BF2S.com created by me, Jeff Minard, was originally a small pet project started in early July of '05. I showed it to a few people who showed it to a few friends and so on. Just one week after starting the site I had over 30,000 users and more than 3 million hits a day. It has only gotten bigger since.
The first few weeks were very dramatic. All-night coding sessions, back and forth forum interaction, testing, debugging, feature improvements, and all that jazz. It was incredibly exciting (still is, too). However, my personal host took a big huge “FU” stance to the 3 million hits a day, so I sought out some hosting. I got an offer and moved the site to London.
After getting this shared host, the traffic was still too high. They moved me to a dedicated host. Traffic was still too high, so I had to seek other venues. At this point I purchased a very nice dedicated box back in Michigan to run the site. This box served from about August 05 to April 06.
During that time the site just kept growing. The forums were added and TOOK OFF. The stats page was expanded and went through two design changes. The WIKI (here!) was added. A dedicated BF2 Files section was established. Moderators were promoted. Contests were held. Expansions were released. Very exciting, very busy.
However, during that time the code base to BF2S was getting stale. Stat updates were slow, pages were slow, the DB scheme was starting to break at the seams, and updating and expanding it was proving to be extremely difficult. Additionally, the cost of paying monthly for hosting was starting to get annoying.
I decided that this site was here to stay and to make an investment into it. Thus Gibson was purchased. Gibson is a dual AMD 2.0ghz server with 16GB of ram and is hosted on a dedicated 10mb line. However, just getting a ripping new machine wasn't enough – the entire BF2S code base then underwent a complete rewrite. Taking nearly two months from start to finish, this new and improved site took everything I learned during the last 10 months and rolled it out better and faster. A lot faster.
The stat updates and page generation times on the new BF2S codebase decreased by ten fold. Pretty dramatic, if you ask me – considering at the same time *more* features were added.
( … to be continued … )
I really love running this site. I have met some simply amazing people through it and the task of crafting and producing something like this has been the number one best learning experience of my life.