If you all are having any technical issues, my apologies. We have been working with the web host to get a complete backup of the site but the hosting account doesn't have any more room for us to save the backup. Jage sent me the login to the web hosts system but it's not working and the password reset is not sending me a link. He's out until this afternoon so we are stuck for a bit until we can resolve the issues with the current host.
@rallypanam - We didn't change anything with the PM system, not planning to either. If there are errors it might be caused by the above. We'll resolve them ASAP. Also, please try again as PMs should be working fine. I sent a few already today. Report back if they work please.
@BrianW - We would like to move the site over to vBulletin as it offers many more features. It's a platform that most folks will recognize from other forums. One feature that I would like to add is a Garage system so members can post photos of their van. You can see an example on Defender Source:
Airstream Forums does have a lot of ads. All of the button ads (300x100) on the side are endemic advertisers who sell parts/services focused at Airstream owners. Some are also internal advertisements to buy AIR Forums flags or buy a book that a member published. A couple of them on each page are for Airstream events like rallies & meetups. The idea is that we can promote the meetups and get more people connecting offline, that's a good thing.
We'll offer an upgraded account that allows for turning off the Google ads and/or the endemic sponsor ads. People who donated in the past will get a free upgrade. I'm also going to talk to the team about how we can identify our long standing top contributors who might not have donated in the past and give them a free upgrade to say thanks for helping make this site great.
As for the pop-up on AIR Forums, that is set to hide on a cookie and show once every 3 months. Members have the ability to turn it off in their control panel so they never see it again. It works wonderfully to send people an update on what's going on at the forums and helps the forums be more vibrant by bringing people back. Basically it's just an RSS of new threads to email and surprisingly people who sign up love it that we get complaints if there is a glitch and it does not go out one day.
I think Defender Source is a good site to see the layout of ads. We don't have any endemic (niche) sponsors on that site. I've been running it for a few years. At some point we might. Same thing here. I'm not going to go out and push to find niche advertisers but if some really want to advertise then we'll try to find a way to work with them.
BrianW also asked about what other forums I own. You can see a list on my website which is http://www.SocialKnowledge.com
. I never actually intended to start a forum company. I just ran Airstream Forums and one day I ran across a site that had an announcement that it was going to be shut down unless someone made an offer to the owner. It was on a topic which I have no interest (unlike this forum, I enjoy reading the builds and the vans a lot). I worked with the team allowing them to be the subject matter experts and I was able to provide software support and keep the site running. A couple weeks later that same forum owner came back to me saying he had another fairly big forum he wanted to sell. All of a sudden I went from one forum to three forums and I became fascinated in how forums work and finding tools to add more value to them. It was at that point I packed up my stuff and headed on my journey slowly acquiring one site every few months.
Social Knowledge has grown into a lot of sites but I take great pride in the way we manage them and the fact that our members are happy. I know there are a couple of really large forum networks (100x bigger than my company) that are faceless giants. Social Knowledge has grown, I'll admit that but we are still a small company that takes a very personal approach to working with our communities.
Keep the questions coming, it's the best way for us to all be on the same page.