Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Death of a Forum: DJForums.com is Dead


Related to Elements: DJ, HH Forum 

I'm gonna go out on a sturdy limb and just put the final nail in this coffin.  DJForums.com, the once massive online DJ community, is dead.  While not solely a Hip Hop Forum, DJForums.com had a Hip Hop section with a close-knit group of contributors, an expansive database of information on equipment, production gear and DJ tools, and all kinds of DJ tips, tricks and techniques on file.  

Using the Internet Archive's search engine, Wayback Machine (one great way to see dead website content) you can clearly see this place was really jumping.


click to zoom


It was a slow painful death, almost like watching an Alzheimer victim pop in and out of reality.  The website would go completely down, for weeks at a time, starting late in 2010, and gradually it would go down more often each passing month throughout this entire year.  At this point DJForums has been MIA, completely out of commission since around October 14 2011, the longest stretch yet.  Prior to that it must have been down sporadically 9 or 10 times, sometimes days, sometimes weeks at a time, and when it came back you would never know. 

When it did come back, one thing was for sure, you better not ask where it went or why it went down or you would get snapped at for the inquiry.  A concerned member started a thread in the General Forum there inquiring why the forum kept failing to keep it's host running, and if there was anything he could do to help out.  BAD IDEA.  One of the forum moderators representing DJForums said on that thread that it was a "problem with the hosting".  He quickly added, "If you think it's about money, Go F__K yourself!"    So, the users who straggled back on to the site after weeks of downtime basically had to pretend that it never happened.  Ad space at the tops of each forum disappeared as apparently the buyers of that space had enough of the downtime, and pulled out of the deal leaving an almost omniscient "Website Not Found" white space in it's place.  Spam on the forum started to run rampant as the mods seemed to almost give up on cleaning it up.  Users who prepaid for the VIP forum (A special section of the forum users actually pay money to visit) were S.O.L.  Even Google started to take notice as their once overpowering search engine presence started to drop off the face of the Internet.

Luckily all these DJForums users are not dead, they are still alive.  Unless they stopped DJing, they still need a place to go to discuss music, techniques and the like.  

INSERT PLUG (BUT KEEP IT SUBTLE HERE.)  "Oh look, a brand new Hip Hop forum, and it looks like they could use some active members!"   Official Periodic Forum

Seriously, OPF is nothing like DJF, nor do we want to be anything like it, but we are equally passionate about music, production, remixes and ESPECIALLY Hip Hop, so if you feel a void from this untimely death, we would love to help fill it.  Please Join and build with us.  END PLUG


DJForums was one of many forums I visited devoted to the art of DJing and in particular I appreciated the Hip Hop section.  Like other forums, it was a collaboration of it's users and therefore a truly unique perspective on DJing and Hip Hop that couldn't be found on any other forum.  I'm not saying it was better then any other forums, on the contrary, sometimes it was blistering with newbies asking the same cliche questions about DJ names, or how to do the triple-backwards-bicep-click-flare, or "Hey, watch me practice my chirps and tell me what I'm doing wrong" videos.  But besides all that, there were some real heads that held it down, and frankly brought their distinct and diverse perspective of Hip Hop and\or DJing to the masses.  For those reasons, I will miss DJForums.  RIP DJ Forums!


DISCLAIMER:  I could be wrong, I've been wrong before, and I'll be wrong again.  BUT, if  DJForums decides to pull a zombie forum maneuver and come back from the dead again, I hope they figured out their so-called hosting problem for the sake of maintaining some dignity.  Hosting is dirt cheap, and not hard to find, so frankly I don't believe or accept the excuse. 


ATTN: DJ Forums Ex-Users... Please add on, comments are absolutely welcome!   Also, if you have any additional insider information about this or updates, please comment on this post.

SEE ALSO:  Here's what Official Periodic Forums members had to say about the downtime of DJForums.  PLEASE NOTE: One must be a logged in member to read the General Forum, but it's not required to be logged in for the Crate Digging Hip Hop, Crate Digging Non Hip Hop, Mixtape Submission, or Producer Forums at Official Periodic Forums.








18 comments:

  1. I would like to address this: "Hosting is dirt cheap, and not hard to find"

    DJForums is a massive database driven website. Unlike a blog or page dedicated to someone's cat it cannot go up on GoDaddy, DreamHost, or any other provider where you're data shares a server with 50-1000 other customers.

    DJForums requires dedicated hardware in two parts: one server for Apache or IIS to serve the website content and one or more server to run the databases. Communication between these servers needs to be as fast as possible (fibre optic of SCSI) and the network connection to the outside world needs to be able to handle the traffic (1 gig or greater probably).

    With "easy to find" and "cheap" hosts you have no control over any of that. Your database server could have multiple other customers on it, the communication between it and your webserver could be over 100 megabit ethernet without redundancy for all you know... To meet the requirements of DJF they will need Co-Lo or Managed hosting from Rackspace which is not cheap and cannot be set-up using some "next -> next -> next -> confirm -> pay -> done" sign up method.

    Should it take this long? No... BUT it's not as easy or cheap as you make it out to be.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I don't really want to get into a technical battle over this, but in a nutshell, I completely disagree. Servers themselves are cheap, it's very easy to set up and maintain. But one doesn't even need the know-how to do that nowadays with all the hosting competition. There are plenty of unlimited bandwidth Linux hosting packages out there that support any kind of database you can throw at them.

    That being said, I'll add, it's pretty clear you clearly know what you are talking about in terms of what their hosting needs are, are you affiliated with DJ Forums?

    ...and if so, and let's assume you are right, and that it's logistically a nightmare...

    Then it is about the lack of money after all?

    ReplyDelete
  3. I am not affiliated with DJF beyond being a regular member (NickJames) but I am a systems administrator for a company that has multiple "Top 10,000" (Alexa Rating) websites so when it comes to hardware requirements for high traffic websites I can make educated guesses (we do our own hosting so I am intimately familiar with the hardware/network requirements).

    I think the problem with DJF is two fold (again these are guesses but are based on conversations with people "in the know" as it were at DJF):

    - Problem one:
    Finding new suitable hosting... As I mentioned Managed Colocation hosting from Rackspace or similar is probably the best bet. You maintain control of the operating system and software layers while Rackspace handles the hardware layer, the network layer, and the datacenter layer.

    In the scenario you buy or rent your servers and they live at a Rackspace facility; The webserver would probably be fine on "cheap" (relative term) hardware... The database server on the other hand would probably run best on a server with 6 or more cores and 16 or more GB or RAM; Further, if the storage was to be internal SCSI would probably be best and SCSI drives are not cheap and if the storage was external you have the added cost of SAN or NetApp style storage.

    Now, assuming we believe the administration when they say "there is no money issue" this could all be arranged and running in a couple weeks... It's not instant (hardware has to be ordered, racked, installed, configured, etc) but it's also not a super long process which leads us to problem two...

    - Problem two:
    The current host it would seem is incompetent... One outage that lasted 5-6 days was caused by a router dropping records for DJF and therefore not routing inbound traffic to the servers which were running happily just without contact to the outside world... It took the current host nearly a week to fix the problem which is absolutely ridiculous; If something like that happened at my work it would be fixed within the hour even if that meant running backup hardware while restoring the main routers from backup.

    Now, you might be asking what does an incompetent host have to do with moving to a new one? To preform the move in the most efficient way the admins probably want bare metal or running state backups of the current servers or at the very least disk backups with all of the web data and database tables... If the host is 1) slow to respond to emergencies 2) incompetent 3) not motivated to help you take your business else where - it could take god knows how long to get the data and even when and if they do comply the method used could add time (sending disks, sending tapes, web transfer, etc)

    Finally... All of that said and done there are the little things left:
    - Move the domain.
    - Update DNS records and wait for them to propagate.
    - Rebuild the SEO that has been lost.
    - Etc.

    ReplyDelete
  4. So now I REALLY don't want to get into a technical battle because you clearly have the qualifications to be an expert in the field. Frankly, I couldn't have asked for a better post, thanks for the thoughtful response.

    I couldn't agree more that the current host is an utter failure and hopefully we can find out who they are so it doesn't happen to the next guy.

    But why now? DJF has been around since web 1.0, why the sudden incompetence from their hosting company? Ok, nevermind... Water under the bridge, like you said, they can move to a new host that can handle their particular needs.

    At this point, they should have had plenty of time during any one of their numerous down-spells to have all their data in their possession. You would think they would be knocking down doors, or maybe lawyers got involved if it got that bad. You would also think enough time has passed for this to happen if it was going to happen.

    Back to the money issue, if they were inclined to proceed with the host migration, they'd have to fork out money for IT consultation, (They apparently need it) initial setup costs, and rackspace rental or purchase. How much would this cost in your best estimate?

    When I said "dirt cheap" I meant the hosting itself. What of the initial migration expenses for such a move? How much are we talking roughly?


    Regardless of how much we are talking it all boils down to these 4 choices...

    1. Stay dead. Blame it on sudden incompetent hosting and lack of funds to migrate to a new host.

    2. Stay sickly, near death. Put up with the incompetence after all this time and hope that all the members will straggle back in when they eventually get back online. I can't see this working for them, it is a downward spiral.

    3. Bite the bullet, cough up the money, migrate the bohemoth database to a stable reasonably priced host and hope all your members have short term memory about the old host.

    4. Start over. Salvage just your users accounts, forget about all the old posts and build anew from the ground up on new forum software if necessary. I realize this is devastating for SEO but even Google can forgive in time. This would be the cheapest and easiest and a chance for them to abandon old ideas and start clean. Sometimes, if your house is old, in this case, condemned, you knock it all down and build a brand new house.

    ReplyDelete
  5. www.digitalvertigo.co.uk is good too

    ReplyDelete
  6. ^Word, good people there too, agreed.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Having been a member since 06 I can say that the problem is not hosting, as their hosting is free. The problem is not having root access over a box that isn't yours and out of your own control.

    With that being said, all the suggestions and what not are fairly useless (and most are completely misguided as the first post by omniomi clearly shows little server side experience) when you don't have tech support, not that it's needed as the heads of DJF are all IT pros anyway.

    As stated the box isn't their property, so having to contact a 3rd party, who isn't a company and was at one point an active member/moderator/admin of DJF, is all on the time of the person who owns the property.

    So with that being said, we all know there is room for improvement, but this whole entitlement thing is pretty lame. That's great you like the community at DJF, if you haven't given a dime to the site, I couldn't care less about your thoughts anyway. From a person that has given $200+ over my tenure, I appreciate everything DJF has done for me as a person, professional and DJ, but I expect nothing in return.

    If the site dies, it dies. Obviously those who have enough time to write up huge blog articles, and those who have the time to post on said blog articles, don't have enough time to actually ask one of the administrators whats going on. It's not hard, they are all on facebook, and the djforums.com group on there has posts from said individuals. But, I guess making a whole big stink about something is much more entertaining than asking or doing your due diligence to figure out what the problem is.

    ReplyDelete
  8. “the problem is not hosting, as their hosting is free. The problem is not having root access over a box that isn't yours and out of your own control.” - l0ckd0wn

    Free? That is dirt cheap! This whole statement makes no sense, why would they loose control of their own site? You are saying it’s a free host that they don’t own nor control any of their intellectual property. Ok, check. What kind of bum deal is that? That’s inconceivable.

    “With that being said, all the suggestions and what not are fairly useless (and most are completely misguided as the first post by omniomi clearly shows little server side experience) when you don't have tech support, not that it's needed as the heads of DJF are all IT pros anyway.” - l0ckd0wn

    With that being said, speaking of useless, what good is their IT experience when they have no control of their own site being down. I believe they are pros, they have been around a long time, and they built that place from scratch. Yet there it lies and here we are.

    “As stated the box isn't their property, so having to contact a 3rd party, who isn't a company and was at one point an active member/moderator/admin of DJF, is all on the time of the person who owns the property.” - l0ckd0wn

    ??? Man, I thought I was bad with long run-on sentence, that one took me on a journey.
    So, the active member/mod/admin, who is now inactive, blew up his server and the intellectual owners of the property can’t go on his property???

    “So with that being said, we all know there is room for improvement, but this whole entitlement thing is pretty lame. That's great you like the community at DJF, if you haven't given a dime to the site, I couldn't care less about your thoughts anyway. From a person that has given $200+ over my tenure, I appreciate everything DJF has done for me as a person, professional and DJ, but I expect nothing in return.” - l0ckd0wn

    So with that being said, at least I didn’t drop over 200 dollars on forum time. I guess I’m one of those weirdos that thinks forums should be free. And as an ex-member myself, I feel like I’m entitled to speculate on the matter via blog since I am not entitled to an answer from the horse’s mouth, just as you are entitled to drop your two cents here yourself.

    “Obviously those who have enough time to write up huge blog articles, and those who have the time to post on said blog articles, don't have enough time to actually ask one of the administrators whats going on. It's not hard, they are all on facebook, and the djforums.com group on there has posts from said individuals. But, I guess making a whole big stink about something is much more entertaining than asking or doing your due diligence to figure out what the problem is.” - l0ckd0wn

    Actually, I did ask on the forum. I was then pointed to the post where another member who asked was told to “Go F__K yourself.” That was my answer. I believe the justification was “I once got screwed over by a phone (or internet, or TV) company and they never told me why my service went down, so why should we explain logistical problems to our inquisitive members?” (I am paraphrasing since the site is down) I’m not going to “friend” someone on facebook to get the same answer, besides none of those DJF heads are my “friends”, they are or were my “service provider”. Unless they come out and set the record straight themselves, I guess I’ll have to settle on wasting my time entertaining you and speculating on the matter like the rest of the unentitled ex-members who are in the dark.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Blueprint said to me in an email response on 11/5/2011:

    "They are officially moving servers now, which is good but means a significant downtime period."

    Want more specifics please write him or the other admins: Jay Gandhi

    I met Jay and some DJF reps at NAMM several times, they all seem really cool, and I imagine they want the forum to come back just as much as everyone else.

    emarx, the "Innofader guy"

    ReplyDelete
  11. I need this forum back so I can ask my newb questions :/

    ReplyDelete
  12. I would join here now that djf is gone, but i'm not just a hip hop DJ. I"m a mobile DJ that does weddings, so this is problem not the correct place to be.

    ReplyDelete
  13. ^That's not a problem DJ JazzyJ. We have several mobile DJs onboard and a Non-Hip Hop Crate Digging forum for general music lovers. While Official Periodic Forum is primarily a Hip Hop forum, we don't pigeonhole ourselves. I encourage you and any DJs to join up and build with us.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I heard from a bird that DJF2.0 is making slow but sure progress in a relaunch of the site. I'll post an update as soon as it's official.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Well judging from the (Facebook & Google+) page I agree with rchecka DJF2.0 coming soon... WooT!!

    https://plus.google.com/106832707595591423009/posts

    &

    https://www.facebook.com/apps/application.php?id=108693032498266

    ReplyDelete