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Monday, October 18, 2004 :::

A Conversation with a Wondir Regular

(We received the following email via feedback@wondir.com. Follow-up comments are from Larry, our head of programming. Permission was granted to publish the thread and identify the author of the original email.)

First of all- is the Wondir team planning to redo the website's design anytime soon? If you are, you might want to take into consideration these following points:

1. Would be a good idea to have an auto refreshing page for the question board. That way people can get all the questions as they come in, and don't have to keep refreshing to see the new questions

Good idea. We've heard this from others too.

2. It might also be a good idea to have a sidebar or something, listing the number of people currently signed in and who they are. Maybe have it so that people who get disconnected from the site can easily find who they were just talking to; or even if just for the regulars who want to talk to their fellow regulars...

We are in the planning stages on an overhaul of WIM. One of the things we're considering is a "Wondir Buddies" (final name TBD) list in a separate window that might contain presence information for other Wondir users that you select, maybe also folks who have answered your questions or whose questions match your alerts. And some other goodies. What do you think of putting it in its own window vs. a sidebar on the main window?

3. Maybe you could start a wondir-regulars chatroom where only members who have a position in the highest 20% of answerers or something can have access to. I bring this up because on several occasions I have seen people try to get together with people they met the other day to talk, but find it best to chat on an instant messaging service or chatting website.

4. Have all the questions that come in from the Answerbus website appear as a different color on the question board. This would be helpful to those who are regulars on the site and really want to help real people. Posting answers to questions submitted by websites is at most times useless.

I understand your feelings about this. But there are several reasons why we don't want to encourage people to skip questions originating from outside of Wondir:

1) You never know who might be looking at the answer you post - it's not necessarily just the person who asked the question.

2) Some of the 3rd-party website users do "click through" and view the responses on our site. (The questions *are* coming from real people, just not directly.)

3) The questions and answers go into the database that we search to provide "related questions and answers" results on the results page you see when you ask a question; so every answer helps.

4) We will be making questions and answers available to a wider audience through such means as RSS feeds. So, answering a question on Wondir is never useless!

5. Make it available for any user to report another user. This would be helpful if at any time a user gets out of hand and insults a visitor or fellow user. People, with the click of a button, could have that user reported.

Good idea. Would require additional staffing on our end to respond to "reports," which we have not ruled out.

6. Have a page praising people in the highest percentage of answerers. This
would give people motivation to stay and participate.
How is this different from our Wondir 50?

7. Maybe it would be good to have a page on the site that lists suggested websites for all the different categories. This would be helpful to people who are unable to find an answer on the Wondir site. For example: I noticed a real large percentage of questions related to the pregnancy category, a lot of these questions involve topics that are covered in full on other websites. (The possibility also exists to gain a profit from this through the advertising of these sites).

We are looking at a variety of ways to partner with other sites.

8. Instead of having people enter their areas of expertise in their profiles, have it as a question in bullet form, where people can click on their areas (it makes it clearer to the user). That can be done, while at the same time, if users answer a lot of questions in a certain category, they are listed under that category. (This occurred to me because last night I answered many questions in the pregnancy category and there was one visitor that asked for me through posting a question ("is neonfx out there and available to answer a question?")). She was looking for me because she had noticed I answered a lot of questions in the pregnancy category and she needed advice in that category.

Sorry to be redundant, but good idea(s).

9. Make mentioning a user's nickname in a question a default question alert. This would of been useful in the case I described in the last point where someone was looking for me. I have a messenger service (msn) that alerts me of new incoming emails, and this gives me a very useful way to know when certain alerts come in.

Some people would hate this, and anybody can easily do this themselves manually, so we'll let things be.

10. On that note, make the topic of the question alert the subject heading in the emails Wondir sends. This is useful because the questions in full don't fit in the subject column in most email services while in the inbox page. This would be useful in the case that a user places a higher priority over certain alerts.

By "topic" do you mean the alert name? On the flip side, if you get multiple alerts for the same alert profile, the first few words of the question might help you to differentiate between and/or prioritize them.

11. Give warning if you do perform changes to the site, either in email form, or as a separate tab on the main Wondir site. This would be helpful for many to smoothly adapt to new features.

We do try to inform everybody via the "weekly wondir" emails but are also considering communication methods more directly tied to the site - like a separate tab or a Wondir Buddies status window (as I mentioned above).

In all, I love Wondir.com and the idea behind it. Your team really has come up with a brilliant idea to make many people happier, a brilliant way for many people to seek advice on anything. Points I mentioned in this email are just suggestions for making Wondir.com a better site, just things that have gone through my mind these past few days, not at all things that need to be done urgently.

I would really appreciate it if this email is replied to by a person and not by an automated response email service.

My pleasure.

Thank you for your time,
Joshua Gonzalez (aka NeonFx)

::: posted by Allen Searls at 4:19 PM

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