Important! Pls read

There are 99 replies in this Thread. The last Post () by SWAT_OP-R8R.

  • Hello everyone,


    I have something important to discuss with you today. It's about the future of this community so please take some time to read it.
    A few days ago I informed the Staff members of this community about a few issues and a potential solution to these issues.


    The SWAT Portal was founded more than 15 years ago and since that it went through many changes.
    Back then we started with a small forum and a rubbish website. In 2010 we did a major upgrade to our current Portal and improved it bit by bit since then.
    It is 2018 now and we ran into a few problems.


    Already in early 2017 we ran into a major problem when the service of a backend software which is required to keep the Portal running expired.
    Back then I managed to create a workaround to this problem so the Portal was offline for only one day but was able operate more or less normal after that.
    I didn't communicate about this issue because my workaround was working.
    The thing is at the end of 2018 we will face the same problem again because then the next software expiration is sheduled.


    That is not the only problem and not even the main one.
    About 4 weeks ago the service of a software component that is responsible for protecting this community from bots expired aswell.
    That means the community right now is not really protected at all.
    There are alternative and modern ways of protection but they are not compatible with the website software that we use.
    I wasn't able to find a solution yet since modifications at such a scale are not easy to do.
    You might remember the high amount of spam bots and the thousands of spam messages we had do deal with in 2017.
    Right now the gates are wide open for them to enter.


    Why do these softwares expire now?
    Simply said because the Internet is evolving and new software standards get introduced every year.
    Until 2016 I managed to keep everything updated and running. But since 2017 more and more problems appeared because the software that we currently use does not meet the current standards anymore.
    Every time I log into the Portal I get a friendly notification that there are currently 57 Portal plugins which no longer meet the current standards and I am unable to fix this.
    With other words: for more than one year I keep this place running with duck tape (an exaggeration but actually very fitting).


    So sum up the situation: The Portal is vulnerable to attacks and might even stop working at the end of this year.
    I explained this situation to the staff members and asked them what they think about a possible solution to this problem.
    A complete upgrade of the entire Portal to a new platform. A platform which is compatible to modern software standards, which is future proof, faster, more comfortable to use and offers all the features that we need.


    Such an upgrade is very diffucult to do. It involves ALOT of work, a significant amount of time and also money since we have to buy new software licences.
    This solution worries me a bit, but to be honest I see no alternatives.
    I requested opinions and feedback from the staff members and despite all possible difficulties we might run into all agreed that we should try it.
    Not only because of the problems we current face but also because of the benefits for the future of this community.


    I had the chance to test the new software (in a demo environment) and also gave our staff members the possibility to use it in a test environment.
    If we upgrade we would get access to a much more comfortable Portal that holds many modern features and also is faster than what we currently have.
    We can avoid update problems for many years to come and significantly improve the security.
    We also discussed structural changes to simplify the use of the Portal and improve the usefulness of its features.
    I got much feedback from the moderators, supermoderators and even eventmanagers about whats is not so good right now and what we should try to improve/change.
    For me personally it would be important to give community members and staff members more rights and more options.
    I want this to be a community shaped by its members. I want this to be an open community that has access to modern features and everything required to support players and the games they play.
    When members want to create a clan or guild in a game then we should be able to provide whatever they need.
    If members want to play a specific game then it should be something we support as good as possible here at the portal.
    Communication, information, sources of knowledge, a place to meet friends... thats what this Portal should be.
    It is what this Portal always was... but we can improve this even further.


    Such an upgrade is not easy. It takes time and alot of work to be done.
    The Portal might be offline for a few days while I do the main update and when it is back online we might need several weeks to transfer information from our Wiki to the new Portal.
    Such an upgrade also isn't cheap.
    It is not as expensive as the Portal 2.0 upgrade that we did in 2010 but Ive calculated the costs for the new licences to be between 300-350€.
    It would be great if we somehow can cover these costs (or part of these costs) via donations.


    What are the benefits of such an upgrade?
    - a much more secure environment for the members
    - better structures on the forum/portal
    - much better support for mobile devices
    - connectivity with social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Discord, etc.)
    - more comfortable Portal controls (better profiles, better editor, better notification system, etc)
    - much higher compatibility with different browser types
    - better compatibility of the different Portal features
    - faster loading speeds
    - better control about what is displayed where (customization of the entire Portal)
    - better backend support (Admins and moderators do stuff much more effectively)
    - better indexing of the entire Portal on search engines
    - additional features such as a clan management
    - and much more


    To get all of that done we need a bit help from the community.
    We need people that help us transfering wiki content and we need people to help us cover the financial part.
    As AZ09 pointed out in the internal Staff discussions, we shouldn't wait too long with that Upgrade because right now this place is very vulnerable to attacks.


    That is the current situation and the only solution I have to offer.
    I'd like to get further feedback from you. Every idea how to improve the Portal is welcome.
    Every help with the transferal of the Wiki content is welcome (a copy/paste job) and every Donation is much appreciated.


    Thx



    signew.jpg


    cfmoddblogo.png5904.png5904.png
    http://www.moddb.com/scripts/topsite.php?ts=4766


    Only dead fish swim with the stream.
    Don't discuss with idiots. They only drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience there.


    This is ten percent luck,
    Twenty percent skill,
    Fifteen percent concentrated power of will,
    Five percent pleasure,
    Fifty percent pain,
    And a hundred percent reason to remember the name!

  • Maybe with the transfer of the wiki, we can check and sort out the differences in maps and few outdated info from CF updates as well, which due to my past with making and keeping CF maps/DBs Im up to help with. I do have more limited time than in past though...

    Chars: [CFPD]Michael~something (x25), [CFPD]~SQMS~{[(store)]} (x3), [CFPD]xfer, Event~Manager~Michael, StarfIier~EM~Michael, Event_Team_2, [GR]Michael[SP] and a blueprint of [CFPD]Sephirothis

  • Just my view Op,
    But to do something properly and without problems. Is to shut it all down and start what ever is required from the ground up.
    Crossfire is up in the top ten each year, So lets catch up with the times and get a new coat of paint. To stay up there in the future.
    For me, i have enjoyed the marvels the team have done on this mod. been very creative. with more advancement in the new things would be far better obviously.
    I will work out the conversion and donate being important and give as much as i can. On that where to start sending it, Will wait till you advise. THE SOONER THE BETTER !
    Lets close the gate to attackers and move in to the modern times. :nummer1:

  • Maybe with the transfer of the wiki, we can check and sort out the differences in maps and few outdated info from CF updates as well, which due to my past with making and keeping CF maps/DBs Im up to help with. I do have more limited time than in past though...


    I second this. If you shoot me a PM with what needs updating, i'll be happy to ninja into Crossfire and get that info for you to update. I just don't know what needs it. Unless you know a better way than going in and looking for each piece of hardware, each ship, each station card plus stat's for all that. If i were to do that, you'd have to pay me hourly and we all know this is all a volunteer effort on OP's part.


    And we appreciate all his and the staff's efforts for shizzle.


    Plus i'm all for whatever option makes this place secure. Never know when Russian bots are gonna post fake news...

  • I dont worry about russian bots. Chinese and Korean bots are the real pain in the ass.


    Ive spent the past days testing demo environments in detail and contacting contacting different software developers to gather has much info as possible about features and of course the best procedure how to do such an upgrade. There is alot to consider here.
    But before we can even start upgrading we would need to see how far we would get with the financing of all that stuff. I managed to get a bunch of discounts on the software because we only do "upgrades".
    In the end the whole upgrade will cost around 300-350€ (depending on how much extra functionality we want to add). Costs we need to cover before we can start doing anything.
    I will cover a part of that but it would be nice if we can get a few donations (every small bit helps).
    Donations can be done via the Portal -> https://swat-portal.com/forum/index.php/Donations
    or
    directly to gen1mds@aol.com
    Purpose would be "portal upgrade".


    The general upgrade procedure would be the following:

    • I create a backup of the entire portal which will remain online and accessible even after the upgrade. This ensures that we wont lose any data and can transfer as much information as possible.
    • The current Portal will be put in maintenance mode during the update procedure of the core functions.
    • I will do step by step version updates while taking care of incompatible software while doing that. We have almost 200 plugins running on this Portal so I expect alot to be incompatible. I have to do this procedure 3 times to reach the final software version that we need. That will take a bit time but actually is the best way to get as much Data transfered as possible.
    • With a bit luck everything worked and the Portal, the Forum, the Blog, the Calendar etc. have been transfered and I can start checking the user settings.
    • When everything is ok the members can use the forum again (eventhough the work is not finished yet)
    • Next step would be to include plugins and apps again (Lexicon, Filebase, etc.) and to take care of the Portal Style.
    • Lastly there will be fine tuning and the transferal of data from the old Wiki (see backups in point 1).

    If everything runs smooth (hopefully) we wont lose anything from the current portal but gain access to many new features.


    Regarding game and mod support Id like to open the Portal more for other developers. How exactly that will look like is something I still have to figure out.
    Crossfire has been a backbone of this Portal and that wont change.
    However, that does not mean that we exclusively have to focus on it.
    In future we might even suppot different games with mod support and I want to be open to such opportunities.

    signew.jpg


    cfmoddblogo.png5904.png5904.png
    http://www.moddb.com/scripts/topsite.php?ts=4766


    Only dead fish swim with the stream.
    Don't discuss with idiots. They only drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience there.


    This is ten percent luck,
    Twenty percent skill,
    Fifteen percent concentrated power of will,
    Five percent pleasure,
    Fifty percent pain,
    And a hundred percent reason to remember the name!

  • Regarding game and mod support Id like to open the Portal more for other developers. How exactly that will look like is something I still have to figure out.
    Crossfire has been a backbone of this Portal and that wont change.
    However, that does not mean that we exclusively have to focus on it.
    In future we might even suppot different games with mod support and I want to be open to such opportunities.


    There are at least 2 FL mods currently related with the portal afterall, it would be nice if the portal can house any FL mod willing to join, but would that make this site their official, and not use a web exclusive for them, or they would still have their own web and their branch on here would end up just like some advertising section, who knows :D


    @Portalearth It's ok I can explore myself, and we can't just magically know everything thats incorrect/outdated.

    Chars: [CFPD]Michael~something (x25), [CFPD]~SQMS~{[(store)]} (x3), [CFPD]xfer, Event~Manager~Michael, StarfIier~EM~Michael, Event_Team_2, [GR]Michael[SP] and a blueprint of [CFPD]Sephirothis

    Edited once, last by Michael ().

  • @Michael No worries buddy


    @OP So with the process you've laid out, that's looks like a good couple days worth of downtime. I'm sure it's possible but it will require many cups of coffee i suspect.

  • i dont worry about my old friend coffee

    signew.jpg


    cfmoddblogo.png5904.png5904.png
    http://www.moddb.com/scripts/topsite.php?ts=4766


    Only dead fish swim with the stream.
    Don't discuss with idiots. They only drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience there.


    This is ten percent luck,
    Twenty percent skill,
    Fifteen percent concentrated power of will,
    Five percent pleasure,
    Fifty percent pain,
    And a hundred percent reason to remember the name!

  • It is very much appreciated and helps a lot.

    signew.jpg


    cfmoddblogo.png5904.png5904.png
    http://www.moddb.com/scripts/topsite.php?ts=4766


    Only dead fish swim with the stream.
    Don't discuss with idiots. They only drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience there.


    This is ten percent luck,
    Twenty percent skill,
    Fifteen percent concentrated power of will,
    Five percent pleasure,
    Fifty percent pain,
    And a hundred percent reason to remember the name!

  • well, hopefully the main part of the Portal can be transfered automatically. I am not sure about all parts.
    Its a lot of theory until I actually start working on it.
    The transferal of the wiki would be a copy/paste job. I would provide detailed information and access rights to the volunteers as soon the main part of the Portal transferal is done.
    (step by step)

    signew.jpg


    cfmoddblogo.png5904.png5904.png
    http://www.moddb.com/scripts/topsite.php?ts=4766


    Only dead fish swim with the stream.
    Don't discuss with idiots. They only drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience there.


    This is ten percent luck,
    Twenty percent skill,
    Fifteen percent concentrated power of will,
    Five percent pleasure,
    Fifty percent pain,
    And a hundred percent reason to remember the name!

  • Looks like its time to clear the schedule again.

    "He who does not learn from the mistakes of the past, is forever doomed to repeat them."


    Friends will always be there for you,check on you when your down,and stick with you no matter what happens. that is what a true friend is.
    "I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy. Because they know what it's like to feel absolutely worthless and they don't want anybody else to feel like that" Robin Williams

  • I'm a real novice here and it shows ...... but I am prepared to donate (and will do so shortly) and to give up my time to help in whatever way I am capable of doing. At the moment I'm "fiddling" with completing/"improving" map images for Crossfire2.0 Sirius Sector. Sorry Michael ........ you seem to have the overall responsibility for this. However, every image I produce goes though Martind Forlon for approval and its subsequent possible inclusion. But this thread is about a much bigger issue and my "fiddles" are irrelevant. If I can help in any small way .....I'm here. ;)


    Edit: Problem with PayPal ....... working on it ...... :beaengstigend:
    Edit2: Fixed. :thumbup:

  • thanks


    I meanwhile started taking backups but I guess getting everything running will take 1-2 days.
    Probably I can trying doing the main update this weekend. Next week I would have some additional free time to do detail work.


    Today i got the info that lancersreactor suffers the same problem. I absolutely didnt think of that. The software over there is even older than the stuff we use here at the Portal.
    I currently dont intend to do an upgrade there aswell. Lancersreactor has much lower priority since it is not active. I will disable the protection there completely and instead to find a different solution. Maybe a limitation of user rights of newly registered users is an option. Maybe its even possible to include a different protection into that site since it has a much simplier code structure. Ill have to sort that out once the new SWAT Portal software is running. Step by step.

    signew.jpg


    cfmoddblogo.png5904.png5904.png
    http://www.moddb.com/scripts/topsite.php?ts=4766


    Only dead fish swim with the stream.
    Don't discuss with idiots. They only drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience there.


    This is ten percent luck,
    Twenty percent skill,
    Fifteen percent concentrated power of will,
    Five percent pleasure,
    Fifty percent pain,
    And a hundred percent reason to remember the name!

  • Ok, just some important info on the current state.


    I have successfully taken multiple backups of the entire Portal and created a working duplicate of it that we can use for the WIKI transfer (and in case something goes wrong with the upgrade).
    The backup procedure finishes just a few minutes ago. So whatever you post from now on will not be part of the backups.
    That means if you create important posts between now and the time when I do the upgrade these posts are at risk of getting lost if the upgrade procedure fails.
    Thats just a warning... if you post important stuff in the next few days it would be best if you store that info in a word document aswell.


    I intend do start with the whole upgrade procedure this friday.
    The CF server and all other websites of the Portal will be online and functional. They might be a bit slower than usual but actually only for a few hours.


    I recalculated the costs of the licences and might have been a bit too optimistic.
    356,91€ for the minimal version (just the stuff that we really need without losing any features and content)
    424,24€ for that minimal version plus some bells and whistles which in my eyes would highly improve the already existing features.
    The good news is that there have been donations for this upgrade in total of 421,93€.


    There is optional stuff that I am not 100% sure about so we just leave it out of this calculation.
    e.g. there is a plugin that would allow the synchronization of multiple Portal installations
    That would be nice if we create external clan pages and are able to link them directly with the portal and the already existing user accounts.
    It would be nice... BUT to be honest I have my doubts that it is actually working the way we would need it. At a later point of time I would try to get more info if this plugin is really useful for us and test it prior making a decision.
    Right now its better to focus on the stuff that we need most.

    signew.jpg


    cfmoddblogo.png5904.png5904.png
    http://www.moddb.com/scripts/topsite.php?ts=4766


    Only dead fish swim with the stream.
    Don't discuss with idiots. They only drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience there.


    This is ten percent luck,
    Twenty percent skill,
    Fifteen percent concentrated power of will,
    Five percent pleasure,
    Fifty percent pain,
    And a hundred percent reason to remember the name!