As somebody on the admin team for a non boating forum I echo the sentiments regarding lots of work and the need for a fair amount of money. Yes you can get free forum software but try running a decent forum and you'll fall over very quickly, might manage to run West Lothian Pigeon Fanciers Forum or something but the restrictions on storage and bandwidth allowed on any of the free/cheap services are massive and you rapidly need a dedicated server and managed hosting which costs $$$.
On our forum we had major issues with funding and after much angst went down the adverts route, people moaned about it a lot, some put their hands in their pockets but IIRC the reality was that membership donations barely met 10% of the running costs which for us were several hundred dollars a month, I'd guess this place costs similar. The options were, the admin team could fund it, adverts could fund it or we could close the forum down and it got close to the last one.
Adsense now more than covers it and we've been able to switch ads off for the majority of our members. Maybe this will happen here soon, maybe it won't, but £20 a year for the amount of advice and info I get off RIBnet, I'd consider a bit of a bargain.
I liked the old format, I like the new format (I haven't found the friends and stuff and have no desire to so it doesn't bother me - functionally it doesn't seem much different apart from the speed problem) but if I have one criticism it is that it is less office-friendly for those who might be on it at work, something that looks like Excel or Word at a distance is quite handy sometimes.
Just my 2p and echo the thanks to JK both for this place and giving me advice on sources of funding so we could dig LR4x4 out of the financial poo.
A Boat is a hole in the water, surrounded by fibreglass, into which you throw money...
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