Retiring BBcode from the platform

  • 22 October 2019
  • 16 replies
  • 474 views

Userlevel 5
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Hey all, this is a notification announcement that we have removed BBcode parsing from the front end of the platform now. This is part of the overall transition from BBcode to HTML - a necessary change that will enable much richer and more eye catching content format of posts (yayy!).

 

At the moment we ask that you do not use BBcode in the creation of topics anymore - it will render normally in control but will not render in the front end to your end users.

 

We will of course make another announcement that the rendering of BBcode has been retired from your control environment too.

 

Any questions please just get in touch!


16 replies

Userlevel 6
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Thanks, Tom!

A couple of questions:

  • Why weren't we informed before the actual retirement?
  • When will we be able to use HTML formatting? 
  • When will users with a custom role be able to use the color picker?
  • Why is BBcode retirement not timed at the same time HTML formatting / the color picker is implemented?

 

Thanks, Tom!

A couple of questions:

  • Why weren't we informed before the actual retirement?
  • When will we be able to use HTML formatting? 
  • When will users with a custom role be able to use the color picker?
  • Why is BBcode retirement not timed at the same time HTML formatting / the color picker is implemented?

Hi Tom, I’m tagging along, especially interested in the last two questions :slight_smile:

Userlevel 6
Badge +3

Thanks, Tom!

A couple of questions:

  • Why weren't we informed before the actual retirement?
  • When will we be able to use HTML formatting? 
  • When will users with a custom role be able to use the color picker?
  • Why is BBcode retirement not timed at the same time HTML formatting / the color picker is implemented?

Hi Tom, I’m tagging along, especially interested in the last two questions :slight_smile:

Tagging along as well - also had reports of this function working on some topics but not others. 

 

An update on color picker would be great! 

Userlevel 7
Badge +1

Hi guys,

thanks for sharing your questions and concerns here! Let's get right to it:

Why weren’t we informed before the actual retirement

First of all - I understand that we could have warned you earlier about this switch. We knew that some of you were using bbcode for e.g. giving your text a color, and as it kept working on the new editor it is understandable that some of you also kept using this way to improve your posts. While sometimes it is harder to gauge the possible impact of a change we execute, it could have been measured by us. As a consequence, this now has induced some further changes to the way we do releases on the platform. We recognize that a) an earlier heads-up will be appreciated and b) we will be more conservative with measuring the impact of a change and c) give us more time to cover all potential risks as good as possible, so that these have as little negative impact as possible on your ways of working.

Why did we disable it

Using “native” bbcode in the editor, which is not direclty supported by us (or often disabled as regular feature intentionally), has not been in the supported scope of the new editor. This was also not the case before, even though our editor correctly used these codes.

Technically, it brought us in a situation where we acutally still interpret bbcode - even in the new editor. However a) it enables users with such knowledge to work around features we don’t think all (end) users of the platform should have access to, b) it forces our platform to translate bbcode into html and vice versa, opening the door for issues and c) has an impact on the overall performance of the platform which has not been defined / recorded in our documentation, forming a risk for the user experience and many other things.

Why is BBcode retirement not timed at the same time HTML formatting / the color picker is implemented?

As Yoeri is not in the office today, he will have to explain this once he is back (tomorrow). He is probably in a better position to answer this question. As far as I know this was a planned change, but I am not sure if it was postponed due to other, initial bug reports or fast-tracked due to problems in the system. I think I saw some internal discussions about this constant translating causing issues, but I cannot confirm this finally.

When will users with a custom role be able to use the color picker?

This is a very good question. We have mentioned in our initial announcement that such improvements are on our mind, but I am not sure about timelines. Yoeri will provide an update on this.

When will we be able to use HTML formatting?

Also here I unfortunately have no reliable info as to if or when this is coming - I can imagine there are some risks / concerns, however if it is possible to allow this in a restricted and safe way, I can see that this could be of value.

I am sure I was not able to answer all of your questions immediately, however I hope that I could shed some light on this and give you an understanding of our point of view on this.

Please keep sharing your feedback and wishes so that we are aware of it! :)

Userlevel 6
Badge +4

"Sometimes it is harder to gauge the possible impact of a change we execute"
Well, I know of this cool platform you can use to get insights from your customer community! 


"[The fact that] we actually still interpret bbcode [...] enables users [...] to work around features we don’t think all (end) users of the platform should have access to."

Can you explain why you don't think all (end) users should have access to BBcode? Is it because of a possible security threat or because of an abuse risk? If it's an abuse risk you're trying to mitigate, that seems a bit ridiculous. Even without being able to use BBcode, end users can abuse the platform all day long by uploading offensive images, going all caps, you name it. That's why we have moderators. If it's a security risk, it probably should have been a high priority from the get-go. We could explain to end users the risks of enabling BBcode if you can explain them to us. 

Edit:

My suggestion would be to enable the color picker for everyone. This is returning functionality, just like polls, not adding new functionality.

 

"[Interpreting bbcode] has an impact on the overall performance of the platform"

This comment has me frowning as well. It's hard to believe you have a focus on performance when you've accepted releasing an editor with such clear performance issues and don't care to roll back and test on staging until these issues are fixed. I know the developers are working to fix these live issues asap, so no need to stress that. But please show me how introducing an editor without BBcode has improved the overall performance of the platform and by how much. Then we can determine if it is worth losing our loyal users who dislike the editor both in its temporarily buggy state as well as in its intended stable BBcode-depreciated state. 

Userlevel 6
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This is a test, so I can find out what the devil is going on.

submit a system diagnostic

Userlevel 6
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Well, I suppose that way of posting links also got retired. :rage:

Userlevel 6
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Can we also get clarity on what happens to all the messages which already have BB-code in them? This is a quote from our top superuser:

 

“About 95% of my posts use coloured text... that's 1250 messages!”

 

Hopefully these will be unaffected…?

 

 

Userlevel 6
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@timcavey We tested, they aren’t affected.

Userlevel 7
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Hey guys,

unfortunately I was sick a few days, so I could not follow up with the team to the extend which I was hoping to. However I have more information based on your feedback, so that the things we do become a bit more clearer:

@Jurgen:

About BBcode as such:

Can you explain why you don't think all (end) users should have access to BBcode? Is it because of a possible security threat or because of an abuse risk?

It is the risk of abuse.

If it's an abuse risk you're trying to mitigate, that seems a bit ridiculous. Even without being able to use BBcode, end users can abuse the platform all day long by uploading offensive images, going all caps, you name it. That's why we have moderators.

I don’t think this is a valid argument. Just because one option for abuse (e.g. posting inappropriate images) is hard to turn off, this does not mean we should leave other ways (e.g. color for text) open as well. Also, while e.g. posting images is a significant (fundamental) benefit and necessary for community members to have proper discussions, changing the text color (or the size of text) is not as important. Hence turning this off for all users by default is not as big of a damage as e.g. turning off image uploads.

Of course it is also not in the best interest of any Community Manager to be forced to allocate more ressources into moderating such content.

My suggestion would be to enable the color picker for everyone. This is returning functionality, just like polls, not adding new functionality.

For reasons mentioned above, we think it is a better approach to give you the option to turn this on based on user role - an improvement we plan to add in the future.

About the impact on performance

 It's hard to believe you have a focus on performance when you've accepted releasing an editor with such clear performance issues and don't care to roll back and test on staging until these issues are fixed.

The bug you are referring to is not an performance issue, it is a functional issue. A performance issue e.g. would cause a page to fail to load, or slow down page loading time to a state where users are going crazy.

But please show me how introducing an editor without BBcode has improved the overall performance of the platform and by how much.

The developers have provided me with an example where BBcode rendering has caused an issue so that a topic could not be loaded any more: Link

In this example, a user shared an error message, which in consequence has broken the page due to the code included in it. This results in poor user experience of your community and forces us to manually fix these topics one-by-one in order to make them accessible again.

Userlevel 7
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@Ditte

Well, I suppose that way of posting links also got retired. 

May I ask why you would prefer this way of sharing a link instead of using e.g. a keyboard shortcut (ctrl + k on windows)? Maybe I overlook something but for me that’s much easier than working with clunky bbcode?

Userlevel 6
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@Ditte

Well, I suppose that way of posting links also got retired. 

May I ask why you would prefer this way of sharing a link instead of using e.g. a keyboard shortcut (ctrl + k on windows)? Maybe I overlook something but for me that’s much easier than working with clunky bbcode?

Copy / pasting little snippets of ‘things we say all the time’, like the one above. Having to do that with ctrl + K a bunch of times every day is a waste of time. :( 

Userlevel 7
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Ah ok, I see, thanks for elaborating. I probably would simply copy / paste the entire hyperlink then? Of course this requires the location where you save these kind of snippets to support html as well...

Userlevel 7

Copy / pasting little snippets of ‘things we say all the time’, like the one above. Having to do that with ctrl + K a bunch of times every day is a waste of time. :( 

With the new editor you can copy/paste any HTML (with display text) and it will preserve both the display text and the URL.

In this example I copied an URL from the Sonos Support page: Kiezen tussen een Standaard-installatie en een Boost-installatie. (see animated .gif in spoiler)

 

 

 

If you have a set of predefined URLs that you often copy and paste you can put these as HTML links in your preferred text editor (docs, notes, paper etc.) and copy/paste from there. Hope this helps :)

Userlevel 6
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@Julian Glad you're doing better again!

 

Just because one option for abuse (e.g. posting inappropriate images) is hard to turn off, this does not mean we should leave other ways (e.g. color for text) open as well. Also, while e.g. posting images is a significant (fundamental) benefit and necessary for community members to have proper discussions, changing the text color (or the size of text) is not as important. 

 

I think it’s the amount and type of users your community attracts that determines the risk of misconduct, not the amount of options for abuse users have. In fact, a bare bones community platform might inspire abuse more so than a fully featured one.

Text color may be a low stakes feature overall, but it’s a feature that’s common on community platforms, one that Insided provided up until now via BBcode and one that power users like and expect. I kind of expect one of the oldest community platform providers to know this. 

If you'd at least announced this change and you would have made your case, we would have been able to present it to our user base before the fact instead of shocking them with this change. I'm not convinced about the performance impact of BBcode seeing 1 example of an issue. I'm not convinced about the risks of temporarily providing a color picker for all either. But after reading your last comments, I'm at least a bit more understanding about your line of reasoning.

 

For reasons mentioned above, we think it is a better approach to give you the option to turn this on based on user role - an improvement we plan to add in the future.

 

The future is long and the wish list is big, so I don’t think we should expect to see a feature very soon if you think it isn’t "a significant (fundamental) benefit” …

 

Userlevel 6
Badge +4

Copy / pasting little snippets of ‘things we say all the time’, like the one above. Having to do that with ctrl + K a bunch of times every day is a waste of time. :( 

With the new editor you can copy/paste any HTML (with display text) and it will preserve both the display text and the URL.

In this example I copied an URL from the Sonos Support page: Kiezen tussen een Standaard-installatie en een Boost-installatie. (see animated .gif in spoiler)

 

 

 

If you have a set of predefined URLs that you often copy and paste you can put these as HTML links in your preferred text editor (docs, notes, paper etc.) and copy/paste from there. Hope this helps :)

 

I noticed a moderator had the same challenge and I suggested the same solution :) You can't use notepad for your snippets anymore though, as notepad doesn't support HTML links. (Re)using uploaded images and gifs was also easy using BBcode. Using images from external sources is not possible anymore at all.

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