Biggest competition threats to PHPBB forums

General discussion of development ideas and the approaches taken in the 3.x branch of phpBB. The next feature release of phpBB 3 will be 3.3/Proteus.
Forum rules
Please do not post support questions regarding installing, updating, or upgrading phpBB 3.2.x. If you need support for phpBB 3.2.x please visit the 3.2.x Support Forum on phpbb.com.

If you have questions regarding writing extensions please post in Extension Writers Discussion to receive proper guidance from our staff and community.
Post Reply
User avatar
Un1matr1x
Registered User
Posts: 48
Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 10:18 pm

Re: Biggest competition threats to PHPBB forums

Post by Un1matr1x » Mon Apr 08, 2013 5:05 pm

The last posts are making me really mad.
KnocksX wrote:They are ready to jump ship not because of missing features, but because of how unwelcome new feature requests are on this board. Most user requests get shut down by the development staff immediately, even the most reasonable ones, things that have been implemented by other forum software for many years. The most common response here is "this should be a mod, not a core feature." And the requests that do get accepted simply get added to the queue and the end user again doesn't see them for years, if ever.
peartree5 wrote:Quite honestly, if I had the money, I would move over to IPB.
Quite honestly, you get the point - phpBB is FREE - somebody gives you something for FREE and not only this, this group of people also spend time with improving this gift and try to make it better. Just for every request that gets a "this should be a mod, not a core feature" - for people that want a plain bb-board this feature might be too much, make it a core feature would
  1. often need some more space, as file not much but @ larger boards some in the database
  2. need some more cpu even just to check if feature xyz is turned off
  • somebody to write this feature
  • somebody to maintain this feature and it's bugs
so even if a free webspace ofer might cover 1 and 2 - the more sophisticated part are the last ones.
The BB-Board of XYZ, ABC, ... has feature 123 - maybe just because they aren't free - you would pay for the development and this features and if you can't a
fford this - you might want to use FREE stuff and pay else - by submitting a patch that includes the feature you like or build a mod to show that nearly every bb-board needs this feature and let it then become a core-feature - or at leat pay with thankfulness and not with demands that might only help a small group of phpBB-usern (the people that write @ area51 are NOT the majority of phpBB-users/admins/... so you can't tell anything from posts on this board)

User avatar
Pony99CA
Registered User
Posts: 986
Joined: Sun Feb 08, 2009 2:35 am
Location: Hollister, CA
Contact:

Re: Biggest competition threats to PHPBB forums

Post by Pony99CA » Mon Apr 08, 2013 11:31 pm

sdaugherty wrote:<flame>The experience of using most forum software makes me want to puke, and then go back and find the poor unfortunate soul that had the idea that forums on the web were somehow better than Usenet, and boil them alive for their crimes against humanity.</flame>
Because Usenet was so user friendly. :lol: Usenet may have been OK before the Web, but it was hardly elegant.

I won't nitpick your entire post, but I will try to rebut some of the points.
sdaugherty wrote: A moderately busy "traditional" web forum will take you hours each day if you are actually trying to keep up with everything, and attempts to use the "unread posts" feature are frustrated by an endless sea of "Me too!!!!" posts.
Regarding time, Usenet took a long time, too, if you wanted to keep up with a busy topic.

As for "unread posts", try the View new posts link on the Board Index. I use that here (although it's really more like a "View updated topics" list). But you'll still see "me, too" posts somewhere -- unless you're proposing a filter like Slashdot uses that hides low ranking posts.
sdaugherty wrote: Topics are at the top level of the site, and categories are something you can filter by, rather than boards being at the top and having to drill down into each one to see what's being said. Takes some getting used to, but it makes it easier to digest the information and find what's interesting - once you use it for a while and go back to having to visit each of two dozen topics, you'll see what I mean.
That's an interesting spin, but it's not that different than a search -- if phpBB allowed a search with no filters. However, I bet that it wouldn't be very hard to add a topic-based page to phpBB with an extension. You could even have a UCP option to present your preferred starting view. If people found it useful enough, it could be added to the core.
sdaugherty wrote:Another thing Discourse does right is getting rid of the paging. There are no pages to a topic, to matter how many posts it gets. Instead, as you scroll, more data is loaded via AJAX requests in the background for an endless scroll effect. This is less jarring than having to click back and forth between pages of anywhere from 10-50 topics or posts each. Small but important win.
Not for everybody.

First, admins who monetize their sites with ads may like paging because it gives them a chance to update the ads. For an impression-based system, more pages means more impressions; for a click-based system, more pages means more ads and a higher probability of showing an ad that a user might click.

Second, in a topic with thousands of posts, it would be easier to get lost without pages.

Maybe if phpBB allowed a View all option in the pagination area, you could have the best of both worlds.
sdaugherty wrote:(see http://try.discourse.org/faq)
I tried to view that in IE 8 -- and just got the following:
Unfortunately, your browser is too old to work on this Discourse forum. Please upgrade your browser.
Thanks, but I can't upgrade my browser here. You really can't display even an FAQ without an HTML 5 browser? :roll: Being able to degrade nicely for people without "modern" browsers is a nice feature.

UPDATE: There is an outdated browser FAQ here (but I don't know if it's the same as the above).

Steve
Silicon Valley Pocket PC (http://www.svpocketpc.com)
Creator of manage_bots and spoof_user (ask me)
Need hosting for a small forum with full cPanel & MySQL access? Contact me or PM me.

User avatar
EXreaction
Registered User
Posts: 1555
Joined: Sat Sep 10, 2005 2:15 am

Re: Biggest competition threats to PHPBB forums

Post by EXreaction » Tue Apr 09, 2013 1:08 am

Un1matr1x wrote:make it a core feature would
  1. often need some more space, as file not much but @ larger boards some in the database
  2. need some more cpu even just to check if feature xyz is turned off
  • somebody to write this feature
  • somebody to maintain this feature and it's bugs
I would like to quote this and expand on it because it's very relevant to all projects, but especially for volunteer projects.

One of the tasks of the development team is to decide when features should be implemented in the core product. Many things need to be considered to make this decision, including:

How many people will be affected by the decision (all else equal, generally improvements positively affecting more people will be chosen over improvements seen to be less desired by board owners).
How many resources are required to implement a feature (all else equal, generally improvements creating the least additional resource requirements will be chosen over improvements requiring more resources).
How the feature will affect board owners who do not want the feature (all else equal, features that do not affect their behaviors or demands will be chosen over features that increase the resources needed to manage the board).
Is there anyone who is interested in developing the feature themselves (if the feature seems a good fit for phpBB, the next step is to find someone interested in developing the code, which means someone either on the development team or someone in the community, and by *find* I mean wait for someone to volunteer).

These are just a few of the items we have to keep in mind when discussing features suggested for phpBB. Making decisions are not always easy and I do not think anyone intends to intentionally shoot down ideas and make the person who suggested the feature feel cut off. In many cases however red flags may be brought up by a suggestion (as an example, an arcade system, which is only used by a small fraction of board owners and requires a lot of resources to build and maintain) which lead to a quick dismissal of a proposal.

User avatar
Freitag
Registered User
Posts: 35
Joined: Sun Apr 09, 2006 3:38 am
Location: Texas
Contact:

Re: Biggest competition threats to PHPBB forums

Post by Freitag » Tue Apr 16, 2013 8:16 am

If you want to see a terrific example of what phpBB can be, go look at BOB. http://www.forumtopics.com/busobj/ It's a forum AND a technical Q&A board. It's been heavily MODed for both user need and admin needs. It's a frequent target of spammers and have a very large active global user base.

As a mostly technical forum it is not focused on being "pretty" but gosh it works well. The search function is one of the areas where it has been beefed up considerably.


I do like the idea of core functionality. But what about borrowing an idea from programming languages - have a "standard library" of MODs.
These would be MODs from trusted developers or that have been around so long that "everyone" is familiar with them. Remember the old uploadMOD? Before file upload was part of phpBB it was a MOD. MODs in this category would get the focus of more developers and when making a new MOD you'd have to make sure it didn't break one of the MODs in that list.
Am I?

User avatar
DionDesigns
Registered User
Posts: 51
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2012 4:29 am
Location: Uncertain due to momentum
Contact:

Re: Biggest competition threats to PHPBB forums

Post by DionDesigns » Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:43 pm

Freitag wrote:If you want to see a terrific example of what phpBB can be, go look at BOB.
That board may have some great things under the hood, but you don't get a second chance to make a good first impression -- and it makes a less-than-desirable first impression. After seeing the (essentially-unmodified) subsilver2 theme, flash banner, and unscrollable index/home page (due to focus on the login box), I quickly returned here without looking any further.

User avatar
DavidIQ
Customisations Team Leader
Customisations Team Leader
Posts: 1831
Joined: Thu Mar 02, 2006 4:29 pm
Location: Earth
Contact:

Re: Biggest competition threats to PHPBB forums

Post by DavidIQ » Tue Apr 16, 2013 9:45 pm

It's actually subsilver (the original). That's a phpBB2 board.
Image

wGEric
Registered User
Posts: 521
Joined: Wed Jun 11, 2003 2:07 am
Contact:

Re: Biggest competition threats to PHPBB forums

Post by wGEric » Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:03 am

sdaugherty wrote:Stack Exchange may not be a threat, but the up and coming Discourse, Vanilla, and countless others certainly are.

<flame>The experience of using most forum software makes me want to puke, and then go back and find the poor unfortunate soul that had the idea that forums on the web were somehow better than Usenet, and boil them alive for their crimes against humanity.</flame>

Most forum software out there is horrible painful to use. You have to scroll and scroll and scroll and page and page and page and page and click and click and click and click, and then you have to do all of that over and over again because you posted a message or clicked back to the index when you wanted to go back to the topic, or weren't looking at the right post. A moderately busy "traditional" web forum will take you hours each day if you are actually trying to keep up with everything, and attempts to use the "unread posts" feature are frustrated by an endless sea of "Me too!!!!" posts. It's no wonder that many forums get taken over by the trolls and spammers - they tend to be the only ones persistent enough to stick around in the long term.

Now as for competition, Discourse (http://www.discourse.org/) is forum software created by the same people as Stack Exchange, under the same principles. It builds on Stack Exchange and applies it to a discussion format rather than a Q&A format. All the "oh, that's Q&A we're forums" stuff I saw in this thread, well, watch out, because Discourse shows how the same principles can and do apply to forums.

Almost as important as what it has is what it doesn't have (http://www.codinghorror.com/blog/2008/0 ... loper.html) (http://meta.discourse.org/t/what-is-wro ... 63/best_of). The user interface is very clean, and makes good use of the space. "Categories" are emphasized in favor of "Boards", and by default, the first thing you see is a list of all the active topics, regardless of which category they are in. Topics are at the top level of the site, and categories are something you can filter by, rather than boards being at the top and having to drill down into each one to see what's being said. Takes some getting used to, but it makes it easier to digest the information and find what's interesting - once you use it for a while and go back to having to visit each of two dozen topics, you'll see what I mean.

Another thing Discourse does right is getting rid of the paging. There are no pages to a topic, to matter how many posts it gets. Instead, as you scroll, more data is loaded via AJAX requests in the background for an endless scroll effect. This is less jarring than having to click back and forth between pages of anywhere from 10-50 topics or posts each. Small but important win.

As for how "social" features can apply, you have reputation systems, which are being implemented along the same model as Stack Exchange to gradually give people with good reputation access to moderator tools, and gradually push people with bad reputation away. You have social login almost right out of the box, so you don't need yet another account for every forum, you have real threading and quoting to maintain context, a "best of" view on busy thread's that's powered by the "like" button, bookmarking, @mentions, etc. All of this feels like it's a natural extension of the software rather than "oh, that looked cool, let's add it"

Already, in it's infancy, the interface shows a lot more polish -small details like side by side previews in the editor are appreciated, as is the post editor appearing right there in the page, with the ability to scroll through the other posts and quote them as you are composing your own - even as they continue to be posted..

It's also worth pointing out here, Discourse and StackExchange are also very purposely built to promote a certain cultural ideal, that of intelligent, insightful, and efficient discussion. By having the culture and code work hand in hand, the signal-to-noise ratio on these sites tend to be orders of magnitude better than just a traditional forum, because they go out of their way to weed out anything that's not constructive, and reward everything that is. Sometimes this is done gently, sometimes it's done very abrasively, but not only do these sites deny trolls a forum, they also deny "me too!" posts, 2 page signatures for one line posts, and many of the other things that seem cool at the time, but in the aggregate, make a forum site a cesspool. (see http://try.discourse.org/faq)

Now, I'm sure someone's going to say "well, why don't you use that instead". phpBB used to be the state of the art, awesome software. Now it's kindof stale, but it doesn't have to be - there's still obviously a vibrant, dedicated community that is passionate about phpBB, and that's a good point to start from. There are lots of others out there including bbPress and Vanilla that are nowhere near as stagnant, but there are so many of them that none of them really have the following the phpBB has.
+1
KnocksX wrote:They are ready to jump ship not because of missing features, but because of how unwelcome new feature requests are on this board. Most user requests get shut down by the development staff immediately, even the most reasonable ones, things that have been implemented by other forum software for many years. The most common response here is "this should be a mod, not a core feature." And the requests that do get accepted simply get added to the queue and the end user again doesn't see them for years, if ever.
+1


Would be really cool to see some innovation from phpBB.
Eric

User avatar
Freitag
Registered User
Posts: 35
Joined: Sun Apr 09, 2006 3:38 am
Location: Texas
Contact:

Re: Biggest competition threats to PHPBB forums

Post by Freitag » Wed Apr 17, 2013 1:26 am

DionDesigns wrote:
Freitag wrote:If you want to see a terrific example of what phpBB can be, go look at BOB.
That board may have some great things under the hood, but you don't get a second chance to make a good first impression -- and it makes a less-than-desirable first impression. After seeing the (essentially-unmodified) subsilver2 theme, flash banner, and unscrollable index/home page (due to focus on the login box), I quickly returned here without looking any further.
Well at least you took the time to make an helpful reply.


The base code was phpBB2 (as pointed out in another post) but it's not really phpBB2 any more. If you'd actually looked at the board you see that it has nearly 70 global users. And as I mentioned because of careful curation these are not spam users. These are real live involved people. You don't have to be a member to read the board, only to post, so there are many many more lurkers. It has over 800,000 threads (it doesn't track individual post count because that is a meaningless statistic on a non admin page and it's an extra SQL query that is not run for every refresh)

There is a flash banner ad, but if you had taken the time to notice, it's actually relevant to the industry that the site supports.

I'm not sure what you mean by "unscrollable index/home page" - when I log out I do get a top box letting me log in without having to redirect to a login page, but I can scroll just fine.
Freitag wrote:As a mostly technical forum it is not focused on being "pretty" but gosh it works well. The search function is one of the areas where it has been beefed up considerably.
None of the point I was making was about it being a sharp looking site. All of the point I was making was about the features it has added in under the hood. From your reply I guess you're looking for whiz bang shiny colors regardless of function. If your forum page can't keep up with modern usage then it doesn't matter how pretty it is, users will leave. Relevance and utility have to work flawlessly before you think the first thought about spit and polish. Think about the fiasco that was Apple iOS maps. It was Apple, so it looked terrific, too bad you couldn't' trust it to navigate or tell you where you were. and that was a product built by paid developers, not volunteers. The point of this RFC/vetting process is to find out what a (sometimes very) limited amount of time should be applied towards.
Am I?

User avatar
DionDesigns
Registered User
Posts: 51
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2012 4:29 am
Location: Uncertain due to momentum
Contact:

Re: Biggest competition threats to PHPBB forums

Post by DionDesigns » Wed Apr 17, 2013 6:09 am

Freitag wrote:There is a flash banner ad, but if you had taken the time to notice, it's actually relevant to the industry that the site supports.
Wouldn't matter to me whether it's relevant or not. IMO flash is the scourge of the internet, and I try my best to stay away from sites that use it.
Freitag wrote:I'm not sure what you mean by "unscrollable index/home page" - when I log out I do get a top box letting me log in without having to redirect to a login page, but I can scroll just fine.
Try scrolling with the keyboard (PgUp/PgDn/Home/End/arrows). It won't work. Why? Because you used javascript to place the focus on the username INPUT tag. If your index/home page was small and required no scrolling, what you did would be fine (and desirable). However, your index/home page is fairly large...and disabling keyboard scrolling is IMO a design flaw that should be fixed.

Back to the topic. I don't believe a product exists today which, on its own, has the ability to supplant phpBB. However, I do believe phpBB will be an afterthought within 3 years after the release of 3.1. phpBB will receive some serious wounds in the first few months after the release of 3.1, and its survival will depend on how it deals with those wounds. I guess I'm predicting that it will not deal with them very well.

drathbun
Registered User
Posts: 72
Joined: Wed Feb 15, 2006 6:40 pm
Location: Texas
Contact:

Re: Biggest competition threats to PHPBB forums

Post by drathbun » Wed Apr 17, 2013 3:56 pm

DionDesigns wrote:Try scrolling with the keyboard (PgUp/PgDn/Home/End/arrows). It won't work. Why? Because you used javascript to place the focus on the username INPUT tag. If your index/home page was small and required no scrolling, what you did would be fine (and desirable). However, your index/home page is fairly large...and disabling keyboard scrolling is IMO a design flaw that should be fixed.
Hi, I sent you a PM related to your comments. Thanks for the feedback. Disabling keyboard scrolling was not an intentional result, and it doesn't seem to be the case with Chrome. I am guessing it's yet another aspect of browsers "compatibility" (sigh) at work.
Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug.

Post Reply