Nuno, I know you're trying to make things better with all the right intentions but, I gotta tell ya, that page makes the current condition of the forum downright appealing! Apparently, I'm the only one who feels this way (or at least who's honest about it) and of course you can do as you see fit but I, for one, vote a resounding NO to this new format. I don't want to just shoot down ideas, I'm sorry I don't have the answers but I at least have to be honest about what I see. There has to be a better way!
The current portal page should only be seen as temporary. It was created to fully replace the need for mkportal with a static html version, along the way when it was being made the animations were also added to keep the overall look more organized.
This saved PHP/mySQL resources and gives a much higher tolerance to bots and human visits so the proposed goal was reached.
I'm happy you liked it, to make the frontpage become the start point to interact with our community we can't just close the forums and force everyone to use whatever new structure that appears on the frontpage, this is nowhere acceptable.
Users should only use a new portal if they like and find it a better tool for keeping track of our daily talks while keeping the same forums at the same time and this is where things get really interesting.
Nowadays, you find a lot of social networks that share videos (youtube), photos (flickr), friends (hi5), files (rapidshare), torrents (...), news reviews (digg), sales (ebay), documentation (wikipedia) and they all bring some good ideas regarding human interaction that could be used for the benefit of our community.
My goal isn't providing a new format but rather improve some forum features by external tools that could enhance greatly the overall work flow on our discussions.
I'll talk about some of the ideas that I'm planning for the next months.Forum registration page
- The current IPB forum is too prune to spam bots and it's hard to modify it efficiently
- Create and modify better roadblocks as quickly as necessary.
- Can load faster without requiring mySQL and confront agressive bots trying to bruteforce their registration.
- We can assign new members to the "Fresh group" and only allow to post on the "Hello world" section before writing anywhere else - good to confuse already registered bots trying to spam other subforums.
- leaves the path open for better improvements in the futureExternal image/file hosting
- We have 1/2Tb of free disk space and IPB uses a very limited method that still imposes some noticeable load on the SQL queries that forces members to have very reduced image uploading capabilities so would be nice to replace this with a in-house tool.
- use a better routine to create a good looking gallery of images on a post and share these images/presentations in other posts or forums.
- allow comments on images
- permits browsing the galleries of each member or just view the available images and where they were posted.
- fully external support so that these galleries can be used or hotlinked to other sites if the respective owner member allows this.
- allow updating older images or add more to a gallery.
- more options as necessary.
- allow posting in specific file categories or image galleries to replace the current download system.Portal
- Allow to quickly view and reply to the latest discussed topics automatically without need to press the "View new topics"
- Support web crawler SEO to ease the quick indexing of the site by google
- Become a sort of introduction place for new visitors, talk about the community and how to join and where to look for the things they need.
- PDA support - at this moment I was only thinking about frequent site members that would like to quickly glance on the latest discussed topics and maybe post a quick reply without too much gimmick or graphics - something lightning fast to load on GPRS cellphone connections and also fit the text onto the 320x200 screen display.
- Add more intuitive forum navigation structure to make the task of viewing and search older topics much simpler and quickier.
- Allow clear statistics and inform about our privacy policies and community rules.
- Add better search tool (likely based on google using the "site:boot-land.net" option to get the contents of our site.Forum
- Allow topics to be voted in digg style to highlight the ones considered more important on each section - for example - make sticky the five most voted topics on any given subforum
- Integrate the external hosting to fully replace the internal IPB method.
Better than talking or writing down these ideas is to put them into good practise to see how they work in real conditions and this is something that I've been doing lately.
This is a very lenghty and sometimes demotivating task if you look on the big picture but I'm taking small steps and I'm making a good progress. Will also be keeping everyone updated regarding what is being done so that we can always exchange back ideas and thoughts about what should be changed or improved.
Whenever you don't like the format of the new site features we'll discuss what should be done so that we have a site that is truly custom made for the boot land people.
I guess Boot-Land is a victim of its own success - if funds are needed to upgrade the infrastructure than I think its time to call on us for our support, I for one will gladly donate to this great cause. I will say this, there seems to be an awful lot of 'inefficient' use of resources here;
Personally, I think that a request for funds is not necessary and would be a huge disappointment for me as it would mean that we failed in overcoming the challenge of making our site more efficient.
We can improve our hardware conditions, look on Dramastic - he is working to make available one of his custom made server machine to help balance our CPU/RAM load and this should bring some good improvements in performance without any additional costs. There is also a company interested in sponsoring a dedicated server in return for a small logo in our "Recommended" box so the future is looking bright for a growth of hardware resources within the next months.
But the site's code optimization is still a priority task nevertheless.
Another of my goals is reinstalling the forum from scratch when the new 3.x version comes out in the mid of the next year. Our current forum suffered the install of several versions and a lot of customization attempts that left a lot of junk that we don't really need and hog some additional queries on the database.
Oops.. sorry for the long write but I hope that somehow my idea of the overall planning to what is sketched in terms of actions to take place here on the community site is "showcased".
One might think that all these goals might be too dificult to achieve but don't worry - it's an important part of my own learning process about web programming so I enjoy it quite a lot and whenever I get into something that I don't know how to solve I'll just ask and see if someone else knows a better way, a bit like your (important) code snippet for the boot land logo placement.
None of these proposed ideas are fixed or static, we'll be working closely on each of them to make this site truly web 2.0 and still keep our community alive and fun!