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Coleslaw

Server Update (June 29, 2016)

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Coleslaw

Hey all,

The last few weeks have been a bit touch and go with the server, but I have a bunch of good news and a permanent solution to announce!

First and foremost, thank you all for your patience. I know it isn't easy to use AVEN some days and I understand that there is a lot of frustration around that. Our primary task as a board has been to plan our path for the future and fundraise to meet the demands of our service. This required a lot of conversation and, while there hasn't been much transparency back to the membership around those conversations, I am going to do my best to fill those gaps now that the Board has come to an agreement on our direction moving forward.

Since there have been many requests to understand what has been happening (why are there issues?), I'll start off by saying that we have been running the same server for many years and what worked for a smaller community no longer works for us. I know this is a familiar comment; we have taken stopgap measures over the years based on the funding we have had available knowing full well there wasn't a permanent solution we could afford. We serve an insane number of requests per month (over 2 million unique page views, hundreds of thousands of posts, a dedicated and active member base on top of media blitzes and swings in traffic load) and our hardware does not scale to meet this demand. These numbers are not just for this forum (the AVEN EN forum), but also our homepage, all the alternate language sites, and organizations like Asexual Awareness Week, who both use and help fund our server. It is affected by members, by visitors, by robots, by spam, and we cannot predict its performance day by day, as the load varies wildly. When AVEN was small and these entities just starting, our server performed more reliably. As you're all witness to, it has not stood the test of time.

In addition to hardware, the software our server runs is not optimized for our heavy database use; some of this is based on software choices we've made, but it is additionally a restriction imposed by our host on our server's software stack. We have been limited in the amount of optimizations we can make, despite knowing those optimizations could be hugely beneficial to our uptime. With limited control over our server's OS and supporting software, our options have become more and more limited with time. At this point in time, we've reached the end of our abilities to work with what we've got.

Now, as I said, we have some good news! Namely, David and I have been working hard this last month to clean our server of unnecessary files, close security loopholes, and halt taxing scripts from running. Starting yesterday, some of the biggest changes have taken effect, and I am extremely optimistic that these fixes, all together, will greatly improve responsiveness and uptime for our current server solution. Secondly, we're finally fundraising! This means that the options we could never afford are a thing of the past; we will be migrating to a new server solution that allows for the scaling that AVEN has needed over the last few years. To those members who have contributed, this is all due to your support: THANK YOU.

Over the next couple of weeks to months, we will be upgrading our infrastructure. There are many challenges to be worked through with the sheer amount of data and services our current server offers, but we will be prioritizing the AVEN EN and Frontpage in these upgrades. The bulk of our traffic comes through these two pipelines, so we've made an executive decision to focus there first. This weekend we will kick off the initial migration work, are aiming to have AVEN EN and the Frontpage completed in July, and hopeful that we can be fully migrated (all sites and services) by the end of the summer. We will be moving quickly as membership here has waited long enough. Again, thank you for all your patience!

Now, in closing, some of you have reached out over the years hoping to contribute technical knowledge and skill to AVEN. We have never had a process for hiring global volunteers, but with the Board of Directors established, we have a team able to review and bring on additional team members. I will be posting another thread with all volunteer positions we're going to be hiring for this week, so if you are interested in helping out with our technologies, please stay tuned to this forum!

Best,
Coleslaw

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CBC

Yay!!!! :D

Thank you so much Cole (and others), for all the hard work you put in. A more reliable AVEN will be lovely. :)

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Sally

Yay!!!! :D

Thank you so much Cole (and others), for all the hard work you put in. A more reliable AVEN will be lovely. :)

Ditto!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Serran

Awesome Cole. Thank you.

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WünderBâhr

Woo! Info and plans! Thanks to everyone working on it.

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tase

Awesome news-Thanks and yay!!!!

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Tja

You go, Cole! :D

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Perissodactyla

@Coleslaw, you made my DAY SUMMER!

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Telecaster68

That's great Cole, and thanks for the update. I don't have much time (and no technical expertise) but I know about campaigning. I'm happy to be on that list if I can contribute some thoughts.

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ithaca

Thanks, Coles! :wub:

The backup board will be active at all times when this website will be down for maintenance: if you haven't bookmarked it yet, this is it http://asexualityorg.proboards.com/

Please mind that you'll need to create an account there if you don't have one yet. Your AVEN account doesn't automatically exist on the backup board :)

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Juno_L

That's super exciting! Thanks for all your hard work Cole and other people who help with the workings of the site. Yay!

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Kelly

Thanks Coles. Awesome news. :)

Thank you for reminding us, ithaca. :cake:

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kelico

Thank you so much for the update and for all of the hard work you and the tech team provide!! This is all wonderful news. Best wishes and cake for all!!

tumblr_inline_nyf0ezCgfU1smgt5e_540.jpg

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Perissodactyla

.

.

.

... Secondly, we're finally fundraising! This means that the options we could never afford are a thing of the past; we will be migrating to a new server solution that allows for the scaling that AVEN has needed over the last few years. To those members who have contributed, this is all due to your support: THANK YOU.

.

.

.

Early in June a Paypal donation page was announced:

.
.
.
We will be giving more detail about the funds we need to raise to make this happen. At present our donation page on paypal is here.
.
.
.

It was later requested that a [DONATION BUTTON] be placed prominently on the AVEN website.

Since fundraising appears to be somewhat proportional to supporting the technical work ahead,

then maybe a [DONATION BUTTON] could be implemented soon? :)

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Yatogami

Don't forget to add chat back into the site. :P

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Guest

This sounds like music to my ears!

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Telecaster68

.

.

.

... Secondly, we're finally fundraising! This means that the options we could never afford are a thing of the past; we will be migrating to a new server solution that allows for the scaling that AVEN has needed over the last few years. To those members who have contributed, this is all due to your support: THANK YOU.

.

.

.

Early in June a Paypal donation page was announced:

.
.
.
We will be giving more detail about the funds we need to raise to make this happen. At present our donation page on paypal is here.
.
.
.

It was later requested that a [DONATION BUTTON] be placed prominently on the AVEN website.

Since fundraising appears to be somewhat proportional to supporting the technical work ahead,

then maybe a [DONATION BUTTON] could be implemented soon? :)

It needs a lot more than a single Paypal button - that's just the destination you need to drive most donors to. It needs an actual concerted, co-ordinated campaign to raise awareness so they know it's there.

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Qutenkuddly

Awesome news, Cole! Thank you, and the rest of the crew, for all of your hard work!

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Tanwen

Thanks so much Coles for all your hard work. It will be good to get a reliable site again - and I'm sure you'll be be glad to get some time off too :D

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Skycaptain

Great news, and thanks for all the hard work, Coles. 🎂 🎂

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Snaoronto Conetario

You're the best, Cole! :cake:

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ben8884

Thanks Cole! So far it seems to be running better!

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Elnae

Late to the party, but thanks for the update Coles.

Star-Trek-Valentines-Day-cake-2.jpg

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Perissodactyla

please see:
Announcement of AVEN's incorporation
Started by michaeld, Jun 01 2016 06:04 PM PDT
http://www.asexuality.org/en/topic/140364-announcement-of-avens-incorporation/

"This is oval and I approve this message."

Many of us have been waiting patiently for someone to implement a simple DONATE button to the AVEN website.

Many of us have enthusiastically made donations via paypal to helping AVEN improve it's efforts supporting the community.

Since no DONATE button has been implemented yet, I decided to force the issue and BECOME A BUTTON! LOL!

Please see my profile page to learn how to DONATE quickly and easily to AVEN!

:D

<3

LOL!



Much discussion has been raised recently about AVEN's legal status, and how this affects both the outage issues we have been experiencing and efforts to fundraise both for a better technical platform and for visibility endeavours.

First we would like to announce that AVEN is now incorporated as a not-for-profit NGO through the state of New York, USA. The current members of the Board of Directors are AVENguy (founder of AVEN and tech admin), Coleslaw (tech admin), michaeld (Project Team), Kelly (admin) and ithaca (AVEN archivist and former moderator and admin).

The role of the board of directors is to provide a framework for the teams - the Admod Team, the Project Team and the Declassfication Team - to run the boards. The board is responsible for the AVEN bank account and legal entity. The board legally owns the site, though delegates decision making on the day to day running of the site to the above teams. Barring unusual circumstances - for example if legal issues arise - the board will not interfere with this decision making progress. Board members can offer to mediate disputes that might arise within the teams should that occur. Finally the board are responsible for the technical maintenance of the site, either directly - for example two members are also tech admins - or by delegation.

We need to make it clear that our incorporation is a work in progress. AVEN is currently incorporated as a small-budget 501c3 organization with the US Internal Revenue Service, which means that all donations are exempt from taxes by the US government. If the amount of money that we raise increases much (above $5000 annually) we will need to start the complex process of applying for tax exempt status more formally. The board would love help from any lawyers familiar with this process, but it's not urgent.

There are two main reasons for fundraising. One is to improve the technical stability of the site. Another is for visibility and education projects. At present the former is our priority. Our plan is to move to a new cloud based server in the next year, which will be better able to handle the weight of traffic we experience. We will be giving more detail about the funds we need to raise to make this happen. At present our donation page on paypal is here.

We will also be adding extra tech positions to our team in the near future. Coleslaw, current tech admin, will be making a thread detailing the various roles available, and how to apply for them.

Thank you for reading!

Michael

PS. I would like to apologise for the time it has taken to post this announcement, since we received questions relating to it; I take responsibility for this.

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Member4445

What are you doing?

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Perissodactyla

Any updates?

Hey all,

The last few weeks have been a bit touch and go with the server, but I have a bunch of good news and a permanent solution to announce!

First and foremost, thank you all for your patience. I know it isn't easy to use AVEN some days and I understand that there is a lot of frustration around that. Our primary task as a board has been to plan our path for the future and fundraise to meet the demands of our service. This required a lot of conversation and, while there hasn't been much transparency back to the membership around those conversations, I am going to do my best to fill those gaps now that the Board has come to an agreement on our direction moving forward.

Since there have been many requests to understand what has been happening (why are there issues?), I'll start off by saying that we have been running the same server for many years and what worked for a smaller community no longer works for us. I know this is a familiar comment; we have taken stopgap measures over the years based on the funding we have had available knowing full well there wasn't a permanent solution we could afford. We serve an insane number of requests per month (over 2 million unique page views, hundreds of thousands of posts, a dedicated and active member base on top of media blitzes and swings in traffic load) and our hardware does not scale to meet this demand. These numbers are not just for this forum (the AVEN EN forum), but also our homepage, all the alternate language sites, and organizations like Asexual Awareness Week, who both use and help fund our server. It is affected by members, by visitors, by robots, by spam, and we cannot predict its performance day by day, as the load varies wildly. When AVEN was small and these entities just starting, our server performed more reliably. As you're all witness to, it has not stood the test of time.

In addition to hardware, the software our server runs is not optimized for our heavy database use; some of this is based on software choices we've made, but it is additionally a restriction imposed by our host on our server's software stack. We have been limited in the amount of optimizations we can make, despite knowing those optimizations could be hugely beneficial to our uptime. With limited control over our server's OS and supporting software, our options have become more and more limited with time. At this point in time, we've reached the end of our abilities to work with what we've got.

Now, as I said, we have some good news! Namely, David and I have been working hard this last month to clean our server of unnecessary files, close security loopholes, and halt taxing scripts from running. Starting yesterday, some of the biggest changes have taken effect, and I am extremely optimistic that these fixes, all together, will greatly improve responsiveness and uptime for our current server solution. Secondly, we're finally fundraising! This means that the options we could never afford are a thing of the past; we will be migrating to a new server solution that allows for the scaling that AVEN has needed over the last few years. To those members who have contributed, this is all due to your support: THANK YOU.

Over the next couple of weeks to months, we will be upgrading our infrastructure. There are many challenges to be worked through with the sheer amount of data and services our current server offers, but we will be prioritizing the AVEN EN and Frontpage in these upgrades. The bulk of our traffic comes through these two pipelines, so we've made an executive decision to focus there first. This weekend we will kick off the initial migration work, are aiming to have AVEN EN and the Frontpage completed in July, and hopeful that we can be fully migrated (all sites and services) by the end of the summer. We will be moving quickly as membership here has waited long enough. Again, thank you for all your patience!

Now, in closing, some of you have reached out over the years hoping to contribute technical knowledge and skill to AVEN. We have never had a process for hiring global volunteers, but with the Board of Directors established, we have a team able to review and bring on additional team members. I will be posting another thread with all volunteer positions we're going to be hiring for this week, so if you are interested in helping out with our technologies, please stay tuned to this forum!

Best,

Coleslaw

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Perissodactyla

AnzoThF.png

PcJPXL1.jpg

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timewarp

This is the kick-off for the donation campaign. We have a goal now, about 4 grand for one year of server time on the new server.

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