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Big Changes to Chrons!

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
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#1
chrons-forum-changes.png


A few changes I've been working on recently that it's important to know about:


1. Email notifications reset

I've been getting a lot of bounced notifications, as some email providers are starting to treat them as spam. As this can only cause problems for the long-term, I've reset all email notifications to off.

This means that to receive email notifications from now you must actively opt-in. To do that, update your preferences here.


2. New homepage

We now have a homepage that allows discussion threads in the forums to be featured like a portal.

This should not only make it more attractive for new members to use, but also encourage greater participation in the forums. And as it's a feature of the upgraded forum software, it means everything should work together nicely.

For the moment I plan to take things slowly, to allow everyone to get used to it - then look to increase the frequency of new content around September. My aim is to use a mix of custom-written content and highlighted discussions, so if you have any ideas for pieces - get planning!

The main forum listing page still exists - if you'd prefer to update your bookmarks, it can now be found at Science Fiction & Fantasy forums.


3. Tags

I'm also slowly depreciating dedicated author boards in lieu of tags, as it means we can cover far more authors - and make discussions of their work far more easy to find.

It is still a work in progress!

It's not just that I haven't finished tagging discussions in the Book Discussion board, I also need to devise a system for making Resident Author tags both fair and representative.

Also, a coding issue means I can't selectively display which tags show in which section, so at the moment it runs as follows:

- all author tags on homepage and main forums page
- latest posts from Press Releases
- most popular author tags on right of all discussions

It's a little blunt, but it's as much as I can do for the moment to encourage their use.

Also, only author names are currently tagged, to make the system simpler to work with.

NOTE: If you'd rather not see author tags, the SFFchronicles style - available in a link at the bottom left of the forums - allows you to collapse both the left and right-hand navigation.


4. Rules

Although we did have a set of rules before, it wasn't always clear where they were - let alone updated. The result was that we tended to run on an informal set of rules that new members could fall foul of.

I've therefore set up updated rules here: Terms and rules

There are no changes to current board policy, as much as aiming to make what we do clearer. However, I'm happy to take feedback on updating them to ensure they remain fair.

I will also implement a feature so that new members receive a copy of the Rules section in a private message as soon as they join, to ensure as little room as possible for misunderstanding.


5. Supporter Memberships

I've now implemented a Supporter Membership upgrade so that members can truly support chrons.

I've priced this at £14.95 a year (apporox USD$20), which aims to be as low and reasonable as possible. Although it runs through Paypal, I don't think you need a Paypal account to use their payment system.

The upgrade is available in your member profile settings here: https://www.sffchronicles.com/account/upgrades

The aim is to make sure that chrons can stand on its own two proverbial feet to protect its longevity.

There is no secret content for Supporters to access - they simply get a nice badge under their username, and the ability to use signatures.


6. Signatures

Signatures have now been implemented to be available for Supporter Members.

At present I'm suggesting use only of one of the following formats, but I'm happy to be advised if people would prefer something different:

a) A single line of text that includes a link
b) Two lines of text containing no links
c) Up to 3 book cover images, each no more than 100 pixels high (or wide)

Supporters don't have to use their signature option if they don't want to.

However, I expect option c) will prove especially useful for published writers here, as it allows a more direct way to make their books more visible for existing members and unregistered visitors.

There are a couple of caveats:

i) I've applied a setting to allow a member's signature to only display once per thread, to help prevent discussion threads looking cluttered,
ii) Every member has the option to block the display of signatures in their preferences: https://www.sffchronicles.com/account/preferences
Content Options > Show people's signatures with their messages

That way if members would prefer not to see signatures, they don't have to. Unregistered guests do not have that option.


7. New theme

At the very bottom left of the screen there's a link for the style chooser - normally Default Red/Blue.

I've now added a new style - SFFchronicles2 - which is ideal for desktop users, and makes the most of screen space with left and right navigation bars that can be hidden with a click if required.


8. Miscellaneous

A couple of minor points together:

- I've now disabled Google adverts on the site. I've always considered them a necessary evil, but of late they've managed to become more intrusive while paying less. The hope is that Supporter Memberships will make them irrelevant.

- Disclaimer! In case you haven't noticed, links to Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk are automatically appended with my affiliate URL. I get sod all money from this, but I figure every little penny helps. However, if people would prefer that didn't happen - perhaps Supporters would prefer to include their own affiliate link in their signatures - then I'll consider disabling it.


I think that's all done. :)

Any questions, queries, or problems, please do post them below.
 
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Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
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21,486
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Highlands
#2
A couple of quick changes:

- I've removed the "Resident Authors" tag from the forum listing display for the time being, until I can ensure this is fair and representative of all our authors. Any of our writers with tags will still appear in the "All Author Tags" list on the homepage and beside featured threads. I'll aim to catch up with everyone else in good time.

- I've added a box for the main forums at the top right of the homepage and featured threads. This is to help guide casual visitors into the forums, rather than just viewing featured threads

- It appears that a Paypal account may actually be required - sorry about that. I have no alternative payment options in place at present.
 
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Hugh

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#4
I'd like one of those yellow supporter badges too. I'll get round to finding my paypal password later today.
 

Venusian Broon

Defending the SF genre with terminal intensity
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#5
Small thing - I think you should have the account upgrade in a more prominent place rather than buried in a sub folder. Not saying that you should advertise it all over the place :), but I wouldn't mind if you had a 'contribute' tab on the main line next to 'Members' say. I'm sure you have plans.

Big thing - I tried to buy support, and assumed that I could just use a debit card as I very rarely use Paypal...but no, if that card is linked to a Paypal it won't accept the payment via the card, but only via Paypal...and that means I have drag money from debit card to Paypal then to here. I'd rather just use debit card and cut out the middleman. I don't understand why I need a Paypal to make a subscription like this...will this alter?
 

Brian G Turner

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#7
I'm afraid I didn't have any alternative payment systems at this time - Paypal is already built into the system, and I already have a business account there.

There are a couple of other payment options, but as I don't have a business account at any of those I'd have to go through money-laundering checks just to set those up.

If anyone is having problems with payments, then don't worry - I could always look at alternatives down the line which are easier to use.
 

Venusian Broon

Defending the SF genre with terminal intensity
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#8
I'm afraid I didn't have any alternative payment systems at this time - Paypal is already built into the system, and I already have a business account there.

There are a couple of other payment options, but as I don't have a business account at any of those I'd have to go through money-laundering checks just to set those up.

If anyone is having problems with payments, then don't worry - I could always look at alternatives down the line which are easier to use.
I could send you a cheque :lol:

(actually I don't know exactly where my cheque book is, I haven't used it in about 15 years. :oops:)

Anyway I can understand why it is as you have it, so no problem.

I have a Paypal account, but I've only used it twice in five years. I'm always loathe to set up recurring things on accounts that I may forget and hence cause problems down the line. But for you Brian, I'll do it.

It just struck me as a bit convoluted. And there may be some with no Paypal account that may be put off. Perhaps you could also advertise the 'Nixie' method for those people?
 

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
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#10
And there may be some with no Paypal account that may be put off.
At present the only way I think it's possible to use Paypal without an account is to use ecommerce software with a built-in API to allow for it Even then I'm not sure that allows for subscriptions.

Either way, I can look at further options down the line - if I need to set up additional software to help people, then I will. :)
 

Foxbat

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#11
As I understood it when I paid, this is a recurring payment so if somebody opens an account, makes a payment and then closes it again, won't they have to do the same again in a year (assuming they still want to support).
 

Venusian Broon

Defending the SF genre with terminal intensity
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#13
Oh, and if it is recurring, do we get warning of it. As one who can sometimes run a little tight, sudden DDs sometimes cause me chaos (if not, I'll pop a note in my diary)
I checked on Paypal and although the information is there (if you dig deep enough) there does not appear to be a way of activating a notification that a payment is about to be taken. Or at least I can't see the settings to do it :) (Unless you have a business account?)

EDIT: I do think they send you an email if you've made the payment again, or at least you can force Paypal to do that. But if that means you go negative and perhaps incur a charge if you don't have enough money in the account - because we forgot that we were to make a payment that day - I don't know.
 
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Foxbat

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#16
I checked on Paypal and although the information is there (if you dig deep enough) there does not appear to be a way of activating a notification that a payment is about to be taken. Or at least I can't see the settings to do it :) (Unless you have a business account?)

EDIT: I do think they send you an email if you've made the payment again, or at least you can force Paypal to do that. But if that means you go negative and perhaps incur a charge if you don't have enough money in the account - because we forgot that we were to make a payment that day - I don't know.
You can choose a preferred payment method (I chose credit card). I don't think you need to have money in the account if you do this because the payment should come off the card (or bank account if you choose that as your preferred method).

Interestingly, I don't have an email about this payment form Paypal so chances are no email for recurring payment. Or perhaps I won't get an email until it has gone through the Britecorp payment process?

Edit: Checking my profile and settings in Paypal confirms that there is no notification sent out when repayment is due.
 
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2DaveWixon

Shocked and Appalled!
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Minnesota
#18
I'm more than happy to subscribe, and I'll do so as soon as I can. But now I have to figure out how to get a Paypal account, I guess...
I hate putting anything about my (pitiful) finances online or over the internet, but I guess I'm being dragged kicking and screaming into, ah, ten years ago...
I'll do it, Brian. I just have to figure out how...
 

thaddeus6th

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UK, Yorkshire
#19
Loath*, Venusian. Unhelpfully, the spellings for detesting and reluctance (loathe/loath) are different. [*cough*availableforproofreading*cough*]

I think this is a good idea. Right now things are a bit tight, but I'll get the supporter tag as soon as I'm able (and I endorse the idea of no extra content).
 

Vertigo

Mad Mountain Man
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Scottish Highlands
#20
@Brian G Turner, it just occurred to me when we were talking before about the alerts on watched forums that you were talking about emails whereas I was really thinking more along the lines of the alerts link in the top right. These are what I was observing are not being triggered for my watched forum (reviews).
 

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