1) The main issue. I recognized (unlike all other forums on the Internet), it has three, distinct "layers" with a different visual appearance depending how deep you go into levels.
Level 1: https://forum.xda-developers.com/
Take note of the distinct visual appearance.
Level 2: https://forum.xda-developers.com/android
Take note of the distinct visual appearance. Remember that one level up (https://forum.xda-developers.com/) you had actual descriptions of what each category is about. At this level the descriptions have disappeared (for some reason), so you always have to go a level up to figure out which category you want to enter.
Level 3: https://forum.xda-developers.com/android/apps-games
Take note of the distinct visual appearance. Now this looks like your regular Internet forum. I wonder why can't Level 1. and 2. look just like Level 3. for an easy overview of navigation.
Am I the only person all these levels are not intuitive for or you as well? What forum engine XDA Forums runs on? I noted that Level 3. is fine, it looks like just any other Internet forum, but I'm puzzled and perplexed as ever about the distinct designs of Levels 1. and 2.
For a comparison of some neat and friendly forum interfaces, I encourage you to check out:
Nothing special, really: just time tested, old forum interfaces that "just works" as they say. I'm not even saying they are perfect. For example, the AnandTech Forum doesn't have the descriptions the Ars Technica forum has, but due to the self-explanatory nature of the categories, I'm not lost while there. I understand XDA Forums have more complex topics, so descriptions are preferred.
+1: As opposed to the Ars Technica and AnandTech Forums, The F-Droid Forum uses a new school interface called Discourse. I find it effective as it has powerful features. If you ever want to upgrade XDA Forums, you might want to consider going with a next generation forum engine like Discourse.
I simply can't believe I'm the single person on this forum interested in this question. (It's timely as ever, by the way.) I just feel other people interested in the same topic somehow never found their way to my question because they also find XDA Forums overall just too complex to get a grasp on everything happening here.
2) Has anyone ever found checking the "Q&A Thread" was useful for their thread, and didn't regret checking that box in the end? Back then when I was without a clue, I checked the box. I learned never to check it again. See my cautionary tale here: https://forum.xda-developers.com/and...phone-t3429852
I never got a proper answer there, and totally by accident (by external Google search after gave up I will ever find my answer on XDA Forums), I have found what I was looking for in a 5-year old Samsung Galaxy Nexus thread which turned out to be completely device-independent stuff: https://forum.xda-developers.com/gal...0#post69913460
Now why would the author of this completely device-independent guide put the guide in the Samsung Galaxy Nexus forum section where it lied for 5 years unnoticed, but being still useful today? Probably he has never figured out where the proper place for device-independent guides on the forum is. (Where is the proper place for device independent guides on the forum really, where contributors and users alike will find it equally easily?)
My related observation to this point is that I noticed many of the juicy activity on this forum in general takes place in [insert this year's hot Android phone] categories. Hot Android phone of the day or year changes at least yearly, most users change their devices at least once in two years, so even though many device-independent advice might have been accumulated in the topics for previous year's hot phones, this knowledge seems to be lost. It's still here on the forum, just no one looks at threads of old phones popular years ago looking for device-independent advice, people can only stumble upon information from this (actually huge) section of the forum by accident.
3) Idea: how about a distinctive indicator for a project is being active, still actively maintained or developed? It can be a green sign for active projects. Projects no longer being maintained and developed on the other hand could be distinctively marked with a red sign.
Example for I mistakenly thought of an active and alive project that it was no longer maintained and developed... or not? But something like this:
(Poor developer @M66B, I have no idea what negative experiences he may refer to: https://forum.xda-developers.com/sho...php?p=69284003)
Example for me being lost here 1.: This project has been abandoned for sure: https://forum.xda-developers.com/sho...d.php?t=888181
The thread has been closed for 5 years. I have no idea whatsoever in which section should I ask about a similar project which is alive and well. (And expect for answers, which is equally important! A few paragraphs above you can see examples that even I asked the right question in the right place according to moderator, I never received any answer whatsoever, or any meaningful answer.)
Example for me being lost here 2.: I really want to ask somewhere
Example 2, for not finding my way around XDA Forums. I noticed there are many worthy, distinctive projects that seem to be abandoned by their developers: https://forum.xda-developers.com/sho...d.php?t=888181
It seems to be pretty abandoned; the thread has been closed for 5 years.
Aren't just too many separate categories? I just never was able to figure out the "overview" of XDA Forums the way I had no problem to overview AnandTech Forums and the Ars Technica forums. Even if you say there are exactly as many forum categories as needed, I can accept that. But sure, you could do more to make it visually intuitive - just like most other forums on the Internet are. Thanks!
Update. Another case in point: https://www.xda-developers.com/googl...he-xda-forums/
Poor Google engineer @jasondclinton_google has some good, general info on rooting vs. Android Pay (Google Pay?) security but why he had to post it in an obscured thread under xda-developers > Google Nexus 5 > Nexus 5 Q&A, Help & Troubleshooting > Android Pay and Custom ROM instead of a forum topic of more general interest is beyond me.