Forums are crap. Can we get some help?

Mon, Oct 12, 2009 11:01 AM
Amy Hoy has written a blog post about why forums are crap. And she is right. Forum software does not always do a good job of helping people communicate. I have worked with Amy. She did a great analysis of dealnews.com that led to our new design. So, she is not to be ignored.

However, as a software developer (Phorum), I see a lot of problems and no answers.  And it is not all on the software.  Web site owners use forums to solve problems that they really, really suck at.  Ideally, every web site would be very unique for their audience.  They would use a custom solution that fits a number of patterns that best solves their problem.  However, most web site owners don't want to take the time to do such things.  They want a one stop, drop in solution. See the monolith that is vBulletin, scary.

And what if a forum is the best solution? Well, software developers, in general, are not good designers. They don't think like normal people. And they don't see their applications as a whole, but as pieces that do jobs. The forum software market has been run by software developers for over 10 years. Most of them all are still copies of what UBB was 13 years ago. And software (like Phorum) that has tried to be different is shunned by the online communities of the world because they don't work/look/feel like every other forum software on the planet.

So, as software developers, what are we to do? We want to make great software. We want to help our users help their users. But, what we have been doing for 10+ years has only been adequate. As the leader of an open source forum software project, I am open to any and all ideas.