Cake
  • Log In
  • Sign Up
    • I've been a member of this great platform for about 10 days now and I've enjoyed it very much. I've started a few Conversations in my time here (six to be exact), and in that time I've compiled a list of suggestions which I think would enhance our experience on Cake. But before we get to my suggestions, I think it's important to highlight what I think the platform gets right. What I like about Cake.

      The focus is on content, not people

      This is the central concept of Cake, and I love it. I was a heavy user of Collections back on Google+ where users could follow interests rather than people, and Cake takes the same approach with Topics. From a reader's perspective, it's easy to find content that interests you. From a writer's perspective, you won't need to worry about catering to a specific audience (like your followers). You can write about anything and through Topics, the right people will find your content. I myself have written about language, smartphones, and shared some photography. I have ideas for posts that cover even more topics too. Not having to worry about writing to fit a specific scope and just being able to share whatever interests you is a major strength of this platform.

      Clean writing experience

      I like how clean the compose interface is. Very minimalistic with no clutter. The formatting toolbar floats above text when you select it, so there's no need for a static toolbar. I also like the autosave function, so you don't need to manually save your drafts, which means there's no need for a "save" button either. It's just a very clean interface which puts your writing front and centre.

      A very proactive team

      @Chris , @yaypie, and @Vilen have been very proactive in responding to feedback, and just interacting with the members of Cake in general. I've only been here for a few days and I can already see their commitment to the platform and its members. I believe Cake has a bright future with a dedicated team like this, including those I haven't seen.

      Now, on to my suggestions.

      An improved writing experience

      I like the UI when starting a Conversation, but I feel like it could be improved. For starters, it would help if the "Publish" button was at the bottom, or remained visible at the top regardless of how long our post is. Needing to scroll all the way back up to publish our post is a little tedious. It would also be nice to be able to easily share our post once we publish it to external sites, like Twitter. The omission of a share button means we need to copy and paste our post's URL when we want to share it. It works, but a share button could be more convenient. Lastly, a proper "draft" system would be very useful. Our posts autosave, but we can only ever have one draft at a time, and we need to publish it before being able to write a new post. This "draft" is also restricted to the computer we composed it on. I started writing a post on my desktop one day and was surprised to see that it was missing when I tried to continue writing it from my laptop. When I went back to my desktop, the draft was there. So a proper system to manage multiple drafts from multiple computers would be a great addition, especially in the current "multi-screen" era of technology we live in.

      Media in posts

      Currently we can only add one photo to our posts, and I feel this is very restricting. We can add photos via image URLs, but what about images from our local storage, which are mostly photos we took with our phone? I feel being able to import photos from Google Photos could solve this, or simply allowing us to add more photos via the built-in image uploader. It would also be nice to be able to place these photos anywhere in the post, the same way we can with links. Captions for the photos would be nice too. As for the main image, would it look better if it was at the top of the post, rather than the bottom? The image is placed prominently on the home page when we browse for posts to read, but in the actual post it's placed right at the bottom. Seems a little contradictory in my opinion. Being able to use GIFs as the main image could be fun too. Lastly, maybe a built-in emoji selector? Not that important, but just throwing it in there.

      A bit more focus on people

      I know the concept of Cake is to focus on content more than people, but perhaps focusing a little more on people wouldn't hurt. For example, when someone is browsing a topic, maybe the top contributors to the topic could be highlighted? Alternatively, maybe we could see on our profiles which topics we've contributed to the most? These two suggestions could create an association between topics and people, so other can see who the most active posters are in each topic. Of course, quality should also be considered, not just quantity, so this could still need some work. Is there a way to privately communicate with others? Like personal/direct messages? Not sure if this is necessary, but it could be useful in some situations, like if you wanted to plan a Panel with others.

      Those were my main suggestions. Lastly, just three more suggestions.

      1. This has been asked before, but I want to echo it again - we kinda need a mobile app, pronto. I know the iOS app is close, so I hope the Android app won't be too far away.

      2. How do posts get features? I assume they are hand-picked. Perhaps some clarification on what constitutes a "featured" post could be good for users?

      3. A notification counter would be handy, instead of just a blue dot to indicate we have notifications, it would be nice to be able to see how many without needing to actually open the notification tab.

      That's all from me. Sorry to the team if this is asking too much. I don't want Cake to replicate other social sites, as I feel this place is unique and it should stay that way. But at the same time, I feel like some of the suggestions I shared could really help enhance the experience of using Cake. So I hope the team will consider some of these suggestions and hopefully implement some of them too.

    • Thank you, Jazli. 😁 What a beautifully well thought out post. It's very fascinating to read for us, as you can imagine.

      Before we had people actually using Cake, everything was theoretical and I sometimes wondered how much some things we worked on would be used. Rich text editing? I remember asking out loud why rich text isn't a thing on Facebook. Is it really important? It makes me smile to read your post, with all the bold font which helps make it dramatically easier to read.

      Anyway, thanks for this. It gives us a lot to think about.

    • How do posts get features? I assume they are hand-picked. Perhaps some clarification on what constitutes a "featured" post could be good for users?

      Yes, they are hand-picked by people who work at Cake. When you come to cake.co logged out, perhaps as someone new who doesn't know what Cake is all about, what you see on the homepage are featured conversations.

      Like all things that involve human judgement, the seven of us probably all have factors that affect our judgement a little bit differently. I only feature conversations on topics I know pretty well. I tend to look for good engagement that makes it a real conversation, that I think other people in a topic would find very interesting.

    • Rich text editing? I remember asking out loud why rich text isn't a thing on Facebook. Is it really important? It makes me smile to read your post, with all the bold font which helps make it dramatically easier to read.

      I believe people who use rich text editing frequently are people who like to write long-form content and like to organise it neatly with headers and sub-headers. I used a bold font for section headers in my post, as well as to highlight the main points (suggestions) of my post, to make it easier for people who are just skimming through. On Facebook, I don't think people write that way, but on Google+, a lot of people wrote long-form content the way I wrote this post. So on Cake, I'm sure it'll be a heavily utilised feature.

    • That's one way of looking at it. "Titles" do seem to give some people a little bit of "entitlement", but it could also act as a motivator to get people to be more active on Cake as well. Like you mentioned, some authors of featured posts aren't really committed to Cake. Having a list of top contributors could encourage better engagement.

      On the other hand though, like I mentioned in my post, this could raise concerns of quantity over quality. Members could start many Conversations of little quality just to build up their numbers to get listed as a top contributor. This is definitely not something I want to see happen, and I'm sure the team behind Cake doesn't either.

      Just putting the idea out there for us all to discuss. Definitely has pros and cons. A better implementation could be thought of from my suggestion too.

    • It brings up the fascinating question of what constitutes a top contributor. I saw in another conversation about how Von Wong is converting to simpler daily photos because as Dallas noted, you lose social media followers if you don't post often.

      I'm afraid I'm suspicious about whether that's because it's in the best interests of companies like Facebook to tune their algorithms to produce as much content as possible. Probably more page views and ads for them, I don't know because I don't have their data to do the math.

      In the physical world driven less by algorithms, it isn't the author that produces the most books who wins, it's the one who produces the best. You can be famous and wealthy for producing a few great movies in your career.

      Here's an example. Von Wong and I organized this photoshoot together (it's real). It took us weeks of prep and it was damned hard to pull off safely. In the real world, it was a sensation, but on Instagram and Facebook not so much.

      Some of the featured conversations come from people we know who lurk a lot but don't post much because they want to post something good when they post. Or maybe they are a little bit driveby because they are so busy and off doing amazing things. But I think we're going for interestingness more than frequency. Shouldn't we?

    • it would help if the "Publish" button was at the bottom, or remained visible at the top regardless of how long our post is.

      I agree here. So much about Cake is very intuitive but when publishing a new thread I find myself looking at the bottom for the public button first (on desktop).

    • Markos Giannopoulos

      I used a bold font for section headers in my post, as well as to highlight the main points (suggestions) of my post, to make it easier for people who are just skimming through. On Facebook, I don't think people write that way

      Facebook does have a "Note" feature with rich-text editing though.

      Edit: the Note feature has been greatly demoted it seems. It's not on the "new post" UI and have to hunt it down to your profile under a sub-menu in order to create a new Note :D :D

    • Here is what I miss the most from some of the other social media platforms I play with:

      Markdown.

      I really like the ability to use very simple text decorators to create content which makes use of proper section, subsection, sub-subsection, etc. navigation markers, easily lets me link to other media, and even has the option of generating a table of contents.

      To say that I like longform media is probably an understatement.

      I don't mind a really good rich text editor; Medium has one of the best longform content editors in the social media space, in my opinion. But it would be really nice to be able to create the actual text, link to other content, be able to simply cut-and-paste that into a post, and have everything "just work."

      I can get tiny, individual updates in a lot of other social media platforms. What I really want, especially on a topic-first interface, is something that makes it easy to make content which is as ideally presented.

    • I love Markdown too! And I agree that Medium's editor is one of the best; it's the high bar against which we measure our editor. We went with a rich editor for Cake because while Markdown is reasonably well understood among tech-literate people, it's not commonly understood by less tech-literate people.

      One of the features on my personal wishlist that we just haven't had time to implement yet is to enable transparent Markdown support in Cake's editor, so you could use standard Markdown syntax to trigger _italics_, **bold**, `monospace`, etc. without needing to use the editor toolbar or keyboard shortcuts. Just gotta find the time!

    • The way that Typora (https://typora.io/) does the integrated Markdown editing with allowing you to enter the codes and then rendering it immediately upon moving out of that editing area is damn near ideal; that and Gingko (https://gingkoapp.com) are my editors of choice in nearly every situation. The one thing I miss on a regular basis from Medium is the ability to inset a graphic with scaling on the right side of a para with wraparound and captioning, but that's not even a part of standard Markdown so I can't object too much.

      The other thing that I wish more social media sites did was properly threaded replies. I miss the old days of USENET where you could see the branching structure of peoples' replies and move through them either depth-first to follow a thread you're interested in or breadth-first to find some bit of discussion you want. Quoting and branching are big, huge deals for carrying on conversations that most socmed sites post-USENET just don't seem to care anything about (except Steemit (https://steemit.com), though it has other issues).

      I love the fact that Cake is topic/subject-first, which pushes people to pay attention to content and not just follow folks around without concern for what they're saying. It's a long needed design change that needs someone to experiment with it to find where the ideal content-discovery pivot is.

      (But it needs a Dark Mode. That's all greedy me, though.)

    • people who use rich text editing

      On metafilter they allow strike thru fonts so that you can make a snarky sarcastic text, strike thru it and replace with a more PC text. lets call this the sarcasim enhancement.

    • the sarcasim enhancement.

      I'm not sure that making it strictly obvious really enhances sarcasm. Very much like how explaining a joke doesn't make the joke better. Unless the joke is how you explain the joke. But then you have to explain the meta-joke, and at that point we need to implement an entire joke-type system, express it in Haskell, lose 35 pounds and half of our hair, and have job security forever because no one in their right mind wants to learn Haskell to maintain the code.

    You've been invited!