 AM

When a thread gets closed, the off topic should be removed. It makes the thread interesting for later browsing, without having to read your own off-topic stupidities again. (so I can show them to my kids when they grow up)

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#29
In reply to #28

Re: New CR4 features

08/16/2007 2:07 PM

That's a good point and mirrors something I'd been thinking on. Any given topic usually crops up in numerous threads ( some good stuff occurs spontaneously in the most unlikely places). Maybe one day, it could be selectively compiled into a definitive CR4 knowledge base. By virtue of it's posting here, stuff becomes CR4 copyright (I think), so for now I just keep a mental note of where to find subject matter that interests me.

For now, the off-topic button is there precisely so you don't have to read stuff, and the report button serves similar purpose. That's how I viewed the purpose anyway.

(A minor linguistic courtesy detail Gwen - 'my own' or 'ones own' conveys your point better than 'your own'. My own use of English frequently fails me, so please don't take offence at that.)

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#30
In reply to #29

Re: New CR4 features

08/17/2007 2:38 AM

Thanks, I feel that this site helps me to learn at least something.

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#31
In reply to #29

Re: New CR4 features

08/17/2007 8:34 AM

Hi Kris

Part of the "vision" I have for CR4 is very much in line with what you are describing. I think of it as "wikification"... turning something that is not a wiki (like an interesting/informative thread) into a wiki article where it can be edited to just "the good stuff" and then absorbed into the larger wiki (focused on Engineering).

I haven't written any wiki code yet but the idea keeps kicking around in my head, so one day I hope to get it out.

Thanks
- Mark

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#32
In reply to #31

Re: New CR4 features

08/17/2007 11:51 AM

Hi Mark,

That's terrific to hear. CR4 is accumulating a fantastic data set across a huge range of Science and Engineering topics. The open chat style nature of CR4 helps to keep the questions and answers coming, which makes it an enjoyable place to visit. One day, getting the good bits filtering into a more tech style format would make it a hugely popular resource. I've already noticed that some searches on google point me straight to CR4, so I think the compiled database idea would take off like a rocket. Kudos to you and all the others who keep it running.

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#33

Re: New CR4 features

08/20/2007 7:59 AM

Hi Mark,

Could we have a "next PM" feature, similar to the "next post" feature you've wonderfully introduced?

Looking forward to the wikification!

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#34
In reply to #33

Re: New CR4 features

08/27/2007 12:09 PM

Good idea (and easy to do, which is a great combination).

I'll add this in to the next release, which should be in a day or two.

Thanks
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#35
In reply to #34

Re: New CR4 features

08/31/2007 4:04 AM

It's there. It works. It's great!!

Thanks Mark, you work is appreciated.

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#36

Re: New CR4 features

09/20/2007 7:41 AM

I thought of another one for the PM section...could we have a "Mark selected items as Read" as well as the unread option, please? When you have time.

Thanks

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