JoCo Forum/Website Update

Things are looking different around here aren't they? Thought I'd start a place for discussion about features and issues with the new digs. I'm still looking around and finding new things, but here's what I've noted so far:

Good News!
  • Private messages are now easy to find! (Check out the "Inbox" link at the top of the page.)
  • You can tag other users in a discussion by putting an @ in front of their username. They'll receive a forum notification. (You can choose to be emailed when someone tags you as well.)
  • User profiles now include all discussions you've started and comments you've added.
Not-so-good News
  • Login now asks for your email instead of your username. You can still log in with your username. The prompt text is just a little confusing.
  • I haven't yet figured out how to use the new private message system.
Any other observations?


  • I'm sure I'll get used to it, but the new look sure is ugly. ;)

    Thanks for the tip about being able to use my previous username instead of my email to login.
  • edited July 2011
    The send PM screen is horrible. You send a message, and all you get is the input form again - no confirmation that it was sent. Not to mention there's Private Messages vs Conversations in several dialogs.
  • Not-so-good: Links to forum pages in old threads no longer work. I hope that gets fixed. (for an example, go here to, then try to go to any of the links).

    Also, where are all the options we used to have when adding a comment? (quote, link, bold, add a photo, etc).
  • edited July 2011
    @Jmonkee: Right, the breaking of permalinks was one of the problems I'd noted but forgot to list.

    There must be a way to add rich text controls back, but I think it requires an addon to be installed by a mod. Unfortunately Vanilla's plugin db is not very searchable, so the only one I can see on quick review is a WYSIWYG editor.

    EDIT: Hmm, I can't edit the original post for this thread either. I wonder if editing permissions are blocked for head posts, or if it's dependent on elapsed time? Editing the original post happens a lot in reference threads. This might be a problem.

  • Weeeee!
  • edited July 2011
    Comment editing: Editing is time-limited to within 15 minutes of posting. It's an understandable forum control but makes it a lot harder to create reference posts; ie lists of available bootlegs or people signed up for a cruise excursion. Can this be changed by admins? The Vanilla documentation is sadly lacking.

    Rich text support: I looked further for a toolbar to auto-generate markup, and based on comments in the Vanilla community, there might not be a plugin for it yet. (Time to write one?) The WYSIWYG editor I linked above is apparently useless in IE7+. In the meantime basic HTML tags work, but I haven't tried anything fancy.

    Mobile site: The default mobile template on my iPod doesn't include a link back to JoCo's site or a way to initiate direct messages. Neither of these are terrible, but given that there is also no way to switch to the non-mobile site, kind of annoying.

    User profiles: User pages used to have lots of optional information like real names, email addresses and user-defined fields. I can't find that anymore--is it all gone forever? Looks like a plugin might be needed if we want that kind of extended profile back.
  • edited July 2011
    PM notification emails have [< a href="/">Jonathan Coulton</ a>] in the subject line - the empty HTML should be stripped.
  • edited July 2011
    It looks like the first comment of this thread (trying manual html there to see if it adds a link; I hope it works) has been truncated, and I'm guessing it's because the next character was a u with an umlaut and perhaps the upgrade cuts off at special characters.

    I wonder whether anything interesting will happen if I put an ü or an ü (the same thing as an HTML entity) here.

    ETA: Well, nothing interesting happened there, so that's good, I guess.
  • edited July 2011
    The Members Only section is no longer restricted to members only.

    ETA: It seems to be possible to comment on people's user profiles. I just commented on @chicazul's, I think. I wonder if I'll be able to see it by clicking on the link that that @ thing will make.
  • This is minor, but the yellow hi-lighter effect on new posts is a serious eyesore.
  • Not so good: I don't have admin rights any more. :) Well, I can still edit y'all's posts, but I don't have the kind of control I used to. This may or may not be intentional on The Powers That Be's part. Off to send an e-mail.
  • @Bry: Checking out Vanilla's default roles and permissions, only "Administrators" appear to be able to do more than edit content. Unless Jonathan wants to take an active role in moderating the forums, the failure to add additional permissions is probably an oversight.
  • BryBry
    edited July 2011
    Gah I keep clicking the big "Jonathan Coulton" at the top where the "JoCo Forums" used to be, and it keeps taking me back to the JoCo homepage rather than the forum / discussions homepage.

    Missing rich text editor and 15-minute edit lock are both annoying even though they don't affect me directly (I didn't use those buttons much before, and one of the few things I can still do as a mod is edit posts, including others' posts, all the time). Old permalinks being broken really bothers me, but I'm not sure what can be done about that. @chicazul, any chance of extensions to fix it?

    (Note that @Jmonkee's links in this thread are broken anyway because they leave off the "www" to save space -- by the way, what's the character limit now? -- and the relative links don't point to the right places. But then, even the right places are broken too.)

    Forum upgrades need to happen when I'm less busy, dangit! :)

    ETA: People who don't check the wiki's recent changes may have missed this update. Note the user who made the edit.

    Also, it'd be nice if I could preview what I was editing.
  • edited July 2011
    I noticed that update (by looking at the contributions of that user.) I thought about mentioning it in my comment on the blog post, but since neither place means much to me I couldn't really think of anything to say about it.

    ETA: One new thing the profile has are male/female radio buttons, which default to male. I don't know what it does though; I don't see this displayed on my profile but perhaps it's used for pronouns somewhere. Pity there's no 'other/unspecified' option, well not really since it doesn't seem to do anything anyway. Anyway, the reason I looked at that is that I thought it was about time I added an avatar. Can anyone see how to do that in this new version of the forum? I never did it on the old one, so perhaps it's in the same place as before, but I can't find it.
  • @Bry - Wait, what thread are you talking about, where I left off the www? Was that a problem before? If you mean the song tournament thread, I'm sure they used to work. I'm so confused, but what else is new?
  • @Jmonkee: Sorry, typing about broken links makes me break my own links :) Fixed. Yeah, in the song tournament thread, your HTML looks like this:
    which used to go to the URL
    but now goes to
    But yes, both the intended and the actual links are broken, even if one is brokener.
  • I see things are changing! Comment editing time has been extended to one week and WYSIWYG controls have suddenly appeared.

    I must argue with @Bry's complaint about the header link though--yes it was a bit confusing to have that UI change, but there's already a link back to the forums ("Discussions") and having "Jonathan Coulton" in large font was a welcome bit of visual consistency with the main site. As I write this there's no link at all back to the main site, which is a poor UI choice. Please put it back?

  • BryBry
    edited July 2011

    Yeah, I wasn't so much suggesting a different design as complaining that I'm easily confused and click on the wrong thing a lot. I agree we need some way to link back to the JoCo main site.

    ETA: Also I liked the non-WYSIWYG box better and now I can also only edit everyone's posts for one week. Grr, change!

  • Just as I feared. All over the forums, the correctly-accented Moxy Früvous has been shortened to Moxy Fr and eaten the rest of the post. Am I being punished for knowing how to type accented letters? Moxy Father, for I have sinned.

    The Members only section is still accessible to people who aren't logged in, and (in case TPTB are reading this, or @Bry can do something about it now) fixing that should probably be a priority, since people put personal details in there.
  • BryBry
    edited July 2011

    @Angelastic: Am aware of the Members Only issue, am trying to acquire necessary powers to address it. :)

    When I try to edit a post in "Show Source" mode (the icon of the little page with the <angle brackets>), the WYSIWYG editor freezes and I have to close my browser tab (this is IE9 -- please don't give me flak for it, I'll go back to Firefox / Chrome / Opera when I'm unemployed, which if there keep being this many shiny things to play with on the forums may be pretty soon).

    ETA: Missed @chicazul's line above:

    The WYSIWYG editor I linked above is apparently useless in IE7+.

    (Not totally useless for me, just hangy.)

  • BryBry
    edited July 2011

    @Angelastic: This amazingly unhelpful thread seems to suggest that there should be a way to add avatars involving going to your profile (e.g. by clicking on your name) and choosing Change Picture, but that many people have installations that are missing that Change Picture / Remove Picture link, and that no one seems to know what to do about it. It's also possible that users haven't been given that permission -- if I were an admin (yuhbby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dibby dum) I could go in and check if that were the case, but as it is I'll just whinge about it.

    Clicking "Post comment" has caused my browser tab to lock up the last two or three times (although the post goes through). Let's see what happens now.

    ETA: No hang! Question for @Angelastic, @chicazul, any other wikipeeps out there: can you log in currently? I may have asked someone to do something that may have broken something... 

  • BryBry
    edited July 2011
    Triple-posting! Seriously, who made this guy an admin?

    Necessary rights obtained. I now control the vertical and the horizontal.

    You might notice the following:
    1. The Members Only category is now hidden to non-members again.
    2. Similarly, the Private Messages category will go away soon. If my reasoning is correct, it was a hidden category added in order to support PMs in the old forums, so now it's vestigial, I think.
    3. I've added an ugly message at the top of each page with a link back to the JoCo blog. If there's an easy way to actually add the link as a new tab / sidebar entry, I haven't found it, but if there is, let me know and I'll get rid of the message.
    4. It appears that you'll be able to upload avatars again once JoCo / Scarface / Scartooth installs PHP GD on the server... that fact was actually mentioned in the thread I called "amazingly unhelpful" in my last post, so I should retract that criticism.
    5. Wiki login issue resolved. It was mostly my fault.
    6. I don't think I can do anything about the missing üvouses, sorry -- looks like that text got eaten in the transition between old database and new. Could be it's all still archived in the old database, which I haven't got access to. I'll not bother TPTB about it, but if it's important enough to anyone, you could ask.
    Also, @ThatGuy, I gather that Private Messages are meant for tête-à-têtes (eat that, database!) and Conversations are for discussions among small groups.
  • edited July 2011
    @Bry: Regarding linking back to the main page, I'm pushing for TPTB to change the main header text/link back to linking the main site. Anything else is just kludgy.

    Hooray for getting your despotic powers back!

    Edit: Looks like the WYSIWYG editor isn't adding so many extraneous line breaks anymore. But checking the source...everything in divs instead of paragraph tags? Are you kidding me? What kind of awful markup is this?
  • edited July 2011
    @Bry: This made me laugh: 

    Triple-posting! Seriously, who made this guy an admin? 

    Necessary rights obtained. I now control the vertical and the horizontal. 

    Also relevant, I miss the old blockquote option, but like the general look & feel.  (Oh, and +1/like/whatever-the-up-vote-of-the-moment-is the comment on a link back to the Joco main page being a necessary addition.)
  • Looks nice!

    I was already wondering why my RSS bookmark wouldn't update. That being said, will there also be a new RSS feed of the forums?
  • edited July 2011
    I edited the wiki song template a bit so that it also shows the download/buy/etc links for the demo version of the song, but not knowing much about how wiki templates work, I haven't managed to put a 'demo version' header between the two without getting text overlapping. Furthermore, I'm not sure whether it's a good idea to have that automatically at the top of the page when the pages often already have a 'Demo version' section (which some (demo) URLs [but not yet (Demo) urls, which the store links to] already redirect to) where it's possible to add the song tag to directly, although I guess more automatic=better since the demo links are already there in the template instance. Anyway, perhaps @Bry or somebody else with more template-fu can help with that.
  • Seconded on the request for RSS feeds
  • edited July 2011
    @Spektugalo, @arenson9: After a cursory review of the documentation, looks like to enable RSS feeds one needs to create an RSS version for any view that you want a feed for. The default install contains one for the main "discussions" page, but nothing else.

    Is that what you're looking for? Feeds of individual discussions? Anything else?
  • edited July 2011
    Login Page: I think it will reduce a lot of confusion if the login page stops asking for "Email", since everyone is accustomed to logging in with their username. If someone with the power to do so reads this (*cough*JoCo*cough*) it's a really simple fix.

    Edit <install directory>/applications/dashboard/views/entry/signin.php Line 13

    Change echo $this->Form->Label('Email', 'Email'); to echo $this->Form->Label('Email/Username', 'Email');

    Caveat: This fix is based on scanning the code; I'll test it when I have free time. Vanilla's codebase is pretty clean though, so I don't forsee issues with a simple change like this.
  • I had always regarded this forum as one of the few spots of refuge without much distraction. There used to be the post and just a minimal amount of buttons, fields, graphical elements.

    The new forum is still better than most threaded monsters out there, but right now, mere minutes after getting to know it, I still/already miss the old days. Or at least a reasonable explanation for the change.

    (turning into a conservative one upgrade at a time)
  • @Jutze: the old version of the forums was years out of date & no longer supported. The new version adds the possibility of themes, so if JoCo gets around to a full site redesign the forums can be integrated into his site much better.

    Honestly, I always found the default Vanilla 1.x design to be aesthetically awful, and looked forward to the possibility of themes. I'll back you in any protests against typical bloated forum design though.
  • It's true that it's less vanilla now, and a little more… blueberry.

    I see that somebody else (I don't know who, since they weren't logged into the wiki) tried much the same things I did to try to separate the normal purchase links from the demo ones, and came to the conclusion that there's a problem in the CSS of the song function. I'm guessing maybe the margins? Anyway, I hope whoever it was tells JoCo what the problem is.
  • Yeah, there's a -24 top margin on the #song template, I imagine to correct the ugly extra spacing that showed up when he first added the widget. It's a kludge, but it's in a PHP script that I think only @JoCo can access. There has to be another way to fix the formatting that will be more flexible.

    While I'm on about improvements to that script, addinging parameters about what links to include (buy mp3, buy flac, buy karaoke, donate) would be ideal. It'd prevent the duplication of the "donate" button found in @Angelastic's fix.

    (I feel like everything I say in this thread is spoken in a stage whisper, intended for the benefit of someone who is merely observing our antics.)
  • BryBry
    edited July 2011
    I was going to run my spam-killing script, but I can't find the wiki's API -- used to be it was at but that doesn't work any more. Anyone know what to do about it? I'd like to figure out how to fix it (perhaps a permissions issue, or I'm looking in the wrong folder) before I bother TPTB about it.

    ETA: Also: about the old forum permalinks being broken (for @Jmonkee and others) -- here's the sitch:
    Old links used to look like this:
    Looking under the covers, I see that the current configuration is ready to handle redirecting the link
    to the correct new location
    which should work properly. But it doesn't look like the webserver is rewriting link-1 style links into link-2 style links, weakest/missing link joke goes here.

    I suspect .htaccess but I'm so not a web guy. Perhaps that's also the culprit for the api.php being missing from the wiki. Off to send an e-mail!

    EATA: 404 just happens to be the discussion number of the Introduce Yourself thread, which is the one I was experimenting with... the old link does return a 404 but that's just coincidental...
  • Is it likely that you lost any permissions in your promotion to admin? That URI is definitely the default, so it's possible that TPTB disabled it or changed the install somehow. I don't have any other bright ideas for where it might have gone to, sorry.
  • @chicazul, do you mean the wiki URI? It's also not visible when I'm not logged in / logged in as a bot user, so it can't be tied to wiki adminhood.
  • @Bry: It's not visible to me either, so I had a feeling that either the URI has been changed or the API has been disabled. Either of those would seem to necessitate a call to TPTB. The blog post mentioned a move to a new server; possibly some default settings on the new install were set differently.

    I did note a distinct lack of bot spam since magical upgrade day. Hopefully this is part of some deliberate admin choice and not a fluke.
  • @chicazul, re: wiki spam: JoCo mentioned by e-mail that there'd be a new CAPTCHA system that might help prevent some spam. There was at least one spam user account created, but nothing as bad as in the past; then again, sometimes it comes and goes in waves, time will tell.

    I've e-mailed JoCo about both the issues in my previous post (wiki API link and dead old-forum links); I'll let y'all know what follows.
  • I hope it's reCAPTCHA, so we can help the robots take over the world digitise books! :) Also, I wonder if a couple of newlines would fix the demo purchase links heading problem until it's fixed in the CSS. That's what I did when I added purchase links to the PG and demo versions of Mandelbrot Set. But I won't try it now, because I promised I'd read the documentation before messing with the template now, and also I'm under the influence of the piña colada I just drank to make up for the ones I didn't drink on the cruise.
  • @Angelastic: reCAPTCHA was installed prior, and didn't seem to prevent much spam at all. /:

    You're right that putting in a few extraneous newlines would fix the overlap, but ARGH, a hack to counteract a hack goes against my principles.

    @Bry, I've noticed the wiki seems to have two types of spammers: those who seem like humans and embed a hidden link to engagement rings in existing text, and blatant robotic spammers who strike in waves, creating a deluge of new articles about mortgages or shoes. The latter type might be stymied by the new system. One can only hope.
  • BryBry
    edited July 2011

    @chicazul, yeah, I think the fellow who suggested the CAPTCHA here meant that it blocked the second type. Personally I find the first type more annoying because it's a little harder to detect automatically and so it requires more actual vigilance, but I'll take what I can get :)

    Also of note: we used to have a poll extension installed in the forums, but no longer. Maybe we don't need it right this second, but I'd like one (maybe this one?). It's too bad there's no easy way to determine how many other people agree with me about that.

    ETA (doing lots of that these days): Vanilla 2 search seems worse than Vanilla 1 search -- less flexible and it seems to have a problem with loading more than one page of results (in IE9).

  • There's no search at all in the mobile view, and I haven't found a way to get the non-mobile site. More things to work on...
  • Hey, both the wiki API and the old links are unbroken now! (I had to edit @Jmonkee's example to make it cooperate, but that works now.) Thanks, TPTB!
  • I like the new features. I haven't been around in a long long time so it's nice to see that life goes on.. without me..


    Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.. ain't got no- bo-------------------------dy! 

    Sorry, couldn't resist. 

    Cheers, beautiful people.
  • Woohoo! The song template doesn't have negative margins any more (and somebody added smaller negative margins around the main purchase links in the SongDetails template itself), so I added a (plain text, for now) heading for the demo version purchase links, and it appears in the right place. :) Now songs with demo versions don't look like they accidentally have the same links repeated twice.
  • I miss the ability to hide certain categories from my discussion stream. I had just decided to hide the JoCo Cruise discussions to keep me from being depressed about not being able to go when the format changed now I see them all again.
    Also, the RSS feed would be nice to get back too.
  • @Angelastic: Looks like you can now add a picture to your profile. Avatar away.
  • Another vote for the return of RSS. There seems to be a link for it in the source of the category page, but it leads to a 404.

    Having links for RSS of individual discussions and/or categories would be quite nice.
  • @origamislayer, looks like the category RSS feed does exist, although again the server isn't properly rewriting the request (just like here, above).

    For, say, the JoCo Music category, the link in the source goes to
    which 404's.

    If you correct that to
    you get to the RSS feed.

    However, as noted above by @chicazul et al, this feed only includes the first post from each discussion, not each individual post. (Similarly, you can get a feed for All Discussions at that only includes the first post in each discussion.)

    @chicazul also mentions, and this thread from the Vanilla Forums forums seems to confirm, that the only way to get the proper kind of feed (one with all comments) is to go in and muck around with creating a custom view. For that you have the documentation, this default code, and my best wishes :)

    If you just want to get notifications about new posts in specific threads, you can bookmark discussions by clicking on the little star next to the discussion title; then in your profile you can set your preferences to "Notify me when people comment on my bookmarked discussions." This may cause e-mails.
  • I just tried to upload the new album cover to the wiki and got an error saying: The upload directory (public) is not writable by the webserver. This sounds like something that needs to be addressed by The Powers That Be. I doubt TPTB are still checking this thread though, so should I email someone, or is @Bry taking charge of these administration details?
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