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Passions in Poetry

Proposed Forum Changes - Your Advice Is Needed

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Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
Posts 9708
Michigan, US

0 posted 12-17-2001 09:14 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

After spending quite a bit of time in Open during the past few days, it has become increasingly apparent to me we have a problem. Pages are loading slowly. In some cases, they're not loading at all if you use Netscape, or loading with things all out of whack if you use Internet Explorer.

Some of the problems are minor or infrequent. Bad HTML, especially if a Member is trying to use tables, causes part of the problems. Embedded sound files that load and play whether you want them to or not is another. (Do you know how many people access the forums at work? You might as well write their boss a note… )

By far, though, the biggest problem centers around graphics. Every time you reply to a post, there's a short note that says, "Use graphics if you wish, but use them wisely and only when they significantly add to your message." Most people have chosen to ignore that advise. Some use images in the neighborhood of 80K (anything bigger then 30K is questionable), while others embed graphics from slow or unresponsive servers (I waited over 2 minutes this morning to load a small gif file from somewhere called Almost everyone, even when using moderate sized graphics, is using way too many of them. Does twenty identical smilies all in a row really add significantly to your message?

Not all of our Members have fast, hot-off-the-assembly-line computers. Not everyone has a cable or DSL connection to the Internet. Most of our Members who live outside North America are paying for every single minute they are connected. Slow loading pages hurt everybody, but they hurt some much more than others. I'm sure none of us want pipTalk to become home only for the elite.

I've spent most of the night modifying and testing new code to help alleviate some of these problems. I'm turning off certain HTML tags so they don't cause a problem. A <body> or <html> tag, for example, should be used exactly ONCE on a page and our software is already using them. Adding them in your post produces trashed pages and locks up browsers. I'm not turning off the TABLE tags. Yet. But I have the code ready should it continue to be a problem. I encourage everyone to use HTML to enhance the presentation of their poetry. But I also encourage everyone to learn it first.

Sound files will no longer work. If you enter the code correctly, as an href container, they will turn into clickable links. If other Members want to hear the sound file, they can click the link. No one will be forced to listen just because they opened a thread.

I have added code to completely disable images loaded from "certain" very slow or unresponsive servers. The one above,, will no longer work. Others will be added as needed.

Finally, I've added code to limit the number of images that can be included in a post, which will also include the number of smilies. And that's where the "advice" portion of this post comes into play. I tested my changes with the limit set to 5, which seemed both reasonable and fair to me. I was all set to load the new code this morning. Instead, I decided I should ask for your input before we actually make the change.

How many images constitute a reasonable limitation?
Member Elite
since 01-03-2001
Posts 2627

1 posted 12-17-2001 09:33 AM       View Profile for Krawdad   Email Krawdad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Krawdad

I don't know enough to give advice on this.  But, for what it is worth, I think I can count on one hand the number of times I have used that many images.  Five would seem plenty to me.  I wonder if many others realize that they are taxing the system.
Member Caelestus
since 06-25-99
Posts 67715
Listening to every heart

2 posted 12-17-2001 10:18 AM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

In the body of a lengthy message, if one is trying to get a point across, but a "smiley" will work to enhance the intention, I think smileys are well used in that regard.  Two or three all in a row tend to make me feel like you think I'm not getting the message, and I am  .  See?  If I had three "winks" there, you'd think I had an affliction.

Small graphics are lovely.  When they take over the page, it takes away from the poem.  I know I've tried to keep mine "simple", using the KISS line of thinking for myself.  

I also believe this is a timely request by you, Ron, as we keep adding members and by growth alone, we can slow things down a bit.  Thank you for this reminder to KISS....
[and for those that do not know what KISS means, it's what I've come across in my many years of learning acronyms for one's self, "Keep It Simple, Silly".... or words to that effect.]

[This message has been edited by Sunshine (edited 12-17-2001).]

Sudhir Iyer
Member Rara Avis
since 04-26-2000
Posts 7206
Mumbai, India : now in Belgium

3 posted 12-17-2001 10:34 AM       View Profile for Sudhir Iyer   Email Sudhir Iyer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Sudhir Iyer

Hi Ron,

Thanks for coming up with this.

About embedded sound, it is a great idea.

Regarding smilies... set a max. no. of x smilies in a post is a reasonable idea, I think. (value of x is to be determined, maybe different for different forums???)

Regarding images: Do you think making another forum for 'visual poetry' with embedded gif files is advisable? I have seen this happen in other poetry sites, and that sems to work well.

It is true that it takes ages to open a page with many image files or smilies.

More on this maybe later. I have to rush.

Thanks, once again Ron.

Regards to all,
Poet deVine
Member Empyrean
since 05-26-99
Posts 25869
Hurricane Alley

4 posted 12-17-2001 11:03 AM       View Profile for Poet deVine   Email Poet deVine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Poet deVine

Even with a cable connection, it takes some time to load the graphics and sound files. Sometimes, I back out to go find another poem to read. I love graphics with poetry, but not on the forum. Smilies used with moderation are fine.

I would even support a 'no link' decision if that would save time for the members with slower connections. Whatever is fair.  
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Member Seraphic
since 07-29-99
Posts 20770
on the threshold of a dream

5 posted 12-17-2001 12:20 PM       View Profile for suthern   Email suthern   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for suthern

As someone whose home computer was the navigational device on the Mayflower and who really doesn't care to announce at work that I'm not working, I send humble thanks. *S*
Member Empyrean
since 06-05-99
Posts 26302
Ft. Lauderdale, Fl USA

6 posted 12-17-2001 12:23 PM       View Profile for Balladeer   Email Balladeer   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Balladeer's Home Page   View IP for Balladeer

5 sounds very fair to me. It also seems to me the larger jpegs load much slower than the gif's...perhaps a size limitation on the jpegs?
Member Seraphic
since 05-20-99
Posts 24426
Cape Cod Massachusetts USA

7 posted 12-17-2001 01:30 PM       View Profile for Nan   Email Nan   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Nan's Home Page   View IP for Nan

The  number of times I've  use more than 5  graphics  per post is  scarce to none... It all sounds fine to me...
doreen peri
Member Rara Avis
since 05-25-99
Posts 8028

8 posted 12-17-2001 01:47 PM       View Profile for doreen peri   Email doreen peri   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for doreen peri

this is off topic to some degree but i've been meaning to say something for a long time about it....

there are many people lately who have been using artwork as an addition or illustration to their posted poem...

Sometimes (often but not all the time) there is a reference to the artist and perhaps a link to the artist's website. Other times there isn't. Even if there is a link and a reference, almost always there is no indication about whether the artist has given permission for their work to be posted. Artwork is often copyrighted just like any other creation.

As a graphic designer, if I found my work posted without my permission, I'm not sure how i'd react..... I'd probably just take it as a compliment as long as my name was referenced ......

Other artists might not feel that way, though, so since this thread discussion has to do with imbedded images and sound files, I thought I'd bring this up.

It's very important to remember copyright issues when posting anything.
Irish Rose
Member Patricius
since 04-06-2000
Posts 10553

9 posted 12-17-2001 02:08 PM       View Profile for Irish Rose   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Irish Rose

This is very informative and all makes perfect sense. I, personally, am through with graphics, images and am just going to post the poem. I feel it's safer that way.
Although, I have enjoyed the images available

Kathleen (Kay)
"When red-haired girls scamper like roses over the rain-green grass, and the sun drips honey."
Laurie Lee

Janet Marie
Member Laureate
since 01-22-2000
Posts 18986

10 posted 12-17-2001 02:40 PM       View Profile for Janet Marie   Email Janet Marie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Janet Marie

Well since I am one of the "graphic sinners"*L* I would just like to say that I am always grateful to be Krawdad mentioned, I think its a matter of most of us dont understand or realize the technical side of all this that is like second skin for someone like you (she says with total repsect)*S* I am a self admitted "techno-tard" I dont have a clue about what half of the things you mention above means..
html tables??? 80K (anything bigger then 30K is questionable)???
I had no idea the size of the pic mattered as long as it fit on the forum page...I was already sizing them down considerably from their original properties, but now that I understand better I'll refrain from using them or if I do make them much smaller.
I think some of the smiley use is an effort to make our comments be taken as its intended as so often we see our typed words being misunderstood or taken wrong so the smileys hopefully help get the point across as meant. But I agree the posts with 10 or so repeated is excessive. After awhile they lose their impact and "cuteness" anything that is "over used." Personally I dont care for music to play while I try to read a poem..for me it throws the cadence off if the song's meter isnt the same as the poem's...but I do enjoy the presentation. I think it all comes down to is--if the option to use a feature is there,given to us...we assume, even if naively that it wont be hurting anyone when we do so? And unless we are educated like on a thread like this...we really dont realize theres a problem. So again, thank you for enlightening me.
Please forgive my posting transgressions  *L*
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Member Seraphic
since 01-18-2000
Posts 24152
with you

11 posted 12-17-2001 02:45 PM       View Profile for SEA   Email SEA   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for SEA

my computer loads pretty slow, I like the graphics, but I really don't want to wait 5 minutes for a poem to load... I like what Sunshine said.....KISS is a really good idea  
Senior Member
since 12-01-1999
Posts 1526
Washington State

12 posted 12-17-2001 04:40 PM       View Profile for Irie   Email Irie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Irie

OK, I am guilty of "slowing" things down once in a while, sorry.
I think 5 is fair!
I also like the idea of the music link.
It is distracting to try and read and understand one's piece of work whith music playing in hte background.

I think this is all fair Ron.


"The things that come to those that wait may be the things
left by those who got there first"

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Member Empyrean
since 05-18-2001
Posts 29020

13 posted 12-17-2001 05:07 PM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

Thank you for asking us for our input. My PC has been struggling lately to load up graphics and smiley intensive poetry.  Your limit of 5 smilie thingies per reply or post is quite reasonable. Also, sometimes the graphics are a bit much, though some really do add to the presentation. I like Sudhir's suggestion of a separate "visual" forum, if that is possible. I enjoy this site and would not like to see it "crash" under the heavy burden of graphics and smilies.
Thank you for letting us comment prior to action.  
Kit McCallum
Member Laureate
since 04-30-2000
Posts 16920
Ontario, Canada

14 posted 12-17-2001 07:16 PM       View Profile for Kit McCallum   Email Kit McCallum   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Kit McCallum

I think 5 is more than fair Ron ...
Titia Geertman
Member Ascendant
since 05-07-2001
Posts 5297

15 posted 12-17-2001 07:18 PM       View Profile for Titia Geertman   Email Titia Geertman   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Titia Geertman's Home Page   View IP for Titia Geertman

Oh Oh I'm the headmaster of using graphics with my poems I think (all the strolling thrue my garden and sunsets ect.) But I always try to resize them to 10 to 16kb. I could make them even smaller I guess without loosing it's value. It's oké with me if 5 is the limit.

But...if you bring in the code, does that mean that in all the former posts pics will disappear??? I mean for instance in my latest Christmaspost with the little drawings of my father? If so, it would mean nothing anymore you see if one or two pics disappear.

As for the smilies: I didn't know they took up so much space. I have used them frequently for a short while, but not anymore. Too many distract one's eye from the message is my opinion and indeed they don't give any more value than one does.
And the music: I always turn it down for when I'm on the computer my dear husband is taking his nightly beautysleep, the poor guy wouldn't know what hit him if I would play the music out loud. LOL.

Please let me know if the pics I use with my poetry are still too large.

So do what you have to do, I'm a flexible girl See... I even changed my signature. But please, don't do it tomorrow, for I ask some time to copy a few poems with pics and replies (to save them)


A rose is a rose is a rose...I guess...
Want to use the pics on my website? Just send me a mail and I'll give you the link

[This message has been edited by Titia Geertman (edited 12-17-2001).]

Member Rara Avis
since 07-22-99
Posts 9561

16 posted 12-17-2001 09:22 PM       View Profile for WhtDove   Email WhtDove   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit WhtDove's Home Page   View IP for WhtDove

5 is the number of GRACE.....and I think that would work fine.

I absolutely love the idea of no music, midis, as that really annoys me when I have to listen to it over and over again without being able to turn it off. It's distracting when trying to read a poem.

Ron, I think it's long over due. I think there are quite a few members here who have over used the priveledge of graphics.

I say right on!  
Member Ascendant
since 10-03-2000
Posts 6143

17 posted 12-17-2001 09:25 PM       View Profile for Startime   Email Startime   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Startime's Home Page   View IP for Startime

OOPs I have been using lots of smilies...I think I will just stop using them all together...I know how it can be with slow comps. Thanks for the info.
Member Empyrean
since 08-14-2001
Posts 37801
Somewhere in time~

18 posted 12-17-2001 09:40 PM       View Profile for Enchantress   Email Enchantress   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Enchantress

Bravo Ron!  it is about time you took a stand on this matter but very kind of you to ask our opinion.  I for one turn the music down and as for the large pictures some use with their posts, I will go and read another before I wait for it to load.  This is a poetry site, not an art gallery.  A limit of five smilies is fine by me!  
Thanks again, Nancy.
Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
Posts 9708
Michigan, US

19 posted 12-17-2001 10:29 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Thanks for all the feedback, guys. And for the support. To be honest, I was feeling a bit like the Grinch, and it's good to see others have noticed the problem, too.

Balladeer, I wish it was technically possible to put a size limitation on the larger graphics, but I'm afraid it's not. Athena doesn't know the size when the images are being loaded from a different web server, which is usually the case.

Doreen, copyright is ALWAYS a definite concern and I'm glad you brought it front and center again. Using someone else's bandwidth also bears mention again.

Sudhir, Midnitesun, there's plans for something "like" a visual forum, but we won't see until our next major software update. Even then, though, I hope we can continue to enjoy some presentation possibilities in ALL the forums.

Titia, the 5-image limitation will be on a go-forward basis only. So that's not a problem. However, anyone who has posts they consider important to them should ALWAYS keep their own copies. Please don't depend only on our server. Stuff happens, and it's not always good stuff. There was a time when I backed up the forums to my local disk every week, but the sheer size of our database no longer allows that luxury. Everyone should take what measures they need to protect their own data.

Finally, I'd like to clarify that this change is NOT prompted by a huge load on our server. Most of the larger graphics and all of the sound files are coming from other places on the Internet, and Athena is just passing along the request. No work at all. Even the multiple smilies aren't a burden. Your browser asks Athena for the first copy of a smilie, but the other dozen copies are coming directly from your own PC, pulled from your buffer cache. Athena isn't working too hard, which is exactly why I didn't notice the problems until I started spending a lot of time in Open. If anything, the changes I'm proposing will put more work on our server, because Athena will now be asked to monitor the number of images used.

Our server isn't working too hard, but your PC and Internet connection is. For some, like suthern, it's a deal-buster, a killer that prevents her from being a more active part of the forums. For most, like SEA and Midnitesun, it's just plain inconvenient. But slow loading pages affect everyone, and the sad part is, it's just plain unnecessary. After a certain point, which we seem to agree should be five images, it's all cost and virtually no benefit.

I'm still not sure what will eventually happen with some of our other problems, those centered more around HTML. I've disabled some, the ones no one should ever need, but am reluctant to disable all of them. They really can help with presentations, though very few people use them.

Interestingly, there's a post in Open right now that illustrates what I mean. Take a look at Lady In Pink by MyEnchanted_Melody. The author has put an image and the text of her poem inside of a black-filled HTML table. Looks really good, too, and I certainly don't mean to pick on MyEnchanted_Melody, but it presents us with a problem.

A table is nothing more than a grid, with rows and columns, that make it easier to format our pages. The blue parts of these pages are all tables, set against the white background, and they even have lines to show the gridwork of columns and rows. They're very useful critters.

To use tables, we essentially tell the browser to start a table here, put this inside the table, put this inside the table, then end the table here. MyEnchanted_Melody did all of the first steps, but left off the last one. She never ended the table.

Internet Explorer, the most popular browser, is pretty forgiving. It tries really hard to figure out what you "meant" to do. In this case, the table never ended, so IE kept putting everything else in that same table. All the replies became part of the originating post, as well as the links at the bottom of every page. When the page finished loading, IE said, "Well, she didn't close the table, so I guess I better do it for her." The result is a page where the replies are a little more narrow than usual, a page that loads more slowly because IE is doing more figuring, but a page that is nonetheless usable.

Unfortunately, not all browsers are as forgiving as Internet Explorer. Go to that same page with Netscape and you'll never see the poem. You'll just see the top of the page, down to where MyEnchanted_Melody starts her table, but everything else is just white screen. Even after the page finishes loading, Netscape is STILL waiting for her to close the table. And it won't show anything inside the table until she does.

Earlier today, I asked our esteemed Moderators to take a look at the page. Many of them couldn't tell anything at all was wrong. Several noticed it looked different, but didn't really know why. I have absolutely no doubt MyEnchanted_Melody uses IE and never saw the problem, either. I'm certainly not picking on her. It's a very, very common mistake, one that everyone makes from time to time, one that IE hides from us if we're not darn careful. But it exemplifies the problem of allowing HTML in the forums. Because even though IE is the most popular browser, it's certainly not the only browser.

Twenty-five percent of the people on the Internet will never see the poem, will just get a blank white page. It obviously hurts the poet, but it also makes the forums look bad. Untidy. Unprofessional. Definitely a case of "we can do better."

Unfortunately, there's no easy solution. Tables are the best thing since peanut butter, far too valuable to ignore or completely disable.

In the future, if you run across a post like this one, where you see all the replies jammed into a narrow corridor in IE or a blank page in Netscape, you might mention it to the poet and suggest they fix their tables. That way, the other 25 percent of everyone can enjoy their work, too.  

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Member Laureate
since 03-07-2001
Posts 19652
British Columbia, Canada

20 posted 12-18-2001 12:31 AM       View Profile for Mysteria   Email Mysteria   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Mysteria

Dear Ron,

Number One: I promise to visit the Discussion Forums every time I now come here as I missed all this until I read Sharon's poem.

Number Two: I promise to go stand in the corner rigth after I finish this, as I am sure I have done something wrong as I absolutely love graphics and music.  Someone let me know what I am doing wrong and I will stop doing it.  I store the graphics I use on my own site and most are from allwall (and I asked permission) to use them however I sometimes forget the artist's name but not often (I have now tied a cyber ribbon on my finger).  

Number 3: I think you are being more than fair as this is your site and if you say even 1 - then 1 it is!

If I am one of those in violation - can someone please tell me what I am doing wrong as to the size or whatever.  I tried to learn all the html I needed to do what I wanted to do, as I said, I absolutely love the picture with the poetry (but if I have to give up the tunes I will) LOL - almost put a pouting smilie there!

Thanks for the information and I promise to do better right away. Thank you Ron I had absolutely no idea I was such a hog of space!  Honest!

psst - You are da man, you could never be the Grinch!

Thank you,
Sharon (Mysteria)
Poet deVine
Member Empyrean
since 05-26-99
Posts 25869
Hurricane Alley

21 posted 12-18-2001 12:52 PM       View Profile for Poet deVine   Email Poet deVine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Poet deVine

Bump. Is there a graphic or smilie for the 'bump'???
Member Rara Avis
since 05-19-99
Posts 9708
Michigan, US

22 posted 12-18-2001 01:01 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

No, but I'll bet you know who to talk to about it.

The new code went in about an hour ago. As the guy was heard to say while passing each floor after falling off the Empire State Building, "So far, so good…"
Member Caelestus
since 06-25-99
Posts 67715
Listening to every heart

23 posted 12-18-2001 01:55 PM       View Profile for Sunshine   Email Sunshine   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Sunshine's Home Page   View IP for Sunshine

for the "bump", there's sorta like ...but I can just see Kit now, figuring out how to get a foot from the smiling, kicking another smiley "up"!
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Member Laureate
since 03-07-2001
Posts 19652
British Columbia, Canada

24 posted 12-18-2001 04:00 PM       View Profile for Mysteria   Email Mysteria   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Mysteria

Well I have done my homework and found out I am a culprit indeed.  As Janet Marie, I assumed that if the option was there, I could use it, and did not realize all the trouble it caused.  As I am really inspired by art and music, and use that to embellish whatever I write, I will just have to get better at the writing part I guess, LOL, poor me!  I will make sure I cut all graphics used down to a smaller size, as I am one of those that is using them, sorry!  As for the music Ron, I have one question.  If one put a player on there with the option to play or not play does that still present the same problem as if you included it in the html coding to automatically play?  If it does, I won't use music anymore.  It must be my computer as I went to Enchanted Melody's poem and it loaded instantly for me, but I can appreciate what I have heard from others, that some of my poems take up to 3 minutes to load (OUCH!)

I sure appreciate the thread you started, because I had no idea what trouble I caused, and thought I was just making a "pretty" presentation for visitors to the site.  

P.S.  I have no problem at all with you removing any of mine that are taking up too much space, as at the time I was unaware of the problem they caused.

Thanks again.

~*~ The Very Best Of The Season To You And Yours ~*~

[This message has been edited by Mysteria (12-18-2001 04:03 PM).]

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