The previous forum(s) had a couple of individuals who were almost unanimously respected because of their vast practical and theoretical expertise on many aspects of the occult studies. They were also willing to share their expertise.
Unfortunately the forum was lately contaminated by charlatans, attention whores, spammers and those most loathsome characters imaginable, the resident nihilists.
I haven't written much here but I have a fairly long career as a fly on the wall. So I know many of the principal players from the previous forum: the good, the bad and the ugly.
What little I myself have written, has mostly reflected my sick mind and so I haven't - luckily - contributed much. So I'm hardly a poster boy for quality.
Now that we have a new forum, how to guarantee its quality? Or is it still going to be that anything goes - navel-gazing nihilistic vomit from those who don't give a fuck about what this forum is supposed to stand for?
As for me, I'm not going to be an active contributor. When my insanity doesn't get the better of me, I'd rather focus on the academic studies of the history of the occult, witchcraft, demonology etc.
Books like: - Ritual Magic by Elizabeth M. Butler - The Secrets of Alchemy by Lawrence M. Principe - The Cambridge History of Magic and Witchcraft in the West - Grimoires: A History of Magic Books by Owen Davies - The Oxford Handbook of Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe and Colonial America - Magic in the Middle Ages by Richard Kieckhefer - The Western Esoteric Traditions by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke - Jeffrey Burton Russell's Devil-tetralogy
And so on.
Now this is my idea of quality but I understand that this forum is not solely for wannabe scholars like me but also for genuine believers and practitioners.
It would be nice to check out this forum from time to time and see if here is anything worthwhile and even enlightening to read. But if there isn't, I'm going to have a serious one-on-one with the owl headed one.
The reps, user profiles, PMs, and html bells and whistles like embeds and breaks and font changeups are gonna have to come back before the core community does. The return of groups might help too. Another huge thing people came here for were the fucking mountains of book downloads available. The sooner that's brought back up to snuff, the better the numbers are gonna be, too.
I'm assuming that the current board format is just a place-holder while the owner gets something else in place. Right now this site makes Geocities and Tripod look high-tech, and probably could have been put together by giving a Pakistani web team ten bucks.
Since we have no actual information, it LOOKS either the old site was too expensive or it was ransomed for a fee the owner could not provide. The old format worked reasonably well, and most hosting companies will allow you to either buy a backup or revert to an older saved copy of the code. The fact that this hasn't been done suggests an economic rather than "hacking" type of issue.
Regardless, there is no reason to use such a cheap skeletal format like this unless you just don't care whether anyone posts here. The fact that the first couple of pages are often just a series of spam links doesn't help either.
My suggestion, sincerely, is for the owner to get himself a couple of real nerds and have them give the site a tweak or two. It doesn't need to be fancy, but it's only barely functional at present.
Myself personally, I don't give a crap. I've been around since Usenet and dial-up bulletin boards, and while this is almost as user-friendly as they were, I can deal with it. I don't think your contemporary audience has nearly as much patience.
I understand what you're saying, but without basic features, this forums quality is just going to continue to go downhill.
Has anyone considered that even if the author is able to finish this software (something I highly doubt since it's been week with no major features added), he is now responsible for finding bugs (hackable and otherwise) and fixing them all. He is no longer able to take advantage of regular security updates most major forum software has. This puts a huge drain as far as time on him, and since we can't even get good anti-spam, I think it's unrealistic to think that would happen.
So, from my perspective (professional programmer and network/system admin since the 1990's), this is never going to be done. And will probably get hacked again. And since we apparently don't believe in backups, the chances of us being in this position again is high.
Crow, I'm being blunt, but I don't want you to think I'm just piling shit on to be a jerk. That's not my goal in being blunt. You had a good resource here, even if we ignore the book downloads (I have mixed feelings about that). You are losing your users (both the good ones and the bad ones). There's a period of time where if it takes too long, these users will never come back, effectively killing the forum. I care about the forum, as I'm sure you do and many other people do.
Please, hear our pleas. If you want to build your own forum software, go for it, but in the meantime please give us a solid platform to use. If you're too paranoid to continue, I *do* understand this, but don't let some asshole hacker run you off, and don't let your paranoia get too deep. Everything on the Internet is always a target of being hacked (just try running a honeypot for *1* hour). You just need to protect the server and forum software as much as possible. Sometimes a simple .htaccess can work wonders (especially if you only allow specific IPs to admin portals, etc).