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  1. #1
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    SMF forum project on deaths door

    It looks like the SMF forum project has gone from limping to on deaths door in the past few days. Most of the core contributors have ditched the project. Jeff Lewis, one of the founders of SMF has written the following blog post, along with a quoted message from one of the most respected SMF developers of all time, [UNKNOWN].

    http://www.lewisonline.ca/?p=426

    More information can be found on the site SMF friends site (not officially connected with the SMF project): http://www.smf-friends.org/


    Many of the well known users of the official SMF site have prominent signatures outlining their displeasure at recent actions by the SMF managemnent:



    For those of us who have used and appreciated the software, this is a disturbing time, knowing that our loved software may shortly disappear into obscurity.

  2. #2
    From space with love silver trophy
    SpacePhoenix's Avatar
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    What will happen with any site that uses SMF if the project closes? Technically it is closed source as you can't pass copies of it around for people to try different combinations:

    From their licence page:
    Any Distribution of this Package, whether as a Modified Package or not, requires express written consent from Simple Machines LLC. and another line further down: Any Distribution of a Modified Package or derivative requires express written consent from Simple Machines LLC.
    IANAL but wouldn't that make it illegal to create a fork of the software if SMF vanish?

    Would any site using SMF have to switch to a different forum software as a result?
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  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SpacePhoenix View Post
    IANAL but wouldn't that make it illegal to create a fork of the software if SMF vanish?
    Yes. Although there's apparently a few loop holes that could be taken of advantage of. It seems that those who have some control over this aren't keen to going down that route though due to the messiness of it.


    Quote Originally Posted by SpacePhoenix View Post
    Would any site using SMF have to switch to a different forum software as a result?
    I suspect there's enough of the original core developers kicking around who can provide unofficial patches for any security holes. They're not going to be dropping the software themselves any time soon, so I wouldn't expect the software itself to become useless per se. If SimpleMachines.org disappeared overnight it would be awkward to track those patches though and you would need to know where to look. SMF users should keep URL http://smf-friends.org/ bookmarked in case something drastic does eventuate, it's unlikely, but best to remember that URL so you know where the unofficial site is to keep up date on what's going on with the remains of the software if the official site ever vanishes.


    It's still possible that SMF2.0 will be completed (it's currently in a very poor quality RC2 state). But I'm not holding my breathe. I'm currently using SMF1.1.x and SMF2.0RC2. I don't think I'll ever be updating my 1.1.x site to 2.0 though.



    There are developments underway which would create a successor to SMF, but it's being done behind closed doors and there is really nothing of substance in it yet since this whole process only kicked in a matter of days ago. It's unlikely to be a fork due to the reasons mentioned above.

  4. #4
    Non-Member Musicbox's Avatar
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    SMF is nice but they have poor template design for there default template, However SMF is not bad for using forums. SMF must compete with Vbulletin and Invision board in order to stay alive.

  5. #5
    whagwan? silver trophybronze trophy akritic's Avatar
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    WOW... now this would be a sad end. Although I don't follow the project's development I had wondered why v2 was getting nowhere fast.

    It's so surprising to see the apparent arrogance of the person involved that it makes for a read akin to watching a daily soap. When things reach that end, what hope is there?

    Any successor would probably gain its legion of post-SMF supporters, but that's a long road.

    Maybe I'll have to start thinking about other forum scripts

    I feel for the developers involved, to watch their efforts stamped on as if they were meaningless. That's a tough one to take.

  6. #6
    #titanic {float:none} silver trophy
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    He certainly looks very disappointed. Although I am quite sure that he's right and what he says is true, it would still be interesting to have the other point of view. Maybe Cathy is devil in disguise but it could be the case that she didn't manipulate people but simply is a bad manager, or took wrong decissions with the best of intentions. But we simply don't know why she did what she did.

    There's always more than one version of the story.

    The excuse would have to be a good one though. After creating, leading, leaving and then returning to the project this guy should have a pretty good picture.

    It is a shame after all their effort... I hope that they do create a parallel project and solve all the problems

  7. #7
    SitePoint Enthusiast important's Avatar
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    A forum software takes a lot to stay focused and the older developers are often displeased at the actions of new managements. There are a lots of controversies and it's pretty normal when the developers are used to having more control over the software. Once they lose control and things start to be determined by the upper management, that's where everything goes haywire.

    It's not just SMF that's having issues. Just look around at vBulletin community and you'll find out how much of a trouble that forum software is in.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Musicbox View Post
    SMF must compete with Vbulletin and Invision board in order to stay alive.
    I think their main competitor is themselves right now.


    Quote Originally Posted by molona View Post
    ... Although I am quite sure that he's right and what he says is true, it would still be interesting to have the other point of view. Maybe Cathy is devil in disguise but it could be the case that she didn't manipulate people but simply is a bad manager, or took wrong decissions with the best of intentions.

    There's always more than one version of the story.
    I'd like to think so. But pretty much everyone heavily involved with SMF that I've come across lately (which is quite a few as I've following this quite closely as it unravelled over the past day or so) seems to consider that post to be entirely accurate. I haven't seen anyone question it's "correctness".


    Quote Originally Posted by important View Post
    It's not just SMF that's having issues. Just look around at vBulletin community and you'll find out how much of a trouble that forum software is in.
    Yup, vBulletin is a mess too. At least that's a proper company though so they'll hopefully sort their crap out. SMF is owned by one person only.


    Surfing through the official SMF site at the moment is a saddening read. The number of people attempting to advertise the failure of the SMF management is escalating, along with the number of people being banned. I'm pretty sure I'll be joining them shortly, I'm just waiting for the ban notice to appear for me. Any attempt to question the upper management is being met with instant bans and post removals. I can understand this sort of behaviour on a small-scale, but this is literally a huge proportion of their developers (ex-team members, modders, theme developers, support people etc.) who are posting this stuff. It's not just a small minority that are up in arms, it appears to be a majority.


    EDIT: Here's a list of banned team members, and SMF friends (mod/theme developers, support specialists etc.) ... http://www.smf-friends.org/index.php?topic=338.0

  9. #9
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    Here's another topic that just popped up on SimpleMachines.org

    http://www.simplemachines.org/commun...topic=361814.0

    Anyone who has been using SMF for a while and made use of their support forums will recognise a good proportion of those names. They're all well respected members of the SMF community.

    Looks like whoever did it had to use a new username, presumably because they've been banned already or fear being banned for it.

  10. #10
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    Another interesting forum topic ... http://www.simplemachines.org/commun...topic=361772.0

  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Quote Originally Posted by molona View Post
    Maybe Cathy is devil in disguise but it could be the case that she didn't manipulate people but simply is a bad manager, or took wrong decissions with the best of intentions.

    There's always more than one version of the story.
    So ... Cathy isn't evil, just stupid? =D nice defence

  12. #12
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    Those links I posted now say:
    The topic or board you are looking for appears to be either missing or off limits to you.
    Great. Censorship. Terrific


    Thankfully I have a copy, so here is the initial post which is being spread around the internet as the developers are having trouble getting their voices heard amongst the community:
    Dear Cathy, Derek, and Jeremy,

    We're writing to you because we feel that the time has come for us to speak up, take responsibility, and do what's right for the future of Simple Machines.

    While we've had our differences in the past, most of us still consider you our friends and can say without a doubt that you've made an impact on our lives.

    First, we would like to thank you for the time and effort you've put into the Simple Machines project. You've together put in countless hours supporting and improving not just the community at large, but those inside and close to the team as well. Many of us can honestly say that without you we would never have been on the team and had such great experiences in the first place.

    Simple Machines Forum is coming up on its seventh birthday, is greatly recognized throughout the internet, and has shown that it can survive mostly anything and keep running. We ask that you see this not as an attempt at righting the wrongs of the past, but recognizing that mistakes were made and that a brighter future can be found if some sacrifices are made.

    Unfortunately, we think it is time for Simple Machines to stand on its own merits and must request that you resign from your positions on both the SMF team and the LLC and let fresh minds make decisions and take responsibility for the project.

    We wish you well in your future endeavours and would even like to see you continue to help with the Simple Machines project(s) at some point down the road, even starting immediately at regular team positions.

    Our plans for the immediate future are few, but will go a long way towards improving and fortifying Simple Machines for the forseeable future:

    * We plan to create a Non-Profit Organization with a Board of Directors to oversee the current forum project and any future projects.
    * We would like to investigate and put in place a new license for the product(s).
    * We will work together to create a new team agreement that everyone can agree on in principle.
    * We will treat each other, the team, former team members, and the community with the respect and dignity that they deserve, and recognize contributions from all.
    * We will communicate with each other to create a team structure that fosters a fun and responsible place to work on projects that we all enjoy.

    We intend to work with Kindred, the team, and former team members in an orderly fashion to make these plans into reality, and assure you that the Simple Machines project you know and love will continue to exist for many years to come.

    In closing, we would like to once again thank you for your contributions making Simple Machines Forum what it is today, and sincerely hope that you will consider what we've said. This hasn't been easy for any of us, but we feel that this is a necessary step in making sure that Simple Machines thrives once more. We would prefer not to draw this process out, and ask that whatever changes are made be made peacefully and with good will. Since none of us have recently been in management positions within Simple Machines, we would appreciate if you would stay on board for a short period while the handover takes place, and understand if you would prefer not to.

    Thank you,

    Huw "H" Ayling-Miller
    Steven "Fustrate" Hoffman
    Jack "akabugeyes" Thorsen
    Jason "JBlaze" Clemons
    Joshua "groundup" Dickerson
    Aleksi "LexArma" Kilpinen
    Alex "Akyhne" Kühne
    Peter "Antechinus" Sharpe
    Eren "forsakenlad" Yasarkurt
    Chris "ccbtimewiz" Batista
    Colin "Shadow82x" Blaber
    Nico "aliencowfarm" Boer
    Geoff "bigguy" Brunkard
    Rick "RickC" Caudill
    Sinan "[SiNaN]" Çevik
    Bryan "Runic" Deakin
    Jan-Olof "Owdy" Eriksson
    Gary M. Gadsdon
    Brad "IchBin" Grow
    Douglas "The Bear" Hazard
    Juan Jose "JayBachatero" Hernandez
    Bjoern "Bloc" Kristiansen
    Jeff Lewis
    Justin "metallica48423" O'Leary
    Scott "RedOne"
    Jordan "Eliana Tamerin" Schnaidt
    Ben "Ben_S" Scott
    Jeremy "jerm" Strike
    Peter "Arantor" Spicer
    Jade Elizabeth "Alundra" Trainor
    Dannii Willis
    René-Gilles "Nao" Deberdt.
    That's a fairly sizeable chunk of the SMF developer community who've signed the bottom of that. Those aren't random forum members, they're all prominent members of the SMF community.

    This is most screwed up state of affairs I've ever seen in a software project before.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    Ok, now the first post is back, but all of our responses have been removed and my friend Eren has been banned He was the top theme developer for SMF. Who the hell bans the number one theme developer for the software that person is trying to develop for/promote?

    Complete and utter lunacy.

  14. #14
    SitePoint Zealot My220x's Avatar
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    I have used SMF before but I prefer MyBB, it's a shame that this is all happening though.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    And now it's been and gone a few times. Someone was just reposting it and a bunch of us didn't realise it wasn't the same topic for a start.

    I guess SMF does not like it's developers very much anymore

  16. #16
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    Another major SMF developer runic just got banned too.

    He apparently questioned why the posts were being removed, and so was banned!!!!!

    They're also removing any lists which are posted of who has been banned. So not only can you not discuss recent issues in the community, but you can't even ask discuss why people have been banned, and certainly can't post a list of all of the banned members.

    Amusingly, some of the banned members are still listed on the official SMF team list of developers.

  17. #17
    Mazel tov! bronze trophy kohoutek's Avatar
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    That is interesting. I used YaBB way back when. I think it was in the year 2000 or something like that. I didn't know SMF was that closely linked to the very first forum software I used.

    As for the fiasco, I have never used SMF, only heard that it was a good alternative to vBulletin. vBulletin has been having some strange management decisions made recently as well, hasn't it? Unfortunate developments. But I do wonder why they made someone a project manager of their LLC who hadn't a clue what that meant. Oh well. Unfortunate, and I hope the developers that have distsanced themselves from their original project will find the courage and motivation to create a forum software to take SMF's place.
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  18. #18
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    And now the project manager is talking about trying to open the project up as a non-profit organisation:

    http://www.smf-friends.org/index.php...sg7611#msg7611
    My immediate goal is to a) get the organizational structure of the SM teams including responsibilities and expectations written up
    Finish the bylaws, CLA and license changes, get them approved by the current team, get them validated by a lawyer and get them in place.
    Once that is done, elect a Board of Directors (per the bylaws) and work with the Lawyer to get the NPO kicked off.
    In addition, I need to work on the SM roadmap.
    Seems like a last desperate attempt at saving the project. It's a bit late now though. There's a lot of ticked of developers who may not go back now.

  19. #19
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryanhellyer View Post
    It looks like the SMF forum project has gone from limping to on deaths door in the past few days.
    Good. SMF sucks. Seriously. I chose it for a website years ago and it was the biggest web development mistake I have ever made. It has/had a table-based layout. The templates weren't really templates, just a bunch of ugly code echoing out table rows and tds here and there. You make one little change and it screws up everything, if you can find out which file the stuff comes from.

    SMF had potential. The problem was with the clowns running the project. When phpBB3 came out over 2 years ago, it was a huge advancement. The leaders of SMF made no attempt whatsoever to keep pace. No matter how many people were clamoring for a CSS-based layout, the arrogant leaders of the SMF development team insisted that what they were doing was what people should want.

    In 5 years SMF advanced very little. SMF either needs to die or the people leading the project should step aside and let developers who listen to the wants and needs of the user base take over.

    In my view, the more free forum scripts out there the better just like the more search engines the better. Maybe a group of people will take the existing SMF code base and fork it into something new.

    Unchecked egos are the reason SMF is in the situation it is.

  20. #20
    SitePoint Wizard
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    Quote Originally Posted by ryanhellyer View Post
    Ok, now the first post is back, but all of our responses have been removed and my friend Eren has been banned He was the top theme developer for SMF. Who the hell bans the number one theme developer for the software that person is trying to develop for/promote?

    Complete and utter lunacy.
    This is the work of an over-inflated ego running amok.

    Who did the banning?

    I recognize some of those nicknames as being very active contributors to the SMF community. It looks like SMF is dying.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Zealot My220x's Avatar
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    The person doing all the banning is crazy, don't they realize there would be no such thing as SMF without these people contributing their free time?

  22. #22
    whagwan? silver trophybronze trophy akritic's Avatar
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    Yep.. last ditch attempt. But where's it going now? Nowhere probably - I bet every dev will steer clear after this, and users are going to feel very disadvantaged and probably will switch to something else.

  23. #23
    From space with love silver trophy
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    If someone can find a legal way round the restrictions in the licence then it would be interesting to see what versions we would get forked off from the current code base.

    Perhaps some of SMF developers who have left the project might start a new project and build a new forum software from scratch.
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  24. #24
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cheesedude View Post
    Who did the banning?
    The project manager Kindred claims to have banned only a single person. I don't know who has banned the rest.

    Quote Originally Posted by SpacePhoenix View Post
    If someone can find a legal way round the restrictions in the licence then it would be interesting to see what versions we would get forked off from the current code base.
    I think it's more likely (albeit not very likely at all) that the existing code base is released as BSD, or some other open source licensing system.

    Quote Originally Posted by SpacePhoenix View Post
    Perhaps some of SMF developers who have left the project might start a new project and build a new forum software from scratch.
    Plans are already underway. That was mentioned in the letter from [Unknown].

  25. #25
    padawan silver trophybronze trophy markbrown4's Avatar
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