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Loss of Valuable Contributors
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John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Loss of Valuable Contributors on 10/26/2012 10:53:56 MDT Print View

I for one have been quite pleased with the lack of SPAM on the forums lately.

But it has come at a heavy price. The members only policy has made it impossible for BPL Guests to start threads or reply to threads unless they reply using the PM system or know the poster's personal email address. We are losing valuable input from these guests.

I do not wish to slight anyone by excluding them from the following list but here are just a few examples in no particular order.

Chris Zimmer

Ron Moak

Jon Fong

Bob Gross (I miss him and his posts);-)

Moderators please speed up the process of getting our "welcome guests" back online and able to post here. Thank you.

Party On,

Newton

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Loss of Valuable Contributors on 10/26/2012 11:09:29 MDT Print View

Just don't allow new people to register

That will provide the same short term spam prevention

This must be easy to implement

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Maybe they might become members on 10/26/2012 11:17:35 MDT Print View

Maybe they might become members.

Edited by stephenm on 10/26/2012 11:19:37 MDT.

Michael Richey
(beaverboymike) - M

Locale: Southern Utah
Non-members not able to post on 10/26/2012 12:29:55 MDT Print View

Yes, maybe they should just commit to the awesomeness of BPL & pay up the measly $20.

Joseph Bianco
(joeb)

Locale: North East
Agreed on 10/26/2012 12:34:47 MDT Print View

One of the reasons I joined. If people pay it's 100% likely to keep out spammers. At $25 that only 4 freeze dried meals.

Edited by joeb on 10/26/2012 12:35:22 MDT.

Alex Eriksson
(aeriksson) - M

Locale: Austin, TX
Re: Agreed on 10/26/2012 12:45:32 MDT Print View

Those are some cheap freeze dried meals! Clearly I've been paying too much for stuff at REI. ;-)

Hilariously, I paid for my yearly subscription to BPL to access the member articles AND the forum not knowing that the latter was open to the public. Knowing how much effort goes into running these kinds of sites I don't mind a whopping $2/month to pay my way into things. Honestly if you're willing to pay $100 for a Patagonia Houdini windbreaker, you can fork out a little for the guys who make this place possible.

So yeah, if they wanted to go membership-required and kept the forums visible for long-time lurkers, that's fine in my book. That said I'm sure there's public contributors who are being inconvenienced by all this. And that's a bummer.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Loss of Valuable Contributors on 10/26/2012 12:46:34 MDT Print View

Yeah, the ones you mention and others.
Spam is important, too. Ryan's call if they won't join. One of the problems that was surely discussed before the anti-spam measure.

Stephen M
(stephenm) - MLife

Locale: The Great Lakes Bay Region
Re: Agreed on 10/26/2012 12:47:31 MDT Print View

Lets hope Bpl finds away to let the guests back in.

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
Re Loss of Valuable Contributors on 10/26/2012 23:16:44 MDT Print View

Personally I would like to see the forum opened up to all the previous members (paid and unpaid) and just block new registrations for the time being. That would make the most sense to me.

a b
(Ice-axe)
Captcha on 10/27/2012 00:18:07 MDT Print View

So, Captcha is not foolproof. Niether is life.

How many here would accept a fraction of spam to get everyone else back on this forum? (my hand is raised).

Is it not better to at least attempt to use a simple solution like Capthca first?

I am aware Roger said they (Captcha) can be beaten.

Why not at least try it!

Rather than exclude contributing "non" members, why not at lest try something?!

I am not internet guru.. i am a plumber.
If the water was off this long.. they would hang us.

At some point you simply have to make a repair, no matter how un-satisfactory, in lieu of a permanent solution later.

Edited by Ice-axe on 10/27/2012 00:22:22 MDT.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife
Re: Loss of Valuable Contributors on 10/27/2012 09:09:17 MDT Print View

Hey Newton, Very much agree with you. I have received at least a half dozen emails from folks saying that they are moving on because they are unable to post. A few of them have been very active and long time members of BPL. It is unfortunate that the programmer suggested this route to the powers-that-be rather than handling the solution via other techniques already found to prevent this specific attack.

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Loss of Valuable Contributors on 10/27/2012 09:43:03 MDT Print View

Oh so true.

I cannot believe the drop in posts! One 50 post page to span 24 hours. Who would have thought ...

And the longer this drags out the less likely we are to see a return of the disenfranchised.

Edited by greg23 on 10/27/2012 09:43:37 MDT.

Erik Basil
(EBasil) - M

Locale: Atzlan
Hope Springs Eternal on 10/27/2012 11:50:45 MDT Print View

Time is faster on the internet. We're accustomed to instant results when a page draws, quick replies in forums, the ability to search up information in a jiffy and it's all pretty darn fast. Much faster, in fact, than most of our personal lives and the things we do when we're not on the computers, playing on the internet.

Nonetheless, we tend to assume and then demand instant results. After all, Google can load up several pages of information in only a fraction of a second, so why cannot problems on a website be resolved with a few keystrokes or a click? Everything else works that way, right?

In fact, no. Even for those of us whose daily jobs involve computer programming, software glitches, upgrading hardware and programming of databases don't just happen with a keystroke and "Bing!" it's fixed. For the rest of us, having your house tented for termites, or cancer hacked out of your guts or picking the colors and furniture for your re-do of the living room all take TIME, and much moreso if you can't leave the house, can't miss work or share the living room with another owner that lives 2 hours away (for example). Things do not happen as quickly, off-line, as we perceive them to, on-line.

So, I suggest we "Assume the Best" and presume that the owners and admins of this site are working on a solution to the spamming and probably also the structural issues related to having old software programs in use. If they are, it might take a little time --certainly longer than a keystroke or two. We are not "disenfranchised" or "ripped off" by the Admins when they're working hard to fix a problem we'd like them to fix.

This is not to suggest that some updates wouldn't be nice (those don't take much time) or that suggestions herein might not be good ideas (shutting off registration, but allowing all registered members to post). I am merely suggesting that things take time and now, further: that if someone leaves a website forever because they couldn't post for a week, that's either just plain dumb.

Edited by EBasil on 10/27/2012 11:53:21 MDT.

dan mchale
(wildlife) - MLife

Locale: Cascadia
embarresed on 10/27/2012 12:46:15 MDT Print View

John Donewar, I think I would be embarressed to be on a list because I refused to pay $25.00 for something that was apparently very important to me.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Loss of Valuable Contributors on 10/27/2012 13:27:19 MDT Print View

The spammer has figured out how to still contribute. Ugh.

Paul Wozniak
(PaulW)

Locale: Midwest
Rare Business Opportunity in UL Backpacking on 10/27/2012 19:44:49 MDT Print View

Description:

Web-site owner and administrator.
Maintain an active web-site. Hire / pay staff and technical consultants.
Manage memberships; fees, rights, profiles, etc
Moderator: manage policies and police forum behavior.
Resolve technical issues.
Provide insightful, well-researched, expert articles.
Repeat preceding step weekly or meet with wrath of membership
$25- annual membership. Estimate 1000 paying customers (WAG). $25,000 year.
Provide access to non-paying members
Resolve sophisticated, critical attacks with zero compromise
Interested parties should apply now or start

So, yes, the non-paying contributors are missed. Many are regular and respected particpants in the forum. But it's $25 dollars folks. $25. All I'm saying, poorly, is that I support BPLs response to this spam problem. Seems reasonable, measured and fair in a difficult situation.

BPL is the premier, if imperfect, meeting place for UL Backpackers. No one's getting rich here and if enough people make the decision that this isn't worth $25-, well then it dies. I'm not predicting BPLs demise but I will predict that, if it goes, we're gonna miss it.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: Rare Business Opportunity in UL Backpacking on 10/27/2012 20:01:58 MDT Print View

Membership is way more than a thousand.

Just saying


And since the spammers have figured out how to post regardless. What's the point in keeping people locked out?

Edited by kthompson on 10/27/2012 23:39:30 MDT.

Joseph Reeves
(Umnak)

Locale: Southeast Alaska
non-members on 10/27/2012 23:25:37 MDT Print View

I'm sure that BPL would allow those of you who sorely miss the non-member posts to pay for their membership.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
BPL Forum Progress on 10/28/2012 01:07:57 MDT Print View

Hi all

From Ryan just now:


I'm getting ready to leave in the morning to teach the WTS course in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness and will be away until next Monday.

1. I am unable to lock new registrations easily right now due to problems with the integration of registration for accounts with registration for subscriptions.

Therefore:

2. We will be installing a low-fee forum subscription that will allow users to post. When that happens, all users who were registered forum participants prior to the lockdown will be grandfathered in with a new subscription at no cost. I can't tell you when this will happen, but this is the short term solution, and would occur in a matter of 2 weeks perhaps.

That's all I can tell you right now, and it's about all we can do with the software we have; we are going to take some time to carefully evaluate longer term options.


'Low Fee' means a few dollars: not enough to scare anyone, but quite enough to stop the spammers who (I am told) get paid about $1 per 1000 postings.

Yes, the current Forum SW is a handicap, but it holds the Forum Archive. Do we ant to lose that? Our first guess is No Way.

Cheers
Roger

Dena Kelley
(EagleRiverDee) - M

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
Re Loss of Valuable Contributors on 10/28/2012 01:22:25 MDT Print View

""""I'm sure that BPL would allow those of you who sorely miss the non-member posts to pay for their membership.""""
^
Not helpful. I paid my membership. But I did it for the articles and for gear swap. I was fine with non-paid members having posting privileges then, and I'm fine with it now. Forums die when they get locked up. That's the reality. I'm an admin on a dying forum for just this reason. Even after we unlocked it, it remains on life support. It was a bad idea for us to lock it, and it's probably a bad idea for BPL to have locked this one. The longer it goes, the more damage it does. My opinion.

Miguel Arboleda
(butuki) - MLife

Locale: Kanto Plain, Japan
Re Loss of Valuable Contributors on 10/28/2012 03:23:39 MDT Print View

It was a bad idea for us to lock it, and it's probably a bad idea for BPL to have locked this one. The longer it goes, the more damage it does.

Very much +1

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re Loss of Valuable Contributors on 10/28/2012 07:21:49 MDT Print View

Well, this can also effect some of the "silent majority" of members and lifers by offering a site more suited to the exchange of new ideas rather than rehashing gear list after gear list... People that in recent times have been driven off by critical arguments about the site, not about the SUBJECT of the site. People with large ammounts of experience that they can share, but just don't like reading through so many posts from uninformed newbees and others that have not seen/embraced the lite.

Which is more important? One good post from an experienced person with 20 years of experience, OR, 20 posts from a person with only one year of experience? One thoughtfull post per day, on subject, pushing the boundries of what can be done? Or, a hundred posts by people who ask which stove is best, which jacket is good enough, which water bottle should they use?

Quality or quantitity? Develop new or use the old?

Where in todays market, can Jyan and this site find a viable growth market. Like any business, this is difficult to determine and amounts to predicting the future for the site, that's business. The forums were an outgrowth of the magazine. The magazine was always at the cutting edge of lightweight packing. I dislike many of the reasons for implementing the current changes. There is a good side, too.

Paul Wozniak
(PaulW)

Locale: Midwest
Loss of valuable contributors on 10/28/2012 07:45:37 MDT Print View

".... it's probably a bad idea for BPL to have locked this one. The longer it goes, the more damage it does."

I respectfully disagree. The spam was so overwhelming the site was near dead - many here expressed exactly that sentiment. So BPL selected the simplest temporary fix and took care of their paying customers first. Imagine the b***ing if we still had to wade through all that garbage we were getting.

Ken - my WAG may have been low by a factor of 3, but there are costs. This site is actually pretty decent and has the appearance of being well-funded. I think revenues are actually pretty limited and there's a lot here for the money. Let's say gross revenues of around $75k. And now a long-term, and I suspect expensive, fix will be necessary. It's reasonable to take some time to explore the options - you don't want to have to fix it twice. Not with limited resources. Setting aside all the other complaints - I'm just saying BPL was a victim here, not the bad guy. I can cut them a little slack as they wade through a very complicated problem.

Anyway, a better temporary solution appears on the way. Step one in about two weeks, step 2 - who knows? Here's hoping. And no offense to anyone ... just my point of view.

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: BPL Forum Progress on 10/28/2012 08:10:56 MDT Print View

Thanks Roger. See RJ's post here.

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/forums/thread_display.html?forum_thread_id=69824&skip_to_post=596986#596986

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: BPL Forum Progress on 10/28/2012 08:44:43 MDT Print View

"Yes, the current Forum SW is a handicap, but it holds the Forum Archive. Do we ant to lose that? Our first guess is No Way"

portlandhikers.org made a transition that killed the archives

after a couple years it makes no difference

maybe leave backpackinglight.com as is for a few years but don't allow any new posts

Ken Thompson
(kthompson) - MLife

Locale: Behind the Redwood Curtain
Re: BPL Forum Progress on 10/28/2012 08:54:01 MDT Print View

They moved stuff from the old forum to this one when they made the first software change.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re Loss of Valuable Contributors on 10/28/2012 08:57:33 MDT Print View

"It was a bad idea for us to lock it, and it's probably a bad idea for BPL to have locked this one. The longer it goes, the more damage it does"

I have to agree with Dena - internet people are so fickle and short attention span - if people drift away it's hard to get them back

If you require a nominal fee to sign up and post, then at least all the currently registered people that aren't members will be able to post again which is good.

A lot of new people won't sign up if they have to pay because no one wants to give out financial information. It's like there will be a constant headwind slowing future growth.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Re: BPL Forum Progress on 10/28/2012 09:54:27 MDT Print View

I believe that RJ was refering to the "solid" content more than past postings. No, it won't be permanently lost, as I am sure Ryan and others are well aware. Most data representations can be translated to a different format (even pictures are held as encrypted groups of pixel locations and color values, ie numbers.)

Doing it now without further thought into the upgrade will cost money. Something that RJ will not be willing to spend out of pocket (especially if he also needs to work elsewhere for a living.) Chosing which sw to use will dictate what format to migrate the data to. Choosing now, as part of a "knee-jerk" response to a spam problem would be a BIG mistake. He had a plan to let the forum slide for as long as 5 years to pay back what the store had incurred in debt...to buy out the other partner(s)...to continue the site at all is a major task. Upgrades will be the minimum necessary because spending foolishly is not the mark of a good manager.

Some upgrades are simply not worth it. Rule of thumb says when you need a 10% overhaul of code, you simply skip it and rebuild it from the ground up. This takes TIME. Perhaps a year, before such measures can be fully implemented and in place...before it is in full "maintenence mode" so to speak. But that is not saying what the future will bring. No, RJ is correct. He cannot have stuff off line for that time...may as well be permanent. The existing site will simply die if he did nothing. Again, loosing the data, permanently.

"Security," is now equally important as "makinging it work." Not something that was as widely understood when these forums were first implemented. They were never designed for security. Spammers had their field day. Through hard work they were stopped. But, it was by making the program do things it could do already, but in a different way than was intended. Example: Login registration. They cannot change the way it works, but, they can just set a flag that says EVERYBODY must be a paying member...the result is no new members can post without paying to become a member, not something a spammer is willing to do.

John Donewar
(Newton) - MLife

Locale: Southeastern Louisiana
Re: embarresed on 10/28/2012 22:05:19 MDT Print View

Dan,

If you're not part of the solution you are part of the problem!

The substantive posts of many of these BPL guests is an important part of what was and still could be good about BPL.

Party On,

Newton