What's happening with the TFES forums..

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Daniel

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What's happening with the TFES forums..
« on: July 26, 2009, 02:29:03 PM »
There's been a lot of talk about "changes" to the FES forums recently and I wanted to clear up any misconceptions.  This is a lengthy post, so if you'd like to skip to one specific topic, I'll give you a table of contents:



1) Increased moderation, people feeling persecuted, new-ish policy about profanity
2) Changing forums software to phpBB3
3) How I'm definitely not going to retire on FES profits



1) Yes, we're tightening up on moderation but we're not trying to run anyone off of the site.  The stricter moderation policy is something that probably should have happened a long time ago, but we never had enough of a moderator staff until now to do it properly.  I'm officially re-launching the Society very soon and I'd like the forums to present a positive face for the Society.  Not everyone is happy about this but it's necessary.  This site is, first and foremost, for the discussion of Flat Earth Theory and the Flat Earth Society.  I appreciate that there's plenty of other stuff going on in the forums, but my main focus is making sure the FES functions smoothly and is presented well.  Generally "other stuff" and "the main focus of the site" co-exist reasonably well, but they do get into the occasional conflict.

This doesn't mean that we all have to speak as if we're in Sunday school.  This site is aimed at an audience of adults and I realise that people do sometimes use profanity as a part of natural speech.  But I don't think an "anything goes" atmosphere is appropriate for the site.  There has to be a middle-ground between "anything goes" and "nothing goes".  We've discussed this in the mods forum at some length and I think the best solution is to ask users to maintain a "PG-13" (or "certificate 15" for you Brits) atmosphere on the forums.  This allows everyone to speak in an informal manner but doesn't allow for excessive profanity.  If you feel that you can't express your thoughts in a post without saying "fuck" a bunch of times, it's probably time to go take a walk and come back to the forums later when you're a bit calmer.

Now, obviously "PG-13" is a quite a fuzzy standard.  Movie companies and the MPAA split hairs over what can and can't go into a PG-13 movie all the time.  It's no different on here, unfortunately.  This will inevitably create some conflicts for a couple reasons:

  • Each user will have a slightly different idea of what is appropriate
  • Each moderator will also have a slightly different idea of what is appropriate

The forums staff does its best to apply the rules as fairly and even-handedly as possible but we're not perfect.  We can only promise to do the best we can.

There will probably also be some tweaking of the forums structure.  Flat Earth D&D and Flat Earth Questions & Clarifications will probably merge, for instance, since they're quite similar in content.  Other changes are a bit up-in-the-air at the moment.  Shouldn't be anything too major, though.  Mostly housekeeping.



2) We're moving to phpBB3 forums software in the very near future.  This is primarily to make moderation easier and more effective.  It adds things like a warning system which should hopefully avoid anyone getting banned for minor offenses.  There are some other features in phpBB3 that our current software doesn't have but I suppose we'll see those when we switch.  It should be an improvement all-around.



3) Some people are worried that the site is "gearing up for commercialization" and that I'm planning to quit my day job and move to a private island with profits from the site.  This is definitely not the case. I've been running this site for over 4 years now and it has generated a gross profit of $0.00.  I've paid for hosting entirely out of my own pocket.  The site has, up until this point, generated a net profit of roughly -$1050.00.  If I created this site to make money, I'm clearly going about it the wrong way.  This site has never been about money and will never be about money.

Now, there will be some merchandise available in the very near future -- namely t-shirts.  These will be sold more-or-less at cost.  You can see the breakdown of production and shipping costs in the "FES T-shirts - yay or nay?" thread.  I'll talk in a moment about what happens with any incidental profits.  Additionally, the Society will be officially opening its doors to new members (wholly independent of forum membership).  There will be two types of membership.  The first will be completely free and can be obtained by simply sending the Society a postcard with your request to join.  Members will receive a certificate via email.  The second type will come with a printed, signed certificate, membership card and hand-cast (by me) pewter FES membership coin.  There will be a small fee for that second option in order to cover the costs of materials and postage.  Again, any incidental profits will be handled as outlined below:

Profits from $0-$20/month will go toward offsetting the hosting costs for this site.  Additional profits (in the event that they exist) will go toward either:
* Offsetting the occasional photocopying costs of materials added to the Flat Earth Library on the new site or
* The Flat Earth Foundation, the charitable wing of the Flat Earth Society, which will donate the remaining funds to charity.  Last Christmas, the forums raised about $120 for animal shelters in Chicago and Baltimore.  I was very proud of this and it's something I'd like to continue with, probably switching charities each time.  Plus it's a good way of creating a very positive public face for the Society.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2009, 03:01:46 PM by Daniel »

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Chris Spaghetti

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #1 on: July 26, 2009, 03:49:49 PM »
Quote
The site has, up until this point, generated a net profit of roughly -$1050.00.

I think I speak for the rest of the forum when I give you a hearty applause, that's far more than I would've been willing to spend. Even on Gayer!

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Soze

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #2 on: July 26, 2009, 03:51:41 PM »
Is there information for donations?
Also, this seems like it could be stickied.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2009, 04:01:38 PM by Soze »

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Daniel

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #3 on: July 26, 2009, 03:55:54 PM »
Is there information for donations?

I hadn't exactly planned on donations as such, but there will be a Paypal address very soon.  And there's a PO box as well, although sending cash through the hands of Royal Mail is lunacy.  Paypal will definitely be the best way to do anything involving money.

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Lord Wilmore

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #4 on: July 26, 2009, 04:07:13 PM »
Hopefully this will calm the waters somewhat. I realise there's been a bit of anxiety about a potential 'crackdown' by us moderators, but maybe this will help people to realise that what's happening is part of a bigger picture. Like everyone else, we only want to make the site as good as it can be, and though there will always be differences of opinion when it comes to moderation, in general such differences are the exception rather than the rule.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2009, 04:30:13 PM by Lord Wilmore »
"I want truth for truth's sake, not for the applaud or approval of men. I would not reject truth because it is unpopular, nor accept error because it is popular. I should rather be right and stand alone than run with the multitude and be wrong." - C.S. DeFord

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Anteater7171

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #5 on: July 26, 2009, 04:21:25 PM »
Wow, I never knew it cost that much to host. Well, thanks for hosting it!
I don't remember anything. Well, I do, but it's really vague. Like I was on drugs the whole time.

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Daniel

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2009, 04:22:03 PM »
Wow, I never knew it cost that much to host. Well, thanks for hosting it!

It's not much per month.. it's just a lot of months.

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Tusk

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2009, 04:25:17 PM »
Quote
The site has, up until this point, generated a net profit of roughly -$1050.00.

I think I speak for the rest of the forum when I give you a hearty applause, that's far more than I would've been willing to spend. Even on Gayer!

I think that everyone, and that includes myself, who has been bitching about the direction that this site has been taking should read those figures and then put our grievances into perspective.

It costs us nothing to come on here and muck about and have fun, derail topics, and insult trolls for general entertainment.

Meanwhile the originator of the idea is out of pocket and short on time from continuing to keep the site alive for our benefit.

Hearty applause is indeed due for dedication and commitment to what at times must seem as a total waste of effort due to the apparent redirection of the original purpose of this site.
Hang on, I'll just check my personal care factor for this week : nope still don't give a fuck.       

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Ichimaru Gin :]

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2009, 04:54:36 PM »
I think that positive and charitable support for surrounding communities will help put our society out there under positive light. Also, it helps convey that we really are striving to improve and enlighten society rather than force our views or act rebelious in the views of others.
I saw a slight haze in the hotel bathroom this morning after I took a shower, have I discovered a new planet?

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Space Cowgirl

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2009, 05:07:07 PM »
Hopefully this will calm the waters somewhat. I realise there's been a bit of anxiety about a potential 'crackdown' by us moderators, but maybe this will help people to realise that what's happening is part of a bigger picture. Like everyone else, we only want to make the site as good as it can be, and though there will always be differences of opinion when it comes to moderation, in general such differences are the exception rather than the rule.

So far the new mods have done a good job of being pretty fair about things.  I was more worried about a couple of the "older" new mods who thought it was funny to use the mod cp to troll the regulars, and also let friends get away with things that others didn't get away with.
I'm sorry. Am I to understand that when you have a boner you like to imagine punching the shit out of Tom Bishop? That's disgusting.

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Tusk

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2009, 05:10:37 PM »
Or it could be an anonymous donation until a coherent and universal message is decided upon to be delivered by an intelligent and amicable representative otherwise it will not end well for either party.   
Hang on, I'll just check my personal care factor for this week : nope still don't give a fuck.       

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Nomad

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2009, 06:42:33 PM »
2) We're moving to phpBB3 forums software in the very near future.  This is primarily to make moderation easier and more effective.  It adds things like a warning system which should hopefully avoid anyone getting banned for minor offenses.  There are some other features in phpBB3 that our current software doesn't have but I suppose we'll see those when we switch.  It should be an improvement all-around.

Honestly, I really think that's what should have happened in the first place.  Though if I remember correctly, phpBB3 was still in RC/Beta at the time, so I suppose I don't blame you.

However, considering that SMF and phpBB have drastically different structures, as well as the BBCode in each is almost entirely different (barring simple commands like italicized and bolded text), so most posts are going to be broken; so any important stickied threads are going to need to be combed for errors (such as the FAQ, which I am pretty sure the move will break the lists at the very least).

On the other hand, if you are willing to pay for it, vBulletin is very likely the best forum software you are going to find.  It's pretty expensive though, but at least you would be provided with all sorts of good tech support along with it.
« Last Edit: July 26, 2009, 06:44:11 PM by Nomad »
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Johannes

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #12 on: July 26, 2009, 07:34:52 PM »
There is no way to transfer this forums contents to phpBB3 ?

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Raist

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2009, 09:38:39 PM »
2) We're moving to phpBB3 forums software in the very near future.  This is primarily to make moderation easier and more effective.  It adds things like a warning system which should hopefully avoid anyone getting banned for minor offenses.  There are some other features in phpBB3 that our current software doesn't have but I suppose we'll see those when we switch.  It should be an improvement all-around.

Honestly, I really think that's what should have happened in the first place.  Though if I remember correctly, phpBB3 was still in RC/Beta at the time, so I suppose I don't blame you.

However, considering that SMF and phpBB have drastically different structures, as well as the BBCode in each is almost entirely different (barring simple commands like italicized and bolded text), so most posts are going to be broken; so any important stickied threads are going to need to be combed for errors (such as the FAQ, which I am pretty sure the move will break the lists at the very least).

On the other hand, if you are willing to pay for it, vBulletin is very likely the best forum software you are going to find.  It's pretty expensive though, but at least you would be provided with all sorts of good tech support along with it.

Quotes, images, links, colors, bolds, all transfer fine. So it should work. Though the structure of advance quoting may be crappy, so the quotes may not link to each other like they do now.

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Nomad

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #14 on: July 26, 2009, 09:45:38 PM »
Quotes don't link in phpBB3 at all anyway, unfortunately.

Lists are the biggest thing that may cause problems, though, I'm thinking.

Still, for free forum software I think phpBB is definitely the way to go.  I think it is more userfriendly.  However, if Daniel really wants to bring the place to a new level of publicity, in the long run it may be worthwhile to invest in vBulletin.
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Raist

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #15 on: July 26, 2009, 09:46:27 PM »
Who uses lists? Seriously?

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Nomad

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #16 on: July 26, 2009, 09:48:01 PM »
People who like to organize things in bulleted format!  Duh!
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Raist

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #17 on: July 26, 2009, 09:49:37 PM »
People who like to organize things in bulleted format!  Duh!

So straight people's posts will be fine.

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Nomad

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #18 on: July 26, 2009, 09:51:45 PM »
Insolence, mockery of this website, etc.
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LordTalon69

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #19 on: July 27, 2009, 12:05:48 AM »
So just to verify here how will the bottom five forums be affected. As it is now especially in CN anything goes, can we not leave this specific area that way? What exactly will the discretion be like. Can I still most demotivational posters, and to what end, is jailbait now considered beyond pg-13?

I always thought, IMHO, that the top 5 forums were not handled right. In this I mean you get a lot of newbs, everyone makes fun of them, or tells them to GTFO, then it goes from there. But my main question is about how the off-topic threads will be policed now. I am all for policing the main topics as they are the point of the board at least initially.


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Lord Wilmore

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #20 on: July 27, 2009, 08:01:20 AM »
I think that positive and charitable support for surrounding communities will help put our society out there under positive light. Also, it helps convey that we really are striving to improve and enlighten society rather than force our views or act rebelious in the views of others.

I also think that this is a really great way to promote the society. Even if we're not building any new hospitals it's still a great activity for the society to engage in.
"I want truth for truth's sake, not for the applaud or approval of men. I would not reject truth because it is unpopular, nor accept error because it is popular. I should rather be right and stand alone than run with the multitude and be wrong." - C.S. DeFord

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frostee

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #21 on: August 19, 2009, 02:23:35 AM »
Do we have a confirmed date on these changes now Daniel? It's been a few weeks...
Recently religious due to the impending rapture.

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clovis2

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #22 on: September 25, 2009, 04:23:42 PM »
I will be more than willing to contribute financially to the work of TFES .

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Nomad

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #23 on: September 29, 2009, 04:00:47 PM »
Do we have a confirmed date on these changes now Daniel? It's been a few weeks...
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Parsifal

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #24 on: September 29, 2009, 04:02:08 PM »
Do we have a confirmed date on these changes now Daniel? It's been a few weeks...

The Beatles didn't write their own music.
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John Davis

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #25 on: September 30, 2009, 04:13:21 PM »
Do we have a confirmed date on these changes now Daniel? It's been a few weeks...

The Beatles didn't write their own music.
Stop with this. =-)
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cmdshft

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #26 on: September 30, 2009, 09:15:11 PM »
Do we have a confirmed date on these changes now Daniel? It's been a few weeks...

The Beatles didn't write their own music.

Spam in the serious fora? Not on my FES...

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Benjamin Franklin

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #27 on: October 02, 2009, 02:41:51 PM »
Do we have a confirmed date on these changes now Daniel? It's been a few weeks...

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frostee

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #28 on: October 14, 2009, 04:06:58 AM »
Recently religious due to the impending rapture.

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Daniel

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Re: What's happening with the TFES forums..
« Reply #29 on: October 25, 2009, 07:17:00 AM »
I've run into wall after wall trying to convert to phpBB3.  A long time ago, we converted from phpBB2 to SMF.  And then we've been running with that for the past couple of years.  I have a feeling that some of the database got a bit messy during the conversion and probably messier as the forums grew to the size they are now.  So now when I try to run the conversion from SMF to phpBB3, it throws back all sorts of errors.  Rather than continue fighting a seemingly unwinnable battle, I'll probably just upgrade to SMF2 when it comes out.. which should be soonish.  2.0 RC2 is out for testers and supposedly it's one of the final steps toward a proper release.  If it looks like the final release is still a long way in the future, I'll probably go to 2.0 RC2 when it becomes publicly available.  If the final release has a fairly definite date, I'll hold off and wait for that.  SMF2 seems comparable to phpBB3 in most ways so I think everyone will be happy.