So really, I'm pretty proud of the family circus comic I did, so if you get bored with this page, check it out here.
Ok, so what happened to the forums (they're down if you aren't aware)? Well I used CommunityServer 2.1 as the base of my member system and forums back years ago when I made this site. Community Server was free, gave out the source code (before opensource was as a big of a movement as it is now), and had a lot of great features for its time. It also used SQL Server as its back end, which is my database server of choice.
So everything was great for years. But times have changed, while some things stay the same. This server for example, the one hosting the site as I write this, is the same one I built in 2005. Its never had a single hardware failure, doesn't need to be rebooted unless I move the server, upgrade the RAM, or the occasional critical update. Its went at one point over 2 years without rebooting. Thats a properly configured windows server 2003 box, well and I guess I got lucky on the hardware not failing or anything. The database for webcomic.net on the other hand (thats the forums for topwebcomics), it changed, over time spammers discovered vulnerabilities in the software and have launched constant attacks on it trying to inject their spam. My various bandaids on the database to cleanse the system of the various spam has resulted in a slower and slower database. At this point webcomic.net, before I disabled it, was constantly timing out, filling my logs with errors and causing strange hiccups in the rest of my sites as the server got bogged down by attacks from spammers. They've been pounding the search option on the forums every few seconds for years and its done weird things to the database.
While I was steadily breaking things in the database, Telligent, the makers of CommunityServer, changed from giving away free communityversions of their software, changed the name and removed the free versions. Now I think its 5000 USD for a license, maybe more, though they offerred me a deal of 2000 for a license since I used to have the free version.
If I paid the 2000, everything would be fixed I'm sure, I'd transfer the data over and it'd be done, plus we'd have all kinds of new spiffy anti-spam stuff, better performing searches, etc.
But I can't pay that 2000, I don't have the money, and money I have coming in from the ads, I'm hoping to spend on TWO beefy servers, 1 I7 based webserver and another I7 SQL Server. Rather than the 6GB I have now, which I thought was pretty decent back in 2005, I'm looking at 18GB each just for RAM! Oh, and the servers will cost me a measily 1200, where as the software not only would I have to pay the 2k but eventually I'd either have to pay the 5k or whatever for whatever new version they come out with, or I'd have the same problem at some point in the future. Well maybe, I guess it could be better built to not get corrupted, but I doubt it.
So I want to switch to Gummy Bear, or maybe just YAF which the forums of GummyBear are based on. Its open source I believe, and once I switch over I think everything would be fixed. Unfortunately my database is so old, and I haven't been able to find any migration software, that I'm a bit scared of how much I'm going to low by manually importing all of the data. But I have to do it, so I'm going to work on it over the next few weeks. If you, or someone you know, has worked a lot with the YAF forums, or have a different .NET open source forums to recommend to me, please hit me up, I could use any assistance I can get, especially since I have a host of other improvements I want to do, but have been sidetracked from with these problems. Email me via the support page or contact me at rmathis (dot) webcomic (dot) net