Why I Left vBulletin & Haven’t Looked Back

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

  • J

    Very interesting article. It’s opened my eyes to a number of things about IB and I was really looking forward to reading replies to it.