Merged: Multiple suggestions for vBulletin developers (timestamps & cross-linking)

Discussion in 'General Topics' started by Michel Merlin, May 29, 2006.

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  1. Michel Merlin

    Michel Merlin Registered Member

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    Since the Internet is the World Wide Web, forums locations are purely virtual, and more and more people don't even bother where they are physically located. So one is posting from Melbourne, another from Tokyo, some from California, some from East Coast - and one from Paris :); each of us needs to know if a post has been posted 3 minutes or 10 hours and 3 minutes before or after another.

    So when reading, excepted the ones in USA, each one really needs the time when a message has been posted is displayed completely, including TO (Time Offset from GMT, Greenwich Mean Time), as is done already in the headers of 95% of the email messages on the planet (in Outlook Express, <Ctrl><F3> will show you the message source), and as is mandatory by RFC 2822 §3.3 Date and time Specifications (for an excellent short, see Wikipedia RFC2822).

    RFC 2822 forbids use of TZ (Time Zones), that are ambiguous, unstandard, unordered; it forbids months in digits, too ambiguous (01/02/03 means 1st Feb 2003 in Europe, 2nd Jan 2003 in USA, 3rd Feb 2001 in New Zealand...), forbids Mercredi or other names than English 3-letter abbreviations (better to learn a few words in a same 2nd language for all, than a personal 149-second-languages set for each one).

    In addition, when hitting the [​IMG] button, the forum software when preparing the quote, should include the date, complete, but this time in GMT (and not in the writer's particular TZ), so all on the forum will read the actual time of the post in the same manner.

    (Don't believe some I-know-all: in facts GMT is reasonably the same as UT (Universal Time); UTA, UTB, UTC are actually no different for regular use, and the few intermediate seconds added, despite recklessly added, don't change anything for regular use).

    Paris, Mon 29 May 2006 19:33:10 +0200
     
  2. MikeBCda

    MikeBCda Registered Member

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    Re: Date and Time COMPLETE (with Time Offset from Greenwich)

    I agree with you 100% about showing proper chronology/sequence. But one of us seems to be missing something here -- on my system, all postings are converted to my local time so that they already are in sequence and correctly show how long since posted. o_O
     
  3. LowWaterMark

    LowWaterMark Administrator

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    Re: Date and Time COMPLETE (with Time Offset from Greenwich)

    You are correct, Mike. The posting times are relative to the reader's timezone and are an accurate representation of when the post was made, regardless of where the poster was located. They are not being placed out of sequence because of the posters being in different timezones.

    Michel Merlin - Also note that we are using standard vBulletin software here. We did not write this software. If you wish to suggest improvements or claim it is in violation of various RFCs, then take it up with the vendor at their site:

    http://www.vbulletin.com/forum/index.php
     
  4. Bubba

    Bubba Updates Team

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    Re: Date and Time COMPLETE (with Time Offset from Greenwich)

    I'll have to agree and unless some one has not adjusted their Date & Time Options settings in our UserCP section....all quotes, thread, post times....etc should be indicating that individuals proper time :doubt:

    Edit
    Yeah....what LWM said :blink: :eek:
     

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  5. MikeBCda

    MikeBCda Registered Member

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    Re: Date and Time COMPLETE (with Time Offset from Greenwich)

    Just as a P.S., my "one of us missing something" was by no means meant to be insulting or deprecating. It was entirely possible that I was the one who misunderstood what Michel was looking for.
     
  6. Michel Merlin

    Michel Merlin Registered Member

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    Absolute and Complete Time needed when visiting many forums in many TZ

    Of course. There is no problem for time sequences between messages actually posted on this same forum. Sure I should have been more precise. I agree the current situation is enough for people who are always on the same forum and have at each moment in mind the way Date and Time are set on that forum, or at least always on forums in same or close TZs.

    But for others (who are also numerous) it's different. I am living in Paris (GMT+2), I read (and sometimes post) on forums that are located in S.F., Sydney, Paris, and elsewhere, thus with typical time differences of -6, -9, +8, -12 hours (not the same kind of problem than the only 3 hours possible inside the US). When I come back to yours:
    1. First I may not be logged, so I can't know in which TZ the times are displayed; even if logged, I don't necessarily remember that on this particular forum, hours are in my TZ (and can't be sure the forum automatizes correctly DST - Daylight Saving Times); to make sure when a series of messages have been posted, I have to post one (or to find an old of mine) to compare my Date and Time (that I include in all my posts) with the way the forum translates it, to know what are the actual times of those posts; somewhat annoying.
    2. Second when comparing posts on different forums about a same issue (and sometimes by the same persons), I want to know if one of these posts "has been posted 3 minutes or 10 hours and 3 minutes before or after another" - not necessarily on the same forum of course. If Dates and Times are displayed on all forums compliant with RFC2822, thus complete and absolute (i.e. with TO, and without relative words as "Today" or "Yesterday"), then I have no problem understanding. But if some forums write like "Yesterday, 07:33 PM", I can't; and if too many write that way (which unfortunately is the case in reality), then I am lost (unless logging and calculating).
    No problem. I think that simply both of us missed something from the other (as quite common between us poor humans :'( ), the first mistake being mine because, too focused on the effects I suffer everyday, I thought everyone would understand them, and I wrote imprecisely. And I didn't precise that of course my profile on any forum is always set to the TZ for me as correctly as that forum allows (often not very accurate: very little forums handle correctly all the TZs with their particular DST - Daylight Saving Time). An European going often on US forums is necessarily more concerned with Times, and in addition I wrote the entire time system in our lab's big application, with no date error possible in the last 2050 years (hence I had to build the relevant accurate and reliable transition mechanisms for Julian-Gregorian transition in 1582, for the Zero Year, and between all the formats possible); this was in 1992, and when people started to fear Y2K (Year 2000) I publicly stated in 1997 that no error would come in our system - which I proved by keeping all the systems I could "On" and networked during the Y2K night, both at home (where I even brought back in that purpose the PC a son had in his university) and at office; only 3 systems were affected, it was UNIX CAD stations without my software; they had to be replaced because of that in the 3 months (by much cheaper systems, SolidWorks/Windows NT4 then). So yes, I have seen much time losses (and sometimes data losses: a development team without a reliably precise time system may fail keep sources synchronized right) by users through imprecisions in Date and Time, and I may be more concerned; but I do think that the simple changes I submit (and that are already done in email headers) would bring much more improvement than work or load to the community.

    Paris, Fri 2 Jun 2006 15:52:05 +0200
     
  7. Michel Merlin

    Michel Merlin Registered Member

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    Linking a Singled Post while not losing the ThreadID

    The How do I Save/Print a single posting? thread has been closed after the out-of-topic digression had stopped, but before the replies to the discussion itself could be posted (my fault - I should have posted this first). I am then forced to create a new topic to post the reply I had prepared to LowWaterMark's post of Mon 29 May 18:15 GMT (see that post in context or as a singled post):

    Linking a Singled Post while not losing the ThreadID

    1) First let me admit that this is your forum, not mine, that the issue is small and shouldn't hurt your ways of working, and that for those reasons I am quite happy even if you don't retain that suggestion; in addition, as you appropriately recalled, customizations should be kept to a minimum (at least in the areas where they are lost in upgrades, which indeed still happens in 2006). I just think your reply to me asked for another reply in turn - that could be useful in case that issue got discussed further with your forum software developers (or provider - vBulletin for that matter).

    2) Second let me recall that Printing or Saving the post alone, can be done quite quickly and easily in any of the ways of linking (recalled below) by Selecting in the appropriate way and moment, so it is not really involved in the ways of Linking. This is a great reason to prefer viewing the post in context (i.e. in its place in its thread), which greatly helps reading.


    3) Third let me make this alternative suggestion:
    Just replace "p=733959" with "t=128651" in the upper right link

    I agree with almost all you say (on the topic at least); I would finally not change anything to the link to the singled post (here Alexey's post of Mon 24 April 2006 09:51 GMT, https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showpost.php?p=733959&postcount=3); I would just, in the upper-right corner of the window of that singled post, keep the label of the link to the parent thread as it is ("Buid 3567: Apparent debris in registry from earlier builds" - including its spelling error), but change its URL (currently https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?p=733959#post733959, thus uselessly repeating the postID while omitting the threadID, and illogically calling a thread with a showthread function but a post ID) into "https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=128651#post733959" (thus carrying both postID and threadID).

    This is very small customization and could be done either at wilderssecurity.com (unfortunately probably among the customizations that have to be redone after each vBulletin update, still numerous in 2006 as you appropriately pointed) or better at vBulletin.

    4) Fourth let me nevertheless discuss and explain what I had proposed (and mostly dropped), since it seems to have not been understood so far.

    We have seen so far 3 ways to link a single post:
    1. Showing just the Post alone, and addressing it with just the PostID: https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showpost.php?p=733959&postcount=3
    2. Showing the Post in context, still addressing it with just the PostID: https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?p=733959#post733959
    3. Showing the Post in context, but addressing it with the PostID and the ThreadID: https://www.wilderssecurity.com/showthread.php?t=128651#post733959
    The forum currently uses the 2 first ways, I recommended the 3rd. You replied:

    Yes the 3rd link will get broken if the post gets moved to another thread (something very rare in a well managed forum - as wilderssecurity.com probably is) but at least even in that weird case it will carry the PostID and the ThreadID, leaving to user the way to find back the Post (if it has been moved to another Thread) or the Thread (if the Post has been deleted) - a security the 2nd link doesn't provide.

    In addition the 3rd link calls the thread by its standard URL, and not by a new one, which uses the web cache more efficiently (each thread gets cached just once since URL remains unique, hence less space used, more views actually accelerated by the cache) and eases navigation (links keep colored differently if in cache or not).

    They never go bad provided the post never gets deleted. But they go unable to retrieve even the thread if the post is deleted; and I am not sure a forum that would move posts, would never delete a post.

    Finally the change I proposed to the in context addressing, adding more information to locate the message, can only lose less often the very information wanted (However as I said, I admit that on small issues the burden of customization may overcome the benefit of the improvement, which if the case should then be dropped).

    Paris, Fri 2 Jun 2006 15:55:35 +0200
     
  8. Michel Merlin

    Michel Merlin Registered Member

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    Suggestions to vBulletin by users *and by forum handlers*

    When proposing a change in the particular way your forum is handled, I intentionally don't assume anything about the way you could achieve it in case you agree with my suggestion: either by submitting it in turn to your forum software provider (that of course I had noticed is vBulletin 3.5.3), or by customizing it by yourselves (as is done by many forum handlers). However I agree with what you recalled me in private email (and that having developed software for 30 year I shouldn't have let go out of my mind), "we try not to modify the forum software too much as that makes any future upgrades more difficult to apply": even with all the development tools available in 2006, there remains a lot of customization that gets lost during updates/upgrades.

    Rather than submitting directly to your forum software provider (vBulletin), I think suggestions from users would get more chances to be seriously considered by vBulletin if you forwarded to them the ones you approve, with your comments added. However the most important factor on your side as on ours (users) being time, none of us should wait for the other to get the time to do it, so I will try to do it on my side ASAP. Thanks for the URL for this.

    Paris, Fri 2 Jun 2006 16:02:10 +0200
     
  9. LowWaterMark

    LowWaterMark Administrator

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    As both suggestions raised in this thread are vBulletin forum software design issues, and not anything we here can do anything about, I'll make a brief reply about this and then say that this is really not worth continued discussion here. I'm happy with the way both of these things are current implemented in the forum software, so I have no motivation to ask Jelsoft to alter vBulletin for these suggestions.

    Timestamps. At the bottom of every page of the forum, whether the viewer is logged in or not, there is an indicator of the timezone offset being used for that view of that page. Any times on that page are relative to that offset, and that allows people to determine when a post was made in relation to where they are located. Further, I doubt the majority of people think of times relative to some central standard time. Rather, I suspect most people think of time relative to where they are located, and since practically all forums out there allow people to register and select their own timezone offset, I don't see this as a problem. I suspect that if more people wanted time represented as an offset to GMT only, the forum software makers would make that the default instead of localized timezones.

    Links. The problems I mentioned regarding threadid based offsets we very real, and we experienced them day in, day out when this forum was running YaBB SE. It was a huge improvement when we moved to vBulletin and found they didn't base cross-linking on a combination of threadid-postnum. Don't underestimate the amount of moving, merging and splitting that occurs in a forum. It happens quite frequently.

    Oh, there is one additional problem with the combined threadid & #postid combination links you are suggesting. It doesn't take into account multi-paged threads. As you mentioned, a positioning label like #post12345 does not change the unique thread identifier. Varying the #postnum portion would always call the same thread and the only difference is that the browser displays the thread starting at a different position.

    The problem is when the referenced post number isn't on the first page of the thread. The #postnum can't force the forum software to return a different page of a thread. It would always return the first page of the thread, then the named offset (which is on another page) wouldn't resolve, so the person wouldn't reach the desired post. And you can't just add "&page=#" to it because members can choose individually how many posts to display per page in the UserCP. (My page 2 of a thread might start at post #11 and your's might be post #26.)

    The idea of going back to threadid based linking is really a "been there, done that" type thing, and forum software have deliberately moved away from that because of the limitations it imposes.
     
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