Potential new Forum software

Anything about use of this forum : NOT about cycling

What would you prefer for the Forum in future?

Keep everything as it is now.
26
68%
Re-build the Forum to look and feel more like other CTC sites.
4
11%
I don't really know, it depends...
8
21%
 
Total votes: 38

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admin
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Potential new Forum software

Postby admin » 3 Feb 2012, 4:55pm

We are discussing the future of this Forum, in terms of the software used to run it. The two main options are:

1. Keep phpBB3 as we're using now.
2. Move all the posts and users into the new CTC website software, Drupal. Note: we would ensure that all discussions and user accounts were kept!


OptionAdvantagesDisadvantages
Keep everything as it is now
  • Proven to be functional and reliable
  • Seems to work fine
  • Reasonably well-known and well-used Forum system
  • Separate login system to other CTC sites
  • Different look-and-feel to other CTC sites
  • Perhaps a bit too complicated to use?
Re-build the Forum to look and feel more like other CTC sites
  • Single login (username and password) for all CTC sites
  • More integrated look-and-feel
  • Additional integration possibilities
  • A new system to learn for existing Forum users
  • Less well-known Forum system for new users
  • Some less-used phpBB3 functionality might be lost


What do users of this Forum think? Please vote in the poll above, and/or add comments below!

stewartpratt
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Re: Potential new Forum software

Postby stewartpratt » 3 Feb 2012, 5:07pm

What are the "other CTC sites"? I only know of the main site and that looks, er, dated.

mark a.
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Re: Potential new Forum software

Postby mark a. » 3 Feb 2012, 5:09pm

I didn't even know there were other CTC sites that needed logins. If a new system means that this forum should look anything like the main CTC home page then I think we should all run away screaming.

In any case, I'd probably keep it as is.

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Re: Potential new Forum software

Postby Vorpal » 3 Feb 2012, 5:17pm

I think it means the new* site.


* you know, the one that was supposed to be live in April** 2010

** Maybe it was May?
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

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admin
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Re: Potential new Forum software

Postby admin » 3 Feb 2012, 5:30pm

Yes, sorry, I mean the new CTC site, that is still being developed. A replacement for the very out-dated and dysfunctional current site.

The idea is that we could give people nice pages listing recent Forum posts, your Forum posts, alongside other CTC information like forthcoming events, your pothole reports, etc. Along with a single username+password to access it all.

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Re: Potential new Forum software

Postby Vorpal » 3 Feb 2012, 5:32pm

I think it would be nice to be able to access member stuff and the forum with the same login. HOWEVER, it may inhibit some members. I know that some forum members aren't bothered about maintaining anonymity.

But part of the value in this forum is that people feel free to state and argue about all sorts of things relating to campaigning, the structure of the CTC, etc. Look at the debates about charity status. Or segregation.

I suspect that knowing a forum user name is somewhere tied to a member number and personal information (rather than an email@yahoo.com) destroys the sense of anonymity that allows some members to offer their honest opinions.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

thirdcrank
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Re: Potential new Forum software

Postby thirdcrank » 3 Feb 2012, 5:36pm

I've voted "don't know" because I'm not clear what else is available. I'm very pleased with this forum and I have little experience of others. (Voice off shouts "You wouldn't have time to bother with others.")

I would vote to drop the post count :oops:

At the moment, most of the CTC main site is open to anybody who accesses it. Is that changing? How does CTC membership fit into that?

"Drupal" means nothing to me. Is it possible to see examples, or am I confirming my utter ignorance by asking?

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Mick F
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Re: Potential new Forum software

Postby Mick F » 3 Feb 2012, 5:42pm

I've said it before, and I'll say it again .........

If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

This forum WORKS.

Leave it alone.
Mick F. Cornwall

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Si
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Re: Potential new Forum software

Postby Si » 3 Feb 2012, 8:10pm

I'm of the school that it would be to the CTC's advantage if transition between forum and main site was a little easier.

For instance, if the main site had on it's front page a list of 'hot' forum threads so that it enticed more people to the forum.

Or if the news items on the main site linked into the forum so that rather than just being told what was going on, the membership (of CTC and/or forum) could add comments and discuss these issues. Make people feel that they are more part of something. An example of this (though I fear to bring it up because being such a contentious issue it was always doomed to be problematic) was the recent Charity Debate - the CTC could have just put up a load of static pages saying "This is how it is" on the website, but instead they created associated forum threads and linked to them from the static pages so that the membership could discuss it with each other AND for people with differing views to the majority of the CTC Council to put forward those views. OK, the Charity Debate my leave a soar taste, but the mechanics of the link between forum and website were beneficial - if it hadn't have been there then a lot more people would have known a lot less about the conversion.

Regarding the login - I would hope that if it changed there would be two levels of log-in: 'CTC members' and 'non CTC members'. 'CTC members' could access the forum and all of the member-only benefits on the main site, while 'non CTC members' could only access the forum (exactly as they do now) and public part of main site. Real names, membership numbers, etc would be hidden and looking at the forum you would just see things exactly as they are now - you probably wouldn't even be able to tell who was or was not a CTC Member unless they chose to disclose it.

Why do all of this? Because we are in the age of Web2.0* where people don't just want to read stuff on the internet, they want a two way experience. If the CTC produce just another static website, no matter how nice it looks, it is going to miss out a major opportunity for engagement with its membership. The forum, being more popular than the website would seem one of the best ways to promote engagement.

*yes yes, I know web2.0 is already old hat but I don't think that the CTC is ready for the semantics of W3.0


edit: should have said, I'm not sure that talking about the 'look and feel' of the new site helps too much as most of us don't know what it looks or feels like yet! With the stuff I've suggested above I don't think that the l'n'f of the forum has to change much at all - although it would be nice to have a link to http://www.ctc.org.uk on it somewhat :D Thus my answer is none of the above!

drossall
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Re: Potential new Forum software

Postby drossall » 3 Feb 2012, 11:21pm

I have no experience of Drupal forums, so it's hard to comment. However, I've thought about this in the context of forums used at work, and I'm cautious about your idea.

For me, the major forum packages (phpBB as here, SMF as on YACF, VBulletin as on socal bike forums) are not major by accident. I don't think there's much to choose between them but, if looking for an alternative, I'd want to think hard about whether it matched them in:

notification facilities, moderation (inc. banning, moving threads around), ability to structure hierarchies of topics, private messaging, other thread management (post of the day, FAQ building, sticky threads/locking topics to the top of categories), editing facilities for thread authors, protection against spamming, RSS, mobile device integration (Tapatalk etc.), polling, statistics, handling of old threads, and so on

None of these may seem important individually, but I would expect a package lacking them to get frustrating. I don't know what Drupal forums has.

If there's an API, and/or possibilities of using an external authentication data source, then combining log ons with other systems is still possible. So is getting lists of current postings. Or could you do it from an RSS feed?

Drupal may still be the way to go, but these are things I'd want to check.

ForumMatrix doesn't cover Drupal, but its list of points to compare on may be useful.

PW
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Re: Potential new Forum software

Postby PW » 4 Feb 2012, 11:43am

As Mick said, if it ain't broke don't fix it. The current forum is user friendly, the only thing I can think of to change is the Cycling Weekly feature of a 1 button move to the next post on the sub board you're reading, but that's just a luxury.
If at first you don't succeed - cheat!!

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Re: Potential new Forum software

Postby Vorpal » 4 Feb 2012, 4:35pm

Someone just posted a possibly related request on this thread
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

drossall
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Re: Potential new Forum software

Postby drossall » 4 Feb 2012, 5:02pm

Could be another feature to consider.

If you link the forum log-ins to the membership database, you can in principle create restricted access categories for members, committee members or whatever. The forum software has to support such restrictions of course.

We've done this, but not by using CMS forums.

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hubgearfreak
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Re: Potential new Forum software

Postby hubgearfreak » 4 Feb 2012, 6:51pm

PW wrote:As Mick said, if it ain't broke don't fix it.


me too, and i don't hardly ever agree with him :lol:

mark a.
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Re: Potential new Forum software

Postby mark a. » 4 Feb 2012, 7:43pm

I'm not sure I'd be happy sharing my CTC membership persona with my forum persona. Not that I have any problems with either, but I'd like to keep them separate. I try to keep things in separate silos as a general rule for "internet safety".