Sunday, 29 June 2008

What should the ohloh homepage look like?

In a previous post I criticised ohloh homepage for being completely useless for current users of the site. This was somewhat unfair, since I provided no concrete constructive suggestions as to what should be on the page. This blog post, hopefully, fixes that.

To my mind there are two classes of information that should be on the homepage: (a) things that lots of users are confused about and (b) things that are 'new' (think customised rss feeds) (c) combinations of both.

Finding out what people are confused about is easy, just look in the forums, where people are most confused about:

  1. changes in their kudos
  2. why their enlistment hasn't been updated
  3. why version control system of choice isn't supported

The list of 'new' things is:

  1. new / updated projects
  2. new / updated users
  3. new / updated enlistments
  4. new forum posts
  5. new RSS items in projects RSS feeds

These (1), (3) and (5) can be filtered by the users connection to the project (contributor/user/none).

So the trick now is to find combinations which help users understand what's going on and encourage users to engage with ohloh and the projects.

Idea X: A feed of updated enlistments a user is a contributor or user of:

  • Project A's enlistment at updated 24st June 2008 at 24:50 GMT. A, B and C are the biggest commiters to this project, which is in Java and XML. Last updated 1st Feb 1970.
  • Project B's enlistment at updated 24st June 2008 at 24:50 GMT. D, E and F are the biggest commiters to this project, which is in C and shell script. Last updated 1st Feb 1970.
  • Project C's enlistment at failed at or about revision 12345. Click here for instrustions on what to do about this. Last updated 1st Feb 1970.
  • ...

This not only tells user the status of their projects, but that enlistments are being processed, the expected time between each processing of enlistments, that some processing fails and that there's a link to find out more information. Such a feed also focuses attention on the processing of enlistments---which is the heart of ohloh and the key differentiating factor that seperates ohloh from 15 billion other open source sites.

Idea Y: A mixed feed of upstream bugs that effect ohloh performance and functionality:

  • Ticket "support for .xcu file format" updated in ohcount by user "batman"
  • Post "jabber message length" updated in Help! forum by user "someone else"
  • Ticket "svn branch support" updated in ohloh by user "robin"
  • Ticket "bzr support in ohloh" created in ohloh by user "joker"
  • Post "jabber message length" created in Help! forum by user "someone"

This lets people keep up with the status of ohloh progress on issues such as the implementation branch support for svn and support for hg.

1 comment:

Jason Allen said...

Thanks for the prescriptive feedback. I agree wholeheartedly with the feedback regarding a "comprehensive" feed including who'd kudo'd you, changes to your rank, new analyses, etc...

I'll work on a mockup and post it for feedback.