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The OTHER Forum

 
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Steve Cole
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Joined: 11 Oct 2006
Posts: 3082

PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2008 9:02 pm    Post subject: The OTHER Forum Reply with quote

We got word from the host that after 9 years, spammers finally found the BBS and posted like 400 messages in 20 minutes, apparently, all of them in the "schedule" topic which is the only part of DISCUS that spiders can find. The host shut the thing down until we can fix the problem.

I think the problem itself has a simple fix, but the host has hated discus (which uses a lot of processor energy) and is pressuring us to change to something else. I have told them that this is not really necessary (they don't agree) and in any case, would take a few days (they want discus permanently shut down as of an hour ago, but may agree to give me a week or two if we can fix the spammer problem).
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ADB Graphics
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Joined: 13 Sep 2008
Posts: 42
Location: Amarillo, Tx

PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2008 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

VBulletin FTW!
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Steve Cole
Site Admin


Joined: 11 Oct 2006
Posts: 3082

PostPosted: Fri Nov 21, 2008 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unfortunately, vBulletin lacks key functionality elements that Discus has.

Discus (by its nature) does something no other BBS software can do.

With one click, it can give you one screen listing every "new" message, a link to that message, and the first 40 characters of that message.

This is key to a BBS as huge as ours. Jean and I spend four times as much time and effort reading 1/20th as much information on this forum as we do on Discus, just because of that one feature. PHP makes us open folders and open topics and hunt around to find out things that Discus already told us on the first screen with one click.

Pity, but vBulletin simply doesn't have the functionality that Discus has, and would cost me and Jean and Petrick an hour or two per day of extra work.
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fathertaylor
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Joined: 09 Nov 2008
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 8:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I might be unclear on what the difference is (it's been a long time since I made real use of a discuss board) but the "view posts since last visit" link on the top right corner of the index page does essentially the same thing. It doesn't show the first 40 characters of the post, but it does show the forum and topic. If you remember to click the little orange icon next to the topic title (not the actual title), it will take you to the newest posts instead of the first one.
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Jean
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Joined: 18 Sep 2008
Posts: 1297

PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Forum is a nice application for our customers, but we use the "legacy BBS" for true product development. There are three times the number of registered users. There are between 100-200 new messages per day in 30-60 different topics.

Here (and we greatly appreciate it!) the posters are fairly polite, rarely use bad language or are risqué, and almost never, ever are rude to each other. On the legacy BBS, SVC, SPP, and I must have a way of quickly scanning messages and enough content to know if there is a heated discussion. For example:

Tom: I have this great idea
Dick: That idea is the stupidest
Harry: No, your ISC BB was the
Tom: My idea stupid? You stupid
Dick: You lying so-and-so

Well, I'd pop in on that topic!

I also pop in on topics where Tom and Dick are alternating posts every hour and I just need to make sure that the discussion isn't heated or heading that way. The only way to monitor that type of conversation is to have a function to let me see not only the new posts since I last looked, but the history over a short period of time, say a day.

SVC needs to be able to see if a topic generates interest. Interest for us may be five key people posting, "Hey, we need this ship!" That isn't enough to trigger a hot topic in the Forum, and we can't easily see who has posted (except for the first and last person) and without reading every post, we cannot get a feeling for the the tone of the topic.

SVC has rightfully earned the reputation of being the most accessible game designer in the business. That accessibility and the ability to have the time to continue to design games is due in part to having the discus BBS. It takes SVC and me far longer to scan this Forum with a quarter of the messages than it does for us to scan the BBS. I don't want to see SVC lose touch with his customers; I also don't want him to not have time to give us more ships to blow up!
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Steve Cole
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Joined: 11 Oct 2006
Posts: 3082

PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 7:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So far, this forum (and the supposedly more powerful vBusiness one) do not do what Discus does. They don't do almost that, they don't do pretty much the same thing.

The best I can find from PHP of vBusiness is "These topics have at least one new message".

Discus gives me that, and gives me the NUMBER of new messages, and the NAMES of those posting them, and the first few words of each post. That is 1,000 times the information.

With Discus, I can ignore a topic entirely unless I see it getting active or ornery. Also, players have learned to put "SVC" as the first characters of their post as a means of attracting my attention. Even a topic I'm following can be ignored if the first words of the only post are "Lemme think about that" or if the only two posts are "Does anybody know" and "Go here". PHP and vB do not provide that kind of information. With PHP/vB I have to go into every topic, which is time-wasting. Eric says he is sure somebody somewhere can program vBusiness to do this. So far, the only response from a supposed vBusiness expert programmer, is "You don't need to see how many messages there are, who posted them, or the first few words of each one. What vB gives you is enough." NO, it is NOT enough.

While I can get to the oldest unread message or the newest message or the oldest message in vB, I can get directly and immediately to ANY new message in Discus. That saves a lot of time and distraction.

Knowing (in discus) that a topic I was ignoring suddenly has 73 messages means I need to go there. I'd never know that in vB or PHP without opening EVERY topic with"at least one new message" EVERY time I go to the BBS.

I am sick and tired of people telling me "Discus is old! Why don't you get something new!" when the obvious answer is "Nothing new can do what Discus will do."

Now, I do have to apologize to PHP because until yesterday I thought it wouldn't give me what it will. I just never noticed one link (which in the colors it shows on my screen is very hard to see if you don't know to look for it). Yes, PHP will give me a list of "topics with at least one new message" which is better that opening each and every folder. but it is still about 10% as functional as Discus is.
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fathertaylor
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Joined: 09 Nov 2008
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Sun Nov 23, 2008 11:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ok I think I have a better idea what you want.

If you have someone who can edit your php files on your server, then you can have something more along the lines you want. It still won't show you the total new posts in the topics, but at least you will see the individual posts.

In PHPBB ver 2 (based on your copywrite below I'm assuming you guys are on 2) you need to edit you search.php file in the main forum folder. They need to search for the word "newposts". Once they find the section with the newposts word (around line 180) they will see an if statement that has the following:

if ( $search_id == 'newposts' )
{
if ( $userdata['session_logged_in'] )
{
$sql = "SELECT post_id FROM " . POSTS_TABLE . " WHERE post_time >= " . $userdata['user_lastvisit'];
}
else
{
redirect(append_sid("login.$phpEx?redirect=search.$phpEx&search_id=newposts", true));
}

$show_results = 'topics';
$sort_by = 0;
$sort_dir = 'DESC';
}

If they change the $showresults='topics' to be $showresults='posts' then the link will switch from showing topics to showing the actual posts. It shows 200 characters by default, so if you want a smaller amount, then they will need to add the following just before the $showresults line:

$return_chars=40; (or whatever amount you want)

You can also change the sort options by changing the number from 0 to another number. I can't remember what each one is, but I think 2 is to sort by topic. The $sort_dir option just choses between ASCending and DESCending ordering. Usefull to change if you are sorting by topic, but if you are going by time (the 0 setting) it is better to leave it as desc.

Hope that helps you guys.
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fathertaylor
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Joined: 09 Nov 2008
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 12:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A couple things I forgot to mention.

If you want to go directly to a post, you will need to click the subject link in the post. Any other links just take you to the topics or forum.

The change will also show the posters name and the toal posts in a topic, so I guess if you know a topic was quiet and then has 50 posts you will get some info from that as well.
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Archduke Russell John I
Lieutenant JG


Joined: 03 Nov 2006
Posts: 70
Location: Langhorne, Pa

PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Father Taylor,

If they make these changes, does it change the layout for everybody or just those making the changes. I ask because I love discus and hate phpBB because of the inability to see what posts say.
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Steve Cole
Site Admin


Joined: 11 Oct 2006
Posts: 3082

PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Could you send that to Eric (graphics@starfleetgames.com) and warn him not to MAKE any changes without talking to me.
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phdillman
Lieutenant SG


Joined: 09 Jun 2008
Posts: 143

PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 5:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

SVC: Just a sugesstion, but mayby you can post a screen shot of Discus's Results of Search page to give the neophytes an idea.

(p.s. I just did one but I'll wait to post it only if you say so.)
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Last edited by phdillman on Mon Nov 24, 2008 6:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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fathertaylor
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Joined: 09 Nov 2008
Posts: 14

PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2008 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes it does change the link for everyone. It's a very easy change to make, so if it isn't what you want it can be changed back easily.

I will add that people who use PHPBB regularly will find the change less than satisfactory. When I made the change on my wife's forum most of the people were against it. I had to add two more links to give everyone the option to have the original topics layout, the posts layout by date and the posts layout by topic. To make those changes required about 20 changes across 4 or 5 files, so I just gave you the easy version of the change.

I'll also send a small change to strip out the whitespace and quoted messages from the start of the posts when displaying the search results. It helps to make sure you see the actual message someone typed and not a repeat of someone elses message. The change affects all searches that return a limited number of characters, but I actually find it to be better than the default PHPBB setup.

edit - If you want the multiple links version of this change, I can give you guys that as well, It's not hard, but will require a few days for me to find all the changes and write them out.
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Steve Cole
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Posts: 3082

PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve Cole will be out of town with limited internet access from 2-7 September (at the convention in Denver), and back in his office on 8 September. If you send email to him after 7am Texas Time on the morning of 2 September, he probably won't get it before 8 September. If you need to contact him, or need something from ADB Inc., contact Steve Petrick at Rules@StarFleetGames.com (or by phone at 806-351-1950) for assistance as he will be able to contact Steve Cole.
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