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Guest Chris

The Grand Plan

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Guest Chris
Hi everyone,

 

hello-is-this-thing-on.jpg

 

I'd like to take a few minutes to talk about our future plans for Asperclick. We've been going for over 6 months now, with a lovely, friendly core base of users - things are going well. I've been a lot more active in the past couple of weeks and have really been enjoying it. I've made some great friends (and met a couple in real life :P).

 

It's also been great to hear what a difference this place has made for some people - that kind of feedback gives us a feeling we really can't describe, though if I had to try it'd be "warm and fuzzy". :) It makes everything worthwhile.

 

So, the obvious question seems to us is... how can we help more people - and help those people more? Over the past few weeks, we've been drafting out some ideas on how to develop the site further. I think it only makes sense to share our initial ideas with you, in case anyone has suggestions or things they'd like to request.

 

The Goal

 

I guess this should really be our 'mission statement' - or at least some variation of this:

 

Asperclick aims to be a large, friendly community for anyone with or anyone affected by somebody with Asperger's syndrome, high-functioning autism or similar autistic spectrum disorder. Asperclick also aims to make life easier for those that match the previous description in a number of other ways - in everyday-life, employment, love (should one desire :)) and friendship.

 

We're planning to build a number of additional 'modules' as well as to revamp the existing forum - which will all become what we're calling "Asperclick V2".

 

The Plan

 

Some 'features' or points that will apply to the entire site:

 

- The new version will be fully-responsive, so you can interact with all Asperclick has to offer in FULL from desktop's, laptops, tablets, phones, etc. Currently the mobile theme we have leaves a lot to be desired and removes quite a lot of functionality and information from the interface. We don't think mobile-users should be lumbered with a sub-par user experience.

 

- We aim to support internationalization (i18n) with the new version. This won't happen from the start (our English community is still only small), but software will be designed and built to be easily expandable into other languages.

 

- We already take your privacy and data security extremely seriously. With the new version, we'll be taking that a step further. With the recent NSA/PRISM scandal in the US and similar schemes being protested in the UK, it's clear that the majority don't find this acceptable. We plan to host/store all user-data on servers in a country like Sweden or Iceland - both of those countries support internet freedom without censorship. We feel we'd be putting-off new users or doing our current users a disservice by continuing the host Asperclick in a country where the government can just 'take' YOUR personal information from our servers at the drop of a hat. 

 

- For those interested in technology, we're planning to use EmberJS for the majority of the frontend for the new version, with NodeJS or Ruby on Rails for the backend. More on that and the rest of the development stack later.

 

The Forum

 

Invision power board (what Asperclick currently runs on) is great forum software, but it's really quite old now - of course it's still in active development and constantly updated, but the format remains the same. I'm not discounting familiarity, but this is 2013 and we can do better. We're planning to build our own platform from scratch that is fully customized to our(your!) needs. I won't go in to too much detail here since I have WAY too many ideas to mention, but to summarize:

 

- A reputation system. Having some way of showing a user's reputation is a good thing - it gives users (new ones in particular) an idea of somebody's status in the community - if someone has a high reputation, they should be someone you can trust. 

 

Currently, we have post count and 'reputation' - solely based on how many likes one's posts have accrued. I wouldn't say that was an accurate representation of reputation at all. We plan on having the primary stat next to users BEING 'reputation' (rep), and having an algorithm that takes more factors into account. Things like how much up/downvotes one's posts have had (more on that later), post count, active membership duration, infractions, etc. This is by no means perfect, but we can tweak it. :)

 

So the reputation weights might look something like:

 

  • New Thread +2
  • New Post +1
  • Upvote +2
  • Downvote -5
  • Visited for the day +5
  • Love-Post +10
  • Infract -x (100 default?)
 

- Up/Downvotes for each post. Currently you can 'like' posts to show your support or agreement with what someone has said. It only makes sense to have the opposite be possible too - each post will have a counter with up/down arrows so you can easily and quickly show your (dis)agreement with a post. Up and downvotes will be anonymous. We were also thinking of letting people 'love' a post. Up/downvoting or 'love'ing someone's post would adjust their reputation by different amounts. Loving a post would award more reputation than an update and wouldn't be anonymous, but users would be limited to 'love'ing 2 (or there abouts) posts per day. The idea is, it would be an indication that the user *really* likes, values, supports or agrees with the post in question.

 

- Anonymous posting. Lots of people might not want to create an account or login with facebook to post in the interests of privacy or hiding their identity. We shouldn't stop those individuals from posting, so we'd like to support anonymous/account-less posting. Obviously these users wouldn't benefit from private messaging or anything like that, and it would be policed quite heavily to keep a handle on spam.

 

- New content. Currently, to find new content you can few the 'recent topics' list - works great whilst the forum is still small, but when it's busy (multiple threads/minute) you'll miss a lot - you can receive notifications of activity in threads you're subscribed to or manually go into each forum to look for new threads. We'd like to overhaul that, with more of the main UI being used to help you find both new content and content you're active or interested in.

 

- Reputation-based moderation. This is definitely still at the idea stage, but I'd *really* like to have some kind of system in place where members gain moderating priveleges in line with the amount of reputation they have. The idea being, if you're reputation is high enough, you're probably a valued and respected member of the community - enough so to handle reports and so on. I don't like how 'authoriative' other forums can come across - members vs mods - to the extent where I considered changing the Administrator's group here to just be 'Member', so I didn't stand out. I didn't in the end for a few reasons - everybody already knows who I am, it might be confusing, etc. The point stands though.

 

- No "Information Overload". There's quite a lot of unnecessary information on IPB's interface. We'd aim to massivley reduce that, whilst improving the design aesthetics, maintaing (and improving) functionality and focusing on readability. Here are a couple of examples of what we were thinking (desktop and mobile to show you how it would be responsive, too):

 



 

- Lots more features, user experience improvements, etc.

 

Social Network

 

We're going to build a social network. There, I said it. :P

 

A social network built with aspies in mind - extremely configurable privacy-settings, away from the information-overload of facebook, fully integrated with the rest of the site and community.

 

I don't have much more to say on this at the moment, just that I'd definitely like it to happen - and so would everyone else I've mentioned it to. 

 

Personal Dashboard

 

The idea behind this section is to provide as many software-tools to aid aspies as possible. So for example, at the moment we have plans for; a calendar for aspie's to add appointments to (which they could be reminded about by email and/or SMS), a day-trip planner, budget-planner and other things of that nature. Another idea was an 'obsession-tracker', which pulls obsession-related articles from Google alerts or other sources, straight to your dashboard. Open to suggestions.

 

Jobs Board

 

This is a really important module, in our opinion.

 

A jobs board with jobs that make special accomodation(s) for employees with ASD's. A lot of the unemployed members here aren't in their situation through choice - they just can't find a suitable working environment. We'd actively search for employers that make these accomodations to post their job openings. It's a win/win situation - unemployed aspies might find a job they're comfortable in and employers benefit from the intelligence, attention to detail and focus that (most :P) aspies bring to the table.

 

Dating

 

A lot of aspies struggle with (romantic) relationships. I've thought a dating site for aspies would be a good idea for a while - I know Wrongplanet built one, which looks kind of dead/90's. The main problem with dating sites is trust - it's too easy to fake your identity or lie. If a site get's a reputation for that kind of thing, it won't work.

 

We were thinking that REQUIRING x reputation on Asperclick to use the dating site might help 'validate' users to be trustworthy to some extend, before they can contact others. Beyond that, it'd be similar to many other dating sites, matching people on their interests, personality traits, etc, etc. Open to suggestions.

 

-----

 

That's an overview of the modules. There is far too much to write about each of them for me to give a full summary here. I've hopefully give you enough for you to share in our vision and give us your feedback though.

 

 

Money

 

I'd really love to dedicate myself to developing Asperclick full-time. I know that's not going to be possible until we're a much larger community, but monetization is something to think about. I will ensure the plans I mentioned above happen in some capacity, alongside my regular work, it will just take time.

 

Everyone has been very generous so far in donating towards the cost of hosting for Asperclick. I wish we didn't have to ask - but it's nice to have people contact us WANTING to help (which is why we setup the donation page) - we certainly won't refuse help.

 

As the site grows, so will the costs and we've thought of a few ways to try and cover that outside of relying on donations.

 

- Charging employers for listings on the jobs board. This is common practice in online recruitment. The rates would be reasonable compared to generic job board sites as a sign of our appreciation that employers are willing to reach out to the AS community by building comfortable workplaces.

 

- Allowing users to bypass the reputation requirement to use the dating site. This might seem a bit 'selly-outy' at first, but willingness to pay is a form of validation in itself - which is all the reputation requirement serves in the first place (validation).

 

- Tasteful advertising. By tasteful, I mean INFREQUENT adverts that are designed to match the aesthetics of the site, for products or services relevant to aspies which WE approve of. So for example, weighted blankets, jackets that hug you, genuine things aspies might like.

 

- And finally a user-funded option. We were thinking of allowing users to donate a small amount £1-5 (their choice) monthly, should they want to. The idea being that everyone that finds this place useful could hopefully afford a tiny amount (to them) monthly to support it. Supporters would intentionally get very little (or no) benefit from donating. The site being online is their gratitude. I don't really like how other forums will try to 'sell' subscriptions in return for menial perks like PM box space, avoiding flood control etc - those are things that will be based on reputation. ;)

 

We will be completely open with Asperclick's finances. We will always make Asperclick's 'income' public information. Should the day come where it's possible for me to work on Asperclick full-time, we'll need to draw money from it to live, but that will all be disclosed. In the (hopeful!) scenario that Asperclick could create a substantial income over time, 'excess' income will be put towards the WillowHope Foundation - we've spoken of that briefly in threads before. It will be a charity aimed at helping those with ASD's. More details on that later.

 

Parting Thoughts

 

I just have one last part to add - that is that we PROMISE to you that we will be extremely cautious with any changes we make to Asperclick. For example, when V2 is finished (after extensive testing and beta period), all data will be migrated seamlessly - nothing will be lost. The forum we build will be extremely intuitive so as not to alienate anyone.

 

Also, we really have no idea how long this will take yet. A long time. I'd be most comfortable saying 1-2 years. We refuse to rush and will make sure we get this right.

 

That was a long post.

 

So. Thoughts?

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Bruce

All sounds great to me! Many thanks!  :o

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CherryCola

Since I have a bachelors degree in Media Technology, I find this very exciting from that point of view and also as a future user of the new community! ;D

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Mike_GX101

Hi Chris,

 

Some interesting thoughts and maybe rather than a weekly/monthly subscription you might consider annual membership of £25 or something similar?  That way we could send you a one-off payment which would be easier to process.

 

There was just one issue:

 

 
- We already take your privacy and data security extremely seriously. With the new version, we'll be taking that a step further. With the recent NSA/PRISM scandal in the US and similar schemes being protested in the UK, it's clear that the majority don't find this acceptable. We plan to host/store all user-data on servers in a country like Sweden or Iceland - both of those countries support internet freedom without censorship. We feel we'd be putting-off new users or doing our current users a disservice by continuing the host Asperclick in a country where the government can just 'take' YOUR personal information from our servers at the drop of a hat. 

 

 

It's an interesting idea although how it would work in practice.  Will those of us in the UK still be allowed legally to access the forum if it's based in Sweden or Iceland and not on-the-radar so to speak?  N S A will want to know why it has gone off radar.  And for that reason it may be best to keep the forum on the radar and keep it all in the public domain and not let it slip into the dark.

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Guest Chris

Hi Chris,

 

Some interesting thoughts and maybe rather than a weekly/monthly subscription you might consider annual membership of £25 or something similar?  That way we could send you a one-off payment which would be easier to process.

 

There was just one issue:

 

It's an interesting idea although how it would work in practice.  Will those of us in the UK still be allowed legally to access the forum if it's based in Sweden or Iceland and not on-the-radar so to speak?  N S A will want to know why it has gone off radar.  And for that reason it may be best to keep the forum on the radar and keep it all in the public domain and not let it slip into the dark.

 

Hi Mike, 

 

To your first point - for sure. Whatever makes it easiest for people. That is the focus here. User experience.

 

I don't know how read-up you are on the NSA/PRISM scandal, but basically the NSA can access anybody's information. They have access to Facebook, Google, Microsoft, etc servers and also tap network traffic in/out of the states (similar things happening in the UK). That doesn't sit very well with anyone that knows about it. We're too small to be of interest to the NSA. If we were Facebook and were moving all of our servers to another country, then yeah they'd probably care.

 

The forum is definitely all still 'public domain', above board, etc. We'd just like to keep our user's private information.. private.

 

I know I wouldn't like it (just as an example) if I were being prosecuted for something and the government could come and take all the data from Asperclick servers about me, in attempts to build some kind of case about me - there isn't much for them to take, but there could be for other people (if they're discussing something via PM or in private on the social network, etc).

 

Thanks for the feedback thus far everyone. :)

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Nesf

V2 - that reminds me of a World War II bomb :P

 

Some interesting ideas for development - the only one I'm not so enthusiastic about is the idea of advertisments on the site... though I do appreciate that you need to get your funding from somewhere. One of the things that's great about the site at the moment is no adverts! Perhaps a system whereby if you contribute financially, you don't get the adverts? I would glady contribute anyway, but that would be an extra incentive.

 

Also. i'm slightly uneasy about non registered posters(edit) being able to post - there may be problems with spammers, trolls, or just anonymous posters butting in with random or silly remarks as happens on other sites I've seen. It might spoil the quality and integrity of the threads.

 

But in general, these changes would intoduce a lot of significant improvements, and I'm sure the forum will continue to do well!

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Guest Chris

V2 - that reminds me of a World War II bomb :P

 

Some interesting ideas for development - the only one I'm not so enthusiastic about is the idea of advertisments on the site... though I do appreciate that you need to get your funding from somewhere. One of the things that's great about the site at the moment is no adverts! Perhaps a system whereby if you contribute financially, you don't get the adverts? I would glady contribute anyway, but that would be an extra incentive.

 

Also. i'm slightly uneasy about non registered voters being able to post - there may be problems with spammers, trolls, or just anonymous posters butting in with random or silly remarks as happens on other sites I've seen. It might spoil the quality and integrity of the threads.

 

But in general, these changes would intoduce a lot of significant improvements, and I'm sure the forum will continue to do well!

 

It wouldn't be literally called "Asperclick V2" by the way, that's just what we'll refer to it as whilst it's in development. :P

 

Adverts are probably the least-likely method of monetization. I hate adverts too. 

 

Your concerns are valid. It's early days, but it may be that a high-rep user has to approve anonymous posts before they're shown to everyone - or something like that. We'd probably also use a CAPTCHA to weed out the blatent would-be bot spammers. :)

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Mike_GX101

 

I don't know how read-up you are on the NSA/PRISM scandal, but basically the NSA can access anybody's information. They have access to Facebook, Google, Microsoft, etc servers and also tap network traffic in/out of the states (similar things happening in the UK). That doesn't sit very well with anyone that knows about it. We're too small to be of interest to the NSA. If we were Facebook and were moving all of our servers to another country, then yeah they'd probably care.

 

I read it all on the Guardian's website.  I even put a link up on one of the topics on this forum and then heard the US Military had banned access to that website and after a long sleepless night of worry I then took that link off the forum (hence why it is no longer there).  Needless to say though the Guardian is still accessible and more details came through to say it was only personnel within the US Military who were being blocked from that website.

 

Yes you're right about what you say about the N S A (who were also mentioned in a film Will Smith was in but which I am afraid to type the name for here).  But mention it they did and that was before the internet became a sensation!

 

But yes let's hope they have no interest with what we talk about on this forum.  Hopefully it is too low key to even bother about especially the stuff said in jest most of the time.  But as far as I know they have the right to do that and we shouldn't even be looking at trying to stop them.  They are here to help us stay safe.

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Ben

Rep system? I'm very unsure. I've seen that kind of thing abused heavily in the past. People negging others out of pure spite. 

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Guest Chris

Rep system? I'm very unsure. I've seen that kind of thing abused heavily in the past. People negging others out of pure spite. 

 

I've probably shot myself a foot a little with my post. It was already getting quite long.

 

I'd create an anti-vote-fraud script which runs daily. It'd look for patterns in voting (or other rep actions) and remove anything it considers fraudulent, recalculating rep.

 

Trust me. :)

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Andy

I read it all on the Guardian's website.  I even put a link up on one of the topics on this forum and then heard the US Military had banned access to that website and after a long sleepless night of worry I then took that link off the forum (hence why it is no longer there).  Needless to say though the Guardian is still accessible and more details came through to say it was only personnel within the US Military who were being blocked from that website.

 

Yes you're right about what you say about the N S A (who were also mentioned in a film Will Smith was in but which I am afraid to type the name for here).  But mention it they did and that was before the internet became a sensation!

 

But yes let's hope they have no interest with what we talk about on this forum.  Hopefully it is too low key to even bother about especially the stuff said in jest most of the time.  But as far as I know they have the right to do that and we shouldn't even be looking at trying to stop them.  They are here to help us stay safe.

Well given it was an aspie , (McKinnon), that hacked their top security looking for alternative technology and UFO's methinks security agencies will be staring intently at places such as this because we do present a risk to security as has been demonstrated where even wiki-leaks founder is purported to be an aspie.

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Willow

I had hoped everyone would be a bit more light hearted about it, but never mind I guess :(

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Mike_GX101

Privacy is only an issue when you have something to hide.  Needless to say I have even stopped closing my curtains at night!!

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Ben

Trust me. :)

 

tumblr_m3cisd6PWl1qjn1hqo1_500.gif

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Guest Chris
Andy

Privacy is only an issue when you have something to hide.  Needless to say I have even stopped closing my curtains at night!!

Privacy becomes an issue when you are constantly being watched for your own protection.

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Ben

This all sounds very wonderful, but it must surely run up a pretty gigantic bill? 

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Sofi

I had hoped everyone would be a bit more light hearted about it, but never mind I guess :(

Me too. :(

 

 

 

I just appreciate the time and effort of this, even although I don't exactly understand half of it, but I fully trust Chris and Willow with it. It's obviously not going to be bad... You can tell by the way Chris has typed this that everything is being done for the best interests of members and future members. Also, nothing new is usually 100% perfect first time. 

I particularly like the 'obsession tracker' and the jobs section. Thank you. Asperclick has helped my life a lot already so I am glad to see it will become even better. 

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Guest Chris

This all sounds very wonderful, but it must surely run up a pretty gigantic bill? 

 

Bill? Only my time. One of the perks of being me is I can set the rates for my time - in this case, free. :D

 

Of course there's the hosting bill, but that won't be any more than it is now until we're substantially bigger. :)

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Ben

Bill? Only my time. One of the perks of being me is I can set the rates for my time - in this case, free. :D

 

Of course there's the hosting bill, but that won't be any more than it is now until we're substantially bigger. :)

 

Right then! This calls for champagne!

 

Erm.. non alcholic for me... 

 

Actually make it a shandy.... 

 

No, better make it a Panda pop... 

 

No, I'm low carbing, make it a water.

 

Am I even thirsty? 

 

No, I'll just sit and wait for people to rep me, so I can get moderation rights and ban everybody. 

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Guest Chris

Right then! This calls for champagne!

 

Erm.. non alcholic for me... 

 

Actually make it a shandy.... 

 

No, better make it a Panda pop... 

 

No, I'm low carbing, make it a water.

 

Am I even thirsty? 

 

No, I'll just sit and wait for people to rep me, so I can get moderation rights and ban everybody. 

 

*downvote* :D

 

(Just to be clear in case that last point was serious, I doubt rep-mods would be allowed to do anything like that).

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Ben

Just to be clear in case that last point was serious,

 

 

smiling-eccbc87e4b5ce2fe28308fd9f2a7baf3

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Arthur

Cool stuff very exiting for forum.

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Scaly Piscine

Yes regarding the whole 'nothing to hide' thing - that isn't how things work unfortunately.

 

If you're involved with the police they will use anything against you - they won't use anything for you. Doesn't matter how honest you are in interviews, how you comply and answer everything fully. They don't give you some brownie points in court. If you happen to mis-remember something - or they mis-remember something - it will be brought up and used against you. If it's a seemingly innocent remark they can spin into a negative it will be used against you. The stuff in your favour won't. Remember this if you are in trouble with the law. Police employ all sorts of techniques to trap you, see below:

 

 

This principle applies as well when they build a case against you, using data they've collected online. They can cherry pick whatever they like to portray you in whatever way is most likely to make their prosecution stick. And people, judges, solicitors are scarily stupid - particularly when it comes to AS. It has been used in court many times, hell yobs committing GBH have used undiagnosed AS as a mitigating factor.

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Peridot

Rep system? I'm very unsure. I've seen that kind of thing abused heavily in the past. People negging others out of pure spite. 

 

On this other forum there was this reputation system that was using so called "karma points". So this teenage kid had like 450 or so points which indicated his immense popularity on there. He was this guy who the "hardcore members" idolized. I'll never forget one of this guy's posts in this thread about health care. He said "I'm not going to pay for people who don't take care of themselves. Those people should be left to rot.". I thought it was so terrible that I brought his karma down to about 430 or so before they found out I was doing that.

 

Anyway, a reputation system should be tweaked for sure. When you've got certain types of groups of friends then of course they'll starting "loving" each other's posts all the time. Doesn't necessarily matter what it says in the post it's just "loved" because it's been posted by someone who's part of some clique. So you get the outcome that even if the posts are reprehensible the person's reputation is "good" which is a bad thing.

 

But here on Asperclick it seems like that sort of thing isn't prevalent. Also, the owners clearly stated that regardless of whether they like/befriended someone or not they are treated equally so it might work out.

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