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Old 1st August 2014, 12:35 PM   #41
shuttlt
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Originally Posted by OnlyTellsTruths View Post
Hardware, sure, but software??
Without knowing the details of this issue, how can one know? The issue is with some specific software, running with a given amount of load on some unknown hardware. Is it impossible that the forum software isn't particularly efficient? We've already seen them trying to turn some features off to reduce load.

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Old 1st August 2014, 12:43 PM   #42
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Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
Is it impossible that the forum software isn't particularly efficient?

Yes. We know it is in fact. But two points:

#1: Another larger and more active forum is using the exact same relatively inefficient version of vBulletin that we are and it loads just fine. No seemingly random several hour long sessions of slowness.

#2: Because of the add-ons used on this forum and because of a few other reasons, transferring the content of this forum to another version of vBulletin or to another forum software entirely would be a gargantuan nightmare of a task.


Because of those two reasons, and if there is a simple hardware fix, the hardware fix is the obvious solution for our needs.

If the forum is moved to a dedicated and sufficient server and it then still has problems, then and only then should one consider a nightmarish (and possibly forum life altering) software transfer.
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Old 1st August 2014, 12:56 PM   #43
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Originally Posted by OnlyTellsTruths View Post
Yes. We know it is in fact. But two points:

#1: Another larger and more active forum is using the exact same relatively inefficient version of vBulletin that we are and it loads just fine. No seemingly random several hour long sessions of slowness.

#2: Because of the add-ons used on this forum and because of a few other reasons, transferring the content of this forum to another version of vBulletin or to another forum software entirely would be a gargantuan nightmare of a task.


Because of those two reasons, and if there is a simple hardware fix, the hardware fix is the obvious solution for our needs.

If the forum is moved to a dedicated and sufficient server and it then still has problems, then and only then should one consider a nightmarish (and possibly forum life altering) software transfer.
I'm a software guy and I'm always loathe to just throw hardware at problem.

However, if the above is correct it would be unwise to do otherwise in this case.

If JREF really wants help from people here, then we need accurate information. First and foremost is a confirmation of exactly what the hardware and software that is running the forum.
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Old 1st August 2014, 01:00 PM   #44
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Oh, I agree that looking at the application side can certainly be a can of worms. "How much faster do we need to do the stuff we are doing right now to get it done fast enough?" is a simpler question. If some forum features don't scale though, we may only be delaying addressing root causes. What the scalability limits are on this future infrastructure might be worth knowing.
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Old 1st August 2014, 01:08 PM   #45
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Originally Posted by Spindrift View Post
I'm a software guy and I'm always loathe to just throw hardware at problem.
I'm a hardware guy (more or less) and I agree with you sentiment. I'm reminded of a document from EMC about the impact on performance of different layers in the stack. It was an inverted pyramid with application at the top. It takes a lot of hardware take make the same impact that can often be made by tuning the software.
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Old 1st August 2014, 01:43 PM   #46
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On the flip side, hardware is often cheap compared to people, so is it better to spend a few hundred or thousand dollars to double the RAM, or spend tens of thousands on developers to improve RAM usage? Depends, the idealist in me wants to fix the software (quality software, future scalability blah blah), the pragmatist in me asks what the business needs are and what the realistic future needs are. Do the developers even have the time, would their efforts be better spent on features that bring in more customers, etc etc.

I have seen a number of forums that have highly customized their forum software and database though, sometimes you don't have money for hardware but you have volunteer developers that are free.

I should change my username to "itdepends"
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Old 1st August 2014, 02:12 PM   #47
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Kind of depends on how things scale. If it's the kind of problem that grows linearly(ish) and can be fixed with a bit of hardware, sure fix it with hardware. Who knows though?
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Old 1st August 2014, 02:24 PM   #48
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Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
All of the various flavours have good and bad points.

I will state here and now that if JREF folds, I will host a new site at my own expense once it is gone.
Wouldn't be the first time that has happened.
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Old 1st August 2014, 02:39 PM   #49
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Originally Posted by Spindrift View Post
I'm a software guy and I'm always loathe to just throw hardware at problem.

However, if the above is correct it would be unwise to do otherwise in this case.

If JREF really wants help from people here, then we need accurate information. First and foremost is a confirmation of exactly what the hardware and software that is running the forum.
It may be difficult to getthis data from JREF.
Is may be they don't know.
Do they know what "dedicated" means in this context, for example?

Sharon's own website suggests she has no special knowledge in this field. Indeed,her post suggests she thinks this forum has a single moderator.
I suspect the knowledge of the other JREF staff re forum maintenance is at a similar level. (As in any small group of non computer nerds; why would JREF be any different?They do other stuff.) It is therefore critical that those here who do have such knowledge should email her , asking for that data and offering advice accordingly.

Keeping Darat in the loop makes sense and would be simple courtesy, so I'd suggest anyone emailing Sharon with constructive suggestions copies the email here and drops Darat a heads up PM with a link to the relevant post.
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Old 1st August 2014, 02:43 PM   #50
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Why does this cloud of doom keep hovering?
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Old 1st August 2014, 02:45 PM   #51
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Originally Posted by Soapy Sam View Post
Keeping Darat in the loop makes sense and would be simple courtesy, so I'd suggest anyone emailing Sharon with constructive suggestions copies the email here and drops Darat a heads up PM with a link to the relevant post.

Excellent suggestions, Soapy Sam. Or, you can cc Darat at darat@randi.org .
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Old 1st August 2014, 02:59 PM   #52
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I'll contribute $100 towards whatever hardware/software solutions are needed. Failing that, I'll give the $100 to abaddon to help defray his costs.
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Old 1st August 2014, 03:03 PM   #53
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Originally Posted by Floyt View Post
Are there any special reasons for this coyness? (except for, I suspect, an atavistic urge to Not Tell The Internet Proprietary Information...)
Don't do that. This problem is going to need LOTS of communications between parties with HUGELY different skills, knowledge and experience. To start accusing one party of bad faith at the outset is to poison the well with utterly bad consequences. Can we assume the good faith and intentions of others. And if those do come into question, leave the ad homs at home and focus on the issues.

Please.
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Old 1st August 2014, 03:23 PM   #54
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Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
All of the various flavours have good and bad points.

I will state here and now that if JREF folds, I will host a new site at my own expense once it is gone.
I've offered via email to, if necessary, take it over and maintain it with or without JREF branding. That would be a better option than starting over.

If it comes to that I'm more than happy for us (indeed prefer) to work with others on a solution.

(For some background I founded and ran a successful ISP in Oz back in the 90s before selling it and moving to Europe, starting a dedicated hosting company, then selling it to pursue other interests. I now have another internet related startup)
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Old 1st August 2014, 03:43 PM   #55
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I propose a fund raising effort specifically for the purpose of a hardware/software upgrade for the forum.
BTW, I know there are a lot of variables here, but how about a ballpark figure for how much we are talking about?
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Old 1st August 2014, 03:49 PM   #56
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Originally Posted by Gawdzilla View Post
Why does this cloud of doom keep hovering?
I blame Obama
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Old 1st August 2014, 04:06 PM   #57
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Originally Posted by SezMe View Post
Don't do that. This problem is going to need LOTS of communications between parties with HUGELY different skills, knowledge and experience. To start accusing one party of bad faith at the outset is to poison the well with utterly bad consequences. Can we assume the good faith and intentions of others. And if those do come into question, leave the ad homs at home and focus on the issues.

Please.
I think that is a misinterpretation of the post. I think it should be read as a request for more information and nothing more. At the moment no new information has been provided by the OP other than JREF is going to address the issue of poor performance of the forum.
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Old 1st August 2014, 05:24 PM   #58
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Originally Posted by MG1962 View Post
I blame Obama
...and the gay immigrants.
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Old 1st August 2014, 05:44 PM   #59
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Originally Posted by idoubtit View Post
We currently have major issues with the forum hardware, software and large number of users.
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Old 1st August 2014, 05:57 PM   #60
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Originally Posted by idoubtit View Post
The forum is on dedicated hardware that cannot be sustained. A move to new hardware and software is needed. That's the issue that must be solved.

I would like the admins to contact me so we can work out details. I don't know who will take charge of supplying the final input on behalf of the forum but would like that established so we can start moving this ahead.

Also, if you are willing to help with the nuts and bolts discussion, that will need to progress via email. Send me your email address and your capabilities.

Sharon@randi.org

As in your point 3 in the original post where you notified "the forum moderator", this seems like you actually have not much of a clue about how the forum is run, for whatever reason.

As some informed people have said, it seems like the problems are mostly due to a lack of hardware power. I suggest your next step is to get someone to look up the contract you have with SoftLayer and post both the hardware specifications and the costs in this thread. I can't see anything standing in way of transparency here.

The informed people will tell you if the current hardware is the definite problem or if there is something else to look after. Likely it is the former, and not unlikely the contract is a couple of years old given that the forum doesn't seem to have been a JREF priority for the last few years.

Meaning that today you would get a lot more power for the bucks you signed in for, likely enough for the current needs, and I suggest that you lay all of this out to the amazing Randi and let him make the phone call for a new deal.
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Old 1st August 2014, 05:58 PM   #61
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Originally Posted by idoubtit View Post
1. Cacheing is turned off. This makes login readily available but access painfully slow. If caching is turned on, the forum content will be more quickly available when NOT logged in but slow when user is logged in.
Well aside from the fact that, as a computer programmer, I have no idea why that would be the case, yesterday it was far worse than that. I couldn't log in at all, and when I moved around the forum, I was apparently logged in as different people, depending on where I was going.
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Old 1st August 2014, 06:03 PM   #62
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Originally Posted by AdMan View Post
I think it's a mistake to think that Twitter and Facebook and all the other new social channels can better deliver educational messages.
I'll say. Facebook and Twitter have their uses but there's no way you can carry a conversation like on a forum.
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Old 1st August 2014, 06:10 PM   #63
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Originally Posted by lionking View Post
Like others, and despite Sharon's positive comments, I serious doubt JREF's commitment to the forum.
The fact that the forum's been slow for six months is evidence enough that they don't really give a ****.

Originally Posted by shuttlt View Post
I'm puzzled. Knowledgable people have been working on this already, but the problem still requires the input of forum members to resolve?
All you need to know about the people who are "working on this".

Originally Posted by OnlyTellsTruths View Post
And what in the world do you mean by "cannot be sustained"? A dedicated server that would host this forum just splendidly would only cost a couple hundred $$ per month and several of us have said that we would gladly chip in and cover that cost entirely.
Hell, I probably wouldn't mind paying for a whole year just by myself to stop this damn problem.
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Old 1st August 2014, 06:40 PM   #64
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Originally Posted by jhunter1163 View Post
I'll contribute $100 towards whatever hardware/software solutions are needed. Failing that, I'll give the $100 to abaddon to help defray his costs.
I'd be willing to contribute as well. Maybe around the $50 mark.
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Old 1st August 2014, 06:41 PM   #65
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Can we cut Sharon some slack? The fact that she referred to the Forum Liaison (if that's his actual title now, damned if I'm going to go look it up) as "the" moderator, is really rather minor.

The OP says that at least someone's looking at the situation. The fact that they have approached it from a non-technical side may just be an indication that the human resources they have available do not include sufficient techies, so they gave it to a willing and capable person and thought, "Hey, we've got a resource we're not using; let's go out to the forums and see if we can get anyone with technical chops who wants to help get this going."

I think the OP sort of states that. I note one person who's mentioned that he made an offer... I'm guessing by email. I see none of the traditional responses like "email sent", though.

Darat told us a few weeks before TAM that the Foundation was totally involved in TAM and this would be addressed after that was done. They're at least looking at it. If we want to bitch about whether the team should be headed by a technical guru instead of an outreach person, we're going to get no where.

It's a stumbling start, but it's a start. Now we can be helpful or we can pee on their socks. If you guys know the answers, SEND THE EMAIL. It would seem that they don't want to put all the specs in a public thread on the forum, if they even know them. If we've got the technical chops here in the usergroup, then step up.

ETA: And I'm in the group that questions/questioned whether the Foundation has the will to make the forum work and to get the forum back involved in "Foundation Business". I'm just saying.... it's a start.
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Old 1st August 2014, 06:46 PM   #66
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Why do I feel like this is a way of setting up the idea that we need to have ad clicks and banner ads on the site to "help offset the costs of running a forum."

Sorry but abaddon is right. My husband has made several forums over the years and it's cheap, even with a dedicated server it's not that expensive at all. We're talking a couple hundred dollars.

The bulk of the "work" on the forum is generally done by the posters themselves, that's who is making it interesting and drawing the large numbers of posters.

If running a few banner ads is what it's going to take to offset the cost then just do it I guess.

But it does seem really weird to see the disconnect between the forum and the Foundation and it also seems strange that this is being suggested as some huge problem when most other forums I know will just pick a holiday weekend and upgrade the forum in a few hours?

I don't get it.
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Old 1st August 2014, 07:15 PM   #67
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Originally Posted by Foolmewunz View Post
Can we cut Sharon some slack? The fact that she referred to the Forum Liaison (if that's his actual title now, damned if I'm going to go look it up) as "the" moderator, is really rather minor.

Actually it is a much more significant point than anything that followed in your post. She doesn't have the information she needs to make informed decisions - and to add she didn't claim that she has, nor that she is in a position to do so.
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Old 1st August 2014, 07:16 PM   #68
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Originally Posted by Foolmewunz View Post
Can we cut Sharon some slack? The fact that she referred to the Forum Liaison (if that's his actual title now, damned if I'm going to go look it up) as "the" moderator, is really rather minor.

The OP says that at least someone's looking at the situation. The fact that they have approached it from a non-technical side may just be an indication that the human resources they have available do not include sufficient techies, so they gave it to a willing and capable person and thought, "Hey, we've got a resource we're not using; let's go out to the forums and see if we can get anyone with technical chops who wants to help get this going."

I think the OP sort of states that. I note one person who's mentioned that he made an offer... I'm guessing by email. I see none of the traditional responses like "email sent", though.

Darat told us a few weeks before TAM that the Foundation was totally involved in TAM and this would be addressed after that was done. They're at least looking at it. If we want to bitch about whether the team should be headed by a technical guru instead of an outreach person, we're going to get no where.

It's a stumbling start, but it's a start. Now we can be helpful or we can pee on their socks. If you guys know the answers, SEND THE EMAIL. It would seem that they don't want to put all the specs in a public thread on the forum, if they even know them. If we've got the technical chops here in the usergroup, then step up.

ETA: And I'm in the group that questions/questioned whether the Foundation has the will to make the forum work and to get the forum back involved in "Foundation Business". I'm just saying.... it's a start.


^^This!
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Old 1st August 2014, 07:20 PM   #69
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Originally Posted by rjh01 View Post
I think that is a misinterpretation of the post.
I disagree. "Coyness" is a loaded word. Go look it up. It's not a positive way to start a discussion.
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Old 1st August 2014, 07:53 PM   #70
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Originally Posted by Michel H View Post
This is an interesting piece of information, I guess. But, could you be a little more specific? How many servers? How many processors? How many cores? How much RAM? I suspect many here would be interested reading this info.
The dedicated server building page at Softlayer is here, I believe.
Isn't it just. I recall back in the day some servers being home built desktops sitting on a shelf in a server farm. That remark gives me nightmares.
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Old 1st August 2014, 08:11 PM   #71
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Quoting this again because it deserves to be seen by everyone reading this thread:

Originally Posted by Foolmewunz View Post
Can we cut Sharon some slack? The fact that she referred to the Forum Liaison (if that's his actual title now, damned if I'm going to go look it up) as "the" moderator, is really rather minor.

The OP says that at least someone's looking at the situation. The fact that they have approached it from a non-technical side may just be an indication that the human resources they have available do not include sufficient techies, so they gave it to a willing and capable person and thought, "Hey, we've got a resource we're not using; let's go out to the forums and see if we can get anyone with technical chops who wants to help get this going."

I think the OP sort of states that. I note one person who's mentioned that he made an offer... I'm guessing by email. I see none of the traditional responses like "email sent", though.

Darat told us a few weeks before TAM that the Foundation was totally involved in TAM and this would be addressed after that was done. They're at least looking at it. If we want to bitch about whether the team should be headed by a technical guru instead of an outreach person, we're going to get no where.

It's a stumbling start, but it's a start. Now we can be helpful or we can pee on their socks. If you guys know the answers, SEND THE EMAIL. It would seem that they don't want to put all the specs in a public thread on the forum, if they even know them. If we've got the technical chops here in the usergroup, then step up.

ETA: And I'm in the group that questions/questioned whether the Foundation has the will to make the forum work and to get the forum back involved in "Foundation Business". I'm just saying.... it's a start.
Sharon's email address again:

Sharon@randi.org
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Old 1st August 2014, 08:20 PM   #72
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Originally Posted by Orphia Nay View Post
Quoting this again because it deserves to be seen by everyone reading this thread:



Sharon's email address again:

Sharon@randi.org
Did you send a mail offering your services? Go ahead. See what happens.
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Old 1st August 2014, 08:28 PM   #73
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Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
Did you send a mail offering your services? Go ahead. See what happens.
Did you? Why don't you tell us how it turned out? Nothing like "evidence" to hit the spot on a skeptic's forum.

<And I don't have the technical skills to help them or I would. My assistance on computer issues would stop at "Is the power light on?" >
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Old 1st August 2014, 08:32 PM   #74
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Originally Posted by Foolmewunz View Post
Did you? Why don't you tell us how it turned out? Nothing like "evidence" to hit the spot on a skeptic's forum.

<And I don't have the technical skills to help them or I would. My assistance on computer issues would stop at "Is the power light on?" >
Yes. I did. The lukewarm response amounted to no more than foxtrot oscar. Did you have a question?
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Old 1st August 2014, 08:33 PM   #75
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Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
Did you send a mail offering your services? Go ahead. See what happens.

I really don't see how you think all of your snarky remarks in this thread can help.

If you don't care to help, maybe it's best to not post in the thread.

ETA: And I'm just commenting on your public posts in this thread. I've no idea about private emails.

Last edited by AdMan; 1st August 2014 at 08:37 PM.
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Old 1st August 2014, 08:47 PM   #76
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Originally Posted by idoubtit View Post
Everyone, this is important.

First off, this is Sharon Hill (http://sharonAhill.com). I am serving as Creative Consultant to the JREF. I am a long-time member of the forum and appreciate its value. I am on board with the organization to craft their reboot with a new and focused agenda on education.

You may have noticed that the forum is running painfully slow.

We currently have major issues with the forum hardware, software and large number of users. The situation is precarious, but knowledgable people are doing their best to make it useable. There are several issues that must be addressed. This is part of the overall website overhaul, which is overdue.

A minor update has been made to make the situation more stable. However, this had consequences:

1. Cacheing is turned off. This makes login readily available but access painfully slow. If caching is turned on, the forum content will be more quickly available when NOT logged in but slow when user is logged in.

2. The ultimate solution is an upgrade in hardware, software, and a porting of the data. This is not easy nor cheap.

3. The Forum moderator has been notified of the situation. It's time to brainstorm on what to do and figure out the most doable plan.

If you ARE KNOWLEDGEABLE about forums, please provide your advice. I am well aware of the value of the forum and the large number of members served. You do not need to convince me of that. What you need to do is come up with some ideas on how to save the data and continue the forum on a stable, responsive platform. That may mean moving to a different forum software.

Send your detailed ideas to sharon@randi.org or post them here for discussion.

This forum is a unique and fantastic resource. But, this is a time of transition. We need your help and expertise so that it can continue. I have confidence that many here know their stuff. Help us out.

Thanks.
Sharon
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Old 1st August 2014, 08:47 PM   #77
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Originally Posted by icerat View Post
I've offered via email to, if necessary, take it over and maintain it with or without JREF branding. That would be a better option than starting over.

If it comes to that I'm more than happy for us (indeed prefer) to work with others on a solution.

(For some background I founded and ran a successful ISP in Oz back in the 90s before selling it and moving to Europe, starting a dedicated hosting company, then selling it to pursue other interests. I now have another internet related startup)
Fair enough. Did you notice that plenty of folks are willing to volunteer time and materials? But JREF just isn't interested?
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Old 1st August 2014, 08:51 PM   #78
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Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
Yes. I did. The lukewarm response amounted to no more than foxtrot oscar. Did you have a question?
Yes, I did. And you answered it. Congratulations.
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Old 1st August 2014, 09:21 PM   #79
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Originally Posted by Orphia Nay View Post
Quoting this again because it deserves to be seen by everyone reading this thread:



Sharon's email address again:

Sharon@randi.org
Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
Did you send a mail offering your services? Go ahead. See what happens.
No, I didn't because I wouldn't be able to help and I don't want to waste her time.
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Old 1st August 2014, 09:31 PM   #80
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That's rich. The OP asks for advice that obviously shows she's out of her league and people explain to her that she's not saying something that makes sense and they get attacked for not being NICE.

How about this instead,

If you don't know what you are talking about stop cluttering up the thread with a welcoming committee and lots of really nice comments.

If there's a real problem, which the OP clearly indicates there is, let those who DO know what they are talking about give advice.
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