Can a new forum software still enter the market?

MySimS3k®

Neophyte
Joined
Jul 20, 2017
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There are some massive forum software out there at the moment: myBB, phpBB, XenForo and IPB. vBulletin seems to have died down and personally I doubt it will come back from this. But do you think there is space in the market for a new forum software to enter? Is it possible for a new entrant to compete with the current big four forum software? Personally, I think that if a forum software was developed that incorporated a lot of features that users have been suggesting then it may actually do well. As long as it does not have too many bugs, has a lot of plugins/themes and has a good community behind it, then it can do very well. What do you guys think?
 

MarkFL

La Villa Strangiato
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Jul 3, 2017
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1,251
Personally, I think there's always room in any market for true innovation.

If a new forum software springs up, works well and brings something new and perceived to be useful to the table, then I think it has the potential to succeed.
 

Gosu

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Aug 6, 2017
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35
I am a professional developer who has worked on many large scale projects over the years. Yes, there is definitely plenty of room for improvement in the forum scene. The only problem is most developers prefer to work for bigger CMS like WordPress, drupal etc than forums because 1) They have more users than forums I believe 2) They are not interested in forums.

I recently started working on a forum software and I wanted to implement new things but I did not find plugins or out of the box features in prebuilt software that I needed (plus I like having full control :D). I also wanted to implement visual representations of activity using charts so I can pinpoint peak hours etc which I did not find in other software, since my needs were specific, hence I had to build my own. You can build smart post system which rewards high-quality replies like Quora has implemented. There's a lot of stuff you can do to improve the quality of a forum software and I only touched the tip of the ice. The problem with prebuilt solutions is their developers are trying to meet needs of most people, not a specific individual website, hence they try to pack it when most commonly used features with good performance and I don't blame them.

Softwares like MyBB are great but they are over a decade old. I would assume their code not using the latest standards, I could be wrong.
 

LeadCrow

Apocalypse Admin
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Jun 29, 2008
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6,588
New forum software can still be developped and viably enter the market. The main issue they will face after adoption is sustainability.

If they go commercial, expectations will increase and they'll pit themselves against many forumwares with large, thriving addon ecosystems.
If they keep the software free/opensource, other sources of funding will prove necessary. Commercial sponsorships have limitations with low uptake, but user backing and paid SaaS hosting prove seriously viable models, as some software like Vanilla and NodeBB have demonstrated.
 

zappaDPJ

Administrator
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Aug 26, 2010
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7,370
In my view a new forum platform could do more than compete, it could see off some of the competition but it would need to meet the following criteria:
  • Optimised first and foremost for mobile devices.
  • One touch registration i.e. Facebook or biometrics.
  • Push notification.
  • Activity stream lead (death to nodes and sub-forums).
  • Simple editor with focus on image insertion.
  • Social groups.
  • Released now.
 

haqzore

Devotee
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Dec 6, 2012
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2,429
Absolutely, but they have to innovate.

Nobody cares about a different index layout any more.
 

Digital Doctor

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May 16, 2012
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4,693
In my view a new forum platform could do more than compete, it could see off some of the competition but it would need to meet the following criteria:
  • Optimised first and foremost for mobile devices.
  • One touch registration i.e. Facebook or biometrics.
  • Push notification.
  • Activity stream lead (death to nodes and sub-forums).
  • Simple editor with focus on image insertion.
  • Social groups.
  • Released now.
Nice list.

I'll note you didn't mention one thing that would improve content.

How would you design the "activity stream Lead".
I like the idea.
But implementation is everything.
 

zappaDPJ

Administrator
Joined
Aug 26, 2010
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How would you design the "activity stream Lead".

Ideally by giving the user a landing page filled with activity filtered by choice. Some of those choices might be new posts, new images, content posted in subscribed social groups and functional choices i.e. paged lists or endless scrolling. It's really just a way of presenting the user with what they want on entry rather than a filing system.
 

zappaDPJ

Administrator
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7,370
What's the best user-customized content page you've seen ?

And therein lies the problem. I've never seen one because none of the platforms I know of offer any degree of user customisation other than closing down a sidebar.
 

ManagerJosh

Adherent
Joined
Oct 24, 2004
Messages
335
There are some massive forum software out there at the moment: myBB, phpBB, XenForo and IPB. vBulletin seems to have died down and personally I doubt it will come back from this. But do you think there is space in the market for a new forum software to enter? Is it possible for a new entrant to compete with the current big four forum software? Personally, I think that if a forum software was developed that incorporated a lot of features that users have been suggesting then it may actually do well. As long as it does not have too many bugs, has a lot of plugins/themes and has a good community behind it, then it can do very well. What do you guys think?

It's not about whether the market can or can not support a new entrant. The better question: "Is there a technology or platform out there that provides a unique experience that would compel people to switch platforms?"

Take for example the iPhone. When it was first introduced, the market was dominated by companies likes of Nokia, BlackBerry, and Palm. Because Apple provided something unique, and a whole new experience, it was able to shake the entire mobile phone markets to where they were able to capture marketshare and redefine what the mobile phone experience should be.
 

zappaDPJ

Administrator
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Aug 26, 2010
Messages
7,370
But that's all. I do accept the fact that users may want to keep their data private, so the only that I'll get is a one-time confirmation. After that point User can (must) choose a username/password and he/she must login with that details. I mean that Social Network login will not be available on my forum. Only registration.

Do you agree with this approach?

At this point in time, I'd say yes. Anonymity on the Internet is generally accepted by everyone although I would consider offering both options unless there are technical reasons not to do so.
 

iamacyborg

Enthusiast
Joined
Feb 10, 2010
Messages
221
I don't really see the point, to be honest. I think dedicated forum software has a fairly limited shelf life, with too many better options for people who just want to chat about a particular subject.

I think forums will continue to shine when they're built into wider community websites that bring more to the table than just a forum. IPS is on the right track with Pages, but after spending the last couple weeks building up a videogame community site with Drupal, focusing on actual in-game data, there's still very clearly a long way to go.
 

BartVB

Bokt.nl
Joined
Oct 20, 2004
Messages
728
zappaDPJ has a good list of features. But:

The better question: "Is there a technology or platform out there that provides a unique experience that would compel people to switch platforms?"

That's indeed the better question. Building another UBB clone really won't cut it. Discourse/NodeBB/Flarum are on a better track, but still not quite there if you ask me. It's still primarily a forum where the community aspect is much more important. I still haven't been able to find any decent (affordable/open source) options for a community platform. A platform where you can really connect with people that share your passion instead of bickering about the same topics over and over and over again.

There is always room for something innovative but the 'bulletin board' space is quite full.
 

djbaxter

Tazmanian Veteran
Joined
Jun 6, 2006
Messages
10,473
Given that many/most forums are declining as potential users flock to Facebook and other social media, I doubt that there's much incentive to put in the effort to create new forum software - and, as has been said, it would have to have some significant innovations to supplant the current ones.
 

Pete

Flavours of Forums Forever
Joined
Sep 9, 2013
Messages
1,658
There is still one space in the forum market that is untapped: niche forum systems.

Generic forums, done. Q&A forums, done. But there are forums out there that don't have actual systems to support them as first class citizens.

I'm biased. I forked a certain free forum and have been reworking it for roleplay uses. Sub accounts as a first class feature for example. Yes, you can get mods for this, but having it in the core and tuned to suit because I can't imagine a roleplay forum that doesn't have some idea of subaccounts as a requirement.

There's other things that have existed in mod forms for various platforms, e.g. dice rolling, but again, making it a first class feature.

There are other use cases where forums can be modified to support it, but there is also room for the forum market to support a dedicated, if niche, product.
 
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