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Poll: What do YOU think we should do? (please read post first)
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Dumbed down MyBB instance
30.77%
4 30.77%
New Forum Software
46.15%
6 46.15%
Leave it be!
23.08%
3 23.08%
Total 13 vote(s) 100%
* You voted for this item. [Show Results]

Future of upgrades and forum software
#1
Wink 
Update: Due to some major login issues some users are experiencing that appear to be coming from several points of entry in our current theme, we have to actually switch to the default theme.

Once you are logged in, you can switch back to the Dark / Light theme by scrolling to the bottom of the page and changing it back from the theme drop down menu... If for some reason you're stuck with the dark theme and CANNOT log in, please switch to the default one, log in, then switch back. [EDIT: Login should be fixed on modern Light/Dark themes as well as the GoMobile theme. I am still in the process of fixing other issues. -Chupi]

This sort of proves my point that you're about to read below.

---------------------------------------

As you probably realized, things look a little strange today.  We updated the forums and whenever that happens the theme breaks.  Plugins sometimes break as well.

We're working on fixing the theme (looks like about 100 templates got botched during the upgrade), but in the meantime I wanted to talk about some thing I've been thinking about.  Namely the forum software itself.  MyBB has been serving our purpose extremely well, except for one thing: its upgrades.

This is kind of our fault, as we have a pretty customized theme and a couple dozen plugins.  On the other hand, MyBB tends to feel more like a rolling release, having pretty frequent updates (at least 5 in the last year).  By contrast, another popular forum software Simple Machine Forums, has had no stable releases since 2017. (though in March they came out with a RC)

One of the reasons MyBB must be updated so frequently is because they release full upgrades for security patches.  They're working on separating that out to make things easier, but for the moment we're stuck doing these upgrades, least we be at the mercy of every SQL injection or Cross Site Scripting attack.

The other issue is the direction that MyBB is going.  Originally, the devs were working on MyBB version 1.8 and 2.0 separately.  Recently, they have placed 2.0 on hold and work on a new road map bringing out major changes to the software with each new release.  Their plans for 1.9 for instance have everything from a responsive theme and new template system to completely different mail handlers and plugin infrastructure.  You can read about it here.

Assuming MyBB maintains security updates for 1.8 after 1.9 comes out, we should be fine for a while (hopefully until plugins like the Enhanced Account Switcher catch up).  If not, we may run into some issues the moment vulnerabilities for 1.8 start to appear.

Security is important to me, and therefore ensuring that we're up-to-date as much as possible is paramount.  Getting hacked could result in things like leaking private user data, PMs, IPs, and emails.  We don't want that.

I guess the solutions to this I have been kicking around in my head are what follows:

1) Dumb down our MyBB instance, using the basic theme and simply retiring plugins as they expire.
For example, would everyone be alright if we simply recolored the default MyBB theme to mimic dark mode, or try to find a css hack that could just change those colors without modifying the theme in any way?

At present, we keep missing out on new features that come out because our templates are dated and we aren't actively coding in the new ones.  The MyBB dev team has already said their ship of theseus style upgrades over the next few versions should be seamless on their default theme, and even the plugins seem to work without breaking when ran on the default theme.

2) Search for forum software that's easier to maintain
This isn't an idea that I take lightly, it would be a major undertaking between the migration and redesign, but I would be willing to do it if it meant better stability and support moving forward.  If we did it, I would want something that "just works", remains secure, and is easy to update (MyBB is always manual).

For something like that it may be worth looking into an enterprise solution, and only one really comes to mind... Invision Power Board, which would have an up front of $200 then cost about $50/year.  The reason I would suggest them is that they're pretty quick with security patches, supports automatic updates, and even has an account switcher plugin.

If you know of some other forum softwares that may work, feel free to suggest.  I did look into XenForo as well, but they don't actually support linked accounts.

3) Just leave it be!
Easiest short term solution is to just keep doing what we're doing.  New updates come out, we run the update, and hope everything "just works."  If it breaks, we try our best to patch it up until it breaks so much we can't really patch anymore and we'll apologize that those customizations no longer work as before.  If too many things break, well, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

What do YOU think we should do?
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#2
Moving a whole forum to new software would be a huge undertaking, but if your fine with it then I'm fine with it is guess. My biggest worry is that 50/year is a lot more than 0/year. I don't know how much finding .info has, but I imagine that it's not a huge amount. If this place was moved then what would that money be taken out of? Would this place still be sustainable with that if a few of the biggest donars stopped donating?

Whatever we do I really hope that we can keep the dark theme, I like it a lot more than default
I have a tulpa named Miela (formerly known as Monika) who I love very much.


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-Me
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#3
I'd say the account switcher is a must, and I'd really like to keep having a dark theme of some sort (but a simple color change to get it would be fine). Other than that, scrap it all and live life with easier upgrades.

Then again, I don't actually know: What plugins do the forums currently have, besides the account switcher? What do they do?
Lawyer up on my new forum game, Jean-luc's Jaundiced Judicial Judging Jamboree! Feel free to PM or post on that thread with any questions!
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#4
So correct me if I'm wrong, assuming we apply these colors to the new default theme (keep the exact grays and blues if/where you can pls), MyBB would look like this and Invision would look like this?

Account switcher really needs to stay in some form (people could handle re-associating their accounts though), but what I'm more worried about is the user display beside posts. It needs to be on the left and not on top - that's really something you should avoid changing after all these years. Maybe I'm overestimating the impact, but, I think old users feel more welcome on the forum when they come back and see it looks exactly as it did years ago. I just have this feeling that if we were to change the forum to look like the MyBB one up there, we'd actually lose a lot of loosely-returning members. Maybe I'm wrong.

The price is steep, and changing the software a forum runs on can't be easy (thread URLs breaking isn't an option, of course), and I'm a little bit worried about the $50 a year thing because that means the forum probably wouldn't stick around for 10+ years unattended, right? If the "theme" of MyBB can be more similar to our current one with just a few differences in how smooth the corners are and what not (like literally no site can resist changing for no reason), then I'm fine with sticking with them. Account Switcher not updating would be a huge problem though.

Also, I'm not the one paying, so..
Hi! I'm Lumi, host of Reisen, Tewi, Flandre and Lucilyn.
Everyone deserves to love and be loved. It's human nature.
My tulpas and I have a Q&A thread, which was the first (and largest) of its kind. Feel free to ask us stuff.
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#5
Isn't Tulpa.info already on a $50 per year plan with myBB?

In the long term, I think it makes more sense to move to a better software. Unfortunately, I have no idea to help with the financial burden of that decision...

I agree with Luminece about the forum. It would be nice if Tulpa.info still looked pretty close to what it does now. I usually use dark theme but I like the mobile theme too.

A non-functional account switcher is going to annoy me. I can get away with logging in on 2 browsers, but that's not a thing everyone would want to put up with.

I think security and getting a reasonably affordable option are the most important things, and while I would be annoyed by a loss of features, I am willing to deal with it if it means I can still post here and feel ensured about not getting hacked.

Whatever happens, please keep the "View Today's Posts" button!
Christmas kitty. I'm still not a hippo, I promise.
I sometimes speak in pink and Ranger sometimes speaks in blue (if it's unmarked and colored assume it's Ranger). He loves to chat.

My other Tulpas have their own account now.
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#6
I don't think you're going to make everyone happy no matter what you do. Something like reddit is worthless because you can't even subscribe to a thread. Something like spiritualforums.com is pretty broken too because that 24 hour search we have here is great. Also the ability to easily find which sections have unread threads os awesome.

Dark theme +1

Honestly you gotta do whatever's easiest for you, the last thing we need if for you to get 'bored with it' and give up.

If you need a fund drive or something, we'd help.
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#7
(06-22-2019, 05:15 AM)Breloomancer Wrote: Moving a whole forum to new software would be a huge undertaking, but if your fine with it then I'm fine with it is guess. My biggest worry is that 50/year is a lot more than 0/year. I don't know how much finding .info has, but I imagine that it's not a huge amount. If this place was moved then what would that money be taken out of? Would this place still be sustainable with that if a few of the biggest donars stopped donating?

Whatever we do I really hope that we can keep the dark theme, I like it a lot more than default
It comes out to be about $5/month.  We're already paying $20-something a month for our VPS and worse case scenario I basically skip a meal one day a month to pay for it.  After the inital cost (which can be covered) the rolling price should, in theory, not be a whole lot.

If people stopped donating today, Tulpa.info would still be running for the next year (I always make sure to stay a year ahead of hosting).  That wouldn't change a whole lot, it just means moving an extra $50 in my bank account over to back-pay IPB in addition to the money back-payed to linode.

(06-22-2019, 05:27 AM)jean-luc Wrote: I'd say the account switcher is a must, and I'd really like to keep having a dark theme of some sort (but a simple color change to get it would be fine). Other than that, scrap it all and live life with easier upgrades.

Then again, I don't actually know: What plugins do the forums currently have, besides the account switcher? What do they do?
Really, the question comes down to "stay with MyBB or move to IPB", both seem to have an account switcher.  Here are our current plugins:

* Enhanced Account Switcher -> You know what that does.
* Activate Users from Mod CP -> We don't really need this anymore, it was when we had to manually activate people
* Apply Thread Prefix -> Allows mods to more easily add prefixes
* Game Section -> You know what what this is
* Game Section Profile and Portal Statistics -> I actually got a request to remove this one so it may go away if people don't like it
* MyBB GoMobile -> Super outdated mobile plugin but still seems to work
* Goodbye Spammer -> A tool the moderation team uses to delete all posts and ban a spammer with one click of a button (only works on new accounts, don't worry)
* Google SEO -> It's why we have topic names in our URLs
* Hide Sigs and Websites of New users -> This is because some spammers sign up, don't post, but just edit their sig / website link to get indexed by google
* Limit Number of Threads -> Limits number of threads a new user can make in a single day, helps with spam
* Moderation Actions Preview -> Shows moderator actions sorted by date in posts / announcements / profiles / user CP, I don't know if any of the mods actually use this
* Moderator CP Permissions -> MyBB's mod cp is all or nothing, this helps us limit permission for management reasons
* My Advertisements -> A decent ad plugin, we mainly use it to post announcements (like we're doing right now)
* MyBB 2FA -> MyBB doesn't support 2FA by default, so this plugin allows it... it doesn't work well with multi accounts though, it's mostly for Chupi and I.
* No Links Allowed -> Denys posting links if you're under a certain amount of posts.  Might be disabled at the moment.
* Note Moderator -> Allows mods to add notes to posts
* OUGC Require Prefix -> Requires a prefix to be added when posting threads in certain boards.
* Postbit Layout Per Theme -> Template / theme related plugin
* Post Via Email -> We mostly use this internally to keep track of donors
* Post Warning Notification -> Shows us a user's warning level in the post
* Report Private Messages -> allows you guys to report PMs to us
* SPAM blocker & auto ban -> Self explanatory
* Stop Forum Spam -> prevents IPs recorded in stopforumspam.com from registering
* Trash Can Forum -> Allows Your Deleted Posts to exist
* VIP Membership -> We were originally using this for the donation group, now I think we just set people manually.
* Welcome PM -> Allows those wonderful welcome PMs from me when you first register Smile

(06-22-2019, 02:37 PM)Luminesce Wrote: So correct me if I'm wrong, assuming we apply these colors to the new default theme (keep the exact grays and blues if/where you can pls), MyBB would look like this and Invision would look like this?

Account switcher really needs to stay in some form (people could handle re-associating their accounts though), but what I'm more worried about is the user display beside posts. It needs to be on the left and not on top - that's really something you should avoid changing after all these years. Maybe I'm overestimating the impact, but, I think old users feel more welcome on the forum when they come back and see it looks exactly as it did years ago. I just have this feeling that if we were to change the forum to look like the MyBB one up there, we'd actually lose a lot of loosely-returning members. Maybe I'm wrong.

The price is steep, and changing the software a forum runs on can't be easy (thread URLs breaking isn't an option, of course), and I'm a little bit worried about the $50 a year thing because that means the forum probably wouldn't stick around for 10+ years unattended, right? If the "theme" of MyBB can be more similar to our current one with just a few differences in how smooth the corners are and what not (like literally no site can resist changing for no reason), then I'm fine with sticking with them. Account Switcher not updating would be a huge problem though.

Also, I'm not the one paying, so..
To answer your question of if this is what each theme looks like, basically: yes.  MyBB has gone from having the avatar on the left to having it on top I believe during the transition from 1.6 to 1.8 and I hate it.  I think there's a setting that switches it to the side either in the UserCP or in the themes, and I remember us going out of our way to ensure the side view is the default one (even if you switch to "MyBB Default Theme" on this forum, the avatars are on the side).

I was a member of a gaming community for many years, and when they switched away from SMF to something else, everything changed so drastically it just didn't feel the same.  I eventually drifted, so I know that feeling.

Fun fact: The very first version of tulpa.info's forums used Invision Power Board, via InvisionFree.  When we created the new theme, we basically re-skinned MyBB to look as much like IPB as we could.

If we changed software, I would really want to have some kind of URL redirects in place; I have no idea how, but perhaps we could capture the old thread IDs and new ones post import.  Who knows, but I hate breaking URLs to the point where I won't get rid of tulpa.info/archive for SEO / aged link reasons.

(06-22-2019, 03:33 PM)Cat_ShadowGriffin Wrote: Isn't Tulpa.info already on a $50 per year plan with myBB?

In the long term, I think it makes more sense to move to a better software. Unfortunately, I have no idea to help with the financial burden of that decision...

I agree with Luminece about the forum. It would be nice if Tulpa.info still looked pretty close to what it does now. I usually use dark theme but I like the mobile theme too.

A non-functional account switcher is going to annoy me. I can get away with logging in on 2 browsers, but that's not a thing everyone would want to put up with.

I think security and getting a reasonably affordable option are the most important things, and while I would be annoyed by a loss of features, I am willing to deal with it if it means I can still post here and feel ensured about not getting hacked.

Whatever happens, please keep the "View Today's Posts" button!
MyBB is free, so we're basically paying nothing for the software.  As opposed to commercial solutions, the MyBB dev team are basically volunteers working on this in their free time.  That's the case for many of these forum softwares.  Despite that, they're pretty active and always updating things, but you may lose a hint of "robustness" when compared to IPB.  As far as financial burden, refer to my first response above.  I'll have to look further into IPB's pricing structure to verify it would *only* be $50/year after that initial expense.

Thankfully IPB does have an account switcher.  It's $20, and I have no way of testing it, but it does exist.  Not being able to use an account switcher at this point would be a deal-breaker for me; if it stopped working for MyBB (it's already glitchy after our recent update) I would go with Simple Machine Forums before staying with MyBB (I think theirs still works).

(06-22-2019, 04:41 PM)Dashie Bear Wrote: I don't think you're going to make everyone happy no matter what you do. Something like reddit is worthless because you can't even subscribe to a thread. Something like spiritualforums.com is pretty broken too because that 24 hour search we have here is great. Also the ability to easily find which sections have unread threads os awesome.

Dark theme +1

Honestly you gotta do whatever's easiest for you, the last thing we need if for you to get 'bored with it' and give up.

If you need a fund drive or something, we'd help.
It's not quite about getting bored but more about getting tedious.  We were actually 3-5 versions behind for several months simply because upgrading is such a manual process for us.  It's why I would love for something with less hassle.

What started this lines of thought was when the university I work at decided to bring me on board to helping implement a new service and project management solution.  We ended up going with a service that not only "just works" but allows us to process tickets, create forms, and design pages with not only WYSWYG but literal dragging and dropping elements; this extends to even creating super complicated workflows.

Part of the contract is that we always have to upgrade to the latest version... but they not only do it automatically, everything remains backwards compatible.  We're paying an astronomical amount of money for this solution, but it is a very powerful one and allows us to focus on creating the services and workflows rather than maintaining it.

Perhaps it's worth spinning up our old dev VM and testing some enterprise solutions just to see how easy they handle such upgrades.
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#8
(06-22-2019, 06:16 PM)Pleeb Wrote: * Enhanced Account Switcher -> You know what that does.
* Activate Users from Mod CP -> We don't really need this anymore, it was when we had to manually activate people
* Apply Thread Prefix -> Allows mods to more easily add prefixes
* Game Section -> You know what what this is
* Game Section Profile and Portal Statistics -> I actually got a request to remove this one so it may go away if people don't like it
* MyBB GoMobile -> Super outdated mobile plugin but still seems to work
* Goodbye Spammer -> A tool the moderation team uses to delete all posts and ban a spammer with one click of a button (only works on new accounts, don't worry)
* Google SEO -> It's why we have topic names in our URLs
* Hide Sigs and Websites of New users -> This is because some spammers sign up, don't post, but just edit their sig / website link to get indexed by google
* Limit Number of Threads -> Limits number of threads a new user can make in a single day, helps with spam
* Moderation Actions Preview -> Shows moderator actions sorted by date in posts / announcements / profiles / user CP, I don't know if any of the mods actually use this
* Moderator CP Permissions -> MyBB's mod cp is all or nothing, this helps us limit permission for management reasons
* My Advertisements -> A decent ad plugin, we mainly use it to post announcements (like we're doing right now)
* MyBB 2FA -> MyBB doesn't support 2FA by default, so this plugin allows it... it doesn't work well with multi accounts though, it's mostly for Chupi and I.
* No Links Allowed -> Denys posting links if you're under a certain amount of posts.  Might be disabled at the moment.
* Note Moderator -> Allows mods to add notes to posts
* OUGC Require Prefix -> Requires a prefix to be added when posting threads in certain boards.
* Postbit Layout Per Theme -> Template / theme related plugin
* Post Via Email -> We mostly use this internally to keep track of donors
* Post Warning Notification -> Shows us a user's warning level in the post
* Report Private Messages -> allows you guys to report PMs to us
* SPAM blocker & auto ban -> Self explanatory
* Stop Forum Spam -> prevents IPs recorded in stopforumspam.com from registering
* Trash Can Forum -> Allows Your Deleted Posts to exist
* VIP Membership -> We were originally using this for the donation group, now I think we just set people manually.
* Welcome PM -> Allows those wonderful welcome PMs from me when you first register Smile

Well we don't need games, but it surprises me just how much that I thought was MyBB was actually plugins. I don't see much spam these days so I'd say the spam-related plugins are doing a good job.

Another thing to consider is that I (and I'm sure others) would really like it if whatever system was able to import all the posts from the old. Can IPB import the threads from MyBB? We wouldn't want somebody to win LOTPW...
Lawyer up on my new forum game, Jean-luc's Jaundiced Judicial Judging Jamboree! Feel free to PM or post on that thread with any questions!
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#9
(06-22-2019, 06:48 PM)jean-luc Wrote: Another thing to consider is that I (and I'm sure others) would really like it if whatever system was able to import all the posts from the old. Can IPB import the threads from MyBB? We wouldn't want somebody to win LOTPW...
IPB does include a free converter that supports MyBB 1.8.x, so we should be able to convert our site in one way or another.

We are probably tentitively moving into Option 1 due to some problems... Updating OP with details.
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#10
The only games I ever touched was the game threads, my old phone wouldn't play them i think, and never bothered.
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