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LinuxJunior Update (Part II)
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Thread: LinuxJunior Update (Part II)

  1. #1
    Administrator Advisor peter's Avatar
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    LinuxJunior Update (Part II)

    Welcome to OpenFree LinuxJunior members!

    As you may have known, on February 1, 2006, the forums at LinuxJunior.org were merged into those at OpenFree.org.

    If you haven't already logged in, your account has been transferred but you will have to request a new password using this link:

    http://www.openfree.org/forums/login.php?do=lostpw

    The forums at LinuxJunior were kept running for a few days after the forum merger to help keep a degree of continuity between the members. However, as of February 3, 2006; the forums at LinuxJunior will be permanently moved here and an explanatory redirection page will provide further explanation.

    In rare cases there will be an overlap of users in the old and new forums. "Radar" was a case in point. Duplicates are imported with an "imported_" prefix (eg. "imported_radar"). If this happens to you and you want a name change, please contact me.

    Many LinuxJunior features are now present on OpenFree. I must admit, this has been a learning experience for me as the OpenFree forums have been recently upgraded to vBulletin from phpBB.

    • The categories have been aligned according to those of LinuxJunior which were more intuitive. I also took the opportunity to create sub-forums to reduce the clutter on the home page. For example, the Windows, Mac and UNIX sections have been combined under the "Other Operating Systems" forum. These were sections that OpenFree didn't have at all. The general discussion categories were also a welcome touch that I have retained in their own section.
    • I was requested to add a karma, or user reputation feature, which I quickly agreed to. However, I did some thinking and research and wonder whether this could possibly change the nature of the forums. For example, mischievous or vindictive negative ratings could hurt the community. What do you think?
    • I was also asked about avatars. I am concerned about bandwidth charges and server speed if I implement this. I see where vBulletin has a feature that allows categories of users to have avatars, so I was thinking about creating a predefined group of avatars that senior members could choose from. It's a compromise, and would like to hear more from you.
    • Moderator comments are now clearly noted on the forums. I have sent notes to all the LinuxJunior moderators asking whether they would like to become moderators on OpenFree. It will be good to have a combined group for continuity.
    • A point was made about the validity of a Newbie and General forum that seemed to overlap. I agree, it was confusing and I have merged the two together.
    • There was a request to have an option to see the last 50 posts. There is actually a link on the toolbar beneath the OpenFree logo that says "New Posts". When you are logged in, this should show all of the new posts for the couple days.
    • There was a concern about advertising. I have tried to keep the ads as inconspicuous as possible. Image ads occasionally got shown and I have removed them for a trial period.
    • There was also a request to rename the forums to LinuxJunior and place the logo on OpenFree. I'd really like to keep the OpenFree name. They have been the forums that I have used with my www.LinuxHomeNetworking.com site for some time and they have quite a lot of recognition there. I started OpenFree to help interact with my visitors there who often had questions. It has been a real big help for them.
    Comments welcome.

  2. #2
    Regarding the karma issue, we haven't had a lot of problems with that. Whenever we do, it usually comes from people who are new and end up leaving anyway. I personally see it as a means of encouraging people to be helpful to others, and as a way of making new users feel more secure.
    My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive.

  3. #3
    Advisor Outlaw's Avatar
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    For avatars, is it possible to just let it be an image that is hosted elsewhere?

    Karma? :\

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  4. #4
    Administrator Advisor peter's Avatar
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    Based on your requests, I have been doing a lot of research on the vBulletin "reputation" feature which is the equivalent of the YABBSE forums' "karma" feature.

    The vBulletin development team seems to have taken a great deal of time to develop its reputation system.

    http://www.vbulletin.com/docs/html/vboptions_reputation

    The vBulletin administrator reputation control panel allows:
    • Members to vote once they have a minimum number of posts
    • The number of points that can be added or removed from a member's reputation by a voting member can be tied to the length of membership, the number of posts the voting member has made and the reputation level of the voting member.
    • A maximum number of points a voting member is entitled to use.
    In spite of this, the developers warn that "User reputation can be a derisive element of your forum so great care should be taken before a decision is made to enable it."

    http://www.vbulletin.com/docs/html/m...putation_intro

    In order to determine how it is currently being used, I did a Google search on "vbulletin reputation" and got a number of results on the first four pages. The use of the feature seems to have caused problems within a number of forum communities.

    Members began campaigning to get their reputations higher, members got upset when they received negative polls by accident and concerns were raised about members artificially raising their scores.

    http://forums.digitalpoint.com/showthread.php?t=12171
    http://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/archi.../t-191806.html
    http://ubuntuforums.org/archive/index.php/t-40056.html


    The links below show forums in which the feature was activated and subsequently disabled within four months.

    http://forums.mobileburn.com/archive...hp/t-4779.html
    http://www.photoshopelementsuser.com...ead.php?t=5699


    Based on this information, I am hesitant to implement the feature because I am concerned about it being abused, with mischievous, manipulative or vindictive negative ratings hurting the community.

    I also wonder whether it could also become an intimidating factor for newbies who may fear posting to the forum and getting slapped on the wrist. If implemented, the job of the moderators will extend to judging the validity of votes, which could take the fun out of it all.

    You may argue that the possibility for abuse shouldn't be an overriding factor in deploying it. True, there are countless things that are good for society when used conscientiously, and bad when abused. Many medicines and foods come to mind.

    However in this case, the intention of the forum is to encourage open and fun discussion and I feel the risk outweighs the gain.

    Also, the forums are growing quickly and management will become a growing challenge. I'd like to keep forum administration simple so that the forums continue to be inviting.

  5. #5
    Administrator Advisor peter's Avatar
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    Based on your requests, I have been doing a lot of research on the vBulletin "avatar" feature.

    Like all major forum applications, vBulletin allows the use of avatars, both ones you can upload and those that are linked externally. It is easy to implement.

    Yes, I did it again. I used Google to search on (vbulletin "external avatars") and got a number of results on the first few pages.

    For smaller sites it seems to be a common feature, but as sites get larger, avatars can pose problems.
    • The images average about 4Kb in size. A short thread of four posts can take up 65Kb, the avatars could add another 16Kb to that. That is significant. I'd like to limit the need to request my ISP for more expensive capacity.
    • About 70% of the visitors to the site are from outside the USA where broadband hasn't reached the levels of penetration. Avatars could extend download times for them. It is for this reason that I have also disabled images in member signatures.
    • Avatars stored on the OpenFree server could also eventually slow page load times and make the daily backup duration, longer and storage needs higher.
    • External avatars could help to alleviate this, but as the sources can change, and broken images can be unsightly. This can give the false impression that the systems administrator isn't sufficiently attentive to the health of their servers. Both factors would also negatively affect the impression the site has on visitors. There is also no means of limiting the size of external avatars, so the members' speedy browsing experience would be harder to control.
    Here are some sample links I found that discuss the issue further, some are quite interesting:

    http://forum.acmilan-online.com/showthread.php?t=1008
    http://www.vhlinks.com/vbforums/show...895#post428895
    http://www.redflagdeals.com/forums/p...ad.php?t=62247
    http://forums.applenova.com/archive/...php?t-742.html

    When I decided to convert the forums from using phpBB to vBulletin software, I looked at a lot of sites out there for ideas. I eventually decided to use a very simple layout that would maximize readability and speed.

    The use avatars would seem to affect this goal.
    Last edited by peter; 02-05-2006 at 04:37 AM.

  6. #6
    Advisor Outlaw's Avatar
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    That all seems fair and well thought out.

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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter
    Members began campaigning to get their reputations higher, members got upset when they received negative polls by accident and concerns were raised about members artificially raising their scores.
    True. However, most reputation systems were implemented for the wrong reason.

    And also most negative voting comes from being offtopic forums than the help they get. For example, LoveChild (a former LJR member). His negative voting were the misjudgement of him from a few members repeately voting to smite him even though he is technically incline and was a big help in many way. Those few members were upset due to his anti-american views (which I understands). That kind of abuse never bother him as well as us. Because we KNOW how good he is.

    This is just to show that the abuse is everywhere. It's just how you moderate it.

    The links below show forums in which the feature was activated and subsequently disabled within four months.
    Not included in it was how many have implemented for years and without any problems. The closest example was LJR. We had this features since day one of inception and never caused any problem although there were times we fight about it and argue about it.

    I also wonder whether it could also become an intimidating factor for newbies who may fear posting to the forum and getting slapped on the wrist.
    Like some newbie will see the rating of the answerer before he posted his question? How can we know for sure that someone with low rating will not come in the slap the newbie for asking dumb (in his/her opinion) questions? The rating system is just to give the indicator that how the person is regarded in that community. Whether to take the answer is the person who ask question's decision whether to follow it. There is no guarrantie the information is true and correct. And such is in life, nothing is.

    If implemented, the job of the moderators will extend to judging the validity of votes, which could take the fun out of it all.
    I dont' see how it's the job of any moderators. There is no intervention at all.

    You may argue that the possibility for abuse shouldn't be an overriding factor in deploying it. True, there are countless things that are good for society when used conscientiously, and bad when abused. Many medicines and foods come to mind.
    Just because the security of your computer is of great concern, doens't mean you can lockup your box in the corner of the office room guarded by chainlink locks. You just have to be very diligent about it.

    I feel the risk outweighs the gain.
    You make the call. Your forum, your call.

    Also, the forums are growing quickly and management will become a growing challenge. I'd like to keep forum administration simple so that the forums continue to be inviting.
    Understandable.

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  8. #8
    Mentor Stuart's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peter
    Based on your requests, I have been doing a lot of research on the vBulletin "avatar" feature.
    [*]About 70% of the visitors to the site are from outside the USA where broadband hasn't reached the levels of penetration. Avatars could extend download times for them. It is for this reason that I have also disabled images in member signatures.
    I can't agree with you on this, the USA isn't leading in broadband penetration, it's actually trailing behind a lot of places. Here is proof:

    http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statist...road_2004.html
    Registered Linux User #301307 (counter.li.org)
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    NOTICE: alloc: /dev/null: filesystem full

  9. #9
    Advisor Outlaw's Avatar
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    And also most negative voting comes from being offtopic forums than the help they get.
    And this is the reason why karma is useless for anything other than a popularity contest. If the reason for having karma is to show how you are regarded in the cummunity technically, then it fails due to that fact alone.

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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Outlaw
    And this is the reason why karma is useless for anything other than a popularity contest. If the reason for having karma is to show how you are regarded in the cummunity technically, then it fails due to that fact alone.
    However, most karma++ comes from tech support. That gives an idea of your contribution to the forum. I think it gives you an incentive to help others.

    In my case, I had a karma of +271/-21 or something like that. As you said, all bad karma came from off-topic. But most good karma came from tech support. It personally worked as an incentive for me to help others. After a while, you get to enjoy seeing the karma next to your name, because it shows your commitment to the site.

    As far as I remember, karma was not always enabled on LJr, but it was enabled for a long time. I don't remember anyone campaigning for karma. I remember jokes about karma whoring, but to my understanding, it was just a joke.
    My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive.

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