Which Community Features and Functions are Most Important to You?

Oh!

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Hi all,

I am involved with the development of new forum-based platform. Individual operators will manage their own semi-antonymous groups, largely determining their own membership guidelines, participation requirements, ban lists, etc. We are not yet ready to detail too much about the project, but I thought I'd gain the input of members here about what you would like to see from a platform with a single registration point and a multitude of groups. Although most functionality is baked in at this point, some tweaks are possible. And good ideas likely will be incorporated in Stage II development.

Please do not feel obligated to answer all these questions. Just number the ones where you feel you have a useful perspective or input.
  1. Forum Functions:
    1. Which forum functions do you consider core/vital?​
    2. Which forum functions would you consider 'nice to have'?​
    3. What dream functions would like to see in a forum?​
  2. Forum Layout/appearance:
    1. What do you feel is vital in forum appearance/organization?​
    2. What must be avoided?​
    3. What are left-field ideas for forum layout?​
  3. Community Platform (top-level) Features/Services (blogs, galleries, etc.):
    1. Which integrated features/services do you consider vital for a fully integrated platform?​
    2. Which additional 'nice to have' features/services would you like to see?​
  4. Community Platform Layout/Appearance:
    1. What do you consider best practices for organizing content at the platform level?​
    2. Which organizational faux pas should we avoid?​
  5. What is your favorite social media website or large forum? (Please provide a URL)
    1. What is it that you admire about the platform?​
I will share with you that the our forum-focused platform raises revenue via the provision of premium services. I stress, though, registration, core forum functionality and participation are provided for free. Exactly where the line is drawn for specific forum functions and community (top-level) features/services (provided for free) may be influenced by your responses to the above questions.

Any input, even if not directly related to the above questions will be graciously accepted and appreciated.

Thank you,

Oh!
 

Oh!

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That went well! :)

60 views and no replies tells me that I probably asked too many questions.:oops:

I'll narrow it down to just three core questions. Or if you feel like addressing just one question, your input will be equally appreciated.
  1. Which forum functions do you consider core/vital?
  2. Which forum functions would you consider 'nice to have'?
  3. What dream functions would like to see in a forum?
Any other comments?

Thanks.
 

DigNap15

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1 I consider Polls to be vital, that is why I went with XF.
3 I would like to see a nice Print Page option, like VB used to have. XF does not have it. Printing out members posts and informative threads is very useful (for me)
 
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Oh!

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Thanks for the feedback, DigNap. :)
 

Nev_Dull

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I think you might find people slow to respond because we've heard this all before. There's always someone who's working on a new forum concept or looking to build the facebook killer. All of them fade away after a while.

But to answer your questions, I think what we want is software with all the features, all the functions, multiple presentation layers, and plenty of options for organizing content. Preferably it would come in a modular form so unneeded parts could be switched off or not installed at all to avoid overhead.

Every forum project is unique, with it's own set of needs, wants, and goals. The ultimate software would be able to be completely customized for each project.
 

Oh!

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I think you might find people slow to respond because we've heard this all before. There's always someone who's working on a new forum concept or looking to build the facebook killer. All of them fade away after a while.

But to answer your questions, I think what we want is software with all the features, all the functions, multiple presentation layers, and plenty of options for organizing content. Preferably it would come in a modular form so unneeded parts could be switched off or not installed at all to avoid overhead.

Every forum project is unique, with it's own set of needs, wants, and goals. The ultimate software would be able to be completely customized for each project.
Hi Nev,

Not quite the feedback I expecting, but still useful in its own way. I understand - lots of talk, but no action or abandoned projects will tend to dull responses to similar requests for feedback. I should have considered this. I suppose I will have to ask again later when we have something solid we can show people. I think, before the end of the year.

The project is for an encompassing platform. Forums operate as sub-groups of the platform, with a unified membership. But group operators decide on who can participate within their own group. Of course, there in no code base for a forum operator to maintain; some features may be disabled or remain unutilized by the operator as suits their needs. And no worrying about compliance with all the new laws regarding privacy and security. Forum permissions are highly simplified, so that anyone might create a group (we have ways to naturally limit the creation of pointless groups). The simplified set of options to group operators means that the platform might (will) prove unattractive to some potential operators. But, of course, we cannot be all things to all people. Though, wishing to be as attractive as possible to as many potential operators as possible, is why I sought out feedback for the 'must have' functions and options. When looking at board appeal, we can either try to do everything (which is terrbly difficult because everyone eants different things from their ideal forum); or go for simplicity, keeping the bar from entry very low. So, we have gone for simplicity - I expect that more options will become available later (as they inevitably do with such endeavors). But, hopefully, we will always keep a firm eye on KISS principles.

We are trying to give users more options over the features they use through a subscription system. But standard core forum functions (and other UGC options) are free to all members. We also have a system for sharing subscription revenues with forum operators.

We are attempting to pitch the platform somewhere between traditional forums and social media. Forums are the core of the platform, but far from everything. Members have options for operating their own spaces too.

I am sorry for being vague - I cannot publish detailed descriptions at this stage. But I assure you that the platform is well into production and the feature set is already locked down - though some minor tweaking is possible now or even might be possible in the event of too much negative feedback when we beta.

Again, thank you for your frank feedback - this helps a lot. I'll see what I can do to improve trust. And I'll probably try some more targeted questions over the next few weeks.
 

haqzore

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So I'll just be blunt...

How is it going to be better than Invision Community and its built in Club functionality?

(Not to mention tons of other functionality.)
 
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Oh!

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So I'll just be blunt...

How is it going to be better than Invision Community and its built in Club functionality?

(Not to mention tons of other functionality.)
It may be blunt; but it is also a fair question. :)

There is no denying the functionality of what is on offer from Invision. But four things immediately spring to mind.
  1. Invision is licensed software. So, any community running on Invision is dependent upon Invision. Of course, the forum can develop their own add-ons, but this is far from ideal. So, any entity wishing to run a community platform (with 'clubs') using Invision, are not fully in control of the platform and its destiny.
    1. Following on from this, anyone can create a similar platform (or clone) using the very same software. So, being able to differentiate is difficult.​
  2. I am not aware of any sizable Invision club-based community. Or, at least, not a broad community with wildly varying clubs. I am sure they must exist, but they are not visible to me (I've looked - I probably should have asked here).
  3. The Internet is big. What we offer will be unique. Like any other offering, it will have its pluses and minuses, which will appeal to some, but not others. Hopefully, we will have made the correct compromises.
 

haqzore

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  1. Invision is licensed software. So, any community running on Invision is dependentupon Invision. Of course, the forum can develop their own add-ons, but this is far from ideal. So, any entity wishing to run a community platform (with 'clubs') using Invision, are not fully in control of the platform and its destiny.
Are you saying the license itself makes us dependent upon Invision? Not sure I follow.
Licensed or not, we depend upon the authors anyways. For updates. Features. Etc.

Also, a strong add-on ecosystem is considered by many to be a positive. For example, the variety of XF addons is a selling point for many, while the lack of addons for VB5 is commonly raised as a reason to avoid it.

  1. Following on from this, anyone can create a similar platform (or clone) using the very same software. So, being able to differentiate is difficult.​
This... is hard for me to agree with. This is like saying most XF forums are alike because they use XF. Or most VB4.x forums are alike because they use VB4...

I think I understand your intent with the comment, but... It's weak, and I don't agree.

Your software (and any other) won't be immune to this. Administrators are going to be using the same code base - right? So won't your users have this exact same challenge?

  1. I am not aware of any sizable Invision club-based community. Or, at least, not a broad community with wildly varying clubs. I am sure they must exist, but they are not visible to me (I've looked - I probably should have asked here).
I don't think this addresses the question / has anything to do with feature comparison.

  1. The Internet is big. What we offer will be unique. Like any other offering, it will have its pluses and minuses, which will appeal to some, but not others. Hopefully, we will have made the correct compromises.
This is good. I'm always excited to see alternatives. The end-user / consumer (people like me) always benefit from more options. But like the above point - you've given no differentiating features.
 
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Oh!

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Are you saying the license itself makes us dependent upon Invision? Not sure I follow.
Licensed or not, we depend upon the authors anyways. For updates. Features. Etc.
Yeah. I had it in my head to explain that I meant more as a philosophical difference, but my thought failed to make it to the screen. With Invision, the product is the software. A platform based upon Invision will use that software and is constrained by it. I think it is different for the platform and software to be owned by a single entity. I accept that you might take a different view on that. Hopefully I've managed to explain from I am coming from slightly better now. Or maybe not.:unsure:

Also, a strong add-on ecosystem is considered by many to be a positive. For example, the variety of XF addons is a selling point for many, while the lack of addons for VB5 is commonly raised as a reason to avoid it.
I do not mean Invision's own add-ons. It would be difficult to argue against them being a positive. I've never used their software, but I understand that in the past their own add-on offerings were an ad hoc affair, and would not always work with newer versions of the core software. Whereas now, it is a fully integrated package (more akin to buying MS Office) - I get that. No, I meant that whatever add-ons are available, it always will be necessary to develop in-house add-ons for any large community looking to differentiate. This is not ideal. For example, a critical update announcement to the core code probably necessitates are speedy update - this can have consequences when running your own add-on code.

This... is hard for me to agree with. This is like saying most XF forums are alike because they use XF. Or most VB4.x forums are alike because they use VB4...
I do not mean to overstate it, but you will always be constrained by the software you use. You can skin it differently, you can use particular add-ons, feeds, etc. But there always will be additional constraints on what you can offer when using third-party software.

I think I understand your intent with the comment, but... It's weak, and I don't agree.
Well, that's OK - you may be correct. These are not my most considered responses.

Your software (and any other) won't be immune to this. Administrators are going to be using the same code base - right? So won't your users have this exact same challenge?
Very true. But it is a level down. It is easier to respond to the demands of club admins and users when the code the platform runs on is your own. And, I still maintain that there is a fundamental philosophical difference between using in-house software and off-the-shelf.

I don't think this addresses the question / has anything to do with feature comparison.
Of course, you are correct - it does not. But I was addressing your question about being 'how will our platform be better' rather than my own opening post asking for input over 'must have' features.

This is good. I'm always excited to see alternatives. The end-user / consumer (people like me) always benefit from more options. But like the above point - you've given no differentiating features.
A fair point. I have not supplied a list of included features. I will do so soon - it is a little too soon to release those details.

Thank you for your comments, haqzore.
 

RocketFoot

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My dream forum would be to try and have as many core features as possible with (for lack of a better description) on-off switches for those that do not need a particular feature. I know every line of code adds to resources used but at what point does that out way being dependent on 3rd party devs for plugins to make your forum work the way you want?

Just for conversation, here are some things I like in my forums:
  1. Clubs
  2. A showcase
  3. Tutorials
  4. FAQ's
  5. Photo Gallery
  6. Maybe Blogs
  7. Pages/CMS
  8. Lots of Theme Features
  9. Classifieds
  10. Reviews
  11. Donations system with auto promotions
  12. Simple store system to sell forum merch, etc...
  13. Wikipedia or articles system
  14. Really good bookmark feature for saving anything from topics to individual photos
  15. Member Map
  16. Awards system
  17. Global notifications
  18. Advertising system
  19. News ticker/Announcements system
  20. Social media sharing/integration
Through in everything but the kitchen sink and let admins decided what they need or don't need!
 
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Oh!

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That's great, RocketFoot. Thank you! And, if you don't mind, which number from each of the following would place next to each of those 20 items?
  1. Which forum functions do you consider core/vital?
  2. Which forum functions would you consider 'nice to have'?
  3. What dream functions would like to see in a forum?
 

Oh!

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Thanks, MySimS3k.

I hope to provide some details about features soonish.
 

MySimS3k®

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With this topic I started before, I know that there is such a need and it will always find a place in the market.

 
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Oh!

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Hi again, MySimS3k.

The new platform is conceptually different to the one described in your post of three years ago. After quite a lot of deliberation, it was decided that there will be a unified theme, with some limited ability to personalize. Given that it is a single platform, I think this is the correct way to go. Likewise, as a unified platform, there will be no 'plugins' as such. At least one big (non-forum) feature will be under the control of individual forum operators, which they can enable (or not) as they wish. Other top level features will be under the control of individual members.

The key is to provide some core features with wide appeal. It will come as little surprise that the list of features (especially the more granular stuff) will be somewhat limited at launch. We plan to supplement with additional large features (and granular options) in a Phase II implementation within one year of launch.

What I can tell you now is that it will be more than just a forum, with several large platform-level features. There is also a system for sharing revenue with forum operators. We are concentrating on what will likely drive engagement and what the average user is likely to appreciate most. This is why I am asking for input here. Although the feature set is pretty-much locked down, there is still a chance of including something which seems more essential than we anticipated (or implement sooner than Phase II). I know - it is a bit difficult without me providing a full list of features. But we do not wish to tip our hand too soon.
 

MySimS3k®

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So we look forward to your product and wish you success 😊 I am working on a forum project that I coded using the latest advanced frameworks (bootstrap, Laravel, etc.). By the way sorry for bad english
 
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Oh!

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And good luck to you and your project, too, MySimS3k.

Oh, by the way, I had not noticed any problems with your English. Your English is excellent.:tup:
 
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