M.A.I.L. Website Improvement Wishlist. Your opinions wanted.
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Joined: November 20, 2003
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Posted on Tue Jan 25, 2005 5:38 am
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Would it be easily possible to implement a guestbook type thing for member profiles?

Joined: April 15, 2002
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Posted on Tue Jan 25, 2005 12:50 pm
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sakredchao wrote:
the search engine takes awhile for me too, but i believe this is because it has to search such a huge database.. the completeness of the searches make it worth the wait, imo


The search engine takes forever for me too. It's ridiculously slow to load. It also nearly freezes my computer when it does so. I think there's something wrong with the code, not just something needing to be optimized. It takes a long time to load the search page usually, but actually retrieves search results rather quick. Seems to be running fast now, but this computer I'm on is a faster one (P3 500). On my P2 350 it can take 20 or 30 seconds to load the search page.

The search is also broken in some places, I don't recall specifics, but when you have input in some of the fields it either ignores them, or never returns any results. Something about the member thing from the selector bar I think. For example, searching for member "Cynake", and keyword "a".. returns 50+ glossary definitions.

If you just search the forum database, (accessable by going to someone's profile, and clicking "View All Posts By Member".. you get something like this:

http://www.mailleartisans.org/board/search.php?term=&addterms=any&forum=all&search_username=&sortby=p.post_time&searchboth=both&submit=Search

... Which is a much much nicer format to search in, (the default one too I think) than the one you're probably familiar with, this one:

http://www.mailleartisans.org/search/search.cgi

But, the first one only searches the forums. That's another thing I really want see cut down on... links oing to different places, and links all in the same place pointing to the same place. Like, how there's 4 ways to "Join MAIL" from our front page.

Also, on that first search page, a bunch of the item are broken. Like, if I tell it to return 1000 characters of the post instead of 200 (default), it still only returns 200.

....

And yeah, Tesserex, a member guestbook would be possible. But, flesh it out. For what purpose would you want one? Why would people want to leave you guestbook comments? Why would you want to leave someone else one?

One of the things I think should be yanked during the header redesign is the existing site-wide guestbook. Doesn't really serve a purpose, no one reads it, no one moderates it, and, right now it's being abused automatically to generate HTML code to cross-link websites to raise their google rank. Take a look at it.

Anything/anyone else?

Joined: November 20, 2003
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Posted on Tue Jan 25, 2005 3:03 pm
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Some of us, myself included, may consider our MAIL page as our only form of advertisement, rather than building our own site from scratch. I would like to be able to read comments, and maybe some people I know will post requests for things to buy, you never know.

Joined: March 3, 2002
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Posted on Tue Jan 25, 2005 3:32 pm
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i would certainly be one of those who use my memberpage to show off my work for lack of a better site.

i think that better than a guestbook in your memberpage would be when the gallery, weave and articles area are tied into the forum.. the submissions would be able to be attached to forum threads.. perhaps the thumbnail would be able to display if there is a thread attached and how many posts the thread has.. maybe this is wishful thinking.

i'm thinking of the spam i just deleted from the guestbook.. imagine having to do that for 3k members. no thank you.

kim


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3.o is fixing everything.

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Posted on Tue Jan 25, 2005 4:59 pm
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Cynake wrote:

The search engine takes forever for me too. It's ridiculously slow to load. It also nearly freezes my computer when it does so. I think there's something wrong with the code, not just something needing to be optimized. It takes a long time to load the search page usually, but actually retrieves search results rather quick. Seems to be running fast now, but this computer I'm on is a faster one (P3 500). On my P2 350 it can take 20 or 30 seconds to load the search page.


The computer you're using to access the search function shouldn't have any effect on the time it takes to perform a search. The search should be running entirely on the server, and your PC will only have to deal with the resulting page.

Speeding up a database happens in two ways:
1. Improving the hardware. More RAM, RAID-5+ hard drive arrays, faster server CPU. In that order.
2. Improving the database's algorythms; How the information is organized, how the search function actually works, ect. ect.

No matter what, the larger the database gets, the longer it will take to search through things. MAIL must be a quite large database at this point. Perhaps trimming some of the very old and non-valuable threads would be a good idea.

As for rewriting the entire site, my only issue with that is that all of the current information needs to be imported into the new site. Beyond that, it's just a matter of man-hours and design.

The idea of a guestbook system per account seems like an (potentially) extremely cumbersome thing to add to the system. It would be like adding a second forum to the system. I also do not see it getting used very much at all, even in the way Tesserex is asking about. I think it would be much better to simply get an account on someone else's existing guestbook system and put the link in your MAIL profile.


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Posted on Tue Jan 25, 2005 5:05 pm
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sakredchao wrote:
i would certainly be one of those who use my memberpage to show off my work for lack of a better site.


Along with Tesserex. Hrm. Well, if that's our purpose, then a guestbook isn't very well suited to that.

What I think would work better would be customizable Profile Pages. Just lightly customizable. Set up a basic framework that everyone has to use. You fill in your name. Personal details. You describe what you have for sale maybe, all those kinds of things. Then at the bottom is all the normal profile stuff we have now. At the middle somewhere will be "Send _USER_ a message." It'll be delivered to your PM inbox .. except you won't have to be a member to send a message.

sakredchao wrote:
i think that better than a guestbook in your memberpage would be when the gallery, weave and articles area are tied into the forum.. the submissions would be able to be attached to forum threads.. perhaps the thumbnail would be able to display if there is a thread attached and how many posts the thread has.. maybe this is wishful thinking.


I'm not sure if I like this idea too much. I went back and forth on it. There would be a *LOT* of threads then, and I'm not sure that's necessary. That might get horribly unmanagable. The gallery, yeah, I think that's possible. For articles and weaves though, I couldn't really come up with a system that worked.

There would be horrible bloat. What I was thinking, was that the comments wouldn't be normally thread-like. If you wanted clairification, you'd ask, and someone would incorporate your answer into the body of the article.. then delete your post. Ideally you'd have no constant comments. But, this would be massively unmanagable, you'd need an army of mods and volunteers to keep it updated and running.

Even just on the gallery aspect, things start to get hairy. Me and Drax or Adermelach went back and forth for a whole day on how that could be set up. Look at the thumbnail gallery right now, for example, new images. New images are sorted based on new arrivals. But that's not how a forum works. In a forum, the last *commented on* item stays at the top. Forums are activity-prioritized, galleries are creation-date prioritized.

So, should we leave the thumbnail gallery creation-date prioritized... but if people browse in through the forum instead, do they see an activity-prioritized list? How do the forums break down into gallery category, or don't we do that at all, just have it activity-prioritized across all categories? What about not having a visible forum at all.. just individual threads tied to thumbnails? Is that a problem, or unintuitive, if when someone makes a comment, it doesn't bump it to the top? What if it was a year old, and the comment was a question and doesn't get answered, since it didn't attract any attention? Should we tie the gallery into people's Profile Pages, similiar to some blog software, so they can log in and say "Check for updates", and see all the new comments on their gallery items? Or, would that even make sense, because no one is going to bookmark your one item and keep checking back, waiting for a reply...

And so on and so on. There's 5 or 6 major ways that it could be set up, and none of them solve all the problems. Whoever I talked it over with, and myself, eventually settled on the best of the options available.... but, point being that it wasn't nearly as simple as the initial suggestion to figure out. Articles and weaves (well, weaves will become articles, if my suggestion gets approved) would further complicate the manner.

[quote="sakredchao"]i'm thinking of the spam i just deleted from the guestbook.. imagine having to do that for 3k members. no thank you./quote]

Well, there's a couple easy fixes for that. 1) Implement my suggestion above of turning it into a "Sent comment to" thing, so it's not public, or 2) Make the individual guestbooks editable by the individual. This would only make sense to allow them to remove comments they didn't like and such, if it's only about them. People would manage their own spam, or just turn the guestbook off. PMs could altert them for every comment.

... and to quote Kim from that other thread, since it applies more here than there...

[quote="sakredchao"]and i do see a point to the guestbook now after reading it..

where else would the mom of the 15 y/o kid say thanks for helping her decide on wire gauges and cutters to give her kid as a gift starter kit..

and i also found out when MAIL was started. go history./quote]

But, who reads it? I mean, other than me mentioning "Go read the guestbook" in the other thread, who ever checks that?

*checks message dates*. Wierd. While I was typing up that post in this thread, Mical had already noticed and posted that other one. Wierd that two of us came across it independantly in under an hour. This somewhat undermines my "Honestly, who reads it?".. Sad

But I still stand against it. Guestbooks are for individuals, not communities. It's to get someone's personal attention.

At the least, I think it should be merged with the ways to contact the webmaster for help and stuff. Leave it a generic "Leave a comment" thing, to be looked at by the admins.

... And, reading from the bottom up, I remember seeing that post about MAIL's starting date too, and thinking "Hrm, I wonder if Kim figured that out yet". Though, remember, that was the second incarnation of the site.. either after we lost the old domain, or after the redesign, or both, I forget.

Joined: April 15, 2002
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Posted on Tue Jan 25, 2005 5:14 pm
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CyberKender wrote:
The computer you're using to access the search function shouldn't have any effect on the time it takes to perform a search. The search should be running entirely on the server, and your PC will only have to deal with the resulting page.


Agreed, shouldn't. My computer also shouldn't be completely dead-frozen while it's waiting for that search page to load, either. Nor should loading the search page take forever, it's the actual searching that should take time.

CyberKender wrote:
No matter what, the larger the database gets, the longer it will take to search through things. MAIL must be a quite large database at this point. Perhaps trimming some of the very old and non-valuable threads would be a good idea.


I don't like this idea for the reason to mention next. I also don't think it's necessary. The search itself is pretty quick. It's that second search page I mentioned above that takes forever to load. The first way, (the one that only searches the forum) is superfast. I don't suspect the rest of the site is much compared to the forums.

CyberKender wrote:
As for rewriting the entire site, my only issue with that is that all of the current information needs to be imported into the new site. Beyond that, it's just a matter of man-hours and design.


Agreed. It should just change the way information is accessed and organized. At first, it might be identical for the content. I'm not sure on whether it's better to have it all at first, and edit it down, combining articles and information... or to build it up as we go. I preffer the latter, because it means the info will be right the first time, but the former is much easier and won't hold up the rest of the site coming online.

Joined: June 21, 2002
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Posted on Tue Jan 25, 2005 7:06 pm
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Quote:
*checks message dates*. Wierd. While I was typing up that post in this thread, Mical had already noticed and posted that other one. Wierd that two of us came across it independantly in under an hour. This somewhat undermines my "Honestly, who reads it?"..


I just decided to look at the guestbook after Tesserex mentioned the word. I do visit it, once every blue moon, just to see what people have said, and it is enjoyable, however, if it is gotten rid of, I won't cry.

I'm with others in that 'My M.A.I.L' is my only "advertisement" for now. Really though, who actually has gone to my profile and thought, "Man, I'd really like to have that guy make me a frisbee"?

*Shameless Promo....again.* Very Happy

If anyone does want their own site, my bro and I do have our own server. We'll be happy to host your site for free and all that jazz. It's free for us, so we don't lose anything by giving it away. Plus, there are no crappy pop-ups or unwanted ads. Send me a PM if you're interested.

Quote:
The idea of a guestbook system per account seems like an (potentially) extremely cumbersome thing to add to the system. It would be like adding a second forum to the system. I also do not see it getting used very much at all, even in the way Tesserex is asking about. I think it would be much better to simply get an account on someone else's existing guestbook system and put the link in your MAIL profile.


I agree. That does seem like a bit of extra baggage. It's my understanding that we don't want M.A.I.L to become commercialized either, right? Besides, isn't M.A.I.L visited by those who want to learn, or already know how to make maille, rather than those interested in purchasing maille? There are a lot of links in the links section for sites that sell finished maille. This seems rather pointless to me. Sara's Chainmaille Connection is more useful for stuff like that. The sites that offer mailling supplies and info are more useful to us. However, there are those that sell finished pieces and also have supplies and info, in which case I agree with the links re-organization that was mentioned earlier.

Peace.

Mical. Coif Smiley

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Posted on Tue Jan 25, 2005 7:11 pm
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honestly i don't care much either way about the guestbook, or any guestbooks.. if someone has something to say to me: sakredchao@yahoo.. i do, however think it's neat that i found the starting date in there.. and i also like to read the comments that people enjoy the weave area (lots of those comments).. it makes me feel like i've done something useful.. sometimes it seems like people take this site for granted nd don't remember all the hard work and time a lot of people had to donate.

as to tieing the forums to the other areas of the board, it seems like it wouldn't be to difficult to have a "start thread" link on each of the articles, weave and gallery image.. or a "comment" link.. and if there is no thread, one will be started.. and if there is a thread then the thread would load before the reply page would load so people could familiarize themselves with the conversation on the submission.. i'm not sayng starting a new thread for every submitted item, that would get bothersome.. what this would require is board mods to direct people to the proper threads when a topic is started not using this system. this way the gallery can stay how it is, or the organization method could be altered and it wouldn't affect the board, and the last posted thread would be at the top and the gallery would remain unaffected.

i think this method would be best implemented if we used a gallery display method that allowed for "primary" and "secondary" gallery submissions under one thumbnail.. this avoids people having a thread for the front pic and another thread for the side or back pic. one thread for all the related pics.

kim


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3.o is fixing everything.

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Posted on Tue Jan 25, 2005 10:44 pm
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I wouldn't not be upset by the loss of the general MAIL guestbook, but it's something that can be worth having.

Having threads linked to gallery submissions/articles sounds like a good idea, but it does have some possible significant reprecussions. e.g. If the threads were ever deleted/lost, then there could be a lot of broken links.


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Posted on Thu Jan 27, 2005 1:26 am
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sakredchao wrote:
honestly i don't care much either way about the guestbook, or any guestbooks.. if someone has something to say to me: sakredchao@yahoo.. i do, however think it's neat that i found the starting date in there.. and i also like to read the comments that people enjoy the weave area (lots of those comments).. it makes me feel like i've done something useful.. sometimes it seems like people take this site for granted nd don't remember all the hard work and time a lot of people had to donate.

kim


i always liked it for that reason too. i was just looking at it and saw the milkandcookies.com comment. they rated mailleartisans a 5 (whatever). hehe.

if you guys are interested i was thinking about what you're proposing and what it would entail (technical wise), so maybe you can figure out what people could be allocated to do. while i think redesigning the whole site would be a great idea, i think most people way underestimate the sheer amount of time it takes to build one of these guys. there are way more pages than could be imagined and a lot of time and effort would be needed to smartly design it (probably at least a month or 2 -depending on proficiency-of someone working 20 hours a week, just on the coding). if i'm still in-between bands when you guys make decisions on these things i could help out some too.
anyways, here are my comments on what i think may be the most attainable:

1. Finish the new header project. This includes finishing the header and doing whatever sight re-design is needed to accommodate the new header (i.e. combining and removing links from the current header).

Pretty easy, HTML mostly, minimal perl / php (just have two places in code to put the new header) - hardest will be getting everyone to agree.

2. Make front page more newbie friendly. Place announcements somewhere other then the middle of the front page. The new front page would be very simple, only a few links. It should be immediately obvious what MAIL is,
and the major sections. Simple choices.

Again easy, but will need perl knowledge to replace.

3. Re-organize articles section. Make sure titles are appropriately
descriptive. Add a short description of what is in each article next to the title. Make list of articles easier to read through better use of white space. Date stamp articles.

Rather easy (besides going through descriptions.. etc), will require minor database and perl coding changes.

4. Change weave section so that the picture of each weave is a link leading to an article (or articles) on how to make that weave. Each weave should have its own page, about itself.

Easy / Moderate effort (more time-consuming than anything) - will require coding and database changes.


5. Give people the option to donate content to M.A.I.L so that M.A.I.L editors could change people's work were appropriate (for example adding links between related articles).

We currently have mailartisans as the user for donating content (for example in weaves, euro 4-in-1 belongs to Mailartisans... the code willautomatically not print out this info) i would recommend that in these cases, you can have people submit the article/picture/whatever to an admin - that admin will post it under his/her name and then reassign the owner to Mailartisans (in the edit screen). This you could immediately begin doing and wouldn't have to wait on any coding.

6. Re-design the gallery so that each thumbnail links to a thread related to that picture. So people don't have to shove all their details into a little box, and make multiple individual submits for other camera angles of the same project.

I personally think this would be a rather high effort given current database structure / code - database structure would need to be added (new table(s) and new columns), and the current gallery pages would need to be rather redesigned (both the actual design HTML work and lots of perl coding)


7. Add a "projects section" with linked articles appropriate for the given project. For example, putting the articles for E4-1, 45 degree seams and expanding circle into a project section on "how to make a coif".

I think that's a great idea - i would suggest doing that with HTML rather than trying to automate it, might be nice for a beginners page


8. Add a forum where maillers can rate and relate their experiences with ring dealers, other armouries etc. AKA: "Good, Bad, and the Ugly."

9. Encourage monetary donations through a formation of a "dollar club", or some other system to recognize donors.

It would be pretty easy to track it, I think after the donation is done on paypal, it could redirect back into a thank you MAIL page and then that could be entered into the database (this would need moderate perl / database changes).

10. Change the member ranking system to reflect how much content a member has contributed to M.A.I.L rather then just counting their board post number.

This would need some changes to the board php code.

11. Remove/combine little used forums on the M.A.I.L board.

12. Re-organize the links according to content (separate those links with instructions from those with materials from those with finished maille). Rather then putting links in alphabetical order they would be listed according to utility value. For example, in the "instruction" section Derakon's Library should probably be the first link on the list as it is (arguably) the best introduction page aside from M.A.I.L and therefore a page likely to be popular with a lot of maillers.

I think it would be nice to do rankings here (and add it everywhere else for that matter). That way the "best" links would appear at the top. I don't think those changes would be too hard, but they would be time consuming and require a lot of new tables as well as coding changes.


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Posted on Thu Jan 27, 2005 9:53 pm
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Mari wrote:
if you guys are interested i was thinking about what you're proposing and what it would entail (technical wise), so maybe you can figure out what people could be allocated to do. while i think redesigning the whole site would be a great idea, i think most people way underestimate the sheer amount of time it takes to build one of these guys. there are way more pages than could be imagined and a lot of time and effort would be needed to smartly design it (probably at least a month or 2 -depending on proficiency-of someone working 20 hours a week, just on the coding). if i'm still in-between bands when you guys make decisions on these things i could help out some too.


First off Mari, thank you very much for your comments. This answered so many questions for me about why some parts of the design are harder than others, what kinds of tasks can be given out to average joes, and what we need more dedicated programmers for.

And on another note, I had no idea a redesign would involve such a ridiculous amount of work.

Are you saying it would take 80-160 or so hours of programming to build the site from the ground up, based on how long this site took you to build? Or.. are you saying just to modify/strip the code from what we have now into what we need, it will take that much?

I was thinking, a lot of what I suggested is stripping away code, or swapping values, so, it wouldn't be nearly that bad. I would've ballparked 20-40 hours total, a month or two's worth of hobby projecting.

Kim thinks it will be much more manageable to implement solutions a little at a time. I agree.. but in the big picture, I think it would be more efficient to redesign the site all at once. I think he would agree with this too. I'm wondering, do you have an opinion of how much of an effort gap that would involve between the two approaches? Any idea how much re-work would be involved in writing pieces here and there, and having to change the same bits several times if we choose to mutate the current site gradually?

I'm thinking, if that amount, and the extra post-programming debugging involved, is rather low, (call it, 30% waste or less) then there are more gains to be made by splitting it up into one change at a time and having multiple, easier, more enjoyable projects. But, if it starts pushing 40% or 50%, then it's probably worth looking at how to do it all at once. Or, some combination in between, maybe not do it all piece at a time, but, do 2 or 3 easy changes right now, and then the rest gets lumped into the heavier redesign. And of course, the less impressive volunteering show we get, the more attractive the one-at-a-time becomes.

Make sense?

Mari wrote:
1. Finish the new header project.

Pretty easy, HTML mostly, minimal perl / php (just have two places in code to put the new header) - hardest will be getting everyone to agree.


Agreeing is more or less done. We've debated it to death so much that only 3 or 4 of us would even read the thread anymore I think, and the rest don't care about any nitpicking details.

If it's just HTML, (and by that you mean the header itself, or site changes too?).. that shouldn't be tooo much of a problem. I'd guess an hour or two's work for implementing, assuming 14thWarrior does the header work itself.

Mari wrote:
2. Make front page more newbie friendly.

Again easy, but will need perl knowledge to replace.


Hrm. Okay. Is it just a simple swap? Easy as replacing whatever is "index.html", (or wherever that links inside Perl) with whatever we decide to replace it with?

Mari wrote:
3. Re-organize articles section.

Rather easy (besides going through descriptions.. etc), will require minor database and perl coding changes.


Okay. Sounds good.

Wondering about how to implement that though... lets say Drax goes to redo all this. How does he go about doing that? For example, once a coder has set it up to expect a date and all the rest of that, it won't have information yet until he fills it in. Any way with the current system that he can do this in a more automated way, or would it just be a tedious one-edit-at-a-time thing?

Mari wrote:
4. Change weave section.

Easy / Moderate effort (more time-consuming than anything) - will require coding and database changes.


As I understand it.. the database changes would just be telling it open a new page instead loading a .jpeg, right? Would it be as simple as replacing all the 'a href' contents?

And yes, there would have to be a MASSIVE volunteer effort to make pages for every weave.

What I was thinking was that by default, it stays with the current image blowup. Then, as pages are written, an admin can swap those in so that it loads the weave's page instead of the jpeg. Or, maybe, automatically create a default page for each weave that is nothing more than a nearly-empty template with the jpeg blowup, to be edited and filled in with the written content later.. that way at least every weave has an actual page, and only the page itself needs to change, and not the link to it? I don't know, I don't know a lot about programming.

Mari wrote:
5. Give people the option to donate content to M.A.I.L

We currently have mailartisans as the user for donating content (for example in weaves, euro 4-in-1 belongs to Mailartisans... the code willautomatically not print out this info) i would recommend that in these cases, you can have people submit the article/picture/whatever to an admin - that admin will post it under his/her name and then reassign the owner to Mailartisans (in the edit screen). This you could immediately begin doing and wouldn't have to wait on any coding.


Wow. That I did not know. That's interesting.

However, it's a pretty laborious process right now. I'd have to email any content, then the admin has to get involved and post that himself, and then change the owner. It also has a drawback in that you have to go out of your way to set this up, (not to mention, no mention is made of this when submitting, I don't think, so people aren't aware this is an opion).

Though, you're right. If we needed to, it could be done with what we've got.

I guess it comes down to making an investment. Invest some time in setting up the system a little better, and it pays off by automating the process and not burdening our admins.

I figure, a couple hours work for someone to rewrite the text of the submitting page to include something about why they should donate instead of keeping it themselves... and a little bit of form code so they click which option they want. A few more hours code (2-3 after hassle, digging, and debugging?), to make changes to plug an automated way to donate content to the site if they select that option.

I was also wondering about involved coding some of the side-effects would be. For example, the purpose of this donating thing is so that we can rewrite and combine articles and such. I think that is going to require a new kind of recognition scheme, especially when combined with the new forum/profile rank. We'll need a method to 'share' credit for an article. That'll have to be an open-ended field now, as many people as we want to fill in and credit. If I combine 10 articles by separate authors, and it becomes one new article, there are going to be 11 of us who deserve credit.

Maybe it should even be in a separate setup entirely, so we can include details in the contributor field itself, not just in text in the article.

It'll come out as "Original articles by: Me, You, That Guy, Her, Pretty, and Ugly. Rewritten and merged by: Joe Writer."

There are also logical problems, what if someone combines two articles by the same person? Does that become only 1 contribution, or is it still 2? I specifically want to avoid setting up a ranking system that attaches a value to "how much of a contribution" a contribution was. Ideally, Drax should be tougher on people, making sure they write out the article fully.. but, that might result in people not contributing as much, so, he'll have to at some point accept stuff he knows is new and unwritten about, but not complete. .. and then someone else will get credit for revising it and adding new info that really should've been in there in the first place. Hrm. Anyway, that's something the person who heads the project will have to figure out.

Mari wrote:
6. Re-design the gallery.

I personally think this would be a rather high effort given current database structure / code - database structure would need to be added (new table(s) and new columns), and the current gallery pages would need to be rather redesigned (both the actual design HTML work and lots of perl coding)


This one could be done completely separate from the other projects. I'd like it to come online at the same time as the rest of changes, so we can present people with a "This is the new site. Here's what is different", instead of things working differently every time they go to the site. But, it could be left off until later, or done earlier.

I don't even know enough to ask questions about how it will be done.

Mari wrote:
7. Add a "projects section" with linked articles appropriate for the given project.

I think that's a great idea - i would suggest doing that with HTML rather than trying to automate it, might be nice for a beginners page


I suppose it could just be a new articles section. I don't see any diference between ordinary articles and projects, but, it'd be nice to put together a new section and draw attention to it. Maybe include it in the header. I'm thinking that section will probably get as much traffic as the others, (and a lot of non-members especially) probably deserves its own link.

Mari wrote:
9. Encourage monetary donations through a formation of a "dollar club", or some other system to recognize donors.

It would be pretty easy to track it, I think after the donation is done on paypal, it could redirect back into a thank you MAIL page and then that could be entered into the database (this would need moderate perl / database changes).


Excellent. No special difficulties in hooking this up to forums?

Mari wrote:
10. Change the member ranking system to reflect how much content a member has contributed to M.A.I.L rather then just counting their board post number.

This would need some changes to the board php code.


I'm not sure how much data is stored in profiles, but I figure, store it in with their site profile, and then just have the board read off there.

Mari wrote:
12. Re-organize the links according to content.

I think it would be nice to do rankings here (and add it everywhere else for that matter). That way the "best" links would appear at the top. I don't think those changes would be too hard, but they would be time consuming and require a lot of new tables as well as coding changes.


I'm not a fan of doing rankings. I think it would be a lot of hassle to set up and such, for something Aderamelach could do himself (and, if he's at all in touch with the membership, he'll end up with the same results anyway).

What did you have in mind for everywhere else? Like, a "Most popular articles?" thing, so people could see that?

Hrm. Might work neat in the gallery too.. but I'm not sure how much functionality it'd add. Given putting any kind of ranking system into the site, or having coders do any of the rest of the work, I myself would rather they do the other stuff. Though, perhaps a volunteer would want to code this, and not something else, then no loss.

Thanks again Mari.

Joined: October 22, 2003
Posts: 48
Submissions: 1

A simple suggestion
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Posted on Sat Jan 29, 2005 4:25 am
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This site would be easy to redesign from the ground up, and could be done quickly. But moving existing data to a new format would take a lot more time. Changing the post systems would be the most obvious upgrade aside from the general appearance, but there's a lot of data to move, and thats no easy task.

How about a site design concept contest. Everyone generate a skeleton site and post your link. Everyone vote on what features are the coolest, and the winner gets a prize, like a cool title in the message board.

I would be happy to contribute a server end program I'm writing. (It's not done yet, but this would be a great place to give it a formal first run). It is a zoomable US / Canada Map wich allows users to place markers on any location. The markers resemble pushpins and are color coded for specific locations. Red could show where members who post their locations live. Blue could be used for good places to buy wire, tools etc. Green for conventions, local meet ups... you get the idea. It also allows you to list all locations of a paticular type within X number of miles / Kilometers of you. Example: Users can send one message to notify all members in a 75 mile radius of a local meetup at this location, at a specified time / date. People can also report bad markers, and they will be removed by rules set by the admins. Say 3 negative reports more than positive reports, or automatic removal if reported negative by an admin. On the technical end, it works with any typical PHP based message board, although it will require an SQL database, and you'd have to set the program up baed on the data types / names used in the database. There is no easy setup as of now for existing message boards. I'm ironing out the kinks, and working on illustrated documentation. ETA 3 months, let me know via PM if yo guys are intrested. By the way, I will be charging for this utility when the official release hits, but would be happy to license it to M.A.I.L. for free. My way of saying thanks for all the hard work.

Joined: April 15, 2002
Posts: 1819
Submissions: 1
Location: Calgary, AB. Canada.

Re: A simple suggestion
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Posted on Sat Jan 29, 2005 5:07 am
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Arkryal wrote:
This site would be easy to redesign from the ground up, and could be done quickly.


Holy crap. Really? Proove it Smile

Mari's the one who built the site originally, (with help), and if she says a month or two, steady part time, I believe her. That's not easy to me, that's crazy dedication. There's no way anyone here would get 2 months steady of my efforts.

Moving the data and making it the way we want it to be and such would take time, but that's got the whole membership behind it, and can be done very piecemeal, just like we got where we are now.

Arkryal wrote:
How about a site design concept contest. Everyone generate a skeleton site and post your link. Everyone vote on what features are the coolest, and the winner gets a prize, like a cool title in the message board.


Your ambition is astounding. I'm thinking we're going to have trouble making *one single* design, with everyone combined, rather than everyone individually making one. But, if you think it's easy, by all means, have a one-man contest and we'll declare you the winner.

If we held a contest, I think we'd get zero entries. Maybe 1 or 2. I think it's better to make a round of suggestions, talk through what you like about them, and the implement the best sounding one. Less effort wasted. We (hopefully) can all generally agree on what looks and works good anyway. We're all looking for the same thing.

Arkryal wrote:
I would be happy to contribute a server end program I'm writing. (It's not done yet, but this would be a great place to give it a formal first run). It is a zoomable US / Canada Map wich allows users to place markers on any location.


I was going to build one of these for another community of mine. This has so many applications on the net for communities our size. If something like this doesn't already exist out there, you're going to make a fortune.

Definately keep us posted on this.

Joined: February 15, 2002
Posts: 879
Submissions: 45
Location: Virginia Beach, VA

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Posted on Sat Jan 29, 2005 4:14 pm
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Whew, why do these massive threads always pop up while I'm away? Very Happy Seriously though, I'm glad to see this information out for discussion, thanks for getting the ball rolling again, Cynake.

I don't have much to add, except in the arena of articles. One comment (I think MikeB) on how some articles are meant for more advanced maillers, made me wonder if we could add a 'difficulty' scale to the article (1 to 5, or 1 to 10, or beginner/intermediate/advanced). That'll give some folks an idea of what they're in for before they click on an article link.

Also, I'll re-submit my idea for using a labelling system for the articles. It's pretty questionable sometimes where an article ends up (either due to lack of a suitable area, or that it could fit in multiple categories). The labelling system would work like Gmail (google's mail system), where one article could receive multiple labels. For instance, an article on how to make a coif using an expanding circle could get the labels "patterns: coif" and "expansions - circle". That way, the article can appear in *multiple* categories, and I don't have to place it in only one.

The only thing I wouldn't like so much with the donating content to all be under "mailartisans" is that the original submitter loses his or her name on the submission.

Lastly, I had to laugh...:
Quote:
Ideally, Drax should be tougher on people, making sure they write out the article fully.. but, that might result in people not contributing as much, so, he'll have to at some point accept stuff he knows is new and unwritten about, but not complete. .. and then someone else will get credit for revising it and adding new info that really should've been in there in the first place.


I agree, there's definitely a number of articles in the database that need massive work or simply deletion. I've gotten better in the last year or two about what I accept, but I laughed because I think my current acceptance rate is about 20%. That fluctuates depending on if people are writing a lot of tutorials, but in general, it's pretty low as it stands.



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