The Usual Weirdness

Posted May 23, 2003

The scariest words a webmaster can ever hear: "We're going to upgrade your discussion boards". (Shiver) AB talks about what's going to happen, why it's good, and what it means for registered discussion board members.


I won't lie to you. I can't even try to hide it. I have to say it:

Memorial Day Weekend is, without a doubt, the single slowest weekend of the year for Browns news.

It's sad, but true.

During Memorial Day weekend, NFL executives everywhere are focused on critical issues such as napping and jetting about the planet, leaving us poor slobs largely news-less. Some people can be sooooo inconsiderate. The best we can hope for, news-wise, is that another Baltimore Raven gets arrested or that Plaxico Burress drinks too much beer, with the ensuing hilarity.

On a normal website, operated by normal people, this sort of weak news period would mean that everyone goes on vacation, or that people participate in something we've been told is called a "life". Whatever. Here, it means we're busy "upgrading things", which means that we're making well-intentioned changes which results in broken techno-stuff and general irritation. Being a webmaster, I excel in that sort of thing.

One of these "upgrades", which will take place in the coming weeks, is a revision to our discussion forums. This upgrade will be to Version 7.2 of ezBoards. The new version is already in Beta test on the Redskins site, and that is going well, so I expect it will be rolled out soon. Watch for an announcement.

There are three things in this upgrade which make it interesting, useful, and slightly evil.

1. Private messaging mailboxes

The boards current private message system, whereby board members can send specific messages to each other rather than talking through the public forums, is somewhat difficult to use. It works pretty well, except that it sends messages through email, which doesn't work if someone's email address changed. Sometimes it can also get confusing when trying to respond to a private message.

The new messaging system will be entirely enclosed within Bernies Insiders, and usable by all registered forum members. You will be able to send messages directly to another board member and have them show up in an in-box which resides on the board itself. Whenever you log in, right by the "Logged In As .... ", you will see an in-box for messages displayed along with the number of unread messages. This will make it a lot easier to have side-conversations or talk directly to your fellow dawgs on the boards without having to exchange email addresses.

What makes it an example of the evil wrought by vicious capitalists is that the folks at TheInsiders will be providing one set of capabilities for our subscribers and another for folks who haven't ponied up for the bargain-at-twice-the-price subscription plan. Non-subscribers will be able to keep a set number of messages around and will be able to send a set number of messages each day. Subscribers won't have those limits. The system will still be very helpful and usable for everyone, but becomes more powerful if you're supporting the site via a subscription. For instance, subscribers will have the ability to organize messages they receive via folders. Stuff like that... just a little extra advantage of being a subscriber. Even if you haven't subscribed, though, the new system will still be better than what we have. I think you'll like it.

2. Shadow and Copied Topics

We've had the capability to move threads from one forum to another for a while now. With the new version, we have the ability to copy threads from one forum to another. This will be especially handy in the Ask the Insiders forum where we like talking about a subject even after our Insiders have answered the question. Unfortunately, this makes it harder for occasional visitors to find responses from Lane, Dave, Mike, and The Owl amidst all the chatter. Now, we will have the capability to lock down the original thread so Insider responses are easy to find, but copy it to the Club Lounge for continued talk. Fun, fun, fun.

Shadow" topics are threads that are moved, but leave behind a "shadow" so that folks see the old message title. The conversation continues in a different forum. This is a nice capability for moderators to move threads and easily point forum members to where they went.

3. Built-in Chat

The new version of ezBoards allows subscribers to also have a chat room built into the boards. That allows them to move from the boards to the chat room using the same name and password, which is kind of neat. We won't be using it on Bernie's Insiders for now, however, since we have our existing chat room, which is still more powerful than what ezBoards offers. Our chat room, with the exception of Browns Uncensored each Thursday, is open to all Browns fans, and we're going to keep it that way.

I'm pointing this out, since you may see the new chat in use on other message boards, and I want everyone to understand why we're not going to use it for now.


We're busy at work on a lot of other things during this slower news period, which you will see start showing up next week. But more on those when we get there...

Have a great weekend, dawgs! We'll still be here publishing new articles, doing newswires, and the like, all weekend, so drop by if you want to take a break from the holiday fun.


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