Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Board Slowness Problems (Future of TC Discussion)

We have always known that Beehive Forums software (the DelphiForums-like software that makes this board possible) is very database inefficient. It takes a LOT of database activity to display this board. This is the trade-off for the board being so convenient to use (tracking exactly where you are in every thread so it can only show you new messages, for example). It takes a huge number of DB queries and reads to generate the thread pane and quite a few to generate the message pane.

Until Bob's original server died in December, this had not been much of a problem. Things got slower with more messages and more members and forum software updates, but not to the extent that it was annoying. By some miracle, that server could handle TC (although we were outgrowing it slowly).

The new server that Bob has us on now runs other message boards even faster than the old one (Asatru Lore flies since Bob tuned the MySQL db), but TC crawls -- sometimes taking 16 to 20 seconds to display the Thread pane -- even longer is the thread pane is set to display all messages. If you seldom post, this may not affect you much, but if you post a lot it does as the thread pane regenerates after every post.

Sadly, there is not much we can do about this from the fixing Beehive end -- and we've tried a number of things hoping they would help. There are options that definitely would work but they are horrid things like moving to a normal drill-down style board -- which would probably lose at least one host and half the staff (who loathe drill down boards to the point they will not use them regularly) or only somewhat less horrid things like staying with Beehive but restarting the board from scratch (having to create new user accounts and everything) whenever the board gets too slow (which would likely cause mass confusion among users).

So what we need to know to start with is simple:

Have you noticed the board slowness? Has it bothered you? Is like likely to bother you if it continues for a long time?

If the slowness doesn't bother many of our members (with a lot of extra weight given to the opinions of our regular posters as they are the ones most affected by the slowness), then we don't have to do anything. If it is annoying, however, we will need to start considering from among a number of possible solutions/options.

We really want your opinions.

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