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I'm making a forum where people can find top rated answers but not a "best answer."

In other words, the most rated answers should be more visible since no one can pick the best one (something like YouTube).

I thought about doing something similar as Youtube, but is harder than I imagined. For instance if there are 3 answers with 10 votes, then two will be displayed at the top and the third one will be left behind (which doesn't make sense).

I thought about sorting the answers from the most voted to the less voted but in this way, discussions can become hard to follow.

I don't want the user to click a button to sort the answers, I would like something that doesn't require clicks.

Any suggestions?

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2 Answers 2

up vote 6 down vote accepted

This 'answer' is more to clarify your requirements, but might be the answer you want.

You can put rating stars beside answers. For the answers themselves you can vary font size, weight, lightness (black to gray), amount of answer before ellipsis, indentation. What you vary and how will depend on the style of your site - an easier challenge if your results can look a bit like a classified ad page, much harder if you want a more regular look.

If you have more answers than will fit on a page, then you have to not show some answers, and then you'll either disrupt the 'conversation' or have some high rated answers off the page. You've got conflicting constraints.

For a first cut, use:

  • Black for 5 star answers, very dark gray for everything else.
  • Indent more the lower the rating.
  • Reduce the less good answers to two lines before hitting ellipsis until everything fits on the page.

Then iterate iterate - and try it out on people until it works well. You might find yourself going back to a sorted list.


Edit:

I wouldn't use 'rainbow colors' to differentiate the quality of answers. It could be possible with a careful choice of palette, but there are too many pitfalls with other associations for the colors meanings - so Just variation of darkness of one color.

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so basically you are suggestion using horizontal space and colors in order to make the good answers more noticeable (by the way, what's ellipsis)? –  janoChen Jun 9 '11 at 9:11
    
Ellipsis are the row of three dots that indicates that there is more... –  James Crook Jun 9 '11 at 11:38

To James Crook's answer I would add that clipping lower-rated answers (just showing a couple lines, click to see more) can be augmented with tooltips, as is done here on Stack Exchange on the main questions page. This allows you to provide short "hooks" (the text on the page), a quick look for more context (several lines in the tooltip), and click through to get everything (or in your case, possibly, insert into the page inline).

You have several non-exclusive options; mocking up some of them for user testing should help you decide.

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