Profile picture for RussHatfield

Zillow Asks: How would you re-organize Zillow Advice?

Hi all,

We'd be interested in hearing your thoughts on how Advice could be re-organized. Add or remove categories or sub-categories? Consolidate? Expand? Re-arrange order of the list?

We're aiming to make finding what you want to find easier(e.g. answers, questions to answer, discussions of interest). Through this, we hope folks would find help more quickly and that, overall, we might be able to re-invigorate general discussions a bit.

For reference, here are the main categories we have now:

Zillow FAQs
Home Buying
Home Selling
Mortgage
Rentals
Housing Market
Local Topics
Home Ownership
Home Improvement
Pro-to-Pro
Other

Look forward to your feedback. We have projects in place around all of this so this is something we'll likely move on sooner rather than later ; )

Thanks!
Russ
Zillow Customer Support
  • October 27 2011 - US
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Be a Good Neighbor. Be respectful and on-topic. No spam or self-promotion! See our Good Neighbor Policy.

 
 

Answers (24)

Profile picture for the_country_hick
First add a "zestimate" section that would be monitored heavily by a zillow employee. This is an area that should have a dedicated section and site support.

Your "home on zillow" does not say zestimate to most people. A lot of questions abound on the zestimate and should have a section of its own as big as "mortgage" or any other big section heading has.
  • October 27 2011
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
FAQs are under utilized - I get the feeling many users don't even start their search for answers in the FAQs (increase font size of FAQ for starters) - but it could also be because they are not clearly organized (or both).  

A number of the FAQs need serious editing.  Some are way out of date, many don't address the "how to" components that the users are looking for.   Many people aren't willing to sit through a several minute video for an instruction that takes three seconds.

I agree there needs to be a Zestimate section as a subsection in advice, with more Zillow CS TLC.

In general, it is hard to find things on Zillow.  Better search features will help dramatically.  I know the site well and often know what things are there, but get frustrating trying to find them get again to provide links.
   I can often find posts on the search subject using Z's search engine from 2007, but not  one from two days ago.   (I use google search for Zillow advice - heck, can't Z take advantage?)

In both home buying and home selling sections, I'd add a section for agents.

Sometimes I'm surprised/ sadden to see the same question four times in ten questions at the top of the list.   Why are so many redundant questions appearing?   I know users know how to read, so why are they not taking advantage of the answers already there?

Advice definitely needs some TLC from Zillow!  Thanks for asking - I hope to see some results.



 
  • October 27 2011
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I completely agreee about a Zestimates section.  Far too many catagories are clogged with gripes about Zestimates and threats of lawsuits.

Also, do something to make it easier to select sepcific areas in search. Having to hover over the word "State" to narrow things down in a clunky drop menu just to get local is a hassle and sometimes not worth the time.
  • October 27 2011
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Profile picture for wetdawgs
Sure would be nice to see more input to this question!
  • October 27 2011
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Profile picture for Brian Hopper
Get rid of home improvement.
  • October 27 2011
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Profile picture for blue screen exile
1) I would like to see some Boolean logic added to the searches, and allow symbol searching of the threads.  Also allow quotes for phrases.  (sure that can be done from a Google advanced search, but it should be able to be done here too.) 

2) I would like to be able to search thread titles separately from thread posts.

3) I would like to be able to narrow thread searches to posts by selected users.  (This is very tricky even for a Google advanced search, but could be very helpful).

4) When a question is posted; Zillow should automatically do a search for possible answers and automatically provide links to threads that might be relevant.

5) Although Zillow has links to specific posts in the threads, they don't work if they are not on the first page of the default sort order for that thread.  It should automatically calculate the right page, and take one to the correct page too so that one can find the post.

6) The random default sort order is very confusing to most people.  Either allow the user to set the desired default order in their profile, or standardize on one default order, or let the original poster choose a default order when creating the thread.  Having the sort order inconsistent with no apparent reason why it is the way it is doesn't help anyone.

7) Provide a separate area for questions about how to use the website, and auto filter the questions that belong there to that location.  Too many times the Realtors are answering that question with "call a Realtor" which makes absolutely no sense if the question really is about how to do something on this site.

8) Retire some of the sticky threads statuses more often.

9) Put a thick red line under the sticky threads so that people will be able to see the recently contributed to more easily.

10) Agree that Zestimates needs to be its own major category, not buried.

11) Bring back the full count of the threads in each category rather than rounding to the nearest 1000.
  • October 27 2011
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There seems to be a lot of support for having a category for Zestimates and maybe, it's worth having one for how zestimates work and, one for complaints about incorrect zestimates, as there seems to be a significant number of such complaints in this regard. 

Also,  Zillow Customer Support must take a more proactive approach in providing responses as currently it is left to posters like pasadenan, wetdawg and sunnyview who are too 'supportive' of zillow to have any real creadability with people with a bone to pick with an erroneous zestimate who are using this forum in frustration with the situation they find themselves in.

Also, there seems a common theme about the failure to be able to contact zillow which needs to be resolved even if by email if you can't afford a telephone number. How many other $1Bn companies make it so difficult for people to contact them?
  • October 28 2011
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Profile picture for hpvanc
I agree that there needs to be a major category with sub-categories for Zestimates.  I realize that many of the complaints are from owners and agents  that simply aren't in touch with reality, and very little can be done to make those people happy.  So that they don't get lost, there needs to be a separate category for over-Zestimates, most of those complaints and observations need to be investigated.  A separate sub-category for correcting factual errors on properties in the Zestimates category might also be useful to keep in the common location.  Also a sub-category on mortgage applications and Zestimates/other AVMs, let borrowers call it out when they believe lenders are using Zestimates to deny them without an appraisal and let the lenders answer them or suggest lenders that will let you spring for an appraisal no matter what the logic of the situation dictates.

I also think the idea to be able to search for phrases using "" and wild card searches would be useful.

Also how about a specific Agent to Agent sub-category under the Pro to Pro category possibly even let agents have a check box that says only other agents may respond, if they post in that category.  It seems like that is what a lot of agents would like, I'm not sure how it helps them in engaging the general public, but let them have at it, just don't create an option to make it reading for agent eyes only.
  • October 28 2011
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Profile picture for blue screen exile
Russ' profile was just deleted??????

What happened?

Zillow????
  • October 28 2011
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Profile picture for Neil R
  • Neil RZillow
  • 6702 contributions
Hi Pasadenan -

No worries, it is just a little mistake and we are getting it fixed. :)

Thank you.

Neil
Zillow Customer Support
  • October 28 2011
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Profile picture for blue screen exile
I would like a way to see the expanded tree list in the left margin all at the same time without having to open a major category to see the sub categories first.

And since many are not using the sub categories, it appears that possibly some of the sub-categories could be removed.  When including all the sub categories, it appears the list is quite long.

(It appears that most of the major categories are appropriate and in the correct order presently, with the exception of needing a separate Zestimate major category, and a separate "site issues/how to" category).

But a few other issues on discussion listing layout:

1) We not only want the last contributed date showing, but also the thread creation date showing so that people can avoid really old threads if they are not interested.

2) The ability of a user to filter out posts and threads by selected users.  (Sort of their own personal "spam" filter).  The list would be maintained in the profile so that one can put them back at any time.

3) The creator of the thread shown in the thread list and not just the last to contribute.  (no avatar needed for the thread creator; and no repeat needed if no responses).

4) The location of the thread post shown in the thread list...  If someone asks about homeowner property tax credit for their state; each state is so different than it is hard to answer that kind of question from a different state.  (Sure, it is not hard to open the thread to read the location, but it doesn't seem that it would take much space in the listing display and would be a benefit to some).

Also, global stickies that apply to all categories could be helpful for some important notifications without creating redundant threads on the same topic.
  • October 29 2011
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Profile picture for the_country_hick
If a thread is over 30 days old have a BIG DATE POSTED show up on top of the reply box (or even in the box so it can not be missed). To many times people reply to old questions not realizing they are older questions.

"Destination unknown" (or location of originating poster) should only exist in a good 80's song not the location where a poster is from when it is in their profile.

  • October 29 2011
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Profile picture for SoCal Engr

Some thoughts...

Make the "Search" more prominent and Google-ish (i.e., index forum content and start anticipating "search" to be a more utlized feature than the menu system).

Make Search results able to be displayed by question/discussion (less granularity) and thread (more granularity), probably via a display option. Sometimes, using searcch and getting flooded with results makes "search" somewhat unusable.

For original posts (i.e., questions/discussion vice response), force selection of main/sub-forum topics. Making a "Zestimate" topic will be useless if users don't use it...and often they don't.

Implement a "my topics" in the user's profile that allows certain forum topics and sub-topics to be selected for inclusion/display. In other words, a "custom topic" that is a user-defined aggregation of available topics. This could, possibly, even extend to a user-defined preference/filter for an area(s) of interest.

As much as I fear the potential abuse and/or confusion regarding policy, create a new forum topic for REAs to promote their locales (i.e., not fully a self-promotional sandbox, but a forum where it is understood that REAs will be promoting the benefits/positives/etc. of their locale - minus the "call me" info). Really, an explicitly REA-friendly "Local Topics" area.

You might consider making a heat map for forum threads, based on number of responses and how recent. Some sort of heat map approach could also be considered for general forum content (i.e., built on top of the index feature). These would make the forums more "mine-able" by consumers.

  • October 29 2011
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Auto close posts after 30 days of non-activity and/or archive them

Regionalize the posts better, so when someon asks 'Are the good deals in the Fountainwood tract'...the correct people will respond...

Show the 'hot' topics being discussed via Tag Clouds or something like that. You have enought activity here that should work well.
  • October 29 2011
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Profile picture for SoCal Engr
Summary of my prior suggestion..

Move more towards a Web 3.0 style, with content push based on user profile.

New thought...

Possibly enable people to "follow" their favorite posters, somewhat Twitter-ish. Would recommend against showing number of followers, as that would likely incite a feeding frenzy to see who could get the most followers (doubtless with some trying to game the system by following each other).
  • October 30 2011
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Profile picture for blue screen exile
I seem to be missing why the ability to follow a poster would be useful or important to anyone.  If a poster wants followers, they already have the ability to auto feed their posts to Twitter or Facebook.

And it seems more reasonable to have notification of new contribution to specific discussion threads, which is already a feature.

And if someone really wants to "follow" a poster, they can just book mark the poster's profile, and each time they log in, they check the profile page for new content; and the links are already there.

I've only had one response post asking how they can "follow" me, and I didn't even bother responding as I'm really not interested in people following me.  The CIA did enough of that before.
  • October 30 2011
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Profile picture for SoCal Engr
@ Pasa...

It's a Web 3.0 thing, with some KM overtones. There was simply a question as to how best reorganize "Advice", and my thought is that it'd be cleaner if it was a "push" model vice "aggregation".
  • October 30 2011
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Profile picture for blue screen exile
Ok, I'm still not seeing it... if Zillow programmers are still constantly having release trouble with  updates, how are we going to expect them to implement a "knowledge machine" with so little staff when even Goggle with their self-driving cars and huge staff are not implementing it yet?  And the typical "knowledge machines" are still being implemented in LISP?  (Not that I have anything against LISP as that presently is the 3rd most frequent  programming language I'm using).

Doesn't іt make more sense to wait for such implementations until the platforms exist to support it?

In the meantime, there are numerous things that can be done to enhance the forum presently.


(By the way, I still think that "advice" is not a good title for the forum, and think it causes too much of an unnecessary liability issue.  And I'm convinced most people are not looking as much for "advice" as they are for "options" and diverse "opinions".}
  • October 30 2011
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Profile picture for jonasboli
Thanks folks, this is great feedback! Love the ideas for keeping content on-topic and making it easier to find things. We (the product team) will absolutely be incorporating your feedback into our plans.

If you have any more input, we're all ears!
  • November 09 2011
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Profile picture for sunnyview
Love the new green Zillow tags! Like a shiny new granny smith apple...
  • November 09 2011
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It would be nice if I didn't have to scroll to the bottom of the page to post a comment when the post button is at the top of the page. It makes posting on a mobile divice challenging at best. Thanks guys.
  • November 09 2011
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1) A thumbs down button

2) The ability to sort postings by: "last posted," "threads I've posted in," "threads with unread posts"

3) Super users - enough of the forum regulars with good track records, then a user account can be suspend until Zillow can review.
  • November 09 2011
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Profile picture for blue screen exile
Well, if Zillow asked for input, and the programmer responsible stated they would implement some of the ideas in the thread, how come nothing was done with most of the better suggestions?

How about actually implementing some of the ideas instead of just soliciting them?
  • July 02 2012
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Profile picture for user0942034
I want to organize by neighborhood.  Can you tell me how to do this?
  • September 11 2012
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