Please Consider Changing Forum Software

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Is there any chance that the site might go back to phpBB? That software was incredibly functional compared to whatever the current system is, and it's free. Or even a reasonably priced commercial solution such as IP Board would be great. IP Board works great over at On The Left, it has private messages, polls, member lookup, so you can find posts by other members.

Was there ever any reason provided regarding the decision to ditch an industry standard forum software in favor of this system? Can we get some sort of petitioin going that Thom would listen to? Honestly, it would probably make his life much easier to just use off-the-shelf, free forum software.

rbs's picture
rbs
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Comments

It is a matter of integrating everything we need across the whole site, and then being able to grow it flexibly in this fast-changing environment. So while there is indeed better specialist forum software, we've had a lot of problems trying to get it (or the chat or the blog or something else) integrated with the rest, which is why we have changed the site several times over the past few years, which has been tiresome for us and you, and expensive, but we have persevered. Each version of the site has had some parts better than others. This version of the site uses open source software, so there is the possibility of improving it the way we want in the future.

Also, migrating data from one brand of a board to another turns out to be very difficult and expensive, and usually something gets lots in translation.

Sorry I can't give you better news.

SueN's picture
SueN
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Thanks for the explanation Sue. It looks like you're using Drupal, so I'm curious about what sort of integration having a single Drupal system gives you. The big thing would seem to be single-sign-on, so a user has the same identity in the forum and the blogs, etc. I'm not sure what else needs to be integrated across all the site.

By the way, I just took a quick look ant there appears to be a way to integrate phpBB and Drupal. You might want to check out http://drupal.org/project/phpbb.  Perhaps there's a way after all.

rbs's picture
rbs
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Hi rbs

Much what Sue said. It is a need to integrate so many things together under one database.

The old site was held together with sticky tape that was starting to come unstuck far too oftern and was creaking under the strain of multiple databases, which kept going out of sync.

The new system we have here under Drupal works well for us and although the message board may not have all the functions of phpbb or others, we are now able to control things far betetr. With over 65,000 users, this can be a challange sometimes!

We are looking at message board enhancements in the future.

-Nigel-
Webmaster

webmaster's picture
webmaster
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Hi Nigel

Thanks for taking the time to respond. I can see how having everything under Drupal offers administrative advantages, especially when you are dealing with such a large user community. Could the Drupal phpBB integration module be of any help? I haven't looked under the covers, but is appears to allow a phpBB install to make use of your Drupal user database. That might give you the best of both worlds - phpBB and the Drupal CMS for everything else.

Please don't take what I say as a criticism of you or the Thom site. It's just a criticism of Drupals forum module. I wish they would add some functionality and make it more competitive with standard forum software.

Anyway, thank you for all the work you do to provide a forum for such an interesting community.

rbs's picture
rbs
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

As a software developer myself I would like to point out some glaring miss-configurations. For instance you have emoticons available but they never show even if I insert one. Some flag must not be set properly in the configuration. Same with the spellchecking. I use Firefox and spellchecking is usually working on form entries on other sites. Here is have to remember to right click every time to turn it on. Some how you have it turned off and turned on for HTML as we can see any errors as the HTML is displayed as the text is posted. Perhaps someone misunderstood that setting. Firefox is using client side spellchecking not server.

I haven't use Drupal as I rolled my own site using PHP and don't have a forum but have a blog connected which by default doesn't have any of these problems. That said many of these open source systems I realize have abysmal documentation. They are long on coders and short on any tech writers. So it is easy to not set up things right due to unclear or hastily written docs. (And don't get me started on how half-assed young programmers are).

captbebops's picture
captbebops
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

I whish we could get something that made it easier to stay focused on the questions you recently asked, like on YA answers. I don't think many blogs have this. It's hard to stay focused if can't figure out exactly where to start reading and respdonding to messages. I remember readnews use to this really well and easy.

Dr. Econ's picture
Dr. Econ
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

That's the difference between forums and groups. On an email group you can reply to a particular message and maintain a thread in that vein. But even then I know people who use a Yahoo Group like it is a serial message board and will only reply to the last message posted because they don't know how to turn on the topic threading. These are all mainly just posts saved off to an SQL database anyway so such thread or at least that style could be implemented on forums (and probably has been).

captbebops's picture
captbebops
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Behold The Trump's Crime Family's Disrespect of Life & Humanity....

Thom plus logo In a time when wildlife populations around the world are crashing, endangered species tremble on the verge of extinction, and the entire web of life is at risk, the son of the President of the United States went to Mongolia and shot an endangered species, the largest sheep in the world with 6 foot horns.
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