Ok, my experience with Proboards/Forums.net

Discussion in 'Free Hosted Forums' started by Bikenut, Sep 16, 2014.

  1. Bikenut

    Bikenut Enthusiast

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    I have a few free forums on proboards. Well, I did have to pay 9.99 or so to use my own custom domain name,
    I upgraded one of my Forums from Proboards to their paid service, forums.net and it is currently 3 months and 22 days old. At this moment I have 415 members, Total Posts: 10,584, Total Threads: 807 and am averaging 8 new members per day. I also have three supporting Vendors paying me monthly to advertise on my forum.

    Is that good for a new forum? Here it is FZ-07 Forums

    I also own a forum for a bike that hasn't even come out yet, FJ-09 forums
    But that one is new and I just started putting some time into it and will pump some SEO juice into it when the bike actually hit's the dealers showrooms.

    I have no SQL or coding experience at all and Proboards is easy for newbies like me. I just knew that I wanted to start some motorcycle forums and see if I could get some good members and content. I love motorcycles alot, all bikes. And riders seem to be good forum members, I hardly ever have to delete or ban. I have ten volunteer moderators on the 07 forum.

    My experience with Proboards is pretty good. I'm paying 50 per month for the Forums.net account and am close to going over that 300,000 pageview per month limit.

    I recently had some dude in India make me a MyBB forum because I see the HUGE savings in just going the shared hosting route but the site keeps crashing, people can't post it just pasts the word "Undefined" and other problems pop up that I don't know how to fix. So, I'm probably gonna put a couple more forums into the forums.net account and hope like hell that I can get more supporting Vendors to cover the costs until it grows and advertising pays off. I am also about to start selling dropship motorcycle parts and maybe that will help.

    I gotta say, Proboards/Forums.net is really really easy and the plugins are very useful and easy to install. I have Viglink and am doing about $35 a week already and it works great with Proboards. They have a large support community for the free boards and a dedicated ticket system for the paid service. I like them alot, but yeah. If I knew how to code and create/manage SQL and had the time, I would probably go Xenforo and shared hosting.

    I'm really goos at creating SEO results, attracting members and even advertisers because I am a really good salesperson/marketer. But I just don't have the tech skills to build my own forum yet.

    Anyone else on Proboards?
     
  2. ethan

    ethan im a fireman, i mean EMT

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    I stopped using any free-forum software months ago (I just put random myBB or phpBB forum on my webhost and poof), but from what I've heard ProBoards is pretty good.

    That said, $50 a month is INSANE for what you're getting. Glad you're going the myBB route, I can help you with most mySQL stuff, just shoot me a PM if you want.


    P.S Glad to see this forum is less-then-totally-dead
     
  3. R44

    R44 Asperger's Network? Absolutely.

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    That's been resolved, AFAIK - euantoreuantor?!

    Part of the problem. Pay less, get a less than satisfactory job (I've been stung myself doing this).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2014
  4. ethan

    ethan im a fireman, i mean EMT

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    Just noticed this lol, yeah, I've been stung completely out of a 150$ deal for a website before, indian guy showed me screenshots of a half-done website, paid him, then he never appeared again. You gotta be careful what you buy on the net, particularly in this section of it.
     
  5. Bikenut

    Bikenut Enthusiast

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    Forums.net say that after six months, I can export all forum data so if I find someone good that I can trust, maybe I could switch. I dunno though, I hate change. I'm trying to get a multi site offer from them because I don't allow members to upload attachments so there is no Attachment bandwidth to speak off, just reg bandwidth and pageviews.
     
  6. Bikenut

    Bikenut Enthusiast

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    Well, the good news is that I found the dude on Fivver and only paid $20. The forum looks great, just doesn't work. Now, he wants to "Give" me a copy of Xenforo and get it up and going but not sure if I trust him now.
     
  7. R44

    R44 Asperger's Network? Absolutely.

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    For $20, I can only assume nulled. That will get you into legal strife.
     
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  8. ethan

    ethan im a fireman, i mean EMT

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    Don't 'get someone you trust' - pay for the hosting yourself and have someone else export it, I usually do it for free for friends. Even then, good hosting will be ~40$ cheaper then what your paying now.

    I've bypassed the 'no forum exporting' by using crawlers to grab user posts, info, and ect, then through a lot of mySQL query troubleshooting (took me like 4 hours for a forum with 14,000 posts), transfer it over, Users will have to re-send email verification to get there passwords back but otherwise it worked fine.
     
  9. Bikenut

    Bikenut Enthusiast

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    TailsTails You may be hearing from me. Options are good to have.

    But hey, what do you guys think of my forum? Are those number good for being a month and a half old?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2014
  10. ethan

    ethan im a fireman, i mean EMT

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    The numbers are certainly solid, a forum I run (http://gmodknobs.com/ ) has about half as many posts and has been up for just about as long.

    That said, it's best you get off of free forums before you have a large community - it will cause issues but be worth it in the long run, I'd rather do it with 500 members then 5,000.
     
  11. Bikenut

    Bikenut Enthusiast

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    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2014
  12. ethan

    ethan im a fireman, i mean EMT

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    One of many, I don't really 'own' any of them, i float around fixing stuff up where asked (see http://thepopzone.net and http://lawedan.com - I don't have any particular interest in pop for example, but I keep the website up)

    But yeah, It's a really nice forum for a proboard, I'm impressed what you've pulled off with it. Doesen't change my opinion that $50 a month is a total ripoff though :p
     
  13. haqzore

    haqzore Habitué

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    This exactly.
     
  14. euantor

    euantor MyBB Lead Developer

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    Yep, that was resolved some time ago. It was caused by a problem with JavaScript in certain browser in 1.6. In 1.8 we use an entirely new editor (SCEditor) which should have no such issues.

    Honestly, if I was you I'd post my problems either on the official support forums or in the MyBB forum here and we can look them over and try to find the cause.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2014
  15. pclinger

    pclinger Aspirant

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    Hi,

    Patrick Clinger here, CEO of ProBoards.

    If it was $50 for hosting only, I would probably agree with you that it seems like a lot. But when you look at the actual features we offer, the level of tech support we offer (7 days a week phone support included in the $50 plan), the fact that we offer a Service Level Agreement, the forum is White Label (no need to pay $300+ to remove the "Powered by..."), all forums come with all pages SSL secured, etc.

    Many web hosts limit the number of concurrent connections to your website. If you have a surge in traffic, your site will go down. By having us host the site, we can handle any traffic bursts that come through. We process hundreds of millions of pageviews every month across ProBoards and Forums.net.

    There is a whole lot you get for that price. We have the best tech support team on the web. You can see what our customers have to say about us on our open Support Forum (http://support.proboards.com). We also help you monetize your site by making it easy to install VigLink, and you can also sell banner ads on your site to increase your revenue.

    We really pride ourselves on providing a quality service. Further, Forums.net does not lock you in (transfers from ProBoards to Forums.net do have a 6 month contract, though). We give you the ability to export all of your forum data if you are not happy with the service. That's how confident we are as a forum host that we are providing not only great value, but also great service and a fantastic product.

    Patrick Clinger
     
  16. haqzore

    haqzore Habitué

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    well... color me impressed!

    surprising post.
     
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  17. ethan

    ethan im a fireman, i mean EMT

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    Indeed, don't see a whole lot of top-level people here. I certainly gotta give you credit for 'entering the lions den' so to speak.


    Can you tell us what you run under the hood for PB? It looks like a form of phpBB.

    I would see people being willing to pay the money if it offered more options, the 'pay and forget' method works for some, but not those of us who would be capable of running our own forum, then again, I don't imagine the freeforum market at all would be appeasing to that group (which I imagine would be a good chunk of us here at TAZ), so I guess you gotta earn your money somehow.

    Personally, if it offered more advanced, modern looking software (Think XF,IPB,VB) (Or is this possible and just the forums I've seen don't know how to utilize it? I'm not sure) the $50 would seem more appeasing - I'm obviously not saying any of those 3 in particular (as the licensing fees would sink that boat before it left port :p), but it really needs some front-end polishing in my opinion
     
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2014
  18. pclinger

    pclinger Aspirant

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    We created our own forum software from scratch, it is not a derivative of anything on the market. We use quite a few different technologies under the hood. Most of the back-end is in Perl (mod_perl for speed), MySQL for the DBs, Redis and Memcached for memory caching, Sphinx for searches, multiple load balancers, many Apache/nginx nodes, multiple data nodes which are replicated both on-site and off-site for backups, We even have a built in Avatar Maker where you can design your own custom avatar, which uses Flash / ActionScript. There's a lot of other behind the scenes tools and programs we use for monitoring all the services and alerting us for any issues.

    It's hard to respond to vaguely asking for "more options" without specifics (if you can elaborate, I'm happy to respond). But, I think I can take this opportunity to tell you a bit about our software - which you may know, or perhaps don't. We spent 4 years working on our ProBoards v5 product which launched at the end of April last year. We focused heavily on making the software simple but powerful.

    We vastly improved the forum search option, and I'm 100% confident that there is no other forum software's search is as good as ours. When viewing a board, you can type a search term in the box at the top of the page and all threads will instantly update on the page based on your search criteria (displayed in the exact same format as threads normally are displayed). You can also specify individual filters. For example, you could search for threads that contain the word "ProBoards" with more than 50 replies created by "Patrick Clinger" and it would instantly return all results live on your screen (there are many more filter options available). The same applies for viewing a thread. 1,000 page thread looking for that one post? No problem. Results are instant when you type your search or pick your filters.

    Similarly we looked to improve the overall moderation and user experience. You will find that even though the software may appear simplistic at first view, we have many options tucked away in simple dropdowns so that the layout is not cluttered unnecessarily. For example, when logged in you will have a "Select" dropdown that appears when viewing a list of threads. You can easy click "Select All" and then from the "Action" menu next to it you can click an action such as Mark as Read, Mark as New or even choose from moderation actions such as Delete, Move, Lock, Unlock, Bump, Sticky, etc. You can also similarly perform actions on multiple posts -- even from posts on different pages of a thread (clicking between pages of a thread is done by AJAX so the page never has to fully reload). Each post has a dropdown you can click where you can do things like selecting post, grabbing the thread link, and more. You can select all the posts you want to do something to and then choose what you want to do. Multi-quote a bunch of posts? Click the quote icon and all selected posts will be quoted. Delete? Move posts? Also available from the action menu. There's also numerous other actions including banning members, disabling accounts, and more available while viewing a thread.

    Another feature that we added was a way to quickly view from any page what threads you have participated in (and whether or not there are new posts). This helps you jump around to conversations you are already interested in quickly and easily. Combining this with numerous notification options, we helped increase overall engagement across our forums.

    For SEO, we focused on providing an optimal experience for higher listings in search results. We saw an 80% increase in search traffic over a 1 year period.

    We also introduced a new global login system that makes it very easy for our members to join new forums. When you're already a ProBoards member and find a new forum you love, all you have to do is pick a username for that forum and you're done.

    Another great feature is our Forum Dashboard. We make it quick and easy to see updates from all forums you are a member of on ProBoards from one screen. You can see your notifications, personal messages, bookmarks, participated threads all from one simple screen. We know it's hard to stay active on many forums at once, so this helps you keep track of everything that's going on.

    There are a lot of other great features, ranging from our intuitive Admin Panel (want to rearrange your categories and boards? drag and drop them!), full control of the forum's HTML templates and CSS, our developer friendly theme and plugin creation (there are hundreds of themes and plugins available to install in a single click, and it's super easy to create them), and so much more.

    That's why we launched Forums.net, to address that middle ground. There are people who want someone to handle the servers, software, security, backups, and be available for tech support when it's needed. But, as you mentioned, people want control. They want to know that they can take their data and leave if they aren't happy. Forums.net is the solution for this. You can get all the benefits of a hosted environment, knowing that at any time you can choose to leave with a full database export.

    As I mentioned in my feature description, you have full control of the HTML and CSS. You can make your forum look however you want. Here's a few examples of varying styles that showcase some of the level of customization you have:
    http://theavatarrp.proboards.com/
    http://emotivalounge.proboards.com/
    http://smangii.proboards.com/
    http://support.proboards.com/
    http://cloudwanderers.boards.net/
    http://knights-of-cydonia.proboards.com/
    http://classiccomics.boards.net/
    http://face.boards.net/
    http://familyguymobile.proboards.com/
    http://perfect-pandemonium.proboards.com/

    Patrick Clinger
     
  19. ethan

    ethan im a fireman, i mean EMT

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    Thanks - I wasnt aware of what you can do with the software so i was running from what I was seeing on a few random forums. These look pretty nice.

    That's a good business model, I for one would much rather pay for the dedicated server at $50 a month than a forum though :p - But I do see how this can work for people who 'want all the work done for them' - I do believe that for those with the technical staff, hosting it on their own would be more economical, however.


    You said earlier that its a custom CMS - How compatable is the database with other forum softwares then? I imagine most forum softwares don't come with a 'forums.net' import option.

    As much as this sounds like a good idea on the front end, I am eternally tainted by Enjin on this :p

    Also, how does that work? Is this implying that user accounts are stored centrally with you? Again, how would this work with exporting your database? (Unless I am comparing forums.net and probaords wrong - I'm honestly not too knowledgable about the differences.
     
  20. pclinger

    pclinger Aspirant

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    Thanks - I think some people have misconceptions about what we can do. Many people started on free forums years ago but never came back to see where things have evolved to.

    In the same way that many forum systems have written converters from X software to Y, the same can be done for ours. When you export your data we give you the MySQL dump. You upload this data to your server, tell MySQL to run the SQL commands from the file, and it will create all the tables. You can then query out the data and re-insert into your desired format.

    This is a ProBoards feature, not Forums.net. Forums.net logins are specific to just their one forum. With ProBoards, you create your account and then you can join many forums using that one ProBoards account. We store your passwords in a secure, hashed format -- but when you join a new forum, we track that forum account in relation to your global account. So we know that your global account is linked to X, Y, and Z forum and we know which specific user you are. This way we can display all of the information I mentioned before. When you login at our main website (www.proboards.com) you are presented with your Forum Dashboard. Currently this is ProBoards only, however we have considered making it compatible with third party systems.
     
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