Moving to the New Forum


#1

Background:
The internet has become an increasingly important part of the IAA. The web forum especially has become a beneficial tool for members and non-members to gain and share knowledge in a less formal medium than the Journal. This is especially important for allowing new and less knowledgeable members to have a lower barrier of entry into discussion about ammunition. Members are increasingly seeing the forum as a strong benefit they receive as being a member in the IAA. This is evident by the increasing frustration some members are portraying when they are unable to use the forum as they expect they should be able to.

We are using a forum software that was created 15 years ago. It has never supported some of the features we wish it would such as providing an easy way for members to upload and manage pictures though the software. It does not have an easy to use management functionality and it is not easy to maintain.

Recently the last two issues have become more pronounced. Maintaining the forum has become increasingly difficult because the outdated code it was created with is trying to run on the modern web. This has caused issues with the forum no longer being able to send emails on the current platform it is hosted on which in turn causes users not be able to easily register for the forum, receive notifications on watched posts or messages nor be able to change their password when they have forgotten it.

This then becomes a manual process for administrators of the forum to have to handle. But since the management aspect is so difficult this creates a bottleneck where everything relies on a single user. Maybe people do not know there is an issue or who to reach for their issue so it just becomes a burdensome experience for users and management involved.

In addition to the current issues there has always been a single person and point of failure for any problem that may arise. The software is hosted on account owned and controlled by a single person. And even if multiple people had access it is complicated and requires special knowledge on how to maintain and keep the software running.

Moving Forward:
I recommended, and the IAA board of directors approved the proposal of purchasing a license to use a newer, modern forum software that elevates many of these issues. The company that made the software offers a managed solution that removes the maintenance and hosting from the scope of what anyone in the IAA would be responsible for. The company will ensure that everything works and is always up-to-date on security fixes and bug fixes.

This software also gives us all of the modern features that members have requested. Users will be able to easily upload images and documents allowing them to more easily contribute to conversations. This also will allow us to make the forum a more longer-lasting research tool since we will not have to worry about images disappearing in the future.

The software also allows a select set of users to easily administer and moderate the forum without any specialized knowledge. This, combined with the removed maintenance requirement, will allow the forum to continue to be able to run smoothly without the need for someone with specialized knowledge in programming or web development.

What you need to do:
Some time next week I will shut down new posts and replies to the current forum. Everything will then be migrated over to the new forum software. This will allow all topics and posts and replies and private messages and users all to be switched over without losing anything.

Once everything is switched over everyone will receive an email asking them to reset their password to one compatible with the new software. Your email address and username will all stay the same.

It will take a little bit of time to get used to the look and feel and functionality of the new forum and I am sure we will find some things that may need tweaked a little bit. But I think it is a much better solution than what we currently have, and once everyone gets used to it I believe you will all enjoy using it.


#2

Aaron, this is great news.
Thanks a lot for all the work you and the other guys have invested into this forum and made it what it is today!

Looking forward to the new software then.


#3

I hope the switch will include using the HTTPS-protocol. Currently (HTTP) our passwords are sent in clear over the Internet.


#4

BRAVO to Aaron (and anyone else involved) with this upgrade!
The forum has proven to be a very valuable tool for sharing and encouraging our hobby, and this will make it even more so.

Aaron also deserves a lot of praise for his tremendous work on the IAA main website, adding features and content far beyond what we had in the early years.

WELL DONE, sir!


#5

Aaron,
Extremely good news!!!
Having written and maintained software for many years I understand the problems involved, especially when the burden is carried by one person.
Hopefully, as well as an improved platform, it will ease the pressure on the guys who do such a wonderful job on our behalf.

Cheers
John


#6

Well Done!!!

Aaron and the IAA officers and staff have done a great job keeping the forum running for this long. Thanks to all of you for your work, and thanks for the upgrade!

Lew

PS: Will the photos on old threads be copied into the new Forum, or will they remain linked and potentially lost?

If the latter is true, then I assume the authors can go in and edit their posts and transfer their photos—a lot of work.

Again, thanks for the change you are making.


#7

Lew

To my VERY limited understanding, part of the deal is to copy all the information from this to the new. If a thread’s photos are no longer linked, then the photos are not available to come along.

I think, (again limited understanding & knowledge) but do not know exactly how, that these once linked photos will be now permanently embedded in the new forum. Note the C.M.A. disclaimers here.

From Aaron’s above post “Everything will then be migrated over to the new forum software”, “without losing anything”.


#8

Great News!!!

Thanks

Lew


#9

Yippppeeee! Best news I have heard in a long time. Thanks to the Board for approving this and to all those who have continued to work hard on making the Forum a valuable resource for the Members of the Association and others. I am certain that the new software will provide great enhancements to the site.


#10

[quote=“PetedeCoux”]Lew

To my VERY limited understanding, part of the deal is to copy all the information from this to the new. If a thread’s photos are no longer linked, then the photos are not available to come along.

I think, (again limited understanding & knowledge) but do not know exactly how, that these once linked photos will be now permanently embedded in the new forum. Note the C.M.A. disclaimers here.

From Aaron’s above post “Everything will then be migrated over to the new forum software”, “without losing anything”.[/quote]

Likely all threads and posts will be directly copied into the new database of the servers, meaning that all content will appear on the new forums just as posted here.

If I post this here (on the current forum which will be moved:

Then this post will be transferred in raw text to the new forum, where all the formatting and tags used ([img],[b],[i],[u]) will be displayed.
Any images already linked here will thus be linked on the new forum.
If they were to transfer all images by downloading and embedding them within posts it would be a MASSIVE job, using huge amounts of HD space and taking a lot of time to do, even with automatic image grabbers and a script embedding each image into their corresponding post.

This migration sounds great, and really hope it will go smoothly for you guys in charge.
Aaron - would the new software allow for [vid] and [noparse] tags? Being able to embed .mp4, .avi, .webm amongst others would be very helpful (especially in the case of .webm which is superior to pretty much everything else when it comes to short videos, perfect for our use), and [noparse] tags would make it very easy to teach new members how to use tags.

Can I ask what new software will be used? By PM is fine. Just curious!

  • Ole

#11

Gentlemen, please use posting of videos sparingly.

99.9 percent of all videos on the Web do not prove anything or are of an optical quality that makes them useless. In the remainder, 90 percent of the time is wasted by presenters who love to hear themselves ranting about things off topic or really irrelevant.

Videos can be very instructive IF made well and to the point (which is by no means easy). But I look with horror at wasting my monthly data volume with the usual video crap.


#12

Jochem, as the vids usually are availably in the web a link will be sufficient from my view.
No need to waste traffic on the forum server.


#13

When I’m mentioning for example .webm files I’m not saying we should clutter the forum with only videos. I’m sorry that you felt the need to severely misinterpret my question.
Since I explicitly asked about the possiblity to embed videos, I of course mean videos hosted off-servers.
.webm is a very popular format for short (from 5 seconds to a couple minutes long) high quality videos/film clips. Useful for e.g. showing the function of a certain firearm, loading device, reloading machines, etc… So, exactly what you want - short, high quality excerpts that are nothing but the content needed to be shown.

If you don’t want to waste time and bandwith on “the usual video crap” - then don’t open them?
Besides - get a new ISP. Unless you are using a phone/iPad/thingamajig only, that is - any ISP delivering broadband/fibre to your computer with a data cap is just plain bad.

  • Ole

#14

Ole,
it was not my intention to offend you in any way. Sorry if it came over that way.

Sure, I could choose not to open a given video. One problem is, the relevance of a video can only be judged after at least starting it. The other problem is that experience shows, contributors will prefer to create a fancy 50 megabyte video for conveying the same information that could have been shown in an image that uses 1/1000th of the storage amount (and about 1/100th of my time to understand what is conveyed).

Videos are great for showing dynamic processes. But I expect wobbling images of static headstamps.


#15

.webm files are much, much smaller than .avi, .mp4, and other comparable formats of the same quality, resolution, and length ;)
No offence taken.

  • Ole

#16

Tennsats,
info Aaron,

Please make it simple for us old guys! Will I need to keep my photobucket account under the new Forum? When I die or lose my final few gray cells, and my photobucket disappears, will these photos be lost to the Forum? This has already happened for some guys posts where they decided to take down the images or their accounts have disappeared.

Your reply confused me. I thought the new forum would also copy all the images in a new file that we, the IAA, control and the posts would include the URL for this new file (or set of files). I believe this is the way the BOCN is set up and some other forums I have visited. This works well and should be simpler than using photobucket or some other storage area. I know we discussed this approach two IAA Forums ago and it was beyond our technology and/or capability back then.

I understand that embedding the image in the text would add a lot of size to the basic forum files and would slow access. I did not intend to ask if this was our approach, but rereading my post I can see that it could be read that way. I meant “linked to an external source”. If the photo files are on our server/system, and properly backed up, then they won’t be “potentially lost”.

Sorry I don’t speak “COMPUTER” with any fluency!

I agree with JPeelen, I have found very little useful in the video. Some are interesting but usually in only a general way, not for research for my interests. Still, I have no way to assess the cost of this vs the benefits and trust Aaron to do the smart thing as he had done consistently!

Again, thanks to Aaron and the IAA Board for this great initiative!!! We have come a long way since John Spangler set up our first Forum about 15 years ago.

Cheers,

Lew


#17

To make it simple-
If you have linked a Photobucket image in an old post here, it will be in the new forum, also linked from Photobucket.
BUT, the new forum will allow you to upload images directly into the posts, eliminating the need to use Photobucket from then on.

Old posts stay as they are - new forum posts can use either linked images (Photobucket, Imgur, what have you), or directly paste it into the post.
The latter option will let images stay as long as the forum exists.

YES - any currently linked images can and will be lost when the account they are on or the host they are on vanishes.

I will personally be saving images in my old posts and rather upload them directly into the new forum so that they won’t disappear.

  • Ole

#18