4/07/2017 DPF "State of the Forum" Address and (Possibility of) DPF 2.0

Discussion in 'DPF News & Announcements' started by Cicada, Apr 7, 2017.

  1. Cicada

    Cicada Administrator Staff Member DPF Administrator

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    Hi all!

    It's been quite a while since we've had one of these...many years, in fact. First, thank you to everyone for being a part of this great community. When the DizPins boards went down in 2008, we knew we had to create a new place for pin traders to continue to support their hobby. I started the DPF forums with my two cousins who helped me build the community from what remained of the DizPins boards, and we grew rapidly. Eventually all three of us stopped pin trading, but were committed to the upkeep of these forums. They both eventually ceased active involvement in the site after we had created a core group of administrators and moderators to help daily tasks and general maintenance handling disputes, and things like spam.

    Over the years my involvement in the site has become minimal, thanks in a large part to @dancecats, the sole administrator for the site, as well as the great moderators and site correspondents that we've appointed. For the last few years I've primarily handled behind the scenes support for the forum, addressing technical issues as they arise, to ensure the forum continues to run smoothly.

    We started the site out of pocket, as it continues to be run, but costs for keeping it running have increased enormously over the years. In the interest of transparency, I want to outline the costs we've incurred over the years. When we began the site, we ran on a modest "shared" hosting plan that costed in the neighborhood of $20/month, in addition to purchasing the required forum software we needed to get it off the ground.

    Soon after, as the forum grew at a rapid pace, within a year we were forced — both by our host, and the slow loading of the site, creating an undesirable experience for members of DPF, as well as impacting other websites on the shared server (this is why the host forced us to upgrade, as we outgrew our plan) — to upgrade to a single "VPS" virtual server solution, specifically for the forum -- the cost of hosting had tripled to $60/month at this point, but it was still manageable, thanks entirely to a donation drive by some who might remember "Dan", and that supported the forum for quite some time, with the new upgraded server and the costs associated with it.

    For about the last 3 years, we moved to an even bigger/better hosting system that now incorporates 2 separate servers to handle database and web (page) requests, keeping the site running smoothly. Unfortunately the cost again tripled from the previous hosting, and I now pay about $180/month for the 2-server setup through our host. This places server costs at about $2,200 yearly.

    With the recent issues plaguing the forum due to being run on older (more vulnerable) forum software, (Our forum software, vBulletin4, is still being supported in minor releases, but vBulletin5 was released about 5 years ago, meaning the company's focus is on supporting the newer product.) I've decided to take the time and re-evaluate the entire forum and community as a whole. I do realize things need to be done, not only to increase accessibility and visibility of this community, but also to ensure long-time as well as new members continue to have a great experience here.

    So, what I want to ask with this post is:

    What would you like to see here at DPF? What additions do you think would be welcome, and what could be changed to make your experience better? Nothing is too crazy, and while I won't be able to implement a majority of the suggestions, it's something that I'll keep in mind as we move forward.

    To get the ball rolling...

    We have planned a "subscription" option in the past that would grant paying members (on a yearly or monthly subscription) some additional options like increased PM space, larger avatars, private "members only" general discussion forums, and other identifying marks as a forum supporter — but it never got implemented. What sorts of "perks" would you like to see, if you were to pay for a membership to the site? Keep in mind base-level access to the site would remain unaffected, and paying members would just receive the additional benefits of doing so.

    Would a donation button, available site-wide, year-round be okay for the site? For those that can't or don't want/don't need the benefits that may come with being a site subscriber, it could provide an option for donating to help upkeep of the site, whenever they're comfortable doing so.

    Finally, If I am to move forward with major changes to this site, I'll likely be considering different forum software, as there is more secure and efficient software out there right now, which I've used and implemented in other communities; The basic function of the forum will remain the same, but there will be a difference in look/feel; I'll do my best to update styling and minimize downtime during the transition (if and when it happens), and all the posts and resources here will also be transferred over, so that's nothing to worry about. I've estimated costs, including hosting for 1 year, new software and add-on purchasing, and other associated costs at roughly $4,000 — this is a large sum, but not insurmountable. Years following should be slightly lower, as the software will only incur maintenance/support costs, which are a bit lower than the initial purchase. If there are any suggestions on how we can raise this cost as a community, I'm all ears. :wavey:


  2. unibear

    unibear DPF Charter Member DPF Charter Member

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    In terms of the funding, I wonder if we might do the pin donation fund drive we did a few years back. It was great fun. I forgot who ran it, but after it was over I was surprised we never had another one. Perhaps a yearly fund drive.

    For those who weren't here for it, I think it went like this. There was a call for pin donations from the members, sent in to the person who was coordinating it. After they were collected, pictures were posted (three different ones, if I recall) with 40-50 pins each (??). Then, members of the community bought a "spot" in the three pictures for $X each (honestly, I don't remember the price, but it was about $50?? maybe??). Then a random number generator was set up, people picked their pins, and they were mailed out. I remember buying about 5 spots I think, and I got some wonderful pins.

    Anybody else remember this? Perhaps you could share what you remembered and fix my errors? At the time, I got the feeling that everybody really liked this version of a fund drive, because it was all about PINS!!!
  3. Purplemandms

    Purplemandms Like the candy!

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    First and foremost, I wanted to thank you (and the other DPF powerhouses) for all your hard work in maintaining and designing the site. Though I don't have too many suggestions for improvements, I do want to say that I love the minimalist, user-friendly design. My only comments for additions would maybe be a chat room (or link to chatroom on other party's site,) some updates/consolidation of older pinned threads, and maybe a few more moderators. I'm not sure how many mods there currently are, but there only seem to be a handful of active ones. (Who do great work, I just feel bad that they seem to be doing everything and have wondered in the past if they ever need help.) Also, I still don't understand what the points market is. (If it's irrelevant, might as well remove it?) As for the donation link, I think it's good! I'd personally rather have a donation link then a bunch of ads. However, all in all, everything gets a big thumb of approval from me. :bigthumb: Thank you again for all your work!
  4. Cicada

    Cicada Administrator Staff Member DPF Administrator

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  5. Purplemandms

    Purplemandms Like the candy!

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    Thank you for your explanations! I definitely agree about the whole having too many cooks in the kitchen when it comes to the moderators. But there are certainly a few members who consistently go above and beyond and I think would do a good job. (Though that is a discussion for another day.) If I think of any other things, I'll certainly let you know! (And if I can be of any assistance, please let me know.)
  6. Pinfun

    Pinfun Active Member

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    As a relative newbie - that sound like a fun way to raise funds. I'd participate in that. I do think the donation button on the site to help with ongoing costs is also a good idea. You probably need to implement a two-pronged approach for immediate costs and future costs.
  7. AvatarAng1

    AvatarAng1 DPF Court Jester

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    I've only been here for about a year (anniversary is in August) and I think the site is awesome. :)

    I do agree with Purplemandms, there certainly should be more moderators online.
  8. jadeites-lady

    jadeites-lady Bookworm Belle

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    sounds good to me.

    We have a chat room right now, but it doesn't work unless you upgrade your Java and then do something weird to it. I remember sis was getting tired of trying to figure it out.
  9. caw caw rawr

    caw caw rawr Squirrel!

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    First, thanks cicada for all you've done and do for the forum!

    Just an idea, another forum I am a member of (not pin-related) is like ours, you have to be a member to have access but it is free. It has an option, though, to become a "friend of (website name)". It's a one time yearly cost/subscription - regular "friend" level is $12 and "fanatic friend" is $24. There are perks associated with membership, like access to a "friends of" message board, contests for "friends of" only, special swaps (for us it could be games, trading threads, etc.), and a couple other things I can't remember now. The perks are not huge, but because I love that forum, as i love this one, I am happy to pay a smallish, optional, yearly membership fee. Perhaps, though, a donation button would be better so it doesn't divide the forum members... I don't know, just throwing an idea out there.

    I'm also great with a donation drive. I just adore the forum, and the people behind it. :)
  10. tiggermickey

    tiggermickey DPF Correspondent DPF Correspondent

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    Bryan ,anything you do will be great ,just do not want the forum to leave
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2017
  11. Matty

    Matty Member

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    I have only been on the forum for about a month. I love it here! The only thing I could ask is a update in the private messages. I find it a little difficult to follow several message conversations. If there was a way to make it more like a messenger and less like email I think that would be amazing. I think I described it clearly. Does that make sense?

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  12. natelove

    natelove Member

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    I love this site and wondered how long it could run without further donations since the last drive. I may not post every day but am definitely reading/stalking!!

    Another fundraising event would be great. And I wouldn't mind a donation button or a small membership fee. I don't know how many people are active on here but a little bit from everyone would collect a lot. I just remember how poorly the whole Pinpics change of ownership went and the backlash of asking for money for "special" access. Maybe I am wrong but nothing is ever really "free". I knew someone was paying for this hosting and they couldn't do it forever without community support. I'm not saying I would be opposed to membership fees and special member sections/options, just that I hope we all learned from that previous experience on Pinpics.

    Sorry for the rambling. Hope I made sense. Bottom line, I would support any decisions made. I love this community and want it to continue.

  13. Mickeyplutofan

    Mickeyplutofan Member

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    I don't know how much this contributes or if I even read the topic right, but when I joined in December the first thing I noticed is that the site is like... old looking. Also, I hate how the PMs thread can't be all read at once. Like you only see the reply and not even what you said or what they said before that, it's kinda sloppy.

    Also, I dislike how pinned threads are from like 2012, they even have the year in the title. They should be replaced yearly or monthly whatever seems appropriate.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  14. lohofosho

    lohofosho Goin' Down the Bayou

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    I agree, this would be a lot smoother!

    Thank you for all you do!! I would be happy to donate. I think a donation button would be a great idea! Fundraising games also sound fun too.

    Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
  15. GreyWyvern

    GreyWyvern Figment Fan Since '84

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    I'm not sure where the development of VB 5 is right now, but when the PinTalk forums switched to it from VB 4, it was pretty much a disaster. A ton of people left the community, and eventually we moved back to the old Dizpins yuku boards, losing all our old posts and blogs in the process. VB 5 was basically a complete reboot of the forum project coding-wise and SO MANY features we take for granted now were missing or working incorrectly. And when you asked the developers about it, the only response you usually got was "it's supposed to be working this way"

    Hopefully things have changed since then with VB 5, but still, I much prefer VB 4.
  16. Story

    Story PinPics : writerkay

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    I think I remember the pin donation game that unibear is talking about and I think that would be a great annual way to help with the cost. It could help more people possibly to help with donating- such as some who want to help who are low on funds might have a nice trader or two that they can part with. Then those who do have funds available can donate plus get to enjoy a pin that someone donated. win/win? ;D

    a donate button would be cool and I wouldn't be oppose to some members having VIP options if they are able to help the site a bit (pm box increased and like a chat lounge like you were mentioning already?)

    I think the site has been well moderated, so I don't necessarily see anything lacking, but more mods I'm sure can always be of help to the existing ones. I doubt anyone can get heavy handed so long as they simply follow the guidelines of the existing admins. Site shouldn't change with a few more custodians around :lol:

    The behind the scenes cost and work shouldn't go unnoticed, so thanks for bringing it to everyone's attention and many thanks for the hard work you all do! I'm not able to post as much as I use to, but I still appreciate checking in with pin and Disney news here and of course the great collectors. So any way to help keep the site around that's within my means, I'd be all ears for :hug:
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2017
  17. mickeymousje

    mickeymousje Well-Known Member

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    I also do remember the pin donation game and it was a lot of fun and for a great cause too! Would love to see that as a possibility. And a donation button would be great too!

    I do agree with Matty and some other members about the PM system to make it more user friendly and a proper way to see what you wrote and what the comment is.

    For me personally extra PM space etc for a special membership isn't something I would do because I like DPF the way it is. I ofcourse wouldn't mind paying a yearly fee for membership but am afraid some people won't be on the forums again.

    It would also be good to have more moderators or someone who once in a while deletes old or irrelevant threads that aren't active anymore.

    All I've said is the same as other members who commented above me but if I think of something else I will post :)
  18. MerlinEmrys

    MerlinEmrys Hicitus Pinicus!

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    As so many have echoed, thank you all so much for your incredible work on the forum and keeping us all up and running. I genuinely, honestly, truly don't know how I'd get on without this forum. <3

    Anywho, I'm more than happy to participate in some fund raiser or raffle or something like that!

    As for subscription costs, I would happily pay something monthly for more PM space. I pay $1 a month to keep buggy, spammy, (and super political...) adds off of Tapatalk, and would be overjoyed to do something similar for DPF.

    Just my two cents for now. I'll toss around some ideas for a bit and see if there's anything else I can come up with! :3

  19. tinkerbelle1956

    tinkerbelle1956 BANNED

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    First and foremost, thank you Cicada for keeping this forum up & running. I would not mind paying a yearly subscription with private perks or donating to DPF.
    I remember that pin donation game and it was run by Moe. I'm sure someone could find that thread.
    DPF lanyards are fine but I don't think it would bring in the revenue that you need to upgrade and with the new artistic wide lanyards, I know I wouldn't wear one. I have a pin pics one with pin and it sits in a drawer. When we go to pin events we are given lanyards. Docfish2u made name buttons with our user name and DPF.
    As far as moderators, we need someone's user name that is highlighted on forum in members online to know they are here and I know one new member that helps everyone is AvatarAng1. He is polite, knowledgeable and always around. He has helped me out many times. Just A Thought!
    Again Thank You
  20. Cicada

    Cicada Administrator Staff Member DPF Administrator

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    yeah, it's a bit of a band-aid that was implemented a long time ago, as there weren't any good options at the time and never explored further. The new software does seem to have some promising add-ons for chat, so that's good.
  21. Cicada

    Cicada Administrator Staff Member DPF Administrator

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    Agree, as that's why I stuck with vb4 for this long. However, I've used Xenforo, and aside from things working a bit differently, it's much more efficient than vb5 (and leagues better than vb4), and the support/add-on community is much better. vb3/vb4 were good for add-ons, but being as big as it is, there are tons of vb exploits out there. xenforo is much more secure, IMO.

    aside from having to re-learn some things with xenforo (on the user-side), it's not too different from vB, so i expect that it'll be a (relatively) smooth transition, when I can make it happen.
  22. Cicada

    Cicada Administrator Staff Member DPF Administrator

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    that pricing seems about standard for forums, and about where we'd be — Good point about "Dividing" members; if there were a way we could manage that in a way that this wouldn't happen, it could work. But, part of the original plan were some "members only" forums, but it may not be a good idea after all.

    The main perks so far would be increased PM space, maybe instant access to the trade forum (getting around the posting requirement), and some other things that we'd have to flesh out.
  23. Cicada

    Cicada Administrator Staff Member DPF Administrator

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    This is something that's included on some of the newer forum software. vB4 by now is very old, and doesnt have some "look and feel" improvements that people have gotten used to as trends in web design/functionality have progressed.
  24. starry_solo

    starry_solo Judge of the Dark Court Staff Member DPF Super Moderator

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    To find members online (currently), scroll down to the bottom of the home page.

    I think we could use more moderators or correspondents that are not CA based. Perhaps one more in the East Coast and one or two in Europe. And one in Canada.

    Current mods Disneyqueenuk and movingthestars and imp are rarely here.

    I would be happy to run the pin donation drive if we have one.
  25. bcol

    bcol "They call me Bruce" ....and mupins

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    I personally feel that it would be good to have a donate button, with maybe a special fund drive for a week or two a' la NPR but without the giveaway umbrellas :) . I definitely don't think that there should be a membership fee to join. New and old members may not want to contribute until they are comfortable and I'm sure some seriously just cannot afford a monthly fee. A few perks like more storage would be great, and better messaging is a must.

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