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Just deployed: New forums system

By dpreview staff on Oct 3, 2012 at 21:29 GMT

We've just deployed the redesigned forum system - the biggest single change we've made since our forums were created, over 13 years ago. As discussed in an earlier news post, the new software will closely match the behavior of the existing system but with a range of additional features and with scope for further expansion in the future. We've sifted through the feedback from the preview announcement we made last week and have developed a list of requested features that we will start working on.

Existing feedback:

From our first round of feedback we have identified a series of features that we will be implementing in the coming weeks and months, including:

  • 'm.forums' mobile-device-friendly version of the forums
  • Alternative colorschemes / skins
  • 'Ignore thread' option
  • 'Mark as read' option for threads
  • Additional requested tweaks and improvements

But we've listened to all the feedback and will continue to add features and behavioral adjustments.

Clarification on user moderation:

We would also like to make a clarification about community moderation and the role of down-voting in the new forums. When we talk about community moderation, we are referring to a group of hand-picked moderators who have volunteered from within the forums communities and whose actions will be overseen, not simply entrusting moderation to up- and down-voting. We will also be working very carefully when setting thresholds for any systems based on voting so that they can't be easily rigged. These systems will not be introduced until we think they can be introduced in a way that truly benefits the community.

More features coming

In addition to the requested tweaks and feature additions that were requested in the first round of feedback, there are a series of features that the new system will allow us to add. These include:

  • User reviews
  • User articles / blog posts
  • User polls
  • Better filtering (time / date ranges ...)
  • Trending / hot stuff page
  • Better integration with product pages (ability to ask / see questions on product pages...)

More feedback wanted

However, we know that a change this big will inevitably have a few teething troubles and features that need to be fine-tuned, so we're looking for feedback on any bugs you spot or changes you think have to be made. Please send your feedback using this webform, where they will be monitored to help make the new forums as enjoyable as possible.


Total comments: 736
Scales USA
By Scales USA (Oct 5, 2012)

I suspect that the reason for the narrow text column is due to those using a phone or other narrow mobile device to read it. It would be nice to have the option for a wider text column.

Many of the other posts have already hit on the high contrast. I changed mine to yellow, but its really the high contrast and not the color that gets me.

By lylejk (Oct 4, 2012)

OK; this but's really fustrating. When I highlight text and press the link button, a box pops out (so far so good) with my highlighed text in the top box and another box where you can insert your link. The problem I have is when I press OK button, nothing happens. The button depresses and pops to normal but the llink box doesn close (background screen still dark). Only way I can get back to my edit is to press cancel button (that button does still work; lol). I dont' mind formating text using HTML (use to do this a lot in past years at FredMiranda before they went BBS; I actually prefer HTML). Please, at least give us a God's view screen so we can do the formating ourselves please. I would astronomically prefer BBS code the this morass. :)

1 upvote
By Catallaxy (Oct 4, 2012)

The forums look so terrible right now.
contrast issues
font colors
cannot see OP name
voting taking up a lot of space
line spacing is bad, takes up a lot of space and makes posts hard to read
hard to see which threads have been updated since last checking
hard to tell new posts in a thread versus older posts
mobile on iphone is unusable
Naming of forums - harder for newbies to figure out where to post

Overall just bad design. I am dropping offline for a while (few weeks maybe?). I'll check back to see what they fixed. I hope it is a lot as I like coming here, but I probably won't stay unless they make major changes so that the forums are easy to use and read again.

By jimboyvr (Oct 4, 2012)

why can't i re-edit posts more then once or twice?

Lee Jay
By Lee Jay (Oct 4, 2012)

You've just added the forum to the recent view. Good work. However, the forum links link to unread, same as the links under last post. Change it to the forum itself, and you're there with that one.

By ck3 (Oct 5, 2012)

I would add: also scrap the ratings from the recent view then you have more space for the forum names and can reduce the vertical spacing.

1 upvote
By breivogel (Oct 4, 2012)

1) I also miss the color change on previously clicked links, which makes it hard to know if you already looked at a post.

2) Also, when you reply to a post, it would be nice to still be able to see that post directly below the edit window rather than having to scroll a long ways down (made harder by the problem #1 noted above).

3) I also agree that one should not really have to read a manual to do basic stuff - other wise it is an indication of a poor design.

4) Too much wasted screen space on the thread view.

5) It would have been better to release this as a beta test, while keeping the old forum in place. Then use user comments to perfect the final release.

By Pat (Oct 4, 2012)

Choose the yellow color scheme. Previously read posts are better differentiated than with the blue scheme. You will find the option to change color schemes near the bottom of the forum page.

By Pat (Oct 4, 2012)

I'm getting more accustomed to the new site -- now that I know what options to use BUT the increased contrast of the white text/black background still hurts my eyes (such as on this very page).

When the new design appeared, the default was the expanded view for forum posts and the color was blue with no change in title color for previously read posts. The type size of titles in the expanded view also was too large. By selecting the yellow color scheme, and the compact forum view, both these problems went away.

I do like the rating of posts very much as it should discourage trollish behavior. Won't eradicate it completely, but I think there will be less inflammatory posts.

I also like the new grid lines in the compact forum view as they more easily delineate one post from another.

So all in all, I think they did a good job. But please, can you reduce the contrast in certain sections? The dropout type treatment is now too stark.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
Simon Joinson
By Simon Joinson (Oct 4, 2012)

we're working on it. and yes, i know i say that about everything :)

1 upvote
By Pat (Oct 4, 2012)

Hey thanks, Simon. I appreciate all the hard work you guys put into this, and I think with the options (now discovered and deployed) some of the objections I had last night disappeared.

And I do like the voting system a lot as I think it will cut down on inflammatory and uncivil posts. People might start to police themselves now that they know their posts can be down-voted.

As for the dropout type, it's especially harder on older eyes, but studies have shown when it's real contrasty it can be problematic for anyone. I bet your web designers are all young guns and so the dropout doesn't bother them in the least. :)

1 upvote
By PhilPreston3072 (Oct 5, 2012)

I actually like the white text on black background that we have here in the news comments more than black text on white background. It gives the page a more upmarket look.

I think if we change the subject banner of each forum post to white text on a grey background it will create a more pleasant contrast.

By HSway (Oct 4, 2012)

Blacks in the centre and on the sides.

What causes the extra eye strain compared to the previous version is darkening the central post’s column making it pure black and lightening the sides. It’s not a wise move as the contrast increases exactly where the point of interest is. The text has got more contrast and it contrasts even more on the fully saturated blacks now.

The previous version had this in reverse order (light central column and the dark sides). This makes the colour composition based on this set uncomfortable and it also looks inferior. As if a bug one gets when a page is not loaded fully. got some time to put my finger on it. I definitely recommend changing it or giving an option of choice.

Mark H
By Mark H (Oct 4, 2012)


I said just the same thing yesterday...

1 upvote
By ericN2 (Oct 4, 2012)

A little bit constructive I hope....

What exactly is the purpose or worth of the 'Votes' space taken up against each and every post in all Forum threads...

If the style of the "old" Forum is to be carried on...NO POSTS are ever going to be removed by age so will last forever...votes simply do not matter..the heading of a post probably decides more than anything whether a person looks at it.. and more to the point here.. the space wasted right now on the "Votes" column could and should be used to show the NAME of the O.P. as it always has done. Seeing the name by having to change to the full expanded view is no immediately then lose the compactness of the listings..bad enough as it is now, with the line spacing being so much more than it used to be.

Can't we go back to the old style in this respect.. heading of post AND name of poster.

By Braxton7 (Oct 4, 2012)

Sorry Had to do it. :) We'll all get used to it though.

Robert Hoffman
By Robert Hoffman (Oct 4, 2012)

Can someone explain how I can scan a thread for posts I've already read? Is this an option, or am I missing the obvious? The color change worked effectively for the old layout.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
Robert Hoffman
By Robert Hoffman (Oct 4, 2012)

Nevermind, I get it: the read posts show up as a lighter shade of blue. Still don't like it.

By Pat (Oct 4, 2012)

Try choosing the yellow color scheme. The color distinction between new and previously read posts is better than in the blue scheme, IMO. The option for the color scheme is near the bottom of the page.

By chromablind (Oct 5, 2012)

"Try choosing the yellow color scheme"

Hi Pat, yes, that works when I tried it yesterday. Unfortunately, after a while the bright yellow color on a pitch black background starts doing a number on my eyes, and I had to return to blue. Very strange choices. I wish DPR would let us edit colors and save choices in our profiles. I would be happy (well, except for wasted space in top level forum view).

J C Brown
By J C Brown (Oct 4, 2012)

This new system is a disaster. After spending over an hour trying to include an image from my gallery while responding to a post this evening I eventually succceeded.

Unfortunately within 15 minutes of submitting my post successfully, my post, a reply from the OP and several other recent posts on the same thread simply disappeared.

Hopefully this is a temporary glitch and the content of these posts will eventually be recovered.

By photomeme (Oct 4, 2012)

it's time for dpreview to acknowledge the new release is a FAILURE and restore the old forum system.

fire some folks, hire some new folks or farm out the work.

come back in six months with something better.

you'll lose users and hurt the brand permanently otherwise.

failure is hard to admit.

but the scrappy start days are behind dpreview, you're supposed to be professionals now.

wake up, smell the coffee, do the right thing.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 2 minutes after posting
Michel J
By Michel J (Oct 4, 2012)

I love it except for the votes!

It would be better to have only "+" gradation because:

• if no "+" was be added, no need to say more ;)

• if no "-" no personal bashing is possible (then, the vote would concern only positive things...)

(btw: It's me or I don't see a "Post Preview" for the messages? If so... why it disappeared?)

Big Thanks for all this good job !

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
Michel J
By Michel J (Oct 10, 2012)

Hé héé...

Have a "Poll" about it...!

To be right, you must choose the ones that have less votes..

You know why? :-)

;) ;)

Comment edited 39 seconds after posting
By WhyNot (Oct 4, 2012)

Now I'm confused I just tried to edit my last entry and nothing happens when I press the EDIT button. Nothing happens when I press the Reply button... Maybe I no longer know how to interact with this on line forums.... Maybe I will have to read the manual.

By WhyNot (Oct 4, 2012)

I just went through your pull down menus and I assume that you know or it has already been mentioned that trying to reach any article or review (of any kind) leads your “Error has Occurred” page......

1 upvote
By jwaif (Oct 4, 2012)

All the little dots at the front of each thread have now suddenly disappeared. Once you get accustomed to them, they were useful for tracking the threads and read responses.

By paddy (Oct 4, 2012)

The flow of the new look does not work for me! I'm so used to the old format this one sux imho.

By onlooker (Oct 4, 2012)

"n" for "next message in the thread" doesn't work any more?

By Andrewteee (Oct 4, 2012)

BTW I offer my points of criticism in the hope they can improve the DPR reading experience. Great content here and I want to be able to enjoy reading it. That's all.

1 upvote
By Taya (Oct 4, 2012)

Just please keep the flat view feature.

1 upvote
By Andrewteee (Oct 4, 2012)

Part 2
The more time I spend looking at these screens the more I dislike the new look. The visual chaos is giving me a headache trying to make sense of it all and read the content. For example...

* The bright white search this forum box is an eyesore; why not color it light gray or something, anything to soften its effect.
* I like the image icon to tell me there is a picture in the thread, but why does it need a drop-shadow? Everything else is flat.
* Took a screenshot of the Ricoh forum and measured the percentage of actual content (threads)... it was about 25% of the content area and about 10 % of the browser window given that the content area is fixed width.

By Andrewteee (Oct 4, 2012)

Part 1
The more time I spend looking at these screens the more I dislike the new look. The visual chaos is giving me a headache trying to make sense of it all and read the content. For example...

* Why does the Start a New Thread / Ask a Question box have a thick yellow rule under it? Completely unnecessary; it's just visual noise.
* The combination of yellow, white and cyan text creates a weird 3D layering effect that literally hurts my eyes trying to focus on the text.
* Cyan on black is extremely hard to read.
* The votes count offers no real value and just adds more visual noise (and clutter). Can I turn that off?
* The threads start about halfway down the screen on a high resolution monitor. Seriously, I'm here for the content, not the chrome.

By petermc45 (Oct 4, 2012)

Ditto that.

By hiro_pro (Oct 4, 2012)

The default view is setup to only show discussions. I would like the option to see both questions and discussions as the default view. it took me a while to realize that i was only seeing discussions and not questions. i suspect this is a common issue because i am not seeing any responses to the questions.

1 upvote
By larsson (Oct 4, 2012)

Ooooh, that´s BAD. HARD to read so I will not come her as often anymore after this change.

Bob Tullis
By Bob Tullis (Oct 4, 2012)

You've wanted me gone for years, it's no secret. When I joined DPR I had 20/20 eyesight, more stamina, and less gray. Yet, I remain despite the life being slowly but surely sucked out of my shell.

Now THIS? Pffft. It's going to take more than this forum change to get rid of me. Do your best.

David Nall
By David Nall (Oct 5, 2012)

Loveit Bob. there sure is a lack of positive posts.

By dada7 (Oct 4, 2012)

oh no, what did you do? I hate it.

By photomeme (Oct 4, 2012)

an atrocious example of overengineering, and buggy as all heck.

unfortunately, i think there's no way back for dpreview.

this will be an inflection point for the site, a downturn from which they will not recover, if they aim to be a core community for photographers on the web.

no constructive criticism you say? ok. for goodness sakes, click through from a forum posting to gallery images and there's no click path to return to the posting. sheesh, and so much AJAX, you can't just hit the browser back button. extremely poorly thought out design.

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 6 minutes after posting
By photo_oasis (Oct 4, 2012)

The design can be improved in the areas of color hierarchy, typography, and layout. Looks like dpreview's in-house designers have tried their best. Can dpreview hire an external reputable design firm to enhance the design?

I didn't realize dpreview had a poll on this but the point is that it is still up to the designers to understand the users' insights (not numbers, this is no election here) and pull out best designs.

By krebss (Oct 4, 2012)

Hate it.

I used to be able to scan a whole forum page in 10 sec to see if there was any interesting thread (to me).

Now it takes me 10 sec to manage to read the titles of the first 5 threads.

I don't know if it's the bigger font, the color, the spacing between thread titles or the OP name/time since last update in between... or probably all of the above.

I'm not saying the previous layout was perfact but much easier to "scan through". The new one "looks" nicer but way harder to read.

By petermc45 (Oct 4, 2012)

I just could not agree more. Scanning difficult and hard on the eyes. Logging on to see if there is something interesting is now simply an unpleasent tiring experience - if it remains as it is I will be logging in a great deal less.

Robert Hoffman
By Robert Hoffman (Oct 4, 2012)

Agree also, that the wider spacing between the thread titles makes scanning a much slower process. I was happy with the old layout, even though I'm sure I'm in the minority.


By rjx (Oct 4, 2012)

I've NEVER been a fan of the forum design here at DPR, so I welcome a long overdo change.

While the new design is more modern, I still think it needs some tweaks.

The black page with white text has got to go.

Black with yellow and white text is hard on the eyes.
I'd like to see the black replaced with a nice white, or off white.
The links could be an eye friendly color, and the subtext could be black, or an off black.

Another EG
A black page with blue and white text is hard on the eyes.

These color designs remind me of annoying blogger sites where the layout is dark with white text. This generates eye fatigue.

Same thing with the main page ( )
Black page with white text

And when you click on a story, it's the same. Black w/ white text.

I'm shocked DPR has had this design for so long.

I love the site, I'm just trying to give feedback of how I think it could be more enjoyable

By ralphdaily (Oct 4, 2012)

I think the new look is great. Also reading the guide for the new design helps. Anyone should read that first before complaining.

Mike CH
By Mike CH (Oct 4, 2012)

Reading the guide first? Hmmm...

Personally, I think a design should be so good as not to require reading a guide first.

But perhaps that's just me?

By ET2 (Oct 4, 2012)

Do already clicked links no longer change color? I want that back

Robert Hoffman
By Robert Hoffman (Oct 4, 2012)

Boy, you and me, both! The color change really enhanced the scan speed.

1 upvote
By picbadger (Oct 4, 2012)

Have to say I dont like it. The original home page was much easier on the eye and being smaller text was much easier to just scan down and pick out the posts of particular interest.
It certainly doesnt encourage me to just dip in and out of various posts.
Why was it changed? Did DP get many complaints?

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
By msrock (Oct 4, 2012)

I think it looks alright. But, please do a mobile one. Would be great.

Princess Leia
By Princess Leia (Oct 4, 2012)

I love the new layout. Change is good.

By SalBonavita (Oct 4, 2012)

Gesus. I almost puked into my soup when I saw it. What they did to this site.

By motobloat (Oct 4, 2012)

OK here is a BIG PROBLEM / BUG whatever


Since they switched to the new post editor, it makes a permanent COPY of your image from your gallery, and embeds it in the post.

The old forum didn't do this - it DIRECTLY posted the gallery image.

So watch yourselves. Before you embed an image into a post, make sure you want it to be found on this forum FOREVER.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
AV Janus
By AV Janus (Oct 5, 2012)

That is not a bug.
That is a fair feature, because if you search for image samples, and end up in a thread talking about what you are looking for images will still be there now.
This way they don't disappear if a user fills up his gallery to fast and has to delete files.

AV Janus
By AV Janus (Oct 4, 2012)

So where promised is the "go to first unread post" option for threads I posted in?

Is "Next New" supposed to be that?
If yes, then It doesn't work... I don't know what it does actually...

There should be a link for this feature in the "my recent forum activity" section, like there is on vbulletin forums...

1 upvote
By Tape5 (Oct 4, 2012)

If I have a problem with my mother-in-law I get her some flowers, I won't go changing her for a new one...

Although I would love to !
Remember KISS- Keep It Simple & Stupid.

The main reason I don't like the new layout is that it won't imaginatively accommodate the future changes and challenges. I don't think it will anyway.

1 upvote
By Dim67 (Oct 4, 2012)

For me the single most annoying thing in the whole DPR site is that it has a black background with white text. Anyone who knows anything about basic webdesign knows that this is just not done. It creates too much contrast and is very tiresome on the eyes. So please change that and also change the forum back the way it was.

Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Oct 4, 2012)

We polled our readers on this last year - the majority wanted it white text on black.

By hellocrowley (Oct 4, 2012)

White on black is fine, but not when it's too contrasty like this.

By jalywol (Oct 4, 2012)

The old site was, even with white on black text, not hard to read. Whatever changes were made to the colors/contrast on this one make it extremely uncomfortable to stick around and read.

I would bet if you polled people after a couple of weeks of this, you would get a completely different answer.....I think, given how this looks, that a standard black print on white background would win this time if you did that....

By marike6 (Oct 4, 2012)

Web usability decisions should be made by the web masters who are trained in such matters.

The parent comment is 100% correct. Black on white is not fine. Because one color is 0 and the other 255, it will always be contrasty. Just Google "White Text on Black Background" to find hundreds of web design articles that deal with the problem of the high contrast situation of white text on a black background. In the 90s, it was popular to use such a color scheme. Nowadays the reason you hardly ever see it on text heavy websites is that it is not user friendly at all.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
1 upvote
By jamesfrmphilly (Oct 4, 2012)

i hate it. there was a perfectly good forum and you had to mess it up.

Barney Britton
By Barney Britton (Oct 4, 2012)

It wasn't, and we didn't. If you have any specific feedback, please provide it, so we can see whether there are any changes that need making.

By Nightwings (Oct 4, 2012)

@Mr. Britton

With all due respect, just a quick tally of the posts on this one comment page shows approx 10 to 1 ... negative comments on the new forum vs positive ones. That ratio increases expoentially if you account for the "Like" votes for the negative comments. That is a profound and telling indictement to your changes. imho

Food for thought.

Best wishes going forward.

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
By krikman (Oct 4, 2012)

Personal message for Britton:
Did you analysed before how dpreview users read forum and write messages?
You just take a good forum model for acid degenerates like Twitter. That new forum suitable for "me too" and "first!" messages. And nobody reads twitter messages older than few hours.
But you were not twitter. Most peoples here at dpreview don't sitting here whole day, they hard at work making photos and prints. Interesting discussions here went thru months if not years. It was a perfect community to learn and grow with digital photo last 8 years.

With new forum look I'll never find interesting message and never answer interesting questiuon. Because all that visual crap deny quick scan of themes and messages.

You asked for feedback. But you mean "change color" or "add 5 new buttons" and not like critics of new appearance as a whole. It is self-destructive motto for you.

Personally I understand how critics insults you. But that's true.
I hope you'll understand it too.

By Dave_H (Oct 5, 2012)

Totally agree

El Crapio
By El Crapio (Oct 4, 2012)

Don't like it. You could have gone for a proper forum like vbulletin or something.
Threaded view is almost useless now, and flat has always been.

By meanwhile (Oct 5, 2012)

I disagree, flat view is very useful, and it's the default view I use the forum in.

By Davidfstop (Oct 4, 2012)

Very Very Disappointing!
There was nothing wrong with the previous layout!
You know the adage, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it"!

By olyflyer (Oct 4, 2012)

Very bad first page with the forum list. Not possible to get an overview and requires scrollig several pages down the list. Sorry, but it is poorly designed and at least the first page is not user friendly.

By WhyNot (Oct 4, 2012)

These may have been addressed below but ---- (1) As stated in other threads -=- this format doesn't work well on the iPAD. Ballooning messages tend to stay and make further reading mostly impossible without refreshing the screen somehow. (2) In threaded mode the left hand column does spill over into the right hand column. (3) I never understood why EDITing my posts was a one shot and only if I do it in a timely manner. (4) On my Profile page the last date a picture was entered to my gallery never worked in the old system and still doesn't work. Thought that (3) and (4) might be changed in this newer version. Personally, I have no problem with the blue on black..... I suspect I'll be back later after I actually had spent more time with this Beta (????) version of your software.

By SergeyGreen (Oct 4, 2012)

The way they display linked from the outside images is the true horror now. It never even occurred to me this thing can get messed up so badly.

By franzel (Oct 4, 2012)

Just when I got over the headaches from reading white on black, it is now blue on black .

You open a thread, and it's dark grey on light grey .
Windows with rounded corners ?
Flat view seems to be optional all of a sudden - like it's 1999 .

Look - there is a reason why 99% of all the message boards use the same layout and styles - they work .
DPR used to be borderline bearable, but no more .
Being behind is only charming to a point .

Black on white, and don't get creative .

RedDog Steve
By RedDog Steve (Oct 4, 2012)

Ok, I see the spell check is back, thanks.
Not that I need it.

dr (ooops, rd)

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
RedDog Steve
By RedDog Steve (Oct 4, 2012)

I did like having the preview, is that coming back also ?

Comment edited 2 times, last edit 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
Total comments: 736