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getting new features in our forum software

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A user requested a new feature in another thread in this forum. And here is my response.


In another thread you mentioned that you would like to have this feature. I know that I have about 70 features in a big list that I've asked for from the CodeRanch staff. And I'm holding back on about 100 more so that the list doesn't become overwhelming.

The apples feature is now here and I've been asking for that one for a couple of years.

And Jaikiran recently did an overhaul of regular image upload stuff which I think was a massive improvement for the site.

These folks are volunteers. All JForum development is done by volunteers. So they are not not influenced by offers of money, commands to follow a priority list, or threats of termination. So the forum software grows organically - in a path of whatever seems fun and interesting to them.

There is a feature that would be really simple and quick to implement, and I offered swag and a huckleberry pie ... no takers.

The cool thing is their motives are seriously pure. Only that which they think is fun and cool. Nothing else.

I suppose it is possible to persuade one of them that this feature is fun and cool. It seem plausible. But I have to admit that i've been trying for years to figure out how and I'm stumped.

Here are some things I find that are very motivating to them:

1 - find a bug. A real bug. These are engineers with great pride in their excellent engineering skills. They do not want to have the tiniest thing that might give off the appearance that their skills are anything less than excellent. And if you can find a real bug and can demonstrate it reliably, repeatedly and with brevity and grace, these engineers have great respect for that. You then become somebody whose words have weight. But call something a bug that is really your ignorance - you become a gnat on a mule's ass. Forever.

2 - Test a feature that they are currently working on, or has recently been installed. Really test it. Try a hundred ways to break it. Give brief, respectful feedback. Don't suggest ways to expand it further - stick to simply validating the intent of the engineer.

3 - Offer to help. There is probably nothing you can do, but sometimes there are some things (like testing). But the authentic offer of help can be a big plus.

There is a beauty and poetry to the work that a volunteer engineer does. This is, after all, a work of creativity. Very few people really understand this.

Here is something that is mildly motivating to a few of them:

8 - saving the world stuff. Stuff that is really making a difference rather than lip service. In this case, maybe upload some of the pictures and describe what you went through to get them here. then describe what it is like on other sites. Link to the threads from here and they can understand the value of getting more of that.

A lot of the stuff that we want here at permies are things that are of not as much value at coderanch. So those tend to not get developed as quickly. But at the same time, I think that when we come up with fun stuff that benefits CodeRanch as well as permies, they are willing to do that. With some upcoming look and feel stuff, permies staffer Alexander Ojeda mocked up pages for both permies and CodeRanch. So it is now being implemented. I suppose if the mock was just for permies it probably would not have happened.

Does this help?

I hope you get your feature. I hope I get mine too.

I suppose another thing is to propose a cool feature. But it has to seem cool to the developer. And what a developer finds to be cool is often different from what a permie might find to be cool.

I think if there is a new feature that has appeared and you like it, it would be good to say so in this forum. I think that helps. And the developers do read this forum - even though they are usually very quiet.

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I like the apples. You have created a new sort of currency, and I'm hoping this will lead to more volunteering from forum participants. I had already volunteered to help prior to the appearance of the red fruit (I think!) but after I finally found the time to submit some work (a podcast summary) I found it quite pleasing to see that my stock had risen from 10 to 11! I think that has increased the chance that I will do a similar thing in the future.
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