MBT Question and Answer website

Tom is participating with oversight if not actively. You might find a role in which you can contribute yourself. (Help Wanted)
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Ted Vollers
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by Ted Vollers »

Dave,

Tom has stated that he does not wish for there to be 'voting' about posts or having 'friends' or 'enemies' on the board. We could turn on that ability if it was desired. There already is the ability for general users to flag a post as in spam. See the exclamation mark button, bottom right in a post. Specialis Sapientia used to do so before he became a moderator. A few others did also on occasion. But clearly you could not count on the general membership to do so as they did not. I consider spam as a serious problem as it would grow greatly if tolerated. Tom wants the board, and the Wiki, as a serious source of information and teaching tools, not as entertainment and the kind of usage that Facebook gets and encourages, not diluted by chatting as just a social media. I think so also, but would implement this change anyway if he said to do so, following Tom's instructions. This is also why we place limits on presenting other ideas to the point of 'recruiting' instead of what Tom provides. But a mutually advantageous network between 'fellow traveler' sites is fine. Some on the board don't like this approach.

Tom deals with Facebook and YouTube as a way to reach more persons and as he is equipped to do so. He teaches as deeply as he can there but the media is against that by its limitations. A video can convey a personal connection and presence but cannot convey as detailed and in depth information, as great an understanding as text can by its immutability. That's why creating transcriptions is so difficult with the 'meta data' that it includes which makes you sure you understand something which you have not clearly grasped. But Tom is the number one person to get information from. My understanding originated from Tom but he welcomes extensions and additions by anyone able to do so and I have added some ideas, clarifications and extensions. I run significant things by Tom first to get his comments and approvals.

We do not want to edit others posts on the board and no one by Tom and I do so for each others posts, with each others permission. I don't know if a moderator can edit a founder's posts to insert the keywords or 'signals' for meta data. One of them would have to try it and let us know as the ability to assume someone's permissions seems to be lost now so I can't check this out myself. I think I am the only one that Tom has set up as a founder but there are others who are Administrators as they need technical access to the board as webmasters, now or in the past. But they don't have time to do things like this, only resolve serious problems if I cannot as they have server access as well as board access. The moderators still have 'lives' outside of the Board and Wiki. I do too, but very limited, especially physically.

This is the situation that we have to work within. I went on the 'chalk board' that you linked. It might have some value, if I can learn it as the controls and functions are hidden unless brought forward. I'm used to tools like AutoCAD where you can make all of the tools permanently visible and easily activated around the border of the work area. That might be a problem on small monitors, but I have two and one is 30" as I need this to offset and work around some visual distortion after cataract surgery. You can also create your own tools which I used to depend on heavily for speed and productivity within AutoCAD.

You and William are the first two board members who are IT knowledgeable who have come forward to help in this way with advice and assistance. There have been others in the past, but that has been transient and at need. I appreciate what you are doing for the board and for Tom, and he does also I assure you.

Ted
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by daveh »

So what are the befits of all that meta data tagging?

Within the forum itself, those extra markup tags: [question], [answer], etc. are fairly irrelevant. It does have some benefit in that someone can search the forum for '[question]' and be shown all posts with questions in them. (Search results also show the surrounding text, so the actual questions would also be displayed.)

However, it would be a fairly simple task to write some code to search through all posts and automatically extract the data between each of these tags.

Why bother extracting the text?

Another system can 'easily' and automatically (ie. no effort on Ted's part) build an index of all these tagged items and present them in any number of different formats, allowing sorting, searching, browsing by keywords, date, etc.

Hey, this is great, let's do it!

Not so fast flash! The great thing about meta tagging forum posts in this way is that they can be auto-extracted, but this does not make a forum the best place to create them initially.

Yes, it can be achieved using a forum in the same way as the example above.
Yes, it could be done exactly the same way within a WIKI page (this format can be applied almost ubiquitously where text entry is possible)

But, it requires the additional stage of 'scraping' through the forums/wiki to extract the data and index/catalog it.

Whereas my initial suggestion in creating this thread was to use a piece of Q/A software. The benefit being that each individual piece of meta data could go directly into a database field. The Q/A software would automatically catalog, index and handle the display and searching of these questions and answers, providing the framework for handing the keywords and allowing users to comment on the individual Q/A's. It just seemed the quickest way to achieve a basic system.

However, I'm happy to go with marking up posts here in the forum if I have access to do that. If this was done, the subject of each post would also have to be the [question].

Finally: whether I use this forum for recording these questions, you could still apply the markup to existing posts where questions and answers apply. Any consistent markup tags of this sort could be applied, which would allow an automated system to extract the tagged data for presentation in different formats.

Phew, I hope that clarifies some of what I was thinking initially.
Last edited by daveh on Tue Sep 24, 2013 9:20 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by daveh »

Ted Vollers wrote:There already is the ability for general users to flag a post as in spam. See the exclamation mark button, bottom right in a post. Specialis Sapientia used to do so before he became a moderator. A few others did also on occasion. But clearly you could not count on the general membership to do so as they did not. I consider spam as a serious problem as it would grow greatly if tolerated.
Yes, this achieves the same result. Maybe some more focus could be drawn to requesting uses to mark entries as spam - an obvious section in the header of the forum or something. No serious user likes spam, and clicking the ! is of no hinderance (I haven't clicked one yet, so dunno for sure).
Ted Vollers wrote:A video can convey a personal connection and presence but cannot convey as detailed and in depth information, as great an understanding as text can by its immutability. That's why creating transcriptions is so difficult with the 'meta data' that it includes which makes you sure you understand something which you have not clearly grasped.
Admittedly in my transcription I included everything... the um's, err's, etc. With some agreement certain speech expressions could consistently be left out of transcriptions, especially as there is a link to the actual words spoken.
Ted Vollers wrote:We do not want to edit others posts on the board and no one by Tom and I do so for each others posts, with each others permission. I don't know if a moderator can edit a founder's posts to insert the keywords or 'signals' for meta data.
Possibly another reason why a forum is not the best delivery method. At least with a wiki there is a historical record of all changes. (there is a plugin for phpBB to record historical changes: http://www.phpbbhacks.com/download/5984 but whether it is compatible with latest version of phpBB I dunno.)

Personally though, and from my involvement in many other forums and related sites, if the forum allows you to do it then users do not have a problem with having their posts edited as long as the site makes it clear the types of editing that will occur; and simply adding meta-tags around piece of their post is unlikely to cause anyone to balk.
Ted Vollers wrote:One of them would have to try it and let us know as the ability to assume someone's permissions seems to be lost now so I can't check this out myself.
A 'demo' install of phpBB could help here to test out things. Haven't heard from William yet if his forum can offer us this.
Ted Vollers wrote:I think I am the only one that Tom has set up as a founder but there are others who are Administrators as they need technical access to the board as webmasters, now or in the past. But they don't have time to do things like this, only resolve serious problems if I cannot as they have server access as well as board access.
Thanks for the clarification Ted, useful to know in aiding understanding of the issues. This is where your bottleneck lies though, and it's something that needs some thought to meet the progressing needs of you and how to handle your data.
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by William12 »

daveh wrote:
Ted Vollers wrote:There already is the ability for general users to flag a post as in spam. See the exclamation mark button, bottom right in a post. Specialis Sapientia used to do so before he became a moderator. A few others did also on occasion. But clearly you could not count on the general membership to do so as they did not. I consider spam as a serious problem as it would grow greatly if tolerated.
Yes, this achieves the same result. Maybe some more focus could be drawn to requesting uses to mark entries as spam - an obvious section in the header of the forum or something. No serious user likes spam, and clicking the ! is of no hinderance (I haven't clicked one yet, so dunno for sure).
Ted Vollers wrote:A video can convey a personal connection and presence but cannot convey as detailed and in depth information, as great an understanding as text can by its immutability. That's why creating transcriptions is so difficult with the 'meta data' that it includes which makes you sure you understand something which you have not clearly grasped.
Admittedly in my transcription I included everything... the um's, err's, etc. With some agreement certain speech expressions could consistently be left out of transcriptions, especially as there is a link to the actual words spoken.
Ted Vollers wrote:We do not want to edit others posts on the board and no one by Tom and I do so for each others posts, with each others permission. I don't know if a moderator can edit a founder's posts to insert the keywords or 'signals' for meta data.
Possibly another reason why a forum is not the best delivery method. At least with a wiki there is a historical record of all changes. (there is a plugin for phpBB to record historical changes: http://www.phpbbhacks.com/download/5984 but whether it is compatible with latest version of phpBB I dunno.)

Personally though, and from my involvement in many other forums and related sites, if the forum allows you to do it then users do not have a problem with having their posts edited as long as the site makes it clear the types of editing that will occur; and simply adding meta-tags around piece of their post is unlikely to cause anyone to balk.
Ted Vollers wrote:One of them would have to try it and let us know as the ability to assume someone's permissions seems to be lost now so I can't check this out myself.
A 'demo' install of phpBB could help here to test out things. Haven't heard from William yet if his forum can offer us this.
Ted Vollers wrote:I think I am the only one that Tom has set up as a founder but there are others who are Administrators as they need technical access to the board as webmasters, now or in the past. But they don't have time to do things like this, only resolve serious problems if I cannot as they have server access as well as board access.
Thanks for the clarification Ted, useful to know in aiding understanding of the issues. This is where your bottleneck lies though, and it's something that needs some thought to meet the progressing needs of you and how to handle your data.
I can open that up for debug. Create yourself an account and I will raise permissions. It basically the same reason I put it up. So I could test a few things without bugging Ted. I don't think it will have to live for too long. Just long enough to sort out the current ideas. Let me know.
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by William12 »

Ted Vollers wrote:William,

Some of Tom's events and videos are an hour or more in length while some are broken up into 10 minute segments. The things that you mention are the kinds of things I am trying to balance out. I feel that we do need to provide more order than just scanning through 200+ titles, even if they don't move around. And putting multiple titles in one forum without stickies would be impossible as they jump around with each new post changing the order. I prefer structure or why not just live with the (deliberate?) chaos of Youtube.

Ted
I agree with structure. Just have to balance what works for usability. In security, for example, you can add so much structure nobody can use a system or it does not lend itself to natural usage. I will punt on it and know you will end up with a great structure.
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by daveh »

William12 wrote: I can open that up for debug. Create yourself an account and I will raise permissions. It basically the same reason I put it up. So I could test a few things without bugging Ted. I don't think it will have to live for too long. Just long enough to sort out the current ideas. Let me know.
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

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daveh wrote:
William12 wrote: I can open that up for debug. Create yourself an account and I will raise permissions. It basically the same reason I put it up. So I could test a few things without bugging Ted. I don't think it will have to live for too long. Just long enough to sort out the current ideas. Let me know.
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Try it out. Just keep in mind it is for tests, not for any data you want to survive long term. So hack away :-) Cheers.
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by Ted Vollers »

Dave & William,

Can you please, as you become our resident technical experts, see if you can figure out how to make sticky posts really sticky. The problem that I am hitting is that I went back and added two posts for future use (text transcript and extracted audio) in a thread that I had put a video into. This jumped it out of order to the top of the list as having been the last posted to. Apparently unless you can figure out a way around this, the forums are going to be nearly as much of a constantly changing and disorganized jumble as on YouTube channels. The only thing we will gain is that we won't have extraneous videos other than Tom's appearing all the time. The intention was to let board members post comments and questions in the threads so that means that they will constantly jump around as new posts are made. The only way to make this behave that I can see at the moment is to make each thread into its own forum with the only contents being that thread and possibly others that are spawned within it. The forums at the top will have to be changed to Categories and an addition layer created within the BB. Is there any extra overhead resulting from this, other than me having to do all that re-editing? In the Admin section where Categories and Forums are created, Categories and the firs layer of Forums within them can have their order set and it will be maintained.

Any ideas?

Ted
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by daveh »

Ted,

Do you mean the order of the stickies keep moving around, or that normal posts take priority over the stickies?
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

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The stickies remain as stickies and remain as a block at the top. These were additional posts within a sticky thread and that changed the ordering within the block of sticky threads. They cannot be set in an ordered block, as having a set order. They can only be set as a block within which their order of display changes with the addition of posts within the threads.

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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by daveh »

Ted,

Setting the order of posts and stickies cannot be done in the basic phpBB. To get this feature you will need to install a 'mod'.

The mod you want is 'Topic Cement', which is at https://www.phpbb.com/community/viewtopic.php?t=1304585

I don't have full access to Williams's site so I can't test this mod and give you install instructions. Hopefully William can do that.

*edit* hmm, it looks like installing mods into phpBB is a bit 'involved'. Probably why they're called 'mods' not 'plugins'. This means that you'll probably need one of your guys with ftp access to the forum to do it for you. They will also need access to your mySQL database server to run some updates and change some fields.
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by Ted Vollers »

Besides the problem that phpBB does not support and maintain this Mod, I have some concern with how it is described.
Modification description: This MOD allows the members authorized (permission local/global 'm_set_priority') to give a priority on certain topics.
By default priority is zero; all topics with a priority of zero are sorted as they always have been: first by type, then by date of last post.
This mod inserts a new sort: first by type, then by priority (descending), and then by date of last post.
What I have marked in red seems to put this right back where we are now. Do you have direct experience with this that shows the result to be different?
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by daveh »

This mod inserts a new sort: first by type, then by priority (descending), and then by date of last post.
It literally displays them in that order.

1st it selects posts by type. phpBB already does this in order to place the sticky's at the top.
2nd is the new option to add a priority to posts, which is the feature you need.
3rd is to display the posts in date order (within the same priority levels).

For your use Ted, each post would be given different priority levels. As there is only 1 post with that priority level then it will always be displayed first within that priority (which means the 3rd sort doesn't really apply).

All normal posts get a default priority level of zero (0), so they will be sorted as normal by date order.

This mod would allow you to create both real stickys (like you do now) and pseudo stickys (just by giving posts a high priority number). You can of course (I assume) make a post both a sticky and give it a priority number to ensure it appears in the list of stickys in the correct position.
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by daveh »

Ted, I've reviewed all the code changes necessary to make this mod work and they are all logical and in fact fairly basic.

I'd definitely recommend adding this mod if you have someone with access that can edit the necessary files for you.

(I'm happy to offer to do it of course but I know that'll kick off a chain of discussions etc. etc. for you to sort first)
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Re: MBT Question and Answer website

Post by William12 »

I am on both side of this issue. On the one hand, normal usage would tend to want the default order. When someone posts a question or reply, that topic will bubble up to the top like normal in same way everyone is used to. So no different for forum users. You can see what topics have had action. On the other hand, you are wanting to keep date order. However I am not sure how ultimately valuable that is in general. If I am looking for videos, I am just going to poke around to see what seems interesting. If you maintain a pattern of sortable topic headings, then the user can always sort by Subject if desired to get a crono order. In that case sticky posts really add nothing to the equation. I don't think I would use Categories/Forums for this as you then have to drill into a topic which is some weird kind of nesting.

Subjects can be ordered by user. In this case, the videos would fall out in chronological order by naming convention used.
TV1 SomeName
TV2 SomeName
TV3 Someother Name
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