Future of the forum

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Jedi Master Spock
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Future of the forum

Post by Jedi Master Spock » Sat Jan 20, 2018 5:47 pm

So, as I have said a couple of times here and there, there are a couple of ways things can go in the future.

This episode has underlined a few things:
  • First, if whoever is running things behind the scenes isn't around much, small problems will become big problems. This was true of the issues related to spambots (which made it much harder for new users to start participating in the community and sucked up a lot of moderator-time) and also of the damage caused by the botched server transfer by my host.
  • Second, if I am going to continue running things, I should change hosts, because my current host has screwed up in the same way twice now, and will probably screw up more in the future.
  • Third, I haven't been around much, and we shouldn't be counting on me being around much in the future.
So, this does mean a few things. Namely, if this forum is to continue active operations:
  • It needs to move to a different host sooner or later.
  • Someone else should take over my role in terms of being in charge of the back end of the place.
It may be that it's time for us to close up shop, as well.

2046 is willing to take over hosting an archived version of this forum, preserving the very extensive record of debate and discussion we have had here on SFJ; he could then launch an alternate venue for discussion (namely, a sub on Reddit that would get around the problem of the time investment required to run a platform in the long term).

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2046
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Re: Future of the forum

Post by 2046 » Sat Jan 20, 2018 7:27 pm

Whoops, posted the linked message in the other topic before I saw this, but it covers the same ground:

http://www.starfleetjedi.net/forum/view ... 664#p95765

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Re: Future of the forum

Post by 2046 » Mon Jan 22, 2018 10:59 am

Also note that Reddit may not be the final answer. (I myself haven't been doing Reddit in awhile.)

There are advantages and drawbacks. The main thing to recognize is that there would be *differences*. A forum like this has things distributed like an outline, with major headings and more specific subforums. I basically never go to the fanfic area, for instance. Reddit doesn't have that by design . . . short of some trickery using multiple Reddit subs, it'd all be in one place, distinguishable only by tags, a la:

{Review} Some Thing
{Vs. Debate} This vs. That
{Fanfic} Title or Something

And while a forum like this just has a linear chronology of posts, by normal design and use, Reddit defaults to a threaded system where posts are ranked by upvotes, not chronology. Here are some conversations about Reddit versus a forum, for instance, with one being done on a forum and one on Reddit:

https://www.mountainproject.com/forum/t ... -the-forum
https://www.reddit.com/r/TheoryOfReddit ... vs_forums/
With the threading, an advantage is that if two users want to spar, the thread isn't necessarily derailed as a result. Readers can simply close off that section and continue the discussion separately.

A disadvantage is that a slow-build thread like the epic warp thread isn't necessarily as workable, as Reddit automatically archives older conversations. It is geared toward new conversations over sustained ones. This is evident in the Daystrom Institute subreddit, which has lots of interesting posts about Trek tech but it's often the same convos over and over.

Then again, that's not uncommon on forums, either, especially under the no-necro mod rules some have.

That reminds me, though, that Reddit has another possible advantage in that there are subreddits for everything, which a single user account would allow access to. So, not only would you be able to access the new one, but you'd also be able to subscribe to others. This could also be useful insofar as bringing in new members.

Anyway, just some thoughts. Alternatives exist.

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Re: Future of the forum

Post by Darth Spock » Fri Jan 26, 2018 6:32 am

Wow, I'd really hate to see this place go. Even as a relatively new and inactive member I'm quite fond of these forums. I'm afraid I don't have any practical knowledge about web hosting or forum operations, but if there is any grunt work you could use any extra manpower for, I volunteer my help to take some of the busy work off more knowledgeable folks to handle more important tasks while these things get sorted out.

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Re: Future of the forum

Post by 2046 » Sun Jan 28, 2018 4:15 pm

Even if the Reddit maneuver occurred, it wouldn't be going away, just changing venue.

And actually, another alternative would be to simply have a mirror of the forum at ST-v-SW, updated from time to time and locked down (if possible). In the event JMS fell into a cellular entertainment machine or something, it could be opened.

A minor problem I see with Reddit is that inline pictures don't seem to be possible except as links.

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Re: Future of the forum

Post by Jedi Master Spock » Wed Apr 04, 2018 9:11 pm

Okay, so I would like to add a couple of things in. 2046, I think freezing an off-site copy of the forums over at your place at some point is a good idea, as well as sending you the post database in a usable form; we just have to decide, logistically, how to send you a really big file.

I'd also like to point out that regarding me basically not being around, and me having handed full admin powers to Mike and Trinoya, they can also run backups (and probably should stick a backup on a drive somewhere, in case I get hit by a truck or something - so go to the maintenance tab, click "backup," it'll give options to download a file; be prepared for "huge"). There's some data in those tables that should probably stay private (like hidden user e-mail addresses, password hashes, and the like) so having hands on this data is something of a position of trust.

Also due to the size, it doesn't always successfully copy everything. Routine for successful back-up is to back up the post table by itself, search tables by themselves (if at all - search indices are easy to rebuild but take up a lot of space), and then everything else can fit together in one file. The admin log will tell you when a backup was last run.

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Re: Future of the forum

Post by Trinoya » Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:53 pm

I'll try and download a back up of the forum over the weekend just for emergencies sake.

I was looking into, recently, obtaining a server myself, and I do have a web-domain I've not been using in forever so it isn't entirely impossible that I may be able to host the site at a future point, but I wouldn't reliably say that for sure, but I am pretty sure that I can absolutely keep a back up on a drive if I go pick up another external from best buy and write "SFJ back up" on it.

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Re: Future of the forum

Post by Jedi Master Spock » Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:49 pm

Trinoya wrote:
Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:53 pm
I'll try and download a back up of the forum over the weekend just for emergencies sake.

I was looking into, recently, obtaining a server myself, and I do have a web-domain I've not been using in forever so it isn't entirely impossible that I may be able to host the site at a future point, but I wouldn't reliably say that for sure, but I am pretty sure that I can absolutely keep a back up on a drive if I go pick up another external from best buy and write "SFJ back up" on it.
The database is big in terms of "my hosting is crappy and cuts large files off," but not big in terms of storage space (a couple hundred MB). That's a measure of how bad the host was in the transfer process (and why I really shouldn't rely on them any longer) - I'm nowhere near my space limit, even with multiple old backups stored in my space. They just happened to back up databases using a database tool that craps out, as opposed to actually doing a full file backup of wherever the databases were stored or doing full disk image backups.

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Re: Future of the forum

Post by Trinoya » Sat Apr 07, 2018 1:50 am

Ah, I see.

So I'll get a thumb drive and write SFJBack up with my sharpie instead. ^_^

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Re: Future of the forum

Post by 2046 » Sun Apr 08, 2018 3:51 pm

I'll send you many old 512MB-4GB thumb drives so you can go full data-squirrel on that.

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