Forum Software & Server Change

Discussion in 'Announcements' started by Christian, Feb 25, 2002.

  1. Christian

    Christian Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 1999
    Location:
    On a sidewalk in Amsterdam
    As you will all have noticed, the BBS is not exactly running on the most modern piece of forum software anymore. We lack useful new features such as private messaging or the ability to customise the look of the board, and we've even had to disable old features such as the daily active topics listing and the search option. Yet even after disabling these features, the board often still is dreadfully slow, particularly on 'Enterprise' Wednesdays.

    In order to solve these problems and finally get the BBS back out of the technological Stone Age, we've decided to move to a completely new version of the software used for the board, called UBBThreads. UBBThreads is a new product from the creators of UBB, but is completely database-driven, and should thus be able to handle larger boards. It's also got cool features like a "who's online" feature or the aforementioned private messaging feature.

    If all goes according to plan, I hope to move the board to UBBThreads somewhere between four and five weeks from now. Things might be set back a bit if it takes longer than I expect to implement the various hacks we have at the board, such as the lounges or the restrictions on users with less than 100 posts.

    Unfortunately, while UBBThreads is indeed better capable of handling a board the size of the Trek BBS, the by now two-year-old server we have still might not have enough horsepower to be able to continue to handle the site. For that reason, it looks like the only option we have is to move to a new server. I've been looking at a server that would provide us at least twice the capacity when it comes to things like processor power, memory and hard disk space, and that looks like something that would be able to carry us through for years to come.

    Of course, there's one massive downside to all of these benefits: cost. This is a big issue. Basically, things could get expensive for three reasons:

    a) We'd need to purchase two licenses for UBBThreads. While initially I thought we were going to participate in the beta program, it's turned out that the beta program does not allow any hacks - as I would like to preserve things like the lounges and important security features such as the limitations for members with less than 100 posts, this means the beta program is basically out.

    b) There'd be set-up costs associated with the new server, both for the initial hardware and for the install of the basic server software. In addition, while we are transfering the sites from the old to the new server, I'll have to pay for both the old and the new server.

    c) The server would come with higher monthly costs. This is probably my biggest worry - while an initial one-time expenditure is one thing, a higher server bill every month is quite another, and I'm not particularly looking forward to even more site-related expenses.

    For a long time now, I've been hoping the net economy would improve, and I'd be able to afford to simply pay for the upgrade out of my own pocket. Unfortunately, this has proven to not be the case, and I don't foresee a significant improvement in the near future either. So, unfortunately, I'm going to have to do what I always hoped I wouldn't have to do, and ask for donations.

    If you would like to donate to the Trek Nation server fund, you can do so by clicking on the below PayPal button. If you've still got questions about this, as you undoubtedly will, read on for another mini-FAQ on the issue.

    <center>
    <form action="https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr" method="post">
    <input type="hidden" name="cmd" value="_xclick">
    <input type="hidden" name="business" value="christian@trektoday.com">
    <input type="hidden" name="item_name" value="Trek Nation Server Donations">
    <input type="image" src="http://images.paypal.com/images/x-click-butcc-donate.gif" border="0" name="submit" alt="Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!">
    </form>
    </center>

    1. Four to five weeks from now? Ha! How can you be sure? Even this announcement was delayed by two days!

    I can't be 100% sure, but I'm pretty close to it. I've planned in an entire week four weeks from now to make sure the move goes correctly, and I'm hopeful it'll be possible to pull it off in that time. Besides, I've got a good motivator - the longer it takes to move everything from the old to the new server, the longer I'll have to pay double hosting fees.

    2. Weren't you going to move to a new server a year ago as well?

    Yes, we were. In fact, for a while I thought the server move was going to happen within a matter of weeks - the server itself had been ordered, I was already paying for monthly hosting, and I was fully expecting things to work out. Unfortunately, then disaster kept striking the person I'd partnered with on the server, and after a few months I had to pull the plug. This time the server will be purely for the Trek Nation and SlipstreamWeb, and will fall fully under my own management.

    3. Why should I donate? What's in it for me?

    By donating, you'll be contributing both to our new server and to our UBBThreads license, meaning you'll get a BBS that is faster, doesn't slow down every single week, and has a lot more features. You get the satisfaction of contributing in a very tangible manner to the community here. And you help make sure I don't go broke [​IMG].

    4. Do I get anything else? Do I get to decide on policy, or can I now flame people without getting warnings? Do I get a cool custom title?

    No. No, no. And no. I really need to make this very clear. If you donate money to the Trek BBS, you'll be contributing to a better BBS, and I will be very grateful, but it does not mean you will get special treatment. That would be highly unfair to the other posters, and would not serve to enhance the BBS at all.

    As for custom titles, while the rank system will be maintained, I believe UBBThreads offers the possibility to have personal avatars. If it is possible to turn off this option by default, you will get the option to turn it on and have a personal avatar at the BBS after the UBBThreads move.

    5. Why are you only using PayPal? Couldn't you have used the Amazon Honor system, too?

    I'd have liked to, but unfortunately the Amazon Honor System is only available for webmasters who live in the US, and unlike PayPal, they charge a rather hefty 15% processing fee. PayPal is a reputable company, however, and you can be sure that they won't use your credit card number to scam you.

    6. I'm not a PayPal member! Can I still donate?

    Yes, you can, as long as you have a credit card. Just click on the link that reads "If you have never paid through PayPal, click here." You will be asked to enter your credit card number, your address, and your phone number. If you complete the sign-up process, I think PayPal will even give you a $5 new account bonus.

    7. Does this mean you get to see my credit card details?

    No, I don't get to see your personal information.

    8. I don't have a credit card! Can I still donate?

    It does make a bit harder. It would be possible to send cheques or use a wire transfer to send me money, but as I'm in the Netherlands and most of you are in the United States the costs of that are rather high, and will probably not be worth it for donations of less than $20 or so. If you do want to donate money in this way, however, please contact me personally at christian@trektoday.com.

    9. When I go to donate, PayPal says I'm donating to Slipstream Media. What's that?

    That's me. When I sold some advertising space over PayPal a while ago, PayPal wanted me to put in a business name. So I decided on "Slipstream Media," of course named after SlipstreamWeb.

    10. Hey, speaking of SlipstreamWeb, why should only we pay for this?

    A similar announcement to this one is going to appear over there.

    11. So does this mean you're going to do away with the advertisements now?

    No, I'm afraid not. The only way that would be possible would be if the donations would bring in thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars, which is what the site costs to maintain per year, and unfortunately I'm afraid that won't be happening. The advertisements will still play a crucial role in keeping the sites alive.

    12. How much should I give?

    Any amount of money you could spare would be extremely welcome. Of course, how much you donate will not be revealed to anyone on the board.

    13. We've got 12,000 members! Surely if everyone on the BBS would donate a dollar that would cover the extra costs?

    That it would. But the unfortunate fact of the matter is that not all 12,000 members will donate. At least half of them aren't even active on the BBS anymore. Another large group of people simply isn't involved here enough to spend any money on it. And of those that remain, many probably have other reasons not to donate.

    14. So why don't you make this a compulsory thing? Either give the BBS money or be prevented from posting?

    Because the overwhelming majority of people would then unfortunately choose not to post. And a BBS where only 1 to 5% of the current membership would be able to post wouldn't be much to those people, either.

    15. What if you don't get enough donations? Will we still move?

    Well, I've already pretty much resigned myself to the fact that these donations won't cover all the additional expenses, and if the amount of money we get in is a bit disappointing, I'll just have to spend a bit more myself. But the unfortunate fact of the matter is that your donations are very important, and if the amount really is extremely disappointing, then we will not be able to move. In that case, I will of course try to return the donations back to you.

    16. You were always so against donations! What changed your mind?

    I'm still not a big fan of them. I don't particularly like the idea of receiving charity money, and I've always kept hoping the site would be able to be self-sufficient. Unfortunately, I'm now caught between two fires: my dislike for donations, and my dislike for the ever-slower server. As the slow server problem kept growing in size, I eventually just had to overcome my dislike for donations.

    17. How about merchandise? Is that still on your mind?

    It is, and I have been in email contact with a few people who came up with design ideas, although for some reason that hasn't been going very fast. But it's certainly something I'd like to pursue, and obviously any way that could cover the costs would be welcome.

    Of course, I'm open to other ideas to get extra income, too. If someone would like to advertise on the Trek Nation, for instance, or knows someone who would like to do so, please do contact me at christian@trektoday.com.

    18. How much exactly does running the sites cost?

    To be honest, I think I'll just leave it at "quite a bit of money". I'm rather uncomfortable with revealing all the intimate financial details of the site

    19. Will you wish for ongoing stuff, due to the increased monthly cost, or is this a one time need?

    I think it's more likely that people will do a one-time donation than that they would be providing monthly payments, and in any case that would too much of a hassle anyway, so for now this will be just a one-time thing. I really hope that by this time next year, the advertising market will also have recovered enough for us to be able to do without donations. If not, we may have to ask for donations again then.


    20. Any final thoughts?

    Yes. I'd just like to say again that I would of course be very grateful for any donations you would be able to give. Obviously, the current server is quite inadequate, and we've really been running into the limitations of the current software. It would be great if we would be able to improve on the situation, and it would be great if you could help with that.

    21. Great indeed! Where do I sign up?

    Here's the donation box again:


    <center>
    <form action="https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr" method="post">
    <input type="hidden" name="cmd" value="_xclick">
    <input type="hidden" name="business" value="christian@trektoday.com">
    <input type="hidden" name="item_name" value="Trek Nation Server Donations">
    <input type="image" src="http://images.paypal.com/images/x-click-butcc-donate.gif" border="0" name="submit" alt="Make payments with PayPal - it's fast, free and secure!">
    </form>
    </center>


    22. I've got even more to say about this! Where can I do that?

    Just go to this thread in Questions, Suggestions & Feedback.

    [This message has been edited by Christian (edited February 25, 2002).]