At the time, it seemed like a very different application from threaded discussion. In practice, the bboard system grew much more flexible and users of the Neighbor service really seemed to need some kind of grouping/threading of items.
So why do we still have separate systems? I think that organizing by merchants and knowing that people are talking about transactions is going to be valuable in the long run. These are specializations that would really uglify the bboard code and /bboard section of the ad.ini parameters file.
The current code makes good use of the
neighbor_to_neighbor table. This would typically be
filled with a merchant name, e.g., "B&H Photo". In theory, the code can
do much more than this.
The original idea was to have several sites running on the same db
server (so there was a
domain column). Then each site
would have several neighbor services, e.g., my personal site could have
a "photographic" category and a "Web servers" category. Within each
category there would be subcategories, e.g., "Camera Shops" for
Like all comprehensive ambitious systems designed and operated by stupid people, neighbor to neighbor never really blossomed. I ended up using it at http://www.photo.net/photo/ with a hardwired domain and a hardwired primary category. I don't want to break links from all over the Internet so I can't really change this now. Thus there will have to be a default primary_category in the ad.ini file.
Another thing that should be added is good support for regionalism. It
might be useful to have recommendations of roofing contractors but these
have to be broken up by state. There is a
region column in
the data model but I haven't really done anything with the code to
Interesting anecdote: in mid-1999, four years after this software was built, a company called epinions.com in California raised $millions in venture capital to do the same thing as http://www.photo.net/neighbor/!
[ns/server/yourservername/acs/neighbor] ; SystemName=Yourdomain Neighbor to Neighbor Service ; SystemOwner= something different (if desired) from SystemOwner above ; HostAdministrator=something different from system-wide ; if you're only going to run one little category, and ; for backward compatibility for photo.net ; this is a category_id referencing the n_to_n_primary_categories ; table DefaultPrimaryCategory=1 ; if someone can't think of more than one; affects links from opc OnlyOnePrimaryCategoryP=0 ; do we offer users a full-text search box ProvideLocalSearchP=1 ; do we use Oracle's Context option (only works if ; ProvideLocalSearchP=1) UseContext=0 ; do we use standalone PLS search system UsePLS=0 ; do we use AltaVista (only works if ProvideLocalSearchP=0 ; and if the site's content is exposed to AltaVista) LinktoAltaVista=0 SolicitCommentsP=1 CommentApprovalPolicy=wait