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Long Term Goals
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Sylver Cheetah 53
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Joined: 17 Dec 2008

Posts: 426
Location: Milky Way


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 10:59 am 
Post subject: Re: Long Term Goals

~Cowboy~ wrote:
Sylver Cheetah 53 wrote:
I do not agree. This ar hard to install MODs so pleople will need to do a lot of work.
I think you misunderstood. What I was suggesting was pre-installing the sub forums mod so people will not have to do the complicated installation their selves at all.

I understand what you are saying, but that is only for those installing phpBB2 for the first time. We, the people already using phpBB2 will have to do all code changes by hand, to not loose other MODs so you'll see why this could be a problem.
I understand your example, this could be good on large boards with many subjects, but also I've seen it use like something like this:
-Music
--International Music
-Sports
--Football
-Movies
--Old Movies
...And so on

So it depends form forum to forum, but for some people I see that is harder to navigate on forums with subforums, and usually subforums are just ignored. At least, this is happening on my board, me and others forget about subforums. icon_biggrin.gif

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~Cowboy~
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Joined: 08 Dec 2008

Posts: 297
Location: Chicago


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 21, 2009 1:13 pm 
Post subject: Re: Long Term Goals

That's odd.. why would you ignore subforums? It's far more organized. icon_eek.gif

Well, anyway thats also one of the positive characteristics of this mod... you don't have to use it if you don't want to. icon_biggrin.gif So everyone still gets what they want.

You would most likely loose some of the other mods for a while if you chose to upgrade to a phpbb 2 with a repaired code. But not all of the mods would fail to function and you would get them back sooner or later. Or you could just wait until all the mods you use are available. That's the kind of thing I do. icon_biggrin.gif

Example: I am still using FireFox 2 icon_lol.gif

But I will eventually upgrade because I know it is faster code. However it may be some time before all my mods are available in the new FF.

That might be what you will want to do. If the fork happens. icon_wink.gif

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drathbun
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Joined: 24 Jul 2008

Posts: 653
Location: Texas


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 12:41 am 
Post subject: Re: Long Term Goals

espicom wrote:
Which reminds me... I think the KB forum should be set up to not allow replies, in the general case. Members can post, but not reply. Just as a way to keep the KB solutions "pure". There shouldn't be a need to "support" a KB entry. If there is, it should be in a different forum...

espicom, there will be a formal KB at some point. The intent is to copy / move the first post from the KB article into a "pure" environment, but have each KB article linked to a support / follow-up questions topic for that article. So the existing discussions will be pruned from the first post and a new topic created.

Unless it's causing major issues right now, I think having people ask questions about or discuss a KB "article" would be okay.

dogs and things wrote:
I'd like to add to the above that I am not a coder so I do not even suspect why and how MODs would get broken if the core code is improved. Anybody willing to give me some insight in this matter, in simple but clear terms, please?


Let me take a fairly basic example. In phpBB2 you find code all over the place that looks like this:
Code:
if (isset($HTTP_POST_VARS['some_var']) || isset($HTTP_GET_VARS['some_var']))
{
    $some_var = (isset($HTTP_POST_VARS['some_var']) ? $HTTP_POST_VARS['some_var'] : $HTTP_GET_VARS['some_var'];
}

What that code is doing is allowing a variable to be passed via the POST or GET array. But there is no validation done, so the next step has to be (should be) some sort of validation to prevent security issues. Each variable might have different types (string data versus numeric data versus query input parameters) and therefore different security rules. In phpBB3 there is a single function that gets a requested variable and applies appropriate security rules, and it's all done in one place. That way if a security issue is found, only one function has to be updated.

Suppose this code were to be updated in phpBB2. Every single place that gets a POST or GET variable would have to be rewritten. Any MOD that looks for one of those bits of code for an AFTER or BEFORE, ADD instruction would break.

I've mentioned avatar code... it's all over the place. Any fixes to consolodate that would likely break any MODs related to avatars.

Simply put, some of the desirable changes for a more modern / more secure phpBB2 would have zero impact on the way it appears to end users or to board admins, but would have a very high level of improvement as far as security and function... but would break MODs.

Daz wrote:
Has security[at]phpbb2refugees.com (or some other means to report) been set up?

No, not yet.
Quote:
The phpBB2 Refugees User Bar doesn't do it for me - it's one of those images that people have in their signatures that fails to give any clear and simple message - i.e. you ignore them.

It was set up that way on purpose at the beginning, but a new one could certainly be put in place. If you would like to suggest an idea or even provide a graphic I will replace the one hosted here and it will update anyone that is hotlinked to this site. icon_smile.gif

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~Cowboy~
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Joined: 08 Dec 2008

Posts: 297
Location: Chicago


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 3:59 am 
Post subject: Re: Long Term Goals

drathbun wrote:

Quote:
The phpBB2 Refugees User Bar doesn't do it for me - it's one of those images that people have in their signatures that fails to give any clear and simple message - i.e. you ignore them.

It was set up that way on purpose at the beginning, but a new one could certainly be put in place. If you would like to suggest an idea or even provide a graphic I will replace the one hosted here and it will update anyone that is hotlinked to this site. icon_smile.gif

How about something like this?
Image link

I know its not perfect but I just through it together as an idea...

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Daz
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Joined: 17 Dec 2008

Posts: 32
Location: Yorkshire, England


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 9:33 am 
Post subject: Re: Long Term Goals

Hi,

It doesn't instantly grab my attention and say phpBB2. It could be anything, e.g. some XBox fan site.

When I have finished gluing Ruby to PHP I will continue this in a separate thread.

Is using the phpBB tent OK?

Daz
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drathbun
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Joined: 24 Jul 2008

Posts: 653
Location: Texas


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 4:27 pm 
Post subject: Re: Long Term Goals

I do not want to use the existing phpBB2 tent, that's why we came up with our own. icon_smile.gif
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Salvatos
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Joined: 19 Feb 2009

Posts: 414
Location: Québec


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 7:45 am 
Post subject: Re: Long Term Goals

Had a lot of catching up to do while I should have gone to bed, but this is a very important topic so I'll add my part in it...

First, why I chose to use phpBB2 while I could have upgraded to phpBB3:
- To avoid updates (I don't like updates, they annoy me, although, of course, I am aware of the need for security patches);
- Also to avoid updates because, as stated elsewhere, I used the core of phpBB 2.0.23 to develop a browser-based RPG. I cannot afford to rewrite the forum files everytime an update comes out and check if all of my code still fits within (there are still few connections between the forum and game for now, but that is bound to change as development progresses);
- And of course, phpBB2 is clear, simple and has no major flaws for either admins or users; it is highly customizable, etc., you all know this already icon_wink.gif

Why I came here:
- I thought it was a shame that phpBB.com discontinued support and doesn't even allow discussions anymore; we need a place for information (archives and newer info as well) and support, mutual help, sharing of new development (MODs and styles);
- Although it is not the case right now, I may need to seek support or simply knowledge regarding phpBB2, since I am no code expert, all I know I have learned by myself, which means I can't control much my forum's security, loading times, etc.
- So in short I need support, security insight/patches and, not as much for myself as for the whole community, support and sharing.


About the forking issue: If there is not maintenance of the code done by "us" (can't really include myself) or anyone, it quickly gets pointless. As much as people dislike updating their forums, give it a few years and phpBB2 will be so deprecated that it will be no more than a hacker's sandbox. And no one will sue it anymore then.
So again, to try and keep it short, this site should provide, according to me:
- Security updates;
- A directory of MODs and styles/templates (old and new);
- Support and information sharing;
- "MOD revision service": some MODs are already out-of-date for 2.0.23, and of course if "we" make any further development, they will all know the same fate sooner or later; of course the MODders' contribution woud be invaluable for this.


So, to conclude, I don't have much to add to what has already been said, but I agree with the "improve the boards without taking it too far off its current track" party. As far as the rest is concerned, I think we all agree that someone has to provide a place for support, sharing and phpBB2-related communication in general.

I wish us the best of luck in that!


P.S. As an aparte, if anything technical is to be done with the core source, other than some kind of approval from the phpBB group, I think we would need a clear view on who can do what and who is motivated to do it. I personally would fit in the category "Supports the project but can't do much".
P.P.S. I will add a link to here as soon as I set up my credits/technical info page; my little contribution for the referencing of this forum as *the* place for phpBB2 users.
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Ornette
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Joined: 16 Mar 2009

Posts: 37



PostPosted: Sat May 23, 2009 1:52 pm 
Post subject: Re: Long Term Goals

In regards to updating the code, this might be a great place to start

[DEV] Modernization: XHTML Strict, UTF-8 and prototype.js
http://www.phpbb.com/community/viewtopic.php?t=860165

Has anyone contacted this guy? icon_surprised.gif This is surely someone who could offer a great hand to any developing plan coming around here!
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Murmur
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Joined: 20 Aug 2009

Posts: 57
Location: California


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 16, 2009 8:31 pm 
Post subject: Re: Long Term Goals

Sorry to revive an old topic, but it is pertinent to my being here in the first place.

We have a mixed crowd here. Some are phpBB2 admins with little programming experience. Some have an extensive coding background. Some, like me, are using phpBB2 as a code base for a larger project because 2.0.23 is "locked", stable, secure and field-tested. A few are actually new to phpBB2. The variety of people and opinions runs the gamut from "LEAVE PHPBB2 ALONE!" TO "LET'S FORK IT!"

I tend to agree with ~Cowboy~ who said:

Quote:

I respect the above opinions but respectfully do not see why we can't have our cake and eat it too in this situation.

Why can't we support the older versions and mods while developing the next step? --- ~Cowboy~


The question is: can enough interested parties be found who like cake ...

phpbb2 Refugees is already well on its way to fulfilling the former role. I'm not aware of any other site which purports to be a continuing repository of updates and support for 2.0.23.

Quote:

One other very important reason for me to stick with what I have [phpBB2] is the fact that phpBB2refugees exists, as long as I can find help with whatever issues might arise I'm very comfortable to keep my current software alive. --- dogs and things


But in this capacity two things seem inevitable.

One, the day will come when phpBB2 MUST be fixed. Some critical security flaw will be found. Some language or DB language change will break it. On that day, phpBB 2.0.23 will die. If it's a security weakness hosters will abandon it, if not forbid it outright. The phpBB Group may well recommend it not be distributed or installed. As an officially unsupported program, it will be an unwelcome orphan.

Of course, when that critical flaw is found, fixing it will be easy. Within hours there will be a patch...if not from phpBB2 Refugees then from CH or Icy Phoenix. The phpBB Group may even break policy and issue a patch. Who knows? What is certain is that it will no longer be phpBB 2.0.23. And who will pick up the responsibility? This site is the only one positioned to do so to my knowledge.

But it will have effectively adopted that orphan as a relic. There's nothing wrong with this. It fills a temporary need while phpBB2 cycles down. But unchanged, cycle down it will.

Quote:

Make no mistake: If no one forks the phpBB 2 code base (and to my knowledge no one has showed any intention of stepping forward to do so, so far), a slow and graceful exit is almost certainly all that's left for phpBB 2. --- SamG


Two, while the death of 2.0.23 is certain, the retirement of the code base need not be. It still has appeal. Certainly CH and Icy Phoenix are trying to keep something alive.

But forking the development implies a cadre of committed programmers as Daz and others have pointed out. Just as importantly, it demands a goal, a vision and - in market terms - a niche.

Some goals, I think, can dismissed outright. A new, modern BBS? In competition with phpBB3 and vBulletin? Ridiculous. An ultra simple, stripped down BBS like Phorum? There are good reasons, below, that such limited programs (forum-only) are increasingly just novelties. How about a pre-modded, feature-expanded release? Icy Phoenix is such an agglutinated monster isn't it? Not pretty.

Quote:

...when I picture myself in the shoes of a new user, starting out with a plain-vanilla board, I can't see any good reasons for me to select phpbb2, when phpbb3 is available. No matter how much we might enhance phpbb2, we would always be playing a "catch up" game. --- roadhog


No. It seems to me that any fork should build upon that appeal, should leverage what makes phpBB2 a viable and attractive system. And what is it? Based upon the comments here I would say:

Simple.
Simple.
Simple.
But never primitive.

Simple 1:
It's simple and familiar to the users. Indeed, phpBB all but set the standard for a web browser BBS experience. All modern "forums" owe a debt to phpBB for establishing the basic presentation norm. Little improvement can found in modern feature bloat. Sure, phpBB3 and vBulletin have features galore, but they adhere to the basic presentation standard set by humble phpBB and are not necessarily "user friendly".

Quote:

I want members to be able to come in and post. Not sort through confusing tabs after tabs to find a function in their profile. --- ~Cowboy~


Simple 2:
The installation and administration of phpBB2 is straightforward. It's not fancy. It's not modern. It's functional. The auth system is not perfect, but once learned it's easy. For admins, phpBB2 is not difficult.

Quote:

IMO, phpBB2 was a great success due to its relative simplicity. It made it so just about anyone with at least half brain could admin a board on the Internet. OTOH, phpBB3 template code is far too complex for the average HTML coder. It totally defies the KISS principle... ---Nightrider


Simple 3:
That developers, from modders to system-makers, like phpBB2 is a given. It has dozens of mods. It has been incorporated or bridged by several CMS's. It's almost ironic considering phpBB2 was never written to be developer-friendly. It has no API, mods break mods, code base updates were breaking everything. Amazing, really.

phpBB2 is one of those rare combinations in software where relative simplicity has been retained in a highly functional program. No extras, but nothing missing in basic functionality. Retaining these two often conflicting objectives - simplicity and functionality - while also making it more accessible to programmers and template builders should, IMO, be the encompassing philosophy for any fork.


--------

So, finally, my suggestion. If phpBB2 is to continue, I believe it should target developers/modders while maintaining a straightforward admin interface. Create an API, make the components into "modules", add a CMS framework. Set standards.

What about mods? The best mods already exist and could be built in and in many cases made into an admin/user options. The admin would have an "Advance Configuration" or "Detailed Configuration" menu with a terrifyingly long list of options of the form:

* Enable
* Disable
* User Selectable

A "clean" modding system for future mods? To the best of my knowledge there is no such thing. Anything that tampers with DB and/or code and/or template creates this problem. All systems suffer from it and only avoid it by divorcing the mod. You can mod vBulletin, but JelSoft won't support it. A clean modules system is possible, but modding is best incorporated as "options" whenever possible (and it's not always possible).

Daz made a crucial observation about modern websites. These days everything revolves around some kind of Content Management System. You can arrange it any way you like, but a forum-only, or news-only or blog-only software package is inherently limited for modern usage. Observed. Noted. There is an irony is this. There are many forum distributions (like phpBB) with little or no support for CMS structure. And there are many CMS's with no forum - the forum is either integrated after the fact or bridged.

It's a curious situation when we dissect what a forum is ... or a blog ... or whatever.

So let's take it all one step lower. What is a the very heart of these systems?

User authentication/session control is one. But let's skip that one for now since phpBB2 provides a robust and tested system. This system is extended to "external pages" without much difficulty.

A messaging system, a posting system. This is ALL that most modern web systems are...from forums to MySpace to blogs to top-of-the-line news sites. Post a blog, receive "comments." Add a news story, log "discussion." Post a picture, allow "feedback." Messaging system. Taken further a "forum" is not itself a messaging system but a structure imposed upon an underlying messaging system. These systems are all very similiar in their functionality. This basic arrangement could be described as an "anchor with chain" or, in phpBB terms, topic and replies. In the case of phpBB2 the tables "_posts_text" and "_posts" form this core. Nearly all of phpBB's highly dynamic content is in these two tables. The rest is forum structure, auth and operational stuff.

SIDEBAR:
Code:

This recognized, let's take a look at a famous system where things have gone bad. PHP-Nuke was a trend setter in its day. But the system today shows how badly fragmented a CMS can become. It's wonderfully modular, but these modules have zero integration with the posting system because there is NO common posting system. They also have no integration with one another. It has a news module which allows for "comments." These comments are DB and programattically separate from phpBB2 which is merely bridged into Nuke. The Nuke forum (phpBB2) allows "replies" naturally, separate from other comments systems. Nuke also has a Reviews module, a Downloads module, a Journal (blog) module and can have other modules. All typically have their own "comments" system. How crazy is that when phpBB CONTAINS A MESSAGING SYSTEM???

Why don't PHP-Nuke's news comments end up in the forum as a topic? There are several reasons. One, the initial item (a news story) is not stored in the forum DB. Two, the forum itself is a module which may be disabled. If disabled, its facilities - even simple posting - are not available. Hence, a separate "News comments" DB table. Repeat for other modules.

Even phpBB2's mods have done this. Take Smartor's famous Album mod, for example. It has separate 'category' and 'comments' tables. Why? Wouldn't the data model for a particular site be more intuitively integrated if at least some categories were allowed to overlapp? Of course. Your sports site might well want to have a Football category in the forum for discussion and the same category in the album for pictures. Shouldn't the pictures and their comments appear in the forum too - even if that forum is otherwise entirely hidden and /or specific to the module? Shouldn't the ACTUAL data be the same as much as possible?

The problem is that phpBB categories are not perfectly suited to this as is. A similar problem is encountered with the messaging system. It would be ideal if the "anchor with chain" was separated out into a distinct software layer. But it's not. There's no technical reason that a messaging system couldn't be separated into a layer commonly accessible by various modules. The consequence would allow - but not require - a site data model and also provide a common mechanism for module, group, user access control. There's no programatic reason that a messaging/posting facility couldn't be made available to a module developer.


It would be ideal if a "post/reply" messaging system was a distinct software layer commonly available in the programming environment. phpBB2 is actually close to this as is but falls just a little short of it. If a CMS were to be goal of a new fork then isolating the posting system should (doesn't have to be...) be considered.

But enough details. Allow me speak more generally.


Quote:

There's no need of a "slow and graceful exit" for phpBB2. ... I do not know what is so hard for some of you guys to understand that some people just want something easy to use, user-friendly. --- Sylver Cheetah 53

I do believe that it should be forked and don't believe that backward compatibility with MODs should be considered as my primary goal would be a secure, fast and simple message board. --- Daz


Like Daz, I think phpbb2 should be forked if it is to be the base of further development. I believe a low level messaging facility should be provided as well as a blackbox API and a modular CMS framework (not necessarily the CMS itself). I believe the target consumer should be first and second level admins with the assumption of no initial PHP/templating skills. I believe the coding should be largely non-OOP and appeal not only to expert level PHP programmers but to beginners as well.

Above all, we should strive for that elusive balance of advanced function in a simple package. To this end, I believe it would be niche-optimal to ...

DO go retro.
DO go against the prevailing tides.
Do go user simple, admin easy, programmer friendly.

Quote:

I think the development of phpbb2 should go one way and the development of phpbb3 should go another direction. I see a obvious fork in the road here. --- ~Cowboy~

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it" won't cut it long term, it seems to me, especially if I'm right that very few people who want to see phpBB 2 continue even use it in a vanilla state. It's already broke, or at least considerably weakened as a bulletin board solution, if its chief value is in the pattern represented by existing, heavily MODded installations. In that case, the de facto phpBB 2 standard is phpBB 2 "plus." Of which there is no definitive distribution. --- SamG
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Merri
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Joined: 02 Feb 2009

Posts: 63
Location: Kanta-Häme


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 20, 2009 6:19 am 
Post subject: Re: Long Term Goals

You did write an inspirational post. It is true that these days things are quite a bit different if compared to the times phpBB2 was originally released. The sites are created combined with a blog/CMS and a forum. Thus the idea of making a generic site building software (I guess it could be called a community board?) would be a rather good one.

Following on this line of thought and continuing with the idea of using a single posts table for the entire site, it would be great if the syntax of the text used in each of the posts could be defined. For example, some people may prefer using BBCode while others are familiar with MediaWiki or DokuWiki syntax, or WordPress WYSIWYG that results in a clean XHTML. Doing this would also make a major impact on making importing existing sites to the new system easy, because there would be no need to convert posts from one format to another. Recenly I've had a lot of pain converting BBCode to WordPress while using WP-United for integration.

Another thing that I can think of that is commonly needed is selecting a main attachment. By having this feature it would possible to show posts in other formats than just in a blog view, a forum view or a wiki view... for example, a photoblog view would be easily possible. Basically it would provide a solution for displaying posts in all the possible ways that people use.

Related to this, licensing is also one of the things that are actually needed these days. It would be good to be able to define a license of each post. Thus a simplified post table would be like this:

post_id, post_user, post_display, post_title, post_text, post_text_syntax, post_attachment, post_attachment_type, post_license

The display field is for identifying whether the post is a forum post, a blog post, a wiki article, a photoblog entry, a picture in a gallery etc. There may also be a need for guest posting, so the minimal fields for that need are also required.

Of course there are some other modern needs involved: tagging, categorizing etc. but it may be possible to leave this work for plugins. Basically just make as simple core product that has all what is needed to provide as customizable, simple and flexible system for community site building needs. Limit features to something doable and let people do what they need.

Oh, and private messaging should also be made possible via the same table.


You install the software, you choose what components you have on your site (forum, blog, wiki, whatever...) and that is what you get. Everything in a single posts table, which is good enough for the vast majority of the sites on the web. If a site component is missing it should be easy to write one. Importing existing stuff should be easy, especially thanks to the multiple syntaxes support.


And then some more less important technical thoughts...

There are other technical things that I'd go ahead and fix. CAPTCHA is no solution. I do prefer the simplest possible antispam method that I've read about: a simple question that a human can answer and a computer can't. For example, on a Tolkien site a question could be "what is the name of the upcoming Tolkien movie?" and the answer would be "Hobbit". I think this is very much enough for most sites, and these questions should be settable during the installation (and in admin panel).

Registration should be easy. You just type the minimal personal information that a site would want to know, answer the question and hit a button. After that the account would be either automatically created & logged in or e-mail would be dispatched with an actication link or "wait for admin" info. phpBB2 makes you enter all the profile fields which is too much, especially on forums that have extended their profiles.

I think templating should be changed entirely. One solution would be a PHP & HTML mixture, where if a PHP file exists it would be used, and if it doesn't a simpler HTML file would be used instead. I've seen people rename HTML templates to PHP assuming it would work just like that, so I don't think that wouldn't be a too far-fetched idea. Personally with phpBB2 I'm using eXtreme Styles MOD to get PHP support so I can use my PHP based template to generate a site wide design under the forum. The same PHP template file is included in WordPress, DokuWiki, MediaWiki and Pixelpost, so that I don't need to write the same thing in five places just to get a small thing fixed.

Relating to templates, I guess there should be some generic field templates so that each time a new profile field is added it shouldn't require changing the template. However, keeping the number of template files down to a minimum should also be important. This will be a challenging area to get right, I never even began to try to customize phpBB3 thanks to the "millions" of template files and massive CSS files...

User table should be minimized. Extra profile fields should be in a separate table, which would allow for a much easier expansion. A bit like phpBB3 has done it, just make it work better. Maybe have a user_about field in the users table and allow it to be filled like any post.

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SamG
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Joined: 12 Dec 2008

Posts: 48
Location: Beautiful Northwest Lower Michigan


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 24, 2009 6:11 pm 
Post subject: Re: Long Term Goals

Since the fork discussion has lost its steam, and since there is no indication that the fire will get built under it again as far as 'Refugees is concerned, it would be interesting to see what might happen if there were a more suitable place for this type of discussion. Thoughts, Dave?
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Murmur
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Joined: 20 Aug 2009

Posts: 57
Location: California


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 25, 2009 12:25 am 
Post subject: Re: Long Term Goals

Yeah, guess I got carried away. And here I had a nice long post ready.

I suppose the place to start (other than an actual place to start) would be a call for volunteers and interested parties with an initial goal establishing a body capable of making decisions.

To jump start a decision-making body - as opposed to chaotic and endless discussion - I would suggest a standard, simple chair and board wherein a provisional chair is appointed by acclamation and provisional board members initially consist of any one interested.

I know drathbun doesn't want a heavy commitment, but perhaps he could act as temporary chair until more formal arrangements are established.
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