A very short introduction to...
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So I just made the often requested little quickstart guide, to orient new users to LibraryThing - A very short introduction to.
What do you guys think? What should I add/edit/delete/change?
I've skimmed and looks great! Some suggestions:
Add Books> Tips
*Explain they can create their own list of favourite library sources?
eg: Currently the statement says only "Look under "Search what?" to change your source"
*Some kind of tip that sourcing books from Library sources gives me richer content in my catalog in the long term ( I so wish I'd known that earlier instead of 6mths/ 400 amazon sourced books later - I never knew what library data or subjects were until I came here)
Your Library>Tips - explaining that the icon with a green bubble is books you've personaly reviewed
Talk and Groups
Switch the content order to about Talk then about Groups?
The first sentence refers to creating a group; implication is that it's one of the first things they're likely to do. I'd rather it permeated into a new user to check the talk and group discussions before starting a new group on day 1.
It looks good!
In the touchstone explanation, I would specify square brackets just for clarity.
Suggested edits to the Add Books section. We all have things we wished we had done differently when we first began adding books.
LibraryThing takes its book information from Amazon, the Library of Congress, or one of more than 70 world libraries. Look under "Search what?" to change your source.
---Suggest adding a note to indicate that none of these sources are perfect. They may contain information in a way you don't like, or may contain erroneous information. Some of the commercial sources allow users to edit the info, so caveat emptor (buyer beware).
Import a whole list of books by using the Universal Import.
---Suggest adding a note to indicate that none of these sources are perfect. They may contain information in a way you don't like, or may contain erroneous information. Some of the commercial sources allow users to edit the info, so caveat emptor (buyer beware). I spent a lot of time trying to find the errors in my first massive upload of over 800 books. I wouldn't have used this feature (or would have tried other sources on shorter lists) if I had known how poor Amazon.com could be.
Use a CueCat barcode scanner to enter your books quickly.
--- Suggest "Use a CueCat barcode scanner (available here) to enter your ISBNs quickly."
edit: duh - forgot to say I like it looks good and fits LT style well.
The minor gripes:
power edit - you can only edit tag information you can't edit book information at all.
Ditto emphasize the brackets.
How do users find this quickstart guide? Is it off the homepage? Prominently?
#2 - I'm happy its group first, this prevents orphaned posts - however maybe it should be join a group rather than make a group, there are enough new groups.
The sign-up section: How can you 'un-signup'. I have inadvertently entered my username wrongly, and ended up with a new account that I don't want. How can one delete the account? The answer should probably go in this quick-start section.
In the "Your library" section
Use PowerEdit to edit several books at the same time.
--- Suggest "Use PowerEdit to edit certain fields for several books at the same time.
It looks great, Abby!
Double ditto on the square brackets clarification and the join rather than make a group.
Again in the Add Books section
consider adding a tip - Generally, text in the title field contained in parens is ignored when the database groups books together on a 'works' page. However, it may not be ignored by the maintenance faries (who call themselves The Combiners
Connect with other members by joining or creating a group. You can make a group for a club, a place, a subject, or even a private group for just your friends.
I would suggest something more like the following to deemphasis the creating of groups. Not to discourage creating but to encourage looking and joining existing groups. Try to reduce redundancy.
Connect with other members with the groups. There are groups covering almost every topic, feel free to join any that take your fancy. If you can't find a group that fits your niche go ahead and create your own. You can make a group for a club, a place, a subject, or even a private group for just your friends.
Otherwise qualifying the square brackets would be the only other thing.
This is a great idea! I second (or third, or whatever) the suggestions for encouraging people to search groups for something that interests them before making new groups and pointing out that information can be erroneous and people can edit it to match their own copy.
I have some additional suggestions.
Under "Your Books," I think it would be helpful to clarify that while the social info page contains info about the work in general, the book info page contains info about the individual user's copy.
It might be interesting to add something like "Helping the LT Community" or "Other Cool Things to Do" which would include the ideas of adding material to the site (photos, web links) improving data accuracy (combining, separating, adding disambiguation notices). It wouldn't have to go into a lot of detail, just give people the idea that these things are possible.
I think what you've done is excellent and I agree with all the other tips/edits mentioned here. However, and maybe this is just me, but the screen images are blurred and too small. Can you format them so that if a user clicks on the image, it becomes larger so they can see it?
Oh, one more thing -- In the discussion of groups, please state first something along the lines of "Please use Search Groups first to see if a topic you're interested in already has a group.
On the about page, change the wording to make it more clear. E.g., instead of what's there, something like:
It may be that the tour and the quickstart should be combined. The tour, of course, is a multi-page affair, while the quickstart is (currently) all on one page. A toss up; I viewed the "tour" only because I didn't see something like the quickstart, and only after just diving in a couple of days earlier. The flow of the site is pretty good for getting going quickly; it's a matter of the details...
I'd include an actual example of Touchstones. And I'd like to see a formally documented list of HTML or other bulletin-board-style tags that are permitted, in Talk, tags, reviews, or wherever.
I also agree with the suggested change in emphasis on groups.
The problem here is that while there are lots of good additions, additions are not costless. This isn't intended to be "the missing manual," but a "quickstart" guide. All things being equal, the longer the worse. I'm not sure how to decide on any addition. Maybe the criterion should be "good enough that I'd remove another line elsewhere."
When you try to create a group a big orange box shows up asking you to search for groups before creating one. We can only scold so much.
Okay, in order to add the word "square" to describe the word "brackets", here's one other word you can remove:
Instead of saying If you don't add an email, it will be hard for you to retrieve a lost password, you can say If you add an email, it will be easier for you to retrieve a lost password.
I would agree with this basic purpose of a 'quick-start guide'. As such, it should allow folks to get started quickly without making the inevitable mistakes that cause much grief (and re-work) later. So, I'd drop any 'gee-whiz' tips in deference to the 'watch out for this common error or you'll regret it later' tips.
Also, after it is rolled out in (near) final form, consider creating single page detailed help/tips guides for individual topics (FAQs?) that are linked to this 'quick-start' page. Of course, with LT still in it's beta/evolving phase, you might not want to develop these yet. It would just add to the number of things that will have to be edited, re-written, or replaced whenever features are added/replaced/changed.
Of course, with LT still in it's beta/evolving phase, you might not want to develop these yet. It would just add to the number of things that will have to be edited, re-written, or replaced whenever features are added/replaced/changed.
As a software developer by trade, I think it's important to document liberally.
Documentation takes time, and I'm lazy, so I like to get the most out of each keystroke by using tools like Doxygen to document my code. There's also the Literate Programming school of thought. But these are mostly aimed at the software engineer, not the web-site jockey.
Good user-oriented documentation requires some craft, but I think it too deserves as much attention during a "beta" period as the product itself. I think Tim&Co. agree that more isn't necessarily better; at the same time, one has to strike a balance, since "nothing" is not good either.
To that, then, note the popularity of the Quick Start guide in consumer electronics. Manufacturers realize that most users will not RTFM, so they give us a one-page sheet. That's a Good Thing(tm). They also still give us the 50-125 page manual for when we need to do something that's not "obvious". That is also a Good Thing(tm).
A good groupware site needs to be easy to navigate, have quick hints for the novice, and detailed information for the expert users. It just takes time.
I think Tim's mentioned thinking about adding a Wiki for the help, which I think would be perfect.
Btw: We're not in the beta phase. "Beta forevah." (I'm even serious.)
That's like Google—say it's a beta, even though it already outperforms its competitors.
The one thing I'd add to the intro is a short explanation about works/books. I think it's the one killer feature that sets LT apart.
Yes, something like "Remember, you enter your books into your catalog, but LT combines 'books' into 'works' for social connections, recommendations, etc."
>25 (and 24)
Great - then perhaps a link to this help article in the intro to entering books. I really do think it saves a newbie a lot of grief is they understand up front about the books they enter vs the works we combine/separate.
Under 'Your Books' - The book information page gives you library-quality data. The social information page shows you who else has the book and what they think about it. I think the second sentence should read "The social information page shows you who else has this work..." This would be a good place for a link to the explanation of 'work' vs 'book'.
Is it on purpose that the direct link to the introduction from the homepage disappeared again?
>This would be a good place for a link to the explanation of 'work' vs 'book'.
Does the new member NEED to wade through a long description of works vs. books? It seems to me that most LibraryThing owners have not seriously considered the topic, yet are still enjoying the site. I think a strong effort should be made to keep the short introduction just that, and not get into inside baseball topics irrelevant to most users and distracting to the newest.
It should still be accurate, though. Even if you don't want to explain the concept of a work right then, it should say "The social information page shows you who else has this work..."
I agree with Tim here. In all my years of bibliomania, I had never before considered the difference between a 'book' and a 'work'. Even now, I give it very little, if any, thought.
Sure, I know that the difference between 'work' and 'book' is something that makes the social aspect here a nifty thing, but I don't need to know the difference. All I need to know is that the difference works.
And so, for an idjit like myself, 'book' works perefctly in an intro to get the point across.
But if you didn't know the difference, you wouldn't notice anything strange if you read "work" rather than "book".
Whereas if you had later started to gain some familiarity with the works concept and then happened to re-read the introduction and see the word "book" there, it could be very confusing.
Do I need to know the difference between 'book' and 'work' to get started using LT? I don't think so.
Tim brings up a very good point when he says-
It seems to me that most LibraryThing owners have not seriously considered the topic, yet are still enjoying the site
I don't know/care how it works. I'm just happy it does work. Knowing the difference, IMO, doesn't inherently change how someone uses the site.
I don't know if I saw the word book or work first, but still manage to use the site (and have a lot of fun doing it).
Maybe I wasn't clear.
I'm not saying the explanation of work vs. book should be in or linked from the very short introduction.
I'm just saying the correct word should be used.
However, what is confusing to a new user is that when they click on the name of a book in their catalog they get a page in which the name and the author of the book may be different than the one in their catalog. If this isn't going to be confusing to new users then the concept of works needs to be explained to them.
If Tim uses the word 'book' when he means 'work', it will be quoted later in a debate in the Combiners thread as proof of some contrary opinion, using Tim as the authority.
For me, the issue of book vs. work comes up in the sentence that says the book info page gives you library quality data. Since the top of the page gives info about the user's specific copy (and the quality of that info depends on the quality of the info the user put in), and users have to scroll down to get the general info (and not everybody scrolls down), I think at the least it should say something like "The book information page contains information about your specific copy, based on the data you entered, as well as library quality data about the work (or book) in general." I'm sure this could be said more elegantly, but my concern is having users think that the data they entered, shown at the top of the page, is "library quality."
The following started as a screenshot to explain how to sort your library on LT, and it just sort of grew. I put it together in a bit of a rush and I'm no graphics expert - but maybe it'll help some new people. :)
Now Tim - when do we get our LT Wiki? :p
Now Tim - when do we get our LT Wiki?
BookMooch has a Wiki now.... (nudge nudge, wink wink) :)
I've searched lots of places and can't find my answer. What is the second number, after the slash, in the Shared column?
The graphics might be enhanced by this sort of zoom feature:
Hopefully this is the proper forum in which to pose this question. If not, my apologies in advance.
Occasionally, when trying to add a book cover picture, I get the message "Error: Work does not exist". Of course, I often have the book in my hand at the time, so I'm pretty sure it exists. What to do about this?
P.S.: LibraryThing is great! Straightforward, easy to use.
Thanks. Generally speaking this is when the slaves get out of synch, and if you try again in a few seconds or minutes, it should work. But there are some persistent problems. Shoot me a particular book?
I MADE A MISTAKE. I WANT TO LIST BOOKS THAT I WANT TO SELL. PLEASE CANCEL MY SIGN-UP of 10/23/07.
SIGN UP INFROMATION;
PASSWORD: **** (removed by Christopher)
SORRY FOR THE INCONVENIENCE.
It looks great! It covers most of the puzzling stuff that people need to know, in a very understandable format. Somewhere there should also be an explanation of what a user can do on the "Main Page", i.e. what is the little thumbs-up beside the user reviews (by the way THANK YOU for moving the user reviews above the Common Knowledge thingie), what is the little flag beside the user reviews (I actually haven't figured out whether that is the same flag as "flag abuse" in the forums), and what is CK about - although the CK information is at least linked to the Main Page so that isn't such a major issue.
clicking the little thumb by a review is giving a 'thumbs up' to the reviewer and showing you found the review helpful. the 'blue flag' is for innocuous comments and other thing like "in the living room", "cost 4.95", "borrowed from joe" which are NOT review. The 'red flag' are for copyright infringement, copying others reviews.
I would like to beable to skim thru all my books at once instead of only 20 at a time. it would be much faster than advancing one page at a time...
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