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Site Ideas Forum

Site Ideas Forum

  1. Standard member Wulebgr
    Angler
    22 Feb '06 16:09 / 1 edit
    My online correspondence chess reviews at http://www.angelfire.com/poetry/wulebgr/corr.htm, and particularly my chart of comparisons at http://www.angelfire.com/poetry/wulebgr/comp.htm, have generated some questions. The underlying question seems to be: How can RHP become the clear leader in every category?

    My comparative chart employs five rating levels for each element that I evaluate. I use symbols that should be familiar to all chess players, with slightly altered meanings:

    !! = exceptional
    ! = good
    !? = acceptable
    ? = poor
    ?? = nonexistent

    With respect to the more limited question concerning downtime that Ragnorak has asked twice, that is, how can RHP earn !! for downtime? I must concede Ragnorak's point that RHP has been down less often than some leading news sites, perhaps less often than any news site. Nevertheless, RHP goes down. I experienced a downtime most recently the night before last when I could not post a long rejoinder to someone with whom I was sparring in one of these forums. When I started playing (and arguing here) the server went down every night. It no longer does. On my chart, most sites have !, and one currently sports a ?. That site lost its database, all games in progress, and player histories during a site crash. Bad stuff. All sites are down from time to time, but these outages seem to grow shorter with each passing year. Eventually, some webmaster will achieve a technological breakthrough that protects against nearly every contingency, or that mitigates the problems from downtime in a novel way. When that occurs, we will be witnesses to something truly exceptional. If Russ either proves to be this genius, or is among the first in line among the imitators, RHP will earn !! for downtime. Currently no site does.
  2. Standard member Wulebgr
    Angler
    22 Feb '06 16:49 / 1 edit
    Now, moving on through my categories (Playing Environment, Social Environment, Database Functions, Chess Improvement, and Server), RHP is weakest in Database Functions, which I'll address in more detail in due time.

    First, we look at Playing Environment. I break this category into nine specific features: board, interface, functionality, options, conversation, planning, time controls, menus, and rules.

    Rules. When I find a site that fails to implement en passant, or that makes it a hassle to claim a draw by repetition, or that allows a game to continue beyond checkmate, ? and ?? will be clear. Such sites have been found.
    RHP score: ! (none have !!). I still need to articulate my vision here.

    Board. My only gripe about the board at RHP concerns its size, and I play on sites with smaller boards. My look at yesterday's beta site indicates that RHP will earn !! when Russ's newest changes are implemented. Of course, there will remain room for improvement. I'd like to see a few more high quality 2D Staunton piece sets, for example.
    RHP score: ! becoming !!

    Interface. RHP offers four color schemes, one each at RHP, timeforchess, chessatwork, and redhotchess. The only competitor with a higher score offers a color palette that allows hundreds of possible configurations.
    RHP score: !

    Options. Integral to the interface score is the separate options score. How much of the interface can be configured to suit the individual user? Also, what other sorts of choices exist? For example, with a single mouse click, i can sort the list of my games at RHP in order of most recent move. Thus, those that will soon have the timer animation are near the top. The only site with a better score than RHP in this category offers such choices as the location of the message box, whether the opponent's rating is visible, different button styles, rating predictions for the game in progress (whether shown is the choice), and so on.
    RHP score: !

    Conversation. This feature concerns in-game conversation. Other social features are found in the next category. Here at RHP I can chat with my opponent during the game. Here, as with many other sites, these messages can be sent with the move. One site, that I know of, allows me to sent in-game messages without making a move. I think that feature is exceptional.
    RHP score: !

    Planning. Nearly every site offers a private notepad next to the board. It is important to be able to post notes here between moves, as well as during one's move. I see very little difference from site to site here. I'm not certain what would constitute exceptional here, but surely there's nothing exceptional about doing it the way everyone does. (Note: I'll correct the typing error that gives two other sites undeserved !! scores here.)
    RHP score: !

    Time Controls. No two sites seem to have the same time controls, but most sites have comparable choices. RHP's timebank is nice, but vacations need better implementation. When I get the opportunity to spend a week at a fishing spot without an internet connection, and perhaps even without electricity, I'd prefer that no games time-out while I'm away, nor the first three days back (when it may be my move in every single game).
    RHP score: ! (no site is better)

    Menus. I like the icons and pull-down menus that give me two ways to get wherever I'm going on the site. I also like that the most important links remain wherever on the site I happen to be.
    RHP score: !!
  3. Subscriber Russ
    RHP Code Monkey
    22 Feb '06 17:58
    Thanks for this post - there is nothing like a bit of good constructive criticism.

    I am almost tempted to make this my 'to-do' list, just to get the top score on all counts

    -Russ
  4. Standard member Ragnorak
    For RHP addons...
    23 Feb '06 10:02
    Originally posted by Wulebgr
    Cool.

    And moving swiftly on....

    D
  5. Standard member Wulebgr
    Angler
    23 Feb '06 16:08 / 2 edits
    My second category, Social Environment, considers four features: chess forums, non-chess forums, teams, and special features.

    Chess Forums. RHP has an active chess forum with many posts per day. Users discuss chess strategy, chess books, endgames, tactics, and a host of other topics. Posting diagrams is a breeze. A small mumber of other sites, only one of which has anything approaching the activity level found at RHP, facilitate higher quality chess discussion through the ability to post multiple diagrams, replayable games, and interactive exercises. RHP's chess forums are very good, but one site is clearly better.
    RHP score: !

    Non-Chess Forums. No site has as much activity, variety, and democratic openness in their forums as RHP. If you enjoy arguing religion, politics, philosophy, the merits of several whisk(e)ys, or even sports with other chess players, RHP is the place to be.
    RHP score: !!

    Teams. RHP's clan system, and their tournaments, are among best ways to find lots of good quality games. Many clans establish spirited rivalries, cultivate peculiar identities, and nurture the talents of their members. Team play is an important social aspect of chess, and the Clan system at RHP offers exceptional quality. Two sites merit my highest rating in this category. RHP is one.
    RHP score: !!

    Special Features. Anything extra that doesn't fit into the three above can be addressed here. RHP's seiges and player tables, as well as player homepages count here. The one site with a better score employs official welcomers, offers far more options on player homepages, has an abundance of polls, and puts together well-organized ROW (Rest of the World) vs. Masters matches.
    RHP score: !
  6. Standard member Wulebgr
    Angler
    24 Feb '06 15:45
    The third category in my site assessments is one I value highly, and is the area where RHP is weakest relative to competition. I call this category "Database Functions" and break it into four features: PGN own, PGN others, annotated games, and search.

    PGN Own. Does the site maintain the games in PGN format with correct syntax? Most sites do this much, but not all. How easily can a player download his or her games? On RHP, we can download each finished game or a game in progress from a clear sequence of links. The PGN data is correct. Some sites facilitate viewing all of a player's games in text format, so that creating a single PGN file of all games becomes a matter of copy and paste (a necessary part of the process for RHP, too). Other sites create the files so players may download them as such. One site limits these files to the last 25 games, while another includes all games completed. Several sites offer these features to paying members, but not to free members. Because RHP offers only one game at a time, many sites exceed it in this feature.
    RHP score: !?

    PGN Others. The ability to research an opponent's prior games is an important element of correspondence chess. Sites that facilitate downloading games of other players make this possible. On RHP, I spent an entire evening gathering the games of one opponent in which he had faced the French Defense. It was a laborious process. At other sites, I've been able to download with a couple mouse clicks every finished game, or every game including those in progress, of an opponent. In one case, this research led me to invite the Fried Liver Attack, and I was able to present him with his first loss using that opening on that site. At one free site, I have downloaded every game completed from 1998 through 2005, and this download required only a few minutes of my time. Although downloading others' games at RHP works the same way as downloading one's owm, RHP's score is worse in this category because it is much easier to keep up on one's own games one at a time.
    RHP score: ?

    Annotated Games. At least two sites offer the ability view and play through games annotated by the players, or by others interested in the game. Annotated games can also be placed in a site's forums (if it has forums) and some sites have forums devoted to such games. The limitation of one diagram per post at RHP affects the reader-friendly nature of annotations presented there, if there were any.
    RHP score: ??

    Search. In order to function, turn-based sites must store all games in progress, and most retain completed games. Hence all turn-based sites have a database. How well can users access this database? Can we search by player? Can we search by opening? Can we view the games through an opening tree that presents win/draw/loss percentages? Several sites offer these options to subscribers, but not to guest members. Other sites offer comparable features to guest and full members. No site appears to have all the features offered by at least one of their competitors. Some shine in the search and download feature, others put their energy into the opening tree. RHP facilitates search by player name, but not by opening or other criteria. None of the sites I've tested have earned my highest mark on this feature, but RHP has one of the lowest scores.
    RHP score: ?
  7. Standard member Ragnorak
    For RHP addons...
    24 Feb '06 16:20
    Originally posted by Wulebgr
    Because RHP offers only one game at a time, many sites exceed it in this feature.
    RHP score: !?
    You must have missed the email my games link on the My Games page.

    Only 100 though.

    !

    D
  8. Standard member Wulebgr
    Angler
    24 Feb '06 17:26
    Originally posted by Ragnorak
    You must have missed the email my games link on the My Games page.

    Only 100 though.

    !

    D
    Oops. I've even used this feature. Maybe that's why I gave RHP an acceptable rating for "PGN Own". It might require less coding to add emailing someone else's games through this feature than other methods of improving this aspect.
  9. Standard member Wulebgr
    Angler
    24 Feb '06 17:41
    The last two categories are "Chess Improvement" and "Server."

    Chess Improvement is a subjective score that attempts to account for the effects of several features that are scored more objectively above. It also can be affected by community issues, such as my general sense of whether stronger players seek help others. Friendly games, book suggestions, tactics and endgame exercises, as well as database functions and chess forums all may affect this score. When Bowman regularly was posting his sequence of chess lessons, or when Jean Hebert gave another user a lesson, RHP shined in the area of chess improvement. Blackmanrook's noble dream of getting all his clan members to 1800, and the many threads discussing the merits of certain chess books or particular opening ideas all help produce an online chess community where players might seek improvement.
    RHP score: !

    I evaluate the Server according to two issues: "speed" and "downtime."

    Speed. In my experience, RHP is nearly always fast. Although the site offers many features, these are configured in a way that does not severly hinder loading time. Many other sites are slow some or all of the time. One site that was routinely slow increased their bandwidth through transfer to an new server, and has been fast since. RHP is one of two sites that earns "exceptional" in this category.
    RHP score: !!

    Downtime. I've given my reasoning regarding these scores in the first post in this thread. All sites are about the same in this regard, except one site that went down for three days, losing all data in the process.
    RHP score: !
  10. Standard member Wulebgr
    Angler
    24 Feb '06 21:27
    http://www.angelfire.com/poetry/wulebgr/RHP.htm now has a link to this thread.
  11. Standard member Ragnorak
    For RHP addons...
    25 Feb '06 00:05
    Rules: RHP just needs to include draw due to lack of material, and I think it would have all the rules covered.

    Planning: The notepad is basic. I'm going to create a seperate thread specifically for a site idea regarding the new analyse board, but I think it would be a giant leap forward if the pgn for a continuation you are exploring in analyse board could be copied direcly into your notepad. I'm just after discovering a lovely line (may not happen) in one of my games, but I'm going to have to go through and type up the annotation myself, even though its already in the background of the analyse board software.

    Special Features: Its a pity that the poll feature can't be used by players as part of threads, as I initially thought it would be. I'm not sure of the reasoning why it isn't as it could be very fun/useful to have polls in posts.

    Pgn Own: Very fiddly. If you forget to download your pgns for a while, its impossible to get anything other than the last 100 (easily). There should be a start date and end date for the period of games that you want. This would prevent duplication, which has happened with my database as well. I've always thought that this you should be able to just generate a page with your pgns on as well, instead of having to email them, just copy and paste them straight from RHP into notepad.

    Pgn others/Search: This is an area where RHP can improve greatly. A lot of other sites already implement a searchable interface for their database, with opening classification and statistics. I really think this would be the icing on the cake of this site if it were implemented to be able to search through the RHP database, ala chesslive, with search parameters like player/rating/colour.

    D
  12. Standard member mosquitorespect
    Not Royalty
    22 Apr '06 10:11
    Originally posted by Ragnorak

    Pgn Own: Very fiddly. If you forget to download your pgns for a while, its impossible to get anything other than the last 100 (easily). There should be a start date and end date for the period of games that you want. This would prevent duplication, which has happened with my database as well. I've always thought that this you should be able to just ge ...[text shortened]... ll, instead of having to email them, just copy and paste them straight from RHP into notepad.
    If you have Microsoft Excel, you can type =INT(NOW()) into a cell and put the date you want to take games from in another cell, and finally put =[cell1coordinates]-[cell2coordinates] in a third cell.

    This is of course, very fiddly as you say.
  13. 27 Apr '06 12:37
    Originally posted by Wulebgr

    Menus. I like the icons and pull-down menus that give me two ways to get wherever I'm going on the site. I also like that the most important links remain wherever on the site I happen to be.
    RHP score: !![/b]
    I think that all of the 'My -----' shouyld be accessible from the players home. For example, My Clans, My Tournaments, My Sieges should all be available directly from the players home.

    Also, I would like to see the notebook have the ability to have chess piece smileys. (For that matter, could we not have them in the forums too?) My notation includes pictures, and although a 'flashy' feature, I think it would look great.

    My 2c
  14. Standard member Wulebgr
    Angler
    04 Jun '06 15:48
    Originally posted by Wulebgr
    Now, moving on through my categories (Playing Environment, Social Environment, Database Functions, Chess Improvement, and Server), RHP is weakest in Database Functions, which I'll address in more detail in due time.

    First, we look at Playing Environment. I break this category into nine specific features: board, interface, functionality, options, conversat ...[text shortened]... the most important links remain wherever on the site I happen to be.
    RHP score: !!
    I've changed the "board" feature in my comparison chart to "board options" and "board size". RHP earns !! (the top rating) in both.
  15. Standard member Wulebgr
    Angler
    07 Mar '07 14:52
    Originally posted by Wulebgr
    The PGN data is correct.
    [Event "Clan challenge"]
    [Site "http://www.redhotpawn.com"]
    [Date "2007.01.23"]
    [EndDate "2007.02.16"]
    [Round "?"]
    [White "Mahoutsoukai"]
    [Black "Wulebgr"]
    [WhiteRating "1895"]
    [BlackRating "1723"]
    [Result "1/2-1/2"]
    [GameId "3067698"]

    This would be true if "WhiteRating" changed to "WhiteElo," and the same for black.