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My thoughts on the forum software

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Nielsio Posted: Fri, Apr 15 2011 10:53 PM

 

There've been threads about this before, and from what I can remember, the idea was that integration was important and people should have only one login for the 'community' (blog, forum, other things?).
 
I don't think I can go along with that story anymore. The forum is broke and lacking in so many ways. Austro-libertarianism is about the communication of ideas, and that's being crippled right now.
 
I say, disregard the goal of integration and think more about 'division of labor'. There is great forum software out there for very cheap, which would allow many more possibilities than exist now. The amount of people who blog on Mises is not very high, especially the number of regular bloggers (see http://mises.org/Community/blogs/Bloggers.aspx ). I don't see why creating an extra account for them is a big deal. It literally takes seconds. I'm also a bit puzzled what the need is for being able to blog on Mises. Why not have people create a blog on any of the free sites (wordpress, tumblr, blogger), or through cheap hosting with a domain name and free wordpress installed, and have a collection page on the Mises Wiki where you can link your blog on.
 
The fact that the Mises Wiki is seperate software that is not integrated (and very powerful and specialized) seems to speak for this idea too.
 
 
 
Take a look here: http://rankings.big-boards.com/?sort=week (sorted by 'posts last week')
 
You can see that vBulletin is succesful among the highest trafficking forums. It also looks the best of the top 3 in my opinion.
 
Other advantages compared to now:
 
- Is not a 'rich text' editor and outputs text in a consistent way. There are a lot of problems with this now. 
 
- A quoted text has a link on it that leads you back to the post it was made in. Very handy.
 
- Has an excellent search function. You can build up a lot of knowledge in a forum, but it has to be findable.
 
- Click on a user and you can see which threads they've started.
 
- Ability to ignore users (their posts are collapsed in your view with a button to open).
 
- Links are automatically activated.
 
- All of this (and much more) is highly configurable.
 
I would say create a limited number of subforums, and add a few stickies there. If you make too many subforums people will simply use the 'latest posts' button and disregard any categorization (which is what I do now, for reading and posting; also because the current subforum choices make little sense).
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John James replied on Fri, Apr 15 2011 10:59 PM

I was told to check in here for updates.  I'm not sure how the change-over is supposed to work (or if that is the "integration" you were talking about) but I went ahead and created an account there.

http://community.mises.org/news

But obviously that isn't exactly bustling with updates.  And it's a wordpress site...so the blog section is obviously up to par (Daniel James Sanchez even moved his blog back after having to jump ship from the Mises site due to limitations.)

However, the "forum" section there is even worse than this one.  I agree, vBulletin is a good platform.  It's popular for a reason.  I don't know why everyone here pisses on it so much.  (Then again pissing on popular things is done a lot around here).

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vBulletin took a huge step back about a year and a half ago when they were bought by a publicy traded firm (Internet Brands), and the latest version of the software is not even close to their legendary quality.  They have a lot of customer satisfaction issues from what I have observed.

I don't know why LvMI doesn't push resources towards this side of the site or finish the new community but I stopped worrying about it a long time ago.

 

"When you're young you worry about people stealing your ideas, when you're old you worry that they won't." - David Friedman
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DanielMuff replied on Sat, Apr 16 2011 12:17 AM

I like ronpaulforums.com's forum. It looks a lot nicer than it did 3 years ago.

To paraphrase Marc Faber: We're all doomed, but that doesn't mean that we can't make money in the process.
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Stephan Kinsella: "Say you and I both want to make a German chocolate cake."

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DanielMuff replied on Sat, Apr 16 2011 12:20 AM

liberty student:

[...] I don't know why LvMI doesn't push resources towards this side of the site or finish the new community but I stopped worrying about it a long time ago.

I think it's a manpower issue. A lot of the development is by volunteers that have higher priorities.

To paraphrase Marc Faber: We're all doomed, but that doesn't mean that we can't make money in the process.
Rabbi Lapin: "Let's make bricks!"
Stephan Kinsella: "Say you and I both want to make a German chocolate cake."

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Daniel Muffinburg:
I like ronpaulforums.com's forum. It looks a lot nicer than it did 3 years ago.

That's vb4.  It takes a lot of development to get a site looking like that.

Daniel Muffinburg:
I think it's a manpower issue. A lot of the development is by volunteers that have higher priorities.

I have a lot of thoughts on this.  One certainly is that developing a user community isn't a casual thing and it's best not left to volunteers, even though LvMI is blessed to have volunteers like it has had in this community.

"When you're young you worry about people stealing your ideas, when you're old you worry that they won't." - David Friedman
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Nielsio replied on Sat, Apr 16 2011 10:53 AM

liberty student:

vBulletin took a huge step back about a year and a half ago when they were bought by a publicy traded firm (Internet Brands), and the latest version of the software is not even close to their legendary quality.  They have a lot of customer satisfaction issues from what I have observed.

I don't know why LvMI doesn't push resources towards this side of the site or finish the new community but I stopped worrying about it a long time ago.

 

The previous lead developer of vBulletin and others have quit and created their own new forum (written anew from the ground up).

http://xenforo.com/

(see also: http://xenforo.com/community/threads/a-statement-regarding-the-current-litigation.7567/ )

I think it looks great. (adoption: http://xenforo.com/community/threads/show-us-your-xf.9236/ )

 

Otherwise, there are a number of good commercial ones too. ex. http://www.invisionpower.com/

And if Mises wants to have open source free ones, there is phpbb and mybb.

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I have two XF licenses, haven't deployed them yet, one is spoken for however.  I think the issue with this community, and many communities in general is that they aren't run for profit, that is there is no clear connection between development hustle and desired results.

I'd be announcing every new book and Mises Academy class in here. This is a very targeted audience of people who spend money on LvMI related stuff.  That sort of demo targeting would be very expensive elsewhere.

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Giant_Joe replied on Sat, Apr 16 2011 11:47 AM

I've deployed and I'm administering a xenforo forum. It's not worth paying for. Free stuff works fine.

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Nielsio replied on Sat, Apr 16 2011 9:09 PM

Giant_Joe:

I've deployed and I'm administering a xenforo forum. It's not worth paying for. Free stuff works fine.

 
Whether something is worth paying for depends on your needs. I imagine that having professional support can make it worth it. Another thing may be that, because a commercial forum is usually bought by commercial entities, the testing of new updates is more stringent because it is more important.
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I am currently migrating a free forum (phpbb) it is a joke.  Paid forums are much better, the quality standard is night and day.

"When you're young you worry about people stealing your ideas, when you're old you worry that they won't." - David Friedman
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Nielsio replied on Sat, Apr 16 2011 10:27 PM

I would say MyBB is better than 'night'.

 

 

Conclusion
 
MyBB is a really good alternative to all well known forum softwares, and the community around it is really dynamic. It combines an easy to use administration interface with a simple and shiny appearance. Without attempting to support the entire range of features we could classically find in proprietary software, MyBB is a perfect forum for medium and large community. A sufficient security model is well implemented and ensure your forum not being invaded by hordes of spammers.
 
With more than 400 plugins and modifications, you will have a great choice to customize your MyBB installation and fit your users' needs. It is also well known for ensuring a high quality migration of existing forum, as the MyBB developers team provides the MyBB Merge System, that helps you replacing your old PhpBB 2 or vBulletin 3.8 installation with a new and modern bulletin board system. It could also be perfectly used in case of merging two existing boards, that is quite rare today.
 
And to conclude with another good news, it is open source and is proud to be! Congratulations to the MyBB team, that has made a really good job.

http://www.forum-software.org/mybb/review/conclusion-advantages-opinion

 

The Pirate Bay forum runs on it, with 122K registered users. http://forum.suprbay.org/

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John James replied on Sat, Apr 16 2011 10:50 PM

liberty student:
I'd be announcing every new book and Mises Academy class in here. This is a very targeted audience of people who spend money on LvMI related stuff.  That sort of demo targeting would be very expensive elsewhere.

This appears to be taken care of quite well on the MIses Blog.  Not that it would hurt to have more advertising, but it's not like they're slacking off on publicizing anything that could possibly be promoted.  And to be quite honest, I think it would possibly alienate frequent users of the forum to be constantly barraged with notices and adverts.  I personally would be, and I think it would crowd the forum.  Perhaps if it were a format where threads were kept in their specific forums, and there were a dedicated announcements forum or something like that.  But in a setup like this, where every message, regardless of what forum it is in, gets bumped to the top of a master list, it would get quite annoying.

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Show me 10 mybb forums with one million members each, and I will pay attention.

"When you're young you worry about people stealing your ideas, when you're old you worry that they won't." - David Friedman
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John James:
This appears to be taken care of quite well on the MIses Blog.

Which gets all of the attention, the high quality big name posts, and a lions share of the dev resources.

Think that has anything to do with it being the more commercially successful medium? I do.

"When you're young you worry about people stealing your ideas, when you're old you worry that they won't." - David Friedman
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John James replied on Sat, Apr 16 2011 11:41 PM

I'm not sure I understand.  You're saying you want all that attention, posts, and resources to be shifted to a forum instead?

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DanielMuff replied on Sun, Apr 17 2011 12:01 AM

I've never set up a forum, so I don't know what it takes, so I don't why the new forum isn't post-beta. After all, there has been work put into it. But it would have been great to have something set up, until the new forum went post-beta, that didn't require more than one click to quote or having to write or copy and paste code to embed a youtube video.

To paraphrase Marc Faber: We're all doomed, but that doesn't mean that we can't make money in the process.
Rabbi Lapin: "Let's make bricks!"
Stephan Kinsella: "Say you and I both want to make a German chocolate cake."

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It isn't a matter of what software is used.  It's a matter of the number of dev hours per year put into the forum: 0.

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My main issue with the forum software is there is no browser spell check support, which is odd. If you install a dictionary in to firefox when you type in every window apart from these comment boxes it underlines spelling mistakes. So i end up copying and pasting my post in to word to do a spell check and then pasting it back. If you could intergrate mybb in to the site then i would vote for that. I have used mybb with postgre and it was easy to setup and configure, took like an hour. Other than that i have no problems with the forum software and do not realy mind, plus i just joined so i don't realy have a say...

edit: if you do use mybb i recommend disabling the reputation and calendar/events features and a few others as well, makes it less bloated and the reputation feature just gets abused. Unless there is a specific use for the calendar feature, disable it.

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^

It has to do with the nature of the rich text editor.  If you click the "source" button at the top left of your post box and view your work in the html source, the spell check works.  I just click over to that and have a glance through.  It's like putting on spell check glasses.

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Nielsio replied on Wed, Apr 20 2011 1:52 PM

Caley McKibbin:

It isn't a matter of what software is used.  It's a matter of the number of dev hours per year put into the forum: 0.

 
I agree.
 
I spruced up my own MyBB forum the last two days (it's very customizable and easily so), and it looks great now (imo):
 
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Nielsio replied on Fri, Apr 22 2011 7:45 PM

From today on Facebook (after I asked about it):

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Am I the only one who sees enormous irony that improvements to this community are announced on facebook rather than here?  Sorta says everything doesn't it?

"When you're young you worry about people stealing your ideas, when you're old you worry that they won't." - David Friedman
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DanielMuff replied on Fri, Apr 22 2011 11:40 PM

What's more ironic is that the last forum upgrade was what broke the forum.

To paraphrase Marc Faber: We're all doomed, but that doesn't mean that we can't make money in the process.
Rabbi Lapin: "Let's make bricks!"
Stephan Kinsella: "Say you and I both want to make a German chocolate cake."

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DanielMuff replied on Fri, Apr 22 2011 11:42 PM

Nielso,

This is where the new community will be: http://community.mises.org, if you want to get a head start.  It's been up for months but I don't know when it will be finished.

To paraphrase Marc Faber: We're all doomed, but that doesn't mean that we can't make money in the process.
Rabbi Lapin: "Let's make bricks!"
Stephan Kinsella: "Say you and I both want to make a German chocolate cake."

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Nielsio replied on Sat, Apr 23 2011 12:32 PM

Daniel Muffinburg:

Nielso,

This is where the new community will be: http://community.mises.org, if you want to get a head start.  It's been up for months but I don't know when it will be finished.

 
Yes, I've seen it. It's a bbPress forum ( http://bbpress.org/ ). I suppose it follow more or less the philosophy of wordpress: good basic functionality and then expandable with plugins and themes. It's so bare that you have to expand dozens of features. You need a plugin for posting with codes, for avatars, for images, for quoting, for youtube embeds, etc, etc. I suppose this can work, but developing it to the way you want is more difficult, and from the bbpress forums that I have seen ( http://bbshowcase.org/forums/view/top100 ) I'm not that impressed with what people have come up with.
 
But it does appear that all the elements required are there and you can make it proper. It just seems easier to use MyBB (or another 'regular' forum software), where you have much more right out of the box. This also seems the reason why it has taken so long for Mises to get this going. If you have a team of volunteers, you can have a forum (such as MyBB) up in a matter of days, fully configured and easy to maintain.
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If your volunteers building the community don't use or mod/admin the community, you're flying blind during development.  As far as I know, there has never been outreach to the people who have been here for 4 or 5 years to help.  It's always some outside volunteer who doesn't have to eat at the table he built.

"When you're young you worry about people stealing your ideas, when you're old you worry that they won't." - David Friedman
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I'm guessing that our forum accounts will be migrated.

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Nielsio replied on Sat, Apr 23 2011 1:53 PM

liberty student:

If your volunteers building the community don't use or mod/admin the community, you're flying blind during development.  As far as I know, there has never been outreach to the people who have been here for 4 or 5 years to help.  It's always some outside volunteer who doesn't have to eat at the table he built.

 
Agreed. I automatically assumed them to be part of that team (or even exclusively that team).
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I'm not working on. As far as I know, no other mod is working on it, although I think DJS might be working on it.

Nielso, volunteer on the project.

To paraphrase Marc Faber: We're all doomed, but that doesn't mean that we can't make money in the process.
Rabbi Lapin: "Let's make bricks!"
Stephan Kinsella: "Say you and I both want to make a German chocolate cake."

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Nielsio replied on Sat, Apr 23 2011 2:42 PM

I would volunteer. But there is nobody I can offer it to because Jeffrey Tucker nor anyone else is responding to email or questions elsewhere. I'm suspecting this is because Jeffrey and the technical people (I have no idea who they are) have an idea of what they want and are not interested in any deviation from it.

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Email DJS.

To paraphrase Marc Faber: We're all doomed, but that doesn't mean that we can't make money in the process.
Rabbi Lapin: "Let's make bricks!"
Stephan Kinsella: "Say you and I both want to make a German chocolate cake."

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Wibee replied on Sat, Apr 23 2011 5:14 PM

Anything is better than this current software unfortunately.  If the quote button actually does what it is supposed to do, that would be a huge step forward.  I dislike the compatability issues with Opera...  :(

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Nielsio replied on Sat, Apr 23 2011 5:19 PM

Daniel Muffinburg:

Email DJS.

 
I don't what that stands for/who that is. The Mises faculty page lists David Veksler as Lead developer. Is that him?
 
edit: Oh, you mean Sanchez.
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Yes, Daniel James Sanchez.

To paraphrase Marc Faber: We're all doomed, but that doesn't mean that we can't make money in the process.
Rabbi Lapin: "Let's make bricks!"
Stephan Kinsella: "Say you and I both want to make a German chocolate cake."

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Jeffrey passed your comments on to me. I would be one of those "technical people" ;-)

I'll confess up front that I have not been eating "at this table" (the old teligent community system) and thus am not versed in the specific grievances you might have with it. All I know is that everyone hates it (members and admins), and thus I've been trying (amongst other mises projects) to get the new community off the ground. I got close some months ago, and am now back on the job...

I am a wordpress developer by trade, and have been responsible for nearly all of the migration to linux/apache/mysql/php for the blog, academy, wiki, etc.

While I agree that putting up a standard phpBB/myBB forum would be rather simple (and would serve very well as a forum), the choice to go with the wordpress multisite / buddypress system for the new community was based on the desire to have the community be more than just forums - to continue to allow users to host their own content (blogs), socialize/connect (groups/members), and discuss (forums). The old Teligent software we've been running here covered all those bases, but it's too expensive, too closed, and too hated.

Of course, wordpress does blogs like no other, and phpBB (+variants) do forums like no other - but the Mises universe already had so many separate systems, each with their own login accounts, that spawning even more was not desired. Wordpress/Buddypress was the best solution for open, free software that covered all the bases while allowing for a single userbase.

The weaker link in the new system is definitely bbPress (the forums inside Buddypress), as it doesn't have the developer base that Wordpress does, and so development goes much more slowly. I've only recently got tinyMCE (rich-text) editor working for forum posts (you'd think that would have been in the core long ago), and I'd love it if someone could solve the issue of threaded replies...

There are some very close updates to Buddypress and to the social-network integration component Buddystream which should help a lot. Stay tuned for more updates...

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Giant_Joe replied on Sun, Apr 24 2011 8:57 AM

Sounds like good stuff.

Thanks, Israel.

Neilso,

I would volunteer. But there is nobody I can offer it to because Jeffrey Tucker nor anyone else is responding to email or questions elsewhere. I'm suspecting this is because Jeffrey and the technical people (I have no idea who they are) have an idea of what they want and are not interested in any deviation from it.

You can follow some (but not all) of the tech talk here:

http://groups.google.com/group/misesdev/topics?pli=1

I haven't been able to find much forum stuff there, but you might be able to chip in your 2c.

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Nielsio replied on Sun, Apr 24 2011 12:51 PM

Israel Curtis:

Jeffrey passed your comments on to me. I would be one of those "technical people" ;-)

I'll confess up front that I have not been eating "at this table" (the old teligent community system) and thus am not versed in the specific grievances you might have with it. All I know is that everyone hates it (members and admins), and thus I've been trying (amongst other mises projects) to get the new community off the ground. I got close some months ago, and am now back on the job...

I am a wordpress developer by trade, and have been responsible for nearly all of the migration to linux/apache/mysql/php for the blog, academy, wiki, etc.

While I agree that putting up a standard phpBB/myBB forum would be rather simple (and would serve very well as a forum), the choice to go with the wordpress multisite / buddypress system for the new community was based on the desire to have the community be more than just forums - to continue to allow users to host their own content (blogs), socialize/connect (groups/members), and discuss (forums). The old Teligent software we've been running here covered all those bases, but it's too expensive, too closed, and too hated.

Of course, wordpress does blogs like no other, and phpBB (+variants) do forums like no other - but the Mises universe already had so many separate systems, each with their own login accounts, that spawning even more was not desired. Wordpress/Buddypress was the best solution for open, free software that covered all the bases while allowing for a single userbase.

The weaker link in the new system is definitely bbPress (the forums inside Buddypress), as it doesn't have the developer base that Wordpress does, and so development goes much more slowly. I've only recently got tinyMCE (rich-text) editor working for forum posts (you'd think that would have been in the core long ago), and I'd love it if someone could solve the issue of threaded replies...

There are some very close updates to Buddypress and to the social-network integration component Buddystream which should help a lot. Stay tuned for more updates...

 
Okay,
 
I'm beginning to warm up to the concept. I see what the function of a Group is now (though I don't know if it's usable in practise, maybe you can explain how it will work?), and it is nice if users of the 'community' can post their own blog in Wordpress style.
 
As far as threaded replies go: Do you mean with indentation, similar to Wordpress blog comments? Because I don't think that's very readable in forums. Take zerohedge.com for example, their comments are an absolute disaster. It could possibly work if it was collapsable. I would say quoting with a statement who you're quoting and a link to the original post is the way to go. Very standard for forums.
 
I would also get rid of one post gray background next post white background. It's not calm to the eyes.
 
Why a rich text editor? Activating links and posting youtube videos is too much of a bother with it, especially for new users. Copy-pasting is also a problem with them because mark-up is brought over. No major forums use it, and for good reasons.
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AJ replied on Mon, Apr 25 2011 1:35 AM

The way to do effective tree-threading for posts is this:

The Active Topics page looks the same. But when you click on a thread, instead of going straight to all posts, it expands a map of the thread itself. It shows who replied to the OP and the branching trees of replies to each person. Personal arguments between two posters you don't care about form one single branch that is separate from the rest.

OP

1st reply to OP (just the poster's name is shown)

Reply to the 1st reply (again just the poster's name)

Reply to the reply to the 1st reply

Angry personal reply

Angry response

[More flaming personal stuff...]

Another reply to the first reply

Reply to OP

Reply to the second reply

Reply to the reply to the second reply

[Interesting conversation develops between two discussants...]

Reply to OP

Reply to OP

 

So if you see a long, snaking back and form exchange between two people you don't want to read, you can completely ignore it. You don't have to scroll past it in this lame vertical format. This makes it actually possible to go off on tangents in threads without destroying the main thread and making it unreadable after the second page, as is now the norm. It makes it way easier to follow the discussion as it branches out into various sub-discussions, instead of how it currently always peters out or turns into a cacophony of different arguments that only the most careful and dedicated can keep track of, with people constantly wondering who's replying to whom, and having to include some kind of quote to make that clear when there is otherwise no need.

The only disadvantage to that is you have click on each individual post to read it, but that could be remedied by having a button to "Expand all posts replying to this one."

Or you could do it like Reddit, or even better, like LessWrong.

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Marko replied on Sun, May 1 2011 12:29 PM

I have a suggestion for the new forum:

Make it so that by default private messages are enabled and that users opt out of them.

Here we have so that they disabled and users opt in to have them enabled.

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