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from the archives

Sunset in Woodside


Sunset in Woodside

User Survey 2007

- Jamie - Monday, March 12th, 2007 : goo

[previous] :: [next]


The people that make citynoise.org what it is are you, the contributors, commenters, lurkers and trolls and that's why we'd like to know what you think about us. All of you. Whilst we're busy beavering away thinking up lots a cool new stuff to add to the next release we're acutely aware of this site's cult following and we're eager not to alienate any of you. We've been doing this for years now but we know we've still not got it 'quite right', and that's where you come in. What would you like to see change on citynoise and what needs to stay the same? What gets your back up and what features couldn't you live without?

In the spirit of citynoise as a community project we're inviting you all to air your thoughts right here on this post about what you'd like to see (or not) in the next release of citynoise.org. Be verbose and don't hold back. If the comments take us a week to read through then all the better. Stand up, be counted and help shape 'citynoise version 3'.

Usability is a key issue we're addressing. New users often find the process of posting an article intimidating, especially when it comes to posting images, whist others miss the point of the site entirely. Please share with us your experiences as a newbie (if you can remember back that far). Did you have trouble getting to grips with the user interface for example, or did our image tags confuse the life out of you? How could we have made things easier?

Most of all what do you want to get out of citynoise? Why are you here and what keeps you coming back?

Let the discussion begin

This article was viewed 13032 times (Counting ceased in 2017)


Internet Archive: web.archive.org/web/*/http://citynoise.org/article/6492

chiamattt: 12th Mar 2007 - 23:19 GMT

Profiles for people who want them. This is not to say that I think the site should require registration, but I think it would be a cool option to have a small profile to let people know what kind of gear is being used. If profiles aren't an option, why not a few check boxes at post time to tell people what kind of camera was used in the post.

Being able to upload more than one picture at a time would also be nice, but I'm sure that is something you know already.

groovehouse: 13th Mar 2007 - 00:17 GMT

I would like to see more photos on the home page. I think the page is set up to show three photos, a few more would be nice. I would also like to see the Browse By City category display 6-8 cities instead of 5.

Posting: I don't think it's very hard, especially if you post on other forums or sites. It's not HTML and it's not UBB code, but if one takes their time, reads all the instructions/guides to posting, it's not difficult.

What I want to get out of Citynoise are views and stories from other cities. I love everyone's perspective on their respective cities.

What keeps me coming back is the community, comments, the photos and the site itself. I like the colors of the website, I love our content and I like that the site is policed.

Thanks for everything Citynoise! I really love the site!

KITO: 13th Mar 2007 - 01:53 GMT

Hi, I'm a long time lurker, who I'm sure none of you know. I think this is my first comment. Hello, CityNoise.

I, too would like to see more photos on the front-page. No offense, but it looks really boring, and isn't a good representation of the bountiful content here, as a whole. Maybe we could make a better first-impression with new visitors? I do really like the grayscale color theme, as it presents a good backdrop for the photographic content. I like the title-bar image.

I think logging in, in any form, should be avoided at all costs. I think that the free-for-all D.I.Y. content approach that this site takes is not only fiercely unique, but is one of a kind for this sort of site, and presents a level of "freedom" that you just don't see in major web-based "communities" nowadays- Kudos on that. I know that many of you put a lot of time and work into behind-the-scenes moderation and housecleaning, and thats not lost on those of us that frequent this site. It's a shame that the model of "open-ness" adopted by CityNoise isn't more widespread.

I'm with Chiamattt in regards to "profiles". I don't know what would be a good solution, but some means to learn more about the posters would be nice, as there are several individuals that I'd like to know more about, or be able to get in touch with beyond the "comments" section here. This is key to a burgeoning community. I feel like I've grown to really "get" some folks on this site lately, and it would be nice to be able to dig deeper and get in touch with them. I'm not so concerned about what style of camera someone uses, but a little more linkage to them would be nice, beyond the cursory info provided by their mere location, etc. I know most have blogs, websites or Flickrs, and it would be nice to have all that linked up.

You guys also really need to adopt a standard "location" scheme. The "Complete City List" reads like quite a mish-mash in places. I guess there's no easy way to force consistent nomenclature on posters, but a bit of editing in that regard would probably be worthwhile.

A flagging/editing/spam-prevention scheme is going to be integral as this site grows. I don't know exactly what you have up your sleeves, but sometimes I come on here and there are like 50 spams... then 5 minutes later, they're gone. Someone is parsing through all of them. And to be quite frank, passing some of that burden on to us users would be a good idea, if it would be possible to implement some such. It's like everyone working towards a mutual goal of a shared, clean, content-rich site, and I, for one, wouldn't mind doing my part.

I love the search box, and recent searches. I tend to browse the site mainly through the "comments" page, as that seems to be the fastest-paced way to recieve updated content. Perhaps some bells-and-whistles could be implemented on the comments page?

A more full-fledged RSS system would be in order. I wouldn't mind utilizing that as a means for keeping up with the ever-scrolling content.

I think that "Hool" should be involved with this update (it he is not already) as he has one of the best eyes for design and content out of all of us here.

Ok, thats all for now. Sorry for the lengthy reply from a total noob.

KITO: 13th Mar 2007 - 01:57 GMT

Also: I do not know if it would be practical, but a comment/feedback notification system would be nice. Like, a way you could see who had commented on old posts without having to click through each old post to check up on it....?

sirhcbre: 13th Mar 2007 - 02:58 GMT

I agree with a lot of what has already been said. Here are my two cents:

-Profiles would be nice but shouldn't be mandatory. If someone wants one, they should be able to create one and if someone doesn't want one, they should be able to post as they currently can. If somebody has a profile, they should be able to manage their posts (new and old) and make changes such as fixing factual errors, spelling mistakes, grammar, adding links, and other edits that could improve the quality of the post. I know I have many errors on old posts that I would love to be able to go back and fix.

-Managing photos is currently hell, especially if you're uploading numerous photos with text to go along with them. You should be able to upload multiple pictures at a time then be able to see thumbnails that you can then insert wherever you want in your post.

-There should be some way you can see comments that were added to a user's past posts. It's happened many times where people have commented on my posts and I didn't catch it until months later. It would be nice to see all comments that were made to your posts and be able to comment it on them quickly. I think this would make for much more discussion. Maybe there could be an option where you can see comments made on other people's posts that you have also commented on as well.

-I agree with more cities in the "Browse By City" section.

-"Hot topics" section should go, it appears to serve no useful function.

-I like the layout but it could use a bit more colour. There's too much grey. It should be livened up a bit.

-The Popular Articles section doesn't work. It goes by month and is cumulative based on how many views it has received that month. If the Frozen Cat article or the Bike Courier articles had have been posted on March 29th, they never would have made it there despite the fact that they are some of the most popular articles on the site.

-The city list needs to be cleaned up. The editors should go through all the cities and fix typos as well as putting all the cities under one name so that you don't see "New York, NY", "New York City", "New York, NY, USA", etc. They should all be the same. It should also be decided whether it is ok to post by different boroughs and neighbourhoods or if it should go strictly by city (I would suggest strictly by city then neighbourhoods, boroughs, etc. can be noted inside the post as I do with mine [maybe a separate box could be made for this purpose]).

-Maybe all the cities that have been entered after the clean up can be put in a drop box and new cities can be entered in a text box which can then be managed by the editors.

-I've suggested this before and I probably should have acted on my suggestion (since it was very much embraced by editors) but users should send in Citynoise headers with their own cities which can be randomly displayed after each refresh. I think it would be good to make the site much nicer looking and also more personal and interactive.

-Would a "Most Popular Articles Ever" box be workable or would it just cause people to try to pad views to get their posts to the top?

-Formatting instructions should be displayed with the comment box. I've been using the site for quite awhile and I often forget how to make something italic and have to open the Post Your Own Article page to see.

-If more editors are needed, Id love to volunteer. Maybe other posters who visit quite often would be open to it as well.

I think that's all I have. I love the site and can't wait to see how you make it even better!

This has reminded me to ask again to get my name changed on my posts. I emailed once before and I don't know if I ever responded or not. I'll send one out now.

God, if I could sit down and write my papers like I did this, I'd have an hour worth of homework a week!

Peter: 13th Mar 2007 - 03:15 GMT

i plan on doing some major editing to the city list... making stuff consistent. i go through it every now and then, but have let it slide recently... good point. ill jump on that when im bored at work tomorrow...

also, ill be sure to follow up on changing names on your posts, sirhcbre. feel free to email editors at citynoise dot org... sorry if your past emails may have been swallowed in spam... you cant imagine how many spams we get at that addy. the shit gets hopelessly nebulous.

also: i agree with making sirhcbre an editor. this guy knows whats up. the more the merrier...

Catherine Penfold-Waxman: 13th Mar 2007 - 15:30 GMT

I agree with most previous comments. The hot topics doesn't function as I expect you'd hoped. It just highlights the searches for gangs and sex.

I think that the overall grey is perfect. Color will detract from the photos. Shade of grey set the mechanics of the site slightly in the background and highlights the postings. I say this as a designer: keep it simple. Simple is always better.

Once I got the hang of posting, it's very simple.

I also volunteer for anything you need help with.

EvilGentleman: 13th Mar 2007 - 17:31 GMT

I would agree with the majority of what has been said, but I will state my opinions on each issue, so it becomes obvious where I stand.

I think the best way to have notification on a user's past posts
(without resorting to a mandatory account system, which I think would detract greatly from citynoise's grassroots appeal) would be to design summary pages for the individual authors. The current system brings you to page 1 of however many pages are needed to cover all the author's posts, at 30 posts per page. That system is fine, I happen to like it very much. But if we inserted a cover page that had an author's ten most recent posts, a list of their five most popular posts, recent comments by the author and recent comments on the author's pages, this page could then link to the currently existing page 1 of the list of the author's articles.

The names on comments should be clickable as well.

Comments should also have a preview button, perhaps producing a popup like the photo posting window. This would make formatting errors in comments more likely to catch before posting.

The article listings for authors should also have a number in brackets after each article title, indicating how many photos are in it, so those who are not reading the text, but merely browsing the photos, are better guided. I am thinking mainly of non-English speakers when I suggest this, since it must be quite the experience for a unilingual Chinese person to browse this site.

An additional note with article titles showing the number of comments on that article (maybe LJ style?) would be helpful as well.

For extreme high-volume articles like Motorist vs Courier or A Grisly Example of Man's Inhumanity, parsing the comments into additional comment pages might be useful. Might I suggest using the existing magic number of 30 for comments? Any article with more than 30 comments should automatically generate a second page with up to 30 more comments, and so on. The Inhumanity post, with 190 comments, would be seven pages long. Motorist vs Courier, well, that one is long no matter how you do it. But at least when people refresh the last page of comments, they would not be reloading the pictures and hundreds of comments as well. This would save citynoise and Saturn5 significant amounts of bandwidth.

It might also make sense to add the criteria of ten or less pictures per page. So if I post another article with 30 or so pictures, after the tenth picture, you would see a "more" link that takes you to the next page of the article, where there are another 10 pictures, and so on. This way, the longest a page would get is 10 pictures and 30 comments.

I am going to have to create some drop-down menus in Excel and do a screen capture in order to show you what I have in mind for the Best of categories, and for filtered navigation in general. It might take me a day or so to get around to finishing that. But think multiple filters selected from drop-down menus, and you get the picture.

I agree, the Hot Topics list is not useful at all. Besides, I have to resist the temptation to do this:
,
which probably just exponentially magnified the number of hits this page will get.

City name formatting is a bit of a sticky issue, since there is the need for an understandable nomenclature standard on the one hand, and the occasional need for abnormal locations such as "on the road", "Canada", "In the depths of my mind", or as in the case of this article itself, "Worldwide" on the other hand. Bearing this in mind, I think Sirhcbre's idea of drop-boxes for cities is a good one, although differing levels of local divisions could get difficult. For example, if each level were to get a drop-box, how many levels would be appropriate? The way the UK is configured, city-county-country-nation would work best, as in "Plymouth, Cornwall, England, UK". But if you were to impose that on the USA, that would be overkill, such as "Houston, Harris County, Texas, USA". And then of course, there are other anomalies like my personal habit of referring to Native American communities as being part of the Native nation to which they belong, as my personal politics cause me to view our lands as being sovereign nations under occupation. Any posts from East Jerusalem would also encounter similar problems, as the author would have very strong opinions as to whether or not it was Israel or Palestine, and to alter that would cause great offense. Yet all this causes the city list to become unneccesarily cluttered, so a solution is sorely needed. If only interactive maps were not such a major hassle, and bandwidth-intensive...

I think the best option is to have either a drop-down menu listing the 50 most commonly-used cities along with a manual entry box, or to set the cookies that keep our names to also include the 10 most recent cities we have entered in our posts, and the drop-down menu will be customized by our cookies, along with a manual entry box. I think the editors will have to continue to edit locations that are misspelled or manually entered out of format, it is the safest way.

Multiple picture uploads would greatly improve things, and Sirhcbre's thumbnail idea sounds awesome. Even better would be to simplify it with drag-and-drop functionality, and eliminate the need to remember what picture is what #.

As far as the idea of editor nominations/volunteering go, I would suggest that citynoise implement a tiered editorial system, with the current editors being the top tier, and new editors becoming the second tier, unless the top-level editors choose to admit a new member to their ranks.

The top-level editors should be able to:
- have full control where it comes to deleting and/or editing
- make changes to the website's structure
- lock/unlock articles
- block troublesome ISPs (spammers, etc)
- control all email accounts in the citynoise.org domain
- alter or remove second-level editor privileges

The second-level editors should be able to:
- edit posts and comments
- place spam posts/comments into a spam folder, where a top-level editor can either delete or reinstate it

An alternate possibility would be to have the current editors able to use a system similar to NTFS permissions, where second-level editors are managed similar to user accounts, with each editing attribute applied individually, as best fits the focus and abilities of the respective second-level editors.

My nominations for second-level editors are (alphabetically): barry, Biff, Catherine Penfold-Waxman, elaine, fuzzytank, GGP, groovehouse, jack, joey, Sirhcbre, steelisreal and Tyfoid Kid. And if aer suzuki, Elicar and zagg should return, I believe they would also be good at it.

I also volunteer my own services in whatever capacity is deemed appropriate.

upfromflames: 14th Mar 2007 - 00:04 GMT

oh yes, do get rid of those hot topics.

fuzzytank: 14th Mar 2007 - 02:09 GMT

I come here because there are no profiles, and I dont think the addition of optional profiles would make the citynoise experience better. I like the feeling of any body can throw in anything they think is interesting and it adds to a bigger mass instead of a post count. (i liked when the post counts were removed from the complete author list by the way) I mean its pretty easy to tell who is really active and who is new but it stays a bit vague.

Yay for multiple image uploads.

notifications for responses... on other forums I have always said yes please at the start, but currently they are filling up my junk mailbox faster than fake medicine ads. So I vote No to automatic notifications, but somehow a search function that you could add to 'yourname' modifications 'date range' that would pick up on any responses would be pretty sweet


Interesting additions....

mabye ability to select grayscale tone for initial post incase the images dont have frames (from cell esp) and blend to much with the neutral bg.

A requests area? as in the repeated mention of citynoise book images always gets lost in the regular posts... or if somebody wanted to request their old neighborhood .... i dunno how it would work but if you could request things in general to the whole public then once again less reason to have profiles


EvilGentleman: 14th Mar 2007 - 03:00 GMT

Oh, I almost forgot. Scroll back up to the top of this page. See the clipboard on one side and the text on the other? I want to be able to do that here.

And concerning potential editors, I forgot to mention grange, the always present, ever thoughtful grange. chiamattt too. Aaaaa, you guys get the picture. There are so many veterans here who can help, anytime you editors need a hand, you have a lot of citynoisers here waiting to help. Just say the word.

As for fuzzytank's ideas about request pages and feedback, how about adding a page that is connected to the "contact" link presently up at the top of the page under the citynoise logo? That page could have links to the "feedback" and "requests" pages, as well as the "mailto:editors@citynoise.org" link that is originally there. And maybe even a few mailing addresses for snail mail? How much would it cost to rent out three mailboxes, one each in Toronto, NYC and Horncastle? It would be somewhere for people to send donations and other goodies. Hmmm, maybe a Paypal donation link as well?

jack: 14th Mar 2007 - 04:36 GMT

once upon a time, an aging man, was left home, alone, his wife had gone off to work, his children all at their places and with their families, and this old man, well older gentleman, and not evil, was browsing the web for photos of new york and wound up on citynoise. i excitedly ran through the posts, peter seemed the closest to me and i kind of bonded with him and his pic's. then hool's fantastic city street scenes that would immediately launch funny thoughts in my mind of the people in the pictures, i enjoyed joey in california, elaine in london, catherine leaning out of a building just to give us a pic, evil's commentary (you should change your name to gentleman), groovehouse and so many others and guy in africa. you seem to have the basic's down pat for this site, you can drop the hot topics because they do not add to the quality of our lives although i have enjoyed the rap crap talk, seemed amusing, the gangsters who would cry if they really met a real gangster, i hadn't posted too many multiple photos in one posting, even though i know how to do it, it's because i'm trying to run up many posts so i can make it into the authors list, i would love to post a movie of my landing in santa anna but i don't think it can be done, fuzzytank is right the list count does add a goal to me to compete in more posts, that was my business, accomplishing goals, so when i see a count i jump at it but i don't want to post any old thing, i want it good quality post and informational. evil make some great comments and i agree with them, profiles are ok, i mean i always sneak my picture into my photos, i think its fun to add a little mystique, there should be a chat section and another section for story writing where we all could write in using our alter egos as people in the story, and there should be perhaps 4 to 6 writers and thats all, as they say too many cooks spoil the broth, but you can add a section for spectator comments. i like citynoise, it's easy to post and you know if i could do it anyone can, we should state the camera we are using, thats important, i think, we should always do what city noise says, state the scene, state and city, very important. hey, i volunteered for the army rangers so i'll volunteer here for you guys. just call out my name and you know wherever iam i'll come running to see you again.

Catherine Penfold-Waxman: 14th Mar 2007 - 12:40 GMT

Jack, my heart is always warmed by your writing.

EvilG's paypal button is a really good idea, too.

joey: 17th Mar 2007 - 02:10 GMT

in the comments box. maybe make the comment name part smaller - Guy McLaren: 16th Mar 2007 - 03:10 GMT - Catherine Penfold-Waxman: 14th Mar 2007 - 12:40 GMT - jack: 14th Mar 2007 - 04:36 GMT

joey: 17th Mar 2007 - 20:47 GMT

what about my idea of a magnifier tool? is this an idea whose time has come?

joey: 18th Mar 2007 - 04:26 GMT

once hot topics is gone (the majority say this is wasted space) you can expand the left side of the screen with more listings for browse by city, popular articles, recent articles, and browse by author.
on the right hand side add a box; archives- one year ago today, two years agot today. you know, like a today in history thing.
i see some web sites where the boxes on the margins 'float' as one scrolls down the page, and always stay in view.

chiamattt: 18th Mar 2007 - 05:57 GMT

Yo, there should be a 'go to top' anchor at the bottom of each page.

joey: 19th Mar 2007 - 05:26 GMT

i second the 'go to top' button

EvilGentleman: 19th Mar 2007 - 05:53 GMT

I've noticed that after a month or so, the hit counter on the bottom starts becoming very inaccurate, as far as how many months or years it has been since the article was posted.

If you do decide to retain the present method of recording hits, the calendar portion needs some serious tweaking.

I do hope citynoise will continue to record hits, and that current counts will be carried over. I find the hit counts to be a very effective way of measuring how much attention a cetain post is gathering, and this in turn helps me learn which articles are done well, and which need work. It also helps me experiment with different elements such as titles and tags, to see what happens. I know hits alone do not signify a good article, since I have some suggestively-named articles with a very high number of hits, despite having mediocre pictures in them, while the pictures I am most artistically proud of have garnered some praise, but nowhere as many hits as some other posts. But the hit counts are one of the more important measurements I have at my disposal to make an assessment, so please leave those in.

EvilGentleman: 19th Mar 2007 - 06:03 GMT

Oh, and "go to top" sounds good to me as well.

But the floating boxes would need frames, I think. And frames = trouble, in my book.

I like joey's "today in history" idea, but as a supplement to, and not a replacement of the random article section. And the random articles should exclude the current month, or maybe even the current year. The random articles are one of the best features here.

EvilGentleman: 19th Mar 2007 - 06:16 GMT

Damn, now I can't stop thinking.

Maybe the authors listing should be ranked by total hits, and not by articles posted. I mean, I'm closing in on hool's total article count, yet I am nowhere near as heavily viewed as he is. If citynoise were a book website, and authors were ranked by number of books published as opposed to total sales, the list would be topped by Harlequin romance novel authors like Anne Mather and Margaret Mayo, while authors such as Tom Clancy, Steven King, Ian Fleming, Mark Twain, Robert E. Howard and Joanne K. Rowling would not even register on the list. (In case you are wondering about my knowledge of Harlequins, my family used to own a used book store)

zagg: 19th Mar 2007 - 17:46 GMT

I am going of few words this afternoon:

I will tbe the unpopular one and say I'd thing it would be a good idea to have registration.

I do like the idea of an optional profile.

I would accept the nomination of being a 'second-level editor'


chiamattt: 17th Apr 2007 - 04:28 GMT

so, um, when is any of this going to be implemented? Is there a 'test' site up anywhere?

Jamie: 17th Apr 2007 - 13:13 GMT

The groundwork is already underway. As you can imagine there's a huge amount of planning to be completed before we can even begin, not to mention database maintenance... and real life drama. Ack!

I'm not overly keen on unleashing a dev site to the public at large, but rest assured, once there's something viable to have a peek at, you'll be on the list of beta testers.

EvilGentleman: 22nd Apr 2007 - 20:22 GMT

I was just thinking, why not keep the hot topics, but disable the auto-updating, just manually update it monthly, including only the top 10 searches related to actual content at citynoise.

CartLegger: 23rd Apr 2007 - 02:07 GMT

Word to EvilGentlman's suggestions. Why let thugs take over this site, by virtue of quantity, when there is so much quality going on?

steelisreal: 1st May 2007 - 06:42 GMT

I kinda gave up on the site instead of doing anything to help it but my feelings still stand in what I posted in my hot topics post that didn't get much attention, so I am just going to past it here...


This is my first post without a picture.

I just want to sort of rant. What is making people come to this site? The hot topics for searches are all about sex and gangs?

Also it is great to be back on citynoise.org but can we get some user friendliness? I sent an email along time ago to the address under contacts which I thought would be Peter, and since Peter has never ignored me, I am guessing he didn't get it.

I would love to see a way to check your pictures for new comments so that you can tell if people are posting on your stuff from 2 years ago so that I can reply without going through every picture I have ever posted. I mean recent comments shows everyone's can we do it so I can search for steelisreal recent comments?

Another thing is I miss the top users thing. The top 5 get to see how many photos they have posted but the rest of us have to judge by how bold our name is, can we get some love to?

ok rant is over.

I love the site and I really should post more often instead of in spurts cause I have tons of pics. I guess I was just thinking they were not good enough, but no more from now on everything goes.

thanks again for a great site and I am back wooooooo!!!

I have more and more photos I want to add to the site but will they ever be seen with all the gangland stuff that goes on.. they just get pushed to the back unless somehow they get "bumped" back up for people to see.

EvilGentleman: 22nd May 2007 - 00:11 GMT

How did you get your comment to always stay on top? Neat feature.

EvilGentleman: 22nd May 2007 - 00:12 GMT

Ooooh, it's in the future.... sneaky... ;-)

Jamie: 22nd May 2007 - 00:23 GMT

Anyone can do it. All it takes is a De Lorean DMC-12, a flux capacitor and 1.2 gigawatts of electricity. Easy.

EvilGentleman: 22nd May 2007 - 01:19 GMT

Damn, and I just threw my local door-to-door DeLorean saleman out on his ass an hour ago. I have a few flux capacitors kicking about, and I recently learned how to harness the hot air coming out of my mouth, so I have about 30 terawatts of electricity at my disposal. But no DeLorean. Damn.

CartLegger: 22nd May 2007 - 03:04 GMT

Looking very forward to that future Citynoise.

Jamie: 13th Jun 2008 - 13:18 GMT

citynoise.org development blog (of sorts) jamazon.co.uk/tags/citynoise.org

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