Suggestions on forum improvements

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Suggestions on forum improvements

Postby scottro » 2008/06/29 03:27:22

As there has been talk about updating the forum software, I thought I'd start this thread about things we'd like to see improved.

I think that we should all keep in mind that migrating forums is usually highly non-trivial and as I said in another thread somewhere, despite the lacks in this forum's software, the quality of the answers one receives compensates for it. In other words, let's not get into, These forums are awful and I don't see why they can't do.....

Rather, let's take the attitude of, if they (all the volunteers--let's not forget that part of it, that they're all volunteers) are able to migrate the forums to different software, it would be nice if it were possible to.....

So, the things I'd like to see.

Major:
Some sort of Remember Me checkbox or button that works across multiple computers. As it stands, if I log in from my FreeBSD box, clicking the View Unread selection shows me everything that's been unread since the last time I viewed the forums on that machine. If, the next day, I log in from my CentOS machine, all the posts that I viewed at my last log (from the FreeBSD machine) are still marked as unread. It seems that at present, the software works on a machine by machine basis, rather than a user basis.

Most forums, although you will have to check the remember me on each machine (and even on different browsers, e.g., firefox and opera, on the same machine if you always want automatic login), will remember you. Even if you don't check the Remember Me checkbox on machine number 2, the next time you log in from machine number 2, it does remember what posts you viewed on machine number 1.

As has been mentioned in other places on these forums, even if you check off the option to keep cookies for a year, it only seems to last around 24 hours and possibly less.

Minor:
A View First Unread

Convenient for longer threads that you keep revisiting.

One of those Thanks icons, so that one can thank someone for a post.

That one is really trivial--I just think it's nice to be able to thank someone when they've helped you. In addition, it does give an indication of how helpful the person's posts are. Though that sounds somewhat high handed, someone might think someone's posts have values merely because of high post count, when in fact, the person's post count is high because they're too lazy to google and just ask a lot of questions. :)

Ability to see subscribed threads from the login page.

Even more trivial than the last, since one can get to that menu with a few clicks. However, it's a nice convenience, once you've logged in, to be able to, with a single click, see the threads with which you're involved.
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Re: Suggestions on forum improvements

Postby toracat » 2008/06/29 04:31:16

Thank you, Scott, for starting this thread by making quite useful suggestions. I also want to encourage all forum users to share their experience and provide feature requests and ideas. After all, this is our forums and we want to make if easier to use.

As for me, having to log in every time I change machines (between work and home) has been really annoying. Because I check the forums almost every day, I am doing the login over 700 times a year! So, I agree with Scott and hope we can have software that does not have this issue. In fact, this is not a problem with the CentOS Wiki and bug tracker sites.

Let's get this thread rolling!
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Re: Suggestions on forum improvements

Postby NedSlider » 2008/06/29 11:32:28

scottro wrote:

Minor:
A View First Unread

Convenient for longer threads that you keep revisiting.



Personally, I would rate this as a major feature that's needed and luckily one that is supported as standard by most of the available forum software packages. It saves a huge amount of time and should significantly improve the efficiency with which community members can read and respond to posts, particularly when most of us only have a limited amount of time which we can dedicate to helping others on the forums. Thus, the more threads we can get through in a given period of time, the better.
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Re: Suggestions on forum improvements

Postby vonskippy » 2008/06/29 20:20:04

I actually logged in so I could post (which is rare for me - I find the current forum app way to clunky to participate much).

This is the only forum I visit that can't remember who I am and forces me to log in again (and again and again and again.....).

This is the only forum I visit that doesn't return me to the thread I was reading when I click on the "log in" button.

This is the only Public APP I know of that doesn't let me change my contact email address.

And lots of minor things that ANY modern forum app (like PHPBB3 or MYBB or SMF) have conditioned users into expecting.

The advice/answers on this forum are top notch (as is CentOS), unfortunately, the current forum app is not.
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Re: Suggestions on forum improvements

Postby AlanBartlett » 2008/06/30 11:32:15

This is the only Public APP I know of that doesn't let me change my contact email address.

Irritating, as I discovered. Practically, if you still have the need to change your contact email address, just let the moderators know. toracat or Ned can do this for you.
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Re: Suggestions on forum improvements

Postby scottro » 2008/07/06 07:18:22

Another thing I would like to be able to do is be able to, from anywhere in the forum, have one of those typical Quick Links for viewing subscribed threads and marking forums read.
For example, on most forums, when I've viewed the last thing I'm going to look at, while still on that thread, I can hit the home key and be at the top of the page. Then, there will be a quick links, and I can click Mark All Forums Read.

With these forums, I have to get back to the index page to do that.
There's also usually a view subscribed threads in the Quick Links. In fairness, even as I type this, I can go to the user profile and do it that way. However, instead of showing thread one and thread two, it will show all messages of mine in a thread.

Also, going back to the login thing, half the time, if I go in and I've been there that day on the same machine and browser, I still have to click login---which doesn't take me to the login, it just takes me to viewing my account--before being able to post.
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Re: Suggestions on forum improvements

Postby toracat » 2008/07/07 17:06:37

The French centos site is using punBB for the Forums.

http://fr.centos.org/forums/

CentOS devs are hoping to have the same software across all foo.centos.org sites for easier management. Could people take a look at the fr forums and tell us what you think? Actually, fluxBB may be the one that would replace punBB:

http://www.fluxbb.org/

So, have a look at this site as well.

[EDIT] Corrected. Was flexBB (wrong) before, now fluxBB.org
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Re: Suggestions on forum improvements

Postby NedSlider » 2008/07/10 19:05:19

Hi all,

I've been tasked with collating the information from this thread and feeding it back to the developers. So now is your chance to be heard and say what features you want.

A summary of issues raised so far:

Major
* Persistent logins
* Remember read/unread posts across multiple PCs/logins (per user, not per machine)
* The remember me, keep cookie for 1 year option looks broken (relates to the above)
* View first unread post within thread feature
* Ability for users to change registered email address.


Minor
* Thank User button/feature
* Better management of subscribed threads
* Quick links feature

Please tell me if I've missed any points raised so far.

In fairness, I think most of these points are features that are present in most of the major forum software packages and are features users have come to expect, so I'm hopeful they would all be covered by switching to any of the forum software packages currently under consideration.
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Re: Suggestions on forum improvements

Postby llaumgui » 2008/07/10 20:28:39

The official PunBB fork is FluxBB (http://fluxbb.org/) not FlexBB ;-).
FluxBB dev team is composed of 90% of the PunBB's dev team

FluxBB 1.3 will support hook system (plugin and not code hack).

Migration Xoops -> PunBB -> FluxBB is possible. For Fedora-fr.org, I have developped a migration script.

I have also developped a FluxBB plugin for eZ Publish (http://ez.no), a Open Source and very powerfull CMS : http://trac.llaumgui.com/wiki/eZFluxBB
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Re: Suggestions on forum improvements

Postby scottro » 2008/07/11 03:49:42

Ned, I think you've hit most of the major points--it might be worth making the Quick Links a major rather than a minor--again, as you say, it's probably a standard feature by now.

As always thanks to Ned and toracat for all their efforts for the CentOS users.
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