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During the past few weeks I have been approached offline by a few of our members concerning our current forum hosting. There appears to be a growing concern regarding the long term viability of Lefora. From my perspective there is evidence to warrant such a concern, though I cannot predict how long Lefora will or will not remain in existence. I can say that monitoring the Lefora support forums on a regular basis in order to receive some word of its future, but yet receiving no such word has gotten old for me. I continue to do it nonetheless, no worries, I consider it my duty as founder. And it's not the work that has gotten old, it is the lack of a good answer, or any answer really that has caused this result. There was also a fair amount of complaint from those who have sent me PMs regarding all of the advertisements on the Lefora forums, especially those pop-up ads that appear at the bottom of an attached picture or document.

The general notion that seems prevalent amongst those who have brought the issue to my attention is that even though Lefora may last for some time to come, it is also possible that it will disappear rather quickly. Therefore, rather than just sit around and keep our fingers crossed that this result does not occur, these members would prefer to take proactive/preemptive measures by moving to a new hosting platform now. It's a plan-and-do-it-now instead of react-later kinda thought pattern, if you will.

So. Based on this feedback, I have formulated a plan for how our forum can migrate to a new home. The basic idea is that we create our own website and forum so that we do not rely on anyone's forum hosting services. Our only dependency then is our new web hosting company, which is something that every website must ultimately rely upon. However these folk are paid, so there is incentive to retain good quality services in the long term, whereas Lefora was free and thus does not have this incentive. Here are the details of my plan:

1) I would secure a domain registration for our new website as well as web hosting services using the same web hosting company I have used for a few years now with the other websites that I maintain. This company is widely recognized in the website hosting industry as one of the best, if not the best in the business. I have never experienced any website downtime with them in over 3 years and they have a very good customer support system. This company's name is HostMonster - feel free to research them if you'd like via Google or their website http://www.hostmonster.com/

2) I would purchase a license for vBulletin, which I consider to be the best and most feature-complete forums software in the Internet. This is a one-time license with no renewal fees. The only fees that might come later on would be if an upgrade to a newer version of vBulletin was desired. I suspect we could continue with the 4.x suite of products for many years to come. You can check out vBulletin at http://www.vbulletin.com/ or via Google search.

3) We would continue to use Lefora for now, and in the meantime I would migrate our forum's content to the new website and test it. This would include users, posts and attachments. Only once it was up-and-running in a stable manner would we make the final switch. After that, I would close the Lefora russiancars forum and leave a note that we have moved for all those who might return to look for us in the Lefora community in the future. Ergo, I would provide a link that clearly spells out our new website address for all to find.

4) One of our members who has approached me also had an additional suggestion. We could grow the website a little in the future to perhaps include a store, etc. However our first priority would always remain - naturally - to be a community where Russian cars and all subjects that pertain to them are discussed/information exchanged.

A couple of pertinent notes to this plan. I would personally donate my time and software development expertise to this project, as well as cover the up-front costs of our migration. Hopefully all of our members would contribute their feedback and we could continue to evolve the look-n-feel our new forum. During the work, I would be willing to accept small donations to cover our expenses, but I wouldn't formally request them and certainly NOT insist on them. There will be no cost for you to be a member whatsoever. Russiancars is free to all who would like to join us and contribute. Later on, if we decide to create a store then we could apply whatever proceeds we receive from that store to the maintenance of our website/forum. It would never be a business for me or anyone else, all proceeds would be reinvested back into the care and feeding of our new home.

It seems like there is another aspect to this announcement that I wanted to mention, but hell if I can remember what it is now. So I will reserve the right to add that commentary within the next few days, provided I remember.

EDIT: Ok I remembered what I wanted to add: the selection of a new domain name. Should we decide to go in this direction, we will need to decide on one. Any suggestions/preferences? At last check these names were available:
www.russiancarsforum.com
www.russiancarforum.com
www.russiancarclub.com
www.russiancarsclub.com
www.russiancars.net

Not available were:
www.russiancars.com

Open to suggestion from here.

And with that, I would like to turn the speaking podium over to all of you for your feedback on this idea. If you have an opinion one way or another on the subject, please post with a clear "Yes" or "No" regarding your position on this idea of a new home, along with an explanation if you would like to expound upon your vote. Thank you for your time.

Jerry