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Improve presentation of disabled replies for new, unactivated users

The meaning of "replies locked" is overloaded for new users who are still in the activation queue. Even given the warning about new accounts, this is liable to mislead new users or at least create uncertainty around replies and the state of their accounts; their impression of the site might be that all posts apparently have locked replies. This is slightly unfriendly and confusing.

Currently, new and as-yet unactivated users are presented with the following:

  • below a post and above its replies, the following info bubble is shown in slightly (but not significantly) highlighted form: "Your account isn't activated to post yet."
  • every reply has "replies locked" in place of the reply button
  • hovering over the reply button changes the cursor to a red "STOP/DISALLOWED" symbol

Ideally, context would be provided conditionally and locally instead of only interstitially between a post and its replies. The text "replies locked" would not be reused (as it misleadingly suggests that the lock is a property of the replies, rather than the user attempting to create a reply), and hovering or clicking would provide context about what is going on, at the actual pain point and in response to an actual attempted action, which is the point at which the most context is available to the user.

I'm less certain about the accessibility implications, but also note that in the above case the reply button is simply not present in the tab order of the page. Any new user navigating the page simply cannot tab-focus a reply button.

Note that all of the above is also not consistent with how replies are presented if you are not logged in. When logged out, reply links are presented as "login to reply" and are active and in the tab order of the page. New and as-yet unactivated users actually have this piece of UI become disabled relative to a logged out state, as the reply buttons change from "login to reply" to "replies locked". This also appears to suggest that the initial prompt to "log in to reply" is a lie—that it was never in fact possible to reply, and the prompt is just a way of hooking users.

Hope this is clear enough. Cheers.

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Related: clicking the "post" button when you're not yet activated just does nothing. No explanatory pop-up, no navigation to a page that tells you why the button doesn't do anything, no little "here's your place in the queue". It does play a click animation though—so the button looks operational, but nothing happens. Presumably deliberate, but appears broken.

It's possible all this "UX for yet-to-be activated users" thing is not a high priority because it's assumed people won't spend much time on the activation queue, but I would not be super shocked if it's low-hanging fruit to help retain users. Make the state of the account clear (not just in the banner at the top, but contextually when encountering each action they should be able to do but temporarily cannot—those are educational moments), give them something to do while they're twiddling their thumbs (compose an introduction, maybe? find accounts and tags, that kind of thing), etc.

I've been sitting somewhere under position 7,000 on the activation queue for around four days now, and will probably stay there for a while—which I am personally okay with given that the team is small and currently focusing on deploying a new timeline view for users—but all this time staring at the site without being able to meaningfully interact in any way has given me lots of opportunity to notice how much room there is for improvement. Sticking my thoughts here so the opportunity doesn't go to waste.

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