Forum software change - yay or nay? (1 Viewer)

Should we switch to Xenforo 2.1 forum software?

  • Yes

    Votes: 9 64.3%
  • No

    Votes: 2 14.3%
  • Unsure - too risky/losing the Thanks/like this software/other

    Votes: 3 21.4%

  • Total voters
    14
  • Poll closed .

Micron

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Do you have enough info on what's needing improvement here? I mean, have you polled that question rather than basing it on separate posts about issues? I ask because I occasionally answer a post on my phone (not great, but that's because of my phone's keyboard input method AFAIC). The only thing I'd change here is where the cursor lands when you insert tags. OK, the method of inserting a pic is a bit convoluted, but once you know how, it's not too onerous. As for Likes, I guess it's a generational thing. I have zero interest in that and don't understand why it's important. Not saying it isn't, just not to me. So there's my whole feature complaint list for this site. Not worth changing the platform for, is it?

I was a member at Mr. Excel before the change, and while it looks slicker, IMHO they made key things more difficult
- inserting data/tables
- I can't even see how to insert a quote (I type my own quote tags)
- there's no PM link (you have to know that clicking on a member avatar is the way)
- etc. etc.
Between that stuff and the fact that a former infamous AWF member just joined there, I feel like the site has taken a huge downturn. I'm voluntarily banning myself from there. BTW, the ads have always been quite predominant and prolific there, so nothing new about that.
 

plog

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...and while it looks slicker, IMHO they made key things more difficult...
That has been my experience with every "upgrade" on the web since 2010. Everyone is chasing buzzwords ("responsive", "user-experience", "interactive") at the cost of utility.
 

Galaxiom

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I would never log in on my phone so would not like any compromise to the experience on a computer for the sake of mobile access improvements.
 

The_Doc_Man

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Good point, G. If the only reason we were upgrading was that feature, I would say NO. Phones are inherently less secure than a PC that has a decent A/V package on it. Sure, there IS such a thing as a mobile A/V package, but space considerations alone force the mobile versions to be more compact and thus slightly less "agile" than their PC cousins.
 

Jon

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There are many security issues with using older software, where people hack the site. I didn't mention this because it doesn't affect user experience. But it does affect me! I am implementing a few things to improve the site security anyway, but newer software is more security. This version of vbulletin is no longer supported.

You can see that Xenforo has gain a lot of market share from vBulletin: https://trends.builtwith.com/cms/XenForo/Market-Share

I am not sure if that can be misleading because any new software platform is likely to gain more than it loses because it is new.

Here is a graph of what is happening with vBulletin: https://trends.builtwith.com/cms/vBulletin

Here is a similar graph for Xenforo: https://trends.builtwith.com/cms/XenForo
 

Jon

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Xenforo is the software most similar to vBulletin, since they are the same developers. If I transitioned from one to the other, I think it would be the closest fit.
 

Uncle Gizmo

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I have voted yes. I thought it might be beneficial to share my thoughts. I'm incline to sit on the fence, and that's what I was planning to do here. But the age of the software, the fact that it's not supported, and for this reason is vulnerable from a security point of view, that swung it for me...

From the security point of view alone, it definitely needs upgrading. I'll have to put up with the loss of an old friend! And it's nice to make new friends!

If anyone wants to get an idea of what the new forum might look like if the upgrade goes ahead, you could have a cruise around the Mine Tavern .
 

Gasman

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Jon,
The fact that you are using it on another site would sway it for me? only of course if you were happy with how it performed?
 

Jon

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My experience with using Xenforo on The Mind Tavern is that the software is nicer, cleaner, more secure, faster, better back-end, while at the same time having a familiar feel. I was impressed with it. I feel that this version of vBulletin feels clunky by comparison. But that is only my opinion, which is why I sought the views of people here.

If it wasn't for the risk of substantial traffic loss, then I would most likely switch over. It is such a difficult decision. Keep what is still working, but vulnerable, or switch to something nicer, but potentially lose traffic. The problem is, I do not know how big or small the risk is of losing traffic, and how much traffic. This makes the decision so painful and difficult. The risk assessment becomes tricky.

I spoke to one guy who had a large board, and he lost about 70% of his traffic, and it never recovered. I spoke to someone else, and they said there was little change in initial traffic. They added that the key improvement for them was that member interactions spiked activity which lead to permanent steady growth.
 

Gasman

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Well my thoughts would be

You were not too concerned on the bot guests as you now had more power, that they did not really affect the site.
As long as you have not been constantly attacked/hacked, then you could stay with this, however what is to say that situation would not change in the future?, if any potential backdoors exist.?

As to potential loss of traffic?, no clue. It would not affect me, I am more of a content man than a cover man. As much as I was more than happy with what they had previously, I am slowly getting used to the new MrExcel layout. :D

I do not envy your position though. :)
 

Jon

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Any change normally results in a percentage of disgruntled visitors. When I used to design and implement Access database systems, many staff members would be unhappy about it. I felt most unappreciated! But over time, they got used to it and could never go back to what they had before. I even remember the accountant at one firm asking me if I could make the new database system look like a DOS application, complete with courier font!

Interested to hear your feedback about the MrExcel forum over time, regarding the software.
 

CJ_London

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I guess the question I would ask is why? Why would the site lose so much traffic? Is it because the search engines don't recognise it? users don't like the new experience? Perhaps the stats are wrong or measured in a different way? Perhaps the bots are artificially raising traffic here?

On the matter of mobile, I'm guessing perhaps a third of the posts contain an attachment. If you are on the phone you cannot do a screenshot or attach a file because the source is not on your phone. And from the other direction you can't copy/paste a code solution to your app, etc. Questions and responses are often long and frequently need some layout formatting and many's the time I've see a response along the lines of 'on my phone right now, will send a better response/file/screenshot later'.

Some forums will work well through phones simply because of the subject matter - attachments not required and the only thing 'external' is typically a hyperlink.

I connect from my phone occasionally via safari and generally don't have a problem for short responses. However if the phone experience is better, it would get my vote.

I think a modern look and feel is important, but as said elsewhere, sometimes it is not for the better but is the price of progress (Plenty of complaints about the new access format in 2007!)
 

Jon

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@CJ_London, if you want a feel for what the mobile experience would be like, go to https://themindtavern.com/community/

I would love to hear what you think of how that compares on your phone verses this site. Anybody else's opinion on this is also welcomed.

Regarding traffic loss, that is the uncertainty. I am speaking with one guy who lost 70% of his traffic, irreversibly. He said, "I think because sitemap quite bad and it generate so much 403 error."
 

Jon

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For those that are interested, my inbox is full of vBulletin mysql error messages. I've gotten maybe 200 (edit: 2600) of those emails today. When I check the IP address, they are from China Telecom, and the urls are things like tags.php, calendar, and so on, rather than actual forum posts. I presume they are trying to find exploits, but I don't know. It would explain the very high number of guests.

Edit: My host is suggesting they are mysql injection hacking attempts.
 
Last edited:

The_Doc_Man

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FWIW, the Navy Enterprise Data Center used to see those SQL Injections now and then. The patches that we had to install protected the DB engine as well as the app that used it, i.e. a multi-pronged defensive strategy. Part of the strategy included patching the app's underlying foundation code. If you say that the current version of vBulletin is no longer supported, that could be a tipping point for your decision.

I trust you to have the greater experience in what is available, Jon, as well as experience with what it would take to set up the forum on something newer. I am slowing down in my reading of "what's new" because I'm no longer running a computer system involved with national defense. That torch has been passed to the guys running the system that finally replaced my old dinosaur.
 

Jon

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Thanks for your input Doc. I am continuing my due diligence, although any decision I take has risks. There is so much that is unknown.

I've been speaking with another Xenforo site owner that has been experiencing an upsurge in mysql injection attacks from China, and that was in November and December 2019. I presume that Xenforo is a little safer, since it is newer software.

But it all comes down to this: I don't want to wreck the sites traffic! I am not saying a switch will, but I am trying to get a handle on how many people switch without such an experience.
 

pbaldy

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I voted unsure since I have no experience with the other software. I poked around the mind tavern site but not enough to have an opinion. I don't care about losing the "thanks", or "likes" or things like that. I don't pay any attention to them. I'm sure you'll make a good decision.
 

Jon

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Thanks, your opinion goes into the mix. I will try to make a probability based decision, based on little information!
 

isladogs

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Jon
Is it just coincidental that the site is suffering SQL injection attempts now or is that something that happens periodically without the rest of us being aware of

With the additional information you have provided e.g. no longer supported, lack of security etc, I'm moving from Not Sure to Yes. You can change my poll vote if you wish

I would have thought the biggest risk of losing traffic is when a site is either slow or unreliable in terms of connections. Thanks to your hard work over the past week or so, that seems to be behind us now. Not sure I understand why new browser software might adversely affect that

I do occasionally use the forum on my mobile both via a browser and using Tapatalk. However I regularly visit it using a tablet. There are some issues with the latter but its still more than usable

I think both the Thanks & rep points are useful features - not just to give the recipient a feeling of being valued .... but also as a trust indicator to newer members when faced with significantly conflicting advice ... as was often the case over the past couple of months or so

Anyway, its great to see you spending so much time working on improvements to this forum. Like others have already said, I'm confident you'll make the best decision based on both research and member feedback
 

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