Help me decide which is the snazziest forum software



  • Long story short: I'm building a new, possibly very large Q+A forum. I've tried 5-10 forum options (Discourse, Askbot, Q2A, Moot, etc etc). I'm currently stuck.

    Just finished a trial of using Discourse, but it's way better at chronological discussion than picking the best answer. So I ditched it.

    Askbot is very stable but releases new features at a snail's pace. So it's out.

    NodeBB is great, but I'm not sure if it's ready yet, or maybe I'm just not ready. I'm looking to emulate StackExchange (long time moderator of a forum on there), but make it snazzier. So I'll need badges at launch (launching in May) and the ability to sort answers by time or votes. NodeBB also doesn't seem to have the ability to tag questions. The amount of spam users that NodeBB forums get is a bit too high as well. A couple other minor quibbles such as: I miss the ability to have little comments under each answer like on StackExchange.

    Anybody else choosing forums at the moment? I bet everyone looooooves NobeBB, as do I. Smooth as butter. But is it right for me, and right for a forum launching within the next month?



  • No forum software will have stack exchange functionality by default. However a lot of software contains plugins etc which help you make what you're after, this takes either time or money, one person rarely has both.

    Simple machines forum, albeit outdated and a little slow on development, does have a mod that allows you to vote for answers that get pushed to the top. It wouldn't be particularly difficult to create a plugin in nodebb that allows someone to mark the best answer and have that pushed to the top of the replies, but that isn't available yet in the plugin repo, nor do I think anyone is working on it. Nodebb could be exactly what you are after, but you would need the plugins for it. Same with any other software.

    My advice, chose a forum software that a close friend is familiar with, and have them build you these plugins for a discounted price. As no forum software is ever truly perfect. The whole reason plugins exist is because people want different features.

    Hope this helps somewhat. 🙂



  • @a_5mith Plugins, indeed! The one advantage to older forum options is the sheer number of plugins. Question2answer actually comes with most of StackExchange's functionality, possibly because so many people know PHP.

    I'm basically trying to predict where things will stand in a year. If I launch with most but not all main features, no problemo. I know that in a year, Discourse and NodeBB will have way more improvements than the other 5-10 main competitors. But roadmaps are fickle by nature and the userbase isn't huge, so I can't tell where things will go. Badges seem to be coming fairly soon, reply ordering maybe not, topic tagging and commenting ability hasn't been mentioned yet. If only I had started learning Node instead of PHP...


  • Plugin & Theme Dev

    @Kamal-Patel Basically what I've read in a nutshell is:

    "Well I'm looking for an alternative to NodeBB for the upcoming project I'm trying to create."
    "I've tried a whole bunch of nice forums out there, but none of them are a fit for me."
    "NodeBB isn't fully-featured enough for my needs at this time."
    "I need badges or else."

    Well currently for me as it stands, I am in the same boat as you minus the "trying to find an alternative" part, so I share your view point. Sometimes I feel there are priorities that are a bit more important than others but seem to get deferred for something that is really not too important. You have to keep in mind they are only three guys so it's only so much they can do at a time. The work they've done so far is quite amazing so kudos to that. I remember when NodeBB was in its infancy. Many, many bugs, and very bland. Feels like less than a year to be honest.

    However, I'm sure it will come around sooner or later. But hey, if it doesn't suite your individual timeframe then I'm sorry to hear that.



  • @trevor Little do you know...I considered NodeBB a few months ago and ditched it due to bugs, but when I saw Convoe it turned me back around! Here are the things I like best about NodeBB:

    1. Creators are not assholes, seem down with cat pictures. The first is not true of all creators of new software. Or the second really.

    2. It looks pretty, and convoe shows the potential.

    3. Instant chat + shoutbox == some awesome potential for real time conversations.

    I go back and forth every other day, and have actually started up my forum in alpha using Discourse and a few other options, only to change my mind. Hard deadline for deciding is in two weeks, so I'll just watch and observe, get familiar with the issues on github, dream of forum options...


  • Admin

    @Kamal-Patel @trevor We definitely try to keep an ear to the ground, because our user base is what gives us our focus. Obviously, we have our own priorities, and as @trevor mentioned, they don't always align, but many features that we do have, we only have because of some constant pestering by our most vocal members, so the community definitely has a say in steering the ship!

    Definitely keep us in mind, and yes, keep comparing! If Discourse wins you over one week, let us know why, and we'll try to win you back the next. 🙂


  • Admin

    Creators are not assholes, seem down with cat pictures

    Hahah. Hey I'm an asshole, that's what all the girlfriends say anyways 😛

    Thanks for the kind words guys. As far as features are concerned our road map in general is based on what the community wants. If there's something niche that one wants usually we are happy to prioritize if that person is willing to sponsor.

    That said, put it on our issue tracker as a feature request and maybe youll see it built sooner than later.

    As for badges this is happening within the next minor version.


  • Anime Lovers

    You might look into VanillaForums. I imagine they have a QA plugin that would make it what you are looking for while you wait for NodeBB to have the functionality you require.



  • @HolyPhoenix Good suggestion, but I kinda dislike Vanilla for some other reasons (lacks too many features out of the box, not so innovative, php, etc).


  • Anime Lovers

    @Kamal-Patel I don't mind PHP, but for the other reasons you listed I also dislike VanillaForums. So I can understand that.



  • @trevor said:

    @Kamal-Patel Basically what I've read in a nutshell is:

    "Well I'm looking for an alternative to NodeBB for the upcoming project I'm trying to create."
    "I've tried a whole bunch of nice forums out there, but none of them are a fit for me."
    "NodeBB isn't fully-featured enough for my needs at this time."
    "I need badges or else."

    Well currently for me as it stands, I am in the same boat as you minus the "trying to find an alternative" part, so I share your view point. Sometimes I feel there are priorities that are a bit more important than others but seem to get deferred for something that is really not too important. You have to keep in mind they are only three guys so it's only so much they can do at a time. The work they've done so far is quite amazing so kudos to that. I remember when NodeBB was in its infancy. Many, many bugs, and very bland. Feels like less than a year to be honest.

    However, I'm sure it will come around sooner or later. But hey, if it doesn't suite your individual timeframe then I'm sorry to hear that.

    I like this post very much.

    When we talk about forums that are out there with tens of hundreds of plugins, it is that very same reason why the architecture of those forums are so stuck. It would cost too much to change the core engine and at the risk of losing their user base. As a result, many of them are just plugging along hoping to further extend the life of their engine. However, those engines are inherently dated and slow.

    I would rather work with an engine that's on the bleeding edge and with little plugins but with the right foundation to make use of modern web tools. This is why NodeBB is so attractive. I personally think that it has enough plugins to build a vibrant forum. It has all the fundamentals that one would need. The main criteria that I was searching for in forum solution is simple core and elegant design. The presentation of NodeBB is the best I've seen yet - it allows for simple and intuitive interaction by users. It is clean, yet dynamic. It almost feels like I've just discovered gold in its purest form.


  • Admin

    It almost feels like I've just discovered gold in its purest form.

    @cytrax Can we use that as a testimonial? 😄



  • @Kamal-Patel if you are comfortable with PHP, then FluxBB with 15 days of development can lead you to some things similar to what you want.
    In my case I would with NodeBB, the base is more suitable for this.

    ...or from scratch



  • As a long time PHP based forum admin with 2 current vB projects that have been up for years it really sounds like you are still defining what it is you are looking for. Other than "being like StackExchange but snazzier"

    Personally I would sit back and put more thought into what you want that makes you different. What will define your sites perspective?

    Want modern, NodeBB is modern as hell. And like any new thing, you or someone has to put that extra time into development.



  • @julian said:

    It almost feels like I've just discovered gold in its purest form.

    @cytrax Can we use that as a testimonial? 😄

    LOL.. I missed this post. lol. I charge 0.50c per testimonial click. haha



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