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Author Topic: The past, present, and future of The Shadowbox…  (Read 18232 times)

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indeciSEAN

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The past, present, and future of The Shadowbox…
« on: August 21, 2012, 07:45:51 PM »

It's been way too long since I've been able to post here, and I know many of you echo that sentiment.
But before I go on, let me be the first to say…
WELCOME BACK!

Now…because this is and has been such a convoluted mess of a story, let me do my best to breakdown what happened, where we're at now, and where we hope to go moving forward. And then of course, if you have questions/concerns/thoughts………this'll be the thread to post them in.

THE PAST
As many of you witnessed firsthand, this home to so many of us had become frustratingly overrun by spambots. It hindered our ability to enjoy it and despite the best efforts of myself, Hayley, and other mods, it was incredibly frustrating to keep it functioning. I should also point out (per suggestion of Miss Hayley) that even when spam was overrunning us, we were listening to your complaints and suggestions. Really, nothing was being ignored (and if it ever was, it certainly wasn't intentionally). Time - that would've been better spent on a LOT of other things - was spent deleting crap, and attempting to fix a very, very sad database. The backend was in disrepair, upgrades and updates were often near-impossible to implement, and so a little over a year ago I decided that it would be best to move in a different direction entirely.

I did a lot of research - keeping in mind we'd want software that would not only handle an import of all of the users/posts from the SMF forum, but also allow for scalability and integration into future web and mobile properties being built and dreamt up for Amanda. At the end of the day, and after seeing the success of the board my friend Matt runs, I decided that vBulletin was the best of the contenders.

When the redesign of Amanda's site started last winter, I wanted to make sure we had a seamless user experience where we had an "open door" for people to interact with amandapalmer.net AND Amanda's future apps AND The Box while being able to use the properties of their choice. I'm a big fan of "single sign-on" and giving people the choice to link in (or not) the way THEY want to. I've never seen a musician do that before - and still have yet to - and while it was ambitious, I believe it's the future. And that's what we've been trying to build a foundation for.

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, that didn't go as planned. I don't have a staff nor have I figured out a way to clone myself, and while I do actually lose sleep over that sometimes, there's work to be done. We had a great group of people who worked very hard on trying to bring this forum into 2012, but it ended up being an unfortunate misstep. Surely due in part to the state of the backend, the import never functioned as expected. Some of you were completely shut out, others saw errors we couldn't replicate to fix, and more important than any of that: most people didn't like the look/feel/setup.

And so, at that point, I elected to "take it back" and go through with my original plan…a vBulletin-powered board, which would live here where we've all come to expect it. I'm terrible at estimating how long a project is going to take, it's one of my greatest flaws, but I felt confident I could get us upgraded and "back to normal" if I pulled a single all-nighter. What I didn't expect was the state of damage to everything…some of it old, some of it from the port earlier in the spring…it was like peeling back a digital onion filled with nothing but errors and despair. To put it into perspective for any of you tech geeks out there, the error log was well over a gig at one point.
I don't tell you this because I want a pat on the back, I tell you because I want you to understand what was so time consuming. And, well, maybe to make myself feel a little less insane. It was important to me (and others on the team) that we not just post a duct-taped mess that'd break and put us back to square one. At one point, everything looked so bad it seemed irreparable, but we really didn't want to start from scratch. And so, more than a week after I planned on having this up, with quite a few all nighters - and encroaching on the time of many people who stepped in to help me - we had a breakthrough.
That breakthrough is why you're able to read this right now, and after Hayley and I spoke, we decided that while my plan hasn't been fully executed, things are at least in a state to open back up…

THE THIS, THE NOW
This iteration of the board isn't vBulletin, it's a fully-cleaned-up sparkly new upgrade to SMF. It was hard for me to not want to wait until everything was DONE, DONE, DONE, but it's been too long and it will hopefully be good to give us this stepping stone. I've skinned it to look similar to what you all were used to. We've deleted a LOT of the stuff which has been clogging up the database, and knock on wood the bots are quiet. For now, while we keep tweaking and readying things, it's usable. My hope is that while we get the vBulletin ready behind the scenes, we can work out any last kinks and concerns on here and give you guys your meeting place back.

MOVING FORWARD
The PLAN is to start getting people back on here and when we're ready, shut down late some night and move everything over to vBulletin. I'm sure there will be hiccups, but they'll be small compared to the hells we've been seeing. I don't know if any of you are familiar with it, but I feel very strongly that it is more robust and will be more inline with where things are going from here.
Fingers crossed, right?
I am truly sorry that this has taken as long as it has, and I hope everyone knows I sincerely missed this place as well. I missed having the hub and community we spent years nurturing, I missed being able to easily post things here to get info out that wouldn't be buried in the fast-moving ephemera of social media, and I missed being able to think creatively vs trying to unravel the mystery of broken tech.

So, here we are. And I wanted to catch everyone up. We never forgot about you.
I'm hopeful.
Let's party………stomp around seeing if anything's loose and needs fixing.

And on that note……
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BATTEREDxBRIDExLUVR!

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Re: The past, present, and future of The Shadowbox…
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2012, 08:28:26 PM »

\:D/

the board looks very very pretty so far
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Edric.

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Re: The past, present, and future of The Shadowbox…
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2012, 08:40:04 PM »

:) !!!!!
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Justin

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Re: The past, present, and future of The Shadowbox…
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2012, 08:40:18 PM »

Hurrah!

From personal experience, vbulletin is awesome both to use and to administer.  It also has a lot of hooks to handle single signon sorts of things, when it comes to that. (Let me also offer my help along those lines, if it might be useful.)
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Pope Totalfrog

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Re: The past, present, and future of The Shadowbox…
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2012, 08:43:01 PM »

Hello again Shadowbox...
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Re: The past, present, and future of The Shadowbox…
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2012, 08:49:10 PM »

Oh hey Shadowbox. 
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Re: The past, present, and future of The Shadowbox…
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2012, 10:01:39 PM »

OMG REAL SHADOWBOX. It feels a little shinier than before but it still looks like REAL SHADOWBOX
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insignifikunt

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Re: The past, present, and future of The Shadowbox…
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2012, 10:08:47 PM »




yay! thank you!!!  :headbang:
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Re: The past, present, and future of The Shadowbox…
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2012, 10:23:03 PM »

Sean:

I hadn't planned to ever post here again.

But I'm impressed
  • that the sbox will be active for Amanda/GTO's release of TiE next month

  • with how you have handled this

  • that you have a good plan for moving forward

Kudos to you, Hayley, Matt, et al.
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Our forum before this one...

bluedance

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Re: The past, present, and future of The Shadowbox…
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2012, 10:26:22 PM »

It's up! I'm in! yay!

Thank you so much for working so hard to bring this back. I know I wasn't incredibly active before it went offline, but I'd been trying to work up to being a part of the action, as I have on Twitter. This probably means a lot more to others than it does to me, but it's still incredible to see you guys working so hard and so openly to fix what went wrong.
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Hayley Fiasco!

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Re: The past, present, and future of The Shadowbox…
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2012, 10:34:51 PM »

Glad you guys are enjoying this tuned up version of The Shadowbox. I can't even begin to get into how much time, work, and energy was put into this thing. There's a lot of heart here, and it was really important for us to keep this forum alive and thriving. I wish I could buy Sean and his helpers an entire keg as appreciation for the amount of hours and attention that went into cleaning the backend of the forum. I know a lot of people were angry and frustrated and mad and all sorts of crumby things, but we appreciate your patience and thank you for having faith that we'd get everything back up properly.

Now, with the update Sean has shared, he mentioned that we've deleted a lot of junk off the database to get this forum working smoothly and to help with the forthcoming transition into vBulletin. With that, I've been digging through the Member list and removing the thousands upon thousands of spam accounts. So far, I've deleted approximately 50,000 (inactive) spam accounts, and have at least 25-30,000 or more to go, as a rough estimation. The accounts that I've removed have 0 posts, but it is possible with that many accounts being purged a small number of legitimate lurker accounts (that haven't been logged into in over 2 years) were removed as well.

If you've posted AT LEAST once your account is safe from deletion at the moment regardless of how long it has been since you last logged in (the most is near 2,000 days since log-in), but if you were a lurker that didn't visit this forum in over 2 years and managed to have the same IP and weird screen name formula as spam bots and accidentally got your inactive account purged - I apologize. Please re-register and get to posting!

If there is ANYONE who cannot log-in to their account for any reason at all, feel free to email or contact me (@HayleyFiasco) and I will look into it to see if it's still registered and to see what may be the issue.

Also- as you guys test this version of the board, please let us know if you see anything strange. Specifically, I'd like to know if you are able to use all the features and see the appropriate forums when logged in and when logged out (ie: Anarchy only appears if you're signed in). Thanks so much, everyone!  :headbang:
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 11:15:06 PM by indeciSEAN »
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Re: The past, present, and future of The Shadowbox…
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2012, 11:24:26 PM »

You guys are all really, really incredible. Can't even begin to thank you for all the time and effort you put in -- it feels a little strange but ultimately awesome and homey to have the Sbox back.
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meganpaige

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Re: The past, present, and future of The Shadowbox…
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2012, 11:50:30 PM »

*throws confetti* Thank you Sean and Hayley!
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Re: The past, present, and future of The Shadowbox…
« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2012, 01:05:05 AM »

Joined literally a couple days before everything went to hell, but I still got to see how brilliant and awesome everyone here is. Thanks for making that brilliance available again. Looking forward to figuring out the community.
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Re: The past, present, and future of The Shadowbox…
« Reply #14 on: August 22, 2012, 01:13:23 AM »

:D Yay! Well done!
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