Technology

Ars OpenForum & Commenting System Gets a Big Upgrade

Ars OpenForum & Commenting System Gets a Big Upgrade

Ars OpenForum & Commenting System Gets a Big Upgrade

Oric Lawson | Getty Images

We’ve spent months getting ready, and tonight (around 1 a.m. ET on Wednesday) we’ll be turning the switch into a major upgrade to our community platform, which supports both article comments and an open forum. We will not lose any data and you will not need to create a new account or change your password. However, you will have to wait a few hours, and we are so sorry!

We expect both platforms to remain offline until around Wednesday afternoon as we process 22 years of massive feedback (i.e. 1 million threads and over 28 million posts). Not all login and user registration functions will be available during this time. This means no comments on articles, no forum browsing, and unfortunately, it also means that subscribers will not be able to access their sub-benefits for a brief period. We’ll make it as short as possible. When you’re done, just sign in again with your old credentials and you’re good to go.

For more details on what we do and why, keep reading.

Community is vital to Ars Technica

When old Ars readers talk about how long they’ve been on the forum, they often refer to the date the forum was registered (June 8, 2001). It could be a badge of pride! Older old school students have 1999 registration dates in their profiles, which go back well beyond our data (Ars was founded in 1998, but WWWThreads data from the first forum has been lost).

Not many online communities can claim active users that have been around for more than two decades. It’s something we carry as our badge of pride. Thanks for staying with us for so long! However, even if you measure your tenure here in years or months rather than decades, we’re still glad to have you, and many of our best participants are our newest recruits, if you will.

In an age when many sites are shutting down their comment sections, and social media increasingly treats people as a commodity, we’ve chosen to refocus on how to amplify the great contributions readers make here. To do this, we needed a completely new forum and comment system, and we found it on XenForo, a modern forum system with a familiar feel.

Everything you would expect from Ars forums, like flat discussions without threads and the normal reverse chronological reading order will be there. Your post count and registration date will remain the same, as well as all forum content going back to 1999.

The same BBCode you are using will still work. But you don’t have to type the tags manually if you choose to use the convenient editor tools interface. Almost every aspect of our forum will get a similar “still working, but better” touch.

No more getting stuck in quotes or trying to edit a bunch of nested tags. Bids will now default to one level (you can edit the tags to add more if you really want to). We will have full mobile support, and the forum will be easy to read and use on your phones now. You will be able to easily know when someone is replying to you.

There will be a dark mode.

We are breaking the old Ars forum tradition in one way: there will be avatars. It’s used by almost every social platform now, and it’s hugely useful with a large user base like ours to help visually identify stickers. (There is no animation, and anyone abusing the system may find that we choose an avatar for them.) Have fun choosing something to express your personality in the forum.

As with any big transition like this, expect some hiccups. We’ve tested everything in a beta forum with our moderation team, but there’s nothing like a live environment with thousands upon thousands of users to find cutting edge cases. We will have a problem reporting chain and a developer team to help us manage bugs and issues. Please bear with us as we fix anything.

XenForo offers a modern architecture that is easily expandable, so other than having bug fixes arranged, you can expect a future with more features, both for users and upgrades for our subscribers. We have our own plans, but we are happy to receive feedback and suggestions to improve your experience.

We hope you enjoy the new forum and comment system. Our commitment to our community remains strong. We will have new tools for our supervision team, which we will look to expand going forward. Ars will continue to be a place for open and respectful discussions, as well as a place to share and enjoy your geeky passion.

Whether you were born in 1999 or are thinking this is a good time to sign up for a new account, we look forward to your contributions.



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