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A Blog by - myff admin


PostPosted: Tue May 31, 2011 6:34 pm

IMPORTANT: Everydns.net users


If you are effected by this you will receive a newsletter via email in the next few days.

Some forums running their own domain names were manually set up by us using the everydns.net DNS service.

This is or rather was a 3rd party service which has been bought out and will be discontinued by them on August 31st.

Hence your domains will stop working.

The solution to this is to reply to this thread verifying your myff domain name, and own domain name. We will then verify that this domain is correctly set up on our own namerservers.

ns1.myff.org
ns2.myff.org
ns3.myff.org
ns4.myff.org

and you will then need to change to the above nameservers at your domain registrars.

Sorry for any inconvenience but this is out of our hands.


Last edited by on Wed Jun 01, 2011 10:20 am; edited 1 time in total

24 comments have been made on this topic View/Post Comments
PostPosted: Mon May 30, 2011 9:33 am

Change to directory system


The directory system will now only show forums that we consider "active".

The reason for this is that spammers frequently attack and overrun unmaintained forums, which then end up suspended and eventually deleted.

The chances are they get their attack lists from our own directory  

Arguably this does benefit people looking for good forums to join, and benefits the active forums by making their position more prominent.

But I'm not selling this as a benefit it is strictly about trying to deal with the scum of the forums world, the spammers  

0 comments have been made on this topic View/Post Comments
PostPosted: Sun May 29, 2011 12:24 pm

Phpbb2: Reply notification on new registrations


I don't know why this hasn't been done before.

The default for people registering was for them not to be notified of replies. That really seems plain wrong to me.

1 comments have been made on this topic View/Post Comments
PostPosted: Thu May 26, 2011 9:20 am

6th Anniversary for myff


We have now been running forums for 6 years.

As a prelude to writing this post I read last years message:

http://forum.myfreeforum.org/about19078.html

Last year we had gone through one major change having invested in new servers, moved to a UK datacenter and entered into an agreement to host for Switch Concepts and work with them in their advertising server business.

There was a fear as to where that would lead time wise, but also a recognition that we needed the financial stability that would come from not just relying on forums.

I think it is fair to say that I was reasonably on the ball in these considerations.

Forums were a rocky business for much of last year, we are again in the black on forums but the advertising market from where the revenue for forums comes has been a tough one. I'm glad we have the new partnership even if it is also advertising related.

That partnership has gone very well, it has gone very strangely in some ways!

We were meant to be hosts, we started out with 2 new large servers and have now 6 we own, but now there are 4 others including 2 in our own datacenter rack that Switch own, basically as hosts we went into too much debt buying hardware and so the burden has had to switch to Switch   This would all be very odd if we had acted as simply hosts, but we have been pretty instrumental in the development of Switch leaving me not employed by Switch but nonetheless being "technical director" or some other job title of convenience as the need arises. Basically the companies have ended up very intertwined.

On the development front, the Switch advertising project has gone from the part time efforts of 2 or 3 people to 3 full time development staff, 2 close to full time contractual staff, a large proportion of my time and still considerable technical input from Tom the guy this all got going with a year ago. Plus of course Switch has a whole infrastructure of other people in various roles.

So what has all that got to do with forums? Well basically the two core things are that :

1) The forums end up financially stable.
2) Since forums run on advertising and now we are a growing player in the advertising arena itself, we can ultimately get better paid advertising and need less of it.

Meanwhile what have we achieved on the forums front itself in the last year.

I think first out of the box is that we have had another year of solid unhacked and close to 100% uptime and asides from some blips due to attacks by spammers we have provided very fast forums.
We have also increased the speed of most forums using a new proxy system.
Development of new features has been slower this year, mostly this is because of pressure of work from Switch, but it is also true to say that we can't do very much on the phpbb3 front whilst it is still in active development, and on the phpbb2 front I think we have an exceedingly good system that really does everything 99% of users really need out of a forums system.

A lot of the improvements we have made have been spammer related and it is because of spammers that I can't sensibly quote what members and posts we have achieved as a forums system, at one stage in the last year we were getting 1 spammer a second signing on to vulnerable forums, ones that were not using our CAPTCHA  system or were using a broken phpbb3 CAPCHTA system
We have largely cleaned house and suspended forums that have run to spam, but to give leeway to admins to reclaim their forums those forums are still mostly on the system and distorting the numbers

So what about the future? I'm hesitating to make too many promises as things are still happening at a frenetic pace, but one thing I would point out that happened last year was we contracted out the redesign of the myff web page to Switch, e.g. we work for them, but they also work for us in quite a few ways. So even if I'm busy on their work, there is every potential for some of the myff workload to move over to the Switch developers. We have already gone to a joint source management system!
Of course I think the key thing for most our members is to have confidence that there will be a year 7, year 8 and so on. Most web free forums systems do crash and burn. On that score we have a long record now and are going into the next year in our strongest ever position.


Last edited by on Tue May 29, 2012 10:07 am; edited 2 times in total

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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 6:35 pm

Another datacenter goes live


We installed 4 servers and 3 network switches into our own rack in Leicester today  

Quite an interesting exercise as previously we have had the datacenter do the task and share rackspace with other businesses.

Doing things DIY is always an education, not least the fact the it really is useful having two people to lift heavy servers onto rails, so I'm glad two of us went.

The next plan on the server side is to start looking worldwide again.

4 comments have been made on this topic View/Post Comments
PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 8:26 am

Phpbb2: Reminder on bany by country


In the admin panel it is possible to ban entire countries from registering.

There can be for example very few legitimate users of myff from China (CN).

I highlight China as we now review/graph our success in deal with spammers stopping them registering before they succeed and have to be dealt with by forum admins.

China can be compared to Russia (RU) in terms of having an awful lot of spammers, crudely with Russia we stop 95% of Russians, but we only manage to block 90% of the Chinese. I can't actually be sure of exact numbers because the system is based around stopping spammers and not graphing them. As Confucius says:

"Spammer beating their own brains out on firewall, is spammer we cannot count"

But we can see in relative terms we are not so effective against the Chinese, the reason for this is probably that the Eastern European spammer relies more on "Bots" the Chinese spammer is manually beating the system, and the system is meant to make it easy for humans to register.

So the upshot is you can take the decision on behalf of your own forum, but deciding in the admin panel whether to allow the usual suspects at all.

If you look in your admin logs you will see the countries people registered from.

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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2011 4:09 pm

One for the techies, we have started using GIT


All software should have some kind of  version control system so that you can get back to any code revision and generally control the development process.

The forums have been running on the CVS system which now qualifies as ancient, but whilst I have looked at other systems like SVN they have not exactly lit a fire for me

CVS had at least the virtue of being relatively simple, and nothing I had seen in SVN made subjects like "branching" easy to deal with

GIT on the other hand is Linus Torvalds take on a version control system and since he wrote the Linux kernel he should know what develops need out of a system.

So we have been moving our partners Switch and now the myff code base over to use GIT.

There are a lot of things I like already.

1) The repository itself is a single directory and not a CVS directory for every directory in the code.
2) You can easily have a remote master repository but work locally and push/merge from the master when needed.
3) branching is core to the process.
4) A lot of compression goes on which means the stored size of the repository is more manageable.
5) as GIT is shiny and new there are a lot of tools being developed for it, CVS gets more marginalised with each new release of Linux.
6) The whole thing is based around SHA1 hashes which gives a lot of speed and integrity to operations. Basically if your "commit" has a certain hash, then it is next to impossible to retrieve that commit and end up with the same hash but different code.

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PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2011 10:24 am

phpbb2: Mass delete users improvements


I can think of a couple of useful improvements.

1) Checkbox to show only inactive users.
2) Checkbox to show only users with 0 posts.


This would let you ban in batches, especially useful if you are using a moderator control panel that lets you quickly set spammers inactive.

Any other suggestions?

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2011 5:25 pm

phpbb2: Posting outage


My apologies.

A bug crept into some anti-spam measures and killed off posting.

All should be good again now.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 21, 2011 11:22 pm

Few minutes outage for some as a proxy was rebooted


Waste not want not, I have set some of our proxy systems to have a very limited amount of memory, and on at least one of them the setting really was a bit too low leading to performance issues at times.
So it was just rebooted to have a more sensible amount of memory.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2011 1:47 am

Control panel fixed


Just noticed that "Status" in the control panel was mostly blank, this has now been fixed.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:37 pm

Bit of an attack going on.


People may have had some problems with access in the last hour or so.

We are getting hammered from the Ukraine.

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 04, 2011 7:09 pm

removed the bottom of forum advertising banners


Not going to make self-serving claims here.

Just basically advertising is paying next to nothing currently, so I don't see the point in laying it on thick, we may as well all enjoy a bit of a holiday from banners.

I may remove more, but will probably wait and see what the next month does.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 03, 2011 8:09 am

PhpBB3: Upload avatar fix


Looks like there was a regression with the upload of avatars in phpbb3.08.

This should now be fixed.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 26, 2011 11:33 am

Important: Forum spam issues


I expect a few people got a database connection error this morning.

This was a combination of things.

1) The database backup completing late, when the backup completes is always a bit of pressure on the server.
2) The backup being late because it gets slowed by spambots.
3) spambots adding to the load at the time of backup completion.

As usual the issue is that people have let phpbb3 forums run to spam So I have done the rounds and suspended a couple of dozen phpbb3 forums.


Last edited by on Wed May 25, 2011 9:09 am; edited 1 time in total

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