Towards a "landing strip": some proposals

At the last community call it was mentioned that newcomers to Edgeryders find it hard to navigate the platform – and even more so the whole Edgeryders ecology (= the platform + the various community calls + now the IRC channel etc.). [Ben] proposed a “landing strip”: I imagine something like a page, linked to directly from the main menu, with first aid instructions as to what to do.

What should go in that page?

  • The "call a human" button?
  • Upcoming community calls? Would it help if we made community calls events (we have the functionality, but we never use it...)? The advantage would be a dynamically updated view of upcoming stuff...
  • The link to the user's manual? I just spent many hours giving it a major overhaul.
  • A link to the Taskmanager for people who want to start collaborating right away?

Any ideas?

Mb ‘call a human’ button can be linked to several humans who feel like they can show people around the platform?

I think even joining a weekly community call might not shed much more light on whats going on. I don’t want to make everything more complex, but may be a ‘take me around this thing’ hang-out will be helpful? There are lots of things on the platform and community I have no idea about, but I can volunteer for a Q&A ‘take me around the basics’ call. Somewhere on Sunday afternoons. Will also make me learn a bit more than I already know.

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That’s the idea

Yes, [K], that’s the gist of it. We already have it (linked to Noemi) for one version of the home page. We could make a team (the Human Team?) encoded in the database as a group, so people could sign up to be on it. At the same time, the “call a human” button would be connected to a view that shows the avatars of the friendly people who voluntereed…

Yeah, I that was I was saying. I know ‘call the human’ button - it sends an email to Noemi, doesn’t it?

I don’t know how many people actually need to be shown around the platform at the moment, but a human team sounds very good.

I usually function in a bulb mode, not in a laser mode, which is annoying if I want to refine things. But I guess can be useful when showing people around.

If we improve technology by adding a human widget, should it be only email format? Or go for RT introductions hangout? I can describe the way I see a hangout like this, and try to make one if there are puzzled ER people at the moment.

You see, I’m constantly puzzled by ER myself, but I got used to it. Whatever, I’ll volunteer to be one of the humans.

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Yes, but we need a group!

[K], the way to do that technically is the following:

  • you create a group for the "human team" (you might want to think of a better name. I am terrible at naming).
  • at this point, I can redo the "Call a human" block: instead is simply showing Noemi, it will display a list of users who are in the HT.

What do you think?

Keep it simple?

CONNECT is a good name i think. Since contributors in this thread mentioned the landing strip should be useful for newcomers, I would add it needs to be simple for everyone, unloaded with too many references and links, otherwise it defeats the purpose. The Making Lote3 group for example has community call link written all over it, the newsletter as well, and people still cant find the link to the hangout (same every week!).

So I’d keep a very simple and clean space: 

  • the overview of our communication channels 
  • Buttons with the actual channels:
  1. ​Community call : I stopped using the “Events” functionality because they didn’t show well in the Making Lote3 group, no highlighted blocks or design and went straight at the bottom of the page, so practically invisible to users.

2. IRC :  (I dont understand how IRC is different than a hangout in terms of easeness to connect with ERs? you still need to reach out to someone so that they join you. there’s no non stop Edgeryders assistance anyway :-) )

3. Call a human : includes pictures of me, Dorotea, and K and people can choose to contact one of us, no group. I see groups on platform suited for actual coordination work, but I tend to be on email with both of you almost all the time for specific stuff, and it goes well. -1 for yet another space, it just seems redundant. 

  • ok, and if you will a link to the user manual.

    I agree with Ronen that tasks are already for advanced users and not so relevant for newcomers, plus guided tours will do just that, present the various functionalities that may be harder to grasp at first visit!

    Most active threads/ Featured posts etc - they show up in the homepage anyway, and in most right side blocks!


Noemi: you are right about simplicity. I think you are wrong about the group: that’s not visible to the viewer, who would see avatars of people anyway. It is simply a way that I don’t have to redo the view every time a person starts or stop volunteering to welcome people. Now the “Call a human” button is fed by a view that searches the users table in the database, filtered by users being Noemi; if we add people, I can change that to Noemi AND X AND Y, but it is more flexible to tell it to filter for belonging to a group. But if that’s the way you want it done, that’s what we will do, I don’t mind it!

Not sure about recent/featured content. Featured is shown in one of the home pages (we are still experimenting! Over one month of tracking, and only one of the experiments has ended). Recent is shown in several places, but generally contextualized by group.

I propose:

  • "Buttons" (more like boxes really) for channels, of which there are three (platform, community calls, IRC)
  • link to the User's manual.
  • Call a human
  • maybe a link to a featured content page? Not sure...


ok, (about 'call a human ') so for now let’s do it as Noemi said, I can add the names to the view.

Clone the view…

… don’t edit the existing one, so you don’t break the one I already have in the MB home page :slight_smile:

good advice :slight_smile:

yes, it’s a good advice, also probably we’ll need some more adjustments.


I agree ‘connect’ is a good name,

maybe I can also add my ‘private tours offer’ there :slight_smile:

maybe the ‘connect’ box should be somehow visible in every page? if someone lands on a random page and is ‘feeling lost’ ?

Is this not “Ask a human?”

I thought your tours are under “ask a human”? Or should it be separate again?

yes you’re right

yes you’re right, maybe it should be something separate under something like ‘ask the human’ to not confuse people. 


though such a landing strip may be helpful given the current situation I believe it will be a temporary patch on a deeper question that is still unresolved … what is the purpose of joining EdgeRyders and becoming a “newcomer”?

I suspect that any answers currently available to that question are vague which is why the user experience is vague. I also suspect that the vagueness goes deeper … what is the purpose of the EdgeRyders community that a “newcomer” would want to join? As long as those questions (and others like them) remain vague so will be the resulting user experience.

I believe that until these questions are discovered and answered with clarity that questions like the one in this post and others floating the site will not suffice. The difficulty newcomers are experiencing is a (lack of) design issue and it deserves to be addresed on that level rather then patching it up (or at least using the patch as just a temporary measure).

As a newcomer the user manual is not very useful to me because it is lacking context. I might need those answers while I am working and not as a text to consume (which may imply that the manual is OK but needs to be made available in working context). I looked at the task-manager (because you linked to it, not because I knew it existed) and I don’t even want to know what it is … probably because I don’t yet need it (it doesn’t serve a purpose in my presence here) … so linking to it won’t help me much. I’ve figured out some stuff (mostly that eminate from the user profile) … there’s stuff I haven’t figured out (for example: how to post … which I have figured out in my own way … Noemi is kind enough to post stuff for me).

Design creates a kind of story and progressing in that story reveals more of the platform to me. The platform is missing a story. It is a collection of capabilities with no clear theme to follow. While I agree with your assumption (from the user manual) that people who join here have motivation to discover and explore … a story would make that process smoother, less disrupted and more pleasant.

Exploring this way of thinking and working is the purpose of the session I proposed.

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The designers

“The designers proved that it would never work. Since we did not understand design, we made it work anyway.” :slight_smile:

No, seriously, [iamronen]: I know ER is rough and has tons of problems. I spend a lot of time on it, so I am more aware of it than most! But, lo and behold, people use it all the same. In the first iteration of ER we had 260 people that wrote 500 posts and over 4,000 comments – and that platform sucked, much worse than this one. That’s too many people and too much content for everyone to be crazy, there must be something else. I think it’s this: it’s fresh thinking, and interesting people, and some find it worth it.

That said, you (and everyone else) is super-welcome to improve anything you see! I like the idea of making the user’s manual available in context. I already implemented in part, adding links in the help text you see when creating content: for example, if you try to create a post now you will see a little text in bold saying “Need help? Check out our online guide”. Clicking it, it opens the guide in a new tab in the appropriate place, for example if you are creating a Task it will show the part of the wiki that deal with using Tasks.

To quote [immaginoteca], let’s keep working!

made me think of this

Came across this slide in a PhD seminar by Mads Hobye. It was a lot about embodiment, which is tricky when it comes down to online platforms. But may be it’s the reason why I have this feeling of adding more of a human to the platform. It’s a bit like when we try to make “smart” things by adding digital technology to analog things and humans but other way around: adding humans to digital things and processes as a quick fix to the issues of interface design. I’m not sure if design thinkers will kill me for that, but I think there is nothing wrong with thinking social before tech.

So to me the question is how to make the community visible through the surface of the platform. Of course, meeting edgeryders in person helps enormously to then feel ok on the platform. Is there any way to do so without real life interaction prior to the jump on the platform? I thought “guided tours” because I’m not really a techie.

If I try to imagine more techie solution to the landing strip design it will look more like a map of the community: current subjects of discussions and levels of activity. I better sketch it, I’m not even sure that the map I imagine is possible to make. The trouble with the implementation of this kind of map is that if you sketch it, the next day it will change, because people jump from one thing to another and new conections happen all the time. So may be, after all, this kind of map is useless unless it is completely interactive, and for this matter will take too much time and effort to make. Getting a human who is already imagining the community and possible ways of interaction with it inside of a head sounds rather pre-historic, but I think it should work.

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(having to put subjects on comments is a nuisance)

I haven’t and will not say this or that will not work. I don’t believe in that kind of thinking.

Despite any numbers you may take pride in I would argue that you can never know what has not yet happened because of shortcoming of the system. Which is generally why I am not a big fan of measurements. Especially on the edge where I believe Quality trumps quantity.

I would not want to debate design with you until we’ve first had a change to create a shared vision/understanding of what we mean by design. Until then, putting down design based on any pre-existing notions about what design is, seems pointless (and on a personal note: a bit hurtful). Again, another reason I suggegsted the session.

I expect a design process will have all kinds of expressions. Things will surface that will be very challenging to implement (in which case we’ll at least have a roadmap of where we want to go and a way to re-evaluate our priorities and actions). There will be superficial things that can make big differences - such as inconsitencies and emphasis (I can point some of these out already, but I can’t yet describe a clear fix without doing some kind of design process - which though I am tempted to do on my own - I think is wrong).

At this point in time your invitation to “improve anything you see” is an empty geture for me (and feels like other open-source “invitations” I’ve come across). There is no room yet in the current dynamics for me to contribute (I’ve tried) what I have to offer. I realize that for that to happen I need to first create a space for to happen in ER (offline and online). Again, another reason I suggseted the session. I believe this will be easier to do face to face then in this kind of online-dynamic (ask [Noemi] with whom I’ve had an opportunity to spend face-to-face time). However if that (a session) does not work out I promise to make an effort to do that here, online (though for now, until Lote3, I am kind of holding back).

Maybe to give you a taste of my thinking. I have a clear (and written) “purpose of EdgeRyders”. In my mind, every task (small or large) regarding (but not limited to) the ER space goes through a question “how is this action aligned with the purpose of ER?”. Right now I am experiencing mostly unclear alignment or mis-alignment (that is to say efforts that may be undermining the purpose of ER).

Tech Onboarding, design AND execution

Hi everyone, I posted the comment on the [DESIGN] ating purpose session proposal posted by iamronen. But thought I would re-post it here too.

I’ve been following the discussion about design in and of the Edgeryders online space here and in another thread.  Design leadership in Edgeryders entails taking charge of the tools and learning how to use and modify the platform so that you can match the expectations that a co-design process gives rise to, with the resources to be able to execute the desired changes.  The reason for this is very simple: the fact that there is an online platform at all, and  is thanks to huge efforts of a very small number of people like [Matthias] [Alberto] [Noemi] [Dorotea] and [Auli] who contribute a lot of time to do the heavy lifting in terms of producing content, modifying the platform etc. Without additional execution capacity there is no way the implications of any design conversation are going to get implemented if they require any modification of the platform.  Also without a clear understanding of the design parameters and constraints of the technologies we are using, it is easy to spend a lot of time focusing on things that cannot be implemented without a huge investment that you don’t know people are willing to make.  So perhaps what could be a useful compliment to this session is to start with an introduction on how to use and modify the Edgeryders platform. Followed by facilitated co-design process that ends with a do-athon in which participants implement changes themselves directly on the platform (we have a sandbox online environment where people can test things without breaking the existing site). With p2p support from more experienced members of the community.


Looking forward

Ok, so no debate for now. I look forward to lote3 for that. But wait, maybe I could still debate with other people on this thread! Meanwhile, just a quick comment to offer apologies for any unintended hurt I might have caused to you, [iamronen] or others. I do have a very confrontational debating style (I say “I disagree with that” a lot). I am convinced it saves everybody time. On the upside, I never take personal offence at disagreement, so you are welcome to go for the throat. I am a Popperian: the way we make progress is by proving each other wrong, whereas saying “you are right” might be nice but is a fundamentally unprovable statement. So, when someone tries to prove me wrong I take it as a gift, not as an attack.

Also, let me add I like design just as much as the next guy. I hang out with designers regularly; I taught a course in design; one of my projects made it into a high-profile design exhibition in Milano; the same was even nominated for a prestigious design award, Compasso d’oro, in 2011 (it did not win). Designing is something humans do, and you would be hard put to find anyone who can help herself engaging in design activities. I like much less at ease with the idea that there is a special category of people that does the designing for the rest of us. I have come to think that people who think of themselves as the professionals who do design work are responsible for the fact that the artifact part of online communities (the software) get a disproportionate amount of attention with respect to their agent part (the people and their ways). But enough of that! You said no debating, and, having apologized and lauded design, I will now stop. :slight_smile:

holding back because

I don’t mind confrontation. I tend to be that way too, yet I have been working on changing that. Your comment about design felt to me dismissive more then an attempt at debate … I haven’t experienced online commenting (here or anywhere else) as a good platform for quality debate :frowning: It is a medium that seems to bring out superficiality.

I agree that designing is something that humans do … and I do not consider myself a professional designer (I have a hard time considering myself a professional anything). All I am offering is one view (of many) on design that, in the spirit of your words, is a tool anyone can use. You may be able to relate to it, you may object to it … I make no claims and no promises. I will try to present it by relating to my relatively fresh/newcomer experience/understanding of EdgeRyders rather than as a theoretical construct.

However before putting it to use unilaterally I believe we need to choose if we want to use it (just like you made a conscious community choice to use Drupal/Commons) - so that we can be in tune - thats why I am holding back.

By the way breathing is also something all humans do … yet if you come to Yoga you may experience how much better you can do it - and how quickly you can improve :slight_smile: