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The Great Migration; After 14 years it is time for the forum to migrate
Topic Started: May 22 2018, 02:14:37 PM (2,030 Views)
rhombus
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The Friendly Parallelogram

Good afternoon,

As I am sure many of you suspected when we posted our previous announcement, there have been some unexpected developments behind the scenes at the forum. Due to the nature of what has been going on, I think that it is important that you all are fully informed of the forum's situation, the actions that we admins have taken, and the steps ahead for the forum. Please take the time to fully read this post so that you are informed of what is going on. We will be consulting with all of you for recommendations on how to proceed from here.

What has been going on:

As all of you know our previous hosting company, Invisionfree, was purchased by TapaTalk. As part of this conversion process the company announced last year that all Invisionfree boards were required to either convert to Zetaboards (which has existed since 2008 or so) or to their proprietary TapaTalk format. We admins examined both potential systems and of the two Zetaboards was by far the best suited to this forum - with customizable skins, good spam controls, good desktop support, and other features. In contrast, the TapaTalk platform was quite cumbersome with an obscene amount of advertising, a lack of customization, poor desktop support (it is mainly a mobile system), a lack of skin support, insane TOS conditions which could threaten roleplays and the promotion of charitable causes, and even the charging $5 for a support ticket to resolve forum issues. Under these conditions we chose Zetaboards with the understanding (and promise from TapaTalk) that we would be able to stick with the Zetaboards system.

Well, they lied. TapaTalk totally screwed us over.

Now after countless days of work and troubleshooting to get the Zetaboard forum to work, TapaTalk has informed us that the forum is now required to convert to their TapaTalk platform. The TapaTalk platform does not support CSS coding at the moment and is made for mobile devices, and though they promise such support will come later, well, we have already seen how reliable their promises are. They couldn't even be bothered to inform us directly - instead they made a post about it on their support forum and have failed to answer questions from concerned and panicked forum administrators. Many other forums are considering leaving their platform altogether, but this has been made difficult as TapaTalk is not giving anyone the option of buying their own databases. This was an option that Invisionfree had offered, but we lost it when we converted to Zetaboards. Which explains why TapaTalk forced that initial conversion to Zetaboards or TapaTalk. Now they have this forum and others trapped with the only options being sticking with TapaTalk or deleting their forums and starting over.

Oh, and just to show everyone how utterly incompetent the people at TapaTalk are, what they have for our conversion preview board is this: https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/thegangoffive/index.php . So, yep. It appears that post-conversion they were going to replace this board with Pathlight's board.

What we have done:

Thankfully, however, there was an option that provided a way out from this trap. Since TapaTalk would not provide us with our forum database we had to acquire it through other means, as we are unwilling to let 14 years of forum history go down the drain due to one company's greed and arrogance. The technique that we used allowed us to capture the forum topics, sections, posts, and member information. It, however, does not allow us to capture the avatars, member signatures, or forum skins - so each member would need to re-input those after any migration and we admins will need to create new skins for whichever new forum home we decide to move in to.

We will not get into the exact details of how zero-point obtained our data until the movement to a new home is complete. Suffice to say, that is a saga in itself.

What still needs to be done:

So this brings us to the situation today. The forum is about to take a major step by migrating to a new hosting company. This will not be easy. In fact, it will be messier than the initial conversion to Zetaboards. However, with the other possibility being stuck with an untrustworthy company who values money above all else, we admins feel that the forum has no other choice. To stay with TapaTalk would mean a downgrade to the forum and the loss of its uniqueness in a limited system made only for mobile devices. It is much better for us to migrate elsewhere and to keep the community that we have all worked hard to build over the years.

With that in mind, here is what each of YOU need to do over the next few days and/or weeks:

1) Copy the necessary information for your signatures – especially the urls for any pictures and links. Signatures will not transfer over and will need to be put in manually to whatever new forum we migrate to.

2) Copy the urls (or files) for your avatars. These also will not transfer and will need to be put in manually after the transfer.

3) You may receive a new password by PM over the next few days – RECORD THIS IN A SECURE PLACE SOMEWHERE. You may need this to access the new forum when we migrate over.

4) Bookmark this website: https://goftestforum.icyboards.net/. This is one of the test boards that we have set up. But we will use this to post migration announcements in the event that the current forum is taken down by TapaTalk due to the actions we admins have taken.


Here is what we admins will be doing:

1) We will be looking for a suitable new home for our forum. At this point in time the most promising candidates seem to be phpBB software, but we are looking at forum hosting options. We will be examining the features and merits of the various options and, if one is especially suitable, begin preparing a proper skin for the new forum prior to the transfer of forum data.

2) We will be welcoming recommendations from each of you. If you have experience with other forum systems then please let us know. We are currently assessing our options.

3) And finally we will be keeping you informed throughout this process. Please keep in mind that this might be a rocky journey – but that the forum’s data is now safe. Regardless of what happens from here on out, this forum will continue to survive in one form or another.


We understand that this is upsetting news. We were absolutely furious when we got this news and feared for the future of the forum. However, now that the data is secure, we have the option for a more hopeful future. We hope that you all understand that this situation has been forced upon us, and that we are doing our best to make it right. This company has screwed us over twice now, and we will not permit them a third opportunity.

If you have any questions or comments then please leave them in this topic, and we will respond to the best of our ability. In the meantime, good luck everyone. Much like the characters that we all know and love, it is now time for us to make our Great Migration. And, like them, we are sure that we will find a greener valley in the end.

~ Gang of Five Administrative Team
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rhombus
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The Friendly Parallelogram

If you did not receive a PM with your new password please PM me or zero-point as soon as possible. The automatic password script did not send passwords to some usernames with odd characters in the name.

Also, guys, keep in mind that any posts to the forum that were made after May 19th will probably not be in the file transfer, so keep in mind that new messages may need to be transferred over to the new forum manually once it is up and running. So back up those posts in a word document or somewhere so you can move them over when the new forum is up.
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landbeforetimelover
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Littlefoot
To be honest, Zetaboards really sucks anyway. I think it's time for a change to a platform with more flexibility. But this time it is absolutely ESSENTIAL that we set up the forums so that they're self-hosted, so we don't have to show ads and so that some big company can't just pull the rug out from underneath us like this in the future.

I have a small forum on my website, TheLandBeforeTime.org, but it's based on BBPress. I don't think it could handle the amount of data on the forums here without a significant server upgrade on my part. How large is GOF anyway? BBPress is rather primitive, but it has a lot of flexibility and it's easy to add code to it. I know of a few pretty large forums with 20,000+ members that are based on BBPress.
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WeirdRaptor
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WeirdRaptor
I got the password and I'm about to bookmark the site.

Why not use FreeForums? It works well enough.
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rhombus
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The Friendly Parallelogram

WeirdRaptor
May 22 2018, 03:23:33 PM
I got the password and I'm about to bookmark the site.

Why not use FreeForums? It works well enough.
A big issue for us is being able to convert all of the existing data on the forum into a form that can be used on another platform. Had we had the option of purchasing our own database then this would have opened up more possibilities for us, but due to the matter in which the data was acquired (and the conversion tools used) this limits our options unless we were willing to let all of the forum data and history be lost. This is in addition to us not wanting to be subject to the whims of a free hosting company again which can screw us over on a moment's notice. Currently we are looking at phpBB as an option.

@landbeforetimelover

We were looking at several possibilities including using a paid hosting company (phpBB recommends BlueHost or HostMonster) at least as a temporary option, and they seem to have pretty good reviews. As for how large the forum is... one of the SMF conversions that we compiled is around 526 megabytes.
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WeirdRaptor
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WeirdRaptor
rhombus
May 22 2018, 03:33:57 PM
WeirdRaptor
May 22 2018, 03:23:33 PM
I got the password and I'm about to bookmark the site.

Why not use FreeForums? It works well enough.
A big issue for us is being able to convert all of the existing data on the forum into a form that can be used on another platform. Had we had the option of purchasing our own database then this would have opened up more possibilities for us, but due to the matter in which the data was acquired (and the conversion tools used) this limits our options unless we were willing to let all of the forum data and history be lost. This is in addition to us not wanting to be subject to the whims of a free hosting company again which can screw us over on a moment's notice. Currently we are looking at phpBB as an option.

@landbeforetimelover

We were looking at several possibilities including using a paid hosting company (phpBB recommends BlueHost or HostMonster) at least as a temporary option, and they seem to have pretty good reviews. As for how large the forum is... one of the SMF conversions that we compiled is around 526 megabytes.
True. Oh, and my mistake, I meant to say "ProBoards".
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Sneak
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Ozband Iresh
Sad to see tings like this. I have already seen this at least two times... :(

huh, any posts since May 19? Thank you for informing! (Maybe you will move this information to header post too?)

Are you sure all database data can be successfully deployed to public on new forums? I don't need to use programs to backup the whole site on my PC like I did with different forum years ago? phew, it would be great news.
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rhombus
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The Friendly Parallelogram

Sneak
May 22 2018, 04:13:29 PM
Sad to see tings like this. I have already seen this at least two times... :(

huh, any posts since May 19? Thank you for informing! (Maybe you will move this information to header post too?)

Are you sure all database data can be successfully deployed to public on new forums? I don't need to use programs to backup the whole site on my PC like I did with different forum years ago? phew, it would be great news.
Yep, we have obtained all of the data (except avatars and signatures) so the data is safe. The main thing is making a new skin for the new forum and getting it uploaded to a new host. But as for backing up posts, only those posts that you have made on or after May 19th need to be copied down. You will need to post those to the new forum once it is up.
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landbeforetimelover
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Littlefoot
rhombus
May 22 2018, 03:33:57 PM
We were looking at several possibilities including using a paid hosting company (phpBB recommends BlueHost or HostMonster) at least as a temporary option, and they seem to have pretty good reviews.
Just be aware that if you do this, there's going to be a lot more maintenance involved as we'll have to deal with everything under the hood code-wise. No one else is going to make sure the forums run smoothly on the back end, and there are ALWAYS problems that crop up. I recommend just getting everything transferred to another platform ASAP just to make sure that the data is actually intact. Then we can worry about making a more permanent move later.

I used to do web design and development FROM SCRATCH back in the day, but I haven't kept up with the latest developments. I run a computer repair and sales business and I design websites for other companies, but Wordpress has made me lazy these days when it comes messing with the really deep stuff. When you're running a business, time is money, and it's a lot easier to just base everything on Wordpress and go from there than to do everything from scratch like I used to do all those years ago.

I must admit, I found it a fun challenge to customize BBPress and make it look and function as well as it does on my website. Unfortunately it doesn't have all the features of Zetaboards or phpBB. I would be a fun challenge to really get deep into BBPress itself and add new features. The problem is time. Running a business takes everything out of me and I don't have the energy I used to when I was younger and new to the forums here (2007).
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rhombus
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The Friendly Parallelogram

landbeforetimelover
May 22 2018, 04:34:07 PM
rhombus
May 22 2018, 03:33:57 PM
We were looking at several possibilities including using a paid hosting company (phpBB recommends BlueHost or HostMonster) at least as a temporary option, and they seem to have pretty good reviews.
Just be aware that if you do this, there's going to be a lot more maintenance involved as we'll have to deal with everything under the hood code-wise. No one else is going to make sure the forums run smoothly on the back end, and there are ALWAYS problems that crop up. I recommend just getting everything transferred to another platform ASAP just to make sure that the data is actually intact. Then we can worry about making a more permanent move later.

I used to do web design and development FROM SCRATCH back in the day, but I haven't kept up with the latest developments. I run a computer repair and sales business and I design websites for other companies, but Wordpress has made me lazy these days when it comes messing with the really deep stuff. When you're running a business, time is money, and it's a lot easier to just base everything on Wordpress and go from there than to do everything from scratch like I used to do all those years ago.

I must admit, I found it a fun challenge to customize BBPress and make it look and function as well as it does on my website. Unfortunately it doesn't have all the features of Zetaboards or phpBB. I would be a fun challenge to really get deep into BBPress itself and add new features. The problem is time. Running a business takes everything out of me and I don't have the energy I used to when I was younger and new to the forums here (2007).
Thank you very much for your feedback on this. :)

We have transferred the data to an ad hoc server (zero-point's computer) and the data is in fact intact. Right now we are converting this data into the latest phpBB format and from there we can check on moving the data somewhere. If we moved it to a paid host temporarily then this could allow the forum to continue and allow us to get the fine-tuning done on the code before we perhaps move the forum to whatever the permanent host would be.

And it is quite understandable that with an active business that you would not have time to focus on coding other platforms besides what you actively use. Nonetheless we appreciate your feedback on our current situation, and we hope to have things somewhat settled in (on a host somewhere) in the near-future. :yes
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The Chronicler
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Bionicle fan of GoF
Well, if you're interested in ideas for a new kind of forum system to use, I might as well mention the kind that's currently being used by BZPower.com (IP.Board, based on what I can see at the bottom of the page). I honestly don't know if it'll work for us, but over the years that I've been using that forum, things seem fine to me.

BZPower, the Bionicle fansite that I've been a member of since 2004, I think it used to use the same invisionfree system we used to use here, but after some content was lost in 2010 (members there have referred to that event as the "dataclysm") the forums went completely down for months before they were finally able to get the new system up and running, and is still in use to this day. As for the older content (2001 to 2010), they were able to archive it, though sadly it ended up being completely wiped out by a malicious hacker a few years later.

Anyway, I've been visiting both GoF and BZPower every single day for the last few years, so with this announcement that you're looking for a new forum system to use, I guess it's natural that I'd point out the one being used by the other forum I frequently visit.
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Hypno
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GoF's resident Sharptooth fan
I've done everything I need to do, except save my avatar. But I use it on other sites so that's fine, I'll just download it when I get on my computer and upload it again.

I really feel bad for you guys. First the Photobucket issue, now this. All because of greed and money from the companies involved. :(
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landbeforetimelover
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Littlefoot
Hypno
May 22 2018, 07:58:56 PM
I've done everything I need to do, except save my avatar. But I use it on other sites so that's fine, I'll just download it when I get on my computer and upload it again.

I really feel bad for you guys. First the Photobucket issue, now this. All because of greed and money from the companies involved. :(
Yes, these are dark days for the internet in general. This is why I always make sure that I have FULL control over my content and my data. I would never set up an important website that I didn't have 100% control over. Even if you're paying a company, they can sell to someone else, or just change their minds and totally screw you over. This is why I HIGHLY recommend going with a self hosted solution that also allows members to upload content directly to the board, rather than having to hotlink from sites like Photobucket. Most hosts offer a good amount of storage (sometimes even UNLIMITED storage) for a decent price. I don't think GOF is large enough to justify a dedicated (or even semi-dedicated) server, but I'd have to see the traffic stats of the site to know for sure.

I really hope we can save the board, and that we'll look back at this time as when things really turned around and started going in the right direction. I've never been comfortable with GOF being on a free host like Invisionfree/Zetaboards. I'm sad to say that my misgivings were well founded. I knew this would happen one day. I just can't believe it happened so soon. But then again, 11 years in the technology industry is like 140 years in real life. Things always move so fast.

EDIT: Do you know if member metadata (i.e. post count, join date, etc.) will be preserved in the move to the new platform?
Edited by landbeforetimelover, May 22 2018, 08:30:46 PM.
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rhombus
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The Friendly Parallelogram

landbeforetimelover
May 22 2018, 08:28:55 PM
Hypno
May 22 2018, 07:58:56 PM
I've done everything I need to do, except save my avatar. But I use it on other sites so that's fine, I'll just download it when I get on my computer and upload it again.

I really feel bad for you guys. First the Photobucket issue, now this. All because of greed and money from the companies involved. :(
Yes, these are dark days for the internet in general. This is why I always make sure that I have FULL control over my content and my data. I would never set up an important website that I didn't have 100% control over. Even if you're paying a company, they can sell to someone else, or just change their minds and totally screw you over. This is why I HIGHLY recommend going with a self hosted solution that also allows members to upload content directly to the board, rather than having to hotlink from sites like Photobucket. Most hosts offer a good amount of storage (sometimes even UNLIMITED storage) for a decent price. I don't think GOF is large enough to justify a dedicated (or even semi-dedicated) server, but I'd have to see the traffic stats of the site to know for sure.

I really hope we can save the board, and that we'll look back at this time as when things really turned around and started going in the right direction. I've never been comfortable with GOF being on a free host like Invisionfree/Zetaboards. I'm sad to say that my misgivings were well founded. I knew this would happen one day. I just can't believe it happened so soon. But then again, 11 years in the technology industry is like 140 years in real life. Things always move so fast.

EDIT: Do you know if member metadata (i.e. post count, join date, etc.) will be preserved in the move to the new platform?
Oh, don't worry, this forum will be saved. We will not permit this board to disappear from the Internet. We have the data and will be moving it to a suitable host when we have some of the code suitably improved. And after looking at some of the paid hosting companies I am seeing a few that look promising in terms of allowing us to make backups of our data on demand and allowing for unlimited data storage. So that option is certainly looking promising. As for user meta data, the post counts and member join dates should remain. At the current point in the conversion process (phpBB 2.0) that meta data remains.
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Littlefoot fan 1990
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LittlefootXCera pairing fan
I saved the new password I received via PM and I bookmarked the website.
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Flathead770
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Ducky
I'm glad I came back when I did. If I tried searching for the forum again and found it was on another site I might of assumed it died off or something. Looks like you guys have your work cut out for you yet again. Best of luck with the conversion!

I have my password saved and the website bookmarked as well.
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AvestheForumFox
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The Fox has Spoketh
Hey, its been ages since I've posted here (I was once a major admin in the RP forums back in the early days)

I am willing to do something here to help in the migration

I own my own web domain, and I know how to set up a phpbb forum. I can set you up one there under my domain

there's quiet a bit of a workaround in learning where to use the CSS and whatnot, but its what I've been using for my forums long since I've left this community

let me know if you'd like to start talks on this
Edited by AvestheForumFox, May 23 2018, 07:31:46 AM.
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landbeforetimelover
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Littlefoot
Oh, I thought I should mention that I'm the one that owns the www.gangoffive.net domain name. Right now it just redirects to the "unfriendly" URL (z7.zetaboards.com/thegangoffive), but it would be nice if this domain was actually the main domain for the site.
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Littlefoot505
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Proud Littlefoot lover

I've fully prepared for the migration. Avatars won't transfer, huh? I just changed mine to one that better reflects how I feel about this whole fiasco.
Edited by Littlefoot505, May 23 2018, 02:36:37 PM.
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rhombus
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The Friendly Parallelogram

AvestheForumFox
May 23 2018, 07:31:14 AM
Hey, its been ages since I've posted here (I was once a major admin in the RP forums back in the early days)

I am willing to do something here to help in the migration

I own my own web domain, and I know how to set up a phpbb forum. I can set you up one there under my domain

there's quiet a bit of a workaround in learning where to use the CSS and whatnot, but its what I've been using for my forums long since I've left this community

let me know if you'd like to start talks on this


Thank you for the offer of help. We greatly appreciate it. :) I sent you a PM Aves so please check the inbox. We definitely need some help on the phpBB 3.0 coding. The conversion to 2.0 went okay, but the conversion to 3.0 is causing us some major grief. As for domains, we are still considering our options. Capacity and the ability to store all of the images (so image sharing sites are no long necessary) will be a major concern.
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