DVR Chatter

Discussing the DCT-6412, Home Theater Devices, Entertainment, Celebrity and the Cable Industry. Not affiliated with any Cable Company, Hardware Manufacturer or Software Developer.



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#1 02-09-2008 10:58:59 AM

Frank
DVR Chatter Honcho
From: Bucks, PA
Registered: 02-12-2005
Posts: 2881
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3 Years of DVRChatter. Is it Time to Make a Change?

Hi, Everyone.

As some of you may know, Thursday will mark the 3 year anniversary of DVRChatter.  First off, thank you all for three great and fun years.

The nature and function of the site has changed a lot over these three years.  We started as a refuge for folks who were tired of slogging through one huge, unmanageable discussion thread at "that other forum" for information about their DCT-6412.  The idea was to break the information into different categories and different forums, and then have different threads on each topic.  It worked great for what it was. Since then, the site has turned into a venue for discussing much more.  We've expanded topics and gone in a number of different directions, and much of the content today has nothing to do with operating the 6412.

It makes sense.  I knew that, as time went on, the original function of the site would fade into the background because, simply, things like DVRs get more usable over time and there's less to talk about regarding them.  Basically, all questions get answered and all functions get addressed.  There simply isn't enough information or discussion about such a limited topic to warrant an entire site devoted to it. So we've expanded mostly into news topics.  We regularly discuss Entertainment and Cable Industry news. 

I've been thinking about the site, and I'm starting to think that maybe the "Discussion Forum" format is getting too restrictive for what the site has become.  I've been looking at different CMS (Content Management System) packages that still include a discussion forum component but also provide a lot more functionality.  I think it's time to make a change to one of these systems, but I'm mindful that there are over 1,000 registered users here and that folks have become used to one way of doing things over the past three years.

Probably the most compelling argument for making this change is the fact that, while traffic to the site has grown a little over the past year, posting (by folks other than me) has gone way down.  There are many, many more readers than writers here.  And most of those folks come here via a search engine link, find a specific piece of information in one of the threads, and then leave.  I believe this is because they are not exposed to the wealth of other information here in which they might be interested because that information is hidden behind a wall of Categories and Forums and Topics.  You kind of have to know what you're looking for when you come here because everything else is broken up and not in your face.

Like I said, the CMS package I am looking at does contain a forum component, and I should be able to port all the threads that are here to the new forum.  I should be able to port everyone's account information to the new system.

There would be an awful lot of added functionality if the change is made.  Every member would get a "Journal" section where they could write about whatever they wanted to write about.  The news would all be in one place instead of behind different category menus.  There would be a "Web Links" section where we could collect all different types of links in one place instead of having them split up in different category areas and specific "External Links" posts by topic.  People could review different products.  Each user would be able to submit news and write informative articles.  There would be no need to create a separate category and forum for each new topic, it would all be right there.  Polls would be much easier to create and manage.

If you want some tangible examples of what I'm talking about, take a look at these specific sites.  Some of them have some of the functions disabled, but you'll get the idea of what I'm talking about:

http://www.learninglinux.com/

http://www.orangecrate.com/

http://www.xmodworld.com/

http://www.ewebheads.com/

Like I said, all of this is dependent on being able to do it without losing all the data and information we've built up.

I'd like as many of you to weigh in on this as possible.  It's a big change, but it's one I strongly believe needs to take place to prevent the site from stagnating.  To have the site remain solely a discussion forum and then trying to pigeon-hole all the things we try to do into that discussion forum format doesn't make sense any more, and I believe it's holding us back.

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#2 02-09-2008 11:30:36 AM

Wareagle
Charter Member
From: Bellevue, WA
Registered: 02-15-2005
Posts: 1073
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Re: 3 Years of DVRChatter. Is it Time to Make a Change?

One of the things that's very handy about the current format is the ability to tell at a glance when something new has been added.  I hope that any new format will retain that feature (hard to tell from looking at the 3 examples that I could access).

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#3 02-09-2008 11:58:09 AM

Frank
DVR Chatter Honcho
From: Bucks, PA
Registered: 02-12-2005
Posts: 2881
PM  Website

Re: 3 Years of DVRChatter. Is it Time to Make a Change?

Good question.

The packages that I'm looking at use phpBB as a forum component.  You wouldn't see it on the above-referenced sites as a guest visitor, but if you are logged in you would be presented with the same "New Posts Since Last Visit" option as on our current forum package when you go to the forum area.

News would be presented in reverse chronological order on the front page, so the newest news would always be at the top (the first couple paragraphs with a link to the full article so you can scan down and see ALL news in ALL categories at a glance).  Additionally, when you opt to read an article in full, you are presented with the ability to read other articles on the topic, other articles by the author, and the article with the highest number of views on that topic.  You can comment on the articles and rate the article.  You can configure how you wish to view comments (threaded, flat, etc), filter out comments you don't want to see (Anonymous, for example, if I decide to allow them).

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#4 02-09-2008 2:29:53 PM

Wareagle
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From: Bellevue, WA
Registered: 02-15-2005
Posts: 1073
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Re: 3 Years of DVRChatter. Is it Time to Make a Change?

I vote against allowing anonymous posters, to discourage frivolous posts and provide some continuity for discussions.

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#5 02-09-2008 4:20:06 PM

Georgia Guy
Charter Member
From: Atlanta
Registered: 02-15-2005
Posts: 207
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Re: 3 Years of DVRChatter. Is it Time to Make a Change?

Frank, this is your site and you are the guy who knows how to do all this stuff, so whatever you want is fine by me.

I don't post nearly as much as others, but I do drop by quite often to read the various forums. I especially like your "entertainment" section.  Even tho my days as a 6412 user have long passed, I still find much to hold my interest.  "Cable industry news" and "free speech" are others I really like.

I agree with Wareagle about keeping out anonymous posters. I've seen too many good forums wrecked by them in the past. And, I like the feature that shows new posts.

Mainly, I'd hope that the forums sections of the new format would be strong and still have the great folks you now have as regulars.

Last edited by Georgia Guy (02-09-2008 4:26:50 PM)

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#6 02-09-2008 6:39:07 PM

Frank
DVR Chatter Honcho
From: Bucks, PA
Registered: 02-12-2005
Posts: 2881
PM  Website

Re: 3 Years of DVRChatter. Is it Time to Make a Change?

I would hope that the regulars do stick around too.  That's why I'm asking if there are any strong objections to changing the format before changing it.

To be clear in addressing your concerns, my reference to anonymous posters was in regard to news article comments, not the in the forum section and not the ability for anonymous users to post news articles.  And, my reference to it was to point out that any user could BLOCK viewing anonymous posts in their user preferences.  Any registered user can set the threshold for the types of comments they wish to see (Viewing all, blocking anonymous, or only viewing those from members with a certain level of posting history).

My goal in that respect is to get more participants from all these viewers we have.  I wasn't sure if I was going to allow it, and from what you guys are saying I should think about not doing so.

As far as the News Sections, they would no longer be a part of the forum.  Apart from the DVR stuff, we would make the forum whatever we wanted at that point.  What are the News Sections of the current forums would be news articles in descending chronological order on the front page.  The number of reads and comments would be listed there.  If you found one of the articles interesting, you would click "Read More" to read the full article followed by all the comments on that article.  You can chose in your preferences whether you wanted to view the comments flat (like they are here) or threaded (replies to a comment are under that specific comment) and what level of comment you want to see according to what level of commenter posted it.

Maybe the best course of action would be for me to set up an installation with some dummy data in a subdirectory here so you can see what I'm talking about.  Maybe I'll be able to do that this week.  The hardest work is getting all the data from the old format to the new format, but just sticking it up there for you guys to poke around should be pretty simple.  That way, you can say "I don't like x" or "I think Y could be done better" and I'll be able to change it right there.

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#7 02-09-2008 6:53:17 PM

Wareagle
Charter Member
From: Bellevue, WA
Registered: 02-15-2005
Posts: 1073
PM

Re: 3 Years of DVRChatter. Is it Time to Make a Change?

Sounds good to me.

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#8 02-09-2008 11:45:55 PM

CommTech
Member
Registered: 03-22-2007
Posts: 43
PM

Re: 3 Years of DVRChatter. Is it Time to Make a Change?

Providing you have the resources to do it, I would make a duplicate backup of the current format, install your new CMS, then merge over the backup system to see what you come up with and exactly how easily the current data will convert over.  I've managed many forums and CMS' over the years and let me tell you, its the worst feeling in the world when you think you're doing something great until something horrible goes wrong and all of sudden all old data has been lost lol. I wouldn't mind seeing a new face, but I wouldn't put it at the cost of possily losing old data.  By resources to do this, i mean available space on your host server and of course, the time to do it. If you need some assistance with either of these, I might be able to help out. In either case, all i can say is good luck tongue


Comcast Cable Communications Technician - Fresno, CA system

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#9 02-10-2008 12:54:03 AM

Frank
DVR Chatter Honcho
From: Bucks, PA
Registered: 02-12-2005
Posts: 2881
PM  Website

Re: 3 Years of DVRChatter. Is it Time to Make a Change?

Thanks for that offer, CommTech, and the words of advice.  I've got both old and new packages running here on my local machine and will do extensive conversion testing before attempting it on the live site.  It's a two step process (Current Forum --> New Forum.  New Forum --> CMS). The good news is that it's not destructive, so I can screw the pooch any number of times and not touch our existing data.  I've found scripts out there for both conversions.   I'll stick a backup into my local database and work out any kinks before I even attempt to try it on the real site.

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#10 02-10-2008 1:51:56 PM

Frank
DVR Chatter Honcho
From: Bucks, PA
Registered: 02-12-2005
Posts: 2881
PM  Website

Re: 3 Years of DVRChatter. Is it Time to Make a Change?

OK - I threw something up real quick this morning as a way to kind of visualize what all this talk is about.  It's at http://www.dvrchatter.com/temp . Feel free to poke around.  It's not really configured right - I just turned all the stuff on so you can see what's available and (hopefully) the benefits.  It's a temporary install and a temporary database that will be destroyed when (if) we go forward to making it a reality. 

The one caveat is that I don't think registration emails are being sent.  The other applicable functions are working, but I wasn't getting verification emails. I'll check periodically and activate any inactive users so you can poke around as a registered user.  A lot of stuff is hidden and inactive for anon users.

Let me know what you think.

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#11 02-10-2008 4:05:40 PM

ghoofie
Charter Member
From: Northern California, Pittsburg
Registered: 02-17-2005
Posts: 907
PM  Website

Re: 3 Years of DVRChatter. Is it Time to Make a Change?

The important thing to me is the 'friendships' made through the 3 years. Change is usually a good thing.  As long as I can still  have a means of 'chatting' with y'all...I'm good with anything.

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#12 02-10-2008 11:15:04 PM

Wareagle
Charter Member
From: Bellevue, WA
Registered: 02-15-2005
Posts: 1073
PM

Re: 3 Years of DVRChatter. Is it Time to Make a Change?

I got a "404 Not found" when I first clicked on the link, and it was caused by the period at the end of the sentence being included in the url.  It should be http://www.dvrchatter.com/temp

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#13 02-10-2008 11:33:58 PM

Frank
DVR Chatter Honcho
From: Bucks, PA
Registered: 02-12-2005
Posts: 2881
PM  Website

Re: 3 Years of DVRChatter. Is it Time to Make a Change?

Oops.  Damn auto-URL function.  Fixed.

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#14 02-11-2008 9:40:53 AM

jganyard
Member
Registered: 09-09-2005
Posts: 344
PM

Re: 3 Years of DVRChatter. Is it Time to Make a Change?

I like it Frank... change is good and I encourage the expansion.

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#15 02-11-2008 9:53:58 AM

Frank
DVR Chatter Honcho
From: Bucks, PA
Registered: 02-12-2005
Posts: 2881
PM  Website

Re: 3 Years of DVRChatter. Is it Time to Make a Change?

jganyard - thanks for the encouragement.

I'm not 100% sold on that particular package (I like that there's strong built-in security, but I don't like the way it handles short URLs and a couple other things), but at least you guys can get a feel for where I'm trying to go with this.

It may turn out that I just build a bunch of stuff around this current format and expand that way.  Less likely, but possible.

I mostly want to make sure you guys see the logic in this kind of change being needed, see the benefits in the particular format I'm going for, and are in for it.

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#16 02-11-2008 3:36:35 PM

Georgia Guy
Charter Member
From: Atlanta
Registered: 02-15-2005
Posts: 207
PM

Re: 3 Years of DVRChatter. Is it Time to Make a Change?

Looks good to me too.

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#17 02-11-2008 4:39:42 PM

ghoofie
Charter Member
From: Northern California, Pittsburg
Registered: 02-17-2005
Posts: 907
PM  Website

Re: 3 Years of DVRChatter. Is it Time to Make a Change?

Frank...let me know if you want me to 'play' at the new format. I like playing around,
testing, sampling stuff. I'll be glad to play guinea pig anytime you want.

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#18 02-11-2008 8:25:12 PM

Frank
DVR Chatter Honcho
From: Bucks, PA
Registered: 02-12-2005
Posts: 2881
PM  Website

Re: 3 Years of DVRChatter. Is it Time to Make a Change?

You guys poke around in there as much as you want.  Like I said, the database will be destroyed before I put anything up for real.  It's just a temporary installation to get to know the features.  Create accounts, post stuff, write reviews - - whatever you want.  I wouldn't give it my best writing or anything, though, cause like I said whatever is there is going to be gone eventually.

The problem I'm having is that I know what I like and don't like for my purposes and my functions, but I really have no idea how other folks use the site or like to look for information.  I just know this "forum only" format (that I decided on purely based on the original function of the site) does not present the full extent of the content we've built up here in its best light and it doesn't encourage participation by the many folks who come here as readers but never think of jumping in as posters.

If every visitor registered and posted, this place would seem much more lively than it does as purely a flat forum.

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#19 02-13-2008 11:55:23 AM

ghoofie
Charter Member
From: Northern California, Pittsburg
Registered: 02-17-2005
Posts: 907
PM  Website

Re: 3 Years of DVRChatter. Is it Time to Make a Change?

I registered on the temp site, but I can't log-in.

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#20 02-27-2008 10:06:17 AM

ghoofie
Charter Member
From: Northern California, Pittsburg
Registered: 02-17-2005
Posts: 907
PM  Website

Re: 3 Years of DVRChatter. Is it Time to Make a Change?

So what's the latest on this Frank ? Is it a go ?

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#21 02-27-2008 11:15:57 AM

Frank
DVR Chatter Honcho
From: Bucks, PA
Registered: 02-12-2005
Posts: 2881
PM  Website

Re: 3 Years of DVRChatter. Is it Time to Make a Change?

I'm not in love with that particular package and am still testing others to find one that might fit our particular needs and format a little better, but the concept as a whole is still going forward.

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#22 08-22-2008 1:41:54 PM

ghoofie
Charter Member
From: Northern California, Pittsburg
Registered: 02-17-2005
Posts: 907
PM  Website

Re: 3 Years of DVRChatter. Is it Time to Make a Change?

So, we're still on this one Frank... still have plans for a change ?

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