Here I list several points where I think the Sift could do with a bit of improvement, as well as suggestions as to how that could be done. Please chime in with your own solutions to the various issues, even if you should think my points and suggestions are way off target.
What To Post
The Sift needs a What To Post page - a separate page or a longer intro to the FAQ. A page that states what to post in more detail than the short "Members submit videos from the best video hosts from around the Net to be voted on by other Sifters with only the best being "sifted" up to the front page." in the FAQ.
I'd love to get a better, more inviting explanation, like:
Have you seen a really funny, surprising, scary, interesting, cute or in any other way extra good quality video? Post and share it here - Videosift is the best video aggregator on the Web, where we share, discuss, promote and interact with the best videos out there on the web. Post it here, and share it with the large community of Video-interested users. And - you are guaranteed to find more very good videos here already!
(Mind you - we only share videos others have made - if you "self link", by posting a video you have made, have posted or have interests in, you risk the ban hammer - read the posting guidelines before posting. The sift is NOT for promoting your own videos - it is for sharing videos others have made.)
..Or something. A more inviting, including, text, that entices you to get in here and post. And, of course, that repeats the self-link caveat.
What The Sift Is and How Do I Use It
We then need a follow up where the FAQ (or a separate page) should have a good list of what there to do on the Sift - about the various chat, talk and features of the Sift. Explaining What the Sift is The Sift seems to think that users should just have grok what this is all about - it would be nice to get a better explanation. The Sift Lounge, the Sift Talk forum, the Top Fifteen list, the Beggar's Canyon, etc. Not only what they are, but what they are for.
There should be better explanations as to how you use and browse Videosift - not only that "you can click to sort by hotness or newness, and you can click the channels", but more explanatory, like use cases:
Try clicking on the various channels to see videos posted to that channel - if you're into music you can click the Music channel to get more music sifts - go on and explore! Use the "hotness" when you have opened the channel link to get videos that have gotten a lot of votes, or use "newness" to have a look at the new sifts.
When browsing sifts you like, have a look at the Related Posts list to see other related videos, click the tags under the video title to see more sifts tagged with the same tags or have a look at other sifts from the same user in the More Posts By list. If the sifted video is in a play list, have a look at the play list to see other interesting videos the Sift users have linked together.
Enter the Sift Lounge to chat with online sifters about anything and everything, or read interesting posts in the Sift Talk forum.
The top fifteen list is always full of interesting, current videos (accessible from the front page), while the top fifteen list in each channel shows a top fifteen list interesting videos relevant to that channel. Having a look through the top fifteen list is always recommended, but also have a look at these:
Unsifted upcoming videos - submitted videos that neither yet are sifted to the front page nor moved to the sifter's personal queue.
Beggar's Canyon - videos where the submitter begs for a bit more attention - have a look at them!
..And the other sortings under the "Videos" menu item.
..et cetera. Do add your own tips!
How Do I Post
But - what the Sift needs the most (at least in this humble sifter's opinion) is a How Do I Post page. A simple, user friendly page that tells you how to post from various sites (at least the most important ones), and how to fill out the various fields. This could (and very well should) be the main posting page, but there should be help texts for all the input fields, telling you how to fill them out.
There should also be some hints as to how to search for existing dupes, to enter and validate the embed, to search using the search field, try searching for keywords related to the sift etc.
The main posting page could show help text like:
Video Embed Code: Here you post the embed link to the video you need to sift. For some popular sites, like Vimeo, YouTube (..) just the link to the video is enough, but for the others you need the embed HTML, like (..). Here there should be a bit technical text as to how to format the HTML - either shown in-line or a link to a separate page
Video Title: Use a short, nice title - could be the video title or another snappy, interesting description.
Tags: Enter metatags for the video. This helps other sifters to find other relevant videos with the same tags - for example add the actor names name for a movie clip, add names of persons or companies involved, band names for music or other descriptive text that might help you find similar videos.
Thumbnail: Short description as to how to locate a thumbnail and the size for uploaded files.
Summary: Write a short summary of the video, it could be an enticing text to read before deciding to watch the video, a context of the video or other relevant text. Be sure to mention the source of any quoted text - if you post text you found somewhere - mention where you found the text.
Channels: This is place where there is a big room for improvement in usability. The channels should all have a short description as to what should (and for many channels also what should not) be posted in the channel, and that text should be mouseover on the channels in the list. For example, the "Woohoo" channel should have a text "For The Simpsons, Futurama and similar cartoons - not for videos that make you go 'Woohoo'.", the "Kids" channel should have "This is a channel for videos FOR kids, not necessarily for videos just ABOUT kids.", "Music" should have "Music-related" and similar.
There could also be a link to the channels themselves, opening in a new window, so that you easily can get to the channel in question and read more about it. Or - something to click to show the entire channel description.
Star Powers and Sift Concepts more detailed
The various star powers should have more detailed explanation - more readable and with examples as to how to, when to and when not to use them.
The Star Powers page needs a cleanup - the footnotes are just confusing (and footnote 5 is wrong and should be deleted). Powers costing star points should have the cost written next to them.
There should be a better dictionary/FAQ of Sift Concepts and what they mean - discarded, sifted, killed, dupe, top 15, star point, star rating etc. On various pages there should be many links to the FAQ/Dictionary to explain the terms in more detail. What exactly is the difference between killed and discarded, what happens when you use promote vs quality etc.
There should be an extra list of invocations any members can perform on their own posts:
Invocations any member can perform on their own posts:
- *kill - kill and thus permanently discard your own video (For example, the words "kill" and "discard" in this sentence should link to the definitions of kill and discard in the dictionary/FAQ) - the video can no longer be sifted or brought back to any queue.
- *beg [1 PP] - send one of your own personal queued videos to Beggar's Canyon - use this to get some more attention for your own videos.
- *notdead - reset your own functional video accidentally flagged dead
- *promote [costs 2 PP when used on your own videos] - use *promote (either link to the dictionary or the text like "see Gold-100 below") on a post of your own. You need to earn or buy extra power points to be able to perform this action, unless you are a charter member, as the normal maximum is 1 Power Point per user.
- *discard - discard your own post - use if you do not longer want to sift the post.
- *dupeof=http://... - register your own video as a duplicate of another earlier video - will discard your post and add your post as a backup to the other post.
..And thus we can get rid of the footnotes and get a more explanatory text, like:
** Gold Star Member (100 Stars)
- All abilities of Silver Star
*promote [1 PP for other sifts] - float a post at the top of the corresponding listing; renew queue time for pqueued/discarded videos (with links to the Dictionary/FAQ for "pqueued" and "discarded", and a short text as to when to use *promote:) - use this to get much more attention for the video for the next hours/day/correct timespan.
And - I think that's enough usability ranting from me today. What do you other sifters think?