A new website for nargs.org

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cohan
cohan's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-02-03

deesen wrote:

Burr wrote:

........ Drupal CMS permits us to assign page privileges at many levels which means that non-technical members can have much more editorial control over the content...........

Many thanks for responding Ben, I'm a little clearer now!! One thing that worries me is the assumption that "non-technical members" actually want "more editorial control over the content" Some don't and couldn't care a fig about exercising their own "editorial control". Maybe it's an age thing but speaking personally I'm happy to leave the technical "guff" to Mark and others and concentrate solely on enjoying the content in the spirit of learning, comradeship, and, if there's a laugh about then enjoying that too.

I'm supposing this could be useful in the sort of case that has come up a few times for me: I have wanted to post things in the Family/
genus section of the forum, but found that there was no area for Ericaceae, for example. While I could add topics to an existing board, as a non-administrator, I could not add new boards, so I had to pester administrators for that. I would think, though, you might want to carefully examine which editorial tools you want all members to have access to- you could in theory get a situation where people are constantly splitting off topics and creating new boards to the extent that it is all too fractured... If this is even the sort of editorial activity Ben is talking about...

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

RickR
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-09-21

That would be chaos, Cohan.  Or worse, maybe even CHAOS (from the Get Smart TV series). ;D ;)

I think it would be more like allowing Chapters to edit their own individual info pages in the main NARGS site, for instance.

Rick Rodich    zone 4a.    Annual precipitation ~24 inches
near Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

Ben Burr
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-12-18

Editorial Control:

I should have been clearer; Rick is correct.  I was speaking about the main nargs.org website.  It is our view that the Forum and the WIKI are models for how the entire site should be run.  In the case of the Forum, Mark is doing a remarkable job of keeping the site not only operative, but vibrant, because he has created an environment whereby registered users are actively contributing interesting an exciting material.

Editorial control does not mean administrative or structural control.  If you look at the information that we have distributed and posted you will see that we envision that web developers will be contracted to make major changes and upgrades.  A site administrator will be responsible for assigning page privileges, maintenance and minor structural changes to the site.  A Content Editor will have overall editorial control of the content on the website.  He will have provide the vision for how it should look and in addition to providing material on his own, will assign editorial tasks to managers for specific pages and approve changes before they are posted.  Malcolm McGregor has agreed to be our initial Content Manager.  We are fortunate that he has agreed to take on this responsibility because it will provide continuity between the Quarterly and the website.  Malcolm or one of his assistants will field suggestions or contributions to the website. The Drupal database allows for an infinite permutation of page privilege assignments so members will only be allowed to work on pages for which they have been assigned.

The Drupal database also permits us to integrate the membership database into the site.  Bobby Ward, our Executive Director, will continue to administer the database, but we believe that many of the tasks he performs now will be automated.  Forum users are familiar with managing their profiles.  Those who are NARGS members will be able to update their membership information.  Online membership renewal, as well as joining, will be easier.

No changes for administration of the Forum or the WIKI pages are planned.

Ben

Ben Burr

Booker
Booker's picture
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-30

So pleased to hear that, Ben ... and many thanks to each and every contributor to this wonderful resource.

Cliff Booker A.K.A. Ranunculus
On the moors in Lancashire, U.K.
Usually wet, often windy, sometimes cold ... and that's just me!

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Hello all, after an exhausting week in Las Vegas (15,000 attendee conference) and long bookend days of travel, I'm back and can contribute.  First, I will respond to some of the previous posts.

cohan wrote:

I have wanted to post things in the Family/Genus section of the forum, but found that there was no area for Ericaceae, for example. While I could add topics to an existing board, as a non-administrator, I could not add new boards, so I had to pester administrators for that.

Cohen, no need to worry about pestering the moderators team, we're happy to help and give full consideration to any and all suggestions.  There is of course need for control and organization of the NARGS Forum at the "board" level, otherwise there would be chaos (or CHAOS, good one Rick ;) ).  

Burr wrote:

In the case of the Forum, Mark is doing a remarkable job of keeping the site not only operative, but vibrant, because he has created an environment whereby registered users are actively contributing interesting an exciting material.

Thanks Ben, but I do not deserve full credit, as moderation of NARGS Forum is performed with equal activity, contribution, competence, and dedication by fellow moderators Lori Skulski and Rick Rodich.

Burr wrote:

There are many developers who have contributed modules for each of the components.  For example, there are several forum modules, one of which we hope to adapt to NARGS Fourm users' satisfaction for the new website.  (The current Forum runs on SMF software and is an entirely distinct component of nargs.org.  Hence, separate logins.)  

Let me clarify this point, which also connects to to my concern about how registration might work under the Drupal environment.  Originally when NARGS Forum opened for business, it was for NARGS Members only.  Accordingly, the self registration component of the SMF forum software was disabled because there was no need for it, all new NARGS members were given NARGS Forum membership.

Once it was decided to open NARGS Forum participation to any validated and approved internet users (e.g. NARGS membership not required), we (myself and Hugh MacMillan) had to implement a number of steps to make this work.  Basically, the self-registration component of SMF forum software had to be turned on to allow internet users to sign up for the forum. To avoid becoming inundated by spammers and seas of internet miscreants, we installed a "anti-forum-spam" plugin to the SMF forum software.  As registration requests come in, their IP address, email address, and forum username are compared to a massive database of "content spammers", and if they come up positive as spam, they are automatically denied access.  The NARGS Forum experiences 200-400 bogus registration requests each day, which are thankfully auto-rejected!

Here's an example of an automated registration request rejection, this applicant tried registering 20 times so far today:
   The user sdfdsfghhja with Email xingtai55m@gmail.com (IP 37.59.10.138) is a Spam.

As you can see from the results using the Forum Spam List Checker utility, this is one busy spammer.
[attachimage=1]

Spammers are industrious malefactors, continuously generating new email & IP addresses to give the "appearance" of having clean credentials for a day or two, until their bad behavior gets them reported to anti-spam databases.  Accordingly, some spammy registration requests still get through, as many as 10 per day, which sit there and await moderation by myself. To vet registration requests awaiting moderation, I use a forum spam checking utility that runs the applicant's credentials through 14 different databases; 99% of the time these prove positive for spam.

Sometimes I run across registration requests where it is difficult to evaluate validity.  In such cases, I google search their credentials, including general geographic location determined from their IP address, to find more clues to make a determination whether to reject or accept the application.

Given this rather manual process, what I'm interested in hearing from the web redesign and project management team, how do we accommodate the NARGS Member registration, and NARGS Forum registration open to both NARGS and non-NARGS members, and protect the forum from entry by internet evidoers?

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

cohan
cohan's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-02-03

RickR wrote:

That would be chaos, Cohan.  Or worse, maybe even CHAOS (from the Get Smart TV series). ;D ;)

I think it would be more like allowing Chapters to edit their own individual info pages in the main NARGS site, for instance.

Agreed. Just please don't try to get Maxwell Smart to fix anything!

west central alberta, canada; just under 1000m; record temps:min -45C/-49F;max 34C/93F; http://picasaweb.google.ca/cactuscactus  http://urbanehillbillycanada.blogspot.com/

IMYoung
Title: Member
Joined: 2010-01-31

Quote:

Given this rather manual process, what I'm interested in hearing from the web redesign and project management team, how do we accommodate the NARGS Member registration, and NARGS Forum registration open to both NARGS and non-NARGS members, and protect the forum from entry by internet evildoers?

A good point  I think, Mark.
In the SRGC, we  keep Forum registration as a separate entity for just that reason - also we keep seed exchange registration  as a separate process - we are very mindful of the risks of any online database of all members' details being vulnerable to hacking and so we restrict online info in that database to names and addresses.

Maggi Y. 

Ian  and/or Margaret Young ( -here it is usually Margaret)

Aberdeen , North East Scotland, UK
Zone 8a

www.srgc.net

Mark McD
Title: Moderator
Joined: 2009-12-14

Thanks Maggi for weighing in on this issue, your perspective on how things work at SRGC is most pertinent and valuable to this discussion.

Mark McDonough
Massachusetts, USA, near the New Hampshire border USDA Zone 5
antennaria at aol.com
 

Daniel Dillon
Title: Member
Joined: 2012-09-28

Thanks Mark for so diligently monitoring the front gate. Your anti-spam program scores 100% in my books.

My name is Daniel Dillon. I am a new NARGS member and Technical Advisor to the Internet Committee and the Adcom on the web site re-design project. I share Mark's concern for identifying and eliminating spam on the new site. I believe that no automated anti-spam program is fool-proof, so we must always, as Mark has done, add human eyes in the end.

Spam is any unwanted posting on a web site, be it a comment to an article, a forum post or a user registration by a spammer (who will then create more spam on your site). Several Developers (computer programmers/web site builders) in the Drupal community have contributed automated spam detection modules that can 'plug in' to a web site built on the Drupal framework, such as our new one. Three of the best modules that we are considering are Mollom, Antispam and Spambot.

Spambot works like the anti-spam plugin that is currently installed on this SMF forum. It queries the same third-party database to compare data provided upon registration, weeding out the known offenders.

Antispam also connects to third-party services to identify spam. Here we have a choice of connecting to Akismet, TypePad or Defensio.

Mollom is a new anti-spam service, created by the founder of Drupal. So of course, it integrates into Drupal hand in glove. As well as filtering out spam, it rewards proven non-spammers with reduced interference in the form-filling process.

Each of these services do the same things, just in different ways; they stop spam, they learn from experience, and they try to stay current. The two items that remain are saving the false positives, legitimate posts, from being flagged, and visually finding the few that get through. This will be a shared responsibility on the new site, so we are hoping (fingers crossed!) that this will make Mark's job a bit easier.

Anyone wanting to know about the new site can of course continue this thread or contact me in which ever way you choose. Thanks for listening.

Daniel Dillon (artist) & Esther Wrightman (gardener)
St. Andrews, New Brunswick.

deesen
deesen's picture
Title: Guest
Joined: 2011-01-31

Is there work going on the NARGS front page, it looks decidedly odd today?

David Nicholson
in Devon, UK  Zone 9b

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