xChange vs Active Forums vs Evoc Social

Topics: General
Aug 12, 2013 at 1:57 PM
Having used Telligents Community Server product since 2006 I'm currently in the process of moving my site to DotNetNuke. My site is all about forums, blogs, downloads and wiki.
So originally I was setting it up to use Active Forums. But whereas the base forum works fine, then it's really not of a quality you could expect from a DNN module anno 2013. Although integrated into the journal etc. then there are too many things that simply doesn't work.

And when DNN released DNN Social (now Evoc Social) I was all turned on, until I saw the price tag! So I was just starting to evaluate the "old" Questions & Answering module, to see if I could use this an turn it around and into a multi-forum module, when I found this initiative.

What I love about the Q&A module / Evoc Social is the simplicity. And if xChange could be expanded into a fully integrated multi-forum (with the ability to add "Discussions" forums and "Question & Answers" forums) solution, without all the bell's and whistles of Evoc Social, then you could surely count me in! I'll love to do my share!

Erik
Coordinator
Aug 13, 2013 at 12:44 AM
Thanks for your comment.

I do not think that we'd be trying to do a classical forum solution.
There's a lot of work to do in order to make this a best of the breed Q&A solution, so a traditional forum is a too different format. (and a bit archaic IMHO)
There's a good reason why many sites like DNN and Atlassian are moving off from forums into Q&A.

As for other formats, I think we can implement a community voice format which is extremely similar to Q&A and even a Community roadmap/ issue tracking which are both closely related to Q&A in terms of format and patterns.

With this in mind, I do think we can cater to a number of scenarios:
a) This new release supports DNN Social Groups. - so this is part of your answer for a "multiforum" solution
b) If we add hierarchical Categories and a menu nav system, we'd also be coming closer to a tradional organisational structure, which I think many Q&A solutions today are missing - they are bit too chaotic. so adding categories + optimizing search would help.
Aug 13, 2013 at 10:24 AM
The great thing with the Q&A platform compared to a traditional forum setup is the simplicity. You simply ask a question and don't have to worry if you posted the question to the right forum.

But if your community/website supports many different products, then your list of questions ends up being chaotic, with the result that the other community members will stop using it, because they get flooded with too much noise (in the form of questions about products they don't know). And similar in a site like mine, then my members are typically divided into three main groups - end-users and consultant - developers and technicians. So my forums main structure is <Product group> - <Question type>, where <Question type> is divided into End-User, Development and Technical.

So you're right that it could be resolved by making the the product groups into Social Groups and having a required Hierarchical Category to set the question type. This would maybe even allow for some questions to be in multiple categories at the same time.

What I'm going to "lose" is the ability to move questions which were asked in the wrong product group - and trust me when I say that this happens quite often. Although this might be because there are too many different forums to post into! So it might not even be an issue.

Also I really don't want that the users need to join the different groups in order to be able to ask questions in the group. As long as they have signed up as a member on the site, then they should be able to post.

So let's talk more about how this "Hierarchical Category" could be done.
Coordinator
Aug 13, 2013 at 10:30 AM
If you just want to avoid asking the users to join different groups, then you can just add them by default into these groups, which doesn't make much of a difference to the users, while they will still be able to access the questions either as sub forums, or all together.
Moving the questions, is a feature that we will be adding.
Aug 13, 2013 at 12:24 PM
Just tried to set this up. And currently I don't need to add the users to be able to ask questions. Although this is really the functionality I want, then I think this is not the intended functionality, as users can even ask questions in private groups. I created an issue regarding this.
Coordinator
Aug 13, 2013 at 12:35 PM
I'm not sure I understand entirely what the problem is or what you are trying to achieve.

a) You can restrict who can view the pages Group Activity\Questions
b) if your master Q&A module is on the Home\Questions Page
and on your Group Activity\Questions page you link your module to this instance then:

a) Questions can be posted on the main instance or in the group instance. if in a group instance, they will be fed into the main instance
b) Questions asked from a group instance can be answered on the main instance

There's currently no way I suppose allow a user to go to a group's page but not being able to ask a question. The module still follows the original straightforward logic that all registered users can ask questions.

cf/ https://dnnxchange.codeplex.com/discussions/452862#post1079987
Aug 13, 2013 at 2:17 PM
Personally what I was expecting to see was a functionality that allowed me to add the module under a group and that questions made here was only visible under the group and if made to a public group also in the main activity feed (if it had filtering options). And also that users who are not a member of the group would not be able to post new questions or answer existing. And I guess that would have been the standard setup, if xChange followed the "standard" DNN group setup.

Then I would setup the system so that they are added automatically as members of one of the main groups or several of the other groups upon signing up. This way I think that we keep xChange as much in line with the standard functionality of DNN as possible. Which I think should always be the goal.
Aug 16, 2013 at 8:02 PM
Here is a website that transferred all its ActiveForum content to Q&A module. This website is not using EVOQ Social.

https://devcentral.f5.com/questions
Coordinator
Aug 17, 2013 at 7:41 AM
Thanks for the link, interesting project.

What module/solution exactly is this site using ?
This is not the DNN Q&A module, or at least nowhere close to the lates community release.
This is either a slightly modified DNNSocial or a heavily modified Q&A.

Also I've noticed that they are using a Markdown in/as their html provider. Do you have any details on that ?(is this an available dnn html provider or a private implementation? )
Aug 17, 2013 at 8:48 AM
Looks great. Is this the result we can achieve using the dnnxchange module?
Aug 17, 2013 at 9:30 AM
Yes this looks very good. Thank you for sharing.

Even if it is a heavily modified Q&A module or not, then I think that this is an example of what we should aim at with xChange.
Sep 3, 2013 at 4:49 PM
The module on F5 is not Evoq Social, it is DNN Q&A AFAIK. I love it :) and I love the fact that you took DNN Q&A and make it better! If I can be of any help with testing let me know.
Sep 26, 2013 at 3:55 PM
Hi guys.... This is Chad from Data Springs. We are getting ready to roll out a new version of our suite and with that a a new site etc... We are exploring the options of moving away from Active Forums and to this component. I think we could add resources to help adding features and bug testing etc... I hope to have this out before DNN Con coming up in a month.

If anyone has conversion scripts from Active Forums (either 4.3 or 5.0) that would be very helpful! If not, I will probably create some if anyone needs them.

I followed the threads from the Q&A and really like where this is going. I would like to add in more social capabilities and a few other tweaks related to URL Rewriting. For example, right now we have always had site map for Active Forums http://www.datasprings.com/dataspringssitemap.axd and I would like to have this ability within this module too.

Let me know how I can help and also if anyone has great suggestions for migrating :)

-Chad
www.datasprings.com
Coordinator
Sep 26, 2013 at 4:02 PM
Hi @datasprings,
I have not come across any scripts to move from AF. Regarding releasing this module, I am trying to fix the issues and release it ASAP.
Sep 26, 2013 at 11:29 PM
Hi All,

In regards to the F5 implementation, it is not Evoq Social or DNN Q&A (although we did look at both when designing the module).

We stood up a new gamification system (actions, privileges and badges) and built a series of a gamification modules around that system including:
And we're working on:
  • Samples (code snippets)
  • User Registration & Profile updates
  • Articles (currently using ventrian news articles but moving to a lightweight replacement with gamification support)
  • Journal with custom type filtering, caching for anonymous users and roll in performance enhancements we made in SQL.
  • Events
When designing Q&A, we used the services framework and used only jquery with "PushState". The site currently uses custom ifinity providers for urls for each module.

In terms of migrating from Active Forums, we moved closed to 100k posts (23k top level topics). The schema won't match this module but it shouldn't be difficult to come up with some scripts. This is also involved a series of checks against url patterns to 301 redirect to the new home for that post. e.g. https://devcentral.f5.com/community/group/aft/1184907/asg/39

Our gaming system is described here:

https://devcentral.f5.com/devpoints
https://devcentral.f5.com/devbadges

We came up with a unique way to do badges that are based on either actions, administrator-granted or event based. The event based ones were really useful because we could publish events out of our modules that would flow into the gamification system to decide if it needs action (e.g. view question * 1000 = good question).

Happy to answer questions or share our learning..
Sep 26, 2013 at 11:38 PM
erikernst wrote:
What I love about the Q&A module / Evoc Social is the simplicity. And if xChange could be expanded into a fully integrated multi-forum (with the ability to add "Discussions" forums and "Question & Answers" forums) solution, without all the bell's and whistles of Evoc Social, then you could surely count me in! I'll love to do my share!

Erik
One design point we had to cover when implementing https://devcentral.f5.com/questions was what to do with questions vs discussions. We decided not to take the Evoq Social approach which is to have separate modules and instead gave our users the choice when submitting a question of whether or not it was a question or an open ended discussion. The real difference between the two is that a discussion does not have an accepted answer and vote up/down does not affect sort ordering.

The second design point is we decided to keep comments attached to both questions & answers. On the Evoq Social Q&A, there is many times I've had to post an answer when clarifying a question, e.g. can you provide more information. This is where comments are really useful. We still need to work on some moderation tools and UI changes to encourage people to mark areas as code etc, and to make questions flow/layout correctly.

e.g. Look at the second answer here, it's really a clarification on an answer (not another answer):
http://www.dnnsoftware.com/answers/cid/421630

The third design point is we found active forums to be quite slow as the number of posts increased (up to 4 seconds to render a topic page and longer to do a post). So we spent a fair amount of time trying to make our Q&A perform a lot better than the old active forums. We have more data at about 25k individual questions and 75k+ answers.
Sep 26, 2013 at 11:43 PM
gdemotchkine wrote:
Also I've noticed that they are using a Markdown in/as their html provider. Do you have any details on that ?(is this an available dnn html provider or a private implementation? )
This was a private implementation within the module. We use markdown for community contributions but the standard DNN provider for managing pages, text/html, etc.
Coordinator
Oct 1, 2013 at 9:53 PM
ventrian wrote:
The second design point is we decided to keep comments attached to both questions & answers. On the Evoq Social Q&A, there is many times I've had to post an answer when clarifying a question, e.g. can you provide more information. This is where comments are really useful. We still need to work on some moderation tools and UI changes to encourage people to mark areas as code etc, and to make questions flow/layout correctly.

e.g. Look at the second answer here, it's really a clarification on an answer (not another answer):
http://www.dnnsoftware.com/answers/cid/421630
Comments rock! We must keep comments here as well.
Coordinator
Oct 1, 2013 at 9:54 PM
ventrian wrote:
gdemotchkine wrote:
Also I've noticed that they are using a Markdown in/as their html provider. Do you have any details on that ?(is this an available dnn html provider or a private implementation? )
This was a private implementation within the module. We use markdown for community contributions but the standard DNN provider for managing pages, text/html, etc.
Can you share with us this "private implementation" ? I think it could interest some of our users...
Oct 2, 2013 at 2:34 AM
Hi,

Implement Markdown in a module is easy using this Library: http://code.google.com/p/markdownsharp/
This library is officialy supported by SO: http://blog.stackoverflow.com/2009/12/introducing-markdownsharp/
If SO use it, we could be confident! ;-)

Gilles
Oct 2, 2013 at 2:37 AM
We actually used this one:

http://www.toptensoftware.com/markdowndeep/

The feature we are missing is auto-link but other then that it has been great.

We also use prettify for code formatting and added brushes for our APIs.