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The Trials & Tribulations of vBulletin

Discussion in 'BoM Blogs' started by Taluntain, Aug 17, 2012.

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  1. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    vBulletin (the forum software we use here) has been constantly on my mind for the last 3 years. After the original company was bought by Internet Brands (IB - another company in turn owned by venture capitalists) about 5 years ago, things have started going downhill increasingly fast. Along with new ownership came the gradual exodus of practically the entire old development team & staff. Development on the then-current version of the software ground to a halt, a major price increase for the software was put in place, existing customers were more or less forced to buy the upcoming new version 4 of vBulletin in a pre-sale at a few days' notice (with the clearly stated threat that those who don't take advantage of the lower pre-sale price will pay more than twice as much later on)... and then v4 was released. It was a complete and utter disaster. With most of the old dev staff gone, it was clear that their replacements were no match for the task, as they introduced many more bugs with each new release than they fixed, with the open bug count hovering at around 1000-1500 for more than 2 years.

    Most of those who upgraded to the new version regretted it presently, so I made the decision to wait. Unfortunately, nearly 3 years later, vBulletin is still plagued by more than 850 confirmed bugs and/or issues, some dating back to 2009. If I had a choice, I still wouldn't do the upgrade today. Especially as they've now announced that v4 is basically history and that all development is currently focused on v5, expected in the coming weeks/months.

    However, after nearly 3 years of waiting, it's come to the point that this mess is holding back the development of the rest of the site, so the only choice is either to upgrade vB, or to move to another forum platform, which would also mean losing some of the features that we currently have (e.g. blogs, galleries...). It would also mean a huge amount of work re-doing too many forums-related things to count from scratch.

    Since the current version of vBulletin is, all things considering, maybe just barely better than the alternative (we will still need to re-do a huge number of customizations and the v3 -> v4 upgrade will be a major undertaking), I've decided not to switch forum platforms for now and rather go ahead with the v4 upgrade.

    Since v5 is apparently around the corner I might just wait and see what that release is like (if it'd make more sense just upgrading to that directly and skipping v4 altogether), but honestly, with IB's track record, I expect a release at best only slightly less botched than v4 was. The situation is so dire that several years ago they've hidden the customer feedback forum from view of potential new customers (so that they can't read about the true state of the software until it's too late) and they're also simply deleting any overly critical posts from frustrated customers that they don't want to see, so I think that hoping for a company with the same MO for more than 5 years to do a radical turn is far beyond optimistic.

    Their development/update record with various additions to the forum core has been horrendous (basically, a ship/charge/forget policy), and the internal policies (such as not issuing pro-rated refunds but rather cutting them off at full years, confiscating excess funds) unfair and to the detriment of the customers. Couple an incompetent development team and a company only out for the money with no regard to the quality of the product or customer satisfaction and, frankly, the results simply can't be any different in take #2 (or 3, 4 or 5) than they've been in the first attempt. Despite the fact that most of us forum owners and/or managers would like to convince ourselves otherwise.

    You might be wondering what it's like working for a company such as that. Two words: revolving door. The employee turnover is so high that new faces keep popping up and disappearing on the official forums every few months. Anyone who's worked for a company like that or knows about such environments needs no further clarification on what that means.

    Oh, and there's also the whole lawsuit against the former lead developer who has released a competing forum solution, XenForo (much better, though still early in development), with the intent to bleed him dry, but that's just something that you'd expect from a company like IB.

    I'm sure another "advantageous" pre-sale for the new version will be coming soon, however. To make us all forget about everything that's occurred prior to this blessed event. But fool me once...
     
  2. Taluntain

    Taluntain Resident Alpha and Omega Staff Member ★ SPS Account Holder Resourceful Adored Veteran Pillars of Eternity SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) New Server Contributor [2012] (for helping Sorcerer's Place lease a new, more powerful server!) Torment: Tides of Numenera SP Immortalizer (for helping immortalize Sorcerer's Place in the game!) BoM XenForo Migration Contributor [2015] (for helping support the migration to new forum software!)

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    According to the latest reports, the vB5 beta released for sale (yea, huh?) is a steaming pile of buggy manure as well. Taking this into consideration along with the fact that vBulletin as a brand name is quite clearly going nowhere fast, plus the fact that XenForo is apparently dead in the water due to internal turmoil... IPB is pretty much the only forum software left for us to go to. What a sad state of affairs...
     
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