It's been a few weeks since I updated you on the status of our migration to Discourse. We're making really good progress and I'm hoping that we'll be ready to flick the switch at some point next month, but there are a few factors relying on that so it's not locked in.
This is what is going on:
- Jeff and his team are currently working on migrating our data to the new platform. We plan to move all user data (for people that have been active in the last 5 years), along with a hundreds of thousands of posts (chosen based on when they were last viewed). Threads that aren't migrated will be archived in flat HTML so that you can still access that info. That is going well, but there are still plenty of bugs to be ironed out – mostly around usernames (Discourse has a stricter set of rules around usernames) and BB Code.
- Boris from our front end team is working on our reskin and I'm going to see the first iteration of that later today. The redesign was done by Pete, who designed the latest reincarnation of sitepoint.com
- Our lead dev Jude is working on a tagging plugin. We plan to use a flat forum structure with tags on Discourse, rather than this complicated mess of forums and subforums. Once he has finished on that, he'll work on a number of plugins that we need behind the scenes for moderation.
- My team and I are working on things like the forum and staff structure, as well as writing out specs for aforementioned plugins
So that's where we are at from a product management perspective. From my personal perspective things are moving along well. I'm feeling really comfortable with using Discourse now, although it took a few weeks to figure out all the little nuances. We're putting together a 'Cheat Sheet' to help you guys with that.
Change is a hard thing for any community, and it is made harder when that community is as big as ours. Thanks for hanging in with us while we go through this. Please make sure you ask any questions that you have and I'll do my best to answer them.
I'll remind you that we are not making this move in an attempt to address or 'fix' the social psychology of this community. We are not hoping that a new platform will stimulate more discussion or increase the quality of posts. There are several reasons for the change, some are business decisions, some are community ones. I'll note those briefly as a reminder:
What's in it for SitePoint
- vBulletin is cumbersome and extremely high maintenance.
- We are a Rails house, and Discourse is a Rails product.
- Discourse is Open Source so we can fix and customise quickly and easily to suit our needs.
- We have so heavily hacked our vB instance that upgrading has become unbearable and we lose functionality every time we do it.
- Our technical debt due to vB is huge.
- We have been experiencing ongoing performance issues that we can't solve.
What's in it for you?
- More cohesion between SitePoint, Learnable and the forums. We'll be integrating Discourse and WordPress so that comments on articles will become forum conversations. In this way we will encourage new, quality members who until now have only consumed content.
- We will be able to turn around bug fixes, enhancements and user requests quickly in-house
- You can create your own plugins if you're a Ruby guy/girl
- Discourse has some great community building functionality integrated, like the ability to Like posts and open new posts based on closed ones, both which will cut down on fluff posting
- It is responsive without the need for Tapatalk
- We can be flexible with the forum structure. This current structure of forums and sub-forums is inflexible. We don't foster discussion around lots of new (and not even so new) subjects here at the moment because it would mean adding yet another sub-forum. A flat structure with tags means that we can add and deprecate tags easily in order to stay bleeding edge, so that you can talk and learn about the things that you want to, not the things that our forum structure dictates that you do.
- Discourse encourages crowd sourced moderation – you'll be able to flag rubbish posts. If two of you flag one post it will be hidden until the OP edits it. If they edit it and it gets flagged again, it will be removed. You'll finally have the ability to personally do something about the low quality posts that have been dragging us down.
So, I hope that information is useful. Feel free to hit me up with questions or concerns.