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Here's a statement of the obvious: The opinions expressed here are those of the participants, not those of the Mutual Fund Observer. We cannot vouch for the accuracy or appropriateness of any of it, though we do encourage civility and good humor.

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Permission problem -- clicking on "Activity"

Apologies if this is a redundant "issue report".

Just browsing around, I tried to click on "Activity" in the black menu bar that also has "Discussions", "Inbox" and my board handle. This gave me a big bold "Permission Problem" message. If I don't have permission, I'd rather not see the menu choice -- failing that, I'd like to see it grayed out and disabled.

What I was hoping to see when I clicked on "Activity" was a depiction of activity by different participants -- showing perhaps recent posters sorted by who had posted most recently, with an alternative sort by message count (or, better, "recent" -- last 30 days -- message count)

Some kind of function like that would help compensate for the much-lamented loss of the exploded tree view.

I would actually prefer an "explodable" tree view to the old FundAlarm style, but that's a personal preference.



  • Hi Greg- I've mentioned the general unhappiness with the current "Discussion" setup to David, and he's taken note of some of the issues. He is very hard pressed for time right now, but I'd guess that there will be more changes as time permits. You are quite right re the "Activity" selection, and I really like your suggestions for alternatives that "button" might actually be used for.

    Regards- OJ
  • edited April 2011
    That Activity link on the main page is used to see all activity on the site (not just a particular user) and it used to work when site came up first.

    It is disabled from average joe user but the link is there. I believe if it is decided that such function is not going to be present to average joe user, it better be removed.

    AFAIK, if those sort of customizations are not already available through the admin console, some programming customization is required than also needs to be maintained when site moves to a new version of site software (which makes upgrades to new versions, say to pick security fixes more difficult).
  • Yep, same here. I get "permission denied" or similar message when clicking "activity" link. Wonder if there's a way to view list of members. That's what I was actually looking for just to see how many have joined and possibly be able to click on some that I enjoy following.
  • Yeah, that's the way it was working originally, but it also showed every change and entry that everyone of us made... in other words, a complete history of everything that everyone has done. I'm guessing that-

    a) this was sort of a privacy issue
    b) the listing, even in the first few days, was getting to be impossibly long

    I'm further guessing that they have just disabled general access temporarily until they decide what the permanent configuration will be. The wizards probably are able to use it for technical maintenance. Reminds me of a comment my mother once made when I criticized her use of light-duty electrical extension cords all over the place: "When I do it, it's "unsafe"; when you do it, it's "temporary". She did have a point.
  • The user and all related content has been deleted.
  • Hard to argue with that.
  • Two sides to that coin. I kinda side with privacy. Dont want someone being able to pull up all the stupid things I've said over a whole year. On the other hand, would be a way of holding folks accountable for their prognostications. Ouch!
  • edited November 2011
  • Well, the reason for the recycling is that we don't get any direct feedback from the tech crew, so we have no idea if they are working on an issue, don't want to mess with it, or intend to deal with it at a later time. Kind of frustrating, but they may very well be snowed under at the moment and have no time to communicate.
  • edited November 2011
  • Yessir. Two sides to that coin. I kinda side with privacy. Dont want someone being able to call up all the stupid things I've said. On the other hand
  • accipiter:

    A bit of a "rantback":

    I believe your rather civil, well-intentioned "rant" in defense of the overburdened, underbudgeted MFO team is unnecessary.

    1. We all know this is being put together on a shoestring, and largely with David's free time. We cannot pay him back his time, except with love and respect;-) We can, however, make the shoestring a bit bigger (because he does have $ costs as well). I am assuming that anyone sufficiently invested in the board to take the time to comment extensively on functionality is also sufficiently invested to throw, say, a $50 start-up contribution David's way using the Donate button at the bottom of the Support Us page. If you have not already made such a contribution, stop reading and correct this oversight right now.

    (Suggestion to the team, make that Donate button visible "above the fold" by making it a peer of the Amazon link, instead of something you have to scroll down to see.)

    2. Accipiter: I, too, have been in software development. In fact I still am. Trade-offs between user-requested customizations and long-term supportability are, as it were, my meat and drink. But a basic principle I have learned over the decades is that people read "help" text only under duress -- they go there when all else fails. If the functionality is perceived to be simple and familiar, and people can't figure things out, they don't read "help" -- they leave. So "blame the user" is not an effective response to issues.

    The reality is, any time you invite comments about a software project, you get both conflicting and redundant requests, unrealistic expectations about things that seem like they should be so simple, ill-thought out requests to start all over, and so on. That is all just part of the game; I am sure David's technical team expected all this; I hope David did, too. If not, now he knows.

    When I am a user on this board, I don't want to be obligated to read a "how to" list for features, or browse a forum to find out that a bug has already been reported. I am here for the content, plain and simple. I want the functionality to be as close to self-evident as possible. I want any learning about the board software that I have to do to be organic and situated in context. It is particularly important that this degree of ease-of-use be achieved with an online community that needs to continually be renewing itself with new members who start out as casual visitors.

    Unlike some others, I don't think replicating the functionality of the FundAlarm board software is a particularly worthy goal. I never liked it much; I had to overcome my initial confusion with the format over a period of months of casual visits before I felt comfortable posting. So I think transparency and ease-of-use for new visitors should take priority.

    But speaking only for my present day self, my prior experience with the contributors to the FundAlarm board means that I personally have an extremely high tolerance for everything short of a complete failure of the site to function. So any issue reports from me are not mainly for my own particular benefit. As long as David is writing and contributing, and rono, Investor, BobC, catch22 and (... countless others equally worthy of being named...) are posting, I'll be here.

    3. Is 21/300 contributors to the book suggestion list a good proportion? A fairly robust generalization about social computing, and social networks in general, is that the frequency distribution of contributions per contributor is long-tailed. We have terminology to account for this -- "lurkers" in online discussion groups, "long-time-listener-first-time-caller" on talk radio, and so on. So 21 of 300 is not a bad ratio.

    I will also note that in contrast with my lack of preparation before making my comments about apparent bugs or features, I took the time to read all previous contributions about book suggestions to make sure I was not making a redundant offering. I also read David's request twice, to make sure I understood what the two categories of books he was looking for were. I suspect others did the same, and that this is why a) there were no repetitions, and b) there were not more contributors. I saw some books identified I have heard recommended by other long-time FundAlarmers who did not post a response -- I suspect they said to themselves "ahh -- they've got it covered".

    Now, for me, back to the main event -- investing issues.

  • edited April 2011
    GFB: Good to see ya here. All in favor of grousing. However, feel compelled to offer a couple counter points to your otherwise excellent dissertation.

    Re: Inserting message being responded to in the new post. While I sometimes performed a simple cut and paste of key words, never understood why the entire prior message appeared again over at FA and generally knocked the old one out before adding some new thoughts. But, to each his own and thank you for the demo for those who feel the need to include it.

    Re: Book list, 300 members dont necessarily translate into 300 recommendations. Since David appears to be seeking the best books out there, its likely many have read one or more of these same books. We took book surveys on the old board from time to time and dont think we got near as many well considered responses at any one time as David has elicited. Consider too the age and maturity of the group. Not all of us are still reading investment books as might have done when starting out. Theres a tremendous amount of financial journalism now available through electronic media. I get more delivered to the Kindle every morning than could possibly hope to read in a day. And nowadays, if you wanta check the 20 year performance record, scope the manager, examine current holdings, or read the prospectus and annual reports on a fund your considering, its all just a few clicks away. Wasnt there when I started in the 70s and 80s. Agree these wont substitute for immersion in a thoughtful book on investing, but as I said, its likely many have already identified their favorite on that list. (EOR)
  • edited April 2011

    Howdy, Accipiter-

    Well, much of what you say is accurate, and speaking from the perspective of a technician, I certainly can see that side of things. I recently was discussing this subject by email with some other board members, and to save time and energy I am going to cut and paste some of that conversation:

    "I'd suggest the addition of a "how to" page, up at the top with the main headings, with suggestions and advice on "how to" get the most out of the site. Sort of a technical primer, but written in very plain English. Those of us who are are either unafraid or stupid enough to experiment (and possibly break a few things along the way) have figured out a lot of stuff by trial and error, but I'll bet that there are a whole lot of folks who are completely intimidated by all of the various bells and whistles."

    (Parenthetically, I am reminded of a familiar saying in electronics: "When all else fails, read the manual".)

    "As a radio technician for SF 911, I was often acting as an intermediary between the technical setup and the non-technical users, our "customers". Trust me, it is only too easy for technical folks to forget that many normal people have neither the intuitive feel for, nor any real desire to acquire, understanding of the underpinnings of either software or hardware. Whenever I was in the situation of designing something that had a user interface, I spent a LOT of time sitting down with the end users and seeing if and how they liked what we were proposing. Almost always I found that our initial interface approach could be significantly improved by simply listening to what they had to say. (I will have to concede that frequently the design effort necessary to make the whole thing appear "simple" or intuitive meant an enormous additional amount of stuff going on underneath where nobody could see it.)"

    "I am particularly uneasy about the perceived loss of some of the more provocative or interesting FA posters, and I have a hunch that perhaps some of them are simply intimidated, and don't think the effort to learn all these new tricks is worth it. I'm in my 70's, and you would be amazed at how many people I know in our age bracket who are still totally intimidated by computers, and in fact basically use them only for email and maybe Google. My wife and most of our friends come to mind, for instance. We should do our best to try and coerce these folks into (or maybe back into) the community."

    "Specifically, a number of the regular FA posters who are usually reasonably pliable and adaptable seem to be very negative with respect to the general overall format since the inclusion of the "response" feature. (BTW, I have no problems with it, and have been attempting to argue the case for the present setup as best I can.) The thread: "5 new messages, same topic. Am I the only one finding it difficult to pick apart a message thread???" is just the latest along these general lines."

    "I am a webpage ignoramus, and I do realize that a request that sounds simple may in fact be anything but. Gets back to the subject of user interface, yet again. Sometimes the time and effort needed to make an interface more acceptable seems totally disproportionate to the end result, but we are dealing with human beings here, not computers, and that's unfortunately the way it is."

    By the way, the very little that I do know about html I learned from, and for those with the time and curiosity for a little self-help that is an outstanding resource. I also agree that we are in some cases asking for conflicting options, but again, differing perspectives are unfortunately a basic design flaw of human beings.

    Personally, I think that it's a shame that you deleted your suggestions and hints. I think that a page like that would be quite useful. You look at this stuff and it's second nature to you- and perhaps don't stop to think that the reason that others don't immediately respond and help is simply because they are overwhelmed and intimidated. Look at the basic raison d'être for FA, and this site too: People come here for mutual support and information on financial matters, and the premise is wildly successful.

    If you see these very same people failing to achieve that success in the area of technical expertise, it obviously isn't because they aren't built to help... it's because they are out of their field of knowledge.

  • edited November 2011
  • I suggest we use EOR for "end of rant" (-: (-:
  • You can still use search... If not there is always Google. Count count on that kind of privacy.
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