Forums aren't sexy, but they're still everywhere

posted by Jeff | Thursday, January 19, 2012, 11:21 PM | comments: 1

I've been working consistently on my forum project almost every night for the last two weeks, which is something of a record for me. This next version (v9.2) will be localized, meaning you can pretty easily translate it to other languages by editing one file (I have Dutch and German ready to go). It will also have a fairly extensive feature I call the "scoring game," inspired in part by the old habit of the same name. Yeah, it's voting and awards, like every site has now. Still, it was a user-requested feature.

I've been surprised at the interest in the project since making it open source, and it has seen well over 2,000 downloads. Keep in mind that's a developer audience, so that's a huge number considering how small the potential audience is. I never expected it to continue to grow like that.

Then when I stop to think about it, it makes sense. Honestly, the noble Web forum is not even remotely sexy or interesting these days, especially in the context of social media. Yet, there it is, on almost every site with a niche interest that I visit. It remains one of the most used features of many sites, I suppose because it's one of the best means of extended and deeper communication. You can't get that kind of context on social networks.

I doubt end users care one way or another about the forum app, or any forum app, and that's cool. That developers and site owners dig it really makes it worth doing though. Considering the core motivation is to serve my own sites, the rest is gravy. It feels good to give a little back too, considering how much I use open source stuff every day.


Dave Althoff

January 20, 2012, 12:02 AM #

End users do care about forum apps, but there is not much they can do about it. After all, there are forum apps out there that are really good (like POP Forums, for example...) and there are forum apps that are really, really horrible (Avid Community Forums jump immediately to mind, and they are far from the worst). End users generally don't know what forum app is running on a site, but I have to think that most can tell the difference between a great app, a good app, and a lousy app.

End users may not have much say in the matter, they might not know much about the app employed. But it's all about the user experience, and from that perspective, users *do* care.

Post your comment: