Ask dotTechies: Should the current, limited forums be replaced by new, more advanced ones?

Some while ago I introduced forums into dotTech. Since then the forums have been a second home to regular dotTechies that use it as a platform for the free-flow of ideas. When I setup the forums initially, chose to use Simple:Press Forum because of SPF’s ability to integrate so well with my blog. However, since then I have realized that SPF is still in its “baby stages” and does not have many simple – yet key – features of what a forum script should have.

I have to go credit where it is due: the developers of SPF are constantly improving it. The only problem is, there are not improving it fast enough (for my liking) and I am getting annoyed by its limitations. So, I figure I should throw the question out to the people who use it the most – dotTechies.

Now before I let everyone express their opinion, let me state a few things. If the current forums are replaced with new forums, chances of migrating current forum posts, post counts, ranks, etc. are little to none. In other words, if a new forum replaces the current forum, everyone will most likely be starting from scratch. I will, however, leave up the current forums for reference for a few months before removing them completely. Also, the new forums won’t integrate as well as the current forums with dotTech proper. In other words, you will probably have to register anew, and they may have a different look to them.

That all being said, cast your vote please!

[poll id=”13″]

Related Posts

  • @Happy Person: Thank you happy person.

  • Happy Person


    I figured out the problem – I had a program (speedbit video downloader) installed on my computer, and for some odd reason it was interfering with the edit function on, as well as other similar functions – as soon as I removed it from my PC, the dottech edit function is now working. That was weird, to say the least.

  • Happy Person


    I am not a technical expert, and I believe Ashraf (or any of his tech-pro colleagues) will be better able to help you with your question.

  • @Happy Person: Dear Inas: Could you please help me – when I start firefox it takes me to a website It is so annoying – it is like someone tresspassing. How can I get rid of it? Will appreciate your help.

  • Happy Person (aka Inas)

    Thanks for the reply, Ashraf, I’ll have to do some research to figure out what the problem is.

  • Ashraf

    @Happy Person: Edit comments should work fine here and in the forums. I think it is just you.

  • Happy Person

    Hi all,

    If the forum design/format does change, it would be nice if we could “edit” our own comments. Right now, we supposedly are able to “edit” our own comments, but whenever I try to do so, all I get is a “weird-looking” image on the screen, and I am not able to do any “editing.” I’m specifically referring to the comments we submit to the forums, comments such as this one.

    Is anyone else experiencing this same problem, or is it only me? Just curious.

  • Joe Benjamin


    In firefox you can hold left Ctrl and scroll wheel the page larger to fill more space

  • Ramesh Kumar

    @Ashraf – Loveable webmaster – Heartiest Congratulations. :D

    I checked forum stats inside the forum. Guys its there on the bottom of the webpage. In the last 24 hours *we have had a quantum increase in number of members :D

    That’s one cyber pudding which not only “proves well” but is also delicious to “eat”!

    It seems cliched to say “Ashraf rocks”! My English is somewhat poor. So could some dottechie tell me if there is a stronger word than “rocks”. Please let me know. I’d be very grateful
    Ramesh :D

  • Ramesh Kumar

    Hmm! Only 13% of members have chosen to vote on this issue.

    Sure its a question of “personal choice” (- to vote or not to vote!) even though the query is also about which “personal choice” is preferred. I guess it is a YMMV thing. :)

    I wonder why voter turnout is low? I am no psephologist though. Just joking!
    Ramesh :)

  • But isn’t phpBB rife with security holes? I’ve heard many horror stories about it, and personally experienced a major spam attack using one once.

  • lol768

    Have you considered phpBB? I find it to be feature-packed and easy to install. You can also mod it.

  • sos4ever

    Ashraf, I agree with Happy Person and many others, you do a wonderful job throughout the forum and I respect whatever direction you go in. I have read many post but rarely do I comment or question as someone usually speaks my mind. LOL “John Luke P.” for one, er Locutus. As well I appreciate the openness of you site, i.e. allowing other to write articles. Well got to go – you rock bro. Would like to see the emoticons in the response to article section and wider comment but no big. You are the man!!! ;-) Just want to ad I visit almost every day and when you post a review at GOTD I rarely read on – too many winers lately IMHO

  • Ramesh Kumar

    I feel enthused both by our webmaster & also by our bloggers. :D

    Analogically the webmaster is the “host” & the bloggers are the “guest”. The major stakeholder is the webmaster but the guest is not a “non-stakeholder” :D – minor maybe but not a non-stakeholder. :D Therefore a guest can “wishlist” while only the host can decide which wishlists to approve.

    A party even if it is well organized jives only when both the host & guest jive & yet not overstep their limits. A grateful blogger offers his suggestion as a thank you note.

    The greatness of this blogsite is that software is the freebie but the blogger is not “only” freebie minded.

    Like the Harley Davidson motorcycle Ashraf has made us into a loyal tribe. He sure has great X factor / Mystique. A Harley Davidson is great because it is more than just a motorcycle.

    My suggestions are offered as a “minor shareholder” without being presumptuous. Whatever he decides will turn out well.

    Ramesh :)

  • Ramesh Kumar

    My view YMMV :D
    1)We should not delete the older articles in the forum. Somewhere inside it is the KEY as to why our visitor addup rate increased. :D Like a game of tennis we’ve won both because our blogsite played well & also because perhaps other blogsites played badly :)
    2)By adding to our existing forums we “do not” irritate people
    3)By replacing our existing forum we “might” irritate people :(
    4)So why should we replace it?
    5)“Content” rather than “more feature buttons” and/or “sleeker feature buttons” is seen as more important in the feedback. I get the feeling that “not adding” a feature button “won’t” screw up things but “deleting” content “might”. :D
    6)I feel strongly about one more thing. We must have feature buttons – Smilie, Bold, Italic etc on the main blog. When a new visitor lands he lands first on the main blog. At that stage his entire frame of reference is the main blog & he might compare it with other “main blogs” for a brief spell. Why should his first experience in our blog be “comparatively negative”. :( So why should the main blog be underfeatured versus the forum? Are these toys meant only for the forum but not for the main blog? Are forum blogs “necessarily” better & main blogs “definitely” worse? I mean what’s the point? :? Both should be good because each complements the other and also because each one serves a different purpose. YMMV :D Toys in the main blog might be one of the tools to increase {(No. of forum members/ No. of total members) x (100)}. First impressions are sometimes the last impression in life. Are blogs so very different? So why not offer that toy? :D
    7)They are simple toys – Smilies, GUI buttons – bold, italic et all. The issue may not be hemmed in by copyright issues but only by scripting & a cost-benefit assessment. Naturally Ashraf decides. :D


  • Ramesh Kumar

    Now let’s analyze the voting results:- :D

    1) Let’s categorize the segments as “NEUTRALISTS”, “ADDITIONISTS”, “REPLACEMENTISTS” & “DELETISTS”. NEUTRALISTS do not mind if existing forum threads are added or replaced. ADDITIONISTS are particular it should only be added to (nothing should be deleted ever). REPLACEMENTISTS suggest replacement at least………eventually They may not even be able to tolerate the existing threads. DELETISTS say delete the forum itself if desired since it makes no difference. DELETISTS may dislike the forum or be indifferent to it or even choose to lapse out of forum usage.
    2) Across 129 voters 53% are “neutralists”, 0% are “deletists”, 21% are “additionists” & 26 % are “replacementists”. From 129 when you subtract the “neutralists” & “deletists” it leaves you with your effective denominator of 61. The net result is – 44%(27/61) suggest addition & 56% suggest replacement (34/61). YMMV :)
    4) Since the voting numbers are small & the voting rate slow this thread unfortunately has to run for many days which is very very very sad. It is in everyone’s interest if everyone votes quickly rather than eventually so that the momentum & immediacy is not lost. Slow voting may also give biased results. YMMV :(
    5) Final decision can be taken in line with our votes or in spite of our votes – the good old seat-of-the-pant judgement which Ashraf would make. Statistics is not everything in life.
    Ramesh :D

  • Ramesh Kumar

    A great inflection point; lots of joy & some suggestions :D

    We took 15 mths (450 days) to build 1000 members; we only took 42 days to build the next 141. We were adding members at the rate of 2.2 members per day till we reached 1000. After that our buildup rate shot up to 3.4 members per day. OUR BUILDUP RATE INCREASED BY 55% IN THE LAST 42 DAYS! The last 6 weeks is a good inflection point. :D

    Ashraf blogged when we reached 1000. I guess Ashraf is setting still higher standards now. Great days ahead.

    OBVIOUSLY THE KEY TO SUCCESS IS THERE SOMEWHERE OVER THE LAST 42 DAYS. THEREFORE WE DO NOT HAVE TO SEARCH FOR THAT KEY ACROSS 492 DAYS. Our feedback regarding improvement has to spot only that one key. :)

    Our forum stats, suggestions made by bloggers & my intuitions are as follows:-
    1)No. of threads per day has increased
    2)No. of posts per thread has increased
    3)No. of posts per thread per day has increased
    4)Average time per member spent inside forum has increased
    5)Percentage defined as follows i.e. {(Forum Members/Total Members) x (100) has increased. The higher the percentage the better it is.
    6)Therefore among other things we have been seeking:-
    a.Wider column width for posting
    b.Longer page length so that as many posts as possible can be read within a page without flipping the page
    c.“Recent Posts List” are requested to be made as long as possible

    Wow! This is exciting

    Ramesh :D

  • OldElmerFudd

    I’ve used the forum for a couple of months and I have to agree with you – they’re very nice, but limited in scope/options. I certainly don’t mind re-registering. As to post counts, it’s not the amount, but the usefulness and relevancy that matters, imho.

  • Dan

    If this is a wordpress blog, there is a mod to integrate PhPBB with wordpress called WP United

    I’ve seen some of the examples, and they look pretty impressive.

  • jumbi

    couple of notes connected to the forum:

    The table on the right labeled “Recent Forum Posts” should have, if possible of course, more than 5 last posts. At least 10, otherwise we miss some replies with a first glance.

    2) With the current view of the posts, if a thread has eg 50 replies you have to “page down” many many times to read all of them. I would prefer a wider space so that less “page down” are required.

    I voted for the new system, just because I use forums all over around the internet and I like various extra options.

  • Ramesh Kumar

    In terms of “content” I wish the new forum is in addition to the existing forum.In terms of “functionality features” if there are features which could be added or improved it would be nice.

    I was unable to click vote because this option was not offered. I might be wrong in my understanding. Do correct me if I am wrong in my understanding

  • Maddog

    I agree completely @11 Josh.But I also think you should do what is right for you Ashraf,all us dottechies will still be here no matter what you decide………… we know when we have a good thing :-)

  • Taz

    +1 on Josh’s comment (#11).
    Personally the current forum works fine for my needs.

  • Lamont Cranston

    At this stage I believe this current format is fine. Indeed am of the opinion the current membership base does not warrant the expense of Invision PB or something similar.

  • Oops, missed the forums!
    Thanks for article posted info, saw it and joined it.
    Tried a post and find it quite nice and simple.
    I would suggest renaming the final submission to “post topic”, “post reply” instead of the present “post new topic”, “post new reply”. I was scared the contents I wrote would vanish and a new topic arrive. :)

  • Josh

    Ashraf, your followers obviously trust you, so do what you think is best, but just remember to keep it as simple as possible. It always works best if you follow a balanced approach. Few people like complicated systems.

  • Ozzie

    @RobCr: Actually, that sounds like a good idea. Although I don’t know how much extra work that would mean for Ashraf, having to go through posts and create links. But I also agree with Happy Person, do what you think best and what works for you. It’s a great site and always will be.

  • RobCr

    I forgot to tick that flippin checkbox again.
    Mutter, mutter.

    PS Hopefully the new forum will be more idiot proof, in that area ?

  • RobCr

    Could you provide links to a couple of other forum examples, that are close to what you are considering.

  • @GTiR: The ability to embed non-previews of images for one…

  • GTiR

    @Everyone who is voting for “Yes – these current forums are much too limited”
    You really need to say what is “limited” with it, and what new “features” you would like to see.

  • Adrian

    @Locutus: Good point. I’m using a 1080i screen…

    Although I don’t always use the forums, maybe Ashraf could change to BBForums? They’re much more advanced.

  • I don’t really like the look of them… they look skinny. If you could have them adjust to wider screens (say 1280 or even 1366 or 1440) automatically that’d be nice. I’d say maybe 900 pixels wide maximum…

  • Wheezer

    I voted do what you think is best. Altho I do have an opinion.

    I agree completely with Happy Person’s comment. No question, no doubt. What was said is dead-on accurate.

    You have to set it up and run it, do it your way and know that the vast majority of us will be behind your choice. You give enough to this site already, don’t make it any harder or more work unless -you- want to.

    Now, for my honest opinion (no what I’ve already said isn’t dishonest): I like the forums as they are. It’s nice the way they match up with the site so well. There are however a few little things that can get a little frustrating from time to time. But you know, I get a little frustrated with anything and everything in my life from time to time.

    So go with your gut. I’ll be more than happy with whatever you decide to do.

  • Happy Person

    In my opinion, it is ultimately your decision
    (as the owner/operator of to determine how you want this site to be designed.

    The most important thing is that you are happy with your choice, and that the new forum meets your technical and functional needs.

    I’m sure that I, as well as other Dot-Techies, will adapt well to whatever format you choose.

    Keep up the excellent work & thanks for all you do..

  • haakon

    DAMN….. SORRY for the bad language…i WAS to say I am more than happy with the forums at it is!!
    I THINK I voted “wrong”…….