The Big Forum Move: Why We’re Moving, What’s Missing and What’s New

Posted by Cort Johnson

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Written by Cort

We’re moving tomorrow! After much testing and evaluating we hope the transition will be as seamless as possible but in a move like this some glitches are probably inevitable. All you will need to do is login again (and click the stay logged in button, if you wish). Be prepared for a quite different look!

Why did Phoenix Rising Switch Forum packages (from Vbulletin to Xenforo)?

Xenforo is a new entry into the Forum software market. Developed by former lead Vbulletin developer, Kier Darby, after VBulletin was sold to a larger firm, Xenforo is what Darby believed VBulletin should have become.

Vbulletin served the PR community well during the two years it used VBulletin but in terms of improved features, flexibility and support for the kinds of work that Phoenix Rising is committed to accomplish in the future, Xenforo, with its updated code base, quickly became a clear favorite for us.

Vbulletin, the industry leader, dominates the paid Forum market and will for many years but many messages boards, including some very big ones, have moved to and benefitted from the move to Xenforo in the past year.

THE DOWNSIDE – As often occurs with a move from one software package to another some functionality will be lost.

  • Lost Functionality -You’ll notice that the menu bar at top is much sparer. Fortunately most of the missing items were not being used that much….the Active Threads, New Blogs, New Articles, New Events, Most Liked Posts and Calendar are not available on Xenforo
  • Member List – Instead of being divided up into the letters of the alphabet the member list on Xenforo is just one long member list – 220 pages long! Hopefully they will organize that at some point but they do give you a nice search function.
  • Friends are gone – there is no Friends option in Xenforo; instead you can ‘follow’ someone (see below)
  • A Different Homepage – The Front Page of the Forums is now gone – replaced by the Front Page of our WordPress website. You’ll notice there’s a rather jarring transition with the Forums and the website having different designs. Merging the two designs is something that we’ll work on in the future.

THE UPSIDE – vastly cleaner code with lots of new options, better integration with our WordPress website and a better development environment for the future.

  • Easy Access! – No more clicking on your name to get to your Profile Page. Simply hover over your name in the top menu bar on the right hand side of the page and you can immediately go to your avatar, signature, the likes you’ve received, your watched threads, your alerts…This is a box you’re going to love!
  • Search – with a big Forum like ours a good search function is essential. When VB did a major upgrade about a year and a half ago, the search capabilities tanked. We waited and waited for that to improve…we thought it must improve but it never did. Thankfully Xenforo’s search capabilities are much superior.
  • Follow Someone in Your Newsfeed – Want to keep on top of what someone is posting? In a section of your profile called the ‘News Feed’ the posts of people you pick to follow will show up in your Newsfeed..
  • Alerts – Want to know who is following you? Replying or quoting your posts? ‘Liking’ your posts, commenting on your albums, etc? Replying to a thread you’re watching? Simply create an alert in your profile and they will show up in your profile.
  • Social Media – A Facebook Fan? Its easy to integrate your account with Facebook in your profile and you can Facebook recommend or tweet pages of threads that you’ve found compelling (see the bottom of each page)
  • More Theme Options – we’ve bought several new themes and may bring in some more. Look on the bottom left side of the page where it says ‘Flexile’. Click on that to bring up other theme options and then click on them to check them out.
  • Creating Polls – just got easier; instead of having to go to a separate page and tell the program how many questions you have, you can create a poll on the same page as your post and keep adding questions until you’re done.
  • Improved Moderation – we chose to use the Xenforo move to improve other facets of PR. We’ve created a moderators manual to enhance our consistency and to better guide the moderators in their work.
  • New Forum Rules – We’ve gone over the Forum rules and added a few concerning medical advice, advertising, copywriting.

MUCH THE SAME – you can still Ignore people, create a Signature, do Private Messages (now called Conversations), check out someone’s posts in their profile (see Postings).

– Some things are done differently….the functionality is still there but some learning is needed to do it the ‘Xenforo way’

  • Adding Images to a post – Clicking on the image icon in Vbulletin allowed you to add images from your computer or from a URL; in Xenforo you have to use the’ Upload a File’ button on the bottom right of each post to upload an image from your computer. Then you have the option of choosing to insert a thumbnail of the image or the entire image in to your post.
  • Getting images into a post may not be as streamlined a process as in Vbulletin but they’re showing up much better when they get in…..the resolution of the site appears to much higher. Any kind of image, from avatars to photo’s, look better and more precise in Xenforo.

WHO DID THIS – Adin was the essential factor. He brought up Xenforo soon after it was launched and began ever so gently pushing me. I was appalled at the idea of moving from Vbulletin at first but over time, I saw the light and became a fan. Even this early in its lifespan Xenforo is a superior product.

After the decision was made Adin, Will and Svet took on the huge job of moving a 250,000 post Forum with blogs and articles from one program to another. In the last weeks Will, in particular, was involved with the technical aspects of the move.

On the content and moderation side Mark and Kina took the opportunity to not only create a new Manual and the Help section, but to rethink Forum moderation and the Forum rules and created a new Moderation Manual and streamlined and updated the Forum Rules sections.

Thanks to Oceanblue, Esther12, Merry, Calathea, hixxy82 and Ahimsa for reviewing the new Forums.

We hope you like it:cheeky grin:

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