Switching off of Vanilla Forums?


#1

Currently, we’re running the free version of Vanilla Forums. I’d like to move to another system where we pay someone else to host the site and keep it backed up + secure.

The problem is: we’re pretty big! Vanilla shows that we had over 400,000 page views last month, which means that http://vanillaforums.com/plans would charge us $600 a month for forum hosting. That seems pretty expensive.

Especially when you consider that we’re not super happy with Vanilla. Twitter/Google login has broken frequently. The HTML parser is buggy. The account approval system has three options, none of which are quite right for us. (We require users to apply for approval, so we can ban people and keep them banned, but that means we have to deal with a lot of spammers trying to create accounts.)

One option I’d like us to discuss is switching to Discourse. http://www.discourse.org/ I think they can set us up with reasonable hosting for $200/month, which is still a lot, but it’s worth it if the forums help us release even just one good Hosted Game a year. :slight_smile:

I guess we could also switch to something more popular, like phpBB? But, I really dislike phpBB. :slight_smile: I feel like it’s ugly and harder to use than Vanilla.

What do you think? Do you like Vanilla? Do you like Discourse? phpBB? Do you like some other alternative not mentioned here?


#2

I don’t know much about these things but do what you think is the best for the forum :slight_smile:


#3

Repeating and expanding on what I already said to the Mods, Dan and Jason:

I’ve never really liked Vanilla and I’ll be quite happy to see the back of it. It does seem to have some serious security issues, bugs etc.

Personally I really do like the look and feel of Nodebb, though I’m quick to add that I’ve not actually had the chance to personally use it on a day-to-day basis.
It seems fast, slick, secure and relatively new, so like discourse, you’d assume it’d be less of a target for attacks. It is admittedly still very early in its development though.

https://nodebb.org/


alternative (better imo) theming: http://warhub.tommytony.com/
https://nodebb.org/pricing
Pricing *seems* to be based on active members, not page visits, and thus I think it actually comes in a lot cheaper than anything else on the table (free solutions excluded).

I think phpbb3 is always a good bet too, better than Vanilla anyway. Sure ok, it’s very popular and thus very open to threats and spam - but at the same time it’s also updated very frequently, so security holes always seem to be patched quick enough. I guess you’d call it the Wordpress of forum software.
Yes, like Vanilla it’s ugly and difficult to use, but it is very flexible and themes and plugins (which there are plenty of) can help tailor it to be a lot more desirable.

I’ve also heard good things about Xenforo. I don’t overly like it myself, but as this about the community not me, I think it’s only fair to put it on the table:

The only thing with that is I don’t *think* they do a hosted plan, you need to buy a license and self-host it, similar to Vbulletin. Would that be an issue at all?


Discourse looks OK, it looks not dissimilar to the current Vanilla setup in terms of the page being a long list of threads, and I think a lot of us have become accustomed to that, so the familiarity might be nice.
That’s really about all I can say for Discourse, I have tried it and I don’t in the slightest bit dislike it, but I can’t really say I like it either. It feels very raw, like it has no character - if forum software even can?
Perhaps a nice custom theme could make it feel a bit better… I really don’t know, it just feels like its missing something.

Anyway, tl;dr: +1 for ditching Vanilla.


#4

I really don’t know much about forum software and such, but coming from an ordinary user Discourse seems like the better option. It seems to offer a bunch of features and is fast too.

Notebb doesnt look too bad either, but I will point out that it loads horrendously bad on my phone. The layout is stretched and the text overlaps allot. Whether it was my phone or just that particular site I’m not sure.

From experience on other php forums, IVe never encountered any major problems. It does look rather ugly though in most cases. Looking at Xenoform too I personally disliked its looks.

But thats just my opinion. I don’t know much about these things.


#5

Are you looking for a forum you host yourself, or one that is remotely hosted? If the latter, there are a couple of ColdFusion-based forums (fora!) that have really good security. I have had good experiences with them.

Is it time to think about a forum membership fee to help defray the cost? Maybe an annual “voluntary” $5 commitment? I subscribe to several sites to keep them running, even though I could take part in their forum or wiki activities for free.


#6

We’re probably going to switch to a remote-hosted forum.


#7

I’ve been frequenting a forum based on or directly using (can’t remember which) Discourse for a while now. It’s decent, and I have been to my fair share of forums in my time. I think a lot of the ones I’ve been to have been like Xenforo, and it was alright as well. But like CJW has said, I’m sure most users are used to seeing a big list of threads when they open up the forum, and I like to continue that format, which is something Discourse allows for.

But really, I’ve been to heaps of forums, so it’s not the end of the world if this one changes slightly. The biggest thing for me is that it is still operating, in whatever form!


#8

Why not get a dedicated server, and use MyBB, SMF, vBulletin($), etc. There are many alternatives. Especially if you are going to have to pay $200 a month, why not get a $200 dedi?


#9

Now I’m all for ditching the forum, if there are obvious security risks and buggy programming, it’s like trying to patch up a boat that’s sinking.

What I worry for though is the forum posts. I’m not sure you can move them across and it will take a few days for everyone to get re-settled. If we are gonna move, we should give each person plenty of warning and then when the new forum arrives, we set up quickly but professionally as possible.
I just worry that some people might become confused by the move, seeing as how the forum posts will have to be set up again.

Other than that, I’ve already got my life preserver.


#10

I use phpBB on my site, while I really like what you can do with it it does have its problems. I have been trying Discourse on the Andriod and find it is very simple to use. But still looking at it to see how well it work with a large group of useres.


#11

Ive no idea about forum stuff like that. I cant swim so I’ll have my lifepreserver on to. Yay! Down with the boat I’m going. Just keep swimming swimming swimming :))

Im along for the ride and willing to go with whatever is decided upon.


#12

If we switch to another system, will it be possible to archive (or carry over?) the content from this one? There are so many helpful coding threads here; it would be a shame if we lost them.


#13

well we’ve still got lordirishes choiceofbox


#14

I would hate to lose the data on the forums as it is still a great resource. Depending on what CoG decides to do. I would be willing to archive the boards to CoBox


#15

Discourse has a Vanilla converter, but who knows how well it works.


#16

I like phpBB, but then I’m not the one who’ll have to run it.

One thing I know that it allows for is locked subfora. Dare I suggest that those might be useful for some people’s beta testing?

Also, it would be easier than Vanilla to allow one sub-board for our roleplayers and let them go nuts, without them cluttering up the front page as they used to on this forum.


#17

Me, I like the look of Discourse. :)>-

NodeBB gives me nightmares… :((

phpBB, run of the mill, standard fare. No strong opinion either way. :expressionless:


#18

Oh gosh, so much codeware I am unfamiliar with, well here’s my list of what should a fair deal forum-program should provide:

A) It has to make sure that we, both members and forum-masters (A.K.A. Dan, and CJW, etc) have a smooth as transition to this new domain as possible.

B) Obviously better security, as Vanilla seems to be very open.

C) Little-No bugs, on Vanilla, the Triple/Double (And the occasional Quad-triple) post seem to occur like a bajillion times, and the little loading bars of posting trip out.

D) Easy for you guys to handle, both in coding and in money terms.

E) Try not to change the layout *too* much, I know it seems a bit ridiculous but I just love the bluey-blueness that is out forum.

Those are just my suggestions, but ya know, I like to think i’m contributing/


#19

Hi,
If you switch to another forum, be aware of your blind and visually impaired users. Captchas are the death of all of us, and a lot of blind folks will probably not come here.
I’d like to recommend PunBB, the software that the audiogames.net forum uses. It offers lots of extensions, including spam protection, and the advantage of this is that it’s completely open source so it won’t cost you a penny. It also offers the ability to approve accounts manually. It also offer different themes, but I don’t know how attractive, visually, these are.


#20

@jukesy1992 I think we’re very likely to switch to Discourse. Can you try out http://try.discourse.org and see if it works well for you?