MOD author feedback, and how we handle it

Posted by Paul in Modifications with the tags , , on July 19th, 2008

The MOD team always gets a lot of questions, feedback and more from MOD authors. This is mostly after a persons MOD was denied for a certain reason, we change something, or just about one of the policies we have.

We get a lot of questions from them if we do anything with the feedback, or if we actually listen to it, I want to explain here how we handle this kind of feedback.

The things we receive the most feedback on is, as I said already, validation, policies, and also things like MODX, MOD documentations etc.

Mostly when we get feedback from users the MOD team member that reads the feedback replies and thinks about it or will discuss it on IRC with fellow MOD Team members. If the feedback is new he makes a topic in a private MOD Team forum for further discussion. If the feedback is something we’ve heard before it may not make it to discussion because it is something that we won’t be changing. If we get the same complaint many times we will bring it back up for discussion.

After its discussed and a decision is made we start implementing the change or do nothing depending on the decision. In a lot cases, implementing the change can take some time because we need to test changes, update the website, write documentation and anything else we need to do to prepare for it.

The last stage before implementing the change is the testing stage. We always need to make sure its working correctly :). After that we announce it or just make it available at the website. Things like a small change in the MODDB get to the live site a lot faster compared to changes in MODX.

A few good examples of the things we do with the feedback are here below. These examples are mostly from some time ago, but also some more recent changes.

MODx 1.2.0

The MOD team has received a lot of feedback in the MOD Authors forum about the current revision of MODX. That revision had several problems and was complex. After getting feedback from the MOD authors and the normal users we made a list of what things we want to change.

The result of this was the release of a new MODX version. Within this release the packaging was updated to include a new, less strict policy. This new policy allowed authors more freedom on how they package their MODs. Also the version tags were changed because a lot of MOD authors didn’t understand how to use the old version tags.

Beside a lot of good things MODX 1.2.0 also did give several problems. Before the release of MODX 1.2.0 we had a tool to automatically check MODs for basic problems. With the MODX update this tool no longer worked and we were required to write a new one (The new tool is currently in testing). This slowed down validating MODs due tohaving to manually check for these basic problems.

A new special page was made to describe on how to update MODs to MODX 1.2.0 because many MODs were getting denied for not updating to MODX 1.2.0 correctly.

A lot of changes to the XSL that were written by MOD authors have been added to the official release and will continue to be added.

MOD packaging Updates

The MOD packaging rules have been updated several times after receiving feedback from users. One of the first changes we made was some small changes to the policy to include things like how languages and and templates are packed.

The second change was larger. This was a complete new policy coupled with the release of MODX 1.2.0. This policy was based on simplicity and requests from authors. The policy is not as strict as it use to be and allows authors to be more flexible.

We are currently looking in to doing another new update to the policy because there is a problem with Firefox 3 and XSL style sheets. In the current policy we only allow one XSL but because of a Firefox security policy this will not work in Firefox 3. We currently do not know how this problem will be fixed.

MOD Database

The MODDB is a special case. Most feedback we get on the MODDB is about the validation itself and how long it takes. We have received some good feedback on some parts on the MODDB and have added the requests to the DB. We are always looking for more feedback on it so we can improve it. We gotten some requests lately and these will probably be added later this month.


Insta-deny is a rule that we can deny a MOD within 24 hours after submission. This is done after running our validation tool. We got some comments from users about the “repack by minor mistakes” check box, and we are currently discussing on how we are going to handle this.

Repack policy

As I already said above, for a lot MOD authors it’s not clear when we will repack a MOD. We are currently discussing internally what things we will repack and will publish a document later on what kind of things we repack.


We receive feedback on validation the most. In most cases, a MOD is denied on its first couple submissions. This can be because different people are validating it each time and finding different problems or the same person is finding things he missed before. When this happens we include a comment about reading the documentation and such.

The biggest complaint is that it takes too long. We try to validate a MOD within 2 weeks, but it can take up to one month. Even one month is not always possible because validating a MOD takes a lot of time (For who is visiting Londonvasion, I will be giving a presentation about what MOD validation really is). There are always a lot of MODs in our queue, and validating a MOD can takes several hours.

We are still looking for ways to make MODs validating faster, things like insta-deny and repack are part of that.

If you have any feedback, questions or just good ideas on how make the MOD section better, post a comment here, reply to the topic in MOD Writers Discussion (There are some topics about things like MODX and our policies) or create a new topic in the MOD Writers Discussion forum.

10 Responses to “MOD author feedback, and how we handle it”

Posted by T50 on July 19th, 2008 at 8:42 pm:

Thanks for the explaination Paul!

Posted by ..::Frans::.. on July 25th, 2008 at 12:25 pm:

Idea: Stop supporting mods entirely. Take the time to create a nice standard piece of board software and leave it with that. Support, validation time and even very basic and simple questions are:

1. NEVER answered or
2. Of a very low quality or
3. take ages

Yes, i’m one of the still very frustrated mod authors that will never release a mod here again, but on the other hand, the entire website of phpbb shows that this isn’t a site where people can discuss normal things, normal questions etc.etc.

Take, for example, the change from phpbb2 -> 3. 15 million people (just a number) used B5 version for a long time and YES, the often, not so very nice answers of phpbb was that B5 isn’t supported……

…but then again, you actually say that all these users that are using B5 and CAN’t upgrade to any RC version are fools for using your software…..

…that when there are a few very good and very simple convertors.

So, long story short: stop with all these things around phpbb. It really seems that only few here have the slightest clue as to what’s going on in the big and evil outside world and let other sites (yes, the localized communities and STG for example) handle the difficult questions. I think it would make a lot of people happy….

(and to be complete, nope, it’s not personal paul…;))

Posted by Highway of Life on July 25th, 2008 at 6:53 pm:

Hi Frans,

We ( don’t actually support any MODs at all. Supporting the MODs is entirely up to the MOD Authors that create them. All we do is provide a facility for MOD Authors and end users to communicate. As well as a MOD Validation process which is very necessary.

There are many untold MODs out there (as I am sure you know) on other websites (even STG), in the MODs in development section here on .com, which contain many many security problems and vulnerabilities, that is why we ( recommend that users ONLY download MODs from the MOD Database to ensure they are getting a MOD that actually works and that is not going to be prone to security problems.

It would be better for us ( if we could find out why MOD Authors such as yourself are frustrated with the MOD Process that we use on, and what is preventing you from utilising the MOD Database. If we can address these issues, perhaps we can make the system better and easier, so you’ll want to come back and submit your MODs to the MOD Database.

What we need is the feedback, we know that we can improve in every area, and we are looking to improve. phpBB is making quite a few changes, and so input from MOD Authors is very valuable to us.

If questions are never answered, take ages to answer, or of low quality, it’s best if those are pointed out to us.
I am not personally aware of questions that are low quality — there will, admittedly be questions that are never answered, or might take a while to answer due to the sheer quantity, but of low quality, I do not understand.


On the issue of Beta5, that really doesn’t have anything to do with the MOD process, that was a decision made early on in 3.0 development, it was stated that it could not be supported because users were going to have a very difficult time upgrading, and we couldn’t possibly address every possible issue. It was hard enough as it was between RC5 and RC6/7, but we had to support that. It would have been far worse if we had tried to support the Beta versions.

And the above paragraph is coming from someone who started running phpBB3 CVS live long before Beta1, and upgraded throughout the Beta process, RC process and now into phpBB 3.0.2 — so I know what it was like, I’ve been there. At the time I did not agree with the decision, but after everything that had to be done to get it upgraded past Beta, I fully understand and agree with that decision to not support the Betas.


I’m going to use as an example here of a site that has *everything* within it’s own doors, even localised support. But provides an avenue in which localised support can be addressed at the international support sites by linking to those sites. We don’t try to provide *everything* to *everyone*, but what we do is, IMO not enough… we should be encompassing more, not decreasing what we do.

– David

Posted by ..::Frans::.. on July 25th, 2008 at 9:31 pm:

Hey David,

First of all: strange to have this conversation with you here, but hey as “user” on .com i’m talking to david, teammember @ .com so it is alright with me.

As you as person already know i am a long time user of phpbb and am writing mods for it as of i think version ~2.0. I came to .com many many times and have never, ever seen any normal question be answered in a normal manner by any of the team members. Never, yes, when someone asks how you can update from B5 -> RC1 the thread is closed within minutes with statements like: we don’t support any upgrade from B5, so team members are reading here. But if you take a look @ (and you can even do that randomly) the community board, can you show me some good examples of answers given by team members other than: read the rules, we don’t give support etc.etc. That nothing new, it was like this in the days i started with the old phpbb and it is still going on.

Next, even the phpbb team sees that there is something actually wrong with their moddb. You know for a fact that i am an enthousiast as to where it comes to something like a moddb. Don’t you think it’s kind of strange when a site like .com has over 322.000 members and only about 50 of them take the time to tell you (it was you, what they think about the moddb and the validation process. That should give some indication doesn’t it ? Why are sites like (and no, i don’t mention stg!) .nl and many many other localized sites so popular, you really get an answer from them. That is what is missing here.

Back to your little “questionnaire”. Question: do you like the ModDB: NO, but do i really need to answer 20 other questions to tell you something that was there 5 years ago and hasn’t changed, even now that phpbb sees that something must be off ??? Don’t think so, and that is also the reason me and i know some others are going someplace else and that leaves .com with only a few modders that, well, most of them are part of the team here so i guess that’s the main reason they stay…..

As for my frustration. I won’t go into detail (i think you know the details) but when someone enters a mod for validation and gets an answer after XX days (i heard mine was fast) and the complete answer breathes an air of “i don’t understand what i am doing but hey, this is my answer, take it or…” then i am out of here.

So after deep thinking of the reasons there is so much frustration i can only say one thing: .com isn’t a community, it is them against us, and that is something we don’t have @ the other site. There one can ask everything, always gets a nice answer, lots of help etc.etc.

I hope that you understand what i exactly mean. Sometimes it is hard to find exactly the right words to say something in another language but to conclude: i still think phpbb is the best, i really think the core builders are doing an awesome job and i really don’t think there is any team member on .com that has bad things in mind…..

So, i hop you will go on with .com, and i will talk to you @ deck 15…… Good deal i think…;)

Posted by Highway of Life on July 25th, 2008 at 9:51 pm:

We’ll continue this discussion (as it’s more discussion oriented instead of comments) here:

Posted by Gordon P. Hemsley on July 27th, 2008 at 5:31 pm:

Perhaps this is old news, and perhaps I am unclear as to the problem you’re having, but do make sure that this “problem with Firefox 3 and XSL style sheets” is indeed a problem: if you are testing with file:/// URLs, there is no problem. Such URLs are much more restricted in Firefox 3 than they have been in the past. Put the files on a web server (http://) and test them.

See here:

Posted by Paul on July 27th, 2008 at 5:41 pm:

I just updated our policy this afternoon to adress the issue about the firefox3 problem :). We are going to require in all directories a xsl file where a modx file is. Thats, as far I know, the only real solution for all.

Posted by sharri on August 18th, 2008 at 4:37 pm:

how do i report a site when the creator of the site knows that it was set up to slander and be little others including minors. The site should be deleted as this is a form of bullying of under 16 year olds

Posted by boby on January 27th, 2009 at 7:00 am:

how do i report a site when the creator of the site knows that it was set up to slander and be little others including minors. The site should be deleted as this is a form of bullying of under 16 year olds

Posted by ChrisRLG on January 28th, 2009 at 11:16 am:

boby : Please read the following post about forums.

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