[DEV] Post Notes

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drathbun
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[DEV] Post Notes

Post by drathbun » Mon Apr 07, 2008 5:35 pm

MOD Title: Post Notes
MOD Description: Adds the ability to enter notes or comments on an individual post
MOD Version: N/A

MOD Download: N/A
Last Stable version: N/A

I recently installed a preliminary version of a MOD I am calling Post Notes on one of my boards. Simply put, post notes are an additional layer of information in the Board -> Forum -> Topic - > Post hierarchy. They provide a way for folks to comment on a specific post. This is NOT intended to be a threaded discussion; the ability to enter post notes is restricted to moderators or admins at this time. So what are post notes used for? Here are a few ideas that I am implementing right now:
  • Post Edit History: In a standard phpBB2 board there is no record kept if a moderator edits another user's post. With this MOD every edit is recorded with a who edited and when edited. The "what was edited" option is under consideration. This is a system-generated note and is not editable.
  • Moderator Actions: in a standard phpBB2 board there is no record of a split / move / lock / unlock operation by a moderator. In my initial implementation all moderator actions add a note to the first post of the topic. In the case of a move the note includes the "from" and the "to" forum. In a lock / unlock it simply states that the topic was locked or unlocked. I have implemented other moderator actions and in my case every action is logged. The syntax is very simple, so if you have added additional moderator actions you only have to include one extra line of code to log your custom moderator actions. This is a system-generated note and is not editable.
  • Report-A-Post: There are other MODs available for phpBB2 that provide this function, but I wrote my own. I have used the Post Notes in conjunction with Report-A-Post to allow users to enter notes about why they are reporting a post, and then for moderator to respond to those notes explaining why they took the action that they did.
  • Moderator / Admin comments: a mod or admin can manually enter notes. Here's a sample scenario: suppose that User A reports a post. Moderator B looks at it and thinks it's a borderline case, and posts a note on the post mentioning that. Moderator C reviews the report and the post notes and agrees with Moderator B, and suggests just closing the post without taking any action. Administrator D closes the report and adds a note that describes what action was taken and why. These manual notes are only visible to moderators or admins. At this time I don't envision allowing users to comment on other user's posts.
There are a couple of blog posts about this idea and including some basic design ideas and screen shots here:

Any More phpBB2 MODs?
Designing Post Notes

Here are some screen shots with a few words of explanation:

Image
The icons in the red box on the lower corner are, from left to right:

1. Spammer Hammer (not released)
2. Add Post Note
3. View Post Notes
4. Report A Post

Post notes are hidden in a div and displayed via javascript. The javascript code is very simple and is used on a number of my boards to show / hide content. The div id is the post id so there is very little chance of a conflict with another div in your style. Here's what the post notes look like when expanded:

Image
The View Post Notes icon is only displayed if there are posts to view. If the post does not have any post notes at the time you view the topic, that icon is replaced with an invisible gif as a placeholder (so the other buttons don't shift positions).

Post notes are stored as text. At this time I don't support bbcode or smilies in post notes. You can put smilies in, but they will be displayed as text. The post notes are displayed in the same chronological order as the posts, so if you have opted to display posts in descending order the notes will be in the same order, otherwise posts and post notes will both be in ascending order.

So the big question is, would there be any interest in having me write this up and release it for phpBB2? I am clearly using it myself. My concern is, with the major shift from phpBB2 to phpBB3, is it worth my time (and yours) to write it up and go through the approval process?

Feedback on that question or any features as described here is welcome. :)
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Re: [DEV] Post Notes

Post by Dogs and things » Tue Apr 08, 2008 7:39 am

I am definitely interested, I´d even like to test it on my local copy of my pretty heavilly modded live board.

As I don´t intent to switch to phpbb3 I consider this worth the effort.
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Re: [DEV] Post Notes

Post by drathbun » Tue Apr 08, 2008 1:30 pm

Do you have any sort of moderator log or report-a-post MOD installed now?
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Re: [DEV] Post Notes

Post by Dogs and things » Tue Apr 08, 2008 1:57 pm

No, I don´t.

I did but got rid of it.

I do have some other MODs installed that fiddle with the moderator functions, like the Approval MOD, the Move Post Instead of Deleting MOD.

Why do you ask? ;)
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Re: [DEV] Post Notes

Post by drathbun » Tue Apr 08, 2008 2:15 pm

I am trying to decide how far to take this idea.

For my board, the post notes is a function of the Report a Post MOD. It could be separated. The moderator log is also easily separated out. The basic reason for the question is figuring out which features to include as a part of the Post Notes and which to leave out. The moderator log is so simple, it seems a shame to leave it out, so I would probably include it. The Report-a-Post MOD would probably be better suited as a stand-alone MOD, due to the complexity.

Thanks for your input.
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Re: [DEV] Post Notes

Post by drathbun » Wed Apr 16, 2008 2:25 pm

I think the decision on whether to try to release this MOD or not has been made for me. Due to the recent announcement that phpBB2 support will be dropped later this year, and based on how long it takes me to get MODs coded, tested, documented, and released, I don't believe that this MOD will be done in time. As a result, I am going to formally abandon this topic.

Any further development notes or code downloads will take place on my phpBB MOD site (see signature for link).
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Re: [ABD] Post Notes

Post by Dogs and things » Wed Apr 16, 2008 5:42 pm

I'm glad to read, correct me if I read wrong, that you're only abandoning this topic but not the MOD.

I guess you´ll see me over at your board soon as I´m definitely nterested in this MOD and in continuing with my old and backdated but very beloved phpBB2!

Two full years of continuously working on it to make into what it is at this moment in time can´t be simply thrown into the bin just because of "modern times". ;)
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Re: [ABD] Post Notes

Post by drathbun » Wed Apr 16, 2008 6:21 pm

Yes, I plan to continue development. Afterall, I just released it (started using it) on one of my boards. At the moment I have not fully opened the phpBBDoctor forum for public use, and that's one option as far as continuing support for my 2.x MODs. I have to figure out how to / what to do next. :) The one thing I know for sure is what I have already posted. Since the decision has been made to drop phpBB2 support from this site it will be better to start planing for alternatives.
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Re: [ABD] Post Notes

Post by Dogs and things » Wed Apr 16, 2008 6:36 pm

I'm glad to read this Dave,

You're saying exactly what I allready figured, alternatives will have to be sought.

We'll end up as strangies groupin' together in dark, crampy out-ot-the-way places where we talk about ancient software that's got us hooked. :P
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Re: [ABD] Post Notes

Post by drathbun » Wed Apr 16, 2008 10:14 pm

Well, I have two possibilities currently in place, and more options that are not available to the general public yet. I have http://www.phpbbdoctor.com which currently is for private clients only, but I have invested a decent amount of time in my equivalent of the MOD-DB. I have http://www.phpbb2mods.com which I inherited from AbelaJohnB when he retired from phpBB-related things. (I also own phpbb3mods.com which doesn't even exist as as a functional web site at this time...)

Back on topic... I have made a few more tweaks to the Post Notes system based on user feedback. Once you get folks other than yourself using something you generally find out all sorts of interesting things. :lol: For example, the post notes are hidden until requested by default. But my team has asked for the post notes to be shown by default in one particular forum. So I envision setting up a flag on the forums table that will designate whether forums are going to show / hide post notes by default.

I have also been asked to implement BBCode, or at least a subset of it. I won't do the entire bits like smilies and mailto links and stuff, but it's important when you are using the typed words as your only means of communication to be able to provide emphasis in one format or another or so I am told. :lol: So that is at least under consideration.

But in general it's working well so far.

Do you have a merge topic feature? I think I came up with an interface that beats the other merge options that I evaluated and provides a nice bit of flexibility. It's going to be detailed in the next series of blog posts, I think.

Since we're still talking, I will change the topic back to [DEV] so it doesn't get locked. Thanks for your input.
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Re: [DEV] Post Notes

Post by Dogs and things » Wed Apr 16, 2008 10:34 pm

Funny and nice to see how topics can change their status in less than 24 hours these days. :mrgreen:

I for my board don´t think I want to have the notes visible all the time, allthough it sounds like a good feature to be able to switch them on/off on a per forum basis. I don´t think we will want to have them visible all the time because we have a nice board where very little moderation takes place. But, once we have Post Notes installed it might turn out to be more comfortable to have the notes in view at all times.

Basic bbcode sounds like a must-have, it's good to be able to give some format to plain text.

I use Simply Merge Threads and am pretty happy with it, never found anything that could/should be better or different. Which doesn´t mean I can't imagine a better Merge function. With those things happens something similar as what you describe, until someone doesn´t show you a function/MOD you simply don´t think of it but once you see it you realize that is ís better.

So I´m looking forward to knowing your Merge function.

It´s also nice to know that you allready have some crampy backroom waiting to get busy, my guess is that you better start putting up some extra seats allready. :P
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Re: [DEV] Post Notes

Post by Ornette » Sun Jun 29, 2008 6:37 pm

Nice mod.

Will have a look soon
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Re: [DEV] Post Notes

Post by drathbun » Mon Jun 30, 2008 7:14 pm

We've been using this MOD on my largest board for a while now. It's not an overwhelmingly visible feature, but that's the way I wanted it to work. In a few more months I'm going to use this to go back and evaluate the various members of the moderator team and see how much work they're actually doing. :)

At this point I doubt that I will have this MOD finished before this site becomes unavailable for phpBB2 work, so I imagine the focus will swap to my own site. I'll come back and post a link when I have things ready to go in that area.
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Re: [DEV] Post Notes

Post by Dogs and things » Mon Jun 30, 2008 7:44 pm

Good,

We´ll see us there then! ;)
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