Volunteers to fix the site: help wanted

Hi all,

We all know there are many persisting bugs and inefficiencies on the site. Moreover, ABI has almost entirely retracted any efforts to fund site improvement. Given this, I thought I’d see if JoeT would be willing to work with any volunteers who might have expertise in web development (particularly with AWS). Joe is very interested, even enthusiastic about the idea. So:

Is there any one out there in the community who would be interested on some level to do volunteer web development with RateBeer to improve the site?

Feel free to private message me or post your contact info here for me to get in touch.

Thanks!
Matt

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Hi McBerko,

Can you put me in touch with the ABI folks. I may be interested in acquiring RateBeer from them.

I am the owner of The Beer Connoisseur® magazine & online.

I appreciate your help.

Cheers, Lynn
ldavis (at) ontappublishing (dot) com

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Things just got interesting

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We need someone that at least if not more are able to go in and restart the application when it is hanging like it do right now. Nobody can currently access RB.

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It’s works right now again.

I’m mostly a front-end web developer, had always been willing to volunteer some time on any layout/styling improvements, copy fixes, etc. I have way less time than I did now that I have a kid, but if there was a need for volunteers, I’m more than willing to at least be part of conversations. I have limited experience with back-end and server admin (AWS), certainly only enough to get by so I probably would not much help here.

I can only imagine how complicated the database is for a site like this. I do a little work on a few small order and publication systems, and even those that has so many tables and stored procedures. This site probably has 20+ years of code and tables stacked on top of one another, that it’d require a massive overhaul. A lot of the legacy pages are still classic asp pages. I’m not sure what the new pages are, they’re clearly more modern, so maybe even if the DB is ancient the rest of the site can be continued to be modernized.

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Hey hey, you may still be of help to Joe for some things despite that. Limited experience is still far more than zero. Feel free to DM me your email pls so that we can put you in touch with Joe. :slight_smile:

Can do!

With that said, I think that the site does operate relatively well, especially given it’s current circumstances.

Aside from making sure the site doesn’t go down, a few important fixes I’d like to offer up as suggestions:

  1. Permanent login fixes for main and community/forum sites. Basically hands-down the most important thing to fix, particularly since it’s been a big headache for registered users.

  2. Minor improvements such as making sure dates sync up to the current year, and fixing broken links. Remove the banner for anonymous users that says “RateBeer Best Update: Our annual beer awards have been announced for 2020!”

  3. I don’t know if it’s how the content is generated on brewery and beer pages, but after the last big site overhaul a few years back, the site basically disappeared from search engine results for me, unless I specified “Ratebeer” in the search. It’s like the pages barely exist at all. Brewer and beer pages need to be easily found in random Google searches. I did a search for one of my local breweries that has been around for over a decade. About 12 years ago I remember a friend messaging me saying they found one of my reviews for a beer from that brewery when they did a Google search. I just did a search on the same brewery and on Google the results took me mostly to old template pages, though a few of the results showed the newer layout if I’m not mistaken. I think I’ve mostly seen the new/modern template for top-level pages show up when I search on Google. I sometimes notice that when I rate multiple beers in one setting that the browser tab label shows the wrong beer, I don’t know if it’s related to how the pages are generated, but that might be part of it.

  4. I don’t know how monetized the site is, but when viewing the site while anonymous on a different browser, I don’t see any banner ads. I mostly hate ads, but I feel like there might be money left on the table here. I’m sure some people would get upset, but I don’t think I would mind even logged in/premium to see an ad under “Spotted Nearby” since it’s mostly wasted space as-is. I’m less okay with banner ads in the main content of a page, as it often makes the site look like trash. I seem to recall the old site included ads in these areas. The two other big beer sites have 2-4 ads per page. I’d avoid those popover ads on the side or bottom if possible, but integrated into the pages could provide some monetization.

Nice to haves would be:

  1. I would remove the accordion for desktop users on brewer and beer pages. The accordion is somewhat useful on a mobile device (to conserve space), but I think seeing all the beer details without the extra click would be preferable on desktop, though that might just be a personal preference.

  2. Figure out a way to automatically compile all the categories for “Best of RB” based on the calendar year so they can bring it back with little effort at the end of a calendar year.

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Any word on this or is it just silly to think something might give??