A New, Updated Plaza
The newly updated Plaza site was launched on August 24th, thanks to the Plaza (re)Working Group (with some help from CRON). The Working Group was appointed by Amy Glasmeier and the DUSP Communications Committee in Fall, 2009, to transfer the Plaza functions to an easily maintained, publicly available platform.
Here's what you need to know about using the new site.
Important note about the site address
The site is currently accessible at http://plaza.mit.edu. The secure (https://) version of the site will be implemented by the end of September. In the meanwhile, if you're accessing the site from an old bookmark, you might want to temporarily bookmark the http address.
How to Register
- Go to http://plaza.mit.edu
- Click "Register" (next to "Login")
- Read carefully through the User Agreement, and then click "I agree to these terms"
- Fill in the registration fields:
- Username: You might want to consider using your full name. Unlike with the old Plaza, postings will be signed with your username not your full name. If you choose something other than your kerberosID or your full name, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I don't have any trouble associating your username with your real name when I approve the account.
- Email address: you may use any valid address
- Password: please do not use your kerberos password. The system emails your password to you in the clear. An MIT account is a powerful enough tool that you don't want anyone gaining access to it.
- Full name
- DUSP affiliation: if your affiliation type is not in the list, please email me, Sue Delaney, at email@example.com.
- If you have any trouble with the alpha-numeric confirmation code, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
- You'll receive an email confirmation as soon as I approve your account. This should be quite quickly during regular working hours. We'll have some coverage during evenings and weekends around Orientation Week.
- Your account is available for use as soon as you see the email. You can keep the email if you want a password reminder.
- If you need any help with registration, just email me, Sue Delaney, at email@example.com. If you'd like me to register for you, please include your full name, requested username, email address, and DUSP affiliation.
Using the New Site
The new site looks different and works a little differently from the old, but we think you'll see how we adapted the organization of the new site to the new platform.
- If you want a place to start, try the "Plaza Help Forum." This is a help section where you can see if your question's already been answered, and you can make suggestions for things to include in the FAQ.
- The home page is known as the "Board index" and the link is at upper left.
- The new "Top Links" section has all the reference links that were in the sidebar (and more), plus a section for announcements from Sandy and Kirsten in Student Services.
- The "Forum" section replicates almost all the original forums. A few have been consolidated according to a poll done last Fall by Andrew Gulbrandson. If you have suggestions, send them to the Communications Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org or the DSC at email@example.com
- The new Career Development contains job listings (now sorted by type)
- The term "forum" refers to something a little more involved than for the old site. There are three kinds of forums in this system:
- Link forum: a container for links. The only link forum on the site currently is "Reference Links"
- Plain forum: this contains topics which can be responded to
- Container forum: this contains subforums. The subforums appear at the top of the forum page.
Look carefully at the icons: they denote the three different types of forum
- The hot peppers work a little differently from the old Plaza. The site keeps track of which posts you have seen. A pepper on a container-forum icon disappears when you've seen all the posts in that forum's subforums. You can clear them by clicking "Mark Forums read."
New and Different Features
- There's now a Student Services announcements forum, so that information from Sandy and Kirsten will be handy and searchable.
- Posts are searchable (at last!)
- Posts are editable
- There are links for viewing new posts and your unanswered posts
- You can use attachments
- You can use the "personal message" feature to contact most board members. (Certain users including Sandy and Kirsten have had this feature turned off since they need to keep questions in MIT email.)
- Global announcements, which will be used in case of board outages and things like snow closings.
A Few Known Issues
- The section of the User Control Panel in which you can set options for the daily site digest--and unsubscribe from it--is not yet working, because of a board configuration issue.
- Cookies aren't working, yet. Until we find a fix, the "log me on automatically each visit" button doesn't work. We know that entering your username and password each visit is a pain, and we're looking for a solution as quickly as possible.
- The current FAQ is generic to the platform (phpBB). We're working on adapting it for DUSP and will do our best to have at least some customized Q&A by the first week of classes. In the meantime, watch the Plaza Help Forum.
Why We Need a New Plaza
The original Plaza was created ten years ago, hand-customized by DUSP PhD candidate Myounggu Kang and Prof. Joe Ferreira from MySQL dbase software. The server and the code have been deteriorating, especially in the last three years, and the server has been hacked and sent off-line once. Amy Glasmeier and the DUSP Communications Committee determined the need for an easily-maintained, low-cost replacement in Spring '09, and the Plaza (re)Working Group was named and convened last Fall.
You can see the Working Group's reports here http://web.mit.edu/rgoodspe/Public/PLAZA/. Look at the "Plaza Memo" for information on the choice of this software and the "Plaza Reworking Report" for the in-depth study. There's also discussion in old Plaza's "DUSP Affairs" forum, Communications subforum, under "Plaza Improvement Update" in the thread starting 5/19/10.
The Plaza Working Group was: Rob Goodspeed, Andrew Gulbrandson, Frank Hebbert, and Gena Peditto. Joe Ferreira served as faculty advisor.
- If you have a question about using the site, check the Plaza Help Forum first, since your question may already have been asked and answered. Likewise, posting your question in that forum will help your fellow users and help the admins develop the FAQ.
- If you have comments or suggestions about the arrangement of the forums, Plaza's place in DUSP communications, or similar topics, please post them in the Plaza Setup Forum, or email either the DUSP Communications Committee [firstname.lastname@example.org] or the DUSP Student Council [email@example.com]. We welcome all comments and rely on them to help shape the site.
- If you have questions about registration, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. (Using the generic address rather than my own ensures that you'll get an answer when I'm away.) I'm also happy to hear comments about this intro page.
We think the new site is a worthy successor to the old site, and we hope you enjoy it. Send us your comments!
for the DUSP Communications Committee