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ChChChChanges... Coming to THWACK in February 2020

Community Manager

First, it's so good to be writing to the community again. I've been hibernating working on fun necessary projects. But before I share what's coming, I have a question: how many of you knew THWACK was born more than 16, almost 17 years ago? I've been at SolarWinds for 8-plus years solely working on the community and our user group program and I have to say, it's been a thrilling, inspiring, and eye-opening experience to witness what THWACK has become today.

But with age come changes. The external community vendor arena has grown sparse due to shifts in how businesses are engaging with customers, and few have been successful in building a community program to do what all of you have built here on THWACK. That said, here’s how we arrived where we are now:

  • July 2017, Jive (our current platform) sells to Aurea.
  • September 2017, Aurea breaks up the business and sells Jive-X (Jive external) to Lithium.
  • Following this, we went through a lengthy RFP process and ultimately signed with Khoros (aka Lithium), who hosts external communities for Cisco, HP, Microsoft, Spotify, and more.
  • December 2018 it was announced Lithium will EOL Jive-X at the end of 2020.

TL;DR we’re migrating platforms! We saw this coming and work has been underway to bring things to parity between the platforms.

GOING FROM HOSTED TO SaaS

Because I know this audience understands these annoying yet necessary circumstances, I'm going to geek out with you a bit.

Our current environment (Jive) is hosted. We were told for years we'd never be able to move to the cloud due to the number of customizations we house. Thankfully, our forever and always partner, sonofagum, came through with a plan.

All our customizations (the THWACK Store, Monthly Missions, SolarWinds Lab live chat, etc.) were previously written in Java and ran in-process in Jive, taking advantage of a rich set of available services and libraries. The new platform mandated all our non-trivial customizations run out-of-process and be hosted externally. This presented us with a lot of challenges: from authentication, to platform differences and migration incompatibilities, to scalability, to having to rewrite dependencies from scratch without the benefit of source code, all while learning the ins and outs of the new platform. Needless to say, we’ve been busy over here!

EVERYTHING has been rewritten in C# (.NetCore 3.0 on Linux) and Angular or Vue and now runs in AWS. There’s still a lot of work to do and everything may not be perfect on day one, but we’re committed to keeping THWACK the best user community on the interwebs.

WHEN?

The official migration date is February 20, 2020. That's right, 02.20.2020 or 20.02.2020 for most of the world. I don't know how that worked out, but I'm calling it next-gen binary. We'll have more updates in the weeks coming, but below is what you can expect.

WHAT’S CHANGING?

  • Khoros is a mobile-first platform, which is great for you and really, really painful for us. We’ve had to rethink our entire webpage structure—headers, navigation, body content, widgets, footers, etc. But it’s really helped us clean up some of the website real estate and we’ll be curious to see if mobile usage picks up. Currently <1% of you visit the website on devices smaller than an iPad or similar.

  • Forums are now called categories and each category houses multiple boards underneath it. Confused yet? Don’t read too much into the semantics, but I wanted to bring this up and share an example to help understand what this change means.
    • Current THWACK: Network Performance Monitor is a forum housing multiple types of content – discussions, documents, feature requests, etc.
    • Future THWACK: Network Performance Monitor is now a category and has three main boards underneath it (hierarchically speaking).
      • Network Performance Monitor – shows all content contained in the sub-boards but content cannot be posted here.
        • Network Performance Monitor Discussions – houses all NPM discussions.
        • Network Performance Monitor Documents – houses all NPM documents.
        • Network Performance Monitor Feature Requests – houses all NPM feature requests.
      • This means you’ll need to either follow the NPM category page or all the sub-boards depending on your preferences. Not a big deal, but something to note.

  • Polls and events are no more. I know what you’re thinking. Trust me, I grilled Khoros hard on this. Not too much to say here other than we’ll have backups of this content, but it won’t appear on the new platform. We may revisit later to assess what can be done.

  • Remember when I mentioned we’d never be able to move to the cloud due to the number of customizations we have? This is where things get real. Our entire gamification strategy is unique to SolarWinds. We invented something even experts in the industry have never seen done at the level we’ve taken it to, and successfully I might add. The Khoros gamification strategy is fundamentally different than what we’ve developed. Their ranking system is based purely on community activity and engagement whereas our current ranking system is determined by your point accumulation. Sure, we’re logging community activity and engagement, but it’s not apples to apples.
    • Before you start penning hate letters, your points are being carried over and the store will live on. I won’t go into detail as to how we made this happen, but we did. Going forward, you’ll continue to earn points, but there will be more defined ways upon which you can earn them. More to come on this later.
    • However, everyone’s level will start at 1 (Ready Player One anyone?). There’s simply no way to port the way your current level is determined to match how your level will be determined moving forward. The data is too different. It's like trying to direct connect a 300baud modem to an MPLS line. It's like trying to port your TRS80 Basic program to the cloud as a microservice. It's like trying to convert your "database" that was lovingly crafted from macros in Lotus 1-2-3 to SQL 2016. It's like trying to make Battlestar Galactica jokes to a bunch of overly-earnest LOTR fans. It's like... well, it's like trying to port a gamification system built from custom scripts and calculations into a completely different platform.

  • Oh, and you’ll need to reset your password the first time you log in on the new platform because security or something important like that.

ACTIONS YOU NEED TO TAKE

Prior to our migration date, February 20, 2020, you will need to take note on the following items:

  • You will need to take inventory of the places and people you follow as well as your bookmarks. These cannot be migrated with your profile details.
    • Steps to find the places you follow: navigate to your profile > click on “More” > click on “Places.”
    • Steps to find the people you follow is the same as above except you’ll choose “Connections”: navigate to your profile > click on “More” > click on “Connections.”
    • Steps to find your bookmarkers is the same as above except you’ll choose “Bookmarks”: navigate to your profile > click on “More” > click on “Bookmarks.”

  • You will need to save a local copy of any content currently in draft mode.
    • If you have any drafted content that won’t be published before February 20, save it off THWACK! Drafts cannot be migrated.

Once the migration is complete, we’ll publish instructions on how to get the items above set up on the new platform. I would recommend to follow the following people to ensure you get the latest or if you need to shoot us any questions: yumdarling, KMSigma, sonofagum, and me DanielleH.

I’m exhausted. The team is exhausted. Did we want to spend the last 12 months working on this (while continuing our regular jobs I might add)? Absolutely not, but this is technology and it’s a constant game of keeping up. Writing all of this on paper knowing I’ve purposely left out 90% of what we've done makes me so proud to call these folks my team. I hear this audience knows a thing or two about migrations... I’m hoping you’ll bear with us through this transition and understand not everything will be perfect, but rest assured we'll be working around the clock to make it right. The backbone of this community—you—is all we need.

Oh—and #darktheme is coming.

100 Comments
Level 8

haha touché

Level 11

You and the team haven't ever done anything without our best interests in mind, so I am excited to see what happens from here on out, and to level up to not n00b again! It doesn't Jive anymore, so it's to to move on! Thank you all!!!

MVP
MVP

Onwards and upwards as they say! I'm looking forward to the new Thwack.

Level 7

Migrations are not easy and I would like to thank you and your team for working hard on this project.  Looking forward to the new platform, and if there are bumps on the way, that is okay, we will deal with it.

Level 10

Just wanted to point out that Reddit's code base is opensourced, you know... for message boards

GitHub - reddit-archive/reddit: historical code from reddit.com

MVP
MVP

This is awesome DanielleH​, very exciting, especially "everyone’s level will start at 1"

Let's start all over ... Love it and looking forward!

[update]

oops... just read comments above. So... no RESET to 1 it would have been fun actually to see all of us starting from zero lol .. I think you should still consider it lol

Level 9

I agree! Every time I thought of a question, it was answered and with detail. This was a very well written transition head's up. I ain't even mad.

Not sure where to start, but will start grabbing as much data as I can.......

Community Manager
Community Manager

Your points will no longer determine your spot on the leaderboard, so it is a reset of sorts.

Community Manager
Community Manager

I would start with the 2 action items I listed above. Everything else should migrate over.

I am looking forward to the change, change is good.

Level 20

So are we going to lose all our points then?  That's kinda a let down after all this time.

Community Manager
Community Manager

No. As stated above, your points are migrating over. They just will not be used to calculate your level on the leaderboard. Your level will be determined by various activities done in the community over a certain period of time.

Wow, that's a lot of bookmarks....   Sheesh.   If i had a better memory I would not have so many bookmarks.   I might not need them all.   Thanks for the reminder.  I need to get on that before its too late.

MVP
MVP

Too bad we don't have a way to export our contacts and bookmarks....

even better would be a way to rte-import them after the migration.

DanielleH​ and sorry if i missed this but our store points will remain?   Will there be a similar buying experience on the new store or is there more involved?

Level 20

You should have come to the PHX SWUG Eric!  We had a good time there last week.  For the first time I've seen they had the SAAS people all there too.

Level 13

Guess it's not a big deal if you ranked in the bottom.  But it is at 37.  Spent years and many comments to get to that level.  Thanks for the wasted effort.

Level 20

The points remain Jeremy.  At least we'll have that as some badge of honor for years of participating here.  Let's hope it's better somehow Jeremy... it would be nice if they'd restock the store some.  Having the backpacks run out is upsetting because it's always been the goal for most people on thwack.  It's a step above tradeshow swag giveaways and was always something that drove thwack users to participate.

Bill

Level 20

I can relate.

Level 20

All kinds of weird stuff going on... my MVP badge went away somehow now?

MVP
MVP

mtgilmore1​ I'd like to think I understand where you are coming from, as I have climbed the ladder over the years too, and will also be reset in the new system. However, the more I have participated within THWACK, the more I have realized just how trivial my rank actually is.

pastedImage_0.png

There are folks with bigger brains than mine, more experience than me, and have given back far more than I have, yet they do not have a higher rank than me. (I think they should, but in this system they do not.)

Fortunately, we will all be tied for 1st place when the new system goes online. Just think, that's 36 spots you don't have to climb, and that's 340k+ points you don't need to gather to reach the top of the leader board.

DanielleH​ and team have done an outstanding job with keeping THWACK alive and growing.

For those THWACK users actively contributing, there should be no issue(s) with continuing to actively contribute.

-Will

Level 20

Your brain is pretty big Will... you figure out how to do some pretty unique stuff!

MVP
MVP

Funnily enough it made me look where I was i the rank and recognized most of the folks in the same area.

Didn't realize I was so close to Paul and his brain is MUCH bigger than mine

MVP
MVP

I agree mate, who cares about rankings. We should be here to learn and help. Not just collecting points. It does annoy me when you see useless posts or digging up old polls just to collect points. The leaderboard should be removed - find joy in helping and learning and being able to save points to get some cool Solarwinds stuff. I have a nice sock collection!

Level 12

Good work

MVP
MVP

Hats off

Level 20

Staying in the Hotel between days was a good idea Danielle... you were right.

Community Manager
Community Manager
Level 12

Really looking forward to this. I have been a "points watcher" for many years, but I think contribution should count at least as much as longevity!

Level 11

I'll have to be sure to check back on Friday. I'm looking forward to seeing New Thwack!

Level 10

I read: the store will live on,  maybe it is a moment to review/globalize your delivery strategy ? 

(there are also a lot of customers outside the USA, Germany and the UK ... ) 

I am looking forward to that !

MVP
MVP

So is saving a copy of the url for each item sufficient?

In otherwords is the URL patch going to be the same for all the content, bookmarks, etc?

Level 13

Draft

Level 13

Let's see if that migrates over, shall we?

Level 13

All joking aside. I wish Solarwinds much luck on the migration. I love this community, and wish to see it prosper now, and in the future.

Level 13

When the store gets ported over, will it have more "Break My Day" mugs?

MVP
MVP

Hopefully that won't be the phrase of the day!!!

Community Manager
Community Manager

YES!

Community Manager
Community Manager

UPDATE: The community will go into read-only mode at or around 7:00pm CT. At 12:00am CT, the site will be taken down into maintenance mode for at least 16 hours. I will update you all accordingly. Stay tuned!

Level 14

This is a huge undertaking, good luck to all involved. I'm sure I speak for many Thwacker's when I say, we appreciate all the efforts on all the fun projects.

MVP
MVP

During the time of the cutover I am sure someone will be designing a t-shirt "The Day Thwack was down" or "Thwack Broke My Day".

Of course others will likely be rocking gently in the corner or checking every other minute..."is Thwack up yet?"

Level 14

Good luck to the team charged with making this change. We know it will be successful!!!!

In the meantime I chant....

Oh where oh where has my favorite site gone

Oh where oh where could Thwack be

We've been cut off

And I hope not long

Oh where oh where can it be

MVP
MVP

Like the new look and feel.

 

Great work @DanielleH and team 🙂

Level 11

Hi,

nice new layout. 

 

After login I gor:

An Unexpected Error has occurred.
  • Your request failed. Please contact your system administrator and provide the date and time you received the error and this Exception ID: 59A5F6A2.

    Click your browser's Back button to continue.

 
And I'm only level 10 now but I remeber I was level 13...
 
Kind regards
Level 9

Anyone else having problems viewing Thwack with Firefox 73.0.1 (32bit) version.

I am getting this message 

Request Entity Too Large

The requested resource
/xcdhs76427/
does not allow request data with GET requests, or the amount of data provided in the request exceeds the capacity limit. 

I've rebooted my computer and restarted the browser several time.

Level 9

Anyone else having problems viewing Thwack with Firefox 73.0.1 (32bit) version.

 

I cleared my cookies and the site is working again.

Level 7

WOW.

Level 13

O the hits keep coming. 

Level 13??????  what is up with that?  I was in the 20's prior to this switch. 

If you are not going to base the "Leader board" on points then why even have it? 

Kudos?  -- what is that all about.  We have to give a thumbs up to someone to be rated.  Someone has to feel good about getting so stupid "thumbs up" symbol.  What about a thumbs down? 

I'm a long time member and I will say it.  I am not a fan of this new Kudos system to rate people.  Please provide a way to remove the leader board from my home page.

 

mtgilmore1_0-1583415462536.png

 

 
 
 
 

 

 
Level 14

@mtgilmore1   Have to agree.  Relying on someone to give me a thumbs up to rank me seems like something kids would want.  I'm an adult (although some might disagree) and would like it back the way it was.  🍺