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Post Your Feedback is Requested shaunbwilson
Over the past 20 years, I have done my best to keep Acts-celerate a fun place to discuss ideas from a technology standpoint. Doyle was the one who took ownership of creating discussion, setting moderation policy for our moderator team, and overseeing the moderation of posts while I worked on the technology side of things.

One thing I have seriously considered over the past five years is the possibility of moving Acts-celerate to a new platform on another website. There are several major pros and cons to making a move like this, and the cons have seemed to outweigh the pros in the past. However, as we become further and further removed from technical support on our existing platform (and pay a premium to our web host for them to maintain old technology to do so), it seems that the time has come to discuss the pros and cons with the members of this community and get your feedback on whether we should migrate to new technology.

The first thing to note is that Actscelerate.com would remain an active domain. 

Next, just like when we moved from ezBoard to the current self-hosted platform, there would be a migration period.

The first phase of the migration would allow users to continue to post on this forum while also reading, making an account for, and learning to post on the new platform.

In the second phase of the migration, we would lock this forum in its existing state so that no new posts or comments could be posted here. However, there will be access to the "archives" of what has already been posted here. Additionally, there would be a prominent link to the new platform.

In the final phase of the migration, the actscelerate.com domain would simply redirect to our new platform. I would stop paying our web host extra to use the old technology, and while the old posts would still be archived in our backend database, there would be no way for a user to access that information directly.

Here are the major pros and cons I see to relocating to a new platform:

Pros:
  • It will refresh the user interface.
  • The new user interface would provide a "voting" system that allows people to say whether a post is worth discussing without posting. This usually leads to an increase in the quality of topics and discourse.
  • Conversation is threaded (nested) rather than flat. This makes conversations much easier to follow and participate in. It also usually results in more discussion since replies can be added to a specific comment rather than quoting old comments to help your new comment make sense. (Most are probably familiar with the way threaded comments work on Facebook where one level of nesting is allowed. On the new platform, threads may nest more than one level.)
  • It will use a newer technology backend that is still being maintained. Our existing web host makes no guarantee that we will continue to be able to use the legacy version of PHP necessary to maintain our current platform. In other words, there is already a risk that this board could be unsupported and completely unusable at any time. A move would "future-proof" the site. It would also mean security vulnerabilities are still being found and fixed.
  • It will be much faster for new users (or new pen names) to sign up for a new account because the new platform will be responsible for new users rather than me needing to watch the "non-active members" list and manually approve new users.

Cons:
  • No control over the types of ads we are served.
  • Much less control over the top-level policies or features of the board.
  • Users would eventually lose access to our "post archives" (meaning the posts that were posted on our current platform).
  • It will be necessary for all users to re-register. There is no way to port your existing username or post history to the new platform. I will be happy to support account verification using tags on the new platform while we migrate. When you post, it will show the post from "New Username (Old Username)."
  • "There will be a small learning curve in using the new platform. I will do my best to help you set up your new account preferences so that the user experience will be as familiar as possible.
  • There is a small time investment in setting up a new account on a new platform with the settings that you like.

I considered making a "yes/no" poll to see what the community's thoughts are on this, but after thinking more about it, I would like to give more weight to the feedback of those who are active posters than those who are passive viewers. This community is not a community without its active posters, so I want to make sure we're on the same page before doing anything.

Please consider the pros and cons, add your own if you've thought of some, ask questions if you have them, and let's discuss whether a move to a new platform on our own time schedule (rather than if/when our web host suddenly ends support for our version of PHP) is a good option for us right now.

Some questions you might have:
  • Have you looked for an updated platform to deploy on this domain? Yes; extensively. We have tried to update to phpBB 3.0 several times, but we couldn't get the database connected properly, and the user interface changed a lot between phpBB 2.0 and 3.0. I was willing to try to figure out how to "re-skin" phpBB 3.0 to feel more familiar, but our inability to perform an upgrade and get the database connected made that moot.
  • Would there still be an option to be anonymous on the new platform? Yes. In fact, it would increase the level of anonymity due to the inherent privacy differences coded in the platform. On the other hand, I will be more limited in my ability to help people change their settings because I will not have any access to the backend of the new platform. For example, I will not be able to be involved in helping users reset their passwords or change their spell check preferences.

I will add more questions here if there are any common questions in this thread.
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Last edited by shaunbwilson on 3/25/24 12:46 pm; edited 1 time in total
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3/22/24 10:59 am


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Post Shaun... Aaron Scott
Shaun, what about Facebook? We could fix it such that only those who have been "certified" can post. You would also have the ability to lock someone out, if necessary.

For that matter, maybe we can create FB accounts that are under our pen name, if we so wish.

Thoughts?

Also, if we went to FB or to some other new site, can we retain the old threads that are now locked, but were quite entertaining or enlightening from the past (e.g., Hot Discussions)?
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3/22/24 11:57 am


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Post shaunbwilson
Thanks for your suggestions and questions, Aaron. I appreciate you getting the ball rolling.

I think there are a lot of challenges that would come with using Facebook, including the fact that it's not really set up for discussion as much as other forum-style sites. I think people who prefer to be anonymous or use multiple accounts would be frustrated by needing to switch between their "real" personal Facebook account and other accounts all the time. Additionally, moving to another forum-based site would give everyone tools that make posting more fun that Facebook doesn't have.

Regarding moderation, our new platform would have the ability for us to ban accounts from our community.

Unfortunately, I don't know of a way to save the old threads. Like I said, my plan would be to leave this forum here and locked for a while if we moved. However, our web host has been pretty heavy-handed with their messaging that they won't support the legacy version of PHP that we use forever. At some point, we will lose these posts anyway. We simply have no idea if that's a decision our web host will make tonight or in another 25 years. It will likely be out of nowhere.
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3/22/24 12:36 pm


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Post Cojak
Of course I will not be around long and being a former Burroughs and IBM computer programmer and maintenance man, today I am lost in the new technology and have a hard time grasping changes. BUT I still think you have a great idea and i would be glad to try to learn while I can. By great idea I am thinking of this new generation who catch on fast and may give more interaction.
I wish I knew enough to make an intelligent amen or huh uh, I just know my grand kids grasp this new tech fast. And would have no problem grabbing hold.

Thanks for what you and Bro Doyle have done here in the past.... Cool Idea
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3/22/24 7:24 pm


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Post FLRon
Shaun, I think it’s wise to move on from this current platform. One question I have is will the new site allow the creation of individual Main Category Topics, which you as Admin would create, and beneath the topic allow for individuals to post their own sub topic for discussion?

For example, say the topic “Baptism” was created. Could users then post their own sub topic such as “Immersion Baptism” or “Is Baptism really necessary”? There could be a dozen or so Main Categories that maybe the users could have input on. I’m thinking of categories like Second Coming, Sanctification, Current Events, Church, Prophecy, etc. Mix it up so it doesn’t come across as a CoG only discussion board.

I think this would allow for a more structured discussion as opposed to the current method where discussions often stray from the OP’s perspective.
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3/23/24 9:10 am


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Post shaunbwilson
Cojak wrote:
Of course I will not be around long and being a former Burroughs and IBM computer programmer and maintenance man, today I am lost in the new technology and have a hard time grasping changes. BUT I still think you have a great idea and i would be glad to try to learn while I can. By great idea I am thinking of this new generation who catch on fast and may give more interaction.
I wish I knew enough to make an intelligent amen or huh uh, I just know my grand kids grasp this new tech fast. And would have no problem grabbing hold.

Cojack, I'm so glad to hear this. This community would not be the same without you. You always bring an optimistic yet grounded perspective to this board, and your posts are always steeped in kindness. I always get excited to see a new Cojack post. I will be happy to bend over backwards to try to help in whatever way I can to help you get comfortable with a new platform.

Cojak wrote:
Thanks for what you and Bro Doyle have done here in the past.... Cool Idea

You are welcome.

FLRon wrote:
Shaun, I think it’s wise to move on from this current platform. One question I have is will the new site allow the creation of individual Main Category Topics, which you as Admin would create, and beneath the topic allow for individuals to post their own sub topic for discussion?

For example, say the topic “Baptism” was created. Could users then post their own sub topic such as “Immersion Baptism” or “Is Baptism really necessary”? There could be a dozen or so Main Categories that maybe the users could have input on. I’m thinking of categories like Second Coming, Sanctification, Current Events, Church, Prophecy, etc. Mix it up so it doesn’t come across as a CoG only discussion board.

I think this would allow for a more structured discussion as opposed to the current method where discussions often stray from the OP’s perspective


FLRon, thanks for voicing your opinion and sharing your ideas.

The new platform would not allow for a system in exactly the way you described, but it would allow for something similar.

First, I'd like to highlight that we have experimented with what you described on the board here a few times over the past 20 years. You can see some vestiges of that on the main actscelerate.com front page where there is still a section specifically about media/technology. In the past, we also had a forum specifically for Oneness/Trinitarian discussion and one for discussion specifically among those who were willing to post with their real name behind their post. We also had a few more that I've now forgotten.

The participation on these subcategory forums was much lower than this "main" general discussion forum. The most recent post in those forums is from 2019. Based on our analytics, it seems that most of the time, people just want to check in on the "main" forum rather than multiple forums for new posts.

However, on the new platform, we could set up a "tag" system, which can be used to categorize discussions like you have described, but it will also still allow the discussion to take place all within what you might think of as the "main" community. I think it will help increase the discussion on these topics because they will still be prominent in the "main" community, but it will still have enough structure that one can view the posts only set with the category tag.

I hadn't thought about using the tag system like this. Great idea.
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3/23/24 11:05 am


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Post Something else I’d like to see FLRon
I’d also like to see a button or a link inserted on each page where members can contribute to the costs associated with this site. It’s just not right that you, Shaun, bear all the costs. If such a thing currently exists please point it out to me!
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3/24/24 1:44 am


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Post caviator
Ther’s got to be someone within our denomination community who can host the website and upgrade it to a more current version of the app so we can use it in the way which we have through the years without too much new and unfamiliar social media changes? After all, we are talking about disappearing of thousands of precious Church of God discussions of over quarter of a century, representing historical issues and dynamics that cannot be otherwise replicated in our heritage. Think of the magnitude of time, effort and thought that will be forever lost. Just my OTCP two cents. (3 Kings 3:26) Hey, DOC
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3/24/24 6:14 pm


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Post Nature Boy Florida
Shaun,

Doyle would want to forge ahead with the best available at a reasonable cost - perhaps we would gain some former posters back - and some new ones.

If we can still view some old threads - great. If not, we lost some from EZBoard - we will make new ones.
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3/25/24 7:59 am


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Post shaunbwilson
Thanks, everyone, for your feedback. We have lots of established members of the Acts-celerate community who have voiced their support. I hope anyone who is hesitant will give it a shot, and I hope we make a believer out of them. I do think a move will increase the quality of discussion, and I think a new platform will help alleviate some frustration that has started to form every time something small goes wrong (like a post not going through after time was spent drafting it).

I will post some steps that everyone can take to start exploring the new platform. If you need help, please feel free to let me know, and I'll do my best to help everyone get their new account set up.
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3/25/24 12:45 pm


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Post Re: Shaun... Sweethomealabama
Aaron Scott wrote:
Shaun, what about Facebook? We could fix it such that only those who have been "certified" can post. You would also have the ability to lock someone out, if necessary.

For that matter, maybe we can create FB accounts that are under our pen name, if we so wish.

Thoughts?

Also, if we went to FB or to some other new site, can we retain the old threads that are now locked, but were quite entertaining or enlightening from the past (e.g., Hot Discussions)?


Facebook frowns upon pin names. Pen names won’t work on Facebook because if someone reports it as a fake account they will remove it because it’s not a person name. Also, I think accelerate would lose a lot of character if it required someone to submit their ministerial number or some crazy hoops like the excellent ministry of COG page on Facebook, I think it would have negative effects of pushing more more people out of the denomination and out of the discussion it is cult like to control all language. The issue with Facebook is that it will not get widespread apeal. Plus you have to have an account to look at facebook… On reddit You can see everything without an account but you still need an account to post.

Acts has had a Facebook for years but still the usership was low because of the hoops Facebook required. Just my 2 cents.
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3/25/24 11:23 pm


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Post caviator
Even worse than Facebook, Reddit solely implements bot bans for moderation. During the Anglican (split) debate, we watched whole streams with thousands of threads each, banned for a single comment against The Agenda (LGBT or otherwise). The appeal process is also runed by bots and once it’s gone good luck on getting it back! Hey, DOC
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3/26/24 6:01 am


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Post shaunbwilson
Thanks for sharing your concerns, caviator. That's a valid concern that's worth addressing.

I've been using Reddit for about 15 years now, and I moderate two other Reddit communities. I belong to several Christian-oriented (and one "Christian"-oriented) communities in addition to other communities that pertain to my hobbies and interests. I am certainly aware of some of the controversial decisions Reddit has made over the years, although I am unaware of the one you're describing.

Several of the other Christian Reddit communities of which I'm a part have a long history of giving Biblical advice and providing an orthodox Biblical worldview on homosexuality. While they are not communities solely focused on what the Bible has to say about homosexuality, it is a regular topic in those communities, with people who struggle with same-sex attraction posting to ask for advice and prayer. These forums are full of discussions about how the Bible views sexuality and direct advice on how to deal with same-sex attraction in an orthopraxic, Biblical way. Additionally, it's not uncommon for someone to make a post sharing their testimony of how the Lord delivered them from same-sex attraction. These posts do not get people banned in these communities.

A point of clarification about how Reddit is set up. There are administrators who largely allow communities to run themselves as long as they follow the board's rules, and there are moderators who moderate specific communities. Additionally, moderators can set up an "automoderator" in their community to do some of the repetitive work. The moderators set the rules for what automatic actions the automoderator will perform in their community or whether there will be an automoderator at all. The moderator(s) of the Anglican Reddit community could have set up an automoderator to automatically ban any user who posted about whatever issues they felt were a problem for the community. Or there could have been legitimate bullying or threats that got people banned.

However, I do not anticipate discussion of a Biblical worldview (including LGBT issues) to cause any issues for us as a community as long as the discussion is done respectfully. At least, I have not seen this as a problem in other Christ-centric Reddit communities.

If, for some reason, our community is banned on Reddit at any point, we will have a rallying point from which to find a new solution. I have no intention of letting Actscelerate.com lapse as a domain, and in the unlikely event that we are quickly and forcefully removed from Reddit, we will be able to figure out our next step.
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