We’re at midcourt, and the ball is about to go up…it’s Monday Tip-Off! Start your week here at the NLSC with a feature that’s dedicated to opinions, commentary, and other fun stuff related to NBA Live, NBA 2K, and other basketball video games. This week, I’m tipping things off with some reflections on the NLSC’s big move last year, which was one of the most significant in the history of our site.
Around this time last year, I was in the process of moving the NLSC from our old host to our current home. It wasn’t the first time that we’d had to move to a new host, but it was definitely the most stressful move we’d undertaken. On top of the usual downtime and teething problems, there was also an air of uncertainty. For the first time since I took over the NLSC, we’d be footing the bill for our hosting costs, rather than getting free hosting in exchange for advertising space. We also had a deadline, as our old host was discontinuing their services as of July 7th 2016, which meant if we hadn’t moved or at least backed up everything by then, everything would be lost.
Fortunately, it all turned out for the best. We found a new home, nothing was lost, and in terms of covering our expenses, we’re confident that we’ll be around for a while yet. Needless to say though, until everything was transferred and running smoothly, and the financial side of things had been sorted out, I was under a lot of stress. There were a few moments where it looked very bleak, and I found myself trying to prepare for the worst and figure out how to announce the unfortunate news. With our future now looking much brighter, I thought that I’d reflect a little on that time, and offer a little more of the back story.
As I noted last year when we marked our 20th Anniversary, last August was also my 15th Anniversary as Webmaster, Administrator, Editor-in-Chief, and Head Janitor of the NLSC. For most of the NLSC’s existence, our hosting has been covered by giving up some advertising space to our host. Considering that our needs grew as the site expanded, culminating in the need for dedicated hosting when we started offering file hosting services, it was a very good deal for us. In fact, deals like that aren’t readily available these days, and we were lucky to have free hosting for as long as we did. I’ll always be grateful to Matt, as well as our other previous hosts, for helping us out.
Matt informed me last year that he would be closing his hosting services, but had found another host that was willing to take us on, under the same free hosting deal that we had with him. Unfortunately the new host backed out, as they felt they couldn’t meet our needs under that arrangement. Matt was still shutting up shop though, and if we didn’t find a new host by July 7th, everything would be gone. I remember how sick I felt, reading that email. After all the hard work, all the storms that we’d weathered, it seemed like everything we’d built was about to come crashing down. The hosting we required was expensive, and I just couldn’t afford it.
We had a few options, the first being to call it a day. Twenty years is a long time for a website to be running, and as it stands, we’ve outlasted a lot of big sites and networks. I’ve obviously been doing this for a while, so I did wonder if it was a sign that our time had come. However, I wasn’t quite ready to give up yet, so I also considered scaling back our operations (cutting out file hosting, basically) in order to utilise cheaper hosting options. The third option was to secure funding to pay for dedicated hosting, which would mean business as usual moving forward. The third option was obviously the ideal scenario, but also the most risky.
It was risky because I’d be incurring the costs if we couldn’t raise the funds to cover the bills, and there was no guarantee that we’d be able to secure the necessary funding month after month. I decided to ask the community for donations, and set up our GoFundMe and Patreon pages accordingly. My biggest concern in doing so, on top of being able to raise sufficient funds of course, was that it was putting our reputation on the line. Crowd funding can be controversial, and I was anticipating that there might be a little backlash for what would probably look like “e-begging” to a lot of people. I hoped we had enough goodwill, and that people would understand our predicament.
It warms my heart to say that to this day, we haven’t received any backlash. Instead, we’ve received some very generous donations, and encouraging support. We were able to find an affordable dedicated hosting plan that was on sale, at a price that is locked in for life. Between donations, Patreon pledges, and having full control over all our advertising space, we’re covering our costs to keep the lights on. I’m very humbled and appreciative of the support the NLSC has been shown, and I definitely feel optimistic about our future. We’ve gone from the brink of shutting down or scaling back our operations to planning on being around for some time yet.
The server move itself wasn’t quite as smooth as previous migrations. We’d grown much larger in the eight years since our last move, which meant it took longer to copy everything over. There were also a few glitches that we had to troubleshoot to get everything up and running as before, a process that was made more stressful by the impending shutdown of our previous hosting. Without going into all the details, it was also kind of a rough time for me personally and professionally, which only added to the stress of the situation. Fortunately, the technicians were great and very patient, and we completed the move with about a week to spare. It was a huge relief.
And so, here we are, one year later. Although we now bear the responsibility of securing funding for our hosting, we’re also more in control of our destiny than ever before. As long as we keep paying our bills, we’re in no danger of being shut down. We haven’t run into the same downtime we were experiencing before, and indeed, I’ve yet to have a need to reboot our new server. We can safely host larger files again, and aside from some brief interruptions during scheduled network maintenance, everything’s been running very smoothly. It’s a great situation for us to be in, and a load off my mind.
In the long run, the NLSC’s biggest and riskiest move has arguably turned out to be our best one. We’re in good shape moving forward, and as I said, we now have greater control over our future. I’m proud of what the NLSC has been able to accomplish as a website, including the simple fact that we’re still around after almost twenty-one years. I’m still also very grateful for the support and generous donations that we’ve received from the community. We’re not done yet, as there’s so much more to do and fun to have in covering NBA Live, NBA 2K, and basketball gaming. I hope that you’ll enjoy what we have in store.
If you are willing and able to contribute to our hosting fund, you can do so through GoFundMe, Patreon, or a PayPal donation. I definitely don’t want to lose any goodwill by constantly asking for donations, but hopefully, the occasional mention or annual pledge drive will not be inappropriate. A huge thankyou once again to the people who have generously donated, as well as everyone who continues to support the NLSC by regularly dropping by to read the news, check out our original content, and hang out in the Forum. I hope we can make this an enjoyable place for basketball gamers for many years to come.