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Migrated to a new forum system

I have gone to a great effort to port the existing forum (as of the 20th) to another forum script, to see how well it functions. The temporary forums may be found here:

If general consensus is that this is a suitable replacement, even with all the conversion errors in place (bloody IPB BBcode mess with nested tags) then the forums may be taken offline for at least a day to freeze them before a final migration.

Also, here is a Git repository containing my changes to the default theme, in case anyone wants to help with actual code contributions and not just words.

E: The migration is now complete. I hope everyone enjoys it, at least somewhat. Most of you will need to recover your passwords using your email accounts.

The server has now been moved to a new VM slice, and is live at

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Reply #1
Looks nice even on mobile version. But...
I have problem discerning which post is which, they all kind of blend in the same white background. If that could be corrected somehow, with larger spacing between posts, or different shade for different posts, alternating between two, that would be grand.
But thank you for taking the effort of modernizing technology for this forum, so we, the users, can read it on mobile phones...
Error 404; signature server not available.

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Reply #2
Any special reason for this?
a. Can't see "Active topics" clicky
b. Imho less readable that this one
PANIC: CPU 1: Cache Error (unrecoverable - dcache data) Eframe = 0x90000000208cf3b8
NOTICE - cpu 0 didn't dump TLB, may be hung

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Reply #3
I agree, the white on white on grey is really hard on the eyes.

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Reply #5
From the accessibility related stand point the new forum is easier to navigate. For example each post includes heading and it's really very easy to just skim read post content without reading all the post metadata

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Reply #6
I, too, would prefer black text if the background has to be bright white. I appreciate the theory behind lower-contrast color schemes, but on backlit screens, you pretty much have to go all the way and have a non-white background for lighter text to really work. I see there's a small selection of themes available at ... they're not any better, though.

Anyway, links within posts to other posts are not getting converted properly:,95662....html#msg799921
Compare to the original:
That's probably a url tag in there. There's also the snapback and topic tags to check.

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Reply #7
Looking good to me - but only a subset of the forums seem to be available?

I can see:

Hydrogenaudio Forum
Lossless Audio Compression
Hosted Forums
lossyWAV -q X -a 4 -s h -A --feedback 2 --limit 15848| FLAC -5 -e -p -b 512 -P=4096 -S-

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Reply #9
I would appreciate post headings and Quote boxes shaded in a different color, so that I can see the boundaries between posts without looking over to the avatar column, and also to quickly skip over repeated text in quotes that I probably have already read. People commonly quote large parts of previous posts. Currently the site almost looks like styled for print, aiming to save ink, which would be a fine goal if that were the case.

R.i.p. another classic forum. Only Doom9 remains now.

Offtopic: I do not understand the trend of moving basic navigational elements into websites, where each site does it in its own peculiar way. The "heading" naturally belongs on the browser window's title bar, which designers have gotten away with in order to reclaim space for "content" (on screens of ever increasing resolution). The two arrows on the left duplicate the Page Up, and Page Down Home and End keys, which achieve the same effect without spending 1-2 seconds animating the scrolling.

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Reply #10
Hey, thanks for the trouble!

Any color stuff can be taken care of, so it's not really an argument.

If the Latest Posts box could be expanded to contain more posts, I'd be totally fine with it. Can users filter it to include only categories they're interested in?

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Reply #11
IMO, Invision Power's own community tells us of how "less busy" a design can be (bar the too light font colours).

So is Neowin's

PS: here's hoping the Top Poster bit is there just for illustrational purposes.
Listen to the music, not the media.
Qualidade em MP3

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Reply #12
What I like most of the current forum is the "Latest Posts" section with the handy little icon for each thread pointing to the first unread post.

The closest equivalent in the new forum seems to be (unless I'm missing something) but:

1. it contains post from ANY forum
2. as soon as you read a thread, it disappears from the list
3. I'm not sure how the "New" icon works (as in, will it take me to the first unread post or just to the start of the thread?)

Also, I can't find the equivalent of Linear+ Display mode.

All in all, I have yet to find a good reason to switch, while I see many reasons to keep what we have, but perhaps I'm just experiencing classic resistance to change.


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Reply #13
I agree, the white on white on grey is really hard on the eyes.

+2. Makes it harder to read. Background of posts would be better kept a similar shade.

PS: here's hoping the Top Poster bit is there just for illustrational purposes.

This too. It'll always be the same posters so the space could have something more useful.

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Reply #14
Some quirks addressed, others remain.

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Reply #15
Looks good to me.
Merry Xmas
Loudspeaker manufacturer

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Reply #16
I don't like that beta version at all.  The current older version is clearly legible and aesthetically pleasing while still being functional.  The beta version doesn't have those strengths.
I don't understand why you are trying to port this.  If it isn't broken, why try to "fix" it?
Be a false negative of yourself!

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Reply #17
The current older version is clearly legible

As is the beta, if you'd look at how I eliminated the greytext of the original default theme.

aesthetically pleasing while still being functional.

The new forum is also quite functional, responsive, and also works on mobile devices. I could even integrate Tapatalk support, if it pleases a handful of users.

The beta version doesn't have those strengths.

Please do continue to describe, in great detail, what you think could be done to make this new forum script more usable. Suggestions are often helpful when they can actually be acted on in constructive ways.

I don't understand why you are trying to port this.  If it isn't broken, why try to "fix" it?

The current forum script is an aging mess. It's a vanilla version of a version series that was last updated, primarily for security fixes, back in 2009 or so.

Updating it to the latest of the 3.x series, which is the newest that our so-called "lifetime" license allows, would be a nightmare, for several reasons:

  • The forum script is not vanilla:
  • We use a third party portal for both the main portal page and the foobar2000 subforum page. This portal required hand inserting theme script pieces to operate with it, as well as to support the actual page generation.
  • The other theme pieces have also been heavily hand edited over the years.
  • To support ReCAPTCHA, we had to hand edit in the relevant code.
  • We sort of support StopForumSpam, by automatically modpreviewing members who match their blacklist, and adding any members we freshly ban to their list. This required hand editing.
  • This still doesn't keep out a large number of spammers, who still get in and post crap, and there's nothing in the 2.x series to easily counter this, other than vigilance on our part, and on the part of our users reporting spam posts.
  • The post reporting system in 2.x is still a mess. Instead of having a moderation center where reports gather, the forum sends PMs out to every moderator that covers a given forum, or to all the global moderators and administrators if there are no forum specific moderators. It also doesn't keep track of whether a particular post or topic has already been reported. Staff are happy to receive the reports and deal with them, but sometimes, some users all notice at once, and this results in a small PM flood.
  • To deal with a lot of the moderation and administration tasks, Peter developed his very own custom "Ban Hammer" script, which is hard coded to scan the tables for certain data, and also supports banning members, sanitizing their profiles of all possible spam links and data, and also hiding all of their posts. It does not support actually deleting posts or topics, as that is a complex piece of the IP Board engine, and would require moving posts out of topics, and creating new topics for them in the hidden trash forum, or moving whole spam topics to said trash forum, which would be significantly easier. So, for now, it just modpreviews the trash.
  • Some or all of the script is apparently broken by PHP 5.5, so we're permanently stuck on an older release of our server's Linux distribution, so we can keep using its included pre-5.5 version of PHP.
  • Said older release of Linux distribution also only includes a really old Nginx and OpenSSL, so our SSL serving is handled by a hand built copy of the latest Nginx, linked against a hand built copy of the latest OpenSSL. Also not fun to maintain or update.

Now, look at this nightmare, of waiting for potential security holes to be found in a 7 year old PHP script that is no longer supported by its vendor. I recognize the beauty of all the work that went into it, but I'd like to think that a similar amount of work could eventually go into making a more modern script maintainable, without requiring another permanent version freeze. This newer forum is well updated, Open Source (BSD licensed), and also fields feature requests and bug reports. It's not perfect, but it feels like a cleaner system than this crufty old mess.

It may be easy on the eyes, but it's perpetually frozen, until someone decides to do something about it.

Did I mention that I also wrote my own post body exporter for it, that runs each post through IP Board's native BBcode decompiler? Because this piece of crap pre-processes all BBcode to HTML at post time, storing that HTML mess in the database, and decompiles it whenever someone goes to edit a post. SMF's IP Board 2.3.x importer tries to do a decent job of conversion, but absolutely fails on nested tags, and also chokes on tags with parameters, specifically the quote tag.

My latest version of the SMF importer script is here:

And my latest version of the IP Board engine using post exporter, which produces a gigantic UPDATE script against the elkarte_messages table, is here:

For a "real" job, it leaves the following steps:

  • Take this forum into maintenance mode.
  • Run mysqldump on the server database.
  • Compress the dump, likely with xz -9.
  • Transfer it to my test server.
  • Unpack it.
  • Create a fresh database to insert it into.
  • Grant access to the database to the SMF account.
  • Run the script through the MariaDB console tool.
  • (optional) Unpack a fresh copy of the latest SMF.
  • Bring the SMF directory into a web visible folder.
  • (optional) Set up SMF, allowing it to create its stock tables in the database, and create the default administrator account.
  • Run the convert.php script.
  • Input the server side source and target paths, as well as the SMF database password.
  • Wait about five to six hours, babysitting the entire process. This often includes the browser (Safari) randomly losing its bloody session cookie and starting a new session, where I have to go to the /var/lib/php5 directory and copy the previous session into the new one.
  • Step into the SMF forum, and run a battery of maintenance and cleanup tasks on it.
  • Verify everything looks good so far.
  • (optional) Unpack a fresh copy of the latest ElkArte.
  • (optional) Install ElkArte and configure it with basic settings, including hand tweaking the themes.
  • Pull/update my copy of Open Importer.
  • Create a fresh symlink to the OI importer directory within the main web site directory.
  • Navigate to OI's import script in a browser page.
  • Wait approximately two hours for it to import everything into ElkArte.
  • Spend more hours cleaning it up, tweaking it, and making the users happy.

Can you remember the last time the forum changed? Were you even around for that? I know people don't like change. I'm just trying to think of ways to improve our security, reduce spam footprint, and reduce waste. The look can be improved with great care and careful reconfiguration. I would prefer constructive suggestions rather than "don't change anything, I hate change, especially for the sake of change."

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Reply #18
New version is fine, if you can import the same colour scheme.

White on White hurts my eyes

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Reply #19
The inline quotes definitely need subtle colouring like on these forums. And if possible, it would be nice to see them use the full width of my monitor. It stops expanding when you reach 1440px wide. I suppose a user style could fix that but I'm lazy!

edit: recent posts in the foobar2000 sub-forum would be cool assuming the new software supports it.

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Reply #20
I like the new color scheme, the only thing I would like to request is slightly better visual separation between individual posts. They tend to flow together as it is now.

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Reply #21
The look and usability clearly improved from that of 24th of december. Both on laptop and on mobile is easy to read and follow.

So i think it is going into the right direction.

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Reply #22
Ok, portal for new version looks better now, but posts are merged into one gray continuum. I don't mind white background, but I think that quoted text box shouldn't be that much different colour. And if you can, please make some spacing between posts.
And last thing, do we really need signatures in 2015?

Check this forum out - it's not your native language, and it is custom made (i know), but to see what I was talking about - posts are separated, and in alternating colors which makes the forum more readable.
Error 404; signature server not available.

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Reply #24
I have only one little question if it is possible to reload the portal with clicking the hydrogen banner as it is with the recent forum. I somehow got used to it.
Is troll-adiposity coming from feederism?
With 24bit music you can listen to silence much louder!

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