Update to the Upgrade:

For a few months, Agyllian and I were working on the conversion of the (e107.org CMS'd) current Obernet into a (Wordpress/buddypress) new version discussed below in the original open letter. At the time of writing, and after doing some testing with test data, I honestly believed it to be the way forward to make Obernet more usable again, and bring it into the century we live in. But after importing Obernet's actual data - forums, users, pages, news etc - it was evident that Wordpress/buddypress simply couldn't handle the sheer size of database or the number of queries that would be generated with such an extensive community (one with a huge amount of historical data). So, this update is to let everyone know that we're no longer going ahead with that 'solution'. Instead, we're hopeful that V2 of e107, the current CMS that we're running (on a lower version) will be the answer. V2 is in the 'alpha' stages of development (you can follow progress here if you're interested: ~Link~ ) and at the moment a beta is planned for later this year. One of the most exciting things about v2 of e107, at least in my opinion, is that it will be implementing twitter bootstrap, which means the site is automatically responsive (good for handheld devices) and uses jQuery, two things that (as a client-side coder) the current e107 lacks proper implementation of. Rather than run a Obernet on an alpha release of software, though, we are going to wait for the Beta version to be ready later this year before we start implementing. Alphas are not recommended to be used in production environments, as they are still undergoing so much testing that frequent updates are necessary as patches are released. All this means for everyone is that when the upgrade happens, the process should be a lot more seamless than originally thought, given that we're staying with a system that everyone has been using since 2006. Things like private messages and the forum will still work in the same way (and crucially, there won't be ANY data loss in those areas, as there's no need to import it to another system). We're still going to look at cutting back at some of the more redundant or unused areas of the site and focusing on what we're good at, but that'll come after the upgrade to v2. We'll post more updates as the time draws nearer and if there's any questions, please ask in a comment below. Cheers, Min
Dear Obernet, In 2006 the volunteer admins of Obernet (known as Masters of Obernewtyn, or "MoOs" for short) undertook an enormous task of transferring a half-static, half free-message-board hosted Obernewtyn.net that had been running since 1999, into the format you see today. The reason we undertook that task was to unify the separate systems, to get away from the spammers that had started to overrun the free message board system, to make it much easier to manage and improve than it had been, and also to bring the members a more connected experience, in line with (what then was) web standards. The web changes constantly though, and after 6 years of this system, it's now time for another change. The social web in particular has changed the way online interaction works forever - for example, people no longer want to go to content, but have it delivered to them, in activity and blog feeds and streams (such as tumblr and Facebook). As a result of the web evolving around us, Obernewtyn.net's participation, and relevancy, has fallen away, as due to the system we currently use, our options to evolve with the rest of the web are no longer possible. Many of us grew up here - have a lot of history here - found our place in the world thanks to the support of this community. While current Obernet is no longer relevant to many members needs, we believe we can evolve the site to become a better resource and more interactive hub again, if we focus on what it is that we do well. So, we're going to do a couple of things over the last half of this year to make Obernet relevant to people again. First - refine content. Any who frequent the Dining Hall will have already seen the start of this - we're going to combine some of the now-inactive (but once thriving) forums, and pause making new content that isn't generally of much use to anyone but a random few. This will go for The Moonwatcher (our newsletter), writing and art competitions (which we have very few entries nowadays), theories challenges, and even Obernet Book Club, which while lovely ideas, are just no longer working. We're not saying they'll never come back - but participation figures indicate that the format just doesn't work for members any more. This will cut down the amount of dead content, and make it easier to find the active, relevant content. This also means that this year (for the first time in 11 years), there'll be no Moonfair. We spend an awful lot of time on planning, building, coordinating, judging and tallying Moonfair for the last half of every year, and with the ambitious goal we're setting to evolve Obernet by the end of the year, Moonfair simply can't fit in :( it is a really hard decision because we love it, but we just can't do it all. Given the dwindling participation figures on the site, it would be a lot of work for few people, too. Our time will be better spent preparing Obernet for its evolution. Moonfair will be back! Second - focus on what we're good at. We are going to nurture our creatives. What's happened to Obernet over the course of the past few years is similar to what has been happening to the community of Obernewtyn in the series. Initially we were united by a common interest, at this sort of hidden refuge for whoever needed it. We were relatively anonymous, discussing everything and anything. That time of interaction, before the social web took hold of the world, is why members who left long ago still call themselves Obernetters, as in terms of online interaction, it's where it all began for many of us. Like in the series, as being a misfit became more 'acceptable', many members branched out and left, happier to appear and interact as themselves instead of behind a username. When Obernewtyn is no longer needed as a refuge, it stands to reason it will become a place where people go to improve their Talents. It is only logical Obernet becomes this as well. What this means for the website is a greater focus on the needs of creatives, such as those in Writersmerge (which thanks to our many dedicated, talented writers, is a major part of what's keeping the site alive in its current format). Isobelle has expressed interest in working with us in this area, and if the stars align we'll have some pretty great interactive writing events with her happening. We hope to broaden our reach to our visual creatives as well, though we realise that deviantArt already does a lot of what we'd like to do (the difference being that dA, like many other better, social platforms, have time, money, and teams of developers working on them), so may end up simply integrating with deviantArt content from users. As we said - we want to focus on what we're good at, rather than build a system that nobody will use. Third - proper wikipedia-style records. We hope to take our fantastic Encyclopaedia that everyone has contributed to over the course of many years and put it in a proper, wiki format, which will allow for collaborative editing and updating and version control, instead of leaving updating to a single person per article. This format will also apply to our Bookshelf and Theories archives eventually, though the Encyclopaedia is the priority. To do all this, we are also going to start the (again, enormous) process of taking the site from it's current content-management system, which is very difficult for us to edit or change nowadays, and integrating it into a more modern CMS, for the same reasons back in 2006 we changed from a static system to an integrated one; to bring the site into line with current web standards, and to make it easier for members to get what content they want (if you're interested in such things, we're proposing a wordpress/buddypress/bbpress integration). It will likely have to proceed in several stages; first, everyone's user accounts, the forum posts and the news articles, so that everyone can shift discussions from the forums here to the forums there. Then, the wiki-style areas, to transfer our precious data across. And lastly, the custom integrations, such as any deviantArt feeds. We will give plenty of warning before the initial switch is going to happen - we still have a significant amount of testing to do prior to the changeover - but we request your patience during the transfer time, as all of us who work on the code on the site have full time jobs and family commitments, too, and are of course doing this on a volunteer basis. If you've made it this far...you deserve a medal. Thanks for reading. TL;DR - stuff's a-changing, don't panic, we love Obernet too, but it needs to evolve if we're to remain relevant. Cheers, The MoOs @ Obernewtyn.net
    Bunne
    8 years ago

    Ah, I so remember that massive transfer from ProBoards - what a time to be a MoO! This new transition sounds tantalising and exciting as well as time-consuming. I hope it all goes well and I'm looking forward to seeing this new phase of Ober.net.

    Obernetters forever! :D

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    Temujin
    8 years ago

    I've been visiting this site regularly since I first discovered Obernewtyn and the Farseekers on a school library shelf back in 2000. I was 13 then, and now I'm 26. In all that time this place has been my go too for Obewnewtyn news, fanfiction and teh rest, yet I've never signed up.

    But this post has struck a chord so I've signed up literally to thank you and everyone else who made this site such a good read of the years.
    Thanks for all the hard work :)

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    Soulweaver
    8 years ago

    Change is necessary sometimes and I for one welcome it!!! Can't wait to see how the new site looks!! ;D

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    nnnnnn
    8 years ago

    No, no, no, computer systems should never be upgraded: have we learned nothing from the Great White? Have we learned nothing from The Terminator?

    [act]leaves to stock up on canned goods, bottled water, and bullets[/act]

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    Dark One
    8 years ago

    I know I haven't been very active of late (apart from in the Library), but its nice to come back to a comfortable home every now and then. Like many people, I don't always welcome change. I loved the old site, and it took me a while to find the same love for this one.

    However, whilst I may not like it, I do understand the need for this change. It may take me a while, but I will love the new site too!

    I also understand what a monumental task is ahead for our MoOs, and I wish them the best of luck in this endeavour. There's probably not much I can do to help, but if there is anything, let me know

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