The Future of TerraGenesis
#1
I don't know if anybody else has realised, but TerraGenesis is actually 20 years old this year.

Of course you should all be aware that Melly has had to step down as Admin due to real world workload, and I have stepped back in. A big part of the reason for my return is that neither I nor Melly has the time to deal with advising and helping a new admin, possibly with new ideas about revitalising the site, to settle back in.

I don't know what the future holds for TerraGenesis. We have a substantial archive of project information on the .co.uk site, that I intended to move into a wiki format on the .info. However with the advent of YouTube, Instructables, Pintrest, and other such sites, much of the archived material, especially the really old stiff from the days of dial-modems when image size was a real issue, seems rather "quaint" and I am left wondering whether there is any real point in doing this other than for the sake of nostalgia.

With the previous incarnation of the forum, that I administered, I wrote lots of code in an effort to solve issues relating to image storage and the preparation of project material for archiving.

When I took over TerraGenesis, forum users were obliged (as they are again with this forum) to make use of 3rd party facilities such as Photobucket for image hosting, which resulted in images disappearing from old threads as members recycled their then very limited free space on those facilities. I built image storage into the site... which made it much easier to post, stopped images disappearing from threads, but resulted in resource usage issues.

Another bugbear, even with the onsite image storage, is that forum threads contain a lot of "chaff". There's a lot of chit-chat... which is fun at the time but not relevant years later. Plus there are LOTS of projects that get started but never get finished. Just consider for a moment, how much "chaff" there would be hiding the real "wheat" had TerraGenesis used the same forum facility for it's entire 20 year existence without ever deleting anything.

Resource usage is no longer the problem that it once was. The free limits at Photoshop, Flickr, Google, etc are huge, as are the space allocations from web hosting services. There is no reason to think that these allocations will not continue to increase in the future. However, longevity is still an issue:

I believe that a large part of the reason TerraGenesis is now so quiet, is that there are so many other places that people can publish their efforts to the world. When TerraGenesis began, there were no blogs, Facebook, YouTube, etc. Publishing to the web required an ability to code in HTML and figure out how to do FTP uploads. People queue up to have Gary (who created TG), and I (when I took over), publish their work for them. Nowadays it is so easy to create your own little bit of the web, where you can post without having to meet anybody else's criteria regarding quality of images and information, that people would rather take that option than comply with what's needed anywhere else (we know this from the lack of interest in using the facilities to create archive quality material on the previous forum).

The problem with this DIY approach is, as I have said: longevity. TerraGenesis is 20 years old and the information that was submitted to our archives 10, 15, 20 years ago, is still there. In that 20 years we have seen numerous members decline to add to the archives in favour of creating their own sites... sites which no longer exist i.e. that information and any records of what those people did, awesome stuff in some causes, is now lost.

10 years ago I wrote a blog about my experiences with my newly purchased Apple MacBook. A couple of days ago I tried to find it. It still exists. But blogs don't come up in Google searches. Blogs that haven't been added to in the last 8 years... are quite hard to find. The same is true, and it will only become more so as the amount of data grows, with Facebook, YouTube, etc. Plus, there is always the possibility that the facility that you choose will become obsolete. Does anyone still use MySpace?

Perhaps this is what people want: transient access, where information posted in the last year or two takes precedence over older and in some cases better information; classic even. Experience with the previous forum, and occasional messages from past contributors to the archives, indicate that people do have an interest in having their work recorded for posterity. However that experience also shows that most people don't want to make any extra effort in order for it to happen.

Which brings us back around to the question of the future of TerraGenesis?

I have said elsewhere, that I am no longer interested in running competitions as they became a source of great irritation to me on the old forum and were a big part of the reason I bowed out from administering the site the last time around. If members want to use the facilities available in the forum software to run competitions: that's fine. I will, if asked, step in to resolve conflicts, deal with spammers, trolls, and all the usual admin/moderator stuff. I do need to be told/asked. I won't be reading the threads.

I do still intend to modify the archived material into format that does not rely on custom written software. However I have become so jaded with trying to cajole people into adding to them that I honestly don't care to do it anymore. Basically what I'm saying is: make what we have available, and leave it at that.

One positive thought that has occurred to me is that it might be worth setting up a section on the forum where people can link to offsite blogs, videos, and so forth, that they have found interesting and want to bring to the attention of other members. I suspect however that most would use it to post a single promotion of their own little bit of the web. But hey, I'm willing to give it a try if anybody else things it might be worthwhile?

Beyond that... I really don't know at the moment.



Please DO NOT, post a "knee jerk" response to this post. I am busy. I am jaded with this site... and life in general come to that. I am NOT interested in engaging in a lengthy discussion. I am absolutely NOT interested in writing custom code. If you have thought, ideas, comments to make, then please: think about them a little longer and then, having REALLY considered the potential usefulness of what you want to say, post it so that I can take it into consideration.
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#2
I don't actually think we need an admin to run the Competition threads. I could take over if no one objects.

I could create the Final entry thread and the Polling Thread. Cut it off when the time is up and announce the winner.
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[+] 3 users Like SethDrallitoc's post
#3
I have to admit that a major factor in my lack of posts is the image uploading. I remember being accustomed to uploading to photobuckets and then linking from there, at the time that was good enough.
Then the old TG no longer needed that, and though there were some bumps, it was overall pretty good.

I interact with forums principally from my phone. It's also my camera. But navigating image hosting sites on mobile drives me up the wall.

Is it feasible/possible to have an image hosting on site, or is that problematic? I know of other forums which permit attachment of images directly to posts and it's far more pleasant, at least for me.

In any case, I appreciate the effort you've put in over the years, and wanted to thank you for the continued effort. If there's anything I can do to assist, let me know.
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#4
(03-03-2017, 08:43 PM)Caleb Wrote: Is it feasible/possible to have an image hosting on site, or is that problematic? I know of other forums which permit attachment of images directly to posts and it's far more pleasant, at least for me.

As I said: I don't really want to enter into a discussion; I'll take all responses into consideration when everybody has had a chance to comment.  However I think this needs a response now.  I'm aware from posts elsewhere on the forum that other "tweaks" have been suggested.


The lack of image hosting: it's stopped me too.  Just before Christmas I did a terrain related piece; photos are on my phone;  I keep meaning to upload them to Flickr so I can post them here... and not getting around to it.  I post pictures of jewellery that I'm working on to Instagram and Facebook on an almost daily basis, from my phone.  So I totally appreciate what Calab is saying here.

The problem modifying the system, is what it does to the upgrade path.

MyBB, the system we're using, releases an upgrade every couple of months or so.  Installing those upgrades is probably the most technical thing an admin has to do.  While Melly has been administering, I am supposed to have been dealing with this task.  I say "supposed to" because there are several upgrades that need doing.  I haven't been on the ball with it.  It's a pain in the *****.

MyBB has a built in system to accommodate modifications and keep them isolated from the main code.  Thus upgrades to the main system can still be performed, and in the event that an upgrade breaks a mod, the mod can be switched off until it can also be upgraded.

So... if the Admin can write code, they can create their own mods.  If not, there is a library of mods written by other people that can be downloaded and installed.  All you need to do then is to cross your fingers and hope that whoever wrote it continues to maintain it to be compatible with future upgrades to the main system.  There ALWAYS comes a point when they stop.


A big part of the reason we switched to this system when Melly took over, was that the previous system was too big and too complicated for me to simply hand it over to Melly or anybody else without a significant period of training and hand holding.  Switching to MyBB meant that Melly had access to all of the information at MyBB on how to use it, rather than having to keep asking me.

I HAVE considered switching back to the previous system and stripping out all of the code I wrote relating to competition entry archiving, article writing, gallery voting, etc, leaving only the forum AND the ability to upload images directly.  That would give us a system that only needed upgrading when I, or a future admin, chose to modify code (or get someone else to modify it for them), rather than being hooked into a regular requirement.  That would be a system that I COULD pass on to a new Admin.

The thing that's stopping me, is the fear that I would be reopening the old can of worms.
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#5
What a surprise. I have not been to co.uk site in a long time and just now, I realized there's vast resources for terrain building.

Imagine my surprise to find it has been "closed" and a link to the new forum.

So for archival purpose, I really don't know if it's worthwhile to preserve them or not.

There was a much older alpine snowboard forum and I could see a hesitation on whether to archive the older posts and the likes.

With that said, I'd like to state I appreciate all the things you have done for this site.

Thank you.
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#6
I looked on the old site yesterday, because I knew it had an article about something I wanted to build (wooden crates, for those who might be curious). I still use it as a resource occasionally, because there's a TON of useful, interesting, and inspirational stuff there.
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