New Release: Widgets, Multiple Templates, and more.

yousaidit widget

Widget Example from Questionland Seattle

This release adds some major new features.

Widgets

We’ve added widgets for your users. When a user goes to their profile they will see a “widget” link. This takes them to a page where they can personalize a widget for use on their site/blog. The widget displays their profile picture, provides a feed of their Q&A (optionally), and lets people ask them questions. People asking questions are taken to the users profile on your site. There they can direct a question to that specific person and/or open it up to the community.

The widget should increase traffic to your site while providing a nice tool for your users to make their sites/blogs more interactive. It also gives you the opportunity to make your site the home for Q&A. We will be enhancing the user profiles in a future release to further the idea of people/businesses having a “home” on your site.

Multiple Templates: Desktop, Mobile, Widget…

You can now create different templates for different contexts/browsers. You can add templates as needed, but the standard ones we expect you will use are:

  1. Site Template – this is the one you use now and is set up for full screen browsers.
  2. Mobile Template – you can use this to create a template for your mobile users. Typically you’d remove all non-essential content, reduce image use, scale up fonts, etc. We detect the mobile browser and serve the correct template.
  3. Widget Template – this allows you to style your widget to fit your brand.

User Interface:

  • The option to be sent updates about events has been moved to the registration screen so that people can opt-out at sign-up. Previously it was only in the profile and some people were unaware of the fact that the could opt-out there.
  • Users can’t vote for themselves.
  • Entering questions in ALL CAPS converts to lower case (no shouting)

Admin:

  • User search now searches email as well as username.
  • You can now re-categorize questions in bulk directly from the “posts” list. This is great if you decide to add or change categories.
  • We added a check/uncheck all posts in the posts list.

SEO/Social Links

We’ve added a new tag called {{ page_description }}. This tag contains the content from the elaboration part of the questions – if that is blank it defaults to the category name. By adding it to your page/title description you can further enhance SEO, but it also improves the content shared in social links. Now when someone posts to Facebook it includes the elaboration of the question as well as the title.

Performance

The images used for voting and navigation have been replaced with CSS styles to improve performance. This will not effect the look except perhaps in some versions of Internet Explorer where the rounded corners will be square.

Bug Fix:

Questions remaining in deleted categories were generating non-critical exceptions. This has been fixed, but you should still not delete a category that contains questions. Just archive it.

Other minor bug fixes related to badly formatted Q&A

Local Music Q&A on Questionland Seattle

Ask members of the local music community questions about everything you need to know about the music industry–from booking a show to signing a record contract. Panelists include Eli Anderson of the Crocodile, Michelle Smith of the Comet, Nick Heliotis of Hardly Art Records, Ben London of the Recording Academy, Vincent Gates of Commontone Studio and Eric Grandy, Megan Seling, Dave Segal of The Stranger, and more.

Ask at http://www.questionland.com

Earthquake! Is Seattle Next?

This week on Questionland, Robin Friedman, Paul Bodin and Bruce Schoonmaker will answer your questions about Earthquakes. You can get the perspective of the Director of Emergency Management and Preparedness for the City of Seattle, a Seismology prof. at UW and someone who can tell you how to stop your house from falling down.

If you want to know the latest and you want to be ready… go ask them a question, or read their answers. It’s a rare opportunity to get information that is specific to you – for example: should you buy earthquake insurance?

Gardening Q&A on Questionland!

Spring has sprung, the grass is riz, I wonder where the chicken is?

An expert panel of gardeners and one on chicken-raising! will be online at Questionland answering your questions.

It’s gardening time, so if you have questions about native plants, pruning, planting or anything green go and ask.

Release Notes: Featuring, Archiving, Favorites

We released some minor improvements last night:

1. Featuring Changes

People who are featured in a category no longer appear on the front page. You can make them appear on the front page by intentionally featuring them there. This give greater control over who appears on the front page.

2. Archived Categories

We have found that categories are an excellent way of running panel Q&As. To avoid category crowding we’ve added the ability to archive (previous release) and in this release we have made it so all contributions are automatically closed down when a category is archived.

3. Favorite Answer

The favorite answer has always been represented by an icon of your choosing. The default is a boring star, but everyone uses different things: mushroom, chair, etc. We realized that people new to the site might not be clear on what this is since it only gave a description if you hovered over it with your mouse. Now “Favorite Answer” text has been added to make it more obvious.

420: The Straight Dope About Pot

Seattle is one of the most pot-friendly cities in America. In honor of National Pot Smoking Day (4/20), Questionland will be hosting experts – from marijuana enthusiasts to prosecutors – to answer your questions about Seattle’s favorite plant. How should someone grow it? How should they avoid getting busted? Here’s your chance to find out… It’s an online Q&A starting on Monday April 19th until the 23rdGo ask your questions.

The Experts: Norm Stamper, Former Chief of the Seattle Police Department. Peter Holmes, City Attorney, Seattle City Attorney’s Office. Alison Holcomb, Drug Policy Director ACLU of Washington. Philip Dawdy, Campaign Director, Initiative Co-Author Sensible Washington. Ben Livingston, Cannabis Defense Coalition/Seattle Cannabis Resource Center. Kevin Bjornson, Hydrotech Hydroponics.

For those of you who don’t know the origins of 420, it started with a bunch of high school kids who used to meet after school at 4:20 to smoke pot. They called themselves the Waldos because they met by the wall (Wikipedia).

These creative leaps are perhaps not the best advertisement for ingenuity while under the “influence”, but 420 has nevertheless become a national event and while it was once a celebration of the counterculture, pot smoking is now mainstream, or would be, were it not for it’s inclusion in the insane drug war. If you want to know more, hyperlink over to www.questionland.com – dude.

Shirky’s Dinosaur

Clay Shirky wrote a post about the Complex Business Models which is meant to be a harbinger of the seemingly inevitable collapse of the giant media companies and models. It’s not that long a post, but it could have been said in a sentence: “It’s easier to build new things than it is to change old ones”. Granted, it looses a little intellectual oomph in translation, but that’s the gist.

This idea finds it routes in evolutionary theory, where you can’t change things that already exist, so a cycle of selection, destruction and renewal is required. But is that equally true of societies and organizations? No. It’s not. An organism cannot adapt to it’s environment Larmarckian-style. Giraffes did not start off with short necks and stretch them to reach tasty leaves at the top of the trees. But humans are different from most animals because they use tools to adapt. They cannot grow a longer neck but they can build a ladder. Organizations of humans are even more versatile than an individual. They can change remarkably quickly. We dealt with a hole in the ozone layer of our atmosphere not long ago – pretty impressive. But just because we CAN does not mean we WILL.

Our culture, American-style capitalism, is based on throwing stuff away so we can sell/buy new stuff. This is as true of toasters as it is of organizations. We attach little value to the old things and want the new ones. We want the new ones because we’re”taught” – by advertisers mostly – to like the new ones.

Destruction is not endemic to us, our organizations or our society. It is a cultural trait which can be changed with the right kind of leadership.