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Author Topic: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?  (Read 6456 times)

Offline landyvlad

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Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« on: April 20, 2020, 11:19:34 PM »
This post is for basic and new users rather than advanced / highly experienced members.

I see a lot of requests for various features to be added to SMF, or mods to be created.
I have no problem with that and there are all sorts of legitimate reasons people would want such things.

A few things I've noticed:
- requests for mods to be created to fix problems which are human behavioural issues.

- people asking for mods to do certain things which might have perfectly legitimate reasons but perhaps they haven't considered the consequences of implementing the solution they've chosen.


So I figured I'd add my $0.02 as it may be of interest to some.

 
"There are no technical solutions to behavioural problems" (words to that effect appear in one of the forum regular's signature).

Issues with individuals really need to be dealt with by moderators on the forum. Set firm behavioural expectations in the forum rules. Perhaps provide a warning on first offence and if people offend again then give them a 'holiday' or ban from the forum.

I saw someone asking how to allow people to attach photos in a private message. Fair enough they may have a very good reason.
In the past I've seen people saying that this should be added to SMF as the default behaviour.
A consequence of this, however, is quite possibly a reduction in photos being shared in the public forums / less content going on to there.

In a majority of cases if people were swapping photos etc by PM then they would either be things that are likely to interest other members OR swapping photos which wouldn't be allowed in the public forums. (as probably not appropriate).

What I'm really trying to say is that I would suggest people don't install mods just because "that's cool" or "because they can".

For beginners at least a good rule to live by is to install as few mods as possible until you get more experienced.
Fewer mods means less likelihood of clashes (on install or subsequent uninstall) and usually more stability - stability is good mmkay!


How I approached it when building my forum
The approach I've taken when building my forum is that I started with a vanilla forum and added just a few mods (gallery mod, portal mod, post prefix mod and an anti spam mod) as I knew they'd be necessary for the 'core business' of the forum. So essentially as few mods as possible.

As the forum grew and we got requests from members for certain features, or we could see that a feature was needed to manage things better, we explored options for that.

In some cases we deleted one mod and added another with more targeted functionality for our needs. In other cases we upgraded from a free to a pro version of a product for its improved functionality / flexibility).
 
On the other hand in many cases we simply didn't accede to member's requests. usually we'd give them a reason.

Also its much easier to not put a mod in at the start, than it is to take a mod away once people are used to it.


My suggestions

When considering implementing a mod, ask yourself:
- does this actually provide something necessary to the forum?
- is it related to the forum's core business / main subject / main content?
- will it introduce a feature that could be readily abused by forum users?
- is it likely to introduce other issues of stability or compatibility? (I'm looking at you tapatalk  :(
- will it make the forum look more professional, or less professional?
- is it more likely to attract new users, or put off existing users?


The answers to these questions really don't matter.  (What, then why did you mention them landy? )

What matters is that it gets you thinking about these things before you just install a mod, or request someone write one to achieve a certain outcome.

Think, then do (or do not).


Cheers all and enjoy your SMF journey. 8)


Any questions or comments? Feel free to post below.
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Offline Arantor

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #1 on: April 22, 2020, 11:56:24 AM »
Wise words indeed.
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Offline burd

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2020, 01:00:46 PM »
We always have been sending pics in pm’s.   But I don’t want members using sites like phot bucket.
If you don’t like mods don’t use them.  We like them.  Keep them coming. 
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Offline Arantor

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2020, 01:14:37 PM »
We always have been sending pics in pm’s.   But I don’t want members using sites like phot bucket.
If you don’t like mods don’t use them.  We like them.  Keep them coming. 

Speaking as one of the most prevalent mod authors historically for SMF... I couldn't disagree more with this statement.
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Offline Doug Heffernan

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2020, 01:23:46 PM »
If you don’t like mods don’t use them.  We like them.  Keep them coming.

I could not agree more with this. Some users like to run their forums bare, with no mods at all or as few as possible. Some, want to use a lot of mods that add extra functionalities that they need/want. T to each its own I say.

Although, from what I have seen, the majority of users want to use mods btw.

Offline Arantor

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2020, 01:25:34 PM »
I say this as a person who routinely manages sites that have 200+ after-market plugins installed and whose sites require literal clusters to manage.

The number of times a mod breaks the site code... vastly more often than not. And then good luck fixing the problem. Keeping the site closer to bare metal unless you can maintain the code yourself is advised.
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Offline Doug Heffernan

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2020, 01:32:18 PM »
I say this as a person who routinely manages sites that have 200+ after-market plugins installed and whose sites require literal clusters to manage.

The number of times a mod breaks the site code... vastly more often than not. And then good luck fixing the problem. Keeping the site closer to bare metal unless you can maintain the code yourself is advised.

200+ mods is a bit much, I agree. I also agree with the nightmare that mod conflicts causes.

Personally I can not keep a site bare. There are a lot of useful things missing by default in Smf that can be added only by mods.

Offline Arantor

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2020, 01:34:39 PM »
Pfft, it's really not. The base software (I don't work with SMF as a day job) I work with ships 400 plugins out of the box. This is 200 on top of that. And this is software considered mission critical, especially now.

And I can't keep a site bare either - but there's the difference, I can maintain it myself no matter how extensive the customisations are, but the majority of people cannot and then the reliance on mod authors and other support folks goes up through the roof. But I guarantee no-one would pay my consulting rates to fix their forum XD
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Offline Mick.

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2020, 01:50:22 PM »
I love mods of all makes. I once had about 50 installed. These days I only have about 15 and a crapload of manual edits.

Offline Diego Andrés

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2020, 01:56:49 PM »
In my experience sometimes are the users the ones looking and pushing to have features added to the forum that they think could be interesting.
Of course most of the time those are not needed at all.

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Offline nidec

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2020, 02:34:17 PM »
As the saying goes, you can please some of the people all if the time and all of the people some if the time,  but you can't please all of the people all of the time.

At some point you have to draw the line with adding more mods

Offline landyvlad

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2020, 12:25:17 AM »
OK so let's be clear.

I prefaced my post with:
Quote
This post is for basic and new users rather than advanced / highly experienced members.

My sites typically have maybe 15-20 mods as thats about the most I need and am comfortable with.


I'm not saying that people shouldn't use mods at all, and as users become more experienced and confident and knowledgeable - by all means.

My post is to prompt people to THINK about what they are doing before they just madly click away adding all sorts of mods they fancy would be useful at first look.

"Look then Leap" so to speak. 

 8)
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Offline Arantor

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2020, 07:34:35 AM »
Quote
My post is to prompt people to THINK about what they are doing before they just madly click away adding all sorts of mods they fancy would be useful at first look.

I wish I could get some of my clients to do this.
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Offline Doug Heffernan

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2020, 07:54:12 AM »
With hooks the mod installing and usage experience will be more pleasant for the admins imo, because the risk for potential conflicts among mods will be reduced significantly.

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #14 on: April 24, 2020, 11:11:42 AM »
I think so with fix many support issues that mods cause since most mods won't have to do file edits. The only concerns with hooks is when people need to debug what is going on in their forum. With file edits you can see what is going on. With hooks does require more tracing to see what code is being run.  And last just changing the hook so as if a menu item is added but you want to change the order of it. It is more tricky but there are some menu editing mods out there that can help.
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Offline auntybetty

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2020, 03:20:26 AM »
Excellent guidance.

Offline burd

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2020, 11:15:33 PM »
Gimme a new mod.    8)
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Offline Arantor

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #17 on: May 17, 2020, 04:02:44 AM »
Gimme a new mod.    8)

My SMF mod-writing days are long over.
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Offline efk

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2021, 02:28:53 AM »
"There are no technical solutions to behavioural problems" (words to that effect appear in one of the forum regular's signature).

Issues with individuals really need to be dealt with by moderators on the forum. Set firm behavioural expectations in the forum rules. Perhaps provide a warning on first offence and if people offend again then give them a 'holiday' or ban from the forum.
This is a myth and not true, nothing more than that. With creativity and will technical solutions can do a lot, if admin knows what he is doing, so using wisely something can give results. Motivation and demotivation is how the game should be played and going with ban hammer for a holiday can become ragnarok and additional hard work for admin/entire forum crew. My definition of good admin is understanding of his user and especially careful approach to those who are searching for conflicts and to try to take a look from angle of specific user.
Be wise and think how to punish your user with the only purpose to demotivate him in his actions. Rushing with warns and bans can be bad idea, or even disaster. If problem is near escalation the best way to go is to remove public voice to specific user. Always try to be kind or to have some kind of fun with that user if not too late because if admin and user are at the same level, User will give more respect to admin. If situation went too far the best is to make that user quiet, limiting something that he cares about, depends on behavior of individual and in this serious situation admin must not go down to the same level of problematic user. Future war with problematic user means only 1 thing, You as admin is giving to that user extra motivation and the game rules are in.. problematic user control!
Here is example how to take control over your forum and how to manipulate with user https://www.simplemachines.org/community/index.php?topic=575212.msg4071233#msg4071233

Important to mention, based on forum purpose and active people, there is almost no solution or no solution at all for toxic people. In some situations it is just not possible to fix the problem, but its about toxicity, admin fights and similar, but again all depends on forum purpose and how calm or aggressive members are. On calm forums, SMF is usually calm forum and such toxicity won't be seen often, but on some other forums situation with toxicity can be extreme and that is killing atmosphere and purpose, demotivates everyone. 
Quote
"There are no technical solutions to behavioural problems"

Difference between problematic person and toxic person is that toxic person comes from global toxic atmosphere and it is not possible to change situation because many active users can be included and are actively making situation worst than before. Problematic person is individual who wants something and he pushes over single or every possible limits but he cares about something and has daily routine. Breaking his daily routine is shocking situation and usually Admin can get advantage and control over user.
« Last Edit: January 27, 2021, 02:47:00 AM by efk »

Online Kindred

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2021, 09:53:40 AM »
So, I both agree and disagree....

I agree that the absolute, "There and *NO* technical solutions to behavioral problems" is shorthand and, as an absolute is not correct.

However, it's not a myth. It is accurate (without the absolute)

It would be better phrased as "Attempting to use technical solutions to solve behavioral problems is doomed to failure in 90% of the cases"
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Offline efk

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #20 on: January 27, 2021, 06:57:19 PM »
So, I both agree and disagree....

I agree that the absolute, "There and *NO* technical solutions to behavioral problems" is shorthand and, as an absolute is not correct.

However, it's not a myth. It is accurate (without the absolute)

It would be better phrased as "Attempting to use technical solutions to solve behavioral problems is doomed to failure in 90% of the cases"
Can you give us real examples where this apply in 90% of the cases "Attempting to use technical solutions to solve behavioral problems is doomed to failure in 90% of the cases"? And why and what technical solutions failed?

Is this considered as technical solution? My solution worked 100% instantly, and it is supposed to work 99% of time.
https://www.simplemachines.org/community/index.php?topic=575212.0

Offline GigaWatt

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #21 on: January 28, 2021, 03:51:23 AM »
It would be better phrased as "Attempting to use technical solutions to solve behavioral problems is doomed to failure in 90% of the cases".

Yeah... "no" is a bit too radical as well IMO... this is more appropriate ;).
"This is really a generic concept about human thinking - when faced with large tasks we're naturally inclined to try to break them down into a bunch of smaller tasks that together make up the whole."

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Offline GigaWatt

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #22 on: January 28, 2021, 03:55:16 AM »
Is this considered as technical solution? My solution worked 100% instantly, and it is supposed to work 99% of time.
https://www.simplemachines.org/community/index.php?topic=575212.0

Just commenting on the registration questions part, the thing you expanded on with a10's method (really cool BTW ;)), but that's basically a technical solution for a technical problem... the point is to keep bots away from your forum, which it will, but bots are not people, they're programs/scripts running from somewhere, so... they're technical in nature ;). They just want to appear like they're human ;).
"This is really a generic concept about human thinking - when faced with large tasks we're naturally inclined to try to break them down into a bunch of smaller tasks that together make up the whole."

"A 500 error loosely translates to the webserver saying, "WTF?"..."

Offline landyvlad

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #23 on: February 01, 2021, 06:48:36 PM »
No need to get so worked up about it, and rather diverges from my original post I think.

But whatever floats your boat.
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Offline efk

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #24 on: February 01, 2021, 08:34:59 PM »
Is this considered as technical solution? My solution worked 100% instantly, and it is supposed to work 99% of time.
https://www.simplemachines.org/community/index.php?topic=575212.0

Just commenting on the registration questions part, the thing you expanded on with a10's method (really cool BTW ;)), but that's basically a technical solution for a technical problem... the point is to keep bots away from your forum, which it will, but bots are not people, they're programs/scripts running from somewhere, so... they're technical in nature ;). They just want to appear like they're human ;).
You misunderstood my point and my post. Expanded a10's method got more futuristic purpose, and it cover almost every possible case with real humans and if used wisely it is going to work in 100% situations. This link from my previous post is case human to human problem and it can not and must not be taken as a technical problem, but human behavior problem, and with technical solution and small effort it can be solved in short period of time.
It was 2.0 support topic and first hand results:

Not really much you can do...
Can be a war of exhaustion. I'd start with assigning new registrations to a membergroup and use "hide posts until approved".

After I gave him detailed instructions how to set up entire system
I'm very pleased with the results of your advice. 

Thank you

Result: Forum improvement happened instantly, admin took full control in his hands before user was totally without control (and user was out of control).

This is result of years of fighting with people in extreme forum environment or around the internet, understanding their needs and motivation. It is supposed to work 99% of time if admin is smart enough to follow my ideas, and not to do the things on his own. And telling someone "there is nothing you can do" means only for forum owner that he can shut down his site. In this concrete situation it was so easy to solve the problem. Now these kind of problems can vary from situation to situation and sometimes it require different approach.

No need to get so worked up about it, and rather diverges from my original post I think.

But whatever floats your boat.
Its about part from your 1st post in this topic and how people should change their point of view before its too late. I truly hope my posts will help to someone who is willing not to do usual mistakes. I can find and give more examples where technical solution solved human to human problem, but that is not the point here, all this is about ability to create entire picture and to predict and to stop unwanted incoming or existing events.

Online Kindred

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #25 on: February 02, 2021, 12:01:17 AM »
No. Dealing with bots and spammersis not a social issue its always been a technical issue. Therefore your example is not indicative that my statement is flawed in any way
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Offline GigaWatt

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Re: Do you really NEED that feature / mod?
« Reply #26 on: February 02, 2021, 06:57:16 AM »
No. Dealing with bots and spammersis not a social issue its always been a technical issue. Therefore your example is not indicative that my statement is flawed in any way

Well... not completely, but let's say this part for example.

- Remove him chat privileges if you have shoutbox or similar, note now when he is under moderation you will still see it but he won't know what's going on. Try not to go with insta deletion unless if you must to do it.

- Now going with bans is not an option anymore, your job is to give him back his PRIMARY account, why - because his powers are there. Remove his avatar and set his Post count to 1, let him be powerless, he won't be able to send private messages and he will post but he will not be sure what's going on.

This is actually a technical solution to a social problem... well, it's not automated, if you're referring to that, but it uses technical tools to "solve" (sort of) a social problem ;).

And it's pretty good advice for just about any problematic user scenario ;).
"This is really a generic concept about human thinking - when faced with large tasks we're naturally inclined to try to break them down into a bunch of smaller tasks that together make up the whole."

"A 500 error loosely translates to the webserver saying, "WTF?"..."