Ideas for the new LV website (and forum?)

Comments about LibriVox? Suggestions to improve things? News?
acloward
Posts: 38
Joined: March 14th, 2012, 6:45 pm
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Contact:

Post by acloward » May 1st, 2012, 12:22 am

I know LV has plans for a new website, so here are a couple of suggestions.

First, I was browsing another community form just like this one, and noticed a different interface. The board is hosted/made by the same provider, phpBB. It's virtually the same, but looks like a newer version. I'm wondering if we can upgrade to this version. Here are some screenshots:

Board View 1
Board View 2

Second, there's a really more efficient way for a community driven support system. It employs the same methods (users, customers contacting each other for help and support) but the integration is a lot more powerful. It's called Get Satisfaction and is being used by lots of major companies. To see a real-life example, check out Mint.com's use of this tool:
http://satisfaction.mint.com/mint It has some really cool features that I won't go into, but would save lots of time for both admins and for browsers/volunteers. I think this real-life demo is the best way to "sell" the idea. You can do a lot of browsing and clicking without having to be logged in.

For more detailed information about this tool, see these pages:
Case study of Mint.com's usage
Overview of Get Satisfaction's support tool
Other major companies that use this and their case studies

The only potential downside is the cost. There's a $19/mo basic plan, and they go up from there. However, thinking of the time this would save admins, I'm wondering if it might not be worth it. Then more admins would be free to help with other technical things, especially as the new site gets going. I'm sure the new web developer will need a lot of support and help from the admins.

annise
LibriVox Admin Team
Posts: 31334
Joined: April 3rd, 2008, 3:55 am
Location: Melbourne,Australia

Post by annise » May 1st, 2012, 12:43 am

All input is interesting - so this is in no way a rebuff :D

I'm wondering why you think the board is better - to the best of my knowledge ours uses an up to date version - well it was up to date last July - and the look can be set so that one may be the same - I would be interested in what it does that ours doesn't ?

LibriVox does have a strong ethos of open source software - and no regular income and I'm not sure many people would want to change that.

Anne

acloward
Posts: 38
Joined: March 14th, 2012, 6:45 pm
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Contact:

Post by acloward » May 1st, 2012, 1:06 am

Anne,

No rebuff taken :) I like constructive feedback.

The board is really much the same in most ways. It just appeared to be "cleaner" and less cluttered looking. It could just be a personal preference in style. I just assumed it was therefore an upgrade, which it may or may not be.

As for open source, as a webmaster myself (company intranet and personal), I can say that there's not a lot more we can do (as far as tech upgrades) that we aren't already doing if we continue to use free and open source stuff. Open source is great, but if we're looking to do a "tech overhaul" as the news post mentioned, I would be highly surprised if we continue with free and/or open source resources.

As for the Get Satisfaction cost, I'm sure that would be an issue. However, I know that we did get the new grant to do the tech overhaul, so perhaps it may be worth investing some of that in order to save time for admins. It certainly might be worth trialing (without giving up the message board during the trial). If it ends up being REALLY great, I certainly wouldn't mind donating to help fund it, even as a non-admin. I'm not sure how many admins there are, but for easy math, let's say there are 20. If it turns out to be a huge time-saver for an admin, I would venture to guess many of them would be willing to donate a $1/month.

Thanks for responding. I think there are going to be many more tests/trials/suggestions related to technology as we embark in the tech overhaul. My worry is that people are going to be resistant to change, especially if our processes have been virtually the same for the last 5 years.

RuthieG
Posts: 22022
Joined: April 17th, 2008, 8:41 am
Location: Kent, England
Contact:

Post by RuthieG » May 1st, 2012, 1:42 am

I'm certainly not resistant to change - awaiting it with much anticipation. What will save admins time will be back-end software that works. What will improve the user experience for readers and listeners will be improvements to the outward-facing site and user interface. That is what the grant is for.

The forum software is not entirely up to date. We are on version 3.0.8 and the latest version is 3.0.10.

The Wordpress software is not up to date. It has many customisations which make it difficult right now to update it.

Both these issues will be addressed as soon as we have appointed a programmer, who will be rewriting the back-end software of which most users are completely unaware, but which enables LibriVox to function.

Money: We have no regular income. We do have regular expenditure: the working server for uploads, the forum, the wiki and the catalogue. We receive over half a million visits a month to our site, and the last figures I have access to (very, very out of date) were that we were using 1800 GB bandwidth per month in 2010. We have had one fund-raising drive, in 2010, which we hoped would keep us running for a few years, as long as nothing went wrong. Many things have gone wrong since then, unfortunately, mostly from external malicious causes.

fyi re expenditure needs:
Our former volunteer sysadmin, at the time of the fund-raising drive, wrote: For a variety of reasons, we require a full dedicated server, or at least a very high-end VM with several hundred GB of storage. Though we don’t host the files for end-user download, we do provide an uploading service which book contributors use to share individual chapters and other similar things.

Combine that with lots of wordpress/phpBB modifications, and pretty high wordpress/phpBB traffic, and we fill up a server pretty fast.

In short: Hundreds of GB storage + ~1800 gigabytes Internet transfer per month + heavy MySQL usage adds up to a pretty expensive server or high-end VM. Note that none of this includes projected growth, we will need more resources soon, and that’s also a factor in the dollar amount Hugh mentioned.

I’d also like to point out that the figure does not cover sysadmin support. I work for free. And my job is a lot harder when I have to deal with an intermediary sysadmin, which some hosting companies force upon you. Where we are right now, I myself am root.
We no longer have a volunteer sysadmin either, which will increase our costs. Money is tight. Very tight. And certainly none to spare for additional regular expenditure, which will be the reason that we do continue with free/open-source software, apart from our own custom stuff. The prospect of trying to administer oodles of people donating (somehow) a dollar a month makes me blanch, to be honest. ;)

Ruth
My LV catalogue page | RuthieG's CataBlog of recordings | Tweet: @RuthGolding

Cori
LibriVox Admin Team
Posts: 12151
Joined: November 22nd, 2005, 10:22 am
Location: Britain
Contact:

Post by Cori » May 1st, 2012, 2:55 am

I can't see what GetSatisfaction would give us that our forums don't. GS, from the times I've read/used it, is great for companies that don't have a strong community presence already. Between the amazing support for new (and old!) readers here, our Errors forum for catalogued works, the info@librivox email address and occasional trawls of our blog and archive.org thread for outliers ... I genuinely think we've got it pretty well covered. And in a way that doesn't cost money and is intuitive to access and support, and which largely allows *anyone* to help. People who've been a member for one day can still help someone who just joined (and they do, and I love it.)

On a more philosophical level, "Satisfaction" is never actually going to happen for a lot of people raising issues. A British person reading Twain? Hang them! A man reading Pride and Prejudice? What was he thinking! LibriVox web design sucks? Gosh yes, we should invest thousands in keeping that up-to-date, annual upgrades would be perfect, thanks for mentioning it. Your quality control sucks? Yeah, I personally need to rerecord all the cruddy-mic recordings I did back in the day, there could be no greater use of my time.

When these questions come up in the forum, they can be handled by less sarcastic people than myself, and we often have a good discussion about them. Sometimes changes come out of them (like the evolution of the Disclaimer), othertimes we just go "nope, that's the way it is, here's why." Having an area to whine would bring out a lot more haters than we have at the moment, and would turn into a pit of despair for the administrators. Here, a complaint is balanced by our thankyou mail, by the plain fact that This Works and does so busily 24hrs a day now. GS is built around people's unhappiness. I don't think this is being resistant to change ... I think this is balancing competing needs in a way which works pretty well currently. That's not to say it couldn't change in the future, but I see no good coming of spending money on it now.
There's honestly no such thing as a stupid question -- but I'm afraid I can't rule out giving a stupid answer : : To Posterity and Beyond!

Petra
Posts: 350
Joined: July 14th, 2008, 1:33 pm
Location: Sweden

Post by Petra » May 1st, 2012, 3:51 am

Sorry to butt in, but has anyone heard of Kickstarter? http://www.kickstarter.com/start

It's an organisation that lets people set up projects and then ask people to donate money to them. They set a money goal and a deadline, and if people say they're going to donate enough money, it's a success and they get the money and get to start the project. If not enough donations are promised, nobody has to pay anything and you can start over or forget about it. (That's a bad explanation. I've never done it myself, but there should be better information on the site.)

I don't know how well it would work to set up a project aiming to "keep us afloat" for a year or two. It might be better to plan for a specific improvement? But that way volunteers and listeners and other interested parties could all come together and show how important LibriVox is to them.

It's just an idea - I get very nervous with all this talk about money, because it would be SUCH a shame if we had to shut down because of financial issues. ;)


(That said, this is not a vote in favour of that Get Satisfaction software. I don't like the look of the Mint website, and I think the workflow system we have with the forums and wikis and catalogues works quite well.)

annise
LibriVox Admin Team
Posts: 31334
Joined: April 3rd, 2008, 3:55 am
Location: Melbourne,Australia

Post by annise » May 1st, 2012, 4:28 am

We are OK at present and there are plans afoot - kickstarter has one big catch as far as I can see
Kickstarter collects a 5% fee from the project’s funding total if and only if a project is successfully funded. Amazon (our payments processor) also charges credit card processing fees that generally work out to 3-5%.
People like me object to donating to banks and Amazon :D - quaint and old fashioned I know but I resent people telling me how noble they are when they are making money out of it.

Anne

Cori
LibriVox Admin Team
Posts: 12151
Joined: November 22nd, 2005, 10:22 am
Location: Britain
Contact:

Post by Cori » May 1st, 2012, 4:42 am

Kickstarter is also all or nothing. If you raise 99% of your target, you don't get the money (refunded to donors.) Plus, I've read several people's experiences there, which advise having a good percentage of stake money to put in to start off with, and there's a lot of PR that goes into making a success.

We did really well, in my opinion, with archive.org to support our last fundraising effort -- I don't think that's any kind of problem if we wanted to do that again.
There's honestly no such thing as a stupid question -- but I'm afraid I can't rule out giving a stupid answer : : To Posterity and Beyond!

Timothy Ferguson
Posts: 952
Joined: February 16th, 2009, 5:30 am
Contact:

Post by Timothy Ferguson » May 1st, 2012, 6:42 am

Petra wrote:Sorry to butt in, but has anyone heard of Kickstarter? http://www.kickstarter.com/start
Petra, Kickstarter is for Americans only. I don't think Librivox is officially American (I have the vague sense that the servers are in Canada.)

(There are a couple of others that do the same thing which aren't American only, if there is any interest.)
My occasional blog is Games from Folktales

Carolin
LibriVox Admin Team
Posts: 42370
Joined: May 26th, 2010, 8:54 am
Location: the Netherlands
Contact:

Post by Carolin » May 1st, 2012, 6:52 am

Cori wrote:We did really well, in my opinion, with archive.org to support our last fundraising effort -- I don't think that's any kind of problem if we wanted to do that again.
that is comforting :)
Carolin

Please help us finish The Theory and Practice of Brewing and learn about beer!

Petra
Posts: 350
Joined: July 14th, 2008, 1:33 pm
Location: Sweden

Post by Petra » May 1st, 2012, 8:06 am

Ahh, clearly I haven't read enough! Those are a lot of problems (and yeah, each one of them are dealbreakers for me too - especially the American thing since ... well, I'm certainly not in the US!) that I didn't know about.

Sorry about that!

Lucy_k_p
Posts: 2924
Joined: February 16th, 2009, 7:19 am
Location: Bath, UK
Contact:

Post by Lucy_k_p » May 1st, 2012, 8:30 am

Kickstarter is not American only. I have been able to donate to projects and I am in the UK. (There can be problems if you use credit cards or debit cards not supported by Amazon, but there are ways around this.) And I have seen UK projects there as well, although currency conversion would probably eat another few percent.

You could also get over the needing 100% hurdle by setting a very low target or at least a target you are certain is achievable, since you can continue to collect donations even after funding has reached 100%.

But given the fees involved I think our original fund-raiser, working with archive, was very successful and there's no reason not to use it again.

And unless there are problems on the technical/back end side that I'm not aware of, I think the forums work fine as they are and there's no need to pay to get anything different.
So little space, so much to say.

Timothy Ferguson
Posts: 952
Joined: February 16th, 2009, 5:30 am
Contact:

Post by Timothy Ferguson » May 1st, 2012, 11:30 am

Lucy_k_p wrote:Kickstarter is not American only. I have been able to donate to projects and I am in the UK. (There can be problems if you use credit cards or debit cards not supported by Amazon, but there are ways around this.) And I have seen UK projects there as well, although currency conversion would probably eat another few percent.
Lucy, you can donate, but perhaps your UK projects had an American creative in them? I write, and I'm on professional lists for freelance writers, and not being able to use Kickstarter comes up pretty regularly.

From Kickstarter's FAQ page:

"Am I eligible to start a Kickstarter project?

To be eligible to start a Kickstarter project, you need to satisfy the requirements of Amazon Payments: Be a US resident and at least 18 years of age with a social security number (or EIN), a US bank account, US address, US state-issued ID (driver’s license), and major US credit or debit card. Please note that anyone, anywhere (with a major credit card) can pledge to Kickstarter projects. We’re working hard to open up to more countries. If you’ve been waiting, we really appreciate your patience."
My occasional blog is Games from Folktales

acloward
Posts: 38
Joined: March 14th, 2012, 6:45 pm
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
Contact:

Post by acloward » May 2nd, 2012, 12:07 pm

OK, just some ideas. I wish the best to the new developer. He/she has a lot of work cut out for them.

DixonHill
Posts: 3
Joined: June 20th, 2012, 5:27 pm

Post by DixonHill » June 26th, 2012, 9:01 am

I have a suggestion which may be constructive an not too much of a pain to implement.

The forum is an oft visited place by all of us librivoxers and I am certain, there are many out there, who like myself use their mobile devices to log on and read/post. Currently, the forum site is not mobile friendly and makes tasks pretty painful, even if you have a high resolution device (like an iPhone or an iPad with retinal display).

There is a couple I ways to make the forums mobile user-friendly.

A) Add a Mobile style that has mobile device detection (such as http://www.phpbb.com/customise/db/style/prosilver_mobile/)

B) and/or add a Tapatalk plugin to allow users of that ubiquitous tool to use it to read the forums.

Both changes are relatively easy and transparent to implement.

I would even go as far as to offer my services as a volunteer sysadmin to help with that or any other project that requires the skills of an experienced web hosting admin.


Dmitry

Post Reply