Minh’s Notes

Human-readable chicken scratch

Minh Nguyễn
June 7th, 2005
Planet Xavier


Not alone

A few weeks ago, I stumbled upon Planet Cincinnati, a listing of several Cincinnati blogs, similar to our own Planet Xavier. The blogs that it syndicates probably aren’t of much interest to you, but it’s nice to know that we’re not alone.

Yesterday, Brad sent me an e-mail telling me about an online forum for St. X students, not surprisingly named the St. Xavier Forums. Clearly we bloggers aren’t the only ones trying to start up a community. Those of you who paid attention to recent discussion here will wonder how they’ve survived this long, even though the administration apparently knows about them. Behold the power of the disclaimer.

For now, I’m still sticking to my position that a forum is for the “creatively challenged,” if its mission is just to talk about “stuff,” rather than to actually do something. You’ll note that forums like mozillaZine Forums (collaborate to make Mozilla better and help new users) and Slashdot (report the news, no matter how trivial) are successes, whereas ones with similar ambitions, such as CzekTech Forums (“talk about what we think is cool”)… well, they haven’t fared quite as well.


That said, the St. X Forums look promising, because it’s run by someone who seems to actually care, and because it could actually be useful: if the community grows enough (likely through word of mouth), it could become the premier place to find out what’s going on. Or pX could. It doesn’t really seem like we’re going to be competitors, anyhow; more like complements: the forums will probably be a lot less formal than pX, as hard as that is to imagine. For now, at least, we’re only advertising off of each other. But it would be great to see some kind of cooperation develop.

Any ideas?


  1. I’m not a religious fanatic when it comes to opposing Microsoft and their products – really, I’m not. But I used to be, and it still shows.


  1. I am really excited about the St. X forums and I'm glad you pointed them out. I was planning on sending a huge e-mail tonight but do you have any idea who the Administrator is? Is he alum or student? Only gripe I have is that he's running ASP.NET forums, which ... well, you know me enough that I can't stand Microsoft.

    I'd really like to join up with him and provide support when and if the administration comes knocking. It will give me a chance to get back at them for what they did to my ideas.

  2. The forums are run by Peter Franklin ’06; his e-mail address is on his user profile. I agree, he could’ve chosen better – something along the lines of phpBB, PHP-Nuke or Drupal (!) would’ve been nice. Peter says that he’s working on a redesign, and goes on to list a bunch of features that the redesign will bring, so I can only take it to mean that he’s upgrading to a new version. As it is right now, I could probably match the featureset of the forums using a heavily customized MT.

    Alumni support couldn’t hurt too much, but I wonder how much the administration would listen to a bunch of college students. :^)

  3. I hope his redesign includes an ASP code overhaul since the boards don't have much to offer in terms of features. I mean seriously, if you're going to have forums you have to at least offer avatar options! The user profiles aren't exactly well-designed either. But I'm not going to be a stickler about it, at least he's dedicated to managing the forums for everyone. Now, just e-mail me my temporary password so I can log in (5 hours after registering, still no password)!

    On a separate note, is there a way in MT to add certain IP addresses to a trusted list for submitting comments, or do you think I might start offering you Viagra? :)

  4. Before you ask for features in a forum, you might want to read Joel Spolsky’s discussion about his online forum software. Joel is advocating a return to simplicity, because the most important thing is the discussion (and how to grow the community), not a pointless game of “who gets the most posts.”

    Of course, the lack of features is probably just because he’s using an old, partially developed version of the software, but it’s still good advice to go the Google Way™ when designing Web apps.

    I got the e-mail within about 15 seconds, so you might want to either check your spam filter or re-register. I presume that your username is “Peter,” by the way, since I saw that in the memberlist five hours ago. :^)

    If you’d like to bypass the mandatory approval process for comments here, I suggest that you get an account with TypeKey. Every time you comment, simply click on the “sign in” link above the commenting form. Right now, my commenting system is ever so slightly broken, since you get an error message whenever you sign in: just click on the “sign in” link again on that page. (I’d like to take this time to congratulate Brad on being the only person besides me who’s figured that all out.)

    And before you ask about having avatars here: just get a Gravatar account, using the same e-mail address that you use here or at TypeKey. The same avatar will automagically work in countless other blogs.

  5. Hmm, only in ASP would you see something like this (archived). Also, it appears that I can't re-register because of duplicate e-mail addresses. Forums are supposed to delete unconfirmed accounts after a day or so, but not this one.

    I seriously need a hackergotchi.

  6. If you walked into the Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, half of the developers there probably haven’t ever heard of the phrases “backward compatibility“ and “degrade gracefully.” And they don’t worry about things like user-friendliness or good UI design, because they make the songs that all the world sings… which is why Apple is so reknowned for not having bad UI like this.

    Unfortunately, they don’t need to care, because so many aspiring developers flock to the Microsoft religion, in the hopes that they might someday attain Zen perfection by getting their MCSE. Nobody cares that the technologies they’re getting into might not be the best ones, because it’s from Microsoft. Microsoft products don’t have to prove themselves worthy. They can spout out all the error messages they want, like the infamously confusing “Illegal Operation” (did we just break the law?!), and people will have no choice but to cope.

  7. Peter Franklin acknowledged the mishap this afternoon and promises it won’t happen again.