Forum software change - yay or nay? (1 Viewer)

Should we switch to Xenforo 2.1 forum software?

  • Yes

    Votes: 9 64.3%
  • No

    Votes: 2 14.3%
  • Unsure - too risky/losing the Thanks/like this software/other

    Votes: 3 21.4%

  • Total voters
    14
  • Poll closed .

Jon

Access World Site Owner
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With this forum being 20-odd years old, and the software it runs on being "old-school" and non-mobile responsive, I have entertained the idea of upgrading the software, going from its current incarnation to Xenforo 2.1.

My concerns are that some forum owners have lost lots of traffic, some haven't and I don't know if the (up to) 70% loss was permanent, or temporary. I will try to do some due diligence on this, by PMing a few forum owners who reported a downturn in traffic.

Other issues on upgrading forum software are things like the "Thanks" counts might not be transferable.

So...

Downsides:
- potential loss of traffic
- loss of Thanks counts
- other issues I haven't identified

Upsides:
- mobile responsive
- faster
- more modern feel and look
- Like button instead of Thanks button (keeps some happy!)
- Nicer implementation of Private Messages, where it acts more like a whatsapp conversation than an email system

For those who have used Xenforo before, please give me your preference in relation to this forums software, and that includes you Doc and Uncle, since you have used The Mind Tavern software, which runs on Xenforo.

Anyway, I thought it worthwhile bringing this topic up since I have recently migrated from my old host and I am currently "hot" on the forum (potential) improvements.
 

Uncle Gizmo

Nifty Access Guy
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Searching the Forum
I do like the look and feel of the Mind Tavern Forum, however I don't use it in the same way as Access World Forums. For me the best feature of Access World Forums is how easy it is to search for something. I've never had to search for anything on on the Mind Tavern Forum, so I can't gauge this. It would be serious issue if one of AWF's best features was damaged by a move.
 

Uncle Gizmo

Nifty Access Guy
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Mobile Access

>>>being "old-school" and non-mobile responsive<<<

I wondered about that, I use Tapatalk to access the forum from my mobile. I noticed there are adverts on Tapatalk, and I wondered if the money generated by these adverts goes to you or Tapatalk? (Don't answer that, it's no one else's business) If Tapatalk takes a chunk, then this would be a serious reason for for getting on a platform that supports mobile. You don't want any revenue going to someone else!

Mobile Access Low Volume
A snippet of information that may be useful for a comparison. I do note that my own website "Nifty Access" is mostly visited from PC machines. Less than 5% comes from mobile, and I should imagine Access World Forums is in a similar position.
 

Jon

Access World Site Owner
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Messages
1,956
Tapatalk never paid me a dime. I did do some setting years ago that said ads would show and the revenue would come my way, but it never did.

The traffic from this forum is nearly all desktop. But is that like the chicken and the egg. Is it due to AWF being rubbish on mobile or is it due to the nature of the type of visitor we ge? i.e. programmers.
 

Jon

Access World Site Owner
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@Minty, OMG I don't think I've ever seen so many ads on a page! And those big ads you mention in the middle. I wonder if that is Google's new Adsense ad AI. Apparently, it puts the ads in random places according to an AI algo.

Yes, I think the search facilities are pretty similar. I would be surprised if they didn't actually improve on the search facilities we are used to here. The developers of Xenforo were the actual developers of vBulletin back in the day.

What do you mean by thread counts etc? What do you think would happen?
 

Minty

AWF VIP
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6,539
The ads are borderline really intrusive, aren't they!

I meant post counts. Assuming you migrated the posts and user names over I'm guessing the post counts would simply be recalculated.

I can see how the thanks and thanked counts would get lost in translation though.
 

Jon

Access World Site Owner
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Messages
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Yes, all the post counts will remain the same, and attached to the user. All the usernames go across. I think it is supposed to also transfer reputation. I did see something about transferring the Thanked Posts over, but I can't guarantee it would work.

There are add-ons for Xenforo where you can have multiple types of Like, such as Like, Meh, Thumbs down etc.
 

Minty

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I've just registered on MrExcel, and the advert intrusion seems to have diminished significantly - I wonder if that is intended to encourage you to register? Possibly a forum setting?
 

Jon

Access World Site Owner
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Oh that is an interesting ploy! Did you register so you could get a feel for that type of software?
 

Minty

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Something in the back of my mind was telling me you might see less ads as a registered user.

I think it was a hangup from another forum I used to frequent years ago.
Or was there a setting for here that as a Diamond contributor you got fewer adverts ??
 

Jon

Access World Site Owner
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If you are a paid supporter here, you get less ads. But I think that is quite a common thing on other forums too.
 

The_Doc_Man

Happy Retired Curmudgeon
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Feb 28, 2001
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Jon, you asked for my opinion but at the moment I am a bit ambiguous. As far as I am concerned, if the look and feel changes slightly, I can live with that.

If you investigate with others who have made a similar switch, perhaps they can offer insights as to what you lose and what you gain. Remember that I am not even a moderator (and no, not asking) so I don't get to see behind-the-scenes. This is where your expertise is clearly better than mine.

Now, multiple operating systems? There I've probably got you and at least a plurality of our members. But bulletin board platforms? I have to plead "no experience" beyond simple user-level impressions of what I see. And to be honest, I see (from a user level viewpoint) no practical difference between The Mind Tavern and AWF.
 

Jon

Access World Site Owner
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Thanks for your feedback Doc. I am trying to get a feel for what people want. I have my own inclinations too. It all goes into the mix.

Minty, I see that they have only recently switched over to Xenforo, from vBulletin. I notice they have an articles section now: https://www.mrexcel.com/board/excel-articles/

Would something like that be useful for this board, if we switched forum software?
 

Minty

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That looks a little like our example databases section from a quick read, but I can see how separating them out from the general forum but easily accessible could be a benefit.
 

isladogs

CID Moderator
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I'm also in two minds about making a change.
There are a lot of things that have been suggested that apparently can't be done using the current software. However the risks of existing features being lost is a counter argument.
Is there a case for instead upgrading to a newer version of vBulletin?

UG mentioned having occasional issues about not being able to reply to a PM.
It happens to me a lot. Something toggling the up/down arrows to change the reply window height helps...but sometimes I just have to abandon the reply and try again later.

Another request. It would be really useful to be able to attach images and files to a PM
 

Minty

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The ability to simply copy and paste an image into a post would be extremely handy.

The number of times a picture can paint a thousand words, but you have to jump through hoops to upload it then display it in the current software is a pain.
 

Jon

Access World Site Owner
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A vBulletin upgrade is off the cards. It is widely accepted that they went astray, ruining what was otherwise the market leader. Xenforo has twice the market share of vBulletin now, and for good reason. IPB is also another popular alternative.

Updates to this board are on hold until I decide on what path to take. I am very tempted with a switch over to Xenforo, but at the same time I am nervous about any adverse affect that might have on traffic. If logic were involved, Xenforo should get better rankings, because they are mobile friendly, which Google likes, more secure, and IMHO a better user interface. But I have heard stories of people being hit with a loss of traffic. But also no change. Or some an improvement. I will reach out to those who have complained of a loss and see how they now stand.

Many forum owners have also commented about how Google is devaluing user generated content and how their sites have been hit. We are in the hands of the Gods.

Minty, are you saying that you can just copy and paste an image with Xenforo?
 

isladogs

CID Moderator
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For info, Jack Leach at UA is changing to completely new custom software.
 

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