Occasionally we've been wanting a way to highlight specific forum topics. From time to time we'd like to announce a new feature, or admit when we screwed up, or inform our customer's about a shipping delay and sometimes it's hard to break through all the noise of llamas on the run or what color that white and gold dress actually is.
The traditional way that clunky, old forum software has tried to solve for this problem is with a feature called "stickying". You've probably seen this before, where sticky threads always show up in front of other threads.
I think this is a terrible user experience. Every one of the forums I've been on that use the sticky feature basically end up looking like the internet equivialent of a bunch of flyers you'd find on a college campus student activity board or a bus stop.
These sticky threads are usually filled with a bunch of unwelcoming, meta garbage about "THE RULES OF THIS DISCUSSION FORUM" or "YOU MUST READ THIS BEFORE YOU POST". Nothing says, "here's a community with a bunch of assholes" quite like 5 sticky posts in bold, ALL CAPS text warning me to be on my best behavior seconds after I visit the site for the first time.
What's worse is that as a normal user, in most forum systems, I'm not able to make these sticky posts go away. I could have read every word in each of the sticky threads a hundred times, yet each time I look over a list of threads I have to skip over the same set of sticky posts I've seen dozens of times.
Introducing: Broadcasts (a friendlier sticky)
Broadcasts look like this:
Available on mobile too:
It works like this:
- We'll occasionally "broadcast" forum topics from time to time.
- Broadcasts are promoted to the top of the topic list page (https://meh.com/forum) for any users who have not viewed that topic before.
- If you're signed in and view a broadcasted forum topic it's removed from the top of your forum list and returned to the normal sort order of the forums.
We're going to try this out for a bit to see if this is a friendlier sticky.
- 22 comments, 35 replies