Forums Launched

It’s been a long time coming…

Today the “Personal Development for Smart People” discussion forums are finally ready for launch.

The forums are powered by VBulletin, which in my opinion is the best forum software there is. VBulletin has a ton of features, including private messaging, customizable thread views (linear, threaded, hybrid), RSS feeds, and more. If you’ve never used a VBulletin forum before, it will take some time to become familiar with it, but in my opinion it’s well worth the effort because it makes online communication work so well.

As an unregistered visitor to the forums, you can view any of the existing posts, but if you want to post your own messages, you’ll need to create a free account. You can register under your real name or choose a made-up handle. Erin and I are registered under our real names, so we’ll be easy to spot. Be sure to read the Forum FAQ as well as the Forum Etiquette Guidelines once you’re there. After that a good place to start would be to introduce yourself in the “General & Introductions” forum.

The forums are 100% free, so it won’t cost you anything to use them. There’s a small amount of advertising, but it’s kept on the fringes and not imbedded in any of the threads or posts.

The forums will be managed by 30 volunteer moderators, with Erin and me serving as administrators. Although each moderator is assigned to a single forum, all of them have “super moderator” access, meaning that any moderator can effectively moderate any forum. Most of the moderators have previous moderation experience, some of them extensively, so overall the forums will be in the hands a veteran group with decades of combined experience. I’ve been extremely impressed with them over the past few days — they’ve already given me a long list of ideas for future improvements.

I anticipate these forums will be extremely active, especially since the moderators themselves are already engaged in some interesting discussions, along with a handful of early arrivals.

Like the rest of this site, the forums will always be a work in progress. If you see any intermittent odd behavior over the next few days, it’s probably me tweaking the layout.

Launching a forum like this on a pre-existing high traffic web site is a unique situation (at least for me), and I can’t predict how much the forums will stress the web server once visitors begin pouring in. I’ll be monitoring the performance closely, and if the server does get overloaded, I’ll have to take the forums offline temporarily, upgrade the server as needed, and reopen the forums after the upgrade. Depending on the type of upgrade needed, that might take a few hours or a few days. No data should be lost, so when the forums come back online, we’ll be able to continue where we left off.

If after the forum launch you can’t access the site, or if you see a message saying the forums are closed for maintenance, then you’ll know I’m busy working on the upgrade. If that happens I’ll post progress updates here in the blog if it’s going to take more than a day to fix.

Hopefully the launch will go smoothly and the current server will be able to handle the load, but there’s no way to know until we launch. We’ll just have to see what happens and adapt — the classic ready, fire, aim approach.

To be honest I’m a bit nervous about this launch due to the scale and unpredictability of it, but I’ve done everything within reason to prepare for it, so after I publish this blog post, I’ll just have to observe and accept whatever happens.

Dive in and have fun. And please put out your strongest intentions/prayers that the server can handle the load. 🙂

Update: After a terrific 5-year run, the forums officially closed at the end of 2011.