Hello Crows Town members! As you know this site has been rather stagnant for several years now, particularly since it was nearly shut down and I stepped in to keep it afloat. Everything does eventually come to an end and if there were simply no more interest in this site, it would make sense to shut it down, but in fact since taking over, I have received a number of requests to join, and the site obviously continues to have some traffic and interest despite some major functions like the torrent tracker being no-functional.
The simple fact is I don't have a lot of time for the site, which is part of the reason it hasn't received much attention from me, despite some early ambitions of fixing things up (mostly consolidation and fixing the tracker). The other major reason, however, is that I am not very familiar with vBulletin, the forum system that the current site uses, and I don't have the time or interest to learn it. It also costs several hundred dollars *per year* to maintain software updates and support, which is something I'm not willing to do on my own.
Fortunately there is a fairly easy solution, and that is to switch to SimpleMachines Forum (SMF), a system that I am more familiar and comfortable with (and is much simpler to administrate and prevent spam), and which also happens to be totally free. Having just completed the move to a new server fairly painlessly, I am nearly ready to convert to SMF, but there are some consequences of this that I wanted to make you all aware of before I do so. Let me note here that the existence of these issues is not going to prevent me converting the site, unless a majority of existing members would really prefer things to stay how they are (semi-broken). Moving to SMF will allow for new registrations seamlessly, it will continue to prevent spam, and it should even allow me to put back up the torrent tracker, in time. So I think the benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
Now for the drawbacks. First and foremost, you will all need to reset your passwords to access the forums after the conversion. The password encoding systems used by SMF and vBulletin are different, so passwords can't be converted. Most everything else should move over though.
Second, a number of features either don't exist under SMF, or will need to be setup through 3rd party modifications that I don't currently have the time or interest to implement. This means features like the photo galleries, tic-tac-toe, the arcade, and personal profile comments will be lost. I will maintain an archive of all files and data, and may be able to bring some things like the gallery back one day, but it's best to assume we'll do without all that stuff for the time being.
As I've also noted elsewhere, I'm not a web designer, so the forum theme will be fairly basic. I will likely maintain the header graphic currently used, but colors, layout, etc. will all change.
You will also all need to get used to the new forum system. It should work fairly similarly to the current one in most respects, though some functions may be missing or moved around. Basic interaction like posting, replying, etc. should be easy and fairly familiar, at least.
Last but not least, I have never setup a torrent tracker on SMF before. I know there is at least one option for doing so, but I haven't tested it. So it's possible I'll be able to setup a tracker, but it's also possible it won't work out. As far as I know the current tracker is broken anyway so this should not make much difference. If I do get a new tracker setup, you will have to re-upload and re-seed all torrents, or at least any that you want shared. I will be more motivated to put up a tracker if there is a lot of interest in sharing shows, of course.
This is mostly an informational post, as I said I plan to go ahead with the conversion, despite some drawbacks, unless there is significant concern from the community. Hopefully you'll all agree that this move is for the best, and will help revitalize and maintain the community for some time to come.
Update: The migration to SMF is now complete. Registration is open to all, but we have some anti-spam measures in place so we shouldn't have any problems. I'll work on getting the tracker back at some point in the (hopefully near) future. I also hope to consolidate some of the many forum sections here.