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  1. #1
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    social network or good ol'forum? What's right for me?

    Hi all,
    I've been thinking about this for the last few days and now I have a headache so I thought I'd ask for advice.

    I want to build a community website targeting foreigners in Korea. (most of them are on Facebook). My site will have:
    - A portal front with news, latest members, latest classifieds, etc
    - I was thinking it might be good to offer user blogging
    - Several classified boards with great search/restriction options (geographic, etc),
    - Several directories also with resctriction options
    - A forum
    - all that with integrated login

    I've been thinking hard during the past days at what those new social networking solutions (Jomsocial, BuddyPress, Elgg) would really bring to a site like mine. Probably not much, but on this market I'm going up against another website that has been there for a very long time, has a very basic/ugly but wildly popular classified board, and a phpBB forum with over a million posts in it...
    So I'm just trying to figure out if these social networks can really bring a better user experience than the classic forum. I'm not sure, what do you think?
    So I looked at Joomla + MyBlog + Jomsocial + JReviews (for the directories and classifieds sections), which seemed to be a good solution, but there are some issues with Joomla's user access management, and also with MyBlog apparently.
    Then I looked at WordpressMU + BuddyPress, but BuddyPress doesn't look very professional yet, I haven't seen a great forum for Wordpress, and I'd still be left not knowing what to use to make the integrated directories and classified boards.
    Then I looked at Drupal and Acquia which looks pretty good, has an integration with VBulletin, and looks quite suited to make directories and classifieds (maybe I'm wrong here, just my impression, I'm out of my depth anyway). There is no turnkey solution for social networking but apparently there are lots of modules that have social functions.

    Then again, I'm not sure what these social networking apps would bring to my site, but the idea of creating a new forum opposite one with 1 million posts is a little I can't get my mind around it...

    Thanks in advance for your advice

  2. #2
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    Lightbulb

    I can see where you are coming from, but have you considered some options like Ning, here is my one about where I live, Serre Chevalier.

    I think it has all the features you need and should take you less than an hour to set up. It has an RSS feed you can ping which will alert the search engines straightaway and your domain will include your keyword as a subdomain of a major authority web2.0 site. (don't underestimate how quickly you can rank with these sites)

    i.e. http://yourmostprofitablekeyword.ning.com

    Get the idea?

  3. #3
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    Surely a forum is the best way to build a community? As long as you use tried and trusted forum software that people are familiar with, e.g. vbulletin, I feel the forum is the way to go. You can always add the social networking stuff later but I see this as secondary.

    Rgds

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by accelerator View Post
    Surely a forum is the best way to build a community? As long as you use tried and trusted forum software that people are familiar with, e.g. vbulletin, I feel the forum is the way to go. You can always add the social networking stuff later but I see this as secondary.

    Rgds
    That's a spot on answer for 2006, but it is now 2009: this guys people are all on facebook already so they are expecting something a bit more fun than a negative moaners forum made with vbulletin.

  5. #5
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    You know what some people don't realize... Vbulletin is not a huge investment... They have kept up with it quite well, they expanded on the profiles and created a social networking aspect to it. It's also not hard to expand on that yourself, or with the help of an experienced vbulletin coder. Another one that can be made to work, is wordpress. Both Wordpress and vBulletin can be modded to have a community aspect, social networking aspects and much or all of what you've listed... vBulletin, however, you have the added bonus you can get your existing forum and databases ported over...
    Add some wicked custom themes and graphics, interactivity, flash perhaps... and a facebook plugin, and matching facebook page... Might do well...

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricklomas View Post
    That's a spot on answer for 2006, but it is now 2009: this guys people are all on facebook already so they are expecting something a bit more fun than a negative moaners forum made with vbulletin.
    IMO you've got to have some sort of forum to get any traction as a community. Forums are still popular despite Facebook et al. If it's not via vbulletin then sure use something fancier, but I feel a forum is the starting point nevertheless, what other entity are you going to organise around?

    Rgds

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by accelerator View Post
    IMO you've got to have some sort of forum to get any traction as a community. Forums are still popular despite Facebook et al. If it's not via vbulletin then sure use something fancier, but I feel a forum is the starting point nevertheless, what other entity are you going to organise around?

    Rgds
    Vbulletin is brilliant, no doubt about that - infact, here we are!

    I was just saying that Ning would be a very cool way to feature blogs, forum and networking.

    Ning is free too

  8. #8
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    Yes Ning could do the thing, but my problem is that it's a hosted service and I need my site to be hosted in Korea or I'm going to have some speed issues.
    About forums, I was looking at Invision and it looks really nice

    PS RickLomas, you live in Serre Chevalier but your not French right?


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