Discuss: phpBB to ship with VigLink extension

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Re: Discuss: phpBB 3.2.0-RC2 Released

Post by Ger » Wed Dec 14, 2016 8:49 am

DavidIQ wrote:
Thunderer wrote:In otherwords and having read the viglink info, you want to sneak, via the backdoor, referral codes into pre-existing and future links that may be published in any post on any forum.
It's hardly sneaking if we're announcing it to the community through a blog post and this discussion topic and it is prominently shown to be available after board upgrade/installation...
Well, like I and others said, the whole process still feels a little shady. Yeah there was a blog post with this discussion. And indeed there was a thing on Github.
But as it is an official extension, even one that's shipped with phpBB by default, why wasn't there an official extension development topic? Why hasn't there been any topic about it on Area51? Why hasn't this been referred to as "notable change" for 3.2 anytime earlier? Instead it's suddenly bundled in a _second_ release candidate. Not the first, nor any beta or alpha version, none of that.

Stuff like the new text formatter, Twig, or the FAQ controller are all discussed as an RFC. Same goes for extensions like Google analytics. Not really stuff end users notice. All stuff interested board admins could follow and share their thoughts about. Hell, even the code name for the next version is open to debate.

Look, I think I follow phpBB development much closer than most users. I come here on a daily basis, I look at Area51 multiple times a week, I'm developing an extension myself (even contributed a small PR not too long ago) and give support on phpBB.nl since 2.0 was still in active development. Yet this whole Viglink thing feels like some bomb feel out of the sky without any notice... I think it's save to say that unless a board administrator is also active as a phpBB.com team member, they wouldn't have known about Viglink at all.

I among many others try to explain this feeling to the team members from phpBB, but the response is simply like "you could have known it, if you knew where to look". And yes, about 10 minutes after RC2 has been released there was this blog post. You can hardly call that an "announcement". It's an explanation. That blog post was of course already written well before RC2 was packed, it was simply not made public yet.

Couldn't you at least acknowledge that the whole process could have been a tad more transparent? I usually praise phpBB for it's open nature. This thing makes quite a dent in that feeling.
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Re: Discuss: phpBB to ship with VigLink extension

Post by Marc » Wed Dec 14, 2016 9:09 am

Thunderer wrote:That still does not answer why it has to be included in the package in the first place.

If we have a choice, which it seems with this we do not, why does phpbb insist on bundling it?

To remove it causes unnecessary work for the admin team.

As far as underhanded goes, yes, it is underhanded as forum members will be unaware of the viglink injection unless and until an admin member informs the forum users by making a post about it. Again, causing more unnecessary work for the admin team.

The knowledge alone would be enough to put some forum members off clicking any links.

Still awaiting the answer of why it has to be bundled (removing initial choice of inclusion) and why phpbb has not recognised the extra, unnecessary work that the removal causes.
You have a clear choice. If you do not enable it, the VigLink service will be completely disabled. This has been answered many times already. It has to be bundled because it would have to be downloaded to your server upon enabling it otherwise. That will not work on a lot of installations and has the potential to open up your board to injections that are way worse than VigLink.
Stop pretending like there is no choice. You make it sound like we're trying to take your liver after you fell asleep. :roll:
gotwings wrote:Has the phpBB team considered offering a choice of several different support options to board admins when installing/upgrading phpBB?

For example: (A) Please help support phpBB with a PayPal donation. (B) Please help support phpBB by enabling VigLink. (C) Please help support phpBB by allowing a donation link on your forum's homepage. (D) Insert-latest-support-idea-here. (E) No thanks, I will just be a jerk.

I get it : Those of us who are not contributing to the codebase, or who are not donating monetarily, are (essentially) leeches. Sadly, I'm one of the leeches.... And I'm not offended if someone identifies me as such. I get it. I could/should be doing more (personally; not my users) to support the project.

But wow. Dumping this whole VigLink idea on everyone, without pursuing alternative (and less weird?) support ideas? That is taking me aback a bit.

Have I missed something here? Previous efforts that didn't amount to anything? Naivete on my part?
gotwings wrote:And how strange... The Get Involved page doesn't seem to have any mention of providing monetary support to phpBB.

Is there a reason for that?

Is phpBB a non-profit? I don't see anything about that in a front-and-center location.... If it is, then that could provide tax advantages to donors, at least in some countries.

And if it isn't a non-profit : How about a non-profit "Friends of phpBB" organization?

Sorry, probably all crazy ideas that won't work for one reason or another.... But if so, it would sure be nice if the topic regarding VigLink provided the relevant background.
The sarcasm aside, I think most of your questions have already been answered in this topic. phpBB is not a non-profit (a status that is rather hard to acquire and takes a rather long time as well) which will cause a significant burden to phpBB and any donators. We were already looking into this and at the current point there is no good way for us to accept donations as was already noted in this topic. So yes, accepting donations was one of the alternatives we have evaluated.

VigLink is a way of being able to support both your boards and phpBB if you're willing to use it. We're providing you with another means of supporting phpBB, a completely free and secure bulleting board software, in an unobtrusive way and that's it. No ads or any other obtrusive changes to how your board looks or interacts. If you don't want to support phpBB through enabling the VigLink service, don't enable it, don't use it, delete it if that makes you feel better. Nobody is dumping anything on you.
Ger wrote:*snip to mention*
The goal was to bundle this sooner which would have also given users more time to read about it prior to a final release. Unfortunately, it wasn't done in time for earlier releases like RC1 and we plainly didn't want to hold up releases for it. I don't think anyone would have approved of that.

We also have extensions that were created without special topics about them. There was no special development topic as the goal was not to release it separately in the customisation database. I do understand that you might feel like we've left you out of the information loop regarding this, however, the actual general implementation of this was not finished until a few weeks ago.

With the blog post we're trying to be as open as possible about this now and also explain to you the why and how. The current implementation is apparently still a bit buggy and will be fixed as was already pointed out.


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Re: Discuss: phpBB to ship with VigLink extension

Post by Ger » Wed Dec 14, 2016 9:56 am

Marc wrote:The goal was to bundle this sooner which would have also given users more time to read about it prior to a final release. Unfortunately, it wasn't done in time for earlier releases like RC1 and we plainly didn't want to hold up releases for it. I don't think anyone would have approved of that.

We also have extensions that were created without special topics about them. There was no special development topic as the goal was not to release it separately in the customisation database.
Why not? Many people may choose to remove the extension first, but for some reason want to add it at some point in the future. If it's not in the customisation database, most people won't find it or won't understand they should have to grab the full download package and pull the extension from there.
I do understand that you might feel like we've left you out of the information loop regarding this, however, the actual general implementation of this was not finished until a few weeks ago.
I understand.
On a more general note to everyone in here:
Please try to keep it civil and refrain from using sentence structures that might come of as aggressive to some readers.
I'm not sure if you're addressing me here, but I try to be civil in my wordings. However, I'm not a native speaker so my posts might seem more harsh than I intend to due to poor choice of words. If so, my apologies.
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Re: Discuss: phpBB to ship with VigLink extension

Post by sakm » Wed Dec 14, 2016 10:25 am

I have read this thread from the start and I for one will enable viglink

Although I really don't understand why you can't put a donation link on phpBB.com after all there is extensions for it!

I also think it is wrong that viglink is bundled with the software and it should be released as an extension as an option for users to install and enable to support phpBB.

To me its as if you are praying users don't notice that they have to disable it resulting in more funding for phpBB which don't get me wrong would be great for phpBB but users should have the choice to enable it to support phpBB or install the extension.

Also why has this never had a discussion thread to see what the users want? having a discussion about it with the users would have given you a better understanding of what the users want and as to whether they would enable it in the first place.

It's pretty clear by some of the replies that users feel as though this is being pushed upon us rather than an option and yes I know you can disable it and uninstall it but that's not the point!

I would like to see some improvements with viglink being enabled! like some paid staff to help authors with extensions and styles or to make current extensions work with future releases. After all everyone is a volunteer and do this in their spare time so a little support for them wouldn't go amiss.

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Re: Discuss: phpBB to ship with VigLink extension

Post by HiFiKabin » Wed Dec 14, 2016 10:43 am

Example.

How many of us have downloaded legitimate software from the web, clicked 'agree' (as we can't be arsed to read all of the T&C) only to find we now have a new search engine, maybe a new browser, Norton and god knows what else installed. Yes, even I have had that happen to me.

Yes, we could 'de select' them much in the same way we can 'de select' VigLink

If we consider (as I suspect most of us do) that the Example above is underhand, isn't this the same? Option off by default and allow the user to select VigLink IF THEY SO WISH is the transparent way, and the ONLY transparent way to include VigLink in the download.

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Re: Discuss: phpBB to ship with VigLink extension

Post by RMcGirr83 » Wed Dec 14, 2016 11:22 am

FWIW, one doesn't need to be a 501(c)(3) (aka non-profit) to accept "donations" or "gifts" you just can't issue a receipt for it and have someone claim it on their tax return.

Not sure of what the legal/tax issues MarshalRusty is speaking of. There really aren't any that I can think of but I don't know how phpBB Limited was originally setup.
Thunderer wrote:That still does not answer why it has to be included in the package in the first place
Because the phpBB team decided that they would include it in THEIR software package. They are free to add it just as you are free to go use some other forum software.

It should be disabled by default though IMHO.
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Re: Discuss: phpBB to ship with VigLink extension

Post by Volksdevil » Wed Dec 14, 2016 2:37 pm

As long as I can have a clear way of disabling/removing it then I don't mind. I've used Viglink on phpBB before and didn't like it.
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Re: Discuss: phpBB to ship with VigLink extension

Post by invenio » Wed Dec 14, 2016 2:45 pm

Volksdevil wrote:As long as I can have a clear way of disabling/removing it then I don't mind. I've used Viglink on phpBB before and didn't like it.
Can you please expand on "why you didn't like it"? Just curious as it seems that most people's objection is not on user experience but the "moral" implication of using it on their boards.

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Re: Discuss: phpBB to ship with VigLink extension

Post by Volksdevil » Wed Dec 14, 2016 2:53 pm

When I first used it, it used to insert links into posts. I found it to be too obnoxious, I understand that it's changed since then but I still have reservations as I struggle to grow my main boards membership as it is. I use google ads which I feel are more than enough.
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Re: Discuss: phpBB to ship with VigLink extension

Post by P_I » Wed Dec 14, 2016 3:04 pm

As a phpBB forum owner and admin I'm following this discussion closely. The forums that I'm involved with are strictly non-commercial. My initial reaction to the announcement wasn't positive, it seems very late breaking news for something this important.

That said, on a couple of our sites we also run a wiki using MediaWiki. Their model (best practices?) Comparison of extensions in distributions - MediaWiki is worth reviewing and considering. Bottom line, their distribution contains a number of bundled extensions, however the key to me is that none are enabled by default. If the administrator wants to use one (or more) of the bundled extensions, they have to enable/configure them.

I would go so far as suggesting that going forward all Official Extensions could be bundled into the phpBB Full Package download (similar to MediaWiki's model) as long as they remain disabled by default. Let the site owner/administrator make the decision to enable. Negative option billing just doesn't cut it.

As others have also stated, if phpBB.com provided a mechanism to allow me to contribute financially to defray costs, I'd strongly consider it. I've seen the Wikipedia funding drive messages too and can understand the viewpoint expressed by members of the phpBB team that this model doesn't necessarily work.
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Re: Discuss: phpBB to ship with VigLink extension

Post by Derky » Wed Dec 14, 2016 3:04 pm

RMcGirr83 wrote:FWIW, one doesn't need to be a 501(c)(3) (aka non-profit) to accept "donations" or "gifts" you just can't issue a receipt for it and have someone claim it on their tax return.

Not sure of what the legal/tax issues MarshalRusty is speaking of. There really aren't any that I can think of but I don't know how phpBB Limited was originally setup.
Since I know you have a financial background, how does that work for US companies that are not accredited as a non-profit and receive donations; Are you saying they don't have to pay any tax (or some other kind of fee to the government) over those donations? (I guess this might even differ by state?)

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Re: Discuss: phpBB to ship with VigLink extension

Post by JimA » Wed Dec 14, 2016 3:11 pm

Volksdevil wrote:When I first used it, it used to insert links into posts. I found it to be too obnoxious, I understand that it's changed since then but I still have reservations as I struggle to grow my main boards membership as it is. I use google ads which I feel are more than enough.
Be aware that Viglink offers multiple products, we're specifically and only using the Viglink Convert option for phpBB. Nothing on your phpBB page is changed, at all. No links will be added to posts and no links will be changed inside posts. Literally the only thing that is being done is that when somebody clicks an existing link in a post, then Viglink may add a referrer ID to the URL that gets opened. So, once more, the link in the post itself will absolutely not be changed. It will stay as the user has entered it. So when you decide to disable Viglink on your board again, there will be no trace of it ever having been there.
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Re: Discuss: phpBB to ship with VigLink extension

Post by HiFiKabin » Wed Dec 14, 2016 3:19 pm

Also, as this is an official extension that has been in development for a couple of years (first commit Oct 14) why hasn't it been placed in the 'In Development' forum for discussion prior to it being shipped with 3.2.0?

A suspicious person might think that you were worried about negative feedback making it impossible for you to release it. ;)
Last edited by HiFiKabin on Wed Dec 14, 2016 6:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Discuss: phpBB to ship with VigLink extension

Post by P_I » Wed Dec 14, 2016 3:22 pm

JimA wrote:No links will be added to posts and no links will be changed inside posts. Literally the only thing that is being done is that when somebody clicks an existing link in a post, then Viglink may add a referrer ID to the URL that gets opened.
Continued thanks to the phpBB team as they explain how this will operate so we can be informed phpBB admins. As someone who guards their internet privacy as best I can, I think see a problem here.

I typically hover over links first before clicking them to gain an understanding of where I could be going if I click. If I understand your example correctly, the link I hover over on a phpBB 3,2 forum and the target link that gets opened likely will differ by the potential addition of the referrer ID. Is that correct?
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Re: Discuss: phpBB to ship with VigLink extension

Post by RMcGirr83 » Wed Dec 14, 2016 3:26 pm

Derky wrote:Since I know you have a financial background, how does that work for US companies that are not accredited as a non-profit and receive donations; Are you saying they don't have to pay any tax (or some other kind of fee to the government) over those donations? (I guess this might even differ by state?)
Well given the awesomeness that is the IRS Tax Code it....depends.

If someone was to give a company a donation and that donation triggered an equity position (x amount of shares in the organization), then the donation isn't considered taxable income by the corporation. If no equity position it is considered income.

Gifting is usually done individual to individual so not mundane here.

So in this case, unless phpBB is going to start giving out shares of the company, it is considered income, and would count as revenue and, subsequently, be taxable...just as the ad revenue that is generated is considered taxable income.

PS and not for nothing but any team members that are receiving reimbursement for expenses related to phpBB (like the recent Germany thing) MAY have to claim the benefit gained by getting reimbursed. Just because you don't receive a 1099 doesn't forgive you of having to claim the income (which in this case is the reimbursed expense). Of course this may or may not apply to your particular country of residence. https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-utl/oc_aug_ ... 911_02.pdf As always consult a tax pro if you are ensure.
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