Dragonmount Year 20 Upgrade
Update: You guys are AMAZING! Thank you for your donations. I have some stretch goals. Please read the campaign updates for more info. Donations are still welcome and will be put to good use.
Next year, 2018, marks Dragonmount.com's 20th anniversary. I know, it's as insane to me as it is to you. Probably more. It's going to be a big year for our community: the Wheel of Time TV show is finally making progress. We'll be helping to celebrate JordanCon 10.
We all know that DM, in its current form, is outdated. The site loads poorly on mobile devices, and it has annoying quirks and bugs everywhere. The version of software we're running on was designed nearly 10 years ago. It's been patched and well-maintained, but, ultimately, it's just.... well, old.
It's time for an upgrade, and that's where I'm asking for your help.
I have a quote from a developer to upgrade the site to the latest major version of our forum and blog software. This upgrade will ensure the site is modernized, including becoming fully mobile-friendly. Unfortunately, I cannot afford it on my own.
The quote is for $880, which is more than fair, and in fact, includes a discounted rate because the developer and I have done business in the past. The upgrade requires significant work and testing. DM also has a lot of specialized needs (such as our online ebook store) that require special attention. I've set the campaign goal to $1,200. I did this because I'd like a reasonable buffer of additional cash in case there're other parts of the site that require additional work not included in the original quote. Experience has taught me there's always something.
Why I Need Help
It humbles me to share this with you so publically, but I need financial assistance to afford this upgrade. I've been out of work for nearly 7 months after being part of my former tech company's large-scale layoffs. For nearly 20 years I've gladly taken on the financial burden of running Dragonmount. Our banner ad and other revenue income streams have always supported the site just fine. But now that the Wheel of Time book series is complete, our traffic has understandably waned. Ad revenue is a fraction of what it once was. Because I have no stable income at the moment, I cannot justify the cost of paying for this out of pocket.
(Wow, look how young I was in 2012!)
I've put this upgrade off for a while, but I feel strongly that this is the time to do it. We need to be ready for the increased traffic that the TV show will bring. And I'd like to have a "Fresh coat of paint" ready for our 20th anniversary. Plus, you just never know what the future might bring and I'd like to be ready?
The developer is ready to begin the upgrade at any point. He requires half of the money ($440) to get started.
How You Can Help
The best way to help, of course, is to donate any amount to this cause. But if you are unable to do so, please consider spreading the word about this campaign to your family and friends who have enjoyed Dragonmount or the Wheel of Time over the years.
I may currently be short on money for a website upgrade, but what I do not lack is Wheel of Time and other memorabilia.
$5: At this level and above, you'll receive a special forum badge for your Dragonmount.com account.
$30: At this level, you'll receive the forum badge, as well as a $5 gift certificate to Dragonmount's online DRM-free eBook store after we've launched the new website.
$200: At this level, you'll get the forum badge, a $20 gift certificate to our new ebook store, and receive a signed copy of Mystic, as well as a digital beta copy of the forthcoming sequel Mystic Dragon. (Limit 3. [ALL GONE NOW, sorry!] Estimated delivery for the digital beta file: summer 2017)
$300: At this level, you'll receive the forum badge, a $30 gift certificate to our new ebook store, a digital beta copy of Mystic Dragon, and a Wheel of Time novel from my personal collection that was signed by Robert Jordan. The specific WoT book you receive will be based on what I have available. (Limit 2. [ALL GONE NOW, sorry!] Estimated delivery for the digital beta file: summer 2017)
Words cannot describe my gratitude for your assistance and consideration. Once I'm back on my feet financially, I will gladly resume full responsibility for the website, as I always have. I also anticipate that with a cleaner, better website, our traffic will pick up and the site will become more self-sufficient.
I'm delighted to announce that Dragonmount.com is Reborn! After being offline longer than any of us would have liked, the site is now online once more.
We're running on the brand-new hardware and software that was purchased from YOUR generous donations. Thank you again for making this upgrade a reality in time for our 20th anniversary.
The last bit of housekeeping that needs to be completed is setting you up with donor badges on the website. I'll reach out to you individually to see if you would like to have one added. That way, when you visit our site, you'll be forever immortalized as a site donor.
Thanks again, and Happy New Year.
A lot of people have been asking, so I thought I'd post an update.
First of all, if you haven't been aware: the hardware for the new Dragonmount website has been setup and is already in action. The website has been upgraded and has 95% functionality.
But that last 5% is always the problem, isn't it?
Currently, Dragonmount.com shows a temporary "Well be right back" message. I originally thought this would be the case for a couple of days, but I'm sorry to report it's been over a month. I accept responsibility for that, and want to let you know what I'm doing to get us back on track.
The major, major hurdle I'm still working on is the DM ebook Store. There's significant customization that has to go into the back-end to make that work properly. And unfortunately, the software we use changed drastically between revisions. My team of people has had to scramble just to figure everything out.
I still don't have an ETA for when the site will be back up. I *REALLY* want to get it up ASAP. I'd love to say this week...before Christmas, but that's going to be hard because I have 2 other people besides myself I have to coordinate with.
One thing I can look into is opening the site, but with the store offline. I'm not sure if that's feasible, but we can try.
As a secondary issue, there's a lot of static content that needs to be updated. I can live with it being messy for now, but ...meh... who wants to launch a new site and have outdated static content, right?
Finally, there's lots and lots of little things: Like the "404: Page cannot be found" page isn't set right. The menus aren't perfect. There are other side bars I want to add. All that can be added later, but it bothers me to not have it. And unfortunately, most of that stuff are things I need to do personally. My time is crunched: I have TWO books due by January 1st.
TL'DR: I'm trying, and I'm going as quickly as I can. Nothing is being ignored.
We won't be offline forever, and I'm still excited about the new site features.
Thanks for your continued support!
The new Dragonmount.com server arrived a few days ago. Take a look at the attached photo!
I had a choice of colors to choose from and I decided to go with gold. Why? Because when you've had a website online for almost 20 years, you deserve a GOLDEN server, right?
I'm currently working hard to get the new server up and rolling. For those of you who are especially geeky, you can learn more about the new server by checking out https://antsle.com/product/
I recorded some video of me "unboxing" the device, and if I get a chance, I'll edit that together and post it online. In the meantime, my focus will remain on getting the server up and going.
Meanwhile, the web designer I hired is working on some mock-ups. After that, he'll start coding. We're hoping to do this as quickly as possible without sacrificing quality. I don't have a solid timeframe yet, but my guess it will take a month or two before we're ready to launch.
I shipped all of the physical books to people who qualified for those rewards. Enjoy!
Finally, although the donations are now only trickling in, I continue to welcome new ones. New funds at this point will help pay for additional art, as well as miscellaneous costs. For example: today, I purchased a $40 plugin that we needed to migrate the WoTFAQ ( http://wotfaq.dragonmount.com) from its ancient software to a nice modern design. Your funds made this purchase possible, but it's a good example of how a extra donations will still help us out. The WoTFAQ is an important part of the history of our fandom, and this upgrade will allow us to preserve that even longer.
Until next time,
The 1st wave of signed books ships out today. Thank you to everyone who donated at that amount. I found extra copies of MYSTIC, so I was able to send more than expected.
At this point, the down payment for the website upgrade has begun. I've also purchased the new server, which will ship to me soon. I will post photos when it arrives. (Because who doesn't like to geek out now and then by looking at new server hardware?)
I've had a few more requests to keep the campaign open, and I will continue to do so. Additional funds will definitely be used, especially because the server cost a little more than I expected (due to unusually high local taxes... ugh).
Thanks again, everyone.