A while back, WireLoad took over the management for the forum Google Community.com. I’ve been a member of the forum for a few years, and seen how it has gone from a lively forum to a spam-infested forum with hardly any active members. As the spam increased, all the serious and senior members went away.

I knew that the forum had potential. It used to generate a massive amount of traffic and has more than 40,000 registered members. We actually used to receive a significant amount of traffic from Google Community to YippieMove, but as the traffic dropped, so did the traffic coming from Google Community over to YippieMove.

As you can see in the graph below, the traffic was on a pretty sharp decline:

Google Community traffic (from Compete)

When I reached out to Elliot, the founder of Google Community, to ask if we could take over the maintenance for the forum.
Elliot took us up on the offer, saying that he was too busy with his recent ventures to be able to manage the Google Community.

After spending a significant amount of time trying to understand the setup and the software (vBulletin) we started the long process of bringing Google Community back to the lively community it once was. Two days ago, we upgraded to vBulletin 4, the latest version of the forum software. It is a major step in the right direction, and we’re really happy to see many of the old members returning.

It’s been quite the journey to turn Google Community around, and we’ve pissed off a lot of script-kiddies and spammers along the way, who have used the forum to post spam. Just days after we took over the management of the forum, the site got hacked using one of the numerous bugs in vBulletin. Then, just hours after we got the site up, it got hacked again, using another vulnerability, and then again. In less than two weeks, the site was hacked three times. Hopefully that is over now, as we are running on a clean installation and with the latest version of vBulletin.

Another lesson we’ve learned is that vBulletin is probably the worst piece of software on the on the entire internet. Unfortunately, due to lack of competition, they can keep making a fortune from producing garbage software. How else would a company get away with requiring users to put a link-back to the vendor on a their site for a software that they purchased. And the plug-in, vbSEO is not a bit better, as they apply the same shady business practice with back-links.

I urge the internet community to create a better forum software than vBulletin. I mean, it cannot be that hard. The bar is really not that high. All you need to do is to not use web tools from the early 90′s and a tad of common sense when it comes to usability, and you’re already at a head start. If WireLoad had the time and resources to create a forum software, we would.

On a positive note, we did get to know the fine people over at Stackable, where we decided to host Google Community. So far our contact there, Mike, has been very helpful and quick on resolving all issues we’ve had.