Site Update – Forum Progress #1

First, I want to say Thank You! to everyone who replied to the last post and expressed their support. It was positively overwhelming and I had no idea there would be this much demand for the forum!

Needless to say, I am very excited to continue moving forward and I look forward to hearing from all of you and getting your input along the way so this can be the most helpful and useful forum possible. 🙂

Remember, the goal of this blog is to communicate with you, to generate enough support and community to be able to have a healthy and functioning forum, and to be able to build the features that you most want and need.

As such, your comments are very much welcomed!

Features in Focus

Based on your input from the last post, I am re-focusing some of my efforts to better address the features that have the most demand.

Currently, there are two features that I am focusing on:

Search in the Forum

There are many Excel forums out there already but one of the problems with them is that their search feature is not very good.

Since building a good search feature seems to be the number 1 thing that people want, I’m working on it right now instead of putting it off until a future upgrade, which was my original plan.

To make searches relevant, I’m going to include these features:

  • Ability to search within certain tags/keywords or a combination of them (each question will be required to have tags that identify the topics in the question).
  • Sorting results by questions that have answers (users who ask a question can select a reply as the correct answer).
  • Sorting results by the number of votes a question gets.
    • This means that I will need to build a Question/Answer voting system.

Voting on Questions and Answers

This was not originally going to be a feature but, in order to return better results in the search, it seems important for users to be able to vote on questions/answers, using a simple up/down vote to say if it was helpful or not, and then to use these votes to better determine how useful the question/answer can be when it’s returned in a search.

Basic features of the voting system:

  • Simple up/down vote mechanism that is located next to every post, both questions and answers.
  • There will be a cap on votes per day per user as well as other practical controls.

Summary & Notes

There are many other features that I am working on for the forum but the two mentioned above are my current focus. I welcome any input you have on them.

Separate from the forum, this week I will be going through a server upgrade to better handle the addition of a forum. This may cause some down-time but it shouldn’t be too bad.

I will update you each week on the progress of the forum and any notes about other important features and I hope that you can provide feedback.

Tell me Your Thoughts!

Remember, I need YOUR INPUT!

Tell me what you think about the features that I mentioned above and any others that you think should be included.

I value your thoughts, opinions, and questions so make sure to leave them in the comments section below! 🙂

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15 Responses

  1. Cheryl Mayberry says:

    I think this is a great start! The Search function is key especially for me to find a resolution quickly. The voting sounds good, I have simply gone down the lists of the solutions recommended until I find one that works for me. Prioritizing the best solutions seems like a great enhancement! Thanks for keeping us all in the loop!

    • don says:

      Yes definitely! I’m happy to keep everyone in the loop. I want this to actually work, and work much better than traditional forums so I’m always looking for input. Thanks for your insights!

  2. JH says:

    Way to go!

  3. sadhnaa says:

    I have simply gone down the lists of the solutions recommended until I find one that works for me. Prioritizing the best solutions seems like a great enhancement! Thanks for keeping us all in the loop!

  4. Anand.I.kambi says:

    I think this is a great start! The Search function is key especially for me to find a resolution quickly.

  5. MV Rao says:

    I think down the line it may be useful to rate the answer (say 1 – good, 5 – Excellent), but then it may be too complicated to analyse and give output. Or may be you can indicate how many votes of which level have been obtained. If it is too complicated, forget about it.

    • don says:

      Hm, that is an interesting idea. I’ll look into that and see what I can come up with as far as integration and relevance go. Thanks for the suggestion!

  6. Kikito Grillo says:

    When I’m looking for a solution deep in the forums, I like to find that reply marked as “Best solution” or some signal saying me “read this!”…. not always is the most popular, but the right point. Think it may hep.

  7. dr.s.raghunathan says:

    Excellent effort.. Whenever a question raise it should be tagged with unique number and he shall be able find the replies posted based on the tag. For easy rememberance, tags should have history tag for email-id. Through search of email-id one should be able to locate his tag number and as well as the replies / solutions offered. This is expressed from my own experience. Since I posted query and unable to find the solution offered.

  8. Martin says:

    The only issue with tagging the best solution may be that it also depends on the users ability and excel knowledge, i.e. a solution may be the best thing since sliced bread, but quite often you will want to adapt it to your own environment, and therefore may depend on your level of excel knowledge. Should the tag also include a reference to how experienced a user you need to be to understand it?

    • don says:

      I like the idea I just don’t know how we could implement that because what is “simple” for one person might not be for another and so we could end up in a situation where people start tagging questions with “advanced” even though it’s basic stuff for many of us. My thinking is that questions should be clearly stated and answers clearly explained so that anyone with the same problem as the asker can follow them. Basically, my goal is to have more structure on this forum than on a regular one, so, fewer discussions and ramblings and more thorough questions and answers. I want it to be as easy to find answer for Excel as it is when I look up programming questions on other sites.

  9. Hanif Shaikh says:

    Its rally a good start looking forward to solutions and answers to annoying and confusing questions arises for old persons like me.

  10. Joe says:

    Great idea for searching and “indexing” answers. As you quite correctly say, What may be simple for one user could be quite hard for another. Perhaps a tag of say Basic, Intermediate or Advanced would make it a little less difficult for each individual user.
    Another thing Don: Security, particularly with VBasic code. There is always a danger that malicious code may be posted and less “experienced” users may unwittingly run this code. have you any thoughts on this?
    Keep up the good work Don.

    • don says:

      The only way to be 100% sure that you aren’t getting something sneaky is to download the file in Excel 2007 or later and have macro support turned off by default and then to look through the code yourself. Though, that is really not practical.

      What has happened in the past, on other forums, is that the malicious code was accompanied by a crappy or spammy post and so it was easy to ID and remove the entire post along with the file.

      The way that I think it will have to work here is by the community flagging a post that seems suspicious and then having a moderator look at it.

      Other than these two methods, I’m not sure what could be done but if you have any thoughts make sure to post them!
      Don

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