I just read your 3.2 blog entry and I realized you are spending a great deal of time and effort making content more visible to users. Your ideas are great, and I believe I some great suggestions to accomplish this goal.
I hope you strongly consider my suggestions, they are of most value for the following reasons:
1. Allow users to find content that is of value to them.
2. Allows users to find interesting content that may be of value to them per forum.
3. Allows users to view and read what is "going on" on the forum in a much faster and effecient manner.
I think it would be a good idea for IPB to move forward to web 2 0 information display standards and reorganized forum and index view.
Forum View Suggestion
Forum view: forum view would be composed of 3 major tabs, with the ability for users to generate their own custom tabs based on predefined parameters, topic title, tag, category, by user etc. These tabs would transition via Ajax upon a user clicking on each of the tabs. Each tab would reload everytime a user would click on each tab and not all tabs but the default would load upon user landing on forum view (to save queries) and to help with views count if ads are being served etc.
Topic Pagination Suggestion
In addition, each tab instead of having a ceiling per se of topics displayed, a user could scroll down to the bottom of the page to the last topic and either automatically have the next batch of the default number of threads load up based on admin's settings, for example, if the default setting per forum is to display 30 topics, admin would get to select if 30 more topics are automatically downloaded via AJAX or if user needs to click a button to display the next 30 topics.
The example of this pagination transition is Facebook and Mashable, but please remember to allow a period of time before loading the next batch of topics, because neither Facebook or Mashable understand this flaw and do not allow enough time for users to be able to scroll to the bottom of their page to click on the footer links. This is the only drawback of this pagination style imo.
I suggest having 3 default tabs on forum view, these tabs would be: Topic View, Most Discussed and Most Popular.
Topic View: this would be your default forum view.
Most Discussed: this tab would displayed most discussed threads based on the number of replies.
Most Popular: this tab would display the most rated content based on thread rating.
On default user would see this on forum view:
TAB 1 (highlighted and selected by default)| TAB 2 | TAB 3 | TAB 4 | etc....
1. This is a thread.
2. This is second thread.
3. More discussions.
When clicking on tab #2 he would get:
TAB 1 | TAB 2. (Highlighted after clicked by user)| TAB 3 | TAB 4 | etc....
1. Most discussed thread here.
2. Second most discussed thread here.
3. Third most discussed thread here and so on...
TAB 1 | TAB 2 | TAB 3 (highlighted) | TAB 4 | etc....
1. Most popular thead here based on topic rating.
2. Second most popular thread 3 Third most popular and so on
Btw I wrote via my htc google phone, what a pain!