So over in the GDPR thread we started talking about modularisation, e.g. the newsletter thing being more of a separated component that could be tweaked/enabled separately from the rest of it, and that going modular design allows forums to do things they currently can’t. Thing is, I’m not sure that’s true. And speaking as someone who is launching a niche forum platform soon, I’m definitely interested in this kind of thing. Sure, forums could benefit from understanding user expectations of the modern age... notifications systems, what UX conventions and so on other (not necessarily forum) platforms are using. And yes, there are always going to be the “noobs” who don’t know what they’re doing and make a bit of a mess, but that’s true for blogs, it’s true for online stores too. That’s not a forum specific problem. Then someone mentioned WordPress. I don’t think you can really compare WordPress to a forum... out of the box, it fundamentally does less. There’s more scope to add things because there’s simply less for it to interact with. WP has posts, and ways of getting at those posts. And ways to make “posts” into things that aren’t posts. WooCommerce is my favourite example, a product is a post, an order is a post etc. With different visibility rules and so on but it’s still just posts under the hood. Making this level of modular in a forum would give you a lot of trouble, wouldn’t it? Forums have topics, of which you can have comments that can be split, merged, moved around and interacted with in a lot more ways than WP... seems to me that the essential complexity of a forum is also inherently a barrier to being quite so modular. Ok, what if we did it at a higher level? A users module, a forum boards/topics/posts module... you still need all the moderation, banning and user management stuff inherently tied into both, making as we engineers (haha) talk about being “tightly coupled”... and for any non trivial add on, that problem scales up and outward. We also touched upon vB 3 and all its functionality... great that it could do many things but it made it a complex mess to work with, not to mention a stability concern. IPS could be headed that way with IPS 4 if they aren’t careful but their modules are sufficiently not quite so closely coupled that it’s ok. Especially as most of the modules are adjacent to, rather than directly integrated into, the forum. So... forums? I sitll think we need flavours of forums. But I don’t think that’s solvable with modularisation... partly because of the above and because I’m literally seeing this right now in StoryBB. StoryBB is the prime example of what I mean with flavours of forums. It started out life as SMF 2.1 a year ago and is in the process of substantial reworking. Most significantly it got roleplay characters as a feature. Now, this isn’t a new idea, and it’s usually done as a plugin to connect accounts together but this runs into all kinds of weird cases, not least managing PMs, bans, moderation, or the security of multiple accounts. So I ended up not doing it that way and keeping accounts as accounts, and having characters as something new underneath the accounts. It turns out this is such a complex process, it would be unmaintainable as a plugin, and I simply can’t envisage any platform where this would be actually viable because of playing nicely with, well, everything else. It turns out, though that this isn’t the only case. Consider StackExchange: isn’t that a forum but with very very specific tweaks? Sufficiently large that a conventional forum wouldn’t actually work for it? It’s still a forum but it thinks about topics and comments differently. Reddit is another case... highly nested replies focusing on sharing a link or a short post and seeing what shakes out. Here is our future, I think: forums that have increasingly specialised and bespoke features that can’t always just play nice in a conveniently encapsulated modular world. But I could be wrong...!