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    • #18979
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      I now see that normal users cannot edit their own topics and comments. It appears that only administrators can. Do we want to keep it that way? Seems more useful that everyone can do it.

    • #18980
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      We’re looking into adding a “Revise” feature, which means that the original information is not lost, and that users can go back and edit previous comments, update files, etc. Jon


    • #18982
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      This will have to await further development work. In the meantime, please refer to the FAQ “how do I delete or edit my comment?” Jon

    • #18983
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      We need to be able to edit our comments.  It’s very easy to upload something silly (or that looks silly) and not realise until it’s too late.



    • #18985
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      Can’t find the other thread about this (seriously need to address TP becoming useless due to its developing maze-like character), but, once again, I really really think authors should be able to edit their own posts — at least those younger than a couple of weeks, anyway.

      Every other forum on the web allows this and TP looks antiquated in comparison.  What could possibly so important that could be edited away to leave devestation behind?

    • #18986
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      Hi – I certainly take your point about the maze-like nature. Any suggestions, or examples of forums with a better system that manages similarly complex discussion? We could have more assertive moderation of threads, imposing the widely-used rule that only one topic is discussed in any one thread.

      I’m now about to break that rule by replying to a second topic – the editing rule is principally about ensuring that replies to comments make sense. The Guardian’s Comment is Free allows editing for only the first 30 minutes after posting, while the Times Educational Supplement’s Forums do not allow editing at all, but does provide a preview facility. A widely used piece of web forum software, phpBB, allows editing only for comments which have not yet had replies.

      Do any of those alternatives look more useful? Or could you give me some examples of professional forums which allow uncontrolled editing?


    • #18987
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      I certainly take your point about the maze-like nature. Any suggestions, or examples of forums with a better system that manages similarly complex discussion?


      Yes, but it’s nothing like the groups.  In a standard forum, TP’s groups would be forum “categories”.  All categories would be listed on a single page, with brief information regarding the number of threads/posts and the latest thread/post in that category.  Opening the category would then give something similar to TP’s groups’ “topics” page, where the actual threads are.  Like TP’s groups, categories can also be grouped under headings.

      For example: http://community.wikidot.com/forum:start

      Advantages:  in the “category view” (as in the link above) it is so much easier to see the “big picture” and therefore where to best post whatever it is you want to say, as well as to see all categories and to see which are most active.  (Also, the screen real estate is used much more efficiently, so that you can see more on your screen.  I always want to turn the font size down on TP — although it isn’t the fonts that are big, just all the borders and white space.)

      Disadvantages: you can’t join a “category” like you can a group.  I like the TP groups, but I value the categories more.  (This is a hindsight view now that I can see that the groups are making TP like a dark dense forest!)

      My suggestion would be to create a category-based forum for all public postings and I would put a sticky read-only thread at the top of each category with a link to the group home page — which, as now, would contain information and a sign-up to allow intereted members to be contacted, should any such need arise.  That said, beyond private groups, I don’t actually think that the groups themselves have very much innate value and certainly not enough to justify the loss of a traditional forum structure.

      Your original idea (I deduce, correct me if I’m wrong) was for the “Hub”‘s three groups to be the main places people would post.  I have previously seen more advantage with the groups, as they allow specialisation.  However, I suspect that we have both been a little short-sighted in ignoring what are now very established tried-and-tested things — the wide-spread “standard” forum, as with the Wikidot one above.

      I like PTNC, but it is limited.  What do I want beyond a listserv email group?  Well…

      • threaded posts (which, actually, GMail takes care of for me)
      • categories for the threads, instead of them all just arriving in a big deluge in my inbox (multile inboxes, effectively, to extend the email analogy)
      • the ability to use rich text and attach files (or merely upload and link to them)
      • the ability to more easily access previous threads/posts
      • a professional “register” so that I can find a little out about people and contact them directly.

      (Do these match the responses you got when you were doing the research for TP?)

      Does a wikidot-style forum provide all of this?  All but the last one, which is last on my list for a reason — it is the one I value least in the list.

      Does TP provide all of this?  Threads — yes.  Categories — via groups.  Rich text and files — yes.  Access threads — no.  Register — kind of.

      So, if I had to choose (which I do, it would seem), I would choose easy of use over the register of users.

      (In fact, given this opportunity, I’d like to elaborate on the last one.  I am getting progressively more and more anti-TP, which is a shame.  The frustration of lower usability than I’d like is limiting my use, but what is actually putting me off using it longer term is that I do not know who the 2000 members of the community are.  I am highly suspicious of the large number of early users identified by only a first name and no profile and, cynically, wonder how many of the IoP’s employees were automatically registered to make the initial numbers seem higher.  I am also disappointed to see a noticeable number of members who aren’t actually directly involved in teaching physics.  If a register is to be useful, it needs to be able to be filtered on multiple fields to isolate very particular users.  This is not possible in TP which, beyond raising my suspicions and putting me off, means that, actually, TP isn’t actually doing a very good job of the last “wish” on my list.)

      What is most bizarre in all of this is that I could set up my “perfect” alternative (although others may want different things!) to PTNC in about the same time as it has taken me to write this email.  I know that this is true as I have done similar three times already, for other things, using Wikidot (which is how I know about the forum, above).  It just wouldn’t be on my own server, be bespoke or have a community register — and it wouldn’t have the IoP’s name attached to it, so no-one would use it!

      I guess what I’m building to say is…TP has huge potential but it’s development seems to be a little slow (which is itself understandable in terms of the complexity of what is being attempted) and this is not a good thing.  But when the complexity starts to be a hinderance instead of an asset, one has to start thinking about a cost-benefit analysis…especially when extremely straight-forward, easy, powerful, FREE, alternatives could be accomplished in, absolutely literally, a couple of hours.  As I have said in a previous thread (don’t know where!) TP has a lot of knobs and whistles that are not only unneccessary but that are limiting both usability and the pace of improvement.

      Such are my thoughts, for what they are worth — but I’m not the developer, you are!  So it goes without saying that you are more than entitled to ignore them all.  🙂


      PS The Wikidot forum allows posts to be edited, however, whenever.  Users seem to have adopted a convention to write “[EDIT]” inline next to their edits.  That particular forum has half a million users, in four different languages, and it seems to work for them.

    • #18988
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand


      TP logged me out while I was writing that post (again) and vanished my very long post (again).  Good job I hit CTRL-A, CTRL-C before hitting “Save”, huh…

      I thought you said that that had been fixed?

    • #18989
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      Wish I could edit that to “PPS”.

    • #18990
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      Stuart, I agree with you on a lot of your points. More navigability in place of nice looking rounded boxes and white space would suit me down to the ground. I quite liked the forums on the Blackboard VLE in terms of that sort of thing.


      I think one of the ideas of talkphysics is it should end up as more than just a collection of forums, and therefore the groups should end up with loads of calendar items, bookmarks and so forth.


      BTW, as always very little is ‘free’ on the internet these days. It looks like there are significant limits on the ‘free’ wikidot serivce. see http://www.wikidot.com/plans .There are adverts for starters. I don’t know but I would hazard a guess that Talkphysics already exceeds their limits.

    • #18991
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      It looks like there are significant limits on the ‘free’ wikidot serivce


      Generally, yes, but they have an also-free “education” category of sites, for which the limits are so far away that they are effectively unlimited.  No ads, either.

      I wasn’t suggesting that Wikidot is a solution, I was just using to highlight the perhaps uneccessariness of some of the shortfallings of TP at the moment, ie the impenetrability of the TP forums and the level of complexity placing a stranglehold on the rate of development of increased usability.

    • #18992
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      I think we share a taste for forum tools. Wikidot looks quite a lot like the Blackboard forums I was talking about…

    • #18993
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      I’d wanted to reply to Stuart’s thread “Normal users cannot edit their own topics and comments“, but may have just found a bug on that page. Oops… Perhaps there is a limit to the length of the original topic post? Anyway, my reply…

      Thank you for the ideas – the comparison with the more conventional web forums (e.g. phpbb, wikidots) is a very valuable one. It might lose the ability to support private groups for on-line mentoring, which would be problematic, unless we can establish that these types of activities won’t (aren’t?) going happen with this website.

      The early users were the approximately 1000 (mostly PGCE students) who signed up for SPT Connect, the “vanilla” Elgg website that was our first attempt at a Web 2.0 forum, and where they could download the IOP’s SPT resources. They were automatically imported to SPT Connect version 2, aka TalkPhysics. I and my colleagues certainly have several TalkPhysics accounts each (e.g. to test registration of new users still works after a change), but that will explain something like 10-20 accounts, not quite matching the order of your cynicism… We continue to gain about 50 new users per week. I would be astounded if any of my colleagues felt they had the time or lack of professionalism to be doing that. I’m relieved that the UK has had 1000 PGCE Science students! 😉

      The slow progress is, in large part, related to the available resources – please see my post on our budget.

      The lack of surnames is an own-goal – we solved the Stuart Billington Billington duplication in a way that removed rather too much! After the changes to the menu structures, this is one of the planned fixes. You can already click on any user name and it will show you their profile, including their “professional name”, which most people have chosen to complete with first name and family name.

      We could force all existing users to complete their profiles, but that might be too much of an off-putting draconian step! We have been forcing all new users to do this before posting for about the last month. I wanted to strike a balance between ease of access (just giving a name, email address and password) and professionalism (giving the full profile before posting).

    • #18994
      Profile photo of Andrew Normand

      Having made numerous mistakes by now I too wish I could edt my posts.

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