UI brainstorm for "missing" elements (no description, no sources, etc.)


#1

Excerpt from a Slack conversation between Stuart and myself, starting with this screenshot of upcoming UI:

tejon:
Ooh, sexy. With no sources or no description, is it at least slightly less “SOMETHING IS WRONG” than the current design?

stuart:
say again sorry? does it handle no content better?

tejon:
Yeah, right now if something is missing it’s got big ugly boxes that make it seem like someone messed up. Sometimes it’s intentional, y’know?

stuart:
that was a conscious design decision
when is it ok to have no description or sources?
it’s a huge bummer for me everytime I see it

tejon:
It’s OK to have no description when the title is succinct and/or an image suffices.

stuart:
I think that’s true
but in the minority of the time
even “beautiful UI” needs more than just an image

tejon:
It’s OK to have no sources when it’s a strictly opinion-based statement that can be backed up by a vote count. The new summary listing you showed a little while back reflects this nicely, with “backed by…” including both votes and sources.

stuart:
wouldn’t opinion statements need the most sources?

tejon:
Every vote for that opinion IS a source. Why should someone have to write a blog post just to be counted?

stuart:
the verge is more trustworthy than random internet person

tejon:
Well sure, it’s nice to add something authoritative. I’m not saying hide the “add…” link completely. But I think the more you make it look like Joe User’s momentary contribution is just not good enough for us, the less likely he is to feel encouraged to come back and make a more detailed one in the future.
We have guidelines, but we need to be the minority of content generation.

stuart:
so you feel like we should do the “highlight one of the voters” thing on the option page like we’re doing on the summary

tejon:
I think it could even say “Supported by ## votes” without calling anyone out in particular.
Well I mean, it already does say that on the voting button.

stuart:
i like the idea of calling out one name, as we can swap it to the voters name after they vote to make them feel special :stuck_out_tongue:

tejon:
“You and ## others” is standard across the likes of Facebook, Youtube and G+.
How about:
Backed by: ## votes [including yours] [and: ] <+>

stuart:
i wanted that originally, it’s hard to make that work nicely with the tab UI

tejon:
Hmm. Is the Sources box there a pop-down, or always open?

stuart:
always open
nobody clicks the sources

tejon:
Fair enough.
How about change “Sources needed.” to "No external sources."
That at least makes it not seem inherently wrong.
“Add the first” is perfect.

stuart:
just to clarify, the goal of these changes is to up-play individual interactions in the UI

tejon:
Agreed, I just feel that this is as much about reward after the fact as enticement beforehand. When someone really feels that the title says it all – and I’ve been there myself on a couple of occasions – the UI shouldn’t outright tell them they’re wrong.

stuart:
i don’t want to get rid of those ugly boxes though, for "add description"
99.999999999% of the time the title needs more context
the VAST majority of new users just submit title only

tejon
Okay, so how about something like this –
This [pro|con] is described by its title[ and image].
Add a description

stuart
link me to a few of your pros that don’t need descriptions if you don’t mind

tejon:
I don’t think I ever left one undescribed, because of that damn ugly box. :smile: But again, this isn’t about me or our in-house content guidelines. This is about the user’s experience after hitting Submit on something they were pretty happy with.
It’s okay to have a reminder that there’s room for more, and a little encouragement to add it, but it needs to be entirely positive. Telling the user they forgot something when they’re pretty sure they didn’t is a bad experience.
Oh, right, “2D only” was a con on half the entries for code-free game engines.

stuart [7:02 PM]
ah
that’s kinda fair enough

stuart:
getting some lunch, but i was thinking about changing the “add description” to a nicer “Help improve this pro by adding a description” or something
"This [pro|con] is described by its title[ and image]." really not sure where you’re going with that bit
like I get the concept
just not sure it would look good repeated over and over
and say it outloud
sounds weird
i don’t know why you have to explicity say it’s being “described by” the image/title, then ask for the description

tejon:
I was trying to keep it short.

stuart:
don’t look at “no 2d support” as the default case
look at all the “great UI”
“good sound quality”
“nice design” etc crap
those need descriptions more than dwarf fortress needs a better gui

tejon:
I agree it’s not optimal, and I’ll try to think of something that is. But just saying “No description” doesn’t fix the experience problem I’m talking about.

stuart:
while im gone can you move this convo to meta?


And here we are. Any thoughts from the metamind?

Summarizing my own suggestions:

  • Change “Sources needed.” to “No external sources.” so personal opinions aren’t treated as blatantly second-class.
  • When there is no description, say so in terms which acknowledge that it might be deliberate, and offer the option to add one without undermining that acknowledgement. Good language here is crucial.

#2

While I gather up my thoughts again, the UI changed a little:

By changing it to “you, ryan boyce and 25 other people” after the user has voted, I think they get a good hit of dopamine.

Anyway, @tejon is talking about something pretty separate from the new source UI, he’s referring to:

Our general philosophy when designing the UI is “replace missing content with call to actions to add the content”. Dealing with variable state is a pain in the ass, and the UI needs to encourage content becoming mature over time.

@tejon’s point is that seeing “add description” after taking the time to add a pro is a bit of a bummer and that sometimes a title is all a pro/con needs.


#3

It’s a bummer for the contributor to see the box, it’s a bummer for the reader as it breaks up the flow, but I think it’s necessary at this point, because it explains that the site is collaborative and encourages quality content.

I think we should talk about de-emphasizing the call to action only once there’s a critical mass of contributors using the site, at which point I’d suggest doing it via flags & modpanel. And a bounty system at some point.


#4

I’ll note that I’m not after de-emphasizing, just differently-emphasizing. :slight_smile: