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Greg 06-03-2007 12:18 AM

Allow Webmasters to "Own" Their Entries
I'd like to set up a system where each entry in the list has an "owner" and the owner is able to update several bits of data:
  • Site Name
  • Site URL
  • Site Description
  • Content Flags
  • Site Button

The owner would be identified by the webmaster's user ID on Sun Sims. (I plan to share the Sun Sims membership database.)

Now, how can we verify that the person who owns an entry is indeed the webmaster for the site or someone authorized to speak for the site? In the days before spammers, that would be easy: Just require that the person join Sun Sims with a verified email address that matches one published on the site. Nowadays it's a really bad idea to put your email address on a web site.

We could still do something like that: The webmaster could have a page secretly on the site with any secret code, and could then send me the code, the URL where it's published, and the Sun Sims ID of the person authorized to update the listings for that site.

Since publishing a secret page would require access to the site, we could reasonably assume that it really is the webmaster who is communicating with us.

Miros1 06-03-2007 12:40 AM

This sounds reasonable.

1) They should put the secret page in a subdirectory. Some webcrawlers manage to hit everything in the top level directory.

2) What happens when the site goes offline or stops updating? Can the site be marked offline or inactive without permission of the webmaster?

Greg 06-03-2007 12:45 AM

1) I don't see any way a web crawler can find a page that isn't linked from somewhere, no matter what directory it's in.

2) Yes, we have to retain the ability to mark sites as closed or inactive without the webmaster's permission. They also wouldn't be able to edit ratings, votes, comments, or anything that I haven't listed in the first post in this topic.

Miros1 06-03-2007 12:50 AM

1) I had all kinds of weird hits on pages that didn't exist on my site. I suspect some of them were hack attempts looking for Front Page Extentions, but others might be webcrawlers looking for "common" file names. If the webmasters should accidentally use one of those file names, the webcrawler could hit it before you've done your verification... and their email addy is all over the Internet.

Greg 06-04-2007 09:31 PM

There's a point. I hadn't thought that someone might intentionally program a bot that just looks for randomly generated filenames.

The secret code wouldn't have to be an email address. It could be just about anything as long as it was clear that it was intended to be a secret code.

Greg 09-16-2008 02:50 AM

I was thinking about this today. If there's a significant risk that someone might be able to find a hidden file on the site, the webmaster would have to tell me the secret code first and then publish it on the site. Otherwise anyone would be able to look up the secret code.

Even better:

How to Program The List so it Knows and Recognizes Webmasters

  1. The webmaster logs in to the Ultimate Sims List with a Sun Sims ID.
    This is the nut I still need to crack.
  2. The webmaster requests a key for The List.
  3. The Ultimate Sims List software generates a small text file with an encrypted key in it.
  4. The webmaster puts that file on the site.
  5. Back at the Ultimate Sims List, the webmaster pastes the URL of the hidden key into a form.
  6. The Ultimate Sims List checks to make sure that the key it handed out is the key that's on the site. Also check the root of the URL to make sure we're going to the right site. It would have to be the exact same root URL as that which will appear in the Ultimate Sims List.
    Need to parse the URL's back to the directory level, and no farther.
  7. If the two match, then the Ultimate Sims List knows that this person does have write access to the site, and hence must be the webmaster.
  8. If all is good, the software sets the flag for that person being the owner of the corresponding entry in the Ultimate Sims List.

What Webmasters Could Edit

After that, the webmaster would be able to update the site's description, status, URL, and the other stuff listed in the first post in this thread without having to wait for me or anyone else.

Site News and Update Announcements

A nifty associated feature would be to added a field for Latest Update to the site, meaning the latest time that something was added.

Maybe also have a way to put in a brief text description of what the update is about and even a link to a picture. Then a modified version of the software I wrote for the old SimsHost Chronicle could generate a nicely formatted update notice, but this time for every site that wants to have them listed anywhere on the web.

Of course, we'd need to brainstorm all the possible ways that this system could be abused and find ways to program around it, but if it worked, it would be a very nice thing for all Sims fans.

Miros1 09-16-2008 05:05 AM

Sounds awesome! I'll pick nits tomorrow.

Greg 09-16-2008 07:38 PM

Nit-picking is most welcome. I'm still stuck at step 1. It's just a matter of studying the vBulletin code and figuring out how to pass login status from one script to another through hidden fields, but I haven't gotten motivated to do that yet.

Maybe after we have pruned out all the dead sites, the Ultimate Sims List will become useful enough that it will be worth it to invest some effort in making it possible to log in and do stuff.

Crystal 09-17-2008 05:09 PM

If you can get the USL to recognize Sun Sims members you can do lots of stuff like voting and rating and maybe even have the people tell what kind of stuff is on each site so you don't have to go through every site yourself to do that.

I had another idea. You could let users make their own favorites list from sites on the USL and even tell how many people put a site on their favorites list.

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