Webs: Grow a Trainwreck. Lose a Community.
On September 8, 2016, Webs sent out an email stating that they would be forcibly converting all Sitebuilder 2 sites to their newer Sitebuilder 3 in 30 days without user consent.
Which would be fine, if the third builder wasn't a knockoff Weebly that downgrades websites and subsequently, makes the older sites pay the same price for less features.
To give you an idea, here's some of the things that SB2 supports:
- Chatboxes (known also as Shoutboxes)
- Easy to manage sidebars (it automatically updates throughout the entire site, and you can choose when you want to hide / show a modules without having to delete it)
- Easily accessible Manage Members AND Members Area. You do not need the forums or Members Area for this; when you log into webs, you are automatically taken to Manage Pages. Beneath the site owner's info on the right of the screen has the member count and beside that, a Manage link. Alternatively, you can use the forums or the Members Area [which is a default page] to access it, but you must be on the builder.
- Applications like the Recent Forum Posts and Recent Blog Posts are automatically on the sidebar - you can remove them entirely, but why would you when you can use the hide option in case you need to use it in the future?
- File Manager. You can access it via the File Manager tab under Manage Pages.
- Many diverse themes
Here's some of the things SB3 doesn't support:
- Chatboxes (known also as Shoutboxes) - you will need to get a chatbox like Cbox if you intend on using these with this builder
- Easy to manage sidebars. Unlike SB2, sidebars are not a default feature. You need to go into Settings > Change Page Layout, select one of the sidebar options, then use their "drag and drop" feature to apply text boxes, titles, and images to the sidebar. Sidebars also do not automatically update across the entire site. If you want all your sidebars to have the same information, you have to manually go in and edit every individual sidebar. Sidebars also do not appear on application pages such as profiles, the forums, the blog, and the Members Area.
- Easy accessible Manage Members and Members Area. For these features, you must have the forums. Through the forums, you can find a "Members" link on the bottom of the screen while in the builder to be redirected to the Members Area. The Manage Members is at the top of the page. To add a Members Area page, you must create a "link" page and use the link found via the forums to link the page.
- The Recent Forum Posts and the Recent Blog Posts must be manually applied to the sidebar. You must install the Forums on SB3 and the application for Recent Forum Posts is found under "Other" on the bar. You must make an entry in your blog prior to being able to apply the Recent Blog Posts. The application is found beside Recent Forum Posts under "Other".
- Efficient File Manager.
- Many diverse themes. SB3 is limited in what themes it has, and if you're converted from SB2, you will be required to change your entire site's layout.
Unfortunately, when confronting Webs Support about this and asking them to reconsider this update for the sake of older sites, I received this in response:
Thank you for your feedback. The older site builder was originally launched in 2007 and the technology behind it is no longer current. The new site builder is based on current technologies and will ensure we’re provided all of our customers the best website building experience.
You can find more information about the new site builder, SB3, here:
If you have any further questions, please let us know and we'll be happy to further assist.
A lot of older sites, including my own, rely on SB2 features to provide an easy to navigate, professional-looking site. SB3 butchers everything that made the 2007 builder good, and the company that condoned this is now trying to force it down our throats. They attempted this in 2014, where a petition created by Kugyay's owner Finn appealed against them and managed to get them to back off with roughly 600 signatures.
It seems they've learned from the petition two years ago, and we've learned that Webs is slowly converting SB2 sites to SB3 in small portions. Once each group is converted, they move onto the next. For this reason, while WCO and Kugyay are affected, sites like Bryniel will be in a future group. Here's an excerpt from a Live Chat conversation between Flintfoot, the owner of Bryniel, and Angee, a Webs employee:
Flint: Hello I had a question. I've recently heard that anything below Site Builder 3 is being forced upgraded? I was wondering when this is being planned to happen? I'm also a bit confused, because people are saying we're supposed to receive an email informing us of the upgrade, however I did not receive one.
Angee: They are doing it a small portion at a time but yes it is happening and you will get an email when you're on the next round to be moved.
When one of our staff members confronted the Live Chat team regarding this, we received this in response:
Angee: You can use the email support and speak with a senior tech they are who decides who's converted and when.
We're currently looking into if we can get an extension on when our site is converted. According to Finn, Webs plans on having all sites "updated" by January 2017.
Is SB2 perfect? No. With a lack of maintenance by the Webs staff, it has become broken in some areas. But it still works, and has held up remarkably for over almost a decade. Their excuse of it "not being current" doesn't mean anything if their "current" technology has gutted the builder, and their sneaky method of splitting sites up is meant to evade a widespread resistance like the one done years ago.
Unfortunately, this impending update (along with Webs's generally devious nature and an increase of their payment plans over the course of the last several years), has convinced one of our fellow Warrior sites, Kugyay, to move to a new host. While we're not entirely sure the remaining details of this, please support the Kugyay community with this move. The site has been based on Webs since 2007, and although it has experience a significant drop in activity over the last few years, it's served as a Warriors hub for a long time.
Continuing to support SB2 won't harm Webs. They won't lose anything from it. But if they force this upon us, they can say goodbye to several sites that function off of their Premium Plan.
For the sake of the remaining Webs SB2 sites - whether it be Bryniel, WCO, you name it - please help us appeal against this update!
As a user of SB2, we don't desire a downgrade of our website. While you can disregard our emails with "the technology is no longer current", and give us a haphazard analogy about horse buggies no longer being at a large scale in cities because of the introduction of cars, it won't change the fact that Sitebuilder 3 has less features than Sitebuilder 2, and will force your users to pay the same amount of money for less.
When we paid for the premium plan, we paid for ALL the features SB2 provided. Features like manageable sidebars, easily accessible Manage Members and Members Area, Shoutboxes (yes, people DO use those), and a ton of beautifully diverse templates that SB3 has spat on. Your current themes may as well have been through a blender prior to being available.
If you must forcibly convert us, at least have the decency to implicate those within your third builder BEFORE you "update" us. Add templates like the Waveform SD, add the old sidebar functions so when they're edited, they update across all the sidebars. Have an option for sidebars to be on application pages like the forums, blog and profiles. Provide us with an easier method of accessing Manage Members and the Members Areas beyond hunting down the "Members" link at the bottom of the forums. Create Shoutboxes that will function with your builder. Don't make navigation, editing, and the ability to roleplay harder on users. Not everyone is a fan of the forums.
Warrior Cats Online started this petition with a single signature, and now has 679 supporters. Start a petition today to change something you care about.