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Private Topics or should that be Private Messages - some thoughts

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Posted
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#99580 (In Topic #19564)
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Community saint

Hi,

After running a car club website on OCP/OCF since the beginning of the year one of the things that seems to annoy users more than anything is the implementation of PT's.

I have tried to make them accessible as possible and explain how to use them. However the majority of users are already conditioned by PM's off other forums that they use and expect to see an inbox with folders that they can store messages in and simply click delete to get rid of them.

Users generally do not like the two hop stage to categorise messages to the trash - just seen as too hard. Now I know that it is not too hard, but people are conditioned.

I would be interested in other peoples views on this and more importantly what did you do to condition users and help their experience ?

Kenno, who is also on here helps admin the same car site and runs another one of his own for Dog owners and he is experiencing the same frustration with PT's as I am from his users.

One of my users could not understand why anyone would change the well trodden and understood PM name and gets really confused with the PT setup.

Is this a common reaction?

Cheers
Ade
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Posted
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#99588
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Well-settled

What I have found with the users on my own site is that like you say Ade they are conditioned to the term "PM" or "Private Message", and although some can adjust and get used to other terms like "Private Topic" most don`t want to or feel they need to, so they have a moan  :lol:

More so though with the car site, where a lot of the members are frequenting quite a few other different car sites at the same time using different software and all use the same terminology for messaging other then ours.

My own personal opinion is, I really like the way you can choose to have an inline personal topic or choose to start a private one, what I am not so keen on is the naming of this feature "Whisper", I find this to be where the confusion is.
Members have to not only get accustomed to the change of name from PM to PT, but they also have to get accustomed to the change of how to initiate a message to another member while viewing the forum, as basically that is what the "whisper" button does.

I have just changed the "whisper" button on my site to the "send message" button, and I think I may re-phrase some of the files from "whisper" to maybe "messaging" or something along them lines and see how that goes.
Could even go further and rephrase  Private Topics to Private Messages but I am not sure on that one just yet

Mark
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Posted
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#99590
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Community saint

As Kenno observes, you can change the name of it through the translating tools. There is also the mass selection tool.

On my site, I even put into the rules the differences between PM and PT and I have showcased in other areashow great the PT system can be.

Sure, many would like to think of it as a simple PM service - which itself is meant to resemble email but on site only. The PT service though is not a site wide email service. It is a private forum where members can make private and personal topics with one another.

The great thing with this approach is that members can have a PT with multiple members, and even invite others in later on. Being a Private Forum Thread, participants can see and respond to everything as if they were simply making a post in a forum topic. The PT shares and benifits from the same forum tools as well. Also with the PT system, you can make a private post to a particular member, in a public thread - great for asking about something in that thread but not wanting to derail the thread.

Perhaps it is because I have a different type of community, but my members actually prefer the PT system over the PM system, as do I. It isn't email - it's private discusion. When we left to try out drupal for a while, one of the biggest complaints was that the PM system wasnt as useful for them as the PT system. Now that we are back, they are happy again.  

So yeah, if the PT system was changed to a PM system, I would not be happy about it. Maybe it would be bettr to create something for the PT system that would give it category support?


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Posted
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#99596
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Community saint

I hear you Mythus and I actually prefer the PT system to the PM's we had with the old RavenNuke site !!

And yes perhaps I need to do more to drop guidance around the site to help new and dyed in the wool users.

Getting rid of Whisper I think is a good start. I am loathed to change PT to PM as I want people to see that it is different.

A one click button, "Move to Trash" would be good though and I think maybe some other default categories like, keep or archive.

The functionality is superb but sometimes I think it needs a non techy UI perspective as well !!
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Posted
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#99597
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Well, I can understand the confusion.

I was just wondering what Facebook does. It calls it messages, even though it also is topic based.
But Facebook recently had this big problem where users thought wall posts were private, so obviously they have a terminology problem too (the word 'message' doesn't make it clear it is private, thus a lack of distinction on the site as a whole, thus people just wrongly assumed wall posts and messages were the same thing, both private).

I think we probably all agree private topics are better than messages.
There's a tradeoff: use an inaccurate word people recognise, and cause potential misunderstanding - or an accurate word people have to learn. When it comes to icons it's similar: a letter icon implies it is a single message that is sent, when actually it is a post that is saved and shared. Similarly, the word "send" doesn't seem appropriate, so we use the term "create" IIRC.

We gave a lot of thought when we came to the word Whisper. It was hard to find a word that really summed things up.

Sometimes our customers ask for inline-private-posts to be removed. If that is done (in v9 it's a hidden option, will be a proper one in v10), ocPortal will switch over to using a more straight-forward name and icon.
However, I like inline private posts a lot too.

As for categorisation, we can always work on improving it

Suggestions welcome :).

Actually this might sort itself out. v10 is going to have a little icon in the header that shows, and can start, PTs. So perhaps that will train people much quicker.


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Posted
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#99598
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Actually, I should note v10 has two options for altering the behaviour.

One removes the explicit advertise of the inline-PP feature, making the whisper button into a straight forward private message button.

The other disables inline-PPs entirely.

So you can make the whisper button normal, but keep inline-PPs as a field on the add reply form.


Become a fan of ocPortal on Facebook or add me as a friend. Add me on on Twitter.
Was I helpful?
  • If not, please let us know how we can do better (please try and propose any bigger ideas in such a way that they are fundable and scalable).
  • If so, please let others know about ocPortal whenever you see the opportunity.
  • If my reply is too Vulcan or expressed too much in business-strategy terms, and not particularly personal, I apologise. As a company & project maintainer, time is very limited to me, so usually when I write a reply I try and make it generic advice to all readers. I'm also naturally a joined-up thinker, so I always express my thoughts in combined business and technical terms. I recognise not everyone likes that, don't let my Vulcan-thinking stop you enjoying ocPortal on fun personal projects.
  • If my response can inspire a community tutorial, that's a great way of giving back to the project as a user.
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