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    Gunboards sold to VerticalScope Inc. (Toronto)

    Gunboards sold to VerticalScope Inc. (Toronto)


    Members,

    In responding to this thread and other inquires regarding the continuance of Gunboards.com and its collecting community that Brent and I started over 20 years ago, we'd like to set the record straight and let you know what has transpired. First off in retrospect, we started down this path to provide a community for collectors that grew from the original Mosin Man website that Tuco started by writing our own HTML code and with a handful of members interested in Mosin's to a growing community that required a separate space outside of the "free" web page that the local web provider gave its members. Back then we decided to host with another service and in so doing took on the associated costs of running "our" own forum. At the start as we grew there were no issues and we (Tuco and I) self funded the web page out of our passion for the hobby and to share a platform to enrich the collecting community for the Mosin Nagant and those that had a passion for Finnishicon and Russianicon weapons. This was at the infancy of the web in 1997.

    We continued to operate under this principle for almost 4 years until we had grown again to a point that we needed to look at expansion and the safety of our content as the web exploded. To ensure that safety of our new forums we made a decision to own our equipment and maintain our own servers. This was a learning curve and for us both (and painful as we learned as we ran) and many many of you original members will remember our first catastrophe in 2000 when we lost our server to equipment failure. It wouldn't be the first time too regretfully. By that time again we had grown again from our humble beginnings to over 1000 fold. We had to make some decisions at that time of what and how we were going do and how to operate with spiraling costs. Tuco and I decided that we could no longer self fund the site and that the members contributions and support of a select few private sponsors like Empire and North China Arms who where also our friends helping us stay afloat, could be relied upon only so much. We needed to go the route of corporate sponsorship in conjunction with our member support to remain viable and to continue to grow. It was a decision that we staved off as long as we could because we felt that remaining a "mom and pop" operation was the best situation for us and for the community we had grown and that we had "control" over what was put out there. With that decision we also had to have a business plan that was no longer looking out a few months but had to be a few years in advance. We bought multiple servers and equipment and decided to host with a private concern outside of the US to insulate us from anti gun legislation and entities. With the support of the membership and our sponsors- we grew again rapidly and made a decision to expand the platform of web forums from just Mosin Nagants to all surplus weapons of interest as well as sporting arms as you see in our listings today.

    By 2005 we had grown once again at least 1000 fold and along with it.. the associated costs which as we all know in life never get cheaper. Our "baby" was now college age and the costs that came with it. Brent and I relied on the sponsorships we fostered to provide the bulk our costs in the site operation and the dedicated members supplementing and safe guarding our future. We relied on you several times over the past 15 years to kep the lights on when times were tough and if it was not for the members who support Gunboards we simply would not be here. Also the amazing help of our dedicated moderators tireless support to maintain our daily quality and content gave us a chance to carry us through tough times when sponsorship struggled. A true team effort. Brent and I honestly felt that we were redefining the way that collectors communicated and interacted in the new "E-age" and the way that gun forums were operated with a community sense and with a sense of family. We have always operated Gunboards as a family community we were proud of. But the sad reality is this forum system and our own success from our humble beginnings of a couple hundred members to a couple hundred thousand also created the formula for our own downfall as privately owned entity. We had reached a point with the competition of advertising platforms that our business plan was requiring more capital than we were able to generate. Our success was always a safeguard or was plowed back into the site to allow us to be bigger and better. We stood as long as we could as the little guys in the face of withstanding large corporate inquires, because it was the way we wanted to remain- privately by collectors. But the end fact was that we had to make some very hard decisions and with the surplus market not being what it was 5 years ago or even 3 years ago for that matter and the explosion of electronic and social media in the past few years. We needed to make some difficult choices on what was best for the community we had built. Do we try to continue to fight the dragon in a slowly losing battle until we bleed out? or do we join forces with them as our ally and continue to operate Gunboard's as we always have?

    We choose the later in that we felt that we did not want to close Gunboard's and it just go dark one day but rather relinquish our private ownership as partners and remain as operating administrators in the forums. Simply put, we did not have the resources to be able to fight off the huge big business's involved in the nets ever shifting business advertising scheme. We also as mentioned before had become a rather big fish and bigger fish had begun to take notice of us. We had become a "player" and as such were now a commodity for larger "players". We tried- trust us we tried and we fought valiantly for many years often with nothing more than a stubborn persistence in defense of our members and our goal to remain apart and different. Nothing has changed here other than we are no longer involved in the financial responsibilities of operating the site in regard to sponsorship procurement and management. We were asked to continue to steer the boat with our team as we always have. We did relinquished those financial duties of the site and the uncertainty of the stormy market for safety in a large corporate umbrella. Brent and I and all of the fantastic people that devout their time and passion to making Gunboard's what it is and have nurtured it to grow are still here. We still operate as we always have and still strive to provide the community which is now global- a place to meet, exchange and share information as we always have. For as long as Brent and I are involved with Gunboards.com we will continue to strive to create an environment like we have built over the past 20 years. A place for collectors- by collectors for the greatest group of members that we could have. You.

    That's why we made the decision to relinquish our private ownership in Gunboards.com so that we could be assured that what we started so long ago would continue to be around for you- the members for years to come. Its a sad day for us in a way but it is also a relief in knowing that Gunboards will be around for another 20 years hopefully and continue to grow with the outstanding success we have enjoyed over the past 10 years. It was only just a few short years ago that we celebrated our 100,000th thread and our 1,000,000th post. This first few months of the year we have reached over 400,000 threads and celebrate over ,500,000 posts. It is only with your support and participation on the forums that any of this was possible. Brent and I thank you all sincerely for everything that you've done as a member and (well most of you... there may be a few that we aren't happy about...lol) we pledge to continue to work as we always have to make Gunboard's what it is- a place for you as collectors to enjoy and interact with other collectors both domestic and across the globe. We will always be.. For collectors- by collectors. Gunboard's.com will continue to grow and be viable for years to come. Now lets get back to enjoying what we love-Guns!

    Vic
    Administrator of Gunboards.com
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    Doug, thank you for sharing that, I am not a member of gunboards, but the letter is still interesting.

    As a personal commentary, I am always worrisome of corporate ownership of internet clubs, groups, and enthusiast networks. Generally corporate ownership changes the atmosphere, from member-centric to profit / fiscal viability aspects, the evolution is not generally in the spirit of the original founding principles. The community becomes a service, and the participation of the members it's product, I understand why this occurs, but once the transition is made from a private venture the rules of the game change.

    My personal experience can cite two examples in the automotive hobby, no names because there might be hard feelings and this is just my perspective;

    #1 A club founded and entirely funded by the promotional department of a major automotive manufacturer in 2001, membership involved a small fee, but the company bore a large portion of the first class club experience cost. This included promotional "swag", partner vendor discounts, special race experience events, high level press event attendance, and Road Race Track/Training/Racing Events. The club had local chapters networked across the US and Canadaicon, each with dozens of members. By 2007, on the cusp of "Carpocalyse 2008" the company had to trim excess spending and their club was sold to a company that specialized in managing enthusiast clubs.

    This ownership company began milking the cow, and the community suffered, the level of service was not maintained and the costs elevated, membership fell off and the club slipped to the edge of obscurity. Sometime around 2010, a former employee of the original founding company purchased the club and all rights to the name/branding. This was generally seen as a very good thing but in actual effect the club has never recovered, re-establishment of the chapter network has been unsuccessful. In my opinion the brand has been purchased principally for profit generation and not as a restoration project. As a former long time member, and Chapter Director, it saddens me but I believe the timeline to rebuild has slipped away.

    #2 More similar to gunboards, another automotive community started in 2006, this time as a private venture, a friendly "for the hobby" foundation. It bloomed and prospered and as the founder lost interest, I overtook day to day administration and operation as a volunteer, I "hired" and trained my own management staff also as volunteers. The site ran well, and the atmosphere was judged by the users to be one of the best on the web in that segment. As operation costs incrementally mounted the founder sought to make the site pay for itself. This was easily achieved in the same manner that Milsurps has done. Later the owner decided to make the site work for him, and began to milk the cow. First monetizing with google ads, later with aggressively reducing free services/access and charging large membership fees for nothing more than increased functionality.

    The adverts were intrusive, and detracted heavily from the experience, "pay to make them go away" became another sales tactic, generally the users reacted negatively and membership declined. The site was actively posted for sale, however at a astronomical price, and I had ethical concerns about selling a product that was based on the freely offered postings, discussions and photographs of the membership base. I entered in negotiations to purchase the site and return it to the original operation, but could not reach an agreement. As member #12 of that site, and the lead content authour and contributor, I removed my articles and retired from the staff position in 2012. The remainder of my staff did the same, today the site still remains for sale, and active membership has slid to a mere 10% of the heyday.

    My lessons learned from both experience were great, and the perhaps most valuable takeaway was that people will come together and volunteer (even money) to keep a good thing going, but once an online community transitions from that to a pay to play business, it all falls apart, members respond negatively.

    Hopefully this does not happen to gunboards, but only time will tell, I would hate to hear of another tale of Paradise Lost.
    - Darren
    1 PL West Nova Scotia Regiment 2000-2003
    1 BN Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry 2003-2013

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    I would highly recommend that any member here who is also a member of Gunboards Forums (click here), immediately go to that site and change your password !!!!

    Here's a direct link that should help you find where to do that ...

    Gunboard's Forums Change Password and Email (click here)

    It appears that the new common database used by the new owners has been hacked, which makes you vulnerable, particularly if you use the same personal information there, that you may be using for our site as well.

    Regards,
    Doug

    Hacker steals 45 million accounts from hundreds of car, tech, sports forums | ZDNet

    Hacker steals 45 million accounts from hundreds of car, tech, sports forums

    The company that runs the forums admitted failings, but underplayed the hack.

    By Zack Whittaker for Zero Day | June 14, 2016 -- 18:00 GMT (11:00 PDT) | Topic: Security

    A hacker has stolen tens of millions of accounts from over a thousand popular forums, which host popular car, tech, and sports communities.

    The stolen database contains close to 45 million records from 1,100 websites and forums hosted by VerticalScope, a Toronto-based media company with dozens of major properties, including forums and sites run by AutoGuide.com, PetGuide.com, and TopHosts.com.

    The company didn't outright confirm the breach, but said it was investigating.

    "We are aware of the possible issue and our internal security team has been investigating and will be collecting information to provide to the appropriate law enforcement agencies," said Jerry Orban, vice-president of corporate development, in an email.

    He added:

    "We believe that any potential breach is limited to usernames, user IDs, email addresses, and encrypted passwords of our users. In addition, we are reviewing our security policies and practices and in response to increased Internet awareness of security-related incidents, including potential incidents on our communities, we are implementing security changes related to our forum password strength and password expiration policies across certain forum communities."

    But a further analysis of the leaked database, obtained by breach notification site LeakedSource.com, suggests that the scope of data may be greater than first thought.

    In a sample given to ZDNet, the database shows email addresses, passwords that were hashed and salted passwords with MD5 (an algorithm that nowadays is easy to crack), as well as a user's IP address (which in some cases can determine location), and the site that the record was taken from.

    LeakedSource confirmed the findings in a blog post, published Tuesday.

    The group said in its blog post that it was "likely that VerticalScope stored all of their data on interconnected or even the same servers as there is no other way to explain a theft on such a large scale."

    INVESTIGATION

    More "mega breaches" to come, as rival hackers vie for sales

    Three major social networks have quietly fallen victim to data breaches. Despite some success, patience and trust is now fading.

    Despite a push in recent years for stronger encryption and fixing security flaws, the forums thought to be affected by the breach fell far behind industry security norms.

    A cursory search of the list of domains caught up in the hack revealed that none of the sites we checked offered basic HTTPS website encryption, which would prevent usernames and passwords from being intercepted.

    Many of the forums ran versions of vBulletin software dating back to 2007. Most were running software versions that were easily exploitable by hackers with known vulnerabilities. A blog post from security reporter Brian Krebs from 2013 showed that older versions of the vBulletin forums that were vulnerable could be easily searched with readily-available attack tools.

    It's not clear who carried out the hack. A LeakedSource group member said it was "not related" to the recent hacks against MySpace, LinkedIn, and Tumblr.



    As of Tuesday, the company has not made any public statement in relation to the hack.

    Unlike in other recent other breaches, this data does not appear to be for sale on the dark web -- for now.
    Last edited by Badger; 06-16-2016 at 09:58 AM.

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    They snapped up Sig Talk as well, by the way. The letter looks familiar. Oh, and I've heard tell the VerticalScope is anti-gun. We were assured over there that nothing would change, but they are requiring the password change there as well. It would be a great time to farm for passwords, no?

    Bob
    Last edited by Bob Womack; 06-16-2016 at 01:35 PM.
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    No surprise here. They are moving into Internet advertising in a big way and have already purchased numerous other firearms related websites.

    Best wishes to them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul S. View Post
    They are moving into Internet advertising in a big way and have already purchased
    Since joining the social aspect of the internet (forums) in 2003 I have noticed an evolution, and I find that forums in general are dying off as the information/communications juggernaut that they were. Using "thewaybackmachine" website I was able to view forums in their older, independently operated format, and a lot of things became clear about how the forum environments have evolved.

    Principally, the advertising. The evolution from no-ads, to modern time, is disgusting and very off-putting. Now users fight to read content while dodging around banner ads, sidebar ads, autoplay video ads, pop-up adwords in text, and sponsored content crammed into the footer, roll the mouse past a picture and you are hit with a pop-out banner ad. It is unacceptable, and simply too much.

    Due to this I have trimmed my internet presence to a mere 3 forums, and one of those is nearing the chopping block of my attention, luckily milsurps has maintained the quiet dignity that reminds me how the internet "used to be" and of that I am appreciative.
    - Darren
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sentryduty View Post
    Due to this I have trimmed my internet presence to a mere 3 forums, and one of those is nearing the chopping block of my attention, luckily milsurps has maintained the quiet dignity that reminds me how the internet "used to be" and of that I am appreciative.
    You are not alone! The annoyance factor of the internet has increased to the point that even my limited time online has gotten much less enjoyable. But have been getting much more reloading done lately!

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    BTW, since the password is compromised already, it seems prudent to change those on other sites that may use the same. Yay.

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    These types of companies buy up forums, reduce the admins who built the site to mods or they leave. Then these so called “professionals” don’t even keep the software up to date. We knew about this flaw in vB back in 2008. The BBC even reported on it in 2010. The information has been out there for everyone to see for a very long time and they do nothing about it. That’s because they really don’t care about your information. All they want is the advertising income and to keep costs to a minimum.

    Even if they keep the software up, don’t expect your info to be safe. In most cases all it takes is a simple demand letter from a lawyer and these types of companies will turn over the info they have. They will not put up a fight. I have even seen cases where one threw their own people under the bus.

    I have never heard of one ever contending a subpoena for forum member’s info. That means anyone can get your info from a US based company and it’s not going to cost them much to do it. While it’s probably not a big deal to us, it can be very serious for people living in other parts of the world.

    My advice for anyone thinking about selling to these types of companies is not to stay on in any capacity after the sale. If you do stay on, at best you will be very disappointed, at worst it will turn your stomach to be helpless and have to watch some of the things that can happen.

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  19. #10
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    Just a heads up folks ...

    We've received several emails and PM's from members who have indicated they believe they've picked up a virus from the Gunboards web site. Some of asked what we do to protect our members from similar problems.

    For those of you who haven't read this help thread, perhaps now is a good time..

    How safe from viruses and hackers am I when using the Milsurps.Com web site? (click here)

    Also, if at anytime you're logged on and would like piece of mind to check to ensure our site is free of any known malware, SPAM, viruses, or its blacklisting status, then click on this link and save it as a bookmark in your web browser for future use:

    Sucuri Verified Website - Milsurps.com (click here)

    This link and other site security and performance checks, are also located under the Members Only tabbed drop down box located at the top of the forum.

    Hope this helps...

    Regards,
    Doug
    Last edited by Badger; 07-11-2016 at 10:23 AM.

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