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managed wordpress hosting

Upgrading / Migrating to other forum software

I too, am committed on making this forum/site work and restore it to the previous glory that it was when I was first joined here well over a decade ago. Those were the days. I remember sitting up late at night browsing the forums when I was 15 and 16 years old. Certain songs come on the radio that have nostalgia to them because they were popular at the time and my mind reconnects to the forum. Back then people legitimately wanted free hosting to have a "home" on the internet. Folks would beg and plea to get 20MB of ad-free space to host their blogs, photos, or whatever else. Things were personalized and just more interesting. As time progressed the demand for free hosting dropped. Web 2.0 took over,and social networking killed off the free hosting arena. Granted... there are still folks looking for free hosting to run their wordpress site, or whatever, but it's just not the same. Nobody really cares anymore. Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram now replace Angelfire and Geocities and Homestead. The internet is an entirely different animal these days, some would argue for the better... me not so much. As WSWD has already mentioned, the logistics behind offering free hosting are a nightmare these days. Automated signups for free hosting with me were halted some time ago because, the BS requests accounted for well over 95%. Quite frankly, I don't have time to filter that nonsense and monitor it. I have a life and other responsibilities outside of sitting in front of a screen all day. I have security in place on my boxes to stop a lot of the crap, but some manual intervention is still required. In addition to that, the majority of "legitimate" requests that came through are 12 year olds without a clue on how to do anything. I don't mind helping people out from time to time, but I need to rely on my clients, somewhat, to know what they're doing and not open support tickets every 5 seconds asking stupid questions and wasting my time. These days, I only provide free hosting to pre-selected individuals who request it personally and provide me with some sign of competence and maturity. As time progressed, I shifted the focus of what I do away from hosting and more towards online sales and physical services such as warehouse leasing, logistics, eBay consignment, etc. The money to be made in hosting is gone. It's dried up. The market just isn't there and it's no longer worth my time to have hosting as the primary focus of my enterprise.

So.... now that I have come back down from the rant/nostalgia trip.... do I believe FWS is dead? Not entirely. Is there hope for it still? Hell yeah!

My thoughts on this possible forum upgrade/switch:
I don't think moving from vB to some other forum software is going to do much of anything. vB still remains to be THE leading forum software. As far as I am concerned, we really should keep it, but put a twist on it. Upgrade to the vB publishing suite maybe? Install some plugins and other features? Change the layout and theme to something other than this dreadful default skin. vB itself is a great building block and has a lot of potential to be expanded on, but it can't be the only element to a site anymore, as we've discovered.
Deeplist makes good points.

I'm especially interested in the "support" aspect. There certainly would be market for a Q&A section, maybe something like yahoo answers but for web hosting - With a nice search system in place. There must be some mod for that, with a little customisation, it could replace some of the forums here, but replace it with a "feed" section on the homepage to show activity.. The only problem would be how to reward people for answering these questions... I guess some kind of points system can be used similar to forums like NP's, etc? That can however be a little tacky if not done correct.

I still stand by my site integration with "host profiles", where uptime is recorded, reviews are collaborated, etc. I think at minimum that is a requirement, give the hosts reason to come back, links to this website on their site, getting the clients here is just an advertising campaign away.


There are loads of ideas out there... I guess Peo just needs to decide which area he wants to focus on.
Thanks guys, good ideas. The vB publishing suite I'll look into but I would prefer wordpress. We could make some changes to the theme and wait with a decision about migration. It's not urgent to migrate and we might have a better picture of options later this year.

I'll take a look at what kind of plugins, mods etc vBulletin have that could be useful.
Might be time for a whole new framework (the mention of Wordpress makes my lips climb over my teeth) including a 'social network' side (god I actually said that) if that part can be refined and moderated.

I'd love to see FWS grow it's traffic to what it once was so it could actually attract paying advertisers among the big guys out there so development could make it what it was in the days when a vB forum was king. I know I'm looking back a bit far here... But the -----s like a solid information framework, the kids love social/interaction, the money likes high hit rates and marketable stats and info.

Methinks it may have to get a little bit mercenary!

Possibly some of the long standing hosts here would be prepared to setup a VPS to do nothing more than monitor others uptime (opt-in) amongst other things with the results combined to provide a real reflection of performance with an FWS stamp of approval.
That's a basic example but you get the idea - offer something solid and recognisable as an FWS service (free fries with that burger) deal on the site.

I could go on but I promised myself I wouldn't - for now :D could feel a bit of a brain dump coming on.
Looks like the plugin vbsso can connect vbulletin and wordpress.
Sorry about the late reply. We're keeping vBulletin for now and I'm looking into options for Wordpress.
Not going to lie, disappointed to hear that Peo. If you do decide to move the site forward from a traditional forum system, I am available if needed, you have my email.

Just putting the offer out there :)
What do you mean by moving from a traditional forum system? I think the other forum systems are still traditional and not that different from vBulletin just better in some respects. The only really new inovative thing I've seen is based on node.js and that forum software is very new and not stable enough for us to move to. It also lacks a lot of features we have currently.

The frontpage database will move to wordpress. I have started to work on that. I'll send you a pm, I appreciate it Richard. If anyone else is interested in helping out with this project send me a pm and let me know what you might be able to help us with. Maybe we can create a team to work on this.
I'd be a little worried about using Wordpress for a sophisticated project like FWS. As far as I can see WP is notorious for being a target for hackers. This seems to be the script hackers specialize in. Wordpress is also a pain when one moves from one version to another. Particularly when there are plugins involved. I don't know what the alternative is, but there has to be a more sophisticated solution than Wordpress. Particularly for a community like this one with so much concentrated specialist brain power per square inch of Forum. Why not put it up as a project for tender and give some of the specialists in the Forum a chance to make detailed proposals. Maybe you could put up a grand prize with a deadline and that way generate some posts and action energy to get the project off the ground.

Instead of hoping traffic will increase, I'd rather work with what traffic there is,and simplify the forum software to something much smaller like myBB. I'm sure all of the bells and whistles that are attached to vbulletin must have been fun at one stage, but there doesn't seem to be the need for it in small and more passive community. I must say I also prefer the simplicity and layout of the forums in myBB over the ones of vBulletin. I haven't managed a vBulletin Forum before, but I'd imagine myBB Admin wise would be much simpler to manage as well.

As far as free hosting is concerned. I agree it is not as popular as it was before. Something I have noticed however is that your free hosting enthusiast is now moving towards reseller hosting. Reseller hosting has taken off in a big way, I've even noticed free reseller hosting being flogged as well, usually as a way of attracting customers for paid reseller hosting. Maybe reseller hosting could be added as a separate item to the directories? Maybe the directories could be completely revamped and simplified as well?
I had a newsletter from theadminzone.com today announcing they have switched to XenForo. I see they have a lot of discussion threads on XenForo there :)
XenForo is definately the one I would pick at this point if we would decide to move away from vB.

I don't see any reason to choose something other than Wordpress for the database of the free webhosts. I haven't had any problems with Wordpress for many years now. A custom solution would most likely cause more problems in the long run.

The new version of FWS will take more than a month to finish, but atleast I'm back from a two month vacation now so I can get back to work on this.
We're getting closer to a move to xenForo. If you object please state why as soon as possible. My plan is to start the transition within two weeks. Thoughts?
XenForo is awesome, and the only forum software I use these days. Have 5 or 6 licenses with them. Definitely not a mistake moving that direction.