Posting in FAQs vs user privileges

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Rex Allers
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Posting in FAQs vs user privileges

Post by Rex Allers » Thu May 13, 2021 12:18 am

As I was interacting in the recent FAQ thread about Deuterium and PEM Cells, I noticed two limitations on posting that I wasn't aware of. I am wondering if these are both intentional.

As a start for the observations I see these five groups that users can be a member of, in order of descending privileges:
  • Administrators
  • Global Moderators
  • Senior Users
  • Registered Users
  • Newly Registered Users
I am in the group Senior Users, which has the description, "advanced editing ability". I assume the two limitations I observe also apply to Registered Users. Then, I see from posts made by Richard and Frank that Global Moderators and Administrators do not have these limitations in privileges.

--- First observation ---
Can't make attachments.

I was making a Reply post in the recent FAQ thread. I had intended to put a small picture in my post, but I couldn't. The tab to make an attachment was not there.

Here are two screen grabs illustrating this, first for a post in a normal forum section, and then for a Reply in a FAQ thread.
normal edit window.png
FAQ edit window.png

--- Second observation ---
Can't post a new FAQ.

I remember a while back (could be several years back), Richard had encouraged members to make a FAQ post if they had good solid information that could be used as a base-line guide, and hence a FAQ.

I had made a post about Deuterium from PEM cells in 2018. Richard had suggested that I post a version as a FAQ. I never did, but with Mark Rowley's recent great FAQ (via Richard), I thought maybe I should tweak my post and make a FAQ.

I can't. I don't have an option to post a New Topic in a FAQ section.

Here are two screen grabs:
normal new topic.png
FAQ new topic.png

--- Summary ---
I wasn't aware, until now, of these limitations. Maybe they always existed or maybe they were changes made with the forum migration in mid 2019.

I can see a justification for not allowing regular users to post New Topics in a FAQ section to keep out noise. It does, however, put the onus on Moderators or Administrators to always be involved and post any new FAQ topic.

On the attachments... Regular users can post replies in FAQ threads but in those replies they can't make any attachments. I'm not sure if this was intended. It seems like over-kill to me.
Rex Allers

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Frank Sanns
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Re: Posting in FAQs vs user privileges

Post by Frank Sanns » Thu May 13, 2021 1:40 am

Yes there is a hierarchy of privileges amongst groups. Because I run the front and back end, I (and Paul) are the only one with unlimited privileges. There is a good reason for that.

I am ultimately responsible for what happens on the structure of the site. Moving posts and deleting users and posts, restoring backups and a bunch of other things are not allowed by anybody else. This is so I can maintain some sanity while keeping the site running. If people were making radical changes and moving things and deleting them, it would be a nightmare. It is just easier if you ask and I can move it and make the occasional changes.

Richard of course CAN move posts and do some of the administrative things but he chooses not to in most cases because with this website structure, things can just be gone. It does not always ask clearly for a confirmation. It is possible to zap things permanently out of existence even with good intentions. Even when I am doing such actions, I have to pause and be sure it is the right action as there is zero room for error and there is no undo button (short of restoring a backup that may not be current to the moment of the action).

As previously stated, permissions are a tough balancing act to give people the freedom to do what they need but with minimal risk to the overall structure and flow. For multiple years, we had new people coming into the FAQ area and posting trivial or extraneous material. It was my actions that cut off posting to FAQ by the Newly Registered Users and even for a while Registered users. It was one of the many actions to get the site back to a technical forum and reduce the extraneous chatter.

The posting restrictions was done on a combination of user privileges as well as forum privileges. A balancing act of setting the proper switches so it works for all that it should work for.

It was in the forum permissions that some switches were not allowing attachments. My bad. I think I have it straightened out. It seems to work on another test account that I just tried so let me know if it is working for you Rex and others.

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Richard Hull
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Re: Posting in FAQs vs user privileges

Post by Richard Hull » Thu May 13, 2021 3:00 am

Long ago when most folks could post a FAQ. I suggested that anyone posting a FAQ, first, should give it a strong title such that it would not be overlooked by a newbie looking for what you are imparting in the FAQ.
Second to make the FAQ as complete as possible by thinking deeply not only about your subject, but further questions it might raise to the reader. Plug those holes by adding data to your FAQ to head off questions.
Third, and last, know and hopefully "own" what you are writing about via experience or extensive study. Be prepared for folks who might know more than you, replying that you have made a false or mis-statement or have made a mistake in your math.

In any FAQ, the originator will be putting his neck on a chopping block for all to see and will need to have a thick skin and at the same time openly admit their mistake in a responding reply with a mea culpa and if possible return to the FAQ and credit the repair in his edit to the person catching the error. Keep the original clean and updated. No one person is the be-all, end-all expert! There are just too many disciplines and technologies involved.

FAQs can act as introductory lectures on the basics related to a topic particular to the forum it is published in. All FAQs place a huge responsibility on the poster to try and expound suitably to a lay person the basics on the FAQs subject.

Replies:

Replies are to be to the point, and hopefully, add to or extend the FAQ with new information or suggestions, and corrections. Folks who reply to a FAQ need to consider their experience in the subject. This usually means an older member who has become enmeshed in the subject to the point of making his reply as fluid and as informational or suggestive in such a manner as to carry the original posting to an even fuller and more exact understanding.

If the forums are part of the flow of a river, the FAQs are the gold nuggets panned out of it. Nuggets that reveal key points that the lay person needs to know "up front".

Richard Hull
Progress may have been a good thing once, but it just went on too long. - Yogi Berra
Fusion is the energy of the future....and it always will be
Retired now...Doing only what I want and not what I should...every day is a saturday.

Rex Allers
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Re: Posting in FAQs vs user privileges

Post by Rex Allers » Thu May 13, 2021 8:38 am

Frank,

Thanks for the reply.

I just now started a Reply in a FAQ thread and the 'Attachments' tab is still missing. (I then backed out of the post.)

I think you said you tried with a test user and found it ok. Was it a 'Registered Users' member? If so, is it maybe still a problem for 'Senior Users' where I am a member?
Rex Allers

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Re: Posting in FAQs vs user privileges

Post by John Futter » Thu May 13, 2021 8:47 am

Rex /Frank
I'm agnostic on this as I do not want to be the one in charge (too many other things get in my way)
Yes Rex I noticed this some time ago and thought it had to do with priviledges.

Frank Keep doing what is needed i'll meld to meet
If you need my help just holler

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Frank Sanns
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Re: Posting in FAQs vs user privileges

Post by Frank Sanns » Thu May 13, 2021 11:17 am

Thanks John,

I really want things to work for all on this site but too often it is a trade off. I am not an IT person so I do not know all of the ins and outs of everything phpbb. To make it worse, with each update comes changes to the backend. Some things that were there are now in another place or just not there. One example is the site backup. Up until a year or two ago, I could backup the site and download the backup to my computer. This is no longer possible. I now have to backup to the host, then log in through and FTP or other connection, find the directory and file, then download it. It is not difficult but you have to figure out how to configure or get around the new platform changes. This is one of the reasons I usually only update the platform every other release. Keeping this forum running is not my full time job. I pitch in to keep it running but cannot guarantee that every single feature is exactly right for every single user.

The site is highly operational as it is and we have work arounds in those circumstances that we need it. Richard for example takes care of the keeping the Trading post clean and mean. I know I worked on letting everybody be able to edit their own posts forever in the Trading Post but to be honest, with all of the updates and moves and years passing, I genuinely do not know and would not know where to look on this new platform to know if people still can or not. I dread having to go through all of that again if it working that way as I would have to start at square one.

My intent is not to be resistant to having it all workable but it is a time trade off for diminished returns. With that said, I am grateful for those of you that have editing privileges to keep things cleaned up and in order. It really helps Richard and I. Thank you.

I could find no other settings that should have been keeping anybody other than New Users from posting in FAQ. With no other places to looks, I have just selected Global permissions and now allow everybody to be able to post and attach and conduct polls even in the FAQ areas. I have opened the floodgates so hopefully this will allow posting attachments by others in the FAQ areas.

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Re: Posting in FAQs vs user privileges

Post by Rex Allers » Thu May 13, 2021 9:59 pm

Frank,

Thanks for looking into these options, but at least for my userid logged in, I don't see anything changed.

On making attachments:
I went to a post I made in the Deuterium FAQ and clicked edit. In the edit window, still no Attachments tab.
I then clicked Reply in that FAQ thread to start a new reply. In the edit window, still no Attachments tab.

On posting New Topic in FAQ sections:
Still no new topic tab in the FAQ sections.

I haven't touched PHPBB admin in a very long time so can't suggest where to look. Is it possible that the forum needs to be restarted before such configuration changes take effect?

Do you have a test user created in the Registered Users and/or Senior Users groups that you can log in to see how the forum looks to average users?
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Re: Posting in FAQs vs user privileges

Post by Rex Allers » Fri May 14, 2021 3:32 am

I'm seeing both Attachments tab and New Topic now.

Thanks Frank.
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Frank Sanns
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Re: Posting in FAQs vs user privileges

Post by Frank Sanns » Fri May 14, 2021 8:13 am

Rex. There should be three placeholders. I have been fighting the night to get all three active placeholders to stay
As I made modifications to the site and updated it. One or two are gone from the Fusor Test account that was running the same privileges as you. I give up as it really make no sense that some posts are showing up and some are now gone. I am going to leave the attachment pictures up for a few more hours. Going to sleep now. Will try again in the light of day.

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Re: Posting in FAQs vs user privileges

Post by Frank Sanns » Fri May 14, 2021 2:09 pm

Ok, so I see that my place holders were being deleted while I was working on it. Richard must have inadvertently been deleting them as I was putting them up in the appropriate places. It happens. I should have taken the board off line for an hour and just done it but I always try to keep the interruptions down.

It was in the individual forum permissions that the problem existed. You can disallow groups to post in a particular forum. There are many forums and sub forums and they are not all in one place so a stepwise procedure is what I was attempting with a clearly visible photo so I did not have to peruse each photo to see if I was on the right post (I was viewing in a small icon view and everything seems to merge and look the same).

When I restored the permissions to post attachments, it did not "take". For some reason when I allow Smiles and BBCode Tags, then it allows permissions. I was in the process of going through each of the forums and subforms to correct this. I think there are still two that I did not fix but I am foggy from it being late and I don't remember which ones they were since the place holders were gone. If you encounter them, let me know which FAQ heading it is and I will fix it while the solution is still fresh. I have zero idea why the fix worked as restoring the ability to place and attachment SHOULD have been the switch to solve it. It has nothing to do with which group you are in because you always have the privileges of the group below you in hierarchy as well as the ones of the highest group you are in.

Now if I can undo the mess that is the convoluted link to the FAQs we will be good. There is no reason that we are still using the temporary gathering links that I originated to consolidate FAQs when the board structure was changed. I think Paul wanted to get a single link and he then gathered my links under his which works but it super cumbersome long term. It was not the final plan. A few other things need some attention too so they are on my list.

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