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Webmaster's Blog

Posted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 5:10 pm
by mickeyduck
Thought I might start posting some progress reports and stuff while I'm wrestling with the inner workings of our site and forum.

That way you guys can all stay advised of what's going on with this site and forum of ours, what changes and why... and you can throw some ideas at me too if you like...? Hit me with a PM or a post right here. Give me a bit of feedback or some constructive ideas.

So here goes...

Mu ha ha...! :twisted:

OK, here we go...

Posted: Sun Feb 28, 2010 5:21 pm
by mickeyduck
Well I've just put the new front end site live and to sort various behind-the-scenes problems I've decided to also force the use of the subSilver style on the forum, at least for now.

One of the ramifications is that the left menu that featured on the old red or green themed forums, has gone. Thank goodness...

However, while I have attempted to transpose most of what was of benefit from there, one or two things might elude you...

If you can't find the Garage, please just go to the new front end site and use its menu. Easy.

And you can still get to the (very) old online magazine articles, cos some of them really are fun to read.

Got a LOT to do on this site and on the forum yet, even just to get it ready for migration off the WCN server. Getting there though...

Let me know if you have any feedback, spot anything daft etc...

Cheers folks. =)


Posted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:02 pm
by mickeyduck
Some of the things I'm intending to do to the site:

Introduce the ability for folk to buy stuff online, so that they can buy memberships or merchandise on the site.

Set up an online shop which is easy for our merchandising officer to manage.

Set up an online section easy for our magazine editors to transpose the mag into without much effort (if they are in agreement of course). This doesn't need to detract from the mag at all as I see it but it seems a shame the online mag archives just stop dead about 5 years ago...

Transform The Garage. As it stands I cannot migrate off the WCN server without first upgrading the version of phpBB we are using. And I can't do that without throwing away The Garage because the developer of that add-on module discontinued it. So I will probably need to start something else and get everyone to transpose their stuff into a new and more sustainable thing.

I want to introduce sponsorship type stuff such that membership secures you all good deals. More the better I reckon.

I want to really get happening with a technical section - and I'm thinking maybe we can set it up so anyone can browse to a certain extent, or ask a question, but membership yeilds access to the answers. A bit like experts exchange

Need to dig my notes out for the rest of it (not available on this here Mac).

More ideas anyone?


Posted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 6:44 pm
by NiftyNick
I think everything here u have suggested sounds awesome, 1 vote yes for me! I think many members will agree.

Congrats on the position and good work.


Posted: Mon Mar 01, 2010 11:58 pm
by mickeyduck
Thanks mate. :)

Posted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:29 pm
by MoNk
I think you are doing a top job.

Posted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 4:53 pm
by Benckj
Great progress so far and am impressed with the ideas & improvments you have made. Just a couple of other things which have been in the pipeline for quite some time that others may comment on;

1/ need to distinguish between members and non-members especially in members only section. Possibly give members some privliges which could be an incentive to joining the club and help support the forum.

2/ Better search funtion.

3/ Retain old threads so we don't keep going over same things.

4/ Spell check on posts.

5/ Possibly make inserting pics easier?? Everyone enjoys the pics but it can be a real pain sometime.

6/ Tech section with panel of experts.

7/ Section to post up on-line mag articles for consideration.

8/ Section for committe buisness, minutes, polls, etc.

9/ Section on DIY repairs and mods.

About all I can think of just now, some food for thought.

Keep up the good work.

Posted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 5:11 pm
by MoNk
Regarding members/nonmembers.

Restrict members to no image sigs, smaller avatars.
Unrestricted for members.
Members edit their own status maybe.

Posted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 7:35 pm
Most Awesome Charlie!

Keep up the good work dude.

I agree with the idea of having the most "repetitive/arguementitve" threads frozen in time and/or having an example thread on how to post in this forum.

Thanks. =)

Posted: Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:42 pm
by mickeyduck
Thank you everyone. Keep the ideas coming too. Though as they say in the Mainland (cheese ad) "good things take time".

I've been finding it quite amazing the number of challenges I'm bumping into with the web and forum stuff, and all due to things being a bit overdue for some TLC really. But we're getting there...

I have deleted 11,500 spam-bot forum registrations. In the process I inadvertently deleted about 3 real folk who later contacted me asking why they could no longer log in...

There are still about 1,000 bogus forum users in there but I'm at the point now where it's extremely difficult to weed them out without hurting the real users. This is largely a factor of us still using an obsolete version of phpBB. Grrrr...

I have tried to implement a mod to prevent spam bots from registering in the first place... only to discover this breaks the ability to register on the forum at all... I can only assume that if the phpBB2 users out there rave over the mod but when I follow the install instructions to the letter it results in a breakage on our forum, then there must be something tweaked somewhere in one of the hundreds of files that make our forum tick, which prevents success... Groan.

To implement a lot of cool stuff such as uploading images directly to the forum, or preventing bogus registrations, requires upgrading the forum to phpBB3. But as John Howell pointed out to me the "Garage" module, which is a 3rd-party pluging he used, was never developed by its author to be compatible with phpBB3. Therefore you can't upgrade the forum because the upgrade breaks... So we will probably need to ditch the Garage... or it may not even be that simple anyway...

I discovered that about 1/2 the space we had used on the WCN server was actually email stuck in the club's default email account. And that the WCN system wanted to crash on me ever time I tried to delete it. And their support folk never answered my requests for help - which turned out to be due to a crisis there, as their IT guy quit. So understandable. I eventually managed to delete all that garbage email, and then set up the WCN's anti-spam measures for that account, so as to prevent it happening again.

That exercise consumed several evenings, but got it to the point where I can actually make a backup of the club's web site and forum. Whew!

But getting it done meant I was able to up the PM storage to 100, so we can keep track of our conversations a bit better. Still not ideal, but I've certainly found it helps, as an AC, to keep track of stuff a bit better.

Last weekend when deploying the site I discovered the WCN server's software is too old so I had to suss how to make what I'd built backwards compatible to get it to work... Hmmmm.....

Anyway, long story short, it's proving challenging. But rewarding.

I would encourage all the ACs to take a good look at the site, and if they think that a newbie visiting might feel they'd discovered something of interest, then please place an ad in your local rag with the club's web address and hopefully you'll find yourself with some new folk to deal with... That's my plan anyway. 8)

Nothing would give me more of a buzz than to know that the time I'm investing in the club's web site and forum was really worthwhile.

If ACs around the country are able to use the results of my efforts to help attract new members and thus to help grow the club in their regions, I'll be utterly stoked. Cos that's the whole point of the exercise.

OK, back to it. Cheers folks.

Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 10:51 am
by MRtoo
+1 for keeping old threads.

I use this PHP script "Bad Behavior" in an attempt to prevent bot registrations and spam on my blog (not that it's a problem since it's a private personal blog but it's good as a preventive measure). I use Wordpress for my blog engine and it has an easy plug-in to integrate Bad Behavior with it, but Bad Behavior is a standalone thing that should work with most sites and forum scripts if you're able to tweak .htaccess.

If all else fails there's always the (somewhat) trusty reCAPTCHA.

It's good to keep on top of open-sourced forum script updates. Don't want a case of "Joomla hacking" going on!

Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:00 pm
by methy sw20gt
an idea may be the option to submit your car as a submission for "2 of the month" similar to how the us forum has , where the winning submission chosen by the magazine editors is posted up in that section each month, including things such as history, modifications, photos etc.
this could also be a feature for the club magazine.

also i noticed you used my images on the site homepage, i will send you some replacement images with my tags on it you can use if you still want for the homepage, so as not to infringe with image copyright, the creators moral right to be identified as the creator of works, and works used without the creators permission.
im happy if you want to use my replacement images for the web so long as credit is given or the images have my tags on them.
cheers :) i will pm you the replacement images when im back from wellington next week.

Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:04 pm
by MoNk
We should also have a restriction on signature lengths ^ lol

That's a long post, but still your sig is bigger.

Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:25 pm
by methy sw20gt
there already is rules on this

Signatures may contain up to five lines (one line being that displayed on a browser opened to 800px width) of text (of small or normal size)
Text sizes should be between 9 and 12 (small and normal). Text in signatures is subject to the same conditions as posts with respect decency, warez, emoticons, etc.
Please try to keep any images in your signature to 800x160pixels or less.

Links are permitted in signatures. Such links may be made to non-MR2 material, commercial ventures, etc. Links are included within the text limits above. Links to offensive sites may be subject to removal. "

They are loosley enforced here as it isnt really too much of an issue
my signature image could be nearly twice the size it is now and still be within the forum rules, just so you know
i might play around with restructuring it so it has the same info just on less lines

Posted: Wed Mar 03, 2010 2:38 pm
by MoNk
Looks much better 8)