libcom site upgrade

Red and black star

Hi everyone, we are happy to report that the major overhaul of libcom.org which we have been talking about since at least 2018 is now in its final stages. The updated version of the site will be launching soon. Hopefully within a few weeks, but there could be some delays, so we will keep people updated here.

Author
Submitted by libcom on February 25, 2022

Please note that we will be launching a basic, functioning version of the upgraded website. This is so we can be online with upgraded infrastructure as early as possible. We will be gradually making improvements and updates from that point onwards.
This will be a major overhaul of the website with lots of significant changes, with the aim of streamlining and simplifying the structure of what has become an extremely large and complex archive.
As such, some poor quality and/or little-used features will be going away. These include
– private messages for users
– user profile information
– libcom bookmarks
So if you have information you want from your user profile, or from your old bookmarks or messages, please ensure you get what you need from them ASAP. And if you want to exchange contact information with anyone you have to date communicated with exclusively through libcom private message, please do so at your earliest opportunity. Because after the upgrade all of this information will be deleted.
Existing user accounts will still exist, don't worry about that. By user profile information, we mean the stuff like About me political labels, union membership, favourite thinkers lists like this one: https://libcom.org/user/14070
Also, this upgrade will result in a significant increase to our hosting costs. Libcom.org is only able to remain online because of support from you, our readers and contributors. So if you appreciate our site, please consider joining us on patreon to help us cover our costs and remain online in these trying times: https://www.patreon.com/libcom
More updates coming soon,
libcom.org

Comments

Fozzie

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Fozzie on February 25, 2022

Great news - thanks to everyone who has put in countless hours of work on this.

darren p

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by darren p on February 25, 2022

Great news! Just to confirm that the internal site bookmark articles function will be preserved, along with the bookmarks I’ve made? Or should I copy these to somewhere else

Mike Harman

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on February 25, 2022

@darren p - bookmarks are going to disappear. It's possible we might bring something back at a later date, but if we do, existing ones won't be migrated.

The way we have to do the update is migrate every piece of content from the old version of the software to the new one. Getting the articles, images, comments and metadata to migrate correctly with 18 years of content and data is challenging, and we tried to clean some of the old mess up in the process (like news, history and library being separate content types, when they all work the same way otherwise), so to ever get it finished, we're skipping migrating things like bookmarks and up/down votes of comments and similar which are a bit more ephemeral anyway.

The trade-off is we're getting off a version of Drupal that hasn't been maintained for about 3-4 years to the latest version, which means adding new features once the upgrade is done is much easier, stuff that's been broken/on hold for years like internal search is coming back etc., stuff we should have done years ago like the site being responsive for different devices will be in place etc.

But it's a huge change from one to the other, so... be prepared for a shock and some things to be broken etc.

One additional thing to mention - when we actually do the final migration, we'll need to stop adding and updating new content on this version of the site while we do it, so that people don't add content then immediately lose it again. When that happens, we'll put the site into 'read only' mode, which will mean everyone except admins gets logged out and won't be able to log in (probably for 2-5 days or so). Once the migration is done, DNS switches to the new site, and people can log in again and try things out. We'll announce that stage at least 24-48 hours in advance so there's final warning to grab anything.

Spikymike

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on February 26, 2022

Well I will miss the 3 new 'missing' features but hopefully the trade off will be worthwhile. Can we keep our same named 'identity' or will we have to start a whole new registration. A very useful addition not mentioned would be an easy to use site specific search facility.

Steven.

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on February 26, 2022

Spikymike

Well I will miss the 3 new 'missing' features but hopefully the trade off will be worthwhile. Can we keep our same named 'identity' or will we have to start a whole new registration. A very useful addition not mentioned would be an easy to use site specific search facility.

Your username and password will be unchanged and you will be able to continue to use it as normal.
The search being back is one of the main reasons this upgrade is so essential, and yes this will be very prominent at the very top of the front page.
We are sorry about losing some features, however there are big issues with all of those. Firstly not that many people use them. Secondly, user profile info and private messages have been abused by millions of spam accounts, which we have been unable to prevent. Thirdly, private messages here are unsecure, and it is just not good practice for us to enable such insecure and potentially sensitive communication on our platform. Fourthly, the bookmarking system is not particularly flexible, and doesn't really offer anything which somebody couldn't do by making their own bookmarks in their web browser (they could create a subfolder for bookmarks specifically on libcom if they so wanted – they would then also have the added benefit of being able to apply labels they wanted to make them more easily browsable, unlike the on-site bookmarks).

Yosef

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Yosef on February 26, 2022

Great news! Can't wait to see the new site, good job to everyone who put in the effort

syndicalist

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by syndicalist on February 26, 2022

Sorry, if this is a very elemental question.

Will I still be able to "track" my postings/replies? I tend to find this to be very good in going back to things at later dates.

Steven.

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on February 26, 2022

IkeIke356

Great News!

Question: Will the site update make submitting content easier? I've been waiting since late May 2021 for posting permissions

We are so sorry that we missed this request! But yes, this will be much more straightforward, and one of the major reasons we need to upgrade the site. Because of being overwhelmed by literally millions of spam accounts we had to set up this clunky system.
You now have posting permissions. Again so sorry about the delay

Mike Harman

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on February 26, 2022

syndicalist

Will I still be able to "track" my postings/replies? I tend to find this to be very good in going back to things at later dates.

This should work, it might be out of order after the migration but should eventually fix itself.

ZJW

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ZJW on February 27, 2022

1) Please confirm that it will still be possible to post comments under articles.

2) If so, the upvote/downvote function needs to be abolished -- at the very least the downvote. There is no mention of this.

3) Why is it necessary to abolish 'user profile information' (political labels, favorite thinkers etc)? I oppose this. It is often very useful in getting an idea -- in lieu of other context -- of where a certain comment-poster is 'coming from'.

4) Is it known if the new site will still function for users of Win XP (whose browsers are limited to the old versions Firefox version 52.9.0 ESR and Chrome version 49.0.2623.112 m ?

petey

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by petey on February 27, 2022

yikes i have 11 pages of bookmarks.
better get to work ...

btw i've been a patreon for a few years now
/pats self on back

Steven.

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on February 27, 2022

ZJW

1) Please confirm that it will still be possible to post comments under articles.

Yes it will

2) If so, the upvote/downvote function needs to be abolished -- at the very least the downvote. There is no mention of this.

this feature will be got rid of

3) Why is it necessary to abolish 'user profile information' (political labels, favorite thinkers etc)? I oppose this. It is often very useful in getting an idea -- in lieu of other context -- of where a certain comment-poster is 'coming from'.

there are a few hundred users who have used this section, and yes in these instances it is useful. However, this site has about 2.5 million other users, the vast majority of whom are spammers, and use this ability to post spam links. Once we move over, get rid of the spam accounts and setup processes which can keep out spammers (which should be possible with the upgraded version of the site), then we can look at having some sort of significantly slimmed-down profile info which can make something like general political perspectives/affiliations more obvious.

4) Is it known if the new site will still function for users of Win XP (whose browsers are limited to the old versions Firefox version 52.9.0 ESR and Chrome version 49.0.2623.112 m ?

We will be asking for help from users bug-testing the new site. So if you use atypical browsers, it would be very helpful if you could assist with bug-testing. Is this something you would be happy to do?

petey

btw i've been a patreon for a few years now
/pats self on back

we are super grateful for your ongoing generous support!

IkeIke356

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by IkeIke356 on February 27, 2022

Thank you so much! :)

syndicalist

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by syndicalist on February 28, 2022

Petey!

ZJW

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ZJW on March 1, 2022

Steven wrote:

Is this something you would be happy to do?

Yes. (In so far as I know what it means. I am not very computeral.)

petey

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by petey on March 1, 2022

syndicalist

Petey!

ayup.
took just a little break.

Steven.

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on March 2, 2022

ZJW

Steven wrote:

Is this something you would be happy to do?

Yes. (In so far as I know what it means. I am not very computeral.)

Thanks. Basically it will mean taking a preview of the upgraded site, and giving us feedback. We will keep you posted

adri

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by adri on March 2, 2022

Looking forward to the update, and I also wouldn't mind helping with testing/feedback or whatever if needed.

Yes. (In so far as I know what it means. I am not very computeral.)

We gathered as much when you said you're still using windows xp and then invented the word computeral :)

petey

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by petey on March 3, 2022

would it be possible to give a target date? i really do need to review my bookmarks and could use a heads-up.

Steven.

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on March 4, 2022

petey

would it be possible to give a target date? i really do need to review my bookmarks and could use a heads-up.

We are working as fast as we can. We can't give a definite date, but if you wanted to be on the safe side, I would go through them before the end of March

Mike Harman

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on March 11, 2022

We're planning to put the site into read only mode on the 18th March (afternoon/evening UK time). So any bookmarks or contacts you need to grab, best to do before the 17th.

Read-only mode means it logs everyone out and stops them logging in again, but you can still read articles logged out.

Once the site is in read-only mode, the migration takes 2-4 days to complete, we then need to do a final round of testing of the migrated data. If it's OK, then we'll switch over to the new site, if it's not, either it'll take a bit longer than 2-4 days, or we might re-enable logins on this one and try again later.

If something goes wrong between now and the 18th we might have to push this back, but it won't be any earlier than that.

Spikymike

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Spikymike on March 11, 2022

Thanks for the warning! I've too many bookmarks to retrieve even the most important but do have some saved print-offs to refer to in the future.

Steven.

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on March 11, 2022

Spikymike

Thanks for the warning! I've too many bookmarks to retrieve even the most important but do have some saved print-offs to refer to in the future.

As a shortcut for this, you can just copy and paste each page of your bookmarks into a Word document. This will preserve each of them as active hyperlinks

jef costello

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by jef costello on March 12, 2022

Is there a way to download messages?
I had some good conversations on there, not for a long time, but it seems sad to lose them.

petey

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by petey on March 12, 2022

YIKES

Steven.

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on March 13, 2022

jef costello

Is there a way to download messages?
I had some good conversations on there, not for a long time, but it seems sad to lose them.

Unfortunately not, but you can go through them manually, and copy/paste threads into a Word document

petey

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by petey on March 16, 2022

you'll be keeping captain nemo's penguin of course.

Mike Harman

2 years 3 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on March 17, 2022

Just to say this is still planned to start tomorrow afternoon UK time (mostly like around 2-3pm).

No promises, but it might be possible to leave this version of the site running at a different URL after the new site is live - however we can't spent lots of time dealing with that, because there are bound to be issues on the new site we only discover after switching over. This would only be for things things like downloading old pms, no posting content on here (or not that will last more than a couple of weeks before we switch this server off). If we do that, we'll post the URL here (and probably nowhere else).

Having said that several people have tested the new site at this point, and found bugs we've mostly fixed since, so it's probably as bug-free as it's going to get before actually going live.