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Why do some articles go directly to a topic page and miss the front page?

Just wondering
Why is it that if I click a topic now, the article I submit only goes to that topic page but does not appear on the front page? Is this a new policy?
not new 21.Jul.2004 01:37

another reader

Stuff related to the presidential race that's not locally relevant is moved to the selection 2004 page to keep those posts from overshadowing other issues. It's been that way for months.

 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2004/03/284644.shtml

Thanks for the explanation, BUT 21.Jul.2004 05:41

Codobad codobad@yahoo.com

I had heard something about this, just by chance but I didn't really understand it til now (assuming that I do accurately understand it now).

Apparently election-oriented items are the ONLY ones not posted on the front-page newswire. The link in the above "not new" comment (THANK YOU for the important information!) says, "This page will be unique in that its stories will not appear on the front-page newswire as these stories have a tendency to dominate the newswire at the expense of more locally relevant stories."

What that explanation does NOT mention is that the page is unique in two other ways:
It's the only news page that lacks clarity as to how to access its content and it's the only page whose content can't be found by scanning back through the newswire archive pages. (I realize those facts may be implicit to anyone operating IMC, but they're not apparent to the average (frequent, occasional, or new) site user at least until they learn of the explanation quoted above.)

Had this question not been asked and answered on a day I checked this site, I could have gone months or years before getting clarity as to what the system is.

I understand that this system of separating "sElection 2004" from the rest of the published items prioritizes, organizes, and - whether intentionally or not - disparages its content. Because how it works is not clearly apparent, this separation effectively censors the content as well.

I pretty much see this segregation as a "necessary evil". As one who can easily get "hooked" by one of those (usually repetitive, often myopic) far too numerous rants about the presidential election, I appreciate the need to separate them.

However, I believe those items that are NOT placed on the "front page newswire" should not only be easily accessible, but also labeled so as to make clear their differences. It's clear to me that the "calendar" is a separate information source - that I use it differently from my use of the newswire. It's NOW clear to me that the sElection 2004 page is also distinct from the Newswire. Perhaps this is true of all the links directly under the Calendar icon on the front page are. (Or perhaps some are on the newswire and some aren't?)

It would be wonderful if the other site features that are distinct and segregated from the Newswire were clearly labeled in such a way so as the parameters and significance of this (these?) distinctions were transparent and understandable. To maximize the functionality of the site, users need to be able to understand how it's organized and how it works. Not everything will be obvious on one's first visit, but it needs to be structured and presented (and sometimes labeled and explained) in a way that these differentiations become apparent.

Suggestion 21.Jul.2004 10:50

reader

Your list off to the left -

* Tre Benefit
* Forest Defense Camp
* Medicine Lake campouts
* EF! Summer Rondy
* sElection 2004
* daily poetry

has no actual title, so people don't know what the purpose is of these topics. Also, they come directly under the calendar, which takes up a big box and graphic, so its sort of a jumble of stuff that's hard to visually parse.

Suggestions:

Adding a title at the top of that list, such as 'Current Issue Topic Pages,' or 'Latest Topics' or something, would help.

Move the list to above the calendar so that they aren't sandwiched in between the items referenced graphically (calendar, pdx this and that), or else below that whole grouping. This way they are their own thing, either above those graphic items with their own title, or below, and with their like pages, but boldface and with their own title.

I understand the purpose for the moving of the stories, and respect that. However, there should be a set ratio or limit or proportion, so that not ALL election stories (national or global) automatically get moved. Or, let all the stories stay on the front page but only for 8 hours or something. That way every story at least gets seen.

What's happening with the selection 04 right now is a daily reminder of how sick this country is, however much it feels useless to think about it.

not true 21.Jul.2004 13:03

another reader

"it's the only page whose content can't be found by scanning back through the newswire archive pages"

The stories do in fact appear in the archives.

For example:

 http://portland.indymedia.org/en/newswire/archive569.shtml

2nd story, "Greens Campaign in Pennsylvania" which is also on the selection 2004 page.

As for clarity, I suppose that's in the eye of the beholder. I'd say the selection material is a lot more readily accessible than say the 9/11 investigation page. Trade-offs have to be made, not everything can have a big blinking neon graphic ;) . And I'm not sure asking people to read and explore is an unreasonable request for a web page such as this. But that's just my opinion and I admit I'm biased because I don't care particularly about the Greens campaigning in other states or Nader being on the ballot in New Jersey, or the latest rants about why people should vote for one candidate or another. I can make up my own mind, and I'm perfectly willing to seek out that information, which is abundant and plentiful on the internet, on my own time and at my own pace as my interest dictates.

thanks for the suggestions 21.Jul.2004 13:13

pdxtech

You'll be happy to note that most of what you have suggested has already been discussed. There is a new (smaller) calendar graphic and it will be moved with the rest of the buttons. There is also discussion about how to organize the left hand column. But I think the tendency to opt away from incremental change as it makes the site harder to follow, and instead try to get a bunch of issues resolved, do some test pages, and then switch (which is what happened when adding the menu to the top of the page). All of this takes time so be patient and continue to offer suggestions (and consider coming to a meeting if you'd like to discuss layout issues in person).

Thanks for the responses to our feedback! 23.Jul.2004 02:10

Codobad

The response about the sElection 2004 articles stating, "The stories do in fact appear in the archives" is good news. That's the kind of info it would be useful to have available to the general user. (And, btw, I appreciate the prompt reply that was made to "reader"'s initial question.)

I absolutely agree that "asking people to read and explore" is a reasonable request for a web page such as this. And, in fact, "big blinking neon graphics" are great for the person looking for that particular item (if the meaning of the graphic is clear and the placement is accurate), but they tend to fill up the space and distract everyone else from everything else. What I'm asking for is thoughtful organization.

One can only learn how the site is organized and how to maximize use of all its possibilities when the layout has an internal consistency and when areas and functions are properly labeled. This would mean providing written or graphic information about the site that the average user would never be able to intuit. It would also mean presenting that information where they'll find it. E.g., the user who rationally assumes that ALL news appears on the front page may never go to the sElection 2004 page and encounter the statement that the election material is only posted there. This doesn't mean that that entire notice should appear on the home page, but it does call for clearer identification of why the sElection 2004 page is in a list off to the left.)

I appreciate "another reader"'s acknowledgment of "bias". But it's rather silly to go to the bother of setting up a separate section for election material and then not identify it clearly so that everyone who wants it (including someone who may want to refer back to an item 3 months later) knows where and how to look for it. (It's still not clear to me how the items that go into sElection 2004 are different from those that don't and how they are treated differently - and the same - thereafter. I could take "another reader"'s statement and say the same things about how I don't need Portland Indymedia for a number of topics and various kinds of rants that appear on it. But if the material isn't segregated along lines that are comprehendible to me and organized on the site in a way that's transparent, I can not effectively find or avoid the material as I choose.

It's a matter of empathizing with the neophytes and the general users. It requires imagining such things as how a newbie to the site might look for something whose very existence isn't obvious and then placing a clue - or the thing itself - in the likely path of the searcher.

I appreciate that the techs are looking at these things and ever trying to improve (in an orderly, intelligible process, of course)! Keep up the great work! (I love Indymedia; the only way to keep it ever more useful and powerful is to keep it ever more usable.)