How i'm helping a project start a new forum

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by we_are_borg, Mar 12, 2019.

  1. we_are_borg

    we_are_borg Administrator

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    At the moment I’m doing volunteer work for a project, this project has a website with their project on it and a forum. The project it self had some help of professional developers to kickstart the project. But the forum was just an little extra until this year, they wanted to make the forum relevant and make it so that scientists can talk to one and other. There different layers in this project like I said Scientists, IT, Developers, volunteers for administration and filling up the project itself. This is the background what you basically needs to understand later on in the story (not this part) I will talk more about the project itself.

    The heads of the departments talked to me to setup a forum (at this point no choice made what script to use) and I gave a basic rundown what was out there and at what price or free. The free versions they did not like that much so I setout the following, vBulletin, Woltlab, Xenforo and Invision Powered Service. A few of the team thought that those scripts could not be altered if needed or that it was all closed source that you could not access. So I explained that this was not the case and that you could view and alter the script itself if needed. But I also explained that a lot could be done by making add-ons at this point the knew enough to look further into the above scripts.

    vBulletin: I explained that this script was cheap to use but it lacked development at the same level as the other three scripts. I also said that a lot of people went to other scripts the other 3 scripts. So this one was taken of the list very fast.

    Woltlab: I said it was developed in Germany and it was a good scripts but that I did not know everything of this script and that it was be going to a learning curve for me as well. I also said that I did not know enough about the add-ons and that they were primarily German based. We talked and put it on the side for the time being.

    IPS: This was the first one they really liked we talked about it but they needed more information. So I typed a story about it and explained in a meeting what sort of script it was. That it had enough potential to run everything that was needed and more if needed. This one was on the shortlist for sure.

    Xenforo: Same as IPS explained how and what and they really liked it, they thought it was better looking as IPS. So this was another one they liked and it also made the shortlist. They thought it had enough add-ons and the liked the styles same as IPS.

    What did I do next:

    Well next I thought we need an estimate so we know how much we needed to spend. But in the start I had to deal with two people the first one liked IPS and the other Xenforo. So now it get interesting what do you do in this case, both have the power to make a choice. The IPS person was the first one that I made an estimate for with the following from IPS, Pages, Forum, Blog and Commerce. Also thought of a style and add-ons that we might need later on, like better mod tools, spam fighting etc. the bill was around 800 to 850 dollars.

    Then the other head had a meeting with me and he was asking all sort of stuff. Like how hard I it to setup and maintain etc what about if I get sick do I train other people (yes I do else I need to do it alone). This person looked at both IPS and Xenforo but I liked Xenforo better then IPS on looks alone. So he asked me to make an estimate for Xenforo but not for the official add-ons. So I made that and it was around 500 dollars including add-ons that you’ll need and to fight spam etc. So I thought the estimate was good but I made an error I forgot a style/theme so it was 535 dollars to start it up.

    Later we talked trough Hangouts and we made a choice that we where going for Xenforo instead of IPS because we thought it was looking better but also I was more comfortable working with it, so training was going to be easier for me. Training was first an administrator but now also includes a few moderators. Not really a big deal I only need to write more stuff down for them. At the end of the meeting we also needed to solve document that where written for the project and we thought of Google docs to Z but in the end it was to expensive to do it online because a solution we saw was 10 dollars a user. The person that was talking for Xenforo from the start said at the end of the meeting make an estimate for everything form Xenforo and get the add-ons you want so I did I am now at the 900 dollar mark because we now need to pay TAX/VAT for some goods. If we did not need to pay TAX/VAT we would have come to the 800 to 850 dollars the same as IPS.

    The all ready had the niche so I did not have to think of one I just rolled in all this but the forum is going to be mine responsibility, I need to set it up make sure everything works and if it could be done in April because the have a fund raiser. I have said that I most likely are not going to make that deadline because some of the stuff needs to be setup from ground up but I will try my best. I am now thinking of making sure spam detection is working 100%, user groups are 100% done and we have the forums for the first guests. After that I am going to setup the rest of the add-ons and I hope volunteers are going to help really fast.

    What I did:

    Tell about the forum scripts
    Make Estimates
    Pick add-ons


    What I still need to do:

    Making User Groups people may read with scientists but normal user may not respond as example (still Work in Progress)
    Finding a style/theme found it at PixelExit (we needed a dark/light theme)
    I also need to Setup Social Media (this is going to be fun)

    So it’s basically a new start in a new niche for me and waiting that they bought the domain (they do not want it hosted on the project itself) and webhosting plus the scripts I need. But this is basically how you talk to people that want to start a forum they only point is that this story is developing this week.

    If you have pointers or remarks please post them, if enough people like this I will post follow ups. I cant reveal the project at this time but maybe later on.
     
  2. Steve

    Steve Administrator

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    Sounds like an interesting project. My only thought would be not to bother with any spam add-ons unless it becomes a big problem. Spam phrases work really well to send any spammers to the approval que. XF 2.1 makes it much easier because you can mass approve/delete and even spam clean from one page. Makes it so much easier than it previously was!

    Aside from that without knowing more details on needs and what functions are required not much to add.
     
  3. we_are_borg

    we_are_borg Administrator

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    Well they are now on phpBB and spam is a real issue to combat so i make sure that is covered. Spending 70 dollars on it like ego checking and security.
     
  4. fixer

    fixer I'm In My Prime

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    good luck relying on 3rd party addons to satisfy clients... be honest and let them know as soon as you install the site it is on end of life

    because you can not guarantee 3rd party support past current version

    building a sky scraper in a swamp... but it will look nice
     
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2019
  5. we_are_borg

    we_are_borg Administrator

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    If i went with IPS or Xenforo would almost not matter with the add-ons i only use 3 more add-ons with Xenforo.
     
  6. mysiteguy

    mysiteguy Devotee

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    Red herring.

    The good addon developers have been there from the start, or close to it, and continue to this day. The XF addon community is thriving, lively, with a great deal of support on the forums and elsewhere, updates and very long term vendor. In a year and a half, it has more add-ons/resources for 2.x than IPS has for 4.x in four years.
     
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  7. we_are_borg

    we_are_borg Administrator

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    To be fair any add-on weather its IPS, XF, vB or any other script is going to be a risk that beyond your control. This is something you’ll need to accept.
     
  8. fixer

    fixer I'm In My Prime

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    don’t matter what software you use, you can only rely on first party devs

    the fact that xf has 4 times the iffy supported addons just adds pollution and not customer assurance
     
  9. salem

    salem Adherent

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    Shouldn't have to be … Sortables Captcha or Q&A with a non googleable question and with the new users group activated at 1 moderated post and any spam issue is sorted ..
     
  10. Steve

    Steve Administrator

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    Let's not take this topic off it's path. There are already threads that talk about that with plenty of opinions to go along with it.
     
  11. Maddox

    Maddox Habitué

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    What I'm curious about is what did IPS 'NOT' offer what XF did and with what 3rd party apps? It would be good to know what swayed you towards XF other than the fact that you are more familiar with it than IPS.

    ;)
     
  12. we_are_borg

    we_are_borg Administrator

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    In the end it came down on looks and feeling the person looked at both sites. Also i have more experience with XF then IPS, the only thing that i wanted was groups with IPS its in the forum but XF is an add-on and at the moment i do not think they are very good. Because i am better with XF and its needs to be done asap it was decided that XF would be better choice.
     
  13. Nev_Dull

    Nev_Dull Anachronism

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    I wish you well; it sounds like a fun project.

    This is a really good topic. Having gone through this many times (though not with forums specifically) I think learning about this is something that anyone looking to start a forum (or any web project) for another group could benefit from.

    Could you explain more about what sort of needs analysis you or the group went through and maybe list the criteria you came up with to use when choosing the forum software?
     
  14. we_are_borg

    we_are_borg Administrator

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    Well first i was going in blind they needed to know stuff but i did not know at the time the setup of the project. So it was general stuff at first but later on it became apparent that it was more for people that where all ready in the project then for outsiders. Communication of the project is on everything think slack, git, facebook, instagram etc.. So they want a place where they can send people to and have discussions about the project. But where normal people can see the professionals but not interact straight away, so it’s read only for normal people and the others can write as wel. I also need to note that the project is actively searching for sponsors because of this they want a good first impression and atm that is not yet par with the forum. Also they are investing now for later on so they are looking in the future like 6 months to 2 years.

    The forum software was a combination of me being accustomed to it and they liking what they saw on Xenforo (have no idea what he saw or read but was keen on Xenforo). At the moment i am alone in setting up the forum when they buy it i need to train people and there developers cant assist at the moment because the have to much on their plates. Normally i would do more in depth analysis but this was done in a few days and it needs to be done asap. The only thing i hate to do at this point is how to do the user groups i need to make sure that the one i’m training understands it and a lot of people have difficulty with Xenforo understanding this. So i need to make sure user groups are setup In such way its easy to see what people need. Another issue is going to be setting up the add-ons that is going to take time and writting document on how it works everything needs to be documented. Because of this it takes time, but on the other hand i can share it.
     
  15. fixer

    fixer I'm In My Prime

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    if you needed social groups you should have went IPS

    the prices you quoted are too high

    sticking with what you know and stearing a potential client towards your current (possibly outdated) skillset is not a sustainable buisness model

    this was an opportunity for you to grow to new heights

    instead you’ll deliver more of the same
     
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  16. we_are_borg

    we_are_borg Administrator

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    Well if needed i can still add it but in the end they thoughtnthey did not need it. What i wanted to do made sense if they allowed everyone in but they do not.

    How would you know there to high?

    Again how would you know what my skillset is and what is needed for the project.
     
  17. Nev_Dull

    Nev_Dull Anachronism

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    Okay, I take it back. This does not seem like as much fun as I thought....
    This has all the earmarks of one of those projects where the understanding, the requirements, and the scope turn out to be constantly moving targets. I feel for you. On the positive side, projects like this can be excellent learning experiences -- if you want to learn what it's like to slide down a giant cheese grater.
     
  18. we_are_borg

    we_are_borg Administrator

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    Well i wrote a 3 page requirement and 2 estimates plus how to accommodate the people working on the project (now 4 pages long) i would have done more if i still had all my files normally i could do this fast. Its fun to do but it wasn’t made clear who does what so we overlaped in work that was taken care of.
     
  19. mysiteguy

    mysiteguy Devotee

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    Sort of like relying on someone else to host a new feature on your site?

    Yeah, consumers want less choice. :rolleyes:
     
  20. haqzore

    haqzore Devotee

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    I do think the 3rd party addon topic should at least be disclosed.

    Yes, some devs are reliable, but nobody is more reliable than XF or IPS themselves.

    To me it's ensuring they know that while you're quoting these addons, there is higher potential 3rd party could be abandoned sooner than 1st party.

    This could lead to smaller up-front costs, but much higher back end.
     
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