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Comments February 12, 2010

Practical Jokes…

Filed under: Board Management, MOD Writing — Dave Rathbun @ 11:15 am CommentsComments (4) 

We have a topic on my board with the title “Please do not post in this topic”. Needless to say, this topic has survived for nearly three years, even in the “off topic” area where topics are pruned after 14 days of no activity. :lol: So lately I have been trying to have some fun with it.

First I added some javascript to the page (but only for that topic) that made the Reply and Quote buttons move away from the mouse. That made it impossible to click on the button, but you could still tab to the buttons and invoke the required code. Yesterday I switched the normal images for the buttons with the spacer.gif and sized it to zero by zero pixels, essentially making the button invisible. I also altered the tab index to -1 which according to a few sites I read makes the button disappear from the tab sequence.

Of course there are still several ways for folks to post in the topic. That’s sort of the point, to see how long it takes folks to figure out how to work around the challenges I have put in place. For example in the first version someone could disable javascript and the buttons would no longer move, giving them another way to click the button rather than using the tab key.

To continue the fun, I am looking for suggestions for other ways to challenge folks, and keep them from posting in that one topic. The key is there has to be some sort of loophole, as I’m not trying to completely lock folks out.

Any ideas?

Comments November 10, 2009

Post Already Reported? Then Tell Me!

Filed under: Board Management, MOD Writing, phpBB — Dave Rathbun @ 9:17 pm CommentsComments (5) 

phpBB3 includes a “report a post” feature that was often requested in phpBB2 and available as a variety of MODs. I wrote my own that integrates with other MODs that I have implemented. But one of the things that I did different (and that I prefer) is that I provide a visual indication when a post has been reported.

Just a few minutes ago I was on phpbb.com and saw a post in the General Discussion with the title “Is this new home page nice?” Anyone that has been around phpbb.com for a while knows that this sort of post – even in GD – is against the rules. I figured that someone might have reported it already, but there’s no indication that such an action was taken. I decided to go ahead and report the post.

When I clicked the proper icon, here’s the message I got:

This post has already been reported.

Well. If that’s the case, why not tell me? :-? More…

Comments November 4, 2009

Half a Billion Dollars

Filed under: Advertising, Board Management, phpBB — Dave Rathbun @ 9:58 am CommentsComments (1) 

That’s how much this article says that Google has outstanding in unpaid dollars for Adsense.

The Google Float is the amount AdSense publishers have accrued in earnings but have not yet been paid. You know, all those people that haven’t reached the $100 mark that triggers a payment. The figure is currently at $532,547 million. That’s over a half billion dollars. If Google killed AdSense, they would have to pay that all out.

One interesting thing about the AdSense float is that it increased last quarter by 3%. In the 2 previous quarters it decreased. I wonder if this was due to all the AdSense accounts that were disabled recently.

Tell me there’s no incentive to start figuring out ways to avoid paying out those funds.

I myself have seen one strategy… Google simply stopped paying me. That’s not the actual process, but that is the net result. I have more than one post about how the search links from Google had been starting to pay more than Adsense for Content. A couple of months ago (September) Google fixed that: the took 100% of my search earnings (yes, that’s correct, I wrote 100% as in all of it) for a “search costs” adjustment. This fee isn’t new… or rather the ability of Google to apply this fee is not new. It’s covered in several places on their site and in their terms and conditions.

What are the fees mentioned in the Terms and Conditions?

The problem that I have with this is after almost five years of zero adjustments I find it irritating, frustrating, and in fact downright suspicious that Google has decided that my “costs of search” now equal my entire search revenue amount.

For two months in a row.

I sent Google an email. I got a form letter back.

I have removed Google from my sites.

Comments November 2, 2009

Storing Post Revisions / Post Locking

Filed under: Board Management, MOD Writing — Dave Rathbun @ 1:53 am CommentsComments (10) 

I’ve seen this on other boards but only recently have I started seeing it on my own: people that edit the first post (or potentially even all of their posts) of a topic and remove all of the content. They might leave behind something like “…” because as we all know you can’t have a truly empty post. The net result is the topic is then worthless because nobody knows what we’re talking about.

With phpBB3 the moderator team can lock a post to prevent further editing. But once the original content is gone it doesn’t help. So tonight I started thinking about how and where to store post revisions in order to recover from this sort of action. More…

Comments October 27, 2009

The Dangers Of Hosted Code

Filed under: Board Management, phpBB — Dave Rathbun @ 8:26 pm CommentsComments (1) 

A few weeks back I wrote about including a new “social widget” from AddThis on one of my boards. Today I removed it. Why? Because a few weeks ago their code started screwing up. Since I was referencing their code rather than hosting my own copy, I inherited their problems.

That’s not something I am really happy about. More…

Comments September 27, 2009

Post Bump + Cross Posting Prevention

Filed under: Board Management, MOD Writing, phpBB — Dave Rathbun @ 7:24 am CommentsComments (1) 

A long time ago I wrote a MOD for my phpBB2 board that puts a nice red banner at the top of the posting screen if you are getting ready to “bump” your post. Bumping is defined as posting two (or more) times in a row without someone else replying in between, and without waiting 24 hours first. Does it work? From a functional standpoint it certainly does. From a procedural standpoint, not so much. More…

Comments September 20, 2009

SEO… Snake Oil or Magic Bullet?

Filed under: Board Management, phpBB — Dave Rathbun @ 1:03 pm CommentsComments (7) 

One of the frequent questions that comes up on phpbb.com is whether phpbb offers SEO or Search Engine Optimization features. I rarely (if ever) get involved in these discussions because they often degenerate into a “great taste / less filling” sort of argument. (Please see the “related links” section at the bottom of this blog post for an explanation of the reference if you don’t understand it.) Earlier today I read a reply by user “Eelke” that provides a nice viewpoint on the subject:

If you are in a subject area where there is heavy competition from other boards, you may want to try every trick in the book. If you’re not, than carefully consider whether the stuff you are applying really is worth the extra hazzle[sic]


Comments September 6, 2009

How Many Page Views?

Filed under: Board Management, phpBB — Dave Rathbun @ 7:45 pm CommentsComments (2) 

One of the things I did before going “live” with my first board was add code to increment a page-view counter. Initially the code was in includes/page_tail.php but later on it was added to the banner code. I have been actively tracking daily page view activity over the past year or so. I have a nightly script that emails a report of the daily activity to my blackberry every night at midnight. :) But I had not looked at the cumulative total for quite a while.

Tonight I looked.

It’s over 100M page views for the life of the board. :shock:

The board launched in August of 2002. My page counter officially started on August 12th. On that day we had 2,123 views. On August 15th, which was the official launch announcement, we jumped all the way up to 8,757 page views for the day. On August 29th which was the day the mailing list was sent a note about the list being retired we hit 13,155 views, and then 19,441 for the following day. We didn’t come close to twenty thousand daily page views again until the following July, almost a year after the board launched.

Now we are averaging over 100,000 page views daily and have a cumulative total of 107,710,630 as I type this. That’s a lot of database queries! :)

Comments September 4, 2009

Board Backup Strategies Part I: What To Include

Filed under: Backups, Board Management, phpBB — Dave Rathbun @ 8:07 am CommentsComments (6) 

A while ago I posted about a software product that lets you run backups and store them on Amazon.com’s S3 data center service. It was an interesting idea, but mostly it got me thinking about how to determine an optimal backup strategy for other board owners. I do my backups every night. I guess I should actually say I never do backups; I have a script do them for me instead. :) That’s one aspect to consider when setting up a backup strategy for your board.

For this post I would like to cover what are probably some fairly obvious concepts for experienced board owners. The first question that needs to be asked is: What do I need to include in my backup strategy?


Comments August 21, 2009

AddThis, ShareThis, Getting the Word Out About Your Site

Filed under: Advertising, Board Management — Dave Rathbun @ 9:53 pm CommentsComments (4) 

Recently I had someone suggest that I look at a service from ShareThis.com. What I found after reviewing their service was that it would allow me to add a flash pop-up menu to any page of my board. This menu provides an easy way for people to promote my site for me, which is about the cheapest form of advertising there is. :) The pop-up includes links to Facebook, Twitter, and dozens of other “social” sites, and I’m sure the service provider intends to add more as they become available. However when I started researching what it would take to put ShareThis on my boards, I ran into a slight bit of confusion. Their terms of service page said this:

Registration. In order to have access and use of the ShareThis Widgets, registration is not required but is strongly recommended.

Yet in order to “get the button” they required me to register. When I sent a note to the support group, I was told that they no longer offered a “no-registration” option for their service. Why do they require me to register at all? In order to provide analytics and reports that show how many people are sharing content from my site, they need to have a unique identifier for my account. Since I’m not (at this point anyway) really interested in more reports and analytics, I decided to pass.

Now that I knew what to look for, I quickly found AddThis.com. It seems to be the same type of service but they offer an option that does not require me to register in order to use it. I spent a few minutes looking over their site and quickly selected the options and format that I wanted to use. I already have a toolbar with various icons at the top and bottom of my topic pages, so it was really easy to add one more icon to the mix. Here is the final product in action:

With this new icon, when someone sees a topic they like they can easily add it to their favorites, their Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or any of the other social media sites supported by the service. How hard was it to add this code to my site? Not hard at all. More…

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