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Default Building a new site

May 7th, 2022, 14:14
I doubt you have missed it, but in case you have: The end is nigh.

In the comments people offered their time and effort to build a new one.

@HiddenX offered to do the great thing he has been doing for so many years
@pibbuR offered his time to do programming and maintenance.

Several people have offered money, but that is not what this thread is about.

Are you willing to help, do you have time, the energy and the skills that could be helpful?

If there is a bunch of people that could make this happen, we of course could give you a secluded forum where you can talk about the details among yourselves.
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Last edited by Eye; May 7th, 2022 at 14:25.
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May 7th, 2022, 14:17
I am happy to help with initial build-up and organisation of forums/subforums, but I don't think I would make a good moderator.

If that's of use, then happy to support.
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May 7th, 2022, 16:53
I have zero technical/computer skills, but I could be a moderator if they needed one. I would be a fair moderator, and would hardly ever intervene, unless people were being nasty or things got too hot. My philosophy is very pro-free speech. That said, I would not let posters who were habitually insulting to others get off the hook, so it wouldn't be like I would allow anything goes. No racism, no crap like that would be allowed.
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May 7th, 2022, 17:21
Thanks for your offer, Arkadia7! Getting rid of spammers is part of the package as well btw, though that isn't a problem if it is largely automated.

But there has to be a site first of course So I'd prefer if we could focus now on getting one. I would not like to see this thread change into the best moderation policy.
(Me, I am not applying btw.)
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May 7th, 2022, 17:34
Ok, thanks for this thread, Eye, I think it's a good idea. I was not volunteering to be full time moderator though, just whenever I visited the new site, if other mods weren't around, I would take care of any issues that needed to be done or were lingering. I think you should be an admin or something high up on the new site, if you won't be a main moderator.
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May 7th, 2022, 17:42
You are very kind, Arkadia7, much appreciated.
But me, an admin, or main moderator, o no!; I don't like to boss all day long like @Myrthos does.
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May 7th, 2022, 17:42
I have some knowledge in Linux, and some experience with the web server stack but I'd need to refresh that part.

I'm pretty at ease with scripting and developing applications though my latest experiences were with Django in Python, not with PHP. That being said, PHP is not difficult, just more tedious (I used to maintain a small phpBB forum in another life, and added custom extensions).

So I'm happy to help where I can, but I must admit the whole thing doesn't look trivial; from where I sit, that's the to-do list as I see it (just for the technical part): finding a good and reliable host, a DNS, getting certificates, setting up the server and making it secure, choosing and setting up the CMS, translating the custom code, choosing and integrating the forums, mapping the current database, customizing the stylesheets and the overall presentation, transferring the DNS, testing the CMS, the forums, making sure they're both secure, GDPR-compliant, then maintaining all that (and finding funds). And there's an email server to transfer too, it often comes with the host so it's probably easy.
Maybe there are some legal steps as well?

On the plus side, perhaps the … problem will be solved.

I'm not moderator material, but as I just PMed HiddenX, I can give a hand with the news again too, at least for a little while. It's not the role I feel best at ease with, but if that helps I'll do it.


PS: Drupal seems a good solution, but the learning curve looks steeper than other systems. I saw they even had a forum module, which would make the integration somewhat easier but I don't know how good it is. They are a target but I think that makes them very good security-wise. I'll try to explore that option a little bit to get a better idea, in case that helps with the choice.
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May 7th, 2022, 18:42
Originally Posted by Redglyph View Post
I have some knowledge in Linux, and some experience with the web server stack but I'd need to refresh that part.

I'm pretty at ease with scripting and developing applications though my latest experiences were with Django in Python, not with PHP. That being said, PHP is not difficult, just more tedious (I used to maintain a small phpBB forum in another life, and added custom extensions).

So I'm happy to help where I can, but I must admit the whole thing doesn't look trivial; from where I sit, that's the to-do list as I see it (just for the technical part): finding a good and reliable host, a DNS, getting certificates, setting up the server and making it secure, choosing and setting up the CMS, translating the custom code, choosing and integrating the forums, mapping the current database, customizing the stylesheets and the overall presentation, transferring the DNS, testing the CMS, the forums, making sure they're both secure, GDPR-compliant, then maintaining all that (and finding funds). And there's an email server to transfer too, it often comes with the host so it's probably easy.
Maybe there are some legal steps as well?

On the plus side, perhaps the problem will be solved.

I'm not moderator material, but as I just PMed HiddenX, I can give a hand with the news again too, at least for a little while. It's not the role I feel best at ease with, but if that helps I'll do it.


PS: Drupal seems a good solution, but the learning curve looks steeper than other systems. I saw they even had a forum module, which would make the integration somewhat easier but I don't know how good it is. They are a target but I think that makes them very good security-wise. I'll try to explore that option a little bit to get a better idea, in case that helps with the choice.
Is it not possible to just use a prebuikt base?

Does it need to be built from scratch?
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May 7th, 2022, 19:38
Originally Posted by Pladio View Post
Is it not possible to just use a prebuikt base?

Does it need to be built from scratch?
It really depends, from the little I know. First of the provider: some give you a control panel, you select the package you want and bam!, it's installed, pre-configured and ready to go. I've seen that with simple applications, for ex. Django (or PHP) + Apache + MariaDB, which is a classic (Django is a Python framework to create the application, MariaDB is the database server, and Apache is the web server).

Others give you access to a virtual machine, with a pre-installed OS, bare of any applications. It's easy enough to install Drupal, NGINX or Apache, and so on, but you still need to configure them, make sure they work together, efficiently and securely.

Then it depends on what you want. If that's a classic combination like the example above, you're likely to find that in their control panel. Otherwise, it needs to be manually installed and configured.

I think that this part is not the most difficult though. But first of all we'll have to choose the right combination of tools.
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May 7th, 2022, 19:59
Originally Posted by Redglyph View Post
It really depends, from the little I know. First of the provider: some give you a control panel, you select the package you want and bam!, it's installed, pre-configured and ready to go. I've seen that with simple applications, for ex. Django (or PHP) + Apache + MariaDB, which is a classic (Django is a Python framework to create the application, MariaDB is the database server, and Apache is the web server).

Others give you access to a virtual machine, with a pre-installed OS, bare of any applications. It's easy enough to install Drupal, NGINX or Apache, and so on, but you still need to configure them, make sure they work together, efficiently and securely.

Then it depends on what you want. If that's a classic combination like the example above, you're likely to find that in their control panel. Otherwise, it needs to be manually installed and configured.

I think that this part is not the most difficult though. But first of all we'll have to choose the right combination of tools.
So wouldn't option 1 be preferable ?
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May 7th, 2022, 20:12
Why not use something like this (vBulletin Cloud) https://www.vbulletin.com/ ?

They do all the hosting - software upgrades automatically. It's just a matter of organising things then. It seems relatively cheap too
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May 7th, 2022, 21:23
I can help if needed, I can program most languages, and know a lot about infrastructure and hosting.
@Pladio, the cloud hosting option is a great idea, then we could have sometning up within hours, and then we could have a red link for all members to join that one from this site.

The big issue with that is that it is not very flexible, we'll just a get a "forum" which we could not modify much, and all the other fun things in RPGWatch would not be possible to implement. Still to keep in touch with everyone, it is probably the fastest and most feasible option. I guess the forum part could be a subdomain and then we connect to a coded site in the background.
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May 7th, 2022, 21:37
Originally Posted by GothicGothicness View Post
I can help if needed, I can program most languages, and know a lot about infrastructure and hosting.
@Pladio, the cloud hosting option is a great idea, then we could have sometning up within hours, and then we could have a red link for all members to join that one from this site.

The big issue with that is that it is not very flexible, we'll just a get a "forum" which we could not modify much, and all the other fun things in RPGWatch would not be possible to implement. Still to keep in touch with everyone, it is probably the fastest and most feasible option. I guess the forum part could be a subdomain and then we connect to a coded site in the background.
I assume there are others out there too which may be more customisable, but I just searched the same forum software currently in use.

It depends on whoever takes over (if anyone) can do it and can do the programming bits, because I can't.
I could easily set this up though if no one else does.
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May 7th, 2022, 21:41
A generic cloud solution would be an option if we start from zero and don't import anything from RPGWatch. But I think the 200 GB bandwith option is needed. $720 / year sounds not too much, for automatic upgrades and automatic daily backups.
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May 7th, 2022, 21:46
The new vBulletin sucks beyond belief, but whatever.
Do note that for RPGWatch to work, it needs to be integrated into the forum software, which is basically a hack. In the vbulletin cloud configuration there is no RPGwatch to integrate as it is only a forum.

Also, as explained in the other thread, in a VPS solution, the default security configuration after the OS is installed, leaves something to be desired.
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May 7th, 2022, 21:47
Originally Posted by HiddenX View Post
A generic cloud solution would be an option if we start from zero and don't import anything from RPGWatch. But I think the 200 GB bandwith option is needed. $720 / year sounds not too much, for automatic upgrades and automatic daily backups.
How much are we using today ?

Also, apparently they can migrate the data too :
https://forum.vbulletin.com/forum/vb…um-to-vb-cloud

Although I assume there'll be a cost to doing so and some work for @Myrthos / @Arhu.
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May 7th, 2022, 21:49
Originally Posted by Myrthos View Post
The new vBulletin sucks beyond belief, but whatever.
Do note that for RPGWatch to work, it needs to be integrated into the forum software, which is basically a hack. In the vbulletin cloud configuration there is no RPGwatch to integrate as it is only a forum.

Also, as explained in the other thread, in a VPS solution, the default security configuration after the OS is installed, leaves something to be desired.
Do you mean the news elements ? Or other bits ?

I think the vBulletin thing includes a "blog" which could act as the news site.
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May 7th, 2022, 21:55
What RPGWatch features are currently not covered by generic forum software?

I think:
  • the news-frontpage
  • the automatic thread generation when newsbits are created
  • the game database
  • extensions, like the CRPG-Analyzer
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May 7th, 2022, 22:14
It would be a shame to lose the database and the links to other news that comes with it. Perhaps it could be partially replaced by tags or something like that, but it would be a pain.

I see that as a plan B (or C), but I think we should be able to find a suitable replacement for the current features.
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May 7th, 2022, 23:45
Well, I had a feeling we were running out of road. FWIW, here's my two cents on a way forward:

Separate the news site from the community site(s). Have a CMS-based news site that deals with the newsposting, the RPG database, etc, but have the forum (or fora) as a separate concern. That way, the newsposting site (let's say continuing as the RPGWatch domain) would be extremely simple and stress-free to manage - it would focus only on that aspect, run by a small steering group, the admins and newsposters. No worrying about what people are posting in forums for which you're responsible, moderation debates, spam, etc. People wouldn't sign up for accounts there, but they could submit news, articles, reviews and so on, for consideration.

Then leave the creation and management of the discussion and community that flows from the news site to others. There might be one forum, or many, and a Discord group, or many, and so on. The news site team could participate in whichever one they preferred.

I remember once, one of the Codex guys said the Watch was for news, the Codex was for discussion, and it had always been that way. There might be some disagreement on that, but I think there is the germ of an idea there - that the Codex could be seen as a discussion forum using the Watch as a news feed. I'm wondering whether we should embrace that concept. Let the news and curation folks do what they're good at, with far fewer headaches, and let the rest of us worry about setting up one or many solutions for community continuity and discussions.

Mentioning the Codex, there is a clear advantage to almost-anything-goes moderation - it's an awful lot less to worry or argue about when you dont give a toss. The disadvantage is that approximately 50% of most threads are filled by a type that comes across to me as a troubled 12 year-old trying to curry favour with his bullying brother and their racist dad. And, personally, I find that like spam or white noise.

The problem with a bit more of a moderated environment, is that if it's a monolith over a whole community, there's always going to be tensions between people's views on how that should be done. So, maybe let's not have just one community - have the news site as a discrete entity, and let people set up whatever communities they wish flowing from that. Anyone can start their own Discord or subreddit with the push of a button. It's trivial to then have an RSS feed or somesuch from the news site, and create automatic new posts in your forum or chat room for each newsbit. Tell the world they're welcome to do so, but just chip in on the running costs now and then. The news site would be the part that requires some technical folks (where they could work in peace on clear objectives, with little to worry about).

If anyone likes the suggestion, I have ideas on what software solutions might be used.
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