Bryon

Bryon Thur

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17 years, 12 days
Maplesoft
Director
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Social Networks and Content at Maplesoft.com

Maple Application Center

MaplePrimes Activity


These are replies submitted by Bryon

Thanks for the comment.  Giving a select group of MaplePrimes members access to preview the web changes is something that we have discussed internally and we're going to try and do that.  As Stephanie gets up and running in her role as MaplePrimes Community Manager, this is something that we will work with her to coordinate.  I'm glad you like the current interface, by the way.  It's certainly served us well, but it is starting to look a bit dated and could use a fresh coat of paint.

As for your other comments:

  • Direct copying & pasting from Maple will be addressed, just not with the current round of updates.  In general, however, 2-D typesetting will be improved and made more reliable.
  • The search interface will be dramatically improved.   For a good example of what we will be doing, check out the recently-improved search in our Maple Help System.  Results will be generated from a combination of our internal Google search engine, and our content databases.

Bryon

Addressing site performance is a priority for us right now.  The new server that I mentioned earlier has arrived and we are now in the installation, configuration & migration phase of the process.  Assuming that all goes well, we should have the new Primes server up and running in a week or two!

Bryon Thur

Axel, you raise a good point.  What is currently displayed on the Primes home page are the some of the recent blog posts and that content is not necessarily the best to put in front of someone who is finding the site for the first time. Something that we will look into (and would love your suggestions) is how to make the front page of Primes more closely represent the quality of information that can be found within the site.

Keep in mind that there will always need to be some announcement-type space on the home page, but everything else is fair game.

Looking at traffic patterns, users generally go directly into the forums after visiting the front page of the web site.  And once in the forums, they have access to the vast majority of Primes content.

It would truly be a great thing if all of the archived posts generated 100 hits per month!  As it turns out, only a small number generate that sort of traffic, while the majority are significantly less traveled.

It is in everybody's best interest to maintain as much uptime as possible, and our upcoming Primes project will address this.  To that end, we have purchased new hardware for MaplePrimes that should improve availability and reliability.  I cannot guarantee 99.9% uptime (which is what the 2 h/quarter figure represents), but we will definitely be making strides in the right direction!

Bryon

I think there are multiple areas of the site that can be improved, including search. 

I just posted a blog entry asking for suggestions for a Primes Update package that we have scheduled.  Take a look and make your suggestions: http://www.mapleprimes.com/blog/bthur/upcomingdevelopmentwhatshouldweaddressmapleprimes.

We are very lucky to have a community of users who enjoy helping others out, and it's a testatment to the quality of the posts that they continue to get read long after the original conversations took place.  The fact that a question & answer posted 3 years ago still gets read over 100 times per month is a very cool thing, in my opinion. So yes, I guess you could say that it's your fault that the content you've posted on Primes for the past few years has such lasting value, and that it may be stopping some users from otherwise posting new questions.  :-)

And as I mentioned yesterday, I don't think this simple analysis is a complete answer to Jacques' question, but I thought you'd be interested to see some of the numbers that we look at, as they can help explain the behaviour we see on MaplePrimes.

Allow me to introduce myself.  I am Bryon Thur, and my position at Maplesoft is Manager of Web Operations.  I am responsible for all of our outward facing web sites, including MaplePrimes.  A significant part of my job is in analyzing usage patterns for our various web sites, and as such, I wanted to (as much as I can) address some of the concerns that Jacques and others have addressed in this thread.

MaplePrimes has been, and continues to be, a vital resource for our users.  We have many thousands of registered Primes members and among the major areas of our web site (Application Center, Maplesoft Support, Maple 13, Online Help, etc.) it consistently ranks among the top 2 or 3 most popular.  As everyone would expect, highest use occurs during the school periods, where it will regularly host 40,000 – 45,000 visits per month.  One interesting traffic pattern that we see is that Primes traffic peaks in the 3rd month of a school semester (possibly because of exams), whereas other education-related areas of our site will peak during September and January.   So over the next few months, you can all definitely expect an influx of users and questions from new users!

When it comes to specifically addressing Jacques' concern about the decreased “density of new (challenging) questions”, I don't have any insight that answers the whole question, but I do think that some of the stats that I see can shed some light on at least a portion of it.  At very least, there are some interesting nuggets of information buried in all of the numbers.

To me, one of the coolest aspects of sites like Primes is its “long-tail effect”, meaning that content on the far ends (tails) of the page view distribution curve get read far more than you would expect for a ‘normal’ section. As an illustration of what I mean by a standard section, let’s look at our Maple 13 pages. In this section, the top few pages will generate 50% or 60% of all the traffic for that section, and the rest of the pages fall off quickly. This is not the case on Primes at all.  On MaplePrimes, the top group of pages account for only 12-15% of traffic, and we then have thousands of pages each accounting for a relatively equal, but small, amount of traffic. 

The thousands of monthly searches conducted on Maplesoft.com and on MaplePrimes make all of this information easily accessible and result in people finding answers to their questions very quickly, reducing the requirement to post questions.  Indeed, many questions that were posted 3 or 4 years ago still rank among our top forum topics (as just one example, this question is still read over 100 times each month: http://www.mapleprimes.com/forum/central-difference-method-third-derivative).  Granted, most of these are for relatively simple questions, but a portion of the searches are undoubtedly for the more challenging questions that Jacques alluded to.

I hope that this little bit of analysis gives you some better insight into the inner workings of Primes.  Primes receives a lot of attention at Maplesoft, and we certainly appreciate and pay attention to what is being written, so please keep your thoughts, opinions and suggestions coming!

Bryon Thur

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