Roughly a year ago, we built forum.packetpushers.net. This was a forum site built on vBulletin. The idea was to give the community another place to exchange ideas, share information, and help each other with challenges. After considering the matter for a couple of months, Greg and I are going to shut the site down. For that tiny minority of Packet Pushers listeners that care about the forum, here’s our logic.
- We tweeted a while back, asking if anyone cared if we shut the forum down. We know that not everyone sees every tweet, but since @packetpushers has over 5K followers, we figured enough would see the question for it to be useful. We didn’t get many responses…which is a response in and of itself. Of those who did respond, the answer was almost universally, “No, we don’t care.”
- Despite our best efforts with anti-spam, CAPTCHA, human detection, IP blacklisting, domain blacklisting, and virgin sacrifices to assorted influential deities, the forum has remained a spambot magnet. Because of this, we turned to moderation of new accounts…which is an administrative nightmare. The ratio of spambots to humans registering a new account is roughly 50:1. Even when you’re actually a human, some of you have such obscure online names and e-mail addresses that you *look* like a spambot, even though you’re not. So, I found myself occasionally approving accounts that were actually spambots (seemed human), and deleting accounts that were actually humans (seemed spammy).
- If the forum was seeing a lot of use, we’d dig deeper and try to work through the spambot problem. There’s ways, no doubt. But the fact of the matter is that the forum sees very light traffic. The hope was that the forum would see a good exchange of information between community members and grow over time. Greg and I have awkwardly full schedules most weeks, so our forum participation has been sporadic for us at best. We were happy to provide the forum, but couldn’t really drive the forum conversations as such. We anticipated that the forum would grow over time. Instead, the opposite has happened. It grew rapidly at first, but posting volume has declined since.
- There are some other decent networking forum sites that do see a lot of traffic. So if you’re going to miss the Packet Pushers forum, here’s a couple of forums to try if you don’t already know about them: http://www.networking-forum.com & http://www.techexams.net/forums/.
We have requested of our provider that our forum site be taken down. That said, we do have plans for other community sites. There are at least two other sites in the works that will be announced at a later time. Stay tuned!