Going Forward

by David “davidan” Anderson

Champion Motorsports (CMS) was created back in the late 1990s when I was in my mid-20s, had plenty of time, was long on energy, and I ruled it with an iron hand. Our tag line, “sim racing since the prior millennium” is aptly stated.

The majority of sim racing sites that were popular at the turn of the century (sounds old, doesn’t it?) are long gone and survive only at archive.org and in our fond memories. Many of them succumbed because the protagonist who shepherded them along grew tired and lost interest.

Also consider that 15 years ago we had one really big title for multiplayer racing, rFactor, that everyone raced. Smaller groups ran the Papyrus sims, NASCAR Racing 2003 Season and Grand Prix Legends. Then GTR and GTR2 arrived and diversification started in online racing.

As CMS evolved, it changed from a resource driven primarily by myself with a few key supporters, to an open community driven website where each area of the community would build their own interest areas.

As you are aware, I moved us from Teamspeak to Discord earlier this year for our in-game communications. It has been quite successful and the CMS Discord server is the largest growing area of activity for our community.

What is continuing to diminish is the CMS Forums. Consider we have less than a dozen new posts in a typical day and typically 75 members visiting. But our Discord server activity far exceeds the amount of daily traffic in the forums.

Our race server facilitates multiple racing events weekly and the combined total of participants who race in a CMS events weekly is close to 175 drivers. That probably surprises some of you because our current site is not indicative of that amount of activity.

Because of these changes in sim racing, web forum facilitation, it is now time for some evolutionary changes in the long history of Champion Motorsports.

We will be moving to a portal-structured website that contains the functionality as the current website – except for the forums. We will be closing the current website and forums on September 1st, 2019 and all interactive communication will move to the CMS Discord server and the new portal website.

Members have through the month of August 2019 to copy off any private messages or single posts they want to retain. Since Discord provides the same – and better – functionality via it’s private messaging with individuals and created groups, all private messaging will go to Discord.

There will be an expanded role for each of the hosts / administrators who shepherd the 7 different areas of sim racing CMS has operating.

We will still do most all of the same things we are currently doing, but in more efficient, easier to locate resources.

How members visit the website has changed. Many of you do not go to a desktop or laptop computer to visit CMS. Instead, most of you visit via mobile devices. The new site is optimized for that.

As that transition is complete, and planned to be before the end of 2019, we will move to a new racing server to host events. The current server is based on Windows 7, and that goes away at the end of the year. Our host has already advised they are moving away from the game hosting system provider business.

Below are several FAQs I would anticipate you would ask. If you think of others, please add them to this thread. If you have great ideas, add those to the thread also! I think everything is going to be covered well, but if you spot something dropping through the cracks, please speak up!

Q. What happens to all the classic informative posts on the site?

A. They will live on as new read-only pages in the portal website. We want to make sure everything important is captured.

Q. Wasn’t the site just updated?

A. A new theme, minor version updating, and some new Band-Aids were applied last year. At that time, I realized it was going to be a temporary solution. vBulletin, the software the forums have been based on for 20 years, has in my opinion, not grown with our needs. We are on v4.2.5. Even the newest version (v5.5.3 at the time of this message) doesn’t provide solutions we can get with the new portal and Discord

Q. Couldn’t you export the database to the more popular forum software, Xenforo?

A. That is an option, albeit expensive and time consuming. If we had more members using the forums actively, I would have more seriously considered it.

Q. What about importing the forums into the portal website software?

A. That was also considered and explored, with the same conclusions. What is important can be posted as read-only, or made accessible so event hosts can provide updates to the content.

Q. Couldn’t you just make the forums “read-only” on the new website?

A. Technically, no. The forum software does not support current web technology even after it is upgraded. The only way to make that happen would be to back-up the entire forum structure, and purchase a monthly hosting service that will support the older technology of the forums. Again, for the very few members who are using the forums daily it is not practical or cost efficient. Better we make sure all that is needed is added to the portal website and the Discord server.

Q. When do you start working on the new portal website?

A. Surprise, it is nearing completion. While there is quite a bt to be done yet, and not all of the links are active, but it will give you a good idea where we’re headed. The development site is at https://cmsracing.com.  On September 1, 2019 the address will change to the familiar https://cmsracing.com.

Q. What happens to the Incident Report function, CMS Racing Rules and Regulations, Downloadable files?

A. They will live on in the new website and on Discord. I am going through each function to make sure it is being covered properly, and confirming each function has a procedure in place. The Race Control page will contain much of these just as it is now a resource for common information and files.

Q. You mentioned the hosts / administrators have an expanded role. What does that mean?

A. Besides setting up a new series structure as they are currently doing, each host will now be responsible for providing a very short (50 words) formatted report and one image after each racing event. No one has time to write and we are not asking for that beyond the basic details. But we must do a better job of reporting events. We have much more going on at CMS than our current reporting indicates. Each event “report” will appear on the homepage of the new portal. Hosts will submit content initially and before the end of the year they will be able to post on the new portal website.

Q. So closing the forums means you do not need donations for the operation of CMS?

A. No, I still need your financial support. There are still costs for website hosting and there will be an even bigger expense for the new game server to move it off of Windows 7. The yellow-orange “Donate” button is still active and functional on the website pages.

Change is seldom comfortable. But I am very concerned for the future of CMS if we do not change. I ask all of you who have supported CMS over the years to endorse these changes, and help me transition Champion Motorsports to it’s new home.

Regards,

– David

David “davidan” Anderson
Owner, Champion Motorsports