POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

What forum software would be your most preferred option as an upgrade to the current one?

Just upgrade to the latest phpBB with a mobile compatible theme
14
67%
Switch to myBB
0
No votes
Switch to an CMS integrated forum like Kuena
0
No votes
Upgrade to Discourse
4
19%
Upgrade to NodeBB
1
5%
Upgrade to Flarum
1
5%
Upgrade to Vanilla forums
0
No votes
Switch to some Reddit like system (please explain below)
1
5%
Switch to some Twitter like system (please explain below)
0
No votes
Switch to a social network site with forum like functionality (please explain below)
0
No votes
Something else (please explain below)
0
No votes
 
Total votes : 21

POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby Julius » 28 Jan 2018, 12:06

Poll related to the discussion here. No promises that it will be actually implemented, but it is one of my plans for 2018 to set up a test server for various option (and learn about Docker deployments that way).

Links to the open-source self-hosted options (same order as in the poll, no preference implied, but with some comments from my side):
phpBB Lightweight, mature, newer versions can work on mobile, has some interesting but obscure plugins, old-fashioned forum
myBB Mostly the same as phpBB I think, comment below why you would recommend a switch regardless
Kuena Joomla board or similar; would allow additional functionality as part of CMS like Joomla, Drupal or Wordpress (bbPress) etc.
Discourse Modern de-facto standard, Ruby based, a bit of a resource hog, no real sub-forums, only categories
NodeBB Modern & very responsive, NodeJS based, lots of gamification features and real-time chat, apparently somewhat buggy
Flarum Discourse like, but php based / more leightweight, only categories, no stable release yet
Vanilla forums no real idea, but seems popular with gaming communities ;) Edit: is a bit Freemium but has a nice groups feature that would fit well to our hosted communities

I wrote "upgrade" in the poll, where I felt the system was sufficiently technically different to be seen as a major functional change to phpBB.

Please note that some of these options might not allow importing old posts and users from phpBB! The options below would for sure be "restarts".

Some open source Reddit clones I know off (not sure that is really a full replacement for a forum though):
Voten Modern, responsive
Raddle very close to Reddit
FreePost leightweight, clean
Voat very close to Reddit

Some open-source Twitter clones (definitely not a replacement, but maybe sufficient? Could be done in addition, but account sharing is a bit challenging)
Mastodon federated microblogging
GNUSocial (with Quvitter theme?) federated microblogging
Movim more of a chat system with microblogging, but has group chat and comments, federated through XMPP

Some open-source social network sites that include forum like functionality:
Diaspora Federated social network
Hubzilla Federated social network, microblogging and nomadic website tool-kit
Humhub Social network tool-kit, not federated
Elgg Social network tool-kit, not federated

Please comment below with additional suggestions.
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby c_xong » 29 Jan 2018, 00:23

When you say Discourse is a resource hog, what does that imply? Is the site going to be slow, and how much? Will it be more expensive to host?
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby Arthur » 29 Jan 2018, 02:19

This is very difficult to answer because I don't frequent a lot of forums besides this one, so comparing is hard. Maybe I need to check their websites and go with gut feeling?
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby Julius » 29 Jan 2018, 03:09

c_xong {l Wrote}:When you say Discourse is a resource hog, what does that imply? Is the site going to be slow, and how much? Will it be more expensive to host?

Server system requirementsfor Discourse are minimum 1GB RAM and 2 recommended. Apparently it does scale well though, i.e. even with a lot of simultanious users it will not use much more than that. But I don't have first hand experience with it. This is significantly more than phpBB needs, and does require a more expensive hosting option; however VPS hosting got relatively cheap these days and I am currently looking into options that should be able to manage discourse relatively easily.

@Athur: yeah, at least check out the demo boards. But this poll is also more about a general idea... in the end there are also technical considerations that might rule out a few options.
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby dulsi » 29 Jan 2018, 04:16

I'm not that particular about what forum software is used. I don't care for Discourse that much but it wouldn't really stop me.
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby c_xong » 29 Jan 2018, 04:42

Is self-hosting a must? If not, might be worth exploring subsidised hosting options. Discourse for example offers free hosting for large open source projects at their discretion, but maybe FGD can qualify.
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby Lyberta » 29 Jan 2018, 05:08

As much as I hate PHP as developer, I think phpBB is tried-and-true from the user side. Discourse, OTOH has very little in terms of filtering. It feels like a huge blob of unrelated posts.
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby Julius » 29 Jan 2018, 12:58

@c_xong: Yeah, but that is kind of what we have been doing until now, and I have always felt this holds back the development of new ideas and additional linked services. Of course if it was hosted on the official discourse service it would at least always be up to date. And if you go for a fully paid SaaS, then definitely you will be paying extra compared to hosting it on your own VPS in most cases.

@Lyberta: Yes, sticking with phpBB has its merits, but one of the reason I am pushing forward with this is that I strongly believe we need to modernize our services to attract a new generation of FOSS game developers. An "oldtimer" like me who grew up with modding Quake is totally fine with phpBB of course, but Discourse or NodeBB are much closer to a modern "web-experience" and also offer much more in terms of easy integration with other services. And especially for Discourse, this is where the developers are at, so you get a steady stream of nice updates and new interesting plugins, while phpBB is mostly stagnant these days.

Edit: One of the "features" of modern forums is that they don't really have a forum tree, and thus feel to users often like a "blob of unrelated posts". I am a bit torn on it, but for a relatively low activity board like ours here, I would consider that a plus as our hosted communities are quite fragmented. But usually there are options to emphasise the categories a bit more, to cater more to users preferring traditional forums.
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby Sauer2 » 29 Jan 2018, 15:27

@Julius: Because you asked:
[x] Something else (please explain below)
Considering if Simple Machines is still superior to PHPBB and in that case upgrade to it. Not sure if it's still worth it these days. Also, the user experience doesn't really change with SM.

Honestly I don't really care as long as it doesn't require a third-party authentification or lots of third-party requests.
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby Julius » 29 Jan 2018, 17:47

Sauer2 {l Wrote}:@Julius: Because you asked:
[x] Something else (please explain below)
Considering if Simple Machines is still superior to PHPBB and in that case upgrade to it. Not sure if it's still worth it these days. Also, the user experience doesn't really change with SM.

Honestly I don't really care as long as it doesn't require a third-party authentification or lots of third-party requests.


Yeah, maybe I should have said MyBB/SMF etc. as the second choice. There are definitely other good but similar options to phpBB, but I just don't feel the effort and potential conversion issues are worth the relatively small advantages of these type of forums over simply upgrading phpBB.

Regarding third-party auth: I would like to have that as an optional feature, but probably restricted to services that actually make sense (like github, steam, itch.io, patreon) and not Facebook etc. Mainly because I don't want to register an app account on Facebook :p (my life is 100% Facebook & WhatsApp free :eew: )

Edit: We could also set up our own external auth system with Keycloak but that runs on Java and server resources are not unlimited; my current mostly empty docker test server is a two dedicated x86 cores, 6GB RAM root server, with SSD drive and 1gbit connection hosted in Germany (netcup, 7 Euro per month, so not really expensive). However it will not be FDG exclusive but also for example run a XMPP server for another small community most likely.

Regarding third-party requests: I guess you mean CDNs and other such "convenient" tracking systems? Yeah, that will be minimized, but these things are so prevalent these days that it is hard to completely avoid. I am very much aware of that though and 100% agree that it is undesirable to include such.
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby Sauer2 » 29 Jan 2018, 19:33

Julius {l Wrote}:Regarding third-party requests: I guess you mean CDNs and other such "convenient" tracking systems? Yeah, that will be minimized, but these things are so prevalent these days that it is hard to completely avoid. I am very much aware of that though and 100% agree that it is undesirable to include such.

Well, so far it works. But with third-party authentification there is always the chance that it gets worse.
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby leilei » 29 Jan 2018, 21:14

The last forum I went to that converted to Discourse I stopped going to completely.

Don't believe the hype of 'modern' forum software that strip it all to 90s BBS levels for the sake of web 3.0. Don't fix what isn't broken.

Also vanilla's terrible too. That doesn't even support old BBcode and expects you to drag and drop images into posts where it'll be read off some google server, and the enforced permanent link system is terrible and breaks links... and doing all this also absolutely requires a very 'modern' web browser with javascript AND xss enabled. It's also slow.
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby Magellan » 30 Jan 2018, 01:45

I have no experience running or maintaining a forum such as this, so please excuse my ignorance. That said, I agree with leilei that if it isn't broken, don't fix it. I say upgrade to the latest phpBB and use a mobile compatible theme.

None of the other forum replacements seem appealing to me. Discourse in particular is quite bad because of the interface. I've never been on a Discourse forum that didn't look like a disorganized mess. Also, they aren't doing themselves any favors with their own forums (https://meta.discourse.org/ which I found by following the Discourse link in the OP and clicking on 'Community'). It seems remarkably difficult to find anything useful in that jumble.

However, you did mention plugins for Discourse and/or the option to emphasize categories more. That might be good, and Discourse is an open source project after all. My only concern is that it may be more difficult to navigate.
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby Julius » 30 Jan 2018, 03:12

Hmm, maybe I should mention that also upgrading phpBB will not be that easy as we use a quite old version with a custom theme. Furthermore our current hosting solution really does't allow us to easily make changes, thus if we were to move to a new server I am guessing that it would be almost the same amount of work to reconfigure phpBB as upgrading to another system.
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby Julius » 30 Jan 2018, 07:12

Magellan {l Wrote}:Discourse in particular is quite bad because of the interface. I've never been on a Discourse forum that didn't look like a disorganized mess. Also, they aren't doing themselves any favors with their own forums (https://meta.discourse.org/ which I found by following the Discourse link in the OP and clicking on 'Community'). It seems remarkably difficult to find anything useful in that jumble.

However, you did mention plugins for Discourse and/or the option to emphasize categories more. That might be good, and Discourse is an open source project after all. My only concern is that it may be more difficult to navigate.


If you click on the "categories" it actually give you a quite forum like view: https://meta.discourse.org/categories (including colour coded sub-categories). I personally think Discourse is quite easy to navigate and use, so not sure if I can fully follow the issues people have. Yes it does emphasise the "latest" comments view more, and categories are not 100% the same as sub-forums, but it comes reasonably close and reduces community fragmentation.

For completeness, this is what the category view would look like in NodeBB: https://community.nodebb.org/categories and it has a "groups" view as well: https://community.nodebb.org/groups

(Both offer quite extensive theming options. So the actual look could be quite different from the stardards linked above).

P.S.: You can change your vote above, if this changed your mind ;)
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby Lyberta » 30 Jan 2018, 07:27

Julius {l Wrote}:but it comes reasonably close and reduces community fragmentation.


Which is the main problem for me. I usually read only specific subforums and would like to never see the content of others until I explicitly ask for it.
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby themightyglider » 30 Jan 2018, 08:06

I think the most important thing this forum needs are more people. A mordern look for sure can help to let it appear more interesting to young devs. There are a lot people out there developing FOSS games and we need more of them to join here if we don't want this place a ghost town. The forum like it is right now does look and feel like a forum 15 years back did. (I know the veterans among us enjoy this).
Furthermore to me it always feels like I have to write a very long post if I like to yoin discusion here or to start a new topic (that just was like this old bord worked). This often discurages me from posting here. I personally would enjoy something where I can just throw in an idea, interesting link or a short update on development process for a project.
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby Julius » 30 Jan 2018, 08:36

Lyberta {l Wrote}:
Julius {l Wrote}:but it comes reasonably close and reduces community fragmentation.


Which is the main problem for me. I usually read only specific subforums and would like to never see the content of others until I explicitly ask for it.


Discourse has an option in your user preferences to "mute" categories which is described as:

You will not be notified of anything about new topics in these categories, and they will not appear in latest.


I understand that opt-out is different from opt-in, but given the low volume of new posts on this forum, I think most people wouldn't mind to see some content from sub-forums they normally would not visit.
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby Julius » 30 Jan 2018, 08:52

themightyglider {l Wrote}:Furthermore to me it always feels like I have to write a very long post if I like to yoin discusion here or to start a new topic (that just was like this old bord worked). This often discurages me from posting here. I personally would enjoy something where I can just throw in an idea, interesting link or a short update on development process for a project.


Would a IRC like group-chat be sufficient for that, or would you prefer a microblog/twitter like system with comments? Edit: nodeBB has a quite Twitter like users page and user groups and you can "follow" users.

A more forum like / Reddit like system I guess also encourages people to write shorter replies due to "threaded discussions"? Maybe that's a more general question: Is threaded discussions something people really want? I personally don't like them and most regular forum software has limited or no support for them (that's why there are the "reddit clones" linked above). For me it is a necessary but not very good solution (same as comment voting) to having a community with many users commenting on the same post in a very short time-frame. It basically makes it impossible to have a joint discussion and usually dwindles into a back and forth, but I understand that a place like Reddit wouldn't work otherwise. However I doubt this will ever become an issue here.
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby themightyglider » 30 Jan 2018, 19:04

A IRC chat is not persistent enough sadly.

Of the given options NodeBB is the best looking one IMHO.
But I can't say much about the UX because I've used nothing of this myself so far.
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby GunChleoc » 31 Jan 2018, 15:50

Julius {l Wrote}:Edit: One of the "features" of modern forums is that they don't really have a forum tree, and thus feel to users often like a "blob of unrelated posts".

This is the reason we should stick with something that has a tree. E.g. for the developers of a particular game that has their own subforum, having a tree structure is very important. I am not a fan of the blob approach, since it makes it very hard to find stuff.

The nodeBB category view seems to be OK though.

If you want to stay with phpBB, their default template is mobile compatible now. All you'd need to do is to replace the logo. I don't know which phpBB version you are running, but I have upgraded my own forums from phpBB2 to the current version without any issues, it even kept the emoticons if I remember correctly - you'll lose all your mods though.

This is my phpBB with a couple of extensions running, in case anybody wants to have a look: http://www.foramnagaidhlig.net/foram/

Vanilla Forums can be practical for integration into Wordpress, bu I don't care much for their UI.

Discourse has an option in your user preferences to "mute" categories

I wouldn't want to mute anything, but still be able to read by priority.
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby Julius » 01 Feb 2018, 13:46

I know... not a popular choice (yet), but I will probably try to set up NodeBB for testing as I think it is more likely to get acceptance from the phpBB fans here and also allows much better hosted communities than Discourse (so it is closer to this forum, while still very modern in other ways). The new version is supposedly also much faster and I am personally more familiar with setting up a node.js app than ruby on rails (which is what Discourse uses). And I need to run node.js on the server anyway, if I want to install the The Lounge IRC web-client.

One of the technical problems I see with NodeBB however, is that it is a strictly noSQL database system (Redis or MongoDB only) and thus integrating user accounts with other applications (like a Mumble or XMPP server) is not so strait forward as it would be with Discourse or phpBB. Lets see.
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby mdtrooper » 17 Feb 2018, 13:42

I think that Discourse is awesome, but the spanish engineers have a saying that "si funciona no lo toques" (in english "if it is working then don't touch it"). Well...I think that keep phpBB is good idea.
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby Julius » 17 Feb 2018, 16:36

The problem is that this forum is really not fully working anymore. This isn't just about making it more mobile friendly etc. But rather that this forum has all sorts of bugs and the upgrade path is all but easy...
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Re: POLL: Which forum software would you like FGD to use?

Postby GunChleoc » 17 Feb 2018, 19:08

Do you have any mods except for the custom heme, the logo and the links on the top?

There is an extension available for modern phpBB that will let you add an extra menu, so that would take care of the links. We'll just need to find the time to add them in again.
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