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"What have you done to my beloved forum?!"  

post #1 of 226
Thread Starter 

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.

 

post #2 of 226
That's a post a lot of people would have been waiting for, j. Thanks for putting up it. I for one have felt that the biggest problem is that things are not working the way they're supposed to, as opposed to there being some sort of secular problem with the approach you guys have taken. It's going to take a while for your devs to sort everything out, I'm sure. I sent Fok a few PMs about stuff but realized last night that there's no point, at least not for a week or two. You guys need time to sort out the list you have.

It may be true that we were given access before the site was totally worked out, but that's all rhetoric now, and doesn't need to be said anymore, in my view. I do fear that some of the stuff that we all agree would be worthwhile will not be available from Huddler, but this is something that will develop over time. Hope things go smoothly for the next few weeks.
Edited by tradernick - 7/16/11 at 9:39pm
post #3 of 226
J, you provide a home and a hang out for us, and it would be very ingracious of us to complain about how you choose to run this great home you provide for us. we'll be patient, and it will be better than ever before with a little time
post #4 of 226
i have fallen in love with a few things on the forum.

- the ability to upload pics and sort them here
- the new signature
- rich text editor or whatever its called
and a few other random things

my problems:
- site loads a bit slow? have i gone mad?
- all my old folders got deleted!!!! this is a huge pain in the ass because i used them to keep track of people who bought stuff from me, but i worked it out now

the way i look at the new site is like this.. if you try to use a mac the same way you use a pc it'll never work out.. jump into the world of mac and see what it has to offer.
i'm sure once the new site is all polished it will be a dream to surf through

thanks to all those in charge icon_gu_b_slayer[1].gificon_gu_b_slayer[1].gif
post #5 of 226
Thanks for the post. You're doing a great job keeping us updated on what you're working towards.
post #6 of 226
Good post, but you have buried the 2-3 main concerns in a long list of trivial crap. Briefly, the core problems that 100s of people have vocalized in the support threads are:

1. the site is ugly. fonts are too large, too much vertical space, and too much scrolling. it looks shitty within threads, but the real problem is the forum display. way too much space in between thread titles so it's inconvenient to quickly check what threads are new. same issue with search results. 10 thread titles per page in search results is a massive inconvenience when you have 500 thread results. should be more like 50, with minimum space in between thread titles so you can quickly locate your result. wasted space, excessive scrolling etc. make this site very unpleasant to use.

2. the new B&S sucks. people are used to having B&S in threads, where you can list multiple things, bump threads, etc. the best sellers have threads with dozens of items and people want to see those organized in threads, not the bullshit item by item thing. what you end up having is like a million item listings that no one has the time or patience to browse.

3. all the ads, javascript, etc. makes it very slow to use. i can easily browse at home where i have a fast laptop with firefox and noscript (which disables the scripts), but I can no longer browse efficiently at work. also it's terrible that the website landing page isn't the forum listing. no one cares about the bullshit that is currently on the front page.

If you don't sort the above out, I will probably still visit the site often, but eventually our collective enthusiasm will fade and we will drift toward other places to hang out on the internet.

Remember that we weren't born as men's clothing aficionados. Most of us found this site because we had some random curiosity about clothes and decided to stick around because we found there to be a good community, interesting discussions, high volume of new threads, etc. Your sponsors and advertisers benefit from that phenomenon; I've bought a ton of stuff that I didn't even know about without SF. If that stuff disappears we'll sooner or later just hop to a different forum on a completely different topic (watches, a/v equipment, cars, sports, whatever) and enrich those advertisers.
post #7 of 226
+1 to the above. And it is clear that J & Co. have put an unbelievable amount of work into this. But unfortunately what's not obvious is that the interests of the community and the technology solution providers are very well aligned:

Stuff on Huddler website
Quote:
Turns out that a small startup called Huddler is already doing just that, having quietly gotten 24 such sites
to adopt its Web 2.0 platform. The back-end technology transforms first-generation bulletin-board systems
into a richer media experience with a more attractive, useful interface, enhanced social interaction and new
advertising angles.
Huddler, which was founded in 2007 with about $500,000 from angel investors and last year raised $5.5 million
in venture funding led by New Enterprise Associates, had a technology that at the dawn of 2010 reached about
500,000 users, all devotees of EpicSki, the alpine ski site that was Huddler’s first convert. By year’s end,
Huddler’s collective reach will be about 10 million -- with potential for hundreds of millions more, said CEO
Dan Gill, who co-founded the startup with his older brother Ted.
Joan Rostad, the Montana-based publisher and owner of EpicSki, said Huddler essentially turned what had been a
hobby into a growing business, driving search traffic up 65 percent and attracting major advertisers. “This would
have never happened had we stayed with our previous platform,” Rostad said in a news release.
Gill won over publishers with a compelling sales pitch. The upfront cost is zero. Instead, Huddler negotiates
for a share of incremental ad revenue driven by the overhaul. “We organize the content in a way that drives a
lot more search traffic,” he explained.
So far, the strategy is paying off, with search traffic and revenue up dramatically at every site, he said.

Here's hoping all this shit somehow gets worked out. And guys thanks again for the great effort.
post #8 of 226
Change never comes easy, and the old forum was due for an overhaul. Near the end I stopped browsing general chat due to the spam, and I guess it would have gotten worse. Thanks for taking the plunge into the new system, it'll take some time to get it right, I dont mind.
post #9 of 226
J- as always, I appreciate the transparency. I was on the road when the change landed so have only had part of yesterday and today to investigate the site. I like where it's going and can happily say I've experienced zero issues so far with most of the things you've mentioned (not that I have dug into each).

A few "rebuttals/comments" to Sellahi22's remarks FWIW.


Quote:
Originally Posted by sellahi22 View Post

Good post, but you have buried the 2-3 main concerns in a long list of trivial crap. Briefly, the core problems that 100s of people have vocalized in the support threads are:

1. the site is ugly. fonts are too large, too much vertical space, and too much scrolling. it looks shitty within threads, but the real problem is the forum display. way too much space in between thread titles so it's inconvenient to quickly check what threads are new. same issue with search results. 10 thread titles per page in search results is a massive inconvenience when you have 500 thread results. should be more like 50, with minimum space in between thread titles so you can quickly locate your result. wasted space, excessive scrolling etc. make this site very unpleasant to use.

"Ugly" is wholly subjective of course... while the color scheme of the site (old and new) has never been a personal favorite, I don't find it ugly.
I run Firefox and view at 1920x1200... so I happen to like the layout, font sizes, etc. though I wouldn't mind a bit smaller. Being able to customize the number of returns in a search would be welcome but it's a minor issue versus some of the other tech you are still sorting. The site is blazing fast for me since the change. No page takes even one full second to load.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sellahi22 View Post

2. the new B&S sucks. people are used to having B&S in threads, where you can list multiple things, bump threads, etc. the best sellers have threads with dozens of items and people want to see those organized in threads, not the bullshit item by item thing. what you end up having is like a million item listings that no one has the time or patience to browse.

I don't spend a lot of time in B&S but I actually like the item by item listings. I found searching through large posts with many disparate items messy and frustrating to find that what you searched for was almost always marked "sold".
30 minutes playing around in it this morning liked how it was working. Using the "Categories" feature plus search I am able to very quickly home in on what I was looking for.
Quote:
Originally Posted by sellahi22 View Post

3. all the ads, javascript, etc. makes it very slow to use. i can easily browse at home where i have a fast laptop with firefox and noscript (which disables the scripts), but I can no longer browse efficiently at work. also it's terrible that the website landing page isn't the forum listing. no one cares about the bullshit that is currently on the front page.

I'm sure your employer will be pleased to know this wink.gif
I like the articles, etc and hope for more in the mens clothing area and not just the new fashion/streetwear focus.


And let me add one comment about what was mattering most to me: spam and trolling.

If the new site has greatly reduced the spam... I'll be one happy camper regardless of any of the other changes.
post #10 of 226
Quote:
Originally Posted by sellahi22 View Post

Good post, but you have buried the 2-3 main concerns in a long list of trivial crap. Briefly, the core problems that 100s of people have vocalized in the support threads are:

1. the site is ugly. fonts are too large, too much vertical space, and too much scrolling. it looks shitty within threads, but the real problem is the forum display. way too much space in between thread titles so it's inconvenient to quickly check what threads are new. same issue with search results. 10 thread titles per page in search results is a massive inconvenience when you have 500 thread results. should be more like 50, with minimum space in between thread titles so you can quickly locate your result. wasted space, excessive scrolling etc. make this site very unpleasant to use.

2. the new B&S sucks. people are used to having B&S in threads, where you can list multiple things, bump threads, etc. the best sellers have threads with dozens of items and people want to see those organized in threads, not the bullshit item by item thing. what you end up having is like a million item listings that no one has the time or patience to browse.

3. all the ads, javascript, etc. makes it very slow to use. i can easily browse at home where i have a fast laptop with firefox and noscript (which disables the scripts), but I can no longer browse efficiently at work. also it's terrible that the website landing page isn't the forum listing. no one cares about the bullshit that is currently on the front page.

If you don't sort the above out, I will probably still visit the site often, but eventually our collective enthusiasm will fade and we will drift toward other places to hang out on the internet.

Remember that we weren't born as men's clothing aficionados. Most of us found this site because we had some random curiosity about clothes and decided to stick around because we found there to be a good community, interesting discussions, high volume of new threads, etc. Your sponsors and advertisers benefit from that phenomenon; I've bought a ton of stuff that I didn't even know about without SF. If that stuff disappears we'll sooner or later just hop to a different forum on a completely different topic (watches, a/v equipment, cars, sports, whatever) and enrich those advertisers.


I completely agree with these points. What also was brought up was that this new change effectively kills newcomers that visit the site. I have never seen a more impenetrable and unwelcoming forum interface for people who have just arrived. Also, I noticed that you too are using AdBlock. Are the Admin's using that as a solution to deal with the over the top side panel of advertising as well?
post #11 of 226
One thing I noticed........did the new rules posted in B&S change already?

I seem to remember specifically reading that requesting payment in form of a PayPal "gift" was prohibited - and, now, I do not see that posted.
Always thought that was such a scam, and, to not restrict it seems to tolerate/promote it.
post #12 of 226
I love you guys, but I just don't understand the logic behind the new B&S. Having a single item per post is crippling - not only does it make listing large groups of items (which happens.. 75% of the time?), it makes browsing painful, as I have to wade through 6-7x the amount of stuff. Combine that with a useless search function.. frown.gif
post #13 of 226
Quote:
Originally Posted by Teger View Post

I love you guys, but I just don't understand the logic behind the new B&S. Having a single item per post is crippling - not only does it make listing large groups of items (which happens.. 75% of the time?), it makes browsing painful, as I have to wade through 6-7x the amount of stuff. Combine that with a useless search function.. frown.gif

as i understand it, as long as you are listing items of the same price tons of things can be listed.. if they are different prices = the problem you mentioned.
post #14 of 226
Quote:
Originally Posted by sellahi22 View Post

3. all the ads, javascript, etc. makes it very slow to use. i can easily browse at home where i have a fast laptop with firefox and noscript (which disables the scripts), but I can no longer browse efficiently at work. also it's terrible that the website landing page isn't the forum listing. no one cares about the bullshit that is currently on the front page.

Ads aren't the issue, its the fact that they take up 1/3 of the horizontal screen layout that has everyone up in arms. If they moved 1/2 of the ads to the top while keeping the other 1/2 of the ads where they are, browsing would be far more seamless and easier.
post #15 of 226
Quote:
Originally Posted by davesmith View Post


as i understand it, as long as you are listing items of the same price tons of things can be listed.. if they are different prices = the problem you mentioned.

That's right,, more or less. Dutch auction types of listings will be allowed - so, the item should be identical, excepting size, and the prices should be the same. Also, in order to facilitate B&S for thrifters, we have allowed multiple item litsings for items in the same category and no more than $25 USD shipped to be listed.

As you see from our rules above and check out the prices, you'll notice that they are remarkably low for a "bump", for example. We do not see this as a revenue generator primairly, but as a way to get more buyers (the majority of buyers are lurkers and new members) for sellers to have a fast and mobile upload system (thus the bulk uploader), and to plug up as many loopholes as possible that made us have to implement and enforce some arbitrary and unweildy rules. We had over 180 pages of complaints about the old B&S system over the last 18 months,, and this solution was in large part in response to that, and one of the stipulations of our contract with the Huddler was to have this system built. There are issues with it, and we are trying to get those resolved as soon as possible.

We refined the rules on the sandbox system, but are willing to listen to good suggestions. The rules re. Paypal are "best bsuiness practices". What you do in private is one thing, but we really don't want to get in trobuble with a huge corporation that has a lot of resources.
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