The internet has become an increasingly important part of the IAA. The web forum especially has become a beneficial tool for members and non-members to gain and share knowledge in a less formal medium than the Journal. This is especially important for allowing new and less knowledgeable members to have a lower barrier of entry into discussion about ammunition. Members are increasingly seeing the forum as a strong benefit they receive as being a member in the IAA. This is evident by the increasing frustration some members are portraying when they are unable to use the forum as they expect they should be able to.
We are using a forum software that was created 15 years ago. It has never supported some of the features we wish it would such as providing an easy way for members to upload and manage pictures though the software. It does not have an easy to use management functionality and it is not easy to maintain.
Recently the last two issues have become more pronounced. Maintaining the forum has become increasingly difficult because the outdated code it was created with is trying to run on the modern web. This has caused issues with the forum no longer being able to send emails on the current platform it is hosted on which in turn causes users not be able to easily register for the forum, receive notifications on watched posts or messages nor be able to change their password when they have forgotten it.
This then becomes a manual process for administrators of the forum to have to handle. But since the management aspect is so difficult this creates a bottleneck where everything relies on a single user. Maybe people do not know there is an issue or who to reach for their issue so it just becomes a burdensome experience for users and management involved.
In addition to the current issues there has always been a single person and point of failure for any problem that may arise. The software is hosted on account owned and controlled by a single person. And even if multiple people had access it is complicated and requires special knowledge on how to maintain and keep the software running.
I recommended, and the IAA board of directors approved the proposal of purchasing a license to use a newer, modern forum software that elevates many of these issues. The company that made the software offers a managed solution that removes the maintenance and hosting from the scope of what anyone in the IAA would be responsible for. The company will ensure that everything works and is always up-to-date on security fixes and bug fixes.
This software also gives us all of the modern features that members have requested. Users will be able to easily upload images and documents allowing them to more easily contribute to conversations. This also will allow us to make the forum a more longer-lasting research tool since we will not have to worry about images disappearing in the future.
The software also allows a select set of users to easily administer and moderate the forum without any specialized knowledge. This, combined with the removed maintenance requirement, will allow the forum to continue to be able to run smoothly without the need for someone with specialized knowledge in programming or web development.
What you need to do:
Some time next week I will shut down new posts and replies to the current forum. Everything will then be migrated over to the new forum software. This will allow all topics and posts and replies and private messages and users all to be switched over without losing anything.
Once everything is switched over everyone will receive an email asking them to reset their password to one compatible with the new software. Your email address and username will all stay the same.
It will take a little bit of time to get used to the look and feel and functionality of the new forum and I am sure we will find some things that may need tweaked a little bit. But I think it is a much better solution than what we currently have, and once everyone gets used to it I believe you will all enjoy using it.