Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum 2nd March....

Merge together Early Aircraft Projects and Postwar Aircraft Projects?


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overscan

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December 27th 2017 will be the 12th anniversary of the Secret Projects Forum. Hoorah!

After several years of evaluation and research into replacing the current SMF forum system with something more modern, I am in the process of a test migration to the commercial Xenforo 2.0 system. All existing posts and attachments will be preserved.

12 years ago in December 2005, I installed the forum using the shiny new SMF 1.0 forum software. Just a year later, SMF 1.1 brought some good improvements. SMF 2.0 didn't arrive until 2010 and was a little disappointing in new features, being mostly a behind the scenes rewrite.

SMF 2.1 is still in beta test more than 7 years later, and looks to be increasingly obsolete before arrival. It's time to jump ship. However other free forum software isn't really any better despite the glacial pace of SMF development. Hence the move to Xenforo.

I realise that people are probably used to the existing forum setup and look. I think it was pretty snazzy it its day, but times have moved on. Xenforo is a well-supported commercial product, not expensive, and not too radically different in design.

I will be taking the opportunity to consider merging some of the many forum sections, and taking advantage of other ways to view and sort content. Once I have a test board ready, I will invite senior members to visit and provide feedback.

When (if) we are happy with the new system, I will post an announcement on the forum as to the planned migration date. All going well, I expect to be able to migrate the forum over the Christmas holidays to this new system.
 

Graham1973

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

Is this going to affect images attached to posts?
 

hesham

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

My dear Paul,

I am with you for everything to progress growing up this best site of the world,and
I have only one suggesting,to make a section for aircraft which entered production
certainly,to avoid put it in anther sections,and no date for the aircraft,means from
the year 1900 to 2017,God bless you,and Merry Christmas.
 

overscan

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

Graham1973 said:
Is this going to affect images attached to posts?
No, all images attached to posts will be kept.
 

overscan

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

No, AVIC in China kindly offered to host them all, gratis ;) ;D

The forum uploaded images will stay on the server, and its actually possible to automatically upload linked images to the server to prevent "image rot" in older topics if I want.
 

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

PaulMM (Overscan) said:
No, AVIC in China kindly offered to host them all, gratis ;) ;D

The forum uploaded images will stay on the server, and its actually possible to automatically upload linked images to the server to prevent "image rot" in older topics if I want.
I hope that is something you DO want! Thanks for all the work and dedication you've put into this forum. Hopefully you have a "trustee" of some sort, who can takeover your duties in case you decide to retire to an exotic place, like New Zealand ...
 

overscan

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

Grigori is officially 'second-in-command' for the forum. He probably couldn't do the server admin though :)
 

bobbymike

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

April 21, 2018 will mark my 9th anniversary here at SPF and while I look forward to the changes I have to admit the current forum has become a "well thumbed" reference book for me, a comfort in its' simplicity yet comprehensiveness.

Good luck with the transition I look forward, with some trepidation, to the changes.
 

overscan

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

I will endeavour to minimise the pain for users. I discounted some more radical forum systems.
 

Schneiderman

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

I tend to follow the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' philosophy but if you feel an overhaul is in order then great, go for it. Provided no images are lost and the search function is as good as or better than now all should be fine.
After all these years there is a fair amount of duplication and, dare I say, less than stellar posts on the multitude of threads, but that is the way all forums go in time. Perhaps this revamp can serve to revitalise things.

Good luck
 

hesham

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

My dear Paul,

I want only to check,all topics remain as its state now,right ?.
 

BAROBA

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

Hi Paul,
Whatever you do, backup first :)
Happy Holidays to all :)
 

overscan

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

The forum will be migrated to a new server, so its a pretty safe approach.
 

dan_inbox

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

hesham said:
I want only to check,all topics remain as its state now,right ?.
1- Somehow I'm afraid about the read/unread status for each of us...

2- Also wonder whether there should be some cleanup and re-organization? And maybe a clarification of the purposes of the forum.
When we are going always deeper into reposts of wikipedia articles, unashamedly verbatim poor machine-translation, it's probably time to clarify what this place is all about. https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,8557.msg320899.html#msg320899
 

seruriermarshal

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

Web site name will change ?
 

starviking

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

dan_inbox said:
2- Also wonder whether there should be some cleanup and re-organization? And maybe a clarification of the purposes of the forum.
When we are going always deeper into reposts of wikipedia articles, unashamedly verbatim poor machine-translation, it's probably time to clarify what this place is all about. https://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,8557.msg320899.html#msg320899
I take a different viewpoint. In the example you give, a member certainly has posted a machine translation of both an Italian Wiki page, and a Japanese page. It does not seem to be a repost - at least not in the specific thread, and does not seem to have met with any adverse comments from other contributors to the thread.

Just yesterday I had to dip into Web Archive to try and retrieve a copy of a website I had gone to often in the past. The site hosts had put a divert on the page, and all copies in the archive were updated to the divert - all the information lost! Wiki posts may be very simple to do - but we cannot guarantee the information will be there 10 years down the line.
 

NeilChapman

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

Paul,

Typically there are just a few reasons to make this sort of change...

1. No support for the old stuff

2. Need the features of the new stuff

3. You just want something new

I have pencil on my desk. Seems to be working well.

So, since you're determined to go through with it, don't muck it up! ;)

N
 

steelpillow

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

What new features will the upgrade bring? Seems a lot of work if it looks quite like this one already.

I certainly like the idea of cacheing all those external images against web rot - some of them are mine and I daren't reorganise my dropbox for this very reason.
 

sferrin

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

steelpillow said:
What new features will the upgrade bring? Seems a lot of work if it looks quite like this one already.

I certainly like the idea of cacheing all those external images against web rot - some of them are mine and I daren't reorganise my dropbox for this very reason.
Be thankful you don't have Photobucket. :'( Most of my links are going to go kerplooey at the end of the year. Not willing to pony up $400 to keep using their hot-linking service. (2000-ish pics that I've posted here and there over the years.)
 

overscan

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

There are a number of new features, better support for mobile devices is one of them, much better integration to social media is another. It will be tested thoroughly before cutover and it won't happen if it isn't an improvement.

It is likely that topics read status will be lost. I'm not sure why this is terribly relevant though? You'd just mark everything read on first visit, then it will work as normal going forward - or am I missing a use case here?
 

steelpillow

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

PaulMM (Overscan) said:
much better integration to social media.
I regard that as more of an annoyance than an improvement. It's not hard to copy-paste a topic's url into a Facebook post. The price paid for making it even easier is to have social media cross-site scripts data mining your user accounts and pretending they are "anonymising" it all. Ah, well, the price of progress.

It is likely that topics read status will be lost. I'm not sure why this is terribly relevant though? You'd just mark everything read on first visit, then it will work as normal going forward - or am I missing a use case here?
Even if you warn everybody personally, there will be those who cannot access the old forum in its last days. Once migrated, they will not find it easy to identify its unread posts from the ones they have already read. A chronologically ordered list of all posts makes it possible but, after a reasonable amount of new forum posts have built up, would become tiresome to trawl back through. Can I suggest that you lock forum posting for, say, a couple of days before changing over, to give us more time to catch up on our reading?
 

dan_inbox

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

PaulMM (Overscan) said:
There are a number of new features, better support for mobile devices is one of them, much better integration to social media is another. It will be tested thoroughly before cutover and it won't happen if it isn't an improvement.

It is likely that topics read status will be lost. I'm not sure why this is terribly relevant though? You'd just mark everything read on first visit, then it will work as normal going forward - or am I missing a use case here?
Integration to social media looks more like pollution than progress to me, but I must be in a minority.
Seeing the level of plainly-wrong information posted on social sites Pinterest Flickr and such, with troves of users both crassly ignorant and eager-to-show-off, would more integration bring really a welcome additional audience?

For the read status, I'm old school: I use it to track the topics I haven't read yet (what a concept!). Some areas of the forum I try to follow day-to-day, like the Secret Projects and General sections. Other sections I browse less often, say once a month or so (in Avionics I'm actually years behind). The status is useful to me when I go back to such a section.
Don't let that slow you down. If you can't preserve it, I'll survive...

starviking said:
I take a different viewpoint. In the example you give, a member certainly has posted a machine translation of both an Italian Wiki page, and a Japanese page.
There is an in-principle question of quality vs quantity, and the quality has been a few times down to outright sloppiness, like reposts of wikipedia with typos added. Posting machine translation without cleanup is simply sloppy too.

As I remember Paul prided himself on the higher signal-to-noise ratio, which I agree is the distinctive uniqueness of this forum. Sloppy posts and Quality-over-Quantity just lower it.
 

overscan

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

Interesting - I typically either search for things I am after or just view new stuff via the 20 ''recent posts'' at the bottom of the main page. If its a new recent post, clearly I haven't read it yet, so the read/unread status thing is irrelevant, while if I'm searching for something, again if I've read the topic before is irrelevant. Social media integration is for me only two things - one, let users use their existing Facebook or Google logon to sign up to the forum and not have to create specific username/password, and two, the ability for users to easily share a topic into Facebook or Twitter.
 

Michel Van

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

To be honest
i look traditional into Forum, quick look below into "Secret Projects Forum - Info Center"
then i look usual topics Early, postwar Aircrafts, Space projects etc. for unread marks

Google+ i use to but not for looking into Secret Projects Forum or other Forums
General to get information or to sign up to forums or Disqus or games.

i have not a Facebook account !
 

Schneiderman

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

OK, I'm old-school but I strongly agree with the posts above regarding the advantage of 'integration' with social media. There is a place for Facebook etc but frankly I don't think it has much to do with a forum such as this one. I am already seeing a significant devaluation in threads with several posts just parroting material from Wiki,and enhanced links to social media will probably just result in further recycling of the well-know, easily located and, frankly, erroneous. A pity.
 

hesham

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

seruriermarshal said:
Web site name will change ?
I think no,that's a trade mark all over the world,even encyclopedias,such as Wikipedia.
 

Antonio

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

i have not a Facebook account !

I don't like Facebook. I'd love to keep the forum as it is.
 

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

PaulMM (Overscan) said:
Social media integration is for me only two things - one, let users use their existing Facebook or Google logon to sign up to the forum and not have to create specific username/password, and two, the ability for users to easily share a topic into Facebook or Twitter.
If new users can come here straight from their social media chattering and start posting instantly, that would be the death of this as a serious forum.
Facebook has closed groups for its serious topics, requiring approval by a group Admin. Media sign-in here must only be possible for a user account which you have already approved, there is no way you can spend your life blocking idiots.
 

Schneiderman

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

A bit harsh.............but I have to agree
 

bobbymike

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

pometablava said:
i have not a Facebook account !

I don't like Facebook. I'd love to keep the forum as it is.
I agree no social media integration, keep as is.
 

sferrin

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

Imagine the worst side of a political thread times 50. That's what bringing Facebook, Tumblr, and the Twitterati would probably resemble. Yuck.
 

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

If it's not broke, don't fix it.

And please, do not bring Facebook into this.
 

Hood

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

I share everyone else's concerns with Facebook and social media in general.

Facebook has a fair number of groups on secret projects and other similar aeronautical topics, The Greatest Planes that Never Were being just one of the larger ones.
That group is mainly a rehash of Luft 46 topics, 3D art, TSR.2, Avro Canada and other 'populist' never-were topics. I suspect the rest are much the same. We would have to wary of large image dumps of stuff we've already seen and uninformed ranting/dreaming. It was only 7-8 years ago that this forum got in hot water over copyright issues etc. I would be careful of not getting into the same predicament if that kind of image dumping did occur.

Of course the flipside argument presented is, we can share our topics easier. True, but it would be idealistic to think that in itself would improve the quality of the some of the Facebook groups' material (it hasn't so far). As for Twitter, who writes concise enough posts for that medium anyway?

I don't see why people can't make a proper account here if they are interested to join. Using a Facebook, Gmail or Twitter login just seems lazy to me (also forum avatar anonymity could be a blessing). It seems to be a growing trend but I'm not sure that's a good thing.
 

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

I agree with staying as far away from "social media" as possible. It feels not only unnecessary, but detrimental and completely at odds with all that is good and wholesome about SPF! Like putting arsenic on apple pie.
 

Archibald

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

Sferrin: I hate Photobucket as much as you hate it. They are really a bunch of arses.

I second the anti-social media league. I will never, ever have a twitter account.

And Pinterest is really one hell of an annoyance, notably for Google searches. It is worse than herpes.
 

overscan

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

I think people are misunderstanding things.

All existing usernames and passwords will be preserved, noone is forced to use a social media logon, and you will still be able to create a forum-only account in future. This is just a new option when people sign up to the forum. It would allow new users to sign up for forum access without needing to create a separate account for this forum.

I really don't see what the issue with that is - they still have to be approved the same as if they created a standalone account - and how does the method of logon affect the conduct of the user in any way? I personally often use my Google account to log onto 3rd party websites - if they want me to create a new user name and password I think twice if I can be bothered. The days of creating a hundred different passwords are going - standardising on a few logon systems (Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID, whatever suits you) makes more sense.

The other piece of functionality would allow forum users to easily share a topic they like on their Facebook or Twitter page by hitting a button in the post or topic called "Share".

Thousands of people interested in the topics of the forum are posting in Facebook groups. Many of them don't know this place exists.

Right now, many forum users are downloading pics from here, posting them (without attribution) in these groups, and the forum gets no credit or referrals. If users share a topic link instead, it could help drive new users here, and without new users, the forum dies, and the Groundhog Day of Facebook groups endlessly reposting the same pictures every month is all that is left of this topic.

Having said that, these are OPTIONAL features. I don't have to implement them if there is no value.

I think the only way to understand the changes will be to see them - so once the new forum is up and running, users will be able to visit and see it and hopefully appreciate it is an improvement, before any decision to cut over.
 

steelpillow

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

PaulMM (Overscan) said:
they still have to be approved the same as if they created a standalone account
...
The other piece of functionality would allow forum users to easily share a topic they like on their Facebook or Twitter page by hitting a button in the post or topic called "Share".
Thank you for the clarification, Paul. That allays a lot of my fears. I don't have to use the single sign-on or Share features if I don't want to.

Of course, they will draw more of us to your site and give you proportionately more work to do keeping us in order. But I am sure you already realise that.
 

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

PaulMM (Overscan) said:
I think people are misunderstanding things.

All existing usernames and passwords will be preserved, noone is forced to use a social media logon, and you will still be able to create a forum-only account in future. This is just a new option when people sign up to the forum. It would allow new users to sign up for forum access without needing to create a separate account for this forum.
The concern I'm reading is that allowing the google/facebook/etc account integration will allow those systems to datamine SP. That datamining will "capture" both the users of those account management systems and contributors that do not use those systems. For some, that's a concern.

I would think that crawlers would have picked through all this data already though. I've found some of my own posts on SP through google searches.

PaulMM (Overscan) said:
I really don't see what the issue with that is - they still have to be approved the same as if they created a standalone account - and how does the method of logon affect the conduct of the user in any way? I personally often use my Google account to log onto 3rd party websites - if they want me to create a new user name and password I think twice if I can be bothered. The days of creating a hundred different passwords are going - standardising on a few logon systems (Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID, whatever suits you) makes more sense.

The other piece of functionality would allow forum users to easily share a topic they like on their Facebook or Twitter page by hitting a button in the post or topic called "Share".

Thousands of people interested in the topics of the forum are posting in Facebook groups. Many of them don't know this place exists.

Right now, many forum users are downloading pics from here, posting them (without attribution) in these groups, and the forum gets no credit or referrals. If users share a topic link instead, it could help drive new users here, and without new users, the forum dies, and the Groundhog Day of Facebook groups endlessly reposting the same pictures every month is all that is left of this topic.
Great points

PaulMM (Overscan) said:
Having said that, these are OPTIONAL features. I don't have to implement them if there is no value.

I think the only way to understand the changes will be to see them - so once the new forum is up and running, users will be able to visit and see it and hopefully appreciate it is an improvement, before any decision to cut over.
If it's easier, operationally, to manage this wonderful resource using this new system then I'll look forward to whatever solution you implement. Remind us to double your bonus next year. ;)

---

Are there any reference sites out there that one might visit if they're so inclined?
 

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Re: Big changes coming to Secret Projects Forum soon....

NeilChapman said:
...I would think that crawlers would have picked through all this data already though. I've found some of my own posts on SP through google searches.
This is off on a tangent, and I apologize. But has anyone else noticed that while Google and Yahoo could have one to three spiders working, Baidu frequently has 30+? Is Baidu particularly inefficient, or is this site singled out for special attention? And what might the implications of that be?

Count at this moment: Yahoo! (2), Google (3), Baidu (29).
 
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