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Tony
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Over the last few days we have been experiencing higher then normal usage, over 1300 new members and many more visitors just looking or trying out the layout generator.

Welcome new members I hope you find the site useful.

Apache has been struggling with the extra demand, please be patient as I adjust the configuration.

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They're not all coming from Friendster are they? That Meghan who abused me said that she was directed here from there cos Friendster have listed this as a place for them to sort out all their HTML problems. I was going to quote exactly what she said but all her messages have gone from my inbox. I take it that was cos she was deleted as a member?

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Hugo
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I posted to another friendster query, I'm afraid that the quality of these posts is never going to be that high and worry that friendster.com is just directing people here without thought . They are promoting the fact that one can now personalize your profile page on their site with HTML and CSS yet I'm afraid that these members are going to have next to no skills in this direction and it really should be up to friendster.com to provide initial guidance in getting going.

I wonder if an email to friendster.com might be in order Smile

If the member was removed then the PMs will go as well.

Hugo.

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Anonymous
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Did friendster.com ask permission before linking to this site? Maybe they'll help pay the hosting bill.

Tony
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Many of the new users are from friendster.
We must not forget the CSS Forum is here to help people learn css whoever they are or wherever they come form.

I encourage people to link to the site and am happy to receive the traffic from friendster. There is no added cost to me only the inconvenience of slower response times.

I have change the httpd.config files and will see how it goes after a restart which will happen sometime today.

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Tony wrote:

We must not forget the CSS Forum is here to help people learn css whoever they are or wherever they come form.

I think that should be to help people who are prepared to help themselves, not people who treat this is as a help desk. I'm not sure what it says on Friendster but maybe it could be worded a bit better so that people have a better idea before posting on this forum (like reading the stickies for example).

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Hugo
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Tony this is clearly the purpose of this forum to help people learn and undeniably this is what we do and the increase in traffic once the server is configured for it, not a problem, bandwidth concerns are I presume covered.

The real problem with a service like friendster is that it operates a proprietary configuration and the type of member it attracts are not internet nor coding savvy, which is fine; however it sounds as though friendster has given the impression that we will sort out problems that it will prove next to impossible for us to answer. I have no way of understanding in any detail how their system works and how the HTML/CSS is customizable other than what I can see on the few public access pages which tell me they use some form of style generator and restricted html tags.

We are going to have to disappoint a lot of people who are going to come here in the belief that we will fix things for them and who are not sure the actual help that they require or will receive, personally I feel that if friendster want to link to this site as their help desk that they should briefly explain to their members what sort of help they should expect on this type of forum and also to offer detailed help on their proprietary systems along with a general note that we can't help much in that respect.

Then again I don't expect that we will be inundated with requests and just deal with the few that do come our way with good grace Smile

Hugo.

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Anonymous
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I signed up to see what it was all about and found where css creator was listed:

When you update the look of your profile and click CSS TIPS a window pops up listing css creator under "CSS code generators/resources".

BTW, here's my profile:

Laughing out loud

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Nice undercover work! Laughing out loud

friendster wrote:
Profile Viewed: 0 times

Ned will help your number of hits, good strategy.

This is my big chance . . . yep, I blew it . . .

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n8gz4ez wrote:
Nice undercover work! Laughing out loud

friendster wrote:
Profile Viewed: 0 times

Ned will help your number of hits, good strategy.Look at the right of the pic: Poopdeck's friends: no friends yet

Wow, just like the real world. Crying

Laughing out loud

http://poopdeckpappythekingofblogs.blogs.friendster.com/i_the/

n8gz4ez
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Triumph wrote:
Poopdeck's friends: no friends yet


Maybe you should start PM'ing hate mail to strangers. . . . :twisted:

This is my big chance . . . yep, I blew it . . .

Anonymous
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n8gz4ez wrote:
Triumph wrote:
Poopdeck's friends: no friends yet


Maybe you should start PM'ing hate mail to strangers. . . . :twisted:
And there's none stranger than tyssen! Laughing out loud

Hugo
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Truimph that's great now that you have registered you could have a study of their methods of working with CSS and HTML and be in a position to help their members when they need it.

Hugo.

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Why validate? Read Me

Tyssen
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Triumph wrote:
n8gz4ez wrote:
Triumph wrote:
Poopdeck's friends: no friends yet


Maybe you should start PM'ing hate mail to strangers. . . . :twisted:
And there's none stranger than tyssen! Laughing out loud

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thepineapplehead
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Maybe a forum for Friendster people? Or a big red topic saying "Friendster users click here first"?

Verschwindende wrote:
  • CSS doesn't make pies

roytheboy
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The reason why this forum gets so many non-posting members is probably the same as the reason that most other phpBB forums (probably) get so many non-posting members, which is a form of spamming favoured by individuals trying to boost the PageRank of selected websites.

I administer a UK-only phpBB forum and get a constant stream of people trying to join whose confirmation emails are bounced. They are false addresses of course and are easy to spot because the website addresses entered by the spammers are nearly always based in Russia or East-Europe. I assume they are trying to get their sites listed in the 'members' list, which then gets spidered and indexed as an inbound link, in theory boosting the site's PageRank.

They haven't noticed that non-posting members don't get listed on this forum, but that's probably because 'they' are automated scripts, blindly registering new members by the thousands across the globe. 'They' don't care about database table sizes and the server resources that are then utilised to deal with the vast tables.

The forum I administer needs membership applications to be manually approved so it is fairly easy, albeit time-consuming, to delete them. I get about ten a day on average. Personally, if I were you Tony, I would consider automating the removal of all members that do not post within one week for no other reason than to keep your tables clean and SQL queries efficient. Given that visitors do not need to register to read the forum, and that people normally register to make a post, I can't see a problem with this approach other than the fact that the number of members shown on the home page would halve to 5,706 (don't forget to optimise the db table afterwards).

I would also suggest that we be on the lookout for stupid questions with a link and no sign of the poster trying to help themselves, that look like someone is just trying to post a link in order to boost their PageRank. 1,552 members have posted only once, suggesting that they did not care if they got a response or not, else why did they then not respond to the response like the 1,334 people that have posted twice (only).

As for the Friendster thing: I agree with Tony that we're here to help, no matter where the visitor comes from. But I also feel that we should take a hard line on stupid questions from people who very obviously take our time for granted. F**k em - I'm not here to be used and abused, but I take pleasure and pride in helping others to help themselves if I can. So when we get a question from someone who has very obviously not bothered to read the stickies or who cannot be bothered to explain themselves properly (and by that I don't mean people who are having problems with the English language), I feel that we should simply post a link to the sticky that explains how to ask a question. If they are reasonable people with a desire to learn then they'll be back; if not then I for one will not lose any sleep!

I know that Tony likes to take a very laid-back stance on all of these issues, but unless we act together to curb these abuses of this fabulous resource, skilled helpers will drift away from the forum as they are taken for granted and slagged off by ignorant toe-rags, and the site will forever be falling over (as it is now, as I write this post in my text editor) and be unavailable for those who genuinely seek help.

Roy.

PS: Hugo, WTF are you doing up at 4am?

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I agree with you there Roy - Tony, you should go through the member list, and anyone who hasn't posted any topics (as long as they joined more then, say, a week ago) should be deleted.

We should also have a nice post written out (I'll start it now) about helping yourself.

If they post a problem, with no link, no code, and no intention of helping themselves, just post a link to the thread.

Then they can see what we want from them.

Verschwindende wrote:
  • CSS doesn't make pies

thepineapplehead
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As an aside, I have noticed a problem with the Announcements.

THere is one, "How To Reply", which is posted in every forum with the same text.

However, the biggy, "Read This Before Posting", is ONLY in the How To section.

There is another one, "How & When to Ask . . " which is in all the forums except How To.

What's with that?

Also, I think we could write something in the "Read This Before Posting" for the Friendster members.

Verschwindende wrote:
  • CSS doesn't make pies

Tony
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I see no real benefit in deleting users that haven't posted as their details don't show up in the members list etc unless they have posted.
Even the newest member has been changed to newest active member and to be active you need to have posted.

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Every forum page that is served involves searching the 't_users' table for every user featured on that page, in order to fetch the contents of the 'user-posts' field as well as other data. I haven't studied the phpBB code but I would also imagine that the SQL queries are full of joins. Given the number of users online at any given moment, that's a lot of mysql threads, a lot of concurrent processes and therefore a lot of CPU resources. If you halve the size of the 't_users' table, it is bound to have an overall positive effect on the efficiency of the server - no? I'm no expert, but I'm pretty sure that on a busy server, every possible resource efficiency is worth implementing if it brings no disadvantages. But it's your call Tony - you're the main man and we're talking about your recourses, not mine Smile I may also be talking out my a*se Wink

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Dear Brothers Poopdeck,
I think I lurve yous.
That's the best laugh I've had in a long time - should have saved it as a candidate for "The Very Best 1,000th Post Ever". Maybe, you've got something else up your collective sleeves for that milestone, though Tongue

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Hugo wrote:
Truimph that's great now that you have registered you could have a study of their methods of working with CSS and HTML and be in a position to help their members when they need it.
Gah! Well, ok...but not until the work season ends. Smile

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Roy wrote:
Hugo, WTF are you doing up at 4am?


Insomnia and the fact that I was checking to see if the Jigsaw validator had indeed been updated to re-include color/background combination checks and some other possibly spurious warning messages , thanks Jigsaw :mad:

On the auto registration side of things another trick I read about was to remove the $website field from the registration form so that new signups could only enter a website having activated their account, scripts would include the $website field and would be trappable on it's inclusion.

Or another method that uses a hidden input value on the form which if not posted is trapped by an !isset ($variable) die()

But If I remember from a while ago when there were a few link posters that Tony hardened things up with some extra precautions.

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Tony
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Hi Roy,
Valid points and worthy of further investigation, so I did a quick scan of the MySQL manual.
MySQL is pretty efficient and any time lapse will more likely be from other areas such as network, cpu or memory.
http://dev.mysql.com/doc/mysql/en/optimize-overview.html

For small tables, you can usually find a row in one disk seek (because the index is probably cached).
http://dev.mysql.com/doc/mysql/en/estimating-performance.html

Overall I am not concerned by the size of the members table, reducing the number of queries and giving the server mor ram may be more effective.

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Yo Tony,

If you look in the schema for t_users you will see that the only index other than the primary relates to user_session_time. To index the data necessary for the display of the main forum pages would not be worth it as too much data would need to be stored in the index, slowing things down in other ways - not least by a re-indexing action with every post made by any user, so indexing is not a viable option in this case.

The rule of thumb for efficiency with any database design is to use as few fields as possible, of the optimum type, with the minimum reserved byte space, prudent use of indexing, efficient relationship normalisation, and as few rows of data as necessary. If you increase any of these factors then the operation of the db will be handicapped and inefficient to some degree. We may only be talking microseconds, but all those microseconds add up on a busy site.

Personally, I aim for maximum resource efficiency with every database I design, be it small or large, under-used or over-used. The idea of having a table twice as full as it needs to be seems foreign to me, but hey, that's just me and my fussy ways!

I don't want to fall out over this. It's not my forum or server. I am only trying to be helpful and we are probably only talking marginal resources here anyway, so I shall finish by saying that yet again you have my maximum respect for operating such a great and friendly learning facility.

Roy Smile

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Tony
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Hi Roy,
I value your input and am sure there is lots I can learn from you.

t_users primary index is the user_id which is the index used in most if not all query 'where clauses'.

You are correct in suggesting reducing the size of the t_users would be an improvement but to me the benefits would be minimal.

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Hugo wrote:
On the auto registration side of things another trick I read about was to remove the $website field from the registration form so that new signups could only enter a website having activated their account, scripts would include the $website field and would be trappable on it's inclusion.

Or another method that uses a hidden input value on the form which if not posted is trapped by an !isset ($variable) die()

But If I remember from a while ago when there were a few link posters that Tony hardened things up with some extra precautions.

You could always include a captcha as part of the user registration process.

Tony
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Hi Chris,
Captcha's are enabled as part of the registration process.

Links to a users profile will only display after they have posted. So they need to firstly fill in the captcha's then have supplied a valid email address to enable their account and finally they need to post.
That should be enough hoops to jump through before your web address is displayed.

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Laughing out loud

Sounds like you have all bases covered. Those russians must all be keen students of CSS!!

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Tony wrote:
Hi Roy,
I value your input and am sure there is lots I can learn from you.

Nobody can possibly learn everything about all the different aspects of our trade, so we all learn from each other. That's what I love about this forum: generally speaking, we can discuss issues and collectively improve our collective knowledge without getting hung-up with egos. I admit that I'm a 'jack-of-all-trades and master of none'.

Tony wrote:
t_users primary index is the user_id which is the index used in most if not all query 'where clauses'.

The issue of indexing was secondary to my main point of minimising the number of rows, but you are quite correct in what you say. I have recently been finding massive speed increases in a hotel booking system that I created a few years ago, whereby I created multiple-column indexes of, for example, room references and booking dates, allowing me to extract all the data directly from the index trees. This works very well with large tables of predominantly static data and in fact helped me to find hundred-fold speed increases with some queries. When I wrote my post above, I was so focussed on these recent multiple-column indexes that I totally ignored the traditional single-column variety. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it Laughing out loud

Tony wrote:
You are correct in suggesting reducing the size of the t_users would be an improvement but to me the benefits would be minimal.

Message received and understood Smile

WRT the issue of registrations, personally I don't see the prime issue as being whether or not you display the data; I see it as the fact that what I assume to be automated scripts are tying up server resources registering in the first place, and further filling up the user table.

Life's a b*tch and then you die!

Tony
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Although it's not impossible for automated scripts to beat the captchas it isn't an easy thing to do.
I also can check if multiple registrations come from the same ip, which is not the case at the moment.
All these methods are not fool proof but collectively they go a long way to wards controlling unwanted registrations.

There have been a few bounced emails from registration in the last couple of days but considering the number of registrations it's a very small percentage.

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Tony - I am long overdue a study of all the phpBB anti-spam measures that you have undertaken, and have promised myself to do so soon. In an instant I have found this > http://www.webmasterworld.com/forum103/274.htm and now realise how much I can do to stop the spamming that I have to deal with. I must have missed the previous discussions on this board about the subject, or just plain forgotten about them (is it just me or is it getting increasingly difficult to follow so many issues these days). Reading again your comments about Captchas I can see that things have moved on a bit since my last study of the issues, so please ignore my last comment on my last post - you are clearly going a long way to stop automated sign-ups.

The phpBB forum I administer is up-to-date in respect of security patches but as I have hacked it about so much it is now missing some of latest features. I think I shall start again with a clean install (data excepted of course) and restrict my hacking to essentials only.

If only there were 48hrs in every day and if only we could plug additional memory cards into our brains!

Life's a b*tch and then you die!

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Yesterday and today I have had failures to connect to csscreator.com. Some lasting a few minutes and others I gave up and came back later.

Does it have to do with the extra traffic?

Tony
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Hi Triumph,
Yes it has had a lot to do with the failures.
Each of the last 3 days has had more then 5 times the average daily traffic.
More visits have been to the layout generator then the forum.

Unfortunately I didn't have apache configured as well as I could have.
There is no perfect config for every server so you need to experiment to see what works best with for your situation.
I think the failures are mostly under control now, time will tell.

Anonymous
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Thanks Tony. Smile

I guess I should learn about server configuration, too. Smile