recently, I've been asked several times if there will someday be a modernized new Starling Forum. The old "bbPress" I'm currently using definitely shows its age, and it would be great to switch to a better alternative.
However, it's also quite a lot of work — so before I jump into that, I thought I'd ask around what you guys think about that. 🙂
Currently, the forum runs with a modified bbPress 1.2 with a few plugins and manual fixes. Upgrading to a newer version of bbPress is not an option, since it's now a WordPress plugin.
Personally, I'd love to see a few more "social" features, like being able to "like" a post, share it easily on Facebook or Twitter, or to login via one of those services. Furthermore, better support for mobile browsers would definitely not hurt — although I guess the majority accesses the forum from Desktop, most of the time.
What would also be super valuable: being able to tag a post as "solved", similar to how it's done in StackOverflow. And a better search — although the Google search we're currently having is already much better than what we had in the past.
(1) Some of that wishes could probably be solved by simply writing a new bbPress plugin and modify the template — that would be the cheapest option.
(2) A forum engine that I like very much is Discourse. Feature-wise, that's my favorite; although it would require a new server. Cheapest option: a 10$ droplet on DigitalOcean (if that's fast enough, otherwise 20$/month).
(3) The upcoming Flarum looks great, too. Its advantage: it would run on our current Webfaction shared server. However, it's not yet stable, so we'd probably need to wait a few more months before switching.
The biggest effort will probably be migration of the posts and the users, and to set it up so that the URLs to the old forum are forwarded correctly. Furthermore, when picking option (2), I'll have to continuously administrate a new server.
What do you say to those options? Or does anybody have another idea?
(One forum software I didn't mention is NodeBB, because it has all the up- and downsides of "Discourse". It's definitely a good option, as well.)
Personally, I think each of the options has its charm, even option (1). (I don't think the current forum is bad — it did a good job during the last 5 years. However, I do have a few reservations regarding security holes.)