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neil

Upgrading The Forum

Which route would you like to see stirton.com take?  

43 members have voted

This poll is closed to new votes
  1. 1. Which route would you like to see stirton.com take?

    • Upgrade to IPB V2
      7
    • Migrate to VBulletin V3
      3
    • Migrate back to phpBB
      1
    • Stick with the current board (with no further developments and support/bug fixes)
      7
    • Use one of the free/opensource 'lesser' boards
      0


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Well folks, I'm always keeping an eye out for security patches etc for the forum

but it appears that a couple of days ago, Invision, the developers of this forum

have finally revoked support/downloads for the free version of this forum.

 

There are quite a few options as I see it and would like some feedback from you, the user.

 

The three most popular boards/forums should you care to have a look:

 

www.invisionboard.com - IPB (current)

www.vbulletin.com - VB

www.phpbb.com - phpBB (used to run that for this forum)

 

Obviously, taking the current users and posts to a new forum is a major

consideration (there are however normally scripted means for doing this)

and exactly how much time and effort this is going to take, and what it's going

to cost!

 

Version 3.1.0 of VBulletin (still to come) is looking good but

Invision's new version 2 of the forum is packed with features also... and an

additional photo gallery can be purchased and bolted on to the forum direct.

 

There will most likely be a cost associated with licencing the new forum (if

one of the above options are chosen). The options I see for covering this cost would be to:

- Allow some small adverts from shooting related companies/individuals to help

cover the costs.

- Get sponsorship from one or two shooting companies for the whole forum.

- Ask for small donations from the members

- Ask for a sign up fee (don't really like that idea - the forum is supposed to be free).

 

 

I'm looking for constructive feedback and ideas from you guys in order to

keep improving the forum and attract many more members from the shooting

world!

 

 

Thanks

Neil

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I'm easy as I'm not technical provided whatever we have is user friendly so take the option that fits the above with what's easiest and cheapest for you in my view.

 

As to charging, whilst I personally wouldn't mind subscribing, without knowing what small is, but I suspect that it will reduce the membership back to hard core contributors and lovers of this forum which isn't the only objective IMHO. Though we might get rid of some obvious cheapskates I wouldn't like to think that we put anyone off on grounds of cost! We don't want the NSRA to stop subscribing as we want them seeing the views expressed.

 

So I am in favour of select advertising but IMHO it must be from smallbore target shooting specialists like Mac, Bedford Target Shooting Supplies, HPS, NSRA and the like. We have had some irrelevant contributors trying to force their latest irrelevant deals on us and that would detract from this specialised forum.

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I would encourage you to use something released under the GPL, phpBB is GPL, so that would be a good contender, I'm not sure if "use on of the GPL/free lesser boards' was implying that the free ones where somehow lesser, usually the GPL stuff is consdierably better .. at least if you don;t like it .. you can change it :)

 

I'm not a great fan of bulletin boards, persoanlly I much prefer jsut a simple mailing list ... liek Mailman or 'Siesta' (ok I admit I might have written some of Siesta, so thats a slight bias :) .. so I dont really pay much attention to bulletin board features .. I dont use much aprt from the 'get latest messages' feature .. thats about it .. phpBB seems to have been OK when I have used it .. its free and its GPL'd .. sounds fine to me.

 

If you do want to raise some cash to cover bandwidth, you could try voluntary donations ... I run a mailing list for motorcylists that churns its ay through 2million mails and 30gb a month ... we have a 'freinds' page with some paypal buttons .. callbacks from the paypal site update a database, and doners go in the hall-of-fame for a year (donation amount not shown) ... we make no demand to be given cash, once a year we suggest it might be nice and generally we get about 400 or 500 quid ... :) ... I think shooters appreciate the service you run and you'd probabkly get more than you imagined from voluntary donations ... it works for me anyway

 

see http://www.ixion.org.uk/cgi-bin/friends.pl for the example ...

 

I'd stay away from sponsoship and banners etc, hateful things .. and sponsorship soon leads to "hey, I apy all this money in sponsorship, please delete that thread where they say I ripped them off' etc .. stay well away from it IMHO.

 

You could try a classified ads section, pay per advert some trivial amount like a quid or some such ... theres 'myclassifieds' which is a simple mysql backed thng that works OK ...

 

wahtever .. GPL software for the BBS, no ads and voluntary doantions .. it works for us on the motorcycling list, it would work here too I'm sure.

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phpBB (used to run that for this forum)

Neil,

 

Why did you decide to switch from phpBB? I think it must have been before I joined. If there was a good reason for dropping it then, is that still valid now?

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As to charging, whilst I personally wouldn't mind subscribing, without knowing what small is, but I suspect that it will reduce the membership back to hard core contributors and lovers of this forum which isn't the only objective IMHO

 

Robert, I agree with you entirely and that's why I wouldn't be keen on

charging really. (FYI, when I was thinking about it, I was thinking about £1 on registration)

 

I would encourage you to use something released under the GPL

 

Robin, I knew that would be your stance straight away ;)

I too am a fan of GPL and you are teaching your granny here ... B)

But sometimes, yes sometimes, it is worth spending the money - and yes I am a

programmer/database developer <_<

 

Sounds good to me.

Thanks for the backing David .. maybe this is the way forward and those who

appreciate the service can contribute what they see fit :)

 

Why did you decide to switch from phpBB?

A few reasons Clive ... security was breached more often on phpBB more so

than on the other 'main' boards (and it could be timely before a patch was released). The admin functionality and user functionality was superior in

IPB than in phpBB. I know phpBB has improved a bit of late but I still think

that IPB v2 is better all round than the latest version of phpBB, IMO.

 

It's all in the air at the moment and I'm not going to rush the changes ... things

like customising the skin etc is all a consideration as I'd like to introduce more

than just the forum in the future and want a consistent look and feel.

 

 

Keep the ideas coming ... :D

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Neil,

Without sounding too lazy can I say ditto to Roberts post ;) .

 

I have no technical expertise in these things so as long as it's fairly easy to use then it gets my vote. As for cash I would prefer the sponsorship option. That aint because I'm tight, I just think we won't get many new members. A voluntary donation may be the way to go.

 

Rob.

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Thanks Rob :D

 

Clive, I've had a look at phpBB again and now I remember why I moved away ...

there are considerably more functions (especially admin related) with both

IPB and VBulletin <_<

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OK, well .. lets say I'm not that fussed over which forum software gets used .. as I say, for me, I just click on the 'view new posts' things, and thats it. If it was possible to have a forum where it sent them on as emails, and similarly emails sent to the forum attached themselves to the rtight thread, that would be much better IMHO, as I could pretend its just a mailing list and not use the web interface at all ;) .. but hey, I still use vi as my editor, so my opinion may be skewed :)

 

as for the security problems of phpbb, well .. if you will insist on running web aplicatrions from a language with no built-in taint checking .. .;)

 

So .. on to the main topic .. the running costs .. all these things cost money to run, I think you'll find that most of the solutions for gathering a quid or something off the prospective members are rather troublesome, firstly, PayPal or whoever usually get at least 60p ... and also it puts people off joining. FAR more important than the money, is the number of member and the 'inclusivity' of it ...

 

I'd say give it 6 months on the 'voluntary donations thing and see what gives ... I think you'll be suprised. You are welcome to the trivial pair of cgi scripts for the 'friends' page and its associated callback from PayPal if you want them as a starting point ...

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Small donation sounds reasonable but don't you have to pay to sign on to PayPal? Not sure how popular that would be. Suppose the other option is mailing a cheque for £1 to Neil which is more annoying for everyone!

 

Personally can't see a problem with one of the Threads - perhaps one of the 'free' ones which don't require registration - being a Classified advertiser service. As well as businesses, Clubs could pay for advertising themselves - they do in some of the magazines. As for non smallbore advertisers - we are all grown ups and can make our own commercial decisions. If you don't want to buy 'genuine Desert Storm camoflage gear' from MilitaGroups'r'Us, then don't read their advert.

 

All shooters need companies to sell us shiny new gear when we drop stupid shots .... I mean have good reason to invest in our sport. Personally, I don't have a problem with a clearly identifed advert from one of the many suppliers we have in this country and elsewhere.

 

Patrick

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Thanks for the offer Robin but I've already got a handful of scripts that I've

developed in the past for clients and their E-Commerce needs.

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Charging a fee is fine with me.

 

If you want to maintain the free route, as this is a mainly "closed forum", it could be fully closed with web page place holder for new applicants to apply and logon to access forum. That would restrict interactive hacks/brute force but obviously not address IP launched issues.

 

From lock–down stance, IPB and VBulletin have both been reasonable in field.

 

One school of thought is “do nothing”. Two of my commercial clients accept the potential risks of using slightly outdated (i.e. already paid for) software and simply backup the on-line content via snap-shots and then restore in the event of an issue either hardware/software or malicious. This is obviously never popular with sales folk but is a legitimate decision if consciously taken.

 

At the end of the day, I feel you should have cast vote as you have done all the hard work, put this together and run it!

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What about a forum competition, something slightly obscure perhaps, with smallish entry fee, winner gets fame, glory, silly prize, donated prize whatever, forum gets the entry fee.

 

Problem is the comp, need to have something everyone has a chance of winning/desire to enter, and of course lots of people in the forum shoot lots of different disciplines, so can we combine?

 

Failing that - lets try to avoid charging, donations or related sponsorship would be better otherwise you risk restricting forum growth

 

-Vidar

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Neil,

Have you had any malicious security breach attempts? If not, and you're happy with the way this board works, I'd agree with PaulT and keep it.

As a fully fledged IT professional (haha!) I've discovered that whatever you spend on computers, they will get broken eventually. Might as well keep the current system and save some dosh. It also means people not so good at using computers (me) don't have to keep relearning. I've only just worked out how to use the "View New Posts" tab!

 

Perhaps I'm just badly influenced - our old farts are shuffling around feeling smug at the moment because it turns out our 25 year old mainframe system kicks the arse out of the new $450m Oracle system we spent three years developing and then just threw in the bin.

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I would say that a charge to register wouldn't be a good move. It would stop all those people who have no idea how to pay online from registering, and also it would stop all those who believe that it is highly insecure.

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