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Developing Online Community Software [Cleaned Up]
PostPosted: 10-29-2002 04:33 PM Reply with quote
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Download the current specification

Up to date version (hosted on my pc, so figure)

Release version (tripod, plenty of load)

Needs work (including the entire points specification

oh yeah, btw, these long posts that havent been deleted are mostly because I think that the person who wrote them could do a better job of summarizing them than I can. So if its possible, (mainly a lot of stuff from TumTum about points) can you merge them into the docs above

thanks :) and have fun reading !

Last edited by js995 on 10-29-2002 04:47 PM; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: 10-29-2002 08:19 PM Reply with quote
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Joined: 09 Feb 2002
Posts: 1235

Yea I just wrote about a 40 line post and hit the back button on my mouse and lost it all... so um I'm a little dstraught! Mad

(be forewarned, i'm Just tossing out ideas.)

Is layout goign to be secondary? If you use the rendering layer idea js discussed then we wont need to be concerned with the layout/look of the pages yet. I think the first thing to do would be make a user login system. Like the one dawgy has on his page. A script that will add users to the database. Then again im not really a program designer so i'm not SURE thats where it should begin. Maybe think about the sections of the user table.

ID#, Handle, Age, Location, Bio, Points(level?), # of approved news articles, # of forum posts

Maybe a way to list the stories a user has posted on the profile page?

Just a rough outline of files feel free to edit this post to ad/remove or change things.

postnews.php (?)
profile.php?User= (usernames or UserID=numbers ?)
/images/ (maybe shn will let you integrate his script)

Would point system and other functions require a seperate functions.php ?

I think there are many things I'm missing, but once you get the main chunk done you can add in all the other cool little functions. (Users online, Top Rated Users, Lowest rated users)

Another problem to overcome would be the Kinds of "news" displayed. When posting news users should be able to select things such as hard news, soft news, humor, Political, and satire. And other users might be able to select what sections they want to show up on the page when they visit... Say a users customises the homepage to only to display Hard News and satire or only Humor when he is logged in. That way poeple will be getting the stuff they want.

The point system and the forum code would the main to obstacles thats why I belive the forum should be kept VERY simple. If the point system is coded and integrated correctly it could be one of the best advantages this script would have over others. Makeing the poeple moderate each other is a very good idea. I think somone should elaborate more on the point system. Will it be a weighted voting system to let news posts through?

Also liked tumtum's point based auto baning idea. Will be less need for "policing" the site.
"And if you have -500 points you'll get banned for a week or something.... " (Yea I know some of these concepts are a long way off but they shoud be kept in mind)

Ok i'm just gonna stop interjecting until i read more, becasue at this point I don't know much about programming in php or program design for that matter.

"Am I a man dreaming of a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming of a man?"
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PostPosted: 10-30-2002 02:29 AM Reply with quote
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Joined: 17 Feb 2002
Posts: 425

Have no fear, I is here!
If you would be dutch, I would point you to tweakers.net. Its a website made for people interested in computers. The nice part is, that they started out with a news system that you could give points to. I dont know how long slashdot exists, but they had this way back in 1996. Now, after a few months, they used some free forum package and made a forum with custom styles.

However, some of the people loved the site so much, they developed topix. The forum has now changed to a new forum (I will tell more about it in a second), but if you want to see topix, go here. Its kinda like a sister site from them. However, the forum that they now work on, has about 70000 posters. Can you imagine how hard that is to mod? Well, they have developed a new forum, that can be viewed here, but the forum doesnt have the ability to rate posts (well, it has but they havent implented it, cause its hard to check if people mod good). Now, just a few months ago, they remade the whole frontpage, and soon the news system will be integrated with the forum, and you use the same username on the frontpage, as you would on the forum.

Now, people had a profile on there, but it was small, comparable to vbulletin even. There is a dutch community site (cu2) that gives people the ability to make a profile of themselves, and fill their custom page with stuff. Now, they have designed something way better. Here is my page. It aint the best out there (you can also upload pictures), but it will do. You can also post messages as a reply to someone's profile, and you can rate it!

So, if you would take a simple news system, with the ability to comment and rate posts, then start building on that, you'll be in the right direction.

If you are all serious about continueing this, I would advice to build a custom home page first, where you can just post your pic, and comment on.

At the same time, also build on a news system, that can interact with a free forum package like phpBB. You can easily make a custom forum and drop phpBB afterwards, but you'll have a database you can work with. I would make the news section / profiles section seperate (hidden maybe) forums, where, if you would look at it in the forum, it would have the same content, only it is parsed into the forum layout.

Build a system like the rpg system we use now, wich gives you a custom title. For instance, if you post a lot of stuff in the programming section of a forum, and your posts will be rated positive in most cases, you would get a title like "Kicking Linus arse" or something. Im not into rpg's that much, but im sure someone can make titles.

So, you would have to remember where the user posts a lot (query's on the posts/threads table in the db, "SELECT * FROM posts WHERE forumid = '1'", then mysql_num_rows()) and see their rating in there, etc.

On second tought, drop the whole "work from phpBB first" idea. Just make a good database layout first, and work on scripts that display the stuff like you want it.

I would advise for cvs, if you would work with more then 2 developers on something like this, cause it has the ability to have 2 people work on the same file. I once tought about writing one in php, and I got some nice results as well (I used a lot of my phpSource to show the source Wink ), but I dont think you can do stuff like have 2 people work on one file, and check the differences after they are done, alerting the one that uploads last, what changes he should make to make the files compatible again.

Well, posting this now, before I reach the maximum charachters that can be used in a thread. Oops to la
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PostPosted: 10-30-2002 05:21 AM Reply with quote
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Forum Features

<sub>If you want to build a forum that is able to compete with vBulletin, you got to have features</sub>

Ok, here is a list of forum features I would personally like to see. The main focus of a community will be on the forum, so thats where the interesting features should be.

Basic functions

Registrering should be easy. If you're reading a topic, and you want to post a reply, you should be able to register by giving you're username, password and e-mail. After that, there should not be any e-mail validation before you can post. An e-mail will be sent ofcourse, but you can post immideatly. If you dont click the validation link in the e-mail in 7 days, your account will be terminated.

When I am on a big forum, I love the search. Its one of the best tools available for solving problems, but it is also interesting to find out more about the history of the forum. The search should be perfect. It should search for the words that you specify, but also cut the words down to the root (eg. cars becomes car, submitting becomes submit, etc.) to make searching easier.

Category's and Forums
Simple, every forum can be inside a category and a forum can be a category as well. For instance, you enter the cooking forum and there are threads there, but there are also other forums there like the salad forum, the cookie forum, whatever.

If you find a thread that is interesting, you can bookmark it and it goes to your personal favourites list. You can have as many bookmarks as you want.

Active Discussions
This is like a forum, only it lists all active discussions in all forums. An active discussion is active when a reply has been posted in the last 12 hours. If you get more users, you would set it to 1 hour, etc.

Profile / Personal homepage
After registration, you can edit your profile and write a smal biography. This profile will also be in a (hidden?) forum, but when watched normally, it wont have the forum layout, but a personal one. The nice thing about it is that people can reply to it. Another thing you would have here, is a small news section, also with the ability to have people reply. Ofcourse, the user himself can moderate like a normal mod in his own person homepage. You can also rate others reply's and people can rate your profile. However, if you change your biography, all points you got from there are taken away (or maybe half of it is), because you could make it worse.

Sticky's and global sticky's
Sometimes you want a sticky on your forum, for instance to list the rules. The people that make these can choose to make it a closed or open sticky. This is a normal feature in most forums, but the fun part is the global sticky's. When you use this, the sticky stays on top of every forum on the board. This could be usefull if for instance something shocking happens (September 11th), and you want all threads in the same forum. Ive seen lots of forums, where multiple threads about the same subject appear in different forums because it is unclear where it should go.

You get points for posting information. For instance, if you make a new thread, you'll get 5 points, and for a reply you'll get 3. If someone thinks you're reaction is inappropiate, he can mod it. For instance, he can say "-2 Flame", and 2 points will be reducted from the poster. If a users points increase to for instance 50 points, he will go up a level.
With higher levels, you'll unlock more functions, for instance, when you are level 1, you'll have access to general discussion, technical discussion, etc. When you increase to level 2, after 100 points, you'll get access to the movie/game forums. When your level increses to level 3 after 1000 points, you'll get access to the backyard (why? well people want to get there, cause its an easy way of scoring posts, and everything can be discussed there). Lets say after you've reached level 4 (5000 points) your name gets a nice color, and you'll get minimal moderator powers. For instance, you can suddenly delete your own threads, close your own threads, etc. You can also moderate fully within your own threads, meaning you can edit delete others posts.
And ofcourse, for the people that deserve it there is level 5 (1000 points) and it will grant them axx to all the forums, and give them mod powers.
Ofcourse these levels are not the right ones, I'd rather have, say 100 levels, with a reward everytime you go up 10 levels. This also makes people want to post usefull information, cause they are rewarded.
Also, you'll get custom titles according to your rating vs. posts, and sections you post in. We would need like 500 different titles (its a lot, but it aint impossible) and some really hard code that calculates the custom titles for everyone once a day.

When you register, you'll get to choose a group. For instance, you like to program, well join the programmers group. You like music? join the music group!
Every group has his own personal forum where noone from other groups can get in. The creation of a group can be requested in a seperate forum, and you'll need at least 10 people that are willing to join your group. The one that requested it will be made founder and gets to choiche 3 people that will mod this groups forum. When the founder chooses to retire, he can make someone else founder.
Ofcourse, you can choose to switch groups after somewhile, but it should be limited to a timeframe. For instance, you can change groups every 3 months.
Normal moderators (of the global forum) arent allowed in groups forums. Supermoderators and Admins are. Why? Well, maybe you discuss in such a group, a plan to suprise a moderator. Who knows? SuperModerators and Admins are god tough!

More to come...
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PostPosted: 10-30-2002 05:45 AM Reply with quote
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a lot of very good ideas Smile

the thing about making a user join a group i think maybe should be an option. i.e if you want to be involved in the programming section, you can join that group, but by default you are joined to no groups. Also it should probably be possible to join more than one group.

i think also, the automated "lots of points -> moderator" should be removed, and replaced by an automatic post that gets put in some forum with a poll saying "X has obtained 5000 points (level z), Do you think they should become a moderator?

also, it might be worth looking at some kind of "*CENSORED**CENSORED**CENSORED**CENSORED*" solution. Where users can score small amounts of points by judging the quality of other people's moderation (implemented on /.)

[EDIT] Also, it would be a very good idea to make all the interfaces part of a "default" skin as they are developed. Basically you make the very first interface, in the tools and environment that other people are going to use to make interfaces. It helps work through bugs in interface code, and it also shows the power of any theming stuff. (we all know hardcoding interface elements is evil) [/EDIT]
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PostPosted: 10-30-2002 05:48 AM Reply with quote
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Joined: 17 Feb 2002
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No, *CENSORED**CENSORED**CENSORED**CENSORED* should be fully automatic. For instance, if a post gets 5 times +2, and one -2, then that means someone is probably cheating. So, you let the process watch his behaviour and if this occurs more then 3 times per day, there are a number of points reducted (twice the number he reducted from others) and the points are given to those that should have got them.
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PostPosted: 10-30-2002 07:42 AM Reply with quote
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The rating system draft

I've had some time to think about this during lunch, and I think, if we want to implent a rating system, we should know how it should work.

Basically, every user has 3 ratings. The first, is the postcount. The 2nd is the number of points you have gathered over time and the 3rd is your postcount vs. your points. This is needed to get an accurate rating for the users, cause someone who is here for 2 years will have a higher postcount / no. of points, then people that have been here for 2 months. Still, there should be a way to compete with people that have a high postcount, thus the rating is made like that.

Points vs. Posts

What is the best way to calculate this? Well, I beleive someone who has been here must have a slight advantage. So, I propose the following formula.
rating = (points / posts + ( posts / 100 )) * 100

Now, if someone has 200 posts, and an average rating of 2+ per post, he would have a rating of:
(400 / 200 + ( 200 / 100 )) * 100 = 400

And if someone has 50 posts, and an average rating of 3+ per post, he would have a rating of:
(150 / 50 + ( 50 / 100)) * 100 = 350

thus, he is competing with the first poster, only he needs to post a little more to get higher. I am sure someone can come up with a better system tough.


Your level would go up, if your rating (not points!) goes up. Someone who points great and interesting threads will level faster then someone who posts lots of reply's that are dull. Also, wich each 10 levels you gain, you will be rewarded with a feature or new forum.
Your level also gives you more power. For instance, someone who has level 2 has more points to give per post, then someone from level 1. Comparable to an RPG, you'll become stronger if you fight harder and if you fight more. Lets say, you would have 100 levels, and the maximum you would ever want to give to a post is 10 points. That means each level you gain, you'll gain 0.1 points to mod.
Also, when people want to get stronger, they'll might start making clone accounts, or have friends mod them higher, and if you hate someone you would mod them down, to keep him from levelling. To stop this, we would need a bot that goes trough all of todays posts and ratings and detects abnormal behaviour. For example, a post has been modded "+ $ interesting" 10 times, but its also modded "- $ flamebait" once. Then the guy that gives him a negative score is trying to keep someone from levelling. If this bot detects that, lets say 10 times per week, then the user doing that will be punished. To stop cloning, you would just do an ip check on every user, and if the ip is in the database for >3 accounts, you'll ask to the user what the hell is going on.

I will post a list of levels here soon, and stuff they could get rewarded with.

coming soon...

So, what kind of rewards would YOU like if you behave on a forum? Sure, more power is nice, but you want more stuff, dont you?
Ok, so lets just say we have 10 levels. Most users will probably get to around level 65/75 and then it will stop. Why? Well, their posts will increase, but their rating will just increase little by little, cause it doesnt matter much how much post they make. Thats why, I would give the user that gets to level 70 the last real reward they could get. Everything above that should just be extra's that arent really needed. Here is what I suggest:

Level 1:
  You dont have access to all the forums. Actually,
  the only forums you can make new threads in
  are the somewhat normal forums you would find
  on most boards. This is not where the fun is tough.
  The best place to be would probably be the modding
  forum, where the whole modding concept is being
  discussed, and faulty ratings can be evaulated.

Level 10:
  Ah, you unlock a lot of new forums, such as the
  programming/webscripting forum, the software
  forum and the hardware forum. Its not that
  interesting yet, but your still leveling pretty fast.
  The best part is tough, that you can get access
  to the contest forum, where contests are being
  made by the users from level >40. If you post a
  reply in a contest thread, you'll add 3 points to
  it and if you win, you'll get all the modpoints
  that were in the jackpot. The topic starter is the
  one that declares the winners.

Level 20:
  You unlock the games and movies forum, and you
  also get your first tools that you can use to mod
  like a moderator in threads you've made. What can
  you do? Well, you can close your threads, reopen
  them (ofcourse, you cant when a moderator closed
  it!), change the topic title or move it to a different
  forum (once!).

Level 30:
  You unlock the basement forum. The forum where
  everything can be discussed. There is one problem
  with this forum tough. It is unmodded (by users),
  and you only get half the points and NO posts from
  here. If a thread is moved to the basement forum,
  all modpoints that are given to it will be given back
  and all posts will be reducted.

Level 40:
  Ah, instead of just replying to news, you can now
  post news! Make sure its all good news tough, cause
  irrelevant stuff will be removed, and after 3 warnings
  you cant post news anymore. You can also make new
  challenges in the contest forum.

Level 50:
  You get access to the "elite" forum, where all the
  oldies are, and where stuff is discussed that would
  make the forum more interesting. You also get
  lite-moderator powers, wich allow you to close threads
  if they are against the rules and rename topics.

Level 60:
  You are a good user. You are probably well known
  in the community by know, so you will get access to
  the crew forums, and your moderator powers will
  now include editing posts and moving them.

Level 70:
  This is about the maximum most users will get to,
  so you'll now become a full scale moderator.

Level 80:
  You are a special person, and unlock a secret theme.

Level 90:
  You now become a super moderator AND you can use
  HTML in all forums, not even the ones where it isnt

Level 100:
  If you get to this level, a temporarely forum will be
  dedicated to you, and users level >30 can
  congratulate you, and give you presents :P.

Lets say you will raise yourself a level, each time you get 1000 more on your rating. A level of 100 would mean a rating of 100000, wich could mean 10000 posts with a rating of at least 10, so in that case, you are indeed a special person Smile.

I think the rating should be a bar you can slide into a negative side, or a positive site. If you have a higher level, you'll get to rate with more points, and it seems to me a sliding bar would be perfect!
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PostPosted: 10-30-2002 07:44 AM Reply with quote
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And Pezko, I think it IS a good idea. Imagine Suislide, for him to spam, he needs access to a forum where he can spam, so he needs to post good messages as well.

Another "feature" I would like, is some sort of chat that could replace the pm system. I cant be online at msn all the time, but if I seem someone browsing the forums, and I want to talk to him, pm's are to slow. So, I propose some sort of server based messaging system (compare it to a refreshable thread with a quick message box, only smaller Smile )
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PostPosted: 10-30-2002 08:03 AM Reply with quote
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Ok, i like the chat idea a lot, perhaps something in Java/Flash/PHP/Perl could do that really well, unlike a lot of the stuff that seems to be out there. I like where we are getting with this ratings system, its starting to pull together well. Your last post seems to have lots of detail, and I'll probably have to read it a few times to post any useful comments on it.

This advanced ratings system is starting to get really interesting, but how do we propose to let the system generate all its ratings ? That stuff could place serious load on a server. I would almost suggest some kind of c program that could be crontab'ed or run in a shell to generate all the stats out properly (or for lower end users, would give them a file for download that they could parse on their own computer, then upload again, kinda like a SQL export, but not)

an idea...

[BTW] Gonna tidy this thread up later on today [/BTW]
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PostPosted: 10-30-2002 09:09 AM Reply with quote
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Posts: 186

I still don't think it's a good idea to base access to forum on rating. That way new users are dependant on the old users rating them, and the intrest might drop much if someone come to a new forum just to find out that he have to have rating X to post in the forum he is intrested in.

I'm not sure what to do with suislides and such ppl tho... Or what kind of rewards to give if not access to forums... Maybe make it a bit like FXP boards, and have level 1 programming where the n00bs can play around and level 2 programming where more advanced stuff is going on. Not because it's not allowed to have advanced discussions in lvl1, but because the ppl in level 2 is more likely to be intrested, thus more likely to give a good reply.

This opens for an intresting question... You can have ratings for separate "categories" if you do it this way. For example you have one rating for general discussion, one for development, one for gfx (or something like that)

The idea of some kind of improved pm/chat thingie sounds like a good idea too me Smile
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PostPosted: 10-30-2002 09:26 AM Reply with quote
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Posts: 425

Pezko, by just posting stuff, you'll automatically increase your rating, so if noone would give you any points, you wouldnt lose any either, so you would just need to post a bit more.

Also, I think a lot of newbies will rate eachother, because they are bound to forums, and the only way to avdvance is to rate others, and get rated yourself Smile.

You should have the focus on the forum on one thing, the rest should just be extra's. On that dutch forum I told you about, the focus is on computers. BUT they have this sweet section called "De huiskamer", or in english "The living room" and it attracts newbies like flies on shit, cause its uberfun there (well, it aint if you finally get there, but when you cant access it, its all fun). Now they have created a forum for people that help other people on the board and that the mods notice. This way, lots of people suddenly start helping other people and try to increase the level on the forum again.

What you say with rating per section, is what I ment with groups. If you join a group, you'll get access to their forum, wich has a totally different hiearchie.

If you have more levels of forums, you'll get the following result. Newbie a has a problem Newbie b cant handle, but because all the other people are posting in the more advanced forums, they will tend to forget about the newbies. You will also get cross posts.

I dont think legal-chat is based around computers at all, its focused at chatting, thats why the forums that are about chatting can be accessed when you get here. However, to get into the more fun forums, you will have to work for it. And if you continue this, people will have to keep posting interesting stuff, or they will lose access to the fun forums.

But, in my opinion, you should not have a dropdown box were you can select a rating. It should be a sliding bar (javscript?), where you have a negative site and a positive side. And the stronger you are, the stronger you rate, so you wont need to change your rating behaviour, cause its just a sliding bar without values.
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PostPosted: 10-30-2002 10:09 AM Reply with quote
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Posts: 425

Ah, my solution doesnt have anything to do with posting regulary, it just has something to do with how good you behave at the forums, and once your in, the only way out is to start misbehaving, and if you would do that, you wouldnt belong here Smile. AND SOMEONE COMMENT ON THE SLIDING BAR! I mean, its imho the best way to rate a post, sure you could specify a reason, but nobody cares for the reasons they get points, they care for the points themselves.

I think the only thing with stats vs. sections should be, that when you go up to a level where you become a mod, you'll become a mod in the section that you post a lot in. Alltough, if there would be to many mods there already, it would take the one you are after the forum you are most active in. Im not making sense now, I know...
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PostPosted: 10-30-2002 10:39 AM Reply with quote
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Posts: 425

Imagine it as a horizontal scrollbar, only it looks like this:

[COLOR=red]negative[/color] | [COLOR=yellow][neutral][/color] | [COLOR=green]positive[/color]
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PostPosted: 10-30-2002 05:17 PM Reply with quote
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Joined: 09 Feb 2002
Posts: 186

mmmk... *wants pdf version since everything hates me atm*

Some intresting stuff:

  • http://tavi.sourceforge.net/ - Wiki for PHP, under the GPL of course, seems to be very nice source, with comments and stuff

  • http://pear.php.net - PEAR, basically ownage stuff for PHP, like very nice classes for databases.

  • http://smarty.php.net - Template engine that seem to own most things I've seen... (haven't looked much at it, so I might be wrong. Don't stab me if I am! Smile )

Please note that I haven't looked at this stuff much (except PEAR, which seem to own) so I'm not really sure if it's any good Smile

2 questions, and I'm editing and not double posting, thank me now plsd Smile

Question #1: Who is intrested in helping with this thing?

Question #2: Should it be done as a script that should be released, or only for use in one place... Lots of things that have to be decided based on answer to that question...
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PostPosted: 10-30-2002 07:15 PM Reply with quote
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Joined: 09 Feb 2002
Posts: 1235

The following idiotic rambling was brought to you by heineken.

The number of mods per section should be fixed and when there are too many... the number of points you need to be a mod will increase. So the number of points you need to mod a specific section is relative to the pouplarity of that section.


There Are three mods:
Jimmy 1045 Points
Bill 2754 points
Sally 2106 points

Along comes Frank with 4000 points and he wants to mod the section. Frank would replace jimmy....

Bill 2754 points
Sally 2106 points
Frank 4000 points

Jimmy 1045 Points (no longer mod) Sad

and jimmy could try to win back his spot from sally, the mod with the lowest number of points.
Say Frank has 8000 points and he puts 4000 twards moding that section he can put the other 4000 twards moding a different section. Kind of like spending your points.... You keep them... but they can go twards different things. You cant use a single point for more than one thing at a time.

Also I'm not shure if this was said already, But when you start a thread. The number of points you get is based on the number of replies that thread recieves. Or maybe the mean average of the rating of the posts within the thread!

If you use a slide bar is it going to be for threads alone or posts too? Having sliders under every post would be usefull but they would have to be small and the users who dont want to reply will still have to submit thier ratings wich might be annoying.

I do like the forum unlocking in stages. (not shure about all of the "prize" ideas)

One thing to keep in mind is to preserve is ease of use. All the coding will amount to squat if a person cant jump right in and pick up whats going on rather quickly. Most users arent going to sit around reading a FAQ... There should be advanced features, yes, but they shouldn't cloud a users ability to jump right in on a conversation.

As for realtime chat.... I sugesset you use IRC, maybe even just integrate JIRC or somthing simple like that, Becasue Bandwidth Is going to be a concern at some point. If you guys do get this thing runing I would certainly be willing to spending money on the hosting, but not if its going to be a bandwidth monster. Anything that buts undue stress on the server is bad.

I think at this point there has been enough idle chat about neat little gadgets to add.... Somone needs to actually start writing some kind of skeleton code for the script (YES LIKE THE DINASOUR IN THE C PROGRAMING TEXT JS POSTED) becasue I do think we have established a good set of specifcations.


Sorry for my shitty communication skills. Razz
And if i'm not being helpful and i'm just taking up space here. Please just tell me to shut up.

Oh yea... CSS CSS CSS

"Question #2: Should it be done as a script that should be released, or only for use in one place... Lots of things that have to be decided based on answer to that question..."

Would It really be that difficult to create a install script and modify the code to make it portable later on? I don't see how "Lots of things that have to be decided" based on that, maybe you could explain?

"Am I a man dreaming of a butterfly or a butterfly dreaming of a man?"
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Developing Online Community Software [Cleaned Up]
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