Request for fixes

Discussion in 'SF Open Government' started by Xelor, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. Xelor Registered Member

    Messages:
    40
    I'm here and I'm new to being here. I learned about this site from a member over at USMB who suggested that the nature of discussion he felt I prefer is more likely found here than there. (Believe it or not, a reason I, after joining that forum, proceeded to actively participate -- until now, the only Internet forum and social media site in which I've ever participated -- is that the user interface there (basically, the posting "window") makes composing posts much like writing in MS Word: very easy, robustly functioned, and, most importantly, I don't, in order to obtain expected formatting and content layout/compositional results, need to know a damn thing about what's "running behind the scenes."

    I've now posted several messages and run into a couple "issues" that I'd like to request the "powers that be" here deal with.
    • LaTeX reserved characters -- I'm not unfamiliar with programming languages having reserved characters, and LaTeX has some. The problem is that I didn't, upon joining Sciforums, notice any notice that the site uses LaTeX markup. Accordingly, I had no idea that when I posted content that the dollar sign would trigger unexpected results. (It turns out that a number of commonly used symbols are reserved in LaTeX.)

      I don't know that shifting to a different markup language is a viable way to handle the matter. I suspect, however, that prominently informing members that LaTeX is the language sitting underneath our posts and pointing members to a LaTeX help page such as this one -- https://www.aps.org/meetings/abstract/latex.cfm -- or the Wiki resource linked above, would get the job done "well enough" that people will know what's up when they encounter "strangeness." That's a ridiculously inelegant solution -- odd for a site that themes itself a science forum...after all, little is more elegant than e=mc^2 (is that simple equation even going to display correctly? The caret is a reserved character in LaTeX.). Be that as it may, it is a solution that has the ability to work, even though it burdens posters with more work than they should need to undertake.
    • Hyperlink indicators
      • When one embeds a hyperlink into a piece of text in a post, the "system" doesn't automatically convert the text so that it's obvious to readers that there is a hyperlink there.
      • When one merely pastes a hyperlink, the "system" doesn't convert it to "plain language." For example, the pasted hyperlink for the LaTeX help site should convert to "LaTeX Help," yet it doesn't.
    So, Sciforums admins/mods, can you effect ameliorative solutions to the things noted above? If you can, will you please do so?
     
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  3. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

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    Once upon a time, there was Jelsoft. Something went wrong with Jelsoft, and a bunch of their people took off and made Xenforo. The software driving Sciforums was, once upon a time, Jelsoft. It is now Xenforo.

    The everyday staff is uncertain which version is running, but it is likely 1.4 (Sept., 2014). Nothing about the notes I've seen, just poking around, suggests certain markup difficulties, e.g., dollar signs and LaTex.

    Hyperlink indicators are another issue, but ....

    • Long story short, both issues can be addressed through the cascading style sheet; they simply weren't in the default package and have not been attended since.​

    When these particular issues will be addressed by anyone with the power and knowledge to settle them is unknown.

    Standby workarounds: Bury reserved characters in formatting tags, such as italicizing dollar signs. To wit, do you think if he had brought fifteen $10,000 checks, instead of one check for $151,000, police wouldn't have arrested the entire family for selling a house while Muslim? The dollar signs are italicized.

    Denoting hyperlinks is almost as easy; some tag a color to their hyperlinks, but, being a Linux user who writes posts in a text editor, I use Unicode.

    To "convert the text so that it's obvious to readers that there is a hyperlink there" is set in the CSS; the link color is slightly gray compared to the standard text, and the hyperlink underline is gone. I admit, I actually kind of like it that way. Automatic conversion of hyperlink to "plain language" requires a lot of cooperation between disparate parts, generally the presenting site, the linked site, and the browser software.

    Beyond all that, it would be a mystery to most of us whether certain problems are with the Sciforums CSS or Xenforo's basic function. The idea that we should require LaTeX, for instance, in order to super- or sub-script, is unfortunate, to say the least.

    †​

    Unicode (brief note): I forget if I can make Unicode work in Windows. Good luck with alt-codes. But when it comes to hyperlinks, I use 2191 to mark links in the current thread↑, 2197 for links in other threads at Sciforums↗, and 21b1 for links outside Sciforums↱. As a Linux user who came from Mac, finding my bullet points (2022) and long dashes (2014, 2015) was a priority. Now, whenever I need a character, I figure there must be Unicode↱ for it, somewhere.
     
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  5. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    Hello Xelor,

    If you want to avoid dealing with LaTeX here, the only character you need to avoid is the dollar sign. And, as Tiassa says, if you must post a dollar sign, then italicise it.

    Ideally, we should be using [tex][/tex] tags to embed TeX code, and the dollar sign shouldn't automatically trigger TeX. I call that a bug, but there's nothing I personally can do about it.

    As for hyperlinks, I would prefer to have a clearer indication of a link - either a different colour that stands out more, or some other markup, like an underline. Again, there's nothing I can do directly about that.

    Again, as Tiassa said, converting a link automatically to some kind of more useable "plain language" requires back-end processing and communication with the linked site. Are you aware of other forums that do that automatically?

    Here, you can use [url][/url] tags to replace the link address with your own "plain language" text, if you want to.
     
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  7. Xelor Registered Member

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    One, yes. I have only ever participated on one other web forum.

    TY for the suggestion.
     
  8. Dr_Toad It's green! Valued Senior Member

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    1,805

    James, as admin, you don't have access to the backend, but isn't there someone you can email, get the appropriate CSS files, edit them and return them to that someone to install and test? I wouldn't think you'd need root, but I have to assume that the owner of root on your host communicates sometimes...

    This stuff is really simple, or should be.
     
  9. Xelor Registered Member

    Messages:
    40
    That's what I was thinking.

    I am by no means a developer; however, I've managed quite a few projects that had global technology implementations (usually ERP) as part of them and seen developers turn around minor fixes (actually lists of them) like the ones requested in this thread's OP in a matter of hours, sometimes less. I have no idea of what they do to make that happen, nor do I care. I can only say that the pace at which stuff like what I've mentioned got cleared from a client's list of "go-no-go" or post-go-live list of observed fixes needed almost made it seem like they had a "light switch" or "button" that merely needed flipping/pushing.

    Be that as it may, I'm not interested in discussing they hows whys and why-nots. All I want to know is:
    1. Can it be fixed?
    2. Will it be fixed?
    3. If yes, by when?
    Those are the same three questions end-users of all "misfiring" technology have. Sometimes, the answer to question one or two is "no." Sometimes the answer to both is "yes." When Q1 and Q2 are both answered "yes," all that's needed then is an accurate and reliable-upon answer to Q3.
     
  10. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Messages:
    30,273
    I raised the issue of the barely-visible hyperlinks with the owners when the software was first moved over to Xenforo. No action was taken. It's not a bad thing that somebody else is raising it now. And yes, it would be a simple fix to underline or colour the hyperlinks better.

    As for replacing hyperlinks with title text, I'm not sure how that works or how easy or difficult it would be to implement. And to tell you the truth, I'm not too fussed about that. When I see a link, all I really need is for it to be clearly marked as a link. I don't mind if people have to add their own explanatory text, and I actually think that's likely to work better, on the whole, than some kind of automatic algorithm, as long as people use the system properly.
     

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