Accepting Donations for Forum Software Upgrade
We've been online for over a year old now, and it's been a blessing meeting other bible believing Christians. I've learned an incredible amount from reading the forums and have met some great people striving to live their life for the Lord.
During that time, we've had 139,302 unique visitors with 960,236 page views and 16,905 search engine referrals. Even when you factor in bots and spammers, we've definitely managed to reach some people in the name of the Lord. A huge thanks to everyone in the community for all the posts written, prays offered, advice given, time donated, and in general, for helping to make this website a success.
While we've had some problems over the last year with trolls, spammers, and software issues, thanks to the diligence of the community, we've consistently weeded out the trolls and deleted the spammers. However, the software side still needs some work.
Currently, we're using Wordpress with quite a few plugins to provide most of the functionality on this site. This setup has created a multitude of problems with keeping them all up to date and functioning correctly together. Some core functions aren't working either, such as the recent activities on the profile pages never updating or email reminders not always getting sent.
Moderation has also been more complicated and limited than it should be. Since the forums are a plugin to Wordpress, any interactions between the two almost seem to be an afterthought. Banning has to be done twice, once in Wordpress, and once in the forums, and there are no IP tools, so finding duplicate accounts requires a lot of extra effort. This disconnect has made controlling the trolls and spammers much more difficult. In addition to these software problems, I think we're also missing some functionality that would help improve the community in the long run.
I've given it quite a bit of thought, and I believe its time to upgrade the forum software to a more stable and functional system. I considered using Invision Community Forums when I first built this website, and I think it's the best choice for us now. It has everything we currently use built into a nice functional package with a lot of extra features. In addition to the forums, members would be able to create all kinds of content, such as file downloads, images, blogs, clubs(groups), database entries, and more. You can view the full feature list here.
Moderation would also be significantly improved, with a control panel, IP address tools, and reporting all woven into the software. Invision also has group moderation, where if a predefined number of members report a user, an automatic action can be taken, such as hiding that member's content until a moderator can review it.
I think the clubs feature could be useful for group bible studies and research. Clubs offer forums, downloads, galleries, and blogs all within their own space. Healthy living and homesteading have come up quite a bit and would make good candidates for clubs.
Custom databases have a lot of potential uses. One of the mapping tools that I've worked on could be used to map historic biblical sites, mark paths traveled, maybe even miles walked, and more, all from a database of user-entered addresses or latitudes and longitudes. You can add extra database fields for information that's relevant, such as images, audio, documents, audio, video, and potentially combined with the clubs feature; this could allow for some interesting studies and research. It's also possible to have community curated databases. These would be great for recommendations and reviews, references, tracts, website links, and even things like guides or user-submitted recipes. The possibilities here are endless.
The Invision Community software was created around there forums, so everything is tightly integrated and highly functional. The look and feel are also much cleaner and easier to use, and I think overall, it would be a massive improvement for everyone here. If everyone is on board with doing the upgrade, that brings us to the cost of the software license.
Taking up a donation was suggested to fund the costs. Since this is brother Bryan's ministry, I wanted to ask him first if he had any objections. He said that it would be okay and that if we do the upgrade, he could do a video to help promote the website again.
The license for the software we need would cost $525 (Link), and renewal for ongoing updates would be $70 a year due in 6 months. So altogether we'd need to raise $525 to do the upgrade, and if we raised the extra $70 for updates, it would nice but not required.
My original plan was to save up and pay for the upgrade myself, but rather than put it off for months on end. I believe this is where being humble comes into play, and the need to ask for help sometimes.
If you would like to donate to fund the upgrade of this website, please send your donations through Paypal to email@example.com, and if you post the amount here or message me, we can keep a running tally of the donations.