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BPAL Madness!


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  1. ipb

    What Scent Is This?

    Sounds like you got some mod bottles. They're not prototypes
  2. @Cour des Miracles: Eventually, the wishlist can be shared. I haven't decided if I want to allow the ability to share the inventory or not, and potentially, if the "loves and dislikes" page goes the way I want it to, theoretically, that might be something I set up so people have the ability to share it as well. @BlackTauna: from the FAQ: Q: How do I delete things I added by mistake? Right now, there's no delete button. However: if there's something else you want, own, have tried, have purchased (but not yet arrived), or are swapping, you can easily update the entry to be something else. For instance, if you mistakenly put in "Dorian" twice, you can update one of the "Dorian" records & and add "Pumpkin King" - you've always wanted to try it, after all!
  3. ipb

    Chat's back!

    I don't know when it broke, but it should be back now. Please contact myself or Morrig if the link isn't working again.
  4. I could probably do the random selection part, on the front page of the stash, if enough people want it. Though, I'm evil enough that if you have untried scents, I'd probably make it prefer untried scents to tried scents, and unreviewed scents to reviewed scents
  5. I don't know about you, but 2010 was a crazy year across the board for me - personally, professionally, and here on the forum - and full of many highs and many lows. Looking into 2011, I wanted to let you know of some of the things that we have been working on, and some of the things we are planning to work on. The Forum Updates Blog. Morrig, SV, and I have a new blog on the forum (linked to the left), though I'm the primary person who posts to it. Some of you have already seen it - I've been linking to it from our facebook page (which pushes it up to our twitter). There's presently no RSS feed for it, specifically, and I've been working with Invision to try to figure out how to make one. I do have it set up to notify me of comments, so please - comment away! I know there's been some discussion already, but you're definitely encouraged to keep the comments hopping Skins. We will be announcing our skinning contest soon! We want YOU to design our next skin! You don't need to know anything about how the Invision templating system works - we'll be paying someone to convert from images (or PSP/PSD files) or from HTML/CSS (with whatever images necessary). You're welcome to get started now, and you'll be allowed to submit up to three skins. One word about images: they need to be PG13 and either your work, public-domain, or royalty free (with the source). So, for instance, many of the Lab's Beardsley images would be fine to use, but their CD/Neil Gaiman/Hellboy/etc images would not be. Feedback Center. In June, we lost our feedback system unexpectedly when the forum was upgraded. In some ways, it was not a huge loss - it was super slow, it was picky, there were many people who couldn't leave feedback (or get feedback) -- but having no feedback system in its place was terribly. I am so very sorry at how long it took me to put up the new system, because I was trying to design it in a way that made more sense. In any case, in December, I was finally able to bring back the personal feedback pages - but without statistics. One of the things I am presently working on is returning the statistics. I have no ETA for them at this time. The Unresolved Swaps Center. WIth the feedback we've gotten from it, and the way the feedback system has been created, I have come to the conclusion that Unresolved Swaps is really redundant, and I will be removing the link and contacting those that have given reports to ask that they leave feedback (if they have not done so). Our old feedback system didn't allow multiple transactions, didn't really allow for me to configure it to have "non-ratings", and so forth, and with that system, a separate unresolved swaps area made sense. Instead, I will try to add something to feedback, to allow you to readily pull out certain kinds of feedback -- similar to the way Amazon allows you to only read the 1 star reviews. The Stash Manager. Our newest little gizmo, I love it to pieces. I suppose this serves as the forum announcement for it - I have talked about it a little in the "How do you keep track of what you've tried" topic, and announced it on our blog a few days ago. What's the Stash Manager? It's a tool that will allow you to keep track of what BPAL you've tried, how well you liked it, whether or not you've bought it/kept it/sold or swapped it, and your personal notes about it. It's as private as PMs are (or, perhaps, more private - you can't currently share any of it). I've got some cool long term plans from it (recommendations, making cloud tags of your loved and hated notes), but it'll take time because I have to educate myself on data mining. If you have questions, comments, find bugs, or that sort of thing, please post them in in this topic! The Scent Database. This is the database that runs, among other things, our Stash Manager and our Price Cap Database. Recently, we requested volunteers to help us add some of the missing scents to the database and got an outstanding result - nearly 50 people volunteered! We were only looking for a handful of volunteers for adding scents, and will be getting back to you later this week -- while not everyone will be selected for adding scents (so many people can be very hard to manage), those who aren't will be tasked with helping to go through the various forums, to double check that the links are correct, the release/discontinuation dates are correct, and so forth. Even if you didn't volunteer to help out, I would really appreciate it if you would use the Report button to let us know when you see things that are wrong or missing. Links to Member's Posts in Forum / in Topic. I think I know how to do this now, though not as prettily as it used to be. I don't know when it'll get done, though - the new hovercard makes it kind of hard to add it in a pretty fashion. View your own invisible topics/posts. Still broken, and the guy I talked to that thought he knew how to fix it wanted an obscene amount of money to do it for us It's probably a fair amount, but way more than I'm willing to spend. Retail Therapy. The experiment still continues. We're continuing to evaluate your feedback (both what you've been telling us via PM or in the topic, and what you're telling us by your posting and traffic patterns). One of the things that has been mentioned many times is the lower traffic in Retail Therapy since the changes. This prompted me to take a closer look at the traffic patterns - not just from within 2009, but for the last five years. When analyzing the traffic patterns, however, I found a statistic that is absolutely puzzling. Normally, Retail Therapy experiences a significant drop in traffic from October to December. Typically, it's a 25-50% reduction in traffic, and is the biggest drop of the year. Traffic trends on this forum are, for better or worse, fairly consistent year-to-year, and have a cycle within the year. This year, there was a drop of 47% and has already started to recover (5 days into the year and there's already more posts than we had at this point last month). The puzzling part to me is that it was not the worse drop that Retail Therapy experienced last year -- between February and April 2010, the traffic was cut in more than half and never recovered. The Guidelines. We have been meaning to rewrite them for years but never quite found the time to do so, and just kept adding things and adding things via announcements, pinned topics, and announcements, and not necessarily in places that are convenient - for you or for us! - to find what we want. We are going to move the guidelines into a different area, one that's easier for us to categorize and link to, so you can more readily find what you want. We're going to get rid of things that are out of date and (hopefully) going to simplify things - including the dreaded swaps area.
  6. @Sparkley: I'm going to try to add a delete function. It's hard for me to debug that one, because I don't know how much of my magical admin powers allow me to do things that others can't. @quik: The perfume listing comes from the database that runs the price caps & Lab search (the scent database). If you see an error, click the name of the scent and it'll bring up the scent page, and you can report problems that way (typos, wrong prices/review link, etc). For bugs / desired features, I was planning on starting a topic for the stash manager in Forum Questions when I add it to the forum navigation bar and announce it, but you're more than welcome to beat me to the punch
  7. We have had an overwhelming number of volunteers. I'm awed by the enthusiastic response - nearly 50 people volunteered! We only needed a handful of volunteers for Phase I (to add things), as too many people makes it hard to coordinate who's doing what. We're currently going through the applications. It'll take some time to sort through them, so it'll be a few days before we've selected our Phase I volunteers, and a few days for us to get everything set up for everyone to start working. I'm hoping to get back to everyone within a week. You guys rock!
  8. We're looking for volunteers to help us with the scent database! As you may be aware, the scent database is what drives several key things on this forum: the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab search engine, our Price Cap Database, our Stash Manager, and soon, the Reviews Summary that will be on the top of each of the Reviews topics (replacing the currently manually edited descriptions - but far more detailed!). Keeping it up to date is something that we find to be very important, and we'd like your help in doing so! Qualifications: * Attention to detail * Desire to give back to the community Responsibilities: * Help add scents that are missing (either ones that weren't put in initially or are brand new). * Communicate! We'll have a PM between the volunteers & the swap mods that will need to be kept around. * Potentially, help edit scents -- including missing information (notes, release dates), finding label images, updating scents as they switch categories or become discontinued. Time commitment: * Stage 1 (Completion): Bringing the database up to date. We're presently missing about 500 scents/products. Adding 5-10 scents a day would be ideal, and in my experience, that would be about 20-40 minutes once you've got your tabs/windows set up. With 5 people working on it, adding 10 scents a day each, it'll take 2-3 days to complete the database for the rest of the missing BPAL scents and another 2-3 days to add the missing BPTP items. * Stage 2 (Maintenance): After the missing scents are added, it shouldn't take more than 15-20 minutes an update to add all the new scents. No one person is expected to add them all, though they're welcome to if they want to! As well, periodically looking through the database, to make sure everything is up-to-date and correct would be a great thing. Rewards: * Our volunteers will all get a free PM box expansion to 250 PMs. * Probably will hear about some of the other potential uses of this database How to volunteer: * Click the "Report" button of this post to volunteer! In about a week, I'll send a PM to the volunteers and we'll get started!
  9. We've got a new tool that'll be released later today - the Stash Manager. It's been something people have been wanting for years (literally! There are posts from 2004 asking for stash tracking), and it's something I've always wanted to do, but with the software I built our feedback off of, I was finally able to give you - I've had planned for a few months, and like feedback, it stalled as I had to wait for a patch to be released. What is the Stash Manager? At this point in time, it's a private tool that will allow you to keep track of what BPAL you've tried, how well you liked it, whether or not you've bought it/kept it/sold or swapped it, and your personal notes about it. It's got a few custom views, with more coming. Eventually, you'll be able to share your wishlist from the stash manager (no more having to constantly update your wishlist post - it's automatically updated from what you've entered in!). Let's talk about the pages it's got! Your Stash Manager: On this page, you can enter in perfumes and view what you've entered in - the perfume name, whether or not you've tried it, whether or not you've bought it, whether or not you're swapping it away, your rating of it (or a note that you haven't rated it), your notes, and a button to update the scent. With your notes is also a link to your review (or a link to add a review, as applicable). It's a very good idea to rate things (as you'll see later!). Your ratings are private - not shared with the Lab or the public in any way. Your Wishlist: This page displays what BPAL you're wanting. Eventually, I will be adding something to the User Control Panel to allow you to choose to make your wishlist visible by other people. (If you choose to make yours public, there will be two additional filters for people who viewing your wishlist: "show perfumes I have" and "show perfumes I'm swapping" - convenient for people who like to go and add frimps of things the other person likes.) Your Inventory: This page displays your current BPAL inventory, ratings, notes. You can edit or add perfume from this view as well. Your Current Swap, Sale, and Purchase Activity: This page shows what you're getting rid of, what you intend to get rid of, and what you're getting. Your notes are viewable here, so you can note where you're getting it from or where it's going to (and what you're getting in exchange), any pertinent dates, etc. This is just one way to help you manager your swaps outside of PMs. Eventually, I plan on having a "show all things I want to swap or have listed" pop up that will let you copy and paste everything, to easily be added to your swaps page. Your Untried Stash: Want to know what you've got and haven't tried yet, and your cat's knocked into your carefully separated box a few times too many? This is the place to go! It'll show everything you've listed as owning, but haven't tried. Your Unlisted Stash: Analogous to Your Untried Stash, this shows everything you haven't added yet. Your Loves & Dislikes: This is a page that's in the works. I'm in the middle of writing a tagging system for the scent database, for notes. Once that has been completed, this page will tag clouds of notes that show up frequently on scents you dislike (rated 0-1) or on scents you liked (rated 4-5). There won't be any analysis of combinations of notes. It'll be an easy way to track this. (I know we all have a general sense of what we like, but when there's hundreds and thousands of perfumes, things can sneak by you!) Your Recommendations: One of the biggest reasons Netflix took off - or at least, amongst my friends! - is that it'll recommend you things based off of your previous ratings and what other people rate. This is a huge project, but I think in the end, it'll be a super useful tool for new forumites and old alike. This probably won't be out until May or June. The Swap Matchmaker: Tired of going through swap page after swap page (and then their wishlist!) to find someone that's looking for things that you're trying to get rid of and, at the same time, is trying to get rid of something you want? Never fear - this is the page for you! Like the Wishlist, you will have to opt into the Matchmaker to be able to get results beyond "you have matches!". Because members have to opt into it, and it won't give you any results if you're banned from swaps, we do consider this to be part of the swaps section - so feel free to message anyone who pops up! It's still a work in progress (I have to get the configuration part written yet), but once it's up, I'm sure many will find it super useful. Right now, it just shows you how many matches you WOULD have if it was live. (I have two!) How to enter in perfumes There are two ways to enter in perfumes: import all of your previous reviews (from a button on the Stash Manager), or individually add them. If you import them, they import that you've tried them, but don't have them, want them, etc, so you'll have to individually edit that information into the database (along with any rating or notes you've got). You can keep importing your reviews as time goes on. Have questions or comments about the Stash Manager? Found a bug? This topic is the place to go to let us know!
  10. ipb

    EPIC BPAL Spreadsheet Thread

    The forum stash tracking app should be released by the end of the year
  11. ipb

    EPIC BPAL Spreadsheet Thread

    I don't really read this part of the forum often, so I didn't see this until now, but I'm actually working on a few things to help with that! #1) There is the scent database information. Of course, if you don't know the category, it's a bit of a pain to find things. (I have been working with Invision to make it so you can search between categories. It's pretty much stalled out until the next version, and it's not a guarantee it'll make it in.) #2) Some of that is available on the BPAL site's search engine. It does not (or, rather, should not be) showing anything that is not presently available, but as I recall, it's showing the category, price, and a purchase link. The Lab requested it not display anything not presently for sale, so that will not be changing. #3) In the next few weeks, I should be releasing something that displays the scent database information in review pages. Prices, purchase link from the lab, etc. While it doesn't solve the immediate problem, you'd be able to easily search the reviews forums for the name (limiting to forum results/title searches). #4) To a lesser extent, the forum's scent tracker app (which should be coming out relatively soon) will be able to help. Once you've added a scent, it'll display the category & series name, and link to the review page. I won't be including pricing information - the prices aren't the point of the app, it's the tracking. Granted, if you're not doing any sort of tracking, it doesn't help you a'tall. No one way is perfect for all situations, but between these avenues, you should be able to find what you need quickly and smoothly.
  12. I have just finished updating the forum skins with the links to the new personal feedback pages. As I mentioned in the forum updates blog earlier today, the personal feedback pages are coming back in two stages: a bare bones, very basic page that compiles no statistics, but allows users to readily view the feedback for one individual (and nobody but that individual). This page has the ability to report feedback and gives links for the feedback giver to comment or edit their feedback & the feedback recipient to comment. It does not show the comments, or statistics. Unlike the previous system, the feedback system does not require that we manually add people -- all members (even new members without feedback) automatically have feedback pages generated. In the coming months, I will be regularly flushing out the personal feedback pages with all sorts of things, including: splitting out the feedback into several "views", adding all swaplift reports, adding the comments and statistics, making it prettier, and all sorts of goodies.
  13. Our chat room has had a small upgrade. Nothing really changed from a usability standpoint, but some minor back end changes were made. An option to automatically kick inactive users has been added An option to disable the "user has left/entered room" messages has been added An option not to show the recent chats when a user enters the room has been added An option to launch the chat in a minimalized popup has been added
  14. I don't really talk about the software development process here, because I figure that outside of a few technically inclined people, nobody really cares. I also don't really talk about the things I'm working on for the forum very much because it takes quite some time for me to go from "idea!" to something I can release for you to use, and I've already had a few instances of people trying to profit off of my ideas for things to do with the forum (such as when someone went and manually queried my scent family database and tried to sell the contents on eBay for about $20). But, today, I've decided to share with you some of the things I'm working on! Feedback Oh, feedback. You are the bane of my existence! But I am (slowly) taming the beast. As you all have noticed, even with the sixty thousand-some old feedback reviews from the old system, it's lightning fast & nobody has login or skin issues anymore! Of course, the flip side of this is that nobody has their individual pages anymore. Feedback Updates I was lucky enough to be selected as a beta tester for the next version of the software platform I use for the development of our apps. I don't have it running live here (just retailtherapy, a site I've been playing with developing but haven't actually released), but I've been able to play around with development. I'm happy to announce that when this version goes live, I will *definitely* be able to finish the personalized pages for the feedback. I consider this to be a "priority development" issue, and as such, I have decided to update it in two phases. The first phase will have the consolidated page with feedback & swaplift reports. This will eliminate the current problem of getting others' feedback mixed in with yours (for instance, feedback for the user "luna" may show up with the feedback for user "LunaKitty" right now). The second phase will have some statistics as "header" to the page, and it will probably clean up the display. The Future of Feedback Are these features that would interest you? Comment and let me know! Something for the front page to show who has recently given and/or gotten feedback - probably limited to just who has recently given you feedback. A profile tab (like "About Me") that summarizes your feedback statistics The ability to "draft" feedback, so you can start it earlier in the process of swapping The forum no longer deletes PMs (it uses a "soft deletion" that keeps the PMs in the database). I could enable something that would allow you to attach a PM to feedback (as a link, not the actual text) & give a link to recover the PM if you have left the conversation. The BPAL Perfume Database, Price Caps, Reviews, and the Scent of the Day FB App This database is more encompassing than just listing the price caps. It's also the back end for the BPAL site catalog database and our facebook app. If that wasn't enough, it's *also* going to be added to the review forums, to replace the BBCode descriptions/images. Basically, the top of the page of the review topics is now going to have the description, pricing information (Lab cost & our price caps, when available), image(s), release & discontinuation dates, and a link to purchase from the Lab. I've got the actual code written now, and am working on the integration part. The Scent of the Day Facebook App I believe the time has come to retire the existing SotD application. The way Facebook worked and was used when I created it is worlds different from what it is now. Facebook killed the way feeds used to work. They have also, for all purposes, gotten rid of boxes and of the profile side bars that many of us have used to display it. But never fear: I am working on something that will allow you to "push" your forum SotD changes to Facebook or Twitter if you've got them set up. I will be starting this with Facebook first, so I can cleanly retire the app, and then adding Twitter as an option. When it is done, it'll be very simple -- it'll just attach a link to the forum's review page. This will be an "opt-in" thing, not a default. Future Work I have been flirting with the idea of incorporating some sort of tagging with scent families, but I can't think of a way that will do it smoothly. I thought using a poll in the topic would work, and then I could do a nightly synchronization and display the results as a tag cloud & pick the top one as a "user based The review topics will become automatically generated by the database (making it easier for us to maintain -- right now Shollin does all of that, and we'll be distributing the work between Shollin & our swap mods, Silvertree, maewitch, and Noumenon), and I don't know how to automatically add a poll (and with about 3000 topics, it would need to be done automatically). I may talk with some of the code mod developers about this, because I think having a general sense of the scent family would help find other scents you might like. I am also flirting with the idea of using a tag cloud for the notes. This might be fairly easy to do, but will depend on how the tag cloud goes on retailtherapy. Finally, once the SotD app has been revived, I am considering allowing people to opt into pushing their forum reviews to facebook.
  15. If you use earthlink.net, and you're using their opt-in, authorized-users-only white list AND have any sort of subscriptions, please list support@bpal.org as one of your authorized contacts. I have been getting several bounce messages from people who do not, and I am going to start switching subscriptions for individuals whose emails bounce to having no notification. If you opt in, every time you get an email notification, I get an email that looks like this: