So.. I think i've come to the conclusion that DC needs a major breath of fresh life -- a major "rebooting".
I can feel it in my bones that we are sort of in a situation where we have some really fantastic people here, who are not being given the place that they deserve to flourish, and that we need to make some very major changes to become a place where people feel they can grow.
I feel like there is an opportunity for us to serve our community here in a fundamentally better way, but that if we don't, we're in danger of becoming a smaller and smaller place where we're just living off of old memories.
I'm short on details.. I'm still struggling with how to do this without losing my mind, and what it actually means.. I just know that my gut is telling me that we need to do something..
Here are some random ideas that i'm hoping to get some feedback on:
1. It's been obvious for quite some time that the site web pages need to transition to a CMS, where we can more easily support/manage/maintain content created by others (blogs, reviews, etc.) that's a given. That's not really up for debate and not controversial.
2. The forum.. The forum software we use (SMFv1.x) is reaching it's end of life. It's been highly customized over the years which makes upgrading painful. We have several possible ways forward here:
a) We can upgrade to smf V2 and convert some or most of the custom modifications; this would be painful but doable.
b) We can try to migrate content to a new forum system (Invision is what we've been looking at) which might be more powerful, but which would be messier and much more painful.
c) We could do something more dramatic -- and freeze the current forum content and start a brand new forum from scratch, using any forum system. Users would recreate their accounts, etc. The old forum content would still exist at same old urls but be read-only. This would give us a chance to start clean and is structurally appealing in many ways, but has some real downsides in terms of content continuity.
3. Site focus -- one of the difficulties that donationcoder has (some would say part of the appeal) is that the site did lots of things.. We had reviews, coding snacks, "official" software and member software, blog posts, discounts, contests, coding school area, etc. Sometimes this diversity is wonderful, but sometimes it makes it hard for us to focus, and things get lost between the cracks and hard to explain. I sometimes wonder if we shouldn't split the site up.. Perhaps one site for talking about software and ideas.. And another site docused on supporting our (official+member) software.
There are so many pros+cons for these things I feel paralyzed whenever I try to think about them