Ping (zestyping) wrote,

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I'm quite happy that Gore has decided to endorse Dean today.

I'm quite unhappy with the campaign's decision to release their Project Commons today. This is the second generation of the Dean campaign's Web-based coordination software. Lots of things about the design of this site don't make sense. Have a look at the pictures below or visit the site to see what i mean.

There is no visual cohesion to this design. Where do you look on this page for things to do? There's a bar of grey tabs at the very top. There's a second bar of green tabs underneath that. There's a search box underneath that. There's a list of links with actions in the top right corner. And other actions, like "Plan an Event" or "Invite a Friend", appear in the sidebar on the right, but only sometimes: they appear and disappear at random on different pages.

Why are certain items on certain menus? "Get Local Events" is a part of the site, which makes sense as a tab. But "Log Out" is not a part of the site; it's an action. Why is it on the green tab bar? Why is "Find Dean Supporters" a tab, but "Plan an Event" a link on the right side? Why is "Your Friends" in the top-right corner, but "Your Dean for America" is a green tab? In your profile, why do you get a checkbox next to "Notify me via email", but a drop-down menu with options "Yes" and "No" next to "Let others see my profile"?

There are also obvious bugs that should have been caught. The event search form can't produce more than 30 results. If you search for volunteers, the results page says it is showing you results 1-11, but there are only 10 people listed. Some of the volunteers in the listing don't show the city name, even though the person's city is visible in their profile.

You don't see pictures of people's friends on their profile pages. You can't list interests and find people who have similar interests to you. You can't see who has recently joined or who is currently using the system. You can't enter your username on Yahoo Messenger, ICQ, or MSN Messenger. All of these are features were available in Visible Volunteers back in August, and they threw it away.

The deployment procedure was even more unbelievable. Last night, all the existing tools were completely wiped away — Get Local, Victory Days, and DeanLink, all gone! — and replaced with Project Commons. There was no warning to the users. There was a testing period of just four days with hardly any change since the beta. The tools were completely reorganized and there was no information to help people migrate (just recently a CLICK HERE link was added because everybody was freaking out). As you can see from the discussion forum, lots of volunteers are justifiably angry that the events they were planning have disappeared and they can't find them anymore.

I'm sure I speak for many if not all Dean event coordinators when I say that our time is limited, and have to take advantage of every minute that we have during the day. I planned to send out event reminders this morning; at first I couldn't find the link, then I wasn't sure if the emails were sent, now I can't even read incoming emails. This stops a grassroots effort dead in its tracks. — theresa208
i'm a VC out in new hampshire, and i really depend on get local for everything - i can't for the life of me figure out where i can access the events i created. i'm sure the rest of the site will be fine once i get used to it, but for now, i need to post and update events, and i'm having to start from scratch. — mattching

This is not how you release software. And this is not how you treat your hard-working volunteers with the respect they deserve.

I believe in this campaign. The candidate is fantastic. The people are devoted, passionate, wonderful individuals. The people-powered philosophy is revolutionary. Unfortunately, there are some very poor decisions being made.

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