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Featured Threads enhancements

Martok

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Last month a new addition to the website, Featured Threads, was implemented. Details on how to use it are in this thread.

There have now been some enhancements to Featured Threads. Much of it is back-end stuff but there are three additions that you will see.

1. The Featured Threads block now also appears on the New Posts and Recent Posts pages.

2. There is a Featured Threads link in the navigation bar:

ft_navigation.png

This leads onto...

3. There is a Featured Threads page:

ft_page.png

This page lists all of the current Featured Threads, with the most recently featured at the top.

This should make it easier to see which threads have been featured.

I may consider making the Featured Threads page the home page for this website, which might be good for guests. If I do, then if you don't wish to see this every time you visit then you can just bookmark the forums page. You'll still see one random Featured Thread on the forums page and can visit the Featured Threads page any time by using the link in the navigation bar. :)
 

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There are now some further enhancements to Featured Threads.

Alerts!

ft_alert_bubble.png


If you have started a thread and it is then featured by one of the moderators, you will receive an alert and a message telling you which thread has been featured and for how long.

ft_alert_message.png


Don't forget, if you're a Senior then you can feature your own threads! You won't get an alert if you feature your own threads as of course you already know they have been featured. :)

Thread information
Thread information (author name, date of thread, likes, views and replies) are all now displayed in the Featured Threads blocks.

ft_block.png
 

Martok

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There are now some more enhancements to Featured Threads.

Trophies
There are Trophies for Featured Threads!

ft_trophy_alert.png

Threads which you start and are Featured have been counted since the last update. This update now awards you trophies for these. You'll get a trophy for your first Featured Thread, for 5 Featured Threads and so on. You can click on the link in the Alert which will then tell you more about the Trophy. Read the post on Trophies to find out more about what these are, which ones you have and which Trophies are available.

Featured Thread Count
A count for Featured Threads is displayed on the member card and on the profile page

ft_member_card.png

ft_profile_page.png

Featured Thread Controls
As before, Active Seniors can Feature their own threads and moderators can Feature anyone's threads. The controls for doing this from within a thread have been tweaked slightly.

ft_thread_tools2.png
ft_thread_tools1.png

There are now also controls for Featuring threads in the forum view

ft_controls_thread_list.png

Featured Thread Expiry
An expiry date now displays on Featured Threads, telling you when the thread will no longer be Featured.

ft_block.png

Quick Navigation
There is a Featured Threads link in the Quick Navigation menu that will take you to the Featured Threads page.

ft_quick_navigation.png
 

Martok

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There are now two additional enhancements to Featured Threads.

The first is that you can now optionally upload an image when featuring a thread, which will then display instead of the user avatar.

ft6.png

The second is the Featured Threads page will show these icons in a larger format and more text is included for each featured thread.

ft5.png

Adding an image to a Featured Thread
Featuring a thread is covered in more detail in the post above this one and in this thread. When you now feature a thread, you will now see an option to upload an icon i.e. use an image instead of your avatar.

ft1.png

Tick the option Upload icon if you want to use an image. If left unticked, your avatar will be used. Then click on Feature Thread. If you chose to upload an icon, you will then get another dialogue box.

ft2.png

You can then upload an image from your computer to use. The size of the image should ideally be 256 x 144 pixels but this isn't essential. This image size has an aspect ratio of 16:9, the same as that of a widescreen TV and what is displayed in PlayStation games. You can upload an image of pretty much any shape or size and it will automatically resize it for you. Many of the PlayStation screenshots on the internet are 16:9 aspect ratio (e.g. 1920 x 1080, 1280 x 720, 1024 x 576) and these will resize perfectly. If the image you use isn't 16:9 in ratio, it will be cropped to 16:9 in shape. This can work with some images but with others it may not crop as you wish, so it is best if you can use a 16:9 image or edit one to that aspect ratio- see Creating 16:9 Images below. Once you have chosen your image, click on Save Changes.

The best place to check that your image looks the way you want it to is the Featured Threads page - click on the link at the top of the forums to see this. If you find that your image isn't quite the way you want it, you can replace it or even remove it altogether. To do this, update your featured thread (see previous post on how to do this) and you will see the update dialogue box.

ft3.png

Tick the Update icon box and then click on Save Changes. You will then get another dialogue box.

ft4.png

Choose another image on your computer to replace the existing one, or tick the Delete icon box if you want to remove the existing one altogether and replace it with your avatar. Then click on Save Changes.


Creating 16:9 Images
You can create a 16:9 image to use with your Featured Thread by using the crop tool in an image editing program. You may have one already installed on your computer e.g. Photoshop, Paint.net. You can also use a free online image editing program such as Pixlr. Pixlr Editor will allow you to open an image from your computer or even directly from a website (if you have the exact URL of the image).

pixlr2.png

Once you've opened an image, click on the crop tool, set the constraint to Aspect Ratio with width 16 and height 9.

pixlr.png

Then simply click and hold on your image to create a square crop box. Drag it to the size you require, move it around on your image until you have it over the bit you want, then double click to crop the image. After that, simply save your image onto your computer ready to use with your Featured Thread.
 
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Martok

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There have been some more Featured Threads enhancements. :)

This time, much of it is back-end so you won't notice anything there. However one change does mean that there are less database queries in using this on the site. Every little helps in making things just that little bit faster. :1thumbup:


Some visual changes

Featuring Threads with icons (images)

When featuring a thread and choosing to upload an image, or when updating a Featured Thread and adding/updating an image, the current avatar or icon will be shown in the overlay.

upload_2014-5-2_15-23-43.png


upload_2014-5-2_15-31-10.png


Featured Badges
The Featured Badges for active Featured Threads have been around for a while. Clicking on either of these will now take you to the Featured Threads page.

ft_thread_view.png


ft_thread_list.png

Featured Threads user information
The information below your avatar in posts now shows how many threads you have started have been featured.

upload_2014-5-2_15-12-15.png

This can also be seen in the sidebar on your Profile page and on your membercard (both of these previously showed this information).

upload_2014-5-2_15-13-20.png

upload_2014-5-2_15-46-56.png

Finally, the Members section at the top of the website now has an additional tab for Most Featured Threads

upload_2014-5-2_15-16-1.png


Reminder: Active Seniors can feature their own threads (and there's quite a few of you who can do this), it doesn't have to be moderators who do the featuring. So come on, have a go! If you think your thread might be interesting to others, then feature it! It doesn't have to be an original piece written completely by yourself either - news from other sites is fine too (just remember to link to the source at the bottom of the post if you are taking information from there) and that's what many of my featured threads are. It's be nice to see some more competition in the Most Featured Threads section! :lol:
 

zoob

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Done!
 

Martok

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Featured Threads now has another enhancement. You will now see full formatting (bold, italic, underline etc) as well as images, videos etc in Featured Threads. :)

I would suggest that, when featuring a thread, you avoid any images and videos in the first four or so lines of the Featured Thread text (remember that the Featured Thread content is initially a copy of the content from your post but it can be edited just for the Featured Thread boxes without changing your original post). By doing so, you will avoid seeing this in the Featured Threads boxes on the forums:

upload_2014-5-5_15-45-43.png

So when Featuring this thread, initially the content in the Featured Thread overlay is:

ft_edit1.png

Simply editing the content to this:

ft_edit2.png

which is just moving the code for the video to further down and adding a few blank lines and some additional text, "Take a look at this video..." means we get this instead, which is better:

ft_edit3.png

The video will appear on the Featured Threads page though:

ft_edit4.png

As you'll see, the original thread is untouched:

ft_edit5.png
 

Martok

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Another enhancement to Featured Threads - we now have a Home Page again. :)

upload_2014-5-10_15-1-35.png

The main change here is that www.seniorgamers.net will go to the Home Page rather than the Forums page. If you want to go straight to the forums page you can visit it and bookmark it.

We had a Home Page previously but that was removed as Seniors and other registered users didn't visit it and we were struggling to keep up with 'proper' articles. With Featured Threads, it doesn't matter if you don't visit the Home Page as you'll still see them at the top of forums. We also just use ordinary forum posts and feature these (which active Seniors can do for themselves) so no need to spend ages writing a special piece.

The Home Page is useful to highlight discussions going on in SNR, hence it's return, but Seniors will still benefit with having the Featured Threads blocks on the forums. :)

In addition, you will see a new Recent Activity link in the navigation which hopefully you'll find useful/interesting.
 

Sportsvee

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Ooooooh, warning points. Cool.
 

Sportsvee

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On the profile thingie, you have 0 warning points. Right above featured threads.

Whos the first to get warning points? Bet that dodgy kiwi-lass with her foul mouth :crazy:
 

Martok

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On the profile thingie, you have 0 warning points. Right above featured threads.

Whos the first to get warning points? Bet that dodgy kiwi-lass with her foul mouth :crazy:
Ah yes, the warning system. Useful and very powerful for warning naughty people and even automatically removing capabilities and temporarily or permanently banning the naughtiest of the naughty. Never had to use it so far...

I thought I'd leave you to do the disciplining of your other half. ;)
 

Martok

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I've made a change to icon sizes which I previously mentioned in this post. They are now 16:9 aspect ratio, the same as what you see on-screen in PlayStation games and published on websites. This means that the icon size is better suited to our needs and is less likely to need editing and cropping before uploading.

I've amended the previous post to update it for the new size and how to crop to 16:9 aspect ratio using pixlr or another image editor if necessary.
 

Martok

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Another enhancement to Featured Threads - dismissing Featured Threads blocks. :)

Dismissing Featured Threads blocks means that you can now hide any Featured Threads that appear at the top of the forum list page, in a forum and within the New/Recent posts page. So rather than see the same Featured Threads again and again, you can clear the ones you have already seen.

Although you can dismiss Featured Threads from most pages, you cannot dismiss them from the home page, which is our 'landing site' for new visitors as well as somewhere where everyone can see currently Featured Threads.

Note: Dismissing Featured Threads is an extra for our Platinum members - see Benefits for details of what active members get. Do note that there may be the occasional Featured Thread that you cannot dismiss - see later for details.

Dismissing Featured Threads
On Featured Threads blocks on the forum, you will now see a small icon at the top right

ft_dismissal1.png


Clicking on this icon will bring up a menu that will allow you to dismiss the Featured Threads block

ft_dismissal2.png


Clicking on the option will give you a final opportunity to change your mind or to go ahead with dismissing the Featured Threads block

ft_dismissal4.png



Platinum members who can feature their own threads will now see an additional option to "Allow dismissal". This is ticked by default. Please leave this ticked so that others can dismiss the Featured Threads block.

ft_dismissal3.png


Occasionally a Featured Thread may not be dismissable (such as an important thread). This will generally have been set by the moderators.

Restoring Dismissed Featured Threads
If you ever need to restore any Featured Threads that you have dismissed, simply click on your name at the top of the forums, then click on Preferences. You'll then have the option to restore them.

upload_2014-6-8_13-39-30.png


Note: This will restore all Featured Threads that are currently featured that you have dismissed. It won't restore Featured Threads that are no longer featured.

Hopefully Platinum members will find this useful. :)
 
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Martok

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There have been some more enhancements to Featured Threads. :)

Slider
The home page/Featured Threads page now has a slider. Take a look at this. :)

Featured Threads Backgrounds
The Featured Threads blocks on the forums pages and home page can now have backgrounds. Again, take a look at these - I've added some images to the current Featured Threads. It uses the same image for all pages - I've not decided yet whether or not to use them on the forums pages as you can only see part of the image (with the block being so narrow) but I've left it there for now. I do think that it adds a bit of colour to the pages.

Automatically Featured Threads
I've not enabled this feature yet but will do so in the next few days. What it allows us to do is to automatically feature threads in one of two ways. One way is to automatically feature all threads that are posted in a particular forum or forums. The other way is to feature threads from particular forums (or from the whole site) which meet specific criteria e.g. popular threads that receive a certain number of replies or the first post is liked a certain number of times or the thread is viewed a certain number of times. In fact, we can have various combinations of this. I think that this may be a better option than the first as we'd get a variety of featured threads from across the site.


So, how do you add backgrounds and slider images?
Active Seniors that have the capability to Feature Threads will now see some additional options:

ft_new_options.png


When the Add image option is ticked and you click on the Feature Thread button, you will then see the following screen:

ft_new_options2.png


The image size for icons should be 256x144 pixels
The image size for the background image should be 1024x576 pixels
The image size for the slider image should be 1024x576 pixels

However, to make life easier, you can upload images to any of these with the following dimensions:
1920x1080 pixels
1280x720 pixels
1024x576 pixels

These are all based on screenshot sizes which can be taken from PS4 screen captures and are commonly found via Google searches and on many gaming websites. Uploading images of these sizes will automatically have them scaled down to the correct sizes.

If the image isn't one of these sizes, it will have to be edited to one of these sizes or the image will be stretched or squashed.

Note: Background images will need to be edited if you want to use these. You'll need to use a photo editing program to add a white layer and then adjust that to 70% opacity, then save the result as a .jpg file. The reason for this is the background does need to have that 'faded' look in order to read the text. I'm hoping that in the future there will be a way to just upload a background image and have this done automatically.

You can choose to upload no images at all or just some, it's up to you. If you want your Featured Thread to appear in the slider then you'll need to upload a Slider image.

For those of you who don't want to bother with image uploads then don't worry, just promote your thread and I or one of the other moderators will likely upload some images for you (though I haven't told them that yet. ;) )

Please feel free to make any comments on these new features and whether you like them (or not). :)
 

zoob

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Very swanky
 

Martok

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Auto promotion of threads is now active. :)

Threads that achieve a certain number of likes, replies or views will be automatically featured. They won't have backgrounds unless I or one of the moderators adds one (which I have for those that have just been featured). They also won't automatically be added to the slider, again this is done manually and only selected ones will be added (I've currently set the slider to only show 5 threads - I may change this in the future).
 

Martok

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I've made some tweaks to Featured Threads so that background images no longer need editing beforehand to add an opacity. :)

So when Active Seniors (Platinum) or moderators feature a thread, if you want to add images (which would be nice if you could :) ) then all you need to do is find ones that are the following sizes:

The image size for icons should be 256x144 pixels
The image size for the background image should be 1024x576 pixels
The image size for the slider image should be 1024x576 pixels

However, to make life easier, you can upload images to any of these with the following dimensions:
1920x1080 pixels
1280x720 pixels
1024x576 pixels

These are all based on screenshot sizes which can be taken from PS4 screen captures and are commonly found via Google searches and on many gaming websites. Uploading images of these sizes will automatically have them scaled down to the correct sizes.

So, it's really easy now for folks to add images when featuring threads. :D
 

Martok

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There have been some more enhancements to Featured Threads. :)

Slider
The slider now has a fade transition instead of the left-right one used previously. In addition, the play/pause controls have moved to the bottom right.

cta_slider.jpg


Icon & Avatar Position
The icon or avatar can now be positioned on the right or the left of the Featured Threads block on the forums and the front page. When featuring a thread, checking the new option will position the icon or avatar on the right, leaving it unchecked and it will remain on the left.

cta_avataricon_right_option.jpg


cta_avatar_right_block.JPG


cta_avatar_right_page.JPG


New Image Upload Options
When featuring a thread, it is now possible to upload an image for use as an icon, background or slider via URL. This is very handy as it saves having do download the image onto the computer first.

In addition, if there are any image attachments in the first post you can use these for the icon, background or slider.

cta_image_options.jpg
 

Martok

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There's been a few more changes and enhancements to Featured Threads. Don't forget that Platinum level Seniors can feature their own threads - do give it a go. :)

The first change is that, when featuring a thread or updating an existing Featured Thread, instead of the overlay box which you used to get (and can be seen in this post) you now get a 'proper' page just like when you are creating a thread post:

FT-page.jpg


The advantage of this is that everything is on a 'familiar' page layout. In addition, the rich text editor is now used, meaning you can see how the text and (in most cases) the images actually appear - before it just showed the BB Code instead of the rich text formatting. Do note that if you are adding an image to the slider, background or icon (which you can see for many of the Featured Threads that I do) there is still an overlay that will appear for this after you have featured the thread.

There is also a new option for avatars/icons (the little pics that appear on the left or right of Featured Threads blocks on the forums page and on the home page). You can now choose to not display one at all. There's also some new options on where to display the Featured Threads but the default is Globally and it's best that this is left as-is as it means they will be displayed both in the forums pages and on the front page.
 
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