Big changes approaching for Talk CSI (please read)


This topic may be quite long, but I'd appreciate it if you could all read at least the first portions as things will happen that impact your membership of the messageboard. Nothing will happen without advance notice, but before then you need to be aware of upcoming changes so that you can better respond to any further announcements.

What's happening
We're going to be dropping ubb.threads (which this system runs on) and switching to the vBulletin system.

The reasons to move to vBulletin are many and varied. There's the user experience which will affect you all most, as ubb.threads, while once a leader, has fallen far behind its competitors. The introduction of vBulletin will introduce many new features (some of which have been requested many times). As an extension of that there are not reliable security updates, and that is worrying as a system administrator who needs to keep the server secure.

Furthermore ubb.threads was heavily modified before my time, and I've continued that trend due to necessity, but having a modified system is extremely problematic as it prevents easy upgrades -- and custom systems like the warning system are falling apart and there's no way to reliably fix them. I even have to keep old server systems in place to run ubb.threads. In short this situation is just not good for the long term operation of the board.

So vBulletin is the one. It has been chosen because I have had a very positive experience with the company, they take security very seriously, the system is fantastic (and really suits ours needs) and I have experience of converting three messageboards over to vBulletin already.

The transition isn't going to be pain free. But I have been working on it for some time, and I am now discussing with all moderators and admins where we're going to go with the functionality of the new system. It's once we get all that hammered out, and I'm confident the system transfer will go as easily as possible, that we'll do the move. To that end I will not give a date for the move. Just expect it "soon".

Where you come into this
Because this is no small operation, I ask that you all help us as best you can. There are various things you can do which will help the transition go smoother and for you to hit the ground running when it comes to the new system.

I won't go into any specifics in this announcement, as this is just an announcement to say what we're doing. So just keep an eye out for further announcements and act on them as best you can (for a start, just make sure your email address on file is correct... I keep on saying this but it's very important).

I also will try to ask any questions about the move, but probably won't answer too many because the more time I spend answering questions now the less time I get to actually move the system over. But rest assured there will be lots of communication about the move nearer the time.

The benefits of the move
This isn't essential reading, and is for those that are interested. As well as the behind-the-scenes benefits of being able to update easily and be more secure (which is a huge benefit for us and you) there are a number of changes and new features that will directly benefit you including:
  • Integration with Trek BBS and Talk Desperate! While the forums will remain separate, there will be one user database meaning you can move between the boards with just one account.
  • Fully WYSIWG interface for making posts (like a word processor, for example ctrl-B will make the text bold and you'll see the text in bold in the message window).
  • The ability to quote multiple messages in one reply.
  • Indication of new posts in a thread, and indicaton of whether you have posted in that thread.
  • The choice of going to the first post in a thread, or to the first unread post.
  • Better post tracking. Now you can leave a forum and come back later and it'll remember what topics you have read, rather than making the entire forum read.
  • Improved, integrated promotion scheme (we're still discussing what'll happen here, but expect some changes for the better so you'll get more than a change in rank).
  • Improved performance due to completely different code base.