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Forum Account System in Testing
Posted by Daniel Tonks on May 29, 2001 at 1:00 AM
RC News Story
If you've wondered what's been keeping me busy for the past while, this is it: a major upgrade to Remote Central's forum system. The main highlight of this improvement is the addition of a user account system. Now, you've probably heard me comment in the past on how I really don't like account-based forums. That's perfectly true, but in the long run the benefits outweigh the negatives. And, if done right, the whole system can be completely transparent. So, what exactly are some of the things that I don't like about account systems?

  • Can't change your password: On some forum systems you're given a randomly generated password that can't ever be changed. Not so here - your password is fully customizable.

  • Doesn't remember your account name or password: Combined with the above "random password", this can make a forum practically unusable. Who could be expected to remember that "xYw2a7r" is their password? The new system here will store your account name and, if you like, password in a "set it and forget it" cookie. Don't like cookies? The forum will operate perfectly fine without them; you'll just have to type more.

  • Required to login: Even if a forum has the above two, I just don't see the point to logging in to post - or even worse, read - messages. After registration, the forum will operate exactly as it does now - no hassle. With the cookie, you will never have to enter your name or password to post.

  • Forgot your password? In many cases, tough luck. But as long as you can remember (and continue to use) the email address you first registered with, your password - and user name - can be retrieved.
Another benefits of an account-based system is that your user name and email address can only be used by one person: you. But there's more:

  • Editing messages: This one has been asked for so many times I've lost count. But with the new forum you'll be able to edit your posts if you've made a type or HTML code glitch. If you created the thread, you'll also be able to edit the subject line. Since this is something that requires accounts, I've never been able to provide it before. In addition, editing your message will be as quick and simple as posting one.

  • Reply with quote: Responding to someone way up in the thread or to specific points in a message? You can now quote the entire original message in your response. When the quote is viewed normally in the main thread, it will appear in a different font style to your response.

  • About the author: A new link under a message will lead to the author's "about" page. This contains their email address (which can be disabled if you prefer an anonymous presence), physical location, registration date, last post date (so you can check if the author of an old post is still active and likely to see a response), number of posts, plus an "about me" area where you can enter whatever you like.
That about sums up the major new features. You'd be surprised at how long it can take to get even seemingly simple items working perfectly! And that's exactly why I need your help: I don't want to implement an untested system on our current, active forums. So, I've instead set up the new system in a temporary space, where I'd appreciate it if you could register and test it out as much as possible. It doesn't matter exactly what you post, but try everything you can. Once the system has been declared working, this whole area will be removed.

So, please take a look at the new forum system by clicking here.

Report all problems to this email address. I'd also appreciate your other comments!

If you're thinking that there are probably plenty of pre-made forum systems out there that would meet these new requirements... well, if I used them then I couldn't call the site completely original! Besides, doing so would necessitate closing down the old forums and losing existing data - and I'm proud to say that all messages since the day the forums were first activated over two-and-a-half years ago are still available. Plus, due to the way the system has been implemented, regular thread browsing should be the same speed as it was before.

If you're a regular visitor to Remote Central and have posted hundreds of messages, I'll even be able to add your previous posting statistics to your new account when the system is implemented on all forums.

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