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Forum migration

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jcw
Forum migration

It's a shame to have to bring this up on such a lively and active forum, but the admin tasks and spam countermeasures are becoming too much of a burden to keep this Drupal-based forum running in the long term. Especially now that the rest of jeelabs.net is running very smoothly on an up-to-date version of Redmine 2. The forum integration of Redmine is actually quite good - allowing easy linking to wiki pages, issues, source code, and whatever other functions of Redmine are enabled.

In short: I'd like to migrate this forum to Redmine. It's a big decision, but if we do this, then you will need to:

  • ... sign up on jeelabs.net, preferably with the same user name as used here
  • ... get used to a different forum website, based on Redmine i.s.o. Drupal's "Advanced Forum"
  • ... get used to the "Textile" formatting commands (similar, but not identical to Markdown)
  • ... accept that all current forum posts will forever remain in a static copy of this Drupal site
  • ... realise that some features will be better, but probably a few things will be less convenient

That's a lot of bad news, unfortunately.

Here's some good news:

  • as I mentioned, we gain integration, i.e. easy linking to wiki pages, issues, and source code
  • the Textile format is a bit more powerful than Markdown, with support for tables and more
  • there are RSS feeds to watch forums, so you can use any RSS reader to skim new posts and replies
  • you can also "watch" forums and/or specific topics (just like for the wiki), and get email notifications
  • replies to email notifications will be posted to the forum, so the new forum can also be treated as a mailing list

The other main reason is spam filtering. The bad news is: there is none built-into Redmine, although there are extensions which could be added. But the solution I've found is to simply let anyone register, and then... give them no more rights that anonymous users already have. Then add a page on how to become a participating member. This could be a special web page with some clever question or puzzle which is obvious to anyone dabbling in Physical Computing, but pretty hard to guess for anyone else (there must be better questions than "What's the name of the JeeLabs flagship product?", but you get the idea).

The point is that adding users in Redmine to a project or group of projects is trivial for admins, i.e. that workload can be shared between a few people (just as we do right now to keep Drupal mostly spam-free). There's a REST interface into Redmine, so that permission bump can probably even be automated. The key is that we - the "real" participants in this forum, that is - probably all love puzzles of a certain kind anyway, and by making it a unique puzzle, we can try to stay ahead of whatever spam-script-kiddies-junk gets created. Anyway - enough said about spam.

Sooo... if you want to help figure out the best way to perform a smooth transition from this forum to Redmine, then please register there and I'll add you to the "cafe" project for access to the new Forum section I've just created. We can then discuss things there and you can get a better impression of the benefits and drawbacks of Drupal vs. Redmine as website forum software.

Note: This is not the new forum yet, just an area to discuss and try out the Redmine setup - please continue to post here for everything else!

No one is going to like this. But it's unavoidable IMO, so let's just make the transition as smooth as possible, and move on.

PavelE

@JCW, your service is so appreciated, that many people would help for sure, myself included. Often, a migration is the only "good" way to do such things ...

But I'm not completely sure about an actual status of the new site. Would it be a Trial (i.e. deciding to go or not to the new platform) or a Pilot (i.e. a decision is more or less taken and we need to polish procedures) ?

PS: Registered but "Invalid User or Password" issue. Would not reset either :(

jcw

Pilot: the move to the Redmine forum will definitely take place, as far as I'm concerned - unless we run into any show-stoppers.

PS. I've asked Redmine to resend you your password, hope that helps.

timhoffman

@jcw I had the same problem, I registered, couldn't login (Invalid user or password) and couldn't recover the password either.

timhoffman

Ok figured it out. Your new user confirmation email and the password reset emails went straight to gmails spam folder ;-)

jcw

Yikes. Always a bit of a risk when sending automated emails - doesn't happen here with my tightly-filtered non-gmail provider. I'll need to find a way to improve this. Let me know please if further regular notifications from Redmine also end up that way, or if it's just in the signup phase.

jcw

Emails are no longer BCC'd to "undisclosed recipients" - probably improves the chances of not getting tagged as spam (and increases the load on the server, as many email get sent out separately now, but that's fine with me).

PavelE

Silly me, it uses LoginID not email :(

tankslappa

Glad you got that sorted PavelE - Sounds like a valid observation.

@JC, can you make the login box a bit smaller, so it doesn't look email sized, and maybe place some text under it:

(Username not email)

jcw

No doubt possible - but Im running Redmine as is right now, to make it simpler to track updates. Will probably at some point start doing this anyway (the style changes so far were all done through an added CSS theme).

PavelE

@JCW A small note about search-engine-optimisation: to bring popularity of new site to the same level as old one in Google, you need to make links from OLD site to new one.

Not sure how it could be archived, may be something like tagging could help, like:
= Create a tagging system on old forums and link every post to a category/tag on new one
= Tag most of interesting threads (after migration) and add a "Discussion closed, please follow to new site " post at the end

In case you need this all, of course ;)

jcw

Popularity wouldn't concern me too much, to be honest. But it'd be unfortunate if posts on this forum become harder to find, once it gets archived as static pages. A google search box with "site:..." searching should address that - or maybe something like this.

jcw

The "plan" is now to switch to the Redmine forum in about a month, i.e. second half of December.

This Drupal-based forum will then simply be locked down but kept online. No URL-breakage, no change, just made read-only, with pointers to http://jeelabs.net/projects/cafe/boards

If anything dramatic happens, I'll flip the switch back, of course. Otherwise, I'll work on getting this site converted to a fully static one, so that the Drupal VM can be switched off for good.

(I'm still shaking my head in disbelief: the allocated 1 GB RAM is enough to keep both the weblog and the forum 100% in RAM, how did we ever let software reach this ridiculous state?)

jcw

I've updated Redmine (i.e. jeelabs.net) to the latest version.

Haven't tried the OpenID mechanism on the login page, if you do: please let me know whether it works.

jcw
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