We will be updating our software platform mid-December

Talon

Member
2014-08-01 11:54 pm
I just received the alert today about the "upgrade", so my apologies for the late contribution.

XenForo seems to be taking over discussion forums across the internet, and unfortunately it seems to go hand-in-hand with the site getting sold. There are two companies competing with each other to buy up every site out there, so I hope that doesn't happen here.


The New Age sites, which act more like stand alone applications, rather than rich text with graphics, are far less intuitive than their predecessors.

My impression has been consistently that a gigantic effort is being made to make the Internet accessible to the masses by presenting it the way their mind works. However, in the process, those who are logically capable, are finding it more difficult to use what they have been using since its beginning.

For instance, why have logically hierachical menu systems been replaced by users' frequency of use? Why has text been replaced by glyphs in buttons and menus? What is wrong with using the English Language?

One of the reasons that vBulletin has lasted so long has been the intuitive nature it uses in its presentation. As Ed mentioned here, XenForo will present a site as "here's the most recent/popular" things today, instead of how we're used to things, which is "here's the site broken down by categories/sub-categories", which I'm pretty sure is the way most people here would like to see it, forever. Even though we're from a lot of different levels of knowledge and experience, we're all people of a technical mindset, so if this place turns out the way a lot of XF conversions go, there's going to be much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

The most monstrous of all the changes are in the look-and-feel category, namely tons of whitespace added to make the site look like its being viewed on an app. I've seen some sites where there is so much white space that each page view is like staring at a fluorescent lamp. It also makes it difficult to follow along with discussions because there's less thread info on each page, to make room for more whitespace.

One of the things I've seen in some XenForo installations is a missing "search in thread" function. This is one of the most useful search functions, but is apparently not installed by default in XenForo. Specifics are described in this XenForo thread. For instance, AVS does not properly provide this functionality, but ASR does. It would be really good to have it, as the current vBulletin software does a very good job providing this functionality.

Agreed. In fact I could never figure out why vBulletin offers Google search, when the built-in search works so well (if the proper software flags are set).

We are still using good old software.
The new one will smack you in the face, and in the brain.
It will take more clicks to do the same task. I hope not

The current software is not ‘good’ in terms of feature support, updates and :)security sadly. It was abandoned many years ago.

I’m not sure if you’ve used the developers’ replacement XenForo, but nothing takes more work in my experience. Quite the opposite, in fact. It loads faster, works far better on mobile devices, handles copy & paste of images directly into the text box, supports live preview of formatting, handles notifications for subscribed or updated threads way better - quicker to see and read those, from a single drop-down menu.

I’d rather it was done yesterday, especially when using my phone to browse, to be honest :)

Xenforo, out of the box, is one of the worst things I've seen for forums. If its configured the right way it can have a lot of the look feel of a proper vBulletin site, and I hope it goes that way. I get a lot more done, and faster, when using vBulletin.


Maybe a like function on posts. Have seen this on other tech forums.

NO.

On vBulletin, likes are not a problem. Its a way of publicly thanking people for their help.
Have you ever seen the 'like' system on Xenforo? Its really part of a badging system, and it appears to have been designed by members of a public school board. Badges are given for threads browsed, numbers of posts, numbers of likes, days passed since registration, and a long list of other things even more vacuous. I'm a member of one site that pushes every one of those options, because it "helps develop the community". After the first two dozen alerts I finally trudged through all the settings and found out how to turn all the notifications and badge displays off.
Maybe its possible to tone the system down so we can truly have a "thanks" button and thats ALL, but if not, then your research here and your postings are going to turn into a participation trophy awarded almost daily. Its infantile.
 

gerardv

Administrator
Paid Member
2012-10-29 1:04 am
We have been on vBulletin for 22 years. Our current stack is end-of-life and owing to the existence of custom code we needed to reimplement it. With a view to the next 20 years we have gone with Xenforo. It has the more active development teams and has a decent mobile offering (we have lots of users on mobile).

The forum is offered to people for free. As a result we cannot pay a big dev team to simply re-implement everything the way that people say they want it - we have to use packages off the shelf wherever possible. Xenforo will be a change, and I sure many people will complain about it, that's just what people are like, more so when they are getting something for free.
 
To add to post #41.

Below is an example of a BBS that I have to post on for work.

Ford Mustang Forums

It uses the XenForo software. It is barely tolerable, only after I was able to get the moderators to make changes to my account.

Massive amounts of wasted white space and fake graphic elements which serve no purpose at all. Horrible search, which is basically nonfunctional.

When the above site went from vBulletin to ZenForo, the number of posts dropped like a rock.
 
I can't agree with post #15 more so.

New is not necessarily better. That should be the overriding thought in the minds of everyone involved in this change.

Anything that is popularity based, should be removed from the forum. If one cares about clicking on a Like button, there can go to a Facedork group. This BBS is about information, not popularity.

Given that, having good (meaning useful) search options is critical. Search should be limited to this BBS. If someone wants to go search Google, they can leave the site.

The three most important pieces of information that should be visible at the top of each post are: The user name, the post date and the post number. This information must be in the largest, boldest font. Too many forums, have the post date and join date of the user in the same font and size. No one cares when the user joined the forum and if one needs to know that, they can go to the users public profile.

100% of the text in BBS needs to be selectable with a mouse. Many forums have too much Javascript junk, where one can't select text with a mouse.

Don't break the BBS so that it works poorly for people with computers, so that people using barely functional computers (phones) have an easier time.


Very well said, couldn't agree more. This is a special interest site frequented pretty much by "technical" people, I'm sure we can do away with a lot of the fluff. The current look and feel of the site is simple and functional. Why not try keeping close to this, while upgrading the under-the-hood functionality and mechanics?
 

gerardv

Administrator
Paid Member
2012-10-29 1:04 am
The current look and feel of the site is simple and functional. Why not try keeping close to this, while upgrading the under-the-hood functionality and mechanics?
As noted we are a free site and cannot pay a large dev to do all this. We have gone some way towards your comment with the creation of a classic theme that's a bit similar to this old theme, but the new software works differently. Like all new software does. I'm sure our technically adept members will adapt quickly enough.
 

gerardv

Administrator
Paid Member
2012-10-29 1:04 am
We won't parallel run, if the cutover goes completely pear shaped we'll simply abort and stay on the current platform, but that is unlikely (he says, thinking "these are famous last words"). There will be a period of time (about a day) where we will be offline.
 

Brinkman

Member
Paid Member
2007-08-17 5:48 pm
Oakland, CA
I’m not at all bothered by a “like” feature. To my mind, it serves two good purposes:

1) it keeps threads decluttered. Using the quote function to simply give a thumbs up or “I agree” or “good point” or “this is correct” is a waste of posting.

2) it helps lurkers and people new to the forum who need direction and are not experienced enough to discern the bad advice from the best practices.
 
Seriously - there's so few comments on this thread I wonder if anyone has noticed? I'm thinking this relative silence will be contrasted by the level of comments after we switch over perhaps ?

Well, I wouldn't have ever known about it till it was done if you hadn't PM'd me............BTW YGM

Frankly, take away the Loudspeakers section and I doubt I'd ever visit/use DIYaudio again as I'm just a 'one trick pony' 'talking head'.

Maybe need some form of alert that pops up whenever folks sign in or visit in the hopes of more contribution.

Curious though how much it would cost up front, annual maintenance, to have a modern version of what we currently have.

TIA
 

euro21

Member
Paid Member
2004-09-17 12:16 pm
Budapest
To add to post #41.

Below is an example of a BBS that I have to post on for work.

Ford Mustang Forums

It uses the XenForo software.

I will be very unhappy if it looks like this ... or ASR, and works the same way. :-(

This forum stood out from the rest with its simplicity and usability, it would be a shame to give it up.

I agree that new (and more beautiful /?/ looking) is not always better ... even if I run a software development company.
 
I’m not at all bothered by a “like” feature. To my mind, it serves two good purposes:

...

2) it helps lurkers and people new to the forum who need direction and are not experienced enough to discern the bad advice from the best practices.

Ouch! This is probably the worst misconception of a "like" button thingy. Think again! Why do some people or posts get many "likes" on social media? "Good advice" is surely not one of the main drivers to attract many "likes"...
 

Talon

Member
2014-08-01 11:54 pm
I’m not at all bothered by a “like” feature. To my mind, it serves two good purposes:

1) it keeps threads decluttered. Using the quote function to simply give a thumbs up or “I agree” or “good point” or “this is correct” is a waste of posting.

2) it helps lurkers and people new to the forum who need direction and are not experienced enough to discern the bad advice from the best practices.

You're right. "Plus one" posts were neat back in 2001, but twenty years later they're aggravating, almost as bad as "IBTL".

I'd prefer a "thanks" button. To me, that means a poster gave a direct and substantially correct answer to an OPs question. "Like" is a bit of a different story.

Look, I'm not saying this will happen here, or that its a rule, but its a pretty well-known thing among behaviorists (both armchair and academic) that "likes" can condition people to seek validation through that tag. It also gives people who want to marginalize someone's viewpoint a mechanism to do so, whether it works or not is another debate. Instead of substance we could end up with a lot of threads descending into arguments and moral high ground battles. And I have seen that on many forums. The mods will have more work then, as they will have to spend more time warning people to "take it to the lounge", towing threads, or locking them. Some of the biggest enthusiast forums in the world have experimented with "like" and thrown it away.

The most extreme version of "like" is the XenForo badge system. If its fully implemented here, its going to fundamentally change this place. That system can be modified, it can be switched off entirely. If we can get a simple "thanks" badge applied to posts, that might be ok, otherwise just disable the thing.

Caveat: the badge should be applied to the posts, not the persons who post, otherwise we end up with a social credit score system.
 

Talon

Member
2014-08-01 11:54 pm
To add to post #41.

Below is an example of a BBS that I have to post on for work.

Ford Mustang Forums

It uses the XenForo software. It is barely tolerable, only after I was able to get the moderators to make changes to my account.

Massive amounts of wasted white space and fake graphic elements which serve no purpose at all. Horrible search, which is basically nonfunctional.

When the above site went from vBulletin to ZenForo, the number of posts dropped like a rock.

I saw the same thing happen at multiple auto forums. That one is a VerticalScope forum, which is the company competing with InternetBrands to dominate enthusiast forums. Those two have been snapping up everything. Fortunately they don't seem to have noticed our niche yet, but that day will come soon.

InternetBrands bought up the holding company that owns vBulletin, so despite my loyalty to that forum software, eventually we should all leave it for something better when that comes along. Is it XenForo? Maybe, if the right "switches" are set. Maybe something else will come along.
 

Talon

Member
2014-08-01 11:54 pm
We have been on vBulletin for 22 years. Our current stack is end-of-life and owing to the existence of custom code we needed to reimplement it. With a view to the next 20 years we have gone with Xenforo. It has the more active development teams and has a decent mobile offering (we have lots of users on mobile).

The forum is offered to people for free. As a result we cannot pay a big dev team to simply re-implement everything the way that people say they want it - we have to use packages off the shelf wherever possible. Xenforo will be a change, and I sure many people will complain about it, that's just what people are like, more so when they are getting something for free.

Thanks for the response Gerard. I wasn't suggesting that you re-write the code, but from what mods at other forums have said there are a lot of "switches" that can be set in XenForo that can enable/disable the various options that people have discussed here. I know that post editing can be turned off/on, for instance. So I'd say just canvas the folks here and find out what they feel is important, and then see if you have the thing set up close enough.

And for heaven's sake, turn off the badge system, please.