My vBulletin Experience: Before and After Internet Brands. By Jadmperry

I come to this with a different perspective (though, I think many of our conclusions are the same).

I started a small niche site that is not monetized (though, I do get a large volume of clients from my vB site). When I started (vB 3.x series, circa April, 2007), vBulletin was the best forum software that I found. I was (and am in many ways) a complete newbie. I had no knowledge about anything, had to learn how to ftp the files, do basic programming for some tweaks and was generally able to set up my site for my needs.

All of my updates through the 3.x versions were fairly pain free. With the modifications I found at vb.org, I was able to satisfy all of my needs.

I remember being so excited about each new release and remember the countdown to 4.0, like a little kid at Christmas. I was so excited by all the features, the CMS especially. My site was growing and I had great placement on google for all of my keywords.

Then everything went to hell. I had so many problems and it was really discouraging. I did feel ripped off by the new licensing structure and felt like the quality went down greatly.

Through subsequent releases, I had more and more problems. Things were broken and I had so many problems, it was greatly discouraging. Still, I felt optimistic that the vB team would fix things and I understood that upgrades would go through “growing pains.” I was glad to see folks like IBAdrian posting things that sounded right. I remember specifically a problem I had with the CMS that Edwin contacted me for on icq on the weekend and helped me fix. I was still full of hope at this point.

My later upgrades went horribly. Functions would not work as well as they did in 3.8.x, and it was really discouraging. Still, I was hopeful.

I sat and waited. My forum suffered some, but it was still okay, people were still posting and I was able to get by. I was feeling that I should just be patient and things would get better. I did see some of the early noise about XenForo, and thought I would keep my eye on it, but other than a general interest, that was it.

Then I read the post about the lawsuit. It pissed me off to no end. I was especially incensed by the threat (implied or direct, though, I felt it was a direct threat) against purchasers of XF. So, I bought a XF license.

What makes me so sad is what was once a great and vibrant community has become a negative place. I really feel for those vB employees who I am sure are working hard on improving this product (and props for the Iphone App that Adrian just posted about in his blog).

I also feel discouraged by the fact that my posts may be part of the negativity. I am not ready to give up on vB altogether, but it is a completely different feeling than I had when I first bought my vB license.

I don’t know exactly what I am hoping to say here, but I think it along the lines of beseeching the IB corporate folks to take a deep breath, look at what goodwill you still have, think about the message you send to your customers (present, past and potential) and just keep on working to make the product worthy of the name you have built. I think that Kier and XF have started something great (which I am supporting now), but this does not have to take down vB (or what it could be). Competition is not necessarily a bad thing. But, ignore your customers, act poorly, and fail to fix problems, and you will not survive.

I really hope this place turns around. I hope the vB employees and developers keep up their hard work (and that your bosses listen to what you have to say about how to fix things and resource you to make that happen…to be honest, I can’t imagine how tough it must be to work on the product with so much criticism…your customers are willing to cut you slack, so long as you have solutions and are upfront about what is going on and the plan; I have to say, the Jira roadmap and the progress on 4.08 do seem like you guys are working on the issues).

Anyway, that’s my 2 cents.

-jadmperry

  • http://www.corpsman.com Darrell

    Great article. I bought the upgrade last year, but have not pulled the trigger yet and am still running 3.8.6.1 now.

    I have read all the problems, and have seen the XenForo site, but I don’t want to be a Beta Tester again.

    I started with WOWBB, but they went downhill, and am just waiting.. and waiting and waiting.. Your article basically has told me to wait still.
    😉
    Thanks!
    D/C

  • http://vbtruth.com Veritas

    In all honesty D/C, xenForo is far more stable than vBulletin 4. I have a very difficult time calling xenForo Beta. It’s been a smooth ride for me after I switched to it and bugs have been mostly trivial, if non-existant.

  • http://rlshosting.com Michael

    I don’t see why they sued Xenforo in the first place. They do have competition even with Xenforo. IPB and Open Source Vendors. Believe it or not. Open Source Vendors have made a lot of progress as well. I think that they need to take a hike on the lawsuit and ignore it. I wouldn’t post anything about the lawsuit on vbulletin.com if I were them. It just gives XenForo good publicity. 😉