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Forums and whether we keep them going forward

31 Jan 2024 01:50 #3347 by Atlan
On the one hand, its very obvious that almost all discussion is on Discord. Once you ignore canon announcements, and comments on specific stories, there's like 5 threads updated this year.

But on the other hand... there are some things you can do with a forum that you can't do on discord. The ability to have a distinct thread, that exists as something you can easily find and read as a discussion or newspost on a specific topic... Discord is basically a mess in comparison.

Say I posted my 'Offsite Whateley Fanfics' as a discord post. Sure, the peroidic updates as I discover a new story or update works fine- but the master list of stories would get lost and burried.

I can't count the number of things I've discovered in discord- by accident- when searching for something specific, that I would have loved to have known, but were burried in the pile. Like, say, some of Kirstin's posts on how powers work, which were very interesting, and if she had a dedicated 'Powers Explanation' forum thread I would have read, but are all just hidden in the pile.

While we may not need an actual forum, Discord alone isn't quite enough either.
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31 Jan 2024 04:20 #3348 by E. E. Nalley
The lack of easy archiving and looking up old lines of conversation, like story comments to my mind discount only using discord. The forum is far more user friendly, easier to search and look back at old items.
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31 Jan 2024 04:53 #3349 by DanZilla
I started this thread as a way to see if the idea of a forumless site seemed like it would work for people... just testing the waters... this site isn't going anywhere soon (knock on wood) but it's about time we started to talk about if we can give you a better site in the future and what that might look like.
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14 Feb 2024 19:11 #3382 by Marian Griffith
Others (the OP and E.E.Nalley) already pointed out the crippling limitation of a system like Discord. At the end of the day it is a way to converse with others with a severely limited ability to structure or archive any conversation taking place on the platform.
A proper forum is poorly suited to impromptu conversations, and even less the more people try to participate at the same time. But, it will allow for larger blocks of text, encourages more thoughtfull replies (instead of immediately answering in a relative short form) and it wll allow for structuring these discussions as is best suited.
That's not to say that things cannot be done on Discord, just that there is no structure to the various 'sub discords' and if the conversation becomes lively, it will be very difficult to keep up with it. Even more so if for whatever reason you are forced to miss two weeks worth of conversations.

On top of that, there are a couple of reasons to strick with a forum.
With the forum we (or rather Kristin Darken) has full control over the content of the forum, and over its backup. This is not the case with Discord, where we are at th mercy of a tech company. And we have learned at our own cost, how little such corporations can be trusted.
The second reason is that the stories are published on the web site. It would be strange to have discussion about these stories entirely off-site. It would be equally strange, and undesirable, to publish stories on Discord. That platform is terrible for story writing, and even worse for shared story writing.

Of course the counter argument is that starting a conversation on Discord is vastly simpler than doing so on a forum. There is less effort involved, especially if you already are making use of Discord regularly.
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15 Feb 2024 00:53 #3384 by Maladyusted
Well... Forums and Discord have a lot of similarity, I think? They're both text mediums where posts are displayed in chronological order, etc? The biggest difference is in the literal size of posts? The Profile Pictures are bigger, posts themselves are bigger, with "Replied by Author on topic Topic" headers for every post, etc.

The biggest difference in how people use it is in how forums don't update in real-time? It's the client / user that determines if they want to see new things and refresh the page?

If you want to reply fast, well, Quick Replies are your friend here?

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25 Feb 2024 04:21 #3391 by Kristin Darken
One of the things a lot of people miss about using Discord is that it has the potential to be very organized and for information to be effectively retained and available. Most of this comes from well established channels within the server (much like the forums are laid out in clear sections / categories) and thru topic specific threads. But 'most' people don't even know about threads and it typically requires active moderation and community cooperation to keep channels on topic. This can be aided by good access level / permission structures and some other elements, but this takes work to maintain... forums and commenting require some of the same efforts here... but the lack of constant discussion (like what you see on discord) keep it mostly behind the scenes. I've done some forums moderation on much more active forums and trust me when I say that forums can be just as chaotic and difficult to find relevant info as discord. Ours just hasn't gotten that sort of use (and I've put in some of the work up front to categorize and clearly define what is supposed to be in different sections).

For me, the key points in favor of moving to Discord are: reduced costs (on a number of levels), reduced risk from spammers/hackers, more active engagement with the community, reduced administrative commitment for me, less demand for software and server evolution/upgrades or the impact of migrating when direct upgrades aren't feasible.
Against are: need for active moderation, admin staying on top of info / structure organization, draft (forum level) publication of WhatIFs and in progress work, loss of continuity / backup of community data, challenges of setting up a new site using new (to us) systems and layouts.

Some of these things are workable. Much lesser scale forums as plugins for Wordpress exist as do solid commenting systems.

As Dan has said... this is still just a thought exercise. No decisions have been made but 'some' things about the site's operation are in need of changes and it made sense to get a feel for this as an option before that process happens. Otherwise, we end up in the same situation that led to where we are atm (that being we migrated the site only to be in operation for less than 6 months before Joomla went through a major upgrade which means we're approaching an end-of-life no longer supported level of operation - and that's a pain in the butt).

Fate guard you, and may the Light brighten your Way.

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