Time to leave vBulletin?

Once again I find myself forced to consider converting MW from vBulletin to one of its competitors. With the new license structure being released finally it is clear that customers are getting royally screwed. They currently have a pre-sale going on that makes the suite look like a bargain, but once you are locked into a suite license that is it: when VB 5 comes out you will have to pay whatever the upgrade fee is for the suite even if you decide you were happy with just the forums after all. They company reps are pretty obvious in their desire to get everyone onto the suite path. No pun intended.

The thing that is so horrible about the pre-sale is that there is NO demo, NO live site anywhere that shows this new VB, and you are basically paying for vaporware. Some argue given the software’s history you are purchasing on faith, except the vast majority of the team that made VB what it is are now gone. One former member’s twitter post about watching a train wreck doesn’t really build one’s confidence in the future of the company.

Basically Internet Brands wants me to spend $180 (or more) every couple of years in order to have access to the most stable vBulletin version. IP.Board costs $150 plus renewals, however unlike VB they have this history of honoring previous license agreements. So even if they changed ala VB if you bought your board before the change nothing will happen to your agreement with the company. I find this so ironic because one of the primary reasons I choose VB over IPB was because I felt Jelsoft (which for all intents and purposes is no more) was more of an honorable company than IPB.

To be frank IPB didn’t handle their going from a free script to paid solution very well. Not very well at all, in fact. And yet it seems as this years draws on VB keeps sending new customers their way. Indeed, nowadays it seems Internet Brands is the best thing to have happened to IPB.

But converting isn’t easy. As an end user I am far more familiar with VB than any other board software except maybe phpBB albeit the phpBB 2 series. Not to mention I have no real idea how hard or easy it would be to skin IPB, although I can’t see it being any more of a pain in the ass than the current VB. I’d have to make a new style for version four anyway.

This whole situation is so disappointing. Thank god I renewed VB right when I did because this announcement came out not even a full week later. So if I feel inclined I can download VB 4, but then when next October rolls around I’d have to cough up the $180 to continue to receive updates. I suppose that means I have a year to decide/get used to the idea of converting. Even so, I was semi-looking forward to the new VB. They had some nifty improvements planned, just not nifty enough to justify the increased cost. And a lot of the features they were pimping weren’t even things I cared for, like SEO links and removing valuable info from the HTML title of threads (like the Page 1, Page 2 stuff).

It is becoming more clear as the days wear on that Internet Brands doesn’t give two sticks about their customers.

ETA: Someone has broken down the new pricing plan.

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  1. That’s pretty shifty of VB… especially after reading the info about the pricing. I like the gravatars for Invision Power Board. That is not a very technical reason. 😮

  2. Considering that a web server needs to run Linux+Apache+MySql+PHP, which are all free, just to get VB going, Niklas has always thought it was silly to pay for it. However, mysql, PHP, and several linux distros have payed versions which includes support and loveliness. And maybe Apache too, I don’t know.

    Anyhow, if VB was nice, they could have handled pricing like that, since it obviously works for all those other companies. Now they just stand out as super greedy and short sighted.

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