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  #1  
02-09-2022, 10:50 AM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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I'm strongly considering upgrading to XenForo. It took them years, but certain elements have now fallen into place. It was only "better" than vBulletin in certain ways, not all. Details mattered. I think those details are now buttoned up. We'll be testing it on the dev server within a month or so, I need to finish some other tasks first.

We had been patching and hacking vBulletin for years, and the server, but it's getting harder to do now. Certain aspects like SSL are a quagmire. It's now to the point where upgrading may take less time and costs (but still take time, still not cheap to do [not merely a XF license]).

So ... what do you want to see here?

Already, I know of a few:
- larger images
- software download center
- glossary
- mobile theme, better nav menu
- SSL

I know this sort of topic had been discussed before the pandemic, and I need to find those threads again.

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  #2  
02-09-2022, 01:33 PM
nicholasserra nicholasserra is offline
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I'm using xenforo over at LiveNIRVANA.com and I don't love it. Feels very patchy. It's a couple years old, but still. The grass may not be greener.

As far as SSL, the forum shouldn't be involved at all. Either put nginx in front of it with a SSL cert manually installed, or if you can move to AWS, you can run the server behind a AWS ALB load balancer with an SSL cert attached to that. Server just listens on 80 and isn't even involved in it. And they auto-renew and are free.
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  #3  
02-09-2022, 03:24 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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For years, agreed, XenForo was sparse. But there's been a lot of advances made in 2019-2022. Some were merely documentation (by users, not XF), others were major adds. For years, plugins were sparse, silly even, but meaty ones have come in more recent years. Now it looks to be a solid platform that continues vBulletin. But it'll take some stress testing to verify that. I won't switch without deep vetting.

But part of vetting is the above question: What do you want to see here?
If we're going to upgrade, it needs to be an actual upgrade. More features, better for our members, etc.
This site's server isn't a standard LAMP, and in fact the site uses more than just 1 server. And behind CloudFlare, due to DDoS back in 2015. SSL is not simple, otherwise it'd have been done years ago, it will break the site if I just flipped it on. Migrating to XenForo may remove that entire ordeal. AWS would add elastic costs -- aka unknown costs, potential to get slapped with unexpected high bills -- and that's not a path we want to go down.

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  #4  
02-09-2022, 03:27 PM
mbassiouny mbassiouny is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
Already, I know of a few:
- larger images
- software download center
- glossary
- mobile theme, better nav menu
- SSL
The UI matters to me. Does not have to (and I don't want it to) be a heavy JS bloatware. But not plain simple and ugly neither. Will you port the existing theme? or planning to use a different theme?
The current theme is not so great, but at least is not so heavy nor bloated with useless JS animations. So that's something you want to consider to.

Let me know If you think I can be of any help!


Quote:
AWS would add elastic costs -- aka unknown costs, potential to get slapped with unexpected high bills -- and that's not a path we want to go down.
Then don't use them Just use a good server (or a couple with load balancing). I personally won't complain if "occasionally" loading is a bit slower in exchange of not having you pay expensive cloud bills. (assuming we are talking about the fourm only? ofc you don't want the portal (where you might receive business, to be affected or slowed down).

Is the homepage on a different system or the built-in portal feature?
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  #5  
02-09-2022, 03:31 PM
nicholasserra nicholasserra is offline
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Cloudflare also terminates SSL if you weren't aware. If the servers are already load balanced behind CF you should indeed be able to flip the switch with minimal configuration. The webservers won't even be aware that they're being proxied to via https.

At least something to look into.

As far as features: Never really felt like anything was lacking.
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  #6  
02-09-2022, 06:19 PM
Hushpower Hushpower is offline
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Posting Images
A simplified system such as used over at Videohelp, so you can upload directly instead of going through the attachments manager. Their "upload image" button is great as it goes straight into the post.

Using the attachment manager is such a rigmarole that it deters me from posting sometimes.

And the things I mentioned on the other thread.
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  #7  
02-09-2022, 06:22 PM
mbassiouny mbassiouny is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hushpower View Post
Posting Images
A simplified system such as used over at Videohelp, so you can upload directly instead of going through the attachments manager. Their "upload image" button is great as it goes straight into the post.

Using the attachment manager is such a rigmarole that it deters me from posting sometimes.

And the things I mentioned on the other thread.
YES, YES, YES, inline images and images in PMs!

(I could have just clicked on "thanks" button, but I felt the need to spam/emphasize on this enough with another comment)
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  #8  
02-09-2022, 08:36 PM
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Images are covered. Sample:

This is the post window, same in the new thread dialog, or the quick reply on-page on threads:

xf-images1.jpg

In the middle row, Upload a File:

You must be logged in to view this content; either login or register for the forum. The attached screen shots, before/after images, photos and graphics are created/posted for the benefit of site members. And you are invited to join our digital media community.


After adding the image, you can choose thumbnail or full size.

(I may to alter this. Choosing "full size" makes page load speeds bad, and that hurts the site with search engines. Full size is fine up to a point, but it must be thumbnail if too large. The alternative is to heavily compress, and we don't really want that here.)

xf-images2.jpg

The full size uses CSS to never display larger than the container/screen width, a problem with older forums like phpBB and vBulletin, and others. Pre-CSS era, later back-hacked added (undo code, custom code, add code) -- and it never worked well, and is why it's not used here.

You must be logged in to view this content; either login or register for the forum. The attached screen shots, before/after images, photos and graphics are created/posted for the benefit of site members. And you are invited to join our digital media community.


Either the thumbnail or the full-sized can be clicked.
- thumbnail opens in a lightbox
- fullsize just expands, adds scroll bars, breaks the site design -- but only for you

xf-images3.jpg

You must be logged in to view this content; either login or register for the forum. The attached screen shots, before/after images, photos and graphics are created/posted for the benefit of site members. And you are invited to join our digital media community.


So ... that's it for the images. I'm not 100% sure that is stock XenForo, but I believe it is. TFW2005 doesn't have a lot of custom work done to their forum functionality.

So .... next! (?)

I may pay a developer to do this, in order to not bog down anything we're doing here. There forum may have to be closed for a few days if/when it happens. (usergroup posting permissions would be temporarily revoked.) Spend time on the new features and customizations, not exhaust energy on the migration.

Again ... if.

Keep the ideas coming.



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  #9  
02-09-2022, 11:04 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Some past ideas that may work now:

Quote:
- download archive (old/outdated free software, hard to find freeware)
- sample clips archive (large video/audio clips that show restoration before/after)
- ability to post comments on the blog (if the tech will allow this)
- access to some premium video guides (in addition to the free text/image guides already found on the site)
http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/news...es-coming.html
Quote:
We've been discussing removing most forum stickies, and instead putting those into an FAQ --
- either per section,
- or as single sub-forum.
If single location, each could be somehow marked as GENERAL, VIDEO, PHOTO, WEBDEV, with subcategories (ie, VIDEO: Capture, VIDEO: Restore). A single page for all of them.
That would then free up the subforums from having 5-15 slots taken up at the top. I don't like to have more than 3-4 stickies max per section, and it's gotten out of hand.
Quote:
The attachment thing is the paperclip. Both it and smileys don't always show in quick reply, and that annoys me. It's on my fix it list, things I need here. I don't like going into full reply mode very often.
Workflows graphics
Quote:
Maybe this forum could have flow chart area
Post/threads bookmarks.
Way to curate for public, also private curation.

http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/news...r-changes.html
Quote:
One thing I wish this platform could do is post pictures/videos directly in replies, so you don't have to download them to view them. Convenience.
http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/news...igitalfaq.html
Quote:
- incorporate the archives forum into the main forum
Quote:
Things that would be awesome:
Video tutorials
Site-wide restoration projects/contests
List of verified equipment sources/links
http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/news...s-threads.html
- Big curation project here, never finished. Yet.

http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/news...capturing.html
- Argh. Forgot about this.

http://www.digitalfaq.com/forum/news...recognize.html
- This isn't on the live forum, but was actually implement on the dev forum. But it is stalled, reason to look at XenForo instead.

... and that's it for past conversations on this topic.

Keep those ideas coming...

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  #10  
02-10-2022, 02:21 AM
lollo2 lollo2 is offline
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- add option to avoid conversion of png images to jpg

A channel on S-VHS / VHS capture and AviSynth restoration https://bit.ly/3mHWbkN
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  #11  
02-10-2022, 02:43 AM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lollo2 View Post
- add option to avoid conversion of png images to jpg
Also part of the above XF forum image system.

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  #12  
02-10-2022, 12:59 PM
BW37 BW37 is online now
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I'd like to see some kind of better forum search capability. Maybe I'm missing something, bit I've not found the "Advanced Forum-Only Search" to be at all useful. The "Search Options" within it look promising, but the basic "By Keyword" functionality is so poor that I just don't use it at all. There seems to be no "and", "or" or "not" functionality to develop any kind of specificity.

Using the Custom Google Search is way better but still seems a brute force instrument.

My

BW
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  #13  
02-10-2022, 01:48 PM
shanedownfall shanedownfall is offline
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Two things I'd like to see:
1) Better mobile support
2) Embedded videos (not sure if this feasible given that many probably aren't viewable in the browser, but would be nice)
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  #14  
02-10-2022, 02:39 PM
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lordsmurf lordsmurf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BW37 View Post
I'd like to see some kind of better forum search capability. Maybe I'm missing something, bit I've not found the "Advanced Forum-Only Search" to be at all useful. The "Search Options" within it look promising, but the basic "By Keyword" functionality is so poor that I just don't use it at all. There seems to be no "and", "or" or "not" functionality to develop any kind of specificity.
Using the Custom Google Search is way better but still seems a brute force instrument.
I agree entirely. XenForo has an addon called Enhanced Search, which is based on ElasticSearch 2. There's also some addons to further enhance the Enhanced Search. I'm going to dedicated one of our VPS to powering just the search, so it doesn't fight the site for resources. While I hope it works better, let's be honest here, it probably can't get any worse. I'd actually like to drop Google Search on-site. There's a good chance that other areas of the site can also tie into this, to power site-wide searching. Not just front-end only, forum only, advanced glossary only, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shanedownfall View Post
Two things I'd like to see:
1) Better mobile support
2) Embedded videos (not sure if this feasible given that many probably aren't viewable in the browser, but would be nice)
XenForo resolves the mobile issue. I'm probably going to use the forum designer that's helped us many times in the past 15 years. Great guy, decent prices, non-foofoo clean designs.

Embedded video is only feasible for MP4, but that is a feature. However, this is an area where we'll also want to offload certain content to other server drives or servers. Filling the main server root with video sucks, gets really costly for those SSDs. I've not looked at this yet.

#

I'm trying to tally up estimated costs for all of this, and then hopefully get some donations to make it happen. Otherwise it comes out of my own pocket entirely, which may cause delays.

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  #15  
02-11-2022, 04:02 AM
CaptainKirk CaptainKirk is offline
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The one item on my forum wishlist (been here for 15 minutes, I know) is during the transition, LiquidWeb corrects the site's .htaccess to properly redirect from HTTP to HTTPS. It drives me nuts (not really, I actually have a giggle every time), but seriously, Google does look at this with SEO nowadays. Link juice pointing to none HTTPS links is about half as powerful if it was properly directed, which I am sure LordSmurf knows.

Disclaimer: I am not an expert with anything. Things change, humans make mistakes, and after twenty years of sharing my ideas and thoughts online via forum posts, I have yet to get my point across properly. Lastly, LordSmurf seems like a pretty intelligent individual, and I am sure he is more than capable of seeing his way through my following ramblings and taking it or leaving it right where it is. ;^)

Personally, I feel Discourse is the best online forum platform at the moment. Upside, it's open-source, and everything you mainly need is included for the most part, and there is a tutorial on how to achieve what isn't preloaded. There are plugins importing/migrating from vBulletin. You are on LiquidWeb, so you are only one Docker deployment away from Discourse. I am sure you are managed, so I should say it is only one Docker deployment away for the support team at LiquidWeb. They should take care of just about everything, I would think?

The main downside is the back-backend admin and how one plans to host Discourse on their own unmanaged dedicated servers. Discourse does not install the same as VB, IPB(IC), or Xen.

When I installed Discourse for the first time over a year ago, I ended up making $20 the hard way. Google "Is it possible to run Ruby on Rails apps (Ruby extension) with Litespeed server (also handled by Litespeed extension) from within a cPanel user account?" and you will only get crickets. I am keeping a long story short here but will explain further below for those interested. I installed (lack of many better terms) alt-ruby and alt-node.js, so cPanel user accounts could spin up Ruby and Node.js apps, including Discourse, while inside their cPanel user account dashboard. That's how I got started with Discourse. In the end, I had to develop my own methods after 3-4 weeks of reinventing the wheel.

Now, when it comes to spinning up a med-large bare Cloud server powered by Ubuntu followed by a smooth Docker fused Discourse install while pointing only one domain to a single IP, there are almost no hurtles today. About thirty minutes, you're importing your VBulletin DB while choosing the new color scheme for your community. What sent me down the rabbit hole is that I own (purchased straight out with no monthly payments) as many software licenses as I can surrounding my servers and hosting. With the hosting I offer, I own all my Litespeed and DirectAdmin licenses, and for what I paid, I am going to use them, plus being built around cPanel means CentOS.

Putting Discourse aside, hands down, between the paid Big Three, VBulletin, Invision Power Boards, or XenForo, it's XenForo 110%.

I have worked rather extensively with all three. VBulletin is going the way of UBBThreads (raise your hand if you invested $3000-$5000 in forum software with only one developer who randomly up and dies?). That's the crappy part of proprietary and paid online form/community software. They get very big (too big for their britches), get greedy, and either people start passing away, lose interest, or move on due to indifferences to create their own thing. If you are lucky, you at least get the "Well yes, you paid a significant lump sum in 2007 for a lifetime licsense, which we will still honor like we have the past ten years, but our monthly susbscription offering is so much better."

Invision Power Boards, I would only look at Invision Community, or you're basically paying for VBulletin, which would be my second option. It has a nice Admin area, is pretty secure, and will give you everything you want and more without paying a ton for developer fees or plugins. It's a bit heavy on the loading time, even slimmed and trimmed compared to XenForo. The last I checked, it was rather pricey and had gone up for some reason?

XenForo, no bad price-wise, best performance, great with SEO, all the mobile jive, fantastic admin area, coms with tons of out-of-the-box features. It's the community forum software I would recommend.

As for the other paid and open source solutions, Vanilla to SimpleMachines, I have worked with almost all of them, they are good, but personally, I would just stay with VBulletin. My opinion, of course.

I worked my way up from active user, to Pro-Staff, to Sales, Admin, then to THE Admin next to the owner with an online community that was the world's largest forums within the niche (a huge niche), it was known for. We used UBBThreads from 1998/99 (AOL chat room before this) until 2015. It was not my choice, but it was chosen to go with Invision Community. The owner shotgunned it and hired some fly-by-night transition team to "seemlessly" transition close to ten million active member accounts and the link juice created over a decade and a half. One thing led to another, and the links did not connect to the original content, and every member (including Admin) had to reregister for their accounts. People left and went to Facebook and never came back.

1) Seemless transition is a must.
2) Capturing and 301 redirecting your top 1000 links is a must, but every link to content should 301 nicely to its original content, or you are basically starting over and comp pulls ahead.
3) Improve upon what works and do not reinvent the wheel with too much advancement. It only causes deer in the headlight.

For me and LiquidWeb's support, properly transitioning DigitalFAQ's DB, static, and any dynamic content over to XenForo will all come down to one big dump and .htaccessing everything via 301 redirects to its new home.

Continuing My Discourse Discussion From Above

I admin and maintain my own dedicated servers. Initially, this was for my own domain directed towards my primary server, which runs on a Web Host Elite license with Litespeed (the crux of the headache), Cloudlinux/CentOS 7, WHM/cPanel, yada, yada. The idea was to keep the domain as an add-on domain and run Discourse through a single cPanel Admin account. My WHM/cPanel license is for 30 user accounts, and I offer clients cPanel plans with "Ruby on Rails" to pay for everything on my primary server. These clients pay a premium for managed hosting, which I know well, so they get to fly on my red carpet hosting with more benefits than almost any other hosting provider. The remainder of my hosting services run servers with the same specs as my primary but with way more space and servers running DirectAdmin control panels. Plus, this was before WHM/cPanel totally integrated with Nginx, and I like Litespeed/Apache more for what I use and need a webserver for.

Ok, I have said enough, and the above is only my opinion based on my experiences. This being the internet, I may not know what I am talking about. Good luck, and here's hoping all goes as planned.
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  #16  
02-12-2022, 06:00 AM
newby newby is offline
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My biggest wish:

Rework the site to incorporate a proper start to finish howto guide, supplemented with youtube content (ala technodad or lawrencesystems). This site is an amazing repository of information chronicling over a decade of experience however I often feel I'm sifting through @lordsmurf's personal journal more than following technical guide... Vendors, best practices, gear etc have all evolved over the years but without a well curated and updated manual we are forced to forensically piece it together; or worse, ask ignorant n00b questions that get repetitive for experienced members.

I know this represents a significant time commitment but I believe people pay for quality content. Heck, I would be willing to pay a fee just to access this site ad/script/facebook/garbage free.

Beyond that, yes better android/mobile support would be nice.

Thank you for all you do and pursuing continued improvement.
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  #17  
02-12-2022, 06:06 PM
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@CaptainKirk

Thanks for the detailed reply.

Discourse is fine for a basic forum, but lacks too many features. There's definitely a demographic for that barebones style forum, just not this one. That said, I do wish XenForo had a Patreon plugin, something Discourse and others do have. As I had eluded to earlier, for most of the past decade, XenForo was behind the curve on features, including (and quite sadly) EOL'd vBulletin version. That seems to have finally changed in more recent years.

LiquidWeb is just our main host, and are mostly hands-off at our request (we'll let them know when we need their help, which isn't often). We have satellite servers (both dedicated and VPS) at Namecheap, KVC, Stablehost, Veerotech, WebhostingBuzz, Jolt UK, EuroVPS, and some others. Plus CloudFlare and AWS. As has been mentioned in the past, this site isn't just a bare LAMP stack on a single hosting plan somewhere. It has more moving parts than our forum members realize.

https isn't just about .htaccess, but far more embedded issues. If we simply turned on https, the forum wouldn't load anymore. That's part of why a new platform is needed. (And what Google wants doesn't matter. We don't answer to Google. Google also changes its mind all the time, like a teenaged girl. Sorry princess Google, we have to do things for our needs, not your whims.)

I remember UBB. Also used Snitz, WebWiz, phpBB, SMF, MyBB, and some others. vBulletin was so far beyond what those others did, at the time.

Yes, agreed, seamless is priority #1. The XF forum will be developed first on a dev server. 301 redirects will be handled automatically, though we'll check Google Console for any misfires, add 301 as needed there. The entire reason is to upgrade the user (and Staff!) experience, Chrome usability, mobile, and a few desired features that need to happen. When rollover time comes, the site has to be taken offline for 1-2 days (Sun/Mon likely), the current server upgrades, then the new site ported over. The entire process should be fast, few hours, but 1-2 days may be needed due to bugs/unknowns. But at the start of that process, the existing site will be put on yet another server, on standby, in case things go sideways. Quick shift in CloudFlare, and we'll be back up as-is. Be prepared.

@newby

Agreed. Something planned is "workflow guides" that tie together guides, posts, software downloads, etc. Curated content, with new connecting content.

Some of this will come with Premium+ type membership, Patreon, etc. Because it will take significant time. That part hasn't been fully planned yet, one step a time.

But I am amused. Do you realize that this site was started (back in the 90s) as my personal notebook, shared with others in the TV/toon collecting hobby community? The freebie Geocities/Xoom/etc sites rolled into lordsmurf.com, and lordsmurf.com was further developed into digitalFAQ.com. I was discussing tape quality, TBCs, and VCRs 25+ years ago online. I never imagined this would get me headhunted, and I'd be working for studios some years later, accidental career. (Nor that health/MS would force me to quit.)

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  #18  
02-15-2022, 10:55 PM
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Good progress has been made on this, research phase, faster than expected.

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  #19  
02-20-2022, 07:32 PM
newby newby is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lordsmurf View Post
But I am amused. Do you realize that this site was started (back in the 90s) as my personal notebook, shared with others in the TV/toon collecting hobby community? The freebie Geocities/Xoom/etc sites rolled into lordsmurf.com, and lordsmurf.com was further developed into digitalFAQ.com. I was discussing tape quality, TBCs, and VCRs 25+ years ago online. I never imagined this would get me headhunted, and I'd be working for studios some years later, accidental career. (Nor that health/MS would force me to quit.)
I did not but it all makes sense.
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  #20  
02-22-2022, 03:06 AM
Hushpower Hushpower is offline
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Get rid of the "Read More" link at the bottom of every quote. It's normally obvious that the person is quoting a post in the same thread.

If somebody is quoting a post in another thread, it's easy enough to simply paste that other post's address.
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