Future of DT

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

09 Dec 2018, 13:31

This is very important, please read. I'll try to keep it short.

We need to "reinvent" DT if we want to keep it relevant. What do we want to do with it? I'm not just talking about an overdue software update but in general what's the direction we want to take with our beloved forum?

Forums are generally dying all over the web. Google, reddit, facebook, instagram, discord, ... they are killing them, but there are a few that still work, so I guess there is hope.

As I see it the most logical direction would be to become even more vertical, even more niche. Specialize in what we do best. Vintage, restorations, discoveries, weird stuff, DIY and knowledge (mostly the wiki). It is painful when google returns a reddit discussion from 3 years ago before the DT wiki.

I would start from remixing the forum categories a bit. Giving more room to projects (ongoing and finished). What I really don't like is that projects get lost over time, if for any reason you don't follow the discussion for a couple of weeks you very likely lose some very interesting projects. I'd like to give better visibility to people's projects. Would be nice to wikify them, but that would require more work... so maybe a category with "users' projects" that gets automatically indexed somehow.

What do you think? Should we focus or go mainstream instead and open to a wider audience?

Next. Forum software. The most logical solution is to update phpbb and possibly work on a custom theme. Problem being that switching from the current version to the newest is like installing a completely different software. Personally I like Nodebb quite a bit. I should have a license for WoltLab Burning Board which is actually very decent. XenForo is also very famous but I don't see the beauty of it.

Then the wiki. I want to make it easier to use for the average Joe. I tried the latest version of mediawiki and it includes a nice editor that could help with that. Other option would be to switch to a different software, but... more pain to come.

Speak your mind, you lazy bastards!

User avatar
ThePillenwerfer

09 Dec 2018, 13:37

It ain't bust so don't fix it. As a User I can't find any fault with the current software, though obviously there may be problems of which I'm un-aware.

I have been a member of several forums on different subjects over the years but haven't stuck around on most. So far this is about the best I've come across.

You asked us to speak our minds so: LEAVE IT ALONE!

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

09 Dec 2018, 13:49

ThePillenwerfer wrote: It ain't bust so don't fix it.
the forum must be at the very least updated. that's not a question. We just need to understand how.

Findecanor

09 Dec 2018, 14:23

* How do projects "get lost"? Threads are not deleted automatically, are they?
* The forum categories are mostly fine. I would only move Archive to under Deskthority.
* I like the current theme. Readability and usability is key — like on all good user interfaces, hardware and software. I don't like it when forums change too much, because then they lose their character. There should be only small tweaks.
* All users should use the wiki more! More people should edit it. Do promote it by linking to articles when appropriate, here and on other forums!

User avatar
Wodan
ISO Advocate

09 Dec 2018, 14:28

It‘s this time of the year again? ;)

Good points matt3o, very glad you‘re picking the topic up again. There are many new, hip and modern keyboard communities around lately in addition to the chat rooms that draw activity away from classic forums like DT.

I don‘t see the salvation in a new community concept for DT. The longevity of DT threads and topics and the strong focus on research, projects and knowlege is what sets it apart from almost any other active community in this hobby.

This is currently achieved by using a wiki and a classic BB forum and this should be the way to go in the future. Regaining control over the software of wiki and forum is the major task. Any new forum software must be able to preserve the full history of DT posts including attachments and images. Too many times have I seen years of activity lost after an upgrade because internal links were broken or attachments and images got lost. That would pretty much hit DT where it hurts the most. It‘s like burning the keyboard library of Alexandria.

So my requirements for a new forum software would be in this order:
1. Ability to fully preserve the existing posts including crosslink, attachments and images
2. Ability to fully preserve the existing posts including crosslinks, attachments, images and seebarts memes
3. Migrating to a software that is actively being developed and promises to be simple to maintain/upgrade in the future

With the Wiki, lets just upgrade to the latest mediawiki

And yes, I also love the idea to integrate forum and wiki even closer. Can we use forum users for wiki edits?
Can we show number of wiki edits in the user profile as some kind of reward?
Can we bring wiki edits into the next generation of DT Spy?

User avatar
wobbled

09 Dec 2018, 14:33

Aren't we already able to bookmark topics that we're interested in and eager to follow? The only way they'd really get lost to all the new users is if the thread dies and no one posts on it again. Not really an issue in my eyes.
The fact reddit comes before DT in google results is probably more to do with how googles results work than an issue with our own forum. We still manage to attract new users.
As for the ease of use factors, I don't see an issue with how everything is in its current state, however if software updates or moving to different software entirely provides the forum with more security, and it can be assured that we don't lose any content e.g. pictures, then I'm all for it.

User avatar
DiodeHead

09 Dec 2018, 14:36

hum interesting, to tell you the truth for me what attracted me to Deskthority is the workshop subforum and I never went out of there which is very bad since I just discovered the market :o (my wallet is looking at me like this ¬¬) and other categories that are interesting
I vote for niche and knowledge and the project subforum or whatever is a good idea, and I think is needed
for me, the DIY should be another kind of wiki where you could read tutorials on mold making, CAD, CAM electronics and software architecture.

Software architecture is a really interesting topic but there's little info.
Yeah, you could download the code from one of the good projects but unless you're an experienced programmer would take you a lot of effort to understand what's going on.
For me that's another part of my projects that I want to DIY, I know that QMK already does everything you could wish
but if you go niche, you want to even make your firmware and do custom stuff.

User avatar
hansichen

09 Dec 2018, 14:47

Stuff that bothers me personally: picture upload.
It's pita to upload a picture in a forum thread cause you have to do it one by one, it's much easier to throw them on imgur or other filehosters and they may be deleted after a while. An easy upload function would be more appealing imo. Same applies to the wiki upload function.

I think a wiki page where you can copy paste the basics of a new wiki page so that you just have to fill out the stuff that applies to your board would help.

This is the basis of my G80-0418 wiki entry:
Spoiler:

Code: Select all

{{stub}}
{{infobox dkeyboard
| image name   = G80 0418 top.jpg
| pn           = 
| fcc          = 
| branding     = 
| manufacturer = [[Cherry]]
| features     = plate mount
| switch       = [[Cherry MX]]
| layouts      = 
| interface    = D-Sub 15 for Apple IIe computer
| weight       = 
| years        = ~1984 - ~1987
| price        = 
}}

==Description==
The '''Cherry G80-0418''' is an Apple IIe compatible Cherry keyboard introduced in 1984. It was introduced together with the IBM compatible [[G80-0413]]. 

This was one of the first keyboards to feature the well known linear [[Cherry MX Black]] switches instead of [[Cherry M7]] / [[Cherry M9]] switches. The Cherry MX Blacks are plate mounted. The space bar switch uses the still relatively unknown "Cherry MX Space Black" switch which is noticably heavier in keyweight than a [[Cherry MX Linear Grey]] but less so than a [[Cherry MX Super Black]]. 

Both a caseless variant G80-0418 and the G80-0418H with a case exist. 

The keycaps are ABS doubleshot but many alpha legends are not sharp and look pad printed. The brown modifier keycaps are a mix of thin and thick ABS doubleshots. It's most likely that this quality difference between the caps exists because the boards were made before Cherry acquired all their doubleshot molds.

==Gallery==
<gallery widths=250px heights=167px>
File:G80 0418 top.jpg            | Top view
File:G80 0418 sticker.jpg        | Model sticker
File:G80 0418 connector.jpg      | Connector
File:G80 0418 stabs.jpg          | Screw in pcb mount stabilizer
File:G80 0418 case.jpg           | Glued case
File:G80-0418 keycaps.jpg        | Keycaps detail, top view
File:G80-0418 keycaps bottom.jpg | Keycaps detail, bottom view
</gallery>

==See also==
* [[Media:G80-0418.pdf|Product brochure]]
* Deskthority &mdash; [https://deskthority.net/photos-f62/1980s-cherry-unicorn-prototype-find-t17108.html 1980s cherry unicorn (prototype) find]

[[Category:Cherry G80 series]]
[[Category:Keyboards with Cherry MX switches]]
[[Category:List of all Cherry keyboards]]
[[Category:List of all keyboards]]
First you have the infobox, then the description, a gallery and finally some links to find more infos and similar boards in the wiki (G80s, MX boards etc). I personally needed quite a while to copy the base layout from a different article and adjust it for this board. If we would clean this up and maybe add some popular options so that someone can easily copy and adjust it to the board that he wants to add would make it quite a bit more appealing.
Currently we have this cheatsheet page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Help:Cheatsheet . It's "only" a list of all the functions which is pretty overwhelming. I think adding code for an example page of a keyboard and a new switch would make it quite a bit easier.

Also category pages are overwhelmimg. We have an article regarding these: wiki/Help:Categorising_pages Maybe we can add a list of category pages in a wiki article together with the links (like this: [[Category:List of all keyboards]] ) so that people have an easy way to find the correct ones and paste them into their post.

User avatar
madrobby

09 Dec 2018, 15:14

For larger Wiki edits something that integrates with Git would be great, so you can have a local copy of the wiki, edit stuff as required locally and with the editor you like and see the reaults and fix things. And then commit the whole change in one go. I can’t imagine the Wiki being prohibitively large, assuming images and other binary assets are stored elsewhere.

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

09 Dec 2018, 15:36

Findecanor wrote: * How do projects "get lost"? Threads are not deleted automatically, are they?
a DIY project is still interesting after 10 years, but it's completely lost after a couple of weeks unless you really go searching for it (almost impossible since you don't even know it exists) or google is nice enough to return a DT link in the first 2 pages of search results.
madrobby wrote: For larger Wiki edits something that integrates with Git would be great, so you can have a local copy of the wiki, edit stuff as required locally and with the editor you like and see the reaults and fix things. And then commit the whole change in one go. I can’t imagine the Wiki being prohibitively large, assuming images and other binary assets are stored elsewhere.
mh this is interesting. I have to check feasibility. I don't think mediawiki is compatible with a system like that (but I bet there's an extension).

User avatar
ramnes
ПБТ НАВСЕГДА

09 Dec 2018, 15:58

I like the idea of the git binding to the wiki. I'm not a visionary so I won't say much on the future of DT, apart that I do agree with pretty much everything that you stated in your first post, matt3o. But what I know for sure is that there is way too much information that has been put in the wiki and in various thread here, and thus that we absolutely need to protect all this information somehow. A git repository that anyone could clone would be awesome in that sense, especially if we start to doubt about DT future as we seem to.

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

09 Dec 2018, 16:19

I've found this https://github.com/Git-Mediawiki/Git-Mediawiki

How do you see expanding a little into retro-computing?

Findecanor

09 Dec 2018, 16:33

One thing I miss is that people often create threads about keyboards on the forum ... and then the info stays on the forum when it could have fit very well on the Wiki. We often have to ask the author if we would be allowed to copy the images to the Wiki.

Maybe instead the image hosting function of the Wiki and forum could be the combined, or at least linked.
So as to encourage forum posters to publish their images on the Wiki, and to make it easy to do so.
Do this together with the multi-image upload feature.
Forum users and Wiki users are already the same set, so we do have authentication and attribution built-in already.
Wodan wrote: Can we bring wiki edits into the next generation of DT Spy?
Good idea! New articles could very well be shown (except new redirects, categories or templates).

But for edits of existing articles, there needs to be a threshold for how significant it is. Many edits are just for fixing errors in grammar and spelling and there wouldn't be any point in showing alerts for those. I think maybe 25% increase or ten new lines, to start with. We should make it possible to tweak the thresholds later.
hansichen wrote: I think a wiki page where you can copy paste the basics of a new wiki page so that you just have to fill out the stuff that applies to your board would help.
Indeed. That might be a bit overdue. Copying from existing pages can be a bit tedious... (and it is easy to miss to delete a fact from the article you copied. :oops: )
That would be easy to start doing. The term "template" already has a use in Mediawiki however, so another name might be more suitable. "Skeleton" perhaps? (although "Skeleton" is an article in "Keyboard terms": a keyboard without a case).

Another idea would be to have an "Article creation wizard", i.e. a set of forms that you would fill out to create an article of a fixed format. A quick search revealed the Page Forms extension but there might be another that is better suited.
But maybe article templates would suffice to fill the need.

Then of course make sure to add link(s) to the templates or forms from the article creation page so that people see them!
Last edited by Findecanor on 09 Dec 2018, 16:42, edited 2 times in total.

User avatar
hansichen

09 Dec 2018, 16:37

Kinda ironic when a vintage computer killer forum wants to expand into retro-computing :evilgeek:

I appreciate every vintage computer content here and it's nice to encourage people to most more computer stuff and to kill less computers.

Findecanor

09 Dec 2018, 17:04

matt3o wrote: How do you see expanding a little into retro-computing?
I think the focus should remain on input devices, and with emphasis on keyboards and on desktop computing.

There are already many very active community sites for retro-computing out there, most of them specialised for specific platforms, and I don't see any point in competing with them — on anything but input devices.
Talk about how to use old input devices with old computers does definitely belong here. (not just how to make them talk USB for use with modern computers)

BTW. I started writing about Amiga's mouse compatibility on the wiki and fell into a rabbit hole on the port, where I got to write about retro console gaming a bit also. I don't know what other users think about veering off from the desktop focus like that...
Last edited by Findecanor on 09 Dec 2018, 17:16, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
Menuhin

09 Dec 2018, 17:07

hansichen wrote: Kinda ironic when a vintage computer killer forum wants to expand into retro-computing :evilgeek:

I appreciate every vintage computer content here and it's nice to encourage people to most more computer stuff and to kill less computers.
+1

To buy a vintage computer, and take just the keyboard (or even just the switches) and then trash the whole computer, or let the remain just rot in one's garage until one's gf / parents / children find that out and demand a clean up.
Such a person must be from DT or GH, in particular from the Alps "appreciation" threads. 8-)

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

09 Dec 2018, 17:11

I would never do such a thing...

@Findecanor of course the core is keyboards, but we have a "mouse" section that is very slow already, maybe we could expand in the same way into computing in general. Just a thought

Findecanor

09 Dec 2018, 17:21

Well, Geekhack has a "Other geeky stuff" subforum which keeps the computing stuff out of "Off topic". Why not?

User avatar
DiodeHead

09 Dec 2018, 19:53

well, I'm not against the introduction of retrocomputing, it's kind of nice to have more of the things I like on the same place, but since this is an input device forum I was thinking more on the gaming input devices or midi input devices to follow the same path of finding the right switches and feeling.

people who play fighting games (i do) are so picky with the arcade buttons and leavers as much as we are here with keycaps and switches (Korean leavers differs a lot from American or Japanise ones), the same happens with pianist and so on. I think, expanding in that direction could mean more info for the wiki and more info to members that could use that info to innovate in their field.

I had in mind for a time a game controller project with mouse switches but I'm not sure if it would be well received (most people here enjoy electronics in general so I don't think it would be deleted, but I have that sensation in your mind of "is this appropriate here?")

:)

PS: computer killer, what? I have a friend's Commodore 64 on my bench waiting for repair and after that an Apple II (and right now a Sega Megadrive 1) :P

User avatar
Hypersphere

09 Dec 2018, 20:59

DT is my favorite forum for many reasons, not the least of which is that I find it very easy to use.

Keeping DT relevant is an interesting challenge. Various surveys I have seen indicate that young people these days do not use desktop computers unless they are serious gamers. Indeed, they are also giving up on laptops. Tablets and phones are the currently preferred electronic devices. To reach them, content needs to be designed for small form-factor screens. Moreover, attention spans have been shrinking as well to a current level of somewhere between a few seconds to a few minutes. Thus, if we were to expand into areas of computer technology other than our current focus on vintage mechanical keyboards, we might consider new categories of current and emerging technology as well as the underlying science in a format that can be grasped quickly and displayed efficiently on mobile devices.

There are pertinent ancillary fields as well, such as sustainable technology, e-waste, and "green" technology.

We could also consider software categories, such as a "linux corner", desktop environments, and window managers.

In addition, we could institute tech challenges for hardware and/or software. For example, we could throw down the gauntlet of the Soarer Converter software to extend and improve the code.

Another idea (that would take a lot of work): develop online courses in various tech areas that could be offered for credit by high schools, community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities. My university has recently partnered with Coursera to offer online courses, certificates, and degrees. These courses are extremely popular and have a global reach.

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

09 Dec 2018, 21:08

Hypersphere wrote: In addition, we could institute tech challenges for hardware and/or software. For example, we could throw down the gauntlet of the Soarer Converter software to extend and improve the code.
I like this one!
Hypersphere wrote: Another idea (that would take a lot of work): develop online courses in various tech areas that could be offered for credit by high schools, community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities. My university has recently partnered with Coursera to offer online courses, certificates, and degrees. These courses are extremely popular and have a global reach.
This is interesting, not sure how to do that but still

User avatar
DiodeHead

09 Dec 2018, 21:24

well, I'm sure there are experts in vim or emacs in this forum (I see the war over this coming a mile away), and an advanced course in an advanced editor would be great, I'm just starting to learn vim and I wish someone would have introduced me to it when I was studying computer programming in community college.

Some people are incredibly efficient writing in those editors, even I've seen vim screencast from people studying medicine as a note making tool.

User avatar
pansku
Member of the Beam Spring cult

09 Dec 2018, 21:34

Regarding the forum software, UI and such, I like them as is. Maybe add support for tags both in threads and posts to make the search better.

I also agree with the focus on knowledge. I haven't made content to wiki ( :oops: ) as I find it quite a daunting task. Maybe we should have an in-depth tutorial on the use of wiki and also have templates for keyboard article, switch article etc.

User avatar
Muirium
µ

10 Dec 2018, 00:23

Good answers here to some good questions.

I'd say that discoverability is the big problem. Older threads fall from sight, and so their projects become hidden. You'd only find them if you heard about them already and went searching. Search isn't discovery.

I don't think reshuffling forum categories will make any fundamental difference. Instead, perhaps, present the whole site more like the Forum Spy is now. People these days, including myself, are routinely driven by newness: we want to know what's going on right now, and to browse a broad cross-section before dipping in to dive deeper where it's most appealing. A static looking "portal" (or whatever the term is designers use now for the default look of any site's home page) is not what we want at all. Nor is janky reflow stuff like Medium. Something dynamic like the spy, but more visual, while still just as well behaved.

Including (non-trivial) wiki edits in the spy is a great idea, by the way. I think the wiki talk feature could be a better bridge between those of us with the knowledge and actually getting it into the wiki itself. Every time I edit any wiki, I wince in anxiety at how alien it feels and how high risk it seems, to be potentially trampling over other people's work. It's not my natural environment. But there could be an adjacent way to contribute.

As for look, I'm a stickler for DT's superb design. I'd hate to see it sacrificed for a change of underlying software stack, or to better cater to phones. I browse DT plenty on my iPhone, right there in Safari. Sure, one size doesn't fit all, but there's always that irritating app that leaves its sig spam all over the place…

Anyway, I don't think we need to worry about following other people's leads. Let Reddit be Reddit, and all the rest of them their own things, too. There's something wholly appropriate, after all, for the most keenly vintage of all the keyboard community's many centres to be a classic forum in nature, as well as in spirit.

User avatar
stratokaster

10 Dec 2018, 00:28

I like the current look and feel of DT, but it seems to get spammed much more than some other forums I visit.

I would appreciate if DT would expand into retrocomputing and related fields (hadware/software/whateware).

Regarding project visibility: it would be nice if somebody volunteers to compile a meta-thread that would direct people to various project threads related to different keyboard platforms (like IBM buckling spring mods, for example). I may even volunteer to do it if my dreams come true and I resign from my current job :lol:

User avatar
Muirium
µ

10 Dec 2018, 00:32


User avatar
stratokaster

10 Dec 2018, 00:35

Yeah, I saw this thread previously, but it appears to be 3/4 dead and outdated. At least that's my impression.

User avatar
TheInverseKey

10 Dec 2018, 02:06

Hypersphere wrote: In addition, we could institute tech challenges for hardware and/or software. For example, we could throw down the gauntlet of the Soarer Converter software to extend and improve the code.
Expanding the converters so that they become easier to use and understand is a great direction. I think that the converters is what is holding a lot of people back from getting into vintage keyboards because of the documentation and how spread out it is. Having the converters on the Wiki for each board if they need specialized one might be a good idea once they have been tested by the community if possible. That way a person that is new to the scene is able to look up the keyboard on the Wiki and find out what converter works for them.

From talking to other people that want to get into the community but are scared is due to the fact that the they don't know where to start on DT and all of the converters that people build in their own threads seem to get lost over a period of time.
Hypersphere wrote: Another idea (that would take a lot of work): develop online courses in various tech areas that could be offered for credit by high schools, community colleges, four-year colleges, and universities. My university has recently partnered with Coursera to offer online courses, certificates, and degrees. These courses are extremely popular and have a global reach.
I think this also builds on the other quote above as well. Having courses that can teach the basics of the converters and or other areas of tech that are also related to either keyboard or retro computing. This can span both hardware and software so that people can find what they are most interested in learning.

Finally, I think submitting new information or material to the Wiki is a bit cumbersome as of right now so making it easier would go a long way. Making the UI so that is easier to make submissions as uniform as possible would also help with a lot of the information about boards and retro computing that is currently missing but know amongst the community.

User avatar
Tias

10 Dec 2018, 08:36

TheInverseKey wrote:
Hypersphere wrote: In addition, we could institute tech challenges for hardware and/or software. For example, we could throw down the gauntlet of the Soarer Converter software to extend and improve the code.
Expanding the converters so that they become easier to use and understand is a great direction. I think that the converters is what is holding a lot of people back from getting into vintage keyboards because of the documentation and how spread out it is. Having the converters on the Wiki for each board if they need specialized one might be a good idea once they have been tested by the community if possible. That way a person that is new to the scene is able to look up the keyboard on the Wiki and find out what converter works for them.

From talking to other people that want to get into the community but are scared is due to the fact that the they don't know where to start on DT and all of the converters that people build in their own threads seem to get lost over a period of time.
Incorporating information regarding various converters and/or conversion for vintage keyboards into the Wiki would be a great idea. Maybe even incorporation of the various projects/restorations/conversions that DT user have done.

I myself discovered vintage keyboards quite recently and since then I have constantly been searching thru DT and its amazing forums and Wiki trying to learn as much as possible. I have yet to aqcuire a vintage keyboard, and as I have absolutely zero experience regarding anything related to the restoring, converting, modding etc. of vintage keyboards, DT is the perfect plattform to start learning from.

Theres so much amazing content and projects on DT and it would be great if the forums would be tied togehther more closely with the Wiki. That way especially newcommers would have it easier getting into and learning about vintage keyboards. Don't get me wrong, DT works well as it is today and if one is willing to do some searching one will eventyally find everything that one is looking for. I just thought I would provide my perspective as viewed by a newbie.
Last edited by Tias on 10 Dec 2018, 09:39, edited 1 time in total.

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matt3o
-[°_°]-

10 Dec 2018, 08:49

All great suggestions guys!

I like the "spy" for the wiki idea and also the wiki-on-git. I'll try to update mediawiki if feasible and I'd also like to renew the design a little. Maybe we could post in the wiki-discussion some help/templates that can be used in the wiki. I believe there is a plugin to create structural data... I'll check that too.

The wikified converters is a great idea. But we have to let people know that such a thing exists.

Maybe we could have a yearly "DTWiki Award" (DTWA) much like the DTA but dedicated to just wiki content. It might be a way to keep people engaged. I dunno...

Regarding the forum, maybe we could convert the "mice" section to "geek stuff" or simply add a new section, have to think about it. I'd like to merge the pictures into the main keyboard talk, but also automatically create a gallery with all those wonderful photos (maybe just by adding a tag or a subsection or something).

Regarding the design I think DT should stay white, but I'd also like to add a dark theme option.

Guys, it will take time and features will be added slowly but reading all these great suggestions gave me a confidence boost!

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