VWvortex switching to vBulletin from ZeroForum?

On Dec 17th, 2009 – Looks like VWvortex will be changing their forum software provider (google cache) in the near future (finally, ZeroForum was dead years ago).

FireVortex will be put on hold until I know what is forthcoming.

Actually we are looking into moving to different forum software. No small undertaking as you can imagine and it will likely result in a bunch of other issues and growing pains to sort through.

Moving something this big to a completely different type of software won’t be easy, but hopefully it will resolve the issues.

- jamie

I posted the above information on Dec 19, 2009.

On May 5-6th, 2010 – VWvortex (Vortex Media Group – The Car Lounge, Fourtitude, etc) made the “unexpected” switch to vBulletin. Read more via their announcement

I’ve posted in the past about the pending lawsuit between the founders of ZeroForum, Honda-Tech, and RelyNet.

On May 5th, 2010 – Dustin Alder (copyright holder of ZeroForum) posted a response on Honda-Tech regarding the VWvortex switch to vBulletin.


Lots of speculation from the peanut gallery.

I’ll add this: Vortex rejected my offer [equivalent to their current rate of pay for ZeroForum service through RelyNet; Me letting go of the default judgment I have against them (they never responded to my original lawsuit!); and me dropping the ongoing litigation against them for their willful and demonstrable copyright infringement]

I am content with the current status for several reasons:

1) I suspected Jamie @ VMG was being disingenuous from the beginning (looks like I was right)

2) VMG refuses to admit that they did the wrong thing. They paid someone else (Dicarlo) to use something (ZeroForum) that they knew was owned by someone else (Adler). Jamie admitted this to me over the phone back in 2009 but claimed that he didn’t want to shake up his current business and that it just wasn’t a priority for them at the time. There also was a cry fest about not being able to afford the $10k retainer to respond to my lawsuit.

3) VMG has known the status of the situation from day one. They knew I wrote the software, and new I wrote it well before any employment relationship with RelyNet. It was mine and is mine. Chuck and I talked on the phone about the status of the software ownership and the instability @ RelyNet on August 2nd 2005. After this they decisively sidelined me, and continued to pay Mike Dicarlo for something they knew was mine.

4) ZeroForum is a decade-old hobby project of mine. I hoped to turn it into a money-making venture with my best friend. My best friend royally ****ed me and I had to pursue him in court to finally get the vindication that is mine. As I have said, this is not about the money, I just want everyone to know the truth and I want those that were wrong to make due. VMG still needs to make due.

5) I have moved on from ZeroForum, and while I intend to keep hosting legacy sites and sites for those that want the nostalgia, losing VMG as a customer is not a loss to me. I gave VMG an opportunity to let their userbase keep their preferred discussion format at extremely reasonable terms. They rejected it, we move on. Sorry to shake up everyone’s dreams, but I have not been planning to make my millions by hosting volkswagen message boards — I have much more exciting and lucrative things to keep me entertained.


On May 6th, 2010 – Jamie@VWvortex posted a response on The Car Lounge to Dustin regarding the negotiations to keep ZeroForum up and running until a proper migration could take place.

Let’s clear the air here for a moment since there are some things being said that aren’t true…

1. Dustin wanted us to pay him $250,000 to continue using the ZeroForum software. I had several weeks of negotiations with him to continue using the software (sic) for a reasonable fee and those negotiations seemed to be going really well. Then we suddenly got an email from him late last week saying he wanted a quarter of a million dollars to continue using the software and that the terms and amount were non-negotiable. At that point things went south real quick.

2. We tried to negotiate anyway and made a counter offer to continue using ZeroForum for six months so that we could make an orderly transition to something else. During those six months we would have paid him many times the price of any discussion forum software we were considering and he wouldn’t have had to do anything for us during those six month. We never received a response on our proposal from Dustin or his attorney until they sent official notice to Relynet (our host at the time) to turn us off immediately.

3. We never received any cease and desist letter from Dustin’s attorney. If we had we would have complied with it immediately. At no point over all the time we’ve been using ZeroForum did we ever receive any legal order to stop using the software.

4. The a final verdict on the lawsuit between the two people behind ZeroForum wasn’t entered until last month and it awarded Dustin the majority (but not quite full) copyright ownership to the version of Zeroforum that we’ve been paying Relynet to use. At this point it is now under Dustin’s control and he is within his right to charge us anything he wants.

Even before this ZeroForum dispute had begun we had been watching Vbulletin with interest. There are two major advantages to ZeroForum that were a big stumbling block for other software packages – speed and our unique shared forum arrangement. ZeroForum was able to handle our traffic with no problem. ZeroForum also had a feature that allowed us to share a common database on the back end across multiple websites that could all have their own unique look and feel. It wasn’t until Vbulletin announced late last year this feature set of their new 4.0 software that we had a viable option. VBulletin told us that ideally we needed to wait till some bugs were worked out with the 4.0 version before we try and use it.

Ideally if we could have controlled this situation we would have taken 3-6 months to carefully orchestrate a smooth transition from ZeroForum to VBulletin. We would have given all our readers plenty of notice. We would have been able to set up multiple forum environments and do lots of load testing to ensure that everything would go as smoothly as possible. In the end though we didn’t have that option.

So we apologize for the hassles and inconveniences this has all caused. This isn’t the way we wanted to do this, but in the end our options proved limited and unpredictable. Thanks for the support and hang in there while we continue to flush this thing out.


On May 6th, 2010 – Dustin Alder posted the email exchanges between him and Jamie@VWvortex.

Ah, more speculation. Thanks for the lies Jamie. Hugs. You do your damage control.

Also a heads up, according to Jamie via phone:

VMG needs to move to vBulletin because they are attempting to get their entire network acquired for cash from Internet Brands, and apparently being on vB is a requirement now. VW people better get ready for some new ownership.

Yep, I’m the greedy one.

*honda-tech member question about selling VWvortex to Internet Brands*

I don’t know what goes on in Jamie’s head. Probably wasn’t a great plan to tell me that?

Here’s the truth. Note that the software license includes me relinquishing my legal rights against them: copyright infringement and the default judgment. Know that a SINGLE act of wilfulcopyright infringement can result in a statutory award of $150k. This was more than a license, and it was extremely forgiving. The terms allowed them to avoid all liabilty and keep running zeroforum at the current rate, except it would drop to zero eventually.

Image Links (not hosting here – execute.net is Dustin Alder’s web site)

Final Judge Verdict
RELYNET, INC., et al.,

I stand somewhere in the middle of this fiasco. IP and copyright are very important to a developer and what happened to Dustin Alder was very unfortunate. I’m glad Dustin found proper resolution in the matter; though the aftermath with VWVortex could have been handled better. Sometimes we have to put aside certain feelings when it comes to business. For one, I believe in a life long customer – even if they are not your direct customer. Supporting your product is crucial and speaks volume about someone’s character.

But every company (small or large) or person needs to have a contingency plan to protect their data. Currently, archived threads which contained thousands of DIY and FAQs, user’s private messages (think about the classifieds transactions being handled), notepad information are all still missing from vBulletin. While migration takes times (500k users, 60+ million posts) and I’m sure VMG is working hard on the problems (performance for one – VWvortex is extremely slow and difficult to navigate). The first time in 7+ years, http://forums.vwvortex.com is no longer my homepage. weird.

This blog post was made on Dec 19, 2009. Edit made on May 18th, 2010 to reflect more complete information.

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