2017 thoughts, 2018 plans

Discuss the HTLAL forum's past and its future
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rdearman
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2017 thoughts, 2018 plans

Postby rdearman » Sun Dec 24, 2017 1:06 pm

Each year of the forum so far I've tried to do a look back and a look forward about our little forum and community.

2015 thoughts, 2016 plans
2016 thoughts, 2017 plans

I've carried forward plans and highlighted in blue the ones we've actually achieved in 2016, and in red the ones we've done in 2017.

  1. Expand the Main site with more static content, guest blog posts, and great forum member content.
  2. Establish some kind of trust or charity which will allow ownership of this forum and its content to remain with the community.
  3. Write more software and develop the site to make it even better.
  4. To host challenge bots, or other community requested enhancements
  5. To market and grow our audience and forum membership
  6. Look at possibly adding other language-specific boards.
  7. Update rules and policies where required.
  8. Add a code of conduct.
  9. Investigate expanding the hosting facilities for more speed and backups.
  10. New language packs and extensions

So with the addition of the Spanish only forum and the migration over to Amazon Web Services we've completed everything except for the creation of a charity for the forum. This is a long an difficult process, but the moderation team will be looking at this more in depth in 2018, since we need to get more funding and remove the costs from individuals.

Some of the other noteworthy things which happened?

  • The movement of all the code base for the forum to github, along with the opensourcing of the Super Challenge software and it's upload to github for further development.
  • We've moved the static site off the old wordpress system and over to a more collaborative tool also on github.
  • We've had spammer attacks, and ongoing hassles with capthas.
  • Even a blanket banning of all members! Which had to be fixed from a telephone in Bratislava.
  • Had a battering from search bots because we're so popular. We had to put restrictions on search engines.
  • Installed SSL encryption and we've got HTTPS working.

When I did my original post on this new forum, we'd just managed to get to 550 members. Now we have well over 7000 members. We have visitors, lurkers, and active participants along with a lot of hold hands who travelled with us from the old forum. We had 16,000 posts back in 2015, now we've gotten almost 90,000. From the initial wild growth we seemed to have moved in to a phase of mature solid growth. In 2017 the growth was causing problems with the hosting, and caused a massive migration over to the new AWS system we have today. EMK was instrumental in the movement to this new and improved high-tech hosting system.

Also this year was a couple of real-life meetings between forum members both in Europe and in the USA. So it would appear that not only are we growing as an online community, but also as an offline, real-life community. There has been some happy events and sad events in the life of all our members, but I like to think back about the outpouring of support for two members who were struggling with issues and although people couldn't be physical present for them, there were many messages of support from a community.

Now that we've basically wrapped up the goals created oh so long ago. The first official post on the board was 14th of May 2015 and the forum is 2 years, 7 months, 10 days as I write this. We've done a lot, and there have been vast improvements, and horrible problems but, we've gotten through it all the rough and the smooth.

I would like to close by saying that this forum depends on its members, and the great advice, questions and answers, as well as the sharing of information, resources and stories of your own personal language learning journeys. While we appear to have accomplished all that the moderation team wanted to do, I'm not sure we've done everything we could do as a community. I would love to hear your evaluation of the forum over the last 2 years and seven months, and hear about the things you'd like to see in the future.

I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Happy Holidays.

Rick
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Xenops
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Re: 2017 thoughts, 2018 plans

Postby Xenops » Tue Dec 26, 2017 3:26 pm

First of all, I want to thank the moderation team for all of their efforts for keeping this a spam and troll free environment. Each time I see what members are logged in, I also see bots from Google, Bing and Baidu trying to infiltrate the forum. I imagine the moderation team spends a lot of time and money that I can't comprehend.

I also want to thank the community: this is probably the classiest online community I've had the pleasure of participating in. I find the members inspirational in my language learning quest. This is the first online forum where I met a couple of members in real life, and I look forward to seeing them again and to meeting other members.

There is one concern I have: in general I think we are very welcoming to new members, and I'm pleased that most of these members are sticking around. Recently, sadly, we failed this standard (and I'm guilty as well), where the new member started a post very similar to a controversial topic, and we took an accusatory tone. Sadly, from what I could see, that member has not returned. What I learned from this circumstance is that we can't assume based on coincidences, and to offer welcome and grace to all new members. Since then I have made an effort to welcome new members when they introduce themselves.

Those are the thoughts that I had. :) Let's make 2018 our most productive year yet!
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Re: 2017 thoughts, 2018 plans

Postby Carmody » Tue Dec 26, 2017 4:58 pm

rick dearman
I would love to hear your evaluation of the forum over the last 2 years and seven months, and hear about the things you'd like to see in the future.
Many thanks to Rick, emk, and all moderators. You have been excellent and are greatly appreciated.
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Jim
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Re: 2017 thoughts, 2018 plans

Postby Jim » Tue Dec 26, 2017 5:34 pm

As a newcomer to the forum in 2017, I’ve found everyone very welcoming. From my experience, no one here has looked down on me as a novice language learner and I’m always encouraged by the feedback that I get.

rdearman wrote:Establish some kind of trust or charity which will allow ownership of this forum and its content to remain with the community.


I may be able to help. I have set up charities in the UK in Charitable Incorporated Oraganisation and Company Limited by Guarantee forms. Let me know if there is anything I can do.
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Re: 2017 thoughts, 2018 plans

Postby Serpent » Tue Dec 26, 2017 7:31 pm

Xenops wrote:First of all, I want to thank the moderation team for all of their efforts for keeping this a spam and troll free environment. Each time I see what members are logged in, I also see bots from Google, Bing and Baidu trying to infiltrate the forum.
Those are not spam bots :lol: They're just getting our content for their search engines, which is great as long as they do it at a calm pace :)
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Re: 2017 thoughts, 2018 plans

Postby MorkTheFiddle » Wed Dec 27, 2017 7:49 pm

Lately I've thought about what it must take to run such a forum, but such thoughts gave me nightmares, so I stopped.

Four things stand out to me about this forum:
The sheer dedication of rdearman to the forum keeping it going and overcoming the various technical hurdles.
The selfless assistance of emk.
The hard work, impartiality and fairness of all the mods. A rare thing.
The collegiality of it all.

The negative, if it can be called such. rdearman's legal liabilities still concern me. How is that going?
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Re: 2017 thoughts, 2018 plans

Postby rdearman » Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:58 pm

MorkTheFiddle wrote:Lately I've thought about what it must take to run such a forum, but such thoughts gave me nightmares, so I stopped.

Four things stand out to me about this forum:
The sheer dedication of rdearman to the forum keeping it going and overcoming the various technical hurdles.
The selfless assistance of emk.
The hard work, impartiality and fairness of all the mods. A rare thing.
The collegiality of it all.

The negative, if it can be called such. rdearman's legal liabilities still concern me. How is that going?

Actually that has been less of a concern for me lately. This is mainly because the moderators tightly control threads which have legal implications, and also the members have generally been very good at keeping everything on the straight and narrow. It is still might be a problem, but given that the forum has a history of corrective action then I think we'd be OK.

I would like to point out that it really is a team effort with the moderation team working together.
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