Choice of forum software

Posted by hcgtv on 2007-02-25 11:28

Hi,

Just curious why a traditional forum wasn't picked to run on this community site. Though Drupal has it's advantages when it comes to single sign on to different parts of a site, their forums have a subset of features found in regular forum software.

Simple things like just seeing what posts have had activity, rather than seeing all posts with a New indicator next to the active ones. Or clicking on a thread and being taken to the newest post in that thread since you last left off. I guess I could go on...

Using a regular forum, in lieu of the free Komodo Edit, would invite participation from more users. Rather than users just showing up when they have a problem, they would instead hang out and help one another.

Just an observation from a moderator on many forums.

Bert Garcia ~ hcgtv ~ PHPXref ~ TxPun

jeff.griffiths | Mon, 2007-02-26 09:32

Drupal was chosen for this site for a number of reasons, in particular because we needed a much richer feature set than soemthing like phpBB could provide for other things like publishing custom content.

I agree that the forum functionality in Drupal is relatively basic, however I would be happy to hear any suggestions you might have that would improve usability. For example, in what ways specifically does Drupal's tracker capabilities fall short:

http://support.activestate.com/tracker/2

--
JeffG | Komodo IDE 4.0 | MacBook Pro OS X Intel / Ubuntu 6.10 i386

hcgtv | Mon, 2007-02-26 10:47

Jeff,

I'm a big fan of Drupal, it's modules are awesome and very powerful with the taxonomy system, but it's a CMS at heart. The forum module is great for a small support site, maybe to field questions where commenting falls short.

I just speak from experience in trying to follow forums which used the Drupal module. Take SpreadFireFox, I tried to keep up but soon lost interest. Yet I've followed traditional forums for years because it's very easy to keep up with the latest posts and it's easier to post with familiar bbcode.

Now in your case, you may of liked the idea of being able to mix content, like FAQ's or How-To's in with forum posts. From this standpoint, it's an excellent vehicle to publish, yet it's not as conducive for continued participation from what I've observed.

I help moderate or am an active member in 9 forums, all of them use traditional forum software, like PunBB and vBulletin. I've also followed phpBB and SMF powered forums with the same ease. Heck, with Firefox tabs, I can keep track of all activity in one browser window.

Bert Garcia ~ hcgtv ~ PHPXref ~ TxPun

jeff.griffiths | Thu, 2007-03-08 18:10

Quote:

"Yet I've followed traditional forums for years because it's very easy to keep up with the latest posts and it's easier to post with familiar bbcode."

Why is it very easy? Please be as specific as possible. I'm committed to improving the user experience of this site, and I think I can use Drupal and my own skills to do that. Tell me what punBB does ( sorry, I've never used it ) that I don't, and I will see what I can do. =)

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JeffG | Komodo IDE 4.0 | MacBook Pro OS X Intel / Ubuntu 6.10 i386

hcgtv | Thu, 2007-03-08 20:55

I'm beginning to get the hang of following this forum, New next to the Title means a new post, New under replies means there's been activity in that thread.

Now, if we had a lot of activity, like 20 new threads and 30 replies, then it could get a bit hairy. On a traditional forum, there's a link that will take you where it lists all the activity that's happened since you last visited, that's how I normally enter the forums I follow.

This forum lists everything in chronological order, regardless if there's been activity or not, indicators are what help you pick out the new stuff. Also, there's no mark all as read functionality, so you will still see New indicators on stuff that's weeks old hanging around.

As for bbcode, it's the universal markup language for forums. Those that use forums are familiar with it and can enter posts with ease, similar to being familiar with a programming language when you're coding.

The best way to understand the mechanisms of a forum is to join one and click view New posts since last visit when you join up, then return an hour later and see how it all works. It's hard to explain the mechanisms at play but it lets you follow along very nicely, especially if you're a moderator or a support person.

Bert Garcia ~ hcgtv ~ PHPXref ~ TxPun

jeff.griffiths | Fri, 2007-03-09 07:49

That gives me a much better idea of where you're coming from. I have had a few other vague requests for more 'forum-like' features but they usually seem to involve anime-themed avatars and the like. Your request is much more obvious and functional, and mirrors how I use the forums I hang out on. =)

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JeffG | Komodo IDE 4.0 | MacBook Pro OS X Intel / Ubuntu 6.10 i386

Toe | Sun, 2007-04-08 23:17

If you haven't seen it, there's a group working on improving Drupal's forum system at http://groups.drupal.org/drubb

There's also a list of Drupal modules that provide common forum features at http://groups.drupal.org/node/2418

jeff.griffiths | Tue, 2007-04-10 09:38

I've discussed various improvements for the forums with some local Drupallers, I think this is something Drupal needs - a 'good enough' solution on core and some quality contrib modules that play well together. I'll look into this when I get a bit more time.

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JeffG

Vicky (not verified) | Thu, 2008-07-10 18:33

vBulletin is more widely used because there is a larger community for the forum software. Once you get your license there are many a forums you can join to get valuable modification information and help. Invision is more graphical interfaced now but the community backup for it isn't that large.