Let's build a forum!

Discuss how the website, forum or blog can better implemented (e.g., ideas, suggestions, comments, etc.).
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Let's build a forum!

Postby JEQuidam » Mon Apr 27, 2009 8:20 pm

Hello friends...

I think this is the first posting here.

I set this forum's permissions to "standard permissions" thinking that would be, well, standard. Does anyone recommend something different? Are there any other functions we should allow or disallow?

Also, this is for "registered users" which presumably is everyone except guests. There was also an option of "registered COPPA users" but I don't know what that means.

Rich, the expert administrator, asked if I read the PDF manual he sent me (as in RTFM, I think). Of course, nobody actually reads a manual, but I am referencing it more.

Anyway, let's use this forum to discuss pre-launch issues and suggest ways to make the TTO forum an productive and positive vehicle for advancing TTO's mission. There's no rush; if necessary we can spend a few weeks getting this right before launching.

TTO is a all volunteer grass-roots effort with no budget, so everyone's help is appreciated by me.
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Re: Let's build a forum!

Postby reedr3v » Tue Apr 28, 2009 12:30 am

Hi JE, glad to see you're closer to launching the site. One question came up for me, and maybe everybody else will have sharper tech skills, but it took maybe 5 clicks for me to find the actual text for your post asking for replies. Just a suggestion, maybe using more colors or bolder fonts for clickable headlines or subheads could guide people to active posts, or help to show various alternatives? I can appreciate your preference for a subtle monotone design, but more contrast of size or color are ways to guide the eye.
Anyway, good luck!
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Re: Let's build a forum!

Postby JEQuidam » Tue Apr 28, 2009 12:06 pm

reedr3v wrote:Just a suggestion, maybe using more colors or bolder fonts for clickable headlines or subheads could guide people to active posts, or help to show various alternatives?

That's a good idea. Can we do that?

I was also wondering if there can be a side panel that shows most recent postings and most active postings. I saw that somewhere, but don't recall if it was a phpBB forum.

I'll ask the Administrator to consider these questions as he has time to do so (he does this in his spare time).
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Re: Let's build a forum!

Postby Administrator » Tue Apr 28, 2009 12:40 pm

I've made it so the last topic title will show on the index page and if there is a new post, since a users last visit, within the forum the link will turn red.
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Re: Let's build a forum!

Postby JEQuidam » Tue Apr 28, 2009 12:59 pm

Administrator wrote:I've made it so the last topic title will show on the index page and if there is a new post, since a users last visit, within the forum the link will turn red.
Thank you, Rich.

Is there a way (an easy way) in phpBB to create a box that shows most recent and/or most active threads?
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Re: Let's build a forum!

Postby Administrator » Tue Apr 28, 2009 1:32 pm

There are a few ways to do that. Have a look at this (note "recent topics" at the top) and this (note the latest topics towards the bottom).

Let me know which it is you want. Only other way is to set each forum to display active topics which your manual, I hate reading them too btw, should have in there and if not, I'll help you out with it.
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Re: Let's build a forum!

Postby JEQuidam » Tue Apr 28, 2009 1:48 pm

Administrator wrote: Have a look at this (note "recent topics" at the top)...
To ensure I understand, "Recent Topics" is not a forum, but sort of a virtual forum. That is, all those topics actually reside in their respective forums, but are highlighted in "Recent Topics", is that right? That looks like a good solution to me.
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Re: Let's build a forum!

Postby Administrator » Tue Apr 28, 2009 1:58 pm

JEQuidam wrote:To ensure I understand, "Recent Topics" is not a forum, but sort of a virtual forum. That is, all those topics actually reside in their respective forums, but are highlighted in "Recent Topics", is that right?


Yes that is correct...I believe you can specify which forums to include into that list. Not really sure though as I have never used that modification.

FYI, I installed the following modifications all of which can be found at phpbb.com

Prime Links (makes external links open in a new browser window)
Moderator Needed (will state if a topic or post is either reported or is waiting approval by a moderator)
Last post topic title (shows the topic title of a topic that has had the most recent post on the main page of the forum).

Also, FYI, you need to be careful in the number and amount of modifications that are installed as, generally, the load on the server increases (either on the database or php wise) everytime a modification is installed. I wouldn't run more than 20 queries on the main page of the forum (you can see how many are being run right now by browsing to the main page and scrolling to the bottom of the page).
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Re: Let's build a forum!

Postby JEQuidam » Tue Apr 28, 2009 4:31 pm

Administrator wrote:
JEQuidam wrote:To ensure I understand, "Recent Topics" is not a forum, but sort of a virtual forum. That is, all those topics actually reside in their respective forums, but are highlighted in "Recent Topics", is that right?

Yes that is correct...I believe you can specify which forums to include into that list.

At this point I would want to include all the *public* forums. Please add that mod (when you can) if you think it won't produce too much server load.

Administrator wrote: FYI, I installed the following modifications all of which can be found at phpbb.com

Prime Links (makes external links open in a new browser window)
Moderator Needed (will state if a topic or post is either reported or is waiting approval by a moderator)
Last post topic title (shows the topic title of a topic that has had the most recent post on the main page of the forum).
OK, those seem like good mods! I don't know what would trigger a "moderator needed" event, but that's a good thing to anticipate.

Administrator wrote:FYI, you need to be careful in the number and amount of modifications that are installed as, generally, the load on the server increases (either on the database or php wise) everytime a modification is installed.
OK, that's an example of why we needed an expert level guy to do this (as opposed to me). I would not have thought of that, although I was wondering today if this is already slowing down. Is there a way to ascertain if TTO's host provider can handle the bandwidth of even a dozen people using this forum? (This is on a shared server.)
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Re: Let's build a forum!

Postby Paul » Tue Apr 28, 2009 6:29 pm

I was also having temporary problems logging onto the site. Every page was taking about 15 seconds to load, even the home page, but that seems to be resolved now.

I think the problem with the number of clicks to this post is too many sub-categories. I really believe that we should expand sub-categories as necessary and just use top-level categories while the community is tiny. Besides, I'd rather scroll down to find a forum than click into categories several links deep.

I want to make some suggestions based on my experience in other online forums and communities, political and otherwise:

Disallow signatures. Especially in a forum where we are trying to bring diametrically opposed enemies together to fight for a common goal, a link to prochoice.com or rushlimbaugh.com automatically inserted at the bottom of every post may not encourage people to work together. Some people will post to try and bring attention to their signature to promote some cause or business, adding nothing substantive to the discussion and creating a lot of noise. And maybe this is only me, but I get tired of seeing the same Jefferson/Madison/Lincoln/FDR/Truman/Reagan/etc quotes in people's signatures a billion times over. I'm also not sure what signatures actually add to any discussion.

Remove post count in topic replies. I've seen too many communities where the 'senior' member with a million post count posts around like he is king and those who are new and disagree tend to feel immediately alienated from the community. Since we are trying to encourage solid debate based on real issues on a difficult topic to understand, let's remove this factor and try to put people on a level playing field, so to speak. http://www.phpbb.com/community/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=1500445&p=8948875#p8948875

More minor, but remove post count from the members listing page. This keeps people from getting in a competition to get to the top of the post count by making meaningless posts. This issue could probably be addressed later.

I don't know if anyone here has any real preference, but pretty much all of my favorite forums run vBulletin, and I'm not sure if that's just a coincidence. I'd be happy to spring for a license once I see the board being put to good use and others feel it would be of benefit.
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Re: Let's build a forum!

Postby JEQuidam » Tue Apr 28, 2009 10:46 pm

Paul wrote:I think the problem with the number of clicks to this post is too many sub-categories. I really believe that we should expand sub-categories as necessary and just use top-level categories while the community is tiny.
Paul, I know you are a "flat forum" advocate and in time I may be forced to admit you were right. Perhaps due to a mental problem, flat forums drive me crazy. So bear with me for a few months because I have to see how this works. (It would be easy enough to flatten later.)

Paul wrote:Disallow signatures. Especially in a forum where we are trying to bring diametrically opposed...
Paul, I like the signatures, but you've made a good argument that I can't refute. What would be the best reason for keeping the signatures?

I do like people having their avatar image, that's to the left of the posting, but can we keep that from being too large? Huge avatar images look stupid.

Paul wrote:Remove post count in topic replies.
That seems like a good suggestion.

Paul wrote:I don't know if anyone here has any real preference, but pretty much all of my favorite forums run vBulletin,
I don't know what that is. I started reading a Wiki description of it, but then my dog interrupted with a demand for attention. Can you explain basically what the vBulletin does? (I assume we would need a bigger community to even take advantage of it anyway.)
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Re: Let's build a forum!

Postby Paul » Thu Apr 30, 2009 3:48 pm

With regards to the above post, can make a strategy category? It seems like there isn't really anywhere to discuss strategy.

Can we increase the number of posts viewed on each page? I think that's an admin option because I couldn't find it in my control panel.

Can we change the name of the 'General Benefits to the Citizenry' to just 'General Benefits'?

Most forums have a 'General Discussion' forum where most of the posts end up going. I *think* that General Benefits would fit that bill, but what would be nice would be an acceptable place to talk about lots of different things and how they relate to TTO. For example, a discussion on how congress has no issue with the president's increasing military action, despite the fact that the voters, and especially the service mean and women, have made it very clear they no longer want to be involved in the wars in the middle east. I'm not trying to open a discussion on this right here, I'm just using this example to illustrate that it doesn't really seem like there is a clear place to have this type of discussion.

I think that 'Article the first of the Bill of Rights' is too confusing and looks like a discussion on the 1st Amendment. How about 'What the Founders Envisioned' or something like that?

How about changing the name of this forum to 'TTO Website and Forum Discussion'. I think all forums are for comments & suggestions, plus we can open the discussion up to the rest of the site, which is something that needs just as much, if not more, assistance.
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Re: Let's build a forum!

Postby Paul » Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:10 pm

vBulletin is just a different forum software, similar to phpBB. However, it requires the purchase of a license because it is a private company. It's generally considered to be very user friendly while having lots of mods available for it. It also has free tech support via email and an optional $60 per month phone tech support option. I would find the phone option a huge plus if I managed a busy forum because I can't tell you how many times open-source communities have left me high and dry when trying to get support, like when the Ubuntu community couldn't tell me how to get my wireless card to work with my laptop, a very basic thing.
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Re: Let's build a forum!

Postby Paul » Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:46 pm

I think the only reason to keep signatures is simply self-expression, which really is what the post is supposed to be for.

I don't like forums that are devoid of all individuality. I can understand it in a blog, such as Daily Kos does, but the forum I think is a little different.

I think you should enable the avatars. The current settings do not allow avatars to be uploaded, but I can see the size of the avatar. A 90x90 avatar with a max file size of 6 KB is not going to interfere with anyone.

I don't know how to do it, but I would like it if the avatars were all jpeg images and especially no gif images. Gif images can be made to cycle through different images in the same file, so you get the annoying screen licker, moving insect, body with the changing head, etc. I'm okay with goofy images, but the moving ones I find annoying.
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Re: Let's build a forum!

Postby JEQuidam » Fri May 01, 2009 1:07 am

Paul wrote:With regards to the above post, can make a strategy category?
Let's be more specific. Strategy for doing what exactly?

I do want to re-organize the forums -- as I'm still thinking about what makes sense (but they won't get flatter!).

Paul wrote:Can we increase the number of posts viewed on each page?
Agree.

Paul wrote:Can we change the name of the 'General Benefits to the Citizenry' to just 'General Benefits'?
OK

Paul wrote:...but what would be nice would be an acceptable place to talk about lots of different things and how they relate to TTO.
This is exactly what concerns me. Maybe I could argue that having the government impose cost controls on the price of toilet paper relates to TTO, then we're fighting over that issue rather than focusing on enlarging representation. On the other hand, all that sort of discussion is probably not preventable.

I agree to the extent that we are citing reliable public opinion polls in order to show that the public's preferences are disregarded by Congress (e.g., the recent bailouts of large corporations). However, returning to your specific example, a newcomer to this subject (or an opponent) might posit that TTO is about opposing military intervention altogether, rather than grasping the real point you are making regarding the disconnect between Congress and the citizenry.

If this sort of discussion is not preventable in an organically evolving forum, then maybe there is a "Free For All" category. I'm open to suggestions on how to deal with this.

Paul wrote:I think that 'Article the first of the Bill of Rights' is too confusing and looks like a discussion on the 1st Amendment. How about 'What the Founders Envisioned' or something like that?
That forum will focus on the questions related to Article the first of the Bill of Rights. Anyone who is not familiar with that subject should read this article. I'll make that clearer upon re-organizing the site. My assumption is that few will be participating in this forum who are not somewhat initiated to the subject. (It's not like this is a forum devoted to American Idol.)

Paul wrote:How about changing the name of this forum to 'TTO Website and Forum Discussion'. I think all forums are for comments & suggestions, plus we can open the discussion up to the rest of the site, which is something that needs just as much, if not more, assistance.
Are you saying to change the name from "Comments & Suggestions Regarding the Development of this Forum"? If so, that's sounds like a good idea.
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Re: Let's build * forum!

Postby Paul » Sun May 03, 2009 2:25 am

Please halt making posts until we figure out what is causing the *'s in the posts.
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Re: Let's build * forum!

Postby JEQuidam » Sun May 03, 2009 5:16 am

Paul wrote:Please halt making posts until we figure out what is causing the *'s in the posts.

Paul, it was the censor list, as you found. Hence the need for pre-launch testing!

An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field. -- Niels Henrik David

Obviously we're becoming more expert already!
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Re: Let's build a forum!

Postby Paul » Sun May 03, 2009 3:05 pm

(Paul's post was moved to the strategy section.)
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Re: Let's build a forum!

Postby uhclem » Mon May 18, 2009 8:29 am

I don't know if this suggestion will be removed or not.
I can't speak to what would work for your site, but as an Austrian School libertarian I always vote for freedom and liberty.
I have a discussion forum/debate site similar to this one but it's a lot different in one major way: I don't micro manage it.
Visitors are welcome to create identities at will, no email confirmation is required, and sock-puppets are allowed.
Anyone can say anything about any subject they choose, and there is zero moderation.

I've poked through y'all's website and tried to digest as much as I could, and as I said to your leader <g> it's an awful lot of reading for a sound-bitten world.

Anyway, as previously stated, I don't know what's right for y'all, but I vote for more freedom.

Here's a link to my forum if you'd like to look around. http://halebobb.com/rants/
It is a true anarchy, no government. And so far, only one poster has abused it.
Like the proposed legalization of drugs, so too people are not flocking to it in droves to practice this unencumbered freedom. Maybe we've got it all wrong?
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Re: Let's build a forum!

Postby Paul » Mon May 18, 2009 1:43 pm

halebobbdotcom, if you are truly an Austrian School Libertarian, then you would have considered that we have carefully weighed the benefits and drawbacks of limiting discussion in our forum and, instead of behaving like a bull in a china shop, taken a more humble approach while inquiring why we have chosen to make our forum in the way that we have.

We do not micromanage the forum, it's just a forum for non-partisan discussion of a single topic. It is not a general catch-all political forum. We are here to further the cause of increased representation, not the various other causes that the representatives would be faced with - that is for other communities to debate.

We would be happy to have you, and anyone else, be a member of our community to discuss how we will all benefit by decreasing the number of people per representative. It would certainly work out for more freedom for you along with everyone else. However, our site is not for you to use to surreptitiously promote your site.

We are well aware that we probably will not radically influence the political landscape with just our forum. We need far more support and methods of communication. However, I don't feel we necessarily have to use long essays, charts, and graphs to get our point across. However, I do feel it is of note that the Anthropomorphic Global Warming movement (AGW) has come a long ways with long essays, charts, and graphs. Please take note as to how I have referenced AGW in relation to our cause - I am not debating the topic of AGW, just its marketing.

And to be very, very clear. We are not about bringing down the U.S. government and we do not promote, encourage, or other wise endorse anarchy, anarcho-capitalism, or any of their brethren.

Jeff, I'd like to recommend not allowing people to use their URL's as usernames. Maybe our resident phpBB expert can help out with the settings for that. I think it's just fine to include website links in people's profiles. I also get concerned that someone may 'spoof' a URL to make fun of it - like creating a changedotorg profile and making snide posts intended to aggravate that site's real supporters.

For changing usernames I believe there is a way in phpBB to manually change someone's username or to request they change their username before making any further posts.
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Re: Let's build a forum!

Postby JEQuidam » Mon May 18, 2009 8:35 pm

halebobbdotcom wrote:I've poked through y'all's website and tried to digest as much as I could ... it's an awful lot of reading for a sound-bitten world.
You are correct. I realized that even when I started TTO. The TTO website is for the opinion leaders and thinkers. This revolution won't happen in the near future. It may take a generation for enough people to understand it. Hopefully it won't be too late to save our country.

In the meantime, others will need to make the YouTube videos and write the pithy editorials. I am training the trainers. Ultimately, this cause will succeed only if it becomes a popular grassroots movement.
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Re: Let's build a forum!

Postby JEQuidam » Mon May 18, 2009 8:40 pm

Paul wrote:We do not micromanage the forum, it's just a forum for non-partisan discussion of a single topic. It is not a general catch-all political forum. We are here to further the cause of increased representation, not the various other causes that the representatives would be faced with - that is for other communities to debate.
Paul, well stated.

Paul wrote:Jeff, I'd like to recommend not allowing people to use their URL's as usernames.
You are correct (again). There are two users with URL user names. I'll contact them and ask them to provide an alternative name. Maybe there is a way to prevent that in the future. Can I communicate that as a rule when people register?
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Re: Let's build a forum!

Postby uhclem » Mon May 18, 2009 11:45 pm

Paul wrote:halebobbdotcom,<snip> instead of behaving like a bull in a china shop, taken a more humble approach while inquiring why we have chosen to make our forum in the way that we have.


Dearest Paul...
Paul wrote:We do not micromanage the forum...<snip>

<snicker> OK Paul, as you say.
Paul wrote:We would be happy to have you,<snip>

You would be LUCKY to have me.
Paul wrote: However, our site is not for you to use to surreptitiously promote your site.

My site promotes freedom, a concept you're unclear on.
Paul wrote:We are well aware that we probably will not radically influence the political landscape <snip>

Maybe not. I still like J.E. Quidam's ideas. Your attitude sucks though. You remind me of the nose-in-the-air Objectivists.
I will still link to his site via my website, which I pay for but from which I but don't realize any profit (even from the few ads).
Paul wrote:And to be very, very clear. We are not about bringing down the U.S. government and we do not promote, encourage, or other wise endorse anarchy, anarcho-capitalism, or any of their brethren.

Yeah, you're clear. You and the other handful of users feel free to stamp your feet and hold your collective breath until you turn blue. That'll show us!
[/quote]
Paul wrote:Jeff, I'd like to recommend not allowing people to use their URL's as usernames. Maybe our resident phpBB expert can help out with the settings for that. I think it's just fine to include website links in people's profiles. I also get concerned that someone may 'spoof' a URL to make fun of it - like creating a changedotorg profile and making snide posts intended to aggravate that site's real supporters.

I repeat here for your viewing pleasure:
Paul wrote:We do not micromanage the forum.

Yeah sure whatever.
Paul wrote:For changing usernames I believe there is a way in phpBB to manually change someone's username or to request they change their username before making any further posts.

I had requested in an email that my username be changed. But I think I'll bid you ado and let you duke it out among yourselves.
Like I said, I'll leave up the link I put on my site, but you're not company I wish to keep.
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Re: Let's build a forum!

Postby Paul » Tue May 19, 2009 12:20 am

Well, Mr. halebobbdotcom, I can see that you are a man of peace and humility. I would like to encourage you to continue on your path of enlightenment elsewhere.
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Re: Let's build a forum!

Postby uhclem » Tue May 19, 2009 8:59 am

Paul wrote:Well, Mr. halebobbdotcom, I can see that you are a man of peace and humility. I would like to encourage you to continue on your path of enlightenment elsewhere.


Yeah well not surprisingly, my first inclination was to say bad things ................................<edited>................................................................
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