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Unread 2014-03-25, 12:45   #1
Ved's Avatar

Feb 3 2003
4,678 posts
Age 42

I had to do some necessary server software upgrades this past weekend and they irreparably broke some things with vBulletin (the base software our forum uses). I also discovered a root exploit that had apparently been hiding on the server for a while; we were non-maliciously hacked a year ago.

Due to these things, for better or worse, it is now necessary for us to get away from the current forums we use. They are old as shit, are insecure, and are not functioning correctly after the server updates. Hell this vBulletin software will likely cease to function soon on its own due to critical things not being able to run; it runs on PHP and some methods used are fully deprecated and are breaking scripts. This version of vBulletin is also no longer supported, and even if it was a free and simple process (which it is not), our forum has so many custom hacks it wouldn't work at all; it would be easier to just start over fresh - probably with a free board with less features, but more secure in any case.

What this means is another total overhaul to the site is necessary, if we want to keep the new forums tied in to the contests and user system and such. This will take a lot of time, and we don't have a lot of time.

A decision needs to be made regarding contests, and the options are (ordered by time/cost from high to low):
  1. Redo the entire contest system, modernizing the site and encourage contests to start back up, but be easier to view and participate in. This basically means making a push for Mecha to become an active photoshopping site again, but comes with the huge risk of no one using the system. I am reluctant to do this unless a great idea comes up/is presented, because I don't know if I can handle it (the last few years have been completely dormant and I gave up and just redirected the home page to the forums a while back)

  2. Try to keep contests as they are visually and functionally, meaning people could submit suggestions and entries if they ever wanted to, but nothing changes otherwise. Would still require a large amount of time and effort to integrate contest system into new forums.

  3. Keep the old contests up as an archive (VIEW ONLY) but no new contests would be possible. Not tied into the new forums/login systems whatsoever.

  4. Remove contests and turn Mechapixel into a forum with shoutbox, nothing more.
I'll start out by saying I'm leaning towards #3, but I'd be more likely to do #1 then #2, because #2 (the way the site has been since 2010) feels pointless to me. Why put forth effort to convert something if it's not going to be used, unless it's being completely redone to be better (option #1)? No matter what we do I plan on keeping forums and some sort of chat/shoutbox available, because that's what has mattered the most over the years - especially recent years.

To expand on my thoughts on Mechapixel, it's no secret that I was into the site a lot more a decade ago when contests were in their prime, but after the dramafest in 2007, that and the decline of contests just killed me. Four years ago I came to terms with the fact that my original vision for Mechapixel had long died, and that actually reinvigorated me - I started caring again. I did the rebuild that you see today and I made a Facebook page so people won't be in the dark during downtimes, etc. Since then I log in to look at the Shoutbox occasionally, and have occasionally tried to brainstorm ideas to make things better.

At this point I want to either fully accept Mechapixel for what it currently is (a small shoutbox/forum for some long-time online acquaintances) and treat it as such as we move into the new forums, OR rethink the creative material and the way contests/submissions and done, and give them another chance. The site is woefully out of date with all the slick technologies going around these days, not even to mention mobile goodies and accessibility.

Anyway what do you guys think about all of that? The site can't stay/look exactly the same, only due to the technical reasons that I mentioned. Since I need to redo that part now anyway, might as well think about what to do with the contests at the same time.
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