🐜 On-Going Forum Bug (Bertie)

We’ve been experiencing an issue with the forum for a while now and I’ve now got a bit of time (half-term) to try to get to the bottom of it.

The problem manifests itself by the footers at the bottom of the topic suddenly disappearing leaving the user unable to scroll past the last post in the topic.

For those of a geek persuasion, something in the JavaScript code that is sent to the browser is failing, returning a null object causing everything else that relies on that object not being null to fail. If you look in the browser console, you will see lots of MESSAGE BUS FAIL errors. Unfortunately, these are the knock-on effects of the problem and not the problem itself.

To try to locate the cause of the problem I will be removing functionality from the forum to see if the issue still remains.

This will have two impacts

  1. Things you used to use may not be there any more
  2. Each time I remove some functionality, I will need to cycle the server (15-30 mins).

Things that are not core Discourse features that I will be removing will include

  1. the secondary private message system - the large envelop on the top of the forum page. Private messaging will still be available through the small envelope on your user menu - accessed by clicking your avatar.
  2. the who’s online plugin that shows the list of users that are currently online
  3. the calendar system that allows us to attach a date to certain topics
  4. the location system that allows us to attach a location to certain topics and certain users
  5. the meme generator
  6. the spoiler alert

If you have a background in software and understand how to document steps to reproduce an issue (@BTripz, @pap, @Fowllyd, ?) then please feel free to record your own observations and share on this thread.

Thanks for your stoic patience during this testing time.


Why it's not easy to find the source of the problem...

Identifying the cause of an issue like this is not easy.

Discourse, the forum software we use is incredibly well tested and has such a wide user base that it is unlikely to be the source of the bug itself.

However, some of the functionality that we use here has been developed by individuals outside of the core Discourse team- these bits of functionality are called plugins.

It’s possible that there is a bug in a plugin. It’s also possible that there no bugs in any of our plugins but when two plugins interact with each other they cause a problem.

The Discourse software is infinitely configurable through system settings, so it could be that a problem with a plugin or plugins only manifests itself if we have certain settings configured in a certain way. And it’s possible that we are the only forum that has that combination of plugins and settings.

Themes are also a way in which Discourse is extended and they can contain JavaScript code and they too can interfere with the smooth running of the forum.

Finally, Discourse relies on your browser to communicate with you so it is also possible that the issue lies with a combination of browser version, Discourse version, your theme, the value of a system setting or plugin. As you can see, it’s sometimes tough to track it down.

The Discourse community is large and active and the fact that nobody else is reporting this issue tends to mean it is something to do with how we have configured Discourse, a plugin or combination of plugins that we are using.

By turning them off temporarily and seeing if we have any problems in that configuration, we should be able to track down where the problem is.

OK so this is our starting point.

I’ve upgraded the Discourse software to the very latest v2.3.0.beta2 +98 so we will now wait for the bug, make a change and then wait for the bug, make a change, etc.

If you see the bug that we are tracking down in this configuration please report it here - and provide as much information as you possibly can - screenshots, browser console output, etc.

I ain’t seen no bugs …


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Anyone seen the bug since I started this thread?


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OK, I’m going to remove the Quick Messages functionality.

This means the envelope on the front page will disappear…


so you won’t be able to access private messages that way.

Instead, you will have to use the small envelope on the user menu…


Bugs are entitled to a life as well you know…

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It’s OK.

IF we squish this one, there will be another one along shortly.

Thats Life(cycle).

Don’t worry @Tigger, the bug is still very much alive and creeping around under the Sotonians bedsheets…

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I had a very long scratch this morning

It is indeed. Just noticed it - ironically enough on the Bug thread.

I’ll disable another plugin and try again.

OK, this time the meme generator is being retired for a while…

That’s just meme


Its still broke

Patience my young Padawan, he has yet to do it…


Are you calling me a pony fiddler?

OK, changing tack - I’m going to remove a bunch and see if it is still there.


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This isn’t meant to mean anything to anyone. Just recording the steps I’m taking.

Yep if you have removed them

Have you done a hard refresh?

CTRL + F5 if you’re on keyboard device or close tab and go back in.