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IMPORTANT: The forum is (not) closing down!

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  • kiki180703kiki180703 Montreal, CanadaMember Posts: 1,060
    ^Completely agree with you!
  • oldtodd33oldtodd33 Denver 4800 miles to BillundMember Posts: 2,641
    I think the issue with that is that the main site is for collectors but under 16 can join. The forum was created for 16 and older for legal reasons or moral reasons which ever. If you are going to put all discussions linked to the forum you might as well put the forum at the bottom of the front page and only let the 16 and older join. Removing all users who are currently under 16. 
    Jenniandhe
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 15,143
    Shouldn't there be a volume discount for more hits?  

    On the flip side, my hosting company doesn't charge more for more page views.  It increases their server traffic, which has some sort of monetization value that I'm completely unaware of.
    TheBigLegoskiVorpalRyu
  • wayneggwaynegg Texas,USAMember Posts: 394
    V Bulletin may be worth looking into. They host high volume for less (or at least they were when I was helping run a Pokemon site) and have some pretty neat features. 
  • snowhitiesnowhitie BelgiumMember Posts: 3,063
    ^ Well, they were trying to catch 'em all!
    TheBigLegoskibobabricks
  • AleyditaAleydita BelgiumMember Posts: 948
    Brickset relies on its community for revenue, and if you close article comments or the forum then the community will reduce in size. The forum may not pay for itself, but I'd put my mortgage on it being indirectly responsible for most of the revenue generated by the main site.

    Regards closing article comments to 'merge' discussion onto the forum - what is it with this desire certain people have to try and control how everyone debates? Seems the idea is coming from some of the same people who act as vigilante moderators on the forum.
    caperberry
  • CoraHarrisonCoraHarrison Member Posts: 242
    I thought I'd rank them in order of best to worst for me personally:

    - Adverts shown to only non-members 
    For obvious reasons

    - Adverts shown to all
    As many have said... the right kind of adverts. No pop-ups etc.

    - Sponsorship
    I suppose this is on-par with adverts as that's essentially what it would be. I know many of the other AFOL sites and forums use this method with small thumbnail adverts. 

    - Subscription
    Not the end of the world, I think a high number of us who've been on the forum for 1 year + would pay. But those who are new to the site are unlikely to... 


    In other notes...

    - Parts of the forum subscription (e.g. marketplace)
    I think people would stop using the Marketplace all together. :-(

    - Rehosting the forum somewhere else. The Vanilla software is open source.
    I'm not sure the in's and out's of this so I can't comment.

  • CCCCCC UKMember Posts: 20,477
    Aleydita said:

    Regards closing article comments to 'merge' discussion onto the forum - what is it with this desire certain people have to try and control how everyone debates? Seems the idea is coming from some of the same people who act as vigilante moderators on the forum.
    I mentioned this. The reason being there are often two parallel discussions about the same thing. Meaning some people on the forum don't see the article discussion, and vice versa. It seems silly to have essentially parallel discussions on the same site. That is why there is the question of whether bricksetforum is part of brickset or not (currently it feels like it is not), and whether it should be. There is also the question of whether brickset is a forum. Each post says otherwise (stating this is not a discussion forum), but many of the comments are equivalent to those that appear on the forum.

    It is not about trying to stifle debate. It is actually about trying to get everyone discussing it in the same place on the site so as to avoid repetition (and possibly also miss other points of view where there might be some comments made that are not posted to both parts of the site). Article comments are disabled after a while anyway. Whereas they are more open ended (time wise) on the forum.

    TheBigLegoskidougtssnowhitiecjorgenskiki180703
  • BumblepantsBumblepants DFW/BGMember Posts: 7,429
    ^I agree, but often the main site comments are just drivel and severely lacking in quality. I would not want to add to the forums the imput from young kids who just shout things like "THIS IS AWEOMSE!1!!" or "FIRENDS AND ELFS ARE TEH DUM!"

    (Granted, occasionally it is funny for a bit like that Mcutchen kid last year)
    snowhitiekiki180703SumoLegochuckpandheSirBenRainstorm26
  • tecjamtecjam Germany / SwitzerlandMember Posts: 255
    Personally I would integrate the forum with the current site - no need to base it on vanilla, as you already have a comments function you should be able to write a quick forum script based on categories (tags), first post & comments. Everything else is already in place (user object / login & register / etc).

    At least that way you would have one login and user and a single codebase to maintain.
    dougtscjorgens
  • MarkCXMarkCX UKMember Posts: 2
    edited October 2015
    Advertising for everyone with an option to pay a subscription to go 'ad-free'.
    I'd pay it.
    A donation button wouldn't hurt for now either.
    Oldfan
  • ryan498ryan498 Member Posts: 37
    I really appreciate the forum,  as do other people. I wouldn't mind with a monthly/annual subscription or adverts. 
  • Sethro3Sethro3 United StatesMember Posts: 953
    I would go for whatever is cheapest to the readers. My LUG is charging fees this next year, so I won't have money to throw around. It will probably mean less money to do LEGO related things in general, so signing up for a website probably won't be in the cards.
  • messymessy CambridgeshireMember Posts: 251
    I've been a member and massive fan of brickset since before the advent of the forum. If the forum were to cease then I would still use the main site daily but would really miss the knowledge, (varied) opinions and humour in the many threads that interest me.

    I love the feel of the forum and would not like to see it change too much.  I would be happy to subscribe to the main site and for elements of the forum, but if relatively low key ads were introduced then it would not bother me. I can ignore them easy enough, and as they are so prevalent in todays world they should not put off new members who may not join if a subscription is required.

    Could you add affiliate links to the forum as well as the main site, or as others have mentioned look at voluntary donations / annual fund raising?
    kiki180703
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 15,143
    "THIS IS AWEOMSE!1!!" or "FIRENDS AND ELFS ARE TEH DUM!
    I've cracked the case!  @Bumblepants has more than one account.
    kiki180703Bumblepantsandhe
  • BumblepantsBumblepants DFW/BGMember Posts: 7,429
    SumoLego said:
    "THIS IS AWEOMSE!1!!" or "FIRENDS AND ELFS ARE TEH DUM!
    I've cracked the case!  @Bumblepants has more than one account.
    Are you kidding? My whole sense of self-worth is built on a accumulating a large pile of 'likes' and 'points'. Multiple accounts would be a disaster!
    kiki180703SumoLegoVorpalRyuTheBigLegoskibendybadgerwagnerml2andheToc13
  • SumoLegoSumoLego New YorkMember Posts: 15,143
    Not if that second account allows you post your real feelings.

    DULPO IS FER BABI3S!!
    VorpalRyuBumblepantswagnerml2Rainstorm26
  • VorpalRyuVorpalRyu AustraliaMember Posts: 2,318
    Adverts, subscriptions to avoid adverts, sponsorship, a new host, personal server to directly host, etc, whatever works to keep the forum going. From my own personal experience, shopping around for new hosts can be a good thing, service providers change over time & what was once a good deal may not be so great now. One thing I wouldn't recommend is going down the subscriber only path, I've seen it done before & while it can weed out some undesirables, it can also cost you good people that makes a site like this worth being a part of.
    TheBigLegoskichuckptecjamxiahna
  • tedwardtedward CanadaMember Posts: 163
    Your only real choice is advertising of some sort. As one of many forums available the idea of paying a subscription is a non-starter and any other way you go you will have to have advertising.
    TheBigLegoski
  • rocaorocao Administrator Posts: 4,290
    I'm sure you know this, but I'll mention it anyway: the solution needs to be able to scale. Advertisements would scale, subscription fees less so, and donations the least.

    Is there room to grow on that pricing tier for Vanilla forum hosting? If not, that's an even stronger case for self hosting.
  • AanchirAanchir United StatesMember Posts: 2,989
    The banner ads at the top and bottom of every page on BZPower, one of the main forums I use, generally don't bother me at all. Most of the time I am able to scroll past them without a second thought. In my opinion, as long as there's nothing offensive in the ads in question, they are harmless so long as they are plainly separated from the actual content I'm here to see. Pop-ups that generate when I open a new tab or ads in between actual posts would be distracting and frustrating, but ads at the top and bottom of the page are no trouble at all.
    Oldfan
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,950
    Another site I was on had a similar crisis to this at some point in its past and they made a 'club', where members could pay a subscription to keep the site running. I think they also got a say in how the site was run, as well (some sort of AGM or something). Now I'm in no way saying that Huw should make the forum publicly run, but on that site, there didn't seem to be any kind of stratification between paying and non-paying members. So it is possible to have a two tier model like that (ie, free access and paid access).
  • HuwHuw Brickset Towers, Hampshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 7,043
    Well as you can see from https://vanillaforums.com/plans the charge is usually a lot higher for this level of traffic!

    It's obviously priced up for corporates for whom it's small beer.

    The choice will come down to either forking out what's asked for to leave it here with no disruption or hassle either now or going forwards, or to moving elsewhere to an unknown provider and probably starting from a clean slate, and then potentially struggling with supporting it myself, diverting time and effort from the upkeep of the main site. 

    So, unpalatable as it is, I don't think there's a choice.
  • princedravenprincedraven Essex, UKMember Posts: 3,764
    No expert, but this looks a reasonable alternative: https://www.heartinternet.uk/premium-web-hosting
    kiki180703
  • William_TownsleyWilliam_Townsley Perth, Scotland Member Posts: 880
    @Huw you might be better saying goodbye to vanilla and finding somewhere else to go that is more affordable 
  • BumblepantsBumblepants DFW/BGMember Posts: 7,429
    edited October 2015
    Huw said:
    Well as you can see from https://vanillaforums.com/plans the charge is usually a lot higher for this level of traffic!

    It's obviously priced up for corporates for whom it's small beer.

    The choice will come down to either forking out what's asked for to leave it here with no disruption or hassle either now or going forwards, or to moving elsewhere to an unknown provider and probably starting from a clean slate, and then potentially struggling with supporting it myself, diverting time and effort from the upkeep of the main site. 

    So, unpalatable as it is, I don't think there's a choice.
    Well wherever we end up I will just change my username to 'Guywhousedtohave2.3Klikespants' I guess.

    On a more serious note, I would be willing to bet there are more than enough willing and capable folk on the forum to help you out with the upkeep and support of the new forum so you can focus on the main site.
    SumoLegokiki180703
  • theLEGOmantheLEGOman UKMember Posts: 1,524
    I don't know how much bandwidth 950k views uses, but TSOHOST will give you a Managed Virtual Private Server,  4 Xeon cores, 80gb of ssd space and 1600gb of bandwidth for £99 month or £1099 per year or 8 cores, 8gb of ram, 160gb of ssd space and 6000gb of bandwidth a month (surely you can't use 6tb of bandwidth for 950k pages) at £209.99 a month or £2309.89 a year, I and probably a number of others can give you a 10% off affiliate code, paying by year obviously knocking off the most from a use once code.

    Try dropping them a line about migrating you over, as you get so much traffic maybe they would knock a bit extra off if you have a hosted by link and small banner/button at the bottom of the page. You can upgrade as you go, so if you need more bandwidth as you go along you can upgrade easily enough, run in the UK with UK tech support i believe as well.


    https://www.tsohost.com/managed-servers/linux-vps


  • drdavewatforddrdavewatford Hertfordshire, UKAdministrator Posts: 6,732
    snowhitie said.....

    3. Donations, I think that might be a good way to go. My husband is on a train forum where they work like that. Every month they set a 'target' that they need to get and ussually after a couple of days they get there. I think most people would end up dontating after a couple of months on the forum and that way everybody can contribute what they think Brickset means to them.
    This is an interesting idea. Work out the monthly hosting costs, and then on the first of each month start to collect donations and count down to the monthly total with some kind of graphic countdown clock.

    Per @Huw's earlier comment, I agree that it'd be prudent to consult with an accountant since this model might have tax implications, but surely worth looking in to.
  • davebstedavebste Oklahoma City Greatness Member Posts: 6
    I can handle a few adds. YOU GET SO MANY VIEWS YOU COULD MAKE MONEY, YOU DESERVE TO MAKE MONEY FOR ALL THE WORK YOU DO.  I'LL HAPPILY CLICK 1 ADD EACH TIME I LOG ON.
    chuckp
  • TheLoneTensorTheLoneTensor MericaMember Posts: 3,937
    edited October 2015
    What about merch?  Cafepress is the easiest option for shirts and stuff.  Then there's those minifigs you had at one point.  Make more of them and sell them.  Or you could go the PBS route and turn it into "Give $25 to keep us on the air and get this sweet Brickset minifig."
  • RobertoRoberto Imola, ItalyMember Posts: 117
    I doubt I would ever pay a subscription to use this forum, but clearly money has to come out from somewhere, in some way. I would say there's nothing wrong with advertising. Maybe a new user survey in the main site thought for this specific topic would help you administrators getting better ideas and finding the right solution.
  • davee123davee123 USAMember Posts: 838
    Maybe it's been covered (I didn't see it skimming through):

    What happens to existing content if alternate hosting is sought?  I'm assuming it's just kaput?  There's quite a lot of existing content hosted here that's pretty informative that I'd hate to lose.

    If Vanilla software is available, could the existing data be extracted and re-inserted into the new setup?

    Is there a way to extract the existing data anyway (short of painful web crawling)?

    DaveE
    BumblepantsSethro3
  • tecjamtecjam Germany / SwitzerlandMember Posts: 255
    @davee123: According to this you can request a data dump, so self hosting and importing the existing data shouldn't be a problem at all.
  • MrShinyAndNewMrShinyAndNew Member Posts: 282
    davee123 said:

    Is there a way to extract the existing data anyway (short of painful web crawling)?

    DaveE
    According to the Vanilla website they will generate a database dump of the data for you upon request.

    I'd like to second or third the request to have the forum better integrated with the main site. It feels like it's just a separate place where some of the same people happen to sometimes meet. It's weird to have comments on articles that are distinct from the forums posts. That said, I can see why the separation exists: it's two different platforms. However, if they were integrated, I'd love to see:

    • Single sign-on for both main site and forum
    • Better linking of articles, sets, etc, from the main site to the forum, and vice versa (e.g. having a link on the set's database page to discussions about the set in the forum, or automatic links back to the database pages from the forum)
    • Easier ways to embed links, photos, lists, etc, from the main site in posts

    Regarding paying for the site, I can't really see myself paying for the forum. I would consider paying for a good Android app that exposes all the current functionality (but first I'd need the main site to support splitting my collection up into multiple collections, like Rebrickable allows).

    The Vanilla site has a "whitepaper" on monetization, but you have to request it. Have you looked at it? Does it have any good ideas?
  • plasmodiumplasmodium UKMember Posts: 1,950
    • Single sign-on for both main site and forum
    • Better linking of articles, sets, etc, from the main site to the forum, and vice versa (e.g. having a link on the set's database page to discussions about the set in the forum, or automatic links back to the database pages from the forum)
    These are both very interesting to me.
    How would a single sign-on work? What would hold back the flood of under-16 year olds we are taught to fear from crossing over from the main site? I'm not pooh-pooh-ing the idea, I'm just interested in how it would work practically.

    If we could somehow get a reddit-style posting of articles that might be good. Then there can be comments below an article that are not the same as the comments on the article itself...
    Though, if I remember correctly, @Huw did once trial a system whereby a bot would also post main site articles here as well. It didn't work, though, mostly because the bot was unreliable if I remember correctly...
  • theLEGOmantheLEGOman UKMember Posts: 1,524
    I have different names here and on the main site, not sure how that would work.
  • datsunrobbiedatsunrobbie West Haven , CTMember Posts: 1,792
    I became a member of the forum this morning just to say I'd miss it if it was gone. I'd vote for ad support, with an option to subscribe to opt-out of the ads.
    Bumblepantschuckpkiki180703khmellymelsnowhitie
  • MrShinyAndNewMrShinyAndNew Member Posts: 282
    • Single sign-on for both main site and forum
    • Better linking of articles, sets, etc, from the main site to the forum, and vice versa (e.g. having a link on the set's database page to discussions about the set in the forum, or automatic links back to the database pages from the forum)
    These are both very interesting to me.
    How would a single sign-on work? What would hold back the flood of under-16 year olds we are taught to fear from crossing over from the main site? I'm not pooh-pooh-ing the idea, I'm just interested in how it would work practically.

    If we could somehow get a reddit-style posting of articles that might be good. Then there can be comments below an article that are not the same as the comments on the article itself...
    Though, if I remember correctly, @Huw did once trial a system whereby a bot would also post main site articles here as well. It didn't work, though, mostly because the bot was unreliable if I remember correctly...
    I don't know what's the deal with under-16s. I'm not sure how the current forum prevents them from joining, nor why the main site would be exempt, nor why part of the site couldn't be cordoned off from under-age people.

    As for posting each site article as a forum topic, I've seen that done on some sites and I'm not crazy about it, unless the integration is both-way. That is, the site should show the forum discussion and the forum should show the article contents and there should be only one stream of "comments" or "discussion", not two. 

    I have different names here and on the main site, not sure how that would work.
    I'm not sure why you'd want that? If the two sites were merged into one (my ideal world scenario) you'd only need one username (and it would be nonsense to support two). However, if they remained as two sites that shared data, you could still have two usernames. The StackExchange sites have single-sign-on for their entire network, but you have separate user profiles on each SE site and can have a different username, avatar, etc. A single sign-on would only need some way of using one site's credentials as authentication the other site.
  • dannyrwwdannyrww WisconsinMember Posts: 1,394
    Advertising for sure. I am willing to put up with ads, but could not afford a subscription fee. This is by far the best of the online Lego fan communities and I would hate to see it go.
  • theLEGOmantheLEGOman UKMember Posts: 1,524
    I have different names here and on the main site, not sure how that would work.
    I'm not sure why you'd want that? If the two sites were merged into one (my ideal world scenario) you'd only need one username (and it would be nonsense to support two). However, if they remained as two sites that shared data, you could still have two usernames. The StackExchange sites have single-sign-on for their entire network, but you have separate user profiles on each SE site and can have a different username, avatar, etc. A single sign-on would only need some way of using one site's credentials as authentication the other site.
    I joined the forum with this user name, when i went to join the main site later it was already taken.

    So after multiple attempts that were all taken i just used a random word.
  • ryjayryjay Member Posts: 1,001
    Go the advert route.

    Also consider the subscription part, but allow for free participation.   Paid members get full access, all the pages on all the discussion.   Guest and non-paying members might only get partial access like the top two/three discussion in each headings and may only view the last page or some sort of.  That way new potential members can still read and find out what the site is all about, participate on a limited basis, and if they feel they are missing too much, they can join as full paying members to see all the threads.
  • Si_UKNZSi_UKNZ NZMember Posts: 4,179
    Please dont close it down!
    It drives engagement, which is what its all about. 

    Options I can think of  ...
    - Move to open source (which would allow you to integrate it more into the main site which would open up myriad opportunities)
    - Incorporate a fee of 1% in the trading section, through moderation rather than software initially perhaps. 
    Bumblepants
  • AleyditaAleydita BelgiumMember Posts: 948
    Applying a fee for posting in the Marketplace section would be impractical - for one thing you'd be relying on the goodwill of members to actually pay it, or otherwise implement and enforce cross-border contracts which is something even a £1m company would shy away from.

    The only sensible route, if you're unable to provide bandwidth/resource logs for potential hosts, is to introduce adverts and ask for a small annual donation for a no-advert experience. You'd be surprised how many people would pay if the cost was reasonable. You could even accept Amazon vouchers and perhaps MISB Lego sets in lieu of cash (PayPal/bank transfer) donations. This would necessarily bring with it a small amount of administration, and such donations would count as income for tax purposes - you could perhaps side-step that by moving the forum from your company to a community driven vehicle such as an Industrial and Provident Society, but that's a lot more hassle than simply paying the 20% tax or whatever the SBR is now.
  • cheshirecatcheshirecat Member Posts: 5,331
    I just don't see why there would be so much work involved to moving to a managed virtual private server. There's no need to change the forum interface, no need to loose the data. Sometimes the host might go down, but they'll bring it back up. Set up daily back ups of the databases in case something bad happens. 
    tecjamBumblepantsTheBigLegoski
  • XefanXefan Member Posts: 1,148
    I just don't see why there would be so much work involved to moving to a managed virtual private server. There's no need to change the forum interface, no need to loose the data. Sometimes the host might go down, but they'll bring it back up. Set up daily back ups of the databases in case something bad happens. 
    Yep, this seems the most sensible option to me too. Cloud hosting platforms like Azure give you even more flexibility on this front. You can even let them handle the platform for you, or if you want the freedom then you can manage the VM yourself - it's just about choosing between Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), or Platform as a Service (PaaS). Scaling up or scaling out are also both easy because the tools are already in place to manage that.
    TheBigLegoskidougts
  • madforLEGOmadforLEGO Chicagoland USMember Posts: 10,646
    How about removing the comment section in the main page and instead linking discussion threads in the forum to those articles on the main page?
    TheBigLegoski
  • theLEGOmantheLEGOman UKMember Posts: 1,524
    I think Tsohost do free daily backups.
  • Coolguy5000Coolguy5000 Ireland Member Posts: 1,575
    the linking between the main page news articles and the forum seems like a good idea. Perhaps above the Collecting threads could be a new thread group heading "Brickset News Articles" with each topic being linked in with the news article on the homepage. If integrating the forum and main page goes one way it should go the other too. Just my two cents. 
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