Arantor

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System visitations: vB 3.8.7
« on February 23rd, 2013, 05:48 AM »
So, some of you know that I own licences for different systems. I consider it a valid research expense and I don't mind shelling out to do proper research for what I really care about. I have current licences for XenForo, IPB and yesterday I picked up a vB licence which means I have an active installation of vB 3, vB 4 and vB 5 to play with. I will get round to the others in time, but vB 3 is what I'm looking at right now.

I'm not going to post screenshots, but I'm going to share my reactions and thoughts to these things as I find them. It may be interesting to someone, it may not, I don't know. All of this is on localhost and I don't really care about performance at this stage. I'm not even going to really touch on the user end so much, because from a user aspect they all seem to be mostly consistent. But if I get time I'll look at it.

Admin Panel
This is the first time I've seen the vB admin panel. Having seen a 3.6 or 3.7 moderation panel, the use of frames doesn't surprise me. Yes, ACTUAL FRAMES. Not even iframes.

My first reaction, though, is fuck, it's ugly. I don't even want to call it utilitarian, because while it is functional, it is ugly. I like beauty in my toys.

There are some interesting things to this though - we have a side menu with a shit-ton of first level options: vBulletin Options, Styles & Templates, Langages & Phrases, FAQ, Notices, Announcements, Forums & Moderators, Calendars, Threads & Posts, Thread Prefixes, Moderation, Attachments, Users, Usergroups, Social Groups, User Infractions, User Profile Fields, User Ranks, User Reputations, User Albums, User Titles, Paid Subscriptions, Avatars, Post Icons, Smilies, Custom BB Codes, RSS Feeds, Scheduled Tasks, Plugins & Products, Statistics & Logs, Maintenance.

Monkey butts, that's a lot of stuff. It intrigues me on a number of levels. Firstly... it does mean that everything most people would want is available out of the box, and presumably maintained up to the same standard as the core. Once you get the core dev out of the way, maintenance should be relatively easy.

I gotta say it does make me pause to reflect on what I want to see as a core feature versus what should be a plugin and I just know that's going to cause trouble, especially if I intend to monetise any of them.


Let's kick off. vBulletin Options has... vBulletin Options as the first menu item, which takes me to a page where I can select from about 40 areas, ranging from 'Turn Your vBulletin On and Off', 'Site Name / URL / Contact Details', through Date and Time Options, Email Options, Social Group Options and so on. In other words, collating all the very generic options pages in one place. Interesting tactic. I don't like it, but it's interesting.[1]

Anyway, lots and lots of pages of settings. Most of them seem fairly straightforward and most of them have mostly similar analogues to SMF and Wedge - if you've cruised through the admin panel and seen any of the generic pages you will have seen this, mostly. Though I will note that their UI is arranged to scroll downwards a lot and have concentrated pages with lots of stuff in, as opposed to more but shorter pages. I'm not intrinsically opposed to lots and lots of options, but there are definitely cases of 'less is more' and anyone who knows me will know I like keeping related functionality together.

Interesting to see that 'Social Bookmarking' is still a feature - back in the days before we had Facebook and Twitter and G+ everywhere, we had Digg, del.icio.us, StumbleUpon and Google's social bookmarking feature. You can't even make this stuff up. (And yes, vB has it built in, but with built in support for it. This intrigues me, actually. I don't want it in the core but I can see people think it should be.)

Ah, the Style Manager, I've been curious about this for a while. Editing templates in the DB, they said. Safer than using real code, they said.

But DAMN.

Code: [Select]
$template_hook[postbit_start]
<table class="tborder" id="post$post[postid]" cellpadding="$stylevar[cellpadding]" cellspacing="$stylevar[cellspacing]" border="0" width="100%" align="center">

Code: [Select]
<div id="postmenu_$post[postid]">
<if condition="$show['profile']">
<a class="bigusername" href="member.php?$session[sessionurl]u=$post[userid]">$post[musername]</a>
$post[onlinestatus]
<script type="text/javascript"> vbmenu_register("postmenu_$post[postid]", true); </script>
<else />
$post[musername]
</if>
</div>

Just... eew. Seriously, I get the idea of a template engine, be that Smarty or TOX-G or whatever. I understand the logic and have in the past recommended it in certain circumstances. But this hellspawn bastardisation of HTML, meta HTML and PHP in line? What the Serious FUCK is this?

The ability to configure basic CSS variables with a *nice* interface (and this is easily the nicest UI I've seen yet in vB 3, though I gotta say, it's not a complete trainwreck) is interesting. I have attached a screenshot. I'm not saying I want it in the core, because I don't, but it is fundamentally an interesting concept.

Then we have the language editor. Given current stuff, this intrigues me too, to see what they've done with it, knowing full well what I'd probably find. The amount of configuration is surprising even for me, especially as I plan to remove most of the configurability of 'key' items out of the language editor. It strikes me as something that is surprisingly low use. The actual language editor part itself is completely as expected, with some nice quirks around searching for languages. The quirk primarily that comes to mind is 'overkill'.

FAQ... oh, this is nice, a built in FAQ editor. What's more interesting is that this is the one way I'd be encouraged to re-add the help tab: by making it entirely configurable. You create items which can have child items again and again, it's all very straightforward really. As many levels as you want, as many siblings in a given level. Then we have the UI. I have seen this in XF and there it looked incongruous. Here... it's oddly in character but still unnecessary.

Every item has a 'display order'. Yup, you put in a number to indicate what position these things should be in. Now, I get that. Internally, that's exactly how it works. You have a number and it indicates position. Except there's no need to show the *user* that. Back in the early 2000s, maybe, but it's definitely a relic of back then. (Note, SMF never showed big ol' lists of display numbers to people even back then.) Everything else is straightforward enough there, though the fact it's showing me the unprocessed code is slightly disturbing (yay for more yucky mashup languages!) but I'll let it slide. It's workable if ugly.

Notices... now this is a feature I haven't seen before, or if I have I haven't made a mental note of it (though I believe XF has something similar, I just never dug in enough). A Notice, essentially, is a block of code shown at the top of the page based on matching conditions, e.g. show a given block if the user is/isn't a given group, is in a given board/its sub-boards, using a given style, user has not visited lately, user has between x and y posts, user has no posts, user has given amount of reputation, infractions, PM storage, username... the list goes on. Pretty much anything you can conveniently imagine would cover it, I think.

Now this is an interesting concept for me. It means you could put ads in it if you so desired, sure, but you could also do so much more with it. One admin I know uses this to handle birthday wishes to his users (since there's a notice for when it's their birthday), to the point where I'd probably want to put it in the core rather than rely on it being a plugin, even if I wrote it. It's sufficiently useful, I think, that it could justify itself.

Announcements - a similar idea but intended to be shortlived rather than general notices. The idea is that you get what amounts to a posting box, a start and an end date and some minor formatting options and get to display notices like that. It's an interesting idea for quick notifications that have higher prominence than pinned topics and that will automatically fade away later on - and don't allow for comments.

Then we get to the Forum Manager - remember, vB calls them forums not boards. Yay for Display Order number boxes. This is intriguing... we have some of the typical stuff - title, description, redirection, default sort order[2] and there's some stuff I wouldn't have thought of.

You can add a list of email addresses to notify when there's a new post or topic in that board. You can also, from main board configuration, turn on post/thread/attachment moderation right there. Interesting. I won't be changing our moderation filters any time soon but it is interesting.

Interesting what other things are set - you can disable bbcode/smileys/img bbc/post icons etc all by board. I find this fascinating that you have this much control - and mostly unnecessary. I have yet to encounter a situation where I'd want one board to have these and not another.

Permissions, ah how we love thee. Wait... you can remove admins' permissions in a board? Seriously? (Actually, that's an interesting concept. I know cases where users have asked about it for specific and unusual reasons.)

Other than that the approach seems to be reasonably sane - set defaults per user group then let them either use the default or set by board. Hell to manage on larger configurations with many boards of course (which is why SMF went to board profiles in the first place).

Calendar... not really a great amount to say, looks like much the same as I'd envisaged our calendar becoming really.

Threads and Posts... lots of loving pruning (first/last post min/max days ago, min/max replies, min/max views, include/ignore pinned topics, include/ignore unapproved/deleted/locked/redirect) or even base it on who made the topic, what the topic's title is, what board(s) in question... it's very thorough, but like other things perhaps too thorough. I get the feeling it's a bit like they put everything they could think of in, good idea or not. There's also move topics between boards, same criteria. Plus you can... remove the poll on a topic if you know it's id? Then we have who voted what, and interestingly enough to prune edit history. Edit history is a core feature, interesting.

Thread prefixes... interesting idea. I can see the use for this in some contexts and some kinds of sites, not sure I'd want it as a core feature but for those who would use it, it is often a make or break feature. The features do not surprise me particularly, the only thing that does is the fact is demands people provide both plain text (for old fashioned dropdowns) and rich text displays.

Bah, soon be time for bed and so much more to explore. More when I've been to bed.
 1. I don't want to derail myself but a very vivid thought here is the similarity to how XenForo arranges itself much the same, and I suspect Kier was largely responsible.
 2. Did I actually make a UI item for that already? I don't think I did :/

 vb_vb3_css.png - 139.09 kB, 995x1103, viewed 259 times.

Re: System visitations: vB 3.8.7
« Reply #1, on February 23rd, 2013, 06:32 PM »
Ah where were we?

First, logging back in. Why, oh why, oh why, is there this insane 'Thank you for logging in. We will redirect you in a moment.' screen?

I don't have any posts or threads that are currently moderated, so I can't take a look at them yet :/

OK, attachments. This is curious. You can set the allowed extensions, maximum size per extension, thumbnail size per extension and stuff like that. What's most curious is that .jpeg files are allowed to be only 20000 bytes while .jpg files are capped at 100000, and .jpeg has a max size of 620x280 as opposed to no upper limit of image dimensions. More interestingly you can set HTTP headers to be sent with such files. Quite why you'd need to is a little beyond me right now, but the fact the option is provided is certainly curious. Wait... you can even set these limits per filetype per user, meaning you can limit max file and image sizes per type per user, e.g. one group is limited to 20K, 620x280 BMP files, while another could be 1MB, 4096x3072 for the same if you wanted.

You can also search attachments, by size, popularity, oldest/newest, plus getting rid of old attachments, as well as searching by name/who attached/attached before or after a given date, by more/less than a given number of downloads, by size, visibility and stuff like that. It's very thorough.

Then I get to add new user... holy shit there is a lot of options. I mean seriously... holy hell there is a lot here. From the one screen, you can set near enough everything that's in the user profile (user, password, email, language, user title, website, birthday, signature, ICQ/AIM/Y!M/MSN/Skype, whether a COPPA user or not, referrer, IP address, post count, avatar, profile picture, signature picture, other custom profile fields, all the primary/secondary groups, reputation, warnings, and pretty much all the user preferences that are on offer. It's truly enormous.

There's also some other interesting features - a built in referrals system, which you can get nice reports from. That's something that seems lacking in SMF/Wedge, actually... ways to get meaningful reports for things. But I'm not sure I'd want it as a core feature.

Huh, a method to generate a mailing list, exporting selective email addresses from the forum. That could be a useful plugin.

Huh, a method to check vulnerable passwords (where it is the same as the account name)... this suggests vB's password hash is weak if it can do that. And there's a forcible reset option.

Group configuration is interesting - the group edit page contains most of the basic permissions too (remember: permissions are set as 'default' for the group then can be modified on a per board basis, it's actually quite elegant in a way). There's some other interesting ideas, like setting a password expiry time as well as disallowing older passwords.

Hmm, promotion, that's an interesting idea, auto move someone to a different group/add them to a new group if they get somewhere, for example the default example is to move someone from 'Registered Members' to another group, based on reputation of at least 1000, but you can use reputation, days registered and post count in any combination. The concept is fundamentally interesting to me as a management tool.

Social Groups - this is an interesting feature. Essentially it amounts to a sort of member-created board on the site where the owner can select who can see it (e.g. public, moderated access, invite only) and link images from the gallery to it. Could be a good plugin candidate for making a sort of social network.

Then we have infractions. This is also interesting to me as it relates to thoughts I've had. Functionally it is pretty comparable with SMF's, though you can ban users and bump users to a banned group for too many infraction points.

Then there's custom fields. It's pretty much equivalent functionally to SMF's. Maybe not quite so elegant but functionally equivalent. There is one thing, though, you can set the translation of the name and description to other languages should you want to, the system allows for that. It is also possible to create new categories for fields, but to me this seems like it'd be part of a general profile system anyway. Don't know yet.

Interesting that post count groups are fundamentally less important in vB. They're almost purely a display matter.

Ah, reputation. This is one of those very quirky things that people either love or hate. Essentially it is just about setting levels, titles for those levels and so on. Nothing earth shattering, but interesting that it's a core feature.

Huh, that's interesting. An option to move album pictures out of their current home. They can store them into the filesystem with or without direct access to thumbnails - but more interestingly, they are stored by default in the database itself. This is fundamentally interesting to me. It solves certain permissions issues, at a cost of performance and size.

Paid subscriptions is a built in feature, no surprise there. The general approach is much the same as SMF's - title, description, active/not active, options of what groups to add while the subscription is active. More curiously, it allows for resetting board access directly from the subscription manager. Not the way I'd do it, but I can see the logic in it.

More interestingly, you can set the price of subscriptions in multiple currencies at once - USD, GBP, EUR, AUD, CAD right from the off, plus setting the subscription length. Built in are PayPal, NOCHEX, Worldpay, Authorize.Net, 2Checkout, Moneybookers, CCBill. Some immediately curious matters - different backends require different information (something I'm not sure SMF/Wedge currently support), as well as having different currency support (also not sure it's supported). More interestingly, transactions are actually logged, so you can do searches and so on.

Avatars... seems fairly straightforward, again functionally comparable to what SMF/Wedge has, with the exception of an ability to upload new avatar sets directly from the ACP (as opposed to requiring a packaged solution via package manager)

Post icons, again, much the same as SMF/Wedge, with the difference that there isn't the obfuscation involved with 'enabling customised icons'. Ditto, for all of that, for smileys.

Custom bbcode, Their system isn't as flexible as SMF/Wedge, in that their setup only allows for one parameter per bbc, e.g. [tag=option][/tag]. I'm aware we don't have a bbcode editor, but we're going to get one :)

RSS feed poster... seems fairly straightforward. Interestingly, feeds can be posted to the announcement section (see previous), which is an interesting concept too.

Scheduled tasks, fairly straightforward too. Most of them have similar comparable options to what SMF/Wedge have, with the ability to actually add your own to it.

Plugin manager... huh, that's interesting. You can tell it to run a given piece of PHP at any of the in-built hook points. Curious, but very inefficient. It also amazes me how many hooks vB 3 has - it makes the list in SMF (2.0 at least) and Wedge look tame.

There's also a nice report section where you can get things like subsets of the main reports and logs, based on time/date, including other things like the paid subscriptions system.

Maintenance... this is very interesting. There's a backup - and it even tells you that you should instead use save-to-server (!) or backup via command line (for which it looks like there's a bundled script in the main vB package)

There's also the facility whereby you can individually repair/optimise tables (as opposed to all at once), plus rebuilding individual bits of cache. I am intrigued by the diagnostics area, which allows testing of uploads, testing of email sending, checking file versions, and can do some tests against server modules, for example trying to detect issues with mod_security out of the box.

That's all very, very interesting. I'd argue a lot of it is overkill, but it does provide a lot of food for thought.

The moderation panel is, in practicality, a specific subset of the admin panel rather than a completely separate area now that I look at it, so I'll leave that for now.


I will play around with vB 3 a bit longer to see if anything occurs to me.
When we unite against a common enemy that attacks our ethos, it nurtures group solidarity. Trolls are sensational, yes, but we keep everyone honest. | Game Memorial

Dragooon

  • I can code! Really!
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Re: System visitations: vB 3.8.7
« Reply #2, on February 23rd, 2013, 07:30 PM »
I have a few specific points I'd like to mention, but before that, why did you go with vB 3 and not 4?
The way it's meant to be

Arantor

  • As powerful as possible, as complex as necessary.
  • Posts: 14,278
Re: System visitations: vB 3.8.7
« Reply #3, on February 23rd, 2013, 07:34 PM »
I got all three versions, 3, 4 and 5 to play with. I'm just doing 3 first ;)

Dragooon

  • I can code! Really!
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Re: System visitations: vB 3.8.7
« Reply #4, on February 24th, 2013, 03:55 PM »
I think this is open for discussion right?

Replying to the paid subs stuff, since that's one of the most interesting topics for me.
Quote
More interestingly, you can set the price of subscriptions in multiple currencies at once - USD, GBP, EUR, AUD, CAD right from the off, plus setting the subscription length. Built in are PayPal, NOCHEX, Worldpay, Authorize.Net, 2Checkout, Moneybookers, CCBill. Some immediately curious matters - different backends require different information (something I'm not sure SMF/Wedge currently support), as well as having different currency support (also not sure it's supported). More interestingly, transactions are actually logged, so you can do searches and so on.
A couple of things,
1) I'm fairly sure SMF can easily support the different backends, the information is not all that different. Although the API itself in SMF needs improvement (I've said this before).
2) The different currency is actually pretty useful for a lot of people, I've helped with a very, very large vB forum (http://twcenter.net/forums, helped upgrade from vB 3.7 to 4.2, was a bitch of a task) and they find that there members prefer to pay in their own currency (saves conversion charges on their side).
3) The multiple gateways also help a lot, mostly PayPal, 2checkout and recently Google Checkout from what I've observed. AlertPay (Payza now a days?) is also a pretty good alternative for those in India.
4) Logging of transaction is also pretty useful especially if multiple gateways are supported, I'd love that even now. Saves having to log into the respective gateway's site and cross checking anything. Plus it can also help to see if any subscription/payment wasn't awarded without any actual payment.

Arantor

  • As powerful as possible, as complex as necessary.
  • Posts: 14,278
Re: System visitations: vB 3.8.7
« Reply #5, on February 24th, 2013, 04:02 PM »
Quote
I think this is open for discussion right?
Sure it is. :)
Quote
1) I'm fairly sure SMF can easily support the different backends, the information is not all that different. Although the API itself in SMF needs improvement (I've said this before).
It mostly can. The problem is that different backends require different information and I wasn't sure whether the backends exposed any configuration items + template requirements to SMF/Wedge. CCBill in particular has half a dozen items it actually needs.
Quote
they find that there members prefer to pay in their own currency
*nods*
Quote
3) The multiple gateways also help a lot, mostly PayPal, 2checkout and recently Google Checkout from what I've observed. AlertPay (Payza now a days?) is also a pretty good alternative for those in India.
Oh, certainly. I certainly have no problem with adding them, and while I've mused the possibility of breaking the payment stuff into its own system, I'm not sufficiently convinced enough to remove it from the core, if that makes sense. I can see the arguments but this stuff encourages me to keep it core and make it better.
Quote
4) Logging of transaction is also pretty useful especially if multiple gateways are supported, I'd love that even now. Saves having to log into the respective gateway's site and cross checking anything. Plus it can also help to see if any subscription/payment wasn't awarded without any actual payment.
*nods* I will look at it sometime.
Re: System visitations: vB 3.8.7
« Reply #6, on February 25th, 2013, 06:23 AM »
OK, so I've spent a bit more time looking at vB 3.8.7, this time peeking into the DB and it's 158 tables. Yes REALLY. (Mind you, we have 90-odd tables at present, with a few possible casualties in future)

First up, I see a table storing the parsed copies of posts, subdivided by time and images. This is interesting because it means you'd parse_bbc once per post (unless you change settings, but that's its own interesting quirk, they have a maintenance thing for rebuilding it)

Second, the DB does indeed verify what I said before... in the attachment table I see a mediumblob column. It's certainly interesting, not innovative (I have thought of doing it for certain plugins)

Third, we have the choice of postbits, either the two column layout we use - which vB 3.8 claims is *legacy* or there's the full-width poster info with all the other stuff above the post. It's fugly to my eye but I can see the appeal for some. I kind of hope we can pull this off with the template skeleton, or at least either a plugin or a theme can do it, to prove it can be done.

Fourthly, adding views to the view count is not live. It is actually pushed into a separate log and updated hourly, presumably to prevent full table locking on the topics table.

Lastly and most interestingly, threaded conversation. Yes, that feature is in 3.8.7 (but was removed in later versions, not that I'm sure exactly when it was)

So here we have an actual working implementation, let's explore the consequences of it. Firstly, storage of the tree - it is how has been provided for Wedge, i.e. each message tracking its immediate parent.

This is what brings me to the fundamental issue I keep harping on about, retrieving the tree. I'm actually amazed this isn't a serious performance killer looking at it. It's nasty. I can't share it for obvious reasons but it looks like SMF 1 code in some respects - queries with double quoted strings, with variables injected into the query from outside. Including just randomly shoving crap into the SELECT (fields), JOINS and WHERE criteria of the query. It doesn't validate it or anything, it just hands it off to a hook (which is a bare box in admin panel with an eval() around it) and expects the hook to populate global variables. The query takes the form of SELECT post.*, user.* and some other stuff... that would be like us saying SELECT wedge_messages.*, wedge_members.* with some clauses to join them. This is also a query joining... at least 3 tables right there in the query. OUCH.

But it validates something interesting... that fetching the entire tree is not implicitly horrendous. But it does leave a very sour taste in the UI mouth.

vB 3 presents a three-pronged approach to threading. Firstly, we have threaded mode. A largeish subset of the tree is displayed at once, offhand I'm not sure what the rules are but it is a decent subset of the tree around where you are in it. I'd need more time to build a huge tree to assess what its rules really are, but it seems sane. Only one actual message is visible at once and replying to it is of course implicit. Multiquote is fairly important if you want to cross threads of course, but when you press the quote button, whatever you're replying to is the target for the hierarchy.

Then we have hybrid. This is a little curious - again, we get the tree shown to us. But this time when we view an item, we view its children in an otherwise flat style. It's not entire depth, it looks like it descends 5 levels to fetch replies and I don't know how it handles pagination but it folds all those up into chronological order and displays them otherwise flat. It's rather interesting to watch - but the real fun is replying. By default you have to actually select a post to reply to - even before *quick reply* becomes an option (as of course, full reply is no big deal, it just gears up to reply to that one message). The other choice, admin only, is to allow users not to have to do that, which means that by definition any reply is to the end of the thread (so it just replies to the last chain of whatever)

Lastly we have linear. Linear is effectively the same as hybrid - without showing the tree, so it just fetches a subslice of the thread's posts in order. But the real fun part is that by default it still holds the nesting data, so that you still have to pick something to reply to, even if you're not actually using threading because the hierarchy must still be maintained. Here of course every thread would just appear to be one long chain from the top because although we have the capacity to store the parent, we don't have the UI to support that properly, especially with quite reply.

This is the second problem with nested posts, of course (the first being performance).

There is an inherent third problem that comes up, which Kindred mentions every time it's brought out on sm.org, and he's right to a point - it encourages back and forth between individuals rather than addressing the group - but it would likely be useful for some of the discussions that fragment here, actually.

Threaded replies is something we have talked about, something we have indicated that we would be interested in but the nesting aspect always worried me. But if vBulletin does it, it really can't be as bad as I'd feared (or been able to benchmark on my own stuff). What I'm going to do is sleep on it, after all it is bed time, and see how I feel about it all in the morning.

Incidentally, it has provoked a feeling in me. One of the other SMF forks has pursued (and admirably so) a major feature that really appeals to them, though it's something I never wanted to touch beyond a plugin, mostly for support issue reasons... but the fact they're pursuing 'big features' encourages me to want to run wild and pursue big things too.
Posted: February 25th, 2013, 06:22 AM

Also, don't make me look too hard at vB 3's code, is uggggggggleeeeeeeeeee.
Re: System visitations: vB 3.8.7
« Reply #7, on February 25th, 2013, 05:56 PM »
OK, I slept on it. My conclusion is, if we can solve the UI ickiness, we can and should do threaded replies as a core feature.

But it's solving the UI ickiness of making sure we reply to the right part.

Nao

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Re: System visitations: vB 3.8.7
« Reply #8, on February 25th, 2013, 11:36 PM »
So many points here, I'm just going to focus on your last post on threaded stuff, otherwise I'll go crazy. (I'm already upset by a feature I was going to commit a few minutes ago, until I realize it was fundamentally broken because I wanted it to be as flexible as possible and it adds more complexity... -_-)

From the contents of your post, I gather you didn't know that vB 3.x did threading. Right..? Well, I thought I'd argued that threaded mode was 'not the black sheep' because vB had it in and it was still very popular... However, I didn't know that the feature had been removed in later versions. Perhaps it was, simply... Badly implemented..? Anyway, another thing I know is that I've rarely seen a vB forum use the feature by default. There's a per-user trigger for it, but I'd rather we do either one or the other (per-board), to avoid issues when attempting to read a flattened version of a threaded topic.

Threaded is useful mainly for one thing: makes it VERY easy to split a growing sub-conversation into its own topic. You don't NEED to select posts manually anymore. Which means it encourages mods to do just that.

It's also hard to follow if not done correctly... e.g. the iMDb forums always had a bit of an odd threaded layout. When you go to the next page, you can't see the parent for the first new post. This can be fixed implicitly by using infinite scrolling, which I'll try to implement soonish.

Finally, regarding multi-quote...
A few days ago, I was considering something silly, but also worthy of looking into.
Let's say I'm in a long post, and I want to immediately answer a portion of it... I would quote the post, and remove what's irrelevant. Another solution is what they do at opera.com -- you actually select the portion you want to reply to, and click Quote. It'll copy only that part in the textarea. Nice one. And finally, my idea: you select that portion, and immediately a "reply" or "quote" button comes up NEXT to your mouse cursor, i.e. floating in the page, and you can click it, and then a small textarea opens up RIGHT below the quoted portion, and you can reply to it... Then you can quote another portion of the same message and reply to it, but I don't know if we should "wait" for the page to be left before our sent content is actually posted (together), or if all portions should be sent separately and then automatically merged if they're detected to be from the same message (i.e. a simple post auto-merge...). I just don't know.
Another issue is with touch devices: selecting isn't easy on them. I was thinking something along the lines of just touching the paragraph, and then it would show a Quote button (if not touching something clikable..), which if pressed, would retrieve the entire paragraph. Not pretty, but... (could also be applied to desktop version if nothing is selected by the time mouseUp is triggered.)

Oh, and of course the usual issue of finding new unread posts in a threaded topic... Which can either be done through a flattened view (meh), or just a flattened view of the new posts only, or collapsing all read posts and just showing, in context, the unread ones. (That would make the most sense to me. I don't know if any implementation has ever done that.)

Okay, time for bed... :-/

Arantor

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Re: System visitations: vB 3.8.7
« Reply #9, on February 26th, 2013, 12:04 AM »
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From the contents of your post, I gather you didn't know that vB 3.x did threading.
I knew at some point that vB had had it and that it was subsequently removed - but none of the vB forums I'd ever actually spent any time at ever had it enabled. So I never really know the scope of it or anything.
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However, I didn't know that the feature had been removed in later versions.
Both vB and IPB had it at some time and both have removed it. I am not sure if MyBB still has it or not though.
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Perhaps it was, simply... Badly implemented..?
This has always been my contention, that there isn't a *particularly* good way to implement it. Nesting inside a relational DB is never pretty.
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Anyway, another thing I know is that I've rarely seen a vB forum use the feature by default.
That's even more curious, then. Even though linear view is the default viewing mode, the enforcement of having a parent for each post is certainly default too.
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It's also hard to follow if not done correctly... e.g. the iMDb forums always had a bit of an odd threaded layout. When you go to the next page, you can't see the parent for the first new post. This can be fixed implicitly by using infinite scrolling, which I'll try to implement soonish.
This is what I meant about the issues with respect to pagination, it's not easy to select a decent part of the tree fast without dealing with orphan parent nodes and stuff like that. But endless scrolling solves that for the most part.

There are still other issues around navigation though, not just displaying but also ensuring the entire tree is properly preserved.
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Threaded is useful mainly for one thing: makes it VERY easy to split a growing sub-conversation into its own topic. You don't NEED to select posts manually anymore. Which means it encourages mods to do just that.
I can see that.
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Oh, and of course the usual issue of finding new unread posts in a threaded topic... Which can either be done through a flattened view (meh), or just a flattened view of the new posts only, or collapsing all read posts and just showing, in context, the unread ones. (That would make the most sense to me. I don't know if any implementation has ever done that.)
Again, that's all part of the UI ickiness. There's the deeper problem of actually *tracking* what you've seen anyway.
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A few days ago, I was considering something silly, but also worthy of looking into.
That's not silly. Something along those lines has existed as an SMF mod for some time, though I have no idea whether it is still publicly available or not. And it was reasonably popular too.
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you select that portion, and immediately a "reply" or "quote" button comes up NEXT to your mouse cursor, i.e. floating in the page, and you can click it
This part is the new part, and that's pretty imaginative. If you're doing that, presumably you would ignore formatting too?
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Another issue is with touch devices: selecting isn't easy on them. I was thinking something along the lines of just touching the paragraph, and then it would show a Quote button (if not touching something clikable..), which if pressed, would retrieve the entire paragraph. Not pretty, but... (could also be applied to desktop version if nothing is selected by the time mouseUp is triggered.)
I assume iOS exposes such functionality? (I have no idea what Android does, but I figure iOS is a single target that we can readily hit first where everyone uses basically the same browser)

spoogs

  • Posts: 417
Re: System visitations: vB 3.8.7
« Reply #10, on February 26th, 2013, 02:57 AM »
I certainly do not miss my vB days at all, I'm too much of a simpleton so I completely agree that its a bit overkill. I don't think I ever made it as far as you have as it was just waaaaaaaaaaay to cumbersome for me.

I do like their warning/infraction system however. Though SMF's is sufficient something about how its done in vB does it for me.

Have you checked out the report to moderator feature yet? The other thing I miss from vb is the reports board.

The Social Groups option was also good.
Stick a fork in it SMF

Arantor

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Re: System visitations: vB 3.8.7
« Reply #11, on February 26th, 2013, 03:05 AM »
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so I completely agree that its a bit overkill.
There is so much stuff. Better thinking through of the UI would solve a lot of it, really.
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I do like their warning/infraction system however. Though SMF's is sufficient something about how its done in vB does it for me.
Yeah, that's something I need to explore properly.
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Have you checked out the report to moderator feature yet? The other thing I miss from vb is the reports board.
Isn't the moderation centre effectively that, though? Just not as pretty?
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The Social Groups option was also good.
Been thinking about that, undecided if it's core material or not though.

spoogs

  • Posts: 417
Re: System visitations: vB 3.8.7
« Reply #12, on February 26th, 2013, 03:20 AM »
Social groups shouldn't be core, maybe an officially supported plugin.

Mod Centre - sure I agree its just not as pretty. The mod centre for me has just always felt awkward, and I noticed our moderators were more likely to discuss a report on vB vs with SMF.

Would love to see where u end up on the warnings, I'm not saying copy vB but I'll say I do love how its done ; :eheh:

Arantor

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Re: System visitations: vB 3.8.7
« Reply #13, on February 26th, 2013, 03:27 AM »
OK, so I just tried the moderation centre. It is essentially just to create a board and divert the reports into it. I like the idea in as much as you can set where it lives and so on, plus lets you keep read hierarchy.

On the other hand it would also mean you could get into the situation where it's visible to people it should not be visible to. In neither situation are individual board moderators permitted to access it anyway from what I remember.

Having it as a board solves one problem: prominence. Having it also as a physical board solves other issues - it means people will see it (as good as what we have is, it's still not as prominent as a physical presence in unread or whatever), plus it makes it searchable out of the box, if that makes sense. Makes you wonder about other things, like membergroup requests, where they should end up.

As far as warnings go, I'm envisaging points based rather than percentages, I'm also envisaging it would have preset warnings with preset penalties that can be dished out. It's complicated.
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Social groups shouldn't be core, maybe an officially supported plugin.
I have a story about that, but not for public consumption. I will send you a message, you'll understand where I'm coming from with it.

spoogs

  • Posts: 417
Re: System visitations: vB 3.8.7
« Reply #14, on February 26th, 2013, 04:09 AM »
We had the board such that only moderators could see it, I cant remember if vB handles board moderators different from how SMF does. All moderators however were able to see the reports board and the posts within even for a board they mat not normally see IIRC. What I would suggest is that (if possible) some sort of tag should be what indicates what posts in the board can be seen by whom, eg. if a post from Board A is reported the report is tagged or prefixed with Board A then only those allowed to enter and moderate board A can see the reported posts from said board (if that makes any sense).

If there were a way to simulate a board in the ACP, then that should enforce having moderating permission to see the board. This however does raise the debate we had on SD as to whether the person reporting the post should be able to see the report.

As for membergroup requests, I remember trying to get a plugin for SD as to where a ticket would be created when someone requests to join a group. A board could do as well, as it stands I think just the PM is a bit limited.

I'm a bit tired so some of this may just be babble ATM