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The State of the Community (2022)

C:Amie Page Icon Posted 2023-01-01 3:08 PM
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A new year is upon us and like many people, I'm taking the first day of the New Year as a chance for reflection on the previous one.

For a lot of people many started 2022 hopeful that the anxiety of 2020 and 2021 were finally coming to an end. Unfortunately for many, especially here in Europe. 2022 quickly settled back into a repeat pattern of anxiety and hardship during the course of the year. With many more facing the consequences of certain, dated political decisions that I think the world had long thought we had outgrown as a collective of societies.

So to everyone in our community, impacted directly or indirectly by such decisions. I hope that even if matters aren't to be solved during 2023, they will at the very least become less anxious and easier for you all.

HPC:Factor is now rapidly approaching its 24th birthday. The idea that something I created has lasted this long is incomprehensible to me, yet her were are still ticking over.

In a lot of respects, we are a dying community. The heady days of the mid-2000's where it was all but impossible to keep up with the number of new posts coming onto the site (as well as the SPAM) are long behind us; though thankfully a lot of technical engineering later and thankfully for the most part the SPAM problems have been reigned in.

With that said, 2022 has actually be a very good year for the site, so I thought that I would share some data with you all.

Forums
2022 has been a good year for the forums. It was the 7th consecutive year of post growth and the forums best year since 2011. While the forum has not been heaving, it has certainly been noticeable that things have been a little bit busier than they have been. Very pleasing to see. As you can see, 2022's traffic was a long way improved from the 2015 rut, which was the start of the 2015 - early 2018 period where I basically had no life other than 80 hour work weeks and the site suffered for it.



The beginning of the year also saw the introduction of the HPC:Factor DOS Palmtops sub-forum, competently moderated by our man Jake and welcoming DOS Palmtop refugees from long lost corners of the Internet to our shores. It was a good idea of his to add the forum and a matter of some personal regret that I did not think to do it a very, very long time ago! The same with the EPOCH/Symbian forum.
While not hugely busy, they are very much a welcome addition to our community.

Despite the growth, new user registrations are actually down on the year. However, I do not see this as necessarily a bad thing.



I have spent a lot of time trying to encourage quality over quantity of registrations. I reflected for a very long time over blocking new users from accessing the download centre. It was not something that I wanted to do, or enjoy doing. However, when most account registrations are just occurring to leech bandwidth and contribute nothing back to our community, then there is a financial reality that has to come into play.

Revenue
The site has never carried ads, no banners, pop-ups, sponsorship. It has been paid for and paid out personally by Insurgent, Ferny and I for decades now. I don't like paywalls any more than anyone else here or online - and there was certainly some squawking on Twitter about it at the time.
People have been told on the registration form that registering won't get them access to binary download content for the last 18 months or so and it has seen a reduction in new account registrations.
I am very aware that inhibiting access to material diminishes the spread of the already limited CE user base, however the reality is that the continuing existence of the site is now entirely dependent on the financial contributions of the community. If contributions do not meet expenditure, the site will disappear. Thus it is a necessary choice between convictions and financial realities.

Donations to the site were down in the calendar year for 2022 by 24.63% compared to both 2021 and 2020. Around 0.59% of the forum membership are active subscribers and I am immeasurably grateful to each and every one of you for offering your support to the site. I am always humbled and surprised that anyone is even entertaining the idea. So thank-you to each of you who have been so generous over what has been such a difficult year for so many.

The Amazon and eBay affiliate links have been a source of immeasurable frustration to me in the year gone. I only discovered a couple of weeks ago that eBay had changed what used to be an optional URL parameter into a required URL parameter. As a result of this change, 11 months worth of eBay referrals were eaten by eBay. Something that I am very annoyed about.
Amazon plays similar games and outright removes carried forward accrued earnings and keeps them for themselves if they don't get enough sales over a certain period of time - leading to many referrals being lost. With that said, they did bring in enough to throw some extra RAM in the server this year, so please do keep using the referral generators and I will continue (perhaps somewhat more diligently) to monitor the (unhelpful) stats both provide to spot problems and to update Marbl accordingly in the future.

Knowing that the bills are paid and that there is a little flex makes it easier for me to commit time towards keeping things running and towards making the site better both functionally and non-functionally for the community. So once again, thank-you.

Site Programming
Speaking of time. 2022 has been a huge year for the site - though I reckon that few if any people have been aware of it. If that has been the case then, good!

The reason why I keep a changelog on the site is primarily for my own sanity. Thousands upon thousands of hours of development time has to go into keeping a site of this size running. Apart from the kernel of the forum, nothing you see on any hpcfactor.com domain is off the shelf (and even that has been hacked to pieces and is largely bespoke now). The changelog is a record of what I did and a transcript of where the time black-hole that is this site goes to.

At the start of 2021, after over 22 years, I had very little idea memory for what was lurking on the various domains. At the start of the year there was even code running live that existed back when we were still ce320. I am pleased to say that at the end of the year, there is none!



I started rationalising the site code at the beginning of the year and having worked on it in spits and spots during 2021, finally finished Mimas at the beginning of 2022. Mimas was something that the site needed from day 1, but it never got. A CMS. By the time I was skilled enough to build one, the site was well in to decline, life was busy and I always maintained that it would never be worth doing... then of course Covid happened. Mimas was one of my Covid projects.

You can clearly see in the graph where the engine code for Mimas was injected into the site (up to about 245,000 code lines), followed by a huge reduction down to under 165,000 code lines by the middle of February. This code reduction was a combination of the removal of virtually all static content from the server, coupled with a very harsh re-rationalisation of what was actually on the server in the first place.
Over 250 MB of code was removed from the servers. The themes section, mobile formatted content, presentation pages for downloads and the support toolkit and others all got chopped - although I did maintian the non-wallpaper theme bits here.
As no one has complained, I assume that no one has missed anything!

For the rest of the year, there was a very gentle increase in line counts as I modernised basically everything to the current code standard (referred to as Elara 18) and then one final update and mass tidy-up to get us to 148,070 code lines on New Years Eve. That is nearly a 40% reduction in code. Every module - SCL, HCL, DLC, H/PC:Update, Directory etc, etc - has been touched, rationalised and optimised. In many cases new functionality has been added. In almost every case the site is leaner and faster - and it is a darn site easier to maintain!

Content
It has been an above average year for content on the site.

We had more home page news posts than we have since 2010, which I always like to see, however new reviews have been non-existent in 2022 as they were in 2021.



I really struggle for news and review content. I am often offered reviews, but they seldom ever come in - I appreciate that we all have busy lives, so please don't take it as a criticism. If there is anyone in the community who sees something or wants to review something, please do get in touch. I could really use your help.

2022 also heralded the introduction of CabMaker. Something that I'm quite proud of considering it was knocked together in a couple of days.

Finally, as I am certain many of you will have not failed to notice. 2022 has been a bonanza year for the SCL and site download content.

Not only was 2022 our best year since 2014, it was our best (trackable) year ever for new download content!



For 2022 that is 9 HCL driver sets, 762 SCL apps and 35 misc downloads which in aggregate, pips 2014's record by 2!

At the start of the year there was around 18GB of downloads in the Download Centre and there is now closer to 35GB!

Of course, it goes without saying that the vast majority of the credit for this and for an immense amount of hard work in researching, aggregating and populating these new SCL records goes to torch. He has absolutely thrown himself at the problem of making the SCL better and I am incredibly grateful to him for the dedication as well as the not inconsiderable hours that he has been spending in there trying to make it better for the entire community.

So a huge thanks to torch from me as well as everyone else in the community for his efforts here. Much as Rich Hawley was responsible for the lions share of the 2014 app population, you have likewise done us all proud!
As a very, very small token of my appreciation, I award you one of the rarest of the HPC:Factor forum badges: the Awesome badge! Because everyone wants more badges, right?!


So if you read this far (and even if you did not) thank-you to everyone for joining me during 2022 on our own little corner of the Internet.
You might ask me "well what happens next?". The honest answer is, I don't know. I do not currently have any committed engineering plans for the site in 2023, but there are a few ideas rolling around and may be I'll find the need to scratch an itch at some point during this coming year.
As always though. If you, the community have any ideas for what you would like to see happen here. I would love to hear them! After all, this is your site too!


Best to you all in 2023 and hope to see you around the site!



(2022-code-lines.png)



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Attachments
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Attachments 2022-code-lines.png (25KB - 65 downloads)
Attachments 2022-downloads.png (14KB - 61 downloads)
Attachments 2022-forum-posts.png (16KB - 70 downloads)
Attachments 2022-fp-news-posts.png (12KB - 61 downloads)
Attachments 2022-new-users.png (14KB - 68 downloads)
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torch Page Icon Posted 2023-01-01 9:41 PM
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I'm honored to receive the badge - that really means a lot, thank you very much!
I'm not done though - I hope to find more weird random programs this year.

It's great to see that our numbers in general are going up. I wish I was good at reviewing, but I'll stick to what I'm strong at!
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Jake Page Icon Posted 2023-01-01 9:51 PM
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A remarkable overview about how-to-run-a-successful-website. Much of the technical detail was above my pay grade, but I could certainly see and admire your continued loyalty to a child you have raised from code.

I'm disappointed to see a lack of 2022 financial contributions. There are very few sites on the internet that are irreplaceable--there can always be another Arch forum--but hpcfactor.com is its only kind. The number of posts may rise and fall, depending on newcomers or who's recently found something on ebay--but it would be a shame to lose this place because of regular members unable to find an extra 10 or 20 pounds.

Congratulations, Chris, for getting us through another year.

Jake
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torch Page Icon Posted 2023-01-01 10:03 PM
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Jake - 2023-01-01 2:51 PM
I'm disappointed to see a lack of 2022 financial contributions. There are very few sites on the internet that are irreplaceable--there can always be another Arch forum--but hpcfactor.com is its only kind. The number of posts may rise and fall, depending on newcomers or who's recently found something on ebay--but it would be a shame to lose this place because of regular members unable to find an extra 10 or 20 pounds.

I wonder if the minimum donation amount for the badge tiers could be played with. I think anyone theoretically who pays more than bronze would be amenable to paying 5 pound more, so perhaps it could be:
Silver: £30 - £54.99 to the site
Gold: £55 - £249.99 to the site
Platinum: £250 or higher
I realize it's all a "numbers-game", meaning if you change the the thresholds too much, it can significantly impact the bottom line. Thus I don't know if I necessarily suggest raising the bronze tier.

Also, I don't know if this is a good idea, but can you make the download bandwidth slower maybe for bronze users? I don't know if that can help cut costs, but almost all of the SCL downloads are small files. Like maybe bronze would be capped at 50% normal speed, and the higher tiers can be 75% and the Full speed?
Again, I don't know anything about running a site, I'm just simply offering ideas.
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Jake Page Icon Posted 2023-01-01 10:12 PM
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I second the bequeathing of an Awesome badge to torch. His work here makes me follow his posts out of pure respect, even if I don't own the device myself.

Jake
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gjcoram Page Icon Posted 2023-01-01 11:50 PM
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Thanks for all your work (C:Amie and torch, especially, in support of nPOPuk recently). It's fun to be part of a community!
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thenzero Page Icon Posted 2023-01-02 2:28 AM
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Awesome...way to go torch. And thank you C:Amie for keeping this website/community alive; it's an amazing achievement.

Also, you didn't mention it, but I think it's also worth mentioning your work with eVT 3...an amazing achievement in itself!

Edited by thenzero 2023-01-02 2:30 AM
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C:Amie Page Icon Posted 2023-01-02 10:06 PM
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Thanks, again, something that should have happened a long time ago really.
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ArchiMark Page Icon Posted 2023-01-03 1:19 AM
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Jake - 2023-01-01 2:12 PM

I second the bequeathing of an Awesome badge to torch. His work here makes me follow his posts out of pure respect, even if I don't own the device myself.

Jake



+100.....


And +100+ to Jake for his great work supporting the forums

And +100 to ThenZero for all his patience and support regarding getting NetBSD onto a MP790......

And +1M to our fearless leader, C:Amie....for all his wonderful efforts to keep this great site/resource/community going after all these years!
And thanks for the excellent analysis of this site too.

Happy New Year!

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fantablium Page Icon Posted 2023-01-03 5:02 PM
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Thank you for all your hard work C:Amie this site is absolutely invaluable to the community with much of the contents of the downloads page not available anywhere else!
Torch has been exceptionally active this year not just with the SCL but also on the forums helping people to get the most out of there aging machines and the addition of the Epoc forum and now the DOS forum only makes the site even more important!

Keep up the good work, and here's to a great 2023!
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