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The NaNoWriMo website is the main hub for all NaNoWriMo activity.
- 1 History
- 2 NaNoWriMo website features
- 3 What the NaNo site runs on
- 4 Other Nano-function websites
- 5 External links
According to Chris Baty, the initial website was created for year two, in 2000. This website was a static website without forums or word count bars or many other features that Wrimos of today expect from the NaNo website. Instead of a forum, Wrimos used Yahoo! Groups to chat and organize regional get-togethers. Since the original website did not have an automatic word count validator, participants emailed their winning novels to Chris Baty, who validated the novels manually and added a winner status to the user's name on the website. This changed in 2001, when there were so many novelists and winners that participants validated each other's novels.
Dan Sanderson built a new website for NaNoWriMo 2002, introducing the NaNoWriMo forums, the word count bar, and the automatic validator--all features that continue to live on the NaNoWriMo website today.
The Nanowrimo website sees the most traffic in the few days leading up to and following November 1. Historically, the website was continually underpowered for the sort of traffic it would only see for a week; Chris Baty related the problem in corndog-related terms. The downtime grew smaller as the years progressed and the technology on the website improved; the advent of Ruby on Rails saw the first year that the website did not go down to server traffic. It does still occasionally go down to technical errors, despite the best efforts of Nano HQ and the thorough testing of the Beta Buggers.
NaNoWriMo website features
The largest part of the website by far, and the part that sees the most traffic, is the NaNoWriMo forums.
What the NaNo site runs on
What the NaNo site runs on has changed over the years.
Static Website and Yahoo! Groups (2000-2001)
The first NaNoWriMo website was a static website written in HTML and CSS. Because the original NaNoWriMo website had no forums, NaNoWriMo participants collected via a Yahoo! Group to exchange tips and support. This worked well in Nano's second year, when the participation was around 140. It did not work so well the third year, when the participation exceeded 5,000. The official means of gathering were switched over to a forum system for 2002.
PhpBB is a bulletin board system that was popular in the early 2000's. The Nanowrimo website used PhpBB for its forum system from the forum's creation in 2002 until 2004.
Since PhpBB is only a forum system, it does not feature any content management or any methods for load balancing or managing database queries. It also has poor defenses against spambots (an increasing problem over the internet) so it is not as popular nowadays. These options became necessary to handle Nanowrimo's increasing traffic, so it was eventually abandoned in favor of Xoops after the 2004 season.
Xoops is a content management system and the one the NaNoWriMo site ran on from 2005-2006. Due to being a content management system as opposed to simply a forum, XOOPS could handle static content (such as webpages) as well as a forum, which is what the tech team was looking for at the time. The NaNo site, including the new Script Frenzy site, moved from Xoops to Drupal in time for the 2007 season.
Nanoedmo currently runs on Xoops.
Drupal is what the NaNo and Script Frenzy websites ran on, 2007- 2010. Script Frenzy used it right up until its shutdown in 2014 following its discontinuance in 2012. The Young Writer's Program, a site with smaller server loads than the main site, also uses Drupal, but is slated to move to the current framework, Ruby on Rails, in 2015. Drupal allowed for better site management than Xoops and supported better server support, but ultimately became unmanageable with Nano's growing traffic.
According to the Drupal website, it is "open source software maintained and developed by a community of 630,000+ users and developers." 
Ruby on Rails (2011-present)
Ruby on Rails (often shortened to RoR or Rails) is a web application framework for the Ruby programming language and the current framework of the NaNoWriMo website. Like xoops and Drupal (but unlike PhpBB), it is a website management system, which means that it can maintain both static or mostly static content (such as webpages), blog-type content, and forums. Since it is not primarily a forum system, and due to Nano's unique needs (such as a word count function), many of its modules are custom written by Dan Duvall.
The transition to Ruby on Rails from Drupal was chosen for RoR's better management of database queries and server management, which lowered the loads on the database by 75% and has so far put a permanent end to the October/November crashes that NaNo often endured in the 2002-2010 era. The transition began in 2011 with the Camp NaNoWriMo website, and then the NaNoWriMo Website later that year. Due to budget cuts, Script Frenzy remained on Drupal until its closure.
Fun fact: Many Nano users may interact with Ruby on Rails off the Nano site, as it is also used for the user interface on Twitter as well as websites like Github and Groupon.
Other Nano-function websites
Classy (formerly StayClassy) is the website Nano uses for crowdsourced individual fundraising, and is also the official system for raising funds to attend the Night of Writing Dangerously. Users can create and customize a page for enticing visitors to make donations. Its functions include custom text and pictures, the ability to add video, and custom shortened links. The website accepts Paypal and major credit cards.
Before using Classy, NaNoWriMo used FirstGiving for its crowdsourced fundraising.
Nanowrimo has started using Uservoice as a support system. It now houses the official FAQ as well as allowing for users to report bugs and request features. It is not, however, required for bug reporting or feature requests as the Site and Message Board Feedback and Suggestions and Tech Help & Site Bug Reports will continue to be fully supported.
Since late 2010, the NaNoWriMo blog has been hosted on Tumblr with Disqus comments. This lets Wrimos comment on blog posts as well as reblog posts on their own Tumblr sites.
Users of GoodSearch can select NaNoWriMo as their selected charity for searches and other features.
Nanowrimo used Spreecast to host their NaNoPrep webinar on October 14, 2015. Features included live video/audio of a four-author panel, a section to ask questions (and upvote questions users wanted to see answered), and a live text chat.