Tuesday, July 01, 2014

The Unofficial Transformers Club and Convention Data Pages Needs Help!

As many of you know, I have made it a bit of a hobby for the past few years to collect information regarding the various convention and club exclusives toys, dating back to the first BotCon in 1994, and collect them on what I have called "The Unofficial Transformers Club and Convention Data Pages" (at least, that's what I've called them since expanding from one to three pages sometime in late 2011/early 2012). When I started the project, I had some free web hosting space through my internet access provider, but when I changed providers several years ago, I lost that privilege, and had to find an alternative.

After a bit of research, I ended up with Zymic. Besides offering a free service, they gave me the ability to change from an unwieldy multiple-directory URL to a comparatively clean one: http://gbblackrock.zzl.org/

Over the years, Zymic has become increasingly difficult to work with. Site outages would crop up from time to time, with no real timeline for getting fixed. Usually, these would be fixed within a day or so, and so while this was annoying, it was never more than a nuisance. After all, the site doesn't generate a large amount of traffic, except perhaps during convention season.

Since about the time of BotCon 2014, however, the situation has gone from nuisance to unacceptable. While I was able to make an update on the Friday of the convention, I have been unable to access the site since, nor upload any of the further updates I've since been able to make to my master files. I did not actually discover this problem for a couple of days, as I was away in London for about a week, and thought that the problem might somehow (don't ask me how) be related to accessing the site from so far away. When a conversation with a fellow fan online assured me that no one could access the site, I realized the problem was more widespread, and upon my return to the States a few days ago, I started to look into the problem with Zymic.

Unfortunately, I have been unable to get any concrete information from Zymic directly. The Twitter account they set up for announcing server issues hasn't been updated since February, and their webmaster forums have been "offline for a spot of maintenance" for quite some time (I can't verify exactly how long, though). An e-mail to their administrator address has gone unanswered, as have tweets (from people other than myself) asking for more information. I am left to assume that the service has simply been abandoned.

There is, obviously, truth to the mantra, "you get what you pay for," but since there is little expectation that I will ever generate income from the site, I see no point in paying for a more stable server. This is a hobby. Not a job. It's supposed to be fun (both for myself and for those fans who use the site).

So this brings me to my reason for posting. What do you guys think? Is this a site worth saving? Do you find it useful? What effort should I undertake to move it elsewhere? If I choose to do so, what are my best options?

For those who may have been unaware of the site until now, you can still see an archived version (obviously not updated with the most recent information) via the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine.

Thanks for any and all comments!

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