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Suggestion: Forum Structure

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Please don't beat or bite me ... I am still a noob, but I read rather attentively, and every so often I come across a closed thread or one with a link to a tut because the question has been asked before.

I fully understand the need to keep the forum up-to-date and in a good structure, and as a complete noob, sometimes not even capable to think of the right search word(s), I also see why people ask the same question several times over time.

So it just came to my mind, if it wasn't feasible and worthwhile to try and restructure the forum in a way that ppl (like me) would be able to search for their needed info in the right section to begin with, thus over time avoiding double and triple threads on the same question. (I manage a forum myself, so I DO know how much work is behind all this, even if ours is not half as big and broad as yours - it still costs a lot of input from a lot of people to keep everything running smoothly and up to date!)

My idea is to maybe create sub-forums in this "General Discussion" forum as well as in the "Tutorial" forums, giving them names like "Basics" (or: beginners), "intermediate" and "expert" according to the nature of the questions/tuts. Maybe that would even be worthwhile doing with the Pictorium though the immediate need for it seems of a lesser priority.

I know that with 130 pages of thread titles alone this would require a lot of extra work, but the prospect might be that, once you have done this work, your workload might get lighter afterwards.

I really feel for you, mods and admins, so bear with me, if I'm annoying you with this idea. It's just ... well... well-meant, so to speak.

Thanks for the great job you all are doing here!


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My idea is to maybe create sub-forums in this "General Discussion" forum as well as in the "Tutorial" forums, giving them names like "Basics" (or: beginners), "intermediate" and "expert" according to the nature of the questions/tuts.

While I see the merit of this in the tutorials section, the problem with general discussion is how do people asking the questions know how expert or beginner their questions are? Additionally, that section is also used for other topics such as feature requests. Here is how I generally imagine the reasoning lies behind the way they are organised:

  • [*:3n8hdd54]People looking to help new users and give general feedback on new feature suggestions, can look in GD&Q.
    [*:3n8hdd54]People looking to see examples of images created with Paint.NET, can visit the pictorium.
    [*:3n8hdd54]People looking to learn new techniques can look in the tutorial section.
    [*:3n8hdd54]People looking to download plugins, can look in the plugin section.
    [*:3n8hdd54]People looking for a fast way to get Paint.NET in a forgein language, can visit the localisation.


Just my "twenty pence".

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the only problem here is in the tutorial section, i really use it but almost 60% or more of those tutorials dont have pictures. Not because they didnt post it when they published the tutorial but because people upgrade and erase their pictures so most of their interesting tutorial only appears " photobucket :this imagen or movie has been deleted".

For a new user "imagens" sometimes help more than the theory.(some of them actually you cant follow steps but you follow their pictures).

It could be a good reason to update tutorials and keep only the ones that actually helps others not only with steps but with pictures.

the other sections actually are very helpfull, specially plug-ins (very nice plug-ins)

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I find the whole forum extremely helpful, for that matter.

@sabrown: Beginner's questions would be kind of basic things like e.g. "How do I do a cutout?" or like recently. "Help with layers" -- things like that.

Whereas questions about plug-ins, effects or like when someone wants to do (or has gotten stuck in) a more complex project this type of question would be intermediate or expert... I think that generally, people have a good feeling of self evaluation on where they stand in using a program, so one could leave it up to them more or less.

I also understand the structure which is given in here, as well as the thoughts behind it. My intention was not at all to get rid of this structure, but to kind of expand it, like in the tut section, one could easily decide if a tut is good for "bloody beginners" or not... or if it is a rather complex thing where you'll have to use a lot of plug-ins, know your way around effects (and what to do about it if s.th. doesn't come out the way it should). I thought this could be tremendously helpful for ALL people present here.

And it would make browsing in here (without asking too much) a lot easier - thus lifting a bit the burden off the mod's shoulders.

That was my idea behind it. ;)

I know how unnerving it gets when the 127th new user within a few months asks the same question that has been answered 115 times before --- so, a structured collection of questions could also be quite helpful. Maybe first ask the Q in "General Discussions" and then a mod can easily move the thread to the right sub-forum, and there it can blossom. ;)

Well, these were just outlines of some vague imagination/vision I had.


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I would define "beginners" questions anything that can be answered by reading the help file.

By using this definition, of course, then that category is not needed!

Why? Because if you know enough to put your question into that category, then you know where to find the answer... so you have no need of asking the question in the first place! Perfect!

All other questions should be considered "advanced". So, we really only need one forum for all advanced questions to be asked. And, well, we have that... it's called "General Discussion & Questions".

Looks like my work is done here. :mrgreen::PanTool:

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Most of the questions in the beginner questions are those the user would probably have found using search, and users are required to do this by the rules so I doubt that would be a problem. Although maybe the forum could benifit with a stickied thread giving common questions and links to answer threads in case they are not found by search.

When users are using search, I fail to see the point of such a system giving any benifit to either askers or answerers. Additionally, modesty and perception may override the category given unless they are clearly defined (HTML is brain sergery to people who only use the internet for basic tasks such as email and spreadsheets, but second-nature to most programmers).

As mentioned before, I do see the merit of organising tutorials, where more benefit can be seen by new users, although I would reccomened these be organised by category instead.

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EDIT: I spent time writing this, so this can be considered an extension of sabrown100's reply.

We must also remember a lot of these 'beginner' questions, with them being answered so many times, can be found using the Search facilities, and you tend to find that people reuse the same terminology for the same issue, therefore 'searching the wrong term' is little a problem. What is the problem is that new users refuse to search; far too much effort over starting a new topic and asking, clearly.

Even if one is unaware of the Paint.NET Search Engine (http://searchpaint.net), the Forum Search is immediately obvious if one was to even for a moment take the time to look. The Forum Search even has advantages over the Search Engine in that you can narrow down your query by username (admittedly, not too much of an aid to newer members), and by Forum. If you have a technical issue, you can focus your search on the Troubleshooting section only, or perhaps the General Discussion area; you will know full well that a crash in Paint.NET will not be answered in the Localisation section, or layers in the Programming sections.

This is not to mention the excellently written Help files which are equally as disregarded as searching is. Such questions as your quoted 'help with layers' would be solved quickly and easily through a read of the Help, which so happens to be organised in such a way that finding the relevant material is of no hardship.

If new users would follow these simple guidelines, then I would bet the repetition of these queries would be halved. At least.

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A while ago Mike Ryan suggested having a new Plugin Installation thread link in the same category as the rules, I disagreed with this due to the insignificance of the thread. I wish to launch the suggestion of having search in that area, with the title "please use search before posting" as many of such queries can be covered with this.

Just my 20 pence.

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