Why we are changing platforms (and why now)

I’ve been going through the feedback on the new platform to address as many of the concerns as I can before launch and I noticed this comment:

Hi @austinmshauri! Somehow I missed this question when I first read through your reply. It’s a great question and one that I’d like to address separately. To clarify, we started by showing the site to moderators first. Then I asked for beta testers first impressions. (It was 6 by my count.) And now we have 8 pages of feedback on the site. Believe it or not, this is considerably more feedback than a community manager typically gets before this sort of change. I’ve been astounded by the enthusiasm people have brought to the task of reviewing the new platform. It’s a credit to your dedication to the community and to helping others navigate the college admission process.

As we get feedback from a variety of people (including students), we start to see repeated patterns. Every new person brings a new perspective, so there are new things we learn. But the number of new things we learn decreases as we get more feedback. There tends to be overlap between what people notice. For instance, many people have pointed out that they will miss having “agree” and “helpful” responses in addition to “like”. It’s useful to know how many people have the same concern, of course. But it didn’t increase the number of things we need to consider fixing.

Over the last couple of weeks we’ve been working to see what we can fix before launch and what things will need to wait. Some of the changes will take months of developer work. Some changes I can do in the site settings. Most are somewhere in between.

I know that in the past we’ve made changes and not gone back to improve things later. So you all have been stuck with features that don’t exactly work as expected. I hope that the last year or so has started to change that perception. Unlike previous overhauls, we intend to keep fixing things after the launch. So just because something doesn’t look right now doesn’t mean it won’t get fixed in the future.

And that’s important because we aren’t perfect. No matter how much effort we put in or how much time we delay, there will be unexpected problems. Switching from one platform to another is complicated. We’re concerned with losing fellow community members if they can’t log in. We want to be sure we have all the content the community has contributed over the years. And there are technical problems switching from one server to another. So that’s our main focus right now.

I’m also working on a few requested changes that I hope to have by launch. Plus there are many items we’ve heard from you all that we are prioritizing for later this year and in 2021. We remain committed to building a stable and functional platform for this community and that work won’t stop when we make the switch.

Update: One of the moderators reminded me that we introduced the site to them on August 18. Looking back on my notes, the login system has improved quite a bit in that time. My instructions included needing to check your email to complete the process.

I don’t see that you’ve answered the question, “Why are we changing platforms?”
Server migration isn’t a platform change.

@MassPE, the biggest reason is that the current company hosting the platform is not responsive when there are bugs or we request feature changes. It’s very frustrating. Now, CC will have in-house tech people who can respond faster. Moderators are really excited about this change.

Will you advise which of the recommendations that didn’t make the first cut will be in process for the further updates?

Suggestion: sync your facebook page with the update. That way if there are log in problems with the change, you can still communicate with people. Let them know you are aware of issues, or ask them to report issues to you via the page. Last time CC switched, I couldn’t log on for about 10 days, and there was no place I could communicate with you.

Yes. I’m hoping to put together a roadmap of changes we intend to fix, issues that we don’t plan to (or can’t) fix and issues that we need to research more. (I’m especially excited about the last category.)

That’s a really good suggestion and your experience last time is what we are hoping to avoid this time. I can see messages to Facebook (though I don’t go there often) and we can get emails via the [contact form](https://www.collegeconfidential.com/us/contact-us). @CCadmin_Sorin and I will make sure we are available to help solve login (and other) issues. We’re building a plan so that we know who can help us fix technical issues when they pop up.

When is the launch date? Will we have advance notice?

We have a date we are aiming for, but we need to coordinate with our current hosting company to make sure we have a smooth transition. We’re hoping to do the change over night to reduce the disruption, but there may be a few hours when you’ll see the site in read-only mode. Today we’re doing a dry run to see how long the process will take. We’re trying to minimize downtime, but we also want to make sure we do it the right way so we won’t have more downtime later.

When I know more, I will make an announcement here. The schedule depends on when the current hosting company will be available to give us the final data dump of all the content in the forums.

Is it going to be able to run on DuckDuckGo, John, or only on Google?

We aren’t currently testing the DuckDuckGo browser. I’ve installed a version on iOS and I haven’t seen the "“webpage not available” errors you mentioned. However, I did find a possible reason: https://android.stackexchange.com/questions/200517/webpage-not-available-for-some-webpages-but-not-all

Our server does not support TLS 1.0 or TLS 1.1, which are older encryption protocols. If you haven’t upgraded your browser recently, it’s possible it’s trying to use an older protocol.

In any case, it would help to have a screenshot when the site fails for you. There might be other things going on that we can fix on our side.

It might be an update issue, John. I hadn’t thought of that. If I still have problems after I update I’ll let you know.

Will you post advance notice of the switch so that people can track down their forgotten log-in info before being logged off the site? Perhaps this will not happen this time, but that is what I experienced last time. (I don’t log in daily; the site just remembers my log-in info.)

Yes we will! Because of the work done last time, I don’t think you’ll have a problem this time, but I do want to be sure everyone can know what’s happening and when. And I think we’ll be able to do a better job of solving login issues because of the work we’ve been doing these last few weeks.

When I go to the test forum, it says I have no bookmarks. Can you explain whether or not that is something you can change?

Same for me. It has none of my posts or bookmarks. It also has my wrong username.

It will be very difficult if our bookmarks don’t carry over!

We will be able to import bookmarks (and likes/agrees/helpfuls) after launch. The data is available, but it isn’t included in the import process yet. I’ll provide more details soon. (And thanks for letting us know!)

That is good news, as long as is very soon after launch. Is there anything else that will be imported after launch?