vBTruth | Shining Light on Internet Brands' Disasters

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ― Albert Einstein

Perhaps Internet Brands (IB) could learn a thing or two from this quote by Einstein. In their eyes, things were looking up for them. For a period of nearly three years, IB was in the news for the lawsuit they filed against XenForo. This lawsuit happened to coincide first public beta release of XenForo as IB announced the lawsuit one day prior to XF beta launch and claimed it was a mere coincidence. IB was also accused of bullying XF and its developers Kier Darby and Mike Sullivan so they received some negative attention for it. After the lawsuit was finally settled in February 2013, IB was hopeful to put this behind them and move on, and was hoping people would essentially forget about the previous events that took place in fear that it would continue to “tarnish” their reputation.  In the mean time in the private license holder forum at vBulletin we have vB staff members openly bashing customers, disrespecting them and showing absolutely no professionalism at all towards customers.

The reality is, the great reputation vB once had only came due to the strong community and quality development of the old team before Jelsoft was acquired by Internet Brands, and this is when things started to go downhill (in 2009 Kier Darby, Mike Sullivan and Scott MacVicar all left vB/IB)

IB was merely riding the wave of the old development team and the older quality versions of vB and as expected once the original core team left, the quality of the product suffered as a result: This brings us to vBulletin 5 Connect. Not only was vB5 released as “gold” lacking many basic features that vB4 had but the forum software is considered to be a joke by many forum administrators and even some of the largest forum sites that were previously using vBulletin made the switch to XenForo ditching vB all together.

This takes us back to the quote above and the lack of change IB is doing with their thinking. Internet Brands continues to treat their customers so poorly and with such disrespect. The heads at IB made a terrible move by essentially forcing out the old, extremely qualified developers. They followed this bad move by filing a frivolous lawsuit against XF which only lead to increased negative attention and uproar from the community. They ignored any feedback from the community (i.e., their customers) and made a bad situation even worse by releasing the joke of a software that is vBulletin 5…But wait there’s more! In the latest fiasco which Veritas covered earlier – a recent breach on vBulletin.com which resulted in vBulletin sending out emails urging users to change their passwords because of this hack. The hacker group claimed they used a zero-day exploit, an exploit for a previously unknown vulnerability in order to compromise the vBulletin.com server and download the user database. In sum, vBulletin was using a copy of the live database on a test system and “forgot” to patch it to fix this bug. In doing this, they left the door open to these hackers and risked (and exposed) the personal details of us, the customers.
How’s that for quality?

Some free advice for you Internet Brands: change your thinking, stop disrespecting and ignoring your customers and learn from the mistakes you have made from the past if you want any chance to succeed. Doing otherwise will result you being a mere footnote in Wikipedia when people are reading about vB vs. XF since most people will have migrated to XenForo by then.

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vbulletin-5-homepageAs a vBulletin user for many many years I just wanted to take the time to say how disappointed and cheated I feel with my recent purchase of vB5.

I run many forums and use vBulletin 4.x, IP Board and Xenforo, for my latest forum which I have invested a lot of time and money into I wanted the latest forum software and decided on vB5. I had not read any reviews which is obviously a mistake on my part and solely went on the fact that up until now vBulletin have been by far the market leader, I was comfortable using it and to be honest vB4 was pretty good, surely vB5 would be an improvement?

So I paid the $399!!! …within a week or so I could see that there were lots of changes and that lots (and I mean lots) of functions literally didn’t work. Now this was a fresh install of vB5 so not an upgrade so the optimal conditions really.

I decided pretty quickly that this software was not fit for purpose and asked for a refund, where I was told that as I had downloaded the software this was not possible and that I could sell the licence to someone else if I wanted, but obviously I wouldn’t get my full money back and who in their right mind would buy it?

As I didn’t have much choice I decided to persevere as I thought the next update would fix a lot of the problems I was having, in all honesty the latest update caused more problems than the initial version and this time when I tried to contact technical support I was literally a few days out of the ‘free month of support’ and told to post on the forum or pay for additional support.

Now to be honest I don’t have much spare time and didn’t want to create multiple threads on the problems I was now having so paid for an extra months support where I could detail all the issues in 1 email, hoping they would be fixed. This was a complete waste of money and time as all they do is direct you to JIRA!!! …and rarely actually fix any of the problems there and then.

My issue with JIRA is I have to spend the time either searching for someone else with the same problem and vote for the issue to be fixed or take the time to explain the problem I am having in multiple new posts hoping someone will also have this issue in order for it to actually be fixed. There is never a quick solution and no guarantee that my problems will ever be fixed.

Wait a minute didn’t I just pay $399 for this software and an additional $40 odd dollars for support? Why the hell am I having to spend time pointing out all these problems in the hope that someday they will be fixed? Wasn’t this software extensively tested before being released or is that now my job after spending a fortune on it? vBulletin know of all these problmes yet the product is still for sale.

One day when all the bugs are ironed out Vbulletin will have a great platform once again and reap the rewards, but it is at our cost as we are the people having to point all these problems out and struggle by with software that doesn’t work at the moment.

In my opinion this software was released waaaaaay before it should have been, it is nowhere near as good as vB4, IP Board or Xenforo which would have been a start and has endless bugs and issues that should have been fixed before release. Some of the issues literally stop users from using my forum so in my opinion it is not fit for purpose.

Just simple things that should just work, MARK CHANNELS READ button not working, seriously how hard can that be to fix? Site Maps not working, not that that’s an important function, it’s not like Google ask for a Site Map or anything. Errors when members post. No RSS feed, lots of forums like to post out to their twitter feed, not with vB5!!!!

vBulletin should be ashamed of the whole situation and the position they have left myself and many many other people in, I literally feel like I have been ripped off!

I am sure if this post is allowed to stay that I will get the obligatory ‘I am sorry you feel this way’ but that doesn’t fix any of the problems I have had and currently have.

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vbulletin-5-homepageI made the biggest mistake ever to trust vBulletin. I was using VB 4 with minor issues but having faith in the company, I upgraded to VB 5. It’s been down the road since then. Been a big fan of VBulletin since 2004, but really disappointed with the latest VB 5. I have upgraded to all latest versions of the software (VB5) and all are having some error or the other. So many issues, it’s baffling. If you can’t make a trouble free software, why launch it in the first place?

Even after using the latest version of VB 5, I have following problems -

  1. In-line image addition does not work.
  2. User gets pop up when posting a reply -”You did not answer the question correctly”.
  3. Upload more than 3 images, they won’t show in the post.
  4. Start a new thread and the title changes to the title of the last picture uploaded.
  5. Open (not start but open in a browser) multiple posts and some posts won’t have the comment box below.
  6. and many more..

So thanks to VB5, I have spent so much time, energy and money on it. Needless to say, my web designer has given up after having spend hours (for which I had to pay). I will make sure others don’t face this issue but telling them not to buy VB 5, at least not till the issues are resolved.

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Are you surprised? I’m not. There are more bugs in vBulletin than a roach motel. Can someone please call the exterminator?

It’s rather amusing Internet Brands does not even know where the vulnerability is in THEIR OWN software. If they can’t even find it when it is pointed out to someone, how do you expect Internet Brands to deliver a bug-free product?

Here is the initial security advisory.

A potential exploit vector has been found in the vBulletin 4.1+ and 5+ installation directories. Our developers are investigating this issue at this time. If deemed necessary we will release the necessary patches. In order to prevent this issue on your vBulletin sites, it is recommended that you delete the install directory for your installation. The directories that should be deleted are:

4.X – /install/
5.X – /core/install

After deleting these directories your sites can not be affected by the issues that we’re currently investigating.

vBulletin 3.X and pre-4.1 would not be affected by these issues. However if you want the best security precautions, you can delete your install directory as well.

Source: vBulletin

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vbulletin-5-homepagevBulletin is a sinking ship at this point. There is nothing that can save it. @BobBrisco has managed to take an industry leader (and I am talking by a huge margin) and royally fuck it up in a spectacular fashion.

I’ve seen a lot of people move from vBulletin to xenForo but they have also gone on to other software such as Invision Power Board. So all I want from you is to reply in the comments below and tell me why you left vBulletin. You can be as detailed as you want. The more information the better. It would be nice if you could tell us when you left to give us a bit of a time line to see when the acceleration really started. It doesn’t even have to be about the current state of the company. If you left during the good ole days, I’d love to hear why you left and where you ended up.

I am mainly looking for people that have converted from vBulletin to another software and not those that just decided to stop hanging out at vBulletin.com.

My Story

I have been around the forum world since May of 2003. I bought my first hosting package for less than 100 dollars for a year. I don’t even remember the company I bought it from but it was a shared hosting package. There my journey started with phpBB. Fast forward a year or two down the road and I knew I had something good going with my forum. I had a decent member base and we were having fun. phpBB was suffering greatly from security issues. So bad to the point that when a security exploit was revealed it was so easy to exploit it that I was able to do so using the exploit release details. We aren’t talking about complicated exploits but simply appending an SQL statement to a filename in a URL. On top of that I was wanting something a little more professional where updates with new features were happening.

My research lead me to only one solution and that was vBulletin. Everyone was using it. It was the talk of the forum town at the time. If you weren’t using vBulletin, you weren’t cool. You know, peer pressure and all that shit. Well I took the bite at the time. I bought a leased license at the time because it was all I could afford. I was in college and working at Dominos part time to pay what bills I had. Still living at home. The typical still growing up phase of life.

I loved it. It was cutting edge at the time. The developers were having fun and the community was vibrant. I happily continued down the vBulletin path until July 4, 2007. What was significant about that date? That was the date that vBulletin went from a software company developing for their customers first to a software company developing for their newly acquired parent company, Internet Brands. Internet Brands, even back in 2007, was a gigantic company. A huge player in the forum world. They owned high value forums such as MustangForums.com.  They were just beginning their massive spending spree to acquire forums in some of the most lucrative niches available.

I’m not here to tell you that is when I bailed on vBulletin because it isn’t. I was skeptical about the sale but not completely aware of the end goal that Internet Brands was after. I was also 21 at the time and was not really looking toward the future in any aspect of my life. Reading my comments on vBulletin.com now make me cringe. That’s another story though… back to the topic.

Once the takeover was announced the next major release of vBulletin was 3.7. This was not heavily influenced by IB staff but still had some touches of their influence in it. I thought this was a decent release but it was sloppy. It tried to do too much at once with Social Networking and it failed at making it all play together nicely. Concerns were brought up in the forums and we all waited until 3.8 to see if this was fixed so everyone could go on loving vBulletin again.

Then 3.8 came out. This release was 100% Internet Brands influenced as far as features go. This release introduced more social features with Social Groups. It didn’t fix any of the issues of all the other previous social features introduced. User albums? Good luck browsing them. New social group posts? Good luck finding them. New profile posts? Good luck finding them.

It was clear that they weren’t listening to their user base. At the same time it was also becoming clear to me what Internet Brands was doing. At the time I was running my Ford Mustang website, MustangEvolution.com. The site was becoming larger and larger and I was now making decent money with it. In 2008 I also became a member of a pretty awesome group that now resides at BigBoardAdmin.com. What I started out doing as fun and for a hobby was now making me money. I was amazed that this could be possible. So the journey started to see what all there was to this new money I was finding. Could I really do this for a living? Was that possible?

I had to look no further than the very company that owned the software I was using to realize just how much money was now being invested in forums.

To go back a bit, MustangForums.com used to use an ASP based software. I had always wanted the domain name because it was so appealing. A top level domain for its niche. Well one day I woke up and opened up MustangForums.com and noticed something different at the bottom. The Internet Brands logo. Then I noticed it was no longer an ASP based board but was running vBulletin now! I was confused and started digging. It took me a few minutes to process that. Then things just started firing in my head. Internet Brands is now the owner of a website that directly competes with me for members. That sucks. They have a pile of money. Wait… oh shit. Internet Brands also happens to own vBulletin software. Fuck. Now this site was running the same software as me and the company had complete control over that software.

That is when things started unraveling for me. I started to realize long before Internet Brands actually fucked up the vBulletin software that Internet Brands was not looking out for my best interest when coding vBulletin. Their entire intention was to buy up the top branded forum software in the world and keep it in their grasp while they built their forum empire.

Bob Brisco is a smart business man. A completely shitty software company owner but a smart man. He won big at the sake of all the vBulletin customers. He used the money he had with Internet Brands to make smart web property purchases via online forums. He did fail magnificently at running a software company though. He managed to destroy a trusted brand. The sad part is he won’t ever feel the pain of doing that. Only the customers will. Bob will still be floating high in a year or two when the hedge fund that took IB from a public company to a private company breaks apart IB into smaller sections and has a fire sale. So it was at that time I started making plans to move away from vBulletin. I sold my Ford Mustang site to a friend of mine at Social Knowledge last year and along with it went the last site I ever messed with vBulletin with. Any other sites I buy with vBulletin software immediately start the process of being converted to xenForo. Most of the time I don’t even want the licenses. I actually try to sell the licenses to other people before they transfer them to me due to their one transfer policy.

So that is my story and reasoning. I don’t expect you to go into that detail, though I will be kind of impressed to see if Disqus will even allow it!

So if you see me on an admin forum and I don’t have anything nice to say about vBulletin, now you have a little background on why. I prefer to look toward the future now though and that simply doesn’t exist with vBulletin and hasn’t for many years now.

So, what is your story or reasoning?

 

Originally Posted on BamaStangGuy.com

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Internet Brands operates communities for anyone to speak. But more importantly, are they truly listening to their customers and what they are saying?

Internet Brands operates communities for anyone to speak. But more importantly, are they truly listening to their customers and what they are saying?

vBulletin was a great product 3-4 years ago but it’s filled with bugs and dated code now. The current version “vBulletin 5” really just needs to be completely rewritten. There are literally 100’s of reported bugs that the developers know about as well as major missing functions from the vBulletin 4 series like the CMS. This was pushed hard in the vBulletin 4 sales days as the more expensive vBulletin Suite package. I have around 100 active clients right now that all run vBulletin 3 or 4. I’ve had a few that have been interested in upgrading so we’ll setup a development site. I put countless hours into upgrading vBulletin 3 or 4 to the current version vBulletin suggest (5.x) and then I let them play with it for a week or two. I’ve yet to get any positive feedback; it’s too slow, error messages all over the place and missing integral functions from previous versions.
It’s sad really; vBulletin was once a flagship company, but that all left in late 2009 when it was bought out by Internet Brands. The lead developers got fired or left within a few months and there has been a LOT of turnover since then as far as project managers and those in charge of development.

If you have money to blow and want to see what $300 will get you, go for it. If you want to do a little research on forums other than vBulletin.com (unlicensed members don’t see the feedback forum) you’ll see that there are a lot of longtime forum owners out there that have tried to switch to vBulletin 5 because the promo emails were saying it’s so great and then realized it was a complete disaster. You see large threads from the members complaining about browser issue, slow load time and missing functions that they had been used to.

If you read this a year from now then it may have given vBulletin enough time to fix everything and it may be a stable product, that’s what happened with vBulletin 4. Sales were pushed hard (just like vb5) and the script was sold as gold, about 18 months before it was ready. The difference this time is it’s the public’s job to report bugs in the software. You have to use the jira ticketing system which is complicated for the average Joe to figure out. You’re actually paying $300 for a basic forum script, and then you have to spend your time reporting all the bugs while your forum runs at a crawl.. go figure.

Originally posted at TrustPilot.com

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Aug/13

19

The vBulletin 5 Fiasco

fgBU2Some of the latest testimonials about vBulletin 5 from license holders. Summary, do not buy!

You may have noticed today (August 8th) we attempted to give you users some much wanted change to the forums. What better way than to get you guys the latest and greatest: vBulletin 5!

Boy was I wrong. After purchasing and then slaving away at getting it up and running (it took me 8 straight hours through the night to get it up) all it did was give us troubles. vBulletin 5 is so poorly coded that we were forced to revert back to the current forum you’re on this very moment.

I wanted it to work, I truly did. However the staff and I decided that it was just impossible. vBulletin 5 is riddled with bugs and poor coding, everywhere we looked there was something going wrong or something missing, it was truly horrific. I was genuinely upset that I put the forum in this position, I felt like I was screwing everyone over even though at my heart I was trying to just give some change.

But we’re back! And I managed to keep the damage to a minimum. All we lost was essentially a couple of posts from the vBulletin 5 version of the site, which were basically all complaints anyway.

If something is wrong with your account please let me know as soon as possible, I’m pretty sure I recovered everything correctly but, as we learned with vb5, you just never know what’s going to happen.

Thanks for sticking through it, and hey! Modio was only down for like 10 minutes anyway, so that’s a plus!

Love,
Bran

Source: Game-Tuts.com

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Have you tried using vBulletin 5? It’s the worst written piece of crap I have ever seen in my life.

I have seen my fair share of poorly written applications in my lifetime, but this by far is the worst I’ve seen. This blunder makes vBulletin 4.0 look extremely well thought out. I would rather recommend an open source application that’s bug infested over vBulletin 5.

To name a few small problems:

  • Performance – What the hell is going on? It’s slower than molasses. It is so slow even Internet Brands’s very own vBulletin staff have started complaining that the performance is pathetic.
  • Comments - Were the idiots even thinking when they implemented this? It is a black plague to communities. It will disrupt and destroy communities. It is also one of the worst possible implemented posts.
  • Bugs - vBulletin 5 is worst than a infestation of bed bugs.

Don’t buy it. Save your money. Save your pain. Save your frustration. Save your headaches.

If you wanted your money back, you could not get it back. People learned the hard way. Don’t let this happen to you.

 

vBulletin 5 is crap. Pure Utter Crap.

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Happy New Year from Chronos and myself.

We’ve been both busy, but we have not stopped watching the disaster that is known as Internet Brands. If you have not played with their 25, 26, or whatever beta for the fifth generation vBulletin, don’t bother.

It was painful. Torture. It should be considered as cruel and unusual punishment to use vBulletin 5.

It’s sluggish. It’s counter intuitive. It’s disorganized. It’s a nuisance. It’s a blight to the internet. It should be condemned.

 

Letters to the Editor

We received this email to our inbox a while back. We decided to protect the identity of the individual and wait before publishing the email. However, sufficient time has since passed to allow us to publish the email without allowing Internet Brands to identify the individual.

 

From John Doe:

I resigned yesterday after (several) crappy months at the hellhole that is IB, and wanted to say thanks for putting up your blog, which I came across today. It’s made for good reading.

If it makes you feel any better, I don’t know if I’ve ever seen more concentrated incompetence than in my time at IB.

 

Well John, I would say since sending in your email, Internet Brands has made incompetence an art form.

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vBulletin today is only a shadow of its former self. The best part that’s left of it is its name. Gone are the days of being an industry trendsetter. Gone are the days of producing quality programming code and architecture. Gone are the days of quality product development.

My recommendation to anyone who still follows this blog: Leave Internet Brands. Leave vBulletin. Get out now.

It’s clear that the great and mighty empire known as vBulletin is sinking. It’s taking on water so quickly it’s sinking faster than any one person can fix it. Where are the days of where staff were actually were civil, professional and respectful? Gone. I watch quietly from the sideline as vBulletin Developer advocates, such as Paul M, make snide, belligerent, condescending, disrespectful and unprofessional comments day in and day out to customers who disapprove or are concerned about the development path vBulletin is taking. As an IT auditor, I would be fired on the spot for making any comment that is less than professional to any prospective or existing client.

These remarks serve as a gauge, a reflection on the confidence of the product Internet Brands is building. Simply put: the staff has no faith in the product. They fear the customer. They fear customer’s voting with their wallet. They FEAR YOU. They know what you probably don’t suspect. Internet Brands is bleeding money and the more we speak up, customers are paying heed to what’s out there. There are a multitude of excellent alternatives out there that exceed the capabilities of vBulletin 4 and vBulletin 5 Connect. Customers are leaving in droves to alternative solutions whether it be XenForo, Invision Power Board, or alternative solutions. Many former mega vBulletin customers are finally leaving quietly and taking their entire sites away from vBulletin. Take a look at AppleInsider.com. They once ran a vBulletin forum. It is now powered by Invision Power Board.

For those of you who want to stay, take care of yourselves. Internet Brands has recently taken on a campaign to censor what customers are able to say. Gone are the days where you have the free speech of a republic. Instead what you see is Internet Brands brutality with customers and posts mysteriously disappearing. It is a police state. A regime that terrorizes its own customers. Take a look at the level of censure that’s happening behind the scenes.

Customers standing up for themselves and a product they passionately want to see succeed are being punished. The level of discontent is rising. The pressure is now being applied to Internet Brands. Goodwill, faith, and trust are commodities that are not respected.

Stop being sheep vBulletin customers. Internet Brands’ is completely in denial. Don’t be in denial too.

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