Biggest competition threats to PHPBB forums

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blockrocker
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Biggest competition threats to PHPBB forums

Post by blockrocker » Sun Mar 17, 2013 10:59 am

Hi!

I'm running tens of Phpbb-forums and working hard to make internet content production a substantial part of my income. Because of this I feel that it's very important to try to predict future and the threats there might be for my existing forums. I'm trying to ask the question "What might cause my users to choose something else than my forums in the future?".

Facebook seems to be one type of threat, but luckily their group system is not yet developed enough to compete with proper forums. In the future they will probably try to expand by taking over traditional forum users, but let's hope they move slowly with that.

When I look at the current situation there is one particular platform that seems to seriously out-perform Phpbb in functionality and user experience. I'm talking about Stack Exchange sites. Stack Overflow is a great example.

If you haven't used their system I can tell you a few reasons why it's so powerful:
The most important thing is their deep voting/reputation system that on one hand really encourages people to answer. On the other hand this same system makes finding the best answers really easy. In other words those sites produce very _good_ information. That is very nice in the age of information overflow. When someone asks a question, it usually gets several answers. When other users read the question, they also vote for the best answers. Those who post goods answers get reputation points. I have heard that big reputation points can nowadays even help in job search. If you show you employer that you have thousands of reputation points let's say in Javascript discussions, the employer will understand that you have deep knowledge in the subject.

I think the user experience of Stack Exchange sites is so good that it really threatens Phpbb-style forums in the near future. This is why I'm pleading that PhpBB-developers would consider making a similar kind of user experience possible within the next Phpbb-versions. A great start would be a deeply integrated post upvote/downvote system connected to a reputation system.

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/a3
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Re: Biggest competition threats to PHPBB forums

Post by /a3 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:00 am

phpBB is a bulletin board, not a social network, Q&A site, bug tracker, CMS, blog, or a kitchen sink. Why couldn't this feature just be a MOD/plugin?
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blockrocker
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Re: Biggest competition threats to PHPBB forums

Post by blockrocker » Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:38 am

You are right, that's what it is at the moment. I'm trying to think what it should be in the future in order to still attract visitors. All the popular platforms are using upvotes/likes these days and they have a good reason for doing that.

It shouldn't be just a mod because a stack overflow type of system creates better information. And one of the main functions of bulleting boards is sharing information. The one who produces better and more relevant information will win. That's why you use Google and not Altavista nowadays. Better, more relevant information.

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Re: Biggest competition threats to PHPBB forums

Post by KnocksX » Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:15 pm

/a3 wrote:phpBB is a bulletin board, not a social network, Q&A site, bug tracker, CMS, blog, or a kitchen sink. Why couldn't this feature just be a MOD/plugin?
Forums are social apps by definition, and forum packages that integrate social features (likes, accomplishments, etc), such as XenForo and IPB, have had great success and feedback both from admins and users. Anything that encourages people to participate should be a built-in feature in a forum.

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Re: Biggest competition threats to PHPBB forums

Post by imkingdavid » Tue Mar 19, 2013 2:06 am

phpBB is, by definition, a bulletin board software. While stack overflow is very good at fulfilling the needs of its users, I don't see the need for us to make phpBB something that it is not, such as a Q&A software. Forums still have their place in the web, so I'm not really confident that we need to change it from what it is a the core. Sure there are ways we can improve it to better organize and display information, and to better encourage activity from the board's members, but such a drastic change is, in my opinion, not appropriate for this specific software.

EDIT: I should add that there has been discussion of implementing a voting or like/dislike or reputation system, but I'm not entirely sure what the overall consensus of the topic was. Personally, if it is done right, I wouldn't have too big of an issue with it, but ultimately I don't want to see phpBB changing from the core concept of bulletin board.
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Pony99CA
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Re: Biggest competition threats to PHPBB forums

Post by Pony99CA » Tue Mar 19, 2013 3:38 am

imkingdavid wrote:phpBB is, by definition, a bulletin board software. While stack overflow is very good at fulfilling the needs of its users, I don't see the need for us to make phpBB something that it is not, such as a Q&A software.
I don't see the two as mutually exclusive. On phpBB.com, the entire Support Forum is basically a big Q&A forum, so allowing some forums to have voting seems reasonable.

The question is, how much voting? You can vote on the topic or individual posts (which can give reputation/karma to the poster), for example. Do you just allow "Thanks" (+1), Thumbs Up/Down (+1, -1) or numeric voting? If you allow negative or numeric voting, do posts below a certain threshold get hidden by default (like SlashDot)?

It's a complex topic, and as so many board owners have different needs, I think that it would need to be flexible. You might be able to handle all of the above scenarios, but the ACP will get more complicated. For example, consider the following options:
  • Lowest vote value
  • Highest vote value
  • Total # of rankings
  • Posters get reputation based on votes.
  • Topics get rankings based on votes.
  • Filter posts below this value
  • Filter topics below this value
  • Highlight posts above this value
  • Highlight topics above this value
So Thanks would be 1/1/1 with no filtering; Thumbs Up/Down would be -1/1/2 with possible filtering; SlashDot style might be 0/5/6 with filtering; voting might be -5/5/11; etc.

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blockrocker
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Re: Biggest competition threats to PHPBB forums

Post by blockrocker » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:27 am

phpBB is, by definition, a bulletin board software.
I don't really understand why it should matter what phpBB is currently. We need to think what it needs to be in the future in order to stay relevant. Imagine if mobile phone makers would have said "A mobile phone is by definition a phone, not an internet browser." With that logic there would not be the amazing devices we have today.

I'm also willing to argue that 99% of all forum interactions work on a question-answer basis (and sometimes on a comment-response basis like this thread here). The first poster asks a question of some kind and the others answer the question. Most people read forums in order to get information. If there is a system that produces better quality answers, that system will prevail, just as Google did with the search engine business because it provided users with the best information.

I'm not saying phpBB should change dramatically. The core features are great. I'm simply saying that the social elements of upvote/downvote and reputation should be added as an admin panel option.

I repeat what KnockX said with my own addition: "Anything that encourages people to participate, or results in better quality content, should be a built-in feature in a forum."

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Re: Biggest competition threats to PHPBB forums

Post by callumacrae » Tue Mar 19, 2013 11:26 am

blockrocker wrote:
phpBB is, by definition, a bulletin board software.
I don't really understand why it should matter what phpBB is currently. We need to think what it needs to be in the future in order to stay relevant. Imagine if mobile phone makers would have said "A mobile phone is by definition a phone, not an internet browser." With that logic there would not be the amazing devices we have today.
If a mobile phone only had the capability to make calls and texts built in, and then the user could download a web browser through an app store (similar to a modification through the customisation database), there wouldn't be any problems. I, for one, get annoyed when mobile phone manufacturers force stuff I don't want like the stocks app (or reputation in phpBB) onto me, and would much prefer less built in, and more downloadable through the app store.
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Ger
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Re: Biggest competition threats to PHPBB forums

Post by Ger » Tue Mar 19, 2013 1:17 pm

Reputation/vote/karma systems certainly have their use. However, that only goes for a certain part of phpBB implementations. For neither of my boards I'd use it.

IMHO, phpBB devs should focus on 2 things:
1. The very basic functions forum software should have (needed for posting, moderation, administration, etc.)
2. A powerful plugin system

This way, the core stays light and fast, while everyone can easily make his board unique and fit to exactly their needs.
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blockrocker
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Re: Biggest competition threats to PHPBB forums

Post by blockrocker » Tue Mar 19, 2013 4:09 pm

callumacrae wrote: If a mobile phone only had the capability to make calls and texts built in, and then the user could download a web browser through an app store (similar to a modification through the customisation database), there wouldn't be any problems. I, for one, get annoyed when mobile phone manufacturers force stuff I don't want like the stocks app (or reputation in phpBB) onto me, and would much prefer less built in, and more downloadable through the app store.
-Text messaging is not a basic phone function either so you should leave it out by this logic (after all, mobile phones are not beepers/pagers)
-It's not that simple either, because the phone needs specific hardware in order to connect to the internet. By this logic we are talking about, the phone is a phone and thus internet-enabling hardware should never have been built because it's not needed in a phone. Same goes with gps. If it's just a phone, navigation chips should never have been added (by this change resisting logic).

I'm really happy mobile phone makers did not limit themselves to creating just a phone.

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