Some behind-the-scenes tweaking

Hi Everyone,

The weather in Seattle is great and us robots are in good spirits. We’re working on a few things behind the scenes to speed up page loading times and standardize our infrastructure. You shouldn’t notice any differences in the site, but as always, if you see any bugs, please let us know!

The Robots

[photo by 1yen]

Thursday Night Tuning

We are going to be doing some database tuning tonight around 10 pm Pacific time. The site will be unavailable for about 1 hour. Sorry for the inconvenience – the upside should be some performance improvements. Thanks

Voting on goals in Neighborhood Watch, and Search Results update

Starting today, you can use Neighborhood Watch to vote on goals that others have flagged. The system works just like voting on profiles.

For more info, check out the newly-expanded 43 Things FAQ:

In other news, tags no longer show up on search results pages. This is to improve search performance, and tags weren’t all that relevant to searchers.

What we are doing on our Summer Stay-cation

The Robots can’t afford gas this summer so we are staying home and working on the website. Over the last year we’ve put most of our effort into infrastructure work to get the sites running in more efficient ways. We’ve also been doing lots of work on 43Places and experimenting with some ideas for a new site. But now, like the eye of Sauron turning toward the Shire, we are ready to put several months of effort toward some new features for 43 Things.

Some of the new features are already reaching the site. Three weeks ago we rolled out the new recognized user homepage). We have probably covered the addition of sharing links to goals through Facebook & Twitter, as well as through email. Let’s hope the rest of these go smoother or it will be a long summer for sure! We also mentioned cheer notification emails have started to roll out in a test phase and should be into full swing within the week. Here’s a run down of some more new features/ideas in the works:

  • We are doing some research into SMS/text message cheer notifications. Would anyone want that level of cheer notice? SMS has a direct cost so this may have a fee involved. All still under consideration – look for a future post or add your thoughts as a comment, please.
  • Looking into a revamp of the zeitgeist to make room for some new list types to help uncover more interesting stuff on the site
  • Revamping the profile page and turning the entries area into a feed of content rather than the How I Did It stuff sticking up top
  • Looking into some simplifications and changes to subscriptions
  • Developing a role for “mentors” who are great guides to accomplishing goals on 43Things
  • Exploring ideas for labels/dividers/notes for organizing your list of goals
  • Improvements to reminders
  • Looking into adding video to the site
  • A blog just for 43Things (maybe?)
  • Some new ideas on the quiz, personal challenges, progress meters and other ideas
  • Updating our FAQ and customer service content
  • That’s more the laundry list than a plan to deliver it all, but we thought it might be a good time to share some of the ideas we are working on. We aren’t looking for new ideas for this list – but we are already making a new list for our next big effort.

    Many of these ideas on the list come from the requests we get from users of 43Things, others are our own ideas. We’ll update the blog before we make a major change to the site. We’ll listen to any feedback about the ideas, or the features as they get implemented, but I don’t want to give anyone the impression that we can always produce a change to 43Things that will please everyone. But as before, we do promise to listen and make changes based on feedback. And in the immortal words of Feargal Sharkey: “Here comes the summer!”

    Tweaks to sharing

    Update: Thanks to the sharp eyes of a few folks, the “Invite someone” link is back. We’d accidentally removed it, so now it’s inside the “Sharing” area. Also, updated the wording about “mature” for clarity. /Update

    Another tweak to the new sharing buttons is rolling live right now. To improve understanding of the feature’s purpose and to make the links less visually distracting, the buttons are now contained behind a link that says “Share this goal with others” (this link replaced the “Invite someone” link). Clicking “Share this goal with others” reveals the share buttons.

    Also, the share buttons are gone from all profile and progress pages, and from “mature” goals. They are only on “G rated” goal pages.*

    The aim of these buttons was to update the share-via-email function to reflect people’s sharing behaviors in this day and age. The initial rollout of these buttons was far from perfect. We apologize for the trouble we’ve caused, and we’ll keep making changes to the site until we get to a better place. We’ll never be able to completely satisfy every concern of every person, but we hope we can substantially address them.

    * Mature goals are goals that are flagged by a pretty unsophisticated computer program as potentially having content that not everyone would want to see. You can toggle whether or not you see mature content on your account settings page.

    Cheer Notification Emails

    Now you can get an email each time you’re cheered on 43 Things. Check out the new options under Your Account > Edit Account

    You can get emails right away, or on a daily basis, or a weekly basis, or any combination of the three. Cheers!

    More thoughts on Sharing

    We appreciate the feedback, both positive and negative, on the new sharing feature. Just like any change to 43 Things, we’ll make tweaks to it based on feedback. Whenever we make a change to the site we are always reminded how hard change can be for some. But we have to remember that 43 Things is the sum of all these changes.

    If the past is a guide, most people will adjust to changes to the site and a few people will not. But that is the way of building something like 43 Things. We know we can’t please everybody. But we promise to keep listening.

    We want to explain a bit more about why we are trying to make it easier to share links from our site. Sharing has always been a part of the site, which at its core is all about going public with your goals. Since we launched over 6 years ago, we’ve always made it easy to share links to our site. When we started back in 2005, viewers of the site could do this in email. Now we’ve caught up to a time where The Facebook Wall and Twitter have become as important as email. Members of 43 Things can and do post links to our site on Twitter and Facebook (and we enjoy reading them daily!). Those links bring new visitors to 43 Things. When we are done fine-tuning the new sharing links, we hope more members of our site will spread the word about interesting goals they find on 43 Things. We always aim to reach people where they are and draw them in to the 43 Things community. We think the more people who share goals the better and that is why we’ve never created the sort of private and permissioned features that are found on other sites.

    Sharing content in email, on your blog, or on sites like Twitter and Facebook has always been 100% optional. You can still use the site with a pseudonym and never connect it to any other account. You don’t need an account at any third party site to use 43Things. And you don’t have to share anything.

    Lastly, if enhanced sharing links are making you rethink the content you’ve been adding to 43 Things, either we’ve failed to communicate to you how your content is already discoverable on the Internet, or you are posting stuff publicly that you would prefer was kept private. We’ve heard from folks who say they fear losing a job or a relationship if the wrong person reads their post. It’s important to understand that those people could read your posts prior to this new feature. If a member of 43 Things has put themselves in this position by publicly posting content they don’t want others to read or share, now might be a great time for them to think about what is their most prudent use of 43 Things.

    A final word on change and communication. We should have done better from the start explaining our change to the site. For that we owe you all an apology. As always, we will aim to keep doing better.