Feb 15

Thankfully, this isn’t a post about the abomination of a movie, All Quiet On The Western Front. I will gladly tip my hat to it for the title, though, and offer this advice: unless you’re a war-movie/history fanatic, stay away!

Phew. Now that that’s out of the way, we can get into some real business…

Right, so Calvin has, in the past, had some pretty wacky forums. For those of you that don’t know, forums are a place for people to share thoughts and ideas via posts, in things called threads, under headings of topics. (I’m using MacTalk Forums as my primary linkage for this post – they certainly don’t mind the extra attention, and it’s the only active forum I participate in these days… Whirlpool is better known for their alternate name, “Whingepool”, and OverClockers AUstralia have a funny registration system, and I just haven’t bothered. *sigh*)

Firstly, the one that started it all was the one and only, Calvin Spam. Started as somewhat of a joke by some geeky year 8’s at the time, (If you graduated Calvin in 2008, you would have been in year 7), it spread quickly due to the nature of the content that was on there. No porn or anything bad like that, just slightly dubious polls like “Do you prefer legs or breasts? And I’m not talking about chicken.” For some year 7s, it was all too much and the IT crowd from our grade were quickly sucked in…
Calvin Spam was open for all at Calvin to join – no exceptions. In hindsight, this probably wasn’t the best option considering the material that was posted there – but hey, I wasn’t the administrator of that particular forum.
From there, it was all downhill. Calvin Spam used to exist at calvinspam.tk – the island of tukelau is renowned for their free domain name service. Efforts to find this forum by our most experienced Google-users have proved unfruitful – for all we know, it could have been a website hosted at home…
Calvin Spam came and went, however. Due to the aforementioned nature of the content, it was quickly shut down.

Years passed. The same Year 7s when the original Calvin Spam were around were now in year 8, and their 1337 (leet, or elite) skills had greatly increased. It was definitely time for another forum, and thus, BWSonline was born. Originally standing for Blair, Weed and Smarty, it was formed by the then-IT contingent of the class of 2008.
Sporting a custom phpBB theme, in terms of popularity, BWS was quite exclusive – only a small, select group of students even knew it existed, and then, only several students were active participants in the discussions that happened there – everything ranging from the geekiest of geek-speak, to computer recommendations, the multiple *-FESK saga, epic posts by yours truly, huge Mac/PC flame wars, and more.
In terms of longevity, though – BWS lasted for quite a while. It wasn’t until one of the original creators fled the country to go to Indonesia that it well and truly died.
It still exists on the internet to this day – at the original address – bwsonline.awardspace.com. The orignal creators are massively thankful for awardspace for their free hosting, I’m sure. One of these days, I’ll make a copy of bwsonline and stick it on freshbytes – when I get around to it. Procrastination for the win.

BWSonline was the precursor to a couple of things… one of which was calvinspamII. By this time, the class of 2008 was in year 10, and calvinspamII, designed as the second iteration of the great Calvin Spam, was created by yours truly in an attempt to revive the forum fever at Calvin. By this time, BWS was dying a slow death – the number of posts per day were slowly dwindling, as was the number of active users.
By all accounts, calvinspamII was seen as a competitor to the exclusive BWSonline – like the original Calvin Spam, calvinspamII was open to pretty much everyone, although only full privileges were granted to registered members. Guests could only read parts of the forum – and the more controversial sections were sealed from prying eyes.
Also like the original Calvin Spam, calvinspamII was based of the free phpBB forum software, and if memory serves me correctly, was served by whoever was the first result in Google after I searched “free phpbb hosting”… Oh, the shame! One click was all it took to take down the infamous BWSonline, and within weeks, usage soared – in terms of popularity, calvinspamII eclipsed both the original Calvin Spam and BWSonline in a matter of weeks, thanks largely in part to threads with such names as “BLING & KV”, “Pick Up Lines”, and “BAG OUT ALL GINGERS HERE” – as well as the diverse range of other topics – school, subjects, sports, movies, music – calvinspamII had it all.
Thanks once again to the island of toukelau – their free domain name service made calvinspamii.tk far easier to type than calvinspamii.s1.bizhat.com – which now does not exist.
Unfortunately, by the time we reached metric forum fever had died at Calvin again – it was clear that the users had had enough. Even more unfortunately was the fact that I didn’t get a backup of the calvinspamII database for posterity – I would have loved to read that epic “BLING & KV” thread again… :P

Finally, finally, finally, came the Freshbytes Forum. It has been more than quiet over there – due in part to a lack of plugging. I haven’t been telling people about it enough. It’s not entirely my fault, though – I think that general forums have had their day. Unless you have a very specific target audience that are the kind of people that like to discuss their interests online, then you’re so outta luck if you think you’re going to make it big with a forum. Sure, when I was at school calvinspamII worked because in Computing, I would plug calvinspamII away, and people would log on, post some random images of ginger kids, and when Computing was over, they would log off again. No one bothers to go online and actually discuss stuff on calvinspamII when they’re not at school, and yeah – that’s pretty much how it died…

So, where to from here? I’ll leave Freshbytes Forum open over at forums.freshbytes.com.au in case you have a burning desire to discuss something, but you have no idea where to say it? Make a thread over at Freshbytes Forum, and give the link out to everyone you know.

For now, though – the message is loud and clear:

All quiet on the forum front.

written by Benny Ling at 10:50 pm, Sunday 15 February, 2009 \\ tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Responses to “All Quiet On The Forum Front”

  1. 1. Jawapro Says:

    The day of the generic forum has been and gone – replaced by things like Facebook and Myspace. Sad – as the forums were generally superiour.

    Still – they do serve a usefull purpose in some specific cases still.

    Now, the big question: if freshbytes was to disapear tomorrow, would you have a backup, or would it become yet another memory?

  2. 2. Benny Ling Says:

    Good question – and the answer? If freshbytes were to disappear tomorrow, I would NOT have a backup (not a nighly backup, anyway).

    In my defence, our webhost does automatic nightly backups for us – including the MySQL db’s. I know it’s bad to rely on our webhosts’ to do that stuff for us, but I try and do weekly backups manually.

    If you’ve been watching freshbytes closely lately, you would have seen that we’ve had a little down time as of late. Only yesterday the whole box that we’re hosted on seemed to die completely – home directories didn’t exist, cPanel wasn’t installed, etc. Huge chaos.

    In any case, BlueHost were excellent – within the hour, they managed to rebuild the box, restore all the data (including files, MySQL db’s), and get cPanel all installed and working. Without them, I’d have lost a week, maybe two, of blog posts (not a huge deal as I only post once a week here anyways :P ).

  3. 3. Jawapro Says:

    My host does backups too – but when it crashed – it took about a month for them to restore the files from the dead server to the new one. I had the files, but not a recent database update – because I’d been trusting in the hosts backups.

    Should have been smarter – as one of my earlier hosts (a free one) decided to close down my account for some reason, but the warning email never got to me, so first I knew about it was when my site disappeared – and by that stage everything was deleted.

    If the data is important – you need a way of backing it up to your local machine – just to be sure. Speaking of which – I should check that my script is still running….

  4. 4. Chris Jacques Says:

    Obvious (outdated) comment:

    I thought that Simon and the guys were in year 9 (us in year 8) when that stuff started…oh well, I’ll find a receipt from that year at some point (I’m sure I have it!).

    I don’t remember any of the topics from the original calvinspam, bar one. *That* was the first time I had heard Linux being mentioned. I still that that’s what got me started with it, but anyway it’s a minor matter now…

    I believe that you have the history part a bit ‘munted’ BWSonline had about 1 month fully in the sun (with a crapload of ppl signing up). Calvinspam II came into competition with BWSonline, and pretty much decimated our numbers. Now, what was it…was it issues with the moderation of BWS, or something else? “Bag all gingers”, I can recall that getting locked *several* times!

    I can’t recall who conceded defeat first…it might have been us. However, we kept our community running with a few (5-odd) people, and when calvinspamII (pretty much well) died, we were still running, and we kept running for a *very* long time.

    The people disappeared, and that’s what killed the forums (at Calvin). Gmail, ultimately, killed BWSonline, not the supposed lack of members.

    Anyway, the ship sailed long ago.