February 2006 Posts

eBay Feedback Score: 100

Made it into triple digits! :)

Feedback Score: 100
Positive Feedback: 100%
Members who left a positive: 100
Members who left a negative: 0
All positive feedback received: 168

My music collection… it swells.

2 More Books

I received 2 more books today when I stopped by the post office. The first one was Internet Intern: phpBB 2. This is a German phpBB book. I can’t read German, but I did see that we (phpBBHacks.com) were mentioned a few times, which was great and an honor, really. The book was authored by Stefan Paulus, Maik Schlicker, Peggy Tytschkowski and my friends Christian Knerr and Karsten Ude.

Even though I can’t read German, it’s such a great thing for their to be books about phpBB, so I definitely wanted it on my shelf. Christian and Karsten were kind enough to send me a copy.

The second book was Blog Marketing which was written by my friend Jeremy Wright. I served as a Reviewer on this book, offering a little feedback here and there (I really wasn’t that valuable). Whatever I contributed, I was happy to have done so as Jeremy’s a great guy and I’m glad to support him.

So, it was a good day for books, you could say. :)

phpBB: A User Guide

I received my copy of phpBB: A User Guide today. This is an abridged version of the larger phpBB book published by Packt. Basically, some of the more intricate details (such as writing a hack, etc.) have been removed and the price has been lowered. So, if you wanted to get more of a user guide thing for phpBB without those intricate details and want to save some money, you may want to take a look. In the end, more options for people like this can’t be bad.

My foreword was removed (although, after talking to the editor, that seems to have been accidental), which is cool. I didn’t expect it to be in there since this is a much shorter book. But, as I was a Technical Reviewer on the first book and this book is the words of the first book (except less), I am a Technical Reviewer on this one, as well. It was authored by Stoyan Stefanov and my man Jeremy, so congrats to them and thanks again to Packt for allowing me and us (phpBBHacks.com) to be a part of it.

Don Knotts Passes

Argh, I meant to blog this already, but Stephan reminded me. Don Knotts passed away. Awesome actor. Rest in peace.

Via Stephan.

What about?

I just went to order the turntable with USB and noticed (for the first time), that Amazon.com says that it won’t be released until April 15. I checked PriceGrabber and I could get it for like $10 more, but that site has it “expected” on March 15. Soooo… I’m not sure what to do. But, I was running some searches and I saw a vinyl to CD recorder and it dawned on me, what about that? (Can’t believe I didn’t consider it). I could just go vinyl to CD to .mp3. Would that be worse, better or what? Then again, I’m not finding much selection for that type of thing, either… I found one by Teac at Amazon.com, but it’s $400 and that’s a bit more than I was hoping to spend…

I wonder how good/hard a solution this would be as compared to those two others.

Forums Need More Moderators? Maybe Not

As your community grows, it becomes harder and harder to moderate. So, what do you do to combat this? The first thing that usually comes to mind (rightly so) is to bring in more moderators. But, you should never promote to promote. Promote good people. As many as you can find. You can never have enough good people.

But, beyond that, think about the way you work and how the community software can help minimize the moderation time required. Think of ways to innovate inside of your system. One thing that has become more or less a constant is a sort of report system on communities where users can report potential violations to staff members. Those are good because not only do they help moderators spot violations, but they help you establish that responding to violations is not OK.

But, what else? On the phpBBHacks.com Support Forums, we have guidelines relating to the bumping of topics. The bumping of topics is really a big problem for large support communities because there are so many topics posted that topics can go down the line pretty fast and then, what do you know, the topic starter wants to bring it back to the top. Basically, on our forums, you are allowed one, non informative (not adding new info, valid info, etc.) bump on your thread and it must come after 48 hours since the time stamp on the last post that was made on the thread. Well, I had an idea on how we could enforce that while minimizing moderation time. And my buddy Jeremy delivered a hack. When a user adds a post onto the thread, it checks 4 things (from the hack page):

1. Did this user start the thread?
2. Did this user make the last post in this thread?
3. Was that post made less than 48 hours ago?
4. Is this user not a guest user, an administrator or a moderator of this specific forum?

And if all of those things are a yes, then the post is not made. The member is shown a message informing them of our guidelines, asking them to edit their last post. It’s not a perfect solution, but it works well and it has trimmed moderation time down quite a bit.

I had another idea yesterday. On my communities, we remove a lot of posts as vulgar. I have very strict rules those sorts of things. Often times, the post tripped our word censor. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it sooner and I imagine it has been thought of before, but how about, if it trips the censor, the post is not made. Instead the user is shown a message, basically telling them that their post tripped the censor, to please adjust it and try again. And if they are unsure as to why it triggered the censor or believe the censor is working in error, to please contact us (link to the contact page). Their post is not lost (in phpBB, it is similar to what happens if you forget to give your post a subject title – it tells you that you forgot and your post data is still in the text box below). Below the message, if possible, a copy of the post they tried to make would be displayed with the area that triggered the censor highlighted.

Now, it is strange, I admit, but when I thought of the possibilities of this, of the time it would save… I was a little excited to see if it would be possible. It would also be incentive to keep a solid list of censored words (while minimizing accidentally censored words). Instead of a moderator or myself having to remove the post, the user can adjust their post before they post it – this saves all of us time.

If you know me, you know I’m not a fan of automation, if the quality of what you are offering is degraded. This is why the phpBBHacks.com database is not automated. I approve everything by hand. But, automation does not simply equal bad. Well thought out automation can be brilliant and the type of innovation that I have described can be very helpful and can save you and your moderators a lot of time while not at all affecting the quality of your community. So, if you are finding yourself overwhelmed on your community, try to find more good people. But, also try to think of ways for the system to help you and your staff to do your job better.

So, what would be better?

Something like this or something like this (I’d have to buy a player, still). Hmm. No idea.


I’ve been thinking I may start to use my Flickr account for something other than commenting on photos posted by friends of mine. I think I may start to put photos online. I know that a lot of people on there appear to simply add every picture they take. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to try to limit it to photos that I like and only post like one at a time every little bit. Maybe, I don’t know.

Ion iTTUSB Turntable with USB Record

In my persuit of a way to rip vinyl records, I have found the Ion iTTUSB Turntable with USB Record. I’m considering it.

I was searching Google for some reviews and found this blog entry which led me to a good review.

From my comment over there:

Like you, I have no idea what to do here. I’ve never owned a record in my life, let alone played one. My mom used to say that when I was a baby, I would break the needles on my parents record player. That is the extent of my experience with them. :)

So, that’s why I’m looking at this. At the same time, I want good audio quality and it seems like, from what you said, this unit provides it.

If anyone has any thoughts, please feel free to post them. :)


Neat little site that allows you to “destroy” the site of your choosing. So, for instance.

Via Robert Scoble.