Poll

Should we switch forum software now?

Yes, do it now.
4 (11.1%)
Yes, start to consider it soon.
5 (13.9%)
Don't care.
3 (8.3%)
No, just leave it until the wheels fall off.
20 (55.6%)
No, never, maintain it any way possible.
4 (11.1%)

Total Members Voted: 36

Author Topic: IMPORTANT: SMF Forum software is all but abandoned?  (Read 573 times)

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Offline EEVblog

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IMPORTANT: SMF Forum software is all but abandoned?
« on: July 03, 2020, 05:20:25 am »
The EEVblog forum runs on SMF (simple Machines Forum) software, and from the sounds of this, it's seems all but abandoned now?
https://www.sitepoint.com/community/t/smf-forum-project-on-deaths-door/48180

I know that updates have been very slow, but they have at least happened over the years.
And I know that "if it ain't broke don't fix it".
And I know that it can likely continue to work indefinitely and can be maintained on privately
And I know that people don't like change.
etc etc

So it seems that the writing is on the wall for the SMF software. Perhaps time to consider reluctantly switching forum software?

And it seems like people are betting banned and posts deleted on this links, so here is a copy of the original post:
Quote
Those links I posted now say:

The topic or board you are looking for appears to be either missing or off limits to you.

Great. Censorship. Terrific :frowning:

Thankfully I have a copy, so here is the initial post which is being spread around the internet as the developers are having trouble getting their voices heard amongst the community:

Dear Cathy, Derek, and Jeremy,

We’re writing to you because we feel that the time has come for us to speak up, take responsibility, and do what’s right for the future of Simple Machines.

While we’ve had our differences in the past, most of us still consider you our friends and can say without a doubt that you’ve made an impact on our lives.

First, we would like to thank you for the time and effort you’ve put into the Simple Machines project. You’ve together put in countless hours supporting and improving not just the community at large, but those inside and close to the team as well. Many of us can honestly say that without you we would never have been on the team and had such great experiences in the first place.

Simple Machines Forum is coming up on its seventh birthday, is greatly recognized throughout the internet, and has shown that it can survive mostly anything and keep running. We ask that you see this not as an attempt at righting the wrongs of the past, but recognizing that mistakes were made and that a brighter future can be found if some sacrifices are made.

Unfortunately, we think it is time for Simple Machines to stand on its own merits and must request that you resign from your positions on both the SMF team and the LLC and let fresh minds make decisions and take responsibility for the project.

We wish you well in your future endeavours and would even like to see you continue to help with the Simple Machines project(s) at some point down the road, even starting immediately at regular team positions.

Our plans for the immediate future are few, but will go a long way towards improving and fortifying Simple Machines for the forseeable future:

* We plan to create a Non-Profit Organization with a Board of Directors to oversee the current forum project and any future projects.
* We would like to investigate and put in place a new license for the product(s).
* We will work together to create a new team agreement that everyone can agree on in principle.
* We will treat each other, the team, former team members, and the community with the respect and dignity that they deserve, and recognize contributions from all.
* We will communicate with each other to create a team structure that fosters a fun and responsible place to work on projects that we all enjoy.
We intend to work with Kindred, the team, and former team members in an orderly fashion to make these plans into reality, and assure you that the Simple Machines project you know and love will continue to exist for many years to come.

In closing, we would like to once again thank you for your contributions making Simple Machines Forum what it is today, and sincerely hope that you will consider what we’ve said. This hasn’t been easy for any of us, but we feel that this is a necessary step in making sure that Simple Machines thrives once more. We would prefer not to draw this process out, and ask that whatever changes are made be made peacefully and with good will. Since none of us have recently been in management positions within Simple Machines, we would appreciate if you would stay on board for a short period while the handover takes place, and understand if you would prefer not to.

Thank you,

Huw “H” Ayling-Miller
Steven “Fustrate” Hoffman
Jack “akabugeyes” Thorsen
Jason “JBlaze” Clemons
Joshua “groundup” Dickerson
Aleksi “LexArma” Kilpinen
Alex “Akyhne” Kühne
Peter “Antechinus” Sharpe
Eren “forsakenlad” Yasarkurt
Chris “ccbtimewiz” Batista
Colin “Shadow82x” Blaber
Nico “aliencowfarm” Boer
Geoff “bigguy” Brunkard
Rick “RickC” Caudill
Sinan “[SiNaN]” Çevik
Bryan “Runic” Deakin
Jan-Olof “Owdy” Eriksson
Gary M. Gadsdon
Brad “IchBin” Grow
Douglas “The Bear” Hazard
Juan Jose “JayBachatero” Hernandez
Bjoern “Bloc” Kristiansen
Jeff Lewis
Justin “metallica48423” O’Leary
Scott “RedOne”
Jordan “Eliana Tamerin” Schnaidt
Ben “Ben_S” Scott
Jeremy “jerm” Strike
Peter “Arantor” Spicer
Jade Elizabeth “Alundra” Trainor
Dannii Willis
René-Gilles “Nao” Deberdt.

That’s a fairly sizeable chunk of the SMF developer community who’ve signed the bottom of that. Those aren’t random forum members, they’re all prominent members of the SMF community.

This is most screwed up state of affairs I’ve ever seen in a software project before.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2020, 05:22:24 am by EEVblog »
 

Offline ataradov

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Re: IMPORTANT: SMF Forum software is all but abandoned?
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2020, 05:31:11 am »
I would consider a switch, just as long as alternative is an actual forum software, not some facebook/twitter new age garbage. Unfortunately, I'm not even sure such thing exists.

For what it is worth, there is one thing that I noticed goes away in updates and it absolute deal breaker for me personally is RSS/Atom feed. Once this goes away so do I. I'm not visiting dozens of places daily to find a couple things I may be interested in.

Having an option for a plain text editor is also good. Dealing with WYSIWYG editors is frustrating.
Alex
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: IMPORTANT: SMF Forum software is all but abandoned?
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2020, 05:35:00 am »
I would consider a switch, just as long as alternative is an actual forum software, not some facebook/twitter new age garbage. Unfortunately, I'm not even sure such thing exists.

Yes, there are several alternatives, both free and commercial.

Quote
For what it is worth, there is one thing that I noticed goes away in updates and it absolute deal breaker for me personally is RSS/Atom feed. Once this goes away so do I. I'm not visiting dozens of places daily to find a couple things I may be interested in.

I didn't even know SMF had an RSS feed!
 

Offline ataradov

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Re: IMPORTANT: SMF Forum software is all but abandoned?
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2020, 05:36:48 am »
I didn't even know SMF had an RSS feed!
Link at the very bottom of each page :)
Alex
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: IMPORTANT: SMF Forum software is all but abandoned?
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2020, 05:38:52 am »
I didn't even know SMF had an RSS feed!
Link at the very bottom of each page :)

LOL yeah, that invisible one because the colours suck  ;D
 

Offline ataradov

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Re: IMPORTANT: SMF Forum software is all but abandoned?
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2020, 05:46:28 am »
Oh, I forgot. I ad-blocked that hideous background pattern a long time ago. For me they are just black links on the white background.
Alex
 

Offline Whales

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Re: IMPORTANT: SMF Forum software is all but abandoned?
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2020, 06:07:20 am »
Dave: the thread you link is 10 years old.

Is the deleted post you quoted from something newer?

Updates & releases forum: https://www.simplemachines.org/community/index.php?board=1.0

Online magic

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Re: IMPORTANT: SMF Forum software is all but abandoned?
« Reply #7 on: July 03, 2020, 06:26:38 am »
Doesn't really look abandoned yet but in some kind of state of organizational dysfunction. (Assuming the whole matter isn't out of date, as Whales suggested).

No harm in researching alternatives, I suppose. How hard it typically is to migrate existing posts, by the way? I think problems may occur with links to attached images that people used to put manually in posts.
« Last Edit: July 03, 2020, 06:28:17 am by magic »
 

Offline jmw

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Re: IMPORTANT: SMF Forum software is all but abandoned?
« Reply #8 on: July 03, 2020, 06:40:43 am »
https://github.com/SimpleMachines/SMF2.1/graphs/commit-activity

Doesn't look abandoned to me...

And yep that thread was from Jan 2010. Based on what Wikipedia says of Simple Machines Forum, it looks like the signers of that letter got what they wanted, and converted the company to a non-profit.
 
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Offline Siwastaja

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Re: IMPORTANT: SMF Forum software is all but abandoned?
« Reply #9 on: July 03, 2020, 06:57:42 am »
Despite common misbelief, software does not automatically go "stale" with age. If it works and does the job, it doesn't matter if it's 1000 years old, or not maintained at all.

Now if it's lacking some new feature or a support to a new interface you need, and you can't have that due to lack of maintenance, then it's indeed going stale. But do note that being maintained isn't a silver bullet here; even many well-maintained software fail to provide what the users actually need.

Note that premature "updating" only wastes resources. Prepare by looking at the alternatives, so that you know the playing field, but do the decision Just-In-Time. This way, you have an idea what might be stable and reliable alternatives.

You'll notice it when you have to replace it. Then you don't have to ask, you just know it.
 
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Offline Ysjoelfir

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Re: IMPORTANT: SMF Forum software is all but abandoned?
« Reply #10 on: July 03, 2020, 07:23:03 am »
Despite the fact that the linked post is 10 years old:

I personally don't like SMF and never did like it, even when it was "new". I have managed many forums back in the days using Woltlab Burning Board 2/3 or vBulletin Board and always liked it way more, SMF felt to me like.... I don't realy know how to describe it, it felt... clunky and "cheap", like a cheap toy instead of a real tool.
But keep in mind that this is just a personal oppinion.

Also: Sure, you can argue, like Siwastaja did, that Software doesn't age if it just works. But keep in mind that there is more to something than a "well, it still works".
Besides the obvious safety related things - software bugs can be found even years after the development of something ceased and was thought as "perfect" or "done" - there is also the factor of useability and outward appearance, ease of administration, availability of addons, patches and updates and more I'm sure I forgot.
From those the outward appearance of SMF is one thing I personally don't like. It just looks cheap.
Problems while installing or managing addons seemed to have also happened in the past AFAIK?
I think I also read that there are some strange code workarounds you implemented which makes the management/administration a bit harder than it would need to be.

In my oppinion it would be a good thing to change, but in a sensible way:
Build a new software up, build import scripts and thoroughly check those, and let that run in the background for people to (explicitly and only) play with. When it works flawless set the old one to read only, import the data to the new software again and add a splash screen that tells the user about the change in software - that he can now only write in the new forums, which can be found *link*, and the old one, found *link*, is set to read only.
Then, after some time, remove that splash and redirect users directly to the new forums.

That should make up for a nice and easy transition in my experience.

But please, don't get one of those horrific softwares that don't have any visual structure anymore.
Greetings, Kai \ Ysjoelfir
 

Offline Brumby

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Re: IMPORTANT: SMF Forum software is all but abandoned?
« Reply #11 on: July 03, 2020, 07:32:30 am »
Despite common misbelief, software does not automatically go "stale" with age. If it works and does the job, it doesn't matter if it's 1000 years old, or not maintained at all.

Now if it's lacking some new feature or a support to a new interface you need, and you can't have that due to lack of maintenance, then it's indeed going stale. But do note that being maintained isn't a silver bullet here; even many well-maintained software fail to provide what the users actually need.

Note that premature "updating" only wastes resources. Prepare by looking at the alternatives, so that you know the playing field, but do the decision Just-In-Time. This way, you have an idea what might be stable and reliable alternatives.

You'll notice it when you have to replace it. Then you don't have to ask, you just know it.
I have to agree here.

The concept of "Seemed like a good idea at the time" is not the best way for an optimal outcome.  Why go through all the trauma now to move to a platform that may be good now, only to discover an ideal candidate turns up some time before SMF would have become untenable.

To move to this other candidate would then involve double handling ... not to mention a doubling of the potential compromise on data going through two conversion processes.
 
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Offline Ranayna

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Re: IMPORTANT: SMF Forum software is all but abandoned?
« Reply #12 on: July 03, 2020, 08:08:07 am »
So, i voted that you should consider it.

A change like that should not be done at a moments notice. No matter what you change it to, the look and feel will change, and we all know that we don't really like change here :D

I second the opinion, that whatever you change the forum software to, it *needs* to stay a forum. I think doing a switch to something that works completely different would, first, make it difficult, if not impossible, to migrate all data, and second, would alienate a lot of your userbase.

The biggest hurdle, and likely one of the deciding factors for which software to use, will be the migration of the data. Please don't even think about switching software without migrating, there is just too much valuable information in the forum.

I admit that i have not much experience with modern forum software. The days when i set up my own phpBB and the likes are long gone  :phew:
Some time ago, i joined a (German) forum that runs on Xenforo. And to be honest, i came to like that system a lot. While it follows a somewhat more modern, flat look, it still feels very much like a forum software. I especially like mobile view, which is essentially the same site, since Xenforo is following responsive design, adjusting on the fly to your display.

I do not know what other current alternatives are out there. Would you consider providing a list of the ones that you have in mind, Dave?
 

Offline EEVblog

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Re: IMPORTANT: SMF Forum software is all but abandoned?
« Reply #13 on: July 03, 2020, 09:11:10 am »
Dave: the thread you link is 10 years old.

Oops  :-[
 
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