Test out a potential new home for MGSA!

edited in General
Hi everyone,

There's a new copy of this forum. You can reach it at http://104.131.121.2. (It technically doesn't have a domain registered, because if we go with it I imagine we'd be redirecting our current domain, but in case you want something easier to remember, I'm redirecting there via http://forum.techartjon.com.)

It is a test forum. We don't have to switch. If you don't like it, please let us know. If you like it, please let us know. If you don't really care either way, still please let us know. While I'm pushing to get us to have various upgrades around here, I want to involve as many of you as possible in where we take our community. I'd like you to post there and explore the new forum's features as much as you can, be aware that if we do choose to go with this, you may (probably will) end up losing anything you post there.

Your current username and password should just work.

Noteworthy features
  • Wiki posts. A post can be marked as a "wiki" post, allowing any normal forum member to edit the post! In this way, we as a community can curate our Resources.
  • Editing posts has history. We can see post history, and roll back changes.
  • Better profile management. Clicking someone's name lets you see a whole bunch of information if they've entered it, e.g. real name, studio, shipped titles, link to project/prototype/art thread, etc.
  • Embed lots of media. Just post a link to something on its own line, and Discourse will embed it in your post. This can be loads of different stuff, from Youtube videos, to gifs, to tweets, to products on the Steam and Google Play, to comments on Github.
  • Manage the forum yourself. There's a "trust" system that Discourse uses. Based on how much you've used the forum (e.g. you've spent some time reading posts, or received hearts, or replied to other peoples' threads), you gain more and more privileges. People who're regulars would be able do extra things eventually, like rename or recategorize topics, or immediately hide spam posts, or create wiki posts, and other moderator-like things.
There are lots of other neat things (mainly just sheer UX improvements, things I didn't know I wanted until I saw them implemented there), but those are the ones that I think are most directly relevant to MGSA. I'm quite new to Discourse myself, having only used it as a user (rather than as a moderator or administrator). If you discover rad new features, do point them out! :)

Many thanks to @roguecode for helping out with testing the forum's features and getting emails working, and @LexAquillia for getting me the data to import.

edit: Known issues:
  • If your password doesn't work, please try resetting it.
  • The number of hearts a post has didn't make the migrate, but it's something we can work on fixing.
  • We'd ideally want the new forum's URLs to match the old forum's URLs to preserve search engine links.

Comments

  • Mmmh, there appears to be an issue with my account. I can't log in. Thinking maybe my account just wasn't transferred to the new forums, I thought I would make a new account but it said my username was taken so I assume I'm there.
  • edited
    Can we report bugs here?

    1) I can't sign in and I'm 500% sure I'm using the correct password
    2) I posted a thread a few days ago and another a few hours before that. I can see the earlier thread but I can't find the later one on the new website. Strange that it would be one not the other, no? later one has no comments, perhaps it's that, It's the only thing that is different about it that I can see)

    [edit: and big thanks for setting it all up for testing! <3 ]
  • edited
    @IceCliff @raxter would you mind attempting a password reset/forgot password on the new site? I think I know the problem, but not totally sure how we'd totally get around it.

    Unfortunately the old and new forums hash passwords differently, and there is no realistic way we'll be able to get around that.
    Basically, to try out the new forum you'll need to click sign in then hit "forgot my password".
    Sorry about this!
    And just to be clear, if we were to go through with the migration, all users would need to do this.

    (@Elyaradine, maybe add this to the OP)
    Thanked by 2Elyaradine raxter
  • A bit overwhelming compared to what I'm used to on MGSA, but already kinda used to it. Not really seeing the wiki things, which is what I'd primarily want to check out.
  • edited
    Karuji said:
    A bit overwhelming compared to what I'm used to on MGSA, but already kinda used to it..
    I agree with this, and it is something that we totally need to work on. Besides general styling, I think we should consider:
    - Share button - it'll rarely be used.
    - Invite button - just mention someone
    - Suggested Topics at the bottom of posts - I'm not really convinced it works well in the context of this small forum.
  • @raxter: Yeah, unfortunately there was about a 30 hour window I didn't get the posts for. The data I moved across was from the evening of the 8th.
    Thanked by 1raxter
  • roguecode said:

    - Share button - it'll rarely be used.
    - Invite button - just mention someone
    - Suggested Topics at the bottom of posts - I'm not really convinced it works well in the context of this small forum.
    I actually really like all 3 of those. Sharing is great for external promotion, Invite is nicer than having to remember the exact spelling of member names, and Topics is something I can see as helping to point people to similar discussions, especially when the next person asks about how to register to receive payments from Steam :P
    Thanked by 1mattbenic
  • Wonderful stuff, thanks for doing this @Elyaradine.
  • edited
    Sorry if the test site was down intermittently in the past 2 hours or so. Ideally I'd be testing this locally, and uploading a working copy to a live site, but Rails is kind of a pain to set up, and I'm no web developer.

    I moved things over so that http://104.131.121.2/ takes you to a temp landing page, and http://104.131.121.2/forum takes you to the forums. (Obviously the real forums would be using a domain name instead.) It looks like anything uploaded before then (e.g. previous posts' images, maybe avatars) got their links broken, and trying to fix the links didn't seem to have any effect. In the future, I imagine we'd have the board set up to use the subfolder or subdomain correctly before importing our old data. Thanks for your patience!

    --
    http://104.131.121.2/forum/t/studios-contractors-offering-game-services/14/1 <-- this is a wiki post.

    (You should all be able to edit it, but in case you can't, it might be because the forum thinks you're a new user. New users can't edit wiki posts until they've spent 10 minutes reading through other topics and posts on the forum. Or let me know, and I can take a look for you.)
  • I just figured out that the new forums run on markdown, so despite any other problems or weird things. I'm kinda sold on it.

    That said I still find having all the users who posted in a thread being listed in the top to be kinda weird.
  • edited
    @Karuji: I'm not certain, but as far as I know, you can use markdown, bbcode or html formatting tags, and they'll all work. :)

    --
    Giving up on the broken images for tonight. Running a search on the server to try and find where the _working_ images actually are, because I can only find the location of the broken images at the moment. :P ...so I'm leaving that running while I sleep.
  • Very clean ui. Nice! :)
    Thanked by 1Elyaradine
  • Looking great! Thanks for all you guys are doing. A new forum and 7.00.. christmas comes early :)
    Thanked by 1Elyaradine
  • Signed in to the new forums, and it's looking great. I'm really exited for all the little bells and whistles that the new site has to offer.

    Also love the temp landing page :) @Elyaradine thank you for all the hard work, and everyone providing financial and technical help. The new website feels really nice.

    Ps, will there (or is there) be an option to have a black theme like we have currently? No vital, it's just easier on the 'ol eyes :)
    Thanked by 1Elyaradine
  • pieter said:
    Ps, will there (or is there) be an option to have a black theme like we have currently? No vital, it's just easier on the 'ol eyes :)
    There currently isn't an out-of-the-box way to do this (yet). :/

    There's a hacky workaround that I just tried that shows some promise (i.e. the switching works most of the time), but it doesn't always stick (like if your cookies get cleared or something), and requires writing another set of css tags. I'll get to that eventually, seeing as that falls somewhat in the realm of what I'm actually half-capable of doing. :P
    Thanked by 1pieter
  • edited
    OK, so we need to start narrowing down whether this solution solves the current problems, and whether what it adds to the party is worth the effort involved. So here are a few points to get started (not features per-se, but problems):

    Landing page
    This is the most commonly requested thing and the biggest need IMO. @Elyaradine has managed to get a static one up, and that is awesome. If we went ahead then I'd like the page to pull from a wiki or something that multiple people can edit. I would love something like http://nzgda.com/games/ as our landing page. The first thing people would see is the awesome games that local people have made, and that is pretty encouraging.
    If we structure the wiki page that the landing page is tied to in a pre-defined way, the landing page can use the data and lay out the stuff properly.

    Finding People
    Not the biggest deal, but I love that each person can now write up who the hell they actually are. I'm sure lots of members have spent a lot of time in stalker-mode trying to work out that ChompieChomperson84 is Joe that they met at the meetup.

    Social linking stuff
    I don't think anyone has a solid plan here, so I have no idea if Discourse will help at all.

    Event management/visibility
    I just tested and it is possible to embed a Google Calendar into a post: http://104.131.121.2/forum/t/event-calendar-test/5827
    We could have an event post locked with a calendar, which would make it much easier for casual newcomers to see what is happening around them.
    Thanked by 1mattbenic
  • Quite snazzy :)

    - Share button - it'll rarely be used.
    - Invite button - just mention someone
    - Suggested Topics at the bottom of posts - I'm not really convinced it works well in the context of this small forum.
    I agree with @AngryMoose on all these points. If anything I'd like to see the share menu replaced with a Facebook icon directly, so sharing to FB isn't hidden behind a menu.
    Thanked by 2Fengol Elyaradine


  • I actually really like all 3 of those. Sharing is great for external promotion, Invite is nicer than having to remember the exact spelling of member names, and Topics is something I can see as helping to point people to similar discussions, especially when the next person asks about how to register to receive payments from Steam :P
    Yeah, fair enough.
    It would be nice if the related posts were more related though. A lot of the time it seems to pick random ones. Maybe that just means our thread titles should suck less :P
    Thanked by 2mattbenic AngryMoose
  • I like it :)
    Feels, spiffier for lack of proper technical terms.

    Thanks for the effort on this. Really nice.
    Thanked by 1Elyaradine
  • edited
    I don't like it that much to be honest. There doesn't seem to be a nice divide between posts/comments like this forum has. To me the new forum seems like one big block of text, which makes it hard to read/scan through posts and comments. A different theme might fix that, i guess?
    Thanked by 1Elyaradine
  • Really appreciate the effort but I have to be honest here.
    The current setup feels better for me than that test site that you made and it doesn't really feel like anything changed towards what I personally feel the website should be like. I think the current setup works fine for now until we really do something properly about it. Those designs that I think @Tuism did early in the year looked more in the direction I would vote for than the test site.

    I agree with @roguecode with something more like http://nzgda.com/games/
    Thanked by 1Elyaradine
  • @Zaphire a different landing page is definitely a priority. This is specifically about different forum software that serves us better for certain things (hashed out in previous threads).
    Thanked by 1Elyaradine
  • edited
    Okay, it's been up for a while, and I think the general response is positive, but any more thoughts on this?

    There's still a lot to do, and if I had to write up a more formal list:
    • makegamessa.com should take us to a landing page, while a sub-URL (e.g. /forum or /discussions) takes us to the forum.
    • The landing page would be something like these (Nitrogen | NZGDA | meh). (Especially the NZGDA one.)
    • The landing page would pull events from either the forum or some other community-edited list (like a Google calendar?)
    • It would pull recent noteworthy posts from the forum data too. (Using some criteria of hearts vs recents.)
    • Links taking you to further information (e.g. lists of studios, lists of games, lists of schools, get started making games tutorials, etc.) would link you to wiki posts in the forum that the community itself can curate. (This doesn't sound very elegant to me, but I think it can be made better by making sure the landing page and forum have a consistent aesthetic design.)
    • New threads can optionally be posted to the Facebook group with a link to the forum thread if the person's connected a Facebook account.
    1. My understanding is that overall it'd be much easier to do the above with our current Vanilla forums (with the exception of the wiki posts. I don't know how we'd solve that, as no plugins for that appear to exist, and doing it from scratch sounds hard), purely because lots more developers are familiar with PHP/SQL. I far prefer Discourse in terms of its other functionality and UX (I personally feel like Vanilla's aged), but I realise that it's more difficult to work with because just about nobody seems to have Rails experience. :P

    2. This is a pretty big job. :P When I described the list to my full stack friend, Jacques, he was like, "...holy shit. :P". And while I'm willing to put in hours here and there for dumb things like setting up a forum or painting a Facebook cover image, this is beyond my knowledge, and beyond what any sane person would be donating. Jacques doesn't have professional Rails experience (he's dabbled with it before out of interest) but with the amount of work this is I don't want him to be doing this as a hobby project. And if we're going to be paying someone, I feel like maybe Clockwork Acorn's more established, with strong rapport with this community, and may be a better choice.

    3. @francoisvn (or Clockwork Acorn), @MoonPanda and @roguecode have expressed willingness to help, but my understanding is none of them have used Rails either.

    Is Discourse cool enough to be worth the extra work? :P
  • Would it be possible to build an outline doc and maybe get some quotes on this?
    Possibly raise the funds to do it but first lets get an idea on what it will cost.
  • I don't think it's so much a question of funds (because we've got enough great people and studios willing to chip in), so much as which of the two paths/risks we'd rather take. Or if there's another alternative that solves our problems.

    The choice I see us facing is:

    1. If our developer(s) have to learn Rails while also doing the above, it'll probably take longer and be a bit riskier (inexperience breeds potential problems). The community already being able to edit wiki posts and curate our resources and information is a pretty big win though.

    2. If we continue to use Vanilla, then we've got to solve the problem of the community curating its content and the various lists of pages for the landing page. So while there are more people with solid experience with Vanilla's underlying tech, having it so that we're all curating the resources seems difficult too. I mean, unless we want to try maintaining a wiki again, because that didn't go so well the last time.

    I do feel a bit as if I'm losing a sense of the bigger picture, and maybe making things more complicated than they have to be.
  • My understanding of the situation is that the focus and pressing need is to have some static content that "surrounds" the forums. Things like a landing page, some beginner information and pointers to relevant places. Things like automatically pulling in content are cool, but those can come with time in any system. Posting to Facebook is an easy thing to do if you want just basic manual sharing functionality. The previous plan was to use Wordpress for this static content due to how ubiquitous it is, and once we've got things set up, probably much easier to find ppl to maintain it.

    Why the focus on wiki posts? I understand that the static content should be community-maintained, but why not just with a few editors on Wordpress? Wikis have their own issues, like very low participation rates. Wordpress makes it relatively easy to have a few ppl with the necessary access, and if you really want to go the wiki route, there are plugins for that. Maybe I missed something about wikis?

    I can understand that there might be some reasons for switching from Vanilla to Discourse, and earlier is better than later, but I'm not very familiar with Discourse so I'm not sure what benefits it provides over Vanilla, besides being a bit more sleek and smooth in general. If Discourse doesn't really offer functionality for static content, then how will we go about incorporating that? It seems like it would be somewhat difficult to efficiently mix that with Wordpress, and rolling our own CMS sounds like a "really bad idea" (tm).

    Regarding Ruby on Rails and Clockwork Acorn: we have more PHP experience, but RoR is not impossible - we have some very limited exp and we do frequently learn new dev stacks for projects. That said, unless we have a good reason otherwise, if I have to choose I'd say we should probably stick to more ubiquitous technologies that future generations can maintain, and so far PHP is much more established IMHO.
    Thanked by 2Elyaradine mattbenic
  • edited
    With regard to wikis, I've been very much for that in the sense that it's community members in general who maintain it, and not a handful of people. I think it ties in with what I think's been the push in the last while for things not to be focused around an admin, a moderator, or a committee (which no longer exists), but that each of us is responsible for how discussion happens and making the positive community that we want to see. Decentralizing things means nobody has to check in and take on workloads of updating anything; it's nobody's responsibility and everybody's responsibility. (And at the end of the day, there'll still be a couple of admins to put their foot down when they have to, but it otherwise seems pretty hands-off.)

    I think our previous wiki was taken down because (1) it was flooded with spam bots (it was terrifying how much spam there was), and (2) it was very much a separate website, so there was no reason to go there unless you were looking for something specific. I feel that wiki posts that are built into our forum itself are easier to maintain (you don't need multiple accounts), are searchable with the same structure for searching forum posts themselves, and can be edited by anyone who's a regular forum user. I think that's super powerful, especially if we want to be using the forum as a knowledge repository.
  • Just a side comment - one massive thing for me is proper media embedding (specifically HTML5 video). I've looked around and don't see anyone that has successfully got Vanilla to be able to embed gfycat videos. The only way I found was enabling users to add iframes, which can lead to issues.
    The reason this is important is that you get threads like the two "my 2016 summed up in gifs" and they are something like 30MB+. Along with having to load all that data, gifs are just pretty crappy compared to even a quarter size video.

    Showing lots of pretty moving stuff is very important to a game dev community - so we should probably help with that.
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