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I am totally and absolutely interested in physics and maths. If we're going real broad, these should be added.
I strongly urge Kerm to bring in competent administrators. The current group is either too busy or unable to handle the load.
Alex wrote:
Hey guys, Alex here but some of you may know me better as comic. I'm your friendly Cemetech Admin and I want your honest input on Cemetech.

Here is my honest input, since I cannot seem to get my points across clearly via IRC.

For the past few weeks I have been saying that Cemtech will never change. This has apparently upset a few administrators and they don't seem to understand or care enough to ask why I would say these things; and some go so far as to say I should be pitching in to help resolve issues when I have absolutely no control over anything that happens here.

However, here is why I am upset; and ranted for a bit about this on IRC earlier.

Ignoring of users
Cemetech blatantly ignores its users in most cases, way more than it actually helps.

I feel like I haven't been clear enough about this; so let me post a few links since the forum is supposedly where site suggestions go according to multiple administrators.

https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=257395#257395
https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=257355#257355
https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=256910#256910
https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=257553#257553
https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=253158#253158
https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=247447#247447
https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=249884#249884

But wait you say Cemetech does listen! This is what this topic is! Or is it? No, this is just a paraphrase of KingInfinity's own post over a year ago. Huh; shouldn't this discussion actually be taking place in that topic then?

https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=251462#251462

No; of course not! Because when a user creates a topic just like this one to advocate for a feature, this is what happens:

https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=256374#256374

It goes to the suggestions page to die.

In addition, why is P_T not on the about page? He is a global moderator, is he not? Any of you supposed admins should have access to editing and modifying pages, and yet it has been months. It's a little ridiculous.

Furthermore; why are users not actually allowed to know what is happening at Cemetech? The only reactions I have seen when confronted with these issues is that Tari is pretty much rewriting the entire backend because no other person has the knowledge or time to. That means nothing. No user actually sees what is happening, or has any input into what actually happens at Cemetech. It is all driven behind closed Admin topics, and secret IRC channels; which is where the decisions are made without any consultation from anyone who actually uses the site on a regular basis.

Frankly, I'm just fed up with how Cemetech handles user relations. It's rather sad really.
MateoConLechuga wrote:
No; of course not! Because when a user creates a topic just like this one to advocate for a feature, this is what happens:

https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=256374#256374


I'm just so baffled by this topic being closed. It's really hard to figure out suggestions when they're all shoehorned into a large topic where discussions are basically impossible.
I'm gunna be that guy again and state that this is certainly the wrong topic to post this in. This topic is about what areas our members are interested in that Cemetech can cater to. A better topic would have been Website Suggestions or something else.

But the point is moot now.

MateoConLechuga wrote:
Here is my honest input, since I cannot seem to get my points across clearly via IRC.


It's not that you can't get your points across on IRC it's just that IRC isn't a great place to have a long, thought out discussion, on top of that things that get said in IRC are not easily referenced for future discussions. You can tell the staff a suggestion, a complain, well deserved praise, or whatever in IRC that we'll never see. Either due to the activity in the moment, that our IRC scroll backs only extend so far or just other general reasons. Just because it's said doesn't mean it's heard. On the forum, you can say something and it's there. We can reference it hours, days, weeks, months and, years later. I can go on vacation and come back and see all the discussion that happened.

There was a period of two weeks in August that I was not on IRC nor Cemetech; I missed everything that happened in IRC but not within the forum topics. The forum is a much better place to have these discussions and it's why I'll always deflect such conversations to the forums. It let's everyone take the time and get their message across without interruptions. Could you imagine if we legitimately tried to have this discussion over IM? It's be nightmare and neither one of us would ever let the other finish their thought.

Quote:
For the past few weeks I have been saying that Cemtech will never change.


Cemetech has been stagnant for a very long time. So, given that history, you're correct in saying that it will never change. We've (read: Tari) been doing a lot of work behind the scenes, bringing many things up to par. Cemetech is a very, very botched phpBB forum. There's so much added onto phpBB that it's incredibly hard to upgrade. For instance, we physically cannot upgrade to phpBB3 unless we're willing to lose core functionality. I'm personally unsure what those functions would be, but we don't want to take two steps back just so we can make the site a little cleaner.

Now, that's not saying we will never update the style. When we upgraded to Cemetech "6.5" that was the cultivation of work that Tari, Kerm, and Elfprince put in. It made it possible to ditch Cemetech Mobile and serve a response theme to smaller viewports. Since then Tari has been great progress in other aspects of the site. SourceCoder was, if I'm not mistaken, compartmentalized and is now a separate instance from phpBB. SAX was upgrade and also removed from phpBB into it's own thing, again if I'm not mistaken. We really want to ditch phpBB and we're making progress towards doing that.

I've started doing a lot of pushing behind the scenes to get things to change. I started working on it a few weeks before my August vacation and have just finished the first draft of the change. I'm uploading that to our git repo now so the other staff can test it out and offer feedback. I'm hoping to roll it out by the end of the month at the latest, mid-September at the earliest.

Where has this feedback come from? Various topics and posts! I seem to shut most if it down but it's really the realm of being realistic. For example we took the "Welcome Message" from your post here and added it in for all signed out users to see. But that other idea of collapsable forum categories is not a good aesthetic. No forum I've ever visited or been a member of has offered such a feature. How do you find what you want? It just introduces extra clicks, it's easier for a visitor to scroll and see what they want than click on what they think they want.

If they click on Programming and then General Discussion and don't find what they're looking for then they'll probably leave. Whereas if they could scroll through an ordered and structured page, they'll be presented with all the information the page offers and making a choice (a click) from there. Say a visitor wanted to offer a suggestion to our site but they want to see if it's been suggested before. If all the categories were collapsed they'd have to guess. "Is it under Programming? Because it would take programming to add my suggestion." "Hmm, I see Website Markup & Scripting so maybe it's in there." It's not in there so they go back to the forum index to try again and maybe they'll look under General Discussion but nothing directly correlates to the Website so they just decide to leave.

Yeah, granted that ultimately falls on a poor structure. Our Website sub-forum really shouldn't be under Cemetechs Projects but at least they'll find it scrolling down the page. No site will ever have a perfect structure or flow. There's always someone who will be upset with it. I'm not saying it's you but pandering to every visitors personal suggestions is a horrible idea. If there's a suggestion that a lot of people agree with, then that's something we'd pay attention to. If more users came and backed you up about the categories all being collapsed by default after I knocked it down, then maybe I was wrong and we, as in the Staff, would entertain the idea more seriously.

When you wrote this post I literally had no idea what you were talking about. I asked you to clarify and you never did. This was another really vague idea. If you're going to suggest something then you need to make it overtly clear what you mean.

Quote:
When I click on 'Forum' there's just a huge page that has literally nothing I'm looking for if I have a simple question; which rather off putting.


That's not helpful in any way, shape or, form. The Forum has descriptions for what each one is for, "Your Projects" has "Discuss your current calculator, computer, and web programming projects! Featured projects are promoted to Member Features" has it's description. It would be pretty straight-forward to find what you're looking for if you read the descriptions. Going back to the collapsable categories, all these descriptions would be hidden and visitors would have to guess where they want to go.

You honestly give us suggestions with the most minimal amount of information and when we/I ask for more info it's ignored because you expect us to be mind readers? And it's not just you. Users post in the bug reports and tell us what happened. Okay but how? What do we, or others, need to do to replicate this bug. Maybe it's dependent on the browser, or even a particular version of a browser. It's not usually the case but the more information we have, the better we can diagnose and respond to something constructively.

@Mentions - https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=257395#257395
Not a native phpBB feature. It would take a lot of backend work to implement. As I said above, we can't just move to a new forum system. We need to make sure we can either use or port our existing database tables. Again, Tari is helping this out by detangling the spaghetti code that's been created over the years of additions, tweaks, updates, etc. This is a feature we'd love to have, honestly, but it's not a realistic suggestion at this point in time. I said all of this in my initial reply.

Link recolor in the wiki - https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=257355#257355
Not ignored. I replied to it. That's more of a conflict with our main stylesheet and the Wikipedia. This wasn't a major concern to put time into fixing.

Image Resizing - https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=256910#256910
As Kerm said, we don't want users to upload a 4000x4000 image and then tell Cemetech to display it as a 250x250 image. A few years ago we restricted all images to be a certain number of pixels wide but only so they fit within the bounds of the div boxes. So you can upload a 4000px wide image but it will only display at a max of 800px or something. We'd still prefer it if users didn't post 4000px images but it's such a small issue that it's not really a concern but we aren't going to facilitate it by enabling users to define their own image sizes.

Video tags - https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=257553#257553
That's just something that fell through the radar. We've certainly added more obscure tags before *cough [lytro] *cough* that we should certainly add this. Especially with Lytro now discontinuing their web hosting of those photos, we can replace that tag with video.

File Rejection - https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=247447#247447
I suspect that's another missed suggestion. I didn't respond because I don't know enough about that process to comment on it.

Profile Update Preview - https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=249884#249884
I feel like this is another one of those backend changes that we just can't easily do yet. I'm not sure how we could do it but perhaps we could include the signature on the users profile as a start.

As I said above, just because it's said doesn't mean it's heard. It's even true for the forum. We miss stuff, we're humans and it happens. I admit that having a proper bug tracker/ticket system would be ideal. We'd see so much more as posts wouldn't get lost in the tangle of other suggestions/bugs and replies.

Another thing you seem to be doing here is linking to posts as your evidence without recognizing the reasons that are posted as responses, as evidenced by the @Mentions and image resizing. If you feel like those replies are inadequate why didn't you rebuttal them? To me it just looks like you ignored them for your own narrative or just didn't even know the responses existed despite being the next reply in the topic.

For the editing reviews topic and post, they were made mere minutes apart. The topic was made February 15th, 2017 @ 7:13a and he also posted it in Suggestions on February 15th, 7:30a. I don't know why, I didn't get to the topic until the following day. I can't speak to my reasoning a year ago but speaking as if it happened today, I would have removed one of the posts from the conversation to prevent fragmented discussion. In hindsight, I should have deleted the post while keeping the topic unlocked. There's a reason hindsight is 20/20.

Quote:
In addition, why is P_T not on the about page? admins should have access to editing and modifying pages, and yet it has been months. It's a little ridiculous.


He has access to edit that page too so I'm not really sure why the Admins are to blame...?
Nonetheless, he's been added with my recent project and will show up whenever it's rolled out.

Quote:
and some go so far as to say I should be pitching in to help resolve issues when I have absolutely no control over anything that happens here.


You most certainly do! You can find the BBcode for the video tags and give that to us. There are dozens of stuff you can be proactive about or you can sit back and complain and rant about how nothing gets done. It's up to you. This will be a terrible analogy but if you're at work and you do what you always do because that's what you're suppose to do, you'll always do the same stuff. But if you start being proactive about stuff, then hopefully those above you notice and start giving you more tasks and eventually you'll be promoted to a more supervisory role. While we aren't a job, we do look for users who are contributing towards something. Jonbush expressed interest in running contests so we let him do it. PT_ was doing great work with SourceCoder fixes and maintenance that we brought him on as a Gmod. And I'm sure there was a reason why he started doing the SC stuff before that.

Quote:
and secret IRC channels


Just the one.

Quote:
It is all driven behind closed Admin topics, and secret IRC channels; which is where the decisions are made without any consultation from anyone who actually uses the site on a regular basis.


I'm fed up with it too. There are probably 3-4 Staff topics where I'm the only poster for 3-4 posts in a row. It's hard to get anything done, to brainstorm and bounce ideas around, when the other staff don't acknowledge things. Cemetech is a difficult beast because so much of it is hodge-podged together. If we received Admin posts in our staff channel we'd probably be slightly better at responding to them. The staff channel is also used more as a "What are you up to today" and planning to play games together. I'm annoyed by it, I don't want to see 50 new messages then be disappointed that none of it is on-topic. I've shown to show distaste for that on the forum too (see first paragraph here and earlier in this topic, and others.) I don't fault you or anyone else for feeling the same way I do. I'm fighting a very similar battle behind the scenes.

We are certainly in a catch-22 though. We need more staff so we can get the site to the place we want it to be but we need more users to justify more staff. We frankly don't have the activity to say "We need more global moderators or staff" My solution to that is to branch into other areas. We are primarily a calculator community and we have strived for many years on this focus but the problem is that users tend to move on after high school and the users we have tend to move on after a year or two when they discover other programming topics later in high school.

So by facilitating discussions in other areas, like STEM, we can keep our calculator roots and enter related areas. As users stay, or join, to create discussion in these newly added categories and forums we'll pay attention to those who uphold grammar, correct and help others in a constructive way, encourage and congratulate fellow members. Those are the sort of users we'll promote to moderators, then the exceptional moderators will be promoted to global moderators. It's a long and arduous process. As much as I want to bring on more staff for things I have no desire to step over Kerm on anything. I will wait for his opinion as Cemetech is his. If he were to one day hand Cemetech to me I'd feel more at liberty to move at a faster pace. I'm not saying Kerm is slow but he's busy, as is Tari and myself. We're volunteers. If he were to hand Cemetech to TIFreak or Tari, I'd wait for their opinion before bringing on more staff or certain changes. I would never say "I did this now deal with it" to anyone above me.

I also want to touch on Ads. We introduced ads to the site at the start of August with the goal of offsetting server costs. Any surplus would go to one of a few things: Compensating Tari for the phenomenal and continual work he's doing, paying for contest prizes, commission someone or a team to help out with a new site design and/or even a new forum software and, saving it for future server payments in case we have a dry year. We don't have ads on the site because we want to personally profit from Cemetech, we have ads because in the long run it'll make Cemetech better. We won't magically be able to commission a team and have a new design by the end of the year but maybe in a few years we'll have a bigger picture of our finances and how to spend it.

FWIW, here's a screenshot of the first draft of the new Explore page.
On the topic of "facilitating discussions in other areas" and "keep our calculator roots and enter related areas", I thought I could share my personal anecdote. As you correctly predict/see, I am part of the group of users who, after high school and gradually losing interest in graphing calculators, stopped going on here as much. It also doesn't help that after high school many people here often go on to pursue undergraduate degrees and that usually means they have less time to participate.
I lost interest in graphing calculators because after high school, I did not really use mine much if at all, and in my opinion there are way more interesting platforms to develop for, even in the realm of embedded software. I don't think I need to explain much here, as I think most people understand this.

This is a personal anecdote, so I might as well share what things I've been doing in place of messing around with calculators. This might not be representative of what the majority of users here are doing, but hopefully it can give you ideas for areas Cemetech may expand towards, or focus more heavily.
Before graphic calculators, I built websites/web services and administrated servers. I kept doing that during high school and I still do it (in fact, I just bought yet another small VPS recently to host yet another website).
I went on to develop Clouttery. There's a Cemetech topic on it, so I won't go into more detail. I pretty much stopped working on that project a few months ago; I didn't post it to the topic here at Cemetech yet, but yesterday I published a blog post on why and where things go from here.
I posted the topic about Clouttery to another forum, and to my surprise it received much more attention there, despite Kerm even making it a front page article here. There, the topic is nine pages long; here it's two.

A few months ago, as I took a pause from Clouttery, and in a relatively unexpected turn of events, I started building an Android app called UnderLX. This is certainly not very relevant to Cemetech users, since that app is made with the users of the Lisbon, Portugal subway in mind. All you need to know is that this is a native Android app, written in Java, along with a server, written in Go.
Over the past few years, I have also made two major pieces of software for ESP8266. These are not open source yet, and I usually don't talk about them online, but they are used in production at my home. One is a curtain controller, for electric curtains, that can also act as a common relay board, controllable over the network. The other is a Wi-Fi remote, for controlling these curtains and more. For both, I was not very involved in the hardware design, which was also done in-house, but not by me; I did the software.

To sum things up, my interests are still the same as when I messed with graphic calculators, it's just that I now focus on other platforms. I still do web design and sysadmin things, I made two Android apps since then, and two application servers, and I still make embedded software - just not for calculators.

Now that the personal anecdote is out of the way, some more points.

I think it should be possible to make the decision processes and website discussion more open, but care must be taken to do so without introducing unnecessary drama. I frequent other communities where administration discussion is done more in the open, but sometimes things evolve more into drama than they should.

I could be completely wrong, and this could be an outdated opinion since I don't come here as often as I once did, and perhaps my opinion is also biased because of timezones and the like (so I come here when there aren't as many users/staff around), but it is also my impression that some of the staff, especially at the higher levels, doesn't have much time to dedicate to Cemetech, which is understandable since this is not exactly a full-time job, but could be part of the reason why some people make the argument that more staff is needed...
I'll be honest: I can't pinpoint why I feel this, but it's my impression - that's all. So again, I may be completely wrong.

Finally, I feel that since a few years ago, with the rise of discussion platforms more similar to Reddit, Hacker News, StackExchange, etc., as well as with more and more discussion taking place behind walled gardens like Facebook, there are fewer people interested in participating in a "traditional" forum like Cemetech. (I frequent other "traditional" forums and even used to be a moderator at one, and this is something that affects all kinds of forums.) Some communities also started centering more and more around real-time chat services like Slack and Discord. For example, often you'll see that a project on GitHub uses their issue tracker, and besides that, discussion takes place on Slack. Another example: for UnderLX, I'm using a Discord "server" as the only place for discussion, posting changelogs, etc.
I don't participate in them, but I also know there are large communities around programming languages, frameworks, etc. on Slack.

Personally I spend a lot of time on Reddit and Hacker News. However, these types of websites are not good for long-form, ongoing project discussion (for example: on Hacker News, you can do a "Show HN" about your project, and receive feedback, but there's really no way to keep a discussion going on for weeks/months as the project evolves). I think this is one thing Cemetech excels at: a place for people to post development logs of their projects and discuss them in an ongoing fashion that can be easily be read from any point (unlike IRC, Slack or Discord, which as Alex mentioned are hard to catch up to after a few weeks or even days). But for it to be worth posting about a project at Cemetech, there has to be an audience. In this sense, you may become stuck in a catch-22: nobody posts projects because there are not enough people participating; nobody participates, because there are not enough interesting projects.
Wow, it took me over half an hour to read all this. I'll answer a question Alex had.
Quote:
For the editing reviews topic and post, they were made mere minutes apart. The topic was made February 15th, 2017 @ 7:13a and he also posted it in Suggestions on February 15th, 7:30a. I don't know why, I didn't get to the topic until the following day. I can't speak to my reasoning a year ago but speaking as if it happened today, I would have removed one of the posts from the conversation to prevent fragmented discussion. In hindsight, I should have deleted the post while keeping the topic unlocked. There's a reason hindsight is 20/20.

The reason the posts were a few minutes apart was because I posted it in the wrong category. Then (on SAX) PT_ told me about the 'Website Suggestions' topic. I don't remember if I had forgotten about that topic, or just didn't look very hard (probably both Razz). I do remember that I was a little miffed that the 287 word topic had gotten locked while the 6 word post, that took me less than a minutes to make, didn't. However, I understood why you did it.
Fortunately, this did get implemented to a certain extent (I was hoping that the reviewer would be able to edit their review, not just an admin), it just took a while.
Users should have more say in the website and know what's going on. I don't think that suggestions should have to be put in a general thread. There's no real reason a suggestion can't have its own area where it can be discussed without other unrelated ideas being brought up. In this way the suggestions thread is like the IRC channel. I think there needs to be a subforum for suggestions created or just use an existing subforum like this one (the description of which encouraging users to post comments about the website).

https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewforum.php?f=20
This is getting a bit off-topic, I think.

Let's bring it back.
dankcalculatorbro wrote:
Users should have more say in the website and know what's going on. I don't think that suggestions should have to be put in a general thread. There's no real reason a suggestion can't have its own area where it can be discussed without other unrelated ideas being brought up. In this way the suggestions thread is like the IRC channel. I think there needs to be a subforum for suggestions created or just use an existing subforum like this one (the description of which encouraging users to post comments about the website).

https://www.cemetech.net/forum/viewforum.php?f=20
Since this is just one opinion, I think it's premature to jump to creating subfora for suggestions and for bug reports right off the bat. I propose that we break suggestions that clearly require longer discussions (eg, a suggestion to add semantic tagging to all topics) into their own topics, but keep the Website Suggestions and Website Bug Reports topics for the little suggestions and reports respectively of minor tweaks and fixes that probably aren't sufficiently in-depth to require separate threads. Agreed?
Alex; all I wanted is for suggestions to be tracked in some way other than going to the suggestions page where they end up being forgotten about easily Razz It would be nice if there was a way we could stay informed about the hard work that all the admins put in, but I understand if that is not what is desired. I don't really have much to say about your post, other than I'm glad to hear that steps will be taken. I apologize if I am a little too brief and annoying sometimes. I just want back the old Cemetech days haha.
  
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