Merging two active forums

Discussion in 'Managing an Online Community' started by Karll, Sep 6, 2019.

Tags:
  1. Karll

    Karll Adherent

    377
    167
    +160
    The goddess of fortune is smiling at me - I'm taking over the ownership of another forum in my niche!

    The new forum is smaller in terms of posts, but has a better domain name. (More on-topic, better from a SEO perspective, I guess.) Both forums are on XF2.1.

    At some point, I would like to merge the two forums.

    I'm a relatively technically abled person, but I've never done this sort of thing before.

    There is also the human factor to consider. I don't want to upset the members too much, but obviously there will be some changes going forward!

    Does anyone have experience in this area or tips for success that they'd like to share?
     
  2. we_are_borg

    we_are_borg Administrator

    5,329
    1,417
    +2,107
    The one i am thinking of that might know is mysiteguy maybe he knows.
     
  3. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

    6,739
    1,432
    +5,330
    I've done a couple of test 2.0 to 2.0 imports using the Xenforo 2 importer. I'd check first but I don't see any reason why this won't work for 2.1. There are a few steps to consider most of which can be found here: https://xenforo.com/xf2-docs/manual/importing/

    Member issues are likely to give you much more of a headache. Obviously you'll need to keep the two groups informed but the biggest issue in my experience is one group is going to suffer a loss of identity while the other has to endure an invasion of new members. All I can advise is to keep up a dialogue with both groups, especially the staff on both forums and don't waste time on minor issues.
     
    • Informative! Informative! x 1
    • List
  4. Kevin

    Kevin Oooh, something shiny!

    3,323
    912
    +1,191
    Make sure you give careful thought about if you'll be merging Site A into Site B or if you'll be merging Site B into Site A since those imported threads/posts and member profile IDs will be changed and you'll have to use some redirects on them. You'll also face a few bumps like embedded attachments in posts.
     
  5. mysiteguy

    mysiteguy Devotee

    2,906
    887
    +2,236
    You can merge them with XF 2.x and if your current forum used to be something other than XF, you can still have URL redirection work for both forums. :)

    The newly merged forum will not keep the same thread/forum ids, since they will conflict with the current content, but the redirector can handle that easily.

    Here's what I generally do when merging (if it's not a huge import, if that's the case then I use some of the custom import tools I have to speed things up, but the process is similar):

    Backup first. :)
    Import the new forum using the regular Xenforo importer.
    Do not retain content IDs, it should have this option greyed out since you already have an active forum, but if it doesn't don't be tempted to select it.
    If your current forum was previously another software package and you're using URL redirects, give the import log a different table name than the current import log table name. For example: new_import_log is the new table and xfvbulletin_1 is the existing table.

    After the import, in myphpadmin, run this query:

    INSERT IGNORE xfvbulletin_1 SELECT * FROM new_import_log;

    This will merge the two import logs, and on the off / slim chance there are any URL redirection conflicts, your current forum's URL's take priority. If you want the NEW forum's URL redirections to take priority if there's a conflict, use this query instead:

    REPLACE INTO xfvbulletin_1 SELECT * FROM new_import_log;

    Then in the root HTML directory of the other site in .htaccess, this should be the first rule:

    Code:
    RewriteRule ^(.*)  https://www.yourforumurl.com/$1 [R=301,L,QSA]
    
    If it gives you a server error, use this rule instead:
    Code:
    RewriteRule ^(.*)  https://www.yourforumurl.com/$1 [R=301,L]
    
    I've been through this process before, as recently as this week. I merged an existing VBulletin into an existing XF forum, and had URL redirection work for both, both forums based in India on the same site (long story as to why they did that!).
     
  6. mysiteguy

    mysiteguy Devotee

    2,906
    887
    +2,236
    Also, don't forget to import smilies from the generated XML file it makes. It will prompt for which smilie graphic to use if there are any conflicts.
     
    • Informative! Informative! x 1
    • List
  7. mysiteguy

    mysiteguy Devotee

    2,906
    887
    +2,236
    Actually, don't use those .htaccess rules, I pasted in the wrong rules. I'll go grab the correct one's and will paste that in next - but I need to know this:

    1. Was your current forum ever on VBulletin or anything else other than Xenforo?
    2. Do you know if the new forum you want to merge in was ever on VBulletin or anything else other than Xenforo?
     
  8. Karll

    Karll Adherent

    377
    167
    +160
    No, both forums have only ever been on Xenforo.
     
  9. Karll

    Karll Adherent

    377
    167
    +160
    I wonder how the importer will handle username conflicts? I think I'd prefer to let the oldest account keep the username, if it's still an active user. Is that possible?

    And what if two accounts have the same email address - will they be merged? What if two accounts have the same email address, but different usernames - which username will be kept?

    I suppose I really ought to be asking this over on XF.com ...
     
  10. zappaDPJ

    zappaDPJ Administrator

    6,739
    1,432
    +5,330
    Xenforo only allows a single instance of a user name or email address to exist so the merge will flag a conflict allowing you to rename or merge the conflicting data.
     
  11. mysiteguy

    mysiteguy Devotee

    2,906
    887
    +2,236
    In addition to flagging conflicts, it also has checkboxes to merge based on user name or email address.
     
  12. mysiteguy

    mysiteguy Devotee

    2,906
    887
    +2,236
    I'll get back to you with some .htaccess rules on Monday, my weekend has been incredibly busy. 11:55 pm and my day is finally done. :(
     
    • Appreciation Appreciation x 1
    • List
  13. Karll

    Karll Adherent

    377
    167
    +160
    Hmm, to complicate matters, I'm using Nginx, not Apache HTTP, so then I guess I can't use .htaccess files.

    But I have at least a month to try and figure it out.
     
  14. darnoldy

    darnoldy Curmudgeon

    1,722
    782
    +473
    Having merged a number of forums, I can tell you this will be a bigger deal!
    If both forums are active, why not keep them as separate, sister forums--and use them to cross-promote each other?
    • Even within a niche, there should be room to differentiate the two forums--work with your combined staff to look for ways the forums complement, rather than compete.
    • Get the two staffs (staves?) used to interacting.
    • Start using a tag line like " The ___________ Forum Network"
    • Start changing each toward a common theme & common plugins. Slowly--sudden, massive UI changes drive users away.
    --don
     
  15. Joeychgo

    Joeychgo TAZ Administrator

    6,758
    1,532
    +3,449
    This would me my first suggestion, unless they are redundant...

    The other question, have you mentioned this to your members?
     
  16. mysiteguy

    mysiteguy Devotee

    2,906
    887
    +2,236
    Yeah, I'd have to write those from the ground up, and time is, unfortunately, something I'm short on. I have a huge set of .htaccess rules I've written in my collection, but my Nginx stuff is more basic since I don't have nearly as many folks I work with using it.
     
  17. Karll

    Karll Adherent

    377
    167
    +160
    Yes, I'm just coming to that realisation myself!
    The problem is, both forums are small in terms of members. In the longer term, I'm not sure either of them are sustainable. But together I think it could work out well, as the forums have complementary strengths.
    I have - on the new forum the members seemed largely OK with the idea, whereas on my old forum, which probably has a stronger identity, the reception was more mixed.

    It's not going to be easy, but I feel like I have to try to do this.
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.