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Thread: Skadi Forum Upgrade : Please Read This!

  1. #21
    Senior Administrator "Friend of Germanics"
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    Aeternitas's Avatar
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    I'm also a fan of vbulletin 3.6, and preferred it on Skadi after we merged the Althing, so we stuck to it as long as we could. Unfortunately it's too outdated and could probably completely stop working in another couple of years. To give a concrete example, vbulletin server recommendations for 3.6.x - for best performance and stability - are PHP 5.2.6 and MySQL 5.0.51. We are currently using PHP 5.6 and mySQL 5.6. PHP 5.6 is the oldest version of PHP that we can choose on this server. Anything newer and Skadi Forum wouldn't work. vBulletin 3.6.x supports PHP 5 without any problems, though one has to disable strict mode for MySQL and set it to ignore the errors, so that a large chunk of them doesn't show up on the header everytime. So far so good. However, PHP 5.6 will reach its end of life after 31 December 2018. Active support for this version ended on 19 Jan this year and it is now supported for critical security issues only.

    Starting the above mentioned end-of-life date, we might only be able to choose PHP 7 (or higher). We could of course request our host to install PHP 5.6 for us, but they might not agree due to security concerns. The more outdated the software is, the more vulnerable it is, we've had people taking advantage of this to send spam from the server, etc.

    So in the long run, we'll be forced to upgrade. We'd prefer to avoid doing that the last possible moment, along with the long hours of downtime our site might experience due to the incompatibilities and until we'd be able to get all problems solved. I share the concerns about vbulletin 4.x, our plan however was to use it as a temporary version to get accustomed and study the new features, and then if all goes well get a licence for vbulletin 5.x. We'd prefer to have the newest version, as we'd be able to stick to that longer - more stability, support, up-to-date features etc. We'll keep the Asgard skin and add a few other styles for those who don't like the default look. Also, as far as we've read, the newer versions have integrated a lot of features that were simply fan-made modifications before, e.g. an AJAX-based chat functionality, photo albums, blogs, articles, member social groups, Facebook login, likes/thumbs up for posts. Those social features were largely unused/unneeded at the time we ran the Althing, however nowadays they should be more successful considering the development of social media. If not included, we'll of course try to also find equivalents for Skadi's most popular and used features.

    Regarding the status of the upgrade: unfortunately still no reply from vbulletin since the 8th of June... Last time on the phone their sales team informed us they're allegedly swarmed with tickets and if we "bump" a ticket to ask for an update, that ticket gets sent to the end of the queue, so it could allegedly take even longer to solve. We aren't really impressed with their customer service either. It's a pity, because we are longterm vbulletin customers on various 2.x and 3.x licenses, and we actually planned to get a 5.x license as well (once we have managed the upgrade to 4.2.5). We rarely ever used vbulletin support, only when we exhausted our options and ideas. The few replies we got so far were short and standard - those kind of "autotext replies" which make it seem like the person in question didn't read the specifics of the issue in depth - and unfortunately also not very helpful. e.g. they advised us that we "should get SSH access", which we already have and gave them the details in a previous message; they advised us to upgrade to 3.8.11 instead of 4.2.5, which doesn't really do anything since our problem is the upgrade to 3.7, and upgrading to 3.8. requires to go through the upgrade to 3.7 first. We tried it out anyway, since getting support from them requires that we follow the paths they advise, so basically now we are back to the drawing board with the same original problem.

    There is another trick we could try, i.e. to create a new forum, from scratch, on either of the domains, and then import the database of the old forum. Perhaps we'd be more lucky with the import than the upgrade, we'll see. Aside from that we are contemplating the professional upgrade which costs nearly as much as the yearly vbulletin support, although we fear those who do professional upgrades might also get stuck with the same problem. There is also the option to create a customized job on vbulletin.org, but there have been cases of developers just taking the money and doing very little; apart from that we're wary about giving access to our database to strangers.

    In the event that vbulletin turns out to be a dead end, we'll probably have to migrate to another software platform. XenForo has some advantages, it's in someways similar to vbulletin, we could use more add-ons there, as it was built to be extensible and flexible, however the downside is that the add-ons are paid, and some of them don't come cheap. e.g. a media gallery costs 60 bucks, an enhanced search costs 50 bucks, and an extension of support and updates is an additional $15 when one extends their XenForo license. Another downside might be that it might not be possible to replicate the profile fields we have on vbulletin in the postbit under the avatar (e.g. politics, religion), which many people find useful to quickly identify with other members. phpBB is free, so we could have the advantage of trying the import and making sure it works before we made the decision to invest in it. The features and codes are similar to vbulletin, it's also highly customisable and has a few official extensions. We'll consider all suggestions and study a few other possibilities, and ultimately pick the one which is most compatible with our old database.

    However in the meantime, since we paid for priority support, we will continue to try the vbulletin upgrade. Should we not get a reply by next week, we're going to have to call them again. I suppose it's the only option, since we will probably not get a refund if the month goes by without a reaction...

  2. #22
    Funding Member Nachtengel's Avatar
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    There are some examples of boards that still use vbulletin 3.x and even 2.x. Not sure how they do it with vbulletin 2.x host and server wise, and how much longer they can keep it going.

    Something Awful runs on vbulletin 2.2.9

    Fan Forum - this also looks like an old version of vbulletin, perhaps 2.x

    Tribal Wars runs on 3.7.2

    The Straight Dope uses vbulletin 3.8.7

    Stormfront also seems to run on some 3.x version.

  3. #23
    Funding Member Siebenbürgerin's Avatar
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    I've to agree with Bärin and Sigurd, I also like the look and feel of vbulletin 3.6, and I think stability isn't a bad thing. This was for a long time Skadi's traditional style, so in terms of looks and functionality, I'm quite happy with it too.

    However, I also understand that with time it may pose incompatibility and security problems. I liked Windows XP, but nowadays it's history... so we've to move on. I also agree that default vbulletin 4 looks stale, however we don't need to keep the default style... Sometimes a customised style with a few specific features makes a big difference. Here an example of the difference:

    1. a forum with vbulletin 4 default:
    http://www.twcenter.net/forums/index.php?styleid=40

    2. the same forum, with a customised style:
    http://www.twcenter.net/forums/index.php?styleid=54

    vbulletin would be advantageous because we members are also familiar with its use, but if you've to change the software we can adapt.

  4. #24
    Funding Member Ingvaeonic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mööv View Post
    VB3 is end of life. There will be no more updates for it, so it poses a security risk, and various problems would multiply over time.

    I see. Thank you for the explanation and clarification.
    Between the devil and the deep blue sea.

  5. #25
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    Unfortunately, still no reply from vBulletin support to this date. In the meantime, our 'One Month Phone and Ticket Support' of course expired, so I'd say we've awarded them enough patience and understanding. Since we paid and got no service, we bumped the ticket and created a new one requesting an update.

    Poor quality customer support, not what we expect from a name like vbulletin. At this point we don't feel encouraged to sign up for an additional month of getting ignored for 49 $. We are going to wait 48 hours and if our ticket continues to go unnoticed, we're going to call their sales team again and make a complaint. They shall either provide us with an extension and deliver the service we paid for, or refund the money.

    So keep your fingers crossed. In the event our dialogue with vbulletin support continues to go nowhere, we might still have the import old database into new forum trick up our sleeve, which may or may not work. Otherwise, we might have to start evaluating other types of software.

  6. #26
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    That service is beyond ridiculous. In any private firm, someone who treated a customer of fifteen years like that, would be fired dishonorably, summary procedure.

    I hope they finally take to replying, but I won't hold my breath.
    -In kalte Schatten versunken... /Germaniens Volk erstarrt / Gefroren von Lügen / In denen die Welt verharrt-
    -Die alte Seele trauernd und verlassen / Verblassend in einer erklärbaren Welt / Schwebend in einem Dunst der Wehmut / Ein Schrei der nur unmerklich gellt-
    -Auch ich verspüre Demut / Vor dem alten Geiste der Ahnen / Wird es mir vergönnt sein / Gen Walhalla aufzufahren?-

    (Heimdalls Wacht, In kalte Schatten versunken, stanzas 4-6)

  7. #27
    Moderator Leliana's Avatar
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    Maybe there are political reasons for the lacking support by the host? Like 'Oh they are racists, we do shit for them'...!?
    ~Loyal to my hate~

  8. #28
    Senior Member Bill Noble's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leliana View Post
    Maybe there are political reasons for the lacking support by the host? Like 'Oh they are racists, we do shit for them'...!?
    Another possibility is they've hired so many foreign born immigrants that competence and service quality levels are dropping like stones.

  9. #29
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    I've read complaints about vbulletin customer service myself (or rather lack thereof) on other fora (non-political). As far as I've understood the people in charge of it are also the developers and owners of vbulletin, so it's possible complaints just fall on deaf ears. However, to ask for money for priority support and then to completely ignore you sounds rather scammy.

    If the cooperation must come to an end, XenForo looks more modern and seems to have more customizable and varied layouts than vbulletin 4 and onwards. If it's considerably more expensive than vbulletin, a customised donation campaign might help to raise the extra funds?

  10. #30
    Proffessional Hickerbilly SpearBrave's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leliana View Post
    Maybe there are political reasons for the lacking support by the host? Like 'Oh they are racists, we do shit for them'...!?
    If they are based in the US than $$$$ is above all else. That is just the facts of life and business in the US, hence why this place is so comfortably crazy.
    Life is like a fire hydrant- sometimes you help people put out their fires, but most of the time you just get peed on by every dog in the neighborhood.

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