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and potentially a new source of income, for a bum. Just as many IT workers, I was let go in 2002, and since then have not been able to secure a full time job. My background is more on the lower bowels of the Inet (infrastructure, comm & security) of 20+ years, but have enough programming experience to be dangerous.

I have been following search engine optimization way before it became even a niche industry. I followed to rise of the spam "industry", the deployment of business on the web, and watched multi billion dollar investment backed web sites disappear, while shoe-string operations rake in 2 to 3 thousand percent profit margins.

I believe I have found a niche that has not been filled and can make a small business on it.

To deploy I have jotted down my thoughts on what I will need to do.

The concept is as follows -

  1. Select the appropriate technology. The forum software, and portal piece. It has to be flexible, and cannot lock the site into itself.
  2. deploy an online community with a unique interest to attract eyeballs
  3. make sure that the unique interest has sufficient user base, (for example
  4. buggy whips are really cool but there are too few people interested)
  5. Do not initially, or ever charge for visitors
  6. Generate sufficient amount of content to start discussions
  7. Get news (RSS, XML, etc.) feeds to trigger new discussions
  8. Make sure advertisements are managed appropriate throughout the site, and are unobtrusive
  9. Usability is a key element
  10. Find the right key phrases, and get site listed on appropriate systems
  11. Once eyeball momentum is sufficient, enlist members to be moderators
  12. Reward moderators
  13. Reward frequent posters

Right now I am at 1.
Here are so far my selections:

Discussion software: phpBB. I have tried various other ones and phpBB seems to be the most user friendly from the visitors' perspective, and most flexible.

Portal/Content Managment: I truly am not sure if there is much difference between a small portal software and a large content management software. I am leaning toward mx portal because it doesn't touch phpBB at all. I tried the *Nukes and the required hacks and modifications completely destroy the concept of modularity (if there is such a word...).

I am very much of a freak for usability and am a follower of Jacob Nielsen, as much as possible. I do understand the need for a slight "appeal" but not too much.

So. I have the unique topic. I also have the software. I need to do some touch-up to make it look appealing and more "flowing". this part I am not too good at. I am a propeller-head, not a fashion designer :sad: .

Once the site is up and working as I want it, I will get a new domain name, and deploy it on there.

Am I missing any key elements in the process? Do I have my head backwards?

I do know I WILL need eye candy experts to mess up the site, just don't know who can.

p.s.: I have been running a closed online community for over five years reasonably successfully. It is not profitable, it is not fancy, and definitely for techies. But it is a running community.

p.p.s.: Why have I popsted it here on DaniWeb? Because I have searched the web for various phpBB related, web site deployment, etc. discussion groups and this site seem to have the most relevant posts.

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Last Post by Libertate
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Thanks,

I enjoyed reading that. And many of the steps you outlined are similar to what I have in mind for my own little hobby of a website :)

I'm trying to read up on Jakob Nielson now.

I was about to ask about your online community but I just noticed it's "closed" :) .. ah well.

Good luck and I'd like to know of more developments.

Ciao for now.

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Good luck with your venture, though I'd recommend vBulletin if you're looking for something professional.

You'll probably need to do some advertising, either paid for free advertising.

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Good luck with your venture, though I'd recommend vBulletin if you're looking for something professional.

You'll probably need to do some advertising, either paid for free advertising.

Danny, why do you think vBulleting is "more professional" then phpBB?

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Danny, why do you think vBulleting is "more professional" then phpBB?

From my experience, as a generalization (although there are certainly exceptions) vBulletin comes off as much more professional.

Here is exactly why -- Money tends to screen out the newbies and the uneducated. People who are prepared to pay $85 or $160 tend to be more serious about what they are doing.

I'm generally more apt to join a community running vB with 100 members than a phpBB community with the same amount -- because I know at the vB site I'll generally find more active admins, etc.

The same concept follows through in the inverse. I'd be willing to bet you'll find much less spam from members at WebHostingTalk.com who pay for the site's "Premium Membership" feature than those who are free members. The same is probably true at Daniweb.

So, as my suggestion stands, if you're looking to start a community, and are serious about it, put down some money up front. And if in the end, your site doesn't do well, you can sell the license if its owned.

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From my experience, as a generalization (although there are certainly exceptions) vBulletin comes off as much more professional.

Well, I have taken some time to review the vBulletin forums, and discussions. The fact that there is open discussions on supporting vBulletin for money is already a plus. I have tried to start a forum on phpBB, and you would think I asked them to re-write the code in .ASP or something... :rolleyes:

I just wanted one forum, where phpBB users, whom are willing to PAY for MODs & hacks, could post their requirest, and the professionals, MOD and hack developers could PM back to the poster. No dice. :cry:

There are also several more modifications available to vBulletin then to phpBB. One of my major problems with phpBB was the lack of default/built-in feature to add profile fields, then flag them as public/visible or private/hidden.

My only concern is with vBulletin (other then the price), is how the modifications are implemented. Are they all manual in the files, or is there a tool, similar to phpBB's EasyMOD? :?:

I do not thin vBulletin and phpBB looks that much different from the user's perspective so my only other concern is how easy to add non-vBulletin pages with the vBulletin look/feel "engine/template/skin"? I seen a few "portal or CMS tools, but I cannot try them out since I cannot install vBulletin, without buying it. Any suggestions on this?

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I think I am pretty much set on vBulletin as the solution for this community web site.

Now for the domain name - I need some sort of an identity.

Is there a tool out there that can find short, as short as possible, domain names, using a list of thoughts, words, synonyms, etc. to generate a domain name? :?:

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Well, I am stuck.

I cannot get anyone to answer my questions on vBulletin.org, and of course vBulletin.com won't answer.

The questions are

  • "compatibility" of various hacks
  • Best CMS for
    • compatibility with other hacks,
    • and most plugins,
    • and easiest to re-install in new versions of vBulletin.

Any suggestions? I am willing to drop the owned price, but it is driving me nuts that I can't even see the hacks' screen shots. That is ridiculuous! How am I supposed to decide if vBulletin is the right choice if I can't see it? I am not asking for the code...

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I can't offer much assistance as far as the vBulletin community is concerned, but I can say that vB is an excellent choice. It powers this forum, and my PHP knowledge along with how extensible the code is, has allowed me to build blogs, a code snippet section, tutorials, a portal, and a link directory on top of the vBulletin core system.

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I can't offer much assistance as far as the vBulletin community is concerned, but I can say that vB is an excellent choice. It powers this forum, and my PHP knowledge along with how extensible the code is, has allowed me to build blogs, a code snippet section, tutorials, a portal, and a link directory on top of the vBulletin core system.

Unfortunatelly I cannot rely on my own PHP knowledge, albeit I could do it. I am not interested in coding or making major changes by myself.

On a different note, searching for their return policy and support agreement I realized that they have no return policy. They decide "case by case". As a business, anything non-concrete non-defined scares me. While searching for the refund policy, I have also read some of threads on their license enforcement problems, whereby representatives of theirs contacted the ISP directly to remove a site, which turned out to be a valid license. A serious problem and potentially costly for a business.

Sudenly vBulletin doesn't look so hot... I am revisiting other GPL/free forums with CMS/Portal to see if they can do the job...

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The problem with a return policy is that when you buy a vBulletin license, you're automatically sent the full source code to the software. How could you return this? There is always this problem related to the buying of electronic media. Would it be an honor policy where you get a refund and agree to delete the vBulletin code off of your computer?

Any competitor would then be able to purchase a vBulletin license, save the code to their hard drive, and then return the software. With full access to the code, they could change a few lines of code around, and rebrand and resell the forum system themselves! All at no cost.

From what I know, vBulletin is pretty good about catching pirated versions. When you heard about the valid licenses being thought as being invalid, did you hear these stories from the site-owners themselves? It might very well be an angry webmaster who was upset at being caught so thought he would spread word that he really wasn't using a pirated version (even though he was).

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Hmmm...

I understand the dilema of visible source. There are compiled PHP solutions. This would not just protect the code (to the extent that is not reverse engineered), but possibly make it faster. It would also provide some more consistency to MODs and such. Jelsoft would have to provide standardized hooks.

At some point the vendor will have to trust the customer. The relationship ,the way it sounds on the board, currenty seems very hostile towards customers who are not in the "clique". Interestingly, this is more of a trademark of open source projects.

As for the exchange between the Pirate Reports or something like that individual and the web site owner was just scary. The postings are on vBulletin.com. Search for "piratereports". There are two cases that show up, which suggest to me there are many more. In one case the registered user's web site was taken down going through the ISP, and on a second case a registered user's ISP was threatened to take site down.

In both cases vBulletin does not dispute the validity of their registration. The responses from them are crude, have an air of superiority, and blatant disregard for curtesy. Their customer relationship, in one word "sucks".

The software looks great from what I have seen, and the potential is there, for me to use it in my solution.

But I am scared to deploy a commercial web site where seconds could mean loss of serious money. From what I have seen, they do NOT follow DMCA rules of attempted notifications - they go directly to the host, and hosts are scared so they would destroy the site.

So now I am in a quandry. Here is a software that would do the job, but am I willing to drop the money for owned & (c) removed version, and commit to annual fee to get updates - knowing that their customer appreciation is not in their top 10 list of things to do?

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Yes... I am.

I have looked and looked and looked. Came to the realization that there is a major management problem with phpBB.

All hacks/mods/add-ons (mods hereon) use SubSilver templates/Style. Any new styles added, the mods have to be redone, i.e. programmed either the mod templates, the styles themselves or both.

In vB, that is not the case. The styles and look-and-feel is inherited by the mods.

This creates a huge problem in phpBB. When there is a major version change, I would have to re-apply all mods, THEN reapply all template/style changes.

My primary goal is to make the site as self-sufficient, self-managing as possible, most hands off.

Am I wrong? Correct me quickly before I drop $280...

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You are correct about phpBB. If you mod it then update or change templates then you can have some major headaches.

Yes... I am.

I have looked and looked and looked. Came to the realization that there is a major management problem with phpBB.

All hacks/mods/add-ons (mods hereon) use SubSilver templates/Style. Any new styles added, the mods have to be redone, i.e. programmed either the mod templates, the styles themselves or both.

In vB, that is not the case. The styles and look-and-feel is inherited by the mods.

This creates a huge problem in phpBB. When there is a major version change, I would have to re-apply all mods, THEN reapply all template/style changes.

My primary goal is to make the site as self-sufficient, self-managing as possible, most hands off.

Am I wrong? Correct me quickly before I drop $280...

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There is always much debate as to which forum software to use, i am a vbulletin orientated person, i beleive you get what you pay for and that if you are seriously considering making a site that is acctually going to be a hit, it is worth investing the money.

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Could it be possible that you start out with a phpbb and then after you KNOW the site is a hit then transfer everything (including posts) over to vB?

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Could it be possible that you start out with a phpbb and then after you KNOW the site is a hit then transfer everything (including posts) over to vB?

No. And the simple reasons are

  1. I do not want to spend the time to convert the system
  2. customer confusion at conversion
  3. search engines will have to reindex new pages and expire old pages and time is money when it comes to web sites :cheesy:
  4. I will have to maintain old system until all major SEs expire pages (duplicate system) further confusing customers
  5. conversion potentially not work and loose some data/information/content
  6. Moderators will have to re-trained and potentially loose them
  7. I will have to be retrained and potentially loose it :lol:
  8. Can't think of others right now, but I am sure there are...

In my previous job I have learn something from a [great man - the ability to take a concept, strip it down to its elements then apply it to a similar but not exact situation.

Now you would say this is what makes us human. We learn a trick and then can apply the trick to similar events, with slight modifications. That is why we lead dogs, and not dogs lead us, right?

I believe this is not the case when most of us deal with business, only with very very basic things... Great entrepreneurs have taken this concept and made it into an art. I hope to do just the same. So by selecting the "right" solution in the begining, I will have to change/alter fewer things for new niche markets...

Did I even remotely make any sense? :eek:

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The concept is as follows -

1. Select the appropriate technology. The forum software, and portal piece. It has to be flexible, and cannot lock the site into itself.
2. deploy an online community with a unique interest to attract eyeballs
3. make sure that the unique interest has sufficient user base, (for example
buggy whips are really cool but there are too few people interested)
5. Do not initially, or ever charge for visitors

6. Generate sufficient amount of content to start discussions
7. Get news (RSS, XML, etc.) feeds to trigger new discussions
8. Make sure advertisements are managed appropriate throughout the site, and are unobtrusive
9. Usability is a key element
10. Find the right key phrases, and get site listed on appropriate systems
11. Once eyeball momentum is sufficient, enlist members to be moderators
12. Reward moderators
13. Reward frequent posters

For technology, I am now firm on vBulletin. For add-ons and features, I will purchase them and installed them as need arises.

I am still hesitant on a decent host. I have one that will provide a shared IP solution for $10/month, DB, e-mail, etc. basically the works. I had no problems so far for the last three years for two sites. It is shared servers, and there is the potential of running afoul with it. I think until the site starts generating sufficient money to support a dedicated hosting, I will keep it with them.

I have also selected a domain name - tincap. Has absolutely no relations to the content of the site, but I have asked several people and the all pronounced it and wrote it down the same way. I grabbed .com, .net & the .org.

I have selected a unique topic. It has strong potential and several off-shoot topics which could become other sites.

I am currently waiting to install the software, and add content to the site.

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I am a die-hard fan of VB. It's to much money for me though, I aint going to pay almost $200 for a flop-site. You know? (If it was a flop, you'd be out all that.) PhpBB works great, has great templates, and it's easy to understand.

I say you take the $200 you'd pay for VB and spend it on advertising. That should be good.

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I am a die-hard fan of VB. It's to much money for me though, I aint going to pay almost $200 for a flop-site. You know? (If it was a flop, you'd be out all that.) PhpBB works great, has great templates, and it's easy to understand.

I say you take the $200 you'd pay for VB and spend it on advertising. That should be good.

LOL! I guess if I was more pragmatist, this would make complete sense. Too bad I am an optimist entrepreneur. And as an entrepreneur, I have to be an optimist. So $280 for me will be an investment, not "money down the drain". If it fails, which it won't, I can chalk it up to a positive learning experience.

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So have you put all the effort into a website quite yet? Seems there's a lot of discussion, just wondering if you've implemented all this?

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So have you put all the effort into a website quite yet? Seems there's a lot of discussion, just wondering if you've implemented all this?

I am working on it. I have made some decisions, like the vB. I ran into a minor financial snag, so I have to wait a few paychecks.

The next major step is buying vB. I do want to go with the full purchase, and removed (c). Then I will DL every imaginable MOD/hack and see which ones I really need. Then move the story board into a mock up. I'll share it with you as soon as it is possible. The niche is so dumb simple, I am scared to put it out in "public" (i.e. where someone who deploys websites daily can snatch it up) until I get at least rolling, or even a bigger momentum.

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Purchased a full version of vB3.

Now I get the host, and get software loaded.

Tried to get vBAdvanced going but for some reason, after "validation" now I cant even post in forums where I was able to do it before! Tried to post, e-mail, PM them, so far nothing... vB.org & vB.com works, and shows me as registered. Any tips? :eek:

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I still have to get the host.

it will be http://www.tincap.com :eek: Has absolutely nothing to do with the topic of the site.

I asked this question on vBadvanced, and the answer was doesn't matter... but I don't believe it. so here it is again.

The order of loading, what is the best suggested way?

1. vB, vBadvanced, vBa mods & hacks, vB mods & hacks, or
2. vB, vB mods & hacks, vBadvanced, vBa mods & hacks, or
3. vB, vBadvanced, vB mods & hacks, vBa mods & hacks, or
4. something else?

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Well, the site is loaded.

Right now I am trying to figure out how to get everything working together. More precisely, getting familiar with vBulletin and vBAdvanced.

any other modules you think would be a plus?

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As for the exchange between the Pirate Reports or something like that individual and the web site owner was just scary. The postings are on vBulletin.com. Search for "piratereports". There are two cases that show up, which suggest to me there are many more. In one case the registered user's web site was taken down going through the ISP, and on a second case a registered user's ISP was threatened to take site down.

In both cases vBulletin does not dispute the validity of their registration. The responses from them are crude, have an air of superiority, and blatant disregard for curtesy. Their customer relationship, in one word "sucks".
QUOTE]

I have only just come accross this thread and despite its age I felt it was worthy of a response.

Firstly you cite a couple of cases of approximately 25,000 cases I have checked out since joining vB team and if you can find any company who never has an angry customer with that much contact then I would be surprised.

Case 1.

http://www.vbulletin.com/forum/showthread.php?p=835352#post835352

This individual has refused to date to comply with the Terms and Conditions of use for his license. He had a license linked to a URL with no forum and therefore it could not be found as the search engine allowed me at that time only a keyword search of the site URL.

The posts also contained warez belonging to other developers who were not going to be paid for their work.

Unfortunately it is not possible to have special rules for people who decline to read or follow the Terms and Conditions of use of a product.

People who share (steal) software also do not deserve any sympathy from those who are willing to pay for it. It may be a fact of life but some people do find it morally unacceptable. My weekly piracy list is still full or statements like "I ave to pay for it and so should they"

Case 2.

http://www.backup-source.com/mission.php

At the time of reporting this was a full time warez site. Jelsoft refunded the license fee (even thought they didnt have to) and asked the user to use an alternative software. He moved his site to Malaysia and continued his activity and even asked later to buy another license which was declined. So he just carried on using the software illegally having served up some abuse because he didnt get his own way.

Case 3.

http://forum.vbulletin-fr.org/archive/index.php/t-6099.html

My search identified an expired license and the search facility has changed to ensure this cannot happen again. This was partly my mistake and the support team did take action immediately and the site did not go down at all.

Case 4.

A woman who had two forums on the same license and would not accept that a forum closed to new postings but live for updates to old posts was still in use. She edited all communications and failed to report the full facts in her "blog".

If you have any other cases which you would like explained then feel free to ask.

Given an open wallet and unlimited time I could make every legal user happy but we do not live in an ideal world and Jelsoft who happen to be a very customer orientated company have taken the decision to strike a balance where mistakes by users who do not follow the Terms and Conditions of Use must accept a certain amount of blame for problems arising from misuse. All of the registration requirement are there to ensure licenses can be identified and validated easily.

Given that I am not aware of any ISP who will close a site without reference to its registered owner (if they supplied and maintained correct details) then advance notice is given. 95% + of first notices I send out are never responded to (fact). I have to recheck all mywork to find out myself if any change has occured to the database. I often ask myself "Is courtesy a one way street"?

Every person who has had a lease and it has expired will also get a reminder from Jelsoft on expiry and from me when I check my possible piracy list. A final notice will not be sent out until a minimum of 10 days has passed with no contact or action.

I am not therfore sure that accepting the criticism of those with an obvious ulterior motive is totally fair.

You are however quite entitled to your opinion.

Howard G Spinks
www.piratereports.com

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Thank you for your response.

From what I have seen

is my out from my prior remarks. :mrgreen:

Firstly you cite a couple of cases of approximately 25,000 cases I have checked out since joining vB team and if you can find any company who never has an angry customer with that much contact then I would be surprised.

I do not doubt your case load, or that your organization has done many with good intention. I don't even debate that the individuals might somehow were not abiding by the contract with Jelsoft.

This is what bothered me:

responses from them are crude, have an air of superiority, and blatant disregard for curtesy

I care about the fact that you have 25,000 cases. I really do. Just not that much. To you, I am just 1 in 25,000. That's 0.004%... To me it's 100%.

My concern was how customer, be it doing warez or other things, were treated front of other customers. The first, and only response should have been is "please let's take this private so we can work it out for the best of both of us" then lock the thread. It would have made it short, to the point, and you wouldn't have to find strangers like me groaning somewhere else about it. Instead it became a public spitting match. I bet, that besides me, there were other people who read that and took sides.

I believe, PirateReports' and Jelsoft's public image has been tarnished because of the way it was handled...

Perception is reality to most people.

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I take on board your opinion and the reply was intended to put forward the facts which the complainer did not do correctly.

Most of what "Cynor" said was not even true and that is why I thought it worthy of a response. Therefore people took sides before having the facts.

It was also rather suspicious that the person backing up "Cynor" the most had only just joined the forum as a new member after his first post. I got the impression he was both individuals.

Jelsoft actually did lock the thread and I could not do that as I too am merely a member. They could have removed it completely but were not hiding from the responses.

I have read the small amount of complaints that the compainants have chosen to air on the net and all have conveyed a very one sided story. If they stated the true facts then they would get little or no sympathy at all from anyone.

Most are also very abusive which is never a good start.

Perhaps I should do what most companies do and ignore criticism as I dont seem to get much credit for sticking my head above the wall and responding.

I am happy to learn and Jelsoft have made numerous changes to assist me in my work (new search facilites etc) which is why these complaints are quite old.

The two companies I worked for prior to Piratereports both recived the same sort of complaints and it comes with the territory. They were big companies with a cross section of staff and all staff encountered abuse even to simple standard letters.

The bottom line is that if everyone bought their software and followed the licensing conditions I would be out of a job.

My clients would then be able to get on with what they do best with their added income.

I presume that as a license owner we have had not contact. I think that proves the point that the thousand of license owners following the "rules" have absolutely no problems at all with copyright issues.

Whilst this explanation is unlikey to change your opinion I hope you will respect my wish to be accountable for my actions.

Howard

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PirateReports, I think you are under the impression I hold ill feelings toward your business. Far from it.

Thank you for taking the time to discuss this. :)

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