I started developing discussion forums very early on in my career. I can’t recall whether I tried any free scripts first however I do remember that my first discussion forum was built using vBulletin. I continued to use the forum software for around 10 years.
Unfortunately, the development of vBulletin has been pretty poor over the last few years. This happened due to the former parent company of vBulletin, Jelsoft Inc, being bought over by Internet Brands. From a customers point of view, things went from bad to worst as soon as Internet Brands got involved with the vBulletin product.
vBulletin 4 was a much anticipated release. I, like hundreds of thousands of others, purchased it on the assumption that it would be a quality product. I had no reason to be concerned. I had purchased licenses for vBulletin for several years so trusted the brand despite the parent company being bought over. I shouldn’t have jumped in so quickly. vBulletin 4 was a piece of crap. They sold it on the basis of it’s fantastic content management system. For years people had been looking for a product that completely integrated a discussion forum and CMS so I clicked buy too quickly. The CMS aspect of the script was awful. It felt like it had been designed in the early 90s.
Not only was the software terrible; it was also expensive. Previously, all license holders could upgrade for a small fee every year. Internet Brands not only increased the price of the software considerably, they also removed the upgrade option so all members effectively had to purchase a product they had already bought. As you can imagine, there were a lot of people pissed off about this (including me!).
When I relaunched the forums for my old WordPress blog in 2011, I decided to go with Xenforo. Xenforo was developed by the original developers of vBulletin. It’s a fantastic piece of software. Quick, efficient and user friendly. It’s unfortunately never reached it’s potential because of Internet Brands.
The Xenforo vs Internet Brands Saga
I currently have three Xenforo licenses. I am very happy with the product itself however the lack of development of the script has been incredibly frustrating over the last year. The blame for this slow development cannot be placed with Xenforo lead developers Kier Darby and Mike Sullivan. It lies solely with Internet Brands.
A few hours before the first beta release of Xenforo on 4 October 2010, Internet Brands filed a claim with the High Court of Justice alleging copyright infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets (among other claims). More than two years later, this lawsuit has continued to slow the development of Xenforo.
I can completely empathise with the difficulties facing the developers of Xenforo however, from a user’s point of view, the slow progress of the script has been very frustrating. Everyone within the community is hoping for a positive outcome for the lawsuit so that development of the script can continue.
Whilst looking in one of my folders the other day, I came across the legal declaration from Kier Darby. It was saved as a PDF file however I hadn’t read it (it was shared by Xenforo member Shamil). The PDF details the whole saga regarding why so many of the original developers of vBulletin left the company and the practices of Internet Brands; such as wanting the 2 year development of vBulletin 4 in under 9 months rather than 2 years. It also highlights complaints at the time from Kier regarding Internet Brands proposed new pricing policy being unfair to customers.
I encourage you to read the document (linked at the end of this article). It’s a very interesting story of what happens when a large company tries to bully a smaller company. I am not a lawyer but from what I have read, it seems to me that Internet Brands have no course for filing a lawsuit. If the purpose of the lawsuit was to slow the development of Xenforo and give Internet Brands more time to develop their product, I think they have succeeded. Their is no doubt that they have had a significant edge over their competition because of this lawsuit.
Moving forward, I will continue to support Xenforo. The software still lacks a lot of features that I feel are important to a community however the developers of Xenforo have shown from the start that they care about their customers. That’s important to me.
You can download the full declaration from Kier Darby below:
If you would like to know about the lawsuit, please check the California Case Update Thread on Xenforo. One of the last messages posted suggests that the lawsuit will go in Xenforo’s favour and they need to discuss settlement. Hopefully Xenforo will win the case and be compensated for all the inconvenience they have suffered.
Thanks for reading,