The New Forum
Posted 25 January 2011 - 04:46 PM
The decision to revamp the forum wasn't taken lightly, and it certainly isn't a case of changing it for change's sake.
Calls for the company to upgrade the website were becoming increasingly more difficult to ignore so a significant investment of time and money has been made to enhance the forum experience for users. There are a few kinks left to iron out and the inevitable snags that come with a project this big are being worked on. John, who carried out the work to update the site in his spare time, was up until 4am last night addressing issues reported by users.
The most noticeable difference is the 'new look'. The forum width has been increased to make better use of the space on a computer screen, and we've added a collapsible sidebar to the portal page (click the 'X' to get rid of it).
What might not be immediately apparent is the changes that have been made 'under the hood', many of which were urgently needed. The software that generates the forums has been upgraded to the latest version. The site is now less vulnerable to attacks from hackers, meaning data entered by users when they signed up (like email addresses) are much safer than they were before. The update also guards against server crashes, which can take the whole site offline and result in posts going missing.
The old forum engine, which did a good job for us, had been in place for almost eight years and was becoming increasingly open to attacks from hackers, and more susceptible to server crashes. Remember, prevention is usually cheaper than the cure.
Another advantage the new forum has over the old one is that it is optimised for access from iPhones and other mobile devices. If you have an iPhone, a Blackberry or any other mobile phone with a web browser, type totalrl.com/forums into your phone's browser to give it a try.
Also in the new update is the facility to connect your Facebook and/or Twitter account to the forum. This opens up the message board to thousands more people and allows current users to update their facebook/forum status from one place. You can now also approve and disapprove of posts by clicking the + and - buttons beneath each entry (similar to 'like' on facebook). A running tally is kept for each user, which makes life a lot more difficult for trolls (people who post with the sole intention of provoking a reaction from others).
...and that's only scratching the surface.
John Drake (the webmaster) and myself are still working through all the features and you can expect new things to be added over the coming weeks. You will see a gradually greater presence of the forums on Facebook, including the ability to make posts without leaving the site, and a few other surprises on this website designed to enhance the forum experience.
Fundamentally though, nothing will change. Users start threads and reply to messages the same way they always have, under the same user name and with the same password. The Facebook/Twitter functionality may not be for everyone, and that's fine. It's optional, and nothing that the old forum had has been taken away or replaced.
Yes, the new look may take a bit of getting used to but the least you can do is give it a try for a few weeks first. I'm sure you'll learn to accept it in time!
Those of you experiencing problems should email either myself at the address below or John (firstname.lastname@example.org). Please include details of the operating system (Windows XP, Mac OS etc) and the name of the browser (Internet Explorer, Google Chrome etc) you are using. This will help us pinpoint where the issues are. I recommend installing Google Chrome as your browser (click here).
Posted 25 January 2011 - 05:41 PM
Posted 25 January 2011 - 05:43 PM
Its very good to access on blackberry phones a lot better then before
Glad to hear, James.
Posted 25 January 2011 - 05:48 PM
Posted 25 January 2011 - 06:05 PM
I think you need to reintroduce more 'shading' for defining just 'what is what' as the current system is really plain and drab - for instance the first two postings always appear to be there 'genetic' but should perhaps be shaded differently before we get to the real, up to date current postings and issues??
All in all not as clear as previous - hence I can't really congratulate your techy yet - then again they're never famous for being great communicators !!
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