One of the things I love about Joomla is that it is Open Source; and since it is thus "created" by the community at large (though maintained by a core Joomla team of sorts), it is also supported by the community at large. This is exactly the kind of ecosystem I want to support and be involved with!

And for the most part, if you ask simple questions, you will get simple answers. Great! Problem is when your questions and issues aren't so simple, as in my case...

First, it started as weird update issue... For some reason, the Joomla Auto-Updater wasn't able to download the package. Using any number of connectivity checks show that there aren't any hinderances to getting that connection going. Checking the files and filesystem and folders and permissions show all that is fine as well. So what could be wrong? That was my question to the Joomla community.

Now, I know that I can go in to my server, and randonly start removing Apache modules, PHP modules, and Joomla modules/add-ons at random, and hope that eventually something somewhere fixes this. But that's just throwing shit at the wall and hoping something sticks... But that's what I've been doing, and it hasn't gotten me anywhere. I need something targeted, something specific. It is that I was hoping to get from the Joomla community.

Boy, was I disappointed.

For the most part, most of the responses were along the lines of, "Did you throw shit at the wall? What stuck?" This is so far from helpful it isn't even funny.

Then there were the intelligent ones. You could assume a level of intelligence through the wording of the post, but the most obvious tell that they were smart was that they provided all kinds of details about the issue at hand, and various things that might be causing it, but stopped short of providing any actionable information; if I wanted that, they were more than willing to offer their services in fixing up my site, for a fee, of course. So they're smart enough to not only know the answer, but to realize the monetary value of that knowledge. Now don't get me wrong, I don't them for trying, after all, you'll never catch any fish if you don't throw the line out... So kudos to them for trying. But this doesn't help me solve the issue at hand...

But fair enough, at this point perhaps it is just my stubborn Zero-Cost ideaology that's keeping me from solving this issue, rather than Joomla or its community. In the end, I was able to upgrade Joomla using some other, slightly more brute-force methods. And since it didn't seem to affect the function of the site itself, I decided to not waste any more time on this.

But that isn't all that has pushed this disillusionment.

One of the other key things that I always liked about Joomla is the add-ons; there is a HUGE variety of add-ons to add extra functionality that Joomla doesn't necessarily have built-in, or expanded upon if there are similar built-in functions. A forum add-on is a good example, as is a "Comment" module. The one in specific I have been using is called Komento by a company called StackSocial. This has been released under a freemium model.

For those of you unfamiliar with the term freemium, allow me to briefly explain. A freemium product typically means that the core, basic functions and usage are free, and then there are premium features available for a fee of sorts. My first encounter with freemium, which I think predates the term freemium, was an internet radio station: di.fm. Under this freemium offering, tou can listen to whatever radio stations all you want, complete with advertisements. The premium offer removes the ads, and allows access to higher quality audio. This model has really exploded in the realm of mobile games... Simpsons, Family Guy, and Fallout are just a couple of games following this model; the game and gameplay is free, but you want those extras? Be prepared to pay.

Same with Komento and very many Joomla add-ons... the basic usage of the addon is free, but to get access to some of those premium features, you have to pay. Fortunately for me, I have no need, use, or desire to get those features. Great! I have been using it to great success over the past few months. Then one day, it just stopped working. On the backend, everything worked fine. On the front, all the articles were loading just fine, with a few exceptions. Again, forum posts get me nowhere. After many false leads and red herrings, I eventually managed to identify a common factor among the non-loading articles: comments. If the article had no comments, it would load just fine; if there were any comments, the page would not load at all. As a test, I disabled Komento, and all articles loaded fine (albeit without the comments or ability to comment).

Now, another freemium product I use is a Sophos Home Edition firewall. Under their freemium model, the product is available and free to use, but support is limited to the community forums; official support from. Sophos proper is available at a cost. This is another common freemium feature among Joomla add-ons. Expecting this to be the case with Komento, I started checking out their website. Sure enough, there is a forum, as expected. But upon further inspection, access to the forum is restricted to the premium users only; so even this "community" forum is a premium feature!? At least I can somewhat search the forum. Most things seem to be resolved by upgrades. Fine, I'll try to upgrade it. Oh look, it is not at all clear on how this might be accomplished. On to the documentation then. Oh what's this? The only document that is available for free amount to little more than a sales brochure. Even the basic install guide is a premium!? AAAARRRRGGGGHHHH!!!! For all I know, they could have intentionally released their product, with known-issues therein, just to force an eventual need for support.

The more perceptive fof you will note there is no more comments or commenting... I just disabled that addon.

So now here I am... Completely disillusioned with my first love, no longer certain of my skills, knowledge, and abilities, and debating how to proceed. Do I cut my losses and move on to another product? I doubt this situation will be all that different with Wordpress or Drupal, but they are far from the only options out there... Do I keep trying to throw shit on the wall (eventually, something has to stick)? Do I try a variety of different alternatives and hope that maybe something somewhere might suit my needs? Do I just rebuild my site and manually import (copy/paste) all my old articles?

At this point, I would normally finish off, requesting your thoughts and suggestions in the form of comments on the article. But since you cannot comment (thanks Komento), I won't. Instead, I will direct you to the "Contact Me" section of my website, at least that still works (for now...), and let me know what you think.

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