Hey everyone. As you (probably) know there are two ways to view this forum: flat and threaded view. Threaded view has always been the default, for both historical and technical reasons. However, in talking to many of you it's become clear that flat view makes it easier for people to stay up to date and contribute to the forum. With that in mind, I'm happy to share a new approach that I'm beta testing right now. I think will work better for everyone.
TL;DR: flat view will be the default and preferred view but single posts can still be linked to and indexed by search engines.
How it works today:
- Anonymous users see only threaded view.
- Registered users are defaulted to threaded view.
- Registered users can switch to flat view (if they know it exists), which applies from then on.
How it will work in the future:
The best way to understand is the graphic below (click to view full size). The key points are also summarized below the graphic.
- Anonymous and registered users will have the same experience.
- Clicking on links from a topic list page will ALWAYS take you to that topic in “flat view”.
- Within a topic, clicking the date link associated with a particular reply will take you to that single post (in threaded view). This allows for direct linking and indexing of specific posts.
- At the top (and bottom) of each single post is a message indicating that the post is part of a larger thread. That message includes two convenience links back to flat view: (1) jump to the top of the thread or (2) jump to that post in context of the thread
- When viewing a single post, you can also choose to browse via threaded replies or the next/prev buttons, but flat view is now the default and preferred way of viewing forum threads.
- The “View Flat” and “View Threaded” links at the top of a topic/post still exist, but they now act only as navigation for that particular topic, instead of a preference for how you want to view all future topics.
How your experience will be different:
If you normally use Flat View:
- Day to day browsing of the forums will feel the same.
- When following links from a Google search result the following scenarios are possible: (1) If the link goes to the first post in a topic it will load in flat view or (2) If the link is to a single post reply then it will load as a single post in threaded view and from there you can easily click through to the flat version.
- Over time Google will index all of the flat topic pages, now that their crawler can see them. This should improve the find-ability of content without breaking any existing links to single replies that have already been indexed.
If you normally use Threaded View:
- This will be a bigger change, but one that I hope you’ll prefer. The Flat View is more similar to what is found on other forums and is more conducive to quickly browsing many replies within a thread.
- If you used threaded view before because it was the default, and didn’t know about flat view, then I’m sorry you didn’t find it earlier. I believe you’ll like this version better.
- If you are an anonymous user (not logged in) then you previously had no choice but to use threaded view. With this change, forum navigation and view options are the same whether you are logged in or not.
- If you prefer threaded view you can always click “view threaded” at the top of any topic.
These changes are currently working on a beta site that I'm testing. I'm not rushing to launch it because I want to test it more and make sure I'm thinking through all of the search engine optimization implications. That said, I should be ready to launch soon.
Hopefully this will be as seamless transition, at least for those of you who already prefer flat view. From what I've seen, that's most of you.