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Administrative: Forum for Further Discussion (?)

EDIT: Let me note right up front that I am not advocating replacing the blog with a forum.

Back when we started this blog over three (!) years ago, it wasn't long before we moved to a forum on the ground that that would make discussions easier to have and manage. The forum worked pretty well, though I came to feel that the blog worked better as a place to make our ideas visible to others, while the forum was better for the dedicated readers and contributors to hold discussions.

We used the forum for close to two years before the webhost was hacked and we ultimately lost almost the entire forum contents, and so the blog came to be revived. The blog's been going well, and we've had some pretty active discussions in the comments. But comments are subject to getting spammed, or deleted over time; and a forum does allow for an easier way to manage discussions and reply to specific comments. So we (John, Tony, Brandon and I) have been talking once again about having a forum available to hold further discussion, when people want to do so.

John's main concern is the risk of repeating the loss of the forum to hackers. I have a forum (linked above in the title) on Delphi, which is a large commercial forum site supported by advertising and paid memberships. Being a commercial venture, it's fairly secure from hackers; it's occasionally had hardware failures bring down the forums instead, but even then they've got massive database backups, so I've only ever seen availability, not content, lost in such events. My forum has been rather quiet for a long time, and I have a few unassigned folders available, so I'm willing to open up one or two for our purposes.

Points for consideration:
  • You must sign up with a membership to post; guests can only read.
  • Basic membership is free, but basic members see the advertising. There is an option to buy set numbers of ad-free pageviews.
  • Basic members can only post straight text, no formatting (HTML). Advanced and Plus (both paying) members can include HTML. (Plus members who use Windows and IE get those built-in formatting buttons.)
  • Basic members can have moderator rights, although not the fullest level; as the forum owner and also a paying member, I would have full and final control.
  • Someone would have to remember to add links between the blog and the forum when a discussion thread is started (ideally the person starting the discussion, but I can monitor that too).
  • My forum URL name ("beetsareyummy") cannot be changed; we'd have to start a wholly new forum if we wanted something like "attacksofopportunity".

Feel free to click the heading link and check out my forum. Let me know in the comments what you think of this proposal. If anyone has an alternate forum suggestion, suggest away.

I admit it: I really, really, really don't like Delphi. I thought maybe their format had changed over the years, but no. It's just a confusing jumble to me that's hard to navigate and read.

If we revive the forum, my vote is for something a lot more "forum standard."

I'll look around for alternatives.

Left pane: discussions folders, with threads listed in them; threads with unread posts are marked by stars. Right pane, the current thread you're reading. Not sure what's so hard to navigate or read about that.

That said, if you don't like it, you don't like it, simple enough. I know there are a few different kinds of "standard" forum software out there, I think the issue is secure and reliable hosting. I'll leave that to your research.

Well, I'm just one vote. If the other contributors want to go with Delphi, that's cool with me.

I've done a little research and this provider seems promising:


Here's one of the forums they host:


Pretty standard layout, and some nice skins. I probably should talk to Clinton about a good forum host, too. He's more connected to that world.

I'm personally not particuarly enthused about moving back to forum format. I like that Attacks has built up a bit of community, both in terms of readers and in terms of other blogs discussing the same topics. Moving to Delphi seems a bit like going to start over again with a different community.

I liked the forum that we had, but there's not much hope of resurrecting it. I think one of its strengths was that it was sharing space with Talislanta, a community with whom we have some overlap. I'm not sure that would be as true at Delphi.

Let me stress that I do not want to move back to a forum in place of the blog. I also like that we're building up a community here between the related bloggers and other readers. It's just that there seems to be some feeling among some of us that having a forum available as well would work better for extended discussions.

I don't know, however, whether we can even sustain both a blog and a forum, particularly when the connections between the two would have to be maintained manually. It's easy enough to cross-post links between an original blog post and the ensuing forum discussion, or even to repost on the blog the first message in a forum thread if the discussion happens to start on the forum instead. The question is whether anyone would actually take that time to do so.

The wo reasons why I like the idea of using my Delphi forum are: I'm on the forum continuously throughout the day, so it'd be easy for me to monitor and handle cross-linking or cross-posting duties; and it'd be nice to bring some new activity to my forum and maybe get some of the gamers I know on those forums to look at some new ideas.

However, if other people in addition to John do not like Delphi, then I don't want us to use Delphi; more importantly, if having a forum anywhere is going to kill off the blog, then I don't want us to have one.

Perhaps I'll simply start an "Attacks" folder on my forum anyhow and see whether I can attract some attention there to what we're doing here; it may at least get one or two new people interested.

I actually prefer this format over the forum format and was glad when we made the change back to a blog. Like John, I am not a fan of Delphi either.

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