Here are a few ideas I came up with to improve this site:
1.) User reviews
Given how many excellent gadgets are available on the market today, it’s advantageous of the site to use the community to recommend which products to purchase or avoid. A five-tier structure mirroring n4g’s review system would suffice for categorizing what the reviewer should cover—or more should it be deemed necessary. As for what those categories should be labeled, I think borrowing from past-approved reviews from other sites can inspire those choices (like accessibility, power usage, etc.). And since the profusion of techie stuff on the market is so widely varied, giving separate categories for different tech would be required. CPU’s/GPU’s/etc. would have to be evaluated differently than…the next smartphone, for example.
Although I sent a private message to Cat (n4g/11x2 admin) about upgrading n4g’s current blog/review system a long time ago, I find it appropriate to state this here: enable a [Bold, Italics, Underline] option to go along with this update. This feature can be helpful because it’s an understood way to correctly cite other sources and can properly stress certain words/phrases. I’ve grown so tired of seeing words WITH ALL CAPS being employed to emphasize key points. This isn’t of the utmost concern, but granting the bare minimum of MLA formatting would be a nice treat to go along with user reviews (should you decide to do it).
With reviews also comes a new way to give out prizes, enabling more flexibility with monthly contests.
2.) TechSpy’s own “Clippy”
Although seeing that annoying paperclip pop up time and again on older versions of MS Word could drive anyone crazy, I still think it’s conceptually an interesting tool. That sort of guide would be helpful to explain the ropes for new users when it comes to approving/reporting articles in pending. I noticed Racer-X’s informative blogs that properly explained what is considered a review on this site and detecting spam. But since those blogs eventually escape the front page as newer blogs are shown, newbies might be missing out on interesting info.
It’s rather tough for me to elucidate what this new tool would exactly be…but just think of some doohickey that can funnel past explanations by mods/admins about certain rules in approving articles. It doesn’t have to be any sort of flashy animation (the Clippy reference is just an attention-getter), but maybe some sort of noticeable icon.
3.) More staff involvement
Recalling a CES blog on here made me wonder how far this site can go with admins/mods/etc. creating more articles about upcoming tech. It would be interesting to see this extend to one-on-one interviews with guys creating the next innovation to hit the market and/or in-depth analysis behind new devices. To properly funnel these, perhaps a dedicated “monthly newsletter” section can be created in order to distance itself away from the blog section (granted, not many users post personal blogs that often). I think this monthly journal entry could also allow more prominent users on the site to get “guest appearances” with their own previews or whatnot. I recall a certain contributor on n4g was given the opportunity to interview one of the heads of a game company on their upcoming MMO. Hopefully, something similar can happen on here.
4.) Finding deals
Of course, this is something else that popped into my head after perusing n4g’s blog section. Recently posted as “N4G Deals,” a site called dealzon.com made a detailed list of current game sales happening at big retailer’s sites. I’m not exactly sure what sort of hand-shaking went on behind closed doors for this to be officially posted on n4g (if there was any), but I hope that bargain hunting can extend beyond games and have official deals for discounted phones, computer equipment, and so forth posted on here.
5.) Change with bubbles (or whole framing of communication in general)
I typically don’t delve on this topic because I’m honestly indifferent to the system. And I’m typically found on the “pro-bubble” side simply for questioning the level of innocence a poster with 1 or 2 bubbles claims they have. In the end, I can understand where those opposed to the bubble system are coming from. Since I’ve made a few other suggestions already, I find it appropriate to mention this topic here.
I can understand the need for the limiting three-bubble startup on n4g (multiple account problems and all) but not for all of HAVA’s other sites. Just going by the way I got an extra bubble shows the community’s attitude is more lax. Sure, annoyances can ensue in any Apple product announcement or iSomething sales data, but other than that it seems—to me—certain popular articles could incite longer, more interesting discussions were posters given more opportunities.
You could concoct a new idea altogether or even build upon the current system in unexpected ways. Perhaps allow options like “crowd vote,” a system that makes the community vote to see if a poster who has run out of bubbles in a specific article is allowed one or two more in order to finish his/her point. I can’t think of any more ideas around the current framework, or an entirely new one, at the moment so I’m hoping the community leaves a few ideas either in the comment section below or in their own blogs.
I hope these ideas come into fruition in the near future or at the very least sparked a few other concepts. Thanks for reading!