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December 06, 2012
Re: Better forum
On Wednesday, 5 December 2012 at 23:07:21 UTC, Paulo Pinto wrote:
> Am 05.12.2012 23:40, schrieb js.mdnq:
>> On Wednesday, 5 December 2012 at 22:14:57 UTC, Walter Bright 
>> wrote:
>>> On 12/6/2012 8:50 AM, Alex Rønne Petersen wrote:
>> ...
>>
>> IMO, the only downside is supporting legacy users who refuse 
>> to make the
>> transition. I think they are just being hard headed though...
>
> I hate web forums with passion, they all suck compared to the 
> browsing
> experience most NNTP clients offer.
>
> I can browse threads just with keyboard navigation, follow 
> discussion threads, mark/unmark all I have read, save 
> discussions for posterity,
> all with a standards compliant network protocol free of walled 
> garden
> data servers.

Huh?  You can do the same thing with BB's? There is nothing you 
can do on NNTP that can't be done on BB's. Most BB's can be 
customized. If you want an app to view the BB how you want it 
then write one. Many BB's have RSS feeds, ability to 
edit(something you can't do with nntp, or at least most nntp 
servers), get reply by mail, mark all read/unread, save(also 
possibly not in the same format as you might be used to), etc...

> As for spam, that is what moderation is for, if ever needed.
>
> I am a firm believer that users of web forums can only find 
> them better than Usenet, because they haven't experienced 
> Usenet in its golden days.
>

I used to use usenet back in the day and after setting up a good 
spam filter it was ok. The only thing I find it better at BB's is 
navigation as it was quick to respond to threads. BUT this is not 
a feature that only nntp can dish out. There is nothing stopping 
any BB software from doing the same.

Most people that hate BB's simply do so because they are too in 
love with usenet. I mean, how can you hate having the ability to 
not edit posts or easily search the whole forum.

Usenet is dead, simple as that. Scan 95% of groups and they are 
full of nothing but spam. New users will not use them because of 
this alone.

The mentality of staying with usenet is no different than that of 
saying with win3.1. Just because you think it is better or want 
it to be better does not mean it is.

I understand status quo is a huge factor to overcome but all 
progress relies on doing so. How will D attract new users if it's 
method of communication is unfriendly?

It's much easier to customize a BB system rather than nntp. In 10 
years how many nntp servers will there be? Most ISP's already 
have stopped providing nntp. NNTP can't be upgraded because it is 
a distributed system and all servers must be upgraded(Which isn't 
going to happen).

I just came across this post from a "random" search:

http://www.digitalmars.com/d/archives/digitalmars/D/announce/3069.html

Which wouldn't happen in a BB system.

Optimally both types of forums could be maintained. That way 
everyone can get a piece of pie. Time will tell which one is 
"better".


(my main point is that BB's can be easily customized to suit most 
peoples needs. If you want a nntp like client I'm sure it would 
not be difficult to create one as a mod to a BB. But sticking 
with nntp just guarantees that nothing will ever get 
better/change)
December 06, 2012
Re: Better forum
On Wednesday, 5 December 2012 at 18:28:04 UTC, js.mdnq wrote:
> I have a lot of trouble with the forum. Many times a msg will 
> not post as it sits in a cycle waiting for the nntp server to 
> get the message or for it to be announced.

Sorry about that. As far as I know, this only happened twice. 
Today it happened due to a regression I introduced while 
attempting to fix another problem. Hopefully, both are fixed now.

For the record, your posts aren't getting lost - the web frontend 
just never received the message back from the NNTP server to put 
it in its local cache.

> IMO there are much better forum software out there that would 
> make it easier to communicate about D than the current method.
>
> http://www.mybb.com/ is free, pretty good, and relatively easy 
> to setup.

Such proposals have been extensively discussed in the past.

> The ability to edit a post makes life much easier too!

That wouldn't work for NNTP / email users.

The D forum is open-source, and help / contributions are welcome. 
I was actually hoping that the D community would be a bit more 
involved in its development, however for the moment I remain the 
sole author (as far as D code goes). Perhaps it is partially my 
fault, as the source code is not as organized as I would like it 
to be...
December 06, 2012
Re: Better forum
On 12/6/2012 11:09 AM, js.mdnq wrote:
> Usenet is dead, simple as that. Scan 95% of groups and they are full of
> nothing but spam. New users will not use them because of this alone.

Take a look at this forum. No spam.


> It's much easier to customize a BB system rather than nntp. In 10 years
> how many nntp servers will there be? Most ISP's already have stopped
> providing nntp. NNTP can't be upgraded because it is a distributed
> system and all servers must be upgraded(Which isn't going to happen).

This forum is not part of usenet and does not rely on any nntp servers 
other than the one at digitalmars.com, which is fully under our control.


> (my main point is that BB's can be easily customized to suit most
> peoples needs. If you want a nntp like client I'm sure it would not be
> difficult to create one as a mod to a BB. But sticking with nntp just
> guarantees that nothing will ever get better/change)

This is incorrect, as the software that drives forum.dlang.org demonstrates.
December 06, 2012
Re: Better forum
On 12/6/2012 11:31 AM, Vladimir Panteleev wrote:
> The D forum is open-source, and help / contributions are welcome. I was
> actually hoping that the D community would be a bit more involved in its
> development, however for the moment I remain the sole author (as far as
> D code goes). Perhaps it is partially my fault, as the source code is
> not as organized as I would like it to be...

I was just thinking about that. I think part of the problem is nobody 
knows that it is open source or where to get it.

I suggest that, on each page generated, add a link to a page explaining 
what the forum software is, where it is, and how anyone may fork it, 
contribute to it, learn from it, etc.
December 06, 2012
Re: Better forum
On Wednesday, 5 December 2012 at 21:50:44 UTC, Alex Rønne 
Petersen wrote:
> The latter is caused by bad(ly configured) NNTP clients, not 
> the server.

I think we've established that most instances of broken threads 
are caused by Mailman rewriting Message-IDs?
December 06, 2012
Re: Better forum
On Thu, Dec 06, 2012 at 12:07:31AM +0100, Paulo Pinto wrote:
> Am 05.12.2012 23:40, schrieb js.mdnq:
[...]
> >IMO, the only downside is supporting legacy users who refuse to make
> >the transition. I think they are just being hard headed though...
> 
> I hate web forums with passion, they all suck compared to the browsing
> experience most NNTP clients offer.
> 
> I can browse threads just with keyboard navigation, follow discussion
> threads, mark/unmark all I have read, save discussions for posterity,
> all with a standards compliant network protocol free of walled garden
> data servers.

Finally, a voice of reason!


> As for spam, that is what moderation is for, if ever needed.
> 
> I am a firm believer that users of web forums can only find them
> better than Usenet, because they haven't experienced Usenet in its
> golden days.
[...]

Yeah, what is left of Usenet these days is not even a faint shadow of
what it was back in the day, nor a representative indicator of the
soundness of its paradigm. 

I alluded to protocol over application earlier, and perhaps it's worth
belaboring the point. The reason the Internet even exists today is
because somebody had the sense to realize that relying on a specific
software application simply will not cut it. It's not scalable, not
interoperable, and not practical on any non-trivial scale. Instead of
forcing everything and everyone to conform to a single software
application and a single way of doing things, a set of powerful generic
protocols were designed. By standardizing on the protocol rather than
the software, an entire field was opened up: it doesn't matter what OS
or software you're using and what OS or software I'm using, as long as
they speak the same protocol, they're automatically compatible. You can
have a hundred completely different OSes, twelve hundred completely
different software applications all by different vendors, but by virtue
of their speaking the same protocol, they can interoperate. And they
will continue to interoperate with *future* OSes and software that
haven't even been dreamed of yet, as long as the same protocol continues
to be used.

Had the designers of the internet back in its embryonic stages decided
to standardize instead on a specific set of software programs from a
single vendor that can only communicate amongst themselves, the internet
wouldn't even *exist* today. Version incompatibilities, program bugs
that become depended on (and therefore unfixable), non-interoperability
with anything but software developed by that one vendor, etc., would
have killed off the internet years before it became the internet.

All web forums assume (1) you're using a browser, (2) your browser is
GUI-based, (3) your browser is configured with certain minimal features
like Javascript, cookies, etc.. There is (1) no way to use anything
*other* than a browser (and a *graphical* one to boot -- it's so painful
to use with a text browser you might as well be talking HTTP with a
magnet, a pair of tweezers, and a really steady hand holding a cat5
cable) to use the forum, even though forums themselves have no inherent
need for the bloated monstrosities that today's browsers have mutated
into, (2) no way to access the forum data directly -- it's walled behind
the guises of a graphical UI-centric paged interface designed for GUI
users' consumption, and therefore inconvenient or just plain impossible
for programs to work with directly, which results in (3) you *have* to
use that interface to access that data, and if that interface is hard to
use or buggy, well, life just sucks, deal with it.  IOW, (4) you cannot
easily archive posts, sort them by thread, navigate them
programmatically, back them up en masse in your personal archives.  To
make things worse, (5) the single UI that you have no choice over
usually has a totally dainbramaged search function that doesn't even
hold a candle to a full-powered regex search engine that a text-based
NNTP client is capable of. Not to mention bandwidth-wasting with
nonsense like logo graphics and other needless eye-candy, which is
totally worthless when what you want is *information*. HTML, especially
the kind used in web forums, is dismally low in signal-to-noise ratio.
Most of it consumed with visual tags and presentation (and most of the
rest of it with baroque boilerplates mandated by W3C that are just
copy-n-pasted everywhere anyway) which are totally useless when what you
really care about is the *meat*: the text of the forum posts.

With NNTP, you can (1) use a text-based client, like I do, and be able
to navigate 5000-post threads with ease, WITHOUT needing to touch the
rodent; (2) use the web interface on dlang.org, which some really smart
people have put together in a very usable way for those who prefer GUIs;
(3) use an automatic archiver; (4) run your own NNTP backup server; (5)
telnet to port 119 and talk to the server directly ;-); and (6) any or
all of the above as you please.

It's the protocols that matter. It's the protocols that build
infrastructure. Walled-garden web forums are just an anachronism to the
pre-internet days of gratuitous system incompatibilities, inability of
interoperating, and pointless turf wars over which program is "better"
(hint: they *all* suck). Just ask Nick about github sometime. :-P :-P

I'll shut up now.


T

-- 
Век живи - век учись. А дураком помрёшь.
December 06, 2012
Re: Better forum
On Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 00:41:12 UTC, Walter Bright wrote:
> On 12/6/2012 11:31 AM, Vladimir Panteleev wrote:
>> The D forum is open-source, and help / contributions are 
>> welcome. I was
>> actually hoping that the D community would be a bit more 
>> involved in its
>> development, however for the moment I remain the sole author 
>> (as far as
>> D code goes). Perhaps it is partially my fault, as the source 
>> code is
>> not as organized as I would like it to be...
>
> I was just thinking about that. I think part of the problem is 
> nobody knows that it is open source or where to get it.
>
> I suggest that, on each page generated, add a link to a page 
> explaining what the forum software is, where it is, and how 
> anyone may fork it, contribute to it, learn from it, etc.

Something like that already exists - the "Help" link.

I suppose I could expand the text a bit to make it clear that 
contributions are welcome.
December 06, 2012
Re: Better forum
On Wednesday, 5 December 2012 at 22:40:39 UTC, js.mdnq wrote:
> Hehe, it's cause no one uses it! if you check out most groups 
> they are full of spam ;/ Only good spam filters can control it 
> to any degree. With a BB, you require people to register which 
> will stop 95% of spam. The other 5% could be fixed by asking 
> more complex questions, stop posting of suspected spammers.

Web bulletin boards, especially those using off-the-shelf 
software and common anti-spam plugins, are very attractive to 
spammers.

> Do not allow new users to post more than 1 post an hour. Allow 
> certain people(not necessarily moderators) to kill spammers. 
> Block IP's from registering more than once a month or so, etc...

All of these are draconian restrictions that WILL get into honest 
people's way.

> There are many potential ways to reduce spam to near zero. Most 
> BB's I've used have near zero spam without any complex spam 
> protection mechanisms(as far as I know).

A certain popular forum I'm a moderator of sees almost zero 
publicly-visible spam.

Why?

Because each user's first 5 posts must be manually approved by a 
moderator before they are publicly visible.

This is a gruesome, tiring, repetitive task that no one wants to 
do every day.

Even worse, the software (a popular commercial forum package) 
doesn't even show these posts to the user who posted them. This 
creates more confusion and duplicate posts.

Anti-spam plugins are not a panacea. All of them have false 
positives, and - worse - false negatives. Furthermore, like any 
plugins/modifications, they complicate software maintenance and 
may break on software upgrades, thus possibly locking you into a 
potentially-vulnerable old version of the software.

> IMO, the only downside is supporting legacy users who refuse to 
> make the transition. I think they are just being hard headed 
> though...

I think that's a rather close-minded viewpoint.
December 06, 2012
Re: Better forum
On Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 00:54:45 UTC, Vladimir Panteleev 
wrote:
> On Wednesday, 5 December 2012 at 22:40:39 UTC, js.mdnq wrote:
>> Hehe, it's cause no one uses it! if you check out most groups 
>> they are full of spam ;/ Only good spam filters can control it 
>> to any degree. With a BB, you require people to register which 
>> will stop 95% of spam. The other 5% could be fixed by asking 
>> more complex questions, stop posting of suspected spammers.
>
> Web bulletin boards, especially those using off-the-shelf 
> software and common anti-spam plugins, are very attractive to 
> spammers.
>
>> Do not allow new users to post more than 1 post an hour. Allow 
>> certain people(not necessarily moderators) to kill spammers. 
>> Block IP's from registering more than once a month or so, 
>> etc...
>
> All of these are draconian restrictions that WILL get into 
> honest people's way.
>
>> There are many potential ways to reduce spam to near zero. 
>> Most BB's I've used have near zero spam without any complex 
>> spam protection mechanisms(as far as I know).
>
> A certain popular forum I'm a moderator of sees almost zero 
> publicly-visible spam.
>
> Why?
>
> Because each user's first 5 posts must be manually approved by 
> a moderator before they are publicly visible.
>
> This is a gruesome, tiring, repetitive task that no one wants 
> to do every day.
>
> Even worse, the software (a popular commercial forum package) 
> doesn't even show these posts to the user who posted them. This 
> creates more confusion and duplicate posts.
>
> Anti-spam plugins are not a panacea. All of them have false 
> positives, and - worse - false negatives. Furthermore, like any 
> plugins/modifications, they complicate software maintenance and 
> may break on software upgrades, thus possibly locking you into 
> a potentially-vulnerable old version of the software.
>
>> IMO, the only downside is supporting legacy users who refuse 
>> to make the transition. I think they are just being hard 
>> headed though...
>
> I think that's a rather close-minded viewpoint.

Possibly but as you see, those that hate web based browsing 
simply hate it. I like both, hence I would think I have a better 
perspective. I think those that simply "hate" BB's because of 
some insignificant thing over all the benefit are the ones that 
are closed minded.

If spam is an issue then I'm sure there are way around it besides 
man-hours. Most spam is pretty predictable. I have a nntp filter 
that gets rid of 99% of the spam on newsgroups by simply using 
keywords(about 1000).

I believe I'm an honest user and I wouldn't mind waiting a week 
to make a post for my initial post. If one could limit 
registrations by spammers(block ip's) then this along would 
severely cut down the spam.

The fact remains though, nntp is dead(or dying), and it is also 
limiting in many ways. nntp is not the panacea that so many here 
are claiming. The only thing most seem to like about it is its 
interface. But that has nothing to do with the nntp protocol but 
the software. The nntp is decrepit. I'm not saying BB's are the 
best but they definitely have many many advantages over nntp.

Also, it's obvious that many users have been using nntp for a 
long time. This is another reason why many do not want to switch. 
Many younger users are used to the modern forum interfaces and 
will expect it. If you want to attract those users then maybe it 
is best to bite the bullet and switch. (It's not like you need 
one hand free to use a forum, or do you?)

IMO, all the complains about web based forums are superficial 
while my complains about nntp are not.

... but I guess no one said change would be easy(or even 
possible) ;/
December 06, 2012
Re: Better forum
On Thursday, 6 December 2012 at 01:33:33 UTC, js.mdnq wrote:
> Possibly but as you see, those that hate web based browsing 
> simply hate it. I like both, hence I would think I have a 
> better perspective. I think those that simply "hate" BB's 
> because of some insignificant thing over all the benefit are 
> the ones that are closed minded.

I don't hate BBs, but I do think the implementations are lacking 
in many areas. They are indeed designed to be used for casual 
discussion, as opposed to being optimized for prolonged use 
(keyboard navigation) and to support structured, constructive 
discussions (tree threading).

> If spam is an issue then I'm sure there are way around it 
> besides man-hours. Most spam is pretty predictable. I have a 
> nntp filter that gets rid of 99% of the spam on newsgroups by 
> simply using keywords(about 1000).

This is another example of a draconian solution that is easily 
avoided by a spammer.

> I believe I'm an honest user and I wouldn't mind waiting a week 
> to make a post for my initial post. If one could limit 
> registrations by spammers(block ip's) then this along would 
> severely cut down the spam.

I think many users won't share that opinion. If there is a topic 
that you want to contribute to, but will not be relevant one week 
from now, being denied from joining the discussion out of spam 
fear is absurd.

> The fact remains though, nntp is dead(or dying), and it is also 
> limiting in many ways. nntp is not the panacea that so many 
> here are claiming. The only thing most seem to like about it is 
> its interface. But that has nothing to do with the nntp 
> protocol but the software. The nntp is decrepit. I'm not saying 
> BB's are the best but they definitely have many many advantages 
> over nntp.
>
> Also, it's obvious that many users have been using nntp for a 
> long time. This is another reason why many do not want to 
> switch. Many younger users are used to the modern forum 
> interfaces and will expect it. If you want to attract those 
> users then maybe it is best to bite the bullet and switch.

The backend doesn't matter. Let's consider the individual 
advantages.

For example, I believe editing posts was mentioned. This is 
debatable. Some mediums which would allow implementing post 
editing explicitly chose to not allow it. One example is Slashdot 
comments: once you posted it, you can't take it back. One could 
say that having the option to edit posts facilitates sloppy 
posting (posting something without proofreading it, and then 
patching up any mistakes). However, different people will see 
different versions of the post (e.g. some BB software email a 
copy of the post - as it was posted - to those subscribed to the 
thread).

If you have a meaningful addition to an earlier post of yours, 
simply reply to it. With tree-like threading, it will not disrupt 
the conversation, even if it has by then reached other topics.

Suggestions for smaller improvements are welcome (preferably, in 
the form of pull requests) ;)

> (It's not like you need one hand free to use a forum, or do 
> you?)

???
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