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Hosting with RPG Initiative

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I'm interested in hosting with RPG Initiative, but I've never self-hosted before, so I have a lot of questions.  It's possible you planned to answer these once I ordered the hosting/install/migration, but I'm not even totally sure how to fill out those requests quite yet.  I thought I'd just put my questions below, some of which may be easy to answer and some of which may take more of a conversation, and we can move forward from there?  Hopefully these don't show a lack of understanding necessary to host with you all.


  • Can a jcink site be migrated to a new site on your server that uses myBB or SMF software?  What does migration include? Skinning?  Posts?  Accounts?  If so, how do accounts work if you're going from a site that's sub-account enabled to one that isn't?  At what point is it easier to start from scratch?  Can you migrate some features - skin and forums, maybe - and not migrate things that are less compatible?  Or is it really an all-or-nothing deal?
  • How will skinning things be different? (It looks like myBB and SMF have different methods to skin them than jcink. If that’s correct, I don’t mind researching more about that.)
  • How much coding do you need to have to be able to keep your forum up-to-date?  I know html/css/javascript but do not know MySQL, PHP, or other server-side processing.
  • Are the email accounts included MyName@subdomain.rpginitiative.com?  How are these accessed/initialized?
  • What are (or good resources) the benefits vs. detractions / differences between SMF and myBB? (I have googled this but not found anything that compares/contrasts. I have read the features page of SMF and myBB)
  • Are you guys able to provide troubleshooting help if something major breaks (it's okay if it's for a small fee, I don't expect it to happen though)?
Edited by Blahblahbertha

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Hey @Blahblahbertha The answers to your questions are as follows:

  1. Migration is exclusively data unless you are on a software (such as MyBB or SMF) that would allow for a full migration. So coming from JCink we would help import your data into a MyBB or SMF site.
  2. For Sub accounts, both MyBB and SMF have their own version of sub accounts. Your users would have to re-link their accounts together.
  3. Theming in general is different with self hosting. SMF requires a basic understanding of PHP to change templates. MyBB, last I checked, is less so. I also know more people that have experience with MyBB that can help you in the coding help forum.
  4. We install the software using an app named Sofaculous which makes upgrading simple as it will do the forum for you. Installing/upgrading mods is a little more complicated but often needs no MySQL/PHP knowledge. Additionally if you have problems you can always send in a support ticket.
  5. Yes emails are included. If you are using a subdomain, yes that would be the email (depending on the subdomain that you choose). Accessing it would be either through webmail, which you would find through the cPanel, or a mail client like Outlook, Thunderbird or Mail (Mail is a basic client on windows). I believe if you have google mail you can also import emails via the google settings.
  6. Preference and coding. This one is better for people that actually use the software to explain. @Zozma for SMF and @Kit the Human for MyBB.
  7. Yes, that's part of self hosting. If it breaks we will help fix it.
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2 hours ago, Morrigan said:

MyBB, last I checked, is less so. I also know more people that have experience with MyBB that can help you in the coding help forum.


That's correct! The chances of you needing to edit the php is very low. General theming is done entirely by standard CSS/HTML.


If you want to play before committing, you can register a free forum at icyboards. It will give you a very accurate idea of what you can expect from a self hosted mybb forum. In fact the only real difference is that you will need to install your own plugins (like the account switcher) whereas with icy, it's just a matter of clicking activate & install in the admin control panel. Installing plugins is very easy however - don't let that frighten you.


I'm not familiar with SMF so I can't compare it to MYBB. I use mybb because I really enjoyed the customisation that icyboards offers, far and beyond that which jcink has. When I moved to shared hosting (with the Initiative in fact, highly recommend it) I stuck with mybb simply because I was familiar with it. I find that mybb has plenty of resources available to you and that once I get the logic of how templates work, it's very straight forward to modify. 


From a strictly RP perspective, I imagine that SMF and myBB have no obvious advantages over the other. It will come down to your own preferences and what exactly you're looking for from your forum's software. Are there any particular features that you're looking for?

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I had a look at SMF a while back and couldn't get to grips with it. It's probably makes more sense once you're familiar with it, but I found Mybb through icyboards alot easier to deal with. My experience with icyboards has been great when it comes to getting support, both from Spork who runs it and from folks who know their way around the coding better than I. I don't think you'll have a problem with it and if you do run into a problem, there are lots of people around who can help you. I've found that there's lots of tutorials and current resources for it.


One thing about the html - different parts of the coding are arranged in different templates, so you'll probably need help finding out which template you need to post modified html in.

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All right, so when it comes to Mybb and SMF, I think it's a matter of personal taste and perspective. My personal taste is that I don't really care for Mybb's aesthetic or their back end. It's really unintuitive in my opinion and I really dislike the fact that every single little thing has a different template. SMF has a handful, yes, but the major ones you'll be changing are CSS (which if you've worked with Jcink is pretty much the same, except for the names of things, etc) and then a handful of php templates, like the display.template, index.template, etc. You definitely need to know something about PHP to use SMF, or to at least edit anything in those templates but it's not so bad when you get to know it. 


I haven't used Mybb for a live site, I've only ever played around with it briefly to see if I wanted to switch (obviously, I never did). I think Mybb is more popular because it has less of a learning curve and there's a lot more resource for it than there is for SMF. At least, when it comes to the RP resource world. There actually used to be a SMF resource site that I frequented but the admin has left the RP/forum world so I can't even direct you there. You can always look to @Arceus who has a lot of experience in SMF. 


Making SMF look good and function well for RP is a touch difficult. I've been lucky that I have a husband who is a programmer and web developer who has slowly been teaching me how to do the same thing. I still need a LOT of help however, and I am not at all confident in my ability to theme/skin a SMF theme. If you're willing to pay, you will get a much better tailor-made skin for your site than you will if you look at the boring general skins out there. 


Aside from skinning, I'd use SMF even if it was bald and naked because I favor its aesthetics over Mybb and I pretty much can't RP without a few of its mods: namely the sub-accounts mod (not sure about Mybb but on SMF you can easily create a bunch of subs from your main parent account without having to log out and in), the bookmarks mod (which I use as an automatic thread tracking system, simple portal, which will automatically make any sidebars you might want--I hate sidebars but I use it for its page system. I like pages over having to waste forum space on an informational forum area. Just put it in the menu and list everything you need there. 


It's not necessary but two things that make life easier on public forums are the mentions mod so you can @ people. And the tagging system which I use to make an automatic open thread list. (All people have to do is tag it with the word open and it'll appear on the list, delete the same tag to take it off the list.) 


Then back to the simple portal pages. I always always use one for an automatic face claim list. I think you can do the same on Mybb but don't quote me on that. You'd have to ask the Mybb experts. 


The bad part about SMF is that the community is not very open minded when it comes to role-players. If you don't have somebody like Arceus around, guests have to leave an email address when they post ads, which turns a lot of them off (even if it doesn't have to be a valid email address. Literally, you can put poop@email.com and it'll take it.) I think people are more likely to join a Mybb forum over an SMF one just because there are more of them out there and a major directory is on it so people are more comfortable using it. 


ANYWAY I really do think it's a matter of preference. You should try looking at the back ends of each before making up your mind. In the end, it has to be something you as an admin will be comfortable using. 

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