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IP.Board 3.3 Dev Update: Archive System

One of the many pleasures of running your own forum is watching it grow as the years roll by. Sometimes it's fun to go back and look at old topics but they just get pushed further and further away from the first page until you end up with a large database full of posts that rarely get seen.

Perhaps you run a massive forum with 10 million posts or more and you're starting to reach MySQL database limits and considering pruning back posts from 10 years ago just to free up some space. Maybe you just want to keep your number of active posts as low as possible for ultimate efficiency.

IP.Board 3.3 has a new an innovative way of handing these problems!

Introducing the archive system
Brand new to IP.Board 3.3 is the archive system. This is a very easy to use system of archiving off old posts. You get complete control over what is archived too but more on that a little later. The archived posts are moved to a different table but it doesn't have to be in your current database or indeed your current server (though of course it can be too)! You can set up a new server just for older posts and move them all there thus freeing up your forum post table again. This means less overhead for MySQL to manage when people are browsing your community.

Searches are faster, look-ups are faster and everything zips along.

Archived topics still show in the forum view as normal. You can still view them as normal. They still get all the skinning as normal so everything works just like a regular topic. Their URLs do not change so SEO is not impacted.

However, as they are archived, you cannot reply or follow the topic, so all that is removed from the display which actually saves your server a lot of work! It doesn't have to load up the editor javascript or load up any follow data from the database. In testing, it actually saves 30% database access showing an archived topic. The topic title isn't changed and the URL isn't changed so there's no need for complex 301 code redirects for search engines.

If you change your mind or archive a topic without meaning to, you can unarchive a topic.

The Admin CP Interface
The Admin interface consists of just two screens. The overview deals with a snap-shot of stats and data and the manage rule screen is where you set up which topics to archive off.

Let's start with the overview screen. Here you can see how many topics have been archived already via the big progress bar at the top. Underneath is the number of topics to unarchive. In this screen shot, I've decided to unarchive all topics that have had a post within the last 600 days.

Here's where you can set the unarchive preferences:

Now let's take a look at the rules screen. It's simple enough. There are two tabs "Archive Where" and "Don't Archive Where". This allows you to either set up an inclusive or exclusive list of rules.
The green strip at the top shows you how many topics the current settings will archive. This is automatically updated each time you change a setting so you get an on-the-fly update of how many topics to archive when configuring this form.

A quick look at the forum filter:

And the topic starter filter:

The public interface
So how do you know when a topic is archived? Simple!

When viewing the topic as an administrator, you get the option to selectively unarchive a topic - and this will exclude it from being archived again.

A regular member or guest will just see:

We really feel that this feature will benefit everyone.

  • You can effectively lock older topics to prevent confusing 'bumps' or replies after a few years
  • Free up your forum post table so it runs speedy again by giving MySQL less old data to have to work with all the time
  • Use a remote server to house the archives so it can freely grow over the years
  • Get a 30% reduction in SQL usage when viewing archived topics which is great news if you get a lot of good search engine placement.
  • Quick and easy to configure
  • Archives are done via a task that runs at regular intervals. It does a small number of posts each execution to prevent timeouts.
  • It doesn't confuse search engines as the title and URL don't change (and even the H1 tag doesn't change).

We hope you enjoy using the new archive system!

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