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Don't let forum & wiki die!

Posted by Traumflug 
Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 22, 2013 06:05AM
What do you think about this wiki, seen from the technical side? Especially, how the door is wide open for spam and the lack of upgrades.

For my part, I consider RepRap wiki and forum to be one of the most important resources the community has and without it, we'd get lost of our centerpiece. Accordingly, I consider it to be important to keep this centerpiece healthy.

For several months now I try to get this straight. As much as it's possible to plan without having access to the server, I laid out a detailed plan on how to do the wiki upgrade. Likely successful plans to fight spam exist. On the reprap-admin mailing list everybody agrees and it was said I shall receive server-level privileges, still I simply don't get them. The same is true for other volunteers. No comments, no alternatives, just silence.

The expected workload for the current server-level admins is minimal, like a minute or two. Regardless they talk, if they talk at all, about plans, promises, or simply ignore the matter. This situation is ongoing for several years(!) now. "Waiting", like it's sometimes recommended to me, gives exactly nothing. Actually, the opposite is true, encouraged people drop out one by one. Most recently Calcetin, a professional admin who offered to install a new forum software.

What to do? I think it's time to give these server-level admins a gentle push. Please help by expressing your view of the situation and how you want the volunteers to be supported. Here are some addresses:

reprap-admin mailing list: reprap-admin@lists.reprap.org (moderated, but the moderator is actually one of the admins)

Adrian Bowyer: Twitter: @adrianbowyer         Wiki: [reprap.org]



Thanks a lot for supporting RepRap forum & wiki,
Markus / Traumflug


tl;dr

RepRaps' server-level admins are lazy and need a gentle push. Sufficient volunteers are waiting. Please support the volunteers by writing email to the server level admins.


A number of facts:

- Monitoring software of the RepRap server indicates between 5 and 10 outages every day.

- A person I contacted a few days ago on this topic, which would likely be seen as one of the RepRap heros here, answered:

Quote

I stopped using the wiki RSS feed a long time ago because of the amount of spam [...] The level of spam in the forums is getting ridiculous too. [...] I no longer feel in touch with the Reprap world.

- Even RepRapPro, commercial spin-off of Adrian Bowyer and friends, has stopped using the RepRap wiki. You can see this here: [reprap.org] [reprap.org] [reprap.org]

- We have between 70 and 120 spam entries and about 40 new spam-bot user accounts in the wiki every single day: [reprap.org]

- We have backups. If anything goes wrong, rolling back into the current state is a matter of a few minutes.


Generation 7 Electronics Teacup Firmware RepRap DIY
     

Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 22, 2013 07:25AM
The spam has got out of hand. It's no longer a "two minute job" to be a sysadmin because it takes about half an hour, morning and evening, to delete the spam. I simply do not have the spare time for that.

Everything else I'm cool with, even solving user disputes in the forums. I use the wiki, I want to continue using it. But some changes need to be made to block spam because it it making the forums unmanageable.

If a new user's first forum message has to be vetted before any are displayed, this discourages the spammers. It may discourage a few new users and peeve the odd administrator too, but then so does a shiteload of spam.

Vik :v)
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 22, 2013 08:03AM
Quote

The spam has got out of hand. It's no longer a "two minute job" to be a sysadmin because it takes about half an hour, morning and evening, to delete the spam. I simply do not have the spare time for that.

Sorry for being vague. Of course deleting spam isn't a matter of a minute. You're right, it takes about half an hour, day for day. But server-level admins don't do that anyways.

This one-minute task is to install an SSH key to let the volunteers in. Nothing else is required from them.


Generation 7 Electronics Teacup Firmware RepRap DIY
     
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 22, 2013 09:01AM
A newbie here, so I can see both sides of this coin. The spam I have seen (and reported in some cases) seems to be fairly directed. What I don't understand is why we're not using a system where a user name is blocked rather than being deleted, the same very specific name has been used on several days to post spam, if it was blocked, so not reusable for a while, that in itself would provide a good level of discouragement to the spammers. There are other ways of "encouraging" spammers to move on, but talking about them in open forum may not be too productive

Another possible would be a filter for "hit words" on new members, so that the server load doesn't become astronomic, if a poster has less than X posts, (and for some people, or user names, X might well be quite a high number), the post is scanned for regular spam terms, and if found, they can be blocked, probably automatically, If X could be changed by the moderators, then that provides a very good tool for discouraging miscreants of all flavours, even long term members can sometimes be a (big) problem, especially if they get precious about "their" experience or skill and it gets challenged.

I spent a long time moderating a very busy flight simulation forum, on Compuserve, and the biggest hassles there were not spam, they were vitriolic flame wars that on occasions had the intensity of a forest fire, and spread as fast. Dealing with them could require 2 or 3 moderators on line in just one forum, deleting (and warning where needed) messages that didn't meet the agreed terms of service. It wasn't fun at times, and can lead to burn out, especially when moderating gets in the way of enjoying the original reason for participating.

The other interesting side to this is the low number of people that are prepated to be involved rather than just participating, and it's the same across most areas,

So far, there's been about 70 hits on this thread, and there's less than 5 replies, so the signal to noise ratio is pretty low, but that's about normal, and is the same as the number of people that will say "thanks" for a thread that's been really helpful,

Ideally, the forum software could do with some upgrades, one thing that I miss from some of the places I've been involved with is the ability to be able to post in thread from an off line reader. Its not so much of an issue as it used to be when (slow) dial up for a fee per hour was the only connect method, but I got used to the concept of grab the new messages as fast as I could, sign off, and read at my leisure, reply as appropriate, with the replies going out on the next connect, and I suppose I have got used to that sort of working method.

The ability to grab everything quickly, then deal with it off line was also better for moderating, in that it avoided the delays that still are evident with broadband, if you can read a message in a few moments, and spam is like that, the first sentence usually gives it away, a click to mark for delete, and move on, is a lot easier than having to navigate several pages to acheive the same result.

I don't get the impression that this place is about to die, there's a significant level of activity as I see it, but maybe it's not as high as it used to be, which I wouldn't know, and that might indeed be a cause for concern. I've posted a few questions and ideas, and so far, been encouraged by the replies, there have been some quality thoughts and suggestions in among them, which was what I was hoping for, and yes, if it wasn't there, I would miss it.

The other question that has to be asked is the whole issue of who's servers the forums are hosted on, and how that gets paid for, in that depending on the altruism of the host, that may not be a fixed scenario. It may also explain the apparent problems of communication with the higher levels of administration, if the moderating of the forum requires specific authorisations, depending on the structure of the servers that it is on, and the sensitivity of the other users information, there may be valid constraints on who is or is not allowed to access specific areas of the overall system.

OK, that's my 2 cents worth, to the vast majority, don't underestimate the work involved in keeping things on an even keel, it may not be quite as straightforward as it appears on the outside, and once inside, it's possible that the constraints in certain areas could be quite restrictive, which may make the task a lot more onerous than it should be,


Shore, if twas easy, we'd all be doin it

Irish Steve
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 22, 2013 10:00AM
The wiki is very confusing, almost unusable for newcomers without a lot of digging.

Spam is not big problem if we do it right. We can assign moderators for each forum section / wiki, which volunteers can pick section they want to maintain. No need to do it all at once. Start small, section by section. Captcha / spam blocking will help a lot. Also, to create new user, just set 1/2 - 1 hour waiting time before send out activation mail do help too.
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 22, 2013 10:43AM
I think it might be time to allow a larger pool of admins. I'd like to see the front page blog being used more. It really needs a post per day at least rather than once a week or so.

As for the wiki, everyone reading this subject is already empowered to do something about that. If you find something that needs to be changed then change it.
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 22, 2013 11:19AM
Quote

What I don't understand is why we're not using a system where ...
Quote

Another possible would be a filter for "hit words"
Quote

Spam is not big problem if we do it right.

All true, and thanks for sharing the opinions.

The point of this thread is, however, the lack of privileges to actually do that. It's about getting access, not about having ideas. We have lots of ideas.

Not sure how I can make that clearer. Perhaps I should simply stop deleting spam. Stop trying to compensate the server-level admins' laziness with my own hard work. Perhaps people then start to see what I mean with a dieing wiki, if everything is full of spam beyond recognition. So far I thought I could get sufficient support to kick the server-level admins over their mini-hurdle, but maybe I'm wrong.

Just ignoring everything and walking away works fine for them so far, so why should I behave differently?


Generation 7 Electronics Teacup Firmware RepRap DIY
     
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 22, 2013 12:11PM
Markus,

I am happy to write an email. What should it say and to whom should I send it?

How about:
Quote

Dear Admininstrators,

Please give Markus Hitter aka Traumflug access to the wiki server so that he can update it.

Sincerely, me.

OK, great! Now where do I send it? Adrian? Anyone else? Can anyone simply send an email to reprap-admin@lists.reprap.org ?? I thought that list was private...

There are plenty of us here who would be willing to pipe up, but a little more coaching would help us to get the message across clearly winking smiley

All you are asking for is that an admin take two minutes to grant you additional privileges on the wiki server, right?
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 22, 2013 01:41PM
Well, I do get the feeling RepRap forums and wiki are slowly decaying and perhaps falling into disuse. Channels like Google+ seem to be taking on the baton. I don't know how many visitors Reprap gets, but the G+ 3d printing group has 43,000 members.

There was talk before how to improve things when the server was going really slowly, there was some enthusiasm for change, but I get the impression people at the the top are not really bothered, and nothing much seems to have happened.

This is purely a personal impression, I could be quite wrong, but this is how it looks to me.

I guess the nature of evolution is that old things lose vigour and die while new things are born and grow.
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 22, 2013 02:01PM
I have to agree, but the forum software needs migrating to something a little more modern ASAP, with a few more community focused features. For example, although many disagree with the developers, I would love the forum to support tapatalk then I could happily continue to use the site on the move.

An integrated wiki would be great then at least it could be opened up to users who have say 20+ posts, etc...

If there is anything I can help with feel free to ask.
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 22, 2013 02:10PM
There are spam fighting measures that work very well and only add minor inconveniences to users. I learned about them the hard way after I had my message board filled with spam. Spam is now almost eliminated.
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 22, 2013 02:29PM
Quote
bobc
Channels like Google+ seem to be taking on the baton
But that channel is about 3D printing. RepRap is about Replicating Rapid Prototypers, of which 3D printing is only a subset.

What is really wonderful about RepRap is that it is a rabble of curious tinkerers united by a common interest in pushing the envelope of manufacturing technology in weird new directions.

There is a huge wealth of unique information, knowledge, and philosophy in the RepRap wiki and forums. That it could be lost due to simple neglect is tragic, really.

Quote
bobc
There was talk before how to improve things when the server was going really slowly
There was indeed, and now the server is faster! Maybe if we make some polite noise about this latest problem it will get fixed too! smiling smiley
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 22, 2013 02:48PM
Hi All,

Having managed lists and forums in the past I know how bad SPAM handling can get.

If simple upgrades or migrations can put a stop to a significant portion of the SPAM burden then it needs to be done.
Adding modern features to the forum and wiki that can improve the user experience should be done unless there is reason not to. This concentration of RepRap knowledge should be maintained at least for a while. I don't use Google stuff so I don't know if that is the future but there will always be a place for wikis and forums that collect information from many directions.

If there are volunteers willing to help then they should be enabled to help or some reason should be given.

I will forward this to the admin list so they can get a copy.


Kalle
--
Lahti, Finland
The only stable form of government is Open Source Government. - Kalle Pihlajasaari 2013
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 22, 2013 03:02PM
A more mordern wiki program would be nice. Some social media integration could be nice smiling smiley
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 22, 2013 03:09PM
I love the forums and wiki. Without them I never could have made it into the RepRap project when I did, almost 5 years ago, building a McWire RepStrap. Since then I have built over a dozen RepRaps, all printed on one of my other printers, starting with the McWire. (BTW, the McWire wasn't all that bad once outfitted with belts instead of screws.)

I use the forums frequently and try to help out other users where I can, but the spam is quite ridiculous. I'd be willing to help out where I can.


Cameron

Help improve the RepRap wiki!
Just click "Edit" in the top-right corner of the page and start typing.
Anyone can edit the wiki!
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 22, 2013 03:36PM
I like the MediaWiki program. It is the same one used by Wikipedia and as such will forever be maintained with a version that is free of security flaws. It might not come standard with the most modern social media bits but I think some plug-ins or such can be added to it and the wiki just has to be stable, not pretty.

The forums can be more social as there are more people taking part in them and the information can be referred to from the wiki and slowly consolidated and transferred into the wiki.


Kalle
--
Lahti, Finland
The only stable form of government is Open Source Government. - Kalle Pihlajasaari 2013
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 22, 2013 05:14PM
Quote
MattMoses
What is really wonderful about RepRap is that it is a rabble of curious tinkerers united by a common interest in pushing the envelope of manufacturing technology in weird new directions.

This! Wonderfully said!

Quote

Now where do I send it? Adrian?

Yes.

Quote

Anyone else?

Yes. How about reprap-dev@lists.reprap.org ? How about Google groups?

Quote

Can anyone simply send an email to reprap-admin@lists.reprap.org ??

Yes. It's moderated, but at least the moderator has to read the email, of course.

Quote

All you are asking for is that an admin take two minutes to grant you additional privileges on the wiki server, right?

Right.

I mean, these people mostly know what's going on. Upgrades were discussed several times on reprap-admin already. The point of these emails should be to show I'm not a lonely idiot interested in keeping RepRap forum & wiki alive. Think of it as casting a vote. We have the volunteers (not only me), we have the users, we have the developers, so there should be no roadblock stopping them.


Generation 7 Electronics Teacup Firmware RepRap DIY
     
Anonymous User
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 22, 2013 11:57PM
But there are some roadblocks, and no traffic directors.

Y'all have noted the absence of engaged server admins, the lack of feedback, the inability of any of the forum admins to effect any change that lasts for a full 24 hours, etc.

The biggest problems in converting this POS software to something manageable, modern, and usable are the inertia from the whoever-they-are-right-now admins and the huge difficulty in converting posts and users from one database to another. Phorum is worthless as a large board goes. PhpBB3 is quite up to the task, but the job is a monster.

I'd do it if I had six weeks and more than a couple of thousand dollars in pay, root access and nobody "committed to the improvement of a forward-thinking forum, with many improvements!!!" looking over my shoulder to impede any possible progress. Too much political BS and laziness here for me.

As I said when I quit: Good luck with all that.
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 23, 2013 01:05AM
Quote
calcetin
I'd do it if I had six weeks and more than a couple of thousand dollars in pay
If somebody put together an Indiegogo campaign for "Modernize reprap.org" it could raise a couple thousand dollars in short order.

Quote
calcetin
root access and nobody "committed to the improvement of a forward-thinking forum, with many improvements!!!" looking over my shoulder
It sounds like for this to happen, all you need is someone's blessing. Whose? Adrian's? Someone else's? If someone else then who? If the server admins (no idea who they are or where they come from...) truly don't care, is it that hard for them to hand the reigns over to someone who does? Or are things so bad that anyone who has the skill to fix it knows better than to get involved?
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 23, 2013 01:25AM
calcetin Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
Phorum is worthless as a
> large board goes. PhpBB3 is quite up to the task,
> but the job is a monster.

But with the user impetus resulting in the admin buy-in it might still be possible. Remember that no vote is a vote for the majority (usually the incumbents) so if we do nothing then there will be no change.

I suppose with the right amount of help setting up a new board should be possible. Moving users and posts will be a massive undertaking but there must be some prior art and one could test it a few times and then take the forum off-line for a day or two if required that will allow for an orderly transfer of data.

Even if the you have decided to move on it would be neat if everyone still voiced their opinion on the benefits of maintaining the current setup in the best possible way and forwarded their thoughts to the administrators. It may be simply like Markus says that the admins are not aware that there is more than a lone voice. Now is the time.


Kalle
--
Lahti, Finland
The only stable form of government is Open Source Government. - Kalle Pihlajasaari 2013
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 23, 2013 12:23PM
I agree that things need to be fixed.

I don't have the time to do it myself. But if people would like to organize themselves to do it, I will facilitate that in any and every way that I can.

When I say organize, I need a list of names (and e-mail addresses, but I can get them from people's names on this forum, so I just need the names).

I would like one name at the head of the list (agreed by the others) to be given root access. He or she can then decide upon lesser accesses to the server, the forum administration and so on for the others. (Note that we already have a server administrator with root access who simply maintains the underlying system. He took on the job on the condition that he would not need to get involved in the web applications, which is fair enough.)

When things are set up, I will withdraw from the active process, but I will always be available if, for example, a casting vote is needed on some decision.

If that plan is acceptable to everyone, please reply here, and (when it is ready) post the list.


best wishes

Adrian

[reprap.org]
[reprapltd.com]
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 23, 2013 12:30PM
That sounds perfectly acceptable. I don't have the time or experience to be given root access, but I would definitely be willing to be a forum administrator or moderator.


Cameron

Help improve the RepRap wiki!
Just click "Edit" in the top-right corner of the page and start typing.
Anyone can edit the wiki!
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 23, 2013 01:20PM
I think part of the problem is that there are so few community members with higher level priveliges. Many of the admins are now very busy actually making a living doing RepRap related stuff. That is a really good thing. But it does mean the website gets a bit neglected. So I would argue that rather than a structured approach where one or two have root access and then others are assigned a specific task, we should instead have many with root access and many others assigned/allowed to do any specific maintenance task. This is a part time project for most of us, so we need to spread the work load around. Otherwise you'll end up with the few new admins getting burnt out or busy and the cycle will repeat.

Either that or start putting advertising up on the website and use the revenue to pay for full or part time administration.

As for a list we could easily start with those who have expressed willingness to help in this forum topic.

Traumflug
Calcetin
NewPerfection

You could add me to the lower privelige list, but I would need clear instruction on what to work on and how. Eventually I think part of the wiki ought to be how to do simple admin tasks, and how to get involved.

Bryan
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 23, 2013 02:51PM
I agree, this sounds fair. Thank you, Adrian.

As I'm the initiator of this thread it's probably my task to assemble this list. Everyone interested, please copy the following list into a PM (click this [PM] to the right of my username) and insert checkmarks where appropriate:

I'm interested in

[  ] forum administration (web page access)
[  ] wiki administration (web page access)
[  ] mailing list administration (web page access)
[  ] forum software administration/development (shell access)
[  ] wiki software administration/development (shell access)
[  ] mailing list software administration/development (shell access)
[  ] other tasks:

. . . . . . . . .

[  ] please hide the connection between these task(s) and my name in public

I think the best choice for this person at the top of the list would be:

. . . . . . . . .

A few notes regarding reprap.org: it's a virtual server running Gentoo or CentOS Linux, so people with shell access should at least know what a Bash shell is. Other than that I agree with Bryan and wouldn't mind giving many people access as long as backups work reliably. We're all adults and nobody harms intentionally.


Generation 7 Electronics Teacup Firmware RepRap DIY
     
Anonymous User
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 23, 2013 03:15PM
If there is more than one root admin, we'll need a private way to communicate with one another concerning what we do at the server console. I'm not familiar with Gentoo, but that's no hill for a stepper.

Moderation can be done at the forum level without much training: Once you see the admin/moderation options, a bit of exploration will tell you how to do things.

Phorum is so broken, though. Without hacking and adding modules, the damned thing is 10 years out of date even with the new version. I spent too much time at lunch looking through some things that might be done, and it's limited.

A private subforum for the moderators and administrators should be the very first order of business.

There is currently no way I know of to limit the wiki logins to registered members of the forum, and that's a bad thing: Leaving the wiki open to registration is why y'all have this monster on your hands in the first place, and not using a firewall is just adding stupid to the fire.

I have never been given any explanation of why the admin options seem to change on their own. Sometimes new members first few post are put in the mod queue, and the next day there are "people" registered who have made 75 posts per hour completely unmoderated.

Moving to phpBB3 is a reasonable step, but converting the databases would truly take weeks of intense effort. I have some jobs I do for love, but this ain't gonna be one of 'em.

However, phpBB3 does have a mediawiki bridge, and I implemented that at Jethro's place. When you log into the forum or the wiki, you're logged in to the other. No worries there.

VDX and Traumflug should have root access, and maybe me as well, but I'm not crazy about the idea. Is the server dedicated, or are there other sites running there? Is it privately hosted or farmed? Who has physical access to the console and power switch?

There are too many things we can't know, because nobody has time, doesn't care, or left long ago...

Edit 1: Well, we cross-posted. winking smiley

Edit 2: For secure access to the server, how are we to get our ssh keys enabled without exposing the key? Maybe we could send them to General Clapper so he can insert them? (US NSA head) >grinning smiley<

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 08/23/2013 03:26PM by calcetin.
Anonymous User
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 23, 2013 03:59PM
And by the way, the idea of any mailing list is so freaking old and tired. Let them die. Please. Once a week, if you're lucky someone will remember that we used horses two hundred years ago. How many of y'all can ride?

That's why we have the ability in modern software to create private fora on a permission-based ACL.

This POS forum software is almost better than an old-school BBS.
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 23, 2013 04:07PM
@ Calcetin

Why are you so negative? Yes we get it you do not like Phorum. I have read every single one of your posts and not one made me want to have you anywhere near this forum. Please if you do not like it then don't visit it. You have no interest in the project (RepRap) except to have power over others which is kind of against the entire reason for the RepRap project. Phorum is opensource so why not spend your time to write whatever plugin is required instead of spending it writing the same old tired complaint over and over.


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Anonymous User
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 23, 2013 04:16PM
Nice. Thanks, I won't visit any longer.
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 23, 2013 04:46PM
Quote
Sublime
I have read every single one of your posts and not one made me want to have you anywhere near this forum.
Sublime: calcetin (whoever he is) seems like one of the few people with the knowledge and ability to fix the forums and servers. So he's not in love with RepRap? So what! So he wants to be paid? Pay the man! Or are you going to fix it?

calcetin: I have read every single one of your posts and I would be happy if you stuck around for a while longer. winking smiley

We should not try to solve too many problems at once, and end up solving none at all. Traumflug's initial request was for access to the wiki server. My feeble understanding is that the wiki spam problem is a different (although related) issue from the forum-software-out-of-date problem. So let's get some people access and then start solving problems one at a time...
VDX
Re: Don't let forum & wiki die!
August 23, 2013 06:20PM
... I've invited Donovan (calcetin) some weeks ago to help me with maintaining the forums software for his excellent job in another forum, where we met.

He's not RepRap-'related', but tried to help out ... with some 'hickups' and negative experiences about the forums organisation and such ... so don't be too harsh eye rolling smiley

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/23/2013 06:38PM by VDX.


Viktor
--------
Aufruf zum Projekt "Müll-freie Meere" - [reprap.org]
Call for the project "garbage-free seas" - [reprap.org]
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