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Best Community Solution in 2017?

     
6:00 am on Mar 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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joined:Mar 3, 2015
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Hi,

I have an active community on my website right now.
But I want to phase it out because I'm in over my head. It takes too long to moderate, deal with emails about registration, threats from governments that I'm taking too much information from children, immense disc space requirements.

A few years ago I managed to move a lot of the user chatting to a ProBoards forum.
That worked but the experience is now disjointed, and ProBoards is really limited in their features.

I'm looking for something which would allow a lot of options for sharing images and doing things like running art contests... So, like users being able to upload images into one gallery and keeping them organized. I've been dabbling with creating a community on deviantArt, Facebook, Pinterest, but my demographic seems to really hate Facebook and Pinterest is really limited. deviantArt is okay but it's overly complex.

So now I'm thinking maybe there's just a much better forum solution? I don't mind throwing some money at it if necessary. I've looked up previous threads here and I'm checking out the recommendations.

But I was just wondering if you guys knew about anything in particular that's more powerful in terms of image management and those kind of features? Something more visually driven rather than heavily text content driven?
6:35 pm on Mar 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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joined:Mar 3, 2015
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Wix just came out with their own forum and I must say it's LIGHT YEARS ahead of anything else I've come across in terms of aesthetics and ease of use. You can have the layout look more like Pinterest than a typical forum. Very impressive!

They desperately need to allow one more layer of nesting in the structure though, and then it would be the best thing I've seen. I've voted it up in their feature requests and sent them feedback. Here's hoping :)
12:28 pm on May 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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The best community solution for this, or any year, is a dedicated, interested, and driven community leader. Anything else is just software and that does nothing without a human being managing it.
9:09 pm on May 29, 2017 (gmt 0)

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joined:Mar 3, 2015
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Yeah, I mean, of course.

But I already have that covered... I have an active and involved community of a few thousand users, and active moderators. The community is already successful, I just need better software for them. My website provides that right now, but it's not cost effective for me to constantly baby sit the coding of it. I am very literally only looking for better software.
12:37 am on May 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator martinibuster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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XenForo is state of the art and in my opinion the clear leader.

phpBB is also good but they're now (arguably) second best because the people behind it are scornful and stubbornly closed-minded of issues related to basic best practices for search engine friendliness and tend to lag behind current developments in technology like schema or mobile friendliness. Their development team has a history of reacting later rather than sooner. They're all volunteers and it's open source so you're getting what you're paying for. I get it. Nevertheless, be warned that using phpBB can sometimes feel like trying to get somewhere but getting slowed down by a partner who is walking at a snails pace.

There are many skins and functionalities that can be added to XenForo and phpBB and if you know php then you can hack the software yourself to make it look the way you want it to, with plenty of documentation online to help you do it.

I would not at this time recommend Wix. Wix is a service for people who don't know how to code so you may encounter limitations not found in more robust development communities as is found at XenForo and phpBB.
1:04 am on May 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member keyplyr is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Another vote for XenForo. It completely turned around a board that was dying. Comes with a year's support so you can get it up and running while getting all your questions answered.
3:49 am on May 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Make a list of the features YOUR site is not offering and you think you desperately need, then find the software that can give you exactly that. Otherwise you get what somebody else thinks you need and you'll forever fight to get it to do what you want, no matter how much it might improve the existing setup.

If image support LINKED to a forum structure is what you need more than anything else, look to softwares that will allow you to "plugin" image server features that you have 100% control over.... either as a local server or cloud (or single purpose host solution). This for PERFORMANCE reasons. (This part is not cheap) To really control things have your own server/rack/cloud and don't piggy back off anyone else.

If dealing with kiddies, have software that will age verify AND limit access to areas for adults only.

You mentioned governments interested in what you are doing. Software can't deal with that, but clear cut policies, moderation, and never letting up on either is your best bet .... though having an attorney or two in reserve would be nice.

You can't fake moderation with software. G tries (see youtube for how well that is going) and ultimately it is human eyeballs (ask Facebook, or any major newspaper that has NOT turned off their UGC commenting) that gets the job done. Software won't fix that, but being able to apply FILTERS to expose problematic messaging can help, so whatever software you look at must be open enough to allow customization to create (IN ADDITION TO WHATEVER THE SOFTWARE CREATOR THOUGHT YOU'D NEED) any special criteria that will come up in operations.

Expect to spend money. Might even have to hire an "editorial moderation staff" (as in more than one) at salary and make THEM responsible for what's got you buried (in over my head as stated) at the moment.

Or... age verify, set a minimum age to join (adult, no kids!), clean up your registration (that part should REALLY be automated, no email hand holding required!), establish a budget for your data storage on infrastructure robust enough to handle traffic and bandwidth, and go from there.

There are no magic answers.

The softwares suggested above have a lot going for them, but the exterior problems you addressed in the OP go way beyond what software alone can do.

Ultimately, whatever you do, if images are your basic method of operations, expect costs to increase ginormously as both bandwidth AND THE GROWING STORAGE PROBLEM will not go away and will only get worse.

What you really need is a Venture Capitalist. Have you considered putting together a proposal and hitting the bricks?

All the above it merely a reality check.

What I DID hear is that moderation and registration are the two things getting out of hand.

Fixing the registration process should be step one and that has nothing to do with the software in use at the moment, though whatever you do will have to pass that info on to the forum software to actually enroll new members.

The second aspect, moderation, is a bit more difficult, but not impossible. What kinds of moderation are required? Text? Copyright image control? Personalities running wild?

Knowing how to code websites has nothing to do with moderation of content. For that you need maturity, commonsense, verbal and interpersonal skills, and a joy at "fixing things".

Look for a retired school teacher in your area. Or police officer, sports coach, doctors or nurses, propose a reasonable work schedule and compensation (which can be trade, cash, or other considerations) and go from there.

I'd like to say there's a piece of software out there that will do exactly what you want for the price you're willing to pay, but such a thing does NOT exist.

If it did,. I'd be using it and I wouldn't tell you!
5:53 am on May 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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joined:Mar 3, 2015
posts: 25
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Well.. that's the thing...
I have the list of features that I want... how do I find software that matches it? So far I've come up short :/

I actually asked the users... Okay, what if I jack up the price to $5/month instead of $1/month, and cut out some of the features (on my site)? Everyone seemed ecstatic about that, most saying that I was under-charging as-is. So now I'm kind of back to that... hoping that a higher price will reduce the # of subscribers, and might make it more worth-while to deal with the whole thing... haha...

I guess this has got to be a common problem with websites... People want that social aspect but... it's not really a financial win for the webmaster to cater to that aspect.
The basic website model is so easy.... Build it, they come, monetize with advertising.
But a small % of users REALLY want that extra layer... which comes with all sorts of legal data collecting issues, larger server strains, moderation considerations. To cater to it or not? That is the question..
6:59 am on May 30, 2017 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member tangor is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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I look at any project in two ways:

Do I walk away happy and satisfied....

or

Do I make a pile of money?

The latter is balls to the wall hard work, Tub of Tums by the Bed Side, Late Hours, Angry folks to deal with mostly since the Happy folks never say squat.

Pick yer pisen (sic) and do what needs be done.

Meanwhile, the web is a wonderful place where friends can be made, memories made, money in the bank, all that stuff... but at the end of the day it comes down to what kind of toll will it take on you (or your bank account)

I remain (as others will tell you) the Voice of Doom and.... yet... Here First, Before There Was A Web (1980s) and Still Doing It. Keep that in mind.

I'd like to suggest a different approach.

Look to CMS with an OPEN database (ie, one that is not limited in size) and contract with the creators (or if open source with that community) to build exactly what you want.

There ain't that much difference (yet here will come a commentary it ain't so) between the two. CMS with commenting gives the same RESULTS and when all is said and done it is results which count.

Opens up a different look at the same problem.

(Aside, you'll find more love from programmers expanding a CMS to Be More Than All Things than forum folks who have preconceived ideas).