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Old May 11 2008, 09:22 PM   #1
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Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Maryland, USA
Gender: F
Fan of: Pern!
Now Reading: Paladin of Souls (Bujold)
Post New Forum Features!

With the upgrade to vB 3.7 which happened yesterday afternoon, there are quite a number of new features. The following is a list of the major ones that affect members. There are more changes than this, but some only affect board staff, and some aren't applicable on MoM (e.g. changes to how attachments work) -- so I saw no reason to mention those features!

After the description of some features, I have a bit of commentary added in blue.

If you have questions about any of the changes or new features, please post them here!

Thread Tagging

A new way to facilitate searching and grouping of threads, it is now possible for users to add tags to threads they post or read. Tags can be added when creating a new thread, or to an existing thread by any user (with appropriate permissions).

Any users who then click on these tags will not only find all threads that have the same tag as the one clicked, but will also contribute to the building of a search tag cloud, which gives users a quick guide as to what has been searched for recently and most frequently.

I'm not sure how useful this will prove to be, it all depends on members choosing to add tags -- and making them be useful/descriptive ones. Perhaps at some point in the future we might have a board discussion of useful tags for posts in different forums and then have a tagging party to hit old posts...

Thread Prefixes

Threads can now have administrator-defined prefixes to their titles (currently there are automatic prefixes on some posts, like Poll and Sticky). Thread prefixes are divided into groups by the administrator, allowing different prefixes to be available in different forums.

Staff will be discussing ideas for prefixes, and members can feel free to make suggestions (which we may or may not use). I can see a use for an "adult topic" prefix in the book forums, but it'll take time to think of other useful ones.

Reciprocal Friendships Between Users

Members can now request that people on their buddy list confirm their friendship, after which time a person's list of confirmed friends will be viewable to other users. Members can also still keep a buddy/contact list which is completely private.

I want to stress that this is not a popularity contest, that collecting a long list of friends should not be a goal for anyone. Public discussion comparing friends lists will not be allowed.

New Member Profile Page

In order to accommodate all the new features in vBulletin 3.7, the member profile page has been completely redesigned from the ground up. The new page presents information in a far cleaner and more logical manner, while dividing up information into manageable chunks using a tabbed interface. Individual profile field categories can be displayed alone in blocks in the right column, in addition to appearing by default in the 'About Me' tab.

The 'About Me' tab of each member's profile page has edit controls, allowing them to quickly change values without leaving their profile page. Just click on the small pencil icon next to what you wish to edit.

Public Messaging

While private messages between users have been a longtime feature, there is now a public messaging system also, which allows users to communicate publicly via their profile pages. FYI, profiles are only viewable to forum members who are logged on to the board, so they are not fully public.

User Picture Galleries

vBulletin users can now create albums and upload pictures to their account.

The ability to view these albums and pictures can be limited by the user to just board staff and people on their buddy list if they want privacy.

I'm likely not to enable this feature. As with attachments, I don't quite see the point of letting members save pictures to the MoM server when there are free servers like photobucket they can use instead. But I might be persuaded on this point, and am open to letting the members try to persuade me.

User-Created Social Groups
To further social cohesion between users and to encourage people to make friends, vBulletin now includes a facility to allow users to create their own social/interest groups.

These groups are enhanced by having their own public messaging system, and the ability to add pictures to the group from user albums.

Staff is debating the use of this system, but on the whole I think I'm for it, if used within reason. For example I could see fan clubs for different characters or books, and a collector's club (and it might then be handy to use the public messaging for the club to talk about ebay auctions). going crazy with niche clubs that have nothing in particular to do with our forum (eg People who like purple potatoes) would be frowned upon. .

Member Customization of Profile Page

The administrator may choose to allow his members to use the profile page customization tool, which allows users to alter fonts, colors, background and borders etc. of their profile page in order to create a more personalized look.

The administrator can lock-down customization permissions, in order to prevent the personalized pages being made too offensively awful by aesthetically challenged members.

I'm not likely to allow too much customization, less for the preservation of aesthetics as for the quick and easy readability of having all member profile pages look the same. I will have to look at the options in depth later. Feel free to remind/ask me if I've done so in a few weeks, if this really interests you.

Post Edit History

For boards where the history of posts is important, it is now possible to log all edits to posts and then review the changes at a later date. To access the history, simply click on the linked words "last edited by" at the bottom of the post in question.

I like this, and it might persuade me to allow posts to be editable forever instead of just one week, as it keeps someone from deleting a key part of a discussion. On the other hand, having it log every grammar/spelling correction I make in my own posts might prove annoying...

Social Bookmarking of Threads

Administrators can now define a list of their favorite social bookmarking sites and have them available for use on the showthread page for bookmarking threads.

This is for use with sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, etc. I'm woefully behind the times in understanding the use/value of these sites, and completely fail to see the use for them on a forum at the moment, but I'm going to try to educate myself....Anyone with more knowledge feel free to start a thread to teach me!

Visitor tracking on profile pages,

Now you can see who's looked at your profile recently. Just don't drive yourself crazy trying to figure out why someone came a lookin'!
Visit one of the other sites of Cheryl's Anne McCaffrey Triad:
Sariel's Guide to Pern: a detailed guide to the series
The Many Works of Anne McCaffrey: largest fan site about Anne and ALL of her works
McCaffrey Quest: annual trivia contest.
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