Never say die.
"That Which Doesn't Kill Us Makes Us Stronger" - Friedrich Nietzsche
My apologies that this report concerning the recent server errors, the return to ezboard and what lies ahead couldn't be posted sooner. There were several details that needed to be hammered out before the final edits could be made.
Victim Of Changes
When it comes to Forums, there have been three times the WMA has succeeded and then had to survive a major setback due to circumstances beyond our control. The WMA's first forum on every1.net had just become the second most requested shared forum on their network and had attained over 1,000 members when it suddenly became unusable and soon after was deleted when every1.net discontinued it's forum service. Our second forum on ezboard had become the top ranked metal and political board on Yahoo and Google and had attained over 2,000 members when it was suddenly the victim of an attack on all ezboards that wiped out nearly 5 years of topics. And recently our third forum, just weeks before restoring the remaining content lost in the move from HTML to PHP, has become unusable due to sporadic errors and downtime.
The Thing That Should Not Be
Over the past 3 weeks, the company who hosts our site has denied fault and offered many excuses that defy logic. Although they've blamed several things including xoops, their final solution is that we need to upgrade to a designated server at over ten times the current cost. Since bandwidth usage was nowhere near the maximum and was at the same level it had been through the past Summer when the site ran fine we did some research and found it was a classic bait and switch scam. Sign up people for hosting, allow the site to run with no errors, and then after the customer renews the contract for a second year the site mysteriously stops working, followed by the proposal to upgrade at an outrageous cost. Apparently the company is notorious for this.
Hold At All Costs
Rather than continue with a board that was unusable most of the time, and considering the importance of keeping communication open, the decision was made to move back to ezboard for the time being. Mainly because it was already configured for use, is still linked to the entire WMA site at metal.20m.com, and most members are registered here. Initially the plan was to remain here until the xoops forum could be relocated to another server. But after reading the topic, Anybody else like ezboard better? and seeing how many members stopped participating due to problems they had with xoops, it became obvious that putting any more time and effort into relocating it would be useless. Also, on the same topic Blizzard posted the following question:
"Are the features on the other board worth only having SOME of the members able to post?" - Blizzard
The answer is no. The features, as cool as they were, are not worth alienating members who can't use it. And although a ton of work went into building the xoops site, if it is only usable for a fraction of the members, no amount of features are worth trying to make it work somewhere else. And considering the limited amount of time we have, it would be better spent on developing something entirely new.
We refuse to let this recent setback, or the setbacks of the past keep us from pressing forward. They've only served to further strengthen our determination to never surrender or retreat. For through it all, we first learned that communication between members is a critical function of the WMA. It is a point that is driven home everytime online communication has failed us since then. We then saw that it is possible to attain first place and gained the experience needed to do it again. And recently, we've realized that universal usability far out weighs bells and whistles.
A New Level
We must now take what we've learned and develop an entirely new approach to how and what we build next. The move to xoops from ezboard was reactionary. The Senate only had a few days to test nearly a half dozen forum options, and HellMonitor had the final choice up and running within a week of the attack on ezboard. This time the move must be done with patience and the rebuild must be done by strictly adhering to the "K.I.S.S. rule" - Keep It Simple Stupid.
Since many variables are involved and much is still unknown, it's not possible to give an exact time schedule or order of events at this time, but the following list is an overview of what we are now in the process of completing in no particular order. Some top priorities are already done, some are now in process and others will be started when the higher priorities are completed. If anything changes, we will post an update on this topic.
LIFE BOAT: In the event ezboard stops working during our stay here, or the migration occurs and goes bad before we move, a temporary banner-supported board has been setup with a free PHPBB board host. If it is needed, the ENTER button on our splash page will be redirected from ezboard to the temporary board. If you haven't already done so, go to our current splash page at worldmetalalliance.com and add it to your bookmarks.
NEW ADDRESS: An entirely new url (worldmetalalliance.org) has been purchased for construction of the new site, there are several reasons why this was chosen, incluing the obvious - the WMA is an organization (See "NEW SITE" paragraph below) When the new site is complete, both worldmetalalliance.com and metal.20m.com will be redirected to this new url.
XOOPS ACCESS: Although the xoops site is still experiencing sporadic errors, it has been opened for access to registered members in order to retrieve posts and topics before it is removed. To gain access, go to worldmetalalliance.com/xoops/html/modules/newbbs and enter your user name and password. Fortunately this last setback didn't entirely destroy past data. The database has been backed-up for possible reinstallation as an archive of the xoops years at a later date. Once the new site is complete and we are able cancel our account with the failed host, we will post advanced notice that the present xoops board will be removed.
MIGRATION & STAYING GOLD: Ezboard has been sending out notices that they plan on migrating all ezboards to another system called yuku sometime in the future. Based on the feedback we've read and heard, there are problems with the new system which is still in beta. Although no date has been set for the migration, they are recommending gold boards (ad-free) such as ours go ahead and renew, as the migration seems to be farther off than originally planned. Our gold expires in the middle of December. Since we're not sure how long we may be here, we will renew 30 days in advance, mid November, for another 6 months at approximately $30. (The price fluctuates a few dollars based on the past 30 days traffic.)
FACE LIFT: If it appears we will be on ezboard for an extended period of time, we will give it and the site pages at metal.20m.com a quick facelift by applying the graphics and overall look of the xoops site. If it looks as if it will be long term, we will apply the graphics we had ready for a facelift of the xoops site which was originally scheduled for November but was cancelled when the errors started to occur. Also we will ask the Senate to approve the issuing of a new medal to recognize members who were highly active on the xoops forum.
NEW HOST: We will take the time to thoroughly research web hosting companies and try to find the most reliable and reputable to host the new site. We ask the members to recommend any companies they know of that may be worth considering ASAP. Once found, we will sign-up for a monthly billing cycle, rather than yearly to prevent being locked into a contract and losing funds again if for some reason the host fails to perform.
NEW FORUM: After a host has been chosen, HellMonitor will install possible forums based on simplicity and universal usability. Once installed, links to each will be posted in order for all of the members to test and provide feedback on how well each performs. It is critical that the members participate in the testing process. Feedback is not only welcome, it is crucial to finding the right forum software that will work well and load fast for everyone.
NEW SITE: Once the new forum has been installed, time-tested and proven reliable, an entirely new site will be built to seemlessly work along with it. The old site will be gone over one page at a time, all fat will be trimmed and any fluff will be removed. What's left will be combined with any new relevant material and then reorganized and rebuilt in an easy to navigate comprehensive manner. It is our goal to make the overall look of the new site coincide with the new .org url by presenting the WMA as an organization (which it is) rather than a lucrative commercial .com enterprise (which it is not).
Right now that's all we know. As I said, if anything changes, it will be posted on this topic. In the meantime, the best way for the members to help is to stay united, stay active, keep the feedback coming and tune in and support Alliance Radio. The hardest thing about this recent setback is that it occurred on the eve of the relaunch of Alliance Radio. The Official Feed Of The World Metal Alliance needs your support now more than ever. Also, if you post on other boards (metal or non-metal) that have high traffic and no errors, do some undercover work and try to find out who they use for hosting without going into why you want to know. Also let us know what forum software they are running. Or if you're a member of a tech board try and find some leads there. Just be sure to post anything you find out on this topic within the next few days. We ask for everyone's patience, we want to take the time to do our homework this time and if possible avoid another setback in the future.
And above all else, never say die.