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Forum Remodelling Coming Soon

Refurbishing? Remodelling?

The I Ching Community will be migrating, fairly soon, to some new forum software. I don’t want to say, ‘We’re moving,’ because at the end of the process the forums will still be accessible at the same address as before. But they’ll look somewhat different and work somewhat differently, so there’ll be a bit of a learning curve for us all.

Why change?

Three reasons: bugs, future-proofing, and just making them better.

The bugs

If you’ve spent any time round the I Ching Community, you’ve probably met these. Posts in one big text block because the software ran all the paragraphs together, posts that can’t be edited, and also occasional database error messages. Oh, and no Chinese characters, because when I followed tech support’s instructions to enable those, a whole swathe of other features promptly died.

There are workarounds for the paragraph and editing bugs (switch to the standard editor, open the ‘edit’ link in a new tab), and members put up with this with remarkably good grace, but it would be nice not to have to, wouldn’t it?

(Incidentally, those workarounds were discovered by kind members, experimenting industriously in search of a fix. The tech support people are just not that interested.)

Future-proofing

Our current software is no longer being updated. This wouldn’t be a problem, except that everything else about the internet is constantly being updated. Sooner or later, some other part of Clarity is going to require some of those updates, and the forum won’t allow them, and we’ll be stuck.

Besides, most online conversations nowadays work faster and more smoothly. Like I said, Clarity’s members have been altogether lovely at putting up with occasional clunkiness, but increasingly people’s expectations are set by social media companies with multi-squillion development budgets. We can’t exactly catch up with them (slight shortage of squillions here), but we could do better for ourselves.

We need to move to something that’s being updated, and vBulletin 5 (we’re currently on vBulletin 4) is almost-universally regarded as rubbish. (Also, I’m quite tired of profoundly uninterested tech support people.) So… I’ve decided to switch to XenForo. It may be more of a change to get used to at first, but it’ll be worth it.

Better forums

The more I see of XenForo, the more it just looks better than vBulletin. It’s more user-friendly when it comes to finding what you’re interested in, getting updates and keeping track, quick and easy self-expression and so on. I keep finding thoughtful touches in unexpected places. (For instance, how about getting notified when someone quotes a post of yours?) It’ll be a more hospitable environment all round – I’ll share some screenshots and videos over the coming week or two to show you what I mean.

What happens next?

Basically, you just use the old forums as usual, while I chase my tail in circles and spend silly amounts of money to get it all set up. On Migration Day, the forums will be closed for a time, and after that it’ll take a little while to get hexagram search and WikiWing integrated with the new system.

For now… er, watch this space? I’ll keep you posted, show you how some of the shiny new features work, and let you know as soon as I have a date for Migration Day.

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