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Reploid Productions
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Communications (Forums) Tech Development

Postby Reploid Productions » Sat Jun 26, 2021 6:43 pm

So, I should probably get off my lazy butt and do some actual Development stuff!

The biggest elephant in the room with forumside communications has always been "our ability to modify and customize the forums to do cool new things is handicapped because it's a total kludge job that the game and forum can even talk to one another." The good news is one of the major projects that has been in the works for awhile now has been constructing an entirely new forum system that is custom-built to work with the game, instead of trying to ram the square peg of a pre-built forum package into the round hole that is Nationstates. Once that new system is in place, we'll be able to tweak the forums to do cool new stuff with much greater ease than what we currently have.

In the meantime, I'd like to use this thread to collect a sort of "feature wishlist" for a new forum system. There will likely also be crossover with gameside communications, as the tentative plan for the new forum would basically remove the forumside/gameside divide entirely, and also increase the functionality of RMBs to make them more forum-like. Kat and I will possibly have to sit down and get a dedicated development thread going just for RMB upgrades in the not too distant future as well.

New forums feature wishlist:
  • Forum notification options integrated into game notifications; get notices when someone mentions/quotes you or a thread you're subscribed to has new posts. With filters to block unwanted notices.
  • Ability to remove unwanted forum threads from the "View Your Posts" list. (Would tie into the above, most likely replace the current "View Your Posts" so you can get rid of threads you posted in and don't want to keep seeing.)
  • Improved/uniform formatting code across forums and RMBs/Dispatches/etc instead of "forums use BBCode and gameside uses NSCode."
  • Allow users to "like" posts the way they can "like" RMB posts. (Addition: Add range of reactions beyond "Like"?)
  • Make using the forums more mobile-device friendly than they are at present.
  • Better search index performance/more flexibility in search options.
  • Greater variety of forum display themes. (Maybe custom display theme options?)
  • Thread tags so players can just tag their threads such as "OOC", "GA Draft", "Invite Only", etc instead of having to waste valuable title space for them.
  • Ability to restrict use of specific formatting tags. (EX: non-moderators not being able to use the Warn code, rendering the "Don't use the mod warn code" rule obsolete.)
  • Customizable "Latest Forum Topics" options.
  • Subscribe to subforum notification option in addition to usual subscribe to thread option.
  • Import the current forums into the new one (or at least maintain the current ones as a read-only archive)
  • Improve Foe List function to hide quotes of the Foe'd user as well.
  • Emoji support
  • Preserve users' existing thread bookmarks.
  • Warnings/ban trigger a notice to ensure the player is aware they've been warned/banned.
  • Make it compatible enough with the Antiquity theme for screen-reader users.
  • Enable viewing of raw post data for ease of copying/pasting for quotes, etc while keeping formatting from BBCode/NSCode intact.
  • API integration with the forums to facilitate custom user tool development.
  • (MODERATION RELATED) Include an option for mods to mark posts specifically as official mod posts to better show when a post is a "speaking officially" post versus a regular "posting as a player" post.


Forum features needing more discussion/links to their specific discussion threads:
  • New forum's formatting code:
    1. What code effects are desired? What should be avoided?
    2. Restricting use of particular codes? EX: Warn tag only works for mods. But are there any other visual formatting effects that should be limited by forum?
  • Post/thread "likes" or other reacts:
    1. Should we even HAVE likes/reacts?
    2. Should likes apply to threads, or individual posts?
    3. What about upvotes/downvotes like exists for Dispatches?
    4. Should we have a variety of "reacts" such as thumbs up/down, hearts, etc a la Facebook?
    5. Potential areas for abuse (like-spamming/notification spamming and harassment), and ways to mitigate it. (EX: Players get a limited number of reacts per day?)
  • Thread tags:
    1. Apply to specific forums such as RP or to all forums? Or have specific tags only available to specific forums (for instance IC/OOC available to RP forums but not NSG.)
    2. What tags would be most useful?
    3. Should there be an upper limit on number of tags, or restriction to prevent use of conflicting tags?
  • Foe lists:
    1. Hides quotes by the Foe'd user as well?
    2. Merely hides posts by the Foe'd user, but the hidden post can still be clicked to view like it currently works, or posts by Foe'd user are completely invisible to the Foe-ing party (similar to how FB blocking does it)?
  • API integration:
    1. What information should be available via API? What's useful?
    2. What functions, if any, should scripts be able to perform via the API?
  • Subforum-specific bans:
    1. Would these actually be useful?
    2. Subforum bans vs full-forum bans in practical application (how often do we really need to bar somebody just from a specific subforum?)
    3. Should permanently applying a subforum-only ban be an option on the table? When might this be practical?
    4. Should players be able to request to be banned from a specific subforum? (EX: Player is aware they get worked up into a rulebreaking rage any time they stick their nose into NSG, and requests to be blocked from accessing it.)
    5. Heck, related to the above, would it be useful to give players the option to hide specific subforums from their view?

Some of these will no doubt merit their own dedicated discussion threads to really go into specifics on the feature; if someone would like to get a discussion going on one, please feel free and drop me a link so I can update this post as our sort of master index. Likewise, if you would like to start a thread for a new forum feature that isn't already on the list, go ahead and just let me know here so I can add it to the list above.
Last edited by Reploid Productions on Fri Jul 30, 2021 10:53 am, edited 9 times in total.
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August
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Postby August » Sat Jun 26, 2021 7:07 pm

Please allow choosing sources for "Latest Forum Topics." Most players are only interested in the contents of a couple subforums, if any--not all of them at once. This feature would include a checklist page allowing players to select any number of subforums, and maybe even change the number of latest threads. (If that last part is introduced, it would probably require a scrollbar to prevent the panel from shoving ads out of view.)
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Lord Dominator
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Postby Lord Dominator » Sat Jun 26, 2021 7:10 pm

On notifications, the ability to subscribe to a forum to get notifications when a new thread is posted would be lovely (if a niche use, probably).

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Comfed
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Psychotic Dictatorship

Postby Comfed » Sat Jun 26, 2021 7:20 pm

Forum notification options integrated into game notifications; get notices when someone mentions/quotes you or a thread you're subscribed to has new posts. With filters to block unwanted notices.
Like this idea!
Ability to remove unwanted forum threads from the "View Your Posts" list. (Would tie into the above, most likely replace the current "View Your Posts" so you can get rid of threads you posted in and don't want to keep seeing.)
This is also a good idea.
Improved/uniform formatting code across forums and RMBs/Dispatches/etc instead of "forums use BBCode and gameside uses NSCode."
This would be very convenient.
Allow users to "like" posts the way they can "like" RMB posts.
Meh... this isn't facebook.
Make using the forums more mobile-device friendly than they are at present.
Yes, please. Mobile NS forums suck.
Better search index performance/more flexibility in search options.
Not a bad idea.
Greater variety of forum display themes. (Maybe custom display theme options?)
Great! Maybe make posts be more like RMB posts (which would also tie into mobile-friendly)
Thread tags so players can just tag their threads such as "OOC", "GA Draft", "Invite Only", etc instead of having to waste valuable title space for them.
I like this!
Ability to restrict use of specific formatting tags. (EX: non-moderators not being able to use the Warn code, rendering the "Don't use the mod warn code" rule obsolete.)
A good idea, but you'd have to make sure that, say, the [warn] code wouldn't expire once a mod retired. (So that a retired mod's redtext remains redtext.)

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Flanderlion
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Postby Flanderlion » Sat Jun 26, 2021 7:24 pm

OP essentially covers what I want from the forums (more integration with the game).
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Comfed
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Postby Comfed » Sat Jun 26, 2021 7:26 pm

And, it would be nice if the mobile NS forums worked with the mobile NS theme.

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Tinhampton
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Postby Tinhampton » Sat Jun 26, 2021 7:33 pm

Not technically a suggestion for development but I would not support the hard-coded signature character limit being reduced below 800.

When the new forum system is implemented, could the old phpBB forums from 2009 please have their contents merged into the new forum (or at least remain available as a read-only archive), rather than vanish into some mysterious aether as the Jolt and pre-Jolt forums did?
Last edited by Tinhampton on Sat Jun 26, 2021 7:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Klaus Devestatorie
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Postby Klaus Devestatorie » Sat Jun 26, 2021 7:35 pm

Tinhampton wrote:When the new forum system is implemented, could the old phpBB forums from 2009 please have their contents merged into the new forum (or at least remain available as a read-only archive), rather than vanish into some mysterious aether as the Jolt and pre-Jolt forums did?

PHPBB databases are well documented enough that it's probably not unrealistic to be able to directly import the contents of this forum into the new one.
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Reploid Productions
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Postby Reploid Productions » Sat Jun 26, 2021 8:12 pm

August wrote:Please allow choosing sources for "Latest Forum Topics." Most players are only interested in the contents of a couple subforums, if any--not all of them at once. This feature would include a checklist page allowing players to select any number of subforums, and maybe even change the number of latest threads. (If that last part is introduced, it would probably require a scrollbar to prevent the panel from shoving ads out of view.)

Ooh, that would be neat. Adding that to the wishlist!
Lord Dominator wrote:On notifications, the ability to subscribe to a forum to get notifications when a new thread is posted would be lovely (if a niche use, probably).

Definitely niche, but I could definitely see folks using it to keep a thumb on the GA or SC forums in particular. Worth adding to the wishlist in any case!
Tinhampton wrote:Not technically a suggestion for development but I would not support the hard-coded signature character limit being reduced below 800.

When the new forum system is implemented, could the old phpBB forums from 2009 please have their contents merged into the new forum (or at least remain available as a read-only archive), rather than vanish into some mysterious aether as the Jolt and pre-Jolt forums did?

No reason for us to reduce the sig limit further. As for porting the existing forum into the new one, [v] has implied that it should be do-able, though the formatting in posts could get wonky due to differences between the BBCode markup and what NSCode markup. Deciding whether to import or leave as a read-only archive is probably a question for once we're closure to rolling out the new forum.
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CoraSpia
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Postby CoraSpia » Sat Jun 26, 2021 8:20 pm

All I ask is that you allow me or another blind player to access test these changes before they are made live. The most recent theme was an access headache and I'd rather we not see this with such an important feature.
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Picairn
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Postby Picairn » Sat Jun 26, 2021 8:33 pm

The Foe list is currently ineffective because when people quote a post that belongs to the Foe'd poster, you can still see the quoted post. Is there any way to automatically block the Foe'd poster's posts from appearing?
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Reploid Productions
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Postby Reploid Productions » Sat Jun 26, 2021 9:36 pm

Picairn wrote:The Foe list is currently ineffective because when people quote a post that belongs to the Foe'd poster, you can still see the quoted post. Is there any way to automatically block the Foe'd poster's posts from appearing?

Come to think of it, if we're going to be integrating the forums into gameside, we could probably fully overhaul Foe Listing so you can one-click ignore somebody on forums, RMBs, TGs, and dispatch mentions as well as the usual "block from TGs, Foe list on forums, etc".
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Cekoviu
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Postby Cekoviu » Sat Jun 26, 2021 9:40 pm

migrating to a new system, i would love it if you guys revisited the suggestion i made a year ago about implementing a 'report' button on posts like most other forums have, so that users can directly report from a post and do so without exposing their identity to the user being reported. i presume this would be more plausible now.

also, i would really love it if we were able to use actual emoji instead of the forum smilies. the forum currently won't let you post with an emoji (or other higher-index unicode characters) because of presumably an issue in the database implementation. not sure if that can be changed as easily if you aren't migrating the database to a newer system where the encoding can be changed, but i'd like to throw that out there because i'm a big emoji fan.
edit: oh and im pretty sure RMBs do actually allow emojis so adding that to the forum would also contribute to the goal of a better-integrated game+forum system
Last edited by Cekoviu on Sat Jun 26, 2021 9:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Reploid Productions
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Postby Reploid Productions » Sat Jun 26, 2021 10:08 pm

Cekoviu wrote:migrating to a new system, i would love it if you guys revisited the suggestion i made a year ago about implementing a 'report' button on posts like most other forums have, so that users can directly report from a post and do so without exposing their identity to the user being reported. i presume this would be more plausible now.

also, i would really love it if we were able to use actual emoji instead of the forum smilies. the forum currently won't let you post with an emoji (or other higher-index unicode characters) because of presumably an issue in the database implementation. not sure if that can be changed as easily if you aren't migrating the database to a newer system where the encoding can be changed, but i'd like to throw that out there because i'm a big emoji fan.

That falls a bit more under Fris' bailiwick with mod tools than purely forum communications. A report button reduces transparency, and largely just creates readily-abused paperwork moreso than actual valid reports. It was actually something of an issue back when we briefly had the report button enabled on this forum; people were hitting report on completely innocent posts, and each of those reports had to be looked at and closed to clear the clutter -a very clunky process on phpBB. With the current system, forum related reports are out in the open where anyone can add additional evidence, those reported can explain their side of it, and onlookers can get a general feel for response times and what sorts of things broadly merit smacks. In situations where the reporter needs to remain anonymous, we already have the GHR.

Emoji support would definitely be nice to have. I'm not a huge fan of them personally, but they are a pretty well-entrenched part of modern internet communication, so definitely something to include.
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Picairn
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Postby Picairn » Sat Jun 26, 2021 10:08 pm

Reploid Productions wrote:Come to think of it, if we're going to be integrating the forums into gameside, we could probably fully overhaul Foe Listing so you can one-click ignore somebody on forums, RMBs, TGs, and dispatch mentions as well as the usual "block from TGs, Foe list on forums, etc".

So basically it's gonna be like going to a nation's page and click the Ignore or Block button so that you are automatically exempt from seeing that nation's produced content? Just like how other social media platforms operate? Nice. :p
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Cekoviu
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Postby Cekoviu » Sat Jun 26, 2021 10:10 pm

Reploid Productions wrote:
Cekoviu wrote:migrating to a new system, i would love it if you guys revisited the suggestion i made a year ago about implementing a 'report' button on posts like most other forums have, so that users can directly report from a post and do so without exposing their identity to the user being reported. i presume this would be more plausible now.

also, i would really love it if we were able to use actual emoji instead of the forum smilies. the forum currently won't let you post with an emoji (or other higher-index unicode characters) because of presumably an issue in the database implementation. not sure if that can be changed as easily if you aren't migrating the database to a newer system where the encoding can be changed, but i'd like to throw that out there because i'm a big emoji fan.

That falls a bit more under Fris' bailiwick with mod tools than purely forum communications. A report button reduces transparency, and largely just creates readily-abused paperwork moreso than actual valid reports. It was actually something of an issue back when we briefly had the report button enabled on this forum; people were hitting report on completely innocent posts, and each of those reports had to be looked at and closed to clear the clutter -a very clunky process on phpBB. With the current system, forum related reports are out in the open where anyone can add additional evidence, those reported can explain their side of it, and onlookers can get a general feel for response times and what sorts of things broadly merit smacks. In situations where the reporter needs to remain anonymous, we already have the GHR.

Emoji support would definitely be nice to have. I'm not a huge fan of them personally, but they are a pretty well-entrenched part of modern internet communication, so definitely something to include.

sorry, i didn't realize that other thread existed. i will bring that portion of my suggestions (and address your points) over there.
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Merni
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Postby Merni » Sat Jun 26, 2021 11:53 pm

Reploid Productions wrote:There will likely also be crossover with gameside communications, as the tentative plan for the new forum would basically remove the forumside/gameside divide entirely, and also increase the functionality of RMBs to make them more forum-like.

What would "remov[ing] the forumside/gameside divide entirely" mean? I assume the forums will still exist as a separate thing from any of the regional RMBs.
More generally:
  1. I love the idea of making RMBs more forum-like. An ability to have separate forum-like threads in the RMB apart from the general chat would be a game-changer for RMB RPs.
  2. Could a feature to export an RMB's posts in some sort of archive and save them locally be possible? I remember [v] talking about this in some thread long ago. Currently there are tools like mine, but those are highly inefficient since they have to do API queries on 100 messages at a time.
  3. Re "Subscribe to subforum notification option in addition to usual subscribe to thread option." -- as far as I am aware the thread subscription feature has not worked in years due to the e-mails being detected as spam by some ISPs/mail providers, will that change with the new forums?
  4. Could we have signatures on RMBs as well? I'm not sure how much it would be used practically, but it seems like a nice idea.
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Bears Armed
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Postby Bears Armed » Sun Jun 27, 2021 1:40 am

Reploid Productions wrote:New forums feature wishlist:
Forum notification options integrated into game notifications; get notices when someone mentions/quotes you or a thread you're subscribed to has new posts. With filters to block unwanted notices.
Might be nice sometimes, for some people, but "busy" nations probably would have to set the filters at really tight levels to avoid being swamped: Not a high priority on my personal NS Changes wishlist.

Ability to remove unwanted forum threads from the "View Your Posts" list. (Would tie into the above, most likely replace the current "View Your Posts" so you can get rid of threads you posted in and don't want to keep seeing.)
Very good, this has been wanted widely for ages.

]Improved/uniform formatting code across forums and RMBs/Dispatches/etc instead of "forums use BBCode and gameside uses NSCode."
Okay, as long as that's a rounding upwards of capability rather than a rounding downwards.

Allow users to "like" posts the way they can "like" RMB posts.
I thought that this had been officially rejected in the past, not only as "spammy" but because it would turn ideological discussion threads even more into popularity contests -- rather than reasoned discussions --than is currently the case? Not a change that I would like.

Make using the forums more mobile-device friendly than they are at present.
I don't & wouldn't try using mobile devices for accessing NS, because I like to back-up the details of what I do here into offsite memory which would (within my limited technical ability, at least) be difficult on those as well as simply because I find their small screens & keyboards awkward, so this wouldn't affect me either way.

]Better search index performance/more flexibility in search options.
Good!

Greater variety of forum display themes. (Maybe custom display theme options?)
Okay. Not a high priority from my viewpoint, bearing in mind how long I've had in which to get accustomed to the current set-up, but might be interesting.

Thread tags so players can just tag their threads such as "OOC", "GA Draft", "Invite Only", etc instead of having to waste valuable title space for them.
Okay. I've generally found the limit on title space adequate even with any such tags that I wanted to use, but I can smell that there might be times when this would be useful.

Ability to restrict use of specific formatting tags. (EX: non-moderators not being able to use the Warn code, rendering the "Don't use the mod warn code" rule obsolete.)
Okay.

Customizable "Latest Forum Topics" options.
Okay, although probably I wouldn't use it: Following interesting-looking thread titles outside my usual NS 'comfort zone' has sometimes been interesting.

subscribe to subforum notification option in addition to usual subscribe to thread option.
Okay.

mport the current forums into the new one (or at least maintain the current ones as a read-only archive)
Definitely needed, preferably in imported form rather than just as an archive: So much history was lost to us with the closure of the Jolt forum...

mprove Foe List function to hide quotes of the Foe'd user as well.
Okay, although in some situations -- especially the GA, in my experience -- active players still "need"" to see what everybody [except adspammers & pornspammers] is saying anyway.

Emoji support
Okay, but not a high priority in my opinion... unless this would include adding some Ursine-face emoticons to use as alternatives to the human[oid] ones? ;)
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The New California Republic
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Postby The New California Republic » Sun Jun 27, 2021 3:49 am

Reploid Productions wrote:Ability to remove unwanted forum threads from the "View Your Posts" list. (Would tie into the above, most likely replace the current "View Your Posts" so you can get rid of threads you posted in and don't want to keep seeing.)

Nice. Been wanting this feature for a while, to remove long-lived threads that I may have posted in once in the first few pages, that I keep seeing near the top of the "view your posts" list, long after I've stopped caring about that thread that's now on page 400+ etc.
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Phydios
Minister
 
Posts: 2388
Founded: Dec 06, 2014
New York Times Democracy

Postby Phydios » Sun Jun 27, 2021 6:32 am

Please try to make sure that bookmarks are preserved. I have been bookmarking threads for years- anything I found interesting. It would be very depressing to lose those.
Romans 1:18-2:29, Ephesians 2:1-10
But God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! | Those people are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. | It’s a wonder God didn’t lose His temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, He embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on His own, with no help from us!

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The Reformed American Republic
Negotiator
 
Posts: 5506
Founded: May 23, 2020
Corrupt Dictatorship

Postby The Reformed American Republic » Sun Jun 27, 2021 6:38 am

Notification of warnings. If a user is warned on forumside, they should be notified of it in some notifications section. I have seen users be warned and them not realizing it because they've never seen the public forum post.
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The Free Joy State
Senior Issues Editor
 
Posts: 15143
Founded: Jan 05, 2014
Iron Fist Consumerists

Postby The Free Joy State » Sun Jun 27, 2021 6:40 am

Bears Armed wrote:
Reploid Productions wrote:Allow users to "like" posts the way they can "like" RMB posts.
I thought that this had been officially rejected in the past, not only as "spammy" but because it would turn ideological discussion threads even more into popularity contests -- rather than reasoned discussions --than is currently the case? Not a change that I would like.

While most of the other changes in the OP sound like they'd be beneficial to players, while I am not sure of the extent to which I would myself use some of them (though I would very much welcome the ability to remove unwanted threads from my "View Your Posts" list), I agree that adding "likes" to forum posts seems like it may have the potential to lead to ideological opponents waging war via "likes" on posts -- especially in particular, controversial topics -- in an attempt to prove their view "right" via the appearance of support rather than through strength of argument.
Last edited by The Free Joy State on Sun Jun 27, 2021 8:41 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Zwangzug
Issues Editor
 
Posts: 4722
Founded: Oct 19, 2006
Left-wing Utopia

Postby Zwangzug » Sun Jun 27, 2021 8:05 am

Reploid Productions wrote:[*]Import the current forums into the new one (or at least maintain the current ones as a read-only archive)

Bold, italic, and underlining this; especially for those of us with long-running, deeply-integrated RP canons, it's important to have direct (and preferably searchable) access to previous threads. I'm hoping this shouldn't be a major issue since everything is staying internal to NS anyway, but can't be too careful.
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Reploid Productions
Forum Admin
 
Posts: 28280
Founded: Antiquity
Democratic Socialists

Postby Reploid Productions » Sun Jun 27, 2021 10:58 am

Phydios wrote:Please try to make sure that bookmarks are preserved. I have been bookmarking threads for years- anything I found interesting. It would be very depressing to lose those.

I'm not sure how feasible that may be, but I'll certainly add it to the wishlist!

The Reformed American Republic wrote:Notification of warnings. If a user is warned on forumside, they should be notified of it in some notifications section. I have seen users be warned and them not realizing it because they've never seen the public forum post.

Absolutely, forum warnings (and bans, for that matter) triggering a notice would be a great addition. No more "But I didn't know!" excuses! That reminds me, I need to pester Fris about an idea for overhauling warn histories.

As for liking posts, personally it's also not my cup of tea and I could do without it. But there has been some demand off and on to indicate that there is at least some player support for it. Fairly low priority compared to a lot of the main functionality bells and whistles though.
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Phydios
Minister
 
Posts: 2388
Founded: Dec 06, 2014
New York Times Democracy

Postby Phydios » Sun Jun 27, 2021 12:22 pm

Reploid Productions wrote:
Phydios wrote:Please try to make sure that bookmarks are preserved. I have been bookmarking threads for years- anything I found interesting. It would be very depressing to lose those.

I'm not sure how feasible that may be, but I'll certainly add it to the wishlist!

Thanks Reppy. If it's not possible, then I just ask for a notice period so that I can copy the links to a separate file- but I'd rather not do that.
Romans 1:18-2:29, Ephesians 2:1-10
But God’s angry displeasure erupts as acts of human mistrust and wrongdoing and lying accumulate, as people try to put a shroud over truth. But the basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! | Those people are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticize someone, you condemn yourself. | It’s a wonder God didn’t lose His temper and do away with the whole lot of us. Instead, immense in mercy and with an incredible love, He embraced us. He took our sin-dead lives and made us alive in Christ. He did all this on His own, with no help from us!

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