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  1. #1
    SitePoint Enthusiast jwh335's Avatar
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    Adding on a forum

    Are blog readers fans of forums? Do you have a forum as part of your blog?

    I am wanting to start one to add on to my blog sometime(not soon). I just feel that it would help cushion my traffic in case my blog ever went down hill. It would give me time to kinda get it back going and keep my fan base.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Zealot purplefdu's Avatar
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    I would imagine alot of blog followers like forums. forums are much more interactive than a blog. I have seen a couple nice blogs with a forum attached for more orderly discussions of posts that worked well.
    Homeward Bound Puppy now with a store!

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    This is a topic of great interest to me at the moment.

    I'm slowly getting more and more visitors to my Venus flytrap site (see signature). It's sort of bloggish, but I'm treating it more as a static site with comments. However, I'm getting a reasonable number of comments coming in and I'd like to incorporate those comments directly into a forum. I don't think I have enough traffic to justify having a forum and commenting, hence I want to incorporate the two into a fully integrated, seamless system.

    Ultimately what I would like to do, is to have the comments system work the same way it does now, with comment moderation on and allowing guests to leave comments without registering, but I'd like those comments to be left in a forum as well as on the page the comments are about.

    There is a plugin for bbPress which almost does what I want called bbSync. Unfortunately the one thing it can not do is allow for guest commenting/posting. This is a critical problem for me as I'm keen to get as many comments coming in as possible, even if that does mean having to trawl through removing spam each day.

    Another route I thought of, was to use SMF to power the commenting system. I can't think of any automated way to do this, but I could set it up manually. The WordPress commenting function would not be used. The comments would be stored inside the SMF forum and displayed on the WordPress pages through the use of SMF's SSI facility. I can use Akismet with SMF and allow guest posting in the board which the comments are being pulled from unlike bbPress. The major downside of this route, is that I would need to manually add the SSI code to each and every WordPress page which could get quite messy indeed and make creating new posts an annoyance. SMF1.1.x also does not allow guest post moderation (SMF2.0 Beta does, but a stable version of that may not be available for a while yet).

    Another slightly more exotic route I've considered, is to power my entire blog via SMF. However this would take a LOT of work to achieve. In particular the forum theming would be quite labour intensive.


    Has anyone else tried something along these lines? Anyone have any solutions? Advice?

    Sitepoint has a similar type of system setup for their article comments, but I read somewhere that this is a custom setup and is not available as an off the shelf mod.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Enthusiast jwh335's Avatar
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    Yeah, I have the same problem in concerns to visitors.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    This has motivated me to get moving on integrating SMF into my Venus flytrap website. Here's a link to my test site for anyone who's interested ... http://ryanhellyer.net/test/flytrapgrowing_beta1/forum/

  6. #6
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    Another slightly more exotic route I've considered, is to power my entire blog via SMF. However this would take a LOT of work to achieve. In particular the forum theming would be quite labour intensive.
    Have you looked at Eren's Bloggy theme?

    I like what you've been working on though.
    "Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what
    it might appear to others that what you were or might
    have been was not otherwise than what you had been
    would have appeared to them to be otherwise."

  7. #7
    SitePoint Enthusiast jwh335's Avatar
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    That looks very good, Ryan. It is integrated very well with the site.

  8. #8
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    Eldacar, the entirely SMF route was what I was looking at using your Pretty URL's mod for. But it looks like I won't be doing that now.


    Quote Originally Posted by eldacar View Post
    Have you looked at Eren's Bloggy theme?
    Yep, but that's still just a forum with a blog-like skin on it. I don't want the topics moving out of order just because someone posts a comment in one of them.

    Here's the link to Eren's bloggy theme in case anyone's wondering what we're talking about ... Eren's bloggy theme

    The skin I'm using there at the moment is actually Eren's NMTD theme. Although I'm slowly working through the code piece by piece to the point where it's not much like the original at all anymore.

  9. #9
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    Yep, but that's still just a forum with a blog-like skin on it. I don't want the topics moving out of order just because someone posts a comment in one of them.
    There's a mod which lets you set how to order specific boards. Haven't used it myself, but I'd think it would do what you need there.
    "Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what
    it might appear to others that what you were or might
    have been was not otherwise than what you had been
    would have appeared to them to be otherwise."

  10. #10
    www.logoraman.com electroskan.com's Avatar
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    Good job there Ryan, but at the footer the 'Copyright 2008' and 'Venus flytrap growing' are mixed up.

    I am using Opera (latest version) to view it.
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  11. #11
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by electroskan.com View Post
    Good job there Ryan, but at the footer the 'Copyright 2008' and 'Venus flytrap growing' are mixed up.

    I am using Opera (latest version) to view it.
    Lol, there's a lot more than just that which is messed up! This is very much a developmental site. I needed to chuck the SMF copyright message somewhere on the page to stop SMF from giving an error, hence it is sitting at the bottom in a rather ugly state.

  12. #12
    SitePoint Enthusiast Sqwink Design's Avatar
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    @ ryanhellyer, I was just wondering if you actually get any sales from your Venus Flytraps amazon store. I use amazon referals with no success! Nice blog!

  13. #13
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sqwink Design View Post
    @ ryanhellyer, I was just wondering if you actually get any sales from your Venus Flytraps amazon store. I use amazon referals with no success! Nice blog!
    I only put up the store a week or so ago and haven't even bothered checking if I've sold anything yet. I don't have a huge amount of traffic yet, so I'm not expecting to make much if anything at all. It's mainly there as an extra little addon for my visitors and a test to see if I can sell anything with it, I don't expect it to pay the bills :P If I do get some serious traffic, I'll look at getting a direct deal with another online Venus flytrap retailer to make money as I think a proper ECommerce shop would look a lot more professional than a tacky Amazon store and I could get a much higher markup that way.

    EDIT: Confirmed, I have not sold anything through my Amazon store.

  14. #14
    SitePoint Enthusiast m1k30rz's Avatar
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    My site AdminMania originally started as just a forum site but I have since grown it to have a webmaster blog where I write helpful articles for webmasters.

    I have found lots of people are finding the blog useful and decide to check out the forum and of course start posting in there, so yes I think its a great idea to help build a real community with your site.

    With the right promotion your forums could also in turn promote your blog

    It's worth a shot in my opinion!!

  15. #15
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    its not a bad idea at all specially if you will include a poll on your forum

  16. #16
    SitePoint Evangelist rhysboy84's Avatar
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    I have twice had forums associated with my blog, and twice it has failed. I suppose there's got to be a focus (like the Venus Flytrap site) for a blog /w forum to do well
    I'm Rhys Wynne & I blog at Winwar Media
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  17. #17
    SitePoint Enthusiast Sqwink Design's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by ryanhellyer View Post
    I only put up the store a week or so ago and haven't even bothered checking if I've sold anything yet. I don't have a huge amount of traffic yet, so I'm not expecting to make much if anything at all. It's mainly there as an extra little addon for my visitors and a test to see if I can sell anything with it, I don't expect it to pay the bills :P If I do get some serious traffic, I'll look at getting a direct deal with another online Venus flytrap retailer to make money as I think a proper ECommerce shop would look a lot more professional than a tacky Amazon store and I could get a much higher markup that way.

    EDIT: Confirmed, I have not sold anything through my Amazon store.
    Thanks for the details. I'm thinking of scrapping the amazon stuff now until I have more blog traffic - hope yours turns out well for you

  18. #18
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cedricvc View Post
    its not a bad idea at all specially if you will include a poll on your forum
    I'm confused. A poll for what exactly?

    Quote Originally Posted by rhysboy84 View Post
    I have twice had forums associated with my blog, and twice it has failed. I suppose there's got to be a focus (like the Venus Flytrap site) for a blog /w forum to do well
    Yeah, many blogs would not function well with a forum. Part of my issue with my current setup, is that it discourages outsiders from providing advice to my visitors. They could add comments on the blog posts, but it's more of an interaction between myself and individual users rather than a community conversation. Forums are swayed towards community discussion and hopefully this will help in this area for my Venus flytrap site.

    I'll know how well it works in a month or so when I'll hopefully have it up and running. My forum/blog integration still has of bugs to sort out yet. Unfortunately my plants aren't very good at eating those type of bugs.

  19. #19
    SitePoint Addict BlazeMiskulin's Avatar
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    I've just started the set up of a new site that will include both a blog (as the main page) and a forum. The site deals with local politics, so it makes sense to have both. The blog will give information on bits of news while the forum will allow debate on various topics. It's my hope that the front page and candidates' pages will spur discussion in the forums.

    Now I just have to figure out how to market this thing.
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  20. #20
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    update

    Hi everyone,
    Someone asked me to give an update on my progress getting my blog/forum integration sorted out quite some time ago. I hadn't done any work on it until yesterday when I finally figured out the last piece in the puzzle.

    My blog/forum integration test site now has a full integration between the blog comments and the forum. So when you leave a blog comment it automatically drags you into the forum where your post is also stored.


    It works on this blog page ... http://ryanhellyer.net/test/flytrapg...ta1/cultivars/

    Which is associated with this forum topic ... http://ryanhellyer.net/test/flytrapg...php?topic=38.0

    Feel free to add random off-topic comments since it's just my test site.


    I only got this working yesterday and I've only bothered setting it up for the particular page I linked to above so far, but it proves the concept and hopefully will be operational on a live site eventually.

    The latest version of SMF (Version 2.0 beta) also features a post moderation function, so not only can I use Akismet with it, but I can moderate all the guest posts so it has all of the spam protection features that WordPress has out of the box The demo above is actually running SMF 1.1.4 so it doesn't have moderation, but it will work once I've upgraded the forum.

  21. #21
    SitePoint Wizard ryanhellyer's Avatar
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    Oh yeah, I forgot to add that the trick to getting it to work was to pull the code for the quick reply box out of the display.template.php file in the SMF theme. You need to fiddle it a bit as some of the settings are added directly by SMF for the particular page and since you aren't on it you need to hard code them in.

    Then the forum posts which are created are displayed back on the blog by using SMF's totally awesome SSI.php

  22. #22
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    Some great advice here recently added a blog to our site but not a forum yet but info here will help if we do. Thanks.


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