Archive for August, 2008


Posted by Kellanved in Development, Modifications with the tags , , , , , on August 28th, 2008

This post no longer reflects the state of the art. See here .

CAPTCHAs – “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart”s – are known as the foremost means to stop registrations by SPAM programs, so-called “Bots”. In phpBB, a visual confirmation CAPTCHA is used.

The key here is the “Completely Automated” part, meaning that the software – phpBB – creates the question and the correct answer without interaction by a user. This has the drawback that computers are usually able to find the answer as well, given time to adjust. This is an active field in research. In the end it is an arms race. A new CAPTCHA will usually buy a few months of peace, before the major Bot vendors adjust their products.

This article is about presenting some reasons behind our CAPTCHAs; it is not intended to be a case for or against CAPTCHAs in general or particular. It is not about other means to combat SPAM, but only about CAPTCHAs.

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SEO Problems and Solutions to improve optimisation within phpBB3

Posted by Highway of Life in Modifications with the tags , , on August 23rd, 2008

Many people think that SEO is basically using or implementing Human Readable URLs. However, this is not encompassing of “SEO” at all, it is one small part of SEO, and is generally grossly misunderstood. Many people believe that Human Readable URLs are the only way that Search Engines can correctly index a site, or that it is the best method for spiders to index the site. Or that Dynamic URLs somehow hurt your Search Engine Ranking or performance within Search Engines. But this is not the case. Human Readable URLs mainly benefit Search Engines as added Keywords within the page, this only reinforces the keywords already set by the page and topic title, which Search Engines already use for the index.

Search Engines have just as easy of a time indexing dynamic URLs as they will with Human Readable static URLs. The benefit is minimal.

SEO is Dead! Long Live SEO!
There are others who believe that because the web has progressed so much over the years and the advancements in Search technologies, that search engines no longer require any optimisations to properly index your site. Or that you can not improve your search engine rankings or results by performing any sort of search engine optimisation on your site.

This post is meant to address both sides of the argument by giving people a better understanding of what SEO is and its place within phpBB3. It also includes problems identified within phpBB3 itself with regards to Search Engine performance and solutions to address these issues.

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The Changing Demographics of Open Source Software

Posted by A_Jelly_Doughnut in Development, Uncategorized with the tags , , on August 21st, 2008

When I was more active in the support forums, it seemed like phpBB users were primarily made up of teenagers looking to set up their first dynamic website on Lycos or other free hosts — there were even knowledge base articles on how to make phpBB2 work on those hosts.

I had thought of OSS projects as the domain of teenagers and college students. A hobby people give up for full-time jobs later in life. So I was a bit surprised when I asked NeoThermic, keeper all statistics and Support Team Leader, the average age of a phpBB Team member. It is about 28.4 years (with a very large standard deviation of eleven and three quarters). This could be due to a relatively low churn rate. Many team members have been with us for many years.

But, it seems to me that phpBB’s audience is aging as well. It is less common to see someone trying to set phpBB up on a free web host.

I’m not saying this is a good or a bad phenomenon. I do think a board is better off when it is operated by a dedicated administrator with resources at his or her disposal. Resources pay for high quality hosting, for instance.

However, I’m not sure this is unique to phpBB. Many of the contributors to other large OSS projects like phpMyAdmin have been doing so for many years. But I’m curious whether anyone else has noticed the maturing of the people who contribute to open source projects.

I believe that Joomla! has noticed, because they are recruiting students. Google has done the same, with their Summer of Code the past several years.

How Many Moderators Do You Really Need?

Posted by drathbun in Moderating with the tags , on August 12th, 2008

A while back battye wrote a post about how to select moderators. I thought that it was a really good post. It spawned a few comments, one of which included a question about how many moderators do you really need. I thought that battye’s response was interesting. He said:

I would probably go with one moderator per 50 active/regular users.

Based on that, I am very much understaffed. :lol: To be clear, battye does provide a bit more detail in the rest of his response, including some ideas about time zone coverage and other aspects of running a board. I am taking that bit of a quote out of context because I felt like I wanted to write more than a simple comment / response to his post.

I feel like there are several important factors that can be used to determine how many moderators you need, and some of them are probably more important than others. The factors are:

  1. Number of active users
  2. Number of posts per day
  3. Average age of board members
  4. The level of “passion” inspired by the subject matter of your board

I would like to add that this is probably not an exhaustive list but these are the four main elements that I have seen in boards that I participate in. I would like to provide more specific details about each of these, followed by some of my own thoughts on how you determine how many moderators you need. I don’t think it can be summed up in a simple equation.

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