Self-hosting vs Free Hosted forums

Discussion in 'Game Design' started by Daenelia, Aug 25, 2013.

  1. What do you prefer, to self host or to use a hosted forum solution?

    We have always opted to install software on our own domains and webspace, because we feel it gives us greater creative control. We started with a hosted forum about 12 years ago, but left than 6 months after we started.

    Self-hosting at the very least provided me with opportunities to learn stuff, which I can now use in my day to day work.
    deliriums child likes this.
  2. Invisie

    Invisie internet forever Curator

    Agree. Self-hosted all the way. It just gives to so much more power and control. I can see how someone without a lot of technical expertise or time would go for a free forum -- it is generally easier to maintain and harder to break -- but for me, personally, I just can't.

    The last time I used managed forum software, Ezboard was still Ezboard instead of Yuku.
  3. Eve

    Eve Resident

    While I have all the technical and coding skills to go the way of a self-hosted forum, I prefer the ease and simplicity of a free forum host. I am currently a longtime user of Proboards and while they may be a tad restrictive compared to other hosts, I find their system much more stable and reliable, especially now with their new version five upgrade.
  4. Copycat

    Copycat Newcomer Game Owner

    For me, The challenge was always time and money. I could never buy my own websites and servers, and I didn't have the time to put them together, either. So Proboards was definitely a godsend for me, and with the way forum hosts are going, it's been a lot easier to both run and code a forum. With Jcink's new forums the degree of personalization has increased ten-fold on my end, but I can never look at Proboards and say, "There just is't enough here". Perhaps I'm a fan of ease of use and simplicity - both for software, and the design.
  5. Shriker

    Shriker Shadowlack Owner RPGfix Admin Patron Game Owner

    Haha, I'm in a similar boat with @Invisie. Haven't touched free-hosted services since EzBoard/Yuku. Shadowlack/Ramath-lehi started off on EzBoard 11 years ago, but I moved it to its own host within a few months of it opening. I'm kinda really sad that I was unable to save all of the posts from back then.

    I don't think I could ever, ever, go back to using a free service. You take far too much risk in regards to your data and are at the mercy of whoever owns the service. If they decide to close down, you're out of luck. If they're using un-patched, outdated software... you get to sit by and watch as things slowly choke and become slower and slower, and potentially explode/get exploited.

    I also enjoy being able to write and run my own scripts, do complex integrations, and a multitude of other things. Can't really do that with free services. :x
    deliriums child and Invisie like this.
  6. But it is good that hosted services exist. I mean, I don't know if I ever would have started self-hosted forums if I had not experienced those first 6 months (on suddenlaunch ...). And I have been a member at hosted forums, so I appreciate them.

    And to tip my hat, people who use hosted forums and make them look and feel unique and special are certainly doing things right.

    I just like to torture myself with frustration of installing mods, doing skins, forgetting to close tags... dunno why really... ;)
    Invisie likes this.
  7. Kitsufox
    Caffeine Fix

    Kitsufox Resident Game Owner

    CoSC has spent the game's full run on self-hosted options. First on a PHPNuke based system, and now running on a highly customized Mediawiki Installation. I think self-hosting is the best option because you can then customize your character system and avoid paperwork burnout in your staff. (IE: CoSC's group lists and things like that are all automated. If the players keep their characters accurate, all records are accurate accept the game history pages - and we're currently in the process of converting characters so that history will also manage itself).

    Hosting places are a good option for those wanting to wet the toes, but they're not a good long-term solution. Not for most games.
    deliriums child likes this.
  8. Lady B

    Lady B Guest

    Never done the self-hosting before. So I use free hosting sites. I generally am picky who I go through; the place better give me a range of options. Doesn't always mean I will use them but the less restrictions and more creativity with the site is always better.

    ~Lady B
  9. I think the important thing with free hosting sites is that they give you access to at least download the database, in case you want to move. And that they make backups. You can then always rescue your forum if the host closes or something bad happens.

    ... That reminds me, I should make a backup of our site again.
    deliriums child likes this.
  10. Elena

    Elena Resident Game Owner

    Free hosted. I don't have the money and the technical possibility to do payments online.
    AmberE likes this.
  11. I like self-hosted for the reasons others have already listed. I lost a few too many threads I really liked when free hosts shut boards down or closed or something. I would rather just make a site. It's a lot more freedom; I don't have to worry about content nearly as much, and having seen the options a lot of hosted software give in the admin panel... I think I'm too much of a control freak, lol.
  12. Obstaff

    Obstaff Newcomer

    I've never been tech savvy enough to touch coding, it makes me really confused so i've always gone with software that's there and ready to go, because i don't want to spend ages trying to find out how to do something when all i want to do is write!
    Elena and Meushell like this.
  13. Dreamer2012

    Dreamer2012 Newcomer

    There's pros and cons to both really. If you aren't very familiar with coding, its a lot easier to just go to a free hosted site. But if you've got the time and know how, self-hosting is a good way to get around the sometimes insane TOS that free hosted sites have. As well as, allowing you to do things you might not otherwise be able to do.
    Death Kitten likes this.
  14. Hosted boards are a good way to fihgure out if you're ever going to be interested in learning code and installing your own self-hosted forums. You can gain a lot of knowledge while using hosted services.

    ... You know, it doesnt actually take up that much more time :P I's not like I am constantly fixing and installing things on our sites!
    Elena likes this.
  15. Free hosted can be good for when you're first starting out, it doesn't give you total control but it gives you enough that you can get things off the ground. You can establish your name on it, a small plot or two for your board, then you can move up to a self hosted forum and go from there really. You never know how well your game is going to do after all, so if you buy into a host and stuff, you need to hope all the money and domain registration isn't for naught.
  16. Zozma

    Zozma Spider Demon Game Owner

    For me, self-hosted. Recently, a friend and I were going to use Jcink for a project and promptly were stopped cold in our tracks for thirty minutes. Maybe it's not a long time but it reminded me of just one reason I hate free-hosted forums. Turns out she's going to buy a Xenforo license and see how that works for us. For me, though, I'm still an SMF fan girl. I doubt I'll be moving any of my own projects off it any time soon. Plus, no license! Free and powerful software! We already pay for webspace for various other things, so the only thing extra I pay for when it comes to my forum is the cbox and that's nothing.
    Daenelia likes this.
  17. Morrigan

    Morrigan Resident Game Owner

    Self-hosted all the way. It's the only way I can dig into the code and make things look the way I want it to. Full control=My cup of tea when it comes to coding.
    Zozma likes this.
  18. VirusZero

    VirusZero Resident Game Owner

    I think both have their advantages and drawbacks and that each admin needs to carefully consider both sides before making a decision.

    Remote hosted are very often free, but you can't post whatever kind of content you want. That's part of the tradeoff.
    You also don't have to worry about bandwidth, CPU usage, hard drive space and the costs of them. (Since on a paid host, unless it's a VPN, even if you don't exceed your monthly bandwidth you can still get booted if you exceed your CPU use. Which can easily happen with poorly designed scripts. Either that or they may need to have you move up to the next level package and that costs more per month.) And that can be a huge relief for someone who maybe doesn't have a lot of money or doesn't want to spend a lot on their hobby. (Especially a hobby dependent on other people, who can be flakes, which may not even really take off for a long time.)

    Though even on paid hosts, you still may not be able to post whatever either. Some hosts still don't allow mature content so just going paid does not guarantee that mature content is allowed. (So it's worth looking into and asking questions to the host.)

    Remote hosted also tend to be a lot simpler to use. No tinkering with PHP to add features. (Mostly because there is no getting near the source code on remote hosts...) Yes that is a bit of a limitation if you're use to being able to delve right in and modify everything about your forum. But for those who have no interest to do that (or they don't know how and don't want to?) then it's not a big deal.

    Self-hosting is also a lot more responsibility on the admin though. You have to take constant backups (especially if you're making changes) since you're the only one who might be able to. And if you break something then you have to fix it (either on your own, or hope that you can get support from the software creators). Again, if you're skilled or at least have an idea what you're doing this might not be so bad.

    Either way though it is possible to run a successful forum. Despite what people may say... (I've very often heard paid hosters get this high and mighty attitude and crap all over anyone who isn't using paid hosting, despite the fact they can't even keep their forum open a full year.) A dedicated admin will make their forum successful whether they're on proboards, zetaboards, MyBB, phpBB or etc...

    Personally, I have both. I've got my forum running on Jcink and I have self hosting space also. I don't see much of a point to moving my forum off Jcink since I'm really not going to be gaining anything and it's only going to cause a headache while I set up the new forum and run the conversion and iron out all the bugs/issues associated around that. If something ever happened to Jcink then sure, I'd move my forum then (though at most I'd lose maybe a week's worth of content.) But still I hope that doesn't happen.
    Death Kitten likes this.
  19. Zozma

    Zozma Spider Demon Game Owner

    Hey! Almost every single one of my forums has been open for 2+ years before their demise (although my current forum won't be a year old until January because it's new.)

    But for the most part, I do understand what you're saying. I personally don't feel like I'm high and mighty (or I don't try to be, but who really does?) about self-hosting. I simply prefer it because I'm super impatient and I hate the down time that comes with using free stuff. That and like Morrigan, I'm a control freak and I want full control over my forum. I also have a few pages that use PHP and that I can't see being able to replicate on something like Jcink... Like automated face claims (it's a must now for me, because I am a lazy admin and I hate that boring paperwork stuff.)

    I don't look down on people who use Jcink or Proboards or any of that. It also doesn't stop me from joining a forum if I like it. (But I will want sub-accounts if I plan to make more than one character because I hate logging in and out.) At least with Jcink you can keep your own database, which is one reason we chose it for our project at the time before I got fed up of the down time...
  20. Kitsufox
    Caffeine Fix

    Kitsufox Resident Game Owner

    VirusZero does have a point that dedicated admin can keep a game going despite the disadvantages of a full-forum system (IE: a system without a dedicated character management system). It's also true, however, that software actually made to manage things helps avoid administrator burnout.

    Also: Us Control freaks are not an exclusive club. We like to have good control of all elements of our system. Zozma and Morrigan are not alone.
    Zozma likes this.