Forum Functionality

Topics: General, Improvement
Aug 20, 2013 at 12:34 PM
Edited Aug 20, 2013 at 12:36 PM
This probably isn't what you want to hear, but I would highly suggest some real forum functionality as part of the xChange.

There is a huge calling for this. ActiveForums never turned out to be anything but a mess and YAF isn't thoroughly integrated. The DNN forum module is no longer in development from what I can tell.

As I result I switched to the only thing I could which is the currently available Q&A module.

Since that time, my users are less satisfied and my Q&A section has turned into a mess. People so want forum functionality to interact that they use my Q&A section as such. There are answers as comments, questions as comments, in all seriousness, just about any way that that can make a mess of it in order to make a forum of it, they have.

Many have gone to the point of begging in emails for forum functionality to the extent I am considering leaving DNN. I discussed this with DNN yesterday and in rather delusional fashion, they claim to have a solution for just $12000 USD.

I really believe that a structured Q&A makes sense, but a place for discussion, expression and interaction is also needed.
Aug 20, 2013 at 2:37 PM
Thanks for your comment, follow the project!

You are not the first one to talk about forum functionality.
I think YAF does an excellent job, while AF is outdated and not updated.

That being said, the traditional forum format is not the Q&A format and not our current goal. With so many Q&A features like badges, leaderboards, bounties and other that we need to add to make this a best of the breed Q&A module we simply cannot afford to disperse into a completely different format.

That being said, we welcome developers who are want to fork, collaborate and add features that turn the module into a traditional forum structure.

I believe that the current trend is moving away from old style forums into a more Q&A Flow.

I can see how the limited features of the Q&A Module can eventually turn a large site into chaos. Our roadmap will reflect the need to improve these shortcomings.

These are some of the examples that can vastly improve organization and workflow:
a) Categories and subcategories
b) Improve moderation mechanics
c) Improve gamification mechanics
d) add expert groups
e) accept/resolve/close

P.S. Welcome to the anti 12000 /year club :)
Aug 20, 2013 at 3:13 PM
Edited Aug 20, 2013 at 3:15 PM
Thanks for the feedback.

I would agree that the trend is moving away from forums. I'm also pretty sure that the trend isn't working out very well. I hope you can find ways to allow users to express themselves and interact as well. In forums people can share files, discuss them or share videos explaining a concept etc. They can even engage in a little healthy debate for example.

The fact is, it doesn't matter what we developers think makes sense from an organizational perspective. It matters what the users will understand and accept.

Here is the latest question in my Q&A section:

"Hi guys, is there somewhere a place like a real user forum? This tool here is way to weak for some real dynamic user forum. This is just a Q&A area. I would love to get in touch with other SimXperience users to change ideas, profiles for games etc."

You see, they just don't get it and it's been a recurring them for about 1 year now.

I point this out only to say that if Q&A will be useful for real communities outside developer land, it's going to need to address these things such as the need for free-form communication.
Aug 20, 2013 at 6:35 PM
Must say that I agrees with you 100%. Both in regards to the other existing forums for DNN and in regards to DNN xChange needing a "forum type" of option. My greatest fear with implementing a flat Q&A module was that everything would end being a mess the users wouldn't know their way around. You also mention the ability to comment on questions and answers with the result that questions are marked as comments and comments as question. A question with a lot of comments made to both the original question and the answers is really not easy to read. If was one of the first thing I wold take away. Or make optional.

But I also believe that implementing a hierarchical category structure really could do the job when it comes to a more traditional forum group/forum/sub-forum structure. And knowing that its on the drawing board is why I'm even considering DNN xChange.

Still xChange would need additional "forum features", but those would be required any site with lots of members and questions, even without a "forum structure". Those are moderator features to approve, edit, delete etc. the individual questions and answers, integrated with notifications upon flagged post to the category moderators. But also notifications to users upon new posts to existing questions or categories (or maybe even specific tags) the users have subscribed to.

My current site also has the ability to split my posts into questions (where "the right" answer can be marked as "Accepted" (or verified solution - as we call it in my site) and the question can marked as Resolved) and discussions (where no right answer really can be marked - everything is just a debate). Initially I made this as an option, but very quickly had to realize that almost nobody really understood this option. So I actually ended up setting it so that it was based on the individual forums it was posted to. Some forums are for questions and some for discussions. But everything still resides in the same tables.
The same could apply to DNN xChange. It's still the same module and tables, questions and answers, with the only difference that only those marked as Questions/Answers can be marked as Resolved/Accepted. And I would also say that for me it's much more important that we get the category structure, than being able to have both Questions and Discussion. It's easy to have only one type.

And yes, welcome to the "Anti 12000/Year Club"... If we just all work together, then we can create something which is even better.