[Updated 2023-02-10] Migration complete

All users will need to request a password reset email for the new forum.

Just click on Login > I forgot my password, and then enter the email address that you used to register your original BLF account.

The new forum engine allows logging in with your registered email address in addition to your username. Logging in with your email address is the recommended option because your old username may have been slightly modified (spaces removed, etc.)

If you’re still having trouble resetting your password please create a new account with a different email address you can access. If you don’t have one you can get a quick temporary email address at a service like https://temp-mail.org to receive the BLF registration email. Then after logging in to BLF please contact me to help restore access to your original BLF account.

Questions about the new forum?

2023-02-11, 03:23 GMT

It looks like the problem has been resolved with Yahoo email and possibly with AOL / Verizon / Charter too. Please give it another try. Thanks for your persistence!

2023-02-10 update:

We’re still experiencing problems with the worldwide propagation of the new BLF server address. Until that gets resolved I’ll have to disable email sending again, so unfortunately no password reset emails yet.

It looks like Yahoo / AOL / Verizon email haven’t updated their records yet and are rejecting email from this new server. I’ll let you know when to try again.</.del>

2023-02-06 update:

Hi everyone, the first stage of the migration process to the new BLF forum engine is now in progress! As described in the previous update, here's how it's hopefully going to play out:

  1. The initial migration process has begun, started today (Monday) around 5:00 AM (GMT) 2023-02-06.
    • The initial migration process will take around 80 hours if nothing goes wrong.
    • During that whole time, budgetlightforum.com (the current forum engine) will be fully operable. However, any of the following actions on the current forum engine during the initial migration phase will not be carried over to the new Discourse forum:
      • Existing user profile changes (registered email, avatar, location, etc.) during the initial migration phase
      • Post deletions of older posts created before 5:00 AM (GMT) 2023-02-06 (they will re-appear on the migrated Discourse forum)
      • Post edits of older posts created before 5:00 AM (GMT) 2023-02-06 (the original post version will re-appear on the migrated Discourse forum)
  2. After the initial migration process has finished, the current forum engine will be taken offline, with a notice that the final migration stage is taking place.
    • Projected to start this Thursday at about 12:00 noon (GMT) 2023-02-09.
    • At some point later that day, the budgetlightforum.com domain will start pointing to a login page for the new Discourse engine, still closed to the public.
    • The final migration stage will take about 8 hours if nothing goes wrong, after which the new Discourse engine will be open to the public.

Thanks to everyone for their patience! Enjoy these last few days on the old forum, and then we'll see you all over on the new one!


2023-02-04 update:

Hi everyone,

A lot of additional progress has been made with the BLF migration process to the new Discourse forum engine. As with most undertakings, the last 20% of the minor details take 80% of the total project time. But I think we’re now very close to the final Discourse forum theme, and most of the major configuration tweaks are now in place. Additionally, the import script has been further refined for proper conversion of the imported post formatting in most cases, and the developer of a key software utility that is used during the import/conversion process has implemented quite a few bug fixes based on the feedback received.

So after a lot of iterations, I’d like to request your help in identifying any major bugs or issues with the new forum configuration, and especially regarding the fidelity of the imported BLF posts and private messages. Here’s a fresh import from a BLF snapshot that was taken on Thursday, 2023-02-02 at 6:00am (GMT):


A few import notes:

  • All users will need to reset their password on the test site (and on the final migrated BLF forum once we get there).
    • It’s a fresh import of the forum data, so you’ll have to request another password reset email. Since this latest testbed is running at a new temporary domain name, some email services may still classify emails originating from there as spam. (Once we’re on the final migrated Discourse forum at our normal budgetlightforum.com domain name I anticipate better email deliverability than we currently have here.)
    • The new forum engine allows logging in with your registered email address in addition to your username. Logging in with your email address is the recommended option to obtain initial access to your migrated account, because the imported username may have been slightly modified.
  • BLF usernames containing special characters such as ä ö ü á é will be converted to the closest regular character equivalent. (The BLF username Brillé would be converted to Brille).
    • The user’s original BLF username (including spaces and/or special characters) will appear under the new full name field of the imported user profile.
    • Users will be allowed to change their imported username for a time after the site migration to re-introduce the special characters, you can try it now on the test server. Please do not change your username to something unrecognizable or completely different.
  • Check for your imported private messages both in the “Inbox” and the “Sent” messages folders. There are a few quirks regarding PMs:
    • Here on the current forum, PMs that you deleted do not actually get deleted from the database, and they are still visible in the other recipient’s messages. So unless you and the other recipient both deleted the same PM, it will be imported and visible for you again on the new forum.
    • Here on the current forum, your PMs that you sent to a user that was later banned are still visible to you, appearing as a one-sided conversation of only your sent messages. Such one-sided conversations will not be imported into the new forum.

If there are no major bugs discovered in the latest testbed, then I might attempt the final budgetlightforum.com production migration sometime next week. Here's a synopsis of how that will work:

  1. A brief downtime on budgetlightforum.com (current forum engine) for just a few minutes, followed by a post to notify users that the initial migration process has begun.
    • The initial migration process will take around 80 hours if nothing goes wrong.
    • During that whole time, budgetlightforum.com (the current forum engine) will be fully operable. However, any of the following actions on the current forum engine during the initial import phase will not be carried over to the new Discourse forum:
      • Existing user profile changes (registered email, avatar, location, etc.) during the initial import phase
      • Post deletions of older posts created before the initial import phase began (they will re-appear on the migrated Discourse forum)
      • Post edits of older posts created before the initial import phase began (the original post version will re-appear on the migrated Discourse forum)
  2. After the initial migration process has finished, the current forum engine will be taken offline, with a notice that the final migration stage is taking place.
    • At some point later that day, the budgetlightforum.com domain will start pointing to a login page for the new Discourse engine, still closed to the public.
    • The final migration stage will take about 8 hours if nothing goes wrong, after which the new Discourse engine will be open to the public.


2023-01-12 update:



2023-01-10 update:



Original post

(Continued from https://budgetlightforum.com/t/-/71267/111)

Hi everyone, I’d like to take up this very important topic again. It looks like the consensus is that BLF is definitely not dying, and this lively discussion has proved that. I also gather that the majority recognize the negative aspects of Reddit and would like BLF to continue as a more traditional forum, while also mentioning some important features the BLF currently lacks.

So BLF is not dying. However, what is dying is Drupal, the engine that runs this forum. A bit of background: When I launched BLF in 2010 I already had some experience with installing and administering a non-flashlight-related forum with a different forum software. Frankly, it was awful, and most of the other alternatives at the time were also really bad, even the proprietary paid ones. Drupal version 6 at the time had a much more clean and logical architecture by design, and it got a lot of the fundamentals right that other platforms just didn’t have at the time. For example, I believe that one of the reasons that BLF took off so quickly in the early days was thanks to Drupal’s search engine friendly URL scheme, which was really unique at the time. Drupal also had a much better security record than most other content management systems and forum platforms from that period. In terms of forum functionality, Drupal has never offered much beyond its barebones core forum engine. But at the time Drupal 6 offered a huge array of community-developed add-ons that made it look and act like a fairly traditional and featureful forum for its time. From there I eventually upgraded to Drupal 7, which was an extremely painful and problematic migration, but there continued to be good support from the Drupal community for necessary forum functionality. Drupal also is a general-purpose site engine (“Content Management System” / “CMS”), and it offered some extremely flexible tools that allowed me to create our unique-to-BLF email notification system and community spam control and offensive post reporting system. This allowed for a very unique and flexible paradigm that contributed to making BLF such a unique community. Of course I would remiss if I didn’t mention the BLF users; this site would be nothing without all of you, so a huge thank you to all of you.

Fast forward to roughly 2018 and the Drupal project started posting notices about the end-of-life of Drupal version 7 within a few years. They of course encouraged site owners to migrate to Drupal 8, which had been available concurrently with Drupal 7 for some years before that. But Drupal 8 was such a radical paradigm shift that not even the official drupal.org website was migrated to version 8 for a long time after its release. All of the community-maintained add-ons that almost all site administrators depended on for basic functionality had to be re-written, and since Drupal always required a lot of tweaking to make it work as a forum, most of those add-ons fell by the wayside. Drupal has always been very barebones out-of-the-box, and site administrators have always depended on community add-ons, but with the advent of Drupal 8 they started treating it as more of a development framework for experienced web programmers, which personally I am not. And I’m not the only one. There were lots of upset Drupal 7 site administrators, and their complaints together with the COVID-19 pandemic made the Drupal developers decide to extend the Drupal 7 support lifecycle for another 2 years. This year it was supposed to end definitively, but they announced that it would be extended again for another year and possibly extended again after that. So I want to be clear that I have always taken the security of the BLF website very seriously, and the site continues to receive regular security patches for Drupal 7 directly from the Drupal project team. However, there will likely be no new features added to the Drupal 7 ecosystem, and Drupal 8 will soon become Drupal 9, which is no longer a general-purpose extensible site engine that normal web administrators like myself can install and mold into something useful without coding custom modules. The migration from Drupal 7 to version 8 or 9 would also be an absolute nightmare, with basic forum functionality still lacking and/or provided via limited third-party add-ons.

So, that wall of text is a long way of saying that we need to start seriously looking at alternatives for migrating BLF to another forum platform. I will only consider free and open-source forum platforms that I can host and administer myself, and that’s non-negotiable. There are a bunch of options in that field, some better than others, but only a few come close to providing what we need. It’s important to keep in mind that the unique BLF culture has largely grown around the hands-off community moderation systems for flagging and banning spam users and also for reporting and automatically removing posts that violate the BLF rules. This was implemented via a flexible framework that Drupal offered, and it’s really hard to reproduce it in other platforms. There are also some potentially useful new features such as pinging @usernames, thanking users for posts (an up/down Reddit-esque voting system is not and will not be considered), uploading images, ignoring users, improved thread moderation (merging threads, moving comments, etc.) and better search functionality. And finally, as much as I hate to admit it (I personally detest using smartphones if I have access to a real computer), we need a “responsive” (i.e. adaptable) website layout that is easier for mobile device users. It also needs to be a secure platform with manageable security and feature updates and a solid development community behind it with high probability of remaining viable for the long term.

Of the very, very few options that come close to meeting the above requirements, the one that most stands out is called Discourse. In your web searches you’ve probably run across posts in Discourse forums, and there’s a good chance you’re already using it in forums about other topics. I have some experience installing and administering a Discourse forum from a few years back, and it has continued to improve since then. It has tons of useful features and is generally user-friendly, mobile-friendly, and administrator-friendly. It also is unique in providing a community moderation system with automatic tiered levels of user privileges based on the user’s behavior and level of trust, similar to what I’ve put together piecemeal over the years for BLF via the Drupal framework. Discourse has been very much developed from the ground-up to cope with the glut of spammers and trolls on the modern internet.

It will still be a gargantuan undertaking to migrate BLF to Discourse, and it will take some time to plan a path forward. There are still some major technical challenges to migrate the massive amount of users and threads and posts with different post formats (Simple Post Editor vs. Advanced Post Editor) from Drupal to Discourse. I’d be happy to discuss the details of those issues with our technically minded users that are interested in helping to find a solution. I’m still not entirely sure if it would be more feasible to migrate all of the posts and private messages, or if it would be better to just migrate the current user accounts to the new forum while maintaining the current Drupal site in read-only mode or even converting it to a static HTML archive. But please be assured that I deeply respect the wealth of information that has been created by our incredible user base, and it won’t be disappearing.

There is no rush to commit to this migration. Let’s take it slowly as a community, and I’ll do my best to listen to your useful feedback. The Discourse forum is highly configurable and extensible. Both you and I need to kick the tires and see how it works in practice, and as time permits I’ll slowly start working through the checklist of how to configure it and customize it for our needs. So to begin this journey, I’m please to present you all with this temporary testbed Discourse server :

https://blfdev.site(link is external)

The test site is open for registration. At the moment none of your current BLF accounts have been migrated, although account migration is probably the most easy and straightforward aspect of this process. So at some point I might try to migrate all of the current BLF user accounts (username and email addresses, possibly the location if filled out in the user profile, possibly the avatar, and probably not the current password) to the testbed server, and I’ll let you all know if that happens. Meanwhile I’d encourage everyone to create an account and play around, keeping in mind that the testbed server will eventually be deleted with all of its posts, and the final migrated version of BLF will continue under the budgetlightforum.com domain name.

I just got the new testbed up and running today. I’m also evaluating some different server OS options behind the scenes, but that’s not very relevant in terms of functionality to BLF users. So I was mainly focused today on the core aspects of the new server OS and setting up the email notification mechanism (the entire internet email system is a dreadfully complex and arcane maze of gotchas and little-known rules and protocols that make my head spin). The new site is still in its stock form and has almost no customizations to its behavior, so don’t judge it as the final product by any means. Since it’s using a brand new temporary domain name, @outlook.com and @hotmail.com and probably some other email providers will not accept the new account registration emails from the test server, but Gmail and Yahoo do work in my tests. Please let me know here if you can’t register a test account there and I can probably set it up manually for you. Another option for creating an account on the test server might be to use a disposable email service, since they usually have very low standards for accepting emails. Again, please remember that it’s just a testbed server that we will gradually customize and test before installing a different instance for the final BLF migration, and all of the testbed data will eventually be deleted.

Hope to see you over on the test server! But please don’t stop posting here either because we’re not done yet. Have fun!

1 Thank

Thank you for your effort and the long explanation. I think migrating to a new platform is an important, but very difficult step forward.

In the past I have participated in several forums that use Discourse. Currently I am experiencing the migration of the OpenStreetMap community from FluxBB to Discourse and I’d like to repeat my opinion about that software: I’ve never completely understood the behavior of the UI and I don’t like it for multiple reasons. It is JavaScript based and requires modern, powerful browsers and devices. All the interactivity might cause a sluggish experience. One specific bug: Some buttons (like the like button) trigger on swipe actions on mobile devices. The community trust levels are annoying and quickly create envy between users. Receiving badges and awards from the system feels childish.

I could add several more reasons why I don’t like Discourse. On the other hand it is a very powerful and flexibility platform and there aren’t many alternatives. It also has many great features. In the end it’s your forum and your decision and I’d like to stay here for the people and the topics. So choose whatever is necessary. We will have to adapt and Discourse might be the right solution.

Hey there SammysHP, thanks for the reply. I totally agree about the childish badges, I just disabled them on the test site (and I believe that should disable the awards too).

The trust levels are another aspect that we’ll have to get right. It’s worth mentioning that we actually have quite a few bits of automatic permission logic and user permission groups implemented here too. They’re based on the same concept of how many posts the user has and for how long s/he has been registered. It’s just that the “levels” or whatever you want to call them aren’t publicly displayed here, which is what I would also aim for in Discourse. Fortunately it’s all very configurable. I’m not interested in adding vanity titles to users’ profiles (“keychain light”, “single AA”, “quad emitter”, “brilliant expert” :stuck_out_tongue: etc.), I mainly need automatic levels of permission based on how many posts and time registered, and for restricting the rate of posting and the amount of link creation permissions for new users. This will severely limit how much chaos a spammer can cause, and can even discourage them from finding the site and/or starting their activity in the first place. But it definitely will need to be tweaked so as to not annoy legitimate users. The idea is that once the user has been reasonably well vetted as not a spammer then there will be no other distinctions between users aside from their post count, so all users will be portrayed as equal.

Regarding the heavy use of Javascript, yes, that’s the unfortunate reality of the modern web. I think being functional in an old browser is sort of a moot point, since people really shouldn’t be running outdated browsers anyway for security reasons.

I’m reasonably optimistic that if I choose the VPS provider and specs properly we can avoid it running sluggishly. Discourse actually uses some of the same advanced caching systems that I implemented a long time ago here to make performance more consistent and resist large traffic spikes.

So again, please do kick the tires over on the test server, and let me know any annoyances you run into. An important note I forgot to mention is that for now I’m letting the system treat new accounts as unprivileged new users, so there will probably be a lot of restrictions to start. In the case of eventually migrating the live BLF site to Discourse, existing BLF users would be migrated with higher permissions and few restrictions. At some point I’ll request help to do a simulated spam attack and we’ll see how it handles it with the help of the community flagging those posts.

Entered with my custom firefox and got:

I was able to create an account and log in with new account.

Works. Surely takes some time to get used to it.

Registered on the test site.


1) Username with Umlaut (ä) is not permitted, so i renamed myself to UliBaer there.
2) Registration mail was considered as spam by gmail, so i found it in the spam folder.

The test site seems to want me to upgrade my safari browser:

The test server must not like @hotmail.com email addresses as I have not received my activation email. Not in my spambox either.

Thanks, if it’s based on a reasonably recent Firefox I suspect that it’s just a user-agent string issue. Could you try with a user-agent changer extension? And can I ask if that’s the only browser you use?

  1. Thanks, fixed now. It was a simple configuration option to enable.
  2. This is fairly likely due to the complexities of the internet email system, different arbitrary rules for each email provider, different trainings of “intelligent” spam filters based on your individual history of marking messages as spam. It’s going to be more of a problem with a brand new domain name ending in .site , which again is just a temporary test site, so I wouldn’t anticipate major new issues for email deliverability if the real BLF gets migrated to this platform.

Actually it’s the other way around, Hotmail doesn’t like the new test server. Thanks for mentioning Hotmail, it’s the same infrastructure as Outlook.com, which I tested and they simply arbitrarily reject email from new domains, no matter how compliant the new domain is with all the plethora of mechanisms that exist to supposedly reduced the impact of spam:
So Pete7874 or anybody else just let me know what you prefer, either you can test it with a different email provider if you want to see what the full signup process is like (and receive post notifications for your subscribed threads on the test server) or else I can manually approve your account with the hotmail.com / outlook.com address.

Thanks for reporting. Could you please enlighten me about how old (or not) your iOS version is, and what options you might have to upgrade iOS and/or Safari and/or install a different browser?

FYI there is also a “Discourse Hub” app for iOS and Android:

In the configuration options it has an option to open the site in the in-app browser, which is strangely disabled by default.

I’ll post a few condensed things from my initial wall of text in this thread. :wink:

“Great oaks take 300 years to grow, 300 years to stay, and 300 years to die.”

If you can manually approve, that would be great. Thanks!

Nice! :+1:


Thanks for the OP sb, enjoyed reading it.

I rather like the format here. Sure there’s some wizzbang forums out there now but this works well enough for me.

Yep, same here. I’m turning into a bit of a luddite as the years go by. :innocent:

sb said:

My safari is 13.1.3 so not sure if that message i got was specific or a general issue to all macbooks.

i had No luck getting an activation email, tried twice and not in spam; my provider is mchsi.com, maybe they are blocking new domains also?

Regarding the format and visual style, is it possible to carry over the style and layout of this old forum to the new system? The current format works very well and makes reading topics comfortable for me. While the discourse system looks nice it feels a bit restrictive or even claustrophobic in comparison.

For sake of comparison, the design refresh of https://www.candlepowerforums.com/ still feels good to use while being a bit cleaner and more modern. Another example is https://linustechtips.com/, a forum that looks clean and modern while still maintaining that older format.

Two cents to the bucket, without intention to humiliate anybody:
New forum design totally failed. FUBAR. Beyond whatever. Posts are unindentifiable, screen area wasted, display errors… definitely, do not migrate my account. Sorry.