How Can We Organize This Site Better?

A common complaint among Consumerist readers is that we’re missing good system for organizing old posts.

Currently your options are:

• Consumerist Search box
• Search by tags
• Use Google “search within a site”

All of which can be awkward, to say the least.

After kicking this complaint upstairs, our boss asked us to put together a proposal.

So let’s think about a new way…. Some wiki? Something that uses horizontal space instead of just a vertical shaft?

(Bear in mind that we should be deploying a site redesign rather soon, so no need to tell us about the posts floating in a black lake and all, that will be fixed.)

Drop your knowledge in the comments or tips@consumerist.com. — BEN POPKEN

Comments

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  1. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    I like the wiki idea.

    Also, perhaps have some sort of organization by type of company discussed, and browse companies…like a Yahoo kinda break down.

  2. JLam4911 says:

    I think a search box is the best idea. I was surprised to see you didn’t have one. Weird.

  3. mfergel says:

    ***I think a search box is the best idea. I was surprised to see you didn’t have one. Weird.***

    Wierer still is that button in the right hand corner that says “Search Consumerist” with a text area above it. >

  4. mfergel says:

    ***I think a search box is the best idea. I was surprised to see you didn’t have one. Weird.***

    Wierder still is the text box in the right hand corner with the “Search Consumerist” button right below it.

  5. kweee says:

    I think you need super-categories under which all other categories are organized.

    AOL
    Wal-Mart
    All others

    That should do the trick.

  6. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Um….I already see a search box.

  7. Kornkob says:

    Maybe a forum that has real categories in it?

  8. MarcAnthony says:

    But I like the big black lake and the white comment island with the red sand border!

  9. battlerobo says:

    i would also appreciate a nav bar that lists companies that are posted here… maybe a top 10 most posted, most commented on, most searched…

  10. battlerobo says:

    it just occured to me that the top 10 company thing might also be an incentive for those businesses to keep off of your list…

  11. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Battlerobo

    That sounds good, like the “Notorious 10″….or “Douchebag 10″….something like that….

  12. bambino says:

    I suggest ‘twatwaffle 10′

  13. bravo says:

    Battlerobo:

    I like that idea, too. That’s similar to weblogs inc sites like autoblog, and I definitely find it handy for navigating older stuff over there. It’s really just a handy way to present popular tags, right? But I think there should also be links for more general topics aside from just company names. For example, autoblog has links of the front page for “motorsports,” “recalls,” “safety,” “concept cars,” “suv’s,” etc. but they also have links to articles about specific brands such as “ford,” “bmw,” etc.

  14. mackz says:

    A page devoted to the Consumerist Tool Kit subdivided into categories of business type or rated by users in terms of usefulness would be smashtastic.
    I always appreciate the Tool Kit posts but they are with us so fleetingly.

  15. 24fan24 says:

    I was never a big fan of the color scheme.

  16. acambras says:

    I like mackz’s idea very much.

    Also, how about having a “most popular posts” section that truly reflects the most popular recent posts? Obviously, the weddingdepot.com posts would be at the top of this week’s list. BTW, I’m using # of comments as a measure of popularity. Recently when you did a “banned commenters” post, there were at least 80 comments on it — it clearly caused a bit of a stir — but that post never made your “most popular” list.

    I guess I’m thinking about this because the first weddingdepot.com post has fallen off of page one, but there are still a lot of interesting comments being posted. The lazy girl in me would like to follow that post without doing a lot of page-turning and scrolling. :-)

  17. Judge373 says:

    huh, huh huh…you said “vertical shaft”.

  18. Yeah I second never having liked the color scheme. And plus the black lake is annoying. I don’t think the fade border looks good at all.

    While I’m being so honest, I’m not a fan of the logo either. It looks like it belongs on a b-movie horror film logo.

    I’d like to see something with a wider shaft, and maybe softer colors

  19. LTS! says:

    Definitely a system to show the most popular posts based on comments would be good. You could also create one based on views as well.

    I wouldn’t also mind a way to rank a post as useful or useless, etc. That way you could avoid such wonderful posts as complaints about traveling in the back of an airplane.

  20. jacques says:

    It’s tough on the longer comment threads to come back. Some way of seeing “comments after yours” or “mark prior comments read” would be nice if feasible. Also a way to ignore posters would be nice so that we can ignore the trolls before they’re banned (even if it’s as simple as metatagging a comment as a + or -, or as complicated as a digg or slashdot). Come to think about it, how about a move to slashcode? :)

  21. Antediluvian says:

    how about a calendar-style grid w/ post titles in small-enough text (could be difficult) for an archive view?

  22. GenXCub says:

    That big black area to the left looks nice and juicy. Any way to categorize things? Check out the blog at http://gofugyourself.typepad.com/

  23. Sam Glover says:

    Looking forward to the redesign, as I’m in the “meh” category on the color scheme.

    I’d like to see a more limited/consistent use of tags, and some method of browsing by tag. Unless I’m missing it, there’s no way to just look at the tags and browse through them. And perhaps a “Companies” tag with all the company subtags underneath would help clean things up visually.

    I’m not sure a forum is a good idea, but a well-implemented wiki could be interesting.

  24. Megs says:

    I don’t think a forum would go over very well. Just imagine the trolls.

    That said, I really like Jacques’ idea of having something that would mark the prior comments as read.

  25. phloighd says:

    Gotta say, I love the color scheme. Black like Ken Lay’s heart, with a tinge of red — which is what the Consumerist makes douchebags see!

    Perhaps more of a separation between news stories from other sites (or the national news), emails from readers, and how-to posts. I love all three, but separating these three areas would be a great start.

  26. thatoneguy says:

    Well, see, take a look at the 43folders wiki. I’d definitely be willing to help contribute to making a clean HOWTO portal page, an extensive, well-organized Consumerist Kit entry, etc. etc.

    Well shit, just thinking about it… I’m liking this idea a lot! Consumerist wiki for the horde!

    But before we can even start, we’d need to be sure we have the reader-bas willing to contribute – what’s a rough guestimate of the amount of unique visitors this site has?

    And before we can even start throwing that idea around, we have to think of a clever and witty portmanteau of the words “consumer”, “wiki” and maybe even “ist”.

    Also, I do love me some tags. Mm-mm.

  27. ckilgore says:

    conwikist! wikisumerist!

    oh – wait – you wanted clever and witty …

  28. synergy says:

    I’m with the ideas of consistent and searchable tags and the marking off of comments. The ranking of most complained about companies is pretty good too.

  29. Ben Popken says:

    We could have a more codified system for applying tags. That would assist in any subsequent organization effort. We could host the wiki inside the existing consumerist.com site, yes?

  30. synergy says:
  31. I havent read through these comments yet, but how about categories on the right or left hand side based on the article tags?

    I love the vertical shaft, please dont get rid of it.

    I definately think some sort of category browsing would help out. Nested categories even. I do not utilize the feed options from this site so some days I have a difficult time keeping up with the new posts. Sometimes so many posts are posted at once that I always miss those few at the beginning of the batch.

    Maybe if there were a few more minutes in between each post? Instead of the few seconds between each post.

  32. After reading the previous comments I believe marking comments as read would definatly make things a bit more manageable. Because of the current layout, I sometimes skip posts that have more than 15 – 20 comments.

  33. Nygdan says:

    How about just having all archived material presented as a regular discussion board, with multiple forums that open into lists of topics, and with the topics opening up as simple threads?

    Though, I image it’d be difficult to get the ‘opening post’ to jive, what with it being broken up as it is now, into ‘breif’ and ‘full article’ sections.