ESMB changes since the hack

Emma

Con te partirò
Administrator
Hi everyone,

This is a long overdue post, but it's a "chicken & egg" situation. I can't explain the new functions to you guys until I've worked them out & tweaked them myself.

This is a long post so I've divided it into sections and maybe you should just scan to the section that interests you if you don't want to read the whole thing.

Software upgrade:
After the hack I decided the safest option was to upgrade to the latest version of VBulletin which is version 4. I've put off this upgrade for over 12 months because I knew it would be a hell of a lot of work. Unless you've ever tried to run one of these things you probably can't grasp the amount of work involved in this level of upgrade.

There are pros & cons about this upgrade, some of which I know already and some which are being discovered on a daily basis. Here are the most obvious ones:

Pros:

  • Vbulletin version 3 will be obsolete in time and unsupported by developers. All the current & future development will be for VB4.
  • Increased user customization
  • Blog & CMS functions built in
Cons:

  • The menus suck
  • Shortage of professional templates
  • It's quite different to VB3 and so the learning curve as a site owner is quite steep.
  • Lot's of little things, to numerous to mention, but most of which require just a little getting used to.

Rules:
A few days ago I posted a thread called "Forum Rules" and asked everyone to accept the rules. This thread is here. I've now abandoned that plugin as it was prone to being hacked. A new member will have to accept the rules during the registration process as they always did, but current members won't have to accept them newly.

Finding "New posts" and Today's posts":
The standard template makes finding new posts and today's posts very confusing. It was the thing most people complained about when we went live after the upgrade. It use to be that you could make a post and then see it when you clicked "new posts". That functionality has changed in the new version of VB4. The logic is that if you have just made a post it is not "new" to you so it won't show up in "new posts". This might be logical but it's not what people are used to and not what they want but I can't get around that. The other menu item that was missing was "Today's posts". The new version leaves this out completely!!!

To fix these issues I've added new menu items to the top menu bar. If you click "Today's posts" you'll get all the posts (including your own) for the past 24 hours. If you click "New Posts" you'll get only new posts (that you haven't read or written) for the past 3 days.

Menus:
There are two menu rows that you see when you are on the home page. The bigger menu (as mentioned above) doesn't change no matter what page you are on. The smaller menu changes depending on what page you are on. For instance, if you want to access the link to "Private messages", "FAQ", "Calendar" etc you will need to be on the forum home page. If you click on "today's posts" and land on the page listing all the posts, you will notice this menu disappears. I really don't like this and I consider it one of the disadvantages of VB4. I am (and have been for a week) looking for the best solution for this problem. I believe ALL menu options should be available from ALL pages. Currently I have what I consider the most important functions in the top (larger) menu and that's the best I can do at the moment. I will improve this in the near future.

Side blocks:
Side blocks (that long block at the side of the board) are a way to keep up to date with new posts & new threads no matter where you are on the board. At the moment they are activate and people can choose to see them or not see them by clicking on the arrow near the top of the block. The software will remember if you've close the sideblock and will keep it closed until you decide to open it again, then it will remember that preference. I'm still mucking around with side blocks but I believe they will be most handy when blogs get up & running.

Chatbox (ESMB Natterbox)
This is a new chatbox and has different functionality to the one you were used to before the upgrade. Again there are advantages & disadvantages to this new chatbox. The biggest advantage is server load and lag. The old chatbox was very server intensive and quite laggy. The new one seems to be much more responsive and puts a lot less load on the server. There are also a lot of customisation options available to you from the dropdown menu on the top of the chatbox. If you are going to be a regular user of the chatbox I recommend having a play around with the settings.

I'll be making a more detailed post about the Chatbox in the next day or two which details all the different options & functions.

If you don't like the chatbox & don't want to even see it, simply click on the arrow on the right hand side of the chatbox header and it will collapse. You can open it again any time.

Likes/Dislikes buttons:
This is quite a controversial addition to ESMB. Some people like and some people hate it, but overall it seems to be quite popular as there have been over 450 uses of it in 5 days. That's 450 times you didn't have to read an extra post of someone saying "This^^^" or "I agree" or "I don't agree". I believe it has cut down extraneous posting quite a lot which means threads are much more content focused and each new post generally has something to say rather than just "I agree" or "thank you".

I know the notifications are annoying to some people and I'm hoping to find a way to turn off the notifications for people if they don't want to see them. Until I do, you are just going to have to put up with being told that someone "likes" your post. (Is is that hard to accept?)

Of the 450 times the function has been used, only 10 of them have been "dislikes" so it's not likely you'll be barraged with a bunch of notifications saying that people dislike your post.

User titles & ranks:
I decided to keep the stars (rank) for now (until someone comes up with a better idea) and the default user titles are still "crusader", "patron" etc, but you can alter these in your settings. Choose something that better describes you if you like, or just leave it as it is. It's up to you. I might rethink this whole thing when I have more time.

Spam stopper:
You might notice down the bottom of the forum a new stat to do with the amount of spammers being stopped from registering. This is part of a new system I've implemented to stop spammers from registering. It connects up to two well established and reputable anti spam databases & checks our new registrations against their databases. If they are blacklisted as a spammer on one of their lists they are stopped from registering.

This should not affect any legitimate person from registering.

It will be interesting to see how many it actually picks up.

Blogs!!!
Dull Old Fart started a thread about blogs the other day that you might have seen. Yes you can have your own blog on ESMB that has it's own URL (web adddress). For instance if I wanted to link someone to my blog I'd use http://www.forum.exscn.net/blog.php?23-Emmas-blog and it would go straight to my blog. Take care when naming your blog as that will be your web address.

I've mucked around with the blog a bit and it seems quite straightforward to set up, especially if you've had a blog before with Wordpress or Blogger. There are quite a few customization options that I haven't played with yet that you can explore.

You can use your blog for anything you want (except the obvious porn/drugs/violence etc). You can use it to talk about yourself, your family etc. Stuff that you don't necessarily think belongs on the forum. In your blog you moderate the comments, not me.

I see Zhent just started a blog to archive his Sydney protest posts. I think this is a great idea. Others might like to use the blog to gather all their favourite posts from ESMB and have them in one place. It's completely up to you.

I'm very interested to see how this developes. I'm hoping people will use them to enhance ESMB for themselves and everyone else.

_______________________________________

That's about it for now. There is probably things I've forgotten so ask any questions in this thread and I'll answer them the best I can.
 
I am not really having any problems with the site/board (as a very un-techy person).

Thanks for all your work Emma. It is noticed by all, I'm sure, that you are working away on this constantly in the background.
 

Free to shine

Shiny & Free
It took me a couple of days but now I love the new look and functionality. I particularly like the side block of post excerpts, and the like buttons, as you say it saves posting "Thanks" or "I agree" all the time.

Not having chat on the Todays Posts page means a special trip to the Home page to chat, not something I am prone to do unless extremely bored or there is an interesting conversation you happen to see on the way through. Still, only a minor thing.

I want to give some thought to a blog before starting, work out the best way I can use it as I already have a Wordpress blog on my story. Maybe collect some of the best posts overall... though this could take some time!

Thanks for doing all the tweaking, I have a small idea of what's involved from doing my own websites. A massive job indeed. :thumbsup:

---------- Post added at 04:57 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:52 PM ----------

Oh and I love you can change your settings for up to 40 posts on a page!
 

Thrak

Gold Meritorious Patron
Hi everyone,

This is a long overdue post, but it's a "chicken & egg" situation. I can't explain the new functions to you guys until I've worked them out & tweaked them myself.

This is a long post so I've divided it into sections and maybe you should just scan to the section that interests you if you don't want to read the whole thing.

Software upgrade:
After the hack I decided the safest option was to upgrade to the latest version of VBulletin which is version 4. I've put off this upgrade for over 12 months because I knew it would be a hell of a lot of work. Unless you've ever tried to run one of these things you probably can't grasp the amount of work involved in this level of upgrade.

There are pros & cons about this upgrade, some of which I know already and some which are being discovered on a daily basis. Here are the most obvious ones:

Pros:

  • Vbulletin version 3 will be obsolete in time and unsupported by developers. All the current & future development will be for VB4.
  • Increased user customization
  • Blog & CMS functions built in
Cons:

  • The menus suck
  • Shortage of professional templates
  • It's quite different to VB3 and so the learning curve as a site owner is quite steep.
  • Lot's of little things, to numerous to mention, but most of which require just a little getting used to.

Rules:
A few days ago I posted a thread called "Forum Rules" and asked everyone to accept the rules. This thread is here. I've now abandoned that plugin as it was prone to being hacked. A new member will have to accept the rules during the registration process as they always did, but current members won't have to accept them newly.

Finding "New posts" and Today's posts":
The standard template makes finding new posts and today's posts very confusing. It was the thing most people complained about when we went live after the upgrade. It use to be that you could make a post and then see it when you clicked "new posts". That functionality has changed in the new version of VB4. The logic is that if you have just made a post it is not "new" to you so it won't show up in "new posts". This might be logical but it's not what people are used to and not what they want but I can't get around that. The other menu item that was missing was "Today's posts". The new version leaves this out completely!!!

To fix these issues I've added new menu items to the top menu bar. If you click "Today's posts" you'll get all the posts (including your own) for the past 24 hours. If you click "New Posts" you'll get only new posts (that you haven't read or written) for the past 3 days.

Menus:
There are two menu rows that you see when you are on the home page. The bigger menu (as mentioned above) doesn't change no matter what page you are on. The smaller menu changes depending on what page you are on. For instance, if you want to access the link to "Private messages", "FAQ", "Calendar" etc you will need to be on the forum home page. If you click on "today's posts" and land on the page listing all the posts, you will notice this menu disappears. I really don't like this and I consider it one of the disadvantages of VB4. I am (and have been for a week) looking for the best solution for this problem. I believe ALL menu options should be available from ALL pages. Currently I have what I consider the most important functions in the top (larger) menu and that's the best I can do at the moment. I will improve this in the near future.

Side blocks:
Side blocks (that long block at the side of the board) are a way to keep up to date with new posts & new threads no matter where you are on the board. At the moment they are activate and people can choose to see them or not see them by clicking on the arrow near the top of the block. The software will remember if you've close the sideblock and will keep it closed until you decide to open it again, then it will remember that preference. I'm still mucking around with side blocks but I believe they will be most handy when blogs get up & running.

Chatbox (ESMB Natterbox)
This is a new chatbox and has different functionality to the one you were used to before the upgrade. Again there are advantages & disadvantages to this new chatbox. The biggest advantage is server load and lag. The old chatbox was very server intensive and quite laggy. The new one seems to be much more responsive and puts a lot less load on the server. There are also a lot of customisation options available to you from the dropdown menu on the top of the chatbox. If you are going to be a regular user of the chatbox I recommend having a play around with the settings.

I'll be making a more detailed post about the Chatbox in the next day or two which details all the different options & functions.

If you don't like the chatbox & don't want to even see it, simply click on the arrow on the right hand side of the chatbox header and it will collapse. You can open it again any time.

Likes/Dislikes buttons:
This is quite a controversial addition to ESMB. Some people like and some people hate it, but overall it seems to be quite popular as there have been over 450 uses of it in 5 days. That's 450 times you didn't have to read an extra post of someone saying "This^^^" or "I agree" or "I don't agree". I believe it has cut down extraneous posting quite a lot which means threads are much more content focused and each new post generally has something to say rather than just "I agree" or "thank you".

I know the notifications are annoying to some people and I'm hoping to find a way to turn off the notifications for people if they don't want to see them. Until I do, you are just going to have to put up with being told that someone "likes" your post. (Is is that hard to accept?)

Of the 450 times the function has been used, only 10 of them have been "dislikes" so it's not likely you'll be barraged with a bunch of notifications saying that people dislike your post.

User titles & ranks:
I decided to keep the stars (rank) for now (until someone comes up with a better idea) and the default user titles are still "crusader", "patron" etc, but you can alter these in your settings. Choose something that better describes you if you like, or just leave it as it is. It's up to you. I might rethink this whole thing when I have more time.

Spam stopper:
You might notice down the bottom of the forum a new stat to do with the amount of spammers being stopped from registering. This is part of a new system I've implemented to stop spammers from registering. It connects up to two well established and reputable anti spam databases & checks our new registrations against their databases. If they are blacklisted as a spammer on one of their lists they are stopped from registering.

This should not affect any legitimate person from registering.

It will be interesting to see how many it actually picks up.

Blogs!!!
Dull Old Fart started a thread about blogs the other day that you might have seen. Yes you can have your own blog on ESMB that has it's own URL (web adddress). For instance if I wanted to link someone to my blog I'd use http://www.forum.exscn.net/blog.php?23-Emmas-blog and it would go straight to my blog. Take care when naming your blog as that will be your web address.

I've mucked around with the blog a bit and it seems quite straightforward to set up, especially if you've had a blog before with Wordpress or Blogger. There are quite a few customization options that I haven't played with yet that you can explore.

You can use your blog for anything you want (except the obvious porn/drugs/violence etc). You can use it to talk about yourself, your family etc. Stuff that you don't necessarily think belongs on the forum. In your blog you moderate the comments, not me.

I see Zhent just started a blog to archive his Sydney protest posts. I think this is a great idea. Others might like to use the blog to gather all their favourite posts from ESMB and have them in one place. It's completely up to you.

I'm very interested to see how this developes. I'm hoping people will use them to enhance ESMB for themselves and everyone else.

_______________________________________

That's about it for now. There is probably things I've forgotten so ask any questions in this thread and I'll answer them the best I can.

So when can we expect to see Version 5?
 

Infinite

Troublesome Internet Fringe Dweller
WIN

More functionality, additional options, less server load . . . looks like WIN to me.

I'm really pleased to see that I can still open multiple tags (click the middle button on the mouse if you have Firefox) and still be logged in. This means I can have the chatbox up on full, I can have the Today's posts open (which is just like What's New in that threads appear whether or not you've read them or posted) plus I can have another tag open for snuffling about in the archives. This means I can keep an eye on all three without having to reload plus I can indulge my short-attention-span tendency. If I'm following in a busy thread I can that open in a separate tag and just press F5 for re-load. Nothing new for the old hands, I'm sure, but maybe a newbie might be interested. Happy posting, y'all.
 

Dulloldfart

Squirrel Extraordinaire
Paul I'm not sure if you are joking or not, but the original reason ESMB went down was because we were "hacked by Team Animus".

Not joking, I didn't hear about Team Animus. I just looked it up. It seems to be a vBulletin thing rather than directed at ESMB specifically, but I'll read up about it online. Thanks.

Paul
 

smartone

My Own Boss
Re: WIN

More functionality, additional options, less server load . . . looks like WIN to me.

I'm really pleased to see that I can still open multiple tags (click the middle button on the mouse if you have Firefox) and still be logged in. This means I can have the chatbox up on full, I can have the Today's posts open (which is just like What's New in that threads appear whether or not you've read them or posted) plus I can have another tag open for snuffling about in the archives. This means I can keep an eye on all three without having to reload plus I can indulge my short-attention-span tendency. If I'm following in a busy thread I can that open in a separate tag and just press F5 for re-load. Nothing new for the old hands, I'm sure, but maybe a newbie might be interested. Happy posting, y'all.

Huh? :dizzy:
 

Type4_PTS

Diamond Invictus SP
It seems that what began as something very bad, the hack by Team Animus, has turned into a Win. Are you sure OSA isn't behind it? :D

The Blogs will be a great enhancement to ESMB IMO.

I'm very badly missing the little green grinning smiley though. Will he ever return?:ohmy:
 
Last edited:

Type4_PTS

Diamond Invictus SP
so no it wasn't "OSA" just some injectscriptkids as always.

Yeah, I was just being sarcastic about the OSA comment. Their (OSA) attempts to cause destruction often backfire upon themselves and result in footbullets. But I knew they weren't involved in this particular instance.
 

Dulloldfart

Squirrel Extraordinaire
I'm very badly missing the little green grinning smiley though. Will he ever return?:ohmy:

Agreed. Stopgap solution:
mrgreen.gif


Paul
 

Infinite

Troublesome Internet Fringe Dweller
OPEN LETTER TO INJECTSCRIPTKIDDIES

Thank you for pointing out the flaw. Yes, we've upgraded. Now go to your room.
 
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