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• Posted by Christian Clemmensen
• Date: Tuesday, June 27, 2006, at 11:35 a.m.
• IP Address:
• In Response to: Feedback & ideas requested for upcoming changes to Filmtracks (Christian Clemmensen)

Update time...

I've taken some of the feedback from the board and through e-mail and will attempt to answer each concern. If there's anything unclear, or if you have follow-up comments or concerns, please feel free to respond. There's still time to make some significant changes to the direction of this place, given that a prolonged illness has slowed me down thus far. I think there have been some final decisions made about a couple of things based on feedback.


Q: "Wouldn't it be less shocking if it showed the expanded format, and people choose the collapsed one according to their likings?"

A: All of the boards will feature the current threaded, collapsed format by default. There will be opportunities all over the place to "view all" or "expand this thread" to put all the posts in a single thread into one "box-like" page like all the other boards out there. And vice versa. The threaded look will remain the default format to retain Filmtracks' distinctiveness in the market.

Q: "Are you keeping the option of showing the messages depending on how many days one chooses? Or now it must be set "how many posts" do you want to see?"

A: You can manually choose nearly any format, just like now. If you create a profile and retain the cookies on your browser, you can set your preferences to show the board however you choose. That ability is part of why re-writing the software takes so much time. The search function will be identical to the current one, and that also allows for "by day" searching.

Q: "An editing tool would be the best change."

A: This has been the biggest issue I've been toiling with. Technically, it can be done; there's an editing tool in the admin version (I haven't even started that yet, but I know how I'll do it) that could be altered for public use. Here's the problem, though: I'd want to make three things happen in order to be satisfied with such a modification: 1. only allow editing for a post without responses (what's the point if the quotation in the response still has the original non-edited version of the first post?), 2. restrict the time period in which the edit could be made (1 day, perhaps?), and 3. differentiate the edited portion with a different color of text. The first two aren't particularly hard to employ on a technical level, but the third part is a nightmare. In fact, I honestly think that to make the editing tool function as I would want it to is beyond my technical expertise in perl scripting. It would force JavaScript, I think, and I don't want to do that. But I'm going to keep tinkering with ideas on how to make this work. I'm not against allowing editing... I just want to do it right.

Q: "What if the news posts get too numerous on Scoreboard?"

A: Then they'll be deleted and IPs of abusers will be banned. If we can physically find them, we'll cut off their head, place it on top of a tall spike, and plant it in the ground outside the front door. That tactic doesn't seem to stop the Christian missionaries in Africa, but I bet it would discourage music industry promoters.

Q: "Ford Thaxton is an ass and should not be allowed under any circumstances."

A: No argument here.

Q: "Spam robots are taking over some comment sections."

A: Yes, they are pounding five of the comment sections. This is actually the primary reason for the software rewrite... to stop the damn spam robots. The Scoreboard is largely immune from these problems because robots aren't allowed into it (thus, you can't go to Google and type in 'Marxist Oboe' and find the infamous thread here). There's no incentive for spammers to blast the Scoreboard because they can't increase their search engine rank by doing so. The comment sections are obviously a different story. I have to allow the robots in there because the resulting profit is sustaining the site at the moment. But there will be some kind of special check box or other extra field that will be mandatory in order to post. I might even use the tactic you see at other sites of forcing users to reproduce the letters they see in an image in a field on the posting page. I hope not to go that far, though.

Q: "And the "X" default will be paginated by the number of posts or number of threads?"

A: Number of posts. I had originally wanted to do this by thread, which would have cut down on orphaned posts in the indeces. But if the two or three most recent threads each have 50 messages a piece, and the index shows all that accordingly, then the purpose of saving space is nullified. With posts, an exact vertical size can be maintained. The orphaned posts have a little link after them in the index allowing you to view the whole thread in expanded form.

Q: "So if we don't have to register or log in to post, how will the board know we're online? Does it merely detect our IP and compare it to all posters who have profiles created? Or is it that if we post using our name and password, we're then technicly 'logged in'?"

A: I've decided against doing the "members currently online" thing. It bothers lurkers too much. It would have been able to track you via cookie, whether you had a profile or not. Any cookie that had recently been seen by the script (like within 30 minutes ago) would have reproduced the name in the "currently online" list.

Q: "While picture posting certainly isn't necessary and ends up being abused 90% of the time and used for good only 10% of the time, it can come in handy in some situations."

A: It was never technically disallowed on the old boards, so anyone who knew the proper code from another similar board could use it to post a picture here. I'm inclined to disallow it completely and force people to link to the image at another site when they want to reference something. The embedding of images simply makes Filmtracks look like a bandwidth thief. But then again, they have produced some of the funniest posts I've ever seen here. Oh, well.

Q: "What would be even cooler (since this is a music discussion site) is if somehow we could easily post sound clips to some central place to use as references in our posts ...I know this would cause numerous legal issues and would end up being abused as well, but a boy can dream can't he? Maybe such a posting area would only allow for :30 second files or have a very strict max file size limit to make sure they could only be 96kbps mp3s or lower and under a minute long..."

A: Intriguing idea. I could use the current profile picture upload script, which limits file size, and manipulate it for the purpose of sound clips. So technically, it could be done. Legally, that's a whole other issue. I haven't been targeted by the royalty agencies or studios in a couple of years, so I might consider it.

Q: "Will this still function as it always has where I am notified only if someone replies to my specific post, or is it going to e-mail me every single time someone puts a new post anywhere within in the parent thread?"

A: E-mail notification will continue to be post-bound, as it is currently. Thread notifications are popular for some people, but I don't care much for them.

Q: "Frankly, you could take all the text from the 2000-2006 board and turn it into some twisted film music coffee-table book. Would it be possible for you to archive it and then make it fully downloadable somehow?"

A: I do think I'll translate its data files into the new format, so even if it is only an archive, it'll look like the new format. As for a downloadable version... perhaps the expanded viewing format would help with that. I could try to do a static archive someday, at least with the top 30 threads or so.

Q: "My only concern/question: would it be at all possible to turn the posts from 2000-2006 into an archive without resetting the totals?"

A: Nope. The only way to maintain the old stats is to make the 150,000 previous threads active in the new software. That was my original preference, but with data files that large, the performance of the board becomes too demanding on the server to be viable. The comment areas will continue to use the old active data, of course. On the Scoreboard, everyone will start at 0 posts again. We might have to do that every 5 years or so, unless I can get some seriously kick-ass equipment.

Q: "I really don't care for poster/profile pictures. They don't really add anything to the discussion and just take up space."

A: They'll remain, and they'll be included in the posts like you see at other boards. However --and this is the important part-- the script will automatically resize any image larger than 90 pixels wide or tall, preserving aspect ratio, and store a thumbnail version of that image for future use. There will continue to be a size limit on even the larger version. There's something about ST Flood's profile picture that begs to be included in each of his posts.

Q: "I'd also let the avatar stay outside the door; the pictures in one's profile are OK."

A: I've decided to agree on this. The profile pics will be it. No cutesy avatars here. The emoticons won't change, either. I will, however, be allowing more liberal text formatting in posts.

Q: "So when is D-day for all of this to happen?"

A: August, hopefully. It depends on when I can recover from this illness. Work on the software for both Filmtracks and Chevy is going very slowly at the moment. I'm home sick today and Stella is fussing.

Q: "I think I understand what this will ultimately look like, but could you post (or e-mail me) a screenshot of both the condensed and expanded versions of the board?"

A: Three screenshots of a preliminary version, sized down to 500 px wide, are included below. I'm using the X-Men comment section as a test sample for the data, but the actual profiles are from the Scoreboard.

The main index:

Individual collapsed post:

Expanded thread view:

News section:

Q: "Make it noticeable, though, you know how many ninnys run around here who opt to not noting when you put a general notice or explanation out."

A: The most recent update post will be previewed on a place on the homepage where the ninny population can't miss it. Hopefully.


Q: "For reviews, I'd love to see a more "track by track" format or at least make a little section or paragraph of its own that highlights the good tracks and other noteworthy portions of the score."

A: Some of the people who are buying individual tracks online these days have mentioned this as a priority. Given that I'd have to go back and do it for all the 1,300 albums to maintain consistency, I think it's too late in the game to change the analysis format. And it would possibly be too time-consuming, too.

Q: "And wouldn't it be better to have the explanation on the same page than the review?"

A: No room in the layout, unfortunately. The explanation about review format is so dense and lengthy for the wide range of detractors and confused folks that it could easily take up a full page by itself, I reckon.

Q: "Maybe a link to other pages that have a review about that same score (if there are) would be of help to casual readers (in the same way Jonathan Broxton does)"

A: I like that feature, but the location of the reviews at other sites change often enough to make it useless after a while. I have no choice but to force my software to display the same URLs for my reviews that I originally used because it's vital to the profitability of Filmtracks. But in a situation like, the formal inclusion of links to their reviews could prove problematic if the URL changes. I leave it up to those webmasters to post links in the comment areas. Even getting the star rating from the other sites is difficult, because we all review items at different times.


Q: "No more black pages with white text!"

A: Reviews have the link that inverts the colors. The other pages at the site won't have that option. The site will always be black, and, as they say, once you go black you never go back!

Q: "Will all this new software get rid of religious freaks at Filmtracks?"

A: No. I enjoy their presence at Filmtracks for two reasons: 1. they make radical religion look stupid (which it is), 2. their posts actually do bring Filmtracks a small profit in and of themselves. I've actually made money off of people looking for "Harry Potter is Satan."

Q: "Were is the pornography as promised?"

A: I have no idea what this was about. Did I ever promise adult content here?

Q: "Do you froth at the crotch when listening to Horner's insipid trash?"

A: Someone e-mailed that to me after my review of New World at the start of the year. I just thought I'd include it here for all to enjoy. A faux pas preview.


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