UI For Outdated Content?

WordPress.tv has existed now and been a platform for publishing WordPress related videos since late 2007. In those nearly eight years 3,370 videos have been published with more being added every day. This is awesome! Yet a reality we are now facing is the fact that the software we know and love has evolved and changed considerably over this time period, thus rendering much of the early content on this site no longer applicable to users of more current releases of WordPress. In today’s TV team Slack meeting the question was raised about how to properly address outdated, deprecated, no-longer-accurate content.

Keep it? Ditch it?

The first question to consider is whether it is truly still valuable to the community to retain old content which no longer reflects WordPress as we experience it today. Are we serving users better by leaving this content or would the site be of better use to those seeking to learn more if less potentially confusing or misleading content existed here?

Though we recognize the potential for outdated content to be confusing and misleading to new users and also the reality that many of our older tutorial style videos are still frequently visited and viewed, we have determined that removing the content permanently from the site is not the best course of action.

An additional suggestion was made to redirect the outdated content to a more suitable, up-to-date equivalent. However, that is not being strongly considered either as not all such content currently has a modern equivalent and it would also make the older content permanently inaccessible to anyone who still had some reason to view it. Instead the possibility of introducing some new UIUI UI is an acronym for User Interface - the layout of the page the user interacts with. Think ‘how are they doing that’ and less about what they are doing. element to the site which would indicate to users whether content is no longer valid or applicable and possibly suggest a more current video is being raised for group discussion.

Content Examples

The majority of the site content in which this discussion is most applicable would be the screencast tutorial videos in the How To category.

Example 1

Here are two screencast videos which demonstrate a walkthrough of basically the same content, the only differences being the person speaking, the script and the WordPress dashboard visuals which are drastically different.

  1. Understanding the Dashboard (April, 2013)
  2. WordPress Dashboard Overview (May, 2015)

We are considering the following question: Should a video like #1 have something indicating that the content is outdated and, if so, should it also provide a link to a video like #2?

Example 2

  1. Activating WordPress 3.0 Multisite (July, 2010)

This is simply an example of a video that does not have a current equivalent (but may in the future). The contents of the video were very informative and useful several years ago but no longer reflect the required steps for setting up a multisiteMultisite Multisite is a WordPress feature which allows users to create a network of sites on a single WordPress installation. Available since WordPress version 3.0, Multisite is a continuation of WPMU or WordPress Multiuser project. WordPress MultiUser project was discontinued and its features were included into WordPress core.https://codex.wordpress.org/Create_A_Network. today.

Example 3

  1. Editing your existing list of links (January, 2009)

This video walks through the steps of modifying entries in the “links” post type which has not existed in WordPress coreCore Core is the set of software required to run WordPress. The Core Development Team builds WordPress. for quite some time now.

Example 4

  1. Melinda Samson: Google Analytics 101 Workshop (2011)
  2. David Bird: Google Analytics and WordPress for Beginners (May, 2015)

While not a perfect example, these two videos feature presentations from different individuals covering the same topic but four years apart. Obviously there are many differences in the content, however the case may be made that someone coming across video #1 would most likely be more interested in video #2 as it reflects the current Google Analytics experience much more closely.

This is also to add to the discussion the question of whether screencast tutorials are the only videos in which we could make a determination regarding the current relevance or whether presentation style videos, which make up the vast majority of WordPress.tv’s content, are also subject.

What to show

Moving into the discussion regarding possible solutions to this “problem”, if we do collectively determine that it is a problem worth acting on, the question then becomes: What information should be shown to the viewer? The following are the primary options we have identified (obviously exact phrasing would be up for discussion):

  • Text (“This video is outdated and does not reflect the current version of WordPress.”)
  • Link (“Click here to see an updated version of this video.”)
  • Both

Where and how to show it

If the determination is made that our site visitors are best served by showing them something additional to indicate that certain content is “outdated”, then the following options are being suggested:

  • Manually modify the title or excerptExcerpt An excerpt is the description of the blog post or page that will by default show on the blog archive page, in search results (SERPs), and on social media. With an SEO plugin, the excerpt may also be in that plugin’s metabox. of the post to add a message
  • Introduce a new tag and manually tag all “outdated” videos
  • Introduce a new categoryCategory The 'category' taxonomy lets you group posts / content together that share a common bond. Categories are pre-defined and broad ranging. and categorize all “outdated” videos
  • Place a comment on any video that is “outdated”
  • Introduce some new UI element which will display a message (and possibly a link to a more current equivalent) somewhere on the post

All of these options have pros and cons of course. The last option would necessitate a new ticket being opened on Meta Trac and new code being introduced. All of them would require some manual effort for our team of volunteers.

I’d also mention that when there are instances where posts on the WPTV site need to be queried, either within the site or remotely using the JSONJSON JSON, or JavaScript Object Notation, is a minimal, readable format for structuring data. It is used primarily to transmit data between a server and web application, as an alternative to XML. APIAPI An API or Application Programming Interface is a software intermediary that allows programs to interact with each other and share data in limited, clearly defined ways., having a way to specifically request only videos which are not “outdated” would be beneficial as well. Having a tag, category or new metaMeta Meta is a term that refers to the inside workings of a group. For us, this is the team that works on internal WordPress sites like WordCamp Central and Make WordPress. key to filterFilter Filters are one of the two types of Hooks https://codex.wordpress.org/Plugin_API/Hooks. They provide a way for functions to modify data of other functions. They are the counterpart to Actions. Unlike Actions, filters are meant to work in an isolated manner, and should never have side effects such as affecting global variables and output. the query by would make such a request possible. There are active projects going on already which would use this immediately if it existed.

Wrap up

Final points for consideration:

  • Our goal isn’t strictly to deal with the issue for today but to set the precedence for the future. The number of videos being added to the site is increasing each year and we want to implement a solution which will make the most out of the content we have and provide the most value to visitors.
  • WordPress is changing quickly and with each new release, more content becomes obsolete or at the very least dated.
  • It is also worth noting that all posts currently show a published date. The case could then be made that observant users could determine for themselves whether certain content is still relevant. This is an important point, although it is worth noting that:
    • Many videos are uploaded long after filming. This is especially true for WordCampWordCamp WordCamps are casual, locally-organized conferences covering everything related to WordPress. They're one of the places where the WordPress community comes together to teach one another what they’ve learned throughout the year and share the joy. Learn more. videos which have been submitted as much as two years after an event actually took place.
    • Date != version. It is most important that a user be shown content from the same version of WordPress that they are using. Relying too much on the published date as a measure of relevancy is problematic.
    • The date display does nothing to direct users to more current content if it exists.
    • Consider how the WordPress.orgWordPress.org The community site where WordPress code is created and shared by the users. This is where you can download the source code for WordPress core, plugins and themes as well as the central location for community conversations and organization. https://wordpress.org/ pluginPlugin A plugin is a piece of software containing a group of functions that can be added to a WordPress website. They can extend functionality or add new features to your WordPress websites. WordPress plugins are written in the PHP programming language and integrate seamlessly with WordPress. These can be free in the WordPress.org Plugin Directory https://wordpress.org/plugins/ or can be cost-based plugin from a third-party directory displays very prominent messages on the page for any plugin which has not been updated recently. Relying on a user to determine on their own whether something is relevant or applicable can in many cases be a disservice to them.
  • The TV Team is also leading an effort to get more screencast tutorial videos submitted to the site which is off to a good start and will be resulting in even more old videos having a modern replacement.

Questions we want your input on:

  1. Should something be done about “outdated” content on WordPress.tv?
  2. If we do something, should we consider all videos on the site or only screencasts in the How To category?
  3. If we do show something on video posts, should we include a link to a current equivalent video (if available) or include only text?
  4. If we do show a message, what should it say?
  5. If we do show something on the posts, where should it go on the page and what should it look like?

We want your honest opinion. What do you think would help make the content on this site more useful?

If you are interested in this and other similar discussions, please consider joining our weekly meeting in the #wptv channel in Community SlackSlack Slack is a Collaborative Group Chat Platform https://slack.com/. The WordPress community has its own Slack Channel at https://make.wordpress.org/chat/. on Thursdays at 17:00 UTC.