phpbb -> vBulletin? Should we switch?

Hey everyone,

Lately we’ve been pretty unhappy with the forum software we use, phpbb. We’ve had security issues and are constantly having issues with upgrading. Phpbb development has been quite unpredictable. This causes a lack of features we don’t like.

We’ve been looking into purchasing a commercial forum package and we’ll most likely switch to vBulletin. Though commercial, vBulletin is open source.

A number of key features vBulletin provides that phpbb does not:

  • A functioning search engine, supporting either natural language or Boolean queries.
  • User rating (karma).
  • Post rating.
  • Sub forums.
  • Optional threaded or flat topic view.
  • Easy upgradeability, no more need for hacks because of a plug-in system.
  • Complete attachment functionality.
  • wysiwyg editor (creating posts with a text editor like interface)
  • Overall better usability, for instance inline editing.

Upgrading our forum software to vBulletin should be possible WITHOUT any loss of data. All posts, forums, users, private messages, attachments, etc will be imported.

vBulletin should prove to be more robust and easier to maintain on our relatively large forum (16.000 users and 500.000 posts).

Costs for vBulletin will be paid by the revenue of the google advertisement on our pages. We will not increase the amount of ads to cover these expenses though. We need about $160 USD initially and after the first year around $30 a year. The current ads cover this and the monthly server costs easily.

This is the chance to share your positive or negative experiences with vBulletin, or any other forum software (free or commercial) that we should look into.

So, should we switch to vBulletin?

Greets,
Timothy

I say go for it! :wink:

-Obiwan

A vbulletin forum I like a lot:
http://www.military-meshes.com/forums/index.php?

It sounds like a good idea to me! So there would be no reduced functionality and the overall look would be retained?

We’ll probably introduce a new design and move to BlenderArtists.org at the same time. But yes, there should be no reduced functionality. Only improved functionality.

I’ve seen alot of vBulletin boards and although nice and yes they do have good management sections the user system and work flow of a vBulletin is confusing and actually irritating. I voted for phpBB for this reason. I personally like the simple elegance of this forum and the easy to use management system - I wouldn’t change it - even for Karma rating - I’ve been on a board where the users were aloud to give bad karma for political and religous reasons - that’s not right - the karma thing is nice - but only for people who don’t want to abuse it! Sub forums aren’t really needed yet. The fancy text editor is highly over rated. The load time is alot worse for 56k’rs the upgrading is nice and the direct attachment is too but the average person doesn’t even use the uploads and we already have them here. Post rating - we have that!? The only trully nice feature is the search function - it is nice.

If you are looking for an easy to hack, to upgrade, to manage free forum - go with www.punBB.org - it’s pretty nice - simple, yes, but it’s open source and uses very simple and elegant design.

EDIT: and i just looked - here’s a simple vBulletin mock up using punBB:
Preview
Download Template

Just my 2c on vBulletin - it might be ok but not great and definately not good enough to change to.

i like it.

i really think the karma system is cool, and I like the more powerful and easy moderation tools.

By all means upgrade as you deem necessary. Anything which helps a community expand and/or better communicate can only be a good thing.

Also, since Blender is hitting quite a prominent milestone with 2.40, perhaps a refreshing update to the user support system (Elysiun), wouldn’t go a miss? :smiley:

I have to say that I don’t like the karma system. It gives people a reason to do things just for meaningless points. Some common examples I’ve seen on other forums include refusing to post a tutorial or giving a tutorial to only those who give karma points and as mentioned above giving negative karma for beliefs. I mean plus its just like the titles given here (forum monkey, guru, etc.) where its absolutely meaningless to skill level, and creates a stereotype of whats expected in a post.

I think having a forum software that has too many bells and whistles detracts from what the forum is trying to accomplish and give to the world. Distractions can never be good for anything.

This is granted that CGTalk runs off of vBulletin. However CGTalk is so strictly moderated, does not use the karma system, and has such a professional atmosphere that they do not have many problems (from what I see). It may be hard to get that professional atmosphere that keeps people self-moderating/self-censoring themselves to really become mainstream on elysiun no matter if you switch software or not.

I would say stick with phpBB as its true to the spirit of Blender, but I understand the wants and needs of going to a different software.

I say go for it as well, phpBB is ok, but for a large and growing community like this, I think everyone here deserves a better user experience :slight_smile:

From DanielSefton

I voted to stick with phpBB. It just feels more comfortable and easy. I say this because I frequent several other boards that use vBulletin and elYsiun, with its phpBB, is by far my favorite.

But hey, I guess change is good…

If you redo the look of Vbullenten (done to the wysiwug editor) then i would say go for it.

i just don’t like their standard theme.

i think the community supports you on the move.

Alltaken

that is exactly what I was saying - just because it has the nice features doesn’t mean that they are neccessarily good - let’s take Dreamweaver for an example - it can literally create the code for a site - but it’s enefficient and plain sucks - where as any old simple text editor can create far better sites. If you went to vBulletin - remove the fancy editor, the fancy user systems, and the karma system - basically a CGTalk remake - but then again why go there? KISS is a great motto and change for change’s sake is not a good idea - if this forum (which btw, is the most popular Blender forum) has been around as long as it has, doensn’t it stand to reason that it could have something to do with the forum itself - not just the community that supports it? Don’t change - unless there really is a problem with the forum.

I think that was basicly Timothy’s point. There are problems with phpBB.

Martin

vbulletin is nicer, nicer than what elysiun has now, but I think phpbb is the way to go, as long as it is phpbb 3, and not 2, likeelysiun has. It combines many of vbulletins best features with the good ones of phpbb

I am not trying to deny that there are problems with phpBB, in fact I know from working with it that there are problems. However, is it really worth it to change the way we do things here only to possible have them fail and part (the largest part) of the blender community break apart. I mean that is a worst case scenario of course, and its amazing how we’ve come to building our community around software and have fear of it breaking apart because of a software change, but is it worth the risk?

I will go wherever the Blender community goes, no doubt, but is it not worth it to put in a little extra effort to keep the community as is, as a sure thing (as sure a thing as the internet can be).

The lack of features mentioned above is strange to me though. It seems like the only things that phpBB does not have are advanced text editing, a few more smilies, the karma system, and we can throw in attachments as an integration, and the exceptional search engine.

Two of these are absolutely trivial (advanced text editing and smilies) as they will only clutter the content which we crave to get off of this site.

The karma system can creat an environment which could be unfriendly to the new users and veterans alike. It would make the forum competitive, resulting in a heavier load on moderators to take out the meaningless spammy posts that the more immature users could abuse just to get karma on some random thing they found on the internet. It could be that if we go with the karma system we will need to eliminate the forum with the most spammy topics and create more legitimate General Tech, Internet Culture, etc. forums to keep the “This is my hamster” posts away.

To the other side, I do admit that easier attachments and and the search engine would be valuable however.

So I guess its pretty evenly balanced as far as the pros and cons mentioned already.

do we get the ninja emoticon if you switch to vbulletin? if so, I’m all for vbulletin! :smiley:

Thanks for the reactions everyone! Some good points were made and I’ve actually thought about most of them before so I’ll try to give you my view.

First of all phpbb3 has kept itself waiting for a long long time, and promise after promis about its release date has been made. At this moment the phpBB team doesn’t want to announce a release date anymore. I don’t see phpbb3 comming out any time soon. Even if it does come out it will still not be on par with vBulletin.
For instance phpbb3 doesn’t have the advanced caching system that vBulletin implements, which is one of the main reasons I believe vBulletin will be ‘lighter’ on our server.

The karma system I agree is not a big feature, and in fact we may not end up using it. I am interested in running a test with the karma system though, to see how it works out.

The wysiwyg editor I think is a very important usability enhancer. It will get rid of the need of most of the bbcode. People nowadays are used to working with text editors and I think rather than clutter the forum it will help in briging information across.
Most likely I will disable font type, font size, and font color controls though, we’ve actually wanted to do that for some time now but with phpbb we aren’t able to do that easily.

Smilies, yes we need to get more of them. Aslong as they are in a similar style we can add more. But we can do that in phpbb also of course.

KISS, vBulletin can do that and I will make sure our template is KISS proof. Take for instance:


They’ve got a lightweight template, though it is a bit too bright it shows that vBulletin can have templates that are very nicely put together.

I understand the fear of change. If you look at the Blender Community you’ll have to notice that it has gone, survived and even grew stronger as a results of change in the past.
We went from the old forum at Blender.nl to the thread based phorum install at the blender.nl Community site. After that we the community came over here to find a phpbb 1.x install, which was later upgraded to a more feature rich phpbb 2.x install. Definately the right move at the time but now it may be time for another change. One that will bring more features and stability to this community.

Greets,
Timothy

Some more features that I found noteworthy:

  • Thread preview on mouse-over
  • Printer Friendly versions on threads
  • Email page to a friend option
  • Similar Threads displayed on all thread views (VERY GOOD!)
  • Quick reply box
  • Member List & Member Search (actually usable again!)
  • Buddy list
  • Thread Subscribtions (VERY GOOD!)
  • Global ignore user aka ‘Tachy goes to Coventry’ - when enabled all posts by the specified user will be ignored/unseen by other members. Automatically added to the all users ignore lists
  • Unlimited Moderators and SuperModerators (we can give mods more powers!)
  • Search engine friendly!

The day we have a working search function, I will be happy, so I am looking forward to a new forum system.

BTW, how can I donate to elYsiun? Simply donate to BF?