The rebirth of the Phobia Support Forum – Rivmedia Giving Forward

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Rivmedia’s Note : Mark the owner of phobiasupportforum.co.uk came to me for a quote and a helping hand,  I know how much effort Mark puts into his communities and helping others,  he’s a great guy and its inspiring.  With Covid-19 hanging around like a bad smell,  I imagine there will be many people on the other side of this pandemic with all kinds of phobias and Anxieties who just want to talk to people in the same situation.   So with that in mind I decided to “pay it forward” and decided to provide Mark with a secure and stable platform free of charge as a way of giving something back after the exceptional 18 month’s we’ve had.

Please take advantage of this great little community,  if not to lend or gain support, sign up and talk with like minded people……….Be nice,  pay it forward when you can.   I wish you all a healthy future, big thanks to Mark for coming and allowing the opportunity to give something back and providing such a great overview with his insights below.  Regards Adam

Phobia Support Forum

A couple of years ago I had the idea of creating a forum to help support those suffering from phobias and anxiety. I had some personal experience of these issues in my earlier years and thought it would be a good idea to give something back. So, a phobia support forum was born using the latest version of WordPress at the time, the new Xenforo forum platform, an array of add-ons and an eye-catching design. So, now the hard work began, adding content and encouraging members to sign up and post their experiences and comments on the forum. I was ready for the challenge!

So far so good but….

Due to other work commitments, over the coming months I struggled to find the time needed to really give the forum the push it required. So I put it on the backburner until I had more time As I was using the latest WordPress version at the time of setup and the latest Xenforo software I thought it would just be a case of coming back to the website when I had the time. Oh how wrong I was!

Urgent call from the hosting company

It was towards the end of 2019, after which time the forum had been inactive for more than 12 months that I got an urgent call from my hosting company. The blog had been hacked, spam emails were going everywhere and the site was in trouble. Simple, I thought I could use an historic backup but that was no good, the WordPress platform was infected and they had access to the admin panel. As quickly as I changed the WordPress theme the hackers gained entry again and again, it was impossible and at the time I hadnt looked for help from anyone due to the costs involved. With heavy heart I decided to abandon the site, to leave it for now and put it behind a password protected firewall.

The conclusion, the site was dead, WordPress was infected and as quickly as I tried to remove the rogue code I was always one step behind the hackers. Step forward Adam from RivMedia!

Phobia Support Forums

RivMedia, giving forward

I was introduced to Adam at RivMedia by a friend of a friend who had used his company in the past. I made contact, gave him a detailed explanation of what had happened to the phobia support forum and asked him for his advice. The reason I decided to resurrect the site was simple, the coronavirus is sweeping the world, phobia sufferers are struggling and anxiety levels in many households have gone through the roof. If ever there was a time to relaunch the website it was now. But how much will it cost?

Very quickly it became apparent that the original domain was not appropriate anymore, it had expired and had a poor reputation due to the spam. It had been infiltrated,  and cleaning the domain name would have been a monumental job. Luckily I had also acquired the UK version of the domain name, could this be used? Thankfully yes.

List of things to do

After speaking with Adam I was made aware of the major issues which needed to be addressed. I had not installed either WordPress or Xenforo updates (for a period of months) which would have compromised the old site even if it was still live. I remember all of the WordPress emails and the Xenforo update communications and thinking “I will do those tomorrow”. Unfortunately, tomorrow never came but my original website came and went. So, now came the task of rebuilding the website on a new domain name which involved:-

  • Rebuilding the forum with the latest version of Xenforo
  • Transferring all of the old threads and posts and data while also cleaning and securing
  • Updating the forum design
  • Adding forum widgets
  • Improving security
  • Rebuilding the blog with the latest version of WordPress
  • Transferring all of the old blog posts
  • Curing a new design for the homepage which was easy for me to use.

The idea that this somehow just involved taking information from one hosting account and dumping it into another is a fallacy, as I found out. After Adam very kindly reviewed the website and the options it became obvious that this would be extremely time-consuming and expensive. Under normal circumstances I would have been talking thousands of pounds to get this website cleaned, transferred, rebuilt and relaunched. However, these are extremely challenging times and Adam decided that it was time to “give forward” and donate his time and knowledge for what we both think is a good cause.

Rebuilding my site at no cost

It was embarrassing that I had let the website go so much, failing to appreciate the latest WordPress updates and totally ignoring the constant feed of Xenforo improvements. Little did I know these improvements and updates are not just for display purposes but many are focused around security. So, looking back, I made what should have been a very difficult job very easy for the hackers. I failed to update software on the website, took my eye off the ball for months and just automatically assumed I could go back to the website, relaunch and start again. Thanks god for Adam and his generosity.

Summary

I will be forever grateful to Adam for rebuilding the website and showing me the error of my ways with regards to ignoring updates and security patches. I used to think that “giving forward” was just some kind of urban myth but it isn’t. Now, the phobiasupportforum.co.uk website is up and running and able to offer assistance, guidance and support for those struggling with their phobias and anxiety. Adam has passed on the baton, now it is time for me to “give forward”…

Disclaimer:   Everything below the first paragraph is written by Mark the owner of phobiasupportforum.co.uk

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