Hello all,

Hereby I'd like to propose that EnglishForward provide an "NNTP bridge" to the forums similar to the one Microsoft provides to their MSDN forums and which I am using all the time instead of their heavy web-interface.
It behaves just like a regular newsgroup with the nice addition that I get automatically subscribed to threads I create or reply to.

In my personal opinion, the site is becoming slower and more bloated with every update, and I find it increasingly inconvenient to use. It in no way implies I will ever abandon it, because it's main value is the great people and the generous help they offer.

NNTP is an effective, lightweight, and convenient protocol for textual communication and would make for a great alternative interface to the EnglishForward community.

Technically, NNTP servers are easy: I set one up in a matter of hours as an alternative to the forum in our corporate portal at work.
It is very light resource-wise and requires only minimal maintenance.
The engine EF is using might alrady support NNTP integration.
For example, the opensource phpBB3 SIOC does .
1 2
We tried NNTP years ago, it was a disaster - it has since been deprecated (mainly due to the fact that usenet is full of semi-psychopathic arrogant children)

"slower and more bloated" - in what way? We've seen an overall increase in speed of at least 400% since last year, even though our traffic is higher.

What browser, and version are you using? - If it's Microsoft IE8 or less -- then that's your problem. IE9 is fine.

The older NNTP forums: http://www.EnglishForward.com/English/Newsgroups/Group20.htm
hitchhikerWe tried NNTP years ago, it was a disaster - it has since been deprecated (mainly due to the fact that usenet is full of semi-psychopathic arrogant children)

Yes, I have seen them and am participating in some of those newsgroups, which are generally more relaxed than Englishforums and unmoderated. This I think caused the "impedance mismatch" when "coupling" with EF.

You are talking about providing access to newsgroups via EF's web-interface, while I am proposing the inverse — NNTP-based access to EF, as an alternative to its web-interface. I did not mean combining any of those newsgroups and EF into one virtual space, no. They must remain separate for the abovementioned reason. I only suggest to create a Usenet gateway from which EF could be acessed using a newsreader and without having to log on to the website. From a newsreader EF would be seen as a sub-hierarchy of newsgroups representing structure of the forums. Each thread would be represented as a hierarchy of posts. Here's how it looks with my newsreader.

hitchhikerWhat browser, and version are you using? - If it's Microsoft IE8 or less -- then that's your problem. IE9 is fine.

Opera 10.63. IE9 is reported not to support WinXP — I can't even try it.

hitchhiker"slower and more bloated" - in what way? We've seen an overall increase in speed of at least 400% since last year, even though our traffic is higher.

What do you mean by "speed" — how did you measure it? I mean the perceived slowness on the client side. As for "bloated" — I meant the new cartoonish design with lots of huge graphics and small text, the ineffective layout with displays important information very sparsely — thread titles for example, which take four lines of vertical space and show subject, author, date and even a couple of lines of initial post. In thread view, too much vertical space is taken in the top and bottom of each page. I should like something more compact, concise and light, like here:

http://www.sleipnirstuff.com/forum /


The only good thing is that RSS is provided, but one can't post through RSS. However, the new standard — Atom — seems to support it, so it could be another alternative for the web-interface...

Students: We have free audio pronunciation exercises.
I couldn't edit the post, so am writing a new one.
I wanted to add that the engine thinks to much for the user. For example, I didn't want to encumber the thread with huge images, so I posted the screenshot as a URL, but it was magically turned into an in-place image, without my using any HTML or phpBB tags...
Ant_222NNTP-based access to EF
Sorry, I did misunderstood - that's an interesting proposal. However, when removing the context we'd likely get a series of copy/quote usenet style posts. Also, very few other people would use it (i'm guessing it would be only a handful)
Ant_222I mean the perceived slowness on the client side
We can see data on client response times, it's well within the normal boundries -- which part of the site are you referring to, if there's something that needs to be sped up we'll do it..
Ant_222 I meant the new cartoonish design with lots of huge graphics and small text, the ineffective layout with displays important information very sparsely
Perhaps we'd both like to see more console / 1990s forum style stuff - this interface is designed for the general public, who after this update gave us: a halved bounce rate, a double interaction rate, a double page duration. So, in short, the maths doesn't lie. You, me and another few people may not like 'huge graphics' and cartoony stuff, but we're only a subset of the viewing audience.
Ant_222I wanted to add that the engine thinks to much for the user. For example, I didn't want to encumber the thread with huge images, so I posted the screenshot as a URL, but it was magically turned into an in-place image, without my using any HTML or phpBB tags..
It does that, again - 99% of the time that's required, and 99% of people don't know how to use BBCODE or HTML. 'tis life sir, I didn't design it.

Btw: Thanks for this, it really is important that we bash these ideas back and forth - and I appreciate the time you've taken to bring this up Emotion: bow
hitchhikerSorry, I did misunderstood - that's an interesting proposal. However, when removing the context we'd likely get a series of copy/quote usenet style posts. Also, very few other people would use it (i'm guessing it would be only a handful)
A discussion at most forums is a linearly or hierarchically ordered list of messages, in which relevant parts of previous messages are usually quoted. It isn't different either in Usenet or on EF. What do you mean by "removing the context"?
hitchhikerWe can see data on client response times, it's well within the normal boundries -- which part of the site are you referring to, if there's something that needs to be sped up we'll do it..
To me, everything is slow from navigation to the GUI-like functionality, while most phpBB forums seem OK. Are you using your own engine? I suppose I won't raise this issue again until EF stops working on my PC completely. I'd only ask you to keep the basic fall-back compatibility with older browsers and technologies so that people with old machines could use the forums what they are for: to create threads and reply to existing ones.

I was also thinking of an alternative interface, like the "Basic HTML" interface in Gmail, which is simpler and lighter than its default one — I think you know what I mean, but that would be a whole lotta work — to develop another interface and maintain it simultaneously with the current one!
hitchhikerPerhaps we'd both like to see more console / 1990s forum style stuff - this interface is designed for the general public, who after this update gave us: a halved bounce rate, a double interaction rate, a double page duration. So, in short, the maths doesn't lie. You, me and another few people may not like 'huge graphics' and cartoony stuff, but we're only a subset of the viewing audience.
Oh, I wouldn't equate console and phpBB. The latter is alive and kicking and popular, and has the mousy-clicky stuff appealing to new users. They are incomparable in terms of the learning curve. I am not familiar with those statistics, but they could have improved due to increased sparseness and sophistication of the interface — people have to click and scroll more, spending more time doing it. To me, truly valuable metrics would be the number and volume of new posts, the influx of new users and their activity (again, via the number of volume of posts per user per day).

Was it the reason EF stopped sending the text of replies in e-mail notifications? Before it did, I used to read the notifications, compose my replies in the Notepad, log into EF, quickly post them and log out. Apparently, it didn't contribute much to the statistics you named...

But I do agree that my view is that of a minority and that the design of EF is reflecting the global tendencies, it's just that I don't like those tendencies.
hitchhikerBtw: Thanks for this, it really is important that we bash these ideas back and forth - and I appreciate the time you've taken to bring this up
Thanks to you, hitchhiker.
Teachers: We supply a list of EFL job vacancies
Ant_222What do you mean by "removing the context"?
Writing for usenet and writing for a web-based bb result in different types of posts. Usenet tends to be a wasteful / o.t / harsh environment. But the point you make stands, the option would be useful for those who might need it.
Ant_222everything is slow from navigation to the GUI-like functionality
Ok, well we'll need to begin an investigation for Opera - we cant see it our end (except on ie8) - we test on ff3+/ie9/chrome etc - we dropped support for the older browsers this year, as most sites (without corporate backing) did.

Our browser stats:

1. Chrome29.65%

2. Internet Explorer
27.19%
3. Firefox22.64%
4. Safari12.98%
5. Android Browser2.65%
6. Opera Mini1.62%
7. Opera1.38%


We'll include Opera because we expect to move into the russian market shortly, with a bit more content etc.
Ant_222valuable metrics would be the number and volume of new posts
Up 300% approximately, not to mention interactions overall (2000%). - it's right across the board - all stats up, and we're v. good at reading numbers Emotion: smile
Ant_222it's just that I don't like those tendencies.
It bugs the *** out of me because I have to spend hours working out UIs which, as a programmer (and client), are near irrelevant to me. (I like text and text and text - I can't see colours properly either - b&w or any monochrome would be fine for me on a 3 panel monitor Emotion: big smile)

However, I'm sorry to say this won't happen any time soon as we're working on background stuff - as our traffic grows we need to speed up the back-end constantly... however, the team knows about it and we'll see if there's a window for devt this year.

Cheers mate,
Frank.
hitchhikerWriting for usenet and writing for a web-based bb result in different types of posts. Usenet tends to be a wasteful / o.t / harsh environment.
I really don't understand why you think so. It contradicts with my experience. Usenet is the direct ancestor of web forums and still hosts many great communities. Unmoderated groups are prone to spammers and flamers, but those are generally ignored.
hitchhikerBut the point you make stands, the option would be useful for those who might need it.
Well, you already have one potential user and beta-tester :-)

we dropped support for the older browsers this year, as most sites (without corporate backing) did.
Don't know about that. Many good sites exist happily with clean HTML and occasional JavaScript. The great multiplicity of forums using phpBB are quite compatible with older browsers as well. All these new technologies are of course useful, but sometimes they just pounce aggressively at the user forcing him to upgrade his software/hardware. Simle, robust, and stable protocols and standards like NNTP, e-mail, RSS, HTML, POSIX (with its great software base) are the only resort in this ever-changing world.

We'll include Opera because we expect to move into the russian market shortly, with a bit more content etc.
You mean some commercial services?
Ant_222Opera 10.63.
I've just tested the site with Opera 11.64 and it's as fast as with Firefox or Chrome. Have you considered updating it?
Site Hint: Check out our list of pronunciation videos.
Show more