A Look At The New Commandlinefu
Commandlinefu is an outstanding resource, but lacks the kind of community features it takes to make the site something most folks would want to visit just for the heck of it. Some of you do, and that’s awesome, but there’s real potential here to have a bustling community of admins and enthusiasts of every stripe.
Currently, our largest share of traffic comes from Google. Usually, people are looking for help doing something specific on the command line. Almost all of these users visit a specific command’s page, find out what they wanted to know, and leave. Few of these visitors explore the greater site, and even fewer register accounts and participate.
That transient behavior by randos will always be the norm, but there are several things we can do to help “close the loop” and make the site more appealing to participate in. The amount of traffic the site gets is *enormous* and if even a fraction of a percentage more end up participating, the site will become much more vibrant and active.
- The first improvement, and probably the most interesting, will be the introduction of Post Types. When making a submission, you’ll have three options. You’ll be either posting a Command (one-liner), Request, or Discussion. Commands are the usual post types we all know and love. Requests will allow users to post their situation and what they’re looking to accomplish (and ideally another user will then hook them up with a one-liner in the accompanying comment thread), and Discussions will be exactly that — a discussion thread with the comments below acting as the ongoing discussion. You’ll be able to show/hide any of these post types that you either do or do not want to see.
- The second major improvement will be the addition of Moderators. Quite a few of you are very dedicated to the site, and it’d be nice to allow others to assist in moderating commands and the future discussion/request threads. Currently, there are only normal user accounts and the lone admin.
- Third, a public Slack channel. Yeah, I can hear it now, “Why not IRC?” Well, the answer is: emoji. (Kidding. It’s mostly accessibility and its ubiquitous nature. Will we move to something else someday? Probably.)
- Proper user profiles with LinkedIn and Twitter integration. If someone’s truly incredible with the command line with tons of examples of how clever they are, it’d be pretty nice for them to have a profile page that includes their LinkedIn. You never know, someone might wind up getting a job one day.
- An activity pane along the right nav bar showing what’s happened with your submissions since the last time you were here. Three new comments on your one-liner? One new alternative? Nice.
- Email validation upon signup. You’d be surprised how many spam accounts get created every week. Actually, you might not.
- Hot/active threads. Some sort of indicator where community activity has been happening recently should invite users to jump in and contribute. Only downside: Saying “hot threads” out loud to myself makes me feel disgusting.
As a rule, I’m very hesitant about removing any of the functionality that currently exists, but I have to admit I’m on the fence about continuing with OpenID integration. Only a small percentage use it, and of those who have, several have experienced occasional problems logging in due to their particular service being discontinued or other issues. Because there’s usually no email address associated with those accounts they’re hard to troubleshoot. It’s nice to have, but ultimately it’s probably more trouble than it’s worth. Existing OpenID users won’t go away — instead I’d manually convert them to email-based signups if the user in question still wants to keep their account. I’m willing to think it over more, though. Or if you have an opinion either way, feel free to reach out.
All of this stuff and more is in a terribly verbose ~30 page spec document that I’ve shared with a couple friends, and now we are in the first stages of rewriting the site in Rails and PostgreSQL. The plan is to rebuild the site’s features as they exist now, and then fill in the new features as we go.
And as always, questions and comments are appreciated. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have thoughts about anything regarding the redesign or other ideas you think might go over well. Cheers, gang.