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Old 04-18-2019, 10:18 AM   #1
statler
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Forum Evolution: Technical Issues and Feature Discussion

A thread to discuss any and all technical issues involved in moving to a new forum, including domain registration, webhosting, forum software, possible additional website features beyond just a forum and the possibility of scraping this forum and moving to the new forum.
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Old 04-19-2019, 09:58 AM   #2
tysmith95
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Re: Forum Move: Technical Issues and Feature Discussion

Possible features that would be cool to see (that the current form doesn't have):

A like button

A sort of wiki page for each project, that any of us can edit. It could have the most recent renders, pictures, short blurb about the project, etc. We could have that on the first page and then comments added on to it.

Alternatively you could have a feature where you can just look at pictures in the development form, but not the discussion. The current form works so this isn't necessary, however it would be cool to be able to quickly glance at pictures (and screenshots of plans) without having to scroll through the sometimes endless discussion.

Adequate captcha for new sign ups, so we don't get spam members (which this form has had issues with).

Re-institute ArchBOSTON awards.
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Old 04-19-2019, 10:18 AM   #3
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Re: Forum Move: Technical Issues and Feature Discussion

This is probably pretty far down in the weeds and probably shouldn't drive major decisions, but I really like that this forum knows what I have and haven't read yet. The "New Posts" feature is essential to me and I use it pretty much as my exclusive way of choosing what threads to read. To lose that would mean I will spend even more of my day inefficiently clicking around on AB.
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Old 04-19-2019, 10:39 AM   #4
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Re: Forum Move: Technical Issues and Feature Discussion

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Originally Posted by fattony View Post
This is probably pretty far down in the weeds and probably shouldn't drive major decisions, but I really like that this forum knows what I have and haven't read yet. The "New Posts" feature is essential to me and I use it pretty much as my exclusive way of choosing what threads to read. To lose that would mean I will spend even more of my day inefficiently clicking around on AB.
Agreed.
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Old 04-19-2019, 10:39 AM   #5
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Re: Forum Move: Technical Issues and Feature Discussion

Quote:
Originally Posted by tysmith95 View Post
A sort of wiki page for each project, that any of us can edit. It could have the most recent renders, pictures, short blurb about the project, etc. We could have that on the first page and then comments added on to it.
A technical question: does it make sense to structure threads as conversations or as comments on articles? That would allow the info page on a project to be persistent at the top of the thread (in the "article") and would make AB.net more of an easily-accessible resource than AB.org.

___

I don't think any of us should be able to edit it at will.

I'm a little concerned about render glut - we should make sure that if renders are put there they are in fact the most recent ones. A mod could have that specific job - to review renders submitted by folks (or find their own trustworthy ones) and add them to the "wiki".

Same goes for written content - I don't think it would be best for the wiki to become either an ever-growing collection of thoughts/trivia or an ever-growing collection of grievances against a project or developer.

I'd suggest a vision where each thread begins with an informational article of less than 3 paragraphs, followed by current renders and potentially links. We could include a status table with Name | Address | Neighborhood | Developer | Project Status | Est. Completion Date | Height (per filed elevation plan or FAA, not the press or hearsay). Changes to any of these would be submitted to a moderator and would be updates, not expansions.
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Old 04-19-2019, 10:46 AM   #6
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Re: Forum Move: Technical Issues and Feature Discussion

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Originally Posted by Equilibria View Post
I'd suggest a vision where each thread begins with an informational article of less than 3 paragraphs, followed by current renders and potentially links. We could include a status table with Name | Address | Neighborhood | Developer | Project Status | Est. Completion Date | Height (per filed elevation plan or FAA, not the press or hearsay). Changes to any of these would be submitted to a moderator and would be updates, not expansions.
That sounds like a good idea. I think a link to the project plans (BDPA documents or similar for other cities) would make sense.

As far as additional fields, i'd add type (ex residential, office, commercial, etc). For residential it would be nice to have a field with number of units, and for commercial and office a field with the square footage would be helpful.

The information on height, square footage, completion data, etc usually changes a good bit from proposal to approval to construction, so it would need to be updated regularly. Same with renders.

I know I spend a lot of time when looking at a thread flipping back multiple pages of conversation in order to find renders/pictures. I don't want to get rid of the conversation, but it would be nice to have renders/pictures/basic info to be more easily available without having to go through multiple pages.
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Old 04-22-2019, 09:42 AM   #7
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Re: Forum Move: Technical Issues and Feature Discussion

Someone suggested this feature on our other thread. No idea how this technically gets done, but I think it's an awesome idea: a pull-down from the top (or side, etc) accessible on every page of a thread that shows the latest render, with links to official development docs. Only mods would be able to update these "development briefs." I think it nicely solves the duality of wanting some fixed content to complement the running and evolving dialogue.

Similarly for a Crazy Transit Pitch kind of thread, the pulldown "brief" could give a very short top 20 list of ideas that have been discussed time and again... not to stifle further discussion of those things, but rather to reference in discussion. I know there are some forum members who can give a TL;DR well enough.

--

A few other scattershot thoughts

- Mobile formatting... pleeeeease

- I like how on our forum we don't get nested-nested-nested-nested quotes, as I see on some other forums. On here I think we can only nest one generation. This makes it feel a lot cleaner than some forums I've seen that do all kinds of back-wards nesting of discussions.

- I'd love Like buttons. New members can get their toes wet by liking before commenting. And, how about downvotes? Would we want to automatically default to hiding posts that are overwhelmingly downvoted?

- A subforum on urbanism and architecture books and articles - we sometimes get into this content but it would seem to me to be an area that many of us would be interested in seeing more of
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Old 04-22-2019, 10:17 AM   #8
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Re: Forum Move: Technical Issues and Feature Discussion

Could we create a new Transit Pitch sub-form, with different pitches as new threads?
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Old 04-22-2019, 08:44 PM   #9
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Re: Forum Move: Technical Issues and Feature Discussion

I currently have this as the guidelines for thread posting: https://archboston.city/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=4
The first poster for a thread will be responsible for keeping the thread up to date, but admins will be able to edit the posts if the original poster does not update.
Such as https://archboston.city/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=5 but maybe a little more detailed.

When we move over to XenForo, we will be able to have a little more customization with the forum so we can add a like button, and the colored squares for proposed/under construction/completed and any more that the community would like
Also, unless anyone objects, subforums will be no problem to add, if enough people are interested in a more specific forum we will add those no problem.

When we move to xenforo, everyone will need to re-register. Hopefully everyone will play nice with usernames, but if yours is taken, i'm thinking just message the admins, and we will kick the person who took your name off
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Old 04-23-2019, 07:14 AM   #10
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Re: Forum Move: Technical Issues and Feature Discussion

Quote:
Originally Posted by DrFreewind View Post
I currently have this as the guidelines for thread posting: https://archboston.city/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=4
The first poster for a thread will be responsible for keeping the thread up to date, but admins will be able to edit the posts if the original poster does not update.
Such as https://archboston.city/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=5 but maybe a little more detailed.
I'll have to accept it if the software doesn't support it, but I think it's important that this be pinned to the top of every page. If we don't, then there's always going to be an argument about whether people should be sharing any render they find on any page, since "we always need a reminder." That's the situation we have right now on .org, and it results in a glut of out-of-date renders presented as "new" and lots of big images slowing down page loading.

Part of having the persistent introduction will also be new rules about how renderings get processed and posted.
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Old 04-23-2019, 08:18 AM   #11
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Re: Forum Move: Technical Issues and Feature Discussion

There seems to be some consensus forming around xenforo. The software is extensible so even if these features are not baked in, there may be addons already created. I haven't taken the time to hunt down anything move advanced yet.

xenforo does natively support:
1. responsive design (read: this will look decent on your mobile)
2. a like button

As far as this pinned wiki idea goes, I don't know. I'd definitely like to have something similar to this and if we can't find something out of the gate it's something I (or someone else) will find the time to code eventually. The forum functionality will evolve over time along with the structure/rules/etc.

Also, just throwing this out there, but there is nothing stopping us from having an actual full-scale aB wiki if people are so inclined.
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Old 04-23-2019, 08:34 AM   #12
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Re: Forum Move: Technical Issues and Feature Discussion

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Originally Posted by Justin7 View Post
As far as this pinned wiki idea goes, I don't know. I'd definitely like to have something similar to this and if we can't find something out of the gate it's something I (or someone else) will find the time to code eventually. The forum functionality will evolve over time along with the structure/rules/etc.
Fair enough - I'm outside my comfort zone with this stuff. I've had my eyes glaze over at extensible systems and plugins before. I just hope we can find a way to make it work.
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Old 04-25-2019, 11:48 PM   #13
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Re: Forum Move: Technical Issues and Feature Discussion

I poked around at writing the scraper this evening for about an hour. I don't think it would be too hard especially if its done from the archive view (http://www.archboston.org/community/archive/index.php). The format is much easier to parse than the standard view because the HTML is so simple. The downside is a lot of fidelity is lost (e.g. there is no way to tell if text is a URL or an image without some significant post-processing). OTOH if we just want the content then it is a great way forward and is what I recommend.

If I could get a solid four or five hours of coding time I could probably write the scraper and throw it on GitHub.
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Old 04-26-2019, 04:43 PM   #14
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Re: Forum Move: Technical Issues and Feature Discussion

Quote:
Originally Posted by meddlepal View Post
I poked around at writing the scraper this evening for about an hour. I don't think it would be too hard especially if its done from the archive view (http://www.archboston.org/community/archive/index.php). The format is much easier to parse than the standard view because the HTML is so simple. The downside is a lot of fidelity is lost (e.g. there is no way to tell if text is a URL or an image without some significant post-processing). OTOH if we just want the content then it is a great way forward and is what I recommend.

If I could get a solid four or five hours of coding time I could probably write the scraper and throw it on GitHub.
meddle this would be great, so far i was able to pull single threads gathering usernames, post title, and text body but there would be extra formatting along with the text body which would mess it all up. I didnt know about the archive page, that will help a lot with me. I would just need to be able to pull multiple threads at once now
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Old 05-06-2019, 02:13 PM   #15
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Re: Forum Move: Technical Issues and Feature Discussion

I'm about 60-70% of the way done writing the scraper. Need to implement page traversal but the code to scrape everything else is mostly done. So yea... big ticket items are page traversal and implement storage of the messages in a way that I can re-run the scraper and only grab new content from the last completed scrape so everything can be kept in sync.
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Old 05-06-2019, 02:17 PM   #16
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Re: Forum Move: Technical Issues and Feature Discussion

Quote:
Originally Posted by meddlepal View Post
I'm about 60-70% of the way done writing the scraper. Need to implement page traversal but the code to scrape everything else is mostly done. So yea... big ticket items are page traversal and implement storage of the messages in a way that I can re-run the scraper and only grab new content from the last completed scrape so everything can be kept in sync.
Thanks for all the work you've put in! Do you think it's still worth it now that we have admin access and hopefully can spread it around a bit more? An archive might still be a good idea, but we may not need a scraper to do it.
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Old 05-06-2019, 02:26 PM   #17
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Re: Forum Move: Technical Issues and Feature Discussion

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Originally Posted by Equilibria View Post
Thanks for all the work you've put in! Do you think it's still worth it now that we have admin access and hopefully can spread it around a bit more? An archive might still be a good idea, but we may not need a scraper to do it.
Did something change and briv granted admin access? Just export the DB if that's the case.
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Old 05-06-2019, 02:29 PM   #18
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Re: Forum Move: Technical Issues and Feature Discussion

Ah, I just quickly glanced at the other thread. I think it would be wise for someone to at least periodically export the database...

It has been a long time since I administered a vBulletin board but I think there is a way to export just posts. Worst case it could be done through some SQL commands.
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Old 05-20-2019, 10:55 AM   #19
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Re: Forum Evolution: Technical Issues and Feature Discussion

A minor request: Would it be possible to configure TLS on archboston.org?
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Old 05-20-2019, 11:44 AM   #20
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Re: Forum Evolution: Technical Issues and Feature Discussion

Does this board even have a mobile view? I have always gotten the desktop site on my phone, and have no idea if that's because there's no mobile view whatsoever or if there is one but the URL's aren't configured to auto-switch to it.
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