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Introducing the Community Site - BETA

Community Veteran
Posts: 6,111
Thanks: 1
Registered: 05-04-2007

Introducing the Community Site - BETA

Rather that migrating posts across, how about keeping these current forums permanently, albeit in read-only mode - and maybe even isolated so they can't be accessed by accident - but get SMF's search function to search these old forums as well as the new ones? My theory is that because these forums are now very big with large numbers of threads, most people probably use the search facility when looking for something rather than just scanning through page upon page of topics. If so, my idea could be a decent compromise... on the other hand, I have little idea of how technically feasible it is, but it's just a thought anyway.
15 REPLIES
Liam
Grafter
Posts: 2,083
Registered: 04-04-2007

Introducing the Community Site - BETA

In our Plans for 2007 we talked about the new Community Website that we were planning to launch this year. At our Customer Open Day we showcased the site and those that attended seemed to really like the style. The PlusNet Usergroup and our forum moderators have been helping us out for a couple of weeks, but we’re pleased to announce that it’s now opened up as a “Public Beta” for customers to signup to right now!

http://community.plus.net

The site is entering the final stages of Development, but we would like your help finishing it off. We want to know what you like and don't like about the site and how we can improve the experience for you all. We also know that you guys are great at spotting and reporting bugs - so we'd like to enlist your help seeking them out!

Why are we launching a Community site?

There are numerous reasons why we are introducing the community site now, two of the biggest ones are :

* Our comms team, and customers, currently duplicate a lot of their efforts between the portal forums. People often ask the same question on different forums, meaning the knowledge from contributors is diluted and not shared. We hope bringing the forums together will enable us to better interact with everyone in our customer base.

* The Community made up of our customers is very important to us, and we want to provide a good environment for everyone to interact. This is not just about forums; we have plans to expand the site to enable customers to create their own blogs and develop their own tools for use by other customers.

What are the future plans for the community site?


We have plans to expand the site over the coming months to introduce a host of new features. We have lots of ideas, but would also welcome customer contributions and suggestions. The community site, after all, should not just be about what we think!

* Staff and Customer Blogs
* OpenID authentication
* A community news service, with RSS, on the homepage.
* Chat System for PlusNet customers
* Support groups UseNet Reader
* More PlusNet Webcams
* Public knowledgebase tool (For later development by the community).
* Public URL Book marking / rating tool
* Customer survey tool
* Simple front page vote/poll
* More interactive features
* Anything else anybody thinks of ?

The community site is available to all customers of PlusNet, Force9, Free-Online and Metronet. So - get signed up now!

A note about support!

As the Community site is in Beta it will not be supported by our networks and development teams out of hours. If it dies, it will wait until the next business day to be looked at. Our Support Centre also will not be able to handle queries on the Community Site, so if you have any questions - raise them to us in the forums!
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Introducing the Community Site - BETA

Just registered and tried it. Great feel to it, exciting possibilitiess and much good thinking behind it. Good job Liam!

It's really good to have all those many choices under 'one roof' without having to search in different parts of the portal.

Also great to have a user name different from our main PN name. You've been listening!!! Cheesy

I haven't found any bugs yet, but still prefer the reply interface and the way posts are displayed here - maybe because am more used to them.

One thing, though, now topics are running parallel here and in the Community Site forums. No problem to move from one to the other to follow an issue in both for now. But I suspect most customers wouldn't bother, and miss out on a lot of information. I think the sooner everything is merged into the Community Site the better.
Liam
Grafter
Posts: 2,083
Registered: 04-04-2007

Introducing the Community Site - BETA

Quote
Just registered and tried it. Great feel to it, exciting possibilitiess and much good thinking behind it. Good job Liam!


It's not my good job. This is down to the hard work of our Web Portal Team. Colin Ogilvie specifically, and Mitchell in our Design / Production Team.

Quote
It's really good to have all those many choices under 'one roof' without having to search in different parts of the portal.

Also great to have a user name different from our main PN name. You've been listening!!! Cheesy


Absolutely agree. The username thing has been asked for on a number of occasions in the past. It will be much better for us and customers to share knowledge all under one roof. It makes sense.

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I haven't found any bugs yet, but still prefer the reply interface and the way posts are displayed here - maybe because am more used to them.

One thing, though, now topics are running parallel here and in the Community Site forums. No problem to move from one to the other to follow an issue in both for now. But I suspect most customers wouldn't bother, and miss out on a lot of information. I think the sooner everything is merged into the Community Site the better.


RE the interface, yes it will take some getting used to - but we will also be further improving it. Part of the reason to put it out live as a beta is to get feedback from people such as yourself. We can use this to tailor it whilst we finish it off to fit the needs of the community.

With regards to the duplication of posts, yes that is an issue. We'll run the community site in parallel with the Portal forums for a period, and then we'll just point the forums here to the new community site. Then there will be minimal duplication.

Glad you like it :-)
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Introducing the Community Site - BETA

Quote
This is down to the hard work of our Web Portal Team. Colin Ogilvie specifically, and Mitchell in our Design / Production Team.


Then, thanks and congratulations to the Web Portal Team! Cheesy
Mand
Grafter
Posts: 5,560
Thanks: 1
Registered: 05-04-2007

Introducing the Community Site - BETA

I like the new site, it's a lot cleaner. Massive praise to Colin, Kelly and the team for all the work which has gone into this. Smiley

From our point of view it will be much easier to have discussions affecting all customers, without having to monitor upto 5 threads on different sites.

It's a positive step to get all our community activity on the one site, and you all have a lot of input into how the site progresses, so keep chucking out the ideas. Smiley
avalon
Grafter
Posts: 361
Registered: 05-04-2007

Introducing the Community Site - BETA

Quote

We'll run the community site in parallel with the Portal forums for a period, and then we'll just point the forums here to the new community site.


I'd like to think that the old forums would remain, albeit locked for new posts. There is a lot of useful information in them and a lot of Plusnet history. It'd be a shame to see it all suddenly deleted.

Or would it be possible to import the previous posts? I'd imagine not, as it'd be difficult with the multiple vISP fora.
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Introducing the Community Site - BETA

I asked about this at the open day- essentially there are massive issues migrating posts from four vISP's into one forum, not least the fact that different software is used and the usernames are duplicated across the vISP's.

There is also the point that many of the older posts will be irrelevent now as the platform has changed.

Liam assured me that "important stuff" will be migrated across, perhaps we should start a new thread linking to those we think should be saved for posterity.

Both will run in parallel for a couple of months, so that should be enough time to extract the information we need.
Liam
Grafter
Posts: 2,083
Registered: 04-04-2007

Introducing the Community Site - BETA

I believe Colin is still working on a possible way we may be migrate posts across... the problem will be that there will be a lot of duplication and duplication of usernames etc...

We'll see...
Community Veteran
Posts: 14,469
Registered: 30-07-2007

Introducing the Community Site - BETA

Given the new forum is entomite based, what is the situation regarding updates to that software. One of the problems with the current phpBB forum is it was so heavily customised and integrated into the portal that it was impossible to update it so a lot of security fixes and enhancements in later versions were not available to us.

Have future updating been factored into the design or will this version fall behind like phpBB did/does?
Liam
Grafter
Posts: 2,083
Registered: 04-04-2007

Introducing the Community Site - BETA

I presume you mean etomite? In which case, we are not using etomite for the new community site. It's an integration of Wordpress with SMF.
Community Veteran
Posts: 14,469
Registered: 30-07-2007

Introducing the Community Site - BETA

Sorry, I meant SMF

no idea where I got etomite from :?
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Introducing the Community Site - BETA

lol I think you may have been thinking of the PUG's front end system.
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,264
Registered: 04-04-2007

Introducing the Community Site - BETA

Various points, that I've picked up from previous posts in this thread:

- The upgrade stuff has been factored in to the system, we are making as minimal code changes as necessary, and anything that's changed will be well documented for future. Any changes we are making which can be pased back upstream to either SMF or Wordpress will be.

- I'm going to look and see if we can migrate posts across... it might not be possible, but it's worth spending an hour or two looking at it to be sure one way or the other.

Any other questions, I'm sure someone will be able to answer them.

Colin
Community Veteran
Posts: 5,877
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Registered: 05-04-2007

Introducing the Community Site - BETA

Out of interest what is it that's means the migration of posts is difficult to do? Everyone seemed very confident about it in January, although I realise things can pan out differently in practice....