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When chat was first introduced, it was referred to as a "third place". Now, we have what is essentially a fourth place: The site blogs. (Yes, it's on a wordpress engine, and not all sites have them, but many do. But it's a component of a site's presence.) If this trend continues, there will eventually be a fifth place, and a sixth place, and so on.

Perhaps, before this goes any further, it's time to re-examine the way SE addresses iterations of the sites, from an interface standpoint.

I suggest that, instead of the chat link that's at the top of all sites (which sometimes, confusingly enough, becomes the blog link, but that's another discussion) with a drop-down menu. This would be populated by links to chat, meta, the SE blog, as well as the site blog (if there is one) - and, also, any future sites introduced on a network-wide basis.

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Integrating the site blogs into the SE system more tightly would also allow for the blog icon to indicate when there's a new post on the site blog and/or for the main SE blog. (Would a tie-in to blogoverflow do the trick?)

While introducing a new drop-down menu complicates the interface a little, it's simpler than pushing stuff to the footer, which - I think - few people look at regularly.

So - am I on the right track, or would this be a horribly well-intentioned idea? Is this already being considered in some form or another?

  • +1. Pretty sure waffles/Sam and Jeff have been unhappy with the header at various points lately, so hopefully they're considering something. – Matthew Read Aug 17 '11 at 4:56
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    Not sure I'd be happier with a drop down though... – Benjol Aug 17 '11 at 5:47
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    I don't use the chat or blog links, so I don't care what happens to them, but please don't bury meta in a dropdown; I use that constantly – Michael Mrozek Aug 17 '11 at 6:07
  • @Benjoi - I'd love to hear a better option, but I can't think of one. Any ideas? (Other than turning the header into a win3.1-style nightmare of a gazillion links, of course.) Maybe integrate this into the SuperColliding Dropdown thingamabob menu? – Neil Fein Aug 17 '11 at 7:47
  • I don't remember Windows 3.1 having any links at all. – Cody Gray Aug 17 '11 at 9:13
  • @Cody - Use your imagination! Think "crowded UI". – Neil Fein Aug 17 '11 at 14:03
  • Hmm, I remember Windows 3.1 fondly as having an excellent, totally non-cluttered UI. It definitely didn't have many "drop-downs" to hide things. I'm not really convinced that's an improvement. – Cody Gray Aug 17 '11 at 14:05
  • @Cody - We must have been using a different win3.1, then. – Neil Fein Aug 17 '11 at 14:53
  • Have added a mockup image. It'd be nice if this got some attention. It hasn't even gotten a status-rejected tag. – Neil Fein Apr 21 '12 at 16:47
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    This is pretty much implemented now with the new top bar. :) – Shadow Wizard Dec 5 '13 at 8:48
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It's a little bit more complicated that what you suggested, but the new top bar does have a dropdown menu unification thingy:

Meta, chat, blog, and log out in one place.

Enjoy!

  • Man you surely aged quickly... hope it isn't because of the stress at work! :D – Shadow Wizard Dec 8 '13 at 8:25
  • By the way, missing free hand red circles here. :( – Shadow Wizard Dec 8 '13 at 8:25
  • @ShaWizDowArd: I just turned forty and I don't have time for drawing circles. But since you asked... – Jon Ericson Dec 8 '13 at 16:37
  • Hey, this isn't your account in the screenshot to the right. Who's account did you use for the screenshot? – hichris123 Dec 8 '13 at 16:52
  • @hichris123 this is David's account - coworker (or boss?) of Jon here. :) – Shadow Wizard Dec 8 '13 at 18:40

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