Can I set up a "dummy" (read only) forum that looks like it was active?

Do not post support requests, bug reports or feature requests. Discuss phpBB here. Non-phpBB related discussion goes in General Discussion!
Ideas Centre
shakeninsane
Registered User
Posts: 17
Joined: Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:37 am

Can I set up a "dummy" (read only) forum that looks like it was active?

Post by shakeninsane » Wed Mar 20, 2019 4:52 pm

Hi guys, sorry for the weird title, but it was the best I could think of at the moment. I hope you bear with me and understand what I'm asking for, and that you can help me in layman's terms.

So I've got this project where I want a phpbb forum to be in read-only mode, but for it to look like it was used - as in, let's say it was active between 2006 - 2008 before it was locket and forgotten about.

I wish to create the categories/topics myself, with dummy accounts and to be able to set fake dates for posting, etc. Basically just make it look like a forum that was active at some point with various users posting throughout the days etc.

And I wish to do it on my own / in a database that can be moved around. (I don't have a domain or anything yet, and I don't know when I will. For now, I wish to just start with the forum.)

Is this possible? Is there perhaps some software so I can work on it on my PC offline, or website where I can set up a forum to my liking, create dummy accounts to post and reply to each other, and perhaps later change the dates (or manipulate this somehow)?

The forum is supposed to be viewed as if you discover a dead forum where you can look around and read the posts but do nothing else. (Kind of like some sort of ARG but not really)

I hope I explained this well enough, and that perhaps this is possible in some way, even for a newbie like me. I have very limited knowledge of databases/phpbb forums. (I've only managed readymade forums like ezboard/yuku/freeforums etc) but I'm willing to try and learn new things!

User avatar
KevC
Support Team Member
Support Team Member
Posts: 69031
Joined: Fri Jun 04, 2004 10:44 am
Location: Oxford, UK
Contact:

Re: Can I set up a "dummy" (read only) forum that looks like it was active?

Post by KevC » Wed Mar 20, 2019 5:02 pm

Certainly making a board and posting and making it read only is easy.

The difficult bit is the time stamps.

Oddly enough someone was asking a really similar thing only the other week
viewtopic.php?f=641&t=2505961
-:|:- Support Request Template -:|:-
Image
Cheap UK Hosting
"In the land of the blind the little green bloke with no pupils is king - init!"

shakeninsane
Registered User
Posts: 17
Joined: Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:37 am

Re: Can I set up a "dummy" (read only) forum that looks like it was active?

Post by shakeninsane » Wed Mar 20, 2019 5:14 pm

Oh wow interesting! Thanks for the link to the thread.
Would you know how the easiest way to go about making a bord and posting would be? Would it be possible to do this "offline" through some software or something, for ease, or would the easiet be to make the board online and just start posting. (if we ignore the date issue for now)

And where would I got about to get a phpbb forum to play around with and also be able to get a database? I'm so out of it these days, I feel like a lot of the free servers are not so willing to give the databases and such.

(also, I think, if I follow the hints in that thread, it would probably be okay. For me the most important is the actual year. The dates I can probably work around. There's not a deadline on my project for now. Just something I want to work on)

User avatar
Prosk8er
Registered User
Posts: 1444
Joined: Sun Mar 12, 2006 3:30 am
Location: Rochester, NY
Name: Tyler
Contact:

Re: Can I set up a "dummy" (read only) forum that looks like it was active?

Post by Prosk8er » Wed Mar 20, 2019 5:17 pm

shakeninsane wrote:
Wed Mar 20, 2019 5:14 pm
Oh wow interesting! Thanks for the link to the thread.
Would you know how the easiest way to go about making a bord and posting would be? Would it be possible to do this "offline" through some software or something, for ease, or would the easiet be to make the board online and just start posting. (if we ignore the date issue for now)

And where would I got about to get a phpbb forum to play around with and also be able to get a database? I'm so out of it these days, I feel like a lot of the free servers are not so willing to give the databases and such.
you can do it offline if you install xampp then phpbb then you can play with that without it being live and make a bunch of posts and when your done transfer it to a live host

shakeninsane
Registered User
Posts: 17
Joined: Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:37 am

Re: Can I set up a "dummy" (read only) forum that looks like it was active?

Post by shakeninsane » Wed Mar 20, 2019 5:28 pm

Thank you for the tip! I will def. check that out! Sounds just up my alley. Will I be able to make posts with different users on it?

User avatar
stevemaury
Support Team Member
Support Team Member
Posts: 50405
Joined: Thu Nov 02, 2006 12:21 am
Location: The U.P.
Name: Steve
Contact:

Re: Can I set up a "dummy" (read only) forum that looks like it was active?

Post by stevemaury » Wed Mar 20, 2019 5:46 pm

Here is a tool for installing all the necessary software on your local computer - https://www.phpbb.com/support/docs/en/3 ... eb-server/

You will have to use the version of phpBB that was used in 2006, which would be version 2.0.x. You could use 3.1.x with subsilver2, but the version you use will govern the version of php you will have to have on your XAMPP installation. What version to use depends on the sophistication about phpBB of your target audience. Most people could not tell 3.1 with subsilver2 from 2.x just by looking. Earlier releases of 3.x are here - https://download.phpbb.com/pub/release/ . Earlier releases of 2.0.x are here - https://sourceforge.net/projects/phpbb/files/phpBB%202/

The times shouldn't be too big a problem. Lets say you have a topic you want to appear as if from 2006. Make all your posts, and then let's say the topic_id is N.

The timestamps in the database are Unix timestamps, which are expressed in the number of seconds that have passed since January 1, 1970. There are 365x24x3600, or 31636000 seconds in a year. (We'll forget about leap years). So, to age all the posts in a particular topic, say ten years, including the topic starter, you could run this SQL:

Code: Select all

UPDATE phpbb_topics SET topic_time = topic_time - 316360000;
UPDATE phpbb_posts SET post_time = post_time - 316360000 WHERE topic_id = N
Now you have the member join times. Easiest would be to have them all have joined within a month or so. Let's say there are 10 members, and let's say they all joined sometime in March 2006, but you actually created them in March, 2019.

Code: Select all

UPDATE phpbb_users SET user_regdate = user_regdate - 599184000 WHERE user_id = z;
UPDATE phpbb_users SET user_regdate = user_regdate - 599100000 WHERE user_id = z+1;
Etc. where z = the lowest user_id. Just keep subtracting a few days (24x3600) from the original 599184000 each time you run the query. Set the time display on the board on the board to only show day, month and year and it will be easier. There are other timestamps in the user table, but if you hide profiles and disable UCP, those should not be seen.

Have fun and obey the law.
For REALLY good and VERY inexpensive hosting CLICK HERE

I can stop all your spam. I can upgrade or update your Board. PM or email me. (Paid support)

shakeninsane
Registered User
Posts: 17
Joined: Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:37 am

Re: Can I set up a "dummy" (read only) forum that looks like it was active?

Post by shakeninsane » Wed Mar 20, 2019 6:03 pm

You're all so helpful, bless you. I didn't even consider versions, thanks! And thanks for the very helpful installation link and the codes!! Super much appreciated!

User avatar
thecoalman
Community Team Member
Community Team Member
Posts: 3154
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 3:52 am
Location: Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Contact:

Re: Can I set up a "dummy" (read only) forum that looks like it was active?

Post by thecoalman » Wed Mar 20, 2019 8:50 pm

If you change the time on the local computer it should be reflected in the post data. If not change it in the BIOS.
stevemaury wrote:
Wed Mar 20, 2019 5:46 pm

Code: Select all

UPDATE phpbb_topics SET topic_time = topic_time - 316360000;
UPDATE phpbb_posts SET post_time = post_time - 316360000 WHERE topic_id = N
You'd a have a good starting date. Taking a cue from what Steve posted you should be able to do something like this to space them out a little:

Code: Select all

UPDATE phpbb_topics SET topic_time = topic_time  * 1.0000000001;
UPDATE phpbb_posts SET post_time = post_time  * 1.0000000001 
Not sure if that is correct syntax or not. Be better math formula but I haven't sat in a math class for 3 decades. :o

----Edit-------

Normal advice applies here, backup the database before performing any SQL operations. If you screw it up you can go back to square one.

shakeninsane
Registered User
Posts: 17
Joined: Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:37 am

Re: Can I set up a "dummy" (read only) forum that looks like it was active?

Post by shakeninsane » Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:05 pm

Much appreciated. I'm fiddling with the stuff offline! So many years since I felt like such a complete novice at something, haha.

The codes, where do I put them exactly? I've only dabbled with the myphp and the localhost stuff. I'm guessing it makes sense with the SQL and all that? So far I've just set up categories/forums and fake users, haha.

edit: after making an admin/users and setting up the board how I want it to look. Is there more I should remember "behind the scenes"? Should I add the time stamp changing after posting things?
Let's say I make a "welcome to the new board" post, with replies. Should I put the codes for a certain time after that, then continue with the fake postings, or should I just alter the time stamp after all the posts on the entire board are "finished"?

For me, it's mostly the year that's the key here. I will anyway not be doing everything in one day anyway so the month/day will be fairly reasonable spread around. Sorry for the weird questions and lack of terms to use, haha. I hope you can bear with me. I'm really so glad you've been so helpful.

User avatar
thecoalman
Community Team Member
Community Team Member
Posts: 3154
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 3:52 am
Location: Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Contact:

Re: Can I set up a "dummy" (read only) forum that looks like it was active?

Post by thecoalman » Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:11 pm

if you are using XAMPP locally just click this link and bookmark it. XAMMP needs to running for it to work.

http://localhost/phpmyadmin/

User avatar
Mick
Support Team Member
Support Team Member
Posts: 21053
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2008 9:49 am
Location: Watching cricket - definitely

Re: Can I set up a "dummy" (read only) forum that looks like it was active?

Post by Mick » Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:14 pm

shakeninsane wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:05 pm
The codes, where do I put them exactly
Presumably you mean the SQL queries? Then Knowledge Base - Executing SQL Queries in phpMyAdmin
"The more connected we get the more alone we become" - Kyle Broflovski

User avatar
thecoalman
Community Team Member
Community Team Member
Posts: 3154
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 3:52 am
Location: Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Contact:

Re: Can I set up a "dummy" (read only) forum that looks like it was active?

Post by thecoalman » Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:20 pm

shakeninsane wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:05 pm
Let's say I make a "welcome to the new board" post, with replies. Should I put the codes for a certain time after that, then continue with the fake postings, or should I just alter the time stamp after all the posts on the entire board are "finished"?
You might want to try changing the computer clock manually each time for each new topic to space them out.

Running this query or something similar should space the posts out:

Code: Select all

UPDATE phpbb_topics SET topic_time = topic_time  * 1.0000000001;
UPDATE phpbb_posts SET post_time = post_time  * 1.0000000001;

User avatar
Mick
Support Team Member
Support Team Member
Posts: 21053
Joined: Fri Aug 29, 2008 9:49 am
Location: Watching cricket - definitely

Re: Can I set up a "dummy" (read only) forum that looks like it was active?

Post by Mick » Fri Mar 22, 2019 7:25 pm

The more I look at this the more I think it would be worthwhile as an extension.
"The more connected we get the more alone we become" - Kyle Broflovski

shakeninsane
Registered User
Posts: 17
Joined: Wed Jul 19, 2017 9:37 am

Re: Can I set up a "dummy" (read only) forum that looks like it was active?

Post by shakeninsane » Sat Mar 23, 2019 12:34 pm

I've bookmarked this topic and saved your queries, so I can test them when the time comes. :mrgreen:

Using the computer clock was a smart idea too! I could def mess around with that more easily - (I guess it will give me a bit more control aswell).

User avatar
thecoalman
Community Team Member
Community Team Member
Posts: 3154
Joined: Wed Dec 22, 2004 3:52 am
Location: Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Contact:

Re: Can I set up a "dummy" (read only) forum that looks like it was active?

Post by thecoalman » Sun Mar 24, 2019 12:41 am

shakeninsane wrote:
Sat Mar 23, 2019 12:34 pm
I've bookmarked this topic and saved your queries, so I can test them when the time comes. :mrgreen:
As I said backup database first and this number will need to be adjusted. 1.0000000001. Making it 1.0000000002 would space them out more.

Another quick tip, in the moderator control panel you can change the poster. You can write your posts as admin and then change the poster to registered member instead of having to log in/out constantly.

Post Reply

Return to “phpBB Discussion”