The future of Ghacks (2018)
It has been three years since I revealed to you that the situation for the site was not the best, and that there was a chance that I'd have to shut down the site eventually.
Things would have turned out differently, probably, if I would not have made the announcement on the site, as a wave of support helped steer the site in a positive direction.
I posted an update in 2017, and would like to make this a yearly occurrence so that you know where we stand in the grand scheme of things. All the things that I wanted to do in 2017 were done (HTTPS, new theme).
A lot has happened in the last year. I had to switch providers and enable Cloudflare protection due to DDOS attacks against the site. The site experienced an attack in early 2017 and Cloudflare helped put an end to it.
The switch to Kinsta as the hosting provider helped as well as the company focuses all of its energy on providing the best WordPress hosting platform. We switched the content distribution provider, enabled HTTPS on the site, and even switched to a new theme.
We moved the in-content ad to the header in the process, and removed the related links element displayed in-content as well. The sidebar features new article listings (year in, updated articles) which seem to be liked as well.
This all helped improve the user experience on the site for users who don't block ads.
The new "report" functionality listed underneath articles gives you another option to report articles that need updating, broken links, or other issues without having to leave a comment or use the contact options.
I understand that there are still things to do when it comes to the new theme, and those will be done (printing, CSS not loading for a few, performance improvements).
I hired Mike to revive the Linux section on the site and he is doing a great job. If you have any comments or suggestions on how to make it even better, leave a comment below or use the contact options and I forward the info to Mike.
Site traffic is less affected by Google changing search algorithms and making changes to Google Search than it was the case in 2015. The site experiences ups and downs still, but they usually don't take away 20% or more of the traffic overnight anymore.
Still, I don't hold my breath that the storm has passed entirely.
Support from users of the site has been phenomenal. While Patreon contributions are more or less stable, one-time donations have picked up thanks to the integration of the "we need your help" widget displayed after articles on the site.
I'm still looking into a couple of things to improve this further, especially:
- A money transfer service that does not charge fees at all to enable micro-donations. If any visitor to the site would donate $0.01 per month, I'd remove all ads from the site immediately.
- Whether direct to bank account transfers would be useful. Ghacks users from Euro-zone Europe could make donations without transaction costs.
The next 12 months
The next 12 months will be work-intensive. Work on the theme will continue to remove bugs and improve the performance in regards to scripts and other things further.
I'm looking at a new comment system right now that keeps data local. It comes with a voting system to cast votes, notifications to subscribe to comments, and more. It would replace several plugins used currently but there would be a transitioning phase as it is not possible to import all existing comment subscriptions to the new plugin.
I'm also checking out new newsletter services to improve the newsletter offering significantly. This is in its early stages, but I'm considering creating a special newsletter for supporters which will be sent out regularly, and of course the general site newsletter for anyone else.
I can use the (special) newsletter to write about things that I can't publish on the site, but we will see.
Work on article updates continues; it is nearly impossible to stay ahead of that though: I publish an average of four new articles per day to Ghacks, and if I update 5 next to that, I'd spend 10 years updating articles (at which point the first updated articles may need updating again).
I have started to delete some articles that are no longer of interest (e.g. a news piece on Internet Explorer 9 preview build 4). Those get redirected to the most appropriate article on the site (in this case to the IE9 review).
I want to thank you for being a part of Ghacks and making the site what it is today. If you have any questions or comments, leave them in the comment section below please.Advertisement