Hyperkitty at the 0th SpinachCon

As part of the greater LibrePlanet 2014 festivities, Deb Nicholson organized the first SpinachCon at Industry Lab in Cambridge MA, sponsored by the Open Invention Network. What is SpinachCon? “What the heck is a SpinachCon?” you may ask. Well, the idea is that there are free software projects that have niggling usability issues. Like pointing out to a friend that they have spinach stuck in their teeth, SpinachCon is an event where free software fans can show up and let the participating free software projects know whether or not they have ‘spinach in their teeth,’ and between what teeth that spinach might be. 🙂 It’s basically a fun and informal free software usability testing session open to anyone who would like to drop by and help out by testing software. Hyperkitty joined three other free software projects – MediaGoblin, LibreOffice, and Inkscape – in the event. How it worked SpinachCon was 5 hours long, from noon until 5 PM the Friday before LibrePlanet. Each project had its own table. Ryan and I brought laptops that we set up on the Hyperkitty table, open and logged in as me to the Fedora’s Hyperkitty test server. Deb provided user questionnaire sheets that …

Hyperkitty categories

So, the first time we talked about Hyperkitty recently, I mapped out the current Hyperkitty UI and we talked about future ideas. We also walked through a new mockup for displaying the directory of lists on the server (marked in blue on the diagram below.) Then, following that initial post, we talked about the design of Hyperkitty user profiles, which was one of those ‘future ideas.’ (I’ve also marked that in blue in the diagram below.) Today we’re going to talk about another one of those future ideas – on the right of the diagram below you’ll see the ‘Tags & Category Directory’ and the ‘Category Overview’ areas, highlighted in yellow. First, let’s talk through what categories and tags are, or at least, how they function in Hyperkitty today. Categories Categories are pre-set in the system – an administrator would have to add or remove categories, these are not something a user would be able to make up and apply to discussions. However, from the defined set of categories, any user can mark a thread with a given category. This brings up the next point: categories are used to categorize an entire discussion or thread… they don’t apply to single …

Hyperkitty user profile idea

The last time I wrote about Hyperkitty here, we talked about the overall information architecture of the app, reviewed the UI as it is right now, as well as thought about how to list all of the lists on the mailman server in a nice, browseable way that gives you more information about each list to let you know what kind of list it is. One of the points that came up in the UI review was that it might be a missed opportunity to not have user profiles in Hyperkitty. Right now Hyperkitty provides a list of participants in a thread along the side of the thread view: It also provides a little avatar for the poster of each above right above the post content – another place to link to a user profile maybe: Okay but why would someone want to visit the profile? Let’s talk about this a bit. But Why? Mailing lists lack non-verbal cues that could tip participants off to a person’s intended tone – if there was some way to fill the void of those missing cues, perhaps it would help diffuse argumentative situations before they crop up. Part of misunderstanding comes from not …

Hyperkitty UI overview and list directory ideas

I emailed Aurélien early this week to see if I could help with HyperKitty. He said he would appreciate a UI review for mistakes and some help with icons too. Since it has been a very long while since I’ve been involved with HyperKitty, and a few months since I checked out the HyperKitty test server, I decided to do a review of sorts of the whole UI, check out how it works now, and brainstorm some ideas to make it better. Mapping Out the UI So first I clicked like a maniac and got a feel for the overall site structure. Then I drew up a site map to document the structure: Thinking through the design as I was clicking through it, I noticed a two major-ish features that I thought would make the app better: There aren’t user profiles. Each thread shows a list of the people involved in it as well as who wrote each individual post (of course.) This seems like a bit of a missed opportunity though. One of the strengths having a web app on top of the mailing list would allow in improving list communication is a bit more intelligence / smarts about …

16 More Brainstorm Ideas For Mailman's Web Interface

I went to the Shut Up and Draw session at SXSW yesterday. On the plane ride home last night, I decided to shut up and draw some mailman ideas. Well, I have 16 more… the first sixteen were about as many I thought reasonable for one post. So here’s the rest. These are just thumbnail sketches meant to express some ideas visually than serve as a guide for visual layout or any kind of formal mock up. I would love to know what you think about any of them. For each: Does it seem like a useful feature? Would you use it? Does it remind you of anything you’ve used before? Can you think of a better way to visualize the idea? Does it not belong in a mailman webui? How do you think it would shape conversation on a list? #17 List Monthly Health It might be cool for moderators to be able to have a monthly ‘bill of health’ for their list. What’s the population like, and how has it changed? Were there more or less posts than usual? How much spam did we get? What’s the male-to-female ratio? Out of all the members, how many are actually …

16 Brainstorm Ideas For Mailman's Web Interface

I went to the Shut Up and Draw session at SXSW yesterday. On the plane ride home last night, I decided to shut up and draw some mailman ideas. These are just thumbnail sketches meant to express some ideas visually than serve as a guide for visual layout or any kind of formal mock up. I would love to know what you think about any of them. For each: Does it seem like a useful feature? Would you use it? Does it remind you of anything you’ve used before? Can you think of a better way to visualize the idea? Does it not belong in a mailman webui? How do you think it would shape conversation on a list? #1 Promoting Good Posts The idea here is that someone’s made a brilliant post to a mailing list (it happens!) and you’d like to promote it to a more visible format: maybe press a button and it’ll bring you to a page with a form pre-filled with the message content so you can edit it down into a wiki page. Or maybe it could promote it to a blog post or something (you might have to hook up a wordpress blog …

7,750 pixels of mailing list thread

Short Run by J.D. Hancock on Flickr (Used under a CC-BY 2.0 license.) The Background Story I come from a background strongly focused on communication; my Human-Computer Interaction masters’ degree was out of RPI’s Language, Literature, and Communication Department and my coursework was built on language, literature, and communication as a foundation to understanding newer digital communication methods. I may be biased, then, in thinking a lot of the angst (E.g., It’s Scary to Join an Open Source Project, Customer Support, The Simon Cowell Way, Channels for Community Communications) around getting things done in free software is coming to a crescendo because our tools for basic communication are not serving us well as we scale larger, and fixing that problem has massive potential to better the free software community. Two years ago now (*sob*!) Luke Macken and I came up with some ideas for a web-based mailing list interface that would complement (not replace) mailing lists as they are today. We’re both pretty busy though and have had a ton of projects we needed to work on for our jobs, so neither of us have really done much with it since then. However, the post is one of the most …

A rich web interface for mailing lists

Luke Macken and I had a little mini hackfest today on improving collaboration in Fedora. This is an idea we came up with this afternoon and I mocked up most of it on the bus ride home tonight. (A 2-hour bus ride home as the post-Boston-flood road conditions and traffic during rush hour were really bad tonight.) Luke already has a working prototype 🙂 What do you think? The Inkscape source is of course available so please feel free to try out your own ideas and play away and bounce them back! These are some random, off-the-cuff points about some of the ideas behind the mockups to help give some context. I’m likely missing a lot of good points here so I apologize in advance for my sloppiness: threads are flattened to one level to make it simpler to follow both the number of participants and number of comments are noted posts have ratings to discourage one-liner “me toos” replies and also to make quality discussions more visible. not sure though which scheme is best, what do you think? showing a single number which is the positives and negatives added together (digg style) showing two numbers, one for the number …