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selfserve

ProBoards

ProBoards is a free remotely hosted message board service that facilitates online discussions by allowing people to create their own online communities.

Ownership and Service Statistics

The name 'ProBoards' is a registered trademark of Patrick Clinger, who founded and owns the business, and wrote the ProBoards software.

The service hosts over 2,500,000 internet forums, which in turn have approximately 20,900,000 users worldwide. Currently, all ProBoards forums combined receive a total of over 600 million pageviews per month , making ProBoards one of the largest websites on the Internet.

Software history

Proboards is coded in Perl, a popular programming language with web developers. Due to the remotely hosted nature of the service, users cannot modify the software directly as with some forum systems, but some customisation is possible through the use of CSS or JavaScript codes.

The first day of business for ProBoards was January 1, 2000. At first, ProBoards originally used software created by the owner, Patrick Clinger. In late 2001, though, ProBoards switched to the YaBB system. At the same time, other changes to the service made it the first remotely hosted service to offer a subdomain with each forum (e.g. username.proboards[servernumber].com).

On June 11, 2002, ProBoards Version 2 was launched. This was coded by Clinger and was a rewrite of the entire software rather than improvements to the existing YaBB based setup. The main goals of this rewrite were to improve the overall speed of the software and add new features to keep the product competitive.

In February 2003, Version 3 of the ProBoards software was released, again making improvements on the overall speed of the software and including over 30 new features.

ProBoards upgraded to version 4 of its software on April 30, 2005. This time, the upgrade added over 100 new features and enhancements to the service. Despite this, bugs of varying levels of severity still existed.

The current version of the software is v4.5. Although some new user features were introduced with this update, the main change was behind the scenes, as the original flatfile storage system was converted to a database setup.

The next major release, Proboards Version 5 is currently in development, and will weigh in at an estimated 50,000 lines of code when complete. No release date has yet been announced. The new Proboards Blog carries updates and information on the status of v5, primarily covering planned features.

Servers

ProBoards has 71 servers - physical machines running the ProBoards software - and is hosted by ThePlanet.com (formerly EV1 Servers). The servers are located in two of The Planet's datacenters in Texas.

In 2005, Patrick Clinger was invited by EV1 Servers to take part in a commercial for their business. The commercial opened with a voiceover introducing Clinger as the owner of ProBoards.com, and he then gave a testimonial about how EV1's hosting benefited ProBoards. The commercial was shown at the 2005 Houston Bowl. Since 2007, EV1 no longer exists as a webhost, having merged with The Planet.

Hosting

Although a number of subscription style features are optionally available, there is no obligation for any user to purchase anything from ProBoards. Forums are hosted for free, with no bandwidth or webspace cap , provided users allow advertisements to be displayed on their forum.

Until September 2003, ProBoards was supported by popunders, but these were discontinued in favor of less intrusive methods of advertising. Currently a typical forum will contain a banner ad and some small text links on every page. These are usually provided by Google AdSense, although ProBoards also sells advertising directly to users through a selfserve system.

ProBoards also has an agreement with a third party chatroom provider, addonInteractive, to provide free chatrooms to users.

ProBoards.com Staff

As of June 26, 2008, ProBoards has five paid staff members, each handling a different area of the service.

Firstly, Patrick Clinger, is the founder of ProBoards, lead developer for the next version of ProBoards, and handles the majority of its business aspects.

Secondly, Martyn Dale, is server administrator and developer for ProBoards. Martyn Dale's main job, though, is to keep the ProBoards servers online and stable as well as working on their database systems.

Thirdly, Craig Suffolk, is head of customer support for ProBoards.

Finally, the other three staff members include Ryan Herbel who is lead graphic designer for version 5, Adam Petersen who is the Perl coder for the version 5 software, Jack Yi who is the advertising sales representative for ProBoards.

Policies

ProBoards users are bound by a number of Terms of Service, restricting the type of content which may appear on a ProBoards forum. ProBoards prohibits illegal or adult content, as well as any content in languages other than English.

User privacy is protected by a Privacy Policy outlining the use of logged information, as well as cookie policy, forum monitoring, and publicly available information.

The US COPPA law is enforced by requiring all users to enter their date of birth on registration. Users aged under 13 are not permitted to register at any ProBoards forum. According to the Terms of Service, any user under the age of 18 also requires parental permission to register, but this is taken as implied when they accept the registration agreement and not verified.

References

External links

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