These past few weeks I've been having too much fun offline with my development clone of the TurnKey website, ticking items off of my todo list. Today I finally got around to the complex, tedious, and unfortunately uninteresting task of updating the online version of the website. Ah, a necessary evil I suppose.
On to the changes...
Post comments by replying to notification e-mails:
Previously, users kept trying to reply to notification e-mails even though they're sent from firstname.lastname@example.org and include a warning NOT to reply to the notification message.
I figured rather than fight it I would just figure out how to implement this securely. Also, I'm hoping being able to reply by e-mails will increase community participation in the forums and blog. Just hitting reply on your e-mail client can be somewhat faster and less distracting than having to log into the website.
Also on a personal note, I'm looking forward to being able to reply to comments even when I'm offline, then flush them out of my e-mail outgoing queue when I come back for air. You see, I prefer working offline when possible. I've found that cutting the cord (figuratively speaking) a most effective weapon in my war of attrition against an ever proliferating, ceaselessly fascinating army of bright and shiny Internet distractions. So when I really want to get stuff done, I do it like a cyber-whale, coming up to the Internet surface only to breathe in the essentials.
Making the site search sortable: Many thanks to the ever helpful JedMeister for suggesting this.
Scare away human spammers: multiple level of spam countermeasures seem to take care of the spam bots, but human spammers still have a go at us occasionally. I figured maybe a little warning on the comment post page could dampen their parasitic enthusiasm by explaining that we actively monitor the site and always delete spam. Zero tolerance. So just you run along now...
Redesigned the FAQ
- New look and feel, with categories and a table of contents
- Integrated TKLBAM questions into the FAQ, in a separate category.
Overhauled anonymous page caching system
Over 97% of the traffic to the website is by users who are not logged in with a user account (AKA "anonymous"). This allows us to save resources and improve site performance by serving cached versions of the site to them.
Unfortunately in practice you usually want to limit how long you keep cached around versions because non-logged in users that don't see the site updating with their posts get discouraged from participating. The feedback delay seems to make a big difference, and the larger the delay the larger the difference. For example, when I increased the cache lifetime to one day (from about an hour previously), we noticed a significant drop in forum activity.
What's different now?
I've programmed the site to immediately expire the page caches for pages with new content. No delays. This allows us to increase the cache lifetime of pages without new content far beyond 15 minutes / 1 hour. I'm going to try for a week and increase this to a month once we flush out the inevitable bugs.
- New forum "dashboard" makes the most of previously empty space beneath the forum listing. It shows new posts, currently commented on posts, forum tags, etc.
- Show monthly Karma in addition to all time Karma: the idea is to provide positive feedback and encouragement for newbies who haven't been active in the TurnKey community as long as the old-timers.
- Fixed tags UI: I noticed tags weren't being used as much as I had hoped and were often used wrong. Fixed.
Many other assorted bugfixes: If something has changed for the better that means I probably finally got around to fixing it.