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Finicky Forum

Article created:- October 18, 2021 9:08 am
Last modified:-

Written by:- MJS

Filed and cataloged as:- News, Reviews

I’ve finally finished the FORUM!

A process that found me using the WP bbPress plugin platform as its foundation, done mainly because of the PHP software’s well documented integration to within WordPress itself.

A Forum BTW: that’s accessible by clicking the MFOR:02 button found on the main Home screen. Which is a feature that’s only available to registered board members, or time-Warriors as I like to call them. Try clicking it, and not being logged in: then you’ll be invited to register.

All done with the tiny piece of server side PHP code supplied.

if( is_user_logged_in() )
  // do the forum code ..
  // register ..

On my long timely journey, I tried out myBB and phpBB with its long wide screen (going on forever, making it hard to read), but in my long drawn out reading: I also personally witnessed the ongoing spits in developmental arguments, forcing the small development user pool into further smaller defragmentation pods in the process.

The ongoing developing reader, also tried a host of other forums on the way, with every one of them falling at the first hurdle; especially when applying (the-Test!)

the-Test is simply being able to get to the data on the forum in question, whilst also being very easy to navigate.

Many of the modern message boards: literally flood you with flashy features, (literally) making finding the information an uphill battle, that also sees you constantly batting away the endless adverts; which in itself, actually forces the user to learn how to (use) the ad-ridden software.

The second hurdle, is that the forum (the BBS), must be very easy to modify!

None of the standalone versions were, with all of them requiring a major investment in time (and in some cases: a sizable cash outlay), and that’s to even learn how the frontend works, let alone what’s happening to your backend cash reserves.

Even bbPress demanded some overheads, but it wasn’t as bad as the likes of SMF, (Simple Machines Forum), which initially looked very promising, but once you started digging into the backend to modify the pipes, you soon began to realise that the entire architecture sucks!

Flarum anyone? – WTF? – It’s as ugly as funk, and is not a new way forward as they propose, and once you start rooting in its own backend to bring about change, then one soon realises that rainbow flashy buttons is all that it can do.

** Flashy buttons and popups found on many forums, that all basically (do) the same thing, but some of them can also unwittingly subscribe you to the seedy sales and advertising side of things.

WIX, (for example), is more like a complete website solution: as opposed to a forum; which is what its billed as. The disguised website builder comes complete with drag and drop panels, and of course; a plethora of flashy buttons, all popping up everywhere, some at the bottom, the top, and also appearing on the sliding floating sidebar.

The disguised website is a feature rich (desert), where the simplicity of the backend modification isn’t immediately obvious to the operator, its that hidden backend ethos that reflects badly on the front end usefulness.

The Sales Pitch.

Quite frankly, (in my own humble opinion), none of the current stand-alone forums are fit for purpose, because they’ve all evolved into a fast paced advertising sales-driven platforms. Here, they all excel, with all of them travelling at high speed down the information-super-highway; whilst heavily promoting their targeted sales-adverts as they go.

** With all of the (sales-driven-forums), only once in the (user) to (user) screens: do they then they work to your advantage, but getting to that stage, isn’t bloomin’ well easy.

bbPress also sufferers from bloat, but out of all of them: it was the easiest to slim down and modify, mainly because its based on WP, which exclusively uses the simple shortcodes and templates that the platform is known for: that overall user flexibility, is definitely something that can’t be said for the rest.

Still shuddering at some of the closed-in preoperatory systems that I inspected on my travels. Most weren’t necessary, and all of them (close their file structures off), were mainly done for reasons of profitable ownership. Unfortunately, that closed-in mind set, also splits up the money driven development teams on the way.

  • Only one forum out of all of them, was really open-sourced.
  • Only one out of all of them, was template based.
  • Only one out of all of them, actually holds its database information; in a format that (any) data-manager can read, for example: phpMyAdmin.

But its not all sweetness and light in the bbPress camp, because even that platform is suffering from ongoing stagnation, with a lack of interest in it being high on the list.

The php written software platform is also long in the tooth, with having next to no mobile-first layout in place.

bbPress even lacks current support on their own forums for that niggly little topic, especially with programming questions going unanswered around the mobile-first issue. Mobile issues aside, the main entries in their own forums, actually occur between 2007 and 2014, after that; it’s core support has ** dropped off somewhat.

** I personally think that its mainly due to the dramatic rise of the simple to use social networks, FB Twitter Reddit etc:

Intestinally, it’s never those modern flashy platforms that come up on Google, (when for example), you search for css examples whilst using the href tag, and not forgetting asking existing purchasers how they charge their own car batteries, and of course — searching for Windows 10 software issues, which could then take you on to how to tie a clove-hitch-knot as a side-search.
It’s all there, if you look, and its all there on the old style forums.

Yet in all this, the forums are a dying breed, but they remain the main source of technical information.

The problem in the public domains information’s demise, is that the classic (forum) needs a real degree of hard work on the part of the operator to get it all working.

Although not as much effort in getting Vanilla to work, which is a closed-in forum based software platform. It’s also a glorified sales environment that carries an eye-watering subscription fee to get you started; a hidden ongoing cost, that really is a feature rich forested infestation living in your wallet.

bbPress is also a feature rich woodland, (but at least you can see the woods for the trees), which means that I spent most of my time turning-off the useless information panels, and the great many flashy profile buttons: after that, I learned how the backend layout functions worked.

In the end, I have my two hard coded forums: all assessed from a simple root template scheme.

Click on any Topic, and it opens up the Discussion!

Using something like phpBB, means that the structure is fixed, but being able to edit the PHP template files in WordPress, also means that I now have total control over my own sites layout: which then lends itself quite nicely in how it integrates with my own hard coded PHP theme.

Something else to consider: as stated above, only registered members can view my own message boards, so spam being dumped here isn’t an issue.

Unfortunately, that can’t be said for the rest of the heavily moderated forums found out there, that in turn; employ a veritable army of volunteer moderators, constantly deleting the ongoing filth.

Using FB and Twitter is much easier to deal with your target audience, (ie: your customers.) But the social media outlets are also flooded with troll spam, that’s largely unmoderated: which is why they are also largely useless for any serious research, or help!

Forums are hard work to run and maintain, but their use is also invaluable in going forwards.

Want some assistance in setting one up? – Then I’m here for you.
Hope it helped, ..


Thanks for reading, Jessica: Praise be the ORI.


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