Jon EricsonCC BY-SA 4.0
Jack Douglas reached out to me via email to get my impression of TopAnswers. I replied to him via email, but it occurs to me this might be useful for a broader audience. I know TopAnswers is a work in progress and I haven't looked at your roadmap yet. So I might tell you something that is going to be fixed or has a reason that is not yet clear to the casual observer. Login feels odd. I like the idea of having a key that you can save in a password manager rather than email/password or third party credentials. But it's something I've never seen before and feels tenuous. If I lose my key, I lose my account with no way to recover. I created an account and didn't save my key the first time. Thankfully I didn't do anything with the account, so it wasn't a big deal. If this is the longterm design, make sure people save their key before doing anything they might want to recover. (As in block they from doing anything until they acknowledge they have saved the key.) I love the chat window rather than comments. It's something we'd talked about forever, but never been able to get any traction. One idea was to make it something like Wikipedia's talk pages. The permanent sidebar chat room actually emphasizes comments/chat compared to comments after the posts. Maybe hiding the chat page until the user purposely reveals it? It's a balance between discoverability and distraction. Chat feels cramped in the sidebar too. With a narrow window, chat needs a lot of scrolling to read. (Jack pointed out it is possible to resize, but the line you need to grab is pretty easy to miss.) It's also hard to get an idea of when chat items occurred in relation to the questions and answers. There's no anchor for "2 hours later". The transcript view is easier to use in those respects. It also isn't clear to me when a reply is to another chat message and when it's to a post. The overall design seems, um, tabular. I find it hard to read the posts and I think it's got something to do with the harsh horizontal lines. I'm not sure why the author of the question is flush left and the author of answers is flush right. It would probably help to have someone with a strong design sense go over the layout. Not urgent, but this is the overwhelming impression and will make it harder to engage with visitors who don't know the project. The three-column editor is confusing. It doesn't help that the question is jammed into a narrow column. Having the question on the page is a great idea, but it would be better for it to have the space it needs at the top of the page. We tried the side-by-side preview on Documentation and it was not well-liked. For a better implementation, consider https://stackedit.io. Is there a way to scroll code boxes when the are too narrow? All I could do was make my window larger. I like the lack of votes on questions. The lack of downvotes is interesting and I'm curious if it will work. No closing (that I can see) is a bold choice too. I assume the idea is to not add this sort of thing in immediately in hopes of solving the inevitable problems in a different way. Seems to be the same idea with the lack of reputation and privileges. I'm not sure how well the site will stick with people, but it doesn't seem too hard to add that sort of thing in later. I like the ability to import content from SE. I was looking for a way to import all my content at once, however. The licensing options are understandable given history, but they sure will be confusing to someone who just wants a database answer or post a question. Tags are underdeveloped at the moment. I was expecting a way to find all the questions in a tag when I clicked on one. I suppose there is value in collecting the data for now. Anyway, those are my impressions right now. As a proof of concept, I like what I see. It's encouraging that Google is already picking up some of your answers and that there is activity on the meta site.