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  • Need help planning a forum!

    ville 5 years ago
    Hi everyone!
    Since I moved the main server to App Engine, I've been looking for a way to move the forum too, since it's now costing me a bit to run the server all for it. I didn't find any existing forum software for App Engine, so I thought I'd make one of my own. How hard can it be?

    Since many of you use forums a lot more than I do, maybe you can help me. I'm looking for ideas on which forum features to implement. So, which bits of this forum do you think you couldn't do without? And what features have you seen on other forums that you've found useful?

    And don't worry, I won't stall the new Driftmoon version for this.
    #
    Amarth 5 years ago
    I... don't think this is a good idea? Mainly because of security and usability etc. You'll be in over your head if things don't work out okay.

    From a business perspective: you want to save money by running less costly servers. However, you risk a lot of money: existing users don't migrate to the new board. New users don't trust or understand the new board. It's new software, there are huge risks in security, and it's a huge time investment.

    I fear you will alienate your new and existing fans, and thus don't make money in the long term.

    Anyway, I suppose you have thought this through more than I did, so with that out of the way, my second concern: it would seriously surprise me there is no existing solution for this, or a start to a solution you can build off from. Anything that already exists, you don't have to do yourself.

    And with that also out of the way, some forum features:

    * Markup code, like smileys, boldface, italics, url linking, image insertion, youtube video insertion, quoting of previous posts
    * User customization, mostly thinking about avatars right now
    * PMs
    * Some form of spam protection (anything that has html forms will get spam, think about it)
    * Different areas of the forum, with the ability to esily find unread messages
    * Editing of posts
    * Timezone support
    * Mod tools: sticky topics, locked topics, ...
    * EDIT: search, obviously
    * EDIT2: RSS feeds would also be nice
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    Crazy 5 years ago
    Of course, if for some reason you are actually going for it, then purposefully going for a minimalist design... um... might... be pulled off?
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    ville 5 years ago
    I completely understand your concerns Amarth, that's why I'm trying to make it a lot like the current forum. Of course phpBB is a very complex piece of software, so I'm not even dreaming of duplicating all the features in it. I need to keep it simple, and write only the essential feature set. And after all, the main thing a forum does is show messages - it's not that complex.

    You've got a good list there, anyone else care to add to it?
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    Narvius 5 years ago
    Spoiler tags.

    Seriously. We can do without them, but well. ;P
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    ville 5 years ago
    Spoiler tags are a must!
    Something like this?
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    MageKing17 5 years ago
    I've always been a big fan of [strike]strikethrough[/strike].

    (Alternate tags are [s] and [delete], the latter of which is my personal favourite.)

    (Yes, I know this forum doesn't have strikethrough. It's a suggestion. Sheesh!)
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    ville 5 years ago
    Tags should not be difficult to add. It's just text replacement, once you get the parsing engine in, its a matter of minutes to add new ones.
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    Anonymous1157 5 years ago
    I assume you've already thought of this, but I'll say it anyhow. If it's the second server that's costing you money to run, have you considered upgrading to one big server with two VMs? I'll admit that it might cost a lot up-front, but if you think Driftmoon will generate a lot of traffic when it's done and released, it ought to pay for itself, right? Or at least I hope it would.

    ... Failing that, I'd like the theme of the new forum not to restrict the width of the page. I use the phpBB default theme on this forum because it's clean, it's minimal, and it uses my entire screen. If anything, I do like the red bits in the new theme.
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    ville 5 years ago
    It's not really the money that's the problem, it's the hassle of running a server. But that's not the actual reason I'm interested in making a new forum, it's that I've been wanting to create anew forum, the actual reason is phpBB. I've grown to not love it in the last few years, since it's very slow and frequently targeted by adbots and script kiddies trying to hack it.

    And there are some features I've been wanting that it lacks, like properly showing which posts I've read. It should at least tell me how many new posts a topic has. Also, somehow I'd like to know on a glance view what's being discussed. And to top it all, this installation has a bug that it doesn't notify me by email of new private mail - I sometimes get angry PMs because I haven't replied in a couple of days. I hope it's worked for others?

    I have no idea on the theme yet. There probably will just be one theme, I have no ambitions on creating a full templating engine. One idea I have is to make the theme similar to the main site, white text on black background. But then again I find it easier to read black on white. Any thoughts about that?
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    MageKing17 5 years ago
    "ville" said:
    And to top it all, this installation has a bug that it doesn't notify me by email of new private mail - I sometimes get angry PMs because I haven't replied in a couple of days. I hope it's worked for others?
    I get emailed when I get a new Private Message... are you sure you enabled the option in your profile? ;P
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    ville 5 years ago
    Yes.
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    Kario 5 years ago
    a couple ideas
    translator

    Signatures
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    E_net4 5 years ago
    Signatures are what make most forums too cluttered. If restrictions aren't made, I just prefer no signatures at all.
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    Grim Reaper 5 years ago
    Custom titles, then? Less cluttering whilst still providing some silly customization thingummy.
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    ville 5 years ago
    "Grim Reaper" said:
    Custom titles, then? Less cluttering whilst still providing some silly customization thingummy.

    That's a nice idea. Say, 30 characters, tops?
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    E_net4 5 years ago
    "ville" said:
    "Grim Reaper" said:
    Custom titles, then? Less cluttering whilst still providing some silly customization thingummy.

    That's a nice idea. Say, 30 characters, tops?
    Hey, I'd love titles! 30 characters would be more than enough. I think we'd be just fine with 20, but yeah.
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    Anonymous1157 5 years ago
    Now that you guys mention signatures and stuff, do you remember how we would always tell people to check Harwe's signature if they needed access to a Notrium mod, except signatures are disabled? That. Support for making a website sticky just like a thread might be one solution, and I've already seen it done on other forums that were presumably phpBB themselves.

    "ville" said:
    I have no idea on the theme yet. There probably will just be one theme, I have no ambitions on creating a full templating engine. One idea I have is to make the theme similar to the main site, white text on black background. But then again I find it easier to read black on white. Any thoughts about that?
    The more I look at it, the more I like the current theme. Maybe I was just angry as a little kid when you completely got rid of the old Notrium forum theme while there's a perfectly good theme selection menu in the control panel.

    ... But whatever happens, the new forum should really stretch across the entire screen, even if it's done by optionally disabling the graphics on the side.
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    ville 5 years ago
    I myself find that too long lines of text are hard to read. Recently I've seen mostly fixed-width forums, so I'm inclined towards that. Know any good full-width forums?

    You probably mean a sticky link in the topics list? Definitely, if there is something that needs to be there. And the modding wiki comes to mind...

    On another point, how many of you use the private mail feature? Can you see any advantage of having it, instead of using email?
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    Grim Reaper 5 years ago
    "ville" said:
    Can you see any advantage of having it, instead of using email?
    Not having to tell others your email address?
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    Narvius 5 years ago
    That's a pretty huge advantage, yes.
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    Amarth 5 years ago
    We use PM all the time.

    Okay, some things might be done by email, but we still use it all the time. It's just more convenient: you know each other by forum alias, you use the forum alias to send messages. Everything is contained to the forum.
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    Anonymous1157 5 years ago
    "ville" said:
    Know any good full-width forums?
    Rigs of Rods, AnyNowhere (sort of), Instant Kingdom with the prosilver theme selected... Nothing in particular makes them GOOD, they just happen to be full-width. I suppose the whole fixed-width/full-width thing is just a matter of taste. The more I think about it, the less it matters anymore; just go with what looks best.

    "ville" said:
    You probably mean a sticky link in the topics list? Definitely, if there is something that needs to be there. And the modding wiki comes to mind...
    Yea, that's exactly what I mean. And that's an even better use for it!

    ... As for PMing, other people have already come up with far better reasons to have it, so I'll just say we need it.
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    Grim Reaper 5 years ago
    As for the "full vs non-full width", I prefer the full width due to the only other option (the IK-website-themed one) being (from what I can recall) about only one third (might be exaggerating) the width of my screen (1600x1200), which is way, way too narrow.

    So... Perhaps screen-dependent, theme-indepependent width setting in percentage values within the range of 100% and 50% or so?
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    Kario 5 years ago
    Ranks!
    Ant and etc...i think it will inspire people to be better (hopefully)
    or bring on spam by new people
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    ville 5 years ago
    I will implement PM in some form then. The very least I can do is to make the board send you an email, so it's sort of email via board, with your email remaining unknown to even registered users. If I have the time, I'll make it an in-forum thing. It could be something like a private thread between two people?

    The default forum theme is now actually about 1000 pixels wide, I changed it a while back when I got a bigger monitor! I will probably tie the width to the webpage width for now, but I'll try to make the text area as wide as possible.

    And just to clarify, I haven't actually started anything. I'll plan it out first, then when I need a few days off from making Driftmoon, I'll make it.

    Oh yes, another thing that's been bugging me for years is subforums. The ones belonging to my old games are completely unused, and people visiting the forum the first time never see where the discussion really is. So inspired by this, I've been thinking of having no subforums, just all the threads on one topic list. There are so few threads at the moment that I hardly ever have to go through the first ten to read them all, so I don't think it would matter. But it would need a good search tool if anyone wanted to find out something that happened ages ago. Any thoughts on that? It's a pretty radical change, I wonder if it could work and get more people to comment...
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    Narvius 5 years ago
    I thought of another thing: Linking to individual posts in topics. It's not hard to implement, yet enormously useful.
    #
    Grim Reaper 5 years ago
    "Narvius" said:
    I thought of another thing: Linking to individual posts in topics. It's not hard to implement, yet enormously useful.
    Indeed. Would also be nice to have the quote-button-generated quotes automatically include one.
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    ville 5 years ago
    "Grim Reaper" said:
    "Narvius" said:
    I thought of another thing: Linking to individual posts in topics. It's not hard to implement, yet enormously useful.
    Indeed. Would also be nice to have the quote-button-generated quotes automatically include one.

    Ooh! Shiny!
    Perhaps something like (quote=postid) instead of (quote=narvius)
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    Grim Reaper 5 years ago
    "ville" said:
    "Grim Reaper" said:
    "Narvius" said:
    I thought of another thing: Linking to individual posts in topics. It's not hard to implement, yet enormously useful.
    Indeed. Would also be nice to have the quote-button-generated quotes automatically include one.

    Ooh! Shiny!
    Perhaps something like (quote=postid) instead of (quote=narvius)
    Seems reasonable... Perhaps an additional attribution thing if you want to quote something outside the forums, e.g. (quote)(attrib=person)(/quote) or something similar?
    #
    Anonymous1157 5 years ago
    "ville" said:
    Oh yes, another thing that's been bugging me for years is subforums. The ones belonging to my old games are completely unused, and people visiting the forum the first time never see where the discussion really is. So inspired by this, I've been thinking of having no subforums, just all the threads on one topic list. There are so few threads at the moment that I hardly ever have to go through the first ten to read them all, so I don't think it would matter. But it would need a good search tool if anyone wanted to find out something that happened ages ago. Any thoughts on that? It's a pretty radical change, I wonder if it could work and get more people to comment...
    Tagging threads would solve the search problem. Let's say you want to make a thread for people to post screenshots from Driftmoon. Tag it "driftmoon screenshots images", or something like that. If someone wants to see threads about Driftmoon, just add "driftmoon" to the filter and only posts about Driftmoon appear (Rather, any post with "driftmoon" as a tag), effectively converting the old subforum paradigm into a single dynamically-populated list. Granted, the idea is more suitable to image boards, and that's exactly where I got it from (I AM SUBTLE LOLOLOL), but it may be adapted to work with textual conversation threads.
    "Grim Reaper" said:
    "Narvius" said:
    I thought of another thing: Linking to individual posts in topics. It's not hard to implement, yet enormously useful.
    Indeed. Would also be nice to have the quote-button-generated quotes automatically include one.
    What about storing quotes as just the post ID in the first place? It would REALLY clean up post editing and make it easier not to go mad trying to quote several posts in one response. (Seriously, just quote this one and try to figure out what's what.) I'll admit I have no idea how to handle deletes or edits, but it's something to consider.
    "ville" said:
    The default forum theme is now actually about 1000 pixels wide, I changed it a while back when I got a bigger monitor! I will probably tie the width to the webpage width for now, but I'll try to make the text area as wide as possible.
    I've got a 1600x1200 screen on my desktop computer, and I'll have to agree with Grim that it leaves a lot of empty space. Then again, I've been posting from my (new) laptop lately, and it has a 1440x900 screen and looks acceptable. What about dynamically expanding the forum content so that the side graphics don't use more than, say, 200 pixels on either side, while still being at least 1000px wide? I've noticed that a lot of new, mainstream computers have unusual widescreen resolutions (Maybe not unusual, but just widescreen), so it may be worth the trouble.

    Edit: I think I actually LIKE the new Instant Kingdom theme, now that I've been using it for a little while. I can't seem to make my mind up about whether it's better off fixed- or full-width. Y'know what, forget the whole thing. You make the forum and we'll use it. X(
    #
    Grim Reaper 5 years ago
    "Anonymous1157" said:
    "Grim Reaper" said:
    "Narvius" said:
    I thought of another thing: Linking to individual posts in topics. It's not hard to implement, yet enormously useful.
    Indeed. Would also be nice to have the quote-button-generated quotes automatically include one.
    What about storing quotes as just the post ID in the first place? It would REALLY clean up post editing and make it easier not to go mad trying to quote several posts in one response. (Seriously, just quote this one and try to figure out what's what.) I'll admit I have no idea how to handle deletes or edits, but it's something to consider.
    But what if you want to quote just part of a post? What if the post you're quoting is longer than Longcat?

    ...actually, for the latter, you might want to have a max height for quote boxes and tack on a scrollbar if the quote goes over the limit.
    #
    Anonymous1157 5 years ago
    "Grim Reaper" said:
    But what if you want to quote just part of a post? What if the post you're quoting is longer than Longcat?

    ...actually, for the latter, you might want to have a max height for quote boxes and tack on a scrollbar if the quote goes over the limit.
    Mmmyea, I guess storing just IDs doesn't really work, at least not easily. On the bright side, I like the scrollbar idea. What about collapsing quotes into the quote header?
    #
    ville 5 years ago
    One idea I had was to make the quote-part invisible unless you click a button to reveal it. Sort of like a box that shows there's a quote, and you can see it by clicking on it. But I'm not too sure about that, since it's so drastically different from what we have now, and what people are used to in other forums.

    Another idea I had was to only include one or two latest levels of quoting, so quoting quotes wouldn't get out of hand. The scrollbar would actually be a good idea, because I hate it when people quote really long posts and reply with a single word.
    #
    MageKing17 5 years ago
    I hate forums that don't let you nest quotes beyond one or two levels. Granted, it removes insane quote pyramids, but really, the moderators should be doing something about that anyway, and if you actually have a multi-tiered discussion going on that would be easier to understand if previous replies were quoted in the quotes, it really does help follow the conversation being had.

    Also, about quotes linking to other posts, I think this is a fantastic idea. In fact, I think it should be generalized so it was something like
    "Ville's Blog" date=2011.01.08 link=http://www.instantkingdom.com/2011/07/abbot/ said:
    for a header. Clicking a "quote" button should, obviously, fill in name, date, time, and link in for you. A shortcut of
    postid said:
    would also be cool for forum posts, as long as the "long form" version was also possible for, as in my example, things outside the forum (for us obsessive attribution types).
    #
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