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Information User Awaiting Activation Usergroup Permission Fix + Summer Plans
Posted by: Arynis - 07-05-2016, 09:12 PM - Forum: Announcements & News - No Replies

Hi everyone,

In the past months, we have gotten several inquiries and emails from newly registered users. Users thinking they were immediately banned, or thinking they may have done something wrong. Basically people being confused and worried. In reality nobody did anything wrong, and unfortunately it is my fault this confusion came to be in the first place, as I was the one who made the setting in question.

Basically, our forum requires newly registered accounts to be activated by Administrators, as we've had history of some notorious ban evaders. Users awaiting activation could browse the forum, but not being able to post until their accounts were activated. However, an issue started when an user I won't name would create accounts to avoid bans, and while they were able to view the forum as an user awaiting activation, they'd use that information to harass our members, rather persistently. In order to avoid this happening, I went ahead and changed the permissions for the User Awaiting Activation usergroup so they would not be able to view the forum at all, save for the same sections they'd see as a Guest - or at least that was the plan.

Unfortunately, what I didn't anticipate was that instead of seeing an empty forum page due to the way I changed the settings, newly registered users would get a No Permission Page or something along the lines. This caused many a worry and confusion for a long time, which I feel pretty bad about in retrospect. After talking it over with the rest of the Staff, the account activation is not going away, but hopefully as of today, the permission issue should be fixed and there should not be any error messages anymore.

I deeply apologize to every new user, be it a posting newbie or lurker alike, for the confusion and complication. As always, if anyone has problems with their account, you can use our Contact Us page or send us a message on Twitter. Smile (If there are still issues, I'll give it another check.)



As for the summer, we'd like to shoot for the following goals:

- Finally, finally add the long due smileys our members have suggested to be added.
- Update our forum plugins to fix bugs and make things run more smoothly.
- Look into a nice forum style that offers a snazzier look than the default forum styles. (The default skin and the dark skin will not be going anywhere of course, if anyone wishes to stick to them.)
- Assign more Moderators to several forum sections that lack a Moderator, especially the ARC-V related ones.

Hopefully we can actually get them done and implemented by autumn the latest.

Lastly, as a side note, the site has been having hiccups here and there, people have been reporting to me that the forum was being down. Unfortunately I'm not sure about the exact causes at this point, but for the time being, the forum does eventually come back and everything is fine.

If anyone has comments or concerns, feel free to post in this thread, or make a thread in the Suggestions section.

Arynis

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Information Server Error: 500 Downtime & Plugin Problems
Posted by: Arynis - 03-06-2016, 11:50 AM - Forum: Announcements & News - Replies (10)

Hi everyone!

Some of you may have noticed the forum temporarily going under with a simple Server Error 500 message. The forum should be working fine now, but if anything else seems off, please let us know ASAP.

What happened is that Shadowfang and me attempted updating plugins. It seemed to work fine until we hit the new version for Style Usernames, which unfortunately has been the cause of username display glitches. For one reason or another, this plugin's update caused a lot of errors, and when PHP encounters bad code, it just dies. And that's why the Server Error 500 message popped up.

Thankfully, we have backed up the forum files beforehand, so restoring the forum files fixed the issue. (This is just the software itself, posts weren't affected or lost by this, which are stored in a database.) The plugin seemed to be rather stubborn despite backup restoration attempts, so Shadowfang just had to manually eradicate the plugin from the files. It seemed to have worked, the forum runs fine for real.

We don't know what's the exact cause behind the updated plugin's issue - testing in XAMPP yielded a functional forum, but in a live environment it was beyond fatal. Shadowfang also attempted updating with the Github version, no dice. Either way, we are scrapping this plugin for good, for a long, long time. Maybe one day it will have a definitely functional version, but this much hassle is not worth for an aesthetic mod. Usernames will probably look bland and odd now without the coloring, but you shouldn't encounter #STYLE_USERNAMES_UIDXXXX# messups anymore, either.

On the topic of plugin issues, posts may be occasionally glitched up. This is caused by the While You Were Typing plugin, as noted here: http://community.mybb.com/thread-189213.html By the looks of it, a plugin update should be able to fix this issue just fine. Until then, you should be able to minimize this error occurring by previewing your post to make sure new posts show up before sending your reply.

We'll revisit upgrading the rest of the plugins at a later date, due to Shadowfang's limited time. Until then, Shadowfang optimized the databases so things should be running a little nicer now.

We apologize for the downtimes and confusion caused by this incident. Have a nice day! Smile

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Heart Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year!
Posted by: Arynis - 12-25-2015, 10:26 PM - Forum: Announcements & News - Replies (24)

The staff of Neo Ark Cradle wishes all of you Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year! We hope your holidays are going great. May 2016 be a fantastic year!

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Heart Do you like the forum? Now you can support us via Tapatalk! + Future Plans
Posted by: Arynis - 12-13-2015, 01:31 PM - Forum: Announcements & News - Replies (12)

Hi everyone!

Shadowfang has informed me that Tapatalk has undergone some changes, meaning that now we get paid some from Tapatalk usage! Tapatalk paid us retroactively for June and July, generating a decent amount of additional revenue, which is helpful alongside Patreon. However, we did not get paid for the other months, meaning some kind of threshold is involved.

This means that sufficient Tapatalk usage also gets us money, which is something to consider if you don't want to / can't support us on Patreon. If you are capable of using Tapatalk on your devices, please consider browsing NAC that way if you'd like to support us.

As a reminder, our Patreon is the following if you wish to support us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/neoarkcradle

Right now, our account balance is pretty good, the monthly server fee is sufficiently reached and Shadowfang made some use of the spare money too.

Thanks to everyone who has been supporting us so far, be it via Patreon or Tapatalk!



The other announcement is future plans to do as a System Administrator. My university semester ended, freeing up more of my time... or not, because exams. Regardless, I should have more time.

I previously promised I'd go through the smiley suggestion thread and add more smileys. I'll go through the thread sometime and see which ones can be added. For example, I won't add smileys that are too big in terms of file dimensions.

Right now, plugins seem to work as intended, I'll check though if upgrading the plugins is worth it, or if there might be issues caused by upgrading. This might be trickier since while I can upload/upgrade plugins on my own, I'd want Shadowfang around if, god forbid, the forum breaks somehow. Alternately, I could always do a test run via XAMPP first...

On which note, plugin bugs we are aware of, and at the present, can't fix it due to outside circumstances:

-Usernames showing up as #STYLE_USERNAMES_UIDXXXX# when you Like a post, or make a post, and so on. This is a present bug in Style Usernames, and cannot be used due to the plugin itself having merge conflicts (i.e., downgrading or reinstalling is not an option). Refreshing after making a post/liking a post fixes the username display, but the problem persists in other areas of the forum. There's a similar plugin for this purpose, but I don't know if that plugin works well. Currently, we are just waiting for the developer to do something about the plugin.

-Posts getting scrambled when you make a post. Initially I thought this was the cause of MySQL cutting off connections while posts were being made. However, the cause might be tied to a plugin we are using, "While you were typing", which makes a notification if there was a post made while you were viewing the thread, or were working on a post. If you post when the notification was made but didn't refresh the page by Previewing your post first, there's a chance that your post will contain glitches in it (e.g., it/'s). Seems avoidable if you allow the new posts to appear by not posting your post immediately, but Preview it first.

The other plugins should be fine, but if there's a bug not mentioned here, let us know.

We should be fairly covered in terms of functionality, and the forum runs alright with the plugins as well, barring the above mentioned issues. So we are not looking for new plugins for install. Except possibly the ability to report Private Messages.

I'd be more interested in possibly installing more Themes for the forum, since it would be possible to install theme(s) specifically for Patrons, making the donation more worthwhile. However, I lack CSS knowledge, making theme editing extremely limited on our part. i.e., I can get Shadowfang to add the header for simpler plugins, but not extensively edit a theme.

Maybe far, far, far in the future, I will possess enough knowledge to design themes specifically for NAC. Which would be cool. Maybe I'll go master Stride Fusion instead. Tongue Seriously though, maybe. One day.

On the coding side of things, the script for automatic MySQL restart has not been implemented yet. Seeing how the forum hasn't had MySQL crashes recently, this is fairly low priority, but I'll get to implementing it in the future, if only for the challenge, and to have it as a safety measure.

If you guys have any questions or comments, feel free to make a post.

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Information Clarification on Account Registrations
Posted by: Arynis - 11-30-2015, 11:59 AM - Forum: Announcements & News - Replies (2)

Hi everyone!

Due to multiple inquiries about the user registration process (e.g., why can't I view the forum, etc.), I have posted a clarification on how we handle registrations on the forum: http://neoarkcradle.net/forum/showthread.php?tid=5435

Admittedly this is something that we should have put up earlier, but better late than never. I hope this clears things up for new users or users-to-be.

Lastly, I would like to apologize to everyone whose emails I haven't gotten back to. Some I didn't because their issue seemed moot from my viewpoint (i.e., account was already activated), some because I had no time to reply and too much time had passed by the time I could. I am aiming to speed up responses to such inquiries by sharing the email account with other Admins, since at the present I am the only one logging into said account.

As for why you shouldn't PM Shadowfang: he logs onto NAC only during tech situations (e.g., plugin updates, etc.), so if you PM him any inquiry, you'll more than likely end up like this:

[Image: 63316581.jpg]

Use the Contact Us form or PM any other Admin if you have any questions. Smile

Also, if you guys have any comments on the matter, feel free to post in this thread.

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Exclamation On Account Registrations
Posted by: Arynis - 11-30-2015, 11:43 AM - Forum: Rules & Policies - Replies (2)

This thread summarizes things to know when you make an account at our forum. The aim of this thread is to clear up confusion and make everything smoother for everyone.

Neo Ark Cradle is a members only forum. As a Guest, you can only see a few parts of the Bureaucracy forum, such as the forum rules and important announcements. If you wish to view the rest of the forum, you need to make an user account. You can do so by registering.

After your registration is complete, you need to wait until an Administrator activates your account. Furthermore, you will receive an error that you cannot access the requested forum page - this is normal. User accounts awaiting activation don't have permission to view the forum until their account is activated. Formerly, users awaiting activation could see the forum contents but not post, but unfortunately we had to remove this permission due to past abuse. We apologize for the inconveniences caused by this change, as soon as your account is approved, you should be able to view and post on the forum without problems.

UPDATE 16/04/2017 - All you need to do now is verify your email. Once you do so, you should be able to browse the forums!

As an important note, Neo Ark Cradle has a policy that you may not have more than 1 account. (See Forum Rules: http://neoarkcradle.net/forum/showthread.php?tid=4902) Users violating this rule will be banned. Please do not make multiple accounts to get around user activation - you can't, as every account has to be approved by an admin. Please be patient and wait for your account to be activated. Furthermore, if you find yourself banned for no reason, chances you may have made duplicate accounts on the forum. If you have an account at the forum and have issues with resetting your password, please contact us using the Contact Us form: http://neoarkcradle.net/forum/contact.php

Lastly, spambots will be purged without mercy.

If you have any questions or inquiries about the forum, feel free to PM one of the Administrators except Shadowfang. Alternately, you may use the Contact Us form mentioned.

We hope you have a pleasant experience at our forum!

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Information Regarding yesterday's downtime, forum server upgrades, plugin updates
Posted by: Arynis - 11-09-2015, 07:11 AM - Forum: Announcements & News - Replies (14)

Hi everyone!

Unfortunately the forum crashed pretty hard yesterday. MySQL restarts had no use, Shadowfang reported there had been crashed tables which are all fixed now. Server was also under a pretty bad load. We don't know what exactly caused the issues, if it were the flocking birds, or something else, but the tables are fixed now, and we have upgraded to the $10 server. Shadowfang made it sure the change is reversible in case we lose enough Patreon supporters, so $5 hosting is possible if the worst comes to happen. Regardless, the better specs should give MySQL some air and allow to carry the forum better during Sundays and other times. However, I do encourage everyone to donate if you feel the forum deserves a better server, or you hate all these downtime errors, or just want to help out somehow. Even $1 helps big time, and you get a shiny username and a special forum section for your efforts!  https://www.patreon.com/neoarkcradle

Plugins have also been updated, as well as MyBB to the most recent version. If anyone notices anything funny, do let us know!

Arynis

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Heart Plugin Updates - Some Good and Bad News
Posted by: Arynis - 11-04-2015, 07:02 PM - Forum: Announcements & News - No Replies

Hi everyone!

The good news is that I've updated the forum with two small plugins:

http://doylecc.altervista.org/en/count.html
Shows the character count for posts. While most of us probably won't hit the 65535 character length, it might help fic writers. Or just be handy and useful trivia so you know how much you have written so far.

http://doylecc.altervista.org/en/while.html
People often remarked the lack of a notification that appeared if someone posted while they were writing their replies. This addon aims to manage that. From what I've tested, it shows a notification in red text above the typing field (i.e., the area you write your post in) if someone posts. Hopefully it will work as intended!

The bad news... I broke part of the forum code. Apparently I axed the file for the plugin library while updating/installing the Style Usernames plugin. It means I cannot access the current plugins and (de)activate them, nor deal with said plugin. Unfortunately this means people's colored usernames will not show up on the forum listing, etc. However, your names are colored regardless, that is not lost! (e.g., I'm still red as an Admin with this post and on the online member list) Thankfully this is just a cosmetic plugin that made the colors more visible, so nothing of significance broke. Shadowfang let me know the missing file is no big deal, he should be able to fix it in the morning. So hopefully it will be back to normal ASAP.

I hope you guys enjoy the new plugins (as well as the updated smileys) and I apologize for nuking a small aspect of the forum. Sad

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Big Grin Smileys Updated! Old forum smileys are back!
Posted by: Arynis - 11-04-2015, 03:15 PM - Forum: Announcements & News - Replies (11)

Arynis has leveled up! Arynis has learned forum FTP management!

Every smiley (sans rageface memes) is back from the old forum.

Cookie Monster ヽ༼ຈل͜ຈ༽ノ RAISE YOUR COOKIEMONSTERS ヽ༼ຈل͜ຈ༽ノ Cookie Monster

Yes, I'm aware of the huge backlog that is the smiley thread. I will look at the thread sometime later.

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Heart Site Donations Open: Announcing our Patreon Page
Posted by: Arynis - 09-28-2015, 09:10 PM - Forum: Announcements & News - Replies (54)

Hi everyone!

Previously, we have posted announcements regarding the forum's upkeep, situation and donations. But at the least we have finally sorted out everything in the background, we'll also get you guys up to date what is the current and actual situation.

To summarize what happened in the past few months, in terms of our hosting. We have changed hosts in order to reduce the site costs (and to have less site crashes/lag), to a nice and cozy $5 per month. From the looks of it, our current host keeps us up pretty well, barring the occasional MySQL errors often on Sundays when too many people rush for the newest Arc V episodes. Thankfully Shadowfang fixes these errors fairly quickly. Granted, we also had to lock down the forum to members only since guest access still proved to be heavy for the server to take, but all things considered, keeping the forum members only is more beneficial in the long run - primarily to keep the forum space safe for everyone.

However, Shadowfang had been keeping up the forum for us out of his pocket for the past 4 years, which had been incredibly generous of him, especially back when we were in need of a SysAdmin/host and he volunteered to help us all. The idea is to slowly trickle back the money to him in terms of donations over time, as well keep the site running since he would prefer things to be publicly funded from now on, so we don't depend on him financially. (Don't fear though, he will still help maintain the site and fix errors, at least until I'm taught the necessary skills as well.)

The staff has discussed if we should do plain donate buttons or Patreon, we felt Patreon might be a nicer option and might be a better incentive to get people to donate.

You can find our Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/neoarkcradle

Now, the site goals are fairly straightforward. $5 is our minimum site cost per month to keep our site running, but $10 should net us a better hosting that should result in less MySQL errors on Sundays or whenever else people have to rush to our forum for information/discussion. There are more pricier hosting options, but we left those out as Shadowfang clarified we don't really need those specs. As such, $11 is just our way of marking income beyond the $10 milestone, which will be used to pay back Shadowfang for keeping NAC alive for the past 4 years. Of course, once the debt is possibly paid off, we could implement further milestones/donation incentives, such as a seed box for torrents, or ensuring Mako can grab us a copy of Monthly Bushiroad every month.

Now, for the tiers. We decided to give people the option to donate to us either $1, $2 or $5 per month. We didn't feel anything higher than that is necessary, at least for the time being. The other reason we don't have more options is because we are at odds with what to give out as donation incentives. We have a special usergroup for Patrons set up, which any of you can receive if you donate $1, $2 or $5 of your choice, and will give you a spiffy orange, bolded username. It's the same for every tier, it's more the matter of how much you'd like to donate to the site. However, there will be a thread in the Suggestion Forum to post in if there's anything you guys would specifically like for your pay.

Also, we'll admit we're fairly new at Patreon, so please forgive us for being pretty bare bones and possibly being noobs. We want to make sure this place stays alive but also offers something back for you guys to make it a nice and fun experience for everyone involved.

If you guys have any questions, concerns or comments, please post in this thread. Let's make this project a success! ^^

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