Forum Resurrection Advice

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Karak Norn Clansman
Posts: 533
Joined: Fri Oct 18, 2013 11:25 am

Forum Resurrection Advice

#1 Post by Karak Norn Clansman »

The reason old forums are dying is because of their lack of easy direct image upload.

This is a great pity, because forums with their rational layout and archive mode are vastly superior to social media with their gone-with-the-wind setup. You cannot find stuff again on social media, so forums should be the natural go-to-place. Accumulating content on a forum over years and years and showing up on search hits should help keep it afloat.

Now there has recently arrived a solution to the woes of forums! We've tried it out for 1½ year on Chaos Dwarfs Online and it's worked well. There have been some child sicknesses, but the technical warts are surprisingly few and have all been solved.

The solution is called Discourse.

Not Discord, the chat program, but Discourse Forum software.

Discourse has a rational layout and archive mode like any proper forum do. A few small features are missing, but we've seen some implemented over the last year, so they may show up. And most importantly Discourse has easy direct image upload.

I say it again: Discourse has easy direct image upload. Like social media sites do.

Discourse holds the key to our troubles. It has allowed declining Chaos Dwarfs Online (for whom I've fought a drawn-out rearguard battle as a skeleton crew hosting contests and salvaging content) to suddenly resurge in strength. We're back up in numbers and activity and experiencing a new golden age of membership. We've always had good quality of anything on CDO, but now we're back in quantity as well.

The issue is that you need to reboot the forum. Start all over again with Discourse Forum. From CDO's experience I can tell you this is well worth it: Just make sure to advertise the resurrected forum thoroughly on relevant Facebook groups and so on, and don't be shy to mass E-mail forum veterans about it. Be polite, "in case of interest", and describe in short form the new forum with easy direct image upload and mobile-friendly mode.

Now, rebooting a forum means that the old one with all its content is left hanging. Therefore we at CDO (mostly me, but others do help) are in the slow sporadic process of salvaging and transferring all worthwhile content from the old site to the new. This will take years, as we have so much membermade content there: Art, stories, army books, tutorials, you name it. But it will happen.

Remember that forums are treasure troves of hobby creativity. They deserve to live.

I wish to recommend anyone rebooting their forum to scan their archives for the best of the best, and salvage them for re-upload to their new Discourse Forum. Don't let your best gems be lost, folks. It's however understandable if most of the project logs and so on will have to go. Few are prepared to manually salvage thousands and thousands of pictures like I did back in 2017 during the Photobucket crisis.

Keeping the old forum open in parallell with the new means double costs, but we have a pillar of our community chipping in to help, so it's managable.

I will end here so as not to drag on longer: The key point is that we finally have the software needed to resurrect forums! Reboot with Discourse if you wish your forum to be revived, and be prepared to spread the word.

Best of luck, ladies and gentlemen.

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Recruitment poster for Chaos Dwarfs Online Discourse Forum.

Daeron
Scotty? Laforge? Kaylee? Engy? Evil Wrench?
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Joined: Thu May 04, 2006 10:47 pm

Re: Forum Resurrection Advice

#2 Post by Daeron »

For those interested, the same post was made on Druchii.net, the other Elven forum that is hosted on the same server.
I am examining if it's an option for Druchii.net. Our current host does not support Docker (a requirement for Discourse). If we are to move to Discourse, then a new host must be found.

However, if the community prefers, it can stay with phpBB. Though I would recommend an upgrade to a newer version. Current expenses for ulthuan.net have increased due to the age of the forum software requiring a more expensive support plan. It seems sensible to, at least, upgrade the forum.
[url=http://dieter.srs.be/Syriath][img]http://dieter.srs.be/pics/signatures/HS.jpg[/img][/url]

SpellArcher
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Re: Forum Resurrection Advice

#3 Post by SpellArcher »

Thank you both. I'm consulting with Prince of Spires and will post more of a reply soon.

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Prince of Spires
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Re: Forum Resurrection Advice

#4 Post by Prince of Spires »

Thanks for all the information.

@Daeron, I think upgrading is always a good idea. I think we're 2 or 3 major versions behind, which can't be a good thing. Even more so if upgrading would reduce our costs. If you want or need me to contribute to the bill then let me know. A small note of warning. I seem to remember Ricold looked into upgrading just before he handed everything over to you and he ran into all sorts of issues. Now, I'm not sure what exactly those were or if they were even related to the forum software and not to some sort of server issues. But he was hesitant to move ahead.

As for migrating to a different platform, I don't have a very big preference for what software to use. I think if it looks modern and has all the features current users expect then it's fine for me. My main thought would be that I would like to move over as much content as possible. We still get the occasional visit from old-time members who drop in or get active again, which is a valuable thing to have. And the more we can stimulate them to be active the better I feel.

We could use Discourse, which is great forum software, or something else. There's a fair few options out there. Moving to a new host is a hassle, though it should only be a one time thing. Let us know if you want some help somewhere. I'm not that technical, but I've seen enough servers on the inside to know when to use a hammer and when to try feeding it cookies...

@KNC, out of curiosity, why didn't migrate all your posts using a script of some kind? https://meta.discourse.org/t/importing- ... rse/130789 seems to suggest doing so is possible (it's there for phpBB as well). But then, those things usually don't work as clean and easy as advertised.
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Karak Norn Clansman
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Re: Forum Resurrection Advice

#5 Post by Karak Norn Clansman »

Best of luck, whatever you choose!

@Prince of Spires: What? You can?! I am a tech-ignoramus cave monkey just handling contests. I'm asking about it right away with the rest of the staff. Thanks for the tip!

Any manual reformatting will probably be preferable to manually migrating everything from scratch.

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Prince of Spires
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Re: Forum Resurrection Advice

#6 Post by Prince of Spires »

Karak Norn Clansman wrote: @Prince of Spires: What? You can?! I am a tech-ignoramus cave monkey just handling contests. I'm asking about it right away with the rest of the staff. Thanks for the tip!
:lol:
There's 2 rules I always apply to any tech related issue.
1: if you get an idea that something would be useful or smart then someone smarter than you has probably had the same idea and already fixed and posted a solution somewhere.
2: Google knows all the answers.

If you apply those 2 rules, then you can appear very knowledgeable without doing a lot of the technical work...

There's also a 3rd rule by the way:
3: IT people are lazy. If something can be done automatically then it will be done automatically. And since IT people like showing how smart they are to other IT people, they will share how to automate something, which brings you back to the first 2 rules... ;)
For Nagarythe: Come to the dark side.
PS: Bring cookies!

Check out my plog
Painting progress, done/in progress/in box: 167/33/91

Check my writing blog for stories on the Prince of Spires and other pieces of fiction.

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Adrassil
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Re: Forum Resurrection Advice

#7 Post by Adrassil »

If a change of this sort would help here, I'm fully behind it. Don't want to join another neat forum just for it to die again (I miss Astronomicon.com a lot, had a great community made many mates there) Not like I do much but still, excuse me while I go back to lurk in the Story Telling forum.
My short story Of An Asur living in the land of Bretonnia:

[url]http://www.ulthuan.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=35367&p=714658#p714658[/url]

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