We’ve spent months preparing, and tonight (around 1 a.m. ET Wednesday) we’re flipping the switch on a major update to our community platform, which supports both article comments and posting. ‘OpenForum. We won’t lose any data and you won’t need to create a new account or change your password. You’ll have to wait a few hours, though, and we’re sorry!
We expect both systems to remain offline until around Wednesday afternoon while we process our 22 years of massive comments (i.e. 1 million topics and over 28 million posts). All user login and registration functions will be unavailable during this time. This means no article comments, no forum browsing, and unfortunately it also means that subscribers will not be able to access their sub-benefits for a brief period. We will make it as short as possible. When it’s done, simply log back in with your old credentials and you’re good to go.
For more details on what we do and why, keep reading.
Community is vital for Ars Technica
When long-time readers of Ars talk about how long they’ve been there, they often say when they joined the forum (mine is June 8, 2001). It can be a sign of pride! The older old school ones have 1999 registration dates on their profiles, which goes back to our data (Ars was founded in 1998, but the very first forum’s WWWThreads data has been lost).
Few communities on the Internet can claim active users that have been around for more than two decades. It’s something we hold as our own badge of pride. Thank you for staying with us for so long! That said, even if you measure your tenure here in years or months instead of decades, we’re still thrilled to have you, and many of our best attendees are our newest recruits, if you will.
At a time when many sites are closing their comment sections and social media is increasingly treating people like a commodity, we’ve chosen to refocus on how we can amplify great reader contributions here. To do this, we needed an entirely new forum and comment system, and we found it in XenForo, a modern forum system with a familiar feel.
Everything you expect from Ars forums, like flat discussions without threading and normal reverse chronological reading order, will be there. Your post count and sign-up date will remain intact, along with all forum content dating back to 1999.
The same BBCode you are used to using will still work. But you won’t have to manually enter tags if you choose to use the convenient editing tools interface. Just about every aspect of our forum will have a similar “still works, but it’s better” twist.
No more running into quote limits or trying to edit a mass of nested tags. Quotes will now default to a single level (you can edit the tags to add more if you really want). We will have full mobile support, the forum will now be easy to read and use on your phones. You will be able to see when someone responds to you easily.
There will be a dark mode.
We are breaking with the old tradition of the Ars forums in one way: there will be avatars. Almost every social platform uses them now, and they’re extremely useful with a user base as large as ours to help visually identify posters. (No animation, and anyone who abuses the system may find that we choose an avatar for them.) Have fun choosing something to further express your personality on the forum.
As with any big transition like this, we expect a few hiccups. We tested everything in a beta forum with our moderation team, but nothing like a live environment with thousands and thousands of users to find the edge cases. We will have a thread for reporting issues and a team of developers to help us with bugs and issues. Please be patient with us while we fix anything.
XenForo offers an easily extensible modern architecture. So beyond sorting out bug fixes, you can expect a future with more features, both for all users and upgrades for our subscribers. We have our own plans, but we’re happy to take feedback and suggestions to improve your experience.
We hope you enjoy the new forum and comment system. Our commitment to our community remains strong. We will have new tools for our moderation team, which we will look to develop in the future. Ars will remain a place of open and respectful exchanges, as well as a place to share and enjoy your geek passions.
Whether you’re a 1999er or think it might be time to sign up for a new account, we look forward to your contributions.
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