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Whither the forum software?

This is great. Let's keep it!
45
78%
Let's pay Eric to make something even better!
12
21%
I want to go back to Netscape!
1
2%
 
Total votes : 58
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Robin Garr

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Reality check: Shall we keep this software?

by Robin Garr » Wed Apr 12, 2006 12:25 pm

From what I'm hearing, it seems that everyone is fond of this software, and by a factor of something like 98.5 to 1.5, prefer it to the Netscape/Prospero platform.

But that begs a deeper question: Is this good enough, and should we stay?

Reason I ask is that I've been communing with Eric S., the proud papa of the old original WLDG forum software that we left to go to Netscape, and Eric might be interested in creating an all-new WLDG for us, a setup that would incorporate the best of the old - lean, mean and pragmatic, restoring the original "fully threaded" message system - with much that we like in the new, clearing up the registration/security challenges and MySQL error problems that eventually pushed us away from the old place; along with some of the bells and whistles that many of us like in 2000s-era forums, like (optional) avatars, rankings and a new look. Another advantage of this move would be that we could much more easily integrate new TNs into the original TN database, and perhaps improve it.

The challenge to this is that Eric is working on his own now and can't commit to a project of this scope without being paid for it, and it's not going to be cheap. Bob Ross has talked about spearheading a fund-raising effort if we decide to go that route. But it's a decision that has to be made, and it really rests on a couple of key questions:

* Is the current PhpBB2 system good enough that we don't need to move on?

* If we do want to move on, can we as a community band together to raise the money necessary to fund it? The result would absolutely break new ground a generation ahead of anything else out there - much as Eric's old WLDG did in the 1990s - but we're probably looking at a significant amount in the low five figures.

* Or should we just go back to Netscape? <ducking>

I'll put this up as a poll, and also make it "sticky" for a while. Please chime in with your vote and your thoughts. This is important.
Last edited by Robin Garr on Tue Apr 18, 2006 1:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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wnissen

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Re: Reality check: Shall we keep this software?

by wnissen » Wed Apr 12, 2006 1:10 pm

Robin,

While "classic WLDG" from this user's perspective was a perfect combination of light weight and power (sort of the katana of discussion boards), and would love to go back, I'm not sure it would be worth it. Creating a bespoke threaded secure bulletin board forum, even by a talented fellow such as Eric, is a big, expensive undertaking. There's a reason that vBulletin has a development team. That's why I voted for "Keep it" despite the unavoidable dumbing down of discourse caused by a flat "thread."

However, if you and Eric could agree on some sort of flat fee, I'd be happy to contribute $50. It's just that research shows the average moderate-sized software project takes over two and a half times as long as scheduled.

Walt
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David M. Bueker

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Re: Reality check: Shall we keep this software?

by David M. Bueker » Wed Apr 12, 2006 1:17 pm

I like this software. Sure it's threading free, but it's also pretty much the same as every other board in terms of layout/method, so at elast we don't have multiple constructs to deal with across cyberspace.

Paying lots of $ to be unique is almost invariably a bad idea.
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Re: Reality check: Shall we keep this software?

by Bill Spencer » Wed Apr 12, 2006 1:43 pm

Robin Garr wrote:* If we do want to move on, can we as a community band together to raise the money necessary to fund it? The result would absolutely break new ground a generation ahead of anything else out there - much as Eric's old WLDG did in the 1990s - but we're probably looking at a significant amount in the low five figures.


%^)

This place is SO much better than Netscape it's not even in the same world ... that being said, the WLDG "board" WAS, IMHO, superior to this ... I STILL can't get away from REALLY missing the "tree-threading" on the ol' "board" ...

I'm good for $50 to $100 to contribute to THAT cause ... if you needed more, I'd have to think harder about it but would in all most liklihood ante up some more ...

My $0.02 ...

Clink !

%^)
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Re: Reality check: Shall we keep this software?

by Mike Filigenzi » Wed Apr 12, 2006 2:21 pm

I voted to keep our current software. I don't like it as much as the old WLDG, but it's darn good on a QPR basis. :wink: And as has been mentioned already, development of a new system is likely to be a long and expensive undertaking.

If the consensus is to get Eric going, then I'll pony up some funds. But my vote is to stay with what we have.


Mike
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Not looking to start anything but ...

by Bill Spencer » Wed Apr 12, 2006 5:50 pm

John D. Zuccarino wrote:I think the forums should be about the content not the software appeal.


%^)

... IMHO, "you can have your cake and eat it, too !" The OLD WLDG "board" proved that ... QUALITY content and participants, HUGE participation, and APPEALING software ...

Clink !

%^)
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Re: Reality check: Shall we keep this software?

by Paul Winalski » Wed Apr 12, 2006 11:18 pm

I guess I never used the "threaded" feature of the old forum, since I don't know what people are talking about when they refer to it.

I'm a professional software engineer, myself, who has in the past implemented a home-grown corporate bulletin board system. I have nothing but praise and admiration for what Eric did with the original WLDG. I can also appreciate the scalability and maintenance problems that eventually did in the old board. Success, alas, comes at a price. :(

I think that, as long as Robin and the other forum janitors are comfortable with the system maintenance interface, from the end user standpoint this software is just fine.

-Paul W.
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Re: Reality check: Shall we keep this software?

by Bob Parsons Alberta » Thu Apr 13, 2006 1:36 am

I got used to Netscape, the way it works. Am not so sure about the layout though. All the advertising and pics of Martha!!
However for someone like me who is not computer literate, this present format/technology is way above my head. People have tried to help me and I thank them. But I have other interests and use other forums, none are as complicated as this one. For sure, probably 90% plus have lots of experience with this type of setup. I am not one of those. Thats why I do not participate as much as I do elsewhere.
What really annoys me whilst I am here is the way people refer to us on another forum. Say no more.
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Re: Reality check: Shall we keep this software?

by Robin Garr » Thu Apr 13, 2006 2:00 am

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:What really annoys me whilst I am here is the way people refer to us on another forum. Say no more.


I have no idea what you mean, Bob, and would appreciate elucidation, privately if you prefer.

I respect your opinion, but I'm absolutely amazed to hear you (or anyone) find this forum more difficult than Netscape. I wonder if lookers-on in general would agree. And I can only offer to keep helping you. I remember when you thought the Netscape forum was insoluble, but you learned, and we're proud of ya, guy! Here, have a beer ...
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Re: Reality check: Shall we keep this software?

by John Tomasso » Thu Apr 13, 2006 8:45 am

This is perfectly fine. Keep it as it is, and save the money.
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Anything but Netscape!

by James Roscoe » Thu Apr 13, 2006 11:40 am

I tried Netscape. I could not stand all the annoying adds and the way it was set up. My prefference would be for a return to the old WLDG, but this is home for now.
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Re: Reality check: Shall we keep this software?

by MarkE » Thu Apr 13, 2006 6:48 pm

Bob Parsons Alberta. wrote:But I have other interests and use other forums, none are as complicated as this one.


I've seen my share of forums; this new BB s/w has pretty much the same functionality as most others out there with almost the same look and feel. What other forums do you find less complicated? I'd like to see them for myself.

This new s/w works for me. Not that I don't appreciate the old WLDG format, but I've gotten used to the non-threaded view for quite some time now. Netscape was OK too except the connections were slower even with broadband access.
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Re: Reality check: Shall we keep this software?

by Redwinger » Thu Apr 13, 2006 9:11 pm

The software is just fine with me...wish I could find more time to participate (and drink wine)
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Re: Reality check: Shall we keep this software?

by Jay Miller » Thu Apr 13, 2006 9:16 pm

I liked the old format a lot, but this is fine (certainly head and shoulders above Netscape!) and it probably not worth going to the effort to switch from. I miss the threading but not enough.
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Re: Reality check: Shall we keep this software?

by Bob Henrick » Thu Apr 13, 2006 9:19 pm

[quote="Robin Garr"]From what I'm hearing, it seems that everyone is fond of this software, and by a factor of something like 98.5 to 1.5, prefer it to the Netscape/Prospero platform.

Robin, I join in with the 98.5% who prefer this forum to the NS/Prospero, however please don't think that we are 100% satisfied. We were spoild with the old software, and while we know that is gone to the great bit bucket in the sky, we still wish it was back. This software is so much easier than NS, but it somehow lacks the attraction that I felt in the old place and I find that my absense from the forum grows more frequent and more prolonged.Sorry, but it is how it is for me. I would be happy to chip in and give Eric his just due if he can do all that is needed to make us like we were and make it as secure as we need it to be.
Last edited by Bob Henrick on Fri Apr 14, 2006 11:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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lets chip in

by Bob Henrick » Thu Apr 13, 2006 10:39 pm

I rarely participate in these polls on the forum, but I really can not believe that we are so cheap that we would not chip in to pay Eric to return us to the old but more secure software. I don't know what he wants dollar wise, but I am sure ready to do my share. is there anyone out there who is also ready?
Last edited by Bob Henrick on Thu Apr 13, 2006 11:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Reality check: Shall we keep this software?

by Randy Buckner » Thu Apr 13, 2006 10:51 pm

I really can not believe that we are so cheap that we would not chip in to pay Eric to return us to the old but more secure software


I know very few wine lovers that I would consider cheap. To the contrary, most are very generous with their time and wines.

It really boils down to personal preferences. I didn't mind the Netscape software. I prefer this software more. The old WLDG software had no advantages except threading, and it certainly had a lot of negatives. It is always easy to look back with nostalgia; it is less easy to face the facts.
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Re: lets chip in

by Robin Garr » Thu Apr 13, 2006 11:00 pm

Bob Henrick wrote:I don't know what he wants dollar wise


Bob, my post at the top of this thread answers that question. We're looking at a five-figure price tag. Eric would deserve it, but it's non-trivial, and we're not going to come up with it by passing the hat for a few bucks here and there.

I loved Eric's software, too. Heck, as the Sorceror's Apprentice, to the limited extent of my skills, I helped build it. But for him to create an all-new version for the 21st century, given that programming is now his day job and he has to be paid appropriately, is not going to take a small investment.

And at that point, we kind of have to be hard-nosed, look at what we have here for free, and ask serious questions.
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A vote for Eric

by Mike Conner » Thu Apr 13, 2006 11:02 pm

Although not a significant poster of recent, I would happily contribute to have a threaded bb. IMO, much, much easier to follow the "conversation" within a thread. This was one major factor that when I had more 'playtime' to be on the various boards, WLDG was my fave, therefore I spent more time there.

To be honest, after the first visit to the Netscape version, I very much lost any interest in playing there.

With this current software, I certainly can follow along, but not having the treaded option means you have to go through all replies to follow the conversation (not that it is a bad thing, or that you wouldn't read all posts anyway, but time is not always a luxury I have). [and there were some limitations to the threaded deal on the former WLDG... when a thread got a LOT of posts, it was sometimes difficult to know what part of the thread belonged to who waaaaaay out to the right ;-) ]

I'll still certainly hang here if the vote is to stick with this software, although I will continue to miss the threaded option.

Thanks,

Mike
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threading and color change of links!!!

by Mike Conner » Thu Apr 13, 2006 11:15 pm

Paul Winalski wrote:I guess I never used the "threaded" feature of the old forum, since I don't know what people are talking about when they refer to it.


Paul,

If you didn't use all three windows of the old software, then yes, you probably didn't use the threaded feature as much as I did (and suspect others did as well).

I really, really prefered the threaded board. If someone posted a tasting note that drew responses, I could see and follow the thread on '80s Bordeaux (for example) and skip the responses about Italian wines (wines that I have not yet found the time to learn about, nor spend any money on). Or, at least leave that portion of the thread to a future moment when I had the time to read through and learn.

It was especially good when threads got into interesting sub-conversations. I could follow the portions of great interest to me with ease, while "ignoring" other parts of less interest to me (kinda a repeat of what I just typed above).

Another aspect that I forgot to mention in my response to the title post in this thread was the COLOR CHANGE that was made possible when you read a post on the old board (thanks to how browsers deal with read and unread links). It told me instantly what part of the thread I had already read, therefore I could skip right out to the parts that were new, saving time.

As far as I can tell with this software, the only thing it tells me is if there are new posts within this thread, not which ones I have already read. Therefore, I have to spend more time looking over posts to remember if I read it or not.

Thanks,

Mike
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Robin Garr

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Re: threading and color change of links!!!

by Robin Garr » Thu Apr 13, 2006 11:29 pm

Mike Conner wrote:As far as I can tell with this software, the only thing it tells me is if there are new posts within this thread, not which ones I have already read. Therefore, I have to spend more time looking over posts to remember if I read it or not.


Mike, it's a little quirky sometimes, but the forum actually does have that functionality. When you open a forum and see the list of posts, you'll notice a tiny yellow folder just to the LEFT of the message title. Click it, and it's supposed to take you to the place in that thread where you left off. (There's also a folder icon to the RIGHT, next to the name of the last poster. Click that one, and it takes you to the last post in the thread.)
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Re: threading and color change of links!!!

by Mike Conner » Fri Apr 14, 2006 12:11 am

Robin Garr wrote:Mike, it's a little quirky sometimes, but the forum actually does have that functionality. When you open a forum and see the list of posts, you'll notice a tiny yellow folder just to the LEFT of the message title. Click it, and it's supposed to take you to the place in that thread where you left off. (There's also a folder icon to the RIGHT, next to the name of the last poster. Click that one, and it takes you to the last post in the thread.)


I'll give that a look-see (left side folder). I thought it was just telling me there were new threads. Didn't know it was clickable... will play some.

Thanks,

Mike
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