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Author Topic: IMPORTANT: General Plans For The Cauldron 4.0 (Comments Wanted)  (Read 41761 times)
FierFlye
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« Reply #45: May 08, 2011, 10:22:57 am »

It was hosted on Ning and members liked it. Then Ning went from free to pay ($20+/month).

So I just recently was referred to the Steampunk Empire website, which I see is hosted on Ning and appears to be a very active community. Ning has built in forums where things can be broken down into different boards. I don't know if their message boards would support all the things we need, but maybe it is worth looking into. (Or maybe you already have and I missed that discussion.)
http://www.thesteampunkempire.com/forum
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« Reply #46: May 08, 2011, 03:03:11 pm »

So I just recently was referred to the Steampunk Empire website, which I see is hosted on Ning and appears to be a very active community. Ning has built in forums where things can be broken down into different boards. I don't know if their message boards would support all the things we need, but maybe it is worth looking into. (Or maybe you already have and I missed that discussion.)
http://www.thesteampunkempire.com/forum

There are two huge problems with Ning from the point of view of what this board probably needs:

- Quoting is really annoying, and I don't think there's a way to require it. (It produces about 3x as much code as our current format does, so it's also really hard to sort out what's the quoting code and what's not necessary if you are not someone who reads formatting code like English, which is most people)

- And the huge one, which is that there's no way to jump to the last unread message in a thread. You can get email notifications of new messages, but those don't include the full message, so you have to get the email, click on the link, and read the new message. It really really doesn't work for me, and it really wouldn't work for our conversation patterns here very well.

I think Ning works okay for lots of different tiny subgroup discussions (where the topics are of interest to only a subset of people), but doesn't work well for general discussions, because in the forum area (which you'd use for that larger discussion) navigating a substantial number of threads is also a pain in the neck. I also find it really hard to do longer replies on them - anything over a couple of paragraphs is formatting-wise really hard to read, because of the overall site layout, etc.

(I do follow a couple of Ning based boards, but they've got to be super-amazing content-wise for me to be willing to do it because the mechanics are so incredibly annoying.)
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« Reply #47: May 08, 2011, 03:35:21 pm »

So I just recently was referred to the Steampunk Empire website, which I see is hosted on Ning and appears to be a very active community. Ning has built in forums where things can be broken down into different boards. I don't know if their message boards would support all the things we need, but maybe it is worth looking into. (Or maybe you already have and I missed that discussion.)

We were on Ning for our social network until they when from free to $20 a month. While Ning is the best small social network I've seen yet, no one here likes it enough to pay $20 a month for it. And as Jenett points out, it does have some major usability issues that make it less useful for people here.
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« Reply #48: May 08, 2011, 04:17:55 pm »

But every now and then, I'd read a thread and they'd all migrate over to the network, so I couldn't follow.  They went for that functionability over the forum's.  Brigid of the Stars being the most prominant.

I just want to (hopefully) clarify a couple things: the reason why the group chose to move to TCN was due to a number of things. One was to have a separate, private space for us to discuss our experiences with LotS, because at the time we weren't... heavily interested in having the "debate" part of TC's legacy in our discussions at the time. Secondly, you are right that we wanted to test out TCN's capabilities, including uploading files, pictures, calenders, etc. Although we ultimately decided we much preferred the layout here on TC for regular discussion (including being able to quote, and skip to "newest posts since last visit" I think being the top reasons), and leave behind the extras that TCN provided.

That isn't to say I didn't like TCN, and that it could be used for other things besides a heavy discussion group! It just.. proved to be a bit unwieldy for what we needed/wanted.
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« Reply #49: May 08, 2011, 07:17:39 pm »

We were on Ning for our social network until they when from free to $20 a month. While Ning is the best small social network I've seen yet, no one here likes it enough to pay $20 a month for it. And as Jenett points out, it does have some major usability issues that make it less useful for people here.

I was wondering if it would be possible to use Ning for all our needs since we are going to pay for something anyway. But if it doesn't handle message forums the way we need it to, it's not a good choice.
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« Reply #50: May 08, 2011, 09:27:27 pm »

There are two huge problems with Ning from the point of view of what this board probably needs:

- Quoting is really annoying, and I don't think there's a way to require it. (It produces about 3x as much code as our current format does, so it's also really hard to sort out what's the quoting code and what's not necessary if you are not someone who reads formatting code like English, which is most people)

- And the huge one, which is that there's no way to jump to the last unread message in a thread. You can get email notifications of new messages, but those don't include the full message, so you have to get the email, click on the link, and read the new message. It really really doesn't work for me, and it really wouldn't work for our conversation patterns here very well.
I'm part of a professional Ning that is mind-blowingly useful with all the people on it. But I agree that the "discussion board" part of it is not my favorite for the same reasons.
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« Reply #51: May 08, 2011, 09:46:33 pm »

I was wondering if it would be possible to use Ning for all our needs since we are going to pay for something anyway. But if it doesn't handle message forums the way we need it to, it's not a good choice.

It would not work for TC for that and other reasons. For example, it's administrative backend is very weak. We'd never be able to set things up with the control we have here. Sad
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« Reply #52: May 09, 2011, 05:26:06 pm »

We have a regular column on Astrology and Tarot, but that's it. Getting single articles out of members has proven very hard, get articles regularly has only been a pipedream in most cases.

You can see most back issues here: http://www.ecauldron.net/cnc/archiveindex.php

Is the newsletter intended to be a monthly thing?  It might be better to do a quarterly.

There's a lot of good posts in various threads, maybe the authors would be willing to expand/edit their work into something for the newsletter?
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« Reply #53: May 09, 2011, 05:46:46 pm »

TC 4.0 Message Board: As I mentioned before, we have given up on SMF. Even if it should finally come out, SMF 2.0 will simply not meet our needs -- especially as the SMF modding community has really shrunk. We have looked at other free and open source message boards and have not found any that both meet our needs and look likely to continue doing so. Unfortunately, after 13 years, your hosts think we have outgrown free message board software. We are now looking at commercial message board software, probably either Vbulletin or Invision Power Board (with Vbulletin having a slight edge at the moment as it has more third party support and isn't moving away from a traditional message board). Moving to commercial software will require a fund drive, unfortunately. We'll need to raise at least $200 to do so and perhaps more if we want additional features (such as an app for accessing the board from a smartphone). We'll also need to decide if we want to try to import all the messages from this board to the new board or leave them in place here but just close the board to posting as we have done in the past. Both Vbulletin and IPB are able to import messages from SMF -- unlike our previous moves from non-standard boards where importing the message base wasn't even an option.

One decision has been made: We will go with Vbulletin 4.x for our new forum -- assuming the necessary funds can be raised ($200). No decision yet on whether we will import the current messages or start afresh as we have done in the past.  Once we get Vbulletin, we'll have to set it up on a test server and play with it to learn how to use it. We'll probably decide on importing/not importing during that testing/learning period. There will soon be a new Vbulletin thread for ideas for the new forum.


Edited to remove donation link. Thanks to everyone who donated, we reached our $200 goal at about 1pm on May 10th!
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« Reply #54: May 09, 2011, 05:48:36 pm »

Is the newsletter intended to be a monthly thing?  It might be better to do a quarterly.

There's been some discussion of that in thread. There are advantages and disadvantages. But it is definitely "on the table."
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« Reply #55: May 09, 2011, 06:37:44 pm »

One decision has been made: We will go with Vbulletin 4.x for our new forum -- assuming the necessary funds can be raised ($200).

Donated. Wish I could give more.

Have you decided whether or not to go with Wordpress add-ins for certain spots?
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« Reply #56: May 09, 2011, 06:39:54 pm »

One decision has been made: We will go with Vbulletin 4.x for our new forum -- assuming the necessary funds can be raised ($200).

Awesome. I've donated some- hopefully I'll be able to give some more soon.
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« Reply #57: May 09, 2011, 07:47:18 pm »

One decision has been made: We will go with Vbulletin 4.x for our new forum -- assuming the necessary funds can be raised ($200).


Donated. I may be able to give more later; it depends how many hours at work I get in.
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« Reply #58: May 09, 2011, 10:18:46 pm »

Donated. Wish I could give more.

Wow! I'm surprised to see all the donations. This was really a test posting so i could get the HTML for the Paypal button right before I post it to a box at the top of the page in the morning. (Getting a working Paypal button on this forum always takes me several attempts -- tonight was no different.) But we already have $85 of the $200 needed.  Thanks, folks. 

No, make that $100 of the $200 needed. 50% there.

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Have you decided whether or not to go with Wordpress add-ins for certain spots?

I am almost positive we will use Wordpress for SIG parts of the site (the ones that will definitely be handled by others). I haven't decided about the main part of the site yet. There are good reasons to consider Joomla or Drupal for that, but also good reasons to go with Wordpress across the board.
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« Reply #59: May 09, 2011, 10:21:21 pm »

There are good reasons to consider Joomla

FWIW, I was looking at Joomla for another purpose a few months back and there was a lot of review material and feedback from IT people at work that it is very susceptible to hacking and script-kiddy stuff. Might be worth avoiding (at least that was the conclusion I came to for my own usage).
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