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The Cyburbia comeback thread

Maister

Chairman of the bored
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
27,359
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64
Welcome back! And another has returned!
 

DVD

Cyburbian
Messages
13,880
Points
41
They come back. They all come back! It's like a poor planner's version of crack.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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17,846
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59
Woohoo! Glad to see you back here! You're one of our best resident experts when it comes to economic community/economic development, and I've always learned a lot from your posts. :)
 

Hink

OH....IO
Staff member
Moderator
Messages
14,945
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41
Hey stranger! Doesn't the place look different now? I mean it takes a while to get used to, but overall it is WAY better. You can even like posts. Like the most liked post on Cyburbia which is below:

Can we make this the most liked post on Cyburbia?View attachment 5978
 

ofos

Vintage Cyburbian
Messages
8,278
Points
27
Must be the effects of global warming climate change fake news as we all head for higher ground.
 

mercdude

Cyburbian
Messages
235
Points
8
Personally, I never really wanted to leave but I felt the conversations had become stale. And then... I switched professions for better opportunities. So if anyone wants/needs input from a recovering Env. Planner and now Land. Arch.'s perspective, let me know. :)
 

Hink

OH....IO
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Moderator
Messages
14,945
Points
41
Personally, I never really wanted to leave but I felt the conversations had become stale. And then... I switched professions for better opportunities. So if anyone wants/needs input from a recovering Env. Planner and now Land. Arch.'s perspective, let me know. :)
What if we promised we would have fresh, modern, and hip conversations? Would you come back?

I mean I can't promise that, but it certainly feels more fresh, modern, and hip around here these days. :up::trex::trophy::cheers:
 

mercdude

Cyburbian
Messages
235
Points
8
What if we promised we would have fresh, modern, and hip conversations? Would you come back?

I mean I can't promise that, but it certainly feels more fresh, modern, and hip around here these days. :up::trex::trophy::cheers:
Ha! Well, I'll tell you one thing that's seriously hindering Cyburbia... it's not on Tapatalk (smart phone required). I like to check my regular forums on Tapatalk so I can easily throw my ideas out while in a (boring!) meeting or have a few free minutes at home, but I couldn't find it on there this morning. Is it compatible?
 

Hink

OH....IO
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Messages
14,945
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41
Ha! Well, I'll tell you one thing that's seriously hindering Cyburbia... it's not on Tapatalk (smart phone required). I like to check my regular forums on Tapatalk so I can easily throw my ideas out while in a (boring!) meeting or have a few free minutes at home, but I couldn't find it on there this morning. Is it compatible?
Great question. Dan?
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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17,846
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59
Cyburbia had Tapatalk capabilities for a while under vBulletin, but Google still dinged the site because there was no native browser-friendly mode. Tapatalk is available for XenForo, so I'll check it out tonight or tomorrow. :)
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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17,846
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And I had a big message here about the forces affecting message boards in general and Cyburbia in particular, and accidentally did a highlight all/backspace/hit the browser button. I'll see if I can recreate it tonight.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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17,846
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Okay, I have to think twice about Tapatalk. For vBulletin 3 and 4, where there's no mobile theme, it's really helpful. For Xenforo, maybe not so much. The default themes are already mobile friendly. If I installed Tapatalk, those visiting using mobile browsers (Safari for iPhone, Chrome for Android, etc) would get a nag popup. I get a Tapatalk nag on some vBulletin sites on Safari for iOS.

IMG_0578.jpeg

(I have to charge my phone, I know.)

I also found a thread on The Admin Zone about problems related to Tapatalk and XenForo.

From one of the developers of XenForo:
I highly doubt that will be true, or if it is, it won't be for long.

Honestly, we really don't pass comment very often on third party code, but this code must be avoided at all costs until they're able to release a version that extends XenForo code in the correct way. In its current state it is a compatibility nightmare, and if we did do any sort of code review, this wouldn't even be close to being approved.
From the thread:
The only reason I use Tapatalk at all is because older vBulletin versions (specifically vB3 and vB4) are not responsive and don't have decent mobile styles.

Why anyone would install Tapatalk on a responsive forum (Xenfor0, or vBulletin 5 if you don't mind waiting 10 minutes for pages to load) is completely beyond me.
Agreed. Browsing speed for users should theoretically be faster loading a responsive version of your forum than going through Tapatalk, even if it served a cached/accelerated version of your content.

Mobile browsers and devices nowadays much faster than when all smartphones were underpowered, so a dedicaced app certainly makes a lot less sense nowadays since it suppresses a lot of your forum's customizations (addons, skins, special pages).
... It's about Tapatalk nagging visitors to your forum. It's about limited or no options for your own advertisements, (Cyburbia doesn't have ads.). depending on whether you pay for premium and which plan you pay for. It's about not having Google Analytics available for your Tapatalk users unless you pay for a premium plan.

I use it on some forums because I pretty much have to - well, short of changing forum software (I have absolutely no interest in upgrading those forums to vBulletin 5, which was the speed issue I was actually referring to above - I get annoyed even trying to load pages in vBulletin.com).
Another thing -- Tapatalk accesses the forum database directly, which makes it harder to track the number of visitors to Cyburbia. If 20% of Cyburbia visitors used Tapatalk, Google Analytics and the server-based log/metrics programs would record a 20% drop in traffic. Even though this site generates no revenue, it's nice to have accurate traffic counts.

So, to Cyburbians -- install Tapatalk, and get Tapatalk nags for the mobile browser version, or have a clean mobile browser version and no Tapatalk? If I was running vBulletin, I'd have Tapatalk, but now? I don't know.

In the meantime, if you want a Cyburbia app-like experience, and you're using an iPhone, you can touch the save/export icon, and then "Add to Home Screen".
 

mercdude

Cyburbian
Messages
235
Points
8
*shrug* don't know what to tell ya... I'm not going to navigate to Cyburbia's website on my iphone everytime I want to check out the forum. Maybe I'm special (or especially lazy)?
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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17,846
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What was I going to say earlier? Oh yeah, stale conversation.

Message boards in general peaked between 2005 and 2008. Same thing with Cyburbia. Many in the message board crowd attribute it to the rise of Facebook, and later Reddit. I think there were a few other other factors at play.

There were a lot of redundant message boards, with tens or even hundreds covering certain the same topics, mainly with general interest, gaming, anime, and geek culture boards. It seemed like a kid could get a web hosting account and a free message board script, open up yet another anime board, and it would fill with tens of thousands of posts within weeks.

There was also a changing mood online. Some message boards where the mood was once convivial and lighthearted became increasingly tense with more frequent culture war battles. If you write something that reflects a "wrong" or "problematic" viewpoint according to the hive mind, the consequences could be serious. My politics lean left of center, but I got tired of the recreational outrage and crybullying that became increasingly common on many message boards. I think many others did, too. The sites that took a hard turn to the right aren't any better.

Cyburbia didn't have any competition from other message boards. Cyburbia's real competition includes blogs, planning news aggregator sites (Planetizen, Citylab, etc), and Reddit. Among urban planners, blogs serve as a kind of scattered-site message board -- people post messages on their own sites, rather than a subforum on a common message board. The blogs also link to and reference each other, and bloggers don't really see Cyburbia as part of their club. Reddit's urban planning subreddit is a bit of an echo chamber -- most posts are about urban living, "suburbs suck", transportation/transit, and projects in superstar cities -- but it has a lot of mindshare among younger Millennials. If you're one of the millions of Redditors, it's easy to go to /r/urbanplanning, link to an artlcle about sprawl or unaffordable housing in SF/NY/LA, and earn some sweet, sweet karma. Post something contrary to the narrative, and get downvoted into oblivion. (I tried a paid ad on Reddit, in the /r/urbanplanning and /r/yimby subs. and not only did it get downvoted, people also responded with a bunch of rude comments.)

Old-fashioned email lists are an ingrained part of urban planner culture that we've had to live with since starting the message board. Many planners have told me they prefer listservs to message boards because they're "more serious" and "more work-related". There's not any Cyburbia-like planning discussion on Facebook. With the exception of the small developer group, it's mainly just article reposts or memes. Still, all those things -- Reddit, the blogs, Facebook, and the APA North Central East Western Quint Cities Section listserv -- take away potential "mindshare". Cyburbia got a little bit of attention in planning-related print media in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but today ... well, search for "Cyburbia" on Citylab, Strong Towns, or Guardian Cities, and you'll come up empty. Search for "NUMTOT", and it's a different story.

A lot of this is my fault, too. A lot. I work as a planner full time, so there's only so much I can do on the site. A few years ago, there were a lot of things that drew my attention elsewhere -- a new marriage, a new house, an old house at Ground Zero of the 2008 housing bust that was draining my wallet and causing me no end to stress. I dreaded opening my email, and finding yet another message from the property manager, letting me know about yet another $500 or $800 or $1000 repair that I'd have to sink into a still-depreciating asset. Not to mention, I was months behind on Cyburbia-related email -- stuff about technical issues, name changes, disagreements on the forum, and the like. Photopost (the image gallery software) broke, and I couldn't fix it. I took a step back, thinking I'd come back in a couple of weeks, and got anxious about what would be waiting. I paid the bills, rebooted the server as needed, but otherwise, I avoided it. I also felt terrible because the mods and users had no idea when I'd be back, or if I would be back. (I can't thank you enough for keeping the place going, but that's for another post.).

I don't think the 300- and 400-post days of the early 2000s are coming back, but we're back up to the 80-100 post/day range now, and slowly rising. Traffic is also slowly increasing since the XenForo upgrade. I'm cautiously optimistic, but in the meantime, Cyburbia remains the Bob's Burgers of the online planning world. A great place that people would love, if only they knew.

Screen-Shot-2019-03-11-at-10.30.15-PM.png

Anyhow, back to the original point, which is stale discussion. I want to offer a more rationalist viewpoint about a lot of planning topics that seem to be approached with no nuance nowadays -- white flight, suburbs, gentrification, urban renewal, zoning, redlining, affordable housing, and the like. It's not black and white, and it's not all about race and gender either.
 

Dan

Dear Leader
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*shrug* don't know what to tell ya... I'm not going to navigate to Cyburbia's website on my iphone everytime I want to check out the forum. Maybe I'm special (or especially lazy)?
Muscle memory, perhaps? I totally get it. The forum is the Web site, though -- we don't have the old front page anymore. :)
 

mercdude

Cyburbian
Messages
235
Points
8
Another thought about this all: don't you think that the increased online awareness of employers (and hyper political employers like local agencies) are probably curtailing online planning discussions? Personally I work for an agency that doesn't care about planning or whatever discussion I'd propose or point I'd discuss (if they were to find my thoughts posted here and other places), but I HAVE worked for places that would care, and care deeply. Which means, if you want to keep your job, you aren't posting your intimate thoughts online for employers to find. I think millennials in particular are sensitive to this level of discrimination/scrutiny... many of us elder millennials (as the emergant social media adopters) are starting to migrate away from social media because online presence doesn't equate to reality and it only can cause us harm. Again, I might be a snowflake, but I doubt it.
 
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Suburb Repairman

moderator in moderation
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What was I going to say earlier? Oh yeah, stale conversation.

<snip>

Anyhow, back to the original point, which is stale discussion. I want to offer a more rationalist viewpoint about a lot of planning topics that seem to be approached with no nuance nowadays -- white flight, suburbs, gentrification, urban renewal, zoning, redlining, affordable housing, and the like. It's not black and white, and it's not all about race and gender either.
Maybe we need to specifically market Cyburbia in this manner (in a nice way)--as a counter to the "conform or die" mindset seeming to hit all types of professions and profession philosophies? A place where you can actually critique and discuss reservations about the latest planning koolaid? A place to have actual practical, adult conversations about planning issues? A place to cultivate deeper digital relationships with other professionals beyond just talking at each other through blogs, with professionals you're comfortable enough with that you actually want to have a beer?
 
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DVD

Cyburbian
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That's what I love about Cyburbia. If I want to hear about the latest environmental tiny transit neighborhood I can go to a blog and read what some professor wrote about the subject or read a brief and practically useless article in a trade magazine about what some super city did to implement it. If I want koolaid I can find it. What I want is honest professional advice in everything from how to handle an odd zoning situation to career development or comparing code language or process. You know, the stuff most planners do everyday. Plus the side benefit of considering a lot of the people here friends or at least colleagues. If nothing else a group I wouldn't mind having a beer with again.

Should we consider writing some contributing blogs or something? This might take actually getting a group to create topics to write up or some kind of content. I'm willing to help.
 
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Dan

Dear Leader
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Which means, if you want to keep your job, you aren't posting your intimate thoughts online for employers to find. I think millennials in particular are sensitive to this level of discrimination/scrutiny... many of us elder millennials (as the emergant social media adopters) are starting to migrate away from social media because online presence doesn't equate to reality and it only can cause us harm. Again, I might be a snowflake, but I doubt it.
That's been an issue since the Internet became more commonplace, on most platforms where messages are out in the open. In the very early days of Cyburbia, when it used primitive software where anyone could post without user registration, people posted using their real names. Semi-anonymous handles help with anonymity while still maintaining a sense of community. However, if someone digs enough, they may find enough information to tie a semi-anonymous profile to a real person. (That applies to any message board.) It's a problem with Reddit, too, although I find posters there -- which tend to be younger -- are even more coy when it comes to revealing personally identifiable information. With Facebook, everything someone posts has their real name attached to it. They have to have private profiles, and post on member-only groups that they know their employer won't join. Listservs -- real name, hundreds will see what someone wrote, and messages can be forwarded outside the core subscriber group.

I think the private forums (Safe Space for Planners, Confidential Career Issues) are probably the best online solution for discussing very sensitive topics that you think might get you in trouble if they're out in the clear (NOT gossip -- we're pretty strict about it.) The 200-post threshold keeps out the search engines and casual visitors. The best real solution is talking your peers in the real world, something that's hard to do in smaller communities, or places where it's hard to break into social circles of planners.

Maybe we need to specifically market Cyburbia in this manner (in a nice way)--as a counter to the "conform or die" mindset seeming to hit all types of professions and profession philosophies? A place where you can actually critique and discuss reservations about the latest planning koolaid? A place to have actual practical, adult conversations about planning issues? A place to cultivate deeper digital relationships with other professionals beyond just talking at each other through blogs, with professionals you're comfortable enough with that you actually want to have a beer?
Absolutely. The hard part is ... how? Maybe keep on pushing the idea that Cyburbia is an inclusive community, regardless of ideology. (Unless you're a foaming freeman type, [insert race/gender here] separatist or supremacist, etc.) Be louder about it, perhaps? I'm pretty liberal, but I don't want to see conservative planners/placemakers/etc or viewpoints left out of the conversation.

Here's something I saw on The Admin Zone, in an article called Ten Laws of Community Management

4. The Boiling Echo Chamber

The Law: Any community with political bias towards one side or the other will get more extreme over time.

So onto something new now. Put simply, a forum that's heavily tilting to one side of the political spectrum will almost inevitably get more extreme over time.

Why?

Well, there's a good reason for it. Basically, the more a site grows, the more people who'll join with a certain belief system (the one held by early adopters).

However as their numbers go up, the opposition's go down, since they feel like they're not being listened to or 'ganged up on' by the opposition.

This then turns away more and more moderates, until eventually you're left with true believers that treat their views like religious dogma. It's pretty visible on Reddit Politics (which has become the 'Anti Trump circlejerk') as well as certain large gaming sites like NeoGAF.
That's what I love about Cyburbia. If I want to hear about the latest environmental tiny transit neighborhood I can go to a blog and read what some professor wrote about the subject or read a brief and practically useless article in a trade magazine about what some super city did to implement it. If I want koolaid I can find it. What I want is honest professional advice in everything from how to handle an odd zoning situation to career development or comparing code language or process. You know, the stuff most planners do everyday. Plus the side benefit of considering a lot of the people here friends or at least colleagues. If nothing else a group I wouldn't mind having a beer with again.

Should we consider writing some contributing blogs or something? This might take actually getting a group to create topics to write up or some kind of content. I'm willing to help.
First paragraph -- agree 100%. I think we need to push that Cyburbia is more than just "urbanism", and not the usual transit/density/affordable-housing-in-San-Francisco/Europe-does-it-better/suburbs-suck circlejerk that's seen elsewhere.

Second paragraph -- I'm trying to find a good blog plugin of some kind for XenForo 2.X, but it's easier said than done. There's no stock blogging feature from XenForo itself, and integration programs that pass data back and forth with WordPress and the like tend to be kludges that break with forum or back end upgrades.

There was a blogging feature under vBulletin 4, but it required the site to be set up with a "recent activity" CMS homepage, which I think hurt the Forums by hiding them. I'll keep on looking this weekend. If you see something out there that looks promising, let us know!
 

Veloise

Cyburbian
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5,616
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29
What was I going to say earlier? Oh yeah, stale conversation.
...
A lot of this is my fault, too. A lot. I work as a planner full time, so there's only so much I can do on the site. A few years ago, there were a lot of things that drew my attention elsewhere -- a new marriage, a new house, an old house at Ground Zero of the 2008 housing bust that was draining my wallet and causing me no end to stress. I dreaded opening my email, and finding yet another message from the property manager, letting me know about yet another $500 or $800 or $1000 repair that I'd have to sink into a still-depreciating asset. Not to mention, I was months behind on Cyburbia-related email -- stuff about technical issues, name changes, disagreements on the forum, and the like. Photopost (the image gallery software) broke, and I couldn't fix it. I took a step back, thinking I'd come back in a couple of weeks, and got anxious about what would be waiting. I paid the bills, rebooted the server as needed, but otherwise, I avoided it. I also felt terrible because the mods and users had no idea when I'd be back, or if I would be back. (I can't thank you enough for keeping the place going, but that's for another post.).

I don't think the 300- and 400-post days of the early 2000s are coming back, but we're back up to the 80-100 post/day range now, and slowly rising. Traffic is also slowly increasing since the XenForo upgrade. I'm cautiously optimistic, but in the meantime, Cyburbia remains the Bob's Burgers of the online planning world. A great place that people would love, if only they knew.

Anyhow, back to the original point, which is stale discussion. I want to offer a more rationalist viewpoint about a lot of planning topics that seem to be approached with no nuance nowadays -- white flight, suburbs, gentrification, urban renewal, zoning, redlining, affordable housing, and the like. It's not black and white, and it's not all about race and gender either.
And the job boards. THE JOB BOARDS. Thanks to everyone who joined me in sharing local opportunities; it was getting very :mi: centric.

Dan, glad you're back!

shrug don't know what to tell ya... I'm not going to navigate to Cyburbia's website on my iphone everytime I want to check out the forum. Maybe I'm special (or especially lazy)?
I was delighted to see that this new platform is mobile-friendly. On my devices I just type a couple of characters and the oft-visited site I want pops right up. Since the FAC is my launch point, that's where it takes me.


hard to believe that this aging boomer is explaining mobile tech...
 
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