I have been silent lately but have noted the complaints about the forum software and our apparent lack of commitment to fixing the issues on this site. I have commented in the past stating a few of the problems we are facing which include a number of insidious facts that have made our job more difficult in the past year. The short list of problems are:
- Despite being the largest, most visited maritime website in the world we are a relatively small company with no dedicated technical support staff.
- The company who created this forum software (vbulletin) has slowly cut off support for the product and no longer seems interested in fixing minor bugs.
- Hackers have become more sophisticated lately and we spend a significant amount of time working on security issues. These issues always take priority over fixing minor problems.
- The current state of the shipping and, especially, offshore industry has taken a significant bite out of our operating budget.
- We have looked at many alternative software platforms and each has gone through an extensive vetting process that takes time and effort. Most software platforms we looked at failed at some point during this process.
- This forum was not built for mobile devices. In the early days we bypassed this problem by developing a gCaptain app but vbulletin purchased the development software company we used then discontinued the android version and stopped update the apple one. We hard-coded a number of "fixes" to make this forum work without and app but there google has dozens of versions of andriod and apple is overly secretive about their underlying code base. So we needed to find a platform that was built- from the keel up - to support mobile.
- Once a winner was found we need to migrate all of the posts, user settings, privileges and links. (This part of the process is the reason I personally have been "unavailable" the last few months).
- This forum is HUGE! There are 32,442 registered members on this forum who have written over 200,000 posts in the past ten years. Many software developers simply refused to take on a forum of this size and scope.
Now the good news...
We are very close to migrating to the new forum software! We have worked hard at making the process as painless and intuitive as possible but, we are talking about mariners, so we do expect a fair amount of grumbling. That said, you can think of this forum as the old rustbucket we have learned to both love and hate... and the new software as a promotion to a newbuild. We acknowledge that some prefer working aboard rust buckets but we do ask you to do your best in maintaining a certain level of positivity and leniency during the upgrade process because, I can assure you, we are not making this change because we wanted to scrap the old girl... we are doing it because she is slowly leaking and is one bad storm away from a burial at sea.
P.S. The winner is Discourse which we chose because it is fast and lightweight (important for those connecting via slow satellite connections at sea), works better than any other software on both android and ios devices, is hardened against hackers and is among the simplest software to use. Those interested in learning more can visit the Discourse site here: https://www.discourse.org
IMPORTANT NOTE: What can you do to prepare for the transition? Mostly just sit back and wait for us to push out the update but, for security reasons, we will require you to reset your password so please make sure the email address associated with your account is correct and up to date.