- Spring 2004 - Spring 2014
- PHP4, phpBB2, phpBB3
This is the project that got me into coding in the first place, and was created by mere accident.
A number of us were members on a number of different forums, and all had an interest in creating game maps for Team Fortress Classic, Starcraft, and a couple of other games. Essentially, we wanted somewhere to put our maps.
Someone else we knew had a shared server and was generous enough to create an account for us. In doing so, he also ticked "phpBB2" in the setup steps. We kept it there, because it could be a handy place to share tips and tutorials with each other.
Throughout most of 2004, the site was barren. Friends, and friends of friends would discover the site and sign up, but no one would use the forums. That is until November 2004, where a number of people happened to sign in at roughly the same time and spent hours posting topics and replying to each other. This made the forum a little interesting, and then more came in to check it out and respond, and this REALLY enthused people.
This sounds a little..small in hindsight, but we didn't have social media back then. We didn't even have Stack Overflow. We had many forums spread across the web, and it seemed like everyone with a bit of interest in HTML had a forum somewhere.
We were somewhat strict in terms of forums. Most seemed to suffer from spam, and admittedly I was rather zealous of this point. We had manual ranking, so that rank titles (for what they're worth) are not based on post count. Gaining ranks would gain you other benefits, such as private (group-level) forum sections, your own image gallery (we didn't have Instagram or Flickr back then), and, well, that was it really! This combination really seemed to work well, and meant trusted members could discuss more personal situations in confidence.
2005 was more of the same, but with the biggest developments of the site. A huge bug-bear of mine was that forums tended to be in their own sub-domain of the site, and disconnected from the rest of it. I was a naive, young coder back then with no experience, and assumed phpBB2 was an example of how code should be done. It was a heck of a learning curve and a procedural mess, but I essentially wrote the entire website framework around phpBB2, tapping into its codebase to handle the base functionality.
2006 saw more expansion, into an articles section to allow people to post tutorials, reviews, and pretty much whatever they could.
2007 saw the decline of the site. It became apparent that juggling the university workload with building and running the website was going to be problematic. phpBB3 was coming out, which spelled disaster considering the entire website was written on top of phpBB2. I was able to port the website over, but was a stressful time and led to a nasty case of burnout.
2008 was pretty much the death bell. My interests changed to C++ and OpenGL (thanks in part to reading "Masters of Doom", and the encouragement of a fellow uni student), which meant there was zero time to work on the site.
Things gradually trickled off over the next few years, and I decided to shut it down March 3rd 2014 - exactly 10 years after it was created.
I had no intention of being the admin of a forum, but ended up falling into this role. I tried to quit in 2005, only for one of the other moderators to reinstate my rank saying the community would not be the same otherwise.
Running a forum/online community was surprisingly hard work. There were members who had difficulties with each other, and a few times I had to make decisions with temporary bans for people I spoke to every day. We were teens/late teens back then so in hindsight it's no wonder there were situations, but it was harder than it perhaps looked.
It had it's rewards though. Coming home and seeing a lot of new topic/reply notifications was one heck of a reward, so was seeing others get to know each other and even meet each other.
This gave a huge taste for how we could expand the site and attract more members, but it's one thing knowing how, and another actually doing it. I was very unwilling to advertise the site anywhere, and cringed at the thought of mentioning it. The site relied entirely on word of mouth as a result. Being honest, if the site had grown, I think there would eventually have been security issues due to the codebase at this point.