What do you think of ShowMeDo

Steven D'Aprano steven at REMOVE.THIS.cybersource.com.au
Wed Apr 29 08:27:09 CEST 2009

On Tue, 28 Apr 2009 21:56:08 -0700, kyran wrote:

> I stumbled across this thread while typing a speculative 'showmedo' in
> google, as you do while taking a break on a (very) late Tuesday evening.
> To declare my interest, as things stand I am Showmedo CEO, CTO,
> boywhomakesthetea etc.. I'm not going to plug anything specific and
> normally let these things go but it's comp.lang.python and a
> misconception is a misconception. Besides which, every now and then an
> attitude really grates.

Yeah, it really sucks when you spend time and effort to build something, 
and then discover that it isn't what people want.

Or at least some people.

> As for the author immediately above, I think he fails his own test of
> prudence. There are rather blindingly obvious download links below each
> video.

Perhaps you should forget your preconceptions and take a long, hard look 
at the site with the eyes of a first time visitor.

As a first time visitor, this is what I see:

* A bunch of "stuff" all over the front page. My eye is drawn to a bunch 
of thumbnails on the right hand side, which look somewhat vaguely what 
I'd see on YouTube. So I click on a thumbnail, expecting to see a video, 
but instead I get taken to a page with no video or download link. I think 
this is what you call a "series", but at first the page just looks broken 
to me -- where's the video?

* Since I'm unusually interested in your site, and have nothing better to 
do, I click on the series heading, and go to another page. This one does 
have a download link, and a broken "click here to play" icon. Oh well, 
I'm used to video sites being broken on everything but IE, or requiring 
Javascript, or both. So I click on the download link, and learn that you 
require a login. Do I care enough about your content to create Yet 
Another Damn Login Identity? No.

(And yet I care enough to spend 20 minutes explaining you how you could 
improve your site. Fancy that. That's because if you improve your site, 
it could be useful to me, but if I create a login account, I've got the 
burden of dealing with yet another login account.)

* Since I'm feeling especially enthusiastic, I go back to the home page, 
and click a link under the "Popular Paths" heading in the "Blog roll". 
(You seem to be using the term blog roll to mean something completely 
different to the way it is used in virtually every blogging site I've 
ever seen.) This takes me to an even more complicated page showing a 
"Path", filled with things that look like clickable buttons but aren't, 
and thumbnails that at first glance look identical. If I spend a couple 
of minutes inspecting them closely and mousing over them, I see that the 
*left* hand side of the thumbnail is the author and the *right* hand side 
is something else.

(No doubt some clever PHP programmer thought he was being clever to come 
up with that UI abomination.)

* I see *one* thumbnail that has a "Click to play" icon next to it. None 
of the others appear to be videos. There is no download link. I give up, 
and decide that your website's UI is too large a barrier for me to bother 
with it any further.

> All that being said, I do feel the need to make that point that we have
> generated 350 odd completely free video-tutorials for the Python
> community, including some truly inspirational demonstrations, if the
> feedback is anything to go by. The site has been refined over time and
> is at least striving constantly to improve. But some people will always
> focus only on the negatives. They are few and far between but
> occasionally, during those long, dark teatimes of the soul, it does make
> one wonder why one bothers. You provide them with free videos, make no
> claim upon them and all they do is moan that the format is wrong or
> their time too precious to waste on a non-mandatory signing- up, though
> not so precious they can't take time out of their day to whinge about it
> in a group posting. I think it's the kind of attitude that kills the
> spirit of FOSS stone-dead.

You think that FOSS is under threat because people are willing to give 
you feedback that your use of non-FOSS software (Flash) is inconvenient 
to them? Oh dear.

For every person who takes the time to write about it, probably one 
hundred people equally dislike your site but just walk away and never 
come back. You should be dancing for joy that Ben gave you valuable 
feedback about his user experience, instead of just walking away. Some 
companies pay tens of thousands of dollars to hire UI consultants to make 
sure their website is usable by first-time visitors, and that's excluding 
development costs. I've just given you twenty minutes of my time writing 
up my experiences for free. Is that enough in the spirit of FOSS for you?


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