I wanted to try to let you guys in a little more on what is up with the conversion, why we did it, what was going through our heads, etc. I know a lot of you are not happy about the new system, the layout, and how it is working.
Personally, I am not super happy about some stuff either right now. Yesterday, I was about to kill my computer most of the day, because my Firefox and Adblock setup just would not load the site correctly. It was freezing up my whole browser for 5+ seconds on every page load. Now, something is actually broken on my specific setup (I need to reinstall FF), but I know a lot of people are having similar issues. (Incidentally, I am using Chrome today, on a 4 year old, loaded down computer, and the site is WAAAAAYY faster and more functional.) This is not to imply that glitches you are experiencing are somehow your fault, or yours to fix, or "just a couple people, so who cares". It is our (mine, Fok's, and the dev team's) job to make the site work for as many people as possible within reason. (IE6 is apparently deprecated and unsupported now, even by Google. Sorry, 0.74% of site visitors.) This is only to say, some people are having unforeseen trouble, and we have been reading about it, and we are not okay with people having such frequent problems. We will hound people until we get them resolved, (again, within reason of course).
Anyway, here's the deal. The old system was on its last legs. The server was never running right, lag was rampant, and most importantly for the moderators, we had little time to hang out and be part of the community because a vast amount of our time was spent dealing with:
- spam that was easily and constantly getting through the system, making General Chat almost unreadable and crapping up the whole damn place. Dealing with it was slow and trying to prevent it by banning IPs was even slower, and didn't work very well anyway. Even with infinite volunteers, it would never be fixed for real, and we had to move on to a smarter system.
- B&S disputes and reports that were clunky at best to deal with and required constant attention to keep the market fair(ish)
- the server being consistently - yet randomly - slow for no obvious reason and no one at the hosting company, let alone me, being able figure out how to get it running well
- more and more and more users all the time, overloading the system even more and making it harder to handle the current issues
Also, we had to take into account vBulletin 3.x being near the end of its service life and being hacked to get it to do what we needed, making it run inefficiently, and 4.x being a big unknown that I couldn't personally figure out well enough to trust that it would do what we wanted.
And we wanted a bunch of features like the B&S system that would help alleviate our burden and make the users happier, a gallery that actually worked right, review system, blog-style threads where selected users could run the show within their realms, etc. Some of which we have fully or nearly working, some of which needs further improvement/refinement/repair.
So we hooked up with Huddler who have a built-from-scratch solution that offers us a majority of what we wanted to do and some cool stuff we hadn't thought of, that we thought you guys would enjoy ... as well as some issues we want to work on with them, in order to get the site how we really want it. We had a sandbox period, we had a lot of people in it, and there were some things that came up and got fixed, but obviously we didn't get everything, and really, couldn't, until the site was up and working and getting populated with new content. A lot of things I thought were due to import issues were not, for example. And frankly, we just had to do it at some time, even if everything was not perfect. The old server and system was a constant hassle, and taking up so much of our time that we couldn't effectively work on the new system. We had to make a clean break with the past so we could get on with the future.
Currently, therefore, there are quite a few glitches that we are aware of and will work to get addressed:
- The B&S sorting / back button issue making browsing awkward/broken
- Glitchy profile links and other links
- Lots of added space before and after quoted text in a post making posts even taller than they already have to be (for now, please delete it when you post a reply!)
- Ad scripts and other scripts loading slowly for some people
- Tapatalk not working in some forums
- Search not working well (yet? it is still indexing AFAIK)
- RSS not working right
- Some editor problems
- Email not working right (yet, I hear it was very overloaded and may work correctly soon)
- Some import issues (a zillion PMs, subscriptions, etc., foreign chars not rendering right, Some PMs appearing with (no text))
- Some usernames with characters not supported
- Some previously-banned members waking up rebanned in the new place
- White borders around non-square avatars
- Multiquote function is awkward
- Typing out smiley code doesn't make a smiley :fu:
- Connect with Facebook changes your avatar to your FB profile pic
- Adding photos to B&S listings sometimes doesn't work and some other B&S posting problems
- I could go on - believe me, we are paying attention, and I am personally driving them completely nuts with the amount of bug/glitch/WTF emails I am sending. And they are paying attention and responding. This stuff does take time to fix though.
There are other things that will take longer if they are possible, but we are lobbying toward:
- Waste of vertical and horizontal space making the sidebar more intrusive than it needs to be and making content sparse on the page, low amount of posts or thread listings, etc.
- Layout not optimal or not working well enough to be effective on mobile/tablet size screens, running out of memory
- Ability to customize activity feeds by subforum etc.
- "Last post" preview column has lots of useless "Quote: originally posted by: blah blah blah" crap in it, making it often pointless and wasting a lot of space
- Time & Date format apparently not customizable
- Sticky threads don't work like they did, and though we have hacked a sorta-workaround, I want something similar
- Gallery could use a lot of features IMO, assuming that we see people are bothering to use it
- Different views for B&S and more narrowing-down options
- I would love to see a 'saved search' type of feature for B&S (shawl collared wool sweaters in 38-40 or medium under $100), but don't hold your breath.
- Member list that is useful for real people, but not for spammers
- "Clear" button in PM editing page is annoying as hell, I have deleted like 4 PMs already
- Search engine could use more options, searching for posts by a user in a thread, etc.
Also, we are still working on populating/fixing some things that should make using the site easier pretty soon:
- Sizing tags for B&S listings
- Adding categories for items
- Tweaking and figuring out how to make B&S easy, fair and useful for casual sellers as well as power sellers
And, having a snazzy looking system that looks more commercial, though you may not be that into it, actually does bring with it other benefits that you will actually like. It attracts writers whose books you've read and people who make the clothes you lust after, who will now take the site more seriously, to write articles for us and engage with the community. It allows us to devote resources to making real life get-togethers more fun, providing free booze and swag, tours, and so on. It allows us to send people to places to cover events you want to read about and see pictures of, and people who know you and what you want to see and read. I promise you, we will now be able to do some cool stuff that we've wanted to do for you guys for a long time.
The Huddler system brings with it some great features, and it is always evolving - they release new fixes and features every couple weeks IIRC - but we (and they) don't think it is perfect how it is, and they simply cannot change some things for us, at least in the near- to medium-term period. This is the compromise we have chosen, and we ask for your patience and understanding while we go through the pain of growth.
TL;DR: Yes, we realize we launched with a non-perfect system - please have patience and trust that we are working to fix everything, but please realize it will take some time, and we will do our best to make the result something you will consider a major improvement.