Sunday night was a scary time for me. After more than a year of work, SETT was ready to be deployed on Tynan.com. Well, maybe not "ready", exactly, but I was sick of putting it off. One line in a configuration file was changed, and my site switched from WordPress to SETT.
And then... nothing happened. This was encouraging. The server didn't melt (although there is definitely some optimization that needs to be done), and importantly, most new visitors to my site didn't realize that anything was unusual. Eventually a few people realized that things were different and left feedback. Now, with five days of history, SETT is actually functioning as envisioned. It's an amazing experience to watch our baby start to crawl.
Before I get into the details of what makes SETT unique and how to best use it, a quick disclaimer: this is alpha level software. Some parts of it are extremely polished and functional, while others are barely usable (person to person messaging, for example). Right now I don't need bug reports, because I already have a huge list of bugs that I'm working through. What I would LOVE from you is feedback on the experience. What is confusing? Where do you get stuck? What do you hate? What do you like?
When designing SETT, we tried to consider the various groups of users that interact with a blog, and how to best serve them. For example, most of my readers are casual readers who stop by, read some posts, and leave. I want their experience to be nearly identical to any other blog-- there shouldn't be any new terminology or steps that they have to go through. The only changes we've made on the reader side are a wide content area for media like images and videos, well formatted text, and (for logged in users) indicators for whether or not they've read a post. For the average casual reader, this is a marginal improvement over a normal blog.
Most of SETT's ambition lies with community members. I believe that until now, dedicated readers have been marginalized. I think that out of the 12,000 or so readers I have, there are hundreds who would love to be an important part of the community surrounding this blog, but aren't currently offered any tools to do so.
All SETT blogs have two sides to them: the front page and the community view. If you go back to the main page of this blog (click the header at the top) and then click "community" in the action bar, you'll see the posts that have been created by members of the community. This is similar to a forum or message board. Unlike a forum, I can promote any post to the front page with a single click. That's how Brian's post about Pina got there.
Besides creating original content, you can also vote things up or down. If you login or register for an account, you'll see voting arrows next to every post. Your votes help new readers see what this blog's best posts are, filter out spam, and indicate to me which community posts I should consider promoting to the front page.
There's a lot more that's new with SETT, but I'll keep this short(ish) and let you explore. If you want to help SETT develop, please vote on stuff, leave comments, and create posts in the community section. Please do NOT link to this post (or blog) on any high traffic site just yet. My server can handle it until we implement caching.
The SETT logo in the nav bar should probably have an href for people like myself that like to open links in a new tab.
That being said, I like the new look, and I wish you the best of luck with this.
Love the format of the blog! On a mac and using firefox, I don't have any of the formatting issues mentioned below. I personally like the "read this next" popup and especially how it only pops up at the end of an article and disappears again when scrolled down to the comments. The "hide this" could be tweaked. Currently, if you click "hide this" as soon as you make even the slightest scrolling motion it reappears. I haven't checked out the other features yet but I will shortly.
Long time lurker, first time poster from the Netherlands here. I like the community feel from SETT, but the "feel" of the site can use some improvement. Three things I notice are:
1. Navigation is a bit weird: when I click on an article in "community" mode to read the comments and hit "back" in my browser (Chrome) in order to get to the next article from the community section, I end up in the "blog" section, which requires me to switch to the community section by hand to continue reading.
2. Also Navigation-related: I really feel like I'm searching for some navigation block somewhere, without ever finding it. Some place where I can find an "about", or an overview of articles or anything. Perhaps you're trying to innovate and build a system which doesn't need such a tool and I'm just too much stuck in old habits, but I feel a bit lost here and there.
3. In my browser in default setting (again, Chrome) the font is extremely large. I seem to recall you mentioning having high resolution monitors in order to be able to fit a lot on your screen for better productivity in one of your articles, but this design seems to contradict that philosophy. Reading an article or browsing through the "archives" really requires a lot of scrolling
I hope this helps and good luck with SETT! Contact me if you want screenshots or anything to verify.
1. Yep... this is on our todo list. The way our navigation works is extremely complex, and we haven't worked out all the kinks.
2. We will probably add in a sidebar in views that show multiple posts (like the front page). I don't want to, but lots of people want a sidebar.
3. This is on purpose... readibility studies show that this font size is optimal. Eventually every reader will be able to customize how he likes to read things (font size, default blog displays, etc) and his preferences will be remembered across all SETT blogs.
Thanks for the feedback... very useful.
I think large fonts are fine as long as you make it look good. I think it's a bit typographically bland and could use a bit more line spacing along with a more beautiful font. The font used now is a whole lot better than plain old Arial, at least. I somewhat agree with the navigation comment; there should probably be an about page and maybe an archive page that's easier to navigate rather than having to click through 70 pages of articles via pagination in the footer.
It would probably be a good idea to link to an explanation of what SETT is somewhere. I'm assuming it's the idea you applied to Y Combinator with but if I hadn't read that post I'd have no idea, it's been some time since I looked at the blog.
Loving the platform, but trying to resolve this issue in anyway I can:
Here's what I just tried to post in Community:
Signed up for hobbyist forsett.com/
Now, where is the "post" button?...ghosts in this machine? Tried 2 different browsers................
Utterly digging this platform. The big question for me is, when can the rest of us migrate our own blogs?
Thanks, Elsie. We're getting there... I want to work out the bugs on my own site (especially little stuff that matters like feeds/seo/etc) before letting other people use it. Should be another 2-3 months, and the first blog platform to support importing from will be WordPress.
Very well done, I like the innovation ... congratulations! Some of my first thoughts below:
1) Users being able to upload images/video to your domain - I think you should either put this for manual approval or even better have it uploaded in other services only (YouTube, Flick, etc) and then placing them here. Depending on what gets uploaded to your domain and who your register is, it is possible to put your entire website down with just 1 e-mail to your register (GoDaddy for example).
2) Since your website is the main showcase for your product, I would consider making a test with its structure closer to what most people are used to "for a blog/website" so they can feel more familiar to the experience they are already used (header, sections, side or left bar with short "about me", plus other things) before learning the social innovations of SETT. I personally like this style of mainly all visual space to posts with images and text but maybe it is too much for the average user to "get it". I say this because when showing your blog to less tech-savvy people, they said things like "what is this?", which I replied "a blog" and only then they got it. Other though it was something to do with Twitter. They way it is now some new visitor needs to understand the new SETT concept + new blog structure concept. An option is to buy some recorded user browsing to see what the average guy does/thinks when checking out this new blog style.
3) I have not forgotten about that premium domain, just harder than I though :P
I already know that this post is going to get a lot of negative comments like the religion one. And that's because this "every vote counts" dogma that everyone loves so much shares a lot with religion. It's a belief that's held true without a single bit of compelling evidence, and it's a strong belief.
But before I get into that, let's talk about some other things.
First, Obama won and I'm happy about that. I don't think that he's a superhero like a lot of people do. When I look at his positions I disagree with most of them. I disagree with most of McCain's positions as well.
This blog is powered by SETT, a brand new state-of-art blogging platform created by Tynan. Unlike traditional Wordpress blogs, SETT provides a lot more opportunity for reader interaction.
Do you see the Community link at the top of this page? That's where any one of you can create your own posts and share them with the rest of my readers. If your posts are good, I'll immediately promote them to the front page of this blog so that your ideas get even more exposure.
The community section of SETT takes reader participation to a whole new level. In traditional blogs the reader is only allowed to leave comments at the end of each post (which usually don't get read anyway). On SETT, however, readers get their own section of the blog in which ideas can spread beyond what's possible on traditional blogs. Check out the community of Tynan's blog to see what it looks like when the audience gets involved.
Every post and every comment on SETT can be voted up or down using the arrows on the top lefthand corner. That way you can let the author know whether they're doing a good job and provide feedback with just one click. Over time as more people vote the unpopular comments will sink to the bottom, while the good ones will stay on the top.
Another thing worth mentioning is how well SETT handles comments. Multiple nested comments look fabulous on SETT, and there's usually a lot more discussion going on as well. When you reply to someone in a traditional blog, in most cases they'll never even see your comment. However, on SETT the person you're responding to will be notified via email so that they know about your response and the discussion can continue.