Request for Better Forum Software


#1

I think a current issue that’s holding Peercoin back is its marketing. To be frank, it’s been kind of bad from the beginning. (Who didn’t giggle at the name PPCoin?) I do think its image has slowly improved though. (I’m digging the new logo).

I think one way to help give the coin a better image is if we were to upgrade this forum software to something more professional. To me, it’s kind of weird thinking how much money is invested in Peercoin yet the main hub for discussion on it is run on 2nd rate, free software. I know the Bitcoin forum is also run on SMF, but we can do better.

I am partial to XenForo, and would be willing to chip in to purchase a license. I’d consider it an investment in my investment. It’s very good software for facilitating discussion, which I think will help build the community and ultimately help get the word out there about Peercoin.

What do you think?


#2

I’ve never used XenForo before, but from a quick look, it appears to be a nice option.

@FuzzyBear – as the keeper of the flame, what say you about considering an update to a different forum framework? Let’s assume that it was paid for through a community fundraiser, so cost isn’t an issue.


#3

I disagree. I think we should stick with SMF.
I do think we need another social platform though.


#4

I think thats a good Idea, and I am willing to chip in aswell.


#5

[quote=“super3, post:3, topic:1682”]I disagree. I think we should stick with SMF.
I do think we need another social platform though.[/quote]
Any reason why you think we should stick with SMF?


#6

I’d actually like it if we used the same colors as our subreddit, dark upper banner with the Peercoin logos, a white and gray background and some green mixed in. It would make our communities more consistent.

I’d actually like the same thing to be done with the website. Keep the current layout, but change the colors from blue to what we have on our subreddit.


#7

[quote=“Sentinelrv, post:6, topic:1682”]I’d actually like it if we used the same colors as our subreddit, dark upper banner with the Peercoin logos, a white and gray background and some green mixed in. It would make our communities more consistent.

I’d actually like the same thing to be done with the website. Keep the current layout, but change the colors from blue to what we have on our subreddit.[/quote]

I’d like this too. Consistent branding signals quality.

That being said, Fuzzy has done an excellent job getting this community up and running, so I think he should be making the final decision. :slight_smile:


#8

We should be following the same format as the ever popular bitcointalk.org whenever possible.

Understand that you can’t please every one all of the time, so while some people might like new forum software and think it’s great, you are also going to annoy a lot of people who are happy with what we’ve already have been using.

SMF has proven to be quite secure and safe. Bitcointalk uses it with success.

The possibility that any one wants to change our forum software is quite worrisome with the possible negative impacts hiding around the corner.

Let’s concentrate our efforts on something else. :slight_smile:


#9

Sorry ppcman, I accidentally modified your post in case you noticed. I meant to quote you, but hit the wrong button. I put your post back the way it was.

Anyway, I’m not sure about changing the forum software because I don’t know what the benefits would be. It sounds better to me to keep the forum software the same as what everybody else in the Bitcoin community uses. I’m mainly in favor of changing the style/colors to match our subreddit.


#10

XenForo looks nice, but I think that Fuzzy did a great job keeping up with SMF and we never had any security issues here, and I think that’s the bottom line. We can always face lift the theme a bit if we decide to.


#11

[quote=“cryptopants, post:5, topic:1682”][quote=“super3, post:3, topic:1682”]I disagree. I think we should stick with SMF.
I do think we need another social platform though.[/quote]
Any reason why you think we should stick with SMF?[/quote]
Secure, proven to work, no clear reason/business case to move

Agree with the others that aligning colour schemes with Reddit and website would be great, but in the category nice to have.


#12

I agree that brand consistency is good and that we should strive for it.

The benefit of upgrading to better forum software is that it’ll be easier to communicate. I’ve used XenForo a lot so I can’t speak of other options like Discourse, but it does an excellent job at keeping users engaged. It uses a notification system, similar to Facebook, and also has a tagging system similar to Twitter with which you can mention a user in a post and they will be notified. It’s just much more effective than this software, which doesn’t even have “quick replies.” Current software also lets people register through their social media accounts, which makes it easier to get involved. SMF is also neither mobile friendly.

If we can get more people active in the forum I think that could help facilitate the awareness of Peercoin. It doesn’t seem like there are all that many people campaigning the coin compared to other cryptocurrencies (just look at how quickly Dogecoin has risen). Peercoin seems to have gotten by from being one of the earlier coins developed and through the strength of its design. I think ultimately it’s the technology of the coin itself that will determine its fate, but if people don’t learn and talk about it, then I believe that will stunt its growth.

I did a little bit of researching yesterday and it looks like the conversion process from SMF to XenForo would require an intermediate conversion to PHPBB first as there isn’t a direct converter. There is a XenForo staff member that has experience doing the import and could probably be hired to help (if we wanted to do it).

The argument that the Bitcoin forum uses SMF so we should use it too doesn’t make sense to me. With that logic, what would have been the point of Sunny King creating Peercoin in the first place?


#13

Maybe we can get someone to lay out differences between different forum software so we can exactly see what the pros and cons are? I do agree that mobile friendly might be good.


#14

Well, I think the two best options are either XenForo or Discourse. XenForo is fairly established while Discourse seems to be trying to position itself as the WordPress of forum software. (WordPress is great open source blogging software.) IP.Board, vBulletin, and Vanilla seem like lesser options to me. I am not aware of any other noteworthy options.

I don’t know all the specific differences between XenForo and Discourse as I’ve only managed a XenForo community in the past, but it seems they are two different approaches to message boards. XenForo is more traditional while incorporating splashes of trending social media functionality, while Discourse attempts a more streamlined and modern approach that mimics the efficiency of Stack Exchange in ways.

Discourse I think may be the better option down the road. I don’t think there is any reliable way to convert to it from SMF now, however. XenForo is proven and people have made the switch from SMF to Xenforo.

Either option should be better able to engage users in meaningful community discussion than SMF.


#15

“Because other cryptocurrency communities use it…” isn’t a good justification to continue to use SMF, in my opinion. The lack of a useful feed (so things don’t get lost) and a mechanism to “@mention” someone, are just two of the things that this community could benefit from. Also, the forums don’t work well on mobile, and do not yet leverage the UI improvements that HTML5 makes available (in the core templates).

When people mention “security” as a major benefit of SMF, I’m curious what context they are using it in. I see the SMF team push security patches on a semi-frequent basis, which is a good thing, but I would expect that the XenForo or Discourse teams would be doing the same thing, when a vulnerability was discovered.

Now, if the reason that we wouldn’t consider updating is that it’s extra effort on FuzzyBear’s plate and he’s already slammed, I can understand that. But if that’s the case, we really need to figure out how we can support the people in the community who are stepping up to provide services – for being the third-largest currency by market capitalization, we have a surprisingly small number of people who actively contribute. This is not a criticism of those who are new to the community, or those who already contribute beyond their “share,” but it would be nice to see some of the concentrated wealth get put to good use through bounties.


#16

The conversion will take some work. But I have looked around XenForo a bit and I think it is a nice option. If @FuzzyBear (,- picked that up from XenForo :wink: ) is willing to do the work I will also chip in for the project. But before we do, maybe we can setup a poll to see what everyone thinks of it?


#17

Which person in particular are you quoting Ben?

I mentioned that it could bring new problems hiding around the corner.

By that, I am simply suggesting that the quite popular Bitcointalk is a target for hackers and something that gets bombarded by huge loads has stood up to the task fairly well using the open source SMF forum.

If we want to experiment with a forum software that is proprietary like XenForo, we now have to deal with their development schedule, bug fixes, etc. This puts all of our eggs into their basket.

useful feed (so things don't get lost) and a mechanism to "@mention" someone, are just two of the things that this community could benefit from. Also, the forums don't work well on mobile, and do not yet leverage the UI improvements that HTML5 makes available (in the core templates).

So you recommend the prospect of chasing new features. Any programmer will tell you, new features also bring along the possibility of new bugs, new exploits, and hundreds or thousands of lines of unaudited code.

What makes that problematic, is we are dealing with cryptocurrency here. It doesn’t look good when a forum crashes because of newly released features that aren’t working as intended, or where new exploits in proprietary code are found.

When people mention "security" as a major benefit of SMF, I'm curious what context they are using it in. I see the SMF team push security patches on a semi-frequent basis, which is a good thing, but I would expect that the XenForo or Discourse teams would be doing the same thing, when a vulnerability was discovered.

Have you spent any time on Bugtraq or similar? Dozens of exploits are released into the wild when people say:

“We contacted the company 6 months ago gave them a deadline to fix this problem and they haven’t yet. As a result, we’re releasing this into the wild”

Commercial software is forever guilty of not patching bugs and exploits because very rarely is the IT department driving the company. Instead it’s the marketing, sales, and investment giving the IT department direction. They are a for-profit company, and if it means “we need feature X tomorrow, to make our share holders happy, then that’s where the IT department spends its time”

Open-source software doesn’t have that same urgency. So it usually more stable and better designed.

While XenForo may seemingly be doing well posting new bug fixes, etc. How solid is their software? What other forum, like Peercoin, with a current market cap of $100 Million dollars is using Xenforo?

Our entire coin depends on this Forum as it’s principle method of communication. $100 Million dollars in the industry of trading. We’re going to play around with the forum software “so it looks nicer” or “has more features” without taking any serious look at the new possible problems that may be brought with it?

Now, if the reason that we wouldn't consider updating is that it's extra effort on FuzzyBear's plate and he's already slammed, I can understand that. But if that's the case, we really need to figure out how we can support the people in the community who are stepping up to provide services -- for being the third-largest currency by market capitalization, we have a surprisingly small number of people who actively contribute. This is not a criticism of those who are new to the community, or those who already contribute beyond their "share," but it would be nice to see some of the concentrated wealth get put to good use through bounties.

I have an idea. Why not start your own XenForo forum for Peercoin talk and call it something else, like PeercoinForum.org or some other name. If your pretty forum with lots of new features by a proprietary software author works out then I think FuzzyBear might point this domain to your website, who knows.

I’m not willing to risk the gamble from switching from something that currently works well, to something pretty and feature rich at the expense of causing an outage later.

Maybe you, or others, can convince Bitcointalk to convert to XenForo too?

There’s also the issue of usability too that no one seems to understand. It’s quite reasonable to expect that people have been very familiar with using SMF over at Bitcointalk for years, and still use it on a daily basis. Those same people come here and the similarity makes it easy for them to also use this system too.

Asking every one to graduate to a completely different commercial forum software for some new features sounds reasonable on the surface, but it’s fraught with possible problems. Just because these problems aren’t waving a flag in front of your face going in, I see these flags early on.

There may be people here who agree with me. If so, now is the time to speak up. Ben may believe I am the only one with these concerns.


#18

Sunny King started with something that was proven to work (Bitcoin), and used the existing Bitcoin source to build on top of it.

Even Sunny King knew that beginning with the right foundation for your project is important.

I’m simply mirroring that concept with my push to stay with SMF.

It appears we have a few people who are so excited to leap into something else, that they’re not looking beyond featuresets as a reason.

I’ve already looked at the negative aspects and I don’t think we should leap.

We have enough of a fiasco over at MtGox, I don’t think we need a possible screwed up migration of Peercoin forum software to be part of that.


#19

There’s also no reason that we can’t run a “beta” test with XenForo to see if it is a major improvement. I’m willing to contribute with others for a license. That way, we can smoke test it to see how easy it is to set up, maintain and customize before we asked anyone to even worry about transferring over.

I’d rather be out a couple of bucks and have learned that it’s not a good option, then to be missing out on a huge benefit for the community.

(Apparently this didn’t go through the last time I tried to post it…)


#20

And no, ppcman, I don’t expect that we’d jump into this without a second thought.

These forums are our main conduit of information, of course they are vital to keep secure and stable. They also need to be something that compels people to become engaged in the community – something that right now we’re having a hard time doing. We have 4498 registered users here, but today, we’ve had 128 of those users drop by.

Trying to keep track of what is “new” in SMF isn’t straight-forward; trying to get someone’s attention without resorting to a PM is also something that isn’t easy, unless they happen upon the thread. The features that I mentioned aren’t just gold-plating on an otherwise suitable tool, they are improvements to the usability of somewhere that I spend a good portion of my online day.

You disagree with my assessment, and that’s fine. I’m not interested in fracturing the community for the sake of a new forum, but I’m most certainly interested in making sure that we’re doing everything we possibly can to extend our message and provide tools that people want to come to use.