In the spirit of open and proactive communication, I'm opening up a thread to discuss status of efforts improve the forum experience.
To start, I'll summarize some of the changes over the past few months. The initial focus was somewhat on technical improvements to the site because that side of things had been neglected for quite some time.
Mobile Phone App – We made he forum accessible through Tapatalk, which provides a much-improved interface for smartphone users. We have 334 people using it so far.
New Hosting Provider – This has led to much improved performance, assurance of high forum uptime, hourly backups and fast response to issues and problems if they crop up. There was also some site security hardening that was done as part of this.
New Content and Forum Restructuring- We’ve added Type Profiles for each of the 16 Types as well as Enneagram + Instinctual Subtypes and obtained content from a couple of our members ( @simulatedworld and @SolitaryWalker) as well as from OceanMoonshine. Additionally, we’ve added some subscriptions to RSS feeds to obtain high quality content from other sites. We also added some new subforums: Support and Advice, Typology Videos and RSS Feeds and finally Typology and Psychology Book Reviews.
Improved Search Function – We implemented an improved search function called “Sphinx Search.” It’s over 100x faster than the previous search function. In addition, it has new features, like allowing you to search your private messages and supporting more complex queries.
Thread Prefixes – We implemented something called “thread prefixes” to the typology sections of the forum. The purpose of this is to make it easier to navigate the site and find the threads/content that you are looking for. You can filter on the thread prefixes, making easier to find threads on a specific topic.
Advanced User Tagging – We upgraded this plugin including the provision of two new features. First, you can “tag” members in a thread if you think it may of interest to them. They are then notified of the existence of the thread. Second, we have Hash Tagging, a feature like Twitter has, that allows you to tag threads with a word. You can quickly see all posts that have a specific hash tag associated with them.
Vent Status – We added Vent status to the home page. Vent is our Voice over IP community that allows forum members to chat with each other or talk directly. We also doubled our Vent capacity to 48 concurrent users.
Thread Avatars – We implemented a function called Thread Avatars, which spices up the appearance of the forum interface. There is also an ability to turn this off for members that prefer a more simple looking forum interface.
Spam Firewall - We implemented the GlowHost Smam-O-Matic firewall to reduce instances of spam on our forum. As of the time I'm writing this, the software denied registration for 1245 known spammers.
SEO Software - We implemented some software to help us with Search Engine Optimization, to make some of our content more visible to search engines. It includes things like optimizing the URLs for search, automated thread tagging, etc.
Performance Tuning - We had the hosting provider and an outside expert do some performance tuning on the site. In addition, we bumped up memory on the system by 50%.
Home Page Changes - We removed some unnecessary things from the home page and worked on speeding up performance. It's much faster now.
Plug-In Upgrade - We upgraded about a half dozen of our plug-ins to current releases. There are multiple reasons for keeping these current. First, you get better functionality. Second, you get better compatibility with current releases of VBulletin. Third, you get bug fixes and security patches. I think one of these upgrades has caused us some problems (the missing post issue). We're still trying to figure out which plug-in is causing the problem.
Test System - We put in a test system so that as we make major upgrades to the site, we'll have a test bed in which to develop the software.
Revised Banning Policy - To enact quicker but shorter bans vs. waiting and ending up with long ones. The new policy is here.
New Member Resources - We split off the FAQ from the Forum Rules. Now, there is a New Member Resource section which can be found in the FAQ. It's about 80% done as of the time I'm writing this.
Generally we slowed down changes in the site in June because we wanted to address some issues caused by the initial improper installation of the test system and also to debug the missing post problem with the Plug-In upgrade.
There are other things in the works, which I'll communicate in other posts, which will include some of the results coming out of the forum improvement committee.