Upgrading modified

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Upgrading modified

Post by PoisonTaffy » 07 Nov 2012 00:18

Some people at the Can We Please Revive Modified? thread have pointed fingers at the forum model of modified as a possible reason for the deterioration of the online footbag community. The forum model of community may have worked in the past, but in today's internet landscape it's losing serious grounds to Facebook.

In this thread I want to talk about possible ways of pursuing the undertaking of creating a new online community hub for footbag, from a technical and practical point of view. What this thread SHOULDN'T discuss is whether this is the right move. I think the original thread is the right place for that.
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Re: Upgrading modified

Post by PoisonTaffy » 07 Nov 2012 00:41

I looked into the infamous hoop city and turns out that they're built on http://www.ning.com/, a ready made community platform charging a monthly fee.

Apparently there's a plethora of such platforms out there, ranging from open source and free, to hosted, closed source and expensive, and all the combinations in between.

I want to start looking at the free+open source edge of the spectrum to see if there's any robust and mature solution that could provide most of the features a site like hoop city has.

Are there any other successful community sites you know? I don't know any and would love to get any help on leads researching this.
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Re: Upgrading modified

Post by Jeremy » 08 Nov 2012 15:47

It looks good. I'd offer to help but I'm going away for the next few weeks and won't have much internet access. Perhaps after that. I think it would better to frame this as an alternative to modified, rather than upgrading modified. Lets build something, test it out, and if it's successful people can either move from here to there, or even use both.

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Re: Upgrading modified

Post by PoisonTaffy » 09 Nov 2012 08:51

I think it would better to frame this as an alternative to modified, rather than upgrading modified. Lets build something, test it out, and if it's successful people can either move from here to there, or even use both.
Sounds good. At any circumstance I'd like to be able to migrate data from modified to the new site, even if it's only blogs. Starting from scratch would suck.

I'm confident that I can handle the development aspect of a community website, but I know that I can't handle the graphics and UI aspect of it. I can try to enlist my art director girlfriend but she doesn't have a lot of spare time. Besides, I'd rather it be someone from the footbag world.
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Re: Upgrading modified

Post by PoisonTaffy » 10 Nov 2012 10:14

Unless anyone has any objection, I'm beginning to work on the project using Ruby On Rails.

There are a lot of alternatives out there, but RoR is as good as any and I'm excited to build the site with it because:

1) It's a sexy web technology that's very valuable to have experience in. Working on the project will pay for itself in term of experience, at least for me.

2) RoR's focus on strong convention means that anybody coming in the project will have an easy time figuring out what's what and how to contribute. It has a very good testing framework which can help ensure that future contributors don't break the site in a significant way.

3) I found a mature RoR open source community site project that has most of the features we need. I'm going to borrow heavily from it to speed up development.


I'm trying to come up with a neat name for the project. Any ideas?
Last edited by PoisonTaffy on 10 Nov 2012 12:52, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Upgrading modified

Post by rjadamson » 10 Nov 2012 11:38

I've been meaning to post here over the past several days, but haven't had time to sit at the computer (I'm having to post this from my phone. I think it would be good to discuss how much we care about carrying over posts from here, mobile access, language support, the amount of continuous micromanaging in the finished product, and some other stuff. I'll try to post more tonight.

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Re: Upgrading modified

Post by sen » 10 Nov 2012 12:22

Mobile access it pretty big for me. And I agree that a way to transfer my blog would be awesome to have. Maybe have it it's up to each person to transfer it? I'm not sure what kind of tool could be created to that end. And maybe that wouldn't be fair for anyone who isn't active right when the transition period is happening (assuming the new spot is awesome and takes off as planned). I just don't know if it would be a waste to have a bunch of dead journal's/blog's (I like journal for some reason) cluttering up stuff on the new site.

And what about other posts? I think some of the lists and large threads should be moved over or made into articles of sorts. But a lot of the things maybe don't need to be moved? That's my thoughts.

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Re: Upgrading modified

Post by PoisonTaffy » 10 Nov 2012 12:51

Mobile Access shouldn't be a huge time sink if we plan ahead on a single design that looks good on mobile and desktop. RoR makes it easy to include modern JS and CSS libraries that make implementing it a matter of following a few styling conventions (like bootstrap)

Migration: We can migrate users on demand as long as we have a way to access the modified database. this means that it will be available long enough to give everyone a fair chance to run it whenever they feel like it. I already found a wordpress plugin that does something similar, so when the time comes, there will be reference to speed development up. Regarding the clutter concern, that's a good point that ought to be handled: We could flag the migrated posts so they don't appear on any main feed, so when someone migrates their blog, the main feed is not just about them for a few days.

This migration thing is important, but imo work on it should be deferred until the database schema of the new site is stable, so we could decide what to migrate and to where, and write the migration tool once.

Also, NAME!! :D I'm using "New Modified" right now which is kind of lame. I thought of "Freestyle nova" or "modified nova" or what have you, kind of a word play on the astronomical theme of 'planet footbag' etc., and of the hopes of the project being a rebirth of the online freestyle community. Also, I just finished reading an astronomy book so that might be the real source. But I am so sure that this name sucks compared to what you guys have stowed in your head..
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Re: Upgrading modified

Post by Muffinman » 10 Nov 2012 15:42

I feel that if a new site and interface was developed completely independent of Modified it should have a footbag-related name. Modified has nothing to do with footbag and has never made sense in that context except through our own projections (like "modifying" hack shoes).

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Re: Upgrading modified

Post by rjadamson » 10 Nov 2012 20:11

I finally have a chance to bring up a couple things!

First I want to bring up software. Roy if you are really willing to build a community site that is very exciting. However it seems like many footbag-promoting ideas have fallen through or lost steam over the years. It's important we can easily maintain this new community if you lose interest in footbag or otherwise cannot commit to maintaining the website you built. There's a part of me that would like to see us migrate to some paid software that will be easy to implement, maintain, and most importantly get support for later. If we do indeed go with the option of you making the site I will try and help find someone who can work on the front end of things -- honestly my biggest problem with some of the other footbag sites is how uninviting they are visually. Could Evan Lovely be of some use here?

I've mentioned vBulletin several times in various threads regarding this topic. vBulletin has always been hands down the best forum software out there, and the current version 4 has built-in blogging modules and pretty slick CMS. This software would be relatively close to the familiar forum layout people are used to, but would have the addition of things like a modular front page. However, vBulletin 5 is set for release very soon, and it looks like they've developed the next version in a more modern social networking direction! You can already test out the Site Builder software to build a mock site. Another nice thing about vBulletin is that you buy the license one time, and don't pay monthly.

That said I very much agree with Jeremy:
Jeremy wrote:I think it would better to frame this as an alternative to modified, rather than upgrading modified. Lets build something, test it out, and if it's successful people can either move from here to there, or even use both.
Maybe trying to move as far away as possible from the archaic forum layout is the best plan. It's for this reason I really like the idea of something like Ning. However Ning's pricing is monthly (it also looks like we'd want the $60/month Ning Pro for all of the features we need), which seems like a potential hassle for a site without any clear leadership. I'd still check out the free trial.

I really want a respectable online footbag community. It's about time. I'm working 10 hours a day every day for the rest of this month (and reaping the rewards of overtime), and part of that motivation is to have some money to donate to this. I'll donate USD $200.00 -- maybe more if I can -- toward a software license or something equally productive. I also have to ask because I am a new player -- has anyone in the last five years seriously approached Steve Goldberg about something like this? It seems like remodeling the official IPFA website into something relevant would be the primary way to stop the perceived slow bleeding out of our sport. Even his encouragement (not to mention financial help if he is willing) would be a step in the right direction. Do any of you Stanford guys have insider info on this?

With that out of the way I'd also like to propose something that might leave us split -- can we just do away with the idea of carrying over the ten year-old threads from this forum? I honestly think a fresh start would be better for this new community. I can't speak for other new players, but there is nothing appealing to me about posting in a "New Runs" thread that started like a decade ago. Looking at how old everything is implies that no ones posts (no one wants to join a dead forum), and that there's NOTHING NEW TO BE SAID. I would be sad if this forum archive disappeared entirely as there is quite a bit of history here... it would be wonderful to save it for posterity/sentimental value. I would like to hear how people with long running footblogs feel about this. The only thing I can see really worth carrying over to the new site is login information. Some people are discouraged from making yet another profile on yet another site.

Because interest in footbag is so globally distributed I think it's important this new site has some multi-language support. Forums like this aren't so good for that, but something more modern would probably work pretty well. Perhaps asking some prominent players outside of North America via the Facebook group would be a good idea?

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Re: Upgrading modified

Post by sen » 10 Nov 2012 20:43

I'll try to form more thought out response to everything else you brought up later, but I think I can speak for a lot of people when I say I would want my footblog posts on whatever site I move to. That's my history. It's the only place I can look back to see what I did when. What my training was like, how often I was playing, and many other little things. I will want a way to bring those over and I'm quite sure many others will to. It's sort of different for different people, but I can't see Ken or Erik for example wanting to lose all they've posted. I think especially of all Ken's well thought out and well written event write ups. Maybe he's got them backed up somewhere, but I know he's put a LOT of work into his blog and hell I'd be sad to see it lie dormant in some archive.

OK, I'm just watching Hockey, so I'll keep going. I think the .org idea is a great one. I won't speak to whether Steve might want to be involved or might want to become financially involved, but .org gets more traffic than Modified ever did. And by traffic I guess I should mention that I mean unique hits. I haven't spent time at .org for ages, but I remember at one point there was a bit of a divide between Modified and .org forums. There was talk that they should be merged as a lot of veteran players were posting here and newbs were joining over at .org with really no guidance. A merge at that point might have been interesting but it met with opposition if I recall correctly. A lot of modified members looked at the .org forums and saw the floods of new players asking the same questions over and over again and didn't want to deal with that. It may have been an elitist attitude but that's what happened from what I saw and remember. I also recall a few people setting out to help the new players at .org but making a concentrated effort to answer all questions as they came up. I think one stitcher even held a contest to encourage modified members to head over there and help out. Wow, this is getting off topic...

My point: At that time modified was a happening place. It was pretty popular and posts were flowing. So popular the members didn't really want new members... Footbag as a sport was also on an upswing then. Times have changed. The sport seems to be declining and the forum is for sure. I think building the new community as an extension of .org is brialliant. .org has legitamacy behind it. And I assume extra traffic could only help the sport and the site itself.

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Re: Upgrading modified

Post by Muffinman » 10 Nov 2012 23:24

I read Reilley's post, but only skimmed Tony's 'cause I'm working on an essay. I agree with the .org mentality. Everything central to the sport should be there! My understanding based on when I last spoke to him about things like this (a few years ago) is that he's all for it, but needs people to volunteer and do the work. I've mentioned the sucky look of .org to him and Allan before and their answer was basically that it's complicated to re-write everything, or something like that? I volunteered to help in some capacity and only remember being shot down or ignored. I think that .org needs a super overhaul -- not only visually but content-wise. You go to the freestyle section of the site and little if anything has changed since I started playing in the late 90s. The video demonstration of blur is by Carol Wedemeyer. I agree that any new development should be a part of .org -- this would give credibility not only to the new community but to .org itself, which is an embarrassment to be frank. I feel that lots of work needs to go into .org before something like this would work well.

EDIT: Read Tony's post. The main contention with the merger was that .org imposed heavy moderation in terms of posting and editing.

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Re: Upgrading modified

Post by PoisonTaffy » 11 Nov 2012 04:20

vBulletin5 looks like ass and doesn't really fit into what I have in mind for a community site. I wanted to try ning but I don't feel comfortable giving my credit card for a trial; I KNOW I will forget to cancel it after 30 days.

I'm also willing to donate money for a solution, but I doubt a monthly subscription is viable long term. A one time license or a free solution are the way to go imo. A custom solution (i.e. one we build from scratch) will certainly have to be manageable by admins and not by the developer. Same way that admins today can control the content of phpbb, but not the underlying source. At the moment I believe making it admin-manageable is not an issue, but maybe I'm not foreseeing complications from having lots of content types. I also think that it's viable to provide an easy access to CSS and HTML editing so that super-admins will be able to control the look of the style (I won't be developing a theme manager, it'll have to be via css and html). Development will only be required for specific bug fixes and in the far future, upgrades.

I think we should clarify what is the main 'vision' for the site, in terms of what are the must have features we want in a new site, how people interact with it, what the front page is all about, etc. otherwise I don't know how can even compare various solutions.

I didn't have the replacement of '.org' in mind, but now that it was raised and you say Steve Goldberg won't oppose, I fear that it may really complicates the project. A community site with user generated content is one thing; a site with canonical documents, official mailing lists, clubs, committees and membership tiers is something quite different. I think .org needs a dire upgrade, but we'd need someone to look into what features it must include that a community site wouldn't need, to understand how much more complicated it is to replace both modified and .org in one fell swoop.

To get started with the 'vision' conversation, the centerpiece of the site in my imagination is a front page "time line" stream that combines user posts (synonymous to facebook wall posts, not to forum posts), videos from youtube&vimeo, events and new public articles. I imagine that the user could turn on and off each of these to choose what to see on her stream. Of course, there should be a prolific member area where user blogs and stuff reside. I have some ideas about that, but I think it's more important to solidify the main concept before going into specifics.

Reilley, regarding the blog importation, I don't see it causing the site to seem archaic. We put the new stuff upfront on the stream, and blogs and archival stuff are accessible from each member's page.

No matter what solution we go with, we'll need a designer. The sooner the better. I would love to see screenshots of suggested designs as soon as we have a main concept solidified.
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Re: Upgrading modified

Post by Muffinman » 11 Nov 2012 13:25

Just to clarify, I didn't mean a replacement of .org, and I didn't mean that Steve would be down with that. I just meant improvement to .org in general and in terms of appearance. But I do feel that for the betterment of the sport we would have one central resource that would incorporate all of this. I keep citing Fourkast.com which is the closest we have right now but nobody uses. It would just be best on so many levels if we had this kind of online community interactivity incorporated into the official site with all of the official STUFF. A one-stop resource. There would be more activity, more accessibility for new people searching about the sport, and the official site wouldn't look like poop (hopefully), to name a few benefits.

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Re: Upgrading modified

Post by sen » 11 Nov 2012 16:11

Yes, I was not meaning to replace to .org either. My thought was to simply change the forum link from the main page to say Community or Footbag Nova or whatever, and link to the new community portal. Having it be integrated to .org is a great idea for reasons already cited.

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Re: Upgrading modified

Post by Jeremy » 11 Nov 2012 17:11

I'd be happy to donate $100 or so too, but agree that on going costs would be problematic. I don't care about migrating old posts - and indeed think the attempts to make modified an information resource are part of the decline - social media style active conversations is where activity occurs on today's internet. I assume with blogs people could just copy and paste posts that they want to carry over - at least as a worst case solution.

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Re: Upgrading modified

Post by Derek » 11 Nov 2012 18:07

I wish I could donate $100 like Jeremy, but I would be happy to donate $20+, if needed.
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Re: Upgrading modified

Post by Muffinman » 11 Nov 2012 20:21

I wouldn't discount the history that's preserved on Modified. The last time we did that and rebooted the forums without regard for old posts there was practically a riot. Did you know that the Library of Congress archives every public Twitter post ever made? There's, like, 400,000 made on a daily basis. It's not silly to maintain what we've created even if just as a record of the past.

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Re: Upgrading modified

Post by PoisonTaffy » 12 Nov 2012 13:09

Just to show that I'm not all talk, and sorry for the horrible horrible design, but:

http://tranquil-dusk-9441.herokuapp.com/

What can it do? So far, user management and rudimentary posts. Sign up to see the wall and to post something for yourslef.

Note that I will probably reset the database during development so don't expect your posts or user to be saved.
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Re: Upgrading modified

Post by sen » 12 Nov 2012 14:24

Cool! I signed up. If you need anything specific tested, or need help with something simple let me know.

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