Various site issues (mainly for JustBento forum members)

maki
admin
Bento-ing from: somewhere › France
Joined: 24 Jan 2007
User offline. Last seen 4 weeks 3 days ago.

(Update: I am still pondering what to do about the forum here. I have come to the conclusion that for me to personally moderate and monitor a forum on another platform is, not really possible in terms of the time I can spend. Of course anyone is free to start up a bento community anywhere (there are several around already) but I’m afraid I can’t monitor it myself. This site will of course continue to be up and active, and open to comments. In the meantime the JustBento Facebook Page has gotten a lot of new followers, for anyone who is using Facebook. I’m still extremely busy, what with a house basically in ruins at the moment due to extensive renovations, but do keep an eye on all comments on the site and the FB page.)

Hi everyone. You may have noticed that things have been a bit quiet here lately. This is due to a number of reasons. Personally, I have been both very busy since the March 11th earthquake in Japan, and also a bit depressed (or rather, less inclined to be cheerful….more inclined to be pissed at the world, etc.) I have been in Japan since late March, or about 2 weeks after the quake happened. While life in the corner of Japan where I am is quite normal, the news continues to be quite dire, and while it may have receded into the background in other countries, being here we get pummelled with it day after day. (Plus the over-reactions, mispresentations and so on fromsome quarters haven’t helped one bit.) Nevertheless, my mood is improving little by little, and I feel ready to talk about FOOD and EATING again. So you’ll see the main part of the site getting new articles regular very soon!

Another more mundane reason why there haven’t been more updates is that the software running this site is seriously due for an update. (Security patches have been regularly applied, but the infrastructure is gettin’ really old.) Despite the popularity of JustBento and stuff, it’s not like a major (or even minor) money making machine by any means due to server running costs, etc. and I do about 99% of the background structural stuff myself. So…the updating has been taking a lot of time. But really, for the site to continue working properly going forward, it really needs to get up-to-date soon.

Now, the part of the site that the forum runs on is actually the most complicated to update properly. However, forum activity has been quite low key for some time now. I know this is partly due to the fact that we haven’t done stuff like monthly contests or challenges in a while, etc. But as my time and resources are limited, I have to make the hard decision to at least temporarily disable postings to the forum, so that I can get the main part of the site updated sooner rather than later. This will not be immediate, and I’ll give full warning before it takes place. Also, none of your forum posts will be lost. I will be restoring access to the forum posts as soon as I can - however, new postings to it may be delayed some more.

I am also wondering at this point, whether the forum is worth continuing or not. It does take some effort to maintain, and while we have cut down on spam and so on due to filters and the great work of our moderators Bronwyn and Loretta, in terms of load on the server and so on it does take a lot more resources than the current usage seems to justify. So….I’m wondering if, for example, we should just use the JustBento Facebook Page more, or something like that.

At this point I’m very much open to suggestions, so please comment away!

____________________________________

The Big Onigiri.

- Wherever you go, there you are. -

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Arthur3030
Re: Various site issues (mainly for JustBento forum ...

I hope you don't move to facebook, although I understand the temptation.

At least some few of us try to live quiet private lives and facebook is not compatible with this. We'd have to give up a lot just to see your pages.

maki
admin
Bento-ing from: somewhere › France
Joined: 24 Jan 2007
User offline. Last seen 4 weeks 3 days ago.
Re: Various site issues (mainly for JustBento forum ...

The site itself is never moving to Facebook, only (potentially) the community-interaction part. If the choice came down to keeping a not-much-used forum and having to spend a lot of time on maintenance, shutting down any JB community, or having a Facebook based community, I may have to go for the latter. It is not a done deal though by any means.

Ruskie I appreciate the offer, but for various reasons I can't accept volunteers for syadmin type tasks. :/

ruskie
Bento-ing from: Ljubljana › Slovenia
Joined: 1 Jun 2009
User offline. Last seen 2 years 37 weeks ago.
Re: Various site issues (mainly for JustBento forum ...

I'm opposed to facebook or any other such thing since a) it means giving my data to some third party that I don't trust b) they constantly prove to the world they don't respect privacy c) it just feels wrong

If you actually need help with the backend stuff I'm willing to volunteer for sysadmin type stuff.

Jack
Re: Various site issues (mainly for JustBento forum ...

I think using Facebook for the forum and community-interactive side is a good idea. As a one-person company myself, I can attest to the time constraints of keeping up to date on everything and managing all aspects of a business, even a small one. Let's face it, Facebook and other social networking sites are the direction that the business world is heading in order to make themselves even more visible. This would give you the advantage of a simplified site that would be easier to maintain, and letting Facebook handle the gruntwork of the forum side of things. You have my vote. :-)

Gillian
Re: Various site issues (mainly for JustBento forum ...

Please Maki, anywhere but Facebook. It is the most insidious use of the interweb. To date.

If the forum isn't busy enough at present to justify its maintenance, maybe you could "tweet" new posts to encourage more visits and thereby more forum posts?

Just a thought.

Gillian

Brunhi
Re: Various site issues (mainly for JustBento forum ...

Hi :)

Im kind of new here, I found your blog because I just ordered your book :) I live in Mexico and I can hardly find bento stuff here, so your site and book have been really helpful for me. I hope everything will be fine soon and meanwhile I can post on FB to keep in touch.
Have a beautiful day!!

anon.
Re: Various site issues (mainly for JustBento forum ...

Yay a new post! I'm sorry to hear about the situation in Japan, if you have any ideas on how I can help, please tell me. About the forum thing, i'd be really happy if it moved to facebook, but a lot of people seem opposed to it so I'ts up to you, oh and just got your book, awesome btw! Glad to see your a live, I just came here a week ago and I thought the site was dead :(

ruskie
Bento-ing from: Ljubljana › Slovenia
Joined: 1 Jun 2009
User offline. Last seen 2 years 37 weeks ago.
Re: Various site issues (mainly for JustBento forum ...

How about if I deploy a separate forum on my own server then migrate the posts there and you just link to it there? That way you don't need to worry about it? Simply offering of course.

maki
admin
Bento-ing from: somewhere › France
Joined: 24 Jan 2007
User offline. Last seen 4 weeks 3 days ago.
Re: Various site issues (mainly for JustBento forum ...

I already tweet new post alerts, on the dedicated @justbento Twitter and my everything-goes personal Twitter ^_^

anon.
Re: Various site issues (mainly for JustBento forum ...

I enjoy facebook :)

Trisha
Bento-ing from: › New Zealand
Joined: 1 Jul 2009
User offline. Last seen 13 weeks 3 days ago.
Re: Various site issues (mainly for JustBento forum ...

I can understand your dilemma. The forum has a poor activity to maintenance ratio which makes Facebook seem a tempting option. My problem is that Facebook has an appalling noise to signal ratio. There are lots of commercial posts and users tend to post many irrelevant or frivolous messages as compared with the more considered posts in your forum.
If you feel the need to migrate the forum I shall just have to hope that you or the moderators can find time to post any particularly interesting issues to the website.
I love the website but I guess I can survive without the forum.

Erika
Re: Various site issues (mainly for JustBento forum ...

enjoying getting your blog via email. Love all the Bento's. Understand why you have not been here. Maybe you could update us on some of the things that have been going on in the earthquake area.

Blessings

maki
admin
Bento-ing from: somewhere › France
Joined: 24 Jan 2007
User offline. Last seen 4 weeks 3 days ago.
Re: Various site issues (mainly for JustBento forum ...

I have been posting earthquake-related things over on Just Hungry.

T~Marie
Re: Various site issues (mainly for JustBento forum ...

I dislike facebook generally but if it would take the stress of keeping the forums here off of The Maki I would happily make a page for that. There is a lot of visual clutter on facebook but I think we'd be able to poke through it. Basically Maki not being as stressed and the forums continuing to live are the important bits.

maki
admin
Bento-ing from: somewhere › France
Joined: 24 Jan 2007
User offline. Last seen 4 weeks 3 days ago.
Re: Various site issues (mainly for JustBento forum ...

I have done plenty of research, believe me.

Time and resources wise, I am really at my limits. The choice may really come down to a site with a forum, and far less posts from me, or no forum and more frequent posts from me. In the meantime there is a Facebook presence for JustBento (link in the original post above) for anyone who wants to use it. I'm no big Facebook fan (I just started using it semi-actively in the last few months) but it's the least-effort way of doing certain things. I understand that some people object to it on principle but I can't please everyone and keep my sanity.

AlexS
Re: Various site issues (mainly for JustBento forum ...

I refuse to join FB, because its mode of operation is a danger for open standards and a free internet, where all participants are able not only to interact and learn, but also to develop new ways of doing things as they see fit.

I do see your point of reducing your workload, and the question of whether it's best to have no forum or a FB forum. Nevertheless it's worth doing a bit of research beforehand: isn't it possible to find a service that provides and maintains forums for you, while allowing you access to the database (to preserve your independence), and respectful of standards (to preserve the web)?

beach
Bento-ing from: › Georgia › USA
Joined: 3 Feb 2011
User offline. Last seen 1 year 29 weeks ago.
Re: Various site issues (mainly for JustBento forum ...

What about moving the forum to a site such as http://www.freeforums.org/? I've been involved in a small forum there for a few years now, and there have been very few issues with the site. That way you could grant administrative access to others for the forum without compromising your control over the website itself, thus easing your burden. My friends who are admins and/or mods tell me there isn't really a ton of behind-the-scenes stuff they have to do to maintain the forum.

I don't really have an issue with Facebook other than its lack of structure. The forums are nicely organized and searchable right now, so I can find recipes or answers to questions without having to re-ask them. As far as I know, you can't really search Facebook without loading every single post and using your browser's search function.

With all that being said, JustBento and JustHungry are blogs, and they're your blogs, Maki. I really appreciate all you've done with the sites. If you need to get rid of the forum for your own sanity and quality of life, I'll still continue to read your blog and appreciate all that you offer here for free, to all of us. So let me take this moment to say thank you.

Mrs. S
Re: Various site issues (mainly for JustBento forum ...

I do not like Facebook.

As beach above suggested, I would look into a site that host forums. As an active mmorpg player, many of us form little guilds or groups in game and we stay in touch outside of our play times by utilizing these free forum hosting sites. I know that sites dedicated to gamers offers security features, basic maintenance, archives (and a set amount of storage space for the free version), and even allows members to post pictures. I can only assume non-gaming forums would offer the same features.

I hope each day keeps getting better and better.

Britchan
Re: Various site issues (mainly for JustBento forum ...

I don't use the forum much, but as a suggestion, why not instal a phpbb software forum? It is free to use and the phpbb community if very helpful and there are lots of mods and such you can add to prevent spam and so on.

Also you can assign moderators and admin without having them to access your actual blog. I've been on many phpbb based forums and have found no problems with them.

I think if you want to still have a forum and avoid facebook, this would be your best bet. If you do decide with facebook, my suggestion would be to create a group where people have to be approved to join, but that might make it even more of a hassle considering the size of your fan base.

Anyway, I hope things get better for you soon and if the forum is gone, I am fine with that as long as your blogs stay around! (Besides its very easy for the fans to make an "unofficial" Just Bento forum if you decide to not have one anymore).

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