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Matt

Chosen's site related questions

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I am working on the next iteration of the site and would like to get as much feedback as possible. I understand that I am asking a ton of questions, but I hope that you'll be willing to take the time to help me out.

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Ok, those are the basic poll questions. Now I would like to get a little more info if you are willing to share.

  • Are there too few/too many/just enough recent posts in the left sidebar?
  • Do you like the current division based on category or would you prefer if there were only one box that had the latest posts from all forums?
  • What is your most important method to navigate the site (recent posts, active topics, going into the forum)?
  • How important would it be to you to have a dice rolling option integrated into the forum?
  • Is there anything that you think the site really needs to be more effective for you or your game?

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  • Are there too few/too many/just enough recent posts in the left sidebar?
It's fine. When the site is slow there's little changing there, and when it's going sometimes new posts can get lost, but I don't think it's that much of an issue when combine with the Active Topics option.
  • Do you like the current division based on category or would you prefer if there were only one box that had the latest posts from all forums?
I prefer the division.
  • What is your most important method to navigate the site (recent posts, active topics, going into the forum)?
Recent Posts and Active Topics are what I use primarily.
  • How important would it be to you to have a dice rolling option integrated into the forum?
It'd be awesome, but Invisible Castle also works (when it's working).
  • Is there anything that you think the site really needs to be more effective for you or your game?
There has been a discussion about adding another category of games (a hybrid category that is ST-lead but not ST-driven; something with near the openess of OW games for character themes and fictions, but with plot provided by a dedicated ST staff. In fact, as the thread seemed to stall out and go silly on the request for names, I'd say at this point that ST-Driven, ST-Lead, and Open World are good names and get the point across fairly easily to new posters.

No one so far has posted a major issue with the concept and several have posted in favor of it, if this is something you'd be willing to do.

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* Are there too few/too many/just enough recent posts in the left sidebar?

I never use them. I just look to the highlighted topics and go to them.

* Do you like the current division based on category or would you prefer if there were only one box that had the latest posts from all forums?

Never use them. See above.

* What is your most important method to navigate the site (recent posts, active topics, going into the forum)?

Going into the forum. I like the fact that forums with new posts are highlighted with the little icon to it's left.

* How important would it be to you to have a dice rolling option integrated into the forum?

Very important. I love the dice roller in the other chat.

* Is there anything that you think the site really needs to be more effective for you or your game?

I'd love the ability to hide forums that I don't want to see. There are a ton of games on the site these days that I'm not participating in and really have no desire to see when I log in. It would be great if we could have an option to hide them so that I only see the forums I want to follow. If there is one option that you could add, that's the one I'd choose.

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[*] Are there too few/too many/just enough recent posts in the left sidebar?

Its fine, I only use it to see what activity there has been in the recent past (hour or less)

[*] Do you like the current division based on category or would you prefer if there were only one box that had the latest posts from all forums?

I like it the way it is.

[*] What is your most important method to navigate the site (recent posts, active topics, going into the forum)?

I use the little blue dealies next to the forums and manual checks in those that I am part of. But I'm weird.

[*] How important would it be to you to have a dice rolling option integrated into the forum?

If the dice roller was secure it would be great. It would make things easier than having to navigate away to see a dice roll on IC.

[*] Is there anything that you think the site really needs to be more effective for you or your game?

Aside from a wider player base I can't think of anything at the moment.

Some caveats about the polls:

Featured Member: its neat but I wouldn't cry if it went away also

Site width: I run a big screen at both home and work, I'd hate to have a bunch of wasted space by having a fixed width.

Active Topics: I'm really sure what this is. Is there a list somewhere that I'm unaware of?

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Active Topics is a link at the very top of the page, between the calendar and search, that will show you all the recent posts, recent topics, and unanswered posts.

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Originally Posted By: Mr Fox
I'd love the ability to hide forums that I don't want to see. There are a ton of games on the site these days that I'm not participating in and really have no desire to see when I log in. It would be great if we could have an option to hide them so that I only see the forums I want to follow. If there is one option that you could add, that's the one I'd choose.


Ooooh. That does sound nice!


Originally Posted By: jameson (ST)
Site width: I run a big screen at both home and work, I'd hate to have a bunch of wasted space by having a fixed width.


Ditto.

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Well, would ya look at that.

Didn't even know it was there. I guess that answers that question as a no. laugh

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Originally Posted By: Mr Fox
* Is there anything that you think the site really needs to be more effective for you or your game?

I'd love the ability to hide forums that I don't want to see. There are a ton of games on the site these days that I'm not participating in and really have no desire to see when I log in. It would be great if we could have an option to hide them so that I only see the forums I want to follow. If there is one option that you could add, that's the one I'd choose.



Triple ditto

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Oh, and I will second Mala's suggestion too. A division of the games, ST-Driven / ST-lead / Open World, works for me.

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Originally Posted By: Malachite_OOC
There has been a discussion about adding another category of games.

I responded to this in the other thread.
Originally Posted By: Mr Fox

I'd love the ability to hide forums that I don't want to see.

I agree 100%. I have been trying to get them to put this into the stock code for a while now. Ideally I'd like for things to be as customizable as possible. The problem with that is that it takes more resources for a server to display that since they have to have a different element for every single user. Still, that has been something on the top of my wishlist for a while.

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[*] Are there too few/too many/just enough recent posts in the left sidebar?

The amount is ok but having 2 side columns makes the screen too packed with detail, I would prefer to scroll down to see the whos online, featured memeber etc and give more width to the actual forms.

[*] Do you like the current division based on category or would you prefer if there were only one box that had the latest posts from all forums?

I think one category makes it more obvious, but I would like to know to what part of the forum the topic belongs to next to the name and date.

[*] What is your most important method to navigate the site (recent posts, active topics, going into the forum)?

Hard to say for sure, im still new and it depends on the amount of posting the forum has , sometimes active topics or recent posts can make you miss stuff if you get used to looking only at it.

[*] How important would it be to you to have a dice rolling option integrated into the forum?

I think it would be an improvement and will make dice rolling more accessible and easy.

[*] Is there anything that you think the site really needs to be more effective for you or your game?

Integrated HTML in PMs or Integrated character sheet.

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Originally Posted By: Chosen
Ok, those are the basic poll questions. Now I would like to get a little more info if you are willing to share.
  • Are there too few/too many/just enough recent posts in the left sidebar?
  • Do you like the current division based on category or would you prefer if there were only one box that had the latest posts from all forums?
  • What is your most important method to navigate the site (recent posts, active topics, going into the forum)?
  • How important would it be to you to have a dice rolling option integrated into the forum?
  • Is there anything that you think the site really needs to be more effective for you or your game?


* just enough I think.

* I liked it when they were divided, and would like to see it stay that way or similar.

*I use recent posts more than anything, with going into the forum being my second method, though rarely used.

*I would absolutely love a dice roller if it was logged.

* nothing comes to mind aside from hiding forums, but that was mentioned.

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[*] Are there too few/too many/just enough recent posts in the left sidebar?

I'd say it was just about right at the moment.

[*] Do you like the current division based on category or would you prefer if there were only one box that had the latest posts from all forums?

Division based on category is fine.

[*] What is your most important method to navigate the site (recent posts, active topics, going into the forum)?

Recent Posts and Active Topics most frequently

[*] How important would it be to you to have a dice rolling option integrated into the forum?

Definitely a good idea - IC frequently seems to not work for me wink

[*] Is there anything that you think the site really needs to be more effective for you or your game?

Not that springs to mind right now - maybe an obvious way of putting attachments with a post?

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Do you like having a featured member?

I answered yes. It's kind of nice, but I don't really care that much one way or the other. If it came down between them I'd rather have the top poster list than the featured member.

If there were more images posted to the gallery would you be interested in it?

I said yes. The images in there are really good, but there's just not a lot of new activity. I'm personally rarely drawn to a forum where there isn't any new activity, regardless of what that forum might be.

Site Width

I prefer the width to fill the screen, but I've noticed on my new netbook that a lot of the forum and thread pages are actually wider than my screen (the main page is perfect). That is extremely annoying to me. I prefer a full screen, but not any more. If there were some way to make it so, I would really appreciate it.

If there were scheduled events would you be interested in the calendar?

I answered yes, my true and final answer would be dependent on what type of scheduled events those were. In all honesty, though, I don't know what it would take to make me start using the calendar feature. So my answer is a Maybe.

* Are there too few/too many/just enough recent posts in the left sidebar?

I would say just enough, maybe 1 or 2 too many. My problem isn't with how many there are, but the lag time. If there were a way for it to be updated, in real time, like the shout box, without having to refresh the page, it might cut down on ninja'd posts.

* Do you like the current division based on category or would you prefer if there were only one box that had the latest posts from all forums?

Prefer the division, though the option to hide one would be nice (to keep from having to scroll to see the OW). Having one long list where the section (site/ST/OW) was displayed could also work, I think.

* What is your most important method to navigate the site (recent posts, active topics, going into the forum)?

To be honest, while I look at the recent posts, there's just too much lag for me to prefer that over simply going to the forums themselves.

* How important would it be to you to have a dice rolling option integrated into the forum?

Important, not really. I've learned to use beta chat. How cool, neat or otherwise wanted is is, very.

* Is there anything that you think the site really needs to be more effective for you or your game?

Nope, I think it's all been covered. Oh, maybe those nifty italics and bold buttons on the quick reply... and not having to go in and change the type of post (IC, fiction, rules, etc) every single time it's not a general post.

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(Damon)

You know, I'm not exactly what form it would take, but the ability to mark a game forum as open to new players or not would be nice. That way anyone could tell at a glance without digging.

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* Are there too few/too many/just enough recent posts in the left sidebar?

The number of posts listed is fine for me, since I always check Active Topics after glancing at the sidebar anyway.

* Do you like the current division based on category or would you prefer if there were only one box that had the latest posts from all forums?

I'm much happier with the divisions than I would be if they were all lumped together.

* What is your most important method to navigate the site (recent posts, active topics, going into the forum)?

Recent posts is the first thing I look at, followed by Active Topics. I rarely just go through the forum lists.

* How important would it be to you to have a dice rolling option integrated into the forum?

If something could be done securely, like WW or Invisible Castle with rolls being saved, I'd be all for it. Failing that, though, I'm fine with the roller in Beta Chat.

* Is there anything that you think the site really needs to be more effective for you or your game?

I'd like for PMs to accept HTML, particularly since they currently don't read dots properly for character sheet submissions and other mechanics discussions.

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Hello, in general I am happy with the site. The ability to hide would be awesome but is understandably difficult. Also a built in die roller would be cool.

I wonder is there a way to have the site not track IP's to allow for me to be logged in on two accounts at once.

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Hmm... Being in on two accounts would be very nice, would save me having to log back and forth all the time.

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I thought of something else that would be useful: having posts in a particular thread automatically use the tag of the original post (GN, CH, RU, etc.)

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How much of your navigation of the site relies on the sidebars?

I look at them, but I don't actually use them for anything, so I'm largely neutral to their presence. Exceptions would be the Shout Box, which I think is a great addition (even though I never use it myself), and the Who's Online box (although this doesn't update in realtime - why is that? It's just odd to me that it doesn't)

Do you look for latest posts in the left sidebar when you first come to the site?

No. I sign in as my different player accounts, and I only look for recent activity in the specific forums that that character is a part of, using the little numbers in parentheses that indicated how many posts in the given forum/thread I'm looking at I haven't read. As I say, I glance at the sidebars from time to time, but I don't actually pay attention to what they say.

Do you read the shoutbox?

Absolutely. I really like that tool.

Do you check to see who is online?

I do, but the fact that this does not actually update in real-time is strange to me. It's very odd to see one of my other accounts listed as [doing something], when I signed out of that account three minutes ago and am now logged in as some other character entirely.

Do you like having a featured member?

Yeah, I think it's a fun feature.

Do you look at the latest members list?

No. Honestly, I'll notice it about once a month, and every time I'm like, 'Oh, hey! Forgot that was there...'

If there were more images posted to the gallery would you be interested in it?

I would be. smile

Do you prefer that the site be:

I would prefer that the site accurately adjust itself to the size of the screen I'm using (which I believe is what it does right now). I understand Gaizer's complaint about it spreading out too wide for his notebook screen, but honestly, IMO, that's just a drawback of using a very small monitor.

Would youprefer a fixed smaller sized if one or both of the sidebar columns disappeared?

No.

Do you use watch lists?

I don't know what that is... (Yes, I do see the option under 'My Stuff', but I've never so much as clicked on the link until about two seconds ago)

Have you customized your preferences?

I've looked at the options, and it's even possible that I have used them on one of my older accounts, but as a general rule, no, I don't customize preferences.

If there were scheduled events would you be interested in the calendar?

Like Gaizer, my interest in this would actually depend entirely on what was being scheduled.

Do you view the active topics?

I had never clicked on it before reading this thread. Now that I have, I know that I will not be using it in the future either. I'm sure I could get used to it, but honestly I prefer to simply log in as, say, Kazuo and go looking at Shadows and UA to see if there are any little highlighted numbers inside of parentheses within the Posts column of those forums/threads. It's faster.

How often do you use the search?

I don't.

Are there too few/too many/just enough recent posts in the left sidebar?

I don't really have an opinion about this. I glance at those sidebars, but I've never really paid attention to what's there. Thinking about it now, though, I think that perhaps the Open World bar could be reduced to the size of the Recent Discussion Posts bar.

Do you like the current division based on category or would you prefer if there were only one box that had the latest posts from all forums?

I really like the way the site is laid out in general right now. Good job, Chosen! smile

What is your most important method to navigate the site (recent posts, active topics, going into the forum)?

The single, stands-out-above-all-the-others, most important tool in my navigation arsenal are the numbers that appear in parentheses next to the total number of posts in the Posts column for both Forums and Threads. It's pretty much the only thing I use, ever.

How important would it be to you to have a dice rolling option integrated into the forum?

Well, I hate navigating to Invisible Castle and using that, but on the other hand, it does hold us more accountable than the Dice Rolling chat does (since there might not be anyone to witness the rolls). I'd certainly like it if one were integrated.

Is there anything that you think the site really needs to be more effective for you or your game?

Nope, not really. I'm pretty happy with the layout.

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Thanks again to everyone that has contributed to this discussion. I'll try to post my responses to the great suggestions as often as I can.

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Originally Posted By: NeuroToxin
Integrated HTML in PMs or Integrated character sheet.
Originally Posted By: Vivi OOC
I'd like for PMs to accept HTML, particularly since they currently don't read dots properly for character sheet submissions and other mechanics discussions.

I understand the desire for more html capabilities, but this is one thing that probably won't happen because it could potentially open security holes. Hopefully we'll get something at some point to improve upon this though.

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Originally Posted By: Stargaizer
I've noticed on my new netbook that a lot of the forum and thread pages are actually wider than my screen.

Unfortunately some netbooks use a screen resolution that stopped being common in computers 5-6 years ago. This site is set to display at a minimum of 900 pixels width. Your netbook probably has a width of 800. At some point I'll be introducing mobile templates so that people can view the site more easily on a netbook, iPhone, Droid, blackberry or other mobile device. That will happen at some point after the big revision this summer.

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Originally Posted By: Stargaizer
My problem isn't with how many there are, but the lag time. If there were a way for it to be updated, in real time, like the shout box, without having to refresh the page.
Originally Posted By: Kazuo
I do check to see who is online, but the fact that this does not actually update in real-time is strange to me. It's very odd to see one of my other accounts listed as [doing something], when I signed out of that account three minutes ago and am now logged in as some other character entirely.


I'm going to explain how this works. This may not interest most people, but it will help us optimize things for this group of people.

The forum works by building individual segments and then linking them all together. Every island, which is every item on the left of right of the screen and titled by the area in blue at the top, is set to be cached for a certain amount of time. Which means it only updates itself every X minutes. Some things, like the Top Posted of the month box I have only update every half hour. No one is going to be looking at it at a faster interval and if a number hasn't been updated yet then it shouldn't matter. Other elements, like the recent posts and who's online, were set to update every 5 minutes.

The server will check to see if each element has been updated more recently than the cache time. If it has then it updates the section and waits. The time interval changes the amount of server time required. For example, with the Top Posters set to be updated every 30 minutes and the recent posts set to be updated every 5 minutes, the recent posts section required 6 times more server time.

Each time someone visits the site the server will look to see if there are any new sections that need to be rebuilt. If there are then it dynamically recreates the page. This is another hit on the server and delays the page opening. Once one person has opened the page then it becomes cached until something else is updated and it needs to be refreshed.

The Shoutbox does update in real time, but is programmed a little differently since it doesn't have to pull from so many different places.

I don't know that we'll ever be able to get to real time on everything, but I think it will get better. The main reason is that would mean that the entire page is updating every second or so. For example, the chat only updates every 3 seconds unless you enter something and it is just text and eats up a lot more bandwidth than all of the forum. Doing the forum that way would slow things down for the server and you.

Hopefully the update this summer will help things improve by using more ajax technology to give quicker updates. But I can't offer any more insight at this point.

So to try and to improve the situation some, I have revised the cache time for the recent posts and who's online to 2 minutes instead of 5. I hope that this helps the issue until we have a better solution.

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Originally Posted By: Stargaizer
Not having to go in and change the type of post (IC, fiction, rules, etc) every single time it's not a general post.
Originally Posted By: Vivi OOC
I thought of something else that would be useful: having posts in a particular thread automatically use the tag of the original post (GN, CH, RU, etc.)

This is definitely something that I want to fix.

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Originally Posted By: Chosen
Originally Posted By: Stargaizer
Not having to go in and change the type of post (IC, fiction, rules, etc) every single time it's not a general post.
Originally Posted By: Vivi OOC
I thought of something else that would be useful: having posts in a particular thread automatically use the tag of the original post (GN, CH, RU, etc.)

This is definitely something that I want to fix.


Huzzah!

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Originally Posted By: Dylan Harvey
I wonder is there a way to have the site not track IP's to allow for me to be logged in on two accounts at once.
Originally Posted By: Mr Fox
Hmm... Being in on two accounts would be very nice, would save me having to log back and forth all the time.

This is another thing that will probably not be possible. The site doesn't track your IP, it downloads a cookie onto your computer that says what profile you are logged in under. Yeah, I get that I'm pointing out semantics here. But the point is that without that it wouldn't know who you were. If you have 5 characters it wouldn't know which one you wanted to post as.

There are a couple of ways around this though. The first is to use different browsers, which will have different sets of cookies. The other options would be browser specific extensions. I use CookieSwap for firefox so that my wife and I can switch email logins instantly. I just click a button at the bottom of the screen and the person logged in instantly changes. That could be set up for your characters.

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Originally Posted By: Chosen
Originally Posted By: Stargaizer
I've noticed on my new netbook that a lot of the forum and thread pages are actually wider than my screen.

Unfortunately some netbooks use a screen resolution that stopped being common in computers 5-6 years ago. This site is set to display at a minimum of 900 pixels width. Your netbook probably has a width of 800. At some point I'll be introducing mobile templates so that people can view the site more easily on a netbook, iPhone, Droid, blackberry or other mobile device. That will happen at some point after the big revision this summer.


Actually, my resolution (the only one available) is 1024 x 576 (wider than it is high). The actual thread was a little wider than my screen, but I just noticed that the reply screen is exact width. Plus, like I said, the main page is good, and forum/sub-forum pages are good... it's just the threads that are a little too wide. It could be a signature issue with my comp, or some such. Just to let you know.

And I do appreciate you doing a mobile version, that's awful cool of you.

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Stargaizer,

If you find a post that is wider than your screen please send me a link to it so that I can look into it.

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Chosen,

Will do. Though I think it's more an issue with the posts being just a little too wide to let the right sidebar be completely on screen than it is with a particular post going off the edge of the screen. Sorry if there was any confusion, but I will keep my eyes open.

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Guys, I have a technical question.

When I have longer posts I am experiencing a very annoying problem. At bottom of these lengthy posts trying to edit and type becomes so difficult that it practically impossible.

I scroll down to the bottom, click to place the cursor there and the next keystroke causes the window to return to the top, yet the cursor remains inplace where it should.

Now I have used the buttons at the top to expand the window but once you get to a certain point clicking that little arrow over hundred times becomes a chore as well.

Is there something I can do to fix this?

BTW this post is an example of how long a post has to be for the problem to show up.

Thanks, PM

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My Workaround - Open Wordpad (or any other alternative). Write your post, Copy-paste into the box. Submit.

Especially for longer post I make use of that technique, since I can't keep the website open at work for longer.

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If you use an alternate web browser, such as Chrome, you should be able to quickly and easily resize the text box as well. I'm using Chrome right now, and while I do see those arrows you're talking about, I never use them. Chrome allows me to left-click on the lower-right corner of the text box and dynamically resize it to whatever final dimensions I desire. It's very handy.

Though like Joani said, for truly long posts, definitely stick with a local document writer of some kind; MSWord, Notepad, etc. It really is the smart thing to do.

Hope that helps.

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I updated the full reply screen so that it is 100% width on the default style. So hopefully that will help alleviate some problems, or at least give you more space before you hit the problem.

I'm not entirely sure what the issue is, since I have never seen anything like that. We will be completely updating the posting mechanism later this year. I'm not sure if it will help with your issue or not.

What OS and browser/version are you using?

And I agree with the others about working on long posts on your computer and then pasting it when you are done.

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I've had that problem as well, though only when I post at work (there's also an awful lag between what I type and when it shows up). At work, the default is IE8, and the OS is XP. I don't know if it has something to do with the network, how the browser connects to this site, or with the OS/WB combo itself.

My suggestion, us Firefox or some other browser and see if that alleviates the problem (the copy/paste works well too, especially if you use a WB that doesn't have built in spell check like Firefox does).

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Dead-eye or Stargaizer,

I think I figured out the issue, which was a bug in IE8. I have things set to emulate IE7, which I hope fill resolved the problem. Can you please let me know if it works properly now?

Thanks,

Chosen

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Chosen;

Thanks, that fixed it. It dawned on me yesterday that it was an IE issue and I used Safari yesterday with no problem. I have had this same issue with two other forums as well. I had been doing the work around by drafting everything in word beforehand, but editing was still a pain afterwards. Now that I know what fixes it I can pass along the fix to the other Administrators. Thanks alot for your help!

regards,

PM

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Great. Glad I could get it fixed. If you encounter the problem on another forum ask them to add the following to the header of their site to fix it.

Code:
<meta http-equiv="X-UA-Compatible" content="IE=EmulateIE7" />

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