[MUD-Dev] Re: Mud websites

Adam Wiggins adam at angel.com
Thu Jun 11 10:19:49 New Zealand Standard Time 1998

On Wed, 10 Jun 1998, John Bertoglio wrote:
> From: J C Lawrence <claw at under.engr.sgi.com>
> >I have attempted to use a wide variety of web based message boards,
> >from those at various UOL sites, Utne reader, other magazines,
> >SlashDot, and on.  Several of them I've really wanted to use
> >extensively for the data they contained.  But, I've been rebuffed
> >every time.  I don't find them usable, not even slightly usable.  I
> >can actually use them, with a lot of work and teeth gritting, but the
> >sheer machination invelved *just* to read a message (What?  I have to
> >click on that little icon for every single message?) is painful
> >enough, but to actually post with those horrors is torture.  I utterly
> >fail to understand *HOW* they get any traffic.  They are almost
> >mind-numbing to use, to read, to try and follow threads, to post
> >messages to, etc.
> >
> >Yet, quite obviously, people do use them, and do post messages with
> >them.  <boggle>
> >
> >Perhaps there's a trick?
> There are a few good and many bad web implementations. The nature of the
> web lends itself to more of a "I post to a subject, you post to a new
> subject" in linear format. Or "here is my question, what is the answer?".
> Threaded systems usually are impossible to read once they reach any level
> of complexity. Some exceptioniosn:
> www.west-wind.com has an excellent board he uses for tech support. His
> web/database product includes the source code for it.
> WebBoard by O'Riely (the book and web server people) is also worth looking
> at.  < www.webboard.com >  It includes an IRC style chat server. The 2.0
> version is quite robust and is included in a book-CD package.
> Both of these products are fully customizable so if you build a crappy user
> interface, it is your fault. Once again, "The power to create and control,
> is the power to make ugly."

I think the main problem is the lack of responsiveness.  Even sitting on a
T1, you've still got one or several seconds of pause while the browser
does all the host lookups and the new page is loaded.  Couple this with
the lack of hotkeys and the fact that hotspots/buttons change position
each page, and you're looking at 10 - 20 seconds to navigate a single
page.  When I'm reading email or (back a few years) USENET, I pound
through menus and messages about once a second.  For this reason I find
web boards to be unusable, as JC does.  IMO a much better option if you
wanted folks to be able to access your message boards offline is to set up
a news server.  3dfx has a real nice one that has 20 or so groups
(news.3dfx.com), the group I read (3dfx.glide.linux) gets a fair amount of
traffic.  Unfortunately they seemed to have redesigned their page and I
can't find the links to all the groups, but news.3dfx.com is still up.
This is IMO a much better solution, since you get the responsiveness and
power of a client program, without having to write any client yourself,
since everyone already has one.


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