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Why We Switched Forum Platforms

Discussion in 'Jude' started by jude, May 5, 2017.
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  1. jude Administrator
    If you've been around Head-Fi for a while--and if you're reading this now--you have certainly noticed that Head-Fi has undergone some significant changes in the past week. Most noticeably, we switched forum platforms. A lot of people are asking us why we've changed and are discussing what's different, so I thought I'd answer some of the questions and statements I've seen posted:

    Why did we switch forum platforms?

    We switched forum platforms because we had to. I love the Huddler forum platform (the forum platform we were on), and still feel it's the best forum platform out there. However, we were informed that Huddler would be phased out, and so the Huddler platform (along with our long partnership with Huddler/Wikia) would be coming to an end.

    Can we just revert back Huddler?

    No. We can't go back--none of the Huddler sites can. Again, they're shutting the Huddler platform down.

    Why didn't you discuss this with us beforehand?
    By the time we found out we had to move and did our preliminary project planning to figure out what needed to be accomplished and how long it would all take, we knew we would need every minute we had until the transition due date. I felt that putting this out there for discussion would have been rather disingenuous, as we simply had no time to discuss and debate this (again, moving was mandatory, not optional), nor did we have the time to do a proper beta test beyond our internal testing.

    Why is X feature missing? Why is Y feature missing? Why are things not where we're used to them being?

    Some of the things you're used to aren't where they used to be because we're now on a completely different forum platform. That said, we are trying very hard to restore as many familiar elements as we reasonably can, as fast as we reasonably can. Despite these efforts, we will never get this system to be exactly like Huddler.

    It's important to understand that Huddler (the system we were on) was a built-from-the-ground-up, custom, closed system, so there was no place, no alternative forum platform that would readily accept a direct port of everything in Huddler. For example, the Gear For Sale / Trade area of Huddler was completely unique to Huddler--the "bump" mechanism and other functionalities, the user interface / formatting...all custom.

    Transitioning 16 years of content to another platform from Huddler is not a simple task. If you want to keep all the content, formatting, URLs, and functionality intact, it is in fact a monumental undertaking, especially for a small team like ours. Again, Huddler is a proprietary platform (with key components of it customized for Head-Fi), and there were no pre-configured migration tools like the kind available to get from one open licensable forum platform to another.

    (By the way, the Gear FS/T area is one place where a lot of work is also happening with our team now--we know that area needs work, so we're working on it, and it's a job that requires a lot of custom coding on our side.)

    Once we're past the headaches of the initial phase of the transition--once we've fixed most of what needs fixing, and improved most of what needs improving through the first part of the transition--then there's a lot of fun and exciting stuff for the site ahead. We now have a lot more latitude to work with to move Head-Fi forward now that we're fully independent. We've grown our team, and we now have full-time engineering and development in-house.

    First, we fix the bugs, we make the place more livable, we complete the transition of some of the key functionalities from the Huddler platform that we weren't able to finish to our (and your) satisfaction ahead of the transition date. One thing (among many) we're working on now is differentiating logged-in and logged-out user experiences, as we did on the Huddler platform. It won't be long, and, as before, logged-in users will have fewer ad units shown, among other things.

    I'll leave you with this thought for now: Over seven years ago, when we transitioned from vBulletin to Huddler, the response was...rough (to put it mildly). The first days after the change are always the hardest. Just as we did with Huddler, we'll once again quickly get ourselves situated into this platform, with a lot of work over here, and with the help of your feedback. I promise you'll be seeing continuous adjustments, optimizations, feature restorations, and fixes.

    There's a reason this has only happened once before in Head-Fi's 16 years--because it's hard on the community and hard on the people behind the scenes who have to make those changes.

    Thank you for your understanding and patience, everyone.
    Last edited: May 5, 2017
    ThurstonX, muffins, trellus and 21 others like this.
  2. LarryMagoo
    I have got it figured out already...I like the new site...miss all those cool emoji's though...I guess you guys have them...similar to the Roon site...I just like the old ones better as they were more expressive...
    Last edited: May 5, 2017
    cardeli22, Sp12er3 and Q Mass like this.
  3. Q Mass
    I don't envy Jude and the Head-Fi team this task AT ALL!
    To me the new site looks great all ready, and I'm guessing that there will be a lot of further developments to come which will further improve things.
    Thanks for all the hard work Head-Fi, and thanks for letting us know what's happening Jude, I look forward to seeing how things pan out, I have high hopes :)
  4. updated
    This is good it makes me think headfi will be around for quite some time:)
    FraterOiram and Sp12er3 like this.
  5. Slaphead
    No offence Jude, but I think you've managed this very badly from a PR point of view.

    If you'd have just said something to the effect of this prior to the change then you'd have gone a long way to avoiding the fall out that's happened. Don't try to kid me that there wasn't time for that.

    I am fully aware of the technical difficulties of moving from one platform to another, and it must have been obvious to you and your team at least 2 weeks prior that the forum was simply not going to come back on line with full functionality. So, why not say something to the effect before hand.

    Head-Fi has taken a serious blow in credibility as a result of this, and all for the want of a forewarning.

    Nevertheless I'm still sticking around, and I really hope you get the forum working as slick as it was before hand, and that Head-Fi's success continues.
    Last edited: May 5, 2017
    Double-A, azerty6713, Bansaku and 9 others like this.
  6. madwolfa
    It's god-awful, sorry. Worst change since 2003. Navigation is a pain and it just doesn't feel polished. Good luck, though! I really hope it gets better rather soon.
    Last edited: May 5, 2017
    cardeli22 and Navier like this.
  7. goldenSHK
    Very cool! I actually like a lot of the new features that the new platform brings. Obviously I miss the old features that have yet to be ported, but I think everyone can have a good amount of patience when it's obvious you guys are working hard to do bring them back. Keep up the great work!! :key::money_with_wings::gear:
    Sp12er3 likes this.
  8. Smithington
    It is certainly different and yes, more modern. The old site was painfully slow.

    The one feature I miss is the ability to see new posts efficiently. I know you can click on forums and see threads in chronological order, but that's not as accessible and is limited to one topic. If I'm missing something obvious here, someone tell me please!
  9. jude Administrator
    I can understand where you're coming from. We didn't have time to think of the PR aspect of this. We just had to do, and there was (and still is) a lot of that.

    Yes, I made the choice not to post about it ahead of time because we didn't have time to discuss it--and there's no doubt it would have been a discussion, and I didn't want to distract my team (most of whom are Head-Fi'ers) with feedback we could do little about, and discussion we didn't have time to have.

    Again, I get where you're coming from, I do. And even if you'll never agree with me on the decision, I hope you can at least try to see where I was coming from. Given the same circumstances (even knowing what I know now), I'd make the same decision again.

    I think I've answered that question above, though I understand you're not going to agree with me.

    While we may not agree on all the aforementioned, reading that last part means a lot to me (and the other guys working on this). I am sincerely glad you're sticking around, @Slaphead. Thank you for the well-wishes, too (and also for the honest feedback).
    Last edited: May 5, 2017
  10. barondla
    Thanks for the explanation. Can't be easy to move to a new platform. I found the previous platform was one of the clunkiest around. If I could figure out the new subscription posts from old, it would be fine for now.

    This has to be affecting site visitation numbers. Wish you well with the conversion.
    ScubaMan2017 likes this.
  11. Aerosphere
    Thank you for the clarification..
  12. headphonesonly
    Where can I find my subscriptions?
    ScubaMan2017 likes this.
  13. WilliamLeonhart
    To be honest I was taken aback by the change, but as an IT professional I do understand the difficulties that you are in.

    As a head-fier I certainly hope subscriptions should be back soon. That was the killer feature in comparison to other forums I've been on.

    All the best,
    FraterOiram, Stenso, T Bone and 2 others like this.
  14. jude Administrator
    Surprisingly (to me anyway), it hasn't reduced traffic one bit (it did on day one, but not after that). Posting activity is down a little bit, but we anticipated that, given the changes (where buttons are, procedure, etc.). However, overall site traffic (per Google Analytics) is actually strong for this time of year. Here's the current Alexa rank graph:

    Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 4.42.03 PM.png

    Look at the top-right of the page (screenshot below).

    barondla and Sp12er3 like this.
  15. jeremy205100
    This quote unfortunately represents my views perfectly. I was very surprised when I logged on and saw the switch, and I was baffled when I saw no mention of it anywhere. Talk about no warning beforehand, how about the fact that there was no visible notice afterwards? I think there should have been a post a week or two beforehand advising us of what to expect. I get that this was a necessary move, but it could have been handled much better.

    That being said, I will be sticking around. I hope a dark-mode is one of the first features added. This white mode is blinding and makes it hard to read long threads. I think it would be helpful if you posted a list of features that are being worked on and in what order so we know what to expect.
    MWSVette, Sp12er3 and ScubaMan2017 like this.
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