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Streamlining hastac.org

Streamlining hastac.org

One of my top priorities for 2012 is to make hastac.org leaner and meaner. As you may have noticed we've had some struggles with our server. First the site was simply not loading fast enough, and now we still occasionally get 503 errors and pages timing out, which happens when the server simply drops requests instead of responding to them. For these reasons and more, we have been working to strip away some of the features that use the most memory and get the least use on the site. In fact some of these changes have already been made, and you didn't even notice,

In the next month, we plan to make another round of changes, and this time some of them will impact how members use the site. Here are the two changes being made today:


No more inline pagers. Instead of scrolling through lists of content in place (like the image above), you will see a "More [something]" button that will go to a full page content list that can be browsed with its own pager and filtered via the form in the sidebar.

No more topic browser on the front page. This set of vertical tabs with highlighted content by Topic isn't used much and "costs" a good bit of memory each time the front page is loaded. Visitors can still browse all the topics at hastac.org/topics.

The following changes are coming soon. All of these are underutized features, so I don't expect many people will even notice the change unless you are the manager of a group or project on the site.

Adding members to groups by user name. Rather than filtering lists of members by name and address, group managers will need to look up the user name to add/invite a new group member.

No related content pop-up. When you are selecting related content for a post you are writing, you will no longer have a pop-up interface for selecting the link, but the site will continue to generate a drop-down menu based on the text that you enter. 

Less media embedders. Trusted users (anyone involved in HASTAC Scholars or the DML Competition, for example) will still be able to manually paste embed codes into a post by disabling the rich-text editor, but the automatic embed form (available to all users) will only support YouTube in the future.

No event pop-up on calendar. When you click on the title of an event in the caledar, it will go directly to the page with full information about that event instead of popping up a small window.

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Today we are making the second group of changes that I wrote about above. That is:

  • Adding members to groups by user name. Rather than filtering lists of members by name and address, group managers will need to look up the user name to add/invite a new group member.
  • No related content pop-up. When you are selecting related content for a post you are writing, you will no longer have a pop-up interface for selecting the link, but the site will continue to generate a drop-down list of posts based on the text that you enter. 
  • Less media embedders. Trusted users (anyone involved in HASTAC Scholars or the DML Competition, for example) will still be able to manually paste embed codes into a post by disabling the rich-text editor, but the automatic embed form (available to all users) will only support YouTube in the future.
  • No event pop-up on calendar. When you click on the title of an event in the calendar, it will go directly to the page with full information about that event instead of popping up a small window with limited information.

I have updated the instructions for managing group members at http://hastac.org/content/managing-groups

If anyone has questions about this, don't hesitate to let me know.

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