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Harrison
30th April 2018, 12:24
Hi everyone.

As some of you know I've been on Amibay with a limited capacity to support the site fully over the last couple of years. I would like to apologize if this has caused problems for any of you. I also realise there has been some site access issues with server busy problems that has caused much member frustration.

Firstly I would like to say that I have been working on the access issues in the background. Initially trying to block specific search engine bot traffic, but now China as a whole is blocked from accessing Amibay as we flagged a lot of bot traffic flooding the site from Chinese search engines. Please post in the feedback forum and let me know if this has helped or not? I can only work on this with useful feedback from members. Also let me know if you see a lot of activity from specific bots on the site or members.

What next?

1, Traffic shaping. Unfortunately the root cause of the site's access issues is traffic, but not members and visitors. Automatic bots cataloguing the site. Some such as Chinese bots can flood the site with thousands of concurrent access requests which the server is forced to then deny access to traffic to protect itself. Continued work on blocking them now includes complete country bans. If you have experience of SEO and bot blocking and think you might have some ideas that can help please PM me.

2, Server. The site is running on a fairly old server now (2012) so I will be looking at options to upgrade Amibay to a newer and faster server later this year. The treasurer and myself will have to explore costings and affordability but I hope I might be able to get a new server deal similar to our current package.

3, Software. We are currently using an older (but still supported) version of the vBulletin forum software. This isn't helping with the site's speed or access issues. We will need to consider buying the upgrade license to upgrade Amibay to the current version and bring us fully up to date.

4, Development. Since Amibay began over 10 years ago I've always stated that forum software isn't the best solution for a trading site. I will therefore be exploring possible ideas towards the end of this year for a replacement software platform to use for Amibay. This will take the form of a test site for whichever software I think would be suitable. All Amibay members will then be invited to test the new software in a closed environment to see if you like it, think it's suitable for us going forward into the future, and give as much feedback and ideas about the future of Amibay and the direction you would like to see us heading. The software in mind would offer a more store front style front end, allowing the browsing of items for sale in a more simgle store like environment similar to Amazon. Members would have their own seller areas to manage and setup their sales, and all sales would still be conducted by each seller, but though a centralized and form based structure. This would remove all the issues with currently have with how sales listings are created and the content that needs to be included, as well as details such as shipping costs and locations, images of items etc..

5, Staff. You might have noticed we are quite thin on the ground these days regarding staff. This is due to a number of issues including work loads, health issues, or just a lack of enthusiasm dropping off for the site. We will need to explore the future of Amibay in terms of staff later in the year and consider recruiting and restructuring. Remember however that this is a free site setup by volunteers, devoting and giving our time for free over the last 10+ years to create, maintain and run Amibay. We can never promise to have the time available to be here 24/7 but I can promise you Amibay is not going anywhere and I will ensure the server and site remain running for as long as I possibly can.

Any questions, plus PM me or post in the feedback forum. Happy to answer anything you ask.

Quick background on why I've been of limited capacity in the last few years:

In the summer of 2012 my house flooded badly and I was in temporary accommodation until the end of that year whilst my house was ripped apart, dried out, and then put back together. Unfortunately the following year on Christmas Eve 2013 my house flooded again! And we were again in the same situation living in temporary accommodation until nearly the end of 2013. After much fighting with local authorities etc and a local flood action group we got to the bottom of it being poorly maintained drains, ditches and flood defenses. We also managed to secure a flood prevention grant to help towards installing flood defenses in our house. As you can imagine internet access and working on the site was fairly limited during this time.

Due to the flood defense work we managed to then sell the house and moved into a far bigger 1930s house that needed a full renovation as it hadn't been touched for ever 40 years. Full rewire, gutted the kitchen, bathroom, plastering throughout and a lot of work needed. Also has a massive 1/3 acre garden that hadn't been touched in years which has taken a lot more work than initially planned.. we are currently clearing boundaries to get new fences installed, plus a 100 foot ash tree fell down at the start of the year causing a lot of damage and is still slowly being cleared away. All this has taken most of my spare time over the past 2+ years as I've done a lot of the work myself and have needed to concentrate on the most important areas of the house, meaning my study/office has remained the last room to tackle (as I stopped doing most graphic design work whilst working on the house). Nearly all of my computers and equipment has been in storage for these 2+years which has severely limited my internet access and work I can perform on Amibay and other sites as at the moment, only having my wife's work computer to use when she isn't using it for her teaching or homework. As you can imagine this has been very frustrating as I've only really had a tablet and smartphone to access the site most of the time (I have now finally got another laptop to work on (as we just bought my wife a new one).

We've also had a few family related issues. My father-in-law died after a long fight with Asbestosis based lung cancer.. My mother-in-law then had to go into hospital for over 4 months and is now housebound with limited mobility, and my Mum had a heart attack whilst driving which wrote her car off, but thankfully she is recovering well.

Good news is that much of the house is now finished. The office work is well underway and should be completed some time in June and I will then be fully back up and running! And able to devote more time to Amibay again.

Thanks for reading and I hope we can continue to make Amibay a great place for retro trading into the future.

Harrison
3rd May 2018, 11:15
Thank you to the members whom have contacted me offering help with site hosting, server administration etc. I will be seeing up a discussion group to bounce around ideas.

If any of you would like to join the discussion and help out please pm me.

Thanks.

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