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Dear Community Members,

Over the past year or two, there have been updates to the environment that have introduced challenges in usability and performance. Efforts to improve the technology, user interface, and site performance has revealed weaknesses in the platform and outdated software this site uses. This has made it increasingly difficult and frustrating to support and upgrade to more modern reliable standards that users deserve. Our advertising experience and certain ad partners have further degraded the functionality of the site. This is not the experience we want for the members of this community.

Members want a fast site that performs well across all devices, to be able to find relevant and interesting content, and easily share through text, images, video and messaging on a secure platform. Our goal is to provide this ultimate user experience to all members.

We will be implementing a new platform to better meet the needs of this community and allow us to provide support more efficiently. Our focus is to create a sustainable platform that performs well, and loads faster on all devices, while offering seamless ways to search and connect. Technology is constantly innovating - by creating an environment that we control we can maintain the site with more frequent improvements and maintenance updates.

Although change can be difficult, we are here to support you through the process. We make every effort to review existing settings and make the changes needed so the migration goes smoothly. If you notice something doesn’t seem correct once the site goes live, don’t panic! We’ll have a dedicated person monitoring as the site goes live to answer any questions and provide support through this change.

What’s next?

I bet you’re thinking, “What does this mean for me and the community?” It does mean change, but it will help solve a large majority of the issues that this site may have been experiencing. We have reviewed reported issues, site statistics, traffic data, and user feedback to help us prioritize the changes and improvements. Uploading an image or video will be easier and streamlined. Ad formatting will change with a new site layout. The site will be more responsive - there is no need to use a mobile skin or special app! Security and user privacy will continue to be a top priority.

When will this be happening? Soon! We recognize the user experience is slow and there are bugs from the outdated software. The sooner we can change that the better we can make the experience for you. You’ll start to see activity related to cleanup in preparation for migration very shortly. We will post an announcement to the community prior to starting the actual data migration. Once the migration begins, the site will go into maintenance mode and will be read-only while data is being migrated.

We appreciate each member’s contribution to this community and look forward to an improved experience for you all.

- Community Support
 

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That's all promising. Now, make a plan which includes proper testing, so we don't have the same sort of problems which came with the bungled server platform transition.
 

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For everyone else's interest:

Vertical Scope has been gradually (ha, they may have learned from last time) rolling out these changes, one community at a time, across their hundreds of forums. I'm on several other forums that have gone through this transition already.

The change is to create an entirely homogenized experience, every forum looks exactly like every other forum under their banner. You could be in a Mustang forum, or Civic forum, or DIYELectricCar forum and stylistically not be able to identify that, they're clones.

They assign a person to the forum to handle the transition and claim that they're going to resolve issues and listen to feedback. They are pretty good on the technical side, to make sure things are working. The "features" and "feedback" are a complete joke. The staffer assigned to handle the transition is at first very responsive, multiple times a day. It's someone saying positive things and thanking you for contributing and telling you they'll make plans for it... and then never doing it.

Not one single feature, change, modification, or putting things the way the community wants them has ever happened. It's entirely lip service.

The entire point of this joke of a process is to keep us calm and make us thing we have a voice.

After a few weeks the person assigned to the transition is gone, and then it takes weeks to get a reply ever after.

What changes:

1 - The style and look of the forums. It's mostly cosmetic, some people will prefer it, some people will not. It's more modern and mobile friendly. "Threads" get called "Discussions" and "Private Messages" get called "Conversations", but generally, just a facelift. Generally it's good, stuff usually works. Photo attachments are good and no longer limited in number.

2 - The new software goes deep into datamining. You can't even enter your own location in your profile, it has to be an approved location from their database, and their database is broken it has places you can select that are longer than its max location name. Everyone's IP is constantly scanned and recorded, and, without your consent, shows the country of origin of your last IP as your country's flag. So if you went on vacation for example, but didn't tell anyone, everyone would know that you were away from home. This is default behavior, you can turn off the public (not their datamining) part of it if you go into your settings, but everyone's accounts who in the past left it "off" by simply not filling it out, it starts advertising to the world where you are unless you specifically turn it off. You can't enter a silly name, or a silly spelling, they have no interest in providing even a minor feature unless they can profit off of it (constant location data is among the most valuable for data mining).

3 - The forum width gets massively reduced. It feels like you're reading a newspaper column. 1/3 of your screen with is forced to be whitespace.

4 - The sidebar gets stuffed full of bullshit you don't want or care about. For some reason, their Better Business Bureau and some other compliancy banner forcibly loads and scrolls continuously with every page, but data you might want does not. It shoves "top posters!" and "Mods!" in your face on the sidebar like it's a fucking carnival competition. The sidebar is loaded with "Popular Communities!" that all of us will want to have links to, like "Home Entertainment" and "Mountain Bike Reviews", other Vertical Scope properties so that their SEO rankings climb with these phony "grassroots" cross-linking, as if they're legitimate. They will say they consider changing it, but won't.

5 - They cripple functions you want to use, then say they want your feedback, then use your feedback to launch a "premium" service where you can pay to get back the features they forced you to change.

6 - They act like their "premium" service is passing the hat around for the wellbeing of the community, rather than directly and only for corporate profit, nothing at all to do with the volunteers or improving their service. It's shameful. "We’re introducing it as a way for members to give back to their communities", like it's run by volunteers.

7 - Critical site functions will be crippled for months (so far), with no attempt to fix them. Not even integration issues, like, they never even set up the forums correctly in the first place. If you want to search for threads started by a specific user the way you can now? The option is hidden, and even then instead of searching threads, it only gives you a neverending scrolling list of their posts in reverse chronological order.

8 - They kill the code-level editing. So if you make a typo on a filename, you want to increase 29.jpg to 30.jpg, you can't. When you edit it's just displayed as an image.

9 - You can't edit your old posts. They claim there's a "10 recent edits max", but a single edit will trigger it. There's no way to see how many edits you've made. Nor is there a definition of what "recent" is to know when they'll be restored.

10 - It forces you to see only "popular" forums, in the order of their popularity. You can't have organized discussions or curate the community in a sensible way. It's all based on recency and popularity unless you really really dig for it.

11 - Forced Facebook integration. Even if you're not on Facebook. It builds an unnamed profile of you in their database to datamine your browsing behavior and sell your profile to marketers, politicians, or anyone who pays for it. If you do have a Facebook account, even if you're logged out, it associates your account with you and tracks your behavior. The bottom line is, they're selling your behavior, location, and habits to profilers instead of being interested in providing a good community experience. This is way beyond ads, they probably don't eve care about ads.

12 - All off-site images are scanned by them by an AI, and often don't load the first time you try to load a page. They get entered into Vertical Scope's database, and it refuses to show them on forums for anyone until they've scanned them. They said this is to make sure the images are safe for viewers to view. It just makes forum browsing crippled sometimes. The real reason is for AI to do facial recognition and build profiles on you, your location, your associates, etc.

13 - Font size increases, white space increases between lines. Feels like how you'd set up your computer for your grandmother. No ability to change.

14 - Retroactively kills any colors in posts, converts them to bold.

15 - Date fudging. Instead of seeing the precise date something was posted, it irritatingly rounds to the nearest category. You have no idea whether something was posted 7 weeks or 4 weeks ago, they all say "a month". This matters if you're trying to find something, and want to use contextual clues. Sometimes you can hover over to see the real date, but that wouldn't work on mobile. Their database certainly tracks you by the second, but no, can't even let their own users enjoy that data. It's like doing sign language with oven mitts on.

16 - There's so much tracking and datamining, that the site will load slower than its usual zippy stuff, and it's 10 times as challenging on your browser.

...

In short, more of the same, from the company we know to do what they've done in the past.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Vertical Scope has been gradually (ha, they may have learned from last time) rolling out these changes, one community at a time, across their hundreds of forums. I'm on several other forums that have gone through this transition already.
I have been working with helping sites transition to the new format since May of last year. During that time, this is what I have experienced. During the first 30 days, activity on the site may drop for a bit, while folks adjust to the changes. For the most part, within 60-90 the activity begins to increase and the forum begins to grow and thrive.
The change is to create an entirely homogenized experience, every forum looks exactly like every other forum under their banner. You could be in a Mustang forum, or Civic forum, or DIYELectricCar forum and stylistically not be able to identify that, they're clones.
Every site has its own banner and color scheme. By using one platform for all of our sites, it makes it possible for us to do updates and fix any bug simultaneously instead of it taking weeks/months as it has in the past.

After a few weeks the person assigned to the transition is gone, and then it takes weeks to get a reply ever after.
I am dedicated support on every site that goes live, unless I am sick or on vacation. I don't disappear after a few days or even weeks. I remain on the site until I am no longer needed for transition questions. After this, regular community support steps back in. A ticket is made for every request for help in the forum support section. Although this has been slower during Covid-19, the support teams are still actively helping.

Not one single feature, change, modification, or putting things the way the community wants them has ever happened. It's entirely lip service.
Really? We see weekly updates (approximately) that are largely fueled by community feedback. While that doesn't mean we can action every request, it does mean we are actively listening to the feedback and sharing it with the developers. There have been 58 weekly updates. As of tomorrow, it will be 59.
The new software goes deep into datamining. You can't even enter your own location in your profile, it has to be an approved location from their database, and their database is broken it has places you can select that are longer than its max location name. Everyone's IP is constantly scanned and recorded, and, without your consent, shows the country of origin of your last IP as your country's flag. So if you went on vacation for example, but didn't tell anyone, everyone would know that you were away from home. This is default behavior, you can turn off the public (not their datamining) part of it if you go into your settings, but everyone's accounts who in the past left it "off" by simply not filling it out, it starts advertising to the world where you are unless you specifically turn it off. You can't enter a silly name, or a silly spelling, they have no interest in providing even a minor feature unless they can profit off of it (constant location data is among the most valuable for data mining).
Whether or not you choose to share your location with the community or not is 100% up to you. Your IP address (not your exact location) has always been known as part of site maintenance. This hasn't changed and is part of your current Privacy Policy at the bottom of the site.

The forum width gets massively reduced. It feels like you're reading a newspaper column. 1/3 of your screen with is forced to be whitespace.
The sidebar gets stuffed full of bullshit you don't want or care about. For some reason, their Better Business Bureau and some other compliancy banner forcibly loads and scrolls continuously with every page, but data you might want does not. It shoves "top posters!" and "Mods!" in your face on the sidebar like it's a fucking carnival competition. The sidebar is loaded with "Popular Communities!" that all of us will want to have links to, like "Home Entertainment" and "Mountain Bike Reviews", other Vertical Scope properties so that their SEO rankings climb with these phony "grassroots" cross-linking, as if they're legitimate. They will say they consider changing it, but won't.
They cripple functions you want to use, then say they want your feedback, then use your feedback to launch a "premium" service where you can pay to get back the features they forced you to change.
There is a right sidebar that includes advertising and also information about the site, including Top Contributors, other sites in our network, Site Moderators, etc. Premium members do have the option to turn the sidebar off for focused reading
They act like their "premium" service is passing the hat around for the wellbeing of the community, rather than directly and only for corporate profit, nothing at all to do with the volunteers or improving their service. It's shameful. "We’re introducing it as a way for members to give back to their communities", like it's run by volunteers.
Critical site functions will be crippled for months (so far), with no attempt to fix them. Not even integration issues, like, they never even set up the forums correctly in the first place. If you want to search for threads started by a specific user the way you can now? The option is hidden, and even then instead of searching threads, it only gives you a neverending scrolling list of their posts in reverse chronological order.
I teach every site how to search, which includes search options for how to search the entire site, how to search a specific thread, and how to search a specific thread. This information is also included within the Community FAQs.

They kill the code-level editing. So if you make a typo on a filename, you want to increase 29.jpg to 30.jpg, you can't. When you edit it's just displayed as an image.
Simply delete the uploaded file and add the new one.
You can't edit your old posts. They claim there's a "10 recent edits max", but a single edit will trigger it. There's no way to see how many edits you've made. Nor is there a definition of what "recent" is to know when they'll be restored.
There are limits on editing posts that help protect thread integrity. Members have unlimited editing of new posts for the first 24 hours after posting. Up to 10 existing posts (older than 24 hours) may be edited per week. More editing will be allowed as each of those 10 edits expires every 7 days.
Forced Facebook integration. Even if you're not on Facebook. It builds an unnamed profile of you in their database to datamine your browsing behavior and sell your profile to marketers, politicians, or anyone who pays for it. If you do have a Facebook account, even if you're logged out, it associates your account with you and tracks your behavior. The bottom line is, they're selling your behavior, location, and habits to profilers instead of being interested in providing a good community experience. This is way beyond ads, they probably don't eve care about ads.
I have no clue what you are referring to. This site also has the option to share threads in social media at the bottom of every thread. There is an option for new members to join using Facebook is they CHOOSE to. Feel free to review the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy in the footer of every site.

All off-site images are scanned by them by an AI, and often don't load the first time you try to load a page. They get entered into Vertical Scope's database, and it refuses to show them on forums for anyone until they've scanned them. They said this is to make sure the images are safe for viewers to view. It just makes forum browsing crippled sometimes. The real reason is for AI to do facial recognition and build profiles on you, your location, your associates, etc.
In most cases, this literally takes milliseconds and refreshing the page will make the images appear. This allows the site to prevent Not Safe For Work or adult content to display.

Font size increases, white space increases between lines. Feels like how you'd set up your computer for your grandmother. No ability to change.
The developers are working on an option for condensed viewing for those who prefer that.

Retroactively kills any colors in posts, converts them to bold.
That may depend on how the previous site handled BBCode for color font. The text editor does allow for font color and size.
Date fudging. Instead of seeing the precise date something was posted, it irritatingly rounds to the nearest category. You have no idea whether something was posted 7 weeks or 4 weeks ago, they all say "a month". This matters if you're trying to find something, and want to use contextual clues. Sometimes you can hover over to see the real date, but that wouldn't work on mobile. Their database certainly tracks you by the second, but no, can't even let their own users enjoy that data. It's like doing sign language with oven mitts on.
Date fudging? If you hover over the time stamp with your cursor it will display the exact date and time. On mobile view, you may need to click.

There's so much tracking and datamining, that the site will load slower than its usual zippy stuff, and it's 10 times as challenging on your browser.
I have not had that experience on any of the sites that have moved to the new platform. All load and display virtually instantly.

- Cricket
 

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That's all promising. Now, make a plan which includes proper testing, so we don't have the same sort of problems which came with the bungled server platform transition.
The site is currently undergoing a lot of testing to help prevent any problems like what happened on previous updates.

Once your site goes live, I will be here to help, step by step.

- Cricket
 

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The site is currently undergoing a lot of testing to help prevent any problems like what happened on previous updates.

Once your site goes live, I will be here to help, step by step.

- Cricket
Thanks for the response to my comment, and the thorough response to Matt's concerns. While the responses are reasonable, the three weeks it took to respond does not give me hope for an actual improvement over previous experience, but I suppose that we'll see.

Some of the changes appear to be in line with what I have seen in some other forums run by another, similar, operator. AdBlockPlus (or a similar browser plug-in) is required to make the experience tolerable, but with that it's okay.

If a premium service subscription is required for a reasonable user experience, I will cease to participate in the forum.
 

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I have been working with helping sites transition to the new format
Yes, hello Cricket. I remember you. You are friendly and make big promises and are kind and helpful to people confused about where things moved to in the navigation sense, but nothing ever gets improved or fixed.

within 60-90 the activity begins to increase and the forum begins to grow and thrive.
In another community I've asked about whether it was true. Dead air.

Every site has its own banner and color scheme.
Yes, and? Every site looks like a complete perfect clone of every other. Every site has lost its individuality.

You're saying that this: https://www.benzworld.org/forums/w126-s-se-sec-sel-sd-sdl-class.18/
Looks completely different than this: https://www.wranglerforum.com/forums/jk-general-discussion-forum.274/
And has a uniqueness to it compared to this: https://www.pirate4x4.com/forums/general-4x4-discussion.16/
Because all these forums have their own design like this: https://www.cadillacforums.com/forums/informal-lounge-introductions-general-discussion.19/

I get *why* you're doing it, I'm just saying that I completely forget what forum I'm on sometimes because they're all exactly the same.

I remain on the site until I am no longer needed for transition questions.
All you do is answer questions like "The search button moved here" and "Private Messages moved there", and this from copy-posted FAQ script. While you say you're open to feedback, NONE of the things asked for or that were broken in the transition were changed or fixed. None. Not one.

Really? We see weekly updates (approximately) that are largely fueled by community feedback.
In one community, we said that the sidebar bloat was useless, contextualless, and unwanted padding. Soon after, you responded to the "community feedback" by telling users they could pay to remove it.

That's like if I go put up concrete blocks at the end of your driveway, and you're like "Why are these here? Why did you put these here?" and then I "listen to your feedback" and say if you pay me a fee every month I'll keep them removed for you.

You're proud of that?

You're using purposefully bad UI as a revenue stream.

Let communities decide how they want their own communities to look.

There have been 58 weekly updates. As of tomorrow, it will be 59.
"Updates" are bug fixes. They're not community improvements. The "community feedback" is "this feature is broken". You ignore everything else.

Whether or not you choose to share your location with the community or not is 100% up to you. Your IP address (not your exact location) has always been known as part of site maintenance.
It's not, and you know that it's not, and you're not being honest.

Pre-transition many people left their location blank. There may or may not be a button to "share my location" that defaults to "on", but this doesn't matter, because who cares about sharing a blank location?

Post-transition, anyone who left it blank but not off now has it automatically broadcast their most recent country they've logged from, next to every post that user has ever made. It also reveals the location of former users. Including places where perhaps people spoke out against their oppressive government, where it's now revealed where they are.

Fact is, you didn't respect a blank location as a user not wanting to share and still don't. You chose an opt-out only system, to live-update every single current and former user's location with wherever they last logged in from. Including members that have died which reveals the location of their family. You don't have to agree with why someone never shared their location, but you should respect it.

And if I want a silly name as my location? If I want it to be the bar I go to, my shop's name, or the general area I travel in? What if I just want to say "Upstate New York"? Nope, gotta list the specific town. You're forced to only select from Vertical-Scope-Authorized locations so they can sell your data. Who asked for that? What reason is there for doing that other than persistent data-mining?

There is a right sidebar that includes advertising and also information about the site, including Top Contributors, other sites in our network, Site Moderators, etc. Premium members do have the option to turn the sidebar off for focused reading
Yes, one of your "updates" from "community feedback", to force a change no one wanted, and then sell us an "improvement."

Simply delete the uploaded file and add the new one.
How about you simply re-enable code-level editing rather than forcing us to use a WYSIWYG when editing? Why is editing behavior different than posting behavior?

First, you deleted literally tens of thousands of images, block them from appearing.

Second, when the community goes to update the HTTPS migration, which they now have to edit each post, you don't let them just edit it. One user in another community manually changed 1200 image posts so that the images would still display in old articles. But now he can't, because he has to upload the images, not just change a filename.

Third, you removed the ability for us to fix old posts by severely restricting the edit option.

Fourth, when this is pointed out, it gets ignored for months and then told "Just read the FAQ" with links to useless "answers" about generic image posting. As if the Vertical Scope admin didn't even read the question being asked.

limits editing posts help protect thread integrity
Did we ask for that change to be made?

10 existing posts may be edited per week. More editing will be allowed as each of those 10 edits expires every 7 days.
Did the community ask for that change to be made?

Did the community request those limitations?

Lots of people go back and edit old posts and articles with new information, and some of them have just given up and left the community because of this. Some of the most helpful members who helped forums be less useless than they otherwise are. People with thousands of posts over 20 years of involvement. But you've decided on some arbitrary limit.

And there's no way to know how many edits you've made and when your next edit will be available.

Also, it's broken as fuck. I've been locked out from editing after only 1 edit in the last month.

I have no clue what you are referring to. There is an option for new members to join using Facebook is they CHOOSE to.
I can't imagine you're this ignorant, so I have to presume you're being malicious.

You're not aware of Facebook integration meaning that whether you want to or not, Facebook builds a profile on us, tracks us across everywhere they have access on the internet, and sells this data to advertisers, data miners, police, and anyone else who'll pay for it?

For example, to Cambridge Analytica which brags about abusing social media to manipulate elections on a for-hire basis, and made a list of countries where they were hired and successful manipulated the election?

https://www.newsweek.com/facebook-tracking-you-even-if-you-dont-have-account-888699

this literally takes milliseconds and refreshing the page will make the images appear. This allows the site to prevent Not Safe For Work or adult content to display.
"Protect the children" is often used as a shield for datamining and tracking.

If it takes literally milliseconds then why have I noticed it as a consistent issue? How would I even know about it in the first place?

Did we ask for NSFW filters? Was it a problem in the community?

depend on how the previous site handled BBCode for color font. The text editor does allow for font color and size.
... and... ?

It's broken. It's been broken since the conversion. If you know the importance of making those match, why did you break it in the first place?

Whoever handled the transition didn't properly configure it "depending on how the previous site handled BBCode for color font". So, you're just dodging the criticism as if it doesn't exist.

It did break and is still broken.

Date fudging? If you hover over the time stamp with your cursor it will display the exact date and time. On mobile view, you may need to click.
Did the community ask for this change, which reduces all information about when something was done to a rough guess?

Was there an outcry of "This timestamp is too accurate!"?

I want to see at a glance when something was posted, it's part of regular forum browsing. It gives contextual clues to finding the information you're looking for. This might not matter for social media bullshit but it matters for someone trying to find technical information or see what is most recent or accurate.

I'm not going to hover or click on every post just to find out more detail. You've made a simple observation take 100x as long now. Why? To who's benefit? Who demanded less accurate dates?

I have not had that experience on any of the sites that have moved to the new platform. All load and display virtually instantly.
Right, so, all the people talking about how slowly the new forums load compared to the old ones. They're just... making it up, right? This is the kind of stuff you do during transition. Just deny problems and then disappear later after people stop nagging about it.

...

What about all the images you permanently broke in the transition?

What about all the unresolved technical issues that have been ignored for months without a courtesy reply?

What about literally any, ANY of the community feedback you claim to want and listened to, be implemented within a year? Even tiny cosmetic changes?

It's just more of the same from Vertical Scope.
 
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